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1/32 F-16A 3-tone Grey Aggressor WIP Update: 5/4/17

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So this will be my first work-in-progress, it's going to be a 1/32 Tamiya F-16CJ kit, converted into the F-16A 3-tone Grey Aggressor used the NSAWC for training with the GT Resin NSI inlet, exhaust, as well as parts for the smaller gear and non-bulged doors, KASL F-16A tail (modified to remove the parabrake housing), Two Bobs F-16A Aggressor decals, and True details F-16A cockpit.  Love this camouflage scheme for Black 56, and all the touch-ups and fading on it will make for some good airbrushing fun. 


Here's the cockpit to start and then with the back area removed






After some rough cutting and sanding, the inner portion of the kit parts got sanded down as well as the resin pieces cleaned up and smoothed down to ensure a "drop fit" I find patience is the key  to making resin work in different kits they were designed for, along with dry fit, dry fit, dry fit.  A power drill with a sanding wheel also helped decrease the time tremendously, just do it in short bursts as you can really feel the plastic heat up with this thing.




I made sure by taping all the resin piece together that it would fit with the canopy up or down, took about a week or messing around but I was able to get it all to fit with some modifications:




I thought long and hard about how to do the filling required to clean up the parts without having a step, that's when I remembered using milliput once and thought this stuff would be perfect for it.  It did work very well, but I took a long time to carefully file, sand, and smooth everything out, but you can see the results.  I also have another F-16CJ with Aires cockpit that has a little piece to close up the opening in near the hood of the instrument panel that I traced out on plastic card and placed flush against the angled lip inside the cockpit, its not perfect, but close enough and it's all black in that portion anyways.  So I can live with it.





Edited by dsahling
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4/6/17:  Not too much to update, been cutting more blocks of resin and I'm going to wait until I have some better photos of the exhausts with some paint on them but the fit is really good if you go slowly and carefully, which I admit are my least favorite modeling tasks.  I gave the Stynylrez white primer a try for the white parts and I'm really liking this stuff.  Some of the resin pieces have tiny little holes (pitting) in some of the pieces and I was worried about this new stuff not working too well and having adhesion issues.  I was wrong.  This new Stynylrez primer is fantastic, its self-leveling and just the right viscosity so it helped correct some of the "pitting." (luckily its mostly in the nose gear well) it laid down easily (its never easy getting white paint to work properly but this stuff was a game changer).  The best part is its a very durable primer but has no harsh chemical odor (I only wish they made the grey primer in a lighter color so its easier to cover with light colors...I'm letting the Tamiya gloss coat cure overnight on the white parts and they will then receive an oil wash to highlight the detail.  I find while it takes longer due to the curing time involved, its easier the end result to clean up the excess wash before the wheel wells are put together with all those tiny little spaces and corners you can't otherwise get to.  The GT resin NSI intake fits really well and will only need a small amount of filler (but I'll save that section until next time) I made the intake portion of the main wheel wells seamless...I know its my OCD.  I'm hoping in the next few days to have the fuselage halves closed together and work getting closer to painting.  I have to modify the kasl hobby F-16A tail to use the rear portion of the kit tail (since this F-16A didn't have the parabrake) but I'll do a more detailed WIP of those parts).









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Here's some photos of the recent progress, I've been on "staycation" for the past week or so that allowed me to really accelerate the work required for this project (there's quite a bit involved in all of it).  I won't be displaying it with the gun port off but since the Aggressors don't have the gun loaded my OCD got the better of me and I decided to detail up the empty gun bay a little more.  There's another shot of the front fan face and intake ramp






Here's the completed cockpit, luckily using an electric drill made the job of sanding/filing much easier and faster, I also used it to thin down the fuselage side walls a bit to, I was able to get a mostly perfect dry fit with only the slightest bit of pressure needed to seal up the fuselage halves.  






Here it is 'in situ'




Here's the GT resin NSI intake glued into place, the fit was very good with only some trimming needed near "the ribs" of the gun bay, I had to make sure that the intake fit prior to attaching the cockpit and dry fit everything with the canopy, radome, and side panel to make sure fitting the resin pieces didn't warp any of the main parts thereby throwing everything else off.  And a shot of the fuselage halves finally sealed up







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I used the KASL hobby 1/32 F-16A tail, however it was designed for aircraft using the parabrake housing and some portions of the tail were different than the Block 15 F-16As used for this aggressor.  So I attached the main pieces for the kit vertical stabilizer and cut off the portion I needed, looking back I should've taped it or cut the portion and then filed it down to fit the KASL part but I was able to make it work with some CA glue, accelerator, and sanding/blending to make it look pretty good.










Here's the finished (can't remember if I added the panel lines and rivet detail back when I took this photos, but it is finished now)




Sealed up




Had to fill the gap around the intake due to the resin shrinkage, I used Tamiya putty with a special testers gluing tip CA glued into a luer lock (twist) syringe to be more precise with the putty application then used Mr. Color lacquer thinner to wipe away the excess.






Lastly, the radome and fuselage side panel were attached (the fit is just amazing)




Next time: Various panels will be removed/filled, re-scribed for an F-16A Block 15, possible rivets to be added to the horizontal stabilators?, the vertical stabilizer will be attached, secured, and filled/blended into the fuselage before I figure out a way to create scribing template on plastic card by using a new scribing tool that's on its way for the horizontal panels that are near the tail and different on the F-16A (this is a subtle difference in panels, and there will probably be a lot of swearing involved, but my OCD is making me do this detail work), the gear parts have received a wash and are awaiting some final plumbing/detail painting but that is mostly done (Did I mention I LOATHE jet landing gear?  The prop gear is usually so much simpler and easier).  I also got the exhausts cut and dry fitted with some flat white paint on the insides but more on that to come...

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1 hour ago, dsahling said:

.........but since the Aggressors don't have the gun loaded.............

Yes, they do.


Great paint work on the cockpit.  What are you going to do to make it correct for the NSAWC jets? 

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Filling it various panels, sanding off the circular antenna on the top of the fuselage, NSI inlet, P&W exhaust nozzle, smaller landing gear parts, earlier sidewinder rails, True Details F-16 cockpit, F-16A tail, etc.  I didn't know that about the gun, I always thought they removed it to save weight?  (Maybe I'm thinking of the A-4....) anyhow good to know before its all closed up.

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A few updates from the past week or so, as it stands now, I'm just giving the canopy polishing medium a couple days to thoroughly cure as I've noticed sometimes its gets a little less clear after putting the masking tape on shortly after removing the seam and polishing it up, small detail but one that I think will help a lot.  Once that's done I jut have to apply paint the canopy and add the hand grasps on the interior of it and then its ready for PRIMING which means my favorite part of modeling is a short time away...AIRBRUSHING!


From the reference book I have I saw the F-16A has this little vent on the right side...only thing is I forgot to check the reference photos of the actual plane I'm doing the F-16A Block 15 that doesn't have this...so after spending about 1 hour and 45 minutes with this seemingly easy detail of cutting a square hole and filling it with strips of plastic card (in reality this was a helluva lot harder than I anticipated) it was time to fill it with CA glue and sand and smooth flush back with the fuselage...oh well maybe someone doing a Belgian F-16A will see this and take note.






Here it is with the intake fitted and glued




There was a bit of a gap from the resin shrinkage on the intake, so I built a little homemade syringe with a testers glue cap for thin, accurate, and even distribution that I cut the luer lock out of with an xacto blade and then CA glued into place.  It worked great!  No messy putty application, then a quick few swipes with a q-tip dipped in Mr Color Lacquer thinner to cut the excess.








The join of the intake and main landing gear bay just needed a little sanding to make it flush with the fuselage.




The F-16A Block 15 doesn't have the VERY subtle raised panel of the F-16CJ just forward of the fuselage, the little horizontal panel lines are also absent and deleted as such.  I find putting a small "puddle" of CA glue on a scrap piece of wood I use and then dipping a tooth pick allows me to control the very small amounts of CA glue needed for filling details much more accurately and also faster to sand down as well, CA accelerator is an absolute MUST.




The radome is finally attached as well as the forward fuselage side panel and barely any gap, perfect!  I did create this small hole for re-scribing the little circular fasteners that got sanded off in finishing up these parts, worked better than I thought.





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Second part of the update:


So while reviewing some Israeli F-16A photos as well as my NSAWC F-16A I saw that these appear to have more prominent rivets on the horizontal stabilizer than the F-16Cs do (those appear to not have rivets, at least from the photos I saw).  Since the NSAWC F-16A I'm doing has a lot of touchups (I love weathering so this is a dream come true) these rivets are subtle but prominent feature to "backdate" this one.  I swore I would only do the top...well about a week later I was up late and thought (this is going to drive my OCD nuts if I leave it like this, so 130AM rolled around and I was done around 245AM and I finished the bottom, I used a combination Trumpeter riveting tool (I've got to find a looser rivet wheel with different sized teeth), as well as these rivets spacing templates and a scriber.






