Refinish a Foam Jet Ep 3 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Paint, Markings, & Panel Lines

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

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

Refinish A Foam Jet Ep 1 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Assembly Mods & Paint Prep

Fill…sand…poly…sand…primer…sand…aaaannnnddd repeat…

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.

 

FILLER TIME!

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 is Continue reading

E-Flite P-39 Airacobra 1.2m Assembly & Flight Review

Airacobra Kai Never Dies!

The P-39 Airacobra is one of those well-proportioned and unique warbirds that, for whatever reason, you really don’t see very often at the field.  With the mid fuselage engine placement and long prop shaft design of the full size aircraft, the result is a nicely streamlined airplane.  So, I was excited to see E-flite announce their P-39 Airacobra 1.2m as it’s a great platform for a fantastic flying model and provides something you don’t otherwise see very often.  Plus, if you crash the airplane like we did…then hey, you get to refinish it and make it look even better! 😉

As a WWII fighter, over 9,500 Airacobras were built during its production from 1940-1944 marking it as one of the most successful aircraft built by Bell Aircraft.  The unique engine configuration allowed for the integration of a 37mm cannon in the nose which shot through the center of the spinner and needless to say packed quite the punch.  Though requisitioned by the US Army Air Force and operated by numerous countries, the airplane found its greatest success and use in the Soviet Red Air Force during WWII as its performance and armament suited their needs well.  In fact, five of the top ten highest scoring Soviet aces logged the majority of their victories in the P-39 Airacobra.

 

AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES

I was excited for the E-flite P-39 Airacobra 1.2m as I really liked the looks of the airplane.  It arrived well packed and was an extremely simple assembly having only the major components to put together.  It starts with placing the tails and then bolting the one piece wing onto the fuselage.  I did find that the wing bolts were a little stiff to screw in in some cases, so be sure to check that the wing is fully seated and secure before flying.  Also, the kit includes a centerline tank which adds a little schmaltz giving it a neat look.  Note that the airplane does have hard mounted connectors in the wing, so be sure to double check through the hatch area that the are all fully seated well.

With the airplane assembled and on the bench, it really looks great and represents 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

Freewing F-4D Phantom II 90mm EDF Assembly, Refinish, & Flight Review

Phreewing’s “Rhino,” TRCG Target Drone Edition…

Well, in full disclosure, this article started close to two years ago now after purchasing the Freewing F-4 Phantom in the second batch of releases.  So why did take so long?…well, it’s a myriad of things really.  First of all, I’m a glutton for punishment.  I liked the airplane so much and being unable to leave well enough alone (not to mention with some kind ribbing from my friends) I just had to do a full refinish on the airplane.  Well, shortly after filling all of the panel lines, we sold our house and moved into a new one which put a halt to most modeling for a few months.  After the move, I actually almost sold the airplane because after all that, I had a tough time just getting back to it.  Well, not to be defeated, I decided it was necessary to finish up the project and I have since acquired a bunch of flights on the airplane with both 6s and 8s power.  And so, here we are!

The funny thing is, since finishing the project (after almost selling it), I’ve been kind of on an F-4 Phantom kick having reviewed the E-flite F-4 and then also acquiring a mostly built Jet Hangar Hobbies 1/10 scale F-4 to accompany my other half built JHH F-4 Phantom sitting in my storage racks…what can I say, a collector never stops collecting! 😉

 

AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES

The assembly of the Freewing F-4 Phantom II was quite straight forward as a whole.  No major issues were noted and the fit of everything was good.  The fuselage comes in two pieces, so the first step is to glue the back end onto the airplane and frrom there the tails and wings are installed.  The anhedral tails slide onto knurled shafts and are held in place with a screw on each tail.  So, it is recommended to ensure that Continue reading

From the Bench — AMA Expo West Pomona 2018 & Scale Weathering How-To Video

Weather me this…

During the AMA expo January 2018, it was announced that the show was being moved to the Pomona Fairplex and would also occur in November.  Well, needless to say, November arrived before I could blink and it was time to start thinking about the show!  This time around, kicking off the new venue, the AMA reached out asking about doing some how-to clinics throughout the weekend.  The idea I had was to provide some weathering how-to’s on a couple airplanes through the course of the weekend and then on Sunday afternoon, give those airplanes away.  Well, thanks to the AMA and Horizon Hobby, we were able to make that happen and it was a great time.  Horizon Hobby donated an E-Flite P-51 and an FMS Yak-130 for me to work on during the weekend which we gave away on Sunday afternoon.

This year, I had a full booth and through the course of the weekend, I was showing weathering techniques on the donated airplanes provided by Horizon Hobby.  For one of the clinics, I was able to do a weathering session on the main stage for the purposes of recording video.  Below is the end result as well as a few pictures of the finished airplanes.  The techniques mentioned in the video kind of run through the gamut of what I like to employ when I’m weathering up an airplane and are applicable to any medium of aircraft foam, glass or otherwise not to mention any size.  Additionally, combinations Continue reading

From the Bench – Quick and Simple Foam Warbird Painting

To Paint or not to Paint…

If you saw my E-Flite T-6 Texan review last time, then you saw the results of the repaint that was done on that airplane.  I thought it would be worth doing a separate video and article on what was done since it was just a quick and dirty spray can paint job that I did through the course of a weekend with all of the painting done over the stock paint with minimal prep.  This is worth discussing because sometimes we just don’t want to go to the extent of filling panel lines, or sealing up the airframe with polycrylic or anything like that.  Sometimes, we just want to do something quickly, but still get good results.  The difficulty always is, however, that stock paint just loves to lift up off of that EPO foam.  Thankfully, with the right tools, we can avoid that.

It’s interesting how something like this, though not entirely difficult, is all that’s needed to really refresh a model and make it stand out.  As I mentioned in my review, I have really enjoyed flying this AT-6, but following the repaint, I absolutely fell in love with the model even more!

 

PAINTING TOOLS & PAINT

First things first, let’s talk about what we need.  What we’re doing here is literally just applying a new paint job over an existing stock paint job.  There’s no paint stripping involved, so it’s important that we use very low tack tapes for masking.  I had heard Continue reading