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Ok, seeing so may nice Tamiya Tomcat builds I really wanted to start mine. But frankly, I'm not really sure how will it look on shelf, If I've enough space and so (ok, ok, I;m just scared to .... it up.). Besides I figured I should "start small". That, combined with the urge I had for a while to build a Sundowner Tomcat leads me to this.




A Polish company rebox of 1/48 scale Italeri Tomcat. I got it second hand a while ago.


I built an Italeri Tomcat before. Never got to decal it as my paint experiments went very bad on it. So I still have a full set of (old) decals. Frankly, I prefer the sunburst with yellow lines, not the CVW colors. Well, there are my only VF-111 decals in this scale, so they have to do. Decal sheet is probably of mediocre quality - I've had very mixed experience with MasterCraft decals in the past. Cracking and such. I've seen some cracks on the sunburst already.




And here's the plastic.




So, I got a mediocre kit, with decals of questionable quality. With Tamiya Delta in the stash. Stupid is that stupid does, right?


Well, I begun with inspecting the panel lines. After my 1/48 Italeri Growler I was a bit sceptical. They are soft but mostly in the right places. At least comparing to my reference subject.





Wing bladders look too big, the vertical tail base looks a bitsuspect. But that's just at first glance. I don't like the slots, they are too large. I only noticed that when I glued the wings in. Good job Thadeus! Wings are a bit featureless.




This is how the gun gas vents look. Well, at least I knew that going in.




The main wheels are pretty bad. One has some sort of short shot, or a sink mark? I checked with my other Italeri Tomcat. It has one too. Weird. I'm going to have to figure out some replacement for the wheels.


Italeri always gives You weapons. That's nice. You can already see the anemic Sparrows. I give You the Phoeniweirds.




Ejector pins anyone? Fairly easy to get rid of.




And some tails. Made me laugh actually. One of the fins has slime light detail on both sides, the other one has none.





Oooh, more pin marks.




So right now it's time to start my Tamiya Tomcat. Ok, just kidding. I know I'm being unfair. This is by no means a Tamiya competitor. I just hope it will look like a Tomcat, for the most part.


Aaaaand we're rolling: Cockpit.


I like the canvas detail. I hope it will look nice with some paint. I don't like the cockpit tub position, the way IPs look when attached and the fact there's no bulkhead between the front and aft pit.

 Step 1: don't fit the cockpit to the lower front fuselage. There is gap-a-plenty already. I don't need more.






The pit detail is actually nice. Doubt it's anywhere near accurate.




This is pretty much how I'd like to have the IP's and cockpit tub in alignment.




Aaaaand dryfitting... Oh...




So what's the best way to counter the bad fit? Some detailing! 😉


I took a triangle plastic rods and glued them to the back of the aft pit. I also added some sidewalls to hide the gaps. Based my sidewall work on the picture of aires F-14A cockpit. But I'm leaving the sides smooth.




And under a coat of paint. Had only a couple of minutes to do the airbrushing. Fun fact. That's the Pactra 36320. I always like this paint as it seemed like a lightened Model Master 36320. Perfect for the TPS. Probably the light made it look so dark. Or the Iphone camera. Somehow, the paint didn't want to stick to certain places. Weird, as I washed the tub and plastic sidewalls before painting with alcohol.




Soooo I'm off to do some detail painting in the cockpit.


Before that, behold my new headache. Step two - Intakes.

Italeri moulded the intakes in a simple manner. Two pieces, the lower fuselage, and the intake part. Dryfitting show a lot of work here to get anything passable even to me.





On a plus note, I really got a hang of painting white with H316. Love the smoothness of finished paint. Hate the fact it dries like a week or so. After one minute they seem dry, but if You try to hold the painted piece, You'll end up with a nice thumb print.




Them tails. So featureless. At least the rudder is present.




I built these fine 2D renders of Starfleet Phasers based off the Hobby Boss F-14B fin.




Came out... Passable I guess?




So right now I'm trying to sort out the intake issue and do the cockpit painting. I'm hopeful with this build.


Any sugestions or comments are welcomed. Thanks for stopping by.

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On 2/22/2021 at 1:41 PM, eraucubsfan said:

Nice Start!! Welcome aboard 



It seems to me, this one sort of pulled me in. Managed to catch some worktime on monday. A very rare occurence.

Painted some details in the cockpit. I scraped the molded alighnent tabs on the underside of the IP covers and glued the IP a bit deeper. Had to add a little plastic on the front one, sanded a bit of the aft IP, but it sort of works.




The tub itself, after painting details in black was just drybrushed.








Somehow the softish details caught drybrush pretty easily. Only a few ekhem... "knobs" were actually painted in gray. After I glued the cockpit in then joined the halves.

