Once More Unto the Breach

I think there must be some kind of modeling corollary to Murphy’s Law that says “over the course of a build, something will go wrong”.

Looking back, I feel like there’s been something with every kit I’ve built.

Sometimes it’s been butterfingers – the time I spilled CA on the AccuMini Dauntless or sloshed neat lacquer thinner all over the Ki-84‘s wing while it was salted up for weathering.

Sometimes it’s been unfortunate tape-lift, like on my Trumpeter P-47.

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Sometimes it’s acts of nature, like the time a gentle breeze caused my 1/32 Tamiya Corsair to slide off its stand, off the desk for a hard landing on the garage floor?

And sometimes it’s betrayal by shitty decals.

That was my experience with the Italeri F-104 and Zotz decals. Italeri totally botched the roundel sizing for the Italian schemes, so I opted to give the Zotz ones a go. And they were thick and did not settle and looked like shit. So…I got to strip them and repaint.

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Well, now it’s the F-14’s turn.

The F-14 Meets Its Fuckup

I’ve been working on Tamiya’s 1/48 F-14A Tomcat for a few months now, and apart from some small frustrations, it’s proven to be a rather good kit.

Tamiya F-14 122116-3

The thing is, I’ve been hellbent on depicting a specific aircraft – “Rage 207” of VF-24.

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Thanks to a handy Furball sheet, I had almost all the markings I needed for this particular ship. The only things missing were the particular aircraft numbers – the modex numbers on the wings, tails and nose. That and the “USS Kitty Hawk” on the glove vanes.

So…I printed some of my own and got to work.

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Along the way, I managed to mess up one of the VF-24 decals on the lower strakes…so I went ahead and made custom replacements.

The decals went down wonderfully.

Except that some of the custom decals were just woefully thick, and too fragile to take efforts to settle them down without smudging and smearing. I also faced a few other hurdles – areas of the F-14 that had been primed with Badger Stynylrez seemed to suffer some kind of degradation under Mr. Mark Setter and Mr. Mark Softer. And something else…

Midway through the decal work, I became aware of a Fightertown decal sheet depicting a later Rage 207. Not quite what I needed, but it had all the modex numbers. And considering how prominent the wing and nose numbers are, I decided I’d rather put my trust in Fightertown than my troublesome custom numbers. They were great, but they did degrade a very tiny bit under Mr. Mark Softer. Still…everything was looking pretty good…

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And then I put down a sealing coat and the thick custom decals on the strakes just…fuck.

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While we’re at it, the small 07s on the tails are also not great.

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Clearly, Testors decal paper is bullshit. And clearly, I need to fix these things.

The Fix Is In

So…the need to fix this bullshit is understood. But how?

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Plan A – Build and Sand

When I was finishing out the prop on Trumpeter’s Dauntless, the Hamilton Standard logos provided with the kit were just bullshit. So I stole some much better ones from Tamiya’s F4U-1A Corsair.

Thing is…the Corsair decals are Tamiya’s usual ultra-thick variety. And so they went down nicely, but were very obviously decals.

The solution? Build up a heavy coat of Gunze GX100 Gloss, which has more heft to it than your average bear, and then sand back so that the blades were level. It worked really well.

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But prop blades are one thing…and if you look again at the VF-24, there’s some obvious discoloration at work as well.

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Sanding it back would help a bit. But the discolored square would remain. That and if you look at the swoosh on the strake…it doesn’t carry all the way up. Which I’ll admit has bugged me – since the real world example does:

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Plan B – Strip It

So if GX100 won’t get me there, what will?

Simple. I’m going to do some targeted stripping, just like I did with the F-104.

What about the markings? Well – recall that I put the strake decals down before I even knew about the Fightertown sheet. Which means I’ve got a leftover set of the strake VF-24s and the tail 07s.

What I don’t have are the swooshes. But…I’ve got a cutting machine now. And while I’m still struggling with tighter detail, cutting a swoosh mask is absolutely within the realm of doable.

So, that’s the plan. Now…to execute.

