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

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

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