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opus999

F-84 Thunderjet, Heller 1/72

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I'll be up front: I don't think this will be my best build, and that's OK. It started as a father/son build with my 6-year-old until I discovered the terrible fit of the fuselage: When I held the tail and the tip of the nose together, the two halves of the fuselage bowed so badly that there was about a 1/8" gap in the seam in the middle (above the wings)!!  No Kidding!!! I had a hard time holding it together just dry-fitting it and I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to glue it.  At that point, my son decided he was more interested in starting his 1/48 Bf-109.

 

I decided it would be a good model to try out some new Alclad techniques on.  I've been using the wings for testing different Alclad finish ideas for my CF-104 build documented here:

 

I was able to glue it after all, but I had to start at one end and exert a lot of force with my fingers while I used my "instant set" super glue.  Usually I use a "glue looper", which is a photo etched loop to apply small amounts of super glue and have capillary action pull it into the seam.  This was so bad, I had to just use the super glue bottle to apply enough to keep things together.  I was able to clean up the super glue that ran, and then sanded the seams:

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The dark gap along the spine is a very wide gap in the seam filled with super-glue. Here's the bottom:

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I was able to sand it pretty smooth, but the raised detail was sanded off in the process.  If I was serious about this model, I would re-scribe the panel lines, and sand the whole body smooth.  But, the detail in this kit is terrible and the fuselage is warped, so it's not worth the effort. Here's how the fuselage lines up, which illustrates how badly the plastic was warped:

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I can't say whether this was a defective kit, or if it was age or what.  I bought the kit in 1997, and never dry fit it until now, so I don't know if it was always like this. It's been kept indoors in a closet, so I don't think environment has anything to do with it.

 

I discovered as I was sanding it that the strain on the plastic from forcing it into shape caused some stress cracks, which I filled with super glue:

9GEazHi.jpg

 

I wasn't really impressed with this kit because of its low detail and heavy-handed raised panel lines.  The warped fuselage makes it even worse.  Still though, with a good coat of alclad and the really great after-market decals I got, I think it will look pretty good, and certainly good enough to join my son's squadron of models hanging from his ceiling!

 

 

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I've played with one of the Heller kits, a barely-started-but-already-irretrievably-botched find from a bargain bin at a model show.  Aside from that it appeared to be a decent kit for its day, worthy enough of building if not prematurely crippled, and the silver plastic would theoretically leave ghost line to rescribe over if one wished to go that way.  I'll periodically take it out and wonder if I can fix it before putting it away again.  If you really want a nice modern-standard modeller's model of the Thunderjet I can heartily recommend Academy or Tamiya.

 

The Heller kit is, however, just fine for building with your kid to hang from his ceiling.  :D

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6 hours ago, Jackson Duvalier said:

I've played with one of the Heller kits, a barely-started-but-already-irretrievably-botched find from a bargain bin at a model show.  Aside from that it appeared to be a decent kit for its day, worthy enough of building if not prematurely crippled, and the silver plastic would theoretically leave ghost line to rescribe over if one wished to go that way.  I'll periodically take it out and wonder if I can fix it before putting it away again.  If you really want a nice modern-standard modeller's model of the Thunderjet I can heartily recommend Academy or Tamiya.

 

The Heller kit is, however, just fine for building with your kid to hang from his ceiling.  :D

I'm way ahead of you. :)  A couple of years ago I took stock of my old kits and already identified this one as needing a replacement -- I ended up buying an italeri kit based on reviews I'd read at scalemates.  Funny story, the italeri kit came with the same markings that I bought after market back in 1997 (for $20!).

 

I did a Heller kit in High School, but I'm having trouble remembering which one right now.  If it was my Mig-15, it was beyond terrible, but if it was my F-86 it was a pretty good kit. Now I'm going to have to look that up and figure it out!

