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I always loved the many colourful paint schemes of the Top Gun and Adversary Bandit Squadrons in the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force. After looking at several I saw the TA-4Js of the U.S. Navy reproduces in 1:48 scale decals and paint schemes for the "Scooter Bandits" by Afterburner I wish I could do them all but I am thinking ill do two. 


Here is the kit that seems to be the most popular amongst Skyhawk builders.





I searched the internet high and low for the decals Part 1 or Part 2 I posted a plea for the decals finally thanks to a fellow member replied that he had the decals for Part 1 exactly what I wanted. Within a few weeks I had them and the kit.



I also looked at some Eduard detail sets also near impossible to find the coveted TA-4J interior set I was never able to find. I did get a hold of the Air-brake and exterior detail set so that's something.



I am starting with collecting the FS codes for the three schemes I am interested in and getting the paint I thing I have most of the colours in a stash. 




I think ill start with this one Bu No.158465  its going to challenge my masking skills the pictures are not great its really hard to see whats what. The photos of the actual plane depending on the year the scheme is altered a bit. The Green brown scheme Bu 153488 was done a few years ago by another modeller and would be hard to top its a stunning build.




I did find Bu 158465 photo before they went crazy with the additional colours here it is at least it gives me an idea of the base scheme.



And After...a night of partying in the spray booth!


I don't know something about it I like.


Here are the other two schemes one I need to choose perhaps I can get some feedback of what looks better desert browns or blue sky scheme?




So I started the kit without the interior detail set I looked at a lot of cockpit photos printed some off to have handy again I could not find any real clear close-up photos that really capture it all so if anyone has a source that would be appreciated . I am starting on the pilots left cockpit side wall I dint mind scratch building its easier that PE just takes a little longer.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Great subjects of course.  The VC-8 blue scheme is really only two blues and not that blue grey some sources show on the vertical stab.  I’ve seen the VC-8 TA-4s personally at NSRR in the early 2000s.   I think the Afterburner sheet has the correct FS numbers for the blues.  The brown/tan VC-8 bird is on my to do list.   

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So a few weeks have gone bye I finally found a interior PE kit in a dusty corner of the Internet.



Many weeks making parts using lots of reference materials.

20201007_221042-600x292.jpg 20201007_221109-600x292.jpg


It took some work getting the two halves to mate once all the PE, scratch built parts and kit parts were in.


Here is a before and after shot.





Next I am trailing some painting samples using post shading vs pre shading. I decided to go with the VC-8 Desert brown scheme.



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Just wanted to add I have had some really bad experiences trying to mate decal colors and paint FS colors. So a work around is using masks for the roundels and Navy that way I can have an exact match.



I found these pre cut masks that have nine sizes and 6 sheets per pack. I'll try them on my paint trial





Thanks for reading.

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Today worked on the pre and post shading. I soon discovered post shading is the best method.


Started with a scrap piece of plastic scribing lines and panels to practice on.





1. Primer coat

2. First coat of tan/sand color

3. Post shade between panels with flat white thin layers

4. Mist coat of tan

5. Touch up rivets and panels with brown pigment powder. 

6. Add oil stains thinned pigment powder.

7. Seal with flat varnish 


8. Mask for second darker brown and repeat process this time I post shaded with sand color over dark brown.



Next was trialing roundel mask which was strait forward.


Lay down mask and tape for over spray.




Just enough to still see the line to use as a guide for masking putty.



In this case I first sprayed light tan then masked and sprayed dark brown...done that easy.

20201020_204743-338x450.jpg 20201020_204817-600x450.jpg


Mask removed





Ok time to start assembling this model.

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  • 4 months later...

Wow cant believe its been been almost six months since I updated this build. I have several on the go at the same time so I thought its time to get this one under way again.


I really payed attention this time to sanding between coats and getting a good finish. I applied a light gray primer and two thinned coats of the light tan.






Next I am post shading not pre shading with primer white then into the camouflage and shading process.


Trial shading process ill use on the whole aircraft.

Edited by Night Owl Models
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This week was the big push to get the paint sheme applied. After the primer coat and a the initial light tan base coat was the post shading with flat white top and bottom.



After the white a light mist coat of desert tan to tone down the post shading.




Thinned burnt umber was applied to all panel lines and rivets then allowed to dry


All panel lines highlighted with pigment.



Next was masking off the pattern and spraying a thinned coat of the dark brown.



After the mist coat of dark brown you can see here post shading within the masked areas. I used the light desert base color to post shade over the dark desert brown



When all the post shading within the masked areas was done another thinned coat of dark brown was applied the goal is not to cover the previouse work just let it come through slightly.



The mask was then removed to reveal the camouflage pattern and the weathered panels. I touched up a few areas with thinned burnt umber pigment.



Next will be a gloss coat before the decals then two coats of ultra matt to finish the paint job. I still have the landing gear and fuel tanks to finish.



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You can reuse the putty I have had the same tin for three years. Blue tac is great too better for wheel wells and cockpits. After use I just let the putty soak in Dawn dish detergent scrub witha tooth brush then pat dry with a lint free cloth. Once it's air dried for a day put it back in the tin it reforms with the other putty ready for another day. There are several brands I like AK interactive camo putty. Silly putty plain is just as good and quarter of the cost.

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