I keep telling myself to scale back on the foam airplanes, but when the Freewing A-4 Skyhawk came up on pre-sale, I knew I had to have one! The A-4 is a classic design that I’ve always appreciated. In fact, I still remember seeing the Blue Angels fly A-4s back in the 80’s. It was such an agile yet graceful airplane to watch fly, they will probably always be my favorite Blue Angel aircraft. The F-18s have brute force, but it just doesn’t have the grace and maneuverability that the A-4 did.
If you follow this page on Facebook or Instagram, then you know how this one ends for me. For those who and for full disclosure up front, this airplane flies really well when setup right, but I actually crashed the airplane twice in the process of making this review…mostly a result of my own error. The first time was due to installing an already flown battery into the airplane. It only took a couple laps before the fan quit and of course it was too low to get back to the runway. Bummed, but not to be defeated the airplane was refinished with a few upgrades (which we’ll talk about). It came out beautiful, I loved it! Unfortunately, the CG moved further back than I anticipated and the airplane over rotated on the second takeoff and I didn’t have enough altitude to fully recover. It’s fixable, though I’ve debated just buying a replacement instead…it’s currently hanging in my shop waiting in limbo.
With that being said, I still wanted to provide this review because as I mentioned, the airplane flies really well. But, it’s an A-4 and there definitely some things to be aware of when setting it up for best success.
AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES
The A-4 is a quick assembly requiring the aft fuselage section be glued on and then the dorsal, horizontal tails and wings bolted onto the airframe. From there, it’s just a matter Continue reading →
Panel lines and weathering are something that can really make or break a scale model. When we started this Kfir kit bash, I knew that I wanted to use it as a canvas to show some simple weathering and panel lining techniques. Very often we can get too heavy with either and so my hope here is to give some pointers for adding some realistic and effective looking panel lines and weathering that’s easy to do. These are some techniques that are pretty simple to employ and that I actually use on my competition models also.
There are so many different techniques we can turn to for this stuff, so these are just a few that I regularly use. Ultimately the best techniques are the ones you like and give you the results you’re looking for so experiment and try different techniques. The only way we develop these skills is through practice and use.
As we talk about panel lines and weathering, my recommendation is less is more. What I mean is that if you feel that a panel line is too dark, or the weathering is too heavy, then it probably is. Also, it’s highly recommended doing all of this final finish work inside under artificial light. The sun washes out much of what we apply and so the results are much less subtle once we bring the airplane inside since we’ll continue to darken until we can see a result. So, just a couple things to keep in mind as we go through this (it’ll be stated again too 😉 ).
THE PANEL LINE PROCESS
To apply panel lines to the surface, we are simply applying all of them using a mechanical pencil. This works excellent in this case because the pencil lines when applied, are darker than all of the colors on the airplane. So, as a result, you can get aContinue reading →
Continuing in our Kit Bashing 101 series, in this installment we are talking about painting camouflage and adding markings to our Kfir. The transformation from Mirage 2000 to Kfir has taken place and we’ve even added some nice Kfir specific cockpit details. So, there’s no more procrastinating, it’s time to prep and paint this jet! We have an awesome 4 tone Isreali camouflage scheme lined up that we’re going to paint and so we’ll talk through the process of achieving that. We’ll be utilizing an airbrush in the process along with some humbrol plastic model paints for the camouflage and then once painted, we will be applying our markings.
First things first though, the airplane was made paint ready. The process used was the same as what we did in our How to Refinish a Foam Warbird Series where we applied 6 coats of minwax polycrylic, primered and sanded a few times, and then finished it off by wet sanding with 600 grit sand paper to get it paint ready. There were a couple things done differently here though that are worth mentioning. First of all, there was quite a bit of texture coming through after the initial primer coat, so I decided to spray a some Rust Oleum gap filler primer. This helped build up the lower areas to even out the surface. After sanding it down with a sanding block, many of the imperfections disappeared. Being foam it’s difficult to get a perfectly smooth finish, but this helped really smooth it out. Also, this primer is ideal for prepping 3d printed parts and getting rid of the striations you get due to the layer build up.
The last thing was, I had a couple areas of the pink Home Depot foam react to the Evercoat primer when I applied it too heavy which melted some areas underneath the polycrylic. To fix it I just filled it back in with some spackle and sanded it flush. I’ve Continue reading →
Once in a long while my good Friend Brent (Corsair Nut) gets to spend some time in San Diego. We’ve been friends since we were kids as his dad used to work for my dad at one point in the shop. I have memories of him, his brother and I running around the back of the shop just doing what kids do. We reconnected about 10 or so years ago and pretty much picked up where we left off! So when he’s in town, there’s always some RC madness going on whether sporadic fly days or projects and it’s great! We’re always encouraging and pushing each other to go for that next project or running ideas off of each other on builds, etc. One thing about Brent, he is a master when it comes to working with foam and he’s shown me a lot of the techniques that I’ve been sharing with you. So, when he mentioned he was coming to town, we talked about teaming up on a quick Ultra Micro (UMX) jet. The subject? The A-5 Vigilante.
We actually planned this project (including sizing some drawings!) over a year ago on one of his previous trips. For me, I have always had this airplane in mind for a build as the proportions are perfect for an RC subject. It has a big wing, big tails and a nice wide fuselage which means good flying characteristics. For a big bird, landing gear are kind of an issue (they always are!), but for a UMX bird like this, that’s no matter. Fixed gear chicken legs here we come!
BTW, I have included the templates for the build further down in the article (no instructions), so if you’d like to give building one a shot, do it!
