Sunday, 23 April 2017

Fujimi RAF 'Silver Jubilee' RN F-4 Phantom FG.1 in 1:72 - we'll be happy if Airfix can match this!

I decided that it was about time - ahead of the forthcoming release from Airfix of a new 1:72nd scale RAF F-4 Phantom FG.1 - to build the Fujimi British 'Toom' - apparently one of the Top 100 model kits that you absolutely must build, according to a feature in SAM a few years ago. While availability of these is patchy, they do crop up on ebay now and again and there's always Hobby Link Japan. So I have a few in the stash. There was also a limited reissue a few years ago. This is a kit that has aged very well, so as well as starting the kit, I'll take a quick look at its history.

The Fujimi kits have been around since 1988. They must have have been state-of the-art back then . They look pretty good in the box even now; recessed panel lines, neat detail, good quality decals, a full stores package - and centre-line gun pod for the RAF version - and they capture most of the nuances of the F-4K/M airframe perfectly. The Fujimi kits have been released in many different boxings, usually correctly representing the particular airframes covered (e.g. with slotted stabilators or not, and different tail fins - with RWR or without).

 There were four kits issued originally (Firebirds, Shark Teeth, Silver Jubilee and Yellow Bird), then two special editions with some white metal and etched brass parts to improve the cockpit, Alcock and Brown and the 25th Anniversary scheme worn by XT 597 (raspberry ripple, including a new Doppler radome).

These were followed by four re-issues of the original releases; same decals, new box art and various upgrades to the molds - e.g. separate flaps, corrected auxiliary inlet doors (see below), better detailing on the jet pipes and so on. Vinyl wheels are supplied in the newer editions (see below) although I guess I'll be employing the plastic versions.

Those were followed by three limited editions, all using the upgraded molds and new decals (Black Mike, Bye Bye Blue, Treble One). Most recently there have been re-issues of the Alcock and Brown and 25th Anniversary kits (but no metal parts this time, and mistakenly includes FG.1 nose gear and catapult attachment points). The upgraded mold kits are obviously worth seeking out over the earlier releases - as mentioned the original kit jet pipes are vastly improved in the newer editions - but this is not to say you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to get any boxing, as the basic kit is pretty good regardless of the improvements made to the later releases.

The canopy is supplied both as a single piece 'closed' example and a four piece version so you can pose the canopies open.  There are a few minor problems - the original release has the fuselage side auxiliary intake doors in the wrong place, and the belly aux intake doors can't be modelled open (both issues fixed in the later releases). One area that is poor are the main intakes - there is no trunking and they end at a blank wall with no representation of the engine compressor face- I've photocopied a photo of a generic compressor face, reduced it, and stuck it against the back wall- a little overscale as it happens (left), but at least there is something there...

The Sidewinders included are AIM-9Es which British Phantoms did not use. The cockpit is perhaps a little disappointing, with some dark decals providing generic detail- decided not to use them here and just paint the molded detail. The rear cockpit side-wall parts (nos 45 and 46) are inaccurate and don't fit very well at all so I may just leave these out. All in all, some pretty minor issues though.

Above; the result of an afternoon's work. Cockpit assembled and fuselage halves together. Below; a second afternoon to assemble the intakes and the wings..

Also on this blog;

Monday, 10 April 2017

72nd RS Models Me 309 - first look in-box review build finished (3)

..just finished the new RS Models Me 309. Not a bad little kit. Made a mess of the undercarriage, ruined the decals as they were very thin and stuck fast on contact and guess what..its a tail sitter, despite the nose I've quickly cobbled together this base so that I can stick the model down which will also make it easier to handle. I took a razor saw to the rather thick canopy, cut it into three parts to show the folding hood and also achieved a much better fit of the windshield at the same time. A pilot figure or two would set the model off nicely perhaps.. but can I find my Reheat Models figures when I want them?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

72nd RS Models Me 309 - first look in-box build review (2)

Looking more and more like a cross between a P-47 and a P-51 here is more progress on the new RS models Me 309.  Having cut out the rudder and horizontal stabilisers these are now re-attached. The canopy has also had the folding hood cut out, although I'm not sure if this was a good idea since the plastic is very thick. Brief thoughts of smash-molding a new one put to one side. Well at least the fit is better with the canopy in three sections. Primer on and almost ready for paint.

