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My second 1/72 F-14A Tomcat - Academy this time


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  • 2 weeks later...

I've gotten a bit behind in keeping this thread updated... work has been continuing when time allows and I guess I've been spending my spare time away from the pc and actually doing some modelling; I think i spend enough of my work time at the pc... well, all of it these days. So anyway. Here's a sneak peek and I'll draft (or start at least) a proper update this evening.

50963266737_bd800d6e34_h.jpgLight light gull grey bird test assembly by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Sorry for the delay

Jonathan

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So firstly, please let me apologise for the delay in posting anything here; as I implied above, spending all day working on the pc and staring at a screen working, or in Teams/Skype meetings and calls etc, when I come to time off, I prefer to not turn on the other laptop and start doing more writing and if I can pick up the model and do a bit more instead to focus on for a while then I’ll be happier to do that. So...an overdue update follows.

As you’ll see from the short post above, my tomcat is now painted (finished painting?) and awaiting some clear weather and brighter conditions so that I can see what I’m doing better and apply some varnish to seal the paint in before moving on with some other bits (e.g corroguard areas, wing fairing airbags and anti-slip panels on top of the intakes). But I ought to go back and see where this was all at and bring it all up to date.

Final details pre-paint

A few final areas were worked at the back end and on the gear doors. On this kit, the arrester hook and fairing are all one piece, which is fine, but it lacked a little detail that I’d added on the Hobbyboss kit, so felt compelled to do so here too. Simply, these were to engrave some panel lines and fastener holes (with the needle in a pin vice), drill out the vent at the front end and add the hydraulic drain pipe (piece of 0.2mm wire). I also extended the hook anchor point as though it was inside the fuselage, adding a bit of wire and a small piece of plastic rod on the end of this. Although not visible in any of these shots, I cut an appropriately shaped hole in the fuselage underside for this to pass in to – it should be visible in some of the later underside shots.

50962321108_8c35e0d1f8_h.jpgDetailed arrester gear by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The other element was that of the chaff and flare dispensers. For the Hobbyboss kit, I used the Eduard photoetch pieces, as this was quite nice. The piece they provide for this kit is, well, rubbish... At first, I couldn’t even bring myself to post a photo... but one is below. The part of the Academy kit is on the left. By comparison, in terms of quality of part, Eduard’s part for the FineMolds kit is on the right. It’s a much better part.. but just a bit big for this kit. In the end I gave up with both of these.

50963540667_ac4aa95d63_h.jpgPhotoetch chaff flare dispenser offerings by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

My solution, looking a photos of the dispensers (Daco book) was to decide to depict the dispenser fitted but empty... and I drilled out all of the holes, all 60 of them with a 0.3mm drill bit. Once tidied up, I thought this looked fine. I’ll paint it appropriately at some point, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use the poor PE part.

50963129792_1f8eaa2d10_h.jpgChaff/flare dispensers drilled out by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The nose gear bay doors would be replaced by PE bits in total if you used the Eduard parts... I tried that before; didn’t like them... and getting them to fit was a PITA, so for the Hobbyboss one, I used resin replacements.

For this one, I just scored some lines and fasterners and added two pieces of masking tape to represent the reinforcing plates; the small doors have a small latch piece that I made from a small piece of plasti-strip. They’re good enough for 72nd... this time.

50962342508_a37b97f29f_h.jpgNose gear doors details by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Masking

I applied a little more masking, to the painted areas of the intakes and I made a cover to fit the nose gear bay... sealed in with maskol. As the wings are a good snug fit on to the root blades, I covered these in tape to save them getting covered in paint and the wings no longer able to slide-fit. I also dropped a little maskol into each of the probe holes on either side of the nose to stop them from becoming caked in paint and preventing a good fit of the probes later. I’ll have to look at them some time too.

50962345798_4a1a9dc1e9_b.jpgMasking the fuselage by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And of course, the canopy was masked with the eduard masks and maskol. As there’s no lip for the heating element in the mold (it is a heating element isn’t it – not a miniature detonation chord?) I added some additional tape along the spine to allow these to be painted (black then grey) at the same time. I don’t know why these were left out – I did wonder whether they were to be done with transfers instead – nope!

50963059826_a73b6f7487_h.jpgCanopy masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Painting

My primer of choice is black. So... “paint it black”... and I did. To be honest (lesson learnt) this can hide any imperfections, which I think is one of the primary points of using primers... next time, I’ll use a grey (as I’ve done before) or mix some white/black for a dark grey just so that any issues show up ... let’s just say that the panel in front of the windscreen (clear part) had an imperfection that I didn’t notice until later... more on that, later.

I think here the wheels are primed with Halfords grey (armoury and true details mix) and everything else is painted using Mission Models black primer. As with last time, at this stage, I imagine completing a model of Vandy 1... thus at about this time, a set of Wolfpack transfers were ordered.. for a following build.

50963062516_1a3a7e294e_h.jpgBlack primed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The next stage involved a gradual build up of colour in a marbelling pattern around all parts (fuselage shown) primarily using Light Gull Grey (FS16440) but with some blue thrown in on the upper surfaces that would be more sub bleached and some brown around the engine nacelles where leaking fluids would have given the finish a warmer, dirtier tone. At the end, much of this will be hardly evident but it’s hoped that it’ll help break up the uniformity of colour warmth as well as tone. The main gear bays also had a coat of white (primer and then pure white MMP001. Instructions and details imply that Insignia white should be used here, but in this scale I think that pure white is better... the yellow tone would not really be evident... maybe at 1/32 Insignia would be appropriate.

