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Check Out Club Meeting: May 2011 Meeting

Featured In: May 2011 Newsletter

Two Tales of Two Tails
Fujimi’s 1/72 F-35B Lightning II
Revell’s 1/72F-22 Raptor
By: Valentin “Gee that was quick” Bueno

Tale One of Two Tails: The F-35B

I have been following the development of the F-35 Lightning II, not out of interest of the weapons system or for any political reasons, but just because it is the newest fighter/bomber in the US armed forces. So when Hasegawa announced that they were releasing a kit of the F-35 by the end of 2010, I was interested in the kit. As you all are aware, it is now 2011 and no F-35 from Hasegawa. Fujimi however released their kit of the F-35B. At first I wanted to wait for Hasegawa's kit to be released, but I have become impatient (as always) and bought the Fujimi kit anyway.

For those not intimately familiar with the F-35 program, there are three initial variants of the Lightning II, the F-35A (conventional takeoff), F-35B (Short Take-off and Landing version with a lift fan behind the cockpit) and the F-35C (navalized version with larger folding wings). The Fujimi kit is the F-35B version with the lift fan right behind the cockpit. This gives the aircraft the look of a thick necked bulldog. It almost snarls, "I am a Marine Aircraft!" which it is.

The Kit

Upon opening the box, I had to double check the box top to make sure I had a Fujimi kit. The parts were molded in Gray, dark gray, white and dark silver with a patina of bronze. I thought it was a Matchbox kit! Once I put on my reader glasses (the curse of getting old) I was still not sure whose kit I had. The surfaces of the model were littered with rivets. Was this a Trumpeter kit? The alignment pins were enormous and looked suspiciously like Bandai alignment pins for their snap together Gundam kits. And sure enough, when I tried to test fit the cockpit to the lower forward fuselage, it stuck! No glue required! I checked the box lid again. Hmmm, it says Fujimi. But it seems Fujimi looked at what the other guys were doing and picked the worst parts to copy! Let's see how this little bulldog goes together.

Look at the size of those guide pins!

Glue Required by Law

Though I never studied law, I am pretty sure it is a policy somewhere that all my models must be assembled and held in place with glue. I chose to use Tamiya Extra Thin Liquid Cement (hereafter referred to as glue) in lieu of my usual Zap-a-Gap thick CA. The glue helps melt and lubricate the pin holes and make it easier to insert the pins into the holes. There's a dirty limerick in there somewhere...

I can't get no satisfaction....

I completely assembled the model without a lick of paint until I was ready to paint the exterior. The cockpit of the F- 35B is a wide open and roomy, so I chose to paint that afterwards. I closed up all the weapons bays and the lift fan inlet and outlet doors to keep the plane as sleek as possible. I mean when you are shaped like a bull dog, how sleek can you get? I added a few brass BB's to the nose in front of the cockpit before attaching the nose cone. Looking at the photo below, I am reminded of the cover of a particular Rolling Stones album...

I sprayed the model with Tamiya Kure Gray overall. I didn't have any Euro Gray available and this looked close enough. I sanded this down to get the finish as close to a scale smoothness as I could get. SNJ Aluminum powder was rubbed into the surface and polished out. I was looking to get the aluminum integrated into the surface without overpowering the surface color. You cannot really see the effect in the photos, but it's there.

First pass at adding the metallic sheen to the gray paint.

The kit decals were used for the national insignia and stencils. I waffled over using the tail markings for the development aircraft, but went ahead and used them anyway despite not painting the tails black. I'll just say they repainted the tails gray. That's my lie and I'm sticking to it! As is my habit (bad habits are hard to get rid of) I applied the decals without a applying a gloss coat. I figured I could polish the surface of the color coat to a high enough gloss so as to eliminate one more layer of paint. This worked fine on areas that were easy to get to like the wings and fuselage, but not so well on the tail fins. It took a few more applications of Solvaset to melt the decals into the painted surface.

I applied a coat of Tamiya Clear Flat, sanded that down and applied another coat and sanded that down again. This helps hide the edges of the decals and gets rid of the rough sprayed on look of the spray paint. I final application of SNJ aluminum powder was applied, rubbed into the flat clear coat and wiped off with a damp napkin.

