On The Bench

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F-4G Phantom II 'Wild Weasel'
Hasegawa
Scale: 1/48


Started: July 2005
Finished: 21 October 2005
Last Update: 20 October 2005

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Update: 25 July 2005
Work has started on the cockpit. As this model will be in flight with the canopy closed, a resin cockpit would be wasted, so instead I spruce up the visible parts of the cockpit with a few cents worth of plastic card and copper wire. It may not be Black Box quality, but its much more rewarding :)
Figure 1 The rear cockpit instrument panel is a very distintive Phantom feature. Here some simple analog instruments have been added from plastic rod. I am yet to add the wiring looms from copper wire.
Figure 2 The kit seats are actually not that bad. The top of the seats receive all the attention here as they are quite visible even with the canopy down and a pilot in residence.
Figure 3 Using a resin seat as a guide, most of the major elements of the MB Mk.7 can be reproduced with little effort.
Figure 4 The objective here is to make the seat look "busy". Once painted and suitably weathered it should look fine.
Figure 5 The rear of the aft instrument panel. Once the super glue dries the cables will be twisted and routed to look like the real thing.
Update: 31 July 2005
Work on the cockpit continues (painting stage now) and whilst that dries other general airframe jobs can be worked on.
Figure 6 The wires have now been randomly routed around the instruments to give that bust look. I don't really know how visible this lot will be when completed as the canopy will be closed.
Figure 7 As the wings for the Hasegawa 'G' kit are shared with the US Navy versions, the box on the upper wing surfaces needed for the USN versions has to be removed for USAF versions. Here I have used masking tape to protect the surrounding wing surface
Figure 8 The dremel tool makes short work of the box. The surface now needs to be sanded and filled.
Figure 9 The finished result after scribing has been completed. You can just see the shadow of the box section that was removed.
Figure 10 The main tub is almost ready for detail painting..
Figure 11 To my surprise the fit of the main gear doors in the closed position was very good. The airbrake needed to minor adjustments to fit sunggly..
Figure 12 One trick to making it easier to get the doors flush with the surface is to use plasticard pieces as supports.
Figure 13 The biggest disapointment of the entire Hasegawa Phantom family is the exhausts. As you can see here the kit item has no (yes nothing) detail internally.
Figure 14 Aires makes a beautiful set of resin exhausts, but in keeping with my work in the cockpit I decided to see what some plasticard could do to smarten up the kit items. Each petal will receive eventually receive two boltheads as shown on a single petal here.
Figure 15 As happens with Hasegawa kits where newer variants are released, many of the parts common to earlier variants are not re-tooled. In this case the inboard pylons are from the earlier raised panel line kits. In fact this kit has several examples of raised parts. Here I have corrected the cumbersome pylon mounting points with plasticard and removed the raised detail then finally scribed new panel lines. The top pylon is the kit item.
Figure 16 The aft cokpit panel received its initial detail painting..
Figure 17 Likewise the front panel. The kit parts are actually quite nicely detailed.
Update: 1 August 2005
Really moving along now. Having a long weekend has helped immensly. Work today concentrated around final sub-assembly construction. The multitude of weapons and stores have been built and primed. The fuselage has been joined and the wing assembly completed.
Figure 18 The cockpit is ready for installation in the fuselage. Note that I have not applied my usual weathering as this is mostly wasted with the canopy closed and the higher contrast should prove to be more visible thru the canopy anyway.
Figure 19 The AGM-78 ARM have been mated with the inboard pylon. I have used 19thou brass wire pins to lock the missile to the adapter and the adapter to the pylon. The AGM-78 and adapter (x2) come from the Has. Weapons Set C.
Figure 20 The chaff dispensers have been added to the pylons. Note that the mis-alignment of the dispensers on each side of the pylon is correct. The outboard dispenser on each pylon is higher than the inboard one.
Figure 21 I just couldn't leave the pylons alone without sway braces. I have PE items, but again wanted to see what it looked like if I scratchbuilt them.
Figure 22 A closeup of the scratchbuilt sway braces.
Figure 23 The stores and weapons have received a coat of primer to check for faults. .
Figure 24 The fuselage and nose have been joined. An excellent fit..
Figure 25 Primer shows the areas of the wing section that had work done to it (a lot).
Update: 7 August 2005
Focus this week has been on the pilots (this model will be on a stand in flight). Trying to make the model a little different, I decided to change the standard pose of the arms a little. Additional details have also been added from copper and plasticard.
