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1/48 EA-6B Monogram / VAQ-135

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Not usually one for in work threads, but figured I'd give it a go. Bare with me as I've already started this project last week and am hoping to actually have it wrapped up in the next day or so. Either way, maybe there's still some good gouge that can come of it. Here goes.


As stated in the title, this is the older monogram EA-6B. I'm actually building this for a guy who sent me the kit. Typically, I wouldn't have initially reached for this kit if I had the say so, but I work with what I have to go off of, and in this case, it's what he already had. He requested zero aftermarket (less some decals) so I'll be working exclusively OOB.


Wasting no time, I immediately went to work doing like I typically do, which is getting as much built out of the gate as possible. I find that this gives me a great feeling of accomplishment early on in the build and allows me to really see what (if any) the problem areas will be. Rather than stall out straight out of the gate by spending an overly abundant amount of time detailing the cockpit, I'd rather get a lot of stuff up and running so that I can get a sense of the plane coming together.


A quick test fit of the wings revealed that the wing joins actually weren't that bad at all. With the wide mass of the wing span, I was highly expecting some sort of warpage, or anomoly to rear it's ugly head. Upon mating the fuselage halves together, I did notice that there's an ugly trough aft of the cockpit, as well as on the overhang between the two crew stations. Why this exists, I'm not quite sure, but I did know that it was going to have to be addressed at a later time.


Once I'd gotten as far as I could go with all the sub assemblies being pieced together, it was time to tackle the cockpit. For the record, I highly dislike the notion of having seats molded into cockpit tubs. Fortunately, it was only the cushions themselves, so I felt that I could work with that. I started with giving the tub a quick spray of medium gray to get everything up and running. Using a mixture of browns, and tans I was able to bring the seats to life by adding a bit of depth using lighter and darker colors of the original colors to offer up some depth and false lighting.


I pressed on further to push through the remainder of the cockpit. Although typical monogram quality, I was able to pull off some decent results by picking out all the knobs and buttons, and adding a bit of color to the seats and MFD's. I've since gone back and added a bit more color to the lines of the seat. All told, it looks busy enough to look believable, especially once installed.



Here I've finally detailed the aft bulkheads of the crew stations. I had to do some wiggling and adjusting once I got the cockpit installed to make sure they had a good tight fit, and were correctly angled. I thought this was going to be more of a chore than it actually turned out to be, and for that I was thankful.


Here, I've finally got the fuselage all buttoned up. I ran a few beads of CA glue on the inside of the fuselage join to add some reinforcement, and then hit it with accelerator to make sure it was locked in place. I prefer to do this any time I've got longer subjects like this that are forced to be joined down the middle, as it would really take almost nothing to split the two in half if hit or bumped hard enough later down the road. I've also added plastic card to the trenched area both behind and above the cockpit to start trying to rid of the indented areas. With this being an open cockpit display I've also marked the areas that'll need to be surgically removed to facilitate the canopies. I also laid down the base layers for the wheel bays since it's a lot easier to reach now with everything opened up. For gear bays, I first hit them with flat black, and then come back over with thinned white where I can build up the effect and add some false shadows. This , to me anyhow, gives wheel bays a bit of depth and some interest, instead of being brilliant white, which tends to hide any of the detail which may exist.


I've finally gotten the entire fuselage cleaned up, which included adding the tailhook panel, the forward belly panel, which also included the nose gear bay. This had the chance to get tricky if not seated correctly, but I added a touch of glue to the forward part of the nose gear, and then used a scribe pick to pull some pressure towards the nose gear bay so that it would get a good adhesion to the structure itself, thus reducing any sort of gap issues in the nose gear bay. At this point, you can see where the card stock that was added around the cockpit area has been shaped and blended to match the contour of the spine. I initially thought that this would be a lot hard to do than it was since the area was in a bit of a "v" shape, but only a minor touch of Mr. Dissolved putty around the area was all that was required. I used a combination of the flex-i-file and careful blending with a medium sanding stick to get the contour to reappear without any noticeable deformed areas. Intakes were also thrown together and left to set, as well as throwing some paint, trim, and washes inside the gear doors.


Upon further inspection of the wing tip lights, I was left feeling a bit disappointed with the small area that they provided for the lighting so I elected to remedy that by removing them, and adding my own. I carefully filed out the existing molded lights and then shaped some clear sprue to sit flush in the recess. I drilled the back of the clear sprue to be used and added a bit of clear green and red to simulate a bulb and then glued them in place. Once dry, I used files and sanding sticks to shape them in place with the contour of the wing. In the end, this is a much better result than painting the plastic to try and resemble a light.

