20th September 2015
With the Hunter now complete I have decided to catch up on some of those builds that have been stalled for the past year or so and see if I can get them off the shelf of doom…
Next up is the Italeri 1/12 F-16 A standalone cockpit – where I left it last time was with the front section (instrument panel and coaming) complete, the seat complete and work on the tub and various accessories still to do.
During the previous round of activities I managed to spill Tamiya X-20a thinners all over the floor of the tub which created a water-mark as you can see circled in red below…
It seemed that no matter how many times I re-sprayed the area, the water mark wouldn’t go away. So this time around I gave the affected area a good wet sand with a black Flory polisher to remove any texture from the affected area…
And then hit it with a good coat of neat Tamiya Light Grey (XF-66). Problem solved 🙂
The next job I wanted to tackle was to weather up the floor. Looking at reference pictures, the floor in a Viper seems to be a dull grey textured affair with aluminium showing through. No doubt the result of years of flying boots wearing away the grey paint.
Not much of the floor will be seen once the seat is in, even less when the instrument panel and centre console is fitted. The photo below gives you an idea of the visible floor area.
First up was a good dry brushing with Citadel Necron Compound. Necron Compound is an amazing silvery sludge that is specially designed for dry brushing. You simple grubble your brush into it, wipe off most of the excess and lightly brush away at the area you want affected.
I’m concentrating the wear where the pilots boots would have spent the most time i.e. moving backwards and forwards whilst entering the aircraft and operating the rudders.
Here you can see the first pass of dry brushing. Not bad but it still looks like factory fitted wear (way too clean).
To add a bit of authenticity to the wear I then dry brushed with Mr Metal Color Iron (MC212).
This added a darker metallic sheen to the wear areas and helped make it look altogether more grubby.
To finish off the effect and add a final level of dirtiness I masked the side walls of the tub and gave the floor a wash of a weak Indian ink wash. This is basically Vallejo airbrush cleaner with a dash of Indian ink and a drop of Windsor & Newton Flow Improver.
Here’s the finished result, just what I had in mind for it (which is always a bonus 😉 ).
Moving along, the next job I wanted to tackle was the side instrument panel painting.
This is going to be 95% masking, at least for the blacking out of the panels. It will be a different matter when it comes to painting the knobs and switches when it will be 80% squinting, 10% poking the tongue out of the side of the mouth (for added concentration), 5% holding your breath and 5% painting. I have just ordered a new Optivisor (the old eyes aren’t what they used to be) so when that arrives I’ll use that to help with the fine stuff. I’m at least hoping that the Optivisor allows me to eliminate the tongue poking, which will make me look a little less stupid. Unfortunately any gains in visual appearance gained by not poking my tongue out will be outweighed by having to wear an Optivisor, but then again this isn’t a fashion show 😉
And more masking…
The masking here is a combination of using various widths of Tamiya tape straight off the roll (6mm, 10mm, 18mm) and also cutting fine strips of tape with a straight edge and an Exacto knife.
I find the Exacto style of blade better for cutting straight edges, as a scalpel blade tends to bend and can end up giving you a curvy line.
And here she is fully masked.
The floor has been packed out with offcuts of packing foam.
The really fine lines between individual instrument panels are too narrow to mask with tape, so I will colour them grey after painting with a Grey Flory wash.
The panels were sprayed with Tamiya Nato Black (XF-69) and some tonal variation was added along the panel intersections, centers and edges with Tamiya Flat Black (XF-1).
Here it is unmasked – ready for a coat of Klear to go on to protect the paintwork so far, and to provide a shiny finish for the wash to go over. I don’t want the wash to affect the black too much, so giving it a Klear coat will prevent the wash getting ingrained into it.
Ok, time to put the tub to one side for a bit…
And get on with something that has been niggling me with the seat for the past year or so that I have sat looking at the seat. Yes, seatbelts, I’m talking about you…
The seatbelts in this kit are a great idea. They provide you with pre-printed, self adhesive fabric belts with injection moulded buckles that you can paint and assemble.