I did some testing with brushing Tamiya clear blue on the windscreen. Generally it didn't work. I either didn't thin the paint enough, or thinned it too much and it left something like a milky surface. I'll just airbush it sometime later.




In the meantime I masked the intakes. What a pain... The plan is to paint them 16440, then glue them, then check for gaps, seams, fill and sand where I'll have the courage and then shoot some more 16440. I'm going to have so much "fun". Probably should've put some plastic sheet in the intakes and try to trim it. So simple, right?




Next step will be sorting out the front fuselage. Perhaps some rescribing? Then I'll joun the front fuselage to aft fuselage, sort out that joint. Scribe the electronic box doors behind and under the cockpit. I might do the painting in the meantime. It's just that the gunze paints seem to take forever to fully dry.


On a funny note, despite being pretty much a rebox of Italeri kit, the MasterCraft boxing did not have the TCS chin pod. I got it second hand, but the sprues were still in plastic bag. I had to rob the TCS from my Italeri boxing of this kit. This kit is also said to be reboxed sometime this year. By MisterCraft. Huh... perhaps the decals will be better?


I'm building 160656 as it appeared sometime in 1982. Does anyone know a place where I could find some Sundowner pics, preferably from that time period? Seaforces doesn't list them. Wikipedia has a few, but literally one is of similar timeframe.


Thanks for stopping by.

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So traditionally, I'll start my update with some negative impressions.


First, weapons. While the Sparrows look almost passable, being only too slim by about 1 mm, the Phoenixs and Sidewinders look weird. Well the 54's needed only the nose job. Fins seem a bit too short comparing to Hobby Boss. The AIM-9's look just weird, front fins being the most visible. Well, in the end it's nothing a weapons set can't fix. I quickly considered my options and chose the pirate way. I took out my Hobby Boss F-14B that has a load of weapons and took what I needed.



Next - the front fuselage. I smoothed out the joint of lower and upper halves and the nose. Easy.


That is untill I checked the aft step. And then the panel lines in front of it. I traced all the panel lines with black marker so I could see them better.





I traced the "new" panel lines to be scribed with pencil. Of course everyting is eyeballed. Measure once, scribe once 😉



The middle "section" ie. the two panel lines that line up with the crew acces ladder should line up with nose landing gear strut.



Well in the end I made one mistake I'm going to have to fix bu scribing the aft gun cover too far forward. This door goes all the way to the ladder. All that is left now is to scribe the avionics panel on the sides of the fuselage under the canopy.


So that wasn't hard. Here's even an easier one - the one I'm not going to fix - Banana shape underside. I played a bit when joining the front to aft fuselage to minimize the kink on the lower fuselage.





Check out the main gear wheels. Yuck. Nose ones aren't prettiest either.



Well, I'm going to take the sanding paper and go at it a bit. The nose looks straight enough with wheels on. The Phoenix pallets are going to hide this "feature". I hope.



Intake insides are painted! Wooohooo! My happines was only destroyed a few moments later when I tried to join them to the fuselage. And is pretty much a faded memory right now as I'm trying to sort out the seams on the inside. Love how the gunze gray and white sprayed though.



And the last issue for this update, the shoulder pylons.

Checking with the Hasegawa kits I have, they seem to be placed much too forward.



This results in a gap I'm not too fond of trying to fix. Hopefully I can just make a new set of holes to put them more to the back. I'm probably going to try it when I'll sort out the intakes.


The gap on the glove vane will be sorted out once I'll finally glue the wings. I'll probably do the oversweep position and just glue them in place.



Another thing is the Sidewinder launchers seem to be a bit too low on the pylon. Once my new missiles are dry enough I'll check the alignment and clearance between the AIM-7 and -9.



A 3 second shot with dilluted Tamiya clear blue got me this. It shows way more in pic than IRL.



So after a bit of play I added the fins. I'm still thinking if I should lower the tailplanes a bit. They do deflect when a jet is powered down.



So despite some issues found, I'm still having fun. That's a good thing.

The intakes don't look too good on the insides and frankly are the only thing that's really bothering me. I might have to go back to the drawing board on that.


Thanks for stopping by, If You have any comments, feel free to leave them.



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Looking good so far.


The pains of ill-fitting kits is so frustrating....I'm liquidating a few of my Hasegawa Cats, and I have a Tamiya D model arriving today (I may build it for this group build). I'm keeping ONE Hasegawa, a B model that I have specific markings for.

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19 hours ago, Geoff M said:

I  haven't seen that kit before.  Looks like you are beating it into submission.  Good effort.

geoff M


Thanks. So far there's mostly complaining on my part. The panel lines and shoulder pylons are easy. The real work are going to be the intakes. It might bu that I did something wrong on them, hence the bad internal fit.


