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Landlubber Mike

F3F-1 and F3F-2 by Landlubber Mike - Accurate Miniatures 1/48 with aftermarket

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After building the Accurate Miniatures F4B-4 and P-6E, I'm building the Grumman F3F-1 and F3F-2 by Accurate Miniatures.  

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Bottom box art:

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Reference material:

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Deliveries of the F3F-1 began in 1936, and the F3F-2 was delivered in 1937-1938.  I don't believe that they saw action in WWII, as they were replaced by other, newer planes (the rate of development/improvement in war aviation was very impressive during this time).  They ended up being used more for training aircraft than anything.  Very cool looking planes continuing the colorful "yellow wing" line of aircraft.

 

I have to say that the Accurate Miniature kit looks very well done.  While I believe the F4B-4 and P-6E were reboxings of earlier Monogram kits, the F3F-1 and F3F-2 might have been developed in house.  Sprues look very clean, decals are crisp, and the instruction manual is very detailed.  The kit also includes a small fret of PE for rigging and the bomb rack.  If the kit builds as nicely as it looks in the first impressions, I have to say that it's really a shame AM is no longer in business.

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Here is the aftermarket I'm planning to use (have a second set for the F3F-2):  

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The Eduard PE set is mostly for the cockpit, but there are a few pieces for the undercarriage and bomb and bomb rack assemblies.  I'm not sure if I'm going to use the Yellow Wings decals though.  The question that really bedeviled me with the F4B-4 was can I match the nose color with the fuselage band and wing chevron?  Same issue here, as you will have to paint the nose to match the colors.  The nice thing about the AM decals, however, is that they assume you will just paint everything yourself!  I thought about doing that with the F4B-4, but the fuselage band and chevron had very narrow black (or white) stripe borders -- impossible to replicate.  The AM kit gives you very narrow black and white line decals to allow you to add the borders yourself.  If I go that route, I might even try to paint the US insignias on the wings as the Montex masks give you stencils to do so.

 

I'm digging the larger scale - hopefully a lot easier to handle than the 1/72 scale kits I just completed.  I'm also going to try a different strategy on painting and assembly.  With the F4B-4 and P-6E, there were slight fit issues so I needed to use putty in some areas to fill gaps.  I decided to assemble the fuselage with the lower wing and tail in place, and then tape off areas to paint, which was a real pain  I'm hoping that I can paint the fuselage, wings, and tail separately, and then assemble them to avoid having to go through the taping process.  Fingers crossed that the fit is good!  

 

I haven't decided on colors yet, but I'm planning to paint the aluminum areas using Vallejo's "Metal Color" line which is their answer to Alclad.  We'll see how that goes.  For the yellow wing top, I'm going with Tamiya's "camel yellow" but this time will use the correct one (the TS line) and not the line for polycarbonate RC planes (the PS line).

 

Should be fun kits!  If not, hopefully my (mis)adventures will at least provide comedic relief to you all.

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So I spent some time the last couple of nights working on the cockpit details.  The cockpit pieces from the kit are actually nicely done, but I decided to try out the Eduard PE set, about 2/3 of which is dedicated to cockpit details.  I have a set for each of the two models.  One set is brass colored, while the other is more of a stainless steel color.  The latter seems a lot stiffer to work than the brass colored one.

 

The PE set has 54 PE pieces, and another four "film" decal-type applications for cockpit gauges and the like (I'm not sure if these are stickers, decals, or some other type of application).  The PE set unfortunately is discontinued, but you can find them on eBay here and there.  Here is the instruction sheet on the Eduard site:  https://www.eduard.com/out/media/48317.pdf

 

First I worked on the pilot's seat - the PE is a bit crisper and finer than the kit piece (mostly with the back rails), but I think the kit holds its own and likely any improvements won't necessarily be apparent in a busy cockpit.  I'll add the seatbelt after these get painted.  Looking at the pictures, looks like I need to touch up the corners a bit.  Also included is my giant dime for scale 🙈

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Here are pictures of one of the armrest consoles.  The kit one is ok I suppose, as the details likely won't be readily apparent.  The Eduards PE though really goes all out.  I believe close to a dozen parts were used for it.

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These were fun to put together.  It took me a bit of time to figure out how to read the Eduard instructions, but now that I understand how they are drafted, I can say that they are well done.  The two above are the two stand-alone pieces from the PE set.  The rest of the cockpit portion of the set requires modifications to kit parts.  Probably only 1/3 of the way done so far.

