After putting my initial Viggie project on hold, I picked up another, functionally identical one, this time in the guise of Hasegawa's E1. With the emergence of the Kangnam kits, this kit became somewhat obsolete in my stash, so I decided to use it as a testing ground for the photo etch cockpit I intend to use to replace the cockpits (generously pretending there was one there in the first place) of the Hasegawa and Kangnam kits that will fill the on-topic slots in my collection. Otherwise, it will be built out of the box.
While working of Viggie 2, I hadn't really paid attention to the technical properties of the
kit, but now that I'm doing just that, I'm not particularly happy. This is a very dated kit, and
I'm not just talking about the box.
For one thing the panel lines, although very fine, are raised. I knew this beforehand, and usually this doesn't bother me very much, but it becomes very inconvenient if the kit requires a lot of corrective surgery. I'll limit my comments regarding the kit's fit to this: the lower part of the port wing is about 0.5mm too thick to fit inside the upper half. The wing in the picture is as snug as it will get; sandpaper, here I come :-( The rest of the kit appears to be of matching quality, so I have my work cut out for me. I might end up sanding the whole thing smooth. I doubt I'll be able to save the majority of the panel lines, and my skills aren't up to rescribing the entire airframe.
Up to some extent, this is the whole point of building this particular kit. I've never done brass before, so I expect a certain number of serious mistakes here. The Airwaves set looks great, and seems to contain everything needed for the cockpit and wingfolds. Everything that is, except ejection seats. The instructions assume that separate ejection seats from another company are used, and warns that the Hasegawa seats will present serious difficulty. I haven't been able to locate the company that makes the ejection seats, but they're right about one thing: the seats that come with the kit are completely useless. I'll have to scratchbuild the necessary parts to go with the brass. Fortunately, these are not the most complex parts, so I should be able to manage.
Now, for the brass. How on earth is one supposed to glue the various bits and pieces together? This stuff is so thin, there's next to no surface for the glue to bond to. I find myself sticking pieces of square plastic strip to the hidden sides of parts just to create a surface, and filling up hollow boxes with resin and putty. It works, but I don't believe this is the correct way to deal with the problem.
Most of the cockpit brass has now been assembled. I must admit to being impressed by the quality of the etched parts. Aside from the very fine detail and relative ease of construction, everything simply fits. That includes the fit to the host kit, which is as good as any I've seen so far. Although this is a good thing, it does leave me with some worries over my ability to fit these cockpits to a de-humped viggie, as this will lower the cockpit roof somewhat. Now for my next trick: scratchbuilding the core of the ejection seats.
Did some preperations on the ejector seat core, but nothing creative yet. I did get started on another issue though, the construction of a cockpit roof for the backseater. I want of display this kit with the rear canopy open, because otherwise, I might as well leave out that part of the photo etch. I paid for it, I worked on it, and now its damn well going to be visible. Of course, that comes at a price. Cue a visit to the scratchbuild department.
Scratchbuilding of the seat cores is complete, and I've made the rubber the mold for small scale production. Unfortunately, that's where I had to stop, because my supply of resin had sadly decayed into useless goo. I'm now waiting for a new supply to arrive.
My local supply of resin has dried up, and I've had to go further afield to get new material to work with. All for the best, as it turns out, because the new resin is is much nicer to work with, and has a more workable colour once cured. I'm now in the process of casting enough seats to last me throughout the entire Vigilante project. Once my own requirements are met, I might go looking for others who are willing to bribe me to cast some more. Maybe someone else will actually end up with some of my work in their models. Fancy that.
The pictures shows a rough preview of one of the seats in an Airwaves cockpit tub, with an Airfix pilot. The intricate metal frames along the sides of the seats have not been fitted yet.
Looking at the pictures, I'd say I'll have to take maybe 1.5mm off the bottom of seat to make it look really right. Never mind that this also means taking a similar amount off the legs and feet of the pilot, as those will otherwise extend below the bottom of the seat, through the cockpit floor. Some sacrifices are necessary for those who wish to fly fast jets.
I've learned a harsh but valuable lesson: CA glue doesn't like caustic soda. I started painting them exactly as shown on pictures I have of the cockpit, and found that, while accurate, this didn't really work. On the real thing, the instrument panel was grey, and on it were mounted dark panels with dark instruments in them. Reduced to 1/72 scale, this looks like a featureless dark panel. A highly regarded fellow modeller once told me that suggestion was often more important than precision, and in this paricular case, I think he was spot on. I've decided to leave off the dark frames surrounding most of the dials, in order to better show the layout of the entire panel. Unfortunately, the panels were already covered in primer, light grey, and dark grey, and the detail was definately fading. Two more coats didn't seem good under these conditions, so I decided to strip the tubs, and start over.