It's just the Italeri kit reboxed. There are quite a few builds on ARC gallery and on on Youtube.
 Most in either the VF-84 or VF-1 in gray/white.

7 hours ago, MA Cooke said:

Looking good so far.


The pains of ill-fitting kits is so frustrating....I'm liquidating a few of my Hasegawa Cats, and I have a Tamiya D model arriving today (I may build it for this group build). I'm keeping ONE Hasegawa, a B model that I have specific markings for.


I have one Hasegawa Delta I'm going to build. Got it second hand for a good price with a lot of resin, a Bombcat upgrade and cockpit. I've also a  Hobby Boss B, a Tamiya D and one more Italeri A. I recently build a 1/48 Italeri F-16A (ok, I'm at 90%) and an Italeri EA-18. There is always something more or less wrong or bad fitting with these kits. Not really uncorrectable, but always something off, while the general model looks very much the part. But I never put the kits to too much scrutiny. There is no comparison to the "best" Tomcat kits. I'd hazard a guess the real difference in quality between the Monogram an Italeri kits are the panel lines. Ok, Monogram could have better fit. Only built it once as a kid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So this Cat is getting closer to the dreaded decaling stage.


I sanded the gray area of intakes as it's the most visible. I was going to write a lot of bad things about Italeri intakes. But I'll refrain and just write the fit is bad. All the time my masking tape was stuck to the white portions of the intakes, it left a lot of residue. I can't sand it with 2000 or 2500 paper or sponge. The rougher grit would be 1000. I sprayed the nose with H315 and then tried to polish it with 1000 grit sanding sponge. It will not work.


A gloss coat might work though. I've no idea why, but it worked on the VF-142 Tomcat. I'm starting to think that it might be the cause of thinner I use on gunze and tamiya paints, as I always use the Tamiya thinner. But frankly, when I left a drop of paint straight from the jar on my painting palette it was still tacky after two days.




I applied some rubber black as a first coat. You can see the lgg painted nose cone after polishing with 1000 grit sponge.


Fun fact - the wings are glued in oversweep (ish) position. Sometime during this week work on the kit I had an accident.

I didn't add the wing sweep mechanism, so they were free to move around. When handling, that was pretty annoying, but I learned to live with it. They even moved so far forward I could fit entire file between the wing and the fuselage. I didn't want to glue them before painting however. A minor accident with super glue forced my hand. I was strenghtening the joint on the inside of the fuselage, where I put the elevator inserts. The glue ran down all the way to the wings (I honestly didn't put that much in there!) and glued the wing to the underside of the glove vane. I can confirm the F-14 was inverted.

I forced it apart, but frankly it caused enough damage I lost interest in displaying this Tomcat with wings forward.





And the topside. After that I noticed a few areas on the nose, wher I filled panel lines and they were still showing.




On a last moments notice I decided to drop the elevators. I took a razor saw and cut the attachment points. Then I eyeballed the area, where it could attach with rod, drilled a 2mm hole, inserted an appropriate plastic rod and called it a day.




My deliberations on the ecm suite of the 160656 in 1982 (and probably for the entirety of it's career, up to 1985 crash) led me to believe the jet did not have the glove vanes ecm bulges, so I removed them. On most pics it also did not have the TCS pod. So I'm not going to put it on. That leaves the small ecm bulge. My first idea is to cut down the IR tracker. So I did. I'm still thinking about robbing Hasegawa Delta of said part. The jury is still out on posibility of puting it on a magnets. That'd be a nice idea, since I'm not 100% sure the jet didn't fly with one. I know the pods are removable, and my jet will be CAP configured (but with 2/2/2 not with 3 sparrows). So I guess it could have it at some point diring a cruise.




Looking at this picture I noticed the Italeri might have made the aft part of canopy glass too long. Or the entire canopy part is just too short. I didn't notice it earlier...

I did a bit of panel painting, where I'm going to try and have some worn out effects.

You can also see some putty repairs on the front fuselage part - where the panel lines needed a little more filling.




And finally! The gunze H315 coat. Well. part of. I ran out of bench time 😄 I really like how the black makes the 16440 seem a bit tired, as oppossed to parts where I didn't shoot black - on the Phoenix pallets. You can also notice I drilled an additional set of holes for the wing glove pylons. I wonder how that will work.... 

You can barelly see it, but the ventral strakes were damaged from storing the model. They are so thin on the underside they do not support the weight of the model. I glued them less than 24 hours before painting.




Topside got way more paint.See the canopy frame - how thin it is. Love how Gunze paints go on. Did I mention it? Just wish they got dry quickier. Next time I'll use the other light gull gray, the H325. Being semi gloss It might be a bit quickier to fully cure. I keep leaving fingerprints even after two or three days.



