18th February 2016
Well, after nearly 2 years in the making I’m finally nearing completion on the Italeri 1/12 F-16A cockpit. It’s been on and off the shelf of doom a couple of times to make way for other builds, but this time it got dusted off and brought all the way up to scratch.
First I decided to finish off the side stick and arm rest. The side stick has already been base coated and some of the knobs painted in, so the next task was to apply a chrome base to the side stick and the same the vertical bar of the arm rest. I’m using Alclad Chrome for this so the first job was to apply a base coat of Humbrol black gloss enamel. I like using Humbrol gloss over the Alclad enamel primer because it goes on so smoothly.
After giving the enamel a good 24 hours to dry the Alclad 2 chrome was applied. The trick with the shiny Alclad is to spray at about 12-15 PSI and apply about 3 very thin coats. What you’re looking for is for the black enamel to *just* become obscured – to the point where you’re not sure whether you can still see the black shining through. At that point STOP! If you continue to apply more coats of Alclad it will lose the incredible shininess and will start to revert to silver paint.
Next job for the arm rest was to mask over the Alclad Chrome and give it a coat of Tamiya Light Grey (XF-66).
While still masked, the arm rest received a coat of Klear to seal it in and the leather armrest was brush painted with various tones of Vallejo Model Color. Finally a dry brush with Citadel Necron Compound (Silver) and a mild wash with Flory dark dirt.
Ok, back to the cockpit…
Work here was pretty much completed last time, so for this session all it needs is a bit of weathering and the last of the controls attaching.
Here the cockpit has been given a good coat of Flory dark dirt wash and been left to dry.
From here it’s a simple case of removing most of the wash with a damp cotton bud or moist brush. This is an iterative process where you remove some wash, leave it overnight and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. If it still looks a bit too grubby, remove some more of the wash and repeat until happy. I find it usually takes 3-4 sessions before I’m happy that I have got the dirt to the correct level. I don’t want the F16 cockpit to be weathered like a Corsair, but not factory fresh either. Used but not abused as they say.
Same deal for the seat. A coat of Flory dark dirt and then the subsequent clean up process.
And now for a job that I had been putting off for too long – the hoses.
As you can see below the oxygen hoses leave a lot to be desired. Horrible seam lines and ejector pin marks.
I didn’t fancy my chances of fettling the hoses into shape. The seam lines over the hose ridges would be almost impossible to sand.
First stab was using 0.3mm beading wire. This went on Ok but I wasn’t sure about the final finish. The wire was too fine and didn’t look much like oxygen hose.
In the photo below you can see two hoses. The lower left hand one is the oxygen hose for the mask, the top right hose is the one that is attached to the cockpit itself.
I made the lower left one first, consisting of a length of solid copper electrical wire wrapped with 0.5mm beading wire. This didn’t work too well because the beading wire is steel and is not only hard to work with (stiff) but also tends to spring out of shape.
So for plan C I made the hose in the top right of the photo. This is the hose from the previous photo – I cut off the elbow joint, drilled it and inserted a length of solid copper wire (the same as in the bottom left hose) but this time I wrapped it with 0.5mm solder. This was much easier to work and it didn’t attempt to spring back once bent.
To see how it looked I gave the mask oxygen hose a coat of grey paint. Oh dear, looks bloody awful.
And here’s the oxygen hoses looking much better than before.
Now onto the base!
This kit comes with a half decent plastic base to mount the seat onto, along with a nice decal that looks like a plaque with a description of the seat and helmet.
I’ve seen a few of these F16 cockpit kits on the internet, some of them just use the base as-is. I’ve seen one mounted on a wooden base, and one chap even painted his base to have a green marbled effect. The marbled one did look great, but I’m not sure that marble is in keeping with a hi-tech cockpit. A good substrate to mount a chariot on maybe, but I wanted something a bit more tech for my model.
I decided it’d look great if it were mounted on some nice shiny checker plate (diamond plate). So after a bit of research I found that Plastruct do a 1/16 scale diamond plate (manufacturer part #91686).
The sad part is that to buy 2 sheets of Plastruct diamond plate (they only sell them in twos) cost slightly more than I paid for the entire kit :'(
But I reckon the end result will be worth it.
The last job for the base is to make a small plinth for the plaque decal to go on.
After a coat of primer there were a few seams visible. A bit of Mr Surfacer 500 will take car of that. The finished plinth will be painted black and will have the plaque decal applied to the top. It will then sit on the base next to the cockpit…
Well that just about wraps it up for this build. Like I said it’s been a 2 year project on and off and has been a really enjoyable kit all the way through. These are not quick builds and take a lot of time and patience to get the best out of them, as many will testify to. But it is a very unusual subject and builds into something really unique and eye catching.
Here’s to hoping that one day someone will release a 1/12 scale Vulcan cockpit. Upstairs and downstairs 😉