Refinish A Foam Jet Ep 2 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Cockpit 3D Printing, Painting and Moving Pilots

Are you looking at me?!

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, to Continue reading

Flight Review — Legend Hobby 86″ A-1 Skyraider S.E.A. Camo

Droppin’ off a load and watching it explode…in my Spad…

Well, we’ve talked through the assembly and painting and weathering, at last, it’s time to talk through flying the Legend Hobby A-1 Skyraider.  You’ve probably figured out by now that I love how this beast flies!  It has incredible presence and with the new paint and bomb drops, it presents much like the real thing in the air.  It has been extremely fun and frankly I would fly the airplane every weekend if I could and I can’t wait to get it out to some events (if they happen this year).

A LITTLE HISTORY

The A-1 Skyraider was first conceived in June 1944 to meet a US Navy request for a new carrier-based, single-seat, long-range, high performance dive/torpedo bomber.  Designed around the Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone engine used in the B-29 Superfortress, the result was one of the world’s largest and most powerful single-engine/single-seat combat aircraft capable of carrying weapon loads greater than that of the Boeing B-17.  Coming too late for WWII, the Skyraider served from the late 1940s into the early 1980’s worldwide proving instrumental in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.  Being among the first aircraft to perform strikes in North Vietnam in 1964, Skyraiders proved essential in close-support missions over South Vietnam due to their long loiter times, large bomb load capability and ability to perform accurate strikes when needed.  Being a piston driven attack aircraft in the jet age, the A-1 Skyraider became a flying anachronism and was affectionately nicknamed the “Spad” after the WWI French biplane.

 

WHAT’S IN THE MODEL

One quick note about the model itself if you’ve not seen my Assembly Review or my Painting & Weathering tutorial.  This particular model started as a Legend Hobby Southeast Asia camouflage A-1 Skyraider ARF.  Coming in at 86″ wingspan, the airplane has great presence both on the ground and in the air.  I opted for a large 12s electric setup to keep the scale integrity of the cowl which flies the Continue reading

Warbird Painting & Weathering — Making a Warfighter out of the Legend Hobby A-1 Skyraider 86″

Sock it to…me?

I knew at the moment I received the Legend Hobby A-1 Skyraider 86″, that it needed the full treatment.  It’s such an impressive looking and good flying model and there’s just something about the A-1 Skyraider that I love.  That’s not to mention that the model is actually a fairly scale representation of the airplane as well!  So, in my research of the A-1 Skyraider and collecting of books and plastic kits, I came across a specific scheme I liked and so it was off to the races to repaint and weather the airplane!

During the Vietnam conflict, the A-1 Skyraider proved essential in close-support missions over South Vietnam due to their long loiter times, large bomb load capability and ability to perform accurate strikes when needed.  For the repaint, the scheme chosen was George J. Marrett’s personal aircraft in Vietnam from 1968-1969 which carried the moniker of “Sock it to Em,” a tag line from the 1960’s comedy show “Laugh-In.”  The aircraft operated with the 602nd Special Operations Squadron (SOS) from Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base and George completed 188 missions with over 600 combat hours in the aircraft.  He even wrote about the aircraft and his missions in his book “Cheating Death.”

 

ABOUT THE MODEL

One quick note about the model itself if you’ve not seen my Assembly Review.  This particular model started as a Legend Hobby Southeast Asia camouflage A-1 Skyraider ARF and was dressed in the kit supplied markings for the initial flights.  Though the colors are good for an ARF, they weren’t correct to the Federal Standard colors of the full size.  So, being the scale perfectionist that I am, I had to do a full paint work up on it!  It’s important to note that what makes a repaint like this possible on this mylar covered ARF is that the airframe comes from the factory with a flat clear coat sprayed over the glossy mylar/monokote.  As a result, it takes paint exceptionally well with very minimal prep work.  Without that clear coat, considerable prep would be required to ensure paint adhesion on the covering material.

Here’s the full run down on equipment used in the model. Continue reading

Assembly Review – Legend Hobby 86″ A-1 Skyraider S.E.A. Camo ARF

Cruisin’ into town and looking all around…in my Spad…

Having grown up in the hobby, there are certain models that I recall seeing as a kid that have inspired a fascination for that aircraft well into adulthood.  One such aircraft for me is the A-1 Skyraider.  Having seen two immaculate representations with folding wings at the US Scale Masters in the late 80s/early 90s (built by Diego Lopez & Gene Barton), it started a long fascination with the Skyraider for me.  There was something about the airplane that I just liked and having since seen the full scale Skyraider fly, they are an impressive beast!  Being a piston driven attack aircraft in the jet age, the Skyraider was a flying anachronism and was affectionately nicknamed the “Spad” after the WWI French biplane.