The F-16A doesn't have the "beer can" antennas on the leading edge slats.  It also only has 2 "teeth" on the hinge of the innermost point, so off they went, and the wing had these carefully filled and sanded smooth with CA glue










The modified and finished KASL vertical stabilizer was dry fitted (only had to sand back to bottom "block" that fits into the triangular shaped opening on the Tamiya kit.  Then I masked off the detail parts on the kit and VERY carefully dabbed and spread around small amounts of CA glue, used a spray of accelerator and carefully sanded this flush with the fuselage.






Thanks to Jake Melampy I found out these F-16As used by the NSAWC actually did have the gun installed, now granted you will barely see this.  But since most of you are hardcore modelers with the same OCD, you know it had to be done...




I was able to steal the older "smaller" sidewinder rails from an old F-16C Thunderbirds kit, I soaked them in some Mr Color lacquer thinner and the paint came right off!, I then cleaned them up a little, and re-scribed the panel lines (I'll show these later).  This was blind luck otherwise I was really going to hit a wall in locating a replacement part!  As it turns out the original build I did actually required the "larger and beefier" sidewinder rails that come with the F-16CJ kit, so it all worked out 'Even-Steven' in the end.  I then made the impulsive move of installing the fairings on the additional chaff/flare dispensers on the left lower fuselage.  This was after looking at my F-16A reference book that is mostly for Belgian F-16As...after some people showed me reference photos that the NSAWC Block 15s have the extra panels I frowned...  Thinking this was a lost cause I decided to break out the CA glue de-bonder and have a go.  It's not perfect but after about 15-20 minutes of letting a small amount sit over these parts it dissolved the CA glue enough to the point I was able to retrace the panel lines! and had to use a little force and extra de-bonder in small increments but I was able to dig the fairings out!  Now I just need to sand and smooth it, but considering these parts will hardly be visible and have a darker metallic color you won't notice some of the "scratching" from the metal filing to remove the last of the de-bonded CA "goo."  





That's it for now, just some small minor parts and waiting for polishing compound on the canopy to fully cure, canopy masking and this beauty will be ready for priming...while this conversion is extensive, its not as difficult as I anticipated.  I also re-scribed the fuselage side panels near the fuel tanks and vertical stabilizer to be more consistent with the F-16A.  (I'll post more of these photos later though).  Until next time...As a side note, I really wish Tamiya would do a conversion for various F-16As, Bs, and Ds, I think it would let them get a lot more mileage from these kits and their molds, but thats just my thought.

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One thing I'm working out is where to get ahold of those little red "no push" decal stencils that are on the petals of the P&W exhaust...any thoughts?  I suppose I could get the photoetch airbrush stencils that might have it and I could airbrush them on?  Does anyone know a decal supplier?  I actually prefer decals because you can arrange the line up in a more even and equal fashion and make small adjustments, whereas airbrushing something like that you need to get right on the first try otherwise if you really mess up you'll have to redo the metallic paint finish....  Any help or thoughts would be appreciated.

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So I decided since I was updating this WIP that I'd show some of those last parts I mentioned earlier tonight:


Here's the little scoop/AC vent? inside the rear cockpit, on this particular aircraft (not sure about others) its painted a light tan color, I also made a couple painting corrections to the ejection seat.  Now I'm contemplating doing the rest of the air seal rim, only thing is it was REALLY hard to fit the resin piece and have the canopy fit up or down so I don't know how to reliably test fit this since it will require bending a piece of styrene...maybe use thick lead wire and call it good enough?  That way I can fit it while testing it.  That little white piece is some type of antenna made from stock styrene.




The Tamiya gun bay cover was just a little too small, by about a millimeter or so, so I used some Tamiya putty with the syringe technique cleaned up with Mr Color lacquer thinner to fill the gap.




Here's the slightly modified re-scribed fuel saddle bay doors, I found a photo comparing the stock Tamiya upper fuselage with how the panel lines should look.  Since this space is really tight to work with, especially with a flexible metal scribing template I used the Mk. I eyeball for some of the measurements.  Holding this steady was made possible by a couple pieces of Dymo tape, a steady hand, and working very slowly.  I know its a small, barely perceptible detail, but I think it will overall add to the realism of this beautiful plane and camouflage scheme.  You also need to fill in the couple panels slightly rear of this area for a proper F-16A.








