Making the Flir Cat…Tomcat nose art FTW!
In my previous articles, we talked about the refinish process and making a highly detailed cockpit for the Freewing F-14. Now, it’s time for paint! I will say, I have a love/hate relationship with painting models. Most of the time, I love it, but when there are issues that arise, that’s when I hate it, haha! However, being patient, having the right materials and ensuring the proper preparation is done can usually keep those issues to a minimum, but sometimes you just have to improvise. In this case, the vinyl markings I had made decided to curl up and not want to stick to the airframe which had me thinking all of the markings would need to be completely replaced. As it turned out, at the suggestion of a friend, a little low temp heat with an iron cured the issue (saving huge time and aggravation) and all was right with the world again!
In painting a model, one must first choose a paint scheme of course and this not something I take lightly. :p I knew that I wanted to do something different and rarely modeled and that I also wanted to do a later low viz Navy scheme because it would be fun to weather (they got crazy dirty). In my research, I found a scheme from VF-103 dawning a unique and rare nose art carrying the moniker of “Flir Cat.” As it turned out, this aircraft was used in 1995 to prove out the LANTIRN pod integration and was the first to drop bombs from the Tomcat platform which paved the way for the F-14 “BombCat” which proved quite effective. That’s not to mention too that the aircraft was flown in part by Capt. Dale “Snort” Snodgrass (highest flight time Tomcat pilot ever) as a part of the testing which provided additional appeal. So, it was decided, Flir Cat she will be!
A quick note regarding the Flir Cat nose art. While nose art was a regular occurrence on bombers in WWII, it’s since become a rare thing to see, especially on the more modern fighter jets. The Flir Cat artwork itself was designed and painted by artist PEL during his service in the Navy in the mid 90’s. He chose the artwork color scheme from each side based off of graffiti color palettes of the day and had to use different colors on each side for the lettering due to having an insufficient quantity of paint for both sides (hence the two different colors of font left to right).
THE PAINT PROCESS
A good paint job starts with a good foundation which is what is done during the refinish and primer process. Once the desired smoothness and finish was achieved through the primer/sand/primer process, the model was wet sanded with 600 grit sand paper in Continue reading