Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ha'la'tha Resistance Fighter build - 5

I have the final shaping and piecing done.  The contours are sanded and the panel-line scribing is done to the best of my ability.  I did make an attempt, and while I wish I could've done better, I did learn and will have more skills the next time I try.  For now, I will use weathering and shading to accent the lines and get me the look I'm going for. 

I added the cannons to the fuselage and also put on the hardpoints.  I'll add on the drop tanks as well.  I really do like the look of them underslung under the wings.  I dunno if it's going to please the BSG rivet counters, but hey, I'm building for me and this is fun. : )  It has the look I'm going for and I'm having a good time doing it.  I feel like the cannons have that Viper-call back feel, and it would make sense that the design element that placed them there in the first place would carry through to later Superiority Fighter designs, and cause the designers of the Viper series to do the same.

With the overall design done, on to painting.  I really like the camo I mentioned earlier, so I started with a base of desert tan, and then mottled with Flat Earth.   For the first time in..oh.. forever, I actually broke out my airbrush.  I like the airbrush but it's always a challenge getting my paints to work well.  I don't have the model AIR which I prefer, I mostly use Vallejo game color.  With a good mix of thinner and flow improver, it works well, but between the cheapo compressor and the set up I have, I find that I have to fiddle a bit to keep the consistency of the paint even.  It's not really a problem, it's just fiddly.  It's that fiddlyness that gets me to not use it enough.  I really should get the adapter setup for my good air compressor. 

The camo scheme has the look I like, so on to the decals.  ugh.  I tried to use my own custom decals and they are ... bleah.  I have had recommendations since to try the Testor's paper, which this was not, and a different fixer for them.  For now, I have only a few special ones and the rest of the placard decals are coming from the F4 kit. 

Overall, I'm not too terribly unhappy with the result.  They'll do for this run, and next time, I'll know more.  I will use weathering and use to try to fade these in more and give it the look I'm going for.  So far, so good.  Moving forward. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ha'la'tha Resistance Fighter build - 4.

Subtitled: sanding and filling and sanding and filling and sanding and filling.

Lots and lots and lots of sanding.   The main kits fit together well, and in reality, the overall curves where they join worked out pretty well.  The biggest issue was the huge gap where the wings were removed and the underside of the engine housings.  To fill this, I decided to work with something I'd not really used much: FreeForm Air from smoothon.  I really do like this stuff.

For the most part, it goes on pretty well, although it takes fiddling to get it to do what I want it to.  Of course, that's probably just my skillset.  Either way, the best thing in this case is the weight.  The stuff is very light and I have a ton of it going into this model to fill up the huge holes and gaps.  So this is not going to add a bunch of weight, like other stuff could.

After that set up, the sanding started again. The long, tedious process of getting the curves to go together. You don't need a thousand pictures of sanding. : )  Once I got the main curves done, though, I did add the intakes, vertical stabilizer and the nose build up strip.

 That strip is pretty much there just for the lines of the fuselage and so I could get that step right at the cone.  On the step, I put in the ports for the nose guns.  All it was is the insulation off of wire.  Saved me from having to drill that out. 

I also have been thinking about the under-wing guns.  I really do want to give the thing that look that comes from the engineering that gave rise to the Vipers.  It dawned on me that the Stuka Tank-buster gun pods might work.  I like them, they *might* work.

We'll see.  I also played around a bit with the Photoshop, and wanted to get a feel for possible decals.  I doubt I'll be able to hand-paint the specific markings for the affiliations, although I will use the F4 kit decals for most of the placards.  I just might try printing my own.

I've also been toying with conceptualizing the camo scheme.  I really like the yellow/tan look of desert camo, and I think it's appropriate for what I see Tauron's greater landscape to be like.  I expect the Ha'la'tha resistance, at least the part of it that has fighter planes and controls territory, would be out in the countryside, away from cities, and would want to blend in with the terrain.  We'll see, but I really do like the look.  I think it gives the planes a meaner look. 

So that's where I am so far.  more to come.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ha'la'tha Resistance Fighter build - 3

With the engine cluster ready, I moved on to nose and fuselage.  Like all aircraft, to build the fuselage,  you pretty much have to build, paint and finish the cockpit first.  Gave this stuff a lot of thought too, and I decided a couple of things off the bat.  First, I'd go mostly with the Spitfire's cockpit main assemblies for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is convenience and fit.  Again, it meshes with the aesthetic of 'resistance' equipment.  Yeah, I know, what kind of "resistance" can build its own jet fighters, but hey, it's Tauron, known technology innovation source of the colonies.    The second decision was to put a pilot in it.  Cool thing about pilots, they're pretty much the same in almost every genre and doing the painting/detail work on them is old hat now.  It also will cover up quite a bit of empty space in the cockpit and allow for the viewer's imagination to fill in the gaps I won't with greeblies.   Besides, I have a few resin cockpit guys around that I picked up for different reasons. 

With that done, the first thing that had to be done was remove the wing roots.  They sit very far forward on the Spitfire and the wing tops are integral to the fuselage halves.  So they had to be chopped away, which I did with the razor saw.  (I really love this tool)  While I was at it, I cut off the wing bottoms from the fuselage under-carriage piece as well.  I might as well use as many "shaping" parts as I can while I build the thing.  With them trimmed down, did a quick check on the fit with the engine housing.  Yes, this part was running concurrent with the engine housing build. 

