I thought I may as well jump on the plastic aircraft modelling bandwagon and show my current progress on what I was working on earlier. I started this at the beginning of last year as a change from the card modelling thinking it would be relatively quick and at least get one completed build under my belt. As usual life got in the way and it stood still until now but back in Perth for the Easter break so hoping to make some progress on it.
This is my first plastic kit since my early teens so getting on close to 4 decades since I tackled anything like it so bear that in mind.
On to the kit; this is Eduard’s limited edition release of Hasegawa’s F-8 Crusader and no it is not pirated. Eduard take the best example of other manufacturers models and beef it up with aftermarket which I will cover below. This kit was released by Hasegawa and is quite old now but as mentioned probably the best example of this type in 1/48.
A few observations about the kit. For a 1/48 scale aircraft I was surprised on how big it is in the flesh. As a kid it was always 1/72 Airfix and had never seen a 1/48 or 1/32 aircraft kit as they were well out of pocket money range. I was also surprised in the relatively low parts count for this kit at least.
Although I have used photo etch in the past this is my first experience of pre-coloured PE and it just looks fantastic. There is also a small fret with normal brass PE for access panels and the cockpit.
Eduard also include a number of Resin parts. This will also be my first time using resin and seeing it firsthand I have got to say the detail on the ejection seat is incredible. Also the resin set comes with resin “weighted” wheels, which gives the correct sag and side wall bulges. I think as a minimum to any aircraft build, aftermarket cockpit/seat and weighted wheels are a must.
Eduard as usual for special editions and profi packs give decals for multiple schemes. The decals are by Cartograf, one of the premium decal companies who supply to many other kit manufacturers. There are five marking options and I have chosen the Death Angels flying out of Da Nang Air Base 1968 for no other reason than I like the markings best.
I really like the concept of aftermarket accessories and detail sets for sharpening up models so also purchased the Eduard resin exhaust but on closer inspection it probably isn’t really necessary. I also got Eduards resin rear air intakes. Apart from having open intakes and some PE reinforcing panels won’t really add much.
I also came across this miniscule turned brass pitot tube and just had to get it!
Lastly I purchased the resin wing box and the resin wheel bays by Aires and again the cast resin detail is just stunning.
I probably went overboard with the accessories for what is essentially my first plastic build and have stunning models built straight out of the box but I always jump in with both feet. Detail sets, photo etch etc really appeals to me, so be as well get experience of it now.
On to the build!
Starting with the cockpit there are a few bits of Eduard PE to fit such as rudder pedals, a floor plate and a couple of side panels. I found with the side panels that the spacing to clear the floor hump is overly large (not an issue) but that they also stick up past the side consoles by quite a bit and here was the first issue.
I trial fitted the colour PE flush against the side plates and when fitted in to the fuselage halves the PE pushed the starboard side plate off. I made sure the PE consoles fitted into the fuselage ribs so guessed there wasn’t enough room. As can be seen in the photo below I left the Port one sticking up and trimmed the starboard one down to the console level. I did lose some detail on the side plate but doubt much will be visible when finally installed.
The tub painted and the stick installed. To keep things simple I used the recommended paint call out from the instructions and this was MR Hobby, Hobby Colour H317 Gray (FS36231). I have just placed the PE consoles on to show the Port side butted against the sticking up side panel and the starboard side over the trimmed side panel. I wish I had just trimmed them both but I’ll get over it.
The instrument panel was next and I enjoyed doing this. It was sprayed using Tamiya XF-Rubber Black and then the first piece of PE with the gauges was CA glued to the cleaned up plastic part. To attach the bezel PE I used Tamiya X-22 clear applied quite liberally and then pressed it home. The clear varnish filled in the space over the gauges nicely but I did go back and add a drop of Clear into each bezel. There is still the HUD and a number of tiny PE levers etc to do but that will be later once installed and the front canopy fitted to protect it.
I was really looking forward to doing the seat to do some work with resin and decals. I believe it is a Martin Baker MK.7 series seat. I also discovered that the horse shoe shaped ‘head rest’ is in fact the parachute, which I thought was pretty cool.
The resin plug was chopped off the base of the seat and flash removed to open up any spaces such as the ejector handle and some pipes round the back. I sprayed it up with XF-85 and the call out called for H80 Khaki Green which I started doing on the seat squab and the ‘head rest’ but found it quite dark. A look at some images on line showed different colours so used H58 Interior Green on the lumber pad to lighten it up a bit.
