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Great Wall Hobby 1/72 F-14A - Now Bandwagon 202


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Having completed Hobbyboss and Academy’s 1/72 F-14As I thought that I probably knew enough about the aircraft layout to tackle one of the GWH kits that were sat leering at me from my stash. Just to recap – this was Tomcat No. 2 completed a couple of months ago

51363642362_c19dc65689_h.jpgWichita 103 HIP killer by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Familiarity would be useful given the borderline ambiguity in the instructions (lots of it but with wrong parts called up and add-in correction pages strewn loose in the box), and there are lots of bits to manage. So, armed with a little confidence, I thought I set about this with the belief that despite its complexity that there wasn’t too much wrong with the kit. Right? Well, perhaps that’s not quite right but those encountered so far have been addressed.

51403827901_544ec34364_h.jpgTomcat project no. 3 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

On opening the box, one can’t fail to be surprised at the number of parts crammed into the box attached quite well onto 29 sprues.... that’s quite a lot for a 1/72 aircraft kit. The instructions are as vague and error strewn as expected but at least all parts are labelled with an alpha and numeric so you can find them easily on the right sprue... or can you? Why oh why are there 7 A sprues? Where’s the sense in that? Did they forget to change the alpha designator I wonder.

As for subject, having completed a VF111 aircraft and a VF1, I thought I’d go for one of the other famous fighter squadrons and have opted for a VF84 aircraft; aircraft of other squadrons will follow... promise. However, as with my last model, I haven’t chosen one of the oft chosen schemes instead pluming for a 1988 rendition of the Squadron Commander’s aircraft BuNo 162702 which had the hi vis markings despite most other aircraft being quite plain at the time. The image that captured my attention is on page 226 of the kindle edition of Detail and Scale Colour and markings of U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats Part 1 (Atlantic) by Bert Kinsey (may he get well soon). The photo (and I’ve found others since) shows the aircraft presumably returning from a gunnery training mission, with a training AIM-9 round, an ACMI pod and plenty of soot staining around the canon muzzle. So, other than a twin AIM-9 LAU-7 fit on the wing pylons, it should all be do-able. The tan colouring on the radome adds a nice splash of colour to the rather weary looking finish it exhibits.

I’d acquired the kit about a year ago (or so)... it took a while to get to me from China... but that was in lockdown. It’s easier to come by now, but despite the time taken, the seller kept me informed with tracking info. I bought the Eduard sets (I’ll probably use some of the bits but probably far from all of them) and just before I started in earnest, the Quinta Studios 3D cockpit panel set. I’d been very impressed with how the transfers settled over the molded detail on the Academy kit but my friend Brian was experimenting with a few cockpit tubs from different manufacturers and found that the GWH transfers were not as refined as the Academy ones and didn’t settle as well... much thicker. So, the Quinta items were secured as a hopeful solution.

On closer inspection of some of the main parts, the panel lines seem quite nice but there seems to be a molding issue (mold alignment?) on some parts. One easy to illustrate example is on the nose halves. Here the starboard side and you can see that I’ve started to try to clean it up with some 400 grit paper. More work was needed, progressing to finer and finer papers until it was polished smooth and just a little re-engraving needed. This is not so much of an issue on the other nose half as it lines up with the gun panels, but it’s also evident on the intake trunking and lower fuselage half – each was addressed as above. Some smaller parts (such as nose gear) also exhibited this and they needed cleaning up a little more carefully. A check of the other two I had in my stash showed one to be worse and one to be about the same. I’d expected a little better in the quality control – or alignment of molds. At least it’s fixable... but at the cost of this kit, I’d hoped for better.

51404945485_992cea071b_h.jpgMolding lines. Hmmmmm by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Before starting, I’d noticed another builder tackling the kit, or a D model version of the kit, presented by rymulus. This identified that the RIO’s instrument panel and coaming were too narrow. So, this was the first thing I looked at, not really wishing to take the approach that rymulus has done with a complete scratch build of the panel (and you should see the rest of the detailing being undertaken – quite mind numbing and something my fingers and eyesight just couldn’t master) I set about to examine this and consider alternative options.

As you can see here, the coming is narrow – the instrument panels on the outer edge should overlap those of the panels that are in front of the cockpit side panels... evident here is that they don’t – the whole thing is far too narrow.

I suspect that if you had the canopy closed, it’d not matter too much. I’m doing mine open, or I’d hoped to... so, problem.

51404807070_2c0d439041_h.jpgNarrow RIO coaming by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Rymulus’s solution was to cut the coaming piece in half add 1mm in the middle and make a new IP. After some ferreting around I came up with an alternative approach. Some time ago I bought an Aires cockpit set for the Hasegawa kit (nope, not made that yet either), but it was damaged in transit, so the seller sent me another one. That was more damaged in transit and at that point we gave up. But, the RIO panel was fine (in each). I took a look to see if that would fit. The sills in the cockpit are a little narrower than the Hasegawa I guess, so some thinning of the edges was needed, but I did managed to see that this would fit. Will this work?

51404808355_4065199efa_h.jpgAires RIO coaming to the rescue. Pre fettling by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

One other item that I needed to resolve was that of the facia. Here the Aires item (right) and GWH item (left) are compared... with the Quinta 3D print (sized for the GWH kit) part 25.

51403832851_b04ea24f67_h.jpgRIO panel comparison. Quinta 3D print behind by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

My solution was to file the face flush and cut up the Quinta part into three items, as I’ve shown here positioned on the Aires panel. With some paint and touching up. I hope it’ll work. It’s what I’ve decided upon at least. As the upper panel is larger (again), I’ll retain that and paint it carefully.

51404591014_0e3244d115_h.jpg3D print cut up and positioned on fettled Aires item by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

With the Aires item added and the coaming side panels now all glued in place (tamiya thin) and sanded flush, the rear bulkheads looked decidedly sparse, so I decided to add some finesse with some stretched sprue, plasticard, microstrip and lead wire... some filler and some artistic license. The Aires coaming was actually a little damaged; it’s handle on the top was cracked and didn’t take to prising into position, so a new one from plasticard and stretched sprue was made and added... and some further lead wire details added.

51403836876_6413718e76_h.jpgCockpit tub detailed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I’d a pair of GWH detailed seats that I’d made for the Academy kit that I could use, as I fitted the Academy seats in the end, etched out a bit to take a pair of Reedoak figures, but I decided to keep them to go in the VF1 kit should I decide to display it sans crew at any point and went to use the Aires seats that had come in the Aires cockpit set (that was damaged)... seats were fine. Width wise these sit fine, although I added a plasticard spacer under each to rise them to the right height.

51403838291_bf776c7998_h.jpgDetailed tub with Aires seats by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And shown here inside the nose section for a dry-test fit

51403093127_e25bd2cc65_h.jpgTub trial fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Two other items that need attention at this stage of the build are the nose gear bay, and the nose gear leg (which I put “mostly” together at the same time to check, check, check and recheck fit – to confirm that it will go in later in the build. It will.

The gear bay has some detail, but as rymulus shows in that build, the nose gear bay is the wrong shape (!) and the detail is molded quite heavily and still relatively sparse. I thought I took more photos that I seem to have (at a time when time was limited due to other commitments so I just build some bits when I could) but I added some plasticard and microstrip and lead wire to the nose gear bay to fill it out a bit. I did the same to the nose leg, mainly to add pipework etc, but not too much. Important – the nose leg still fits in.

51403846531_b1cfbd9686_h.jpgNose gear in bay test fit. Fettled and detailed (Eduard, microstrip and lead wire) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The nose leg is shown here after some primer and paint was added. It’ll be cleaned up and sorted before going further. I’ve left the two side actuators off at present (are they kneeling actuators?) so that I can paint the oleo easier. I’ll add them later in the build... they’re attachment is quite large to shouldn’t pose a problem. I’d had to add them in the Academy kit as they’re missing (as is the retraction jack)... again not shown here, but is best to fit into the bay, fit the leg, then attach the jack to the leg. I’ve tried several options.

51404613919_705807f5ae_h.jpgDetailed nose leg painted white by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Right, so back to the build. RIO coaming – I’ve a plan. Good. Press-on.