9 thoughts on “Once More Unto the Breach

  1. I agree fully. Every build gives me a few moments of pure anxiety and complete self-flagellating frustration. But alas, I believe our toil it is all worth it in the end. No hobby has ever given me such joy and accomplishment and also such misery and feelings of failure. Recently had a bad run in with Tamiya’s armor decals myself (garbage decals, imo).

    Although slightly morbid, it is reassuring to see that superb modelers (yes, that’s you), also experience set backs (reminds me that we are all human, no matter how incredible a build may look at the end of the day).

    Best of luck with your plan of action.

  2. As you have indicated you have a plotter (silhoutte portrait or similar) for cutting masks from either masking foil (oracal oramask) or tamiya A5 size sheets. I would suggest to make masks for the numbers and the swooshes and repant the markings. With correct knife setting it should work out. The smallest letters that my friend made for me were like 5mm high and 0.75mm thick so it could work. Anyways you can DO IT! Thanks for all your tips and tricks on this site.

  3. I feel your pain, Doogs.

    I’ve just completed a Special Hobby Fw58 (yep – another German subject) but it was a battle throughout. Not the kit’s fault at all but my still-fumbling efforts at painting/finishing. I first laid down a coat of Alclad’s grey micro-filler primer, made sure it was dry and clean (smoothed with Micromesh), then painted the yellow theater markings (Vallejo) and masked these off. Got a very decent 70/71/65 camouflage on (Vallejo, Mr Hobby and Aeromaster acrylics respectively); carefully peeled of the Tamiya tape and – f..k – the yellow flaked off in the wrong places. Ah – repaint the yellow with specially purchased Modelmaster enamel yellow (masking the the 70/71/65 this time). Excellent yellow base now – but carefully peeling back the Tamiya – f..k – the 70 and 71 flaked in the wrong places. OK, apply a clear coat (AK acrylic gloss) then re-mask problem areas and repaint. Wow – home and dry. Then apply home-made ‘dry’ transfer decals (CraftyComputerPaper in UK) for the nose unit emblems. This was nightmare as the stuff has very sticky adhesive and the top protective layer is a bastard to peel off – OK for your favorite coffee mug or skateboard. I was reasonably successful with one side but I had to remove and sand back the other, repaint (I had to do a masked white-painted background shield) – some more 70/71 flaking, but finally got the thing finished. The kit’s decals were fine and the Fantasy Printshop Luftwaffe codes excellent. No silvering – sweet! Then I noticed, using my reference photograph, that the yellow on the wing lower-surfaces did not extend far enough inboard (by a panel width). Out with the masking and it was done (fortunately the Aeromaster did not flake).

    Sorry about this long rant – but your site has given me some great ideas as to the way forward, especially with regard to paints and bases – lacquer is the way to go, although I’m experimenting with Schminke inks now as well.

    Cheers
    GrahamB

  4. if the decal has not yet been sealed in via clear than try white spirit (i am using talens’) which is capable of removing the carrier film without lifting anything else.
    problem is it doesn’t work with all decals; it’s nogo with japanese ones, with chinese manufacturers it’s a hit and miss. custom made ones usually yes, so far.

  5. I feel your pain. I’m in the middle of a WNW Albatros and am having to do the same 8-step paint job for the fourth time, after 3 different screw ups:

    1. Tried to mask over Uschi’s decals, which pulled up even with de-stickied tape. So…strip & repaint. Order more decals from Uschi. Put decals on over masked stripe, not under.

    2. Painted a barber pole stripe ala Jasta 4 and didn’t notice that the S curves I masked at the top and bottom were just wrong until after the stripe was painted. Strip & repaint. Make curves either convex or concave on both sides; don’t mix concavity and convexity.

    3. Used Testors acryl primer, which may be the most useless primer ever made. Pulled up easily. Strip & repaint. New house rule for me: Never use Testors anything except their MM enamels. From the 1950s era stringy orange tube glue and putty to their decal paper to their Acryl primer, they sure make some rubbish.

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