Here's the engine cowling/fairing fitted with the afterburner flame holders (its slightly off inside but good enough for me), only some minor sanding was needed to fit this part to the fuselage.  I'll detail the exhaust stains later probably using a combination of Tamiya Buff, Desert Yellow, and Black to give it some depth, also I'll use that nice Tamiya weather master set too.








That's it for now.  I did add some decals to the landing gear parts tonight (to be shown when its done), some lead wire will be added once everything is attached for plumbing work.  I just have to remove the resin protector piece from the front pitot on the vertical stabilizer, but that will done as the ABSOLUTE last step before priming and painting begin as I don't want to knock that part off accidentally.  Now I just need to let that canopy polishing compound really cure well before applying the masking to the canopy and it'll be ready to go to the paint booth.  Now the Stynylrez grey primer is darker than Mr. Surfacer (and darker than FS 36375 so laying a lighter color over a darker will result in using more of that precious liquid gold that is Mr. Hobby....might have to be white...)...do they make a light grey primer? I shall use 'the google.'  Until next time.

Edited by dsahling
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12 hours ago, dsahling said:

From the reference book I have I saw the F-16A has this little vent on the right side...only thing is I forgot to check the reference photos of the actual plane I'm doing the F-16A Block 15............

The thing is, you're not doing a Block 15.  NSAWC jets are Block 15 OCU,which is a very unique animal, with a blend of F-16A and C parts.  It was built on the assembly line alongside the F-16C, so shares a lot of similarities to that airframe. 

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Well it's ready for painting, and took a lot less time than I anticipated, having a week off where I was able to get a lot of the conversion done certainly helped.  Nevertheless, I suppose when you've developed and practiced certain techniques and have the right tools it makes things easier as well.  I found the Stynylrez grey primer to be a little too dark and would make laying down the FS 36375 harder and require more paint. I decided against priming in all white though since I've found white in general can be problematic especially with larger surface areas.  Since getting ahold of the Mr Hobby line of paints is difficult in the USA, I don't want to use more than I need.  Mr Hobby sprays so nicely with Tamiya acrylic thinner and not having those brutal fumes from the Mr Color lacquer makes airbrushing much more pleasant.  So I mixed up a custom batch of about 2/3 white, 1/3 grey which is pretty close to what Mr. Surfacer looks like.  Now all I'm doing is waiting on the Mr Hobby FS 36375 that I ordered off of eBay weeks ago, however its now past due from when the shipper says it should arrive....since getting things mailed from China is dodgy, I went ahead and ordered them (and some other Mr Hobby paints) from a place in the UK a little over a week ago anticipating this, they seem more reputable; but watch they'll both arrive on the same day :-).  I double checked pretty much everything in my references, panel lines, etc. while not perfect and I'm sure there's stuff that could also be done, it looks good enough to me.  While I'm waiting for the paint to arrive, I think I'll start working on using Alclad for the GT resin exhaust.  The next update will have more detailed pictures and descriptions about how I did the airbrushing of the camouflage.  Once the whole build is done, I'll post a list of the major changes I did to convert the F-16CJ in an F-16A OCU.  



Edited by dsahling
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Looks like when the forums were having trouble was when I was posting mid-update.  Anyways.  The project is still going, I had to wait a couple weeks for one of the paints I ordered to arrive.  I used Mr. Hobby Aqueous H301, H306, H308 for the main colors, when I sprayed the H308 I thought it was too dark, but once I got the other colors on it mostly "corrected" itself, I still thought the H301 was a little too brown, and I'm presently in the process of "mottling" the base colors to break up the uniformity somewhat.  Love these paints though, colors are really good, spray beautifully, and NO harsh fumes to contend with.  I still have a little work to do with the bleaching and fading, but once that's complete I can adjust the color on the H301 so it has more of that dark gray/black hue to it, and then paint the base colors over where the crews touched up the paint.










I'll take some more photos while I'm doing more of the weathering.  Enjoy.

Edited by dsahling
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Sorry if this is a bit late but I have just seen the thread now. The rear part of the fin base (kit part?) is way too fat. The A/B models fin base have e thin trailing edge compared to the C/D/N models.



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