Friday, 24 March 2017

72nd RS Models Me 309 - first look in-box build review

Thought I'd be starting my MB 5 by now but I went instead for another new release late-war piston-engined prototype - the RS Models Messerschmitt Me 309. Neat model, finely engraved panel lines a big advance on the Huma kit but short-run fit problems rearing their head before I've got the fuselage halves together. Here I have cut out the rudder and horizontal stabilisers. Kit comes with alternative tails and wingtips. Looks like a 'pregnant' P-51...

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Hobbyboss Fw 190 V18 - first look, in box build review

Hobbyboss Fw 190 V18...and foil baking tray! Once again I've been taken in by the nice box and a machine I've always wanted to build but for some reason there's a major omission - a total lack of fuselage fairings for the turbocharger pipework which are quite clearly evident on the box art. I'm thinking I can 'scratch' something with the tin foil tray perhaps..

Friday, 10 February 2017

Academy Bf 109 G-14 in 72nd scale (2)

 Academy Bf 109 Gustav in 72nd scale. Boxed as a G-14 with tall tail and Erla Haube, but just as possibly a late G-6. In the markings of the Luftwaffe's leading ace Hartmann as JG 53 Gruppenkommandeur during February 1945, another image of the real machine at bottom, print in my collection. I'm pretty sure I can see a battery box cover on the rear cockpit wall but not a detail I've attempted to replicate. Nor have I simulated the heavy overspray on the prop blades!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Academy Bf 109 G-14 in 72nd scale

This is the quite neat (miles better than their 'Emil') Academy Bf 109 Gustav in 72nd scale. In the markings of the Luftwaffe's leading ace Hartmann as JG 53 Gruppenkommandeur during February 1945. There are a couple of images that show some sort of 'grey' overspray around the cockpit and wing area which if it covers the entire airframe would resemble this 'spider's web' finish, although most modellers don't bother portraying it.

Below; BPK archive shot of the real machine, dated 20 February 1945. There's some sort of over-sprayed pattern there, note the wing area - but do a google image search and there's not a single modeller out there (even of the Fujimi kit) who has attempted to reproduce it! No antenna mast either (AFAIK), the aerial attaches to the fuselage directly behind the canopy..

Friday, 3 February 2017

Special Hobby Junkers Ju 88 C-4 - first look in box review

just arrived! ICM re-boxing with a nice packet of detail resin parts, including wheels, tailwheel and exhaust flame dampers. Also provided by Special Hobby is a new plastic sprue featuring a new solid  nose, Bola and MGs. Also new clear parts..impressed! Decals by Cartograf feature 3 different marking options including those of 16-victory ace Ofw. Hermann Sommer of 2./NJG 2. A quick look in the box..

Sunday, 29 January 2017

British RAF & Royal Navy F-4 Phantoms - new F-4 Phantom decals for the forthcoming Airfix FG.1/FGR.2 RAM Models

Above; just acquired two lovely new British F-4 Phantom decal sheets from RAM Models.

First in a series of blog posts to cover RAF and Fleet Air Arm Phantoms. Having also just acquired a very nice photo album comprising some 200 top images, expect plenty more on British Phantoms in the lead up to the release of the forthcoming Airfix 1:72 scale kit later this year.  Below; as seen at the Nuremberg toy fair..

via the 72aircraft news blog

First some gen, starting at the beginning.

In the late 1960's  the UK was the first overseas customer to buy the F-4 Phantom from the United States, purchased for the Royal Navy as an all-weather. long-range, carrier-borne fighter for Fleet defence to replace the Sea Vixen. An RAF variant was developed. The Fleet Air Arm F-4 K Phantom FG 1 and the RAF F-4 M Phantom FGR 2 were derived from the F-4 J, but featured the Westinghouse AN/AWG-11/12 Pulse doppler radar, Rolls Royce Spey 202/203 turbofan engines producing 20,515 lbs of thrust each (12,250 lbs each in static dry power - non-reheat - 17,500 in flight) and significantly different British avionics including a Ferranti Inertial Navigation and Attack System or INAS in the case of the FGR 2. Replacing the original General Electric J79 engines with the slightly fatter and longer Rolls Royce Speys necessitated changes to the inlets due to the larger air requirement and a re-design of the lower rear fuselage. The installation of the Speys gave an increase of 10% in operational range, 15% increase in ferry range and better low-level acceleration, however the increased drag of the engine installation rather upset the aerodynamic qualities of the airframe, resulting in slightly reduced performance at high altitude.The AN/AWG-11 fire control system was installed in the F-4 K and the AN/AWG-12 in the FGR 2 in place of the AN/AWG-10 of the F-4 J. The AWG-11 differed from the AWG-10 mainly in having a radar dish that folded sideways with the nose cone (radome) to reduce the aircraft's length to 54 feet so that it could fit on the smaller deck lifts of British aircraft carriers. Fifty F-4 K Phantom FG.MK 1s were built and 116 F-4 M Phantom FGR. Mk 2s (plus two prototypes of each) ..