50962360778_4dbb81f3cd_b.jpgMarbelling coat and colour variations by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The marbling and tone build up is a time consuming process... the following shots were taken over a few days or weeks. The paint here is, as before, from Missions Models. Having previously used enamels, I found this paint good to work with when I did my first tomcat, so I’m carrying on. Application is with my 0.2mm Sparmax airbrush that can give a very fine jet to put down the minimal of paint to allow a good, slow build up with texture and variation.

50963076176_fce9dfbf95_h.jpgContinuing the marbelling coat build up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Once the gear bays were good enough, I made up some bespoke covers from plasticard that I sealed with maskol. Yes, I could have used the gear bay doors, but not without cutting off the mounting arms which I wanted to keep. So, whilst this was a bit of a fiddle, it gives some assurance of protecting the bays from any further paint build up.

50962366838_1197364744_h.jpgMain gear bay masking by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Then it was time to continue building up the marbling coats with more of the Light Gull Grey to give a stronger base to apply the final tones and colours to.

50963184482_98ea5681f4_b.jpgBuilding in the colour. Light Gull Grey by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

50963089556_9a8b3d2b8d_b.jpgBuilding the colour. Side elevations by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

50963094196_a873bc122d_b.jpgColour build up continued by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

50962388018_526e146d88_h.jpgColour build up with wings by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Right... then some reworking was seen as necessary. One seemingly great bit with this kit is the transparency used for the windscreen and forward panel. With the panels ahead of the windscreen, I had some issued with the hobbyboss kit getting this area smoothed and then re-panel engraved to restore the lines straight. For this one, the single piece item looked to resolve his issue... but no. The moulding itself was not straight or aligned properly at the front so there was a ridge between the two sides... this was sanded down in build but what wasn’t so easy to see was the panel line mismatch (about half a line’s thickness). As it was transparent, it was almost impossible to see; putting black primer on did not help. Thus, when I’d got to the stage of some grey on the nose section, it became clear that all was not well. I thus sanded the area and after some engraving attempts, decided to fill most of the lines on one side with CA glue and then later re-scribe. Sounds easy... but transparent plastic is not as easy to work as it’s hard (and more brittle), but after three or four attempts I managed to get something that looked reasonable (I hope). Oh, and this photo does not show the worst of it - I had it back to bare plastic a couple of times to work properly. 

50963199967_53280653a5_h.jpgA bit of rework by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Once I was finished with the rework a third or fourth time, I added some primer to the area (I had no grey Mission Models primer – it seems hard to get at the moment, so I mixed some white and black 4:1 for this nice dark grey)  and considered it good enough.

50962394413_895fa521b1_h.jpgRe priming after final rework by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

An overview at the stage. Also in this shot are some of the spine areas I went over with some yellow/green I mixed up to represent what i assume is zinc chromate primer that was evident in a couple of photos of 162603 in flight (circa 1990) that I found on one of the Wolfpack Facebook groups... which was useful. I think I built the opacity of these up a bit more, but then blended them in afterwards; they’re hardly visible now... hardly.

50963107816_0e2c8e8c05_h.jpgReady for covering again. Note ZCP areas (green) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

By now, I’ve moved on to starting to apply a few lighter shades, using a mix of Light Gull Grey and white (a 4 to 1 and as light as a 3 to 1 mix) that i then varied to sue Insignia white rather than white as its creamy finish hopefully gives a slightly warmer finish or tone. This was built up gradually in areas, but i wished to leave some areas in the original tones, such as three of the four strengthening strakes, so these were coated in maskol at this stage.

50962402418_21bf214604_b.jpgReady for some light - light gull grey by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Missiles

Compared to my last Tomcat, this one will be armed. To reflect the standard “short-range interceptor” fit frequently carried by the VF1 aircraft whilst on their last cruise in the Gulf, this will include 4 AIM-7s and 4 AIM-9s. I still need to check the versions of the Sparrows, but the sidewinders will be a pair of 9Ls and a pair of 9Ms, which seem to be reflected in the majority of period photos. I therefore took a look at the kit missiles, along with the other missiles from kits I had to hand to compare and select from. The photo shows those chosen for comparison, these being Left to Right for each: GWH, Academy, Finemolds (missile set). Of these, the finemolds ones look ok but not as refined as you’d expect for the price; the Academy ones are fine but with a couple of sink marks and a little basic; the GWH ones are nice and more detailed but more of a fiddle to assemble (each missile has its own sprue for goodness sake!) The Sidewinders are going to be visible on the shoulder pylon, so I’m going to use the GWH ones and add a pair of little indents to aid fit to the Academy pylon (copying the Academy missile). The Sparrows will be underneath and not so visible, so I’ll use the Academy missiles and refine them with some details copied from the GWH offering and looking at photos.  The fins on all of them are a bit thick, so I might try to thin them a bit, if I can do so without losing too much detail that is.

50963216852_018a1ac0fe_h.jpgDeciding on missiles to use by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

This will give me a bit of a “build” task that will serve as a break from the painting/finishing task of the aircraft itself.

