To prep for painting, I began with masking off the cockpit, adding the HUD and attaching the windscreen.
The instructions called for aluminum for the wheel bays but I only had Model Air Metal Steel on hand. I think it looks close enough.
All the landing gear and doors were also painted steel separately.
The exhausts and engine housings were painted Vallejo Metal Jet Exhaust, left to cure for a day and then masked off. The exhaust cans themselves will be attached during final construction.
I went through a few rounds of checking seemliness and joints, using whatever paint that was available.
Painting begins with a base coat of AK Black Primer.
Then I mottled Model Air Insignia White over the whole surface. I still have the habit of mashing the trigger so my mottling is uneven. Guess I shouldn’t try to tackle WW2 German mottle camouflage just yet.
The F-5 I’m modeling deployed with the 1 brown 2 green South East Asian camouflage. I began the camouflage with free-handing the brown with Model Color US Tan Earth.
My bottle of Model Color is close to a decade old and it took quite a bit of thinning and retarder before my airbrush could spray it. Even so, it sputtered and dried at the tip quite often.
The reference I have for the camouflage is from Twobobs’ 48-216 F-5E PACAF Gomers #2 sheet. Like my previous experience with the F-16 using Twobobs’ decals, the camouflage demarcation lines don’t line up, so I guesstimated some of the lines to line them up better. I used rolls of blutack and backfilled the rest with masking tape.
I used AK Interactive’s Medium Green for the lighter green color. The AK paint, being a newer formula (I believe Vallejo has reformulated their line in recent years) thinned and went on more easily and the mottling shows through more.
I then added more blutack and backfilling with masking tape for the darker green shade. For this I used AK Interactive Dark Green. However, the tone wasn’t darker at all so I added a drop of Model Air Black Grey to darken it.
The color looks good, but I lost almost all the mottling details on the dark green.
I’ll need to do touch-ups next: fix the chipped paint, add definition to some of the demarcation lines, reduce the patchiness of the lighter green and bring back some patchiness to the brown and dark green areas.
I just got this one snapfitted and it looks very good.
Just a few quick thoughts:
Work continues and I begin with masking the canopy. Unlike my previous builds, I decide not to dip the 2 canopy parts in Future since they look quite clear as is. Maybe I’ll brush on some in the end. I’m also planning to leave the canopy open so I decided to mask the inside of the frame. It’s my first time doing it so it took a while but it wasn’t too bad.
I thought the coaming was too thick so I thinned it off by scraping with a blade. Otherwise the instrument panel fit well.
The nose to fuselage joint was good but there is a noticeable step where the bottom plate joins the top.
I ended up thinning the bottom plate and the guide on the fuselage and a judicious use of a spring clamp to minimize the step.
Where the front of the bottom plate meets the body will require some filling and rescribing though.
AFV Club offers both opened and closed options for the engine lourves towards the back. Based on photos, they are closed when on the ground with the engines off. With slight trimming, they fit nicely.
The wing to fuselage fit is very good without need for any filling.
There are separate slats and they don’t droop when the aircraft is on the ground. The LERXs needed some adjusting to fit perpendicular along the intakes.
The flaps are also separate. These are also usually straight when on the ground. I did however, find a photo of slight drooping of the flaps after I have fitted these straight. I think it would have made it more visually interesting so it’s something to file away for my next F-5 build. Both the slats and flaps fit well.
I’m modeling an F-5 from the 36th AGRS in the 1970s and I thought to arm it with 1 CATM AIM-9 on 1 wingtip and an ACMI pod on the other. But I couldn’t find reliable info on whether the ACMI was introduced by this time so I decided to leave it off. With the wingtip pylon now bare I added a bit of detail with a strip of clear plastic from a thin blister pack. It’s not entirely accurate but it’ll do.
The PE intake grills were too large and I ended up using some elbow grease to shape them back to size using cutters and a diamond file. Big mistake.
Turns out, I didn’t read the manual properly. The top edge of the grills were supposed to be folded 90 degrees. And I only realized this after trimming both grills and slightly ruining part of one. Yet another case of RTFM: the folder is getting thicker.