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At this point, the wings were ready to be set in place, hence making it come to life by resembling a Prowler. A quick install of the tail fairing, and I was officially ready to move forward.


Here, you can see the initial layer of paint has gone on. The areas that required filling and reshaping have disappeared leaving me with a convincing and clean replica of what I was going after.


After base colors were laid down and I was happy with what she was looking like, I decided to move forward in adding tonal variations and elemental weathering using my airbrush. Just touches of lighter and darker areas along the aircraft went a long way into giving the eye something to notice when it comes to variable colors, which I feel helps capture the eye and convince it that it's looking at something interesting.


While still using my airbrush, I wanted to go ahead and add a little more realism to the bird by adding different colors of gray along the aircraft to mimic weather, and maintenance touch ups. A blend of corrosion control blemishes were also added to help make it look like she was still receiving some TLC although she may not look her best.


At this point, I knew I had a task ahead of me that I wasn't at all sure about, much less confident about. The canopies.... How was I going to replicate the irridium effect that's seen on the real plane? As someone who had, up to this point, never tried to tint canopies I felt a bit overhwhelmed. I hit Google to see what I could find, and for the most part the general concensus was to just use yellow food coloring, or gold paint to replicate the look. However, after looking at examples of people who had done this I was a bit shocked to discover that their canopies were....well...YELLOW!! Like, not just a little yellow, but full on bright yellow. I didn't want anything to do with that. The gentleman who commissioned me for this project told me in advance that there was a set of yellow tinted canopies that had already come with the kit, and while they were in fact tinted...they looked like aged plastic that had been sitting in an ashtry for a month. Not what I was wanting to go after. So, it was off to the lab to go into experimental mode. I broke out a spare F-16 canopy to test on, and after about three or four different trial runs, I think I was onto something. I liked the bronze effect that copper added, so I elected to go with that. Mixed with Tamiya smoke, I felt confident that this would be the result that I could work with.


Here's the tint applied to the actual canopies of the prowler. The effect is very nice in that if you look at it in the right reflection, all you see is the tinted effect. However, if you put a finger on the inside of the canopy, you can instantly see it. Gives it a very space age appearance that I'm certain will look nice once the clear parts are framed with paint, and installed on the plane with the base colors to help contrast them.


Once I gave everything a look over and hit a few more spots with touch up paint, I was ready to seal the paint job and prepare for decals. While I had the chance to let the Future cure, I elected to test fit the canopies in place to see how it would look once the plane comes together, and it was quite nice. They will be open on this particular bird, but I felt this test fit would still be able to at least give me a bit of insight into what the final product would look like.


Moving right along, it was time to get all the tanks, and pods dressed up. Pylons were primed in black, and touched off with gray to give them a tonal variation, and wheels were masked, painted, and detailed to be ready to go. Gear and support struts have also been painted and detailed, and are now officially ready to be clear coated. Decals will be next.

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A very nice build of a kit I'd like to get at some point, from the pinnacle period of Monogram's greatness.

While you're in experimental mode Nick, a few days ago I came across a technique where liquid dish washing soap was mixed with Kleer/Future/whatever it's called now that appeared to give that multi-hued, angle-dependent rainbow soap-bubble effect on glass. I stress I haven't had occasion to try it yet, but the photos looked quite like the green/purple/golden tints that modern laminated aircraft transparencies exhibit.

Maybe it's too late if you've achieved the effect you're happy with, but I thought it worth mentioning and maybe someone who's actually tried it might chip in with further details (ratios and such).

Edited by chek
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...a few days ago I came across a technique where liquid dish washing soap was mixed with Kleer/Future/whatever it's called now that appeared to give that multi-hued, angle-dependent rainbow soap-bubble effect on glass. I stress I haven't had occasion to try it yet, but the photos looked quite like the green/purple/golden tints that modern laminated aircraft transparencies exhibit.

Where did you find this? It sounds like possible genius!

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I wish I knew Kevin!

Unfortunately, it was while I was relentlessly hunting for F-4S photos to fill gaps in my photo folder, so there's literally several hundreds if not thousands of airplane sites and model forums in my history over the past week. If I can find it again, I'll post it. What I do remember is that no quantities were mentioned, and the rest was simple enough to commit to memory.

I mentioned it in this thread because it seemed semi-relevant, and with the hope that ARC's cosmopolitan global membership had also heard of it or even tried it.

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  • 6 months later...

Thanks a lot guys. Sorry for the delay. I don't frequent the forums too often anymore, as I stay pretty busy. The soap and future trial sounds promising too. I almost wonder if some high quality "bubble" soap used for bubble blowing wouldn't be good to try for this method since it is a bit thinner to work with.

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