Part I | Part II| Part III
I haven’t built a modern jet since I was a kid. Well, not counting the mini-MiGs, which I don’t. What happens in 1/144, stays in 1/144.
Since coming back to modeling, I’ve been largely focused on World War II, with some deviations into the Great War. I haven’t ventured into lawn darts, and for quite a time, I had no desire to. Until ModelFiesta in San Antonio this last February. The 1/32 category was a total mess – despite the scale exploding in popularity, the show organizers set it up as just a single category encompassing biplanes, props, and jets. Even among the crowded field, there was a 1/32 F-4 Phantom that just stood out like nobody’s business.
The thing was, to put it bluntly, HUGE. For some perspective, compare it to the 1/32 P-51 in the background. This thing was an absolute whopper, with presence to spare. I’m not even a fan of the Phantom, and this one got my juices flowing.
Ever since then I’ve been meaning to give jets a shot, and now’s as good a time as any.
My original intention was to build Academy’s 1/32 F-16I Sufa as a Hellenic Air Force F-16D Block 50, but early on in the project, I ran up against the awfulness of Eduard’s cockpit PE and it more or less gutted my motivation for the project.
The frustrating thing with the Eduard PE was that I was forced to commit. The kit cockpit detail had to be removed to make room for the PE, so after it wound up sucking, there was no going back.
I almost shelved the project.
Somehow, I managed to rekindle my energy by reframing the build. Instead of tackling a Greek Viper, I decided to go with a Polish F-16D Block 52+ instead. A Wolfpack resin cockpit was ordered to replace the fail that the kit pit had become. Techmod decals were ordered to depict the Polish F-16. And so on.
The Cockpit, Part I
Jets may be wildly different animals than the props I’m used to, but they still start in the same place – the cockpit. To replace the failpit, I ordered a Wolfpack resin cockpit and was immediately impressed by not only the detail, but the fit. I typically shy from resin cockpits because I don’t find the extra detail worth mangling a kit trying to get said detail to fit seamlessly, but the Wolfpack set is literally drop-fit.
After getting all the parts cleaned up, I primed them with Mr. Surfacer 1500.
The next step? Painting the main cockpit areas with Gunze 317 Gray.
Then all kinds of masking to isolate the console areas. Once all the masking was done, the console areas were painted with Tamiya XF-2 White. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.
Next, I shot a mix of Model Master Aircraft Interior Black mixed with Gunship Gray over the consoles. This was then selectively removed with toothpicks and microbrushes dipped in thinner to reveal the switchgear detail beneath.
In the middle of the cockpit work, I got snagged by some fall bug and removed from the bench for three days, so this seems to be a convenient, if not natural, break.
But before signing off on Part I, a quick visit to the underside. With the Techmod Polish decals, I also bit the bullet and ordered an Aires gear bay. I’ve heard horror stories about the fit of these things, and was prepared to take this as a giant waste of money, but lo and behold, I found the main gear bay to be a perfect fit. Better than the kit parts, even!
And…that’s all for now. Stay tuned for Part II, which will probably involve finishing out the cockpit, tackling the gear bay, and getting the intake sorted and painted.