Then it was on to working up the cockpit.  This was mostly an "assemble as instructions indicate" exercise, with the exception of some repair work and the pilot seat.  One of the visible struts for the cockpit assembly broke on the sprue and needed to be fixed.  And, I plan to use a "jet fighter" pilot with ejection seat, so the seat assembly isn't necessary. I also added a couple of panels to the upper sides and put on the cockpit decals from the F4 assembly.  They're not really super detailed, but they add some interest and the appearance of extra instrumentation.  

The colors are mostly shades of grey with various washes.  Again, most of it's not going to be very visible, so it's got a cursory job.  Once this raw stuff was done, I moved on to the pilot.  I have a Russian Su-22 pilot with ejector seat and it's got about the right look for what I was going after.  I had to give some thought to the flight suit and decided that, given Tauron's description, a scrub-like camo would work.  As it is, I'm giving serious thought to a yellow/tan camo pattern to the plane as well, but we'll see.  I played around with various colors and settled on the light tan/yellow mottling look I have here.  

I've done better, but again, most of him won't be seen.   Did some test fitting into the fuselage and found an issue.   

The ejector seat is too wide at the head level for him to sit high enough to actually *see* over the nose of the aircraft without displacing the canopy.  Hmm.  So, I cut down the seat, and trimmed off the extra bits from the side.  With that done, I was able to get his head at a level more along where the Spitfire pilot's head would be.  

Then to tackle the landing gear.  I originally  had thought to put the gear a bit further back on the nose, and use the undernose scoop on the spitfire as a gunbay or missile pod.  Unfortunately, that doesn't work.  That'd put the landing gear directly under the pilot's seat, and there's no room in the fuselage for the wheel well.   I suppose, in retrospect, I could have done more modifications to the floor of the cockpit to make room, but at the time, and even now, I think I am more content with plan "b."

For the wings, the rear landing gear will use the F-4 wheel wells.  They'll be just fine where they are.  I then cut out the wheel well from the nose of the Phantom's fuselage and cut it into the lower nose assembly for the Spitfire.  This does have the effect of taking away the space that is on that scoop, and I'll have to come up with *some* kind of reason for that feature, but that's future-me's problem.  As it is, this works fine and it drops in to the fuselage well.  I even pretty much like the lines of it.  

That takes the nose fuselage close to being done.  I still want to do something to the top and have to figure out what I am going to do with the nose and those exhaust cutouts on the side.  The Vipers have these open spaces for mechanicals, so I'm seriously tempted to just fill them with piping and greeblies.  That would take away some of the "jet" lines, but then it also gives a bit of the "resistance fighter" aesthetic.  Still playing with that thought in my head.  

Next up, mating the two and starting the general detailing work.  Oh, and filling. Lots and lots and lots of filling.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ha'la'tha Resistance Fighter build - 2.

Engine cluster:

The first thing I did was work on the engine cluster assembly.  To do that, I started by trimming down the fuselage on the F-4.   I took a few measurements, kinda eyeballed the rest and then marked out where I wanted to do the choppa. First thing to go was the tail fin and then I took off the tail boom assembly. I ended that assembly right about where the nozzles for the engines end.   The boom got thinner about that point so I could use the natural curves of the fuselage and it also will give a bit of a rougher "mk. Vii" vibe.    

Then went to the point where the fuselage begins the arc down toward the nozzles along the sides.  Again, I was cheating, using the original curves of the F4 to do most of the contouring.  When that cut was made, I then moved about 2" forward and then cut out the fuselage.  I left about 1/2 inch behind where the cockpit ends, as I am figuring that's about what I will want to mesh the Spitfire front in to it. 

After that was removed, I needed to take off the front of the fuselage.  I started at the top, pretty much right behind the end of the cockpit and went straight down.  I kept the intake mounts because I plan to use them and they'll make good standoffs for the intakes against the Spitfire fuselage.  

The fuselage bottom also was integrated to the bottom of the wing sections, so I had to remove those as well. I left it a little long as I expected to need to do some putty/filling/sanding and would rather have too much left over material than too little.  

Once I had all that trimming done, I glued them all up together.  The front half and back half went together very well and I just hacked off the fuselage bottom at the  point where the mounts for the intake started.  (more on this later.)  they meshed pretty closely, although there'll need to be some filling on the bottom, which may as well wait until I finish putting the nose on. 

I also went ahead and glued up the wings and tail fin.   I will use the wings, and I might use the tail fin, although I'm not sure about that.   The wings are going to be flipped to a forward-swept look, so once the wings set up, I cut off the ailerons from the wings and took the line in straight to the wing root.   On that raw edge, I glued a piece of plastic sprue, and then puttied it all up.   When all that was set up, I puttied it again to fill any gaps and build it up.  It was then sanded down to create a more appropriate leading-edge to the wing.  Yes, I know the back edge still has the original leading edge, I'll do a bit more sanding there to give it a little more realistic lifting geometry, but I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it. 

During all that, I then pulled out some 2mm sintra to build up the contours from the intake mount points back toward the exhaust nozzles.  Once I got all that glued on, I gave it a test-fit next to the Spitfire nose.  Just giving it a quick look, it works out that this is a bit smaller than I had anticipated, but it's not terrible.  It'll wind up having an all-up length that's pretty close to the Mk ii Vipers in 1/32 scale. 

Then came the putty/filling/sanding cycle.  At this point, I need to get the contours of the engine cluster flowing to something smooth as it's pretty much one of the major areas of viewing on the model when it's done.    Fill.  Putty.  Sand.  Putty.  Sand.  Putty.  Sand……