The rudder is a separate piece from the tailfin and it fits good. However, there’s a slight gap between the tailfin and the fuselage.
The engine housing is a separate part. Seen from the side, it’s trapezoid-shaped. It took a bit of finessing to get the bottom to remain flush with the body but gaps remain. The horizontal stabilizers joined in the middle with a rod which is then attached to the engine housing with a c-shaped clip. The rod is just slightly too short (by about 1mm) which results in a very stiff fit between the stabilizers and fuselage when the housing is fitted. I liked how AFV designed this though as usually the stabilizers are one of the harder things to fit right when they are molded as separate pieces.
Last on was the nosecone which went on without a problem. There are remarkably little seamlines to fix with the most prominent being a line that runs down the middle of the nose and the fit of the left gunbay doors requiring additional trimming.
Can’t wait to start painting this.
My next kit is a new build (as opposed to another Shelf Queen) of a USAF F-5E Tiger II flown as an Adversary for training purposes. The build begins with the cockpit as usual. Details are nice and are finely raised.
I first sprayed a base coat of Model Air Black Grey then Mig Ammo Dark Compass Ghost Gray.
The instrument panels were first hand painted Black Grey, then I randomly painted Game Color Sun Yellow and Bloody Red to the dials. The center dial was painted Model Color Transparent Green. Everything was given a wash of black-tinted thinned Future. Once that dried I sprayed a flat coat and then dry-brushed all the raised details with a Derwent Metallic Silver pencil. It’s been a while since I’ve done this and I quite like the end result.
I decided to add a resin aftermarket resin seat for this build and below is a comparison of the seat from the kit and the one from Wolfpack Designs. I managed to ping off the very small blade (canopy breaker?) on the tip of the seat so I replaced with one fashioned from plastic plate. I’m surprised the shape is quite different but it’s a lot more detailed.
AFV Club gives the option for an open port gun bay but without the details within. Fitting the 2 panels closed was an exercise in a lot of cutting, trimming and dry fitting. In the end, I cut off some of the locating tabs and added my own with plastic plate.
The fit is not perfect with the bottom section not sitting quite flush on the fuselage and there is a big gap on one side. I masked off the details and carefully trimmed, sanded and buffed down the slight step at the bottom. I tried various means to filling the big gap but ended up using a very small roll of epoxy putty which when cured, will need to be re-scribed.
I usually use Dymo Tape for scribing but am trying out HiQ Parts’ 3mm Carving Guide Tape. The tape conforms to curves much better and is still stiff enough to guide a scriber. I think I can retire my roll of Dymo Tape now.
I used my sewing pin + pin vise to scribe a shallow guide line and then used my 0.15mm chisel to scribe the actual panel line.
There is an injection pin mark inside each intake that needs filling. Normally I would simply ignore these but they are visible when assembled on this one. I used my melted sprue cement solution to fill the holes and left to cure for half a day.
Using a piece of sandpaper taped to a satay stick I’m able to reach this concave area. It was was then sprayed Insignia White over a base of Model Air Black Grey.
There is a big injection pin mark and sprue nub inside the other intake part.
I fixed the injection pin mark inside the intakes as best as I can and sprayed it Model Air Insignia White over Model Air Black Grey. The intakes are quite small and a dry-fit shows my less than perfect work was enough.
This time, I’m a lot more careful with assembly so I did a lot of dry-fitting and checking for gaps before committing with cement. Except for the gun bay door on the nose, fitting is excellent and I think I can avoid using putty in most places.
Brand and Kit Number: Bandai #0148831
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Gundam Decal Set #22 and #30
The RGM-79Q GM Quel is the first mass-produced mobile suit deployed by the Titans, the elite peacekeeping force founded by the Federation after the events of Operation Stardust in UC0083. It is designed for deployment inside space colonies for peacekeeping, riot control and suppression. Manufactured in Luna II, it is an upgraded and less complex version of the RGM-79N GM Custom. By the beginning of the Gryps Conflict in UC0087, it is considered out-dated and has been replaced by newer mobile suits.