Fuselage halves and intakes are quite a complicated set of assemblies but go together quite well. Dry fit several times before committing to glue... noting that some parts are a little vague in placement in the instructions, that opened rear top of the intake rear behind the ramps, being one example. Oh, and the rear ramp too. Anyway, with some trial and error and patience, it can all be dry assembled, except the jack on the rear ramp, and test fitted. On inspection through all angles, it became evident that there is a gap that can just be seen through the intake where the fuselage upper half joins (or doesn’t quite) the lower half.

51404824440_9319d98cd3_h.jpgDiscovered intake gap by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

On looking at photos, a PE piece would be ideal for this to depict the framing of the item that sits here neatly, but I decided to make a couple of small, thin, plasticard inserts to attach to the fuselage lower half, big enough to cover the gap. And these are shown here

51404826290_c2d4232ac7_h.jpgIntake gap solution by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51404828350_0d3366ee4f_h.jpgAdded bits, another view by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

When the two halves are now brought together, the gap is hidden. Not perfect, but it’ll do

51403849596_0d62d5190a_h.jpgGaps hidden by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

A little filler was added to hide the injection marks inside the intakes although I wasn’t sure these would be visible or not. The forward sparrow recesses have a large hole at the front of each, possibly to allow location of the phoenix pylons. Why these are fully molded as holes when all other holes need opening out, I don’t know... but I put a small piece of plasticard over the inside and filled these too. You may be able to see a little filler at the rear of the gun port cover. Hmmm  another kit error to explain.

51403851451_57fc635d78_h.jpgSome filler needed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The kit comes with a choice of two gun port options, an early and later A model version. But both parts have vents at the rear that only appeared very late on in production; the rear panel may have an access hatch but no vents.

51403105252_8cc12e5c9e_h.jpgWrong gun cover by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

As filler would not take in the shallow cut outs and the overall panel was too recessed, I cut out the offending panel to a shallow depth and added a new thin piece of plasticard to replace it.

51404608514_5371162ebb_h.jpgFixing the rear of the gun cover by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The plastic was thin so I cut out the shape of the access cover

51404118823_61b58f3f48_h.jpgAccess cover hole cut out by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And added a new part to fit within the hole. Not perfect, but it’ll do and it corrects another error ... hopefully I’ll not find (too m)any more.

51403857996_a9ee3853c6_h.jpgPanel complete by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Today, I pressed on with some paint after primer and first cover coats had dried (Mig one-shot) ... intakes and bits, in white... along with nose gear bay etc., all with Mission Models acrylic; cockpit tub was painted in a 70/30 mix of mission models Light Ghost Grey and Light Gull Grey in an attempt to match the Quinta Studios parts; some black added to the outer parts of the coamings (MM paints 70/30 mix of tire black and black) and details were then highlighted some details and painted detail parts (coaming fabric, seats, tub details) with Humbrol enamels as is my preference on small parts.

51404119133_e7faf1c412_h.jpgFirst proper paint session by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, in summary, at least I’ve started. At the moment, I have less time for modelling than at any point in the last few years so maybe I should have chosen a simpler kit. The kit complexities were known and I’d been advised of the need for plenty of test fits to ensure all is well before committing to glue. The parts’ fit is quite good... but a little vague in areas. The kit errors and quality of molding is a little annoying as I had expected a little more in terms of quality... but I will persevere with the hope that it will provide something that is worth the effort.

Thanks for reading.


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10 hours ago, billn53 said:

Excellent recognition and correction of errors. More excuses reasons why I’ll wait a while before starting mine!

Please don't let my ramblings put you off starting yours 😉 As with lots of these projects, I think it's only by opening the box up and giving it a go that we can find out what needs to be tackled, rather than just depending on a review by someone else. "Leaning by doing". However, it's clear that this model has not had the publicity in the local (UK) mags that the academy kit has enjoyed and that was a simpler build. Fingers crossed that the GWH kit will have the edge in some areas.... but I guess we'll see



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4 hours ago, Jon020 said:

Please don't let my ramblings put you off starting yours 😉 As with lots of these projects, I think it's only by opening the box up and giving it a go that we can find out what needs to be tackled, rather than just depending on a review by someone else. "Leaning by doing". However, it's clear that this model has not had the publicity in the local (UK) mags that the academy kit has enjoyed and that was a simpler build. Fingers crossed that the GWH kit will have the edge in some areas.... but I guess we'll see




Thanks. Looking through my stash, I have HobbyBoss, Academy, GWH, and Fine Molds Tomcats to choose from. I think there's even an old Italeri "Bombcat"  in there, as well. So, which I choose to build first will depend partially on how much "fixin' and fettlin'" I'm willing to put up with.

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5 hours ago, billn53 said:


Thanks. Looking through my stash, I have HobbyBoss, Academy, GWH, and Fine Molds Tomcats to choose from. I think there's even an old Italeri "Bombcat"  in there, as well. So, which I choose to build first will depend partially on how much "fixin' and fettlin'" I'm willing to put up with.

I started with the Hobbyboss and did quite a bit of improving with details etc (thread on here somewhere)... the Academy is good (new 2019 tooling) and whilst the Finemolds was the first Tomcat I bought, I've yet to work out what to do with it. A while ago a friend pointed out something that had been posted about the wing shape - yup its wrong in profile... another of those, looks fine, and then you see it, I'm wondering about whether I could use a Hasegawa wing set or perhaps something else... or maybe all panels open on heavy maintenance without wings... which is why it's still waiting. I've Hasegawa and Fujimi (and Ka) in the stash too.... 

A problem... nah, I think I can handle it 😉


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Thought I'd just post this quickly... yesterday's attachment of the Quinta Studios 3D print cockpit panels. Easy to use and could be easily cut (with a sharp blade) to adapt to my installation... secured with a little glue n glaze pva type glue.

Quite Studios 3D print cockpit panels attached


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  • 1 month later...

Good evening everyone. It’s probably time for an update as I’ve been making a little process these last few weeks, albeit not as much as I would have hoped; partly because spare time has been quite scarce, but also because this kit continues to throw obstacles in my way; for a kit that was supposedly touted as the best 1/72 F-14 kit available, it’s certainly got its fair share of issues that I’ve had to tackle. However, I’ll admit that having watched some build videos, if you just went ahead and built it to the instructions (assuming you worked out their errors) and didn’t look too closely at some items afterwards, you could end up with a splendid model. As I’m trying to make the most of the kit and add a few improvements along the way, it’s throwing challenges at me... I keep battling them and working improvements in (I hope) and many have said to keep at it because it’s worth it in the end... and all I can say is that it had better be!

So, where to start. Let’s start with something simple. The intake trunkings were primed and painted an appropriate pattern of white and Light Gull grey, the demarcation line following the usual pattern as can hopefully be seen in the photo. Primer was Ammo one shot (a primer I’m really getting to like) and colours were Mission Models. I think in my last post, they were just white. Engine fan face was picked out with black and the spinners painted a darker grey (ghost or dark gull – I now forget). They’re quite flat compared to those in the Academy kit, but when looking down the intake this isn’t noticeable.

51558411003_cdef271e63_h.jpgIntakes painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Ok... so, let’s sidestep the next issue I encountered and attack that at the end (wings)... so moving swiftly on, I was still working with two loose fit assemblies – the main fuselage and nose sections... trying to get as much dry test fitted and refined before committing to glue. For the main fuselage halves, these were taped together and the unwanted AN/ALR-45 antenna fairings were just sanded off. I’m not sure why GWH includes this on a kit intended for aircraft in early A model schemes, but they’re easily sanded back and tidied up

51559134560_5bd18af4f8_h.jpgRemoving the AN/ALR-45 fairing by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The nose section halves have a few holes in them... Sparrow fin holes phoenix pallet mounting holes (not sure why these weren’t blind holes like most other holes and the cannon sell chute (that I’d drilled out).. and the refuelling probe hole, and the undernose IR sensor mounting holes. All holes that would later allow plastic shavings (or paint) inside once it was all sealed up. So I blanked them with some plasticard. When I made the academy F-14, some plastic shavings got in through the IR sensor mount holes when I was shaping the nose/cone fit... and ended up on the inside of the windscreen that had been fitted and masked. So I found these later on. Fortunately they were removable with a fine brush, but if paint had got in it would have been a different story. Lesson learnt.

