I tell you what, it has been quite the journey getting here! As a project, this Freewing F-14 Tomcat refinish took much longer than I had originally planned based on all of the other distractions that have come through the shop, but I’m so happy with how this model turned out in the end. It did take a few flights to get tuned and I have made a few small modifications in the process since our last installment, but otherwise I’m happy to report that the Tomcat is flying quite well. The F-14 Tomcat has such a great look and presence in the air, you just can’t beat it!
Oh, and I love the looks of the low viz Navy camouflage by the way, especially with the Flir Cat nose art. The low viz gray is not the greatest color against a blue sky, but a dirtied up Tomcat flying around just presents so authentically! I may have to consider this or a similar paint scheme when it comes time to build my 1/10 scale DCU F-14. All in due time of course… 🙂
Well, in wrapping up this series, I thought I’d touch on some of the final F-14 modifications I made in finishing the airframe up, talk through the programming in more detail since I’ve had a number of questions about that, and then talk through how she flies in her refinished state.
SOME FINISHING TOUCHES
One thing I was never fully happy with upon finishing the F-14 in our last installment was the look of the nose gear. While it was perfectly functional and didn’t look bad, it lacked the scale look I wanted. Well, Continue reading →
10 channels of power…and 1 receiver to rule them all!
I personally love having the option for more channels, especially when building my own scale aircraft. While not always necessary, having channel options available is almost always helpful and it opens up opportunities to add scale functions and/or customize the controls more to your liking. And that’s not to mention having individual servo setup across the same functions. So, I was excited to finally see the AR103060T and AR10100T 10 channel receivers released from Spektrum. It opens of channel options in a lighter weight package while also supports all of their new technology. Having been flying the NX10 for some time it is nice to finally be able to utilize all of those 10 radio channels.
My goal in putting together this review is to introduce the receiver and some of its key features and then from there run through some programming and then talk through setting up AS3X. The subject for all of this is the E-flite F-16 80mm EDF as I had been wanting to try out a more scale flaperon type control setup that included tailerons to help recover the loss in roll authority when the ailerons are deflected as flaps. Spoiler alert, I really like the result with that airplane!
A QUICK RUNDOWN OF THE AR103060T RECEIVER
In short, the Spektrum AR10360T receiver is a full range 10 Channel AS3X/SAFE Telemetry Receiver compatible with a DSM2® and DSMX® (note that the AR10100T is the same, but does not have AS3X/SAFE). While many of the standard features of the receiver is similar to the current Smart/SAFE 6 channel and 8 channel receivers, the 10 channel receivers feature integrated barometer and vario telemetry data as standard. Additionally featured is an SRXL2 port for an SRXL2 Remote Receiver (SPM9747 or SPM4751T) to addContinue reading →
Needless to say, the last year and a half plus has been hard on all of us. With so many of our normal routines and activities disrupted, it has only brought that many more challenges it seems. This hobby is not just about the airplanes and flying, it is about the friends and comradery that can be enjoyed together with others as well. So, when the Scale Squadron’s Warbirds & Classics came up again this year after being cancelled in 2020, I was beyond excited to go; it had been almost 2 years since the last event I went to!
If you’re unaware, the event takes place at the OCMA field near Irvine Lake. The backdrop at the location is fantastic making for great pictures and video and the runway is 600 ft of pure paved goodness. While the event has taken place in early June in years past, this year came up in mid July based on the timing of when events were allowed again. This provided us a nice and sunny weekend that did get a bit hot in the afternoons. Regardless, the heat didn’t preclude anyone from getting all the flying in that they could handle!
There’s always a really great collection of airplanes at the event and this year was no exception. There was a great showing as a whole with nearly 70 registered pilotsContinue reading →
How low can you go?…a little low-viz Tomcat weathering.
Finishing up the refinish work on the Freewing F-14 Tomcat, it’s time to apply some characteristic low-viz Navy weathering. The Flir Cat paint scheme is from the mid 90’s at a time when the Tomcats in service were painted primarily in Dark Ghost Grey (FS36320) with variations thereof. They were high maintenance workhorses at this time and the aircraft got extremely dirty during operation. This opens up lots of opportunities to apply different weathering techniques on the airplane to simulate those years of service on the carrier.