The GM Quel first appeared in the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. It was on screen for less than a second rolling up on a flatbed and getting readied by technicians.
Info from Gundam Wiki
Part of the long line of kits in Bandai’s HGUC series, this kit was released in 2007. As usual, it’s fully snapfit and is molded crisply in multiple colors. Like other HGUC kits released during this time, it’s much easier to keep this kit in separate subassemblies for painting than ever before. However, the limbs still required some modification to facilitate that. Poseability is also improved from previous generation HGUC kits but still nothing to write home about.
The kit depicts the GM Quel as it appears in the Advance of Zeta: The Flag of Titans, a side story about the Titans Test Team as serialized in Dengeki Hobby Magazine. The proportions of the GM Quel are bulkier here than how it originally appeared in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
As mentioned above, the breakdown of this kit is decent with the only hang-up being the elbow (fixed to the lower arms) and knee (fixed ot the lower legs) joints. I decided not to modify them and simply hand paint the joints later. I find the proportions not quite right on this kit: the head is on the small side, the neck is (typical of HGUC) short, hips are wide, and the knees are too big. I decided to do some slight modifications. First I replaced the whole waist on down with parts from the HGUC GM Custom. The legs are slightly different in design but nothing too major. I then extended both the neck and the waist by about 1.5mm using plastic sheet. I also changed the weapon to the FN P90-looking one from a Kotobukiya MSG weapon set. The pistol grip needed some trimming before it fit into the hand. A very small piece of blutack keeps the fit solid. Lastly was swapping the thrusters on the backpack with those from the GM Custom. During construction I managed to break off the antenna on the head which I replaced with 0.5mm brass rod.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the default colors this time and concentrate on seeing if I can add color variations to the finish. I first thinned AK black primer with lacquer thinner to see if it will result in a better finish but I may have overthinned the primer as it split. After re-priming everything with the standard AK primer, I added a thin layer of the main color in random splotches and squiggly lines. Then I added a very thin blending coat of the same color on top of this. However, this didn’t quite work out as the variation didn’t really show through. I decided to move on and finish the build.
The blue on the GM Quel is a very dark blue (purple in some publications) but I went with a lighter shade instead. I went with gray black for the torso. After the primary colors were done I went back to hand paint all the smaller details like the small vents on the upper torso, verniers, the forehead piece and the elbow joints. The green sensors on the feet and the head were given a base of white and then hand painted transparent green. Color-wise, the only change was painting all the verniers and thrusters yellow instead of red.
For the markings, I mixed and matched from various Bandai Decals and a generic sheet. As usual, I went easy with the decals. The Bandai decals have yellowed somewhat but once given enough of a soak, came off the backing quite easily and reacted very well with Mark Softer. No ‘nose art’ for this one which would have gone on the shield.
Weathering is kept mild starting with a general oil wash of black. I then hand painted some light chipping with black gray and dark grey blue paint. I also added some streaks with oil paint. After that it was a light dry brush all over the kit with medium gunship gray. After a final flat coat, I went back to brush on Future on the green parts to gloss them back up and dirtied up the feet using Tamiya Weathering Masters. The last step was to remove the blu-tack masking on the visor which was also given a dip in Future way back when. I managed to chip off some paint above the visor which I had to go back in to fix with hand painting.
This didn’t turn out quite as expected but all in all, barring the failed paint variation, it was quite trouble-free. My collection of Federation mass produced mobile suits are now starting to get off the ground. Hopefully more to come soon and I can get a unifying theme going.
Number 5 of 2017
After the EF-111A Raven, I’ve been trying to get this completed before the end of April. I tried to get some paint variation like my previous build but it didn’t turn out that well. I also tried to see if I can get a stronger base coat to prevent the paint from being scratched off as is typical of acrylics. I thinned the AK Interactive Black Primer with lacquer thinner but the thinner split the paint. Perhaps I overthinned. Anyway, I quickly finished off the painting to get this build completed.
Mild weathering is next and I can call this done.