The paint obediently ran off when introduced to the caustic soda. Unfortunately, so did the CA glue holding the tubs together. Staring over turned out to be a little more work than I'd bargained for. Anyway, the cockpits are ready for a second painting attempt. I'm putting that off until the cockpit of the Spanish F-4D is also ready for painting, at which point I intend to take a shot at these with the airbrush.
I've also gotten some work done on the ejection seats, which now have the brass parts attached to them, the front canopy, and the wings. The fit of the wing halves is horrible, the front canopy replacement has been made out of milliput, but is going to need a lot more work than the rear one to become useable, and on top of that, the fuselage halves have taken such a beating while making all those canopies that they will need corrective surgery. Right now, Mr Vigilante and me are not the best of friends, and I find myself longing for a shake and bake kit.
I've been getting my shot of shake-and-bake work from the VF-121 Hasegawa F-11 Tiger, and that got my batteries recharged for some vigilantism. Now, I should mention that in the past any attempt by yours truly to do a wash has ended in disaster (or, more precisely, an extra coat of paint to get rid of the experiment). The same goes for my past experiences with acrylics. It should be obvious then that my decision to try an acrylic wash on the cockpit interior must have been due to tempory insanity. Even so, I was fully prepared to fix the inevitable problems with a good dunking. Imagine my surprise when it did, in fact, turn out quite nicely. True, there are some areas that should have stayed light grey, but now have a dirty looking dark grey splotch on them, but I can correct that (I think) without great difficulty. The picture to the right shows the current state of the cockpit tubs. Obviously, some more work is going to be needed to completely fill in the larger dials and scopes.
The ejection seats are now mostly completed, and the restoration of the fuselage is as complete as it can be before the halves are joined.
It's been an insanely long time, but I finally got back to this Vigilante.
At some point during these past years I've complete the ejection seats, and I can no longer think of any excuse not to join the fuselage halves. Consequently, this build has finally discovered the concept of speed. Well, sort of, anyway. The reviewer that said that no two parts fit together was entirely right, so every part and every seam have to be beaten into submission. The only thing about this kit that fit right out of the box so far has been the sensor canoe under the belly. Virtually all panel lines have vanished in the process, as expected.
Once the fuselage was closed, it became apparent that the damage from making the canopies was greater than expected. The fuselage behind the rear cockpit showed a noticably downward slope, while it should be level or even slightly up. Nothing a bucket of filler couldn't correct though.
Assembly has gone as far as possible before painting, the contents of the cockpits and the windscreen are masked, and the plane has been given a generous dose of primer. Primer is funny stuff. Not only does it provide any further layers of paint with a good grip on the plastic, it also shows any surface defects with remarkable clarity. Unfortunately, there is a lot to show in this case. Some of the work sanding the various part into shape was done with fairly coarse sandpaper, and with the primer on, the surface, which seemed so smooth, turn out to be rather scratchy. Also, the rear canopy lid is showing some pitting. More filler, and more sanding coming right up. I hope this isn't going to become a repeating pattern..
No repeats of the surface problems, to my considerable relief. The plane is now primed, and the parts that are supposed to be white are finally beginning to see the inevitability of adopting that colour. Not without a fight, alas. Humbrol acrylics are proving to be quite a handfull with the airbrush, although I think I'm beginning to figure out how to work them.
I now officially don't like Humbrol acrylics. It's probably not fair to blame them for the masking tape removal desaster to the right, after all, the primer came off as well, nor is it entire fair to blame them for the horrible interaction with the new coat of primer I shot over the damaged area, but combined with the trouble they've given me while airbrushing, they are banned from the toolbox for now. I've heard thet Humbrol have brought production back to the UK from China because of quality issues. I'll probably give them another try in a year or so, after the current stocks are gone, to see if it helped. The only acrylix I find workable at this time are the Xtracrylics range, which was used for the grey areas of the plane.
After a bit of hard work (and equally hard words) the tail section has been cleaned and restored, and I'm now in the final stages of painting. Won't be long before this one gets completed.
Finally, after eight years of hanging around my workbench, Viggie 3 has been completed. True to form, after the last bits of painting, it was subjected to a few more experiments. I had a bottle of Daco medium decal solvent that I decided to test, and I'm happy with the results. The final test was the top coat of varnish. A while ago (I'm enthousiastically trying not to remember how long ago exactly) I noticed that Xtracrylics varnish had the same look, consistency and smell as the acrylic wood varnish I was then using for some furniture, which led me to think it probably was exactly the same stuff in an expensive small packaging. Viggie 3 was the logical guinea pig, and it looks like everything is fine. Only time will tell what the varnish does in the longer run.
|Airfix acrylic 22||anything white|
|XtraCrylics XA1137||anything gull grey|
|Tamiya X22||pre-decal coat, clear parts|
|Daco medium||decal solvent|