So besides the intakes, there is just that thing with canopy. Since I'm probably done modelling till the weekend It's going to bug me for the entire weekend. Why didn't I see it earlier? It could just be a simple case of unmasking a small portion of the canopy and painting it with black, and after that either to go with gray, or put some surfacer and sand it smooth. Frankly, I'm starting to be a bit suspicious of the entire canopy part. The lower part of the frame seems to be a bit too high. I'll have to check some completed Italeri Tomcats.


So the end is almost in sight. Some minor obstacles left. After that I expect decaling will present itself as a problem. I'm almost ready for everything that might come.


Thanks for stopping by! Untill next time!



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Whops !


Sorry about that 👆 Sausage fingers 🙄


Very nice build and great work on that old kit.


You certainly have some nice decal choices Thadeus.


Take care,



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On 3/14/2021 at 11:28 PM, MA Cooke said:

Looking good so far!


Thanks! It's getting closer to the finsh line.


On 3/15/2021 at 1:33 AM, Mr.Happy said:



On 3/15/2021 at 1:36 AM, Mr.Happy said:

Whops !


Sorry about that 👆 Sausage fingers 🙄


Very nice build and great work on that old kit.


You certainly have some nice decal choices Thadeus.


Take care,




Thanks. I really like Italeri decal options. The VF-1 and VF-84 are always a good choice. For that matter the VF-111 is a good choice too. All three are very flashy. For most part it's not a bad kit, really. I highlited the IMHO worst parts about it. It needed a lot less work than Italeri Super Hornet I've had pleasure building recently.


I've "almost" built the Italeri Tomcat once before - didn't decal it. Long time ago when I first tried to do some 1/48 scale modeling. I remember the fit was much better. But then the grass was greener and sky more blue too!


This weekend I managed to do the rest of the gray. I've actually had to scrape the bottom of the jar to finish this one.






After that I painted the red parts. I added a bit of white to the insignia red to try to match the decals. I might have failed though. One thing that's bothering me, did the 160656 had the inner parts of ventral fins painted red? Anybody? I noticed on some pictures of VF-111 jest they are painted red, on others they are not.

I also tried to find some info on the corrugard leading edges. Early Tomcats had the fins, elevators and wing leading edges in corrugard. I opted to paint just the wing leading edges with H8 silver. The exhaust area is brush painted steel metalizer from Model Master.


If we're talking quirks of the kit, the ventral fins should have the panel line matching the panel lines on the fuselage. I'm not fixing it, as it might be covered by the decal. I'm not fixing it. I'm not fixing it? Ok, now it starts to bother me.




The area in front of the canopy is my least favourite part to paint. The Mastercraft instruction would have You paint it black. But I suppose it's just an error as the underside would have to be black. I'd love a VF-111 Tomcat in gray/white. It just didn't happen afaik. I've a Hasegawa Sundowners Tomcat instructions in 1/72 which show it as the H334 - barley gray. From the pics I estimated it should be either some ghost gray, or perhaps dark gull gray. So I settled for the neutral gray 36270. I copied kit decas and cut the front mask to shape. I couldn't fit the mask though. It didn't even come close to even. So I took Tamiya masking tape for curves and masked it with decal being my guide.




Pretty much the only two painting booboos are the overspray on the inner fin that I caught just as I sprayed it with gloss...



... and the front neutral gray area. I should've left it as it was - I initially left the windscreen entirelly 16440. I went in and "corrected" that. Good job to me.




So the fire unit of the Tomcat is assembled. I'm still thinking if I should paint the missiles white or gray. Or do a mix of both? I suppose the 54's should be white, as in 1982 they would still be AIM-54A's.




And so the biggest question. Is my red red enough?

I took gunze insignia red and added some insignia white. tested it with brush on the decal sheet - if it's a bit darker than decal sheet that's ok. Ive noticed airbrushing the color makes it a bit lighter. Then I sprayed it on the model. The red is still too dark. It might be just the different surface finish, or it might be




I took some comparison photos with Hobby Boss sheet from my 1/72 Tomcat. The difference in red IRL is extreme. The HB red is light, very... ummm.... reddy? The Gunze Insignia red is more crimson. And the Mastercraft red is something in between. Funny thing, the Hobby Boss is supposed to be the 160656 too... from 1991!





So I guess I'll have to try to fix the stab overspray. And the windscreen. I might paint the white bits too. I'll do some research on them ventral fins. But I'm ready for decals. I'll have to think about painting the missiles and fixing that damned panel line on the ventral fin.


Thanks for stopping by!


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Before fixing anything I decided to check the most critical decals for this build - the sunburst and sharkmouth.


First I took the piece from VF-1 decals from the sheet. It seems the red is similar to the VF-111 option.




So I'll have to fix the red. But not that much. Light overspray should do the trick.

However applying this decal I tried to make it as a fin tip decal. It would not conform. ooops.