Brand and Kit Number: Italeri #1235
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Cutting Edge Modelworks CED72048 EF-111A Sparkvark Nose Art
The EF-111A Raven was an electronic warfare aircraft designed to replace the USAF’s B-66 Destroyer. Grumman was contracted in 1974 to convert 42 existing General Dynamics F-111A Aardvarks into the EF-111A.
Built around the An/ALQ-99E jamming system, the primary electronics were installed in the internal weapons bay. The transmitters for the system were fitted in an underbelly ‘canoe’ radome and the receivers were fitted in a fin-tip ‘football’ pod similar to the EA-6B Prowler. The EF-111A Raven was unarmed, and depended on its speed and acceleration for self-defence.
The EF-111A entered service in 1983 and served until 1998, when the last was retired from USAF service. The USAF would begin depending on Navy and Marine Corps EA-6Bs for electronic warfare support thereafter. While it’s officially named ‘Raven’, its crews often called it the ‘Sparkvark’ instead.
This build depicts EF-111A 66-6033 nicknamed ‘No Fear No Gear’ during Operation: Southern Watch in 1995. Originally named ‘No Fear’, ‘No Gear’ was added after a landing mishap where the landing gear were damaged. The artwork was done by Senior Airman Vanessa Snedeker. The artwork was fairly short-lived: it was removed after returning from deployment.
Info from Wikipedia
Info of ‘No Fear No Gear’ from decal sheet
This is a rebox of the Esci kit that was released in 1988. It features decently done recessed panel lines and parts breakdown is very simple and straightforward. It’s almost as if Esci wasn’t planning on releasing a plethora of variants. How quaint. The cockpit details are decals but the side console decals are not included. The wings are designed to swing in and out but there are no options to lower the flaps, slats and the prominent wing gloves which Hasegawa would offer in 1993 with their own release. There is also no gear-up option.
The canopy is molded in 3 pieces but there’s no option to have it open. The only stores offered are 2 external fuel tanks with the mounting points on the wings already pre-opened. Decal options are for 2 all-gray plain EF-111s from the 27th and 388th TFW. All in all, a kit of its age: just detailed enough to be interesting but can’t compare to modern kits with wiz-bang molding technology.
This was definitely not a shake and bake even though the parts breakdown is simple. Various issues cropped up:
So, by no means was this an easy kit. Still, I had fun building this one which isn’t something I’d often say since I have a distinct distaste for endless seamline fixing and sanding.
Colors & Markings
Well, like most modern combat aircraft, the EF-111 is various shades of gray. I checked out photos on the internet and also like most modern combat aircraft, the grays pretty much look different picture to picture. The Cutting Edge sheet I was using the markings from indicated the main colors being FS36320 and FS36492 with the leading edge of the tailfin and nose being a mix of both. I went with FS 36495 which was the closest one I had to FS36492. I mixed the 2 grays for the rest of the gray parts like the nose and the tailfin’s leading edge.
Inspired by Gary Wickham’s RAF Mosquito build on Scalespot, I decided to try out his method of adding color variation to the paintjob. I simplified the method but it was effective: there is now some color variation on the paintwork even before weathering. However, I wasn’t sure I was over or under-doing it. Anyway, it’s all about learning new stuff for future builds.
The process proved to be quite time consuming as I’m slowly building up the colors with a low pressure and very thinned paint. The results however, makes the kit look more visually interesting with a patchy look that’s quite different from the usual pre-shading method.
After a few rounds of painting it was time for the decals. The EF-111 is quite bare markings-wise which is a good thing as I really don’t like doing stencils, especially in 72 scale. I decided to go with ‘No Fear No Gear’ for the noseart as this marking is rarely done by modelers and it has an interesting backstory. The decals went on easily and reacted well with Mark Softer and I was done in no time.
One common theme about the EF-111 is that they are usually quite well maintained so I went easy on the weathering. It was pretty much just a simple oil wash and some panel filtering with Raw Umber. Another reason for going easy was that I didn’t want to end up covering all the painting variation I had done. AK Matt was last on to tie everything down. With some matt coat left in the cup, I did an overall heavy coat over the kit which resulted in them drying in a patchy pattern under a certain angle. Not a bad look I think.