So, needless to say I was very excited to see the Legend Hobby A-1 Skyraider came to market!  At 1/7 scale sporting an 86” wingspan, it offers a very nice sized ARF with an accurate scale outline.  It also includes some really nice details through a fully detailed cockpit and an assortment of external tanks and rockets.  A Skyraider isn’t a Skyraider without external stores afterall!  Additionally, each of the three external tanks pylons come setup to accept E-flite payload releases which means the external tanks can be made droppable very simply.  So, with a little 3D printing the sky’s the limit as to what this model can and will carry!  More on that to come as for this article, we’re talking through the assembly of the model.  I have a full repaint planned which we’ll talk through next where I’ll touch on the stores mods I made and then we’ll finish it up with a full flight review…but, spoiler alert, this model flies incredible! (see my first flights video at the bottom of this article)

 

ABOUT THE MODEL

The Legend Hobby Skyraider kit comes available in multiple color schemes (US Navy Gray/White, US Navy Blue, AF Camo) without any markings applied or as an ARC.  Of course, markings are included, but coming as a blank canvas, this also allows for full customization and there are so many great color schemes for the Skyraider to choose from!  This particular model is the Southeast Asia camouflage ARF and was dressed in the kit supplied markings for the initial flights.  Having a very unique and characteristic shark mouth, the model represents Skyraider BuNo 137628 which was assigned to the 22nd Special Operations Squadron (SOS), 56th Special Operations Wing (SOW) that flew from Operating Location Alpha-Alpha (OL-AA) at Da Nang, South Vietnam.

In the process of assembling the Skyraider, I decided to go with Hitec digital D645 servos for all of the primary surfaces and analog HS-645MGs for the remainder.  Continue reading

Flightline RC Ta 152H 1300mm Wingspan Assembly & Flight Review (w/Weathering Tips!)

The Ta 152H, Kurt Tank’s high-altitude fighter-interceptor!

The Ta 152H as a design is an extremely unique looking aircraft and is one that I have always been fascinated with.  So, when I saw the FlightLineRC Ta152H 1300mm, I was excited to see it!  So, I finally picked one up late last year for a rainy day and the model really captures the unique lines of the airplane well with accurate colors and paint in a really nice flying airframe.

Of the German Focke-Wulf designs from WWII, I have always liked the looks of the long nose 190s, especially the D9.  There were so many evolutions of the design including the very capable high altitude Ta 152H, which featured a lengthened fuselage and rudder, high aspect ratio wing and pressurized cockpit.  Being one of the fastest propeller driven aircraft of the war and capable of intercepting the high altitude B-29 bomber, it ultimately came too late to make an appreciable impact as only about 25 or so were built.

 

AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES

The FlightLineRC Ta 152H was well packed and assembled quite simply only requiring just a few steps and a few fasteners.  The long wing comes in two pieces, which is glued together first over the wing spar.  Once joined, the plastic mounting joiners were glued as well and the wing was then mounted to the fuselage.  From there the tails were installed and fastened into place and those were the primary assembly steps.  The kit does include a number of detail parts which are a nice touch and include the wing pitot tube and guns along with the lower wing antenna and fuselage foot step.

With the airplane assembled, it really looks fantastic and characterizes the shape of the Ta 152H beautifully.  The finish is quite smooth and the stock paint work is Continue reading

From the Bench — Warbird Weathering Techniques with the E-flite P-39 Airacobra

Back from the ashes, Refinishing and Weathering the E-flite P-39 Airacobra!

To this point, I realize that many of the weathering techniques I’ve shown, or at least the subject aircraft, have been jets.  I do love my jets and the techniques I’ve shown are extensible to warbirds as well, but there are a couple distinct differences that are worth talking about.  Most notably, paint chipping is not something that you see often on modern jets based on their maintenance and the fact that regularly accessed panels are regularly touched up.  Also, piston engine exhaust staining is another one since, obviously, jets don’t have piston engines.  So, when my E-flite P-39 Airacobra wound up crashed upside down in the weeds at our field, it was a great opportunity for a refinish as well as a great subject for showing some of these additional techniques.