I applied a bit of decal fluid to the sharkmouth and the sunburst, just in case it would crack.


First the sharkmouth - the hardest one to fix if the decal would fail.


After LOADS of micro sol....




The micro sol started to dissolve the paint around the decal. Just not the decal. I've had cases when micro sol would dissolve tamiya or gunze paints and leave them darkened as if the base paint would come through the clear coat and the main color.


After a hour fighting with a few decals I managed to smooth out the sharkmouth. Only a few wrinkles left. You can see the damage to the paint just under the sharkmouth and slightly to the front. Keeping micro sol only on the decal is pretty hard on the nose.




Here are some cracks visible. Decal didn't wrinkle on its own. Probably was too thick.




The fin decal didn't work that well... Conforming to the vent was a pain and it cracked the entire decal.




Ok. I can live with it I guess...



And the sunburst. Uhhh... I've spent at lot of time getting here. Saying I'm not happy is an understatement. I knew there would be significant fighting. But despite using the same method as on the sharkmouth, which is a hadred decal to place since it's on the nose, it just didn't work. There are places where decal conforms to the surface pretty good, despite cracking - for instance on the fin braces. On the other side, by the reinforcing strip on the fin, decals did not conform. The trouble on the base of the fin was expected.

And this is the better side. I'm not showing pics of the other one.  The cracks I can deal with, so with the tears. When I'll mix some red paint for the tip of the fin I'll just touch it up with brush. Probably I'll have to do the same with the places where decal doesn't conform. I might have to do the entire lower part of the fin, including the front.

On a side note, notice how thin the front lower ray is. Compare it to the next one which seems too fat. Even comparing it to the Hobby Boss decals (or Hasegawa for that matter) shows slight difference.

I tried masking a sunburst once. On a VFA-111 F/A-18F, as apparently there are no decals for this squadron 😉 I keep this model as a reminder how much work I still need for this skill to be applicable to pretty much anything.




So I'm thinking of backup plans.

1) mask and paint - I've photocopied the sunburst and the sharkmouth. Lousy cutting skills along with clumsy fingers sort of prevent me from doing this. But I might reconsider - I mean there is a time for everything, right? That's gonna cost me some nerves. I'm pretty sure. Plus some time. The double nuts are going to be problematic to mask. So will the different color ray outlines. And the sharkmouth. Oh my...


2) there is a 2021 rebox of this kit I could get, if it has the same scheme (and perhaps newer, better quality decals). I don't need another Italeri Tomcat. I;ve got one more. I don't want to cough up a 100pln on a new kit, just for the decals and the kit I don't need / don't want.


3) get aftermarket decals.

A) There is a nice sheet from Fightertown with this jet. If I could hunt it down I could get it for a little more than 100 pln. I've seen some slightly cheaper HAD model decals for the Miss Molly scheme. I like that sunburst better. But that is still putting money on a kit I don't want to invest money in. Besides, what a waste of nice decals would that be on an Italeri kit. And it's the only marking from that sheet I'd like to have in 1/48. I know, I could sell the rest. But still...

B) get some cheap decals. The HiDecal sheet is pretty much the cheapest of the bunch - there are nice options for IRIAF jets and two NSAWC ones. Umm. The IRIAF I've no interest in for a 1/48 project. The NSAWC would be problematic, as the vent configuration was different - they both had NACA gun gas vents. Not the hardest to scribe I know. But I'm not sold on these schemes. Not for 1/48.


4) other paint scheme. Well... that one is problematic.

A) I wanted an Italeri kit with Italeri VF-84 gull gray/white scheme. That one is still doable. I might have to get rid of the fin reinforcement braces I made. I would have to repaint the control surfaces and lower part of the model white. Totally doable. All the fiddly work on the inside of the fuselage I did would be wasted, hence I'm not too fond of this option.

B) I could try to convert that scheme to the all gull gray one. I seem to remember there was one with large star and bars on the nose. I've seen some pics from 1980 Eagle Claw preparations. But frankly, I wanted the gull gray/white scheme. And I don't want two extremely similar models on a shelf (perhaps even the same BuNo). I mostly do 1/72 with a few 1/48. 

C) I could try to convert Italeri VF-1 decals for an all gull gray jet. It's tricky though. I'd have to get rid of the white stripe from the decals, as apparently it wasn't there on an all gray scheme. Plus the CVW code change for NE. And the carrier name change. For the Ranger I believe.


Right now I'm taking a breather with this build. I'm going to finish it either way. Frankly, that's quite a few possibilities. I'm leaning towards the masking, or swapping scheme for the VF-84 jet. I might try masking first. There is one more F-14 I'd like to squize in this GB. Or two.