Painting again

I carried on with the lighter shade, up to a 3:1 mix of FS16440 Light Gull Grey and FS17875 Insignia White with some random application of colour to give a pleasing (to me at least) appearance that seemed to reflect a sun-bleached aircraft

50963120476_80a29a4f53_h.jpgLighter finish... still building up. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Yea... then had a bit of a disaster. I managed to drop the airbrush on the floor... i think the arm of my chair caught the hose. When I’m using the airbrush, I have the rear cover off (so I can get to the rear of the needle to loosen and remove if needed) and the spray guard is off, exposing the nozzle and needle and to minimise blowback as much as possible. The airbrush landed back-end first, so didn’t bend the needle tip – phew – but it forced the needle into the nozzle. I checked to see if it was still working and found no spray and plenty of bubbling in the paint cup. Hmmm. On inspection, the needle had fractured the nozzle tip (insert preferred profanity here).

50963223692_eb9af0f1e7_h.jpgBroken airbrush nozzle. I had a spare. Phew! by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Ok... had a quick think. I think I have a spare put away somewhere – I think I ordered one when trying to add a few more bits to an airbrushes.com order about a year or so ago... after rummaging in a few boxes... yes. Found it. So, some dismantling, checking, cleaning, more cleaning, more cleaning, some reaming, more cleaning and reassembling... and yes, all working again. Stop for the evening and take a breath. Be  tidy  with  the  airbrush  hose AND  CONCENTRATE !!!! Lesson learnt.

So... back to the painting, and given that this is a light (faded) Light Gull Grey aircraft, I wondered how to show this. So, I thought it might be good to sit it alongside my Hobbyboss Miss Molly that has a standard LGG finish. It’s not a perfect comparison as Miss Molly is quite clean and has a semi-gloss finish. This one is quite matt (or eggshell) at the moment, and being devoid of all markings has an effect too. But it serves its purpose by illustrating the slight different in tone and lightness that the approach has given; yes it’s still sort of light gull grey, but lighter... it’s not Light Grey FS36495 or light ghost grey FS 36375, which are both cooler greys but it’s close to what I was aiming for. I think some finishing and some more highlighting in areas will get it to where I was aiming (or rather, I hope so)

50963130151_e6d17aac1c_h.jpg(light) light gull grey comparisons by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Drifting away from photos of Wichita 103, I was inspired by the photo on page 58 of C.J.Heatley’s “The Cutting Edge”, to add some paler areas. This presents a fabulous view looking down at the crew of a Tomcat stood in front of a VF 1 aircraft, with a pale dielectric section to its radome and a very pale “anti-glare” panel. “Cool” I thought. Yea, why not. Most of the grey up to hen applied to the nose area was about a 4:1 or 5:1 mix of LGG/IW so not too pale. As I’m a little paranoid about using masking tape before the finish has been sealed with some solid varnish (Aqua gloss) I decided on a less invasive approach. I’ve not much use for old obsolescent business cards at the moment, so I cut a 12mm diameter hole in one, then used masking tape to flatten the bottom of the hole a little to match the cross section of the radome. A couple of small blobs of blutak behind ensured that this didn’t shift in the painting process. The surround was cut down quite small so that the card wouldn’t “sail” when airbrush pressure was directed at it. For the anti-glare panel, I used a slightly different approach. The kit transfers includes a anti-glare panel transfer (handy!) which I traced onto tracing paper (well, what else?) and transferred this onto a piece of post-it note paper. The pad i’m using is brilliant, although it’s almost used up now. I found half a pad ages ago, that had had the “gum” applied to about 80% of the back rather than the top 20%. Thus, I had some tacky paper that could be applied for masking quite nicely and not have to worry about it pulling the paint. I’ve not found another pad like this, ever. I keep looking, just in case. I applied this around the nose. With the airbrush running at about 10 to 12 psi, I lightly drifted some 3:1 “light” mix over the desired areas.

Nose masking

The end result is subtle... difficult to see unless you look hard, but it’s there and that suits me.

50962433273_a496f2093f_h.jpgSlightly lighter nose dielectric and anti-glare panels by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then moved on to the generally neglected engine exhaust sections that had already had a coat of Alclad Steel some weeks ago... and with a mix of the colours shown, applied some variation to the cowling rings and nozzles... and of course the reheat ring which is a mix of Aries and Eduard parts as before. The old coach body (one of two I use) has had its roof and bodysides covered in many different colours over the last few years, and gets a cleanup and rub down at the end of each project; here’s it’s showing a mix of the colours used applied on top of a polished black primer base.

50963246542_ff73bca883_h.jpgAlclad time by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So here we are... clearly the nozzles a little “bling” at the moment, but when viewed in natural light, they’re not too bad. Some toning and panel washing will bring that all back... but I need to paint and blend the grey bits first.

These are just popped in – for a fit check. Not perfect, but hopefully they’ll do. Once the hand and reheat ring are finished, I’ll add these to the exhaust tubes and finish their assembly.

I did add a little white inside the nozzles to break up the finish, and some black wash lining will go in there too. The exhaust rings were also given an uneven wash of light brown to depict the heat staining in the rear tube. Yea, it’s hardly visible... photographing that later might be a challenge.

50963257262_86cb55d4a5_b.jpgNozzle test fit plan views by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

50963271252_3d6b54f5b0_h.jpgA bling (pre toning down) nozzles view by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, we’re up to date, although I realise i’ve not shown everything that’s been painted, such as the pylons, fuel tanks, gear doors, horiz stabilizers, undercarriage or wheels or hook... I’ll add some of those as it all begins to come together.

50964629468_e6e4687391_b.jpgNatural light check on exhausts. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Oh... and apologies again – I didn’t get this finished last night did I. Sorry, but we’re there now. That’s all for now; thanks for reading.