 

A Quick Note about the Refinish

One thing that’s worth mentioning is that a crashed airframe is sometimes the perfect opportunity for a refinish.  It’s a bit of a process, but using a crashed airframe is a great way to practice and learn some of these techniques if you’ve never tried them.  In terms of the refinish itself, it was accomplished utilizing the techniques that we’ve shown  here on this site and on my YouTube channel (thercgeek.com/kitbashing).  Note that I did not strip the paint on this one, I simply did all of the prep work over the stock paint.

After the crash, I had put the airplane aside for a time and when the AMA West Expo came around for its final time, I thought it would be a great chance to use the model as a subject for showing foam repair and refinishing techniques at the show.  With the help of my friends at the show, through the course of the 3 days, we had the Continue reading

VQ Warbirds Beechcraft Bonanza V-tail 62″ Wingspan Assembly Review

Bonanza V-tail for the win!

There’s something about the less traditional aircraft designs that really draw me in.  Most notably they are the v-tail and the delta wing/tailless aircraft.  Maybe it has to do with the less conventional nature, I’m not really sure, but when I saw the VQ Warbirds Beechcraft Bonanza Vtail, I was pretty excited about the model.  The bonanza is an icon in the private aircraft world and one of the few production aircraft I’m aware of that features a vtail into its design, especially in the private aircraft industry.

Though, commercial and private aircraft aren’t typically in my wheelhouse (I love my military aircraft!), the Bonanza Vtail is one that I do really like the looks of.  The Vtail gives an unconventional look to an otherwise conventional airplane and the proportions of the wing and the long tail moment really should make for a really good flying model.  Add to that the really nice covering and look of the VQ Warbirds Bonanza Vtail model, it was not a hard sell to get this one in my hangar.

Bonanza Vtail

 

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

This is the second VQ Warbirds airplane I’ve had the pleasure to assemble (first was the B-24 Liberator) and in each case, I have been thoroughly impressed with the quality of the build of the airframes.  Pulling this airplane from the box, I was reminded of this as the airplane was a beautifully built and finished representation of the Bonanza.  The parts count is generally low, but there is quite a bit of hardware included for pushrods, etc.  One of the nice things that became readily apparent was that all of the control surfaces were pre-glued at the factory, so that alleviated one extra step in the assembly process which was nice!

In addition to the airframe, I picked up my power system and servos of course which are listed and linked below.  I love keeping the looks of a scale model intact Continue reading

From the Bench – Detailing the JHH A-7 Corsair II & the Road to Scale Masters

Small details create big results on the JHH A-7 Corsair II!

As mentioned in my 2019 US Scale Masters Championships write-up, scale competition is something that I really enjoy in this hobby.  Like many, I grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot, but when I had to get corrective contact lenses in Jr High School to see the white board, those dreams ended and so that’s when I decided to go the aero engineering route.  Well, a big part of why I enjoy scale modeling so much is that it provides me the opportunity to fly and experience the airplanes I would otherwise never get to fly in full scale.  So, when the Scale Masters Championships came back to California in 2019, I knew that I wanted to give it another go.  In the absence of a fresh new competition airplane, I wanted to give the championships a try with my Jet Hangar Hobbies A-7 Corsair II.  However, it needed a few upgrades (or should I say “SLUF-grades?”) to get it to where I wanted it for the competition.  Most notably, I really wanted to build a new cockpit for it with proper ejection seat, and it needed some additional details on the landing gear and around the airframe.

Truth be told, the A-7 Corsair II is really not the most ideal subject aircraft for competition.  The perfect competition airplane is one that you can document well but also flies well in all weather conditions (rarely do you get perfect weather!).  With the A-7 Corsair II, I absolutely love flying it, but it’s no secret that it can be a pretty challenging airplane in adverse wind conditions, especially crosswinds.  The high anhedral wing combined with the large dorsal really feel a crosswind and scraped wingtips are a regular occurrence even in the lightest crosswinds.  So, in preparing for the competition, there were a few upgrades that the airplane needed to hopefully maximize the static score as much as I could since I really didn’t know what the weather might be like.  Plus, these upgrades were things that I’ve been wanting to do on the airplane for quite a long time anyhow, so it was a good excuse to get them done at last.  You know what they say, a scale project is never done…you just stop working on it! 😉

ABOUT THE JHH A-7 CORSAIR II

Regarding the A-7 itself, the kit was originally designed by my dad (Jet Hangar Hobbies) in the early 80’s.  In fact, the original mold was taken directly off of Continue reading