51558218261_0e863ac2c8_h.jpgCovering up the holes by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Back to the cockpit tub and a couple more photos of it with the Quinta studios bits in place. There are bits to add to the seats (they can wait) from either Quinta or Eduard) and a couple of other handles for the tub. These will wait until it’s in a more secure surround. But they’ll do for now. Seats and RIO coaming are loose

51559146320_195f25bf42_h.jpgCockpit tub assembly by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51557430272_1927457ddf_h.jpgScale of cockpit tub by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

One thing I wanted to do was put another figure in, but possibly not a pilot. This Reedoak crewman figure is lovely. His legs are unfortunately too close together to squeeze in around the central column of the forward IP, but he just about fits in the rear seat, and I think looks quite good, although I did have to sand off a little of his bottom (sorry) but he’s low enough now. Fit is a challenge, and it’s a case of seat, then figure, then RIO coaming. But that’s fine. I think it’ll be worth it for an aircraft parked up awaiting crew.

51558461688_a692877a3a_h.jpgReedoak figure test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

But that crewman will need to get in (and out) so I’ll be doing the steps open and ladder down. The kit parts are ok... but a bit basic. So, ripe for improvements. I tried the Eduard parts, but these are intended to make up a complete assembly, steps and cover and ladder, and if I did that, I realised I’d then be looking at it and wondering how on earth to attach it to the aircraft. There’s no provision. The kit plastic steps have a tongue that slots into a receptacle in the steps bay... simple. Not too robust but good enough. You’ll see in later photos that I didn’t think this was strong enough, and I’d need a means to hold the steps for painting, so I drilled a hole in the middle of the tab and inserted a length of 0.4mm wire to hold it with... and once shortened this will improve the fit of the steps.

However, at this point I was toying with removing the plastic ladder and adding the Eduard ladder as shown

51558921214_d6ca244d8d_h.jpgDetailing the crew ladder - Eduard. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

But I didn’t like that as the rungs should sit between the ladder frames, and didn’t. There were also no holes in the sideframes and whilst I later tried to drill these out to add the rungs properly, it wasn’t successful and the bits went into the “don’t look” box... but not yet the bin. I had the flightpath set too... and this also makes up a complete assembly, but I decided to use the sideframes, drill out three of the holes a little more and add rungs made of 0.2mm wire... seen here pre-trimming

The side frame isn’t as refined as the Eduard one, but I think the result is a better shape.

51558928764_47ae34d58e_h.jpgImproved access ladder - flightpath items + wire by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then looked at the bay and what was inside – it was blank. Not good enough – so the upper section (that would be visible) was drilled out, then cut out – with a sharp Swann Morton No. 11to full plastic thickness and a thin plasticard sheet blanked off at rear.

51558472633_f02cfcd113_h.jpgDrilling out by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Some very basic details were added based on close-up photos... nothing too detailed but enough to suggest stuff inside... and of course the canon ammunition run that passes through the top right corner.

51558479863_2b1b088ed6_h.jpgSome basic details by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

With the Eduard steps folded up and placed in loose, and the completed hybrid access ladder, this is the final result before all the loose bits were put in a box carefully for paining later.

51559180695_141c8b7eb8_h.jpgCrew access complete... for now by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Well... I was getting close to the stage where I could join the nose up... I’d better check the nose probe will be ok for fitting later. Boy, am I glad that I did.

So, I decided that the kit probe bay cover was a bit thick (it is) so I decided to cut out and fold up the Eduard cover instead. I measured it over the hole and yes, it’s too short. With it on the probe, open, it doesn’t matter, but blimey, come on Eduard!

Measure once, cut twice... or is it the other way around 😉

To get the probe door to fit the probe needed a little shimming of the brackets... but that was done later. The first issue noted was that when it was fitted the rear of the cover looked to be too far forward, it didn’t sit in the rear narrow part of the bay. Something was wrong. Yup, the hole that the probe locates in is too far forward... by about its own size. I undertook lots of test fitting as a opened out the hole rearwards, and once satisfied added a piece of white plastistrip into the hole’s original opening... as can be seen.

51557468732_f048b17ad8_h.jpgRefuelling probe attachment relocation - aft by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

A number of test fits and getting the probe cover to sit in a location that seemed to present the right angle to the probe extended, and the right place in the bay (I think there were at least a dozen attempts glued on, removed, sanded down, re glued... and repeat) ... finally I was happy.

51558274776_9b5fd7f3ae_h.jpgProbe positioned; Eduard cover attached by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The only problem then is that the bay is empty... and boring. If the probe is going to be deployed, the bay ought to reflect some of the cable runs and pipework inside... and perhaps the scissor link that deploys the probe? Yes, I know it’s small, but with some styrene plastristrip, microstrip, lead wire and patience, I made up a representation of the actuator link and some of the bay items... that will hopefully be good enough. I can even have the red light on (or a blob or red paint at least) the actuator to display “locked” giving a little colour too.

51558280656_37e87ae160_h.jpgProbe bay details by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So... that’s all the issues tackled with the nose. I hope. The nose gear bay had had a splash or two of colour over several evenings a few weeks prior, so I grabbed a couple of photos of what that looked like for now. Some further weathering can be added later but colour wise I thought this was enough for a mid-life A model. It highlighted the Eduard bits and the lead wire I’d added to fill it up a bit – not fully as it could have been, but with my prvious models I found I never went back and looked in the bays once the model was finished, so I didn’t go overboard here.

51558289976_ee1f5d6b2b_b.jpgNose gear bay detailed and painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Given the work on the nose gear bay, and the refuelling probe bay, I made up a pair of plasticard covers (masks) that would sit in the openings to keep paint out later... and protect the bits. Dry fitted for now.

51558530443_82899ed250_b.jpgPlasticard masks for bays... to protect when painting by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The nose section was then all glued together (tamiya thin) and held fast with some tape. Once dried, I added the forward front upper piece which (whilst the instructions omitted altogether), suggested that it be added after the cockpit coaming and IP were attached to the tub. That seemed fraught with possible alignment problems, so having dry fitted and checked the coaming/IP could be added after, I added the upper piece that needed only minor sanding and rescribing at the edges, and then the coaming/IP. One problem I encountered here is that the coaming sat slightly to the starboard side at the rear. On close examination it could only be that the extreme port side of the IP{ was fouling the cockpit tub slightly; so I took a fraction of a mm off the IP end and tried refitting... a couple of times. When this looked straight enough, I loosely applied the windscreen over the top to make sure that this could (now) sit centrally (on first fit, it didn’t, and I found the coaming wasn’t sat straight (dry fit only), so the fettling was undertaken). The windscreen was fine. So, that’d do and I carefully glued this in with Tamiya thin “capillaried” under the edges.

One item to point out is the reflector sight. Previously I’ve used aluminium foil or tape for this, but I painted this using a Molotov chrome pen... which seemed to work quite well, or well enough anyway.

Note step/ladder access hole has a plasticard cover on it too

51561277572_680d75b329_h.jpgNose section from front quarter by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51562755124_747d3d4bb0_h.jpgNose section from rear by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, one final item of positive progress.. ballast. I used my preferred Delux Liquid Gravity set with some Rocket Hot CA, and then blanked off with a plasticard backing plate (in case anything works loose. 8 grams is more than enough.

51558988934_d7e0bda3f2_h.jpgNose cone loaded with liquid gravity. 8g total by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I’ve not attached this yes, as I want to add the final details to the coaming and then apply the windscreen to protect it. I need to add the glass tint to the central panel first too... the to do list goes on.

The problem

OK, so I’d implied there was a problem with the wings didn’t I. Well, I quite liked the idea of a dirty-wings deployment, but I am limited on the width of the shelves in my glass fronted display case so I decided I ought to do wings clean so that they can be swept (and the cabinet door closed – 3mm spare space). But, I have three of these kits and I wondered whether there was any mileage in doing two sets of wings that I could share between the two models. Having given this some thought (this will be Victory 201) I kept looking for similar schemed (LGG) large stars/bars and modex 201 aircraft. I think I’ve found a few options... but favoured one may rely on some 1987 era VF2 markings. We’ll see.

