USAF 36th TFW, 22nd TFS, Skyblazer Aerobatic Team, No. 3 Position
The full build article for this model is published in the June 2012, Issue# 200 of Tamiya Model Magazine International.
When I got this kit in the mail this week from Marcus at Tamiya Model Magazine International (TMMI), I thought I could just shelve this for a short time and build it right after my OH-58 project. But, the more I review the instructions the more confident that I can build this in two months flat. So, off with the OH-58 to the shelve and begin work on this jet.
Those who got their hands on this kit when it first came out have already finished building this kit. A good review was done by Scott Van Aken at ModellingMaddness
The parts are very nicely cast with no flash at all. The only disappointment is that it only comes with the reinforced canopy for the later E models. Everybody has build the versions that are provided on the kit decal sheet. I want to do something different with this model but my search for alternate decals is coming up fruitless as there is only one aftermarket decal sheet from Zotz for this kit at the time of this writing. I’m very disappointed with the lack of marking choices available. After many hours of internet search for a cool looking F-84E, I have decided on making my own decals for the colourful Sky Blazer from the 36th Fighter Bomber Group, 22nd Fighter Bomber Squadron. The aircraft I will make is NO. FS-233. The colour and markings of the aircraft are based on the actual period photos I found on the web for the aircraft. I take no credit for these photos and I borrowed them to place here for reference only. These images are from the SkyBlazer’s Aerobatic website.
I have been working hard on the cockpit and the various parts that goes into the fuselage. Everything fits very well with this kit thus far. I think I won’t be opening the gun bay for display because that would destroy the stream line look of the plane and the opened gun bay panel would make it difficult to take this model on road trips. As such, I concentrated most of my effort in adding sufficient details to the cockpit.
The cockpit details in this kit is very basic for a model of this size. I was really expecting a lot of details. No matters, adding details to this kit is not too difficult. I start by thinning down the ejection seat sides by sanding them thin. Then, I made the seat belts with lead foil from wine bottle and the Eduard’s photoedge buckles for US WWII late war period. Various handles are added by scratch building them from styrene sheets. The ejection seat is missing the launch rails. I made the launch rails from styrene channel shape and added the canopy connector boxes.
I painted the cockpit in standard Interior Green colour and black for the instrument panel and side consoles. The seat belts are in field-olive drab colour as is the oxygen hose.
Because I am painting my own markings there’s a lot of masking involved to paint the strips. It is not a good idea to tape over a painted metal surface despit the paint’s manufacturer’s claim that the metal paint won’t lift. Hence, I painted all the strips first and then apply the natural metal finish.
- The tail strips were painted by applying a base coat of Tamiya X-2 white arylic paint first.
- To get the stripes as perfect as I can to match period photo of similar aircraft in the squadron, I made a template of the vertical tail using clear masking frisket paper and use that to draft the stripes with the proper spacing. Then, I transfer the blue stripe’s location to the model’s tail and masked off the white surfaces with masking tape. I used Polly Scale’s Azure Blue to paint the blue stripes.
The large black text on the wing and fuselage are also painted onto the model before the natural metal finish. I painted the area where the texts are located with a gloss black arylic paint. When dried I applied the ‘USAF’ and FS-233′ mask cut from clear frisket paper over the black painted area.
The wing tanks are also painted with a white base paint and then a mask for the lightening bolt was made and applied to the tanks. I used the image of the lightening bolt on the painting above and scaled the picture of the tank to about the same size as the kit’s wing tanks. I traced the image onto a clear masking frisket paper and cut a mask template from that to apply to the wing tank. I used Gunze Red H-327 for the red to paint the wing tanks and the fuselage stripes.
For the natural metal finish, I am using the Alclad system of aluminum paint finishes. A based coat of Aluminum was sprayed over the entire model. This is applied at about 15 psig with the Paasche VL airbrush with a two coat coverage. Some selected panels were masked off with clear 3M tape and sprayed with different shades of aluminum such as Dark Aluminum, White Aluminum, and Polished Aluminum.
Home Made Decal
I made the squadron badges decal using my HP Photosmart inkjet printer. I made the graphics from the clear images I found on the web and modify the images using Microsoft Paintbrush software. After I made the graphics, I cut and paste the images into Microsoft Word to resize the image and print to the printer. I would print the image from Word to paper and cut the image out to trial fit the image on to the model. Typically, I have to take a guess at resizing the image three to four times before I get it to the right scale for the model. Finally, when correct, I would then print the graphics to the two types of Testors Decal paper: The clear and white film paper.
The decals are then sprayed with one coat of the Testors Decal Binder to prevent the ink from melting when I dip the decal in water. So, the only difficult part about making my own decals is finding and making the images.