Installing the fuselage sidewalls in front of the intakes was problematic. They are slightly too small so I had to slide the part towards the rear and fill the gap at the front. I used stock plastic to support it as well as adding a strip along to top to assist with the gaps.
With these sidewalls in it was time to bring the top and bottom halves of the fuselage together. I did this in a way that provided the tightest fit to the intakes. Fortunately just by working from the nose and slowly cementing it backwards, it actually came together quite cleanly. There are a few gaps to fill around the intakes still, but otherwise I was quite surprised at how cleanly it came together.
Next I added the nose, wings and horizontal stabilizers. At first the nose seemed like it was a good fit, so I went ahead and glued it on. Once dry, I noticed that there were actually a few small gaps around it I was going to have to deal with. For such a complex shape, the fit is actually still pretty good – I’ll put these gaps down to my failure to dry fit it properly first.
The wings and horizontal stabilizers are a different story though. Both have very visible seam lines that don’t exist on the real aircraft. The wings are particularly bad, with a significant and unsightly seam. I’m surprised Italeri didn’t mould the top fuselage and wings as one piece – much like the Academy 1/48 F-22.
You can see the horrible join here clearly. To remove it I filled it with Vallejo white putty, then wiped it back with Tamiya acrylic thinner on a cotton tip. I then coated that with Mr Surfacer 500 and sanded it all back. Its much better now but still needs some work.
There was also a noticeable gap near the wing root when the flaps are installed:
To fix this I cut a piece of plasticard to an approximate shape, glued it in and once dry i covered it in Mr Surfacer 500 and sanded it flat.
I’ve got a few days of filling and sanding ahead, but its nice to finally see it start to look like an F-35. It feels like its taken ages just to get to this point!