17th April 2016
In the last update I got the cockpit pretty much finished and was considering what I was going to do with the figures. As I mentioned before they are really badly sculpted and moulded and will need a lot of work in order for them to become acceptable.
I really wish that Hannants had the Aires resin pilots and seats in stock because they would make my life a whole lot easier at this point!
Anyway, first job for the figures is to get them to actually fit in the cockpit – the legs are too close together to fit either side of the centre console.
This is easily fixed by sawing the legs off.
For this I use my trusty razor saw. These are a brilliant bit of kit and I use mine a lot. If you don’t have one I highly recommend you get hold of one because there are some jobs that are made a great deal easier with a saw.
The legs removed (he looks like he’s trying to flee my bench).
To get the legs to be wider apart, I simply sanded the cut area on the body to make the angle a bit wider. Then when the legs are glued back in place they will be at a wider angle and will fit either side of the centre console.
Here we are with both pilots fitted in their seats…
At this stage I was considering what to do about the horrendous arms for the figures when I got an email from Hannants telling me that a batch of Aires resin F-14 figures had come into stock.
I have to say I deliberated somewhat over this because I had already invested a lot of time painting the kit seats, and I’d have to replace them if I bought the Aires set. Also including postage the resin seats/figures would add another £18 onto the cost of the kit.
In the end I decided that seeing as this is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and that the figures (Mav and Goose) are so central to the theme, I’d be daft not to go the extra mile.
Resin seats & figures ordered, kit pilots relegated to the scrap pile – on with some bodywork until the figures arrive 🙂
Onto the fuselage, first job is to fit the wing airbags. Where the Tomcat was a swing wing aircraft, rubber bags were fitted under the wings so that when the wings are placed in variable positions the bags would inflate to fill the gap between the wings and the fuselage.
The Hasegawa kit includes two pairs of wing bags, one is thin for the swept wing configuration and the other is thicker for the wings forward configuration.
It’s worth noting that this kit is designed for the wings to be fixed in position – they can’t be moved as is the case with some other F-14 kits. That’s no problem as I would glue them fixed anyway.
For this build I’m re-creating the Tomcat as it was in the scene from the film where Mav and Goose are up against Viper at Miramar. It’s going to be called “Hit the brakes” and will be from the bit where Maverick says that immortal line “I’ll hit the brakes and he” fly right on by…”. She’ll be in flight in the near vertical with the wings extended (low speed configuration).
So for this I’ll be fitting the thicker pair of wing bags so that the wings can be in the forward position.
On every kit that I build I can be guaranteed to make (at least) one schoolboy error.
One of my favourites is to not read ahead in the instructions (sometimes I don’t even read the current page) and as a result I miss something important that is hard to correct later.
Here I’m being careful to be aware of any holes that need to be opened up before the fuselage halves are closed up. As you can see there are some holes under the wing glove that need to be opened up for the air-to-air missile pylons.
Next up are the wheel wells…
Since I’m doing here wheels up, the gear doors are going to be closed and the wheel wells won’t be seen.
I debated whether to bother fitting the wheel well interiors as they won’t be seen. In the end I chose to fit them, partly because I felt they would add strength to the assembly, and partly because I enjoy the assembly phase.
Shame they will be closed up because the detail is quite nice for kit parts.
Again, studying the instructions (RTFM) there are a couple more holes to be opened up for some ECM sensors. These are optional parts and I couldn’t determine whether they were right for the aircraft in the movie. But seeing as this is an artistic license build I chose to fit them to add more detail.
Time to close up the fuselage.
After a lot of dry fitting and checking of the instructions it was time to close her up.
There are a couple of large spigots (circled red below), to give these more strength I chose to use Tamiya white glue. This is thicker than Extra Thin and contains a small amount of resin. This makes it ideal for jobs where you want good filling capabilities and a slower drying time.
When gluing I use Tamiya Extra Thin glue, and work a small section at a time, taking care to get the panel lines lined up as best as I can.
