1/32 Polish F-16D Block 52+, Part I

AcademyF-16PolAF

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.

Positively massive 1/32 F-4J Phantom photo 4B20061E-C57B-417E-A520-CF749FF57471-12007-0000069E4E5DCAC8_zps54055672.jpg

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.

Underside Interlude

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.

Sprue Cutters Union #17 – Go Big or Go Home

The Combat Workshop‘s “Sprue Cutters Union” is akin to a group build, only with blog posts instead of builds. Every week, a new topic will be tossed out, and participating blogs will each write their own post on that topic.

This week’s topic:

If you had the resources, would you attempt one HUGE project?

Huge is, of course, relative. For some, my HK B-25 build probably counts. But I think Jon is talking about something above and beyond, the kind of project that eats YEARS.

Personally, I don’t think I would. Hell, I haven’t even finished the cockpit of my current project and I’m already eyeing what I’ll tackle next! The idea of spending years on something…I think I’d probably get sick of it. I mean, my longest projects have taken months – my longest build to date, my Trumpeter P-47, ate up 118 days. The thought of multiplying that by a factor of five or ten? No thanks.

Of course…where’s the fun in that kind of response?

Let’s turn this around. If money, time, space, resources etc were no object, is there one huge project that could tempt me into the effort?

Sure. Building a 1:1 replica P-47 Thunderbolt.

USAAF-42-28382-P-47D-Thunderbolt-8AF-56FG61FS-HV-S

Where on earth would I put it? Who knows? Who cares? Resources be damned, I think this is a project that could suck me into a multi-year commitment. And hey, at 1:1, the weathering would be damn easy.

Sprue Cutters Union #14 – “The Worst”

fffffffffuuuuuuu

The Combat Workshop recently kicked off an interesting idea called “The Sprue Cutters Union”. Basically, the idea is akin to a group build, only with blog posts instead of builds. Every week, a new topic will be tossed out, and participating blogs will each write their own post on that topic.

This week’s topic:

What do you think is the worst part of this hobby?

Normally, I’d have a tough time answering this question. I mean…where to start? I love this hobby, but let’s not kid ourselves, there’s a lot to loathe about it, too. Filling seams. Decals gone awry. Rivet counters. The modeler vs. assembler thing that crops up on forums it seems every two or so months. Stupid forum drama. People moaning about how they could buy a [insert kit here] for a nickel when they were a kid.

But no. For me, in this moment, is when you commit to a course and it doesn’t work, leaving you up shit creek without a paddle.

Wanted...

Wanted…

Let me spell out the situation.

I’m currently getting started on Academy’s 1/32 F-16I Sufa kit, which I intend to build as a Greek F-16D Block 50. To spiff up the cockpit a bit, I invested in two Quickboost ejection seats, Quickboost control sticks, and Eduard’s interior set.

The cockpit’s not bad, but I kind of balked at the painting of every switch and knob, so I opted to lean on the Eduard set, which looks gorgeous on the fret.

Applying the PE, of course, meant removing all of the detail from the cockpit’s side consoles and instrument panels. In other words, committing 100%. No going back. No backup plan.

So I committed.

Then I applied the PE. And the result was complete suckage. What looked gorgeous on the fret looked flat and weird and fake on the kit.

I hated the prequels, but this seems apropos.

At this point, I was committed, and I’d been screwed over by the PE. With no going back, and no backup plan, I planned to box the kit and go through the hell of trying to obtain replacement parts to start over with.

Fortunately, I had it brought to my attention that Wolfpack does, in fact, make a resin cockpit set.

So a last-minute reprieve, albeit for a price.

Still…that sensation of “I’ve just ruined a $120 kit and have no way out of it” is a sickening one, and one of the things that totally eats me up about resin and photo etch. To use the vast majority of it, you have to mangle the kit in ways that you simply CANNOT recover from if things go wrong.

So yeah, at the moment, that’s the worst thing about this hobby. The roll of the dice that you have to take with so much aftermarket…especially when the dice fall off the table and get eaten by the dog.

1/32 Ki-84 Hayate, Part III – Weathering

Has_Ki-84Log3

Part I | Part II| Part III

In Part I, the Frank got built up. In Part II, it got painted.

Now, it’s time to move into weathering and wrap-up.

Salt Weathering

I knew way back when I cracked the box that I wanted to subject this build to salt weathering. This is a process whereby you douse the kit in warm water (with some soap to break surface tension), cover it with salt from a salt grinder, blow it dry with a hairdryer, then go over with a very, very thin coat. The way I learned it and the way I go about it is two coats – the first a lighter grayish/tan. Then, with salt removed and reapplied, a darker, grimy color. Continue reading

Sprue Cutters Union #6 – Preparation

Montgomery_and_Patton_Discuss_Operations_in_Sicily

The Combat Workshop recently kicked off an interesting idea called “The Sprue Cutters Union”. Basically, the idea is akin to a group build, only with blog posts instead of builds. Every week, a new topic will be tossed out, and participating blogs will each write their own post on that topic.

This week’s topic:

How do you prepare for your next build?

