18th May 2016
Well I’ve got to say that this kit is quite the engineering project. Not one that you slot together over a weekend, and you’re going to have to put some hours in before you can hit the paint.
Here we are on update #5 and I’m still fitting the intakes 😉
Earlier in the build I decided to install the interior wheel wells, well I paid for them so I’m going to use them. To be honest they don’t server much of a purpose in the “wheels up” configuration, and if anything they actually get in the way.
Here you can see the edge of the wheel well interferes with the inside of the intake preventing it from sitting flush.
For me this isn’t a problem as I’m closing up the wheel wells, but if you were building her gear down you’d need to make sure that when you fit the wheel well walls they sit low enough down so as not to interfere with the intakes.
In the photo below I have removed a section of the wheel well wall with a razor saw and Trumpeter 2mm chisel.
The join where the intakes meet the rear section of the fuselage is just a plain butt joint (marked in red below). No locating tabs to assist with the alignment.
So to help line everything up I glued in some lengths of square styrene bar.
At this stage it was time to finish painting the intakes prior to getting them attached to the fuselage.
For the main exterior fuselage colour I’m using Vallejo Model Air Pale Blue Grey (71.046) FS36375 which is a pretty good match for US Light Ghost Gray. This colour goes some way into the intakes and is delimited from the white intake interior by a diagonal line.
To mask the edge of the line I’m using 2mm Tamiya Bendy Tape. The Tamiya tape for curves is great stuff, it’s like a PVC or plastic tape which allows it to be bent into quite tight curves. You have to be careful not to stretch it too far as it can pull away from where you want to mask though.
Here’s a shot of the painted intakes.
I had to do a bit of manual retouching to the edges, because I’m quite new to spraying Vallejo I got the paint on a bit to wet and it wicked under the masking tape. The good thing though is that Vallejo brushes beautifully so touching things up with it is really easy – just dilute it with a little water and brush it on.
Next up were the engine compressor blades.
These are really never going to be seen (the Tomcat is going to be posed near vertical, and anyone daring to pick it up from its ultimate place of rest and peer down the intakes with a torch will be taking their life in their hands 😉 ). So as a result I’m not going to spend ages getting them perfect.
They first got a coat of Tamiya flat black, and the vanes were hand brushed with Vallejo Model Color Silver. First a thinned coat of silver was brushed onto each vane starting about half way towards the edge of the vane. When this was dry I went back over the vanes adding a thicker coat of silver just towards the outer edge of the vane. Finally the very edge of the vane was given a touch of pure Vallejo White (that way if anyone is brave enough to peer down the intakes they ought to at least see something in there before they get hit in the back of the head with a TV remote).
For the spinner cone I hand painted it with Revell Aqua Light Grey. It was purposefully left a bit streaky to create a bit of weathering and a grimy look.
Ok, back to the intakes (will they ever be finished? 😉 )…
The inner section of the intakes is white, the forward section being the fuselage colour. So below I have masked off the white areas so I can spray the forward part of the intakes with the Vallejo Pale Blue Grey.
First up was a bit of pre-shading with Tamiya Flat Black – just to add a bit of variation to the final colour.
And then a few thin coats of Vallejo Pale Blue Grey and the masking could be removed.
Before I can finally call the intakes done it’s going to need a bit of weathering (it would be almost impossible to weather the intakes after assembly). I’m going to be using my favourite weathering wash (Flory Dark Dirt). This is a clay based wash and the reason I like it so much is that unlike acrylic, oil or enamel based washes, you can continue to manipulate and tune it after it has dried.
The only thing is that it will stain if you apply it to matt paint, so before you use it apply a coat of something glossy like Klear so that it doesn’t soak into the paint below.
After sealing the painted intakes with Klear, a generous layer of Dark Dirt wash is applied and left to thoroughly dry.
You need to make sure the wash is bone dry before you start to remove it otherwise it will spoil the effect.
When the wash is dry, I use a dry cotton bud to start to remove most of the dried wash. When no more wash can be removed, *slightly* moisten the cotton bud (it literally just wants to be almost damp) and carefully remove more of the wash.
Below shows the state of play after most of the wash ahs been removed.
The effect I’m going for is to make it look a bit “second hand”, not completely filthy.
You can see the effect quite well on the white areas around the intake ramp actuators where you can see grime around the recesses.
Here’s a view inside the intakes after weathering, the camera makes it look dirtier than it appears in real life.
Note that the wash has been removed in the direction of airflow to create the impression of grime that has been sucked into the intakes.
And another shot of the grimed up intakes from another angle.
Here are the inner intake ramps after weathering. Most of the wash was removed from the surfaces with a little grime left stuck in the edges.