I couldn’t quite get the panel lines to line up on this bit, so I cut off the pip circled in red.
With the panel lines nicely lined up the area was pegged and extra thin cement applied to the seam. I will leave this to dry for a while and get on with another area.
Moving towards the rear of the fuselage on the same side, the rear section was easier to glue by just holding it in place by hand while the glue got a grip.
Trying to clamp or peg this area just caused the plastic to flex and the joint to distort.
While the fuselage seams were drying I decided to fit some small intakes on the top of the fuelage. With these I put them in place and glued them with a small dab of extra thin from underneath, so as to minimise the amount of glue on the surface.
Next up, the leading edges above the intakes.
It’s worth taking your time with the fit of these, they don’t fit perfectly first time so need a little careful fettling.
Pausing to see how it all goes together, here’s a dry fit of the fuselage, wings and cockpit.
She’s a big kit for 1/48 scale, makes you realise just how big a real Tomcat would have been.
Pilot figure and 20 pence piece for scale…
What I’m quite enjoying with this kit is the ability to flit around the construction, you don’t need to get bogged down in one bit of detail because you can simultaneously build a variety of assemblies.
Work now starts on the rear section of the intakes.
These are a pretty simple fit, just two halves to go together. No locating pins on these, but to be honest you don’t really need them as the parts go together fine.
The inside surfaces are a bit rough and there are some large ejector pin marks inside. The ejector pin marks will simply be sanded out later, but it would have been easier to sand them out before gluing the halves together.
The centre seams were sanded down, however the plastic is quite thin here so I opted to blend the seams a bit using a cotton bud soaked in cellulose thinners. This was rubbed over the seams to melt the seam away.
Any remaining traces of a seam were filled with CA glue with a blast of activator spray.
Note: A while ago I started using styrene dissolved in Extra Thin glue as a filler, but subsequently discovered that this type of filler continues to shrink for weeks. I found out the hard way on my Ed Force Once build where a nasty seam re-appeared at the top of the cockpit after I’d finished it. I’ve since switched to CA glue as a filler.
Again, taking care to RTFM as you go, there are a couple more holes to open up under the intakes for the fuel tank mounts.
For this build the external stores configuration is going to be as in the “hit the brakes” scene with Viper. As it happens, due to the way the film was edited, the aircraft gets “head swapped” a few times during the scene which means that the external stores loadout changes during the scene. For this one though I’m going with 2 x external fuel tanks, 2 x AIM-9 Sidewinders and 2 x Aim-7 Sparrows.
The added bonus of that configuration means I don’t have to paint and decal 4 x AIM-54 Phoenix missiles like my previous Tomcat build.
Time to fit the inner section of the intake assembly. As you’d expect with this kit the fit is vague, what you’re aiming to achieve is that the front edge of the inner intake assembly buts up against the moulded rebate in the outer part.
In other words, have a look at the photo below – the two red lines show the edges that should mate together.
One side fitted fine, however the other side was a bit more sloppy. To try and align the inner edges of the intakes to avoid future sanding I applied a small bit of pressure with a clamp to hold the parts in place while the glue set.
Meanwhile – the replacement Mav and Goose have arrived!
Aries Aerobonus 480 142 – US Navy Pilot & Operator with ejection seats for F-14A/F-14B Tomcat
I’m really happy that I went with this late change to the lineup! Have a look at the following photos, the comparison between kit parts and Aires resin is night and day.
On the right – Aires resin, on the left – Haribo.
The seat detail is beautifully moulded too. It’s a shame to have to re-do all that paintwork, but at the same time I’m looking forward to having something so detailed to get to work on.
Even the stickers on the side of the headrest have been moulded.
The legs needed a small amount of shaving with a scalpel to get them to fit either side of the centre console, but not a lot.
Here’s Mav with his arms having been posed.
Next Update: Goose gets positioned in the cockpit and more work on the intakes and fuselage assembly..