F-35 Part 2 – Dry fitting and ejection mark hell

Starting this kit, I decided to do a rough dry fit to see where I was going to have to spend my time.  I figured that with a kit like this, if there were going to be fit problems they would either be around the intakes or the wings.20170503_223221.jpg

Piecing the cockpit together I was surprised at how sparse it seemed.  Not that it lacks detail, but it just doesn’t have that ‘busy’ look of modern cockpits.  This is especially pronounced due to the fact that the F-35 doesn’t have a HUD.

Italeri F-35 Cockpit.jpg

Quality reference photos are hard to find – I’ve found some with detail around the top (where the HUD would go) and some as bare as the kit has molded.  So I’m still deciding if I want to add any additional detail here or not.

Moving onto the intakes I was shocked to find 2 main issues.  Firstly, there are 12 significant ejector pin marks on the inside of each intake – 4 of which are visible when the kit is complete.20170503_223514.jpg

These were pretty easily taken care off with a combination of gloop and Mr Surfacer 1200.

The bigger issue though is that there are 2 locating pins inside each intake that are clearly visible:

Intake pins.jpg

I get that the shape of the intakes is pretty complex, but internal locating pins is pretty lazy design.  Most serious modelers will spend a lot of time on aircraft intakes and any model show judge will shine a light up them to really see what the quality of the build is like.  Hell, its the reason why so many companies make aftermarket intakes. Italeri could have easily put locating pins on the other side of the intakes as many other manufactures do.

I decided I had to remove them, but I was going to need to make some new locating pins on the outside.  I did that with 4 strips of plasticard and it worked surprisingly well.20170505_212246.jpg

Moving on, I took a closer look at the weapons bay and landing gear bay. Each weapons bay has 10 ejector pin marks!  The bays have a basic level of detail which makes removing the marks difficult.  In fact in the next photo there are 86 ejector pin marks, at least 75 of which will be visible on the finished model.

ejector pin marks.jpg

I’ve got to say, this is excessive.  Parts like the weapons bay could have moulded in five parts which would have avoided the need for 10 ejector pins to get the out of the mould.  As much as I often think Meng kits are a bit over engineered, Italeri could have taken a leaf out of their book.  I personally don’t find anything fun about filling and sanding in awkward places – Italeri should have had a bit more respect for the modelers time.

What also became obvious was that I was going to have to add some detail to these bays. I wanted to build this out of the box, but after looking at some reference photos for the weapons bay the kit just doesn’t do it justice.   So using a combination of lead wire and copper wire I built up a few layers of detail.  I didn’t go overboard – the weapons sill cover a lot of the detail.IMG_20170507_010857_549.jpg20170507_002902-2.jpg20170507_004436.jpg

All that is left is to detail paint and weather the bay.  Then start the other one.



Italeri’s 1/32 F-35A Lightning II Part 1 – The kit

Living in Australia often makes getting hold of new kits a bit slow and difficult.  After contacting all of my local hobby shops, none of them could give me a solid date for when Italeri’s brand new 1/32 F-35 would arrive.  So I went to eBay and hit up a friendly German seller.  It’s only been a week (I can’t barely get Australia Post to get something from one state to another WITHIN Australia in a week) but this turned up today:


All I’m going to do with this post is show all the contents and give whatever basic thoughts I have on the kit.  I’ll be starting construction immediately, purely out of the box (as there are no aftermarket options available anyway) and in Australian markings.  I haven’t built an Italeri kit in over a decade, so I’m interested to see how it goes together.

Unfortunately somewhere between German and Australia, the packing box was opened, the kit was unsealed and the contents search.  This resulted in the decals and masks having some bends in them and a few parts broken off their sprues.  The most troubling of which is the canopy – more on that shortly.


Except for the two identical sprues that share a bag, all other sprues came individually wrapped. I was certainly grateful for that given how obviously kicked around the box was in transit.

Decals, other than for a few bends, look fine.  Its a low-vis scheme so nothing much to report here.20170501_200919.jpg

Photoetch has a small mark on it but that shouldn’t affect the final product.  I have to say, this is the thickest photoetch I’ve ever held.  That might be a good thing – I guess I’ll have to wait and see.