First attempt at decals wasn’t too bad despite the small size which probably hides any issues. I used the obligatory Microscale Set and Sol. The only part I am not happy with so far is the dry brushing with Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium, which is far too heavy. I even tried dry brushing neat thinners and then Rubber Black to try and reduce it but things were starting to go downhill so stopped before I wrecked it. I should have resprayed the black but already painted the greens and didn’t want to redo that (I have decided I dislike brush painting!)
I had planned to dry brush lighter green on the edges of the upholstery but after the silver experience decide against it.
There is still all the colour PE harnesses to add but will do that later.
A couple of shots with everything dry fitted. There are the throttle and flap levers and a few other bits and pieces to go on but will wait until installed. I think I will also wait until the tub is installed before fitting the side console PE so nothing gets popped off during fitting.
I thought I would have a bit of fun with the photo-etch HUD and made a little projector lense from clear sprue and painted it with Tamiya clear green. It took 3 attempts to fit the supplied acetate screen so got a bit a bit messed up LOL
Next up will be fitting of all the replacement resin upgrades and I have shown the kit part for comparison. The main gear well is a straight drop in replacement and the difference in detail is staggering. There are still a few resin detail and wire parts included to fit as well.
Despite the massive plug on the bottom there is enough space in the fuselage for it to drop straight in. I had to remove some flash from the holes where the undercarriage fit in to but that was it.
The front wheel well would be the most difficult and will require hacking off the kit one from the intake duct and removing the large plug from the underside of the resin part as well as shaping the correct curves.
I was undecided whether to use this or not. The wheel well alignment to the underside of the fuselage will prove tricky as it fits from the inside. As can be seen the resin part doesn’t really add much from the kit part so not a big loss. I will just use some of the resin details such as doors etc not shown but were supplied with the wheel well.
The F-8 has a Variable Incidence Wing and the whole wing lifts up by approx 10 degrees at the front for take off and landings to provide extra low speed lift.
There are so much nice parts in the resin wingbox from the distribution pipes, the insulated main line and the bundles of cables running down the sides. It’s a pity most of this will be hidden even with the wing in the raised position.
The resin wing box has a 3mm plug on the underside which requires removing. I didn’t trust myself to cut the 3mm plug off the full length and width of the wing box with a razor saw and spent about 45 minutes slowly sanding it down on a large flat sanding block with quite an aggressive grit. After lots of sanding and trial fitting on each fuselage halve separately it slipped in.
The only tweaking required was to gently sand the top of the front bulkhead to get to reduce the height of the top curve.
Now that the fuselage halves were together it was time to sand the fuselage join seams and fill and sand the intake. Of course sanding removes some panel line and rivet details so was time to try redoing these. I mentioned previously my plastic modelling was limited to pre/early teens Airfix kits (decades ago) using tubes of poly cement and brush painting Humbrol enamels so had to investigate what’s what.
For panel line scribers I settled on giving RB Productions Scribe-R a try as readily available, reasonably priced and I only found one video which sounded good to me.
It is made from photo-etch stainless steel and had to be assembled by bending the scriber and slotting into the holder. Incidentally I have several different brands of knife handle (to take No.11 sized blades) but only one allowed the scriber to go deep enough in so the all four side could be gripped in the slots. It also comes with 2 spare scribes
As this is all new to me, I have nothing to compare its performance against but must say it was easy to assemble and use and I enjoyed re-scribing with it!
Next up was re-riveting…again all new to me. I would love a set of Rosie the Riveters but since I only had a rough idea of the size required it would quickly get expensive to find the right one plus availability. So again settled on RB Productions Rivet-R which is also photo etch stainless steel and was easy to cut out and assemble.
The F-8 doesn’t have a great deal of panel lines and rivets to redo but shown below is my first attempt at re-scribing and re-riveting the underside of the exhaust. On the whole pretty happy how it turned out.
One thing I noticed (which is not me or scriber related) is some of the panel lines don’t fully line up with each fuselage half but on other areas they do. The picture shows the last panel line meets perfectly but the forward 2 don’t and then the 4th one next to the tail hook recess meet again. Anyway rescribed and reriveted satisfactorily.
Next up was fitting the resin rear air intakes. The clean-up of the resin was straightforward and the photo etch plate fitted perfectly to the resin. The fit of the assembly though isn’t the best with some daylight showing. On close inspection the rear heat panels aren’t a perfect cone with a bit of a depression near the rear. Just going to accept it as is though.
The first real fit problem with the kit encountered so far is the fitting of the rear ventral strakes. As can be seen they only really touch at the front and rear and this is after a bit of shaping to improve the fit somewhat.