Jonathan

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  • 1 month later...

Not sure where the time has gone, it’s been a busy month and whilst I have managed some further progress, it’s mostly fiddly details, so at the end I feel that there’s nothing very dramatic to show... but progress nonetheless.

First of all, I sorted the engine exhausts and half cowls. The exhausts were a bit bling and therefore had a few more layers of darker Alclad paints applied... mostly using the steel as a base, but with some hot metal beige or hot exhaust thrown in to tone it a little... and some jet exhaust to dirty it down. I then carefully masked around the half cowls and gave these a few coats, gradually building up, of the light version of my light gull grey, making an effort to match the tone of the rear fuselage. Overall, this was sufficient for the time being... some weathering later on will blend it all together.

51079281966_06723c50d7_h.jpgTail coamings masked and painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

This image illustrates all the “bits” laid out in some early morning sunshine, just for the sake of it, but you can see how I hold all the pieces whilst in work. Wheels still to be painted at this stage and still on the cocktail stick holders – which I’d swap out for some thin wire inserted into drilled holes in the tyre base later on.

51079382772_36a6b7ac6e_h.jpgParts count by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

At this stage I decided on some test fits. I did fettle the wing stubs a little to get an easier fit, bit it was still evident that in sweeping the wings, some scuffing was occurring in the nose area and in the inner area near the wing fold bags. The photo shows the scuffing. The scuffing I just sanded down and repainted the affected areas; the cause was resolved by setting to with a file and some sandpapers to open out the fuselage’s wing recesses to remove the areas that were fouling the wings... and then a few test fits later, and all was ok.

51079283816_63f556531b_b.jpgWings test fit and fouling areas to resolve by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The Wing fold bags needed painting. These were masked as shown, and a small piece of card held in place when actually using the airbrush... the fine 0.2mm tip means there’s little overspray so I was happy to minimise the amount of masking needed. The bags vary in colour considerable, from pale greens to a very dark grey (almost black).. so it’s important to work from photos of the selected aircraft. There are fortunately a number of photos of this aircraft, including some air to airs that I found on one of VF1’s facebook page ... which was handy. These showed a pale warm colour that seemed to suit the faded appearance of the aircraft, so I settled for this colour (or variations in colour as there are three variations in tone here) using a mix of matt Light Gull Grey, Dark Gull Grey, RLM79 and white... as shown in the second photo... and varying the mix to give darker and lighter versions rather than just one colour – it doesn’t really show in the photo. Later on, I’ll add some oil brusher marks and blend in some other tones to vary this further.

51079287576_06796599a2_h.jpgMasked/painted wing fold bags by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51010105300_b69f170194_h.jpgWing fold bags and colours used by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then turned my attention to the antislip panels. Yes there are transfers for these, but again, I wanted to choose the colour to represent the pale panels on the aircraft I was modelling. These were both masked as shown, working to photos and scaling off the provided transfers on the DXM sheet (not those of the kit) and comparing to photos for sizing and position. Again, some additional masking was employed using post it note strips and a piece of card held when using the airbrush.

51078594158_c01e41ec8a_h.jpgAnti slip panels masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And here are the panels unmasked (masking and card to the side) in a suitably pale finish. Again, the colours used are shown... and again, I’ll tone these a bit with the oilbrusher bits later on.

51079389742_e4d4c82eae_h.jpgAnti slip panels painted and unmasked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, moving on... and i masked up the gun muzzle. This I then sprayed with some Alclad Steel which gave a good finish. I would usually also spray the intake lips, but masking them last time was a bit of a faff so this time I brush painted then with Humbrol Aluminium 27002... which went on fine. All was sealed with some more Aqua Gloss once dry.

51079293476_b775c67eb2_h.jpgGun muzzle masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And here’s the gun muzzle unmasked. I also buffed away the finish of the radome just in front of the muzzle and added some darker colour to represent the muzzle wear evident in photos... not as bad as on some.. but the aircraft certainly had this evident after the “kill” and upon its return to the US.

51010113315_a629da72ae_h.jpgGun muzzle unmasked; burn mark added to radome by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Then it was on to the fin tips and the refuelling probe bay, both of which needed some white adding... the probe bay just to lighten it a bit and the fin tops to provide a more solid base colour for the insignia red that would follow... using MRP paints for that, it’s quite translucent so needs a good base to build the colour on top of. I opted to mask the fins and rear fuselage with tape and foil, which seemed to work fine... a good choice especially to prevent any red overspray later on.

51010115795_9a30b78739_h.jpgFin masked for tip painting by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And here’s the tips painted white. I had a few issues here finding that there were some imperfections in the finish that required some repeat sanding down and tidying up (something I’d not noticed previously).. but the MM paints cover well and a few light coats did the job.

51079398372_5e50464d07_h.jpgTips white coat for base to red coat by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

At this stage, I thought I’d illustrate the old GUV coach body (one of two i use) to test colours and flow when airbrushing. Here with the selection of colours that have gone onto the Tomcat so far. It reminds me of those glass tubes we used to fill with colour sands at Alum bay all those decades ago (can you still do that?) The other GUV roof is festooned with a range of metallic colours.

51078609558_d226f8a4d5_h.jpgTomcat colours covering roof of General Utility Vehicle coach body paint mule. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, back in the spray booth for the MRP paint application and after about a dozen or so layers, I’m happy with the depth of colour in the fin tops.