So, first of all, the clean set. Ok, so the wing is supplied with the option of a dirty wing, so before fitting the slats, the slat guide rails need cutting back. These can then be glued in place. But, they’re thick! The fit is ok but not prefect but they’re too thick so material needs removing from both the upper and lower surfaces of the slat to enable it to conform to the wing profile. Maybe it’s the wing that’s too thin!

51558189781_37168cabf3_h.jpgWings - resolving the fit. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The upper and lower parts aren’t a brilliant join and there is a step between the lower piece and the wing tip that’s part of the upper piece... sanding and filling and rescribing needed.

It’s a little similar with the flaps and underside piece that get added... the flaps are too thick but this can generally be removed from the underside and rescribed. But this simplifies the faff and amount of sanding and rescribing that has not been needed in either of the previous kits (well, actually a little was needed, but at least they were the same sizes) and for a kit of this supposed quality, I expected more. Here’s the finished, sanded, smoothed etc wings on a pair of plasticard holders ... made to the same dimensions as the tabs that attach to the fuselage – useful when wings will be painted.

51558886624_18a252f465_h.jpgWings .... tidied by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, having gone through all of that, I thought that if I then made a set of dirty wings, they ought to look perfect; after all, this is clearly what the kit was intended for – surly


The fit isn’t brilliant here either, and whilst I’ll not go into the details, this simple photo shows the step between the lower and upper halves. Maybe next time I’ll add a shim between the two faces.

51558308411_d77e9f1524_h.jpgWings fit - dirty wings... Lower half too thin. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I’ve not tackled the spoilers yet. I did think of closing them, but that’d mean making plasticard/styrene replacements to sit better, and the hasegawa kit doesn’t have these, so maybe I should do them here – but the trough of each bay needs detailing with pipework, wiring and actuators otherwise they’ll look a bit bland. So I’ll work on that next.


So, the flaps were attached (and I should have thinned that inner spoiler trailing edge first (I forgot), and I looked at how the slats would attach (although I may leave them off for ease of painting. Whilst I’ll not go into details about the sink marks that riddle the inside lower faces (visible when slats deployed) – 6 sink marks on each slat, but the sit of the slat needs mentioning. It’s not right is it!
It’s probably easier to see from the underside, but I’ve taken a upper surface photo. As shown and fitted, the slat looks to sit equally deployed along its entire span, leaving the outer end further away from the wing aerodynamically given the reduced thickness. Looking at photos, the slat extension is further inboard than outboard so that the “gap” through the slot is uniform; here the distance to the wing spare is uniform.

51558999474_866a7ce395_h.jpgSlats... that's not right.... or is it? by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

A comparison (not photographed) with a hasegawa kit in my stash shows the slat guide rails are 3.7mm in length at the inboard end and  2.1mm at the outboard end. The GWH are 2.7mm throughout (measurements will vary depending on where measurement is made, but the difference is clear, the slat guide rails at the outboard end should be about 60% the length of the outboard ones.

I’ve not drawn up a clean way of universally paring these back but I will, with care. But it’s another item to be wary of.... wings clean or dirty, they’re not great.

Again, I just hope the kit is worth the effort. I will persevere... and hope it gets easier.


Until next time, thanks for reading and please fire any comments and questions below. 


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20 hours ago, 2lefthands said:

Excellent work! Beautiful Tomcat on top!

Thanks... I think I've now solved the wing slat problem and sanded down the outer three slat guide rails.... I'll take a photo later, but suffice to say, the alignment now looks ok.

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  • 3 weeks later...


Time for an update: In my last post I was describing the problems with the wings, and then followed that with a hint that I’d sorted the slat positioning. It wasn’t too difficult to just pare back the outer slat guide rails less than 2mm and the others proportionately, so that once reinserted, and drooped, they looked fine.

51640082515_9b91ba7c2d_b.jpgSlat extension trimmed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Having sorted that, I turned my attention to the spoilers that I wanted to have deployed (it’d be tricky with this kit to have them closed without additional work ... and there are other kits that can produce a slats/flaps deployed, spoilers closed wing (e.g. Hasegawa) so best use to me made of this one. The Eduard etch adds some nice inner surface detail, but that really served to highlight the sparseness of the bay underneath with nothing in it. Photos show this festooned with pipework/harnesses, hydraulic actuators and the flap drive shaft at the rear. At this scale, making truly accurate representations of the actuators wasn’t going to be achievable (with my cack-handed fingers and ageing eyesight) but I started off making up some stretched sprue of different thicknesses that I felt would come in useful. It did. I started of with one of the large actuators made from hollowed out styrene rod and strip threaded onto stretched sprue that was trimmed to size/shape, and the first one popped in place with some tamiya thin. At the distance this will be viewed at, it should be enough (to begin with)

51639252831_443160d325_b.jpgSpoiler bay details - step 1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I continued the process with the mid-span actuators that were similar and the smaller outboard actuators, and added a smaller box section at the inboard end; I added some styrene rod “slithers” either side of each flap rail and connected each with more stretched sprue to represent the flap drive shaft. I’ve not got the 1/48 AMK kit, but my mate was able to send me some photographs of the parts on the sprue that, combined with all the photo references I could find (and detail books) helped put this in place.

51639934694_2dc092564a_b.jpgSpoiler bay details - Step 2 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Then, it was just a case of adding a number of lengths of 0.2mm lead wire to add further detail and clutter the bays just a little more; not too much, but just enough to break up the tidy/neatness of the clear bays... because they really aren’t. With some paint and dark shading this should be enough.

51638456992_1fa71ace6d_b.jpgSpoiler bay details - Step 3 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Exhausting exhausts

My go-to preference for aftermarket resin exhausts is Aires. They are crisp, neat and (mostly) work well. However, Aires does not do a set for this kit, and as we know that the kits are all slightly different in many areas, not least the exhausts/cowls, it thought it best to start with a set that was marketed as designed for this kit. ResKits offer such an item, so I acquired three sets (two mixed exhausts for A models and one for the D) as I have three GWH kits. However...

The parts are made from a much softer resin than that of the Aires crisp resin I’d used before. I have been assured that in 1/48th, these parts are delightful; but it seems that at 1/72, the parts are just scaled down versions. This sounds reasonable in theory, but in practice, if the detail scribing is also scaled down, it will become much harder to see and easier to get lost under a little paint. This was an initial concern, but holding them to natural light, it was evident that the detail was there (very fine) and that possibly, under a coat of gloss black primer and some Alclad metals they’d look nice. But before that, I’d have to see how they’d fit.

Unfortunately, as with most of these parts, the instruction illustrations are a little simplistic and working out where to cut (and what) required some pondering to get the exhaust nozzle to sit on the exhaust tube. This was, however, managed, but the tube has a pronounced lip around its rear end that does not sit within the exhaust cowl (no matter how much is trimmed from the inside ring; I felt it’d need the rear edge of the cowl thinning considerably to allow a fit, so much more work than anticipated. This would also explain (possibly) why the exhaust nozzle would not sit inside the cowl, as shown. But, I thought about persevering...

51639507748_d6a5e0111d_b.jpgExhaust 1 Reskit test by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

However, and I apologise for the poor quality image, in looking into the exhaust tube, the detail is quite disappointing. Sure, it’s probably a bit better than the kit parts but it just represents the segmented tube lacking the grid/mesh finish evident in photographs, and wonderfully portrayed in the Aires sets. This might be due to the down-scaling from 1/48th again, but normally some evidence of detail would be thought to be evident, but it isn’t.

51640153515_6a8a0af129_b.jpgExhaust 2 Reskit insides by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

After writing that, I decided that the photo wasn’t good enough, so here’s another just snapped to compare the Reskits part with the Aires part. And remember, this is the “old” Aires part for the Hasegawa kit... but hopefully serves to illustrate my point re visible details.