I ran some Mr Hobby Mr White Putty R (quite a runny filler) into the join and then cleaned up by rubbing the joint with Levelling Thinner soaked cotton buds (Q-Tips)
(Interesting fact, I think anyway, is that the first F-8’s didn’t have these strakes but were later installed to eliminate a tendency during catapult launches for the plane to spin out when it cleared the deck! There is a YouTube video showing this with the plane spinning past 90 degrees to the left immediately after leaving the deck.)
On to the jet pipe / exhaust. As mentioned at the beginning I bought Eduards Brassin Jet Exhaust set (shown on the right of the photo) to replace the 2 kit supplied parts. The resin has nice detail. I really enjoy working with resin as it slices and pares so easily with a craft knife.
After opening the packet of the Brassin set I discovered in the instructions that parts of the internal fuselage need to be removed for it to fit. A couple of tabs need trimming down which is fine but they also require removing the stubs which hold the polycaps for the stabilators!
Apart from access I didn’t like that idea so after a bit of eyeballing the kit plastic jet pipe I reckoned I could just about fit the Brassin turbine and afterburner ring in to the back. If it didn’t work out I could fall back to the resin jet pipe. I attacked the plastic part with drills in a Dremil, round files, craft knife and sanding sticks and after what seemed like hours later the completed Brassin assembly JUST fits!
For painting I really wanted to try AK Interactive metal lacquers but couldn’t get them locally and my usual on-line store would only send them by road so got some Vallejo acrylic metals instead. The instructions call for Dark Iron so used Vallejo’s steel and gave everything a coat.
I came across a couple of images looking up the jet pipe of a F-8 and everything was coated in a matt brown ‘soot’ so tried to recreate the effect with Vallejo Burnt manifold but I just couldn’t get a fine enough spray and the colour in small doses didn’t stand out. I thinned down some Tamiya Red Brown and tried to spray the pattern as per the google photo.
The effect isn’t quite how I imagined it but happy enough. I will probably put on some black panel line wash, which I forgot to do until I was looking at the photos.
The main wing all glued up. I watched YouTube videos of actual F-8s taking off and landing to work out the droop for the slats and flaps etc. I have left off the inner flaps(?) off as these need some trimming to clear the fuselage. Also included is a bit of PE at the front which was supplied with the kit.
A small tentative step towards painting with priming the main wing and elevators. I want to try black basing instead of panel line pre-shading so laid down a coat of Mr Hobby Finishing surfacer 1500. This is my first time using this and it went down beautifully. I really need better lighting when spraying as the coverage isn’t uniform (but should help with the effect! LOL)
The same 1500 Finishing surfacer went down on the fuselage perfectly. This will definitely be my primer of choice for future builds.
The one thing that is a little disappointing is on checking the box contents I found the main canopy had broken free from the sprue and has been scratched up a bit and there is also a strange line in the front canopy which may also be a scratch. The marks/scuffs don’t look so bad in the photo and I am hoping I can polish them out.
I wasn’t sure if I should show the canopy as I decided to give this a go to remove some scuffs and scratches it had with rattling around freely in the box and came close to destroying it! I watched some YouTube videos on polishing canopies so went to work on it will various grades of sanding sticks and then used Tamiyas 3 progressive grades of polishing compounds.
I wasn’t happy with it so went through the process again and this time decided to speed things up with a Dremel and felt polishing wheel I had instead of going out to get a mop wheel. I am sure you are all shaking your heads because as you will know the felt is far too hard and before I knew it I had burned the plastic and it had all burred up in several places!
I set about sanding it again to see if I could remove the burrs/burns which required sanding down a fair bit in localised spots and tried to show the worst area of distortion in the photo. I couldn’t really capture it well but it is in the middle of the side and depending on the light disappears or is worse than the picture shows.
I think I managed to dodge that bullet as it looks acceptable in my eyes from what could have been disastrous. Yet another hard lesson learned for this n00b!
Then on to masking up both inside and out using the supplied masks which again first time using and liked how quick and easy they were to use. I just filled in the exposed sections with bits of Tamiya masking tape. The rear of the main canopy was reduced in thickness as per the instructions for installing in the raised position. The hinge points in the fuselage were also trimmed to allow the canopy to open.
The finished canopy with the Eduard coloured photo etch internals. Quite happy with it. There are still yellow decal stripes though.
Finally on to some painting and started to do the mottle coat on the underside of the stabilator. I believe black basing isn’t really a good option for the navy’s high visibilty paint scheme from this era but wanted to try it anyway.
Finally! The current state of play. I had finished the wings and stabilators and applied the minimal decals and stencil data using the usual Microscale Set and Sol. I still need to apply gloss to the fuselage for all the decaling fun that entails. I will be applying only minimal weathering as I believe the 60’s High Visibility paint scheme was very durable but will apply various staining and panel line highlights etc.