51078610913_66d08f270e_h.jpgRed fin tips painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And a pair of shots to show those fintops... which needed no cleaning up, the masking did its job well. A little colour makes all the difference. Some aqua gloss on top of this will deepen the colour and balance the shine too.

51079406177_cd2cb5b365_b.jpgRed fin tips by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The gear bays were unmasked and tidied up.. and then some washes applied to the main gear bays... some more followed later, and were a bit tidier and gave better depth but these were a start.

51078615718_57885b9387_h.jpgUndercarriage bays unmasked and details weathered in by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Wheels – a couple of coats of a mix of insignia white and white applied overall, sealed with aqua gloss... bubs masked and then humbrol enamel “black” applied. I say “black” as I used a mix of tyre black and matt black to give a overall finish, then darkened the mix to respray the sidewalls. Once this had dried for a day I then used a sharpened toothpick (occasionally dipped in a little white spirit to soften the tip... and the paint) to carefully lift the paint off the lettering. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do. A recoat of aqua gloss and then some weathering with washes will be applied.. and a matt finish to the wheels at the end. And yes, I know that the white lettering isn’t prototypical... but I like it 😉

51010129210_0de76ffec8_h.jpgWheels painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Missiles... Back to this again. The Acadey kit seems to come with two AIM-9Ls (or Ms) and two AIM-9Js (I think) and needing a 4 sidewinder fit, this wouldn’t do. I opted for the GWH 9Ls that I’ll paint as two white and two grey... these have had the forward find thinned a little, but they’ll do. The AIM-7s in the kit are equally odd, two with long trunking and two with short, and I wanted four with long trunking. As you can see in the photo of a GWH sprue, this is labelled as a 7F sprue but with long trunking whereas the short trunking missile on the right came from a sprue labelled 7M. I can’t find any rationale between the trunking lengths and missile mark, rather the difference is in the number of prox sensors near the nose (2 of a F and 4 on a M)... and those are dark rectangular strips of transfer. Anyway... I’ll use those on the left... and four of them ... the next GWH kit that i‘ll do, won’t need them.

51078618433_eb82c50767_h.jpgGWH AIM-7 comparison by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Some detail painting followed, and is still ongoing... nav lights, radomes (again not prototypical for this aircraft, but I liked the additional colour) fuel dump outlet and chaff/flare dispenser. Lining had also started with some thin black enamel and some Mig weathering wash greys. Lots more to do.

51078620683_34d8ca65da_h.jpgPanel lining, chaff/flare dispenser, fuel dump and rear radome all in work by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

An underside view of the lining in progress – yet to line the intake ramps... but note the nose gear bay that’s good enough for this one I think.

I just realised that forgot to cover the undercarriage legs in my draft and forgot to photograph them... I used speedtape (again) for the oleos and some fasteners around the legs – I’ll photograph them and add something.

51078623753_536235bd38_h.jpgLining out the underside by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And here’s the upper side – still work in hand

51079419312_da539f567e_h.jpgUpper surfaces lined by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And looking forward. I forgot to mention the masking of the cockpit tub so I could spray the decking black as seen here; I applied a light grey wash just to bring out some of the detail.

I forgot to photograph the inner canopy frame that’s been painted similarly; I’ll add that later.

51079324181_310e89a37c_h.jpgUpper surfaces and cockpit decking lined by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Wings in the process of getting lined... wash added and a first rub-off.... several other layers went on to deepen the effect. Also evident here is the corroguard leading edges that I’d applied using Alclad Aluminium... at the same time that I did the gun muzzle.

51079326836_637f236cbd_h.jpgWing upper surfaces lining in process.. before and after clean up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Work in progress

51079424957_ac3f3ed1f4_h.jpgLining in process by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

One task that had taken a while required some research of text font/script. The lettering needing to give that stencil-look, is of course no longer a Microsoft font. A friend will make the necessary transfers so that I can complete the model as intended, using the DXM set for all other markings. I knocked these up to illustrate the scaled dimensions needed (best guess).

51078814273_4c4fb5503e_h.jpgInfo for additional transfers by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I’d also wondered about whether the crew names were on the aircraft at the time of the shoot-down, and eventually I received a response from Steve Riker, who’d been with VF1 at the time (although not in the back of his aircraft that day) and some photos to support this... which was handy. Great chap and very helpful. Hope I’m able to do a decent job of this now and get it finished looking half decent.

That’s all for now... but I’ll provide another update as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading.. happy to address any comments

Jonathan

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Thanks as ever for the detailed updates Jonathan,  there's a lot of love going into this one, she's a beaut! I don't know why but the chaff dispensers particularly made me smile, much better than the photoetch.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Well, an update as soon as I can didn’t quite turn out as hoped, did it. However, some progress has been made, just not always in a positive direction; more of that later.

So, let’s just start off with a few images of where I’d got to around about the time of my last positing when I put some of the major parts together to check to see that colour balance and shading etc all gelled. In the underside views you’ll notice that I decided to apply some yellow/orange mix to the fronts of the receiver “bumps” outboard of the intakes and to the rear face on the beaver tail. This probably isn’t quite prototypical for this airframe, but I decided I liked it and it added a good splash of colour.

51143990427_69b8ec75e4_b.jpgUpper and lower views pre lining completion and transfers by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51143993787_28b5321bba_h.jpgUnderside rear view by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51143995327_a5b42717c8_h.jpgUnderside front quarter by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then decided that I needed to remove the air probes from the sprue, check their fit and give them some paint, for assembly later. I had a bit of a disappointment here as I found that the larger starboard side probe was a short shot (fortunately only on the base).

