Continuing with the build, I decided to tackle what I assumed was going to be the worst fit of the kit – the intakes. After cleaning up the insides I painted them white before gluing the halves together. You’re then supposed to glue the left and right intake together, but I didn’t do that. Instead I just taped them together as I knew I was going to need some wriggle room during the fitting process.
Small tip – sand down any excess in front of the lip to really help get a better fit (file in front of the red line):
I then masked the intake with Tamiya tape, trimmed the excess off with a very sharp blade and used a small sanding stick to GENTLY tidy up the edges.
By not cementing the the two intakes together, I was able to achieve a pretty good fit into the lower fuselage. Test fitting the upper fuselage showed I was going to have problems:
I ended up building up the lip on the upper fuselage with some stock styrene to assist with this gap.
I then added the two parts that go in front of the intakes. These were not a good fit at all and I had to decide if I was going to have a gap at the front of the piece or the back. Give the back is more complex and curved, I decided to make sure it was a clean fit there and I’d deal with the gap at the front. The problem with these parts is that they required some slight bending of the fuselage to get them even close to fitting. I did this by raising the nose and applying pressure between the parts.
I’ll show some more details with these parts in my next post.
With the intakes drying I moved onto the wheel wells. Starting with the rear wells for the main landing gear, I test fitted it to see what would be visibile and would need some upgrading.
You can see it looks quite bare – especially towards the front (right in this picture). While trying to find reference photos to assist with detailing, I found what I believe is an error by Italeri. The main landing gear bays each have too doors – A front one and a back one. The instructions call for both doors to be positioned open, however every photo I could find showed only the rear doors open while on the ground. The only photos I could find with both doors open was in the few seconds it takes for the gear to be raised and lowered. This was confirmed to me on Instagram by a follower that works with the jet. So I placed the front door and got a much better idea of what will actually be visible:
Detailing the main gear bays was done with lead wire and old speaker wire – much the same as the weapons bays. It was difficult to find references, so I just ‘busied it up’ a bit. You can see that the main wells are quite basic.
The nose gear bay was actually much better detailed and once the gear was installed really wasn’t going to need any additional details.
I painted the bays with a fine paintbrush and acrylic paints, then did a pin wash and some pencil chipping.
Installing the bays I noticed that the tabs used to align them into the lower fuselage were all off. Both the main gear bays and the nose gear bays were smaller than their locator tabs:
There are a couple of millimeters of wiggle room, which really isn’t ideal. So I decided to fit them all flush towards the rear – I guess time will tell if that was a good idea or not.
With all bays in I’m really starting to like the way it looks. Next steps will be to join the top and bottom fuselage halves. I’m really not looking forward to that.