 

Here are some pictures of the real thing - the Eduards PE looks spot on!  These planes were not for the claustrophobic, and those metal bucket seats don't look all that comfortable.  The kit says to paint the interior and the exterior "aluminum" but these pictures give me ideas on how to use different tones to bring out the details.  My order of Vallejo "Metal Color" paints just arrived and I'm glad I ordered different shades of the various "aluminum" colors.

 

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Edit:  Not sure if the picture below is from the F3F series, but probably from a similar aircraft:

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Mike, Those seats probably aren't all that uncomfortable (can't have the pilot feeling comfy and taking a nap).  Consider the flight suit and parachute they wear which is what they sit on.  I worked on an F5 project (upgrade) back in the '70's.  Interesting plane.

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These were jump over the side bailouts, with a seat pack parachute. Needed the space.  Ejection seat aircraft had pretty hard seat ki (fiberglass box top with a nomex cloth cover), with either backpack or built in parachutes. F-4 and A-7 onwards had built in parachutes. We just wore a harness to clip all the rest of the gear to, along with a personal lowering device built into the back of the harness. Needed that if you got hung up at 100' in the triple canopy jungles in South East Asia. ;):)

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Mike,

The brass colored ones are older. The current releases are all the stainless colored material, which I agree is much harder than brass. It's probably also cheaper to manufacture...

 

The film instruments in general on Eduard sets get sandwiched between two pieces of PE to form the panel. They usually look pretty good when completed. 

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1 hour ago, jwvolz said:

Mike,

The brass colored ones are older. The current releases are all the stainless colored material, which I agree is much harder than brass. It's probably also cheaper to manufacture...

 

The film instruments in general on Eduard sets get sandwiched between two pieces of PE to form the panel. They usually look pretty good when completed. 

Yeah, it's considerably harder.  Not sure if it's some kind of stainless steel or what.  It's not too hard that you can't work it though, just a noticeable hardness differential.

 

Thanks for cluing me in on how the film works.  Looks pretty nice for sure.  

 

1 hour ago, Canute said:

Be careful bending the stainless parts. Make sure of every bend before you make them. Study the drawings included with the parts. I've busted a few parts, either overbending or bending the wrong way. :(

Thanks for the tip.  I know this can be a problem with the brass parts also, but here, my guess is that while the stainless are harder, they are a bit more fragile if you bend them too much.

 

 

The Eduard stuff is really amazing.  The level of details, the little notches to help bends, and some of the texture and other details is super impressive.  Amazing what they can do with PE (and Eduard pumps out a lot of PE sets).

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I've spent some time the last couple of days working on the cockpit - more specifically, working in the Eduard PE set into it.  The PE set is probably a good 2/3-3/4 just for the cockpit so it's been a number of hours of work.  Not sure how much will be seen at this scale, but it's been a good learning experience.  Overall, I would say the kit parts are very nice, but Eduard does a great job here adding things like switches, handles, etc. 

 

For the instrument panel, the kit has a reverse decal for the gauges which goes in the back of the clear panel part.  They also give you a decal right side up if you just want to slap the decal on the front.  Very nice to have options!  Eduard instead has you sand off a lot of the raised details, and then add a PE part over a printed decal-like "film" for the various dials and gauges.  They also have you add a whole bunch of handles, switches, etc.  I forgot to take a picture of the changed panel before priming it black (impossible to tell the details right now), but here is a picture with the dial faces removed juxtaposed against the kit part.

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I also spent a bit of time on the cockpit floor pieces.  Lots of PE to add, including one small detail section that got removed and new parts added.

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Hoping to finish the last bit of cockpit PE tonight so I can prime everything and let things cure.  The cockpit is generally all aluminum which makes the base coat fairly easy, but I'm going to try to use washes, etc. for depth and pick out some of the other details like the gauge faces, handles, etc.  So, it's likely going to be a few more days of work to get it completed.  I'd rather let things sit and cure for 24 hours, then try to rush things.  There's still plenty else I can work on in the meantime.

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Thanks OC!

 

I finally finished adding the Eduard upgrades to the cockpit portions (minus adding the gauge and other film pieces that I'll add once things are painted).  I'm going to prime and paint the pieces first, and then assemble per the suggestions in the kit instructions.  There wasn't much to add for the cockpit walls - just had to scrape off a couple of details that frankly were pretty good to begin with, and replace them with some PE:

 

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Here are the rudder pedals.  All you end up using is the top section, and the rest is PE and scratch built (Eduard's instructions say to use "wire" but I used very thin diameter styrene rod).  I made the top bar longer to help with the assembly, and will cut to fit when I start putting the cockpit together.  It was pretty tricky trying to get that center piece with the three gauges installed as the PE straps are very thin.  In fact, I broke one off on each of the two assemblies, and lost one so had to create a new one.  The pedals were what really scared me as the sides were attached to the pedal by a tiny thin tab maybe less than 1mm wide - was really worried that the parts would break off so I added some CA to the seam between the parts to help keep things in place.  Overall, I would say that this is one of those items where the kit parts are probably perfectly acceptable to use and you wonder why Eduard decided to add this particular upgrade to the package.  Maybe they already had the specs to replace poorly designed pedals on another model and decided to port them over to this kit since they didn't have much else to modify given how good this kit is?  The PE probably is less clunky looking, but the kit part has some details that aren't included in the PE-modified part.  I went ahead and built them anyway to get more experience with manipulating and assembling PE.  