Now for the canopy.  It had detached from its sprue, which was worring.  But worse, It has a crack in it that reaches above the frame and into the area that will be unpainted.  I’ll have to deal with that somehow.  I may contact Italeri to see if I can get a replacement.20170501_201840.jpg20170501_201918.jpg

You’ll also notice that its not the most clear canopy, with some distortion as you look through it.  There is a what appears to be a very prominent seam line down the centre on the inside of the canopy, but it looks like that is actually supposed to be there.  Glad I checked that, as I’d usually just start sanding it away.


Some nice surface detail on the fuselage, though I wonder if its a bit too thick. I’ll have to look at my references – not that I can do much about it if its incorrect.


Cockpit detail is…. sparse.  Though I don’t think that’s necessarily unrealistic.


Again, not much detail in the cockpit tub.


Some nice detail in the wheel wells and weapons bays, but also some unsightly injector pin marks that I’ll need to deal with.


The seat looks to have some nice detail and when coupled with the photoetch it should look good.


So that’s what makes up the kit.  Overall I’m looking forward to putting this together so I’ll be jumping straight into construction and will provide regular updates.

Cougar part 4 – completed kit

The Meng kit built together nicely with few issues, none of which were serious.  If I build this kit again (which I will) I’d like to do it with a full compliment of infantry.  I think that without the infantry its really hard to appreciate the massive scale of this vehicle.  It is taller and meaner looking than an M1 Abrams, but without a person for scale some of this impressive presence is lost.


Cougar part 3 – painting and weathering

With the interior done I needed to mate the upper and lower chassis halves – and this was more difficult than it needed to be.  I had to be very careful when pulling it over the photoetch mesh behind the cabin seats, and then found it was still difficult to make the halves line up.  This is mostly due to the lack of guide tabs towards the back, but with lots of dry fitting you can make it work.  I ended up just gluing a small section at a time and slowly working my way around the body.

Once that was done, the rear door frame could be attached.  This wasn’t a problem, but easily could have been had there been any issues from the previous step.


Everything else went together easily and it didn’t take long to have the kit ready to paint. Masking the windows was tedious, but nowhere near as tedious as masking aircraft canopies, so I won’t complain.  Its worth noting that unless I did something wrong, the roof machine gun with its ammo can attached doesn’t fit well – the basket that holds the ammo can gets in the way of the left armour panel, meaning that if you look at the finished model from the top, the gun has to be slightly turned to the right.

Painting started with the usual black basing – using Tamiya NATO black.  Not only does this help show any imperfections that need fixing, but the model never looks cooler than when it is all black.


This was followed by a marble coat then top coat of Vallejo Model Air sand yellow.  I really liked the look of the marble coat – I think it would make a fantastic camo scheme. Unfortunately it had to go.


When I applied the top coat I knocked back a bit too much of the marble – the lighting in the next photo doesn’t help and makes it look even more washed out than it was – but still, I wasn’t happy.


Following this I did some post shading and a panel line wash which brought the model back to where I originally wanted it. You can see that in the next picture, right before I started the weathering process.20170427_001211_001.jpg

Pigments were mostly used just to tone down (or emphasise) colours where I needed it.  Most of the weathering was done with coloured pencils.  I like using pencils was they react well to water/rubbing, mistakes can easily be fixed and the hard long side of the ledge can provide a realistic ‘distressed’ look on rough metal surfaces.

A note on the weathering – it was really hard to find any photographic evidence that these vehicles get heavily beaten up.  Almost every photo I found showed them in pretty reasonable shape and surprisingly clean.  In the few I did find where they looked like they had just come through a battle, the resolution wasn’t good enough for me to really get a good idea of realistic weathering.  A nice follower on instagram warned me to stay away from rust on the hood as the materials used don’t rust.  With that in mind, I didn’t rust anywhere, focusing mostly on chipping and dirt stains.20170430_002929.jpg

As I’m a terrible photographer, there is a tonal/lighting difference between a lot of my photos.  I’m working on it!

