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

E-flite EC-1500 Twin 1.5m Cargo Assembly & Flight Review

EC-1500 OPERATION TANK DROP!

The aerobatic cargo plane has been kind of a thing lately and upon seeing the E-flite EC-1500 twin 1.5m Cargo, it most definitely looked like a fun airplane.  Being fully aerobatic with reconfigurable ailerons and flaps to suit the desired performance and aircraft response along with an operational cargo door, there was no question I would have fun with one in the hangar!  And, I KNEW that I had to drop something…the only question was what would it be?! 😉

Though the model isn’t painted in a scale paint scheme out of the box, the model itself is actually inspired by the C-27 Spartan which has served in the US military and Coast Guard as well as many other forces around the world.  Truth be told, I wasn’t too aware of the C-27 Spartan as an aircraft, but I quickly learned through watching videos of the full scale online that it was an impressive beast.  It’s is the only cargo aircraft I’ve actually seen execute a legitimate knife edge and it’s pretty awesome to behold!  So, as it turns out, those epic knife edge passes with this airplane are indeed scale! 😉  Oh, and you’ve probably noticed the C-27 Spartan livery on the model…I couldn’t handle it, I had to make it a true C-27 and I love it!

 

AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES

The EC-1500 assembly was a very simple process as the parts count is very low being broken down into only the large components.  The vertical tail is attached first and is held in place by two screws.  From there, the horizontal tails slide into place over a carbon tube spar and snap into place.  I found the snap lock on the tails a really unique features as I’d not seen this before on previous models.  Also, there is an elevator torque rod with plastic paddles which slip into each base of the elevators resulting in a hidden elevator pushrod setup.  Next, the wings are placed onto the fuselage over the main wing spar and held in place via four nylon bolts.  The wing features hard mounted connectors, so no need to keep track of servo connectors or wires at all.  Lastly, to wrap it all up, the props are placed on each of the motors.

With the airplane together and on the bench, it’s a pretty cool model to behold.  It’s a good size and the cargo bay door is awesome!  I can’t say Continue reading

From the Bench — Tips for Making Your Own Aircraft Markings

Decals, Vinyl and Paint Masks…oh my!

The topic of aircraft markings and making decals was touched on a little bit in my How to Refinish a Foam Warbird series and the request to expand on it a bit has come up a few time since then.  So, here’s a bit more extensive walk through of my process of making and painting markings for my airplanes.

Color and Markings are one thing that I’m very particular about on my scale models.  I’m so particular in fact that I will usually make my own decals and paint masks as opposed to outsourcing.  Ultimately I do this because I actually enjoy the challenge of it (when it’s going well of course) and this gives me full control of the sizes of all of the markings since it usually takes multiple iterations before having everything just the right size.  Also, my preference is to paint whatever markings I can and in the case that the markings may be too small to paint, I will move to waterslide decals.  In some cases, I will even use a combination of paint (or vinyl in the case of my “Lady Alice”) and decals to create a single marking.  Obviously, there are always limitations when doing your own markings and so in the case I just don’t have the capability to make what I need, then it’s time to outsource.

Since I’m a scale fanatic, my goal in making markings is always to recreate markings Continue reading