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 representsContinue reading →
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 theContinue reading →
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! 😉
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, combinationsContinue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →