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:

f-4b-koc

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!

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