Thanks for stopping by!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sooo, after much deliberation and a few attempts at making my own masks for the sunburst and the sharkmouth I give up.

I've had a few photocopies of decal sheet I made just in case I had to make masks. I managed to cut out the sunburst with some work. The sharkmouth proved to be a problem. But that's just the mask for a color. The placement and stuff like that proved quite troublesome. Plus for better effect I find two layers of masking tape to work better than one. But that means I have to cut the template two times for each design.




Stripping decals was a chore. They would not conform. But would not let go easily.




Well, long story short I could not figure out the way to cut it out evenly and paint. I eventually decided it was just too much work for too little gain. Plus remaking the different color sunburst outlines, lining up the sharkmouth template - first white than red, along with trouble simply cutting out the templates, seemed like much too much work. I'd still love a VF-111 jet. I just might go about it a different route. Right now I just want this one to be finished without too much trouble.


Eventually I settled for the VF-84 all gull gray scheme. Figured it to be the least troublesome. I repainted the places where I removed decals - tails (still not complete), the nose and the walkways. For the scheme I had to remove the tail braces I made. The rest was pretty much the same.

Doing the initial paintjob I ran out of H315, but in one of my boxes I found one more bottle. A very old one, at least 7 years old. To my surprise, after shaking it up a bit it turned out to be ok. Albeit a little lighter shade. So I blended the nose a little bit, and did some paint touch ups. I'll have to spray the horizontal stab with a light mist, so I can get them more uniform with the rest of the airframe.




And here's the black parts painted.




So right now I'll have to paint the yellow fin tips, and shoot some silver for the corrugard on tails.


Thanks for stopping by. Until next time!

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On 3/3/2021 at 1:24 PM, Thadeus said:

There is always something more or less wrong or bad fitting with these kits.


Are you referring to Italeri's F-14 & F-16 in particular, or in a general sense?

I have AMT / Italeri F7F Tigercat, I understand it's the only F7F available in 1/48, and am curious it this will be a headache laden build. (I plan to do as many of the Grumman Cats as I can - for one display shelf.)

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On 4/24/2021 at 3:40 PM, MA Cooke said:


Are you referring to Italeri's F-14 & F-16 in particular, or in a general sense?

I have AMT / Italeri F7F Tigercat, I understand it's the only F7F available in 1/48, and am curious it this will be a headache laden build. (I plan to do as many of the Grumman Cats as I can - for one display shelf.)


Well, I do understand there are no perfect kits, but I don't have the best opinion of the Italeri kits. I don't really want to sound too negative as I'm very often buying their kits. I just count them at below average with some very nice decal choices. I'd hardly call anu of their kits as unbuildable. Most of the stuff I write down is for my own later use. As I have one more Italeri Tomcat in the stash all the stuff I find this time will help me on the other build.


I can't say absolutelly anything about the Tigercat, as I've never even held that kit in my hands.


For the bad fitting, that one is almost given. Most Italeri kits I've built (so pretty much none of the new tools such as 1/72 F-35's, 1/32 Mirage III or F-104) needed a lot of putty. While that might be just my inability to get a good joint in general, I notice Italeri requires more putty than average other kit. Then again, I'm setting them against Hasegawa, Revell and such. For instance, I built recently 1/72: Mirage 2000d, Kfis (along with Hasegawa) and F/A-18 (along with Hasegawa, Academy, Fujimi and Hobby Boss one) and in 1/48 F-16A adf (along with uncompleted Hasegawa and Kinetic) and EA-18G. In side by side builds I notice I have to use more putty. It's usually not a deal breaker as I find I like puttying. I know. I'm weird.


For the people who count rivets Italeri kits can be simply dangerous. In F-16 there was a misaligned fuselage insert. Did not expect that one. Most of the panel lines needed rescribing there. A task I hate. But I did it. As I'm a Hornet fan, the EA-18 was bad. Weird panel lines - some of which are important regarding the further decal placement, such as avionics  bays, details such as the ECS vents or a ladder in wrong places ( I just today spotted the ladder thing). Intakes are a pain to build and look bad with their forced perspective. The cockpit is plain with some weird disproportionate looking instrument panels. Plus the putty. On every joint. On the other hand, Hasegawa Super Hornet kit does have its own wrongs, such as too short spine - Italeri got that one thing right.


So generally I always expect at least one problem with Italeri kit I'm building. And I'm not even that perceptive.


Plus very often mistakes in otherwise good or excellent decal sheets. An off colour (recent MiG-29 in Polish livery comes to mind, Hungarian JAS-39). Some misprints - as the pilot name on the VF-84 option on this very kit. Sometimes it is a show stopper, sometimes it is not.


I can't say anything for the AMT/Italeri kits. I built only Esci's 1/72 F-100, and I believe the F-104 is from Esci too. Some panel lines in wrong places, horrible fit on the nose of the F-100. But I'd build that kit again in a heartbeat. I remember building both the F-100D and F. Even cut the slats.