51640114132_b18c658442_b.jpgExhaust 2a reskits Vs Aires by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

This caused me to have a think and look at the kit parts and what else I had to hand. I think that this was the point that I noted that the instructions call up the wrong cowls to be used. The photo shows what was in the box... puzzlingly so. There are two different sprues covering rear end variations for the kit, P for the older versions and Q for the newer ones. The instructions point to using cowls Q12 and Q13. I wouldn’t... as these are for the GE110 engines; for an A, you need to use P6 and P7 for the P&W TF30  So... mind your Ps and Qs. Oddly there are also to P sprues in the kit... well.. almost. One of them lacked the cowl rings and vertical fins; nope, I’ve no idea why! Note that these also include the beaver and boat tails, and different airbrakes for each of these.

51640156070_e2318ea33f_b.jpgSpare sprue (mostly) incorrectly referenced bits by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, having given this all some thought, i decided that actually, I’d try the Aires ones. Now, the older ones of these need some care in cutting and assembling and the exhaust nozzle can sit inside kit cowl (in some cases) but the exhaust tube is a butt fit. Here, I tried the pair of Hasegawa-fit Aires items and found them a perfect fit. That’s good. The Aires items for the Academy kit have a cleverer interface and the tube sits just inside the exhaust nozzle part for a stronger fit. So, I ordered some of these (as I’d run out and, to be honest, I’ve two more academy kits to do one day), but when these arrived and I tried them they were too large (diameter wise). So again, the variations in kits shines through again. These will go back into the box awaiting the relevant kit to come to the top of the pile, and I’ll settle on using the Hasegawa items I had... or will I (more of that to follow).

Perfect fit though:

51639519773_e605120534_b.jpgExhaust 3 - Aires (for Hasegawa) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51639524848_020a1f34e7_b.jpgExhaust 4 Aires on trimmed kit cowls by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And so we continue to the next item, the next issue, that is not a result of trying to improve the kit, but that of working with what the kit provides. The kit that just keeps on giving. Exhaust cowls:

The kit comes with two versions of cowls (as was shown on the sprues photo above); one for early As and the other for A+/B/Ds. It provides the boat tail and beaver tail and airbrakes to suit. The kit is intended to portray a VF1 or VF41 aircraft and suggests that if making the VF1 aircraft, you use the boat tail, and the beaver tail for the VF41 aircraft. Note that the colour guides in the instructions only show beaver tailed aircraft! Now, I just checked and the VF1 aeroplane is BuNo 158979. Tomcat Alley has this as Block 70 aircraft, so a boat tail is fine; the photo of it shows it in a rather attractive Ferris scheme.. something for another project perhaps. The VF41 aircraft is similarly shown as a Block 90 aircraft... so this is at least right; the beaver tail coming in at (about) block 75 or so I understand.. and retrofitted of course to some. However, the boat tail is broader at the rear and there is a deeper cut out in the exhaust cowls to accommodate this. This cut out is not needed with a beaver tail so it leaves a gap if the parts as directed are used.

51639536983_1a09f00618_b.jpgExhaust 5 - A model cowls on beaver tail (gap) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

If you pick up the other kit cowls (for the GE110) then the difference is apparent. It would have been nice if the kit could have provided cowls for each version – but it does not provide for an A model post block 70... so it’s wrong for the VF41 aircraft and of course wrong for the Block 140 aircraft I’d planned to depict.

51640190190_04d826dd66_b.jpgExhaust 6 cowl comparison. A right; B/D left .. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Yes, it’s a simple fix – just apply some filler and cut back.

51639327091_b36a4b8994_b.jpgExhaust 7 - cowl filler by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51639991499_6f6e23fe64_b.jpgExhaust 8 - left cowl filler trimmed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51639554998_b7e2e05efe_b.jpgExhaust 9 test fit, gaps filled and trimmed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

But isn’t it a shame that the kit, as complex and full of parts that it is, does not provide for the combination of parts intended. Perhaps I’m just being picky.

Moving on

So... let’s get on with it. That was the last item worthy of pre-assembly fettling and test fitting, so it was time to pop the intakes onto the lower fuselage half and then join the upper and lower halves, having remembered to add the forward vanes (parked) and the wing attachment post. I deviated from the assembly steps as they recommend putting the top and bottom halves together before adding the intakes.. but to get a good tight snap-fit, I preferred to add the intakes to get them to snap in tight by holding the insides of the lower half (do lots of test fits and see what works best – for this one, it was this)

A little sanding and tidying was needed around the rear end, but not much. The exhaust cowls aren’t glued on – just dry fitted to sand/blend in neatly and reduce gaps for assembly later post-paint.

I then decided to add the kit parts for the upper bypass doors, but on removing them from the sprue and cleaning them up, I found that once fitted, the vertical sides were raked too far forward ad looked wrong. The Eduard etch has a set, so I folded these up. A test fit is shown. These are all square at the trailing edge, so I’ll have to file the sides to produce the needed vertical edge, but easier than the plastic ones that would need material added. I’ll sort the shape and the prime the insides and add some white (or light grey), along with the insides on the fuselage... before joining them together.

51639347856_d18cb3d05e_b.jpgMain body assembled... bypass vents etch by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

At this point, I decided to just pop the nose on (with some tape) to see how it looked (a nice tight and smooth fit – no issues look to exist there – fingers crossed) and then slid on the dirty wings and the horiz stabs that were a nice tight-ish fit.

Before I do join the front and rear together, I must remember to detail the main gear bays!

51638525867_226f9e3619_b.jpgMain components test (loose) assembly by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Just before we move on from here, one final point that I’d pondered. The kit allows the airbrakes to be opened and they look quite nice, so I’d planned to represent this. However, as I’d planned to depict a shut-down aircraft (as I’d done with my two other models previously) this has one exhaust nozzle closed and the other open (a result of hydraulics depressurising before the second engine winds down meaning that the nozzle doesn’t close. So... how would the airbrakes be open? First thought was that I’d have them closed then.

Then I realised I’d opened the spoilers. Drat! Ok, so I’ve ordered some more Aires nozzles... and I’ll do them both open or both closed, so some hydraulics is pressurised and they can all be open.

Please note that the Eduard set includes pieces for inside the airbrakes, but only for the beaver tail airbrakes; it doesn’t cater for the larger boat tail airbrakes. One to watch for!

Moving on ... again

The Eduard sets for the hobbyboss and academy kits include small coloured etches (albeit flat) to represent the small indicator units that sit either side of the front cockpit coaming (actually hanging from the windscreen glazing, but that would be really fiddly to fit) These parts are included by Eduard for the GWH kit (or the FM kit) and is probably one of those factors that we see with Eduard sets where some great bits are provided for some kits but no others (annoyingly!). Whilst these items are not very evident generally, they do add a little more interest to the front cockpit, so I decided to make my own from Styrene strip which I cut down to shape and then left longer at the back (front-facing end – so that t could be held in a mini craft clip and painted – black, and then some dark grey and a little red to represent the indicators.

The lower image shows one trimmed for fitting, the other still held in the clip.

51640220060_1462e1a057_b.jpgCoaming indicator units by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And these were then fitted using a drop of odourless (Bob Smith Industries) CA; any shiny glue bits painted over when dry – when the rear face (cut off bit) was also painted over. All using Mission Models paint neat, and a very fine brush.

51639594503_b778b8cc76_b.jpgCockpit coaming complete. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The other point to note in the upper of the above photo is the addition of the small panel that sits ahead of the windscreen central panel. The kit instructions (oddly added quite late in the build) calls for part Q6. Nope, for a normal A model, it’s wrong. Remembering here that we need to mind our Ps and Qs, there is also a part P12. Take a good close look at both and it’s clear that whilst both have the fine fastener details around the edge, Q6 is otherwise smooth. P12 has the three representations of the screen blower/washer jet outlets that were fitted until quite late (and on Bs/Ds), so make sure the right bit is added.

So in summary – not as much progress as would be wished for but it’s getting there at least.

Thanks for reading and as always, any comments or questions, please pop them in below.


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  • 1 month later...