Now, I can’t say I was a huge help in the building process since our schedules really didn’t line up very well for the week he was here. Add to that that I was a hand down based on abroken finger I was 3 weeks into resulting from an ice hockey injury. I was fresh out of a cast but had a removable splint and couldn’t grip anything very well still even without theContinue reading →
One of the features that always gets inspected on a scale model is the cockpit. There are so many gadgets in the cockpit of a full sized aircraft, it’s fun to see what was modeled. Yet, when it comes to ARFs and foamies, we’re lucky to get a decent pilot let alone a decent looking cockpit! So, in this episode of our Foam Kit Bashing Series, we’re going to talk about some quick and easy ways to dress up an otherwise minimalist cockpit. The whole idea here are simple things that can be done that add big results. We’ll cover full scratch building of a cockpit in a future episode. Oh, and in case you missed it, last time we talked about the whole construction process of converting a Freewing Mirage 2000 into an Isreali Kfir. This airplane has really transformed and looks awesome as a kfir.
Before prepping and painting the airframe (we’ll cover painting in our next episode), we really should work out the cockpit interior first since we need to pull the canopy off the airframe to work on it. It’s better to do this earlier in the process just in case we mess something up it will be an easier fix. The base cockpit provided with the Mirage 2000 is ok, but there are definitely a few issues that we’re going to fix. First off, the pilot is just too small for scale. To solve this, we’re going to replace him with a 1/12 scale Castle 5 bust which comes from my folks at JetHangar.com and show you how to paint him (this is one of the pilots I manufacture for my folks in sizes ranging from 1/18 scale all the way up to 1/6 scale). The second thing we’re going to do is show how to make the cockpit a little more “popcorn” proof and then detail it a little bit to make it a little more Kfir representative. The stock cockpit is black and inside a sealed compartment and had already “popcorned” up…so, now is our time to fix that.
HOW TO PAINT A “CASTLE 5” PILOT BUST
Painting a nice looking pilot is not a difficult thing to do and is something that can actually be done pretty quickly. We first off need a selection of paint brushes. I have a number of paint brushes that I turn to when I’m painting a pilot. I’ll use a wider, kind of square brushContinue reading →
When someone mentions the allied fighters from World War II, I would imagine the P-51 Mustang is usually first on people’s minds. However, the less glamorous P-47 Thunderbolt was ever so much a workhorse in the war having operated in every theater. It was a fast and heavy weight fighter built like a tank that could withstand an astounding amount of punishment! Combined with it’s eight .50 caliber machine guns while being able to carry 3,400 rounds (compared to the Mustang’s 6 guns and 1,800 rounds), it was a deadly machine. Add in the aircraft’s external stores capability and the P-47 could deliver about half the payload of a B-17 when gully loaded! If it was lacking in some way, it would have been the range which was roughly half that of the P-51. Being a large powerful fighter makes it harder to run a marathon I suppose.
Needless to say, the P47 makes for a darn cool model and has always been a popular subject. It makes sense given the wide gear stance and wonderful proportions of the design. So, when the E-Flite 1.2m P-47 Thunderbolt Razorback came to market, there was no question that it would be an awesome flying warbird. Especially given Horizon Hobby’s track record of great flying P-47’s in multiple sizes.
The 1.2m P-47 comes wonderfully packaged and pulling the airplane from the box, I don’t think I noted really any shipping damage. The parts count is really low having Continue reading →
Well, it’s been a little while since my tease at kit bashing a Freewing Mirage into an IAI Kfir (“Kfir” is Hebrew for “Lion Cub”). We started with an assembly & flight review for the Freewing Mirage 2000 which out of the box flies awesome. However, the Kfir is such an awesome looking airplane and with canards and a little extra wing area we’ll add in the bashing process, I can only imagine that the airplane will fly even better! So, in this article, we’re covering the transformation process of turning this airplane into a Kfir and we’re using 3D printed parts as a part of that as well as employing some traditional building methods. Through this whole process we will be employing the foam refinishing method I covered in our How to Refinish a Foam Warbird series. I don’t plan to get into much detail about the foam prep work itself in this series as I want to focus on the kit bashing aspect to compliment the refinishing we did previously and use the next couple articles to go into more detail on painting, simple panel lines and weathering.
Now, one of the reasons that it’s been a little while is, in addition to of course a few distractions, is that I’ve been working out the 3D printed parts with a friend of mine. CAD modeling takes time and there were a number of parts that we ended up making. These include printing a new nose, the exhaust shroud and turkey feathers, the dorsal inlet, external wing tanks, lower ventral tank, and the afterburner cooling scoops and inlets on the fuselage. As a whole, we printed a total of 23 individual pieces for the conversion (many of the parts required multiple pieces to be printed).
As promised in my How to Repair Fiberglass and Fibgerglassed Parts article, here’s a little tutorial on some of the detail parts I had to re-scratch build while repairing my Mirage IIIRS earlier this year. These include some of the very distinctive pitot tubes and antennas that are exhibited on the nose section of the full-sized aircraft. In all the searching we did of the crash site when the airplane went in, the original parts were just nowhere to be found…a sacrifice to the three angry bushes that swallowed my airplane I suppose! Also, if you missed it, be sure to check out my coverage from the US Scale Masters Championships as I competed with my fully repaired Mirage and somehow in the process came out of the competition finishing 1st in Expert being named the Grand National Champion! What an amazing weekend! It was such a great event with a wonderful and very talented group of scale modelers, I can’t wait to go back!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALS
When we talk about detail parts, we need to talk about materials selection. Obviously, any materials can be used, but when dealing with parts that are protruding from an airplane, we need parts with stiffness and resilience to repeated abuse. Let’s face it, these parts areContinue reading →