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I was able to some more this weekend.  On Friday, I painted the top halves of the wings to test a new Alclad method.  I got the idea from doogsmodels, where he was trying to mimic worn metal.  I tried it, and it worked fine.  The interesting part of it was that he used Alclad's RAF high speed silver as a base for his airframe aluminum.  I decided to try Polished aluminum over an Alclad RAF high speed silver base.  Then on the inside panel of the wing I painted stainless steel (as an aside: I have a hard time deciding how to paint the F-84 wings.  Some pictures look like the inside panel is darker, and in others it looks lighter).  I thought the effect was very nice and it was a lot easier than my on-going battle with trying to get the perfect gloss black base coat!!

 

pWAyAgE.jpg

 

I think I'll finish the entire plane with this method.  It's very convincing as a non-polished, and not-too-worn metal.

 

I had already soaked the wing bottoms in Simple Green to remove the paint from my other alclad experiments.  One wing I was able to clean to bare plastic.  On the other one, I couldn't get the Mr. Surfacer 1500 off, which is OK. Friday night I glued the wings and fuselage together and then sanded the seams on the wing-tip tanks.

 

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I decided to do this one gears up, since it will be "flying" in my son's bedroom. Heller clearly didn't intend to have it built this way since the main gear was molded into the gear door.  I sanded these down, and attempted to glue the gears in place.  They kept collapsing into the gear bay, so I mixed up some Apoxie sculpt (a water-soluble epoxy putty) to fill the bays and press the doors into.  To Heller's credit, the doors fit perfectly into the openings without any trimming or seam filling.

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I started masking for the Olive Green anti-glare, but didn't get any further this weekend.

YWEnTXR.jpg

 

You can't see it in the picture, but the wings have a dihedral to them that seems a little extreme; I don't remember there being much, if any dihedral to the F-84 wings.

 

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I was able to get the Olive Green non-reflective paint on.  Don't know if I'll get much else done this weekend or not.

 

All masked:

 

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Black base coat applied:

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Marble coat finished:

 

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Final product:

 

Kywx3cY.jpg

 

JFIDRYI.jpg

 

 

Pretty excited to get the alclad on now!

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After everybody went to bed last night, I did the first stage of my Alclad on this bird.  First, here it is all masked up and ready to go!

 

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Then I sprayed Alclad's RAF High Speed Silver on the entire aircraft:

 

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Then I finished with Alclad Polished Aluminum. In real life, the difference between the RAF High Speed Silver coated aircraft and the Polished Aluminum coated aircraft is much more dramatic.

 

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KQWwBij.jpg?1

 

  Hopefully I can find some time today to mask and paint the darker aluminum panels...

 

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Got the darker aluminum panels masked and painted, as well as a different type of aluminum in the aft part of the fuselage. For these darker panels and engine cone, I used Alclad Stainless Steel, and for the section under the tail and just forward of the engine cone I used Alclad Aluminum.

 

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Masking all of those teeny tiny panels was an exercise in patience! I could only find a couple photos of the underside, so I may have missed some panels since the photos I found weren't all that great.

 

Y9ia4WI.jpg

 

I'm pretty pleased with the finish.  The plastic underneath is a different story: the Alclad shows off every imperfection and the kit's plastic is kind of rough and scratched up in a few places.  If this was going in my display case, I would have had to sand and polish the plastic.  As it is, though, it will be hanging on a ceiling in my son's room, so no one will be able to get close enough to notice!

 

I had some issues with tape pull up on the engine, so I may need to go back and fix that.

 

Also, I had the worst time with my stainless steel: It seems like it was clogging the airbrush or something.  It would only come out if I had the trigger pulled half way back or more.  It was getting very frustrating.  When I had to touch a panel up with RAF High Speed silver, it worked even if the trigger was just barely pulled back.  But the stainless would only come out if I had it more or less full bore. Has any one had this problem before?  Do I need to strain the paint or something?  I haven't run across this problem with alclad before and I've used the stainless steel many times. :rage:

 

Next, I need to paint the airbrake on the bottom and the front landing gear doors red.  Then a coat of testors metalizer sealer and it will be time for decals!

