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Phantome

Two decades later... 1/72 Italeri YF-23

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And so 2018 begins with a kit that has been in storage for nearly two decades... a rare 1/72 Italeri YF-23

 

I bought this kit when living in the US during my high school years or shortly thereafter, so circa 1996-99. The kit is dated 1994 so it was relatively new back then. This was my second foray into modelling and first "serious" attempt, this time with an airbrush (a Paasche single-action). However, I didn't actually start this kit until many years later, around the mid-naughties, but I only got around to painting the cockpit. Since then, the kit had been stored in a box somewhere in my family's house until I rescued it a few months back and brought it back with me to London. On the plus side, despite some cleaning up needed (the plastic is a bit dirty), all pieces are accounted for except one of the sides of the ACES seat which I will scratch-build with plasticard. This is quite an achievement given how easy parts can fall off and get lost in Italeri's flimsy open-ended boxes. Also given how rare this kit and how much it goes for these days on eBay, it's a privilege to have one near-intact, and even with no yellowing of the decals!

 

Thankfully, I have another one of these in the stash (still sealed!) so I can afford to do some experimenting with this one. Namely, black-basing. This will be my first attempt at this technique which over the holidays I started getting more and more enthusiastic about. The Black Widow is an excellent starting point for this: it's all dark grey camo will be perfect for black basing. It's a big plane too and despite being only a prototype, looked grimy enough in pics: http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/510961f66bb3f7682a000012-1200/yf-23.jpg

 

Anyway, it is an honor to start work on this gem of a kit and make it my first completed build of 2018

 

EngnGH.jpg

 

yQks94.jpg

 

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Initial comments on this kit: it looks the part, and suffers only from raised panel lines. Being a stealth plane this is not a big issue, and having thought about sanding and re-scribing them, I have decided on keeping them as is and build the kit as it was intended to be built. The cockpit is quite detailed although like many of Italeri's kits, probably inaccurate to some degree but who cares. The open canopy option is afforded as is an open missile bay. The interior detailing is a bit crude and generic so I'll decide on the way whether to leave it open or closed (but will paint it regardless). There are two painting options, the all-36118 first prototype and the Mod Eagle-like second prototype. I will be doing the first as it looks more sinister and closer to what a flying Black Widow would look like ;)

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Sorry for the huge delay. I hard ordered some black One Shot Primer but the store I ordered it from did not have it in stock and they only realized that a few days later... so I ended up buying it from a belgian buyer on eBay and just got it yesterday. In the meantime, this was the process of scratch-building the missing side of the seat as well as painting the exhaust.

 

The YF-23 exhaust is interesting, it seems to be composed of various panels which tend to have different dark metallic colors. So what I did to reproduce this was to pre-paint some of them in black and white before painting them Vallejo Metal Color Burnt Iron (did this more than once since I screwed up). The result was splendid although it still needs some degree of white dusting as a final bit of weathering. The other issue was the gold cover above the intakes. Italeri did not mold this piece in a way in which you can reproduce the real thing so I said to hell with accuracy, just painted it Tamiya XF-31 titanium gold.

 

Other than that, all went well although only after constructing the cockpit did I realize that the YF-23's ejection seat is painted black (like an F-15) rather than grey (like an F-16). Duh! Will have to repaint.

 

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2ntvQ7.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Phantome

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Some observations for anyone planning to build this:

 

- The fit of the main fuselage parts is remarkably good (especially for an Italeri!). There were hardly any annoying corrections to do.

- Be careful with gluing the two intake bits (the one that is painted gold and then the sort of intake guard). It's very flimsy and if for some reason either piece breaks off after construction, you're screwed: they'll get stuck inside and you'll have to do some major surgery. I used plasticard to ensure they were permanently fixed (see last picture).

- Normally I paint and mask interior bits before the priming/painting but in this case due to the angular shape of the wheel wells and weapons bay, it's probably quicker to mask after painting and then paint white.