British F-4 undergoing sea trials on HMS Eagle - Joe Wilkinson in the foreground on the tractor. According to Joe this is probably the aircraft currently on display in the FAA museum.  (pic via Joe Wilkinson)

(Above) FG. 1 XT 867 (152/VL) with 767 NAS, probably during the early 70s - note the 'yellow bird' emblem on the tail fin, otherwise known as the 'ten ton budgie'.. The Naval Air Squadron 767 was established to train FG. 1 pilots between 1969 and 1972. Note the extended nose oleo of 152/ VL on approach. (unknown photographer, photo in my collection)

 "..the undercarriage just sags under its own weight until it touches down, then compresses. Hooks weren't routinely used for airfield landing unless the 'chute candled and they dumped it for a go-around.." (Charlie Brown)

Below; Royal Navy McDonnell F-4K Phantom FG.1, XT861 of 767 Sqn. Royal Navy seen landing at RNAS Yeovilton, UK on 5 September 1970. Currently on offer here

Below; FG.1 XT876 of 767 NAS at Yeovilton in 1969. Note black code and stencils. The Phantom FG.1 with black serials in place of white ROYAL NAVY with white serials were not FAA RN machines but on loan from the RAF. In total five FG.1 were loaned back to RN/767 at Yeovilton to train RAF crews on the FG.1 for the soon to be No.43 Squadron (and PCF in July-August 1969). All had the 767 golden eagle and both XV 572 and XV 579 had RAF variegated camouflage. See below (XT 873, XT 875, XT 876, XV 572, XV 597)

The second set of RAF FG.1 with RN EDSG finish were for use with the PPOCU/PTF Leuchars – RAF unit with naval staff – aircraft finish was RN, but markings (black serial) were RAF. These trained both RAF crews for No.43 Squadron and crews for No.892 Squadron for the navy.

So you have six further FG.1 painted in RN finish, with RAF pattern markings. XT857 (still had 767 gold eagle), XT860, XT861, XT866, XV569, XV570, the black serial is the key to ownership. The LU (for Leuchars) was used on two FG.1 before the unit changed to a larger single white letter.

Mark Taylor photo. Mark posted on FB;  " This is the a/c that was lost 10th January 1972 with the sad loss of Cmdr Simon Idiens following a double 'flame-out' RIP. The observer Lt. 'Rod' O'Connor ejected safely and was recovered by the Culdrose SAR.."

Below; also serving with 767 NAS was XV 579 "157"/VL in two-tone RAF camo.

(unknown photographers, photo print above and below in my collection - you can click on the image to view it large)

Also available on the 'Early British Phantoms' decal sheet from RAM Models

Below; Royal Navy Phantom FG.1 XT 859, at Yeovilton, March 1969  (in my collection via Darryl Wickham). Another notable feature of FAA F-4s was the extensible nose wheel leg to reduce the 'wind over deck' requirement for safe launches from the smaller British flight decks/catapults.

" Everything drops when the weight is off the wheels. For carrier ops the nose wheel extended to give better angle of attack on launch. 1/2 flap for take off and full flap for landing. The leading edge flaps came down for both..On the FGR2 we didn't have the extending nosewheel although it might have been useful on a QRA launch from Stanley! We also landed into the cable. It was a 600 foot pull out not too dissimilar to The Ark. The oleos extended under gravity. so what you see on landing is normal. I think the early FG1s had the extending nose wheel. A few of the Navy mods were retained such as the slotted stabilator but most were slowly phased out."