After that, only the little bits and bobs were left to be added, landing gear, canopy antenna and so forth.

All in all...I liked this kit. It was easy to put together, well detailed exterior, and appears to be relatively accurate. I hope Fujimi puts out kits of the Air Force CTOL version and the larger Navy versions.

Head on view.

Tale Two of Two Tails: The F-22

Now you all are probably wondering why another two for one sale on the twin tailed dragons? Simple really, it as part of a Modern Military Group Build and these two are my contribution to that build.

I had bought two copies of the F-22 by Revell when it first came out. After collecting all the aftermarket I could find and afford, I got AMS and froze. I didn't want to start the kit because of all the work the aftermarket items entailed. The Modern US military Group Build help break me out of that AMS fever by giving me the opportunity to build one out of the box. The truth is, I also got a third copy of the kit and built that one. I still have two more twin tails in the stash! If kit collecting were a certifiable mental illness, I would be the poster child.

Like the F-35 mentioned previously, I built the kit completely without paint, I just wanted to assemble the thing and get it to the paint shop as soon as I could. All the weapons bays were glued shut and the landing gear built extended. I was surprised by how weak the design of the main struts are, there was no real place to lock the gear in place and have it resist side loads.

Glue filler added to the underside of the intakes

Despite all the fiddling, test fitting and fettling with the parts, I could not get the intake trunks to lie flush with the intake lips. Additionally, the top of the intake is part of the upper fuselage and there is a gap where the inner wall and the top meet at the intake lip. Drats! The rest of the kit went together without drama or problems.

Incorrect Colors

I painted my F-22 with Light Ghost Gray and Dark Ghost Gray using Tamiya spray paints. I painted the Dark Ghost Gray first, and used Silly Putty to mask off the splotches (that there is a highly technical term) and sprayed on the Light Ghost Gray. Looking the painted model and photos of the real aircraft, I think I the actual colors are darker than the Ghost Grays that I have used. I had to look at the Tamiya boxing of the old Italeri (hacch spit!) F-22 to see what colors Tamiya recommended, Neutral Gray and Dark Sea Gray. I have these colors! I did not want to repaint the model, so I left it as is but I'll know better next time!

The attack of the Blob....

I used 2300, 3200 and 4000 grit polishing pads to take down the roughness of the spray paint and prep the surface for decals.

Ughhhh the decals!

I had a lot of trouble with the decals. First off, the decals didn't seem to really fit the model. There are gray colored diamonds and other panels that are supposed to fit inside recessed areas of the surface of the model, but they don't. The grays used in the decals didn't match the incorrect colors I used for the model, so they look strange. I wished I had painted them instead of using the decals. The worst part of the decals was placing them! The decal placement guide showed the decals were next to such and such panel line. You pick up the model and those panel lines aren't there! I ended up guessing where I was going to place the decals in relation to other panel lines or the shape of the aircraft.

On top of that, the decal placement guide is tiny, so the orientations of the decals were difficult to determine correctly. Let's just say this isn't one of my better models. It's one of those six footer models, i.e. stand six feet way, close one eye while turning off all thelights and the model will look just fine.

The decals themselves performed flawlessly over my polished paint surface. The edges of the decals disappeared into the surface and only the fin bands silvered. But these decals were placed over hand painted portions of the fins that were not as polished as they could have been. A few more applications of Solvaset helped melt these decals into the surface of the model.

Close up of the wingroot

On Final

Once I had clear coated the model, sanded it down, clear coated it again and sanded it down again, I was ready for the final assembly. Landing gear, canopy, antenna, external fuel tanks and so on were assembled, painted and added to the model.

When the Revell Germany F-22A was released, it was touted as the best F-22 on the market. After building it, I am hoping Hasegawa will release their F-22 in 1/72 scale just so that there will be a definitive F-22 in 1/72 scale. At the moment, it looks like the Fujimi F-22 has the best surface detail of any of the 1/72 scale F-22's.

What will I do with my other two ROG F-22's? Two seater? Navalized? Thunderbird? Heh, heh, heh....

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