 

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Finally got a couple hours free and put the decals on. The decals were AeroMaster decals "Thunderjets over Korea Pt.II" that I bought in 1999 at the same time I bought the kit.  I chose "Four Queens", which is a commonly done scheme and is also the same scheme that my Italeri kit has.

 

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Prior to decals, I sprayed on a coat of Testor's metallizer sealer, which I found doesn't affect this finish in the slightest. I also took another stab at getting that scuffed/hammered/oxidized look because the plane looked too clean. This time, I tried dry-brushing testors enamel chrome paint in very short strokes, very lightly in random patterns.  It is very easy to over do, and it doesn't look good if the chrome goes on too heavy.  The effect was subtle, but fairly realistic.  I may have to do a little more now the decals are on because the brightness of the decals colors detracts from the effect. I wish I was a better photographer:  I tried and tried to capture this on camera, but this was the best I could do (which really doesn't do it justice):

 

m9wnnxn.jpg

 

The decals were very transparent and easy to work with. Unfortunately, while they didn't seem very thick, they didn't conform well to the raised detail.  So, I used my Mr. Mark Softer decal solvent.  Generally decal solvents and Alclad don't mix, as I've discovered the solvent will strip the polished aluminum right off. Some testing showed me that this particular paint combination (Testors metallizer sealer over Alclad Polished Aluminum over Alclad RAF High Speed Silver) was unaffected by the solvent, which is good because these decals needed a lot of solvent to get these to settle in and conform.

 

All went well until the next to last decal. The "USAF" on the bottom wing started getting some strange stains under the decal film as it dried.  You can see it here in the middle of the "U" and in the middle of the "S":

apyv2WW.jpg

 

To me it looks as if the ink is leaching away from the letter.  Could this be from the decal itself, or the solvent?  I used the same decals and solvent on the rest of the aircraft without this happening, so why is this particular decal so special? This particular panel had an additional coat of Alclad Stainless steel over the Polished Aluminum (and under the metallizer sealer).  I thought the perhaps the solvent mobilized the pigment (or whatever is in Alclad). This is all speculation, of course and I can't prove any of it, but I wish i knew so I could prevent it in the future!

 

How can I fix it?  Well, I think with some careful masking I could re-spray the RAF High Speed Silver and Stainless Steel, but I've found that masking over decals with tape usually doesn't go well at all.  I'm going to let this one sit while I work on my CF-104; maybe the path will be a little clearer in a couple of days when I'm not so steamed about it.

 

Next steps: Paint the canopy, wash the surface of the model with detergent and warm water to get the solvent residue off, coat again with metallizer sealer, and then weather.  Weathering is also something I am uncertain about and have been doing a lot of research on, but that's a post (or a rant) for another day. :)

 

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Well... I'm back! I decided I was allowing this hobby to take too much of my free time and it was time to step away. I'd planned it to be just a couple of weeks, but next thing I knew it had been 5 months! I lost some good summertime modelling.  Rats!

 

No pictures to show, but I sprayed Testor's metallizer sealer over the model to seal in the decals.  I found that the metallizer sealer doesn't change the look of the alclad (unless it is a high shine like polished aluminum). Looks good so far.

 

I also started painting the canopy, but I'm not done yet.

 

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I've been looking at vintage photos of F-84s until I am cross-eyed. In spite of all that, I can't quite translate the weather I see to a set of skills to use on my model.  I just don't know how to re-create what I see. So, I've punted and decided to go with what I call the "Artistic license" approach. Normally, I have some photos of an airplane and I try to match the weathering I see exactly.  In this case, I haven't been able to, so I am just doing some "generic" weathering.