 

They look a little rough at such close-up magnification, but came out fairly nicely under normal viewing conditions :) 

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10 minutes ago, Javlin said:

So you do build :P looking good thus far Mike and those pics look like they came from the NAS in Pensacola  a nice museum been there a few times.;)

Ha, I have been!  I'm just very much a novice (and a slow builder at that) so have been a little reluctant to post my work. 🙈  

 

I live not too far from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - will need to head back out there and take more detailed pictures of the planes they have there.  The one out near Dulles Airport is fantastic. 

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1 hour ago, Landlubber Mike said:

I live not too far from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

So is that were the pics are from?I have only been once back when I was kid 14 and I think we hit the history(dinosaurs) not enough time for both and at that point and time my ambition was to be  an archeologist.

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My pics were off the internet.  The Smithsonian opened a new Air and Space Museum out near Dulles airport - it's a huge facility with tons of planes  including one of the Space Shuttles.  Well worth it if you are out here.  

 

Now that I'm modeling planes, I'll have to go back and take detail pictures to help with builds.  For example, I have the Zoukei-Mura Dornier Do-335 kit in the stash.  I believe that ZM came to the Smithsonian to study the plane to create their kit.    

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Little update here.  Finally finished the cockpit and am pretty happy with the way things came out.  

 

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The one thing I'm not as happy with is how the cockpit instrument panel came out.  The Eduard aftermarket had you add a film (like a translucent sheet printed with the dials and gauges) to the piece, and then add a brass face on top that had holes for the dials and gauges to theoretically let the printed film show through.  I ended up painting the plastic part silver to help let the dials show up on the film, but it's all pretty dark.  The brass face for the instrument panel doesn't really have raised details for the gauges, so I didn't try dry brushing it.  The dials do look a little glossy relative to the rest of the panel, so you can tell there are gauges there - you just can't see the details.  It would probably be impossible to see much anyway when the cockpit is dropped into the fuselage, so I'm not too bothered.  I might drop some white or silverpoint into the dials, we'll see.

 

I used Vallejo's Metal Color line for the cockpit, and really like it.  I first put down Vallejo gloss black primer per the instructions, and then shot the metal color after about 24 hours to ensure that the primer had dried and cured.  The Metal Color is almost like water and has great coverage and metal effect - and it cleans very quickly from running water through the airbrush at the end.  For the cockpit, I used Duralinum which is a touch darker than Aluminum.  I figured I would use different shades in different sections of the models.

 

I also started on the engines, which i painted using Vallejo's Metal Color White Aluminum.  The engines came out absolutely fantastic I think.  The kit parts have a lot of very fine detail, and the paint went on perfectly.  First picture below is after white aluminum was used, and the second is after using Vallejo black wash to help bring out the details.

 

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The engine on the left is the F3F-1 engine - the one on the right is the F3F-2 engine.  Big change in design and size/power.  The F3F-1 used a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Jr. 14-cylinder 650HP engine, while the F3F-2 used a Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder 950HP engine.

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16 minutes ago, Landlubber Mike said:

Finally finished the cockpit and am pretty happy with the way things came out.  

I should hope to shout Mike. The cockpits came out fantastic!:)B)

 

13 minutes ago, Landlubber Mike said:

But, thought I'd ask what you guys do.

At last someone asks something I know a little about! Not much mind you but a little.

 

If you have any, DIP the canopy in Future or Pledge Acrylic floor polish. This has the affect of almost making the clear parts of the plastic almost disappear!  that should have the added effect of allowing your beautiful cockpits to be more visible.

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1 hour ago, lmagna said:

I should hope to shout Mike. The cockpits came out fantastic!:)B)

 

At last someone asks something I know a little about! Not much mind you but a little.

 

If you have any, DIP the canopy in Future or Pledge Acrylic floor polish. This has the affect of almost making the clear parts of the plastic almost disappear!  that should have the added effect of allowing your beautiful cockpits to be more visible.

Absolutely agree with Lou on both sentiments, fantastic cockpits and YES on the Future for the canopies.... don't brush it, dip them....

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