If Italeri kit is the only way to go I doubt there could be anything that could stop You. They are not generally bad kits. If accuracy is what You want You need to watch out, as they are often basic in detail or have some fictious detail. For what it's worth, I rank this Tomcat as a better than average Italeri kit, if not a pretty good one. The canopy problem caught me off guard. The weird shape of the fuselage, with intakes in place is a non issue. Unless it will cause a nose up appearance. So far it looks ok.


So. I declare painting stage done. I fixed most errors of my previous paintjob, wrong color demarcation on the black area under windscreen, some less than perfect masking. Surprisingly, masking tape lifted some of the silver leading edge of the fin. Still not 100% fixed. All the overspray is fixed too.




Added a little more contrast to this picture to show more how the touch up effect looks like. I'll have to redo the engine areas.




The VF-84 option, while generally both the easiest and closest to what I originally wanted for my 1/48 scale Tomcat is still a bit troublesome, as I was hoping to squeeze in one more build - a VF-103 jet. Now I don't have the motivation, since I'm already doing a JR bird. Don't have the will to do another F-14A for the VF-111, as I have some decals for a 1/72 version.




So I setlled for the 1980 VF-84 scheme. It was all gull gray, similar to the Italeri gray/white scheme. The forward star and bars large, placed on top of the vagabond stripe. This aircraft, the 160380 bore the markings that adorned jets preparing for the operation Eagle Claw. I was looking for some info, trying to decide wheter to replicate the wing color markings, when I found one interesting thing. You see, sometimes, when I do research on a decal options I find a story. What I find interesting, very often with Italeri box options, the story is of a lost airframe. Be it a VF-41 option in 1/72 F-14A, or the boxart option for the 1/72 Italeri F-104C "Smoke II". Apparently, the 160380, not too long after the operation Eagle Claw was lost during catapult launch. Both crew perished. I've no idea or the names on the canopy. I'm contemplating leaving them as they are.








The ANFT website lists 160380 as AJ-201, while the ejection history as AJ-207. I'll have to check if I can find some additional info regarding the tail number.





So right now I'm going to have to fix the paint on the engine areas. I might just finish the nozzles too. Then apply gloss coat and decals. I've a very old set that might be tricky to apply. I'd rather not use the Mastercraft decal sheet.


Thanks for stopping by.



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Hello, what tenacity to finish the assembly of this kit forces respect. You deserve our admiration here.
Who has not known the nightmare of old decals cracking does not know what he has missed.

Congratulations, the finish line is closing in.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/29/2021 at 9:26 PM, FASTEAGLE107 said:

Hello, what tenacity to finish the assembly of this kit forces respect. You deserve our admiration here.
Who has not known the nightmare of old decals cracking does not know what he has missed.

Congratulations, the finish line is closing in.

Thank You very much. I hate not finishing a kit. I'm glad I had the plan B decals, even though it foiled my plans regarding a 1/48 Tomcat fleet.


So, the work continues. Italeri gives You only closed exhaust nozzles. On the pictures I've noticed that some F-14A's had both engine nozzles opened when parked on the boat. I still decided on one opened and one closed. Considering all the options I went for the quickest and easiest - I cut out part of the nozzle.




Ok, I admit. Not the best of ideas. I'm still not decided if it was better idea than just leaving both nozzles closed. I could've cut a little bit closer to fuselage. And make the opened petals from plasticard. However me cutting several similar squares is just asking for trouble.




For the first time I painted the walkways. Yeeey. I masked out the outline and dabbed with brush while the paint was still wet. It created texture. I use this method on coated bombs. Works pretty well. And masking walkways isn't hard. One thing though, It seems some VF-84 jets had the walkway only on the left side. I decided I'm going for the symmetrical walkway.




Missiles painted. Wow. I did not notice how shaky are my stripes. Italeri included some stripes for the weapons. I just decided it was easier to paint them by hand.



And with decals. AIM-54's are only decaled on the outboard, where it will show. There are no decals for both sides for both missiles.




And so the model is decaled. I found a few things that bothered me. Well I should have used the new decal sheet, instead of a 10 (or more!) years old sheet from my first Tomcat. The decals took like a minute to detach from sheet. They are very matt too. Once they lay down they were ok-ish.

I don't like the fact the ventral fin decal is too small for the fin. I had to touch up with yellow. Also, the VF-84 is at an angle. I should have cut it out and put it paralel to the fuselage. I hate the front modex. It just seems too big. I feel it should be like 10-20% smaller.