Figure 26 The Hasegawa pilot figures all come with the same set of arms. After you have built a few, they all look the same. Wanting something a little more animated, I modifed the RIO's right arm to show him working a panel. To do so the standard arm was cut in two places (elbow and wrist) and rejoined with brass wire to allow it to articulate. The thumb was also cut off and re-attached as an index finger.
Figure 27 Here the RIO is being test fitted into the rear cockpit.
Figure 28 The kit oxygen hoses are a little on the thick side. I decided to replace them with wound copper wire. Here I am using a pair of "helping hands" to hold the wire whilst I wind it.
Figure 29 The end result is more to scale and considerably more flexible than the plastic item. Note also the addition of a emergency light and some milliput pouches on the pilots vest.
Figure 30 The kit console and rear shelves are very sparse. As these will be visible thru the closed canopy I have enhanced with plasticard and copper wire.
Update: 28 August 2005
Been a bit slow with the web updates, but I have been chipping at the model. Its almost at the painting stage now. Construction has been realativley trouble free with perhaps the exception of the wing to fuselage join (see Figures 44/45). The pilots are finished and waiting patiently to be housed in their cockpit.
Figure 31 A simple enhancement can be made by replacing the navigation light embedded in the leading edge of the vertical fin. Here the molded plastic section has been cut out.
Figure 32 A suitably trimmed section of clear sprue was glued in place and sanded to shape.
Figure 33 A coat of Humbrol clear red has been applied to the clear section and will be masked prior to final painting. Note also that the plastic pitot above the light has been replaced with steel tube.
Figure 34 With the upper fusleage join cleaned and saned, its time to replace the panel details removed as part of the sanding. This is a scribing template from Eduard and is made from brass. This I have found makes it very flexible and unlike the spring steel offerings from Verlinden etc, conforms very nicely to complex surfaces. I use a compass needle mounted in an Exacto knife handle to scribe the lines.
Figure 35 Basic painting of the pilots is complete. They have received a coat of future in prep for washing.
Figure 36 The harness between the pilots shoulder and seat is made from lead foil. The emergency torch is made from plastic rod..
Figure 37 The RIO has received a similar treatment..
Figure 38 Like most Hasegasa kits, the attachment point for the horizontal stabilisers is in-adequate. Here I have filled the kit hole with plastic rod and used 28 thou brass rod instead.
Figure 39 With the fuselage complete, the intakes are next. Here you can see the right intake has been assembled (masking was done prior to assembly).
Figure 40 Closer examination of the intakes once dry fitted to the fuselage showed a very visible gap on the interior face of the splitter plate.
Figure 41 A quick and easy solution to the intake problem was to skin the inside surface with 5 thou card.
Figure 42 The completed pilot figure. Note the addition of the map to his left leg. The pull handles are from the kit.
Figure 43 The kit antenna found on the parachute housing where removed during sanding. Here plasticcard replacements have been manufactured. Note the as-yet unsanded putty which is to fill the incorrect panel line.
Figure 44 The joining of the wing and fuselage assemblies resulted in a nasty step on the bottom fuselage and intakes. To remove this is was filled and blended with super glue. Unfortunately this resulted in some detail being lost.
Figure 45 With the blending complete, new panel lines were scribed and here we see the result after a coat of primer. The most noticable loss is the vent in the center fuselage section.
Update: 4 September 2005
Construction is now essentially complete with only minor joint cleanup being completed since last update. One of the last tasks prior to commencing painting is to create the mounting point for the stand. My technique for mounting is fully documented in this reference article. The wing slats have been fitted and metal areas (exhaust region mainly) have been painted with Alclad.
Figure 46 Once a suitable location has been selected for the stand, a hole is drilled. In this case the stand is off to the right because the centerline tank will be fitted.
Figure 47 To make the task of "squaring" the hole easier, a square is drawn around the hole to provide a guide with the knife.
Figure 48 Once the hole is expanded to the right size, the square plastic tube is inserted and glued at the desired angle.
Figure 49 Here is a good angle (up the exhaust) that shows the mounting tube running the full vertical depth of the fuselage. When the glue hardens, the tube will be trimmed on the exterior and sanded flush with the aircraft skin.
Figure 50 The pilot and seats have been secured in the cockpit using two-part epoxy glue (gives a strong bond + 5min cure time). The kit HUD has been added and in combination with the scratchbuilt details, looks ok.