Mid December update

Hi to all that are reading this, or sticking with me on this protracted build; spare time has been a little more limited for the last six months, so progress has achieved the degree I’d hope for; not that I’m all that fast usually... but... the fact that the last entry drew no comments probably tells me that there’s not much of interest for many here, but I’ll carry on documenting the build; it’ll be a useful reference when hopefully the build nears an end.

Right, so picking up from where I left off; there are some aspects of this kit that I admire, some parts fit is extremely good and basic detail is quite nice, but improving on it can be a challenge. There continues to be a need to check the parts that are identified in the instructions to verify that they’re the tight parts for a specific aircraft, as often they might not be. A point with this that I mentioned last time is the piece in front of the windscreen; well there are others to watch for. So, I started off by attaching the windscreen and a reasonable fit is achieved (remembering that I needed to check the position of the front cowling and ensure it was central first). This was then masked with Eduard tape, and then the whole tub was masked with some carefully cut plastic sheet that was adhered, and sealed, using Maskol. I then attached the weighted nose cone and undertook a little sanding to blend the sizes in appropriately. A very little rescribing was all that was needed.

51738743067_8158aedc21_b.jpgGWH F14A nose section closed up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

This was then put to one side to turn my attention to the central fuselage. There are options to watch for given that the kit sprues can be used for A and D models (and B now that the kit is appearing) the panel just in front of the daily inspection door being one of them. Here, the instructions actually call up the panels for a GE110 equipped aircraft, so use the other ones for a P&W TF30 A model. Check photos!

51739806013_25cefb48dd_b.jpgGWH F14A another instructions correction by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Main gear... these are quite a complicated little assembly and I chose to sort all the parts first, and then assemble. Again, watch the parts call up (although I might not have been quite correct here, but as the instructions are a little vague, reference to photos is a must.

51740465300_f3073c0802_b.jpgGWH F14A main gear rechecking parts call up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

To be fair, the main gear does go together quite neatly, assembled with a little Tamiya thin, and continually fitting to the fuselage to check alignment of the parts

51740469985_1a0a631a16_b.jpgMain gear assembly, using gear bay attachment as jig by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The gear legs are quite nicely detailed, but benefit from a little extra. I find it odd that the Eduard set for this kit did not include the scissor link located pipework that is found in sets for both the Academy and Hobbyboss kits, so these, along with additional pipework, were fabricated from 0.2mm lead wire secured with some CA. The same glue was used to secure the only PE bits provided for the kit to add a little finesse to the drag links.

51739581056_d21e7f68aa_b.jpgGWH F14A main gear details, lead wire and PE by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The main gear bay in these kits isn’t bad, but the area that sits between the main wheel and narrow leg bay is quite sparse and benefits from a little attention. Eduard PE is added in the wheel bay (or that which is provided is, but again, less than that for the academy kit unfortunately, then some plastic sheet and strip was used to fabricate some of the actuators and brackets (and door locks), which were then added to with a variety of lengths of 0.2 and 0.3mm lead wire secured with CA. I prefer Delux materials Rocket Hot for these parts. A few lengths are run down in the back of the leg bay to the gear. None of it is “accurate” but it is hopefully representative of the clutter in these areas. It’s only 1/72 after all, and any finer detail will usually be overlooked.

51738761142_1e42da9f04_b.jpgGWH F14A main gear bay details, lead wire, plastic strip and PE by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr


The upper airbrake bay is provided with a nice piece of Eduard PE that just drops in; I was able to use this, but if you were modelling an early block A model and used the provided boat tail, this PE would not work as the upper airbrake is a different shape – larger. So yes, I suppose it’d probably fit, but I’d leave gaps. I was modelling a late A model, so the beaver tail was used and the PE dropped in. The lower airbrakes is not so simple.

The kit provides each airbrake with single strut actuators, two for the top door and one each for the lower two doors; but the lower doors should have two, smaller actuators, each. There is an Eduard PE item that sits in the airbrake bay hole with representation of the twin jacks to attach to the airbrake face... but as you can see, the PE item is far too small; it leaves a gap on the inboard end... and it’d only sit here because I’d already cut a piece of plasticard to blank this hole.

51740482645_09b430e995_b.jpgGWH F14A lower airbrake, Eduard PE too small by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

After some deliberation and experimentation, and study of photos, I elected to cut tow thinner blanking pieces, leaving the thin web that the jacks sit either side of, and later, added some fastener detail to the surface. A small piece of further web sits between two of the struts and holds what looks like a stop (or sensor) on the port side; this was cut from plastic strip. The airbrake inner face PE was added.

51739590831_8f77a009cb_b.jpgGWH F14A airbrake inner face and bay replacement detailing by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Here’s a shot of the two pieces I’d cut to mask the holes in the airbrake bay

51738771902_4289a0846b_b.jpgGWH F14A lower airbrake bay pieces. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The actuators were made from 0.4mm wire with stretched sprue pieces threaded on, attached to plastic strip items made to look sort-of like the brackets, all of which was CA’d together and positioned so that a jack would sit within each hole.

51738776097_661108d0c1_b.jpgGWH F14A lower airbrakes in close up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And finally, I attached a length or 0.2mm lead wire to pass through the outer bay to represent some of the hydraulic lines there.

51739598641_488022a004_b.jpgGWH F14A lower airbrake pipework representation by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Together, these look “good enough”

51739831843_a0b762d96e_b.jpgGWH F14A lower airbrake pistons and bracket added (Wire, stretched sprue and Plasticard) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The arrester hook was in those previous photos; it’s not a bad piece and just needs some aligning of the two halves (as they don’t very easily) and sanding back afterwards. In the photo below you’ll see that I added a hole between the airbrake bays, into which the hook attachment disappears. This was added to the hook using some 0.4mm wire, sprue and plastic strip. Not perfect but it’ll serve the purpose.

51739600386_973b64179b_b.jpgGWH F14A arrester hook attachment details by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr


Joining the fuselage

The next step was to join the front and rear fuselage parts. Test fits had shown a rather neat join but there will always be a need for some fettling. Whilst the Academy kit joins positively in this regard, there’s nothing specific to hold the parts together on this one, but some thick CA applied to internal faces along with some Tamiya thin, and then taped up for an hour or so seemed to be good enough. Underside, the join is slightly apparent and some smoothing out would be required, but not much; on the upper side, the join was very good and needed hardly any adjustment, just some clean up and thinned sprue glue in one spot.

51739840938_1196e49260_b.jpgGWH F14A fuselage join pre clean up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The underside needed just a little reprofiling but rather than sand off the front end detail, I added a slither of plastic sheet into the forward tongue of the rear fuselage, blended and sanded to as near as flush and then with a few fastener details popped back in. The upper side didn’t warrant a specific photo, but you’ll see it in later ones

51739606886_489d33d74a_b.jpgGWH F14A underside, post clean up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And here it is in my storage box with all the other small assemblies in separate boxes

51739838648_b14614d7ba_b.jpgGWH F14A fuselage assembly and in storage box with trays/boxes of other prepared parts/assemblies by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Attention was then turned to the pylons ... and I continued with my approach t build all the relevant sub assemblies first. Not many left to do.

Using the kit parts, it’s straightforward to attach the LAU-7 rails to the wing root pylons... or is it? I think the photo illustrates the problem that I stared at for a while. There are two prongs on the main pylon that look like they’re intended to drop into holes on the launcher rail; wouldn’t that have been useful. But no... that’s not going to work is it?