 

I found a couple videos on You Tube from Spencer Pollard where he shows his "fool proof metal finish" technique. I thought he got results that matched what I was looking for. Unfortunately, he started with a sludge wash, and I can't do that because of the raised panel detail. Then he went over some seams with Tamiya smoke. So I tried that. I have to say, I wasn't too impressed with Tamiya smoke, in some cases it left a rough, frosted looking surface.  But, by and large it did what it was supposed to and I was able to subtly darken some seams, which I thought made it look more worn. Today I struggled with how to do a wash on it, but I finally gave up after some ideas that didn't work.  In the end, I did a pin wash in the recessed areas (control surfaces) and then whipped out the Tamiya weathering pastels to put some random streaks here and there.  In all, it looks better (I thought it looked too perfect before) and reasonably weathered. There still room for improvement though! 🙂

 

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I have the canopy masked and ready to paint. Then I will put the testors metalizer sealer on one more time to seal in the weathering (Does any body know if it will react badly to the thin coats of Tamiya smoke I put on?). Then, it should be done! :clap:

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Looks really good. The masking on the panels has really paid off.

 

Will look very nice alongside your CF-104!

 

Terry

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On 9/22/2018 at 1:31 AM, Terry1954 said:

Looks really good. The masking on the panels has really paid off.

 

Will look very nice alongside your CF-104!

 

Terry

Thanks again! I'm really pleased with what was a "Throwaway" build. It turned out very nice.  All the masking was tedious, but I kept telling my self "it will be worth it"! ;)

 

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I like what I see, I wouldn't get carried away with the weathering, jets didn't get that much, and as it's a special scheme, was probably looked after much better by the ground crew anyway.

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8 minutes ago, Graeme H said:

I like what I see, I wouldn't get carried away with the weathering, jets didn't get that much, and as it's a special scheme, was probably looked after much better by the ground crew anyway.

I agree. With the tons and tons of photos I looked at, I came to the conclusion that weathering had to be subtle (which is an art I'm still learning! ;) ). I had thought of leaving it as is (that is, no weathering), but it looked too artificial with out a little bit of weathering.  I think it turned out about right.

 

Well, this is just practice -- I have a much nicer Italeri kit of "Four Queens" that I will do "for real" and use what I learned on this build!

Edited by opus999
clarity

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yesterday I did another coat of Testor's metallizer sealer to seal in the weathering.  It had the added benefit of removing that "frosted gray" look in some of the Tamiya smoke that I described earlier.

 

If I can find a half hour today, I'll paint the rest of the canopy.  When that's in place, and a couple of fiddly bits, it will be done!

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Painted the canopy Sunday and Monday night. Between taking my boys to Scouts, an elementary school open house and a local internet outage, I haven't been able to share anything until now!

 

I masked the frame in one direction, painted it with Mr. Color Gloss White and let it sit for 24 hours.  Masked the frame in the other direction and painted it. Then masked the metal parts on the canopy and painted it first with Alclad RAF High Speed Silver, then with Alclad Polished Aluminum.  Put the decals on Tuesday night and sealed them in with Testors Metallizer sealer.

 

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As you might see in that last photo, There was a little paint pull-up with the white, which will need to be fixed. Also I need to paint the circle on the starboard aft part of the canopy (Does anyone know what this is???).

 

The decals look worse in the photos than in real life.  You can't see the transparent film of the decals in real life.  Guess I caught the light just right.

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Just a quick update -- got it finished! I hand painted the circle on the canopy, fixed a couple of paint pull-ups and got 'er glued on along with the underwing tanks.

 

o85qCGD.jpg

 

In general I'm really happy with this build. Despite the problems with the kit, and it's not-too-great detail, I think it turned out beautifully.  I also think the Alclad polished aluminum over RAF high speed silver makes a great "somewhat worn" metal look.

 

In retrospect, the idea I tried with the chrome paint to mimic scuffing really was a dead end. It can't be seen very well except at extreme close-up and then it just kind of looks like sand paper marks. It was certainly worth a try, though.

 

I have an Italeri F-84 kit in the stash with the "Four Queens" paint scheme, so I will get to apply everything I learned here some day when I do it.

 

I think I'll post the "ready for inspection" tomorrow, it's pretty late here.

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