Figure 51 The leading edge slats and inboard panels on the horizontal stabilisers are natural metal on Phantoms. Here I have applied a fist coat of Alclad Stainless Steel. Several imperfections have been buffed out using Micro Mesh 8000 grade.
Figure 52 As with the stabilisers, the tail section behind the exhausts has been given a first coat of Alclad.
Figure 53 The single piece canopy saves a lot of mucking around and is generally a good fit. However, it still needed some sanding to achieve an acceptable finish. I like the FlexiFile and Squadron sanding sticks for this sort of delicate work. The tape is used to protect the clear parts.
Figure 54 The outline of the clear parts has been masked using thin strips of Tamiya tape.
Figure 55 I believe that pre-cut masks are available for the Phantom kits, however I use canopy masking as a way to keep my masking skills sharp.
Figure 56 The remainder of the masking is now complete. Difficult corners and small sections are masked using Mr Masking Sol. Whilst it is possible to use liquid masking agents (Maskol etc) to complete the interior masking, I have found that every so often these liquids react badly to Future (which the canopy has been dipped in).
Update: 11 September 2005
The final fuselage construction is now complete with the addition of the F-4G specific antennae. Progress has also been made on the weapons and pods.
Figure 56a A coat of Testors 'Aircraft Interior Black' has been sprayed over the clear canopy frames.
Figure 57 The AGM-78s are masked up ready for a coat of Coal Black.
Figure 58 The kit exhausts have now received a coat of Alclad Steel, followed by Humbrol Gunmetal. Once these are dry-brushed I think they will look quite good.
Figure 59 Assorted panels on the bare metal tail have been masked and discoloured using assorted shades of Alclad. This will now be masked (once dry) and receive a flat coat and oil wash once the main painting/decaling is complete.
Figure 60 The ALQ-119 required some tricky masking to get into all the nooks and crannies..
Figure 61 As I was attaching the antennae to the nose underside I happened to notice that the gun vents had not been filled (doh). This is a hang over from Hasegawa using the F-4E fuselage parts in the G kit.
Figure 62 A quick dose of Super Glue and kicker takes care of the vents. Here the plasticard antennae have been attached.
Figure 63 The AGM-78 nose section now complete with the masking removed.
Update: 1 October 2005
Final masking and prep work has been completed finally (yee ha) and the first colour coat has been applied.
Figure 64 The exhaust Alclad NMF is masked ready for painting. Note how the hole into the fuselage has been left open. This will will accomodate a wooden handle during the painting stages
Figure 65 The port side has been masked as well. Note the fuslage hole has been filled..
Figure 66 The leading edges and inboard sections of the horizontal stabs have been masked. Reference has shown that the triangular strengthening plate is painted in the camo colour, rather than natural metal.
Figure 67 As the paint scheme is the Euro 1 wraparound, the lightest of the three colours is FS34102 (Humbrol 116). This has been roughly applied in the approprite area's. This will be left for 24 hrs to dry then masked and the next green (FS34079) applied.
Figure 68 Being a tactical wraparound scheme. the camoflage continues on the undersides. Visible here is the wooden support pole I use to hold the model whilst painting.
Update: 3 October 2005
After leaving the light green to dry, next step is to mask (using rolled Blutac) in preparation for the darker green.
Figure 69 I use a metal rule to gently roll the blutac into thin round lengths.
Figure 70 The blutac sausage is laid out on the model surface as needed to form the camoflage demarcation.
Figure 71 To hold the blutac in place, small segments of tamiya tape are used..
Figure 72 This shot shows two ways mask in between the blutac. The starboard wing shows Tamiya tape, whilst the fuselage spine only uses Gunze Masking Sol.
Figure 73 Once all the masking is done, a coat of Humbrol 116 (FS34079) is applied. Notice the drops of thinners that splattered on the port wing as I was cleaning the airbrush (doh). I'll buff and re-touch this once the paint dries.
Update: 9 October 2005
Painting has proceeded by the numbers. At the end of this update the model is ready for decaling.
Figure 74 For some reason (one of those things I guess) in random areas, the blutac masking when removed lifted the underlying H116. It was only this color that had a problem. Perhaps a bad batch ??. In this photo you can see the snake like sections that I have lightly buffed to blend the sharp edges away. Next step is to touch up using the airbrush freehand.
Figure 75 Another example of the paint lifting, this time on the nose. These photos are for those of you who think other modelers never run into problems <if only>.
Figure 76 The basic painting (and touch ups) are complete..