This is a tough one for me, since my preparations are often driven directly by whatever it was that inspired me to take on a certain build.

When Inspiration Strikes

Inspiration for the next build usually strikes when I’m part way through whatever my current build happens to be. And that inspiration can come from a number of different vectors.

Sometimes, it can be the kit itself. Screw it, I’ll figure out the exact scheme and so on later, but I just have to build this exact kit here that I’m holding in my hands. Such was the case with my recent Revell Bf 109G-6, or the Hasegawa Ki-84 I’m finishing up right now.

Sometimes it can be a specific subject. I feel like this happens frequently. I’ll stumble upon a subject I just HAVE TO BUILD, and then back my way into a kit. This was very much the case with my French P-47 and my Swiss Bf 109 and just so happens to be the case with my two upcoming aircraft builds, as well.

Sometimes it’s a need for a break into a different scale or genre. Sometimes it’s dictated by an enticing group build.

Each one of these sets me on a slightly different preparation path, since the initial givens vary,

For the sheer sake of keeping this somewhat manageable, I’m going to proceed from the inspiration = a specific subject angle, since that’s what I’m literally in the middle of right now.

Usually, when I’m inspired by a specific subject, it’s because I’ve either seen a picture of said subject, seen a profile of said subject, or read something about said subject (which leads to a search for pictures…).

Recently, I encountered just such a photo.

oHareHellcat

Cool, huh?

With initially very little information to go on – that this F6F-3 Hellcat with over 200 bullet holes was patched up and flown to the Grumman plant around the end of 1943 – I turned to Google and forums and ultimately discovered it belonged to none other than Butch O’Hare, the first American ace of World War II and the man for whom Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is named. I also unearthed a spread in a wartime paper – The Carrier – providing more details and multiple shots, including views of the port side, detail of the tail, and so on.

Armed with that, I’ve got enough to go on to start preparing a build. So let’s get to it!

Kit Selection

With a subject in hand, landing at a kit is generally easy. To wit, in 1/32 scale, we have two options for the F6F-3 Hellcat – Hasegawa and Trumpeter. Well, I have two Trumpeter F6F-3Ns that can easily be built as -3s, so Trumpeter it is.

Markings

After a kit, the next most important consideration, to my mind, is the markings. Are they available as decals? If so, by a decent brand? If not, are the markings something that could be done up as paint masks? In the case of this Hellcat, I’ll be getting some custom masks cut for the insignias and K-29 codes, and using decals for the rest. I’ll need to figure out how to custom print the Bu.No. on the tail as a decal…but now that I’ve got a laser printer and the number is black, that’s easy.

Aftermarket

Kit and markings sorted. Now it’s time to look into the goodies. Usually for me, this involves studying to kit to get a sense of what needs help and what doesn’t, then looking to see what’s available, then merging the two.

Trumpeter’s Hellcat is, overall, pretty solid in the detail department. It’s got some issues that drive the rivet and millimeter-counters mad, but for some reason minor overall shape problems bug me so much less than bungling the little details. Go figure.

But yes, the Trumpycat doesn’t need much help, so I’ve decided to go with a targeted aftermarket approach:

Seatbelts and canopy masks – these are basically mandatories for all of my aircraft builds. This time out I’m using the Eduard/HGW belts designed for the new Tamiya Corsair (close enough) and Eduard masks (obviously).

Cockpit – There’s a resin cockpit that’s available, but I really hate fighting resin pits, and besides, the cockpit aperture is so small, and the fuselage so rounded, that you don’t really see all that much of it. So instead of resin, I’ve opted for the Eduard interior PE set. It brings some serious detail to the headrest and bulkhead area, as well as the canopy sills and the gunsight.

Engine – I’ve built Trumpeter’s Pratt & Whitney R-2800 before, when I built their P-47. What a mess. If you care about accuracy, it gets enough elements wrong that you’ll want to bang your head against your bench. And if you care about buildability, the exhaust pipes will make you want to bang your head against your bench. So I’m going to try out the R-2800 Quickboost makes for Trumpy’s F4U-1D Corsair. We’ll see if it can fit the Hellcat. If not, oh well, I can suffer the kit engine.

Guns – I have Trumpeter’s F6F-3N. Why the -3N? Because it was selling on Amazon for stupid-cheap. But the -3N only ran four .50 cals, replacing the inboard guns with heavier cannon. So. I need gun barrels. Profimodeller makes a .50 cal set for the Hellcat, so those will absolutely be in the mix.

Wheels – Trumpeter wheels are generally bad. And Roy Sutherland just came out with new Corsair/Hellcat wheels. Yoink!

Paint

Generally at this point I try to make sure I have the right paints to do the job. At this point, I have more or less what I need for the Hellcat’s tricolor scheme, particularly considering how faded out it’s going to be. No action required this time out – but I can’t say the same for my about-to-start Greek F-16 build!

Reference

Sometimes yes, sometimes I just want to wing it. Depends on the mood and the build. With the Hellcat, I’ll be more focused on the weathering and the patches, probably.