51144674591_bac1b5be4b_h.jpgSmart probe short shot. To be addressed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I cut the base so that the missing piece was squared off and added a strip of appropriate thickness of plasticard. Sorted... with a bit of tamiya thin to blend it in.

51145778675_58598e732b_h.jpgprobe addressed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I seem not to have taken any more photos of the probes... my bad! But I applied a pair of shades of alclad overall, and to these larger ones added some light gull grey to the base... eventually sealed in with a light coat of aqua gloss. They’ll make an appearance later in the story... just not in this section. Promise.

Then it was out with the oil brushers (black, white and starship filth)... decanted onto a board and then mixed to various shades and applied with a small brush... left to dry off for a few minutes and then blended. This was just on specific areas to begin with given that this was still mostly pre-decals... but sometimes it’s good to get some basic much in place in case the decal film becomes troublesome later on. It helped to practice and try to remember how to do it.

So... undersides of fuel tanks – pre blending

51145459059_a364d8e1f1_h.jpgFuel tank weathering... oilbrusher pre blending by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Wing root bags – first application

51144680206_880efccae1_h.jpgWeathering wing root bags. Oilbrusher pre blending. First layer by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Anti slip panels, and a second layer on the wing root bags

51144681856_c0d8c7827c_h.jpgAnti slip oilbrusher and second layer on wing root bags. All pre blending by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And a little on the underside to represent oil and high pressure hyd leaks from the engine nacelles. Noting that the fuel tanks are sitting in place temporarily, and are now blended. You can also see that the wings have had some treatment too, mainly along the flap hinge, just enough to imply some fluid seepage.

51144683611_dd66fff1a5_h.jpgUnderside. Fuel tanks blended. Hyd/oil leaks added by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The panels were then sealed with a light coat of aqua gloss and then some light sanding to vary the texture on the wing root bags

51144010182_1e3b7aad05_h.jpgAnti slip panels and wing bags blended, re aqua glossed and sanded by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

As a slight diversion, I decided to take a look at the missiles, and the caps that I’d use on the sidewinders. These resin pieces had been prepared before, but needed hollowing out. I had originally thought I’d cut the nose of the missile and just pin these on... but the hollowing out seemed a good option to try at least. And yes, with progressively larger drill bits I managed to open them out enough to sit snugly on the missile nose. Hopefully with some colour these will look good enough. Might need to “tie” them on, but I’ll take a look at the thin rigging wire I have first.

51145471224_6d34094cdd_h.jpgSidewinder sorting by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

When I’d been researching some of the decal details, I’d got a reply from Steve Riker, the aircraft’s RIO... which was fab. I’d been sent some photos of the time by him and I found a superb image of him sat in the rear seat (snapped from the front seat) with the aircraft on the carrier deck, hood open and with Steve grinning with arms draped over the cockpit sills. Well, I browsed the reedoak site and ordered some figures... I just need to add a suitable ‘tache to this one and maybe a simpler seat... and optionally drop that in. These resin pieces are superb.

51145799035_dde695945d_h.jpgHad to be acquired by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Decal time

It was finally time to start to add some markings, and for impact, I thought I’d start on the rear end. These are the DXM decals. The markings used are mostly those for aircraft 162611, except for the modex that are provided for earlier Wichita 103 161288. Fortunately, the number sizes and styles were quite constant. The ventral fin transfer needed a little trimming to fit (because I’d used the GWH fins) but with a little Daco strong everything sat quite nicely.

51145468879_aab25558b1_h.jpgFirst decals by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And here’s the port wing

51145478804_73743015a1_h.jpgPort wing. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Noticing an omission. I’d continued with the transfers, adding a few to the port side nose, with application of the larger insignia, modex number and information/warning panels. One item to add to the aircraft for the time depicted is that of the “Battle E”. By the time that 162603 was adorned with the mission kill marking, the E has the oblique underline added. I’ve not yet determined what the underline signifies... is it a double award (possibly)? This is what made me laugh.... if it’s a double award, the E originally stood for ‘efficiency’ and later for ‘excellence’. So... if it’s excellence, and a double award (double excellence) its omission from the DXM (double excellent) transfers sheet made me chuckle.

The cropped aircraft photo being one sent to me by Steve Riker.

51144024302_af291b0708_b.jpgNoticing an omission by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then continued with the transfers on the starboard side and noticed on inspection of the insignia markings that they were difficult to align with each other, and were both not sitting quite straight. I therefore decided to try to refloat these (tricky, having been set with some daco strong) but with some water, a small brush and perseverance, I was able to remove the port insignia and then worked on the starboard one. Some parts proved a little stubborn and needed a little help with tweezers. It worked fine for the port insignia but less so on the starboard side... and it lifted some paint with it. Oh ...... [insert chosen profanity here] I uttered!

51145488269_7a06fd203c_h.jpgOops. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

It happens!

Anyway, I carefully sanded the surrounding area to blend any edges and then tack-masked the area I needed to respray. With some additional card held near the model this would be enough masking to work with

51151373784_dada0bb720_h.jpgDamaged area sanded down and masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The end result didn’t look too bad and after a coat or two of aqua gloss, it’d be ready for transfers again.

