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 →
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 →
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.
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 isContinue reading →
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 →