Process

As the build gets closer, I always tend to start thinking through my approach. Not the standard cockpit – build – paint – weather workflow, but little things. Can I install the guns at the end, or do I need to put them in before I close up the wing? If I go with the Quickboost engine, how will I manage routing the exhausts? What should I do to replicate those 200+ bullet holes and all the patches?

I’ve found thinking through these issues well in advance usually does a great job of preparing me once I actually encounter them during the build.

And…that’s it! After the prep work, the battle is usually getting through the cockpit. If I can do that and close the fuselage, odds are great that I’ll finish it. If not…

 

1/32 Ki-84 Hayate, Part II – Paint

Has_Ki-84Log2

Part I | Part II| Part III | Part IV

In Part I, the Frank got built up.

Now, it’s time for paint.

Brain Teaser

From a process perspective, the Ki-84’s scheme is a rather complex one. You have the yellow leading and trailing edges on the wings. The fat red hinomarus surrounded by the white Home Defense squares…all chipping away to reveal bare metal beneath. Just getting my head around how to approach this paint scheme probably took more effort than the actual painting!

Step 1 – Bare Metal Base

I decided early on that I wanted the chipping to be actual chipping, not some faux chipping added after the fact. So I started by priming the Ki-84 in Tamiya AS-12 Bare Metal Silver, overcoated with Alclad metalizers.

Step 2: White, Orange Yellow and Red

Laying down a bit of liquid frisket as a chipping mask, I next sprayed down Gunze C69 Offwhite for the Home Defense bandages and as a base for the yellow leading edge bands. C58 Orange Yellow went down over the white.

Next, the hinomarus were masked using Montex masks and sprayed first with C58 Orange Yellow, then with a 50/50 mix of C3 Red and C108 Character Red. Continue reading

1/32 Ki-84 Hayate, Part I

Has_Ki-84Log1

Part I | Part II| Part III | Part IV

I’d originally planned to follow up my Bf 109G-4/R6 and Bf 109G-6 double-build with Tamiya’s new Corsair, but by the time I was in a place to consider making a move, approximately 7,490 F4U-1 builds were underway over at Large Scale Planes. Can’t speak for anyone else, but a thing like that has a way of killing my enthusiasm for a project. Nah…I’ll come back to the Corsair in a bit, once all the mindblowing aftermarket stuff has had a chance to work its way out.

In the meantime, I’ve had this urge to tackle a Japanese subject for awhile, and I’ve always like the lines of the Nakajima Ki-84, so…

Aftermarket Roundup!

You know how there are some kits with just tons of aftermarket flying all over the place?

This isn’t one of those kits.

There’s a bit out there. Not much. But a bit. So I got most of it.

  • Eduard interior photo etch
  • Eduard exterior photo etch
  • Quickboost exhausts
  • Montex mask set

Cockpit

Work started with the cockpit. For the most part, Hasegawa did a pretty bang-up job here, and Eduard’s interior detail set picked up the slack where things got a bit weak. I also added some wiring with 0.2mm and 0.3mm lead wire.

Speaking of weak – that’s an apt description for the kit seat. Folded PE replacement is much, much easier on the eyes.

Prior to laying down the cockpit green, I laid down a base of Alclad Duraluminum.

The Alclad was masked selectively with liquid frisket, then painted over with Gunze C128 Nakajima Cockpit Green. Frisket masks were pulled off to reveal the metal beneath…then it was on to detail painting and many successive stages of weathering. End results?

Engine

With the cockpit sorted, I moved on to the Homare engine.

After using my trusty airbrush needle to poke holes in the ignition ring, and the plug locations on the cylinders, I base-painted everything. Cylinders were done in Alclad Magnesium. Crankcase cover in Semi-Matte Aluminum. And the ignition ring in Gunze SM06 Chrome Silver (wonderful stuff!).

Wiring was then added with 0.2mm lead wire (and some assorted other wire where necessary), a stencil borrowed from the Eduard interior set to gussy up the crankcase was added, and everything given a raw umber oil wash. Viola!

Next up for the engine is some oil and grease staining, but need to wait until later in the build to tackle that one.

Main Construction

It’s almost not worth talking about construction with the Ki-84.

Almost.

The Ki-84 falls together for the most part. The fuselage fits phenomenally well, the stabilizers are literally press-fit, etc.

The only challenge is the wings. There is a wing spar/strengthener element, that helps, but the wings on my Hayate left some noticeable gaps at the wingroot when everything was taped together.

I got around this by working inside-out and outside-in. So I tacked the wingroot down just enough to get a proper hold. At the rather flat dihedral they had, the lower wingtips protruded further than the uppers. By lifting the wingtips, however, all was brought into alignment, so I welded the tips, then went back to the wingroot. The rest of the wings went together quite well…but those first welds were a bit of a stumbling point.

With the major airframe construction done, I flipped the Frank over and began playing with Eduard’s exterior set, which includes appliques for the gear bays. The Eduard wiring looms were pretty awful, so I dropped those in favor of lead wire.

While I was at it, I also replaced the oleo scissors with some very finely detailed Eduard PE. BIG improvement there.

From the gear bays, it was literally a hop, skip and jump to being done. Some filling and sanding , and off we go to painting land.

Up next?

Paint! My favorite!