While I have done a few videos on weathering, it’s such an important step in the completion of a scale model in what ultimately gives it that realism you otherwise wouldn’t get. That being said, there is always a balance because too much weathering and the model will look toy-ish just the same without it. So, my MO for weathering is “less is more.” To understand how aircraft dirty up in operation, it’s best to look at pictures of the full size and see where the dirt and grime accumulates most. In the case of the late operation F-14 Tomcats, they were quite a mess. They faded dramatically and had regular touchups on the ship. So, as a result you ended up with mottled paint in addition to a significant amount of dirt, oil, and grime that collected everywhere. This actually quite difficult to simulate effectively, and while I don’t plan to go excessive with it, we can still get something that looks right and not overdone.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
As we approach weathering, my goal is to “simulate, not replicate.” That’s the best we can do since we’re not going to operate our models in the salty sea air for years on end. Ultimately, the best weathering process is the one that provides you with the results you’re looking for and there’s no one way to simulate weathering. It’s a process of employing Continue reading →
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).
If the E-flite Viper 70mm EDF is great, then the E-flite Viper 90mm EDF is even greater-er!
The Viper Jet as a design is about as a perfectly proportioned jet for a model as one can get. It flies well on the wing giving it a really wide speed envelope while also having a nicely sized empennage that helps keep it stable and responsive on the controls. So, it’s no surprise that it’s been a popular subject within the jet community for a while as they are great flying models and the E-flite Viper 90mm EDF is no exception! I can only imagine how nicely the full scale Viper Jet flies!
The E-flite Viper 90mm EDF stems from the lineage of the E-flite Viper 70mm EDF which has been my go to recommendation as a first jet since first flying it a few years ago. The primary differences are of course size, but also some additional accoutrements in the form of lights, shock absorbing landing gear, gear doors, and full Smart telemetry. In terms of performance, they both offer a similar flight envelope while the 90mm flies bigger and heavier having overall more speed and vertical performance.
AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES
The E-Flite Viper 90mm is a good sized model that comes well packed and assembles quickly. Assembly begins with installation of the horizontal tail which is held in place by two screws. From there, the wings slide into place over two carbonContinue reading →
In the process of getting the Freewing F-14 ready for paint, a full cockpit had to be built. I had peeled off the canopy while working on the preparation and realized that it was the primary structural member for the hatch. So, since the canopy was off, it was the perfect time to build a nice cockpit for this refinished Tomcat. I designed up a few parts in CAD, 3d printed and painted them and then installed it all into the stock cockpit tub. The result completely changed the look of the cockpit and once painted really added to the realism considerably. Oh, and I figured it would be a good chance to show making pilots with movable heads also. 🙂
A nice cockpit is something that really changes the looks of a scale model. For me, it’s part of the build process I’ve always enjoyed, though I don’t always go to the extent of completely redoing a cockpit. Even just some simple additions and a little painting is all that is needed. But, if there’s nothing out there available for the subject you’re working on, then it’s time to scratch build it. I’ve been leveraging 3D printing more and more for that which is the process I took for the F-14 cockpit including the pilots.
A LITTLE CAD DESIGN & 3D PRINTING
Generally, the cockpit is an area that tends to get glossed over on most foam aircraft and the Freewing F-14 is no exception. Mostly, it’s a lack of detail and the tendency to reuse the same pilots that may or may not be the correct scale to the airplane. So, toContinue reading →
You’ve probably figured out by now, I have many favorite aircraft. 😉 However, if I was to put together my top 5 favorite aircraft of all time, the F-14 Tomcat would probably be at or near the top of that list. The airplane was one of brute force, but packaged in an elegant and distinct looking airframe that truly personified its name, Tomcat. And that’s not to mention, it was an extremely capable fighter that filled many roles through the years that operated from the early/mid 70’s into the mid 2000s.
So, after putting together my Freewing twin 80mm F-14 Tomcat review a few years ago, I always wanted to come back to that airframe and give it a good refinish. To date, it is still one of my favorite Freewing aircraft and I regretted letting the one go that I had. So I decided it was time to revisit this model and picked up an ARF plus along with some Freewing 9-blade fan systems for a special refinish. This really has been a few years in the making.
The end goal with this refinish is to build the airplane into a low vis Navy camouflage. Though, I do like the more colorful schemes of the 70s and early 80s, there’s just something about a dirtied up ghost gray painted cat from their later years of service to me.
Seeing as though I’ve already reviewed the model (albeit a few years old now, but still valid!), let’s jump right into it! The first item of business in the refinish isContinue reading →