When I put on the stripe I noticed my new panel lines were still too far aft. When I tried to put the stripe in proper position between the front and aft boarding steps, the stripe itself and star and bars were out of place in regards to the upper intake lip. I feel as if the entire stripe is too angled. The yellow part of the stripe should begin a little bit to the front of the canopy sill, not parallel, with black starting either parallel with canopy sill, or just the tiniest bit in front (this is actually what I see in the pictures). I placed mine too far forward, as the black should begin halfway between where I put it, and the canopy sill. I'm afraid it will show much more once model is complete, as I'm going to display canopy open. I was a bit tired when I applied both the stripe and bars, and the ventral fin decals, so I guess I just did not pay enough attention. I'm reluctant on using either the Mastercraft decals, or the second Italeri kit sheet, as the Mastercraft decals were... ummm... not as good as Italeri, and the second Italeri kit I might just get rid of. There is no scheme I'd like to build it with.


Oh, and just for fun, one genius I know applied the short modex number on the tail the other way around on the right fin. Yup. I'm not showing THAT mistake. Of course I noticed it just after I sealed the decals. I could rob that number from the Mastercraft sheet I guess.




Next episode? Weathering and seats!


Thanks for stopping by!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know about You, but I'm pretty much ready to end my Italeribashing crusade 😉


Italeri seats were basic, as expected. i did very little work, made canopy breakers (?) on top of the seats, improvised some parachute area on top, added the most prominent cable found there, there's second one, but I did not want to clutter my seat with my clumsy detail. Painted some areas with red and gloss black to resemble placards. Seatbelts are from masking tape, ejection handles are made of some wire I had left from sandwich bags. I also removed headrest rivet detail and flattened headrest.




Next was weathering. As usual I went with some watercolors, and Tamiya powders, mostly oil and rust. In real life it showed quite heavilly. I was a bit scared I overdid it. The trouble I have with watercolor wash is it doesn't want to stay in panel lines. And when it stays it sometimes stays in one spot, but not in the other (see the wing flaps). I don't have this problem with oils. However most of my techniques don't seem to work on oils, such as dabbing with sponge/paper/brush and creating sort of boot marks. I got myself some Tamiya panel accents and I'm experimenting on other builds with blackening all the panel lines prior to painting - it shows some promise.

Oh, You can see that inverted 01 on the fin, don't You? Forgot all about it.






Well, with all that stuff done, all there was to do was to put on a final coat and finish assembly. No dramas here, I just used Gunze semi gloss instead of Tamiya gloss. I figured an aircraft that dirty couldn't be all shiny, right? Once all model was covered in clear coat, and I had some thinned down clear in the airbrush I added a bit of flat, painted the skunk stripe and picked a few panels. Pre gloss I had a very nice texture of different shines - newer paint had more shine, older paint had a bit less. I liked it. Well. Shouldn't have bothered as it almost doesn't show. Next time I'll just go with full flat / gloss panel difference.


So here's with smaller brother. It shows the difference in weathering. Oh man. I did not add the wing slime lights. How did I manage that?!




Looking side by side with the Hobby Boss kit, I should've left the shoulder pylons alone. They look weirdish now.










I was going to add locks for the canopy, but frankly after building the canopy turtledeck, so it could be opened, and cutting (and not really detailing) that trianglish piece that goes behind the RIO seat I just run out of steam. I'll have to fix the ejection seat handles.




Fun fact, and the last "complaint" here - Italeri doesn't give You the nose probe! How silly! Mine is made from pitot probe of 1/72 KP Mig-21 I built for my oldest. Figured for a four year old, a long plastic part near the front of the toy just wasn't the best idea. The front part is now the nose probe, while the rest of the pitot probe became the canopy actuator.




Some underside shot. Please excuse the dirty fingers. I guess I made the underside too clean.



So, time for some final thoughts, right? After 52 and a half hours, I'm quite sure I'll never build another one of these again. Not because of all the stuff I noted, really. At 52 hours I can pull a lot of other kits. Besides, I can't have too many F-14's, as they are a killers of my shelf space. Ok, maybe I'm still a bit scared of the intakes.

Frankly, if You want an easy, not too involved Tomcat build, that kit might be it. If You'd like a detail rich build, there are far better kits. Overall, the shape looks very Tomcatty. These wheels look terrible. You could use some aftermarket seats (ok, an entire cockpit), but none of these issues are killers. The kit looks ok, is as detailed as a 1/5 of a Tamiya kit should be, and probably even more. The cost is a big plus in my book. But right now I'd rather cough up the money for a better kit.


I guess there's still time to consider the third Tomcat... I'll think about it...


Thanks for stopping by!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks a lot! It sure was fun.

I've not yet taken better pics. I did however finally find the rerelease of Mistercraft F-14 with shots of the sprues. Well, for one, the painting instructions are MUCH better. Wonder how are the decals, huh? For anyone who is interested:


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