Figure 77 As is my preference, I like to apply post fading (as opposed to the more fashionable pre-shading). Here you can see the effect (quite pronouced here). This is done freehand with the airbrush. Fading tends to happen in the center of panels, so concentrate the lighter color there.
Figure 78 Another shot of the finished paint and post-fading. Next step, gloss coat.
Figure 79 The model has now received several light coats of thinned Future (50:50 with Tamiya Acylic Thinner). This serves a double purpose. 1) Gloss surface for the decal application and 2) a protective layer for the upcoming panel wash and oil weathering. Take note of how the fading now seems to be less noticable. Experience and observation helps here to get the required level of fading.
Update: 17 October 2005
Decaling is now complete. Next step, seal with Future and panel wash.
Figure 80 Where ever possible I like to completely remove the carrier film from around each decal. Some decals brands do not respond well to this technique (the edges curl etc). The advantage of doing this is you can get a very realistic result. In most cases the decal can look painted on. As you can see from this picture its not necessary cut entirely through the decal and backing paper. Just lightly pass a sharp blade over the decal and separate the excess carrier once the decal is wet and soft.
Figure 81 The AGM-78 Standard HARMs have a lot of multi part decals around the body. The ALQ-119 decals are from the spares bin as Hasegawa do not provide any in the kit..
Figure 82 The AIM-7 Sparrows nearing completion.
Figure 83 The AirDoc decals are printed by Cartograph (Italy). These are the first Cartograph decals I have used and I must admit to find them a bit thick (when compared to Microscale). Having said that, with careful application of setting and softening solution, they settle into the panel lines nicely.
Figure 84 Choosing to model a 480th TFS bird from Jever AB circa 1984, the AirDoc sheet provides the tail codes as separate numbers, requiring you to manually layout the number.
Figure 85 A good example of how the decal should settle nicely into the panel lines. Note the formation light panel on the wingtip. This, like all the stencils are part of a separate AirDoc Stencil sheet. To complete a model you will need both sheets (Squadron + Stencil)
Figure 86 Speaking of stencils, there are a considerable number of these on the underside.
Figure 87 A close up shot of the sharkmouth decal on the nose.
Figure 88 In contrast to early model phantoms, late model aircraft have very few stencils on the main airframe. This makes for a less cluttered looking model.
Update: 20 October 2005
Panel wash is now complete, flat coat is on and masking removed. Next step, oil washes and stores attaching.
Figure 89 A darker than ususal panel wash was required here as the aircraft camo colours are so dark. Rather than my favourite Burnt Umber I used a mixture of Naval Gloss Grey and Black.
Figure 90 A close up shot of the nose section with the panel lines highlighted. The flat coat is Polly Scale Flat clear.
Figure 91 Now the flat coat is dry enough, the masking can be removed from the bare metal section. A panel wash as oil wash will be applied here next..
Figure 92 A shot showing how the flat clear lightens up the overall colors. Compare this pic with Figure 83 above.
Figure 93 The pilots finally come out of the long dark :) I had to polish out (using Tamiya Compound) the rear canopy as some of the thinners from the panel wash has snuck under the masking tape.
Figure 94 Test fitting on the stand. Not really evident here is the decal silvering on many of the stencils. I'm quite annoyed at this and can only think to blame the Cartograph sheet.
Update: 21 October 2005
Last installment for this On The Bench article. Final weathering, drybrushing and assembly is now complete. A couple of minor things to finish off before the IPMS meet tomorrow. Hope you found this build useful. For final photos of this model, check out the Gallery page.
Figure 95 The stark white of the weapons is broken up using a light oil wash. The wash as seen here is yet to cleaned up.
Figure 96 A comparison of a clean (lower) and weathered (upper) item.
Figure 97 Final assembly is now complete. All weapons, tanks, exhaust nozzles and horizontal stabs are attached via two part epoxy glue..
Figure 98 I'm happy with the result provided by the Alclad II metalisers. I may add some exhaust staining (fine airbush of Tamiya smoke) to this area to add the final touch.
Figure 99 The splitter plate has now been added. The AGM-78 and ALQ-119 are seen here to good effect.
Figure 100 The starboard AGM-78. The extra work done to the pylon and sway braces pays off now.
Figure 101 The finished Standard HARM. The pylon adapter is finished in Olive Drab
Figure 102 The ALQ-119 also received an oil wash to lift the surface detail.
Figure 103 Last, but not least, the finished kit exhausts (with plasticard enhancements).

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