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

2019 US Scale Masters National Championships

Another Jet Hangar Hobbies Scale Masters Champion! I can’t even believe it! 🙂

Scale competition has been a big part of what I enjoy in this hobby.  There’s just something about building and flying a model that you’ve created with so much effort to try and simulate and/or replicate a full scale aircraft.  For me, it’s so much about flying an airplane that I never in my wildest dreams will have the chance to fly in full scale.  That said, competition scale modelling hasn’t been a large focus for me the last couple years.   Filming and writing these reviews and tutorials takes quite a bit of time, and I’ve been having a good time flying a number of different models in the process.  However, when the Scale Masters Championships came back to California again this year (October 17-20, 2019), being hosted by the Clovis RC club, I got the bug and I knew that I wanted to give it another go.  I could only hope to replicate the magic of my 2016 win with my Jet Hangar Mirage IIIRS.  Truth be told, following 2016, I was inspired to get my big Mark Frankel Skyray built for the next championships.  Well, strangely enough, you actually have to work on a model to get it done!  Who knew?!  Not to mention Elf labor has gotten so expensive in California these days.  So, in the absence of a big Skyray, I wanted to give the championships a try with my Jet Hangar Hobbies A-7 Corsair II and I can’t even believe that I would be reporting a second time that I came out of the event as the “Grand National Champion” finishing 1st place in Expert for 2019!

40 YEARS OF COMPETITION

Organized by the U.S. Scale Masters Association, 2019 marked the 40th annual Championships event.  Though the hobby has evolved, the technology has improved and new classes have been added to the competition mix, the goal of the Scale Masters has never changed which has been to highlight the best in RC scale modeling.  And those 40 years have seen so many of the best scale modelers compete from the US and around the world.  In fact, my dad competed in the very first Scale Masters Continue reading

Foam Kit Bashing 101 Finale — Kfir Setup, Flight Review & Making Repairs

Fly, crash, repair…repeat…

Check out the full series of videos and articles at: thercgeek.com/kitbashing

Welcome to the final episode in our foam kit bashing series!  It was quite the journey getting here and I actually didn’t intend on it taking as long as it has to document the whole series, but life has been crazy with no signs of slowing down it seems (plus, I just started a new position at work!).  If you’ve just found this series, we have gone through and completely transformed a Freewing Mirage 2000 into an Isreali Kfir.  As a part of that, we covered the transformation process talking through the building methods in converting the airplane using balsa wood and foam, we’ve talked about painting and finishing and we’ve also covered how to make panel lines and add realistic weathering.  I hope that you guys have enjoyed the series and are geared up with some new techniques to try on your models!  To finish this series up, I thought it would be best done providing a little discussion on how the airplane flies in it’s new form as well as some of the things that were done in wrapping the airplane up and getting it tuned in the air.  Also, I had a little incident with the airplane at the Warbirds & Classics event which tore out the right main landing gear mount.  So, I thought it would be a good opportunity, now that we have this nice new airplane, to show how to make cosmetic repairs when they are needed as well.

RADIO SETUP

In doing all of the final setup for the airplane, I didn’t want to change too many things all at once since the airplane flew well in the Mirage 2000 configuration.  I knew however that I did want to change out the radio.  Airtronics has been my go-to radio for quite literally, decades (even had a sponsorship with them).  Though a good radio, it’s a system that’s just not supported in the US anymore and frankly, SANWA/Airtronics gave up on the airplane market years ago anyway.

I’ve been flying the Graupner MZ-24Pro for a while now and have found it to be a really Continue reading

Foam Kit Bashing 101 Ep5 — How to Add Realistic Panel Lines and Weathering

Whether or not to weather or not…?

Check out the full series of videos and articles at: thercgeek.com/kitbashing

Last time we covered how to paint camouflage and talked about application of markings.  In this episode, we’re talking about panel lines and weathering!  I get questions quite often about my weathering techniques, so the following tips are some of my simple secrets. 😉

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 a Continue reading

Foam Kit Bashing 101 Ep 2 — The Mirage to Kfir Transformation

Birth of a “Lion Cub!”

Check out the full series of videos and articles at: thercgeek.com/kitbashing

Well, it’s been a little while since my tease at kit bashing a Freewing Mirage into an IAI Kfir (“Kfir” is Hebrew for “Lion Cub”).  We started with an assembly & flight review for the Freewing Mirage 2000 which out of the box flies awesome.  However, the Kfir is such an awesome looking airplane and with canards and a little extra wing area we’ll add in the bashing process, I can only imagine that the airplane will fly even better!  So, in this article, we’re covering the transformation process of turning this airplane into a Kfir and we’re using 3D printed parts as a part of that as well as employing some traditional building methods.  Through this whole process we will be employing the foam refinishing method I covered in our How to Refinish a Foam Warbird series.  I don’t plan to get into much detail about the foam prep work itself in this series as I want to focus on the kit bashing aspect to compliment the refinishing we did previously and use the next couple articles to go into more detail on painting, simple panel lines and weathering.

Now, one of the reasons that it’s been a little while is, in addition to of course a few distractions, is that I’ve been working out the 3D printed parts with a friend of mine.  CAD modeling takes time and there were a number of parts that we ended up making.  These include printing a new nose, the exhaust shroud and turkey feathers, the dorsal inlet, external wing tanks, lower ventral tank, and the afterburner cooling scoops and inlets on the fuselage.  As a whole, we printed a total of 23 individual pieces for the conversion (many of the parts required multiple pieces to be printed).

Continue reading

Tutorial – How to Make Detail Antennas and Pitot Tubes

The beauty is in the details…

As promised in my How to Repair Fiberglass and Fibgerglassed Parts article, here’s a little tutorial on  some of the detail parts I had to  re-scratch build while repairing my Mirage IIIRS earlier this year.  These include some of the very distinctive pitot tubes and antennas that are exhibited on the nose section of the full-sized aircraft.  In all the searching we did of the crash site when the airplane went in, the original parts were just nowhere to be found…a sacrifice to the three angry bushes that swallowed my airplane I suppose!  Also, if you missed it, be sure to check out my coverage from the US Scale Masters Championships as I competed with my fully repaired Mirage and somehow in the process came out of the competition finishing 1st in Expert being named the Grand National Champion!  What an amazing weekend!  It was such a great event with a wonderful and very talented group of scale modelers, I can’t wait to go back!

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALS

When we talk about detail parts, we need to talk about materials selection.  Obviously, any materials can be used, but when dealing with parts that are protruding from an airplane, we need parts with stiffness and resilience to repeated abuse.  Let’s face it, these parts are Continue reading