 

51149915932_fb59873338_h.jpgPaint restored by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So here we are - paintwork and markings restored and sealed to the contours using some Daco strong (which works really well), catching some morning sunshine

51150594341_1d5a0c618a_h.jpgMarkings reatored by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Whilst we were at it, I posed it alongside my last build, with the intent to compare the shade of Light Gull Grey between the two. I’ll need better lighting and a similar finish for a right comparison... this will need matting down a bit and is a bit “gloss” at the moment, but I’m pleased that the result is subtle, and essentially lighter without being overly different from the basic scheme.

51151701700_8d6cf58be4_h.jpgSubtle light gull grey variations by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Missile pylons.

I then identified a further issue with the side pylons. I’d made these and aligned the fittings at an early stage, and the lesson from this was to take care on building items out of sequence. As mentioned a while back, I wanted to portray the aircraft with the short-range-interceptor fit 4 off each of AIM9s and AIM7s, requiring the dual LAU-7 rail fit on each pylon. This uses a slipper piece under the main pylon onto which the additional LAU-7 is fitted. The parts I’d used were from parts supplied as sample items from Tony Oliver, but I’d adjusted them to suit what I thought was the right alignment... when I conducted a test fit of the pylons, the error became evident. The LAU-7 rails are pointed nose down. Oops.

51150832663_d8d7393112_h.jpgProblem encountered: pylons too nose down by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51150833573_d66c98fb77_h.jpgProblem assessed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I did wonder whether an adjusted fit of the pylons themselves may adjust it, but that’d be making a further problem to try to hide an error – and making a mess of it. So, there was really no option but to carefully dismantle the pieces.

51150834583_196a5309e5_h.jpgPylons disassembled by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I opted for a drill and pin approach to provide some rigidity in the reassembly, and this allowed for test fits to check alignments. The side pylons were fitted with a single drilled pin “0.4mm wire” to alloy multiple angles to be assessed. Test fitted to determine what angle worked best, and this looked reasonable.

51151706685_fb5141506f_h.jpgSide LAU-7 attitude adjusted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The challenge was going to be the lower rails that needed some tidying up and replacement of the slipper piece (as I’d removed too much material and decided to make a fresh pair from plasticard.

I measured and cut a template from masking tape (based on the lower face of the pylon) and added these two some thick plasticard... and cut and shaped these to suit.

51150838063_4adc05ff99_h.jpgCarving new pylon slipper pieces by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Once to the right profile, I marked out the basic shape and then carved that a little before gluing it to the underside of the pylon and then carving some more, working to prototype photos for reference... of which I admit these are hard to come by so I’ve now (with a friend’s help) built up a bit of  selection of photos sourced from various online references. Test fits of the lower LAU-7 were made until I was happy that the rail would sit straight and the profile of the slipper looked about right.

51149931627_2e0dd8e8d4_h.jpgTest fit. New slipper piece with lau-7 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

These were also checked for toe-out, which is needed to ensure the missiles will not sit facing inwards viewed from underneath, and a further test assembly (dill/pinned alone) showing the revised angles achieved.

51150606411_10eb043962_h.jpgTwin LAU-7 toe out check by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51150842038_d8fbb051b9_h.jpgLAU-7 rails realigned by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The pylons were taken apart again, tidied and prepped for some glue. Apart from the rear lower pin, all pins are 0.2mm wire, with 0.3mm holed drilled. I’d had to buy a new pin vice (0.00mm to 0.8mm I think) which made this much easier.

51150608726_860f2d0532_h.jpgReady for glue by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Once assembled, these were primed with a dark grey mix (black and white primer mix) and then painted a light marbelling coat with some ghost grey (I was using on the missiles) and then with a couple of light-light gull grey coats to match the fuselage. A coat of aqua gloss sealed everything in.

51149936302_e586f7e8f3_h.jpgRe-primed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51151404734_b77948f5df_h.jpgPylons repainted and glossed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Missiles again.

As mentioned before (I think) I’d opted to use the GWH missiles and had to do a bit of research into checking which were the right AIM-7s (Fs or Ms) as the GWH kit sprues seemed to be marked wrongly. So, I went for the long conduit versions and, along with the sidewinders, gave them all a coat of Alclad black base. The sidewinders then had a Steel/exhaust mix coat applied to the nose sections and the sparrows had a 80:20 mix of black to white applied to the fins... to give a scale black... black would be too black!

They Sparrow fins were then masked and the nose of the sidewinders masked too. That took a while. The sparrows and two of the sidewinders then had a few light coats of MMP-001 White applied and two of the sidewinders had a similar few light coats of Light Ghost Grey FS36375. Once dry, a mass unmasking exercise commenced.

51150612301_6544490c1c_h.jpgUnmasking missiles by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The nose of the sparrows was masked to allow the radomes to have a light coat of Light Gull Grey, and this all looked good enough. A little tidying was necessary... but it looked ok. A couple of light coats of Aqua Gloss gave a nice good smooth finish, ready for decals.

51151399319_f8f80b1f2f_h.jpgSidewinders and sparrows basic paint by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Well... that was it, or was going to be, but first of all I noticed that the post pylon’s upper LAU-7 was still not straight (measure 15 times, cut once – should have measured 16 times) So, the side rail was removed, redrilled, tidied reapplied and repainted carefully... and then re-glossed. Better!