- The instructions say 20g of nose weight but I think you can do with much less, especially if you include an open weapons bay. We'll see... !

 

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Update: one the primer arrived I was ready to start. The primer worked wonders, it was really easy to cover the whole thing quite quickly and One Shot Primer has self-leveling properties that can only be described as magical. Seriously. Best non-lacquer primer on the market by quite a margin.

 

After that, I decided to do the black basing mottling with Tamiya XF-19 Sky Grey, thinned much more than usual and basically just went along spraying lots of squiggly lines over each other until it turned into a mottled mess. Tamiya is great for this since even thinned its coverage is great. Alas there was a slight catastrophe: had a surprisingly horrific airbrush splatter near the nose! I wiped out as much as I could immediately but in the process rubbed off some of the paint and primer. So I re-primed the area before finishing the mottling. There was no trace of the rubbed off bit which is a testament to how even the One Shot is.

 

Finally, sprayed XF-24 in gradual light coats. IMHO XF-24 is the best approximation of FS 36118 in acrylic... Gunze is completely off the mark, Vallejo lacks the blue-ish hue, and hate Lifecolor. Looks great for a first attempt at black-basing! After the picture was taken I "evened out" the color of the flaps as pictures of the real thing showed them to be slightly off color (lighter) to the rest of the plane.

 

Overall I was quite surprised at how easy quick this whole thing was. The mottling was the more time consuming bit but even that didn't take more than 15-20 minutes (discounting the re-painting of the splatter). It was only then that I realized that by that time I was already over 2/3 of the way to finish painting it which was something of a psychological boost. I was a post-shader before and so finishing the priming stage meant that the bulk of painting was still left. I also must confess that the mottling was even fun. Rather than have to be paranoid over not getting a pre-shade right, you are basically just spraying randomly with no care in the world. Jackson Pollock would be proud. :P

 

I am officially a convert to black basing now and will continue to use it in all my future builds.

 

5G7leu.jpg

 

XfjYde.jpg

 

cKDxNl.jpg

 

sdTpEi.jpg

Edited by Phantome

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Decals on!

 

Despite the kit being in my stash for almost 20 years, they went on like a dream. Alas there were some errors. The 87-800 serial should be on both inside and outside of the stabilizers, but Italeri only included one pair, so I used them on the outside. Also, Italeri included a decal for the air-to-air refueling panel but I saw no images of the real YF-23 having any such marker (even in one pic where it's actually refueling). I also think the national insignia and badges may be slightly oversized.

 

Custom decals were made for the AIM-120s in training mode.

 

Also, I decided to post-shade (lighten) some of the flaps as well as the contour of the forward wing panels as this was evident on the real thing.

 

sL4Hcj.jpg

Edited by Phantome

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Great job on a great looking plane (much better looking than the ugly F-22!)

Italeri kits stand quite well the passing of time...

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Phantome.

 

That looks great. I just posted yet another failure to complete and you have given me hope and comfort with this 20 year delay.

 

Alan

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Congratulations on bringing this one in (and with beautiful paintwork too) :goodjob:

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Stunning work :goodjob: The paintwork is a thing of art and beauty.

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On 2/4/2018 at 7:26 PM, Hamster Volant said:

Great job on a great looking plane (much better looking than the ugly F-22!)

Italeri kits stand quite well the passing of time...

 

Not all of them... ;)

 

It is one of their best kits from this time period I would say, and I'm actually glad they chose not to do recessed panel lines because given Italeri's mid-90s quality, they would have completely ruined this kit!

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On 2/5/2018 at 9:50 PM, Col. said:

Stunning work :goodjob: The paintwork is a thing of art and beauty.

 

Save those words for a Botticelli ;)

 

I hope I've inspired people to switch to black basing. It's MUCH easier than I thought and highly gratifying in the end. I feel I painted the equivalent of the Dreadnought: a model that suddenly turned all my other models in the shelf obsolete...

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