A good trick here for removing the dirt wash is to moisten a fine paint brush and use this to re-hydrate the wash in crevices and corners. You can then use the wash almost like a watercolour paint to blend the wash and manipulate it where you want it to go.
And here’s the intake assembly with the inner ramps glued in place.
Note that prior to this I gave the weathered areas another coat of Klear to seal in the weathering wash and make it permanent.
Ok, time to fix the intakes in place…
As you can imagine, the intakes don’t “just fit”. They are going to take a bit of easing into alignment, and the better the alignment the less sanding and re-scribing required later.
To get the intakes aligned I’m starting by getting one area to line up and glueing it. Here I’ve glued the area circled in red, this will be left to dry before moving onto getting another parm of the join to line up.
With the rear section of the intakes glued in place, the front section was coaxed into position and clamped in place while gluing.
And while that dries I can move onto other areas.
Next I had a look at the cockpit section with a view to getting the gear doors and panels closed up.
The front gear door comes in 4 parts and will need to be glued into a single piece before attaching to the fuselage.
The front gear door actually fits together quite well with no gaps.
Here I’ve glued it and have placed it onto a steel ruler so that it has a perfectly flat surface to dry on.
…and while that dries, time to attach the nose cone.
Not the best of fits, this was about as good as I could get it, so a bit of sanding and filling will be required here.
Flitting around a bit I know, but I like to do the build log in the order that I actually built the model in…
Here I’ve attached one of the rear gear doors. Not too bad a fit, this part, some minor sanding and it fitted in place quite nicely.
The other side not so good… Somehow I ended up with a bit of a gap here.
And back to the nose, time to look at the panels that cover the gun.
As you can see there are some fit issues here, so I’ll see if I can fix the gaps.
Rather than glue the gun doors in place and fill the gaps, I chose to pack out the panels with styrene sheet and then sand them to fit. This way the doors and panels will be made the correct size to fit with no gaps.
While the gun door panels were setting, I got on with closing up the pilot access panels (where the ladder and foothold panels open up).
These all fitted quite well so shouldn’t need much work to finish them.
Looking at the front gear door (now that the glue had set) I found that the front part of the door sat too deep into the fuselage and created a step.
To pack it out I glued a strip of styrene sheet (circled in red), which can later be sanded down so that the gear door sits flush with the fuselage.
Here you can see the front gear door and the front gun access panel having been glued in place.
There is a gap at the lower edge of the front gun door panel, I will close this gap up later when the glue has dried…
While the glue dries on the front gear and gun doors it’s time to move onto another job.
Rear gear doors.
Circled in red below are some sink marks that will need to be taken care of. These got a quick dab of CA glue and activator spray, then a quick sand.
Here’s the rear gear doors after filling and sanding. Still more work to do on these, but more about that later!
Meanwhile back up at the pointy end, the glue had set on the gun door panel. In order to close the gap I mentioned earlier I simply closed the gap by applying pressure to the panel by hand, and tacked the panel in position using a spot of CA glue. The CA glue was instantly set using a blast of activator spray. With the panel tacked in place I used Tamiya Extra Thin on the join to weld the door panel in position.
When the Extra Thin Glue has fully dried I can sand off the CA glue spot.
Here the rear gun door panel has been sanded and fitted in place. Not the absence of any gaps to fill.
Moving back to the rear gear doors, I fitted the small inner door. This was manipulated into place and glued with Tamiya extra thin. No real dramas here and it lined up well with only a small gap.
The other side wasn’t so good and I ended up having to cut down the door to fit.
Here you can see a pencil line that marks the area to be cut.
Aaaaand I cut it wrong :'(
Never mind, I’ve got a lot of fixing to do with the gear doors so it’s not a big deal.
Now onto the main gear doors. Now these are bad.
As you can see below, these were never designed to be modelled in the gear up position, they are about 2mm too low.
What I’d prefer with kits is that they moulded the fuselage with closed gear doors which you could open up as an option. They could make the plastic around the gear doors thin so it can be cut out easily should you want to model gear down, and provide a separate set of down position gear doors with internal details moulded. This would have saved me literally hours on this build.
To fix the gear doors being too big, I cut them down with a razor saw.
What I’m going to do is fix the larger part of the door, and then sand down the smaller part to fit.
Upon dry fitting the larger remainder of each gear door to the fuselage (as you might expect) it was Gap City.
I’m going to use the same technique as before of making the door panels larger using styrene sheet glued onto them, and then sand them to fit.
But that’s enough fitting and fixing for one update, next time I’ll be continuing with the bodywork.