Cougar part 2 – The interior

When I first looked at the interior of this kit I was quite surprised at how sparse it seemed – especially the seats.  However after having a look online all of the interior shots I could find showed a rather simple, uncluttered interior.20170416_215923.jpg

I first placed the interior floor into the chassis and noted any injector pin marks that were going to remain visible.  There were a few in the front cabin so I filled them in and sanded them flat.  I then base coated everything in Tamiya NATO black.20170417_000229.jpg

This was followed by a gradual build up of Vallejo Model Air sand yellow.The few interior components were painted and installed and then everything was weathered with some dry brushing and pigments.  Again, I wanted to weather it pretty heavily, but I couldn’t find any supporting reference photos.  These things seem to be kept pretty clean.

20170417_234922.jpgThe cabin dash has some nice details, easily bought out with some simple dry brushing.  The dials are decals which I had some problems applying.  They’re each slightly larger than the ‘holes’ they are supposed to fit in, so they were unnecessarily fiddly.  Once in place (or as close as to in place as I could get them) I used Micro Sol to help them conform.  If you look carefully you’ll probably notice some of them aren’t quite placed perfectly.


Next I started working on all the seats.  I painted them dark grey with a black wash to try and give them some depth. The seatbelts are provided in the kit on rubber sprues. The rubber is softer and more flexible than standard polycaps and as I quickly found out, doesn’t respond well to superglue (CA glue).  There are left and right belts for each seat and they were applied using normal Tamiya extra thin glue and a toothpick to press them into the melted plastic.  I then used a fine paintbrush and some aluminium paint to pick out the belt buckle details.  Overall the belts were a tedious task, but worth the effort as they really hep sell the otherwise plain seats.20170420_000026.jpg20170420_000008.jpg

I dirtied them up with some pigments but otherwise I left them alone.  All that was left was the simple process of painting and weathering the walls and roof, then attaching the lights. The turret ring is designed so that it securely attaches to the hull chassis but can still rotate freely.  In practice once a few layers of paint are applied to the top surface the turret becomes too hard to move, so its worth putting it on the angle you want and leaving it alone.



Finally I painted the interior of the window frames and installed all the windows with a few drops of Tamiya extra thin.  With the vehicle’s interior painted I could now move onto finalising the build before exterior painting.

Growler Part 2 – Black Basing

Putting this Hornet together has mostly been a pleasure.  The fit overall is great, as is the surface detail.  The instructions were lacking in a few areas – namely around the installation of the flaps and where some holes need to be drilled or filled.  I have the Hasegawa 1/48 F/A-18E and the build is almost identical, however the instructions are regarding the flap installation are much more thorough.

The trickiest part of the build is the installation of the intakes, however with lots of careful dry-fitting they go together okay.


So I’m priming this in black (Tamiya Nato Black) and then going to do a few marble layers.  I prefer this to preshading and its a technique that appears to be gaining some popularity.



The intakes were painted before installation, as were the wheel wells.



The marble coat was built up in a random pattern with the airbrush.  I find this somewhat tedious to do, but still nowhere near as tedious as preshading panel lines.  The same method was applied to the darker top coat:



Next step is to apply some thin top coats to help tone down the marble effect.  Its worth noting that although Growlers are generally pretty clean – especially when compared to other Navy birds, I wanted to dirty this one up a bit more than usual.






And finally, a bit of colour, then a clear coat in preparation for decals.


Hasegawa’s 1/48 Growler – Part 1

I’d read a lot of good things about the Hasegawa Hornet before I picked up this kit.  It sat in my stash for a long time until I stumbled upon Wolfpack’s resin cockpit set (which actually cost me more than the kit itself).  So I picked it up and made a start.


The resin is nice and crisp, without bubbles and all parts were intact.  I found removing the cockpit tubs from their casting blocks a tedious affair, and even made a small mishap with the saw and cut into the bottom of one of the tubs.  No biggie – I was able to patch it up pretty easily.g2.jpgg3.jpg




The cockpit instructions were pretty average – though I’ve found that to be the norm with resin unfortunately.  Particularly what modifications need to be made to the fuselage to fit the tub.  Luckily, other than some trimming of the lower fuselage, it mostly drops in. Here’s a test fit: