F-35 Part 6 – Filling, sanding, filling, sanding…

I could tell from the dry fitting I had done that I was going to have to spend some time on the various seams and gaps that remained after closing up the fuselage and attaching the wings.  Here are all the joins that needed attention:

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The most significant seam to fix was the one between the wings and the fuselage.  Any reference photo you look at show a completely smooth transition between the fuselage and the wings, so I wanted to nail that.  Those particular joins took four cycles of filling and sanding to get the result I wanted.  I used a combination of Vallejo white putty and home made gloop.  After each round of filling, I would sand it back with increasingly higher grits of sandpaper, until I was just using polishing sticks.  I wanted to make sure that the surface plastic wasn’t all torn up.  Fortunately, there is no surface detail at all near the upper wing joint – no panel lines or raised detail at all – so I didn’t have to worry about rescribing later.

The under-wing join was a different story.  The fit was worse that the upper join and there was a lot of raised detail immediately adjacent to the seam which made the filling and sanding process slow and painful. Other seams, around the nose, in front of the intakes and at where the rear elevators attach to the fuselage weren’t  overly difficult to correct, but did take quite a bit of time and multiple layers.  This was the end result:

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As I attempted to work out the best way to mask the weapons bays and wheel wells (using the kit doors, or masking them in some other way) I realised I’d made a mistake.  Earlier on in the build I had gone ahead without properly reading the instructions and installed the following parts:

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It is a centre piece and two side pieces. As it turns out, these parts should should have been installed later, and the two side parts are actually doors that I needed posed open.  Using a sharp knife I was able to essentially ‘snap’ the parts so I could reopen them, but it was a silly mistake that wouldn’t have happened had I studied the instructions properly.

To mask the bays I used a standard dish washing sponge, cut up the foam and inserted it. I also put some into each engine intake to protect the white finish.

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Masking the canopy was fairly easy,  I used a combination of Tamiya yellow tape and their white tape for curves.  You can see the crack in the canopy that reaches slightly above where the paint line will be.  I bought a replacement from Italeri, but when that arrived it had a crack in the same place that extended further above the paint line.  The crack is due to the way the part is attached to the sprue and sloppy on Italeri’s part.  The fact they made me pay for a replacement and someone hand picked a worse part is inexcusable.

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Because of how much I had to handle the model during the build, and the amount of filling and sanding I had to do, I wiped down the entire model with paper towel soaked in Tamiya acrylic thinner before applying the base coat.  I applied a coat of Tamiya Nato Black, then sanded it down slightly and applied another coat.  Because I don’t have anywhere sealed I can leave models to dry, I have a lot of problems with dust in the paint work.  The sanding down helps with this.

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Next I built up the dark grey using Vallejo Model Air paints.  I started with a marble coat and added subsequent thin layers until I got the desired finish.  All the reference’s I could find of the F-35 show (as expected for a new jet) very little weathering, so I didn’t want to go overboard.

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Finally, I’m almost finished detailing the main landing gear.  I just need to paint the hydraulic lines and it they will be done:

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The next week or more will likely just be spent masking so I can apply the light grey coat to the rest of the jet.

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