F-4B Phantom scores a victory

Last Saturday was the Kickoff Classic, and it went really, really well. We had at least 530 models (I registered at 11:30, and I had entries up to 535, I think), the vendors did well, Jim Lund brought a stunning collection of 1:72 Flying Boats and a bunch of people came up from southern California, including Best-of-Show winner Jim Wechsler. It was a great show and I consider it the best one-day contest I’ve ever attended. You can see virtually the entire event in the gallery at www.svsm.org.

The icing on the cake for me was that I finished my F-4B at about 3 a.m. that morning and, roughly 13 hours later, it took first place in multi-engine jets. The contest really helped me get focused on finishing the model; on Thursday I never thought it would be done, but on Friday I had a gradual realization that, yes, this model could be finished for the show. It became a matter of mentally organizing my tasks: put on the wheels, then the gear doors. Then add the tank. Stick the photoetched parts inside the canopy, then add them to the fixed canopy parts, but leave the canopies off until the end. Put in the new pitot probes in the tail, but be careful not to knock them off. Add the pylons, but them be careful not to knock them off. This went on and on until I added the canopies with white glue and declared it done. There were a few blade antennas missing from the Phantom, and the plane only carried one Sidewinder, but it was done enough to enter. When I took it to the table, I was astounded to see another “Old Nick 201” already entered – what are the odds of that?

Here’s what the winning model looked like at the show; better photos will follow:


I think my favorite moment came when I took it of its box to show Alan Weber, and Alan immediately said, “Oh, it’s the MiG killer!” It is a fairly iconic scheme…

On the way home, I knocked off one of the stabilators, and discovered the canopies were not so much glued as placed in their positions (and they somehow didn’t bounce out of alignment – wow!). So Monday I truly finished the Phantom, adding the antennas and re-attaching the horizontal, and finally putting all four Sidewinders on their rails. It ended up being a pretty nice model.

Once the Phantom was finished, I started work anew on the P-40E, including making a new gunsight from scratch. I turned the sight’s body from .040 rod in my motor tool, then added a bar across the back side and two “knobs” cut from very fine styrene rod. A bit of square rod was cut down and added to the back, and this was drilled out to accept a wire. The whole thing was painted gray, then aircraft interior black, with gloss black at the top lens area. Once dry, I drybrushed it and added a reflector glass made from some extra acetate from an Eduard instrument panel. It looked good once finished. I added a photoetched iron sight to the cockpit instrument panel, then cemented the gunsight to the pedestal I fashioned earlier in the build, all carefully placed under the already-in-place windscreen. This was a dumb idea; it made things a lot harder than they needed to be, especially when I discovered’ I’d stuck a P-40N windscreen on my P-40E. I popped the windscreen off and now had full access to place these items.

I also noticed my P-40 had no rudder pedals. This is a hazard of rushing; I’ve done this more than once. To fix it, I took the Eduard pre-painted pedals, bent them to shape and cut off most of the arms that hold them to the back of the instrument panel. Then, I stuck a bit of styrene strip to the back of the pedal, where it can’t be seen. I applied a little CA glue to the cockpit floor just behind where the pedal was supposed to be; with tweezers, I carefully placed the styrene strip into the glue, made a few quick adjustments, and had the pedals in place.

So, now I just have to get that windscreen in place, mask it and the cockpit, and airbrush this sucker. If I can get to the decals quickly, this may be a second model finished within 30 days!

P-47 Aces coming to Belmont in May

I had heard rumors to this effect, but yesterday I received the official news: the next Northern California Friends of the Aces event is a symposium on May 17 at the Hiller Aviation Museum in Belmont, California featuring five P-47 Thunderbolt aces. As a P-47 fan, I’m really excited about this.

The aces scheduled for the panel (and their most notable aicraft) are:
Capt. Bob Booth, 369th FS, 359th FG (8 victories, P-47D 42-8695 IV-F “Oily Boid”)
Capt. Richard Fleischer, 348th FG (6 victories)
Lt. Frank McCauley, 61st FS, 56th FG(5.5 victories, P-47C 41-6271 HV-Z “Rat Racer”)
BGen. Les Smith, 61st FS, 56th FG (7 victories, P-47D 42-26044 HV-Z “Silver Lady”)
LtCol. David Thwaites, 361st FS, 356th FG (6 victories P-47D 42-26457 QI-L “Polly”)

It would be neat to get together a display of P-47 Aces’ aircraft for this event; I already have Morton Magoffin’s “Carol Ann II” and Bill Dunham’s “Bonnie,” and I’m sure someone in our region has “Silver Lady,” which is a natural metal razorback. I’ll work on getting a display together starting just after the contest on Saturday.

For more information on the symposium, e-mail ncf@hot-shot.com and tell them Chris sent you!

The longest homestretch ever

The burner cans are now neatly planted in the rear end of the Phantom, and it inches closer to looking like the real deal. I think next I’ll add the glass to the gunsight (it fell out months ago, and I should probably tweezer it on in there before I put on the clamshell canopies and can no longer reach under the windscreen. The landing gear struts can go on soon as well; although I’ll need to add some wiring to the nose bay. I was able to patch the split seam reasonably well enough (it looks like a recessed panel line now – convincing enough!), so that crisis is averted.

The latest problem is that I can’t find the canopies. I’m sure they’re on my desk somewhere; I looked long and hard for them last night to no avail. I’ll probably borrow them from one of my unbuilt Air Force Phantoms and just move on – when they do turn up, the can go into the RF-4 box and it’ll be no harm, no foul.

With the Kickoff Classic approaching fast, I’m making a point of spending at least 40 minutes a day on the model. That’s a good thing to do in general, but some of the things I’m finishing up on the Phantom – like those canopies – require some time. They will get masked, then three coats of paint (black, gull gray, red), a coat of gloss, decals and a flat coat – that takes time. The gear need brake lines, weathering, new anti-torque scissors and other photoetched bits; that takes time. The Sidewinders need their stripes and the tank needs its red flourishes; that takes time. The multitude of antennas still need to be added, as do the pitot heads; that takes time. And the bang seats, control columns and other cockpit gear needs to go in ahead of the canopies; they take time too. I think this weekend I’ll pick the most logical next area and work it to completion (landing gear and gear doors seem smart to me).

I was looking forward to having more than two planes at the contest, but I suppose two it will be… If I am lucky!