51161954713_1ce41ca807_b.jpgPylon straightened again by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, the reason for carrying on was a wish to try out the transfers my mate had made for me... per the earlier image. He provided me with plenty of spares to practice with, but most went on quite well... well, the ones visible here anyway. One of the four canopy rail transfers was a bit stubborn and I had four goes (spares... see!) whereas the other three were fine. Photos of those will need to follow. But the kill zap, modex numbers, BuNo and nose gear door markings were fine. So, I’ll just finish with these four shots which give the state of play at present. A coat or two of Mission Models Semi-gloss is needed and gluing the exhaust nozzles in (just pushed in at present), but then some cleaning up and demasking (and keeping the fingers crossed). But before that, I’ll add some silver to the missiles (now that they’ve been decaled) .. so plenty of little jobs to distract from the import stuff that needs to be done. But... getting there at last!

51162817395_8524743454_h.jpgDecals mostly done #2 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51162496409_dc1cec46fa_h.jpgDecals mostly done #3 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51161952273_8b5bad8e05_h.jpgDecals mostly done #1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51161962653_0321136e9d_h.jpgDecals mostly done... rear upper by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Thanks for reading.

Jonathan

Edited by Jon020
wrong photo linked
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Thanks for another great update Jon 👍, she's going to be a beauty when she's done. The patience and attention to detail you're putting in is epic!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Apologies for the radio silence recently; I must provide a proper update but for now, I'll just leave this here.

Nearly finished.

https://flic.kr/p/2kZVUAQ

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  • 2 weeks later...

Time for a proper update, and this time, there’s not a huge amount to say other than apart from resolving a minor fit issue, it went together.

So, the snag: When I was going around undertaking test fits on as many item as possible, the undercarriage doors were a focus, and whilst the large outer main gear doors too some fettling to get to sit, they looked like they’d all go in fine when the time came afterwards – which they did with a drop of odourless CA glue. However, it was clear that the nose gear had an issue and this was with the two small rear side doors, or rather the one on the starboard side, and the retraction jack (that I’d made a replacement for as it wasn’t in the kit). The photo shows the issue – it’s all a bit tight and would foul the hinge of the door

51215138367_53c26949b0_h.jpgRetraction jack snag by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, I gave this some though and decided that the hinge could be filed back a bit but the retraction jack needed a thinner piston shaft. I therefore removed the shaft from the plastic piece and with a 0.4mm piece of wire, bent at 90degs at the end and with a fitting made from a blob of solder that I then filed to shape, I made a new piston.

51216617584_8bb0c3422a_h.jpgNew retraction jack piston head by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Once cut to length and pushed into the hole drilled into the retraction jack body, this seemed to fit fine. Shown here prior tobe bring “painted” with a molotow liquid chrome pen.

51215145942_c2cb3d1bcd_h.jpgRetraction jack test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I painted the gear fitting too, and the result is seen here ready for reinstallation

51187800888_d991df8712_h.jpgNose gear ready for installation by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, a quick assembly required shot....

51171240524_7d077b2e59_h.jpgSome assembly required by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And a canopy details shot

51180831066_94100c3a2b_h.jpgCanopy details by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then got ready for assembly. In the process, I did add some small spots of oil brusher to the upper surfaces that I then blended away (mostly) to represent crew boot prints and scuffs, but they're barely noticeable. Just beforehand though, I played around with a pair of Reedoak figures... on the basis of a photo passed to me by Steve Riker (the RIO) that needed some reproducing. These will be painted (as best I can – they are quiet small) and I’ll fit these in to a painted up set of Academy seats to save losing the detail of the detailed GWH seats I’ve already prepared. They’ll not be permanently attached, so these can be swapped about as necessary.

51181051568_8455f8dd1e_h.jpgCrew test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So... I’ll not bore anymore.. it goes together ok, so here’s some “here it’s at, at present photos... waiting on a few more details (because let’s face it I forgot the El Coyote markings, the underlining of the Battle E, and the figures need painting... and that’ll take a while. So, anyway. here's a selection of photos snapped before fitting missiles and fuel tanks, when the aircraft looks its sleekest.

51187583421_5b425ddf47_h.jpgLatest test assembly 1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51187585401_294dbc82eb_h.jpgLatest test assembly 3 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51187586291_cf84bdc646_h.jpgLatest test assembly 4 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51187810958_7ca8fe3364_h.jpgLatest test assembly 9 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51195029292_7f17795925_h.jpgWichita 103 #1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51195741731_14299ca892_h.jpgWichita 103 #5 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Yaw string 0.01mm rigging wire

51196521474_dbc31ec58d_h.jpgWichita 103 #6 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51195957408_83ee0465fb_h.jpgWichita 103 #7 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Ah yes, the sidewinder caps added and finished with some 0.02mm rigging wire "ties"... which looked ok to my eye.

51196523689_2ccb4ca322_h.jpgWichita 103's sidewinders by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51196525864_2bd4e95fec_h.jpgWichita 103 #9 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51195747241_6b841537f2_h.jpgWichita 103 #10 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51196528619_cf8d34ef2a_h.jpgWichita 103 #13 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

A swept plan view

51196529414_4ee2e4d3ba_h.jpgWichita 103 #14 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Comparing Light Gull Grey shades

51196818205_dc3dad2035_h.jpgWichita 103 and Miss Molly #1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51195968948_c6a3c667bc_h.jpgWichita 103 and Miss Molly #3 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Slightly dirty undersides

51196822575_be2e1322b5_h.jpgWichita 103 #15 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51195972038_992ea0137a_h.jpgWichita 103 #16 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51196536804_b827c0ef1e_h.jpgWichita 103 #17 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Still to be fitted at some point soon... along with the fuel tanks and crew.

51215154437_bb2addfd44_h.jpgMissiles by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

More to follow.. soon, I hope.

Thanks ...

Jonathan

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