51739608136_c6debbf990_b.jpgGWH F14A wing root pylon. So, that's not going to fit, is it! by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, those prongs will have to go, that’s all. For the aircraft I’m modelling, it’ll be fitted out with a NAS Fallon type stores fit, which consists of a single dummy/training round AIM-9 (L or M) and a AN/APX-95 TACTS pod (ACMI pod). These will hang on a dual LAU-7 rail fit on the port side pylon. An attempt to find photos of the starboard side of aircraft so equipped, including asking a few questions on some FB groups, tended to prove inconclusive, but in almost every picture from the period, it seems that the dual fit of dual LAU-7 rails was very common. At this point, someone usually asks why there’s no provision for this in a 1/72 scale kit... a question I can’t answer. However, having completed such a fit with my last build, I set out to follow the proven approach with this one. I used some thick plastic sheet to create the slipper units that allow attachment (and adjustment) of a second LAU-7 rail. These start off as section cut and shaped to match the underside of the shoulder pylon. In the photo you’ll see the parts in a stage of gathering of bits... and yes, there are six LAU-7s. Two are from the kit and two are resin items I acquired a while ago but they lack the detail of the kit bits. So... I raided my D model kit and stole those. When I do the D, I’ve a pair of resin LAU-7s that have the additional radome on the front (can’t recall what that is at the moment) but I’ll use those instead; for this kit, I’ll now have 4 matching rails. EDIT - the other rails are are LAU-138 sidewinder rails complete with BOL countermeasures dispenser. Good old DACO book 😉

51740500695_40dfd8da88_b.jpgGWH F14A pylons. Assembling parts and Plasticard slipper adapter by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The slipper pieces are then shaped with a combination of cutting and scraping with a sharp No. 11 Swann-Morton and some sanding... and scribing, after which, they’ll look a bit like this.

51738793537_11c660bd6e_b.jpgGWH F14A shaped slipper adapter rails by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

A very small slither of plastic strip is added to the adjuster block that allows the rail pitch attitude to be adjusted and this can be seen in the next two photos. Port side rails are clean as they’ll be adorned with the ordinance; starboard side are fitted with Eduard PE that are not supplied for the GWH kit (!) but I’d not used them on my Academy kit (as I fitted four AIM-9s) so I used those here. The pylons will be empty so the additional detail is welcomed.

51739853858_a46fabf537_b.jpgGWH F14A dual LAU-7 pylon test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51741255588_a9817aa0d4_b.jpgGWH F14A starboard twin Lau7 rail, with added PE by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

EDIT: Just noticed that I forgot to mention the resin AAP fuel tank pylons that are shown in the above photo. I like these and it gives a little more interest to the underside given that tanks will not be fitted, but quite often the pylons were. Thanks for these Tony.

Finally two other Kit bits to be wary of. Firstly, the TCS equipped chin sensor. The kit part is shown top left without the glazed front piece attached... which would make it quite long; a bit too long. The shape isn’t great either. In the middle is a Quickboost resin replacement that I’ll use instead. To aid attachment, I’ve drilled two holes and added two short stretched sprue pieces ... in the same location as the kit prongs... for a nice tight fit. The Quickboost part comes with a very small resin blade antenna to be attached separately; I had no luck with this when I used these on my hobbyboss aircraft build, so I took a 0.4mm wire and filed a flat central section (for the blade) that will be used to pop into a 0.4mm hole that I drilled on the underside. Hopefully this will be fine (as it was for my Hobbyboss kit build). The GWH parts aren’t brilliant and I’d rob the spares from an Academy kit next time, as they’re quite good.

51740253769_357276673d_b.jpgGWH F14A replacement TCS equipped chin pod - quickboost. Wire blade antenna by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And finally...  the Academy kit comes with a very nice means of attaching the canopy to the fuselage, with an canopy rail angled bracket that sits within a slot in the fuselage. In this kit, there’s just a blank, flush bulkhead. There’s an Eduard etch that can be added to this, but for what reason I’m not sure. With the canopy fitted (open or closed) the face isn’t really visible... but either way, there’s nothing for the canopy to anchor to if posed open. The instructions imply it just sits there; yeah right! So here are the bits... which I devise a tongue and slot to be added to enable “fit”.

51741909470_6cec271fb5_b.jpgGWH F14A canopy attachment issue to resolve by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So let’s just finish with a final overview shot, that shows the pylon test fit , the upper airbrake inner plating PE and that I’d still to add the upper bypass doors (because I want to paint the insides white first – I will get around to that at some point).

51741257458_af1c938c14_b.jpgGWH F14A overview pylons test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

That’s all for now; thanks for sticking with my meanderings with this kit.


Edited by Jon020
Mention of AAP fuel tank pylons added. And LAU-138 correction
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Further update.

I went for a walk and came back with an idea on how to simply solve the canopy rail issue, and based on what I did for the Hobbyboss kit (which was simple enough) I did this.... I cut three holes using a 0.8mm drill in a pin vice, joined using sideways movement of the drill and then carefully cleaned a little with a sharp swann morton No. 11 blade. The Eduard PE sits over this, and I cut a significant portion out of the middle, as shown here

51742879880_b98ef284d4_b.jpgGWH F14A canopy attachment solution 1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

With the PE glues in place, a neater looking slot is presented. I then cut a pair of pieces of plastic card, one with a tongue that will sit in that slot. The extra piece is to lift the canopy rail a little so that when pushed in, it’s top sits about flush with the top of the fuselage; with the canopy frame on top, it’ll sit proud a little, as it should.

51741992261_f584c1ce10_b.jpgGWH F14A canopy attachment solution 2 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So... that’s that sorted. One other item is that because I’m doing a late A model (a block 140 aircraft) I needed to add the AN/ALR-45 sensor radomes. They’re in the kit, but not mentioned, and they have quite a significant base (almost as though they’re intended to drop into slots cut in the fuselage undersides (that aren’t there), so these needed trimming and sanding back. They’re probably still a trifle large, but they’ll do. Significant use of photo references, and checking against my last two models helped their positioning. I did this a few nights ago but forgot to include it in the previous post.

51741995846_b9a9490e33_b.jpgGWH F14A AN/ALR-45 antennas by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So... that’s all for now.


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  • Jon020 changed the title to Great Wall Hobby 1/72 F-14A - Now Bandwagon 202

Good evening all. Thank you for all of your kind comments above. I will provide an update shortly, but just wanted to quickly post to explain that there's been a change of chosen subject. Victory 201 was dependent on the use of some HAD decals that I'd acquired of the specific airframe. On close inspection of these I was less than impressed with the quality (not bad, just not the excellence some - including myself) have got used to with DXM and Furball. So.... it was time for a rethink. 

In the end, I decided to make use of the transfers/decals from the pair of Hasegawa Atlantic Squadrons sets I had - which includes Modex 202 BuNo. 161858 from VF31 "Tomcatters". I'd intended to do a Felix at some point... and this one fits in terms of configuration (late A - although a slightly earlier block - the transfers imply it's a block 125, whereas Tomcat Alley puts in in Block 130... but that also doesn't mention it serving with VF 31 (!) However, there are shots of it in the detail and scale colour series - Atlantic squadrons, so I'm content to press ahead. I found a few other photos on Facebook too... which was handy. 

The Hasegawa transfers look fine - the colouration of the Hobbyboss ones are suspect.

I'd not been a fan of the flying Pencils originally, but I think that's mainly VF41, and for some reason on 31, with the colour on the fin I think it balances. 

So... Victory 201 is now Bandwagon 202 - I love that call sign!
Details and progress photos to follow (promise)


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Posted (edited)

and this was just a repeated entry that I've tried to delete.

Edited by Jon020
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Posted (edited)

So... here we are again. Happy New Year everyone. It’s possibly at time like this Christmas season that I’m glad to have a hobby that keeps me occupied, focussed and active when stuck indoors, hasn’t the weather been foul! Anyway, I hope that all had a good break. I was able to press on a bit with the build, along with a separate project that I decided to build in parallel despite preferring normally to work on a single project at a time.

So... some aspects that needed sorting and finishing were worked; the canopy being the focus of this. I’d shown the issues with getting the canopy rail to sit “open”, but i now decided to detail the canopy rail and whilst I forgot to take progress photos – as I was too engrossed, I think it came out ok using some lead wire, foil tape and plastic rod sections. Firstly, the dreaded seam was tackled with the back of a blade, then 400 grade paper... then 800, then 1000, then 2500, and then the coarse, fine and polishing compound from Tamiya compounds... takes a while

51806856167_0e4124c974_b.jpgPolishing after removal of seam. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

But worth it in the end – showing (some of) the details added to the rail too.

