Sunday, May 2, 2010

Paul Bradley's Airfix 1/72 F-111A

Following up on my Quick Peek of this kit last year, here’s a build report on this venerable kit.

As I mentioned previously, this kit had never been opened, so once I’d removed the parts from the bag, I was able to take a better look. Detail consists of fine raised lines, with heavier incised lines representing the upper and lower wing spoilers and flaps. The most troublesome issue that I could see was the very awkward placing of the upper/lower wing join, which was about 2/3rds of the way back chord-wise across the TOP of each wing...why the pattern maker did not put this on the bottom is beyond me.

Working features were the norm when this kit was released, and so the modeller is invited to build the model so that the wings sweep, the tail planes move and the crew escape module is made to be removable. This last feature results in some awkward seams at the front end.

Interior detail is limited to a basic cockpit tub, into which the then-standard Airfix jet pilots are installed. I painted this dark grey and added some generic instrument panel decals. The pilots were given orange test pilot jumpsuits and when they are in place, there’s not much else to be noticed in the cockpit.

At an early stage of construction, the wing sweep mechanism is fitted. This is a little slack, and I ended up with the wings being about 2 degrees different to each other. The tailerons are also designed to move together, and this worked better. These parts are trapped between upper and lower fuselage halves. The escape module is added next, along with the nose section and radome, and there is some work to be done eliminating seams here. Much of the panel line detail was removed in this process, and I elected to delete what was left rather than try to reinstate it all.

The intakes are simple one-piece inserts; although they are very shallow, I elected to paint the back blanking piece in black. Similarly, the exhausts are two parts with little depth. These were sprayed with ModelMaster Metalizer Buffable Magnesium. I buffed the rear parts, while leaving the afterburner sections dull; the effect is very presentable.

The canopy had previously taken a Future bath and once sufficiently set, was masked with Tamiya tape and superglued into place. The fit was reasonable, but I needed to sand the back and front left side of the canopy to get them to conform to the fuselage lines. This was not an issue, because the canopy has quite prominent framing. With that taken care of, and the one-piece fin fitted, the major airframe work is complete – this is a simple kit; many of the remaining parts are associated with the undercarriage. I elected to display this model on its stand and so these were added to my spares box.

The F-111A prototypes and pre-production batch were all finished in a light grey over white colour scheme. I began by giving the model an overall white coat, which highlighted a couple of areas of minor seamwork to be cleared up.

The demarcation line between the grey and white was a wavy line, and I recreated this using a pair of wavy-edged scrap-booking scissors and Post-it notes; with the control surfaces also remaining white, the masking took a while to complete. Once the grey had been sprayed (I used ModelMaster Acryl RLM 63), the masking was removed and some minor touching up done. Once this had set, I masked off and sprayed the prominent anti-glare panel on the nose with slightly lightened black acrylic. Then the model was given a coat of Future in preparation for decaling.

When I opened the box, I could see that the decals would be an issue. Not only were they badly yellowed, but they were also incorrectly coloured, with the blue of the insignia, USAF titles and serial number being far too light. I hunted around in my spares box for replacements, and managed to find enough suitable candidates to properly mark the model. There was some last minute panic when some of the decals splintered in water, but I had enough spares, which I coated with some Microscale decal film.

The last pieces to be added were the long nose probe, which is not a feature of production aircraft, and two small antennae on the spine.

This model was built as part of the UAMF’s Blitzbau VI, and I completed the model with just 15 minutes of the allotted 24 hours remaining. The build was really quite straightforward, and I am pleased with the results. Had I had more time, I might have elected to rescribe panel lines and perhaps added some intake and exhaust trunking, but I still think the model looks quite impressive as is.