The downside is that for some reason they chose to print the seatbelts as though they were made from fine leather, and not from synthetic webbing as in the real thing.
Initially I thought I could live with the belts looking like they do, you know the kind of thing “it’ll be alright with a bit of weathering”. But the more I looked at the belts, the unhappier I became with them.
They’ve got to go…
Thankfully I used CA glue (superglue) to attach the seat cushions, so it was a simple job to prize them off using a screwdriver with a satisfying snap. That’s one advantage of CA glue, it doesn’t weld the plastic so you can easily break a join and re-make it.
To replace the leatherette seat belts supplied with the kit, I found some silver 3mm ribbon on eBay that has a nice woven texture to it. Not exactly webbing pattern, but way better than the OOB (out of the box) parts.
Here’s the new ribbon next to the original “vinyl-hide” belts.
While I’m at it, I’m also going to take the opportunity to re-spray the buckles. Originally I did them with Mr Metal Color buffable stainless steel, but now I reckon Aluminium would look better.
Here are some of the buckles ready to be re-sprayed.
When I bought the ribbon, the best colour I could get was “silver”. I hoped that this would be more grey than silver, but as it turned out it looked quite metallic.
To tone them down a bit the ribbon was sprayed with Tamiya Medium Grey (XF-20). When the paint was dry I weathered the ribbon a bit by repeatedly drawing it between my finger and thumb to give it a bit of grubbiness.
My next problem was that there are some thin belts on the seat which are only 2mm wide. I tried to get hold of 2mm ribbon but couldn’t find anything for sale that had the right texture.
What I’m going to do is trim the 3mm ribbon to be 2mm wide.
The problem with trimming the sides off the ribbon is that it will then spectacularly unravel and fray before your very eyes. To prevent this I gave a length of the ribbon a liberal coat of Microscale Liquid Decal Film (LDF). LDF is usually used to apply a restorative coat to old decals to prevent them cracking when you soak them off their backing sheet. It forms a plasticy semi flexible coat when dried and is ideal for use in this application because it will bind the fibres in the ribbon together before they are cut.
With the ribbon having been treated with LDF I cut the edges off it with a straight edge and an exacto blade.
That looks about the correct width…
Even with the Liquid Decal Film applied to the ribbon, the cut edges exhibit some degree of fraying. To tidy up the loose strands and hairs I melted the edges slightly with a hot soldering iron.
It’s important to not actually touch the ribbon with the soldering iron, just get within a millimetre or two until the frayed ends shrivel back.
You could probably do the same with a cigarette lighter if you’re careful.
Now time to thread up the seat belts…
First a belt is threaded through a buckle.
A bit of medium CA glue is applied to the free end, and the end is pressed down on the ribbon. I found it best to use a pair of fine tweezers to squeeze the join together. This gives a nice neat join and also prevents you gluing your fingers to the job.
Following the kit instructions the main belts were constructed. The initial length of ribbon was threaded through the buckle and glued back on itself.
Then the end of the second length was cut at a slight angle and glued onto the back of the first length of ribbon.
Next I assembled the upper harnesses using the 2mm ribbon I prepared earlier (get down Shep!).
And the upper harness assembly was glued in place on the main harness.
Don’t worry about the joins, they will get covered over in a minute…
To cover the joins, the end of a length of ribbon was glued half way across the back of the main assembly…
The rubber tube was added and the free length of ribbon was wrapped around the assembly and glued in place with a drop of CA glue.
When dry, the excess length of ribbon was trimmed down with a scalpel and a dab of CA applied to seal it in.
Here’s a shot of the harnesses half finished to contrast them with the kit harnesses.
And here’s the seat with the new harnesses installed and the cushions glued back in place.
The pattern in the new harnesses is a bit out of scale if I’m honest, but I can live with that as I reckon they look a million times better than the originals!
Next update – looking forward to my Optivisor arriving so that I can get on with the close up work 😉