51808174699_8ce209e25a_b.jpgPolished. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Now... about that other project.... a destraction for the Christmas break, but a real case of assemble, sand, fill, re-sand, re-fill, and so on. A project for a friend... but a classic

51807929388_aff2b602a2_b.jpgA slightly different project by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So... in the mean time, having take stock, it was time for masking and painting (or priming at least). I assemble all the parts to be secured to taped boards or with clips... and stored in one (or two) plastic tubs that serve as drying cases. I started using these when working with Enamels when it was really necessary to let paint dry for a couple of days, dust free; these “modern” paints are better than that but it’s still good to keep everything “away” and as sterile as possible between coats.

51808176974_ec0869c7f9_b.jpgReady for priming by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Now... it was about this time that I found a problem, as I decided to closely examine the decals that I’d bought for this kit – HAD Models 72196. A number of issues were notices, that the crew names differed to those of all photos I’d found of this aircraft, that the fin skull and cross bones looked a bit fat and that generally the overall quality wasn’t as good as others I’d used. I was a bit disappointed. The photo is of the nose insignia and squadron stripe... and you can see that it’s quite pixelated. Probably ok at a reasonable viewing distance, but not close in, which I’d want to see. Having previously used Academy, DXM, Furball etc... these were a let down. I looked at other VF84 Sqn marking decals that I had but none were quite suitable for this aircraft. It’s interesting when you start looking closely, how many differences there are even in the skull! Let alone the yellow colour of the markings or the width of stripe... etc etc etc. So.. I figured that it was time to give up on Victory 201, for now.

51806861447_ee805bd75b_b.jpgHAD decals close up by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I set about looking for an alternative that I could use, looking at my collection of decals, unopened kits ... and looking to see what grabbed me, that would suit this model that I’d already configured as a block 140 aircraft... reflecting the beaver tail, AN/ALR-45 fit, fin tops, cannon shrouds etc. In the end, I chose VF31 from the Hasegawa Atlantic Squadrons kit (I have two in the stash – which is handy) and the decals look good. These are for Bandwagon 202 BuNo 161858 and whilst “Tomcat Alley” states that this is a Block 130 aircraft, the transfers show -125. Note that “Tomcat Alley” does not list it as operating with VF31, but “CVV – US Navy Carrier Air Wing aircraft 1975 to 2015 Volume 1” lists it serving as Bandwagon 202 from new in April 1985 to October 1990, then with VF-14, then converted to F-14B and with VF-143 and VF101 until 2nd Dec 2002. So it served well. So I’m happy with this. There is a photo of it in the D&S Colour series Volume 1, and several on Facebook. So, this choice would do.

Previously, I’d not been a fan of the flying-pencil schemes, but i think it’s better than Vf41’s scheme... and whilst most tend to present the end of operations back-dated F-14D in this livery, there are subtle differences here that I think are worth capturing.

First of all, I had I check that the fin markings would fit; the tomcat kits are renowned for having fins of different chord; I wonder which is right? Hasegawa’s is a bit broad, so I copied the decal sheet and cut out one side of a fin marking and taped it to one of the kit’s spare fins. The decal is a bit broader than I need... so  a little trimming will be fine.

51806863082_956dceca97_b.jpgHasegawa decal (copy of) size check against GWH fin by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So, having addressed its identity, I could press on. Previously, I’ve gone straight to a black primer, but that makes it tricky to see areas that need attention. I therefore started off with a coat of grey Ammo One shot... a great primer that is really smooth and hard once fully dry... as it did here

51807820956_28d041857f_b.jpgAmmo one shot primed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

After this, I applied some white over a few areas such as the insides of the intake bypass outlets and the airbrakes, the air refuelling probe bay and the main undercarriage bays (and doors). A coat of black primer went over the windscreen as that had been masked and excluded from the grey primer layer (it needs to be a black coat first to show on the inside. The etched bypass doors were then attached with some odourless CA glue and masked inside.

51807823326_1bfd7f520c_b.jpgSome initial white and black, pre second prime by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51808185044_19b9c7b80b_b.jpgMain gear bay painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Back to that other project and parts were subject to further test fitting prior to priming separately... and painting the bussard domes.

51808559540_e2b939395d_b.jpgTest fit, sand, fill, test fit, repeat by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I’ve two sets of wings (clean and dirty). Rightly or wrongly, I decided to apply a layer of white and then red to the inside faces, and then added the details of the pumps, actuators and pipes in white (by hand). These were then sealed with some aqua gloss so that a black wash could be applied later on... but for now, once masked they look good enough.

51807827131_501e3eb9cf_b.jpgSpoiler bays base painting done. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The airbrake bays were similarly treated (as well as the insides of the airbrakes themselves... a layer or two (ish) of insignia red and then some aqua gloss to seal. I’d made some plasticard masks the shape of the airbrakes to then attach and seal with some maskol.

51807828446_00067c751b_b.jpgAirbrake bay painted and glossed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51807829861_eb5d7817bd_b.jpgUnderside airbrake bays painted, glossed and masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Note that in the above photo, the main gear bays are masked with a set of undercarriage doors from another GWH kit (that I will do gear up)... so they're borrowed for the time being. I made up some masks when I did the academy kit. but they're time consuming so I opted for this time-saving approach on this occasion.

The spoiler bays were masked and sealed with Maskol.. as were the leading edges.

51808564840_e5df7f9b9b_b.jpgDirty wings, masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Then I applied some black primer (mission models) in a more random and lighter pattern than before, to provide a base for the marbelling that would come... but it wasn’t intended all over. The canopy was primed... and the undercarriage doors and airbrake insides finished off. The Dummy AIM-9 and ACMI pod were given a coat of base white over the One shot – to provide a base for their colours later.

51808192684_a0c6cd28fc_b.jpgFurther priming and base colours by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The other project was primed and some under painting shading added... whether that will show at the end remains to be seen. Oddly, the base colour for this will be Light Ghost Grey... I guess it was (supposed to be) a Navy machine! However, that’s too dark (scale colour needs considering) so I’ll lighten it a little.

51807832831_5580d7ccf0_b.jpgPriming and under painting by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Marbelling... lots of it. What can I say – applied using a low pressure and little paint with my 0.2 Sparmax airbrush... and slowly developing cramp in the left hand and wrist... exercising needed afterwards.

51806877362_d3ca488037_b.jpgWings' marbelling coat applied by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The engine cowlings were marbelled with a warmer mix of Light Gull Grey (as used elsewhere) and some radome tan, with a splash of dark rust... and then Light Gull Grey on top. The intent is to give a warmer feel to the dirty undersides of the engine pods... where oil and hydraulic fluid would leak. We’ll see. Fingers crossed – it worked before.

51808196239_23518586e8_b.jpgMarbelling coat underside by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51808197624_513a44f254_b.jpgMarbelling coat topside by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

The Bussard domes insides... and alclad transparent red coated (inside) outer domes pre fitting.

51807952243_928fc97fb3_b.jpgBussard domes done by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then added a few areas of white along some seams that would have been treated to corrosion prevention and touch ups in service – as seen on photos of this aircraft, and others of the squadron, and some artistic license. These were then Maskol coated. Fingers crossed this works.

51806882637_2a9b8ff4dd_b.jpgWhite sections added and masked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then went and applied a series of passes of a stringer layer of Light Gull Grey, having opened a new bottle of Missions Models 16440 for the session. I’d previously still applied this panel by panel, which takes ages and doesn’t give an easy approach to even top coat. This gave a much smoother eggshell finish and I was able to stop before the under layers were lost.

I’ve only done the fins and upper surfaces of the fuselage, so the undersides and nose need doing, but it serves to illustrate that it works ... I’ll remove the maskol tomorrow and see how those white sections look and how much blending in is needed.

51806883762_eb604d11be_b.jpgTop coat applied... marbelling showing subtly. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

51808574565_672643dcb9_b.jpgTop coat going down by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I’d done the same with the wings and other parts and they’re similarly. The wings look nicely textured still – but perfectly smooth. Some more blending might be applied once I look at them in daylight

51808445714_e45917f2a9_b.jpgWings by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So... that’s where we are up to. It’s coming together now... so will look forward to seeing how it turns out.

Cheers for reading


Edited by Jon020
Added note about u'carriage bay masking
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