On The Bench

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F-4G Phantom II Wild Weasel Build Review
Hasegawa (07209)
Scale: 1:48
Started: Jul 2005
Finished: Oct 2005
Link to: Finished Model Photos
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. 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
Using a resin seat as a guide, most of the major elements of the MB Mk.7 can be reproduced with little effort. The objective here is to make the seat look "busy". Once painted and suitably weathered it should look fine.
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. 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.
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 The dremel tool makes short work of the box. The surface now needs to be sanded and filled.
The finished result after scribing has been completed. You can just see the shadow of the box section that was removed. The main tub is almost ready for detail painting.
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. One trick to making it easier to get the doors flush with the surface is to use plasticard pieces as supports.
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. 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.
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. The aft cokpit panel received its initial detail painting.
Likewise the front panel. The kit parts are actually quite nicely detailed. 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.
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. 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.
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. A closeup of the scratchbuilt sway braces.
The stores and weapons have received a coat of primer to check for faults. The fuselage and nose have been joined. An excellent fit.
Primer shows the areas of the wing section that had work done to it (a lot). 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.
Here the RIO is being test fitted into the rear cockpit. 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.
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. 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.
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. A suitably trimmed section of clear sprue was glued in place and sanded to shape.
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. 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.
Basic painting of the pilots is complete. They have received a coat of future in prep for washing. The harness between the pilots shoulder and seat is made from lead foil. The emergency torch is made from plastic rod.
The RIO has received a similar treatment 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.
With the fuselage complete, the intakes are next. Here you can see the right intake has been assembled (masking was done prior to assembly) Closer examination of the intakes once dry fitted to the fuselage showed a very visible gap on the interior face of the splitter plate)
A quick and easy solution to the intake problem was to skin the inside surface with 5 thou card The completed pilot figure. Note the addition of the map to his left leg. The pull handles are from the kit
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 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
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 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
To make the task of "squaring" the hole easier, a square is drawn around the hole to provide a guide with the knife Once the hole is expanded to the right size, the square plastic tube is inserted and glued at the desired angle
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 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
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 As with the stabilisers, the tail section behind the exhausts has been given a first coat of Alclad
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 The outline of the clear parts has been masked using thin strips of Tamiya tape
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. 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)
The AGM-78s are masked up ready for a coat of Coal Black 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
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 The ALQ-119 required some tricky masking to get into all the nooks and crannies
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 A quick dose of Super Glue and kicker takes care of the vents. Here the plasticard antennae have been attached
The AGM-78 nose section now complete with the masking removed. 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
The port side has been masked as well. Note the fuslage hole has been filled 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
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 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
I use a metal rule to gently roll the blutac into thin round lengths The blutac sausage is laid out on the model surface as needed to form the camoflage demarcation
To hold the blutac in place, small segments of tamiya tape are used 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
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 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
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> The basic painting (and touch ups) are complete
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 Another shot of the finished paint and post-fading. Next step, gloss coat
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 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
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 The AIM-7 Sparrows nearing completion
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 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
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) Speaking of stencils, there are a considerable number of these on the underside
A close up shot of the sharkmouth decal on the nose 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
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 A close up shot of the nose section with the panel lines highlighted. The flat coat is Polly Scale Flat clear
When 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 A shot showing how the flat clear lightens up the overall colors
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 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
The stark white of the weapons is broken up using a light oil wash. The wash as seen here is yet to cleaned up A comparison of a clean (lower) and weathered (upper) item
Final assembly is now complete. All weapons, tanks, exhaust nozzles and horizontal stabs are attached via two part epoxy glue 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
The splitter plate has now been added. The AGM-78 and ALQ-119 are seen here to good effect The starboard AGM-78. The extra work done to the pylon and sway braces pays off now
The finished Standard HARM. The pylon adapter is finished in Olive Drab The ALQ-119 also received an oil wash to lift the surface detail