Next I did the wingtip lights with a silver base and transparent red and blue color and Future brushed on. The lines for the lights weren’t on the kit but I just added based on photo references. Last off were the canopy masking which is always heart-stopping. Turns out the Future hadn’t cured properly and lifted with the masking tape. I went over them with handbrushed Future. Overall, the canopy didn’t quite sit right with gaps between the 3 panels being quite wide. I really should have test fitted everything before I have gotten too far.
So, another modern jet subject for my display case is done. The build didn’t go smoothly and it’s also not perfect with some obvious mistakes and poor workmanship. However, I did have a lot of fun seeing this build to completion and now I’m itching to do more cockpit detailing and experimenting more with painting.
Number 4 of 2017
Decaling begins with a gloss coat. I’ve had very good results with AK Interactive Intermediate Gauzy Agent. With a 1:1 thinning with water, it gives a very shiny and smooth gloss without as many problems as other gloss coats I’ve used.
The markings comes from Cutting Edge Modelworks’ EF-111 Sparkvark sheet (CED72048). The sheet provides for 3 options with noseart and usually, modelers have gone for the squadron leader’s EF-111 which has a skunk riding a bolt of lightning. The other option is Tasmanian Devil from the Warner Bros cartoons while the last is a black crow (?) with ‘No Fear No Gear’ text in red over it. I decided to go with the last option. It’s the least colorful option but it has an interesting backstory to how this particular EF-111 got its name.
The decals were very easy to use: they slid off the backing very fast, reacted very well to Mark Softer and I was done in no time at all. On a sidenote: it’s a pity Cutting Edge is no more. These are seriously good decals. I decided to add the stars and bars on the bottom of the right wing although the instructions don’t indicate that it exists. After the decals have dried a bit, I went ahead and cut any parts that go over panel lines with a sharp X-Acto knife and flooded the area with more Mark Softer to get them to conform into the panel lines.
The wingtip slimelights pretty much refused to curve around the wingtips so I ended up cutting each in half, stuck the decal on each side and then painted the resultant gap in the middle with a (estimated) mix of yellow and white paint.
After a day to cure, I wiped the kit down with a wet towel and sprayed the decals over with more gloss coat to seal them in. After this new layer has cured, it was time for weathering. Looking at pictures online, a majority of them shows mildly weathered EF-111s and this includes the operational ones. So weathering on this kit will be kept to a minimal.
The wash is done with Raw Umber oil paint. As you can see, I’m not particularly neat about it. More important is that I get every panel line.
After giving it about 10 minutes to dry, I then carefully wiped the paint away with a damp tissue paper, leaving behind the wash that’s still in the panel lines.
I varied the amount I wipe away to add some filtering on random panels but nothing too drastic.
I hid some paint chipping by adding my own chipping using the oil paint neat and blending with a damp brush. I also made sure to wipe based on the direction of airflow across the aircraft. With that done it was again another day of curing for the kit.
Final assembly is now next. First up I attached the main landing gear. This proved a bit of a challenge and I had to add some shims to the joint area to get the angle correct. Everything was attached with superglue gel which gave me a bit of time to adjust each part.
The nose gear would be an easier fit. I also strengthened the nose gear by adding a pin to the attachment point. The landing gear were all then given a wash of very thinned PVA glue at their connections to (hopefully) reinforce the joints.
After the pitot tube was attached, I then sprayed a flat coat with AK Interactive Matt Varnish. This was also thinned about 1:1 with water with the resulting finish being more satin than flat. Then it was finally time to add the engine exhausts which I wanted to remain glossy. Unfortunately I wasn’t careful with trimming them: one still has a bit of sprue connector while the other I ended up trimming too much.
The photo below also clearly shows the tailfin not aligning straight on the tail. Oh there’s a seamline in the protrusion on the tail too. Chalk it up to carelessness.
After this is removing the canopy masking. I usually will have to do some cleanup on this and brush on more Future to bring back the shine on the canopy. The absolute last would be adding the formation lights on the wingtips and the wing gloves and I can call this one done.
Don't mind the missing images on old posts. My server had to be rebooted and I pretty much lost a ton of content.