Hello girls and boys!
As some of you may know on the forum, my mom left us last January after a long battle with cancer. I have lost my best friend, my guiding beacon and above all a mother who was always there for all of us, even at the end. I try to find solace in the fact she surely is in a better place where suffering and sickness do not exist... I have stopped modeling after that, i kept feeling locked in my thoughts sitting at the bench alone. I had to adapt and reorganise my everyday life, trying to figure out how to explain things to my 4 year old daughter, figuring out how to be able to be there for dad and keep this family from drifting apart and juggling with being an expat and being a pilot flying for an airline. Thankfully life has been kind to me and i have managed to get home every month for at least a week to see the little one and dad and my sister's family. I have also realised that i was wasting precious moments i could and should be spending with everyone while i was back in Beirut instead of spending time at the bench. Lightbulb moment. Actually i had been going over the logistical nightmare of setting up a workshop in Qatar for a long while... i decided to take the dive and set up shop there. The major problem is there is NO modeling scene in doha, no shops, no supplies NOTHING. So i took my time amassing tools that i bought off on ebay, stuff i managed to move in my luggage every time i flew back. Two kits at a time, am resin stuff, sanders scribers the whole lot. The only missing thing was the paint. I managed to get my whole 400 pots of paint shipped by airfreight under a 'dangerous good' label and that alone took me two months and cost me an arm and a leg. Bottom line, i now have transformed a whole room into a real workshop! my very own workshop! I had wanted to do this every since i got back to modeling a couple of years ago but never had the chance as space was very limited in Beirut and here in doha i have a three bedroom apartment all to myself...
Now, i can work everyday at the bench, even if it is only for one hour between flying and grabbing some shuteye. On days off, being summer and the temperature hovering around the mid 50C outside, i also manage to pull half day stretches at the bench before going out for lunch or dinner or the movies with my friends. This arrangement also allows me to spend my whole time and focus on my daughter and my loved ones when i get to go home. I am happy, everybody is happy, and i keep myself occupied while i have no flying and i am in doha. Occupied in a constructive way!
I had never used ebay before this year and to be honest i have found it to be like a fountain of rare kits, kits i could not find, exotic stuff...my goodness you can find everything you need on it. I even managed to get gaianotes stuff. I have also found a way through a shipping intermediary to have everything delivered to a pobox physical adress in the states (and another 14 physical addresses sprinkled throughout the globe) and the shipper forwards it to me here. I have stuff rolling in every week. I am a happy boy now...
Well now that everyone is up to speed on where i am in life, i present to you the first model that comes out of my doha workshop...
From the little notes i scribbled and what i remember here are the vitals for this kit:
The kit is Academy's F/A-18D "night attack" at 1/32 scale (kit #12103). The kit in itself is really nice as i am sure all of you know. Alot of reviews of it are floating on the net if you want to know more of the goods and bads of this kit. One thing of note are the sinkmarks on the front fuselage halves and on the spine. those need to be filled and smoothed out. I also rescribed part of the kit to properly reflect the aircraft i have modeled. I opened up the meshed areas on the top and bottom part of the aft section of the fuselage and replaced them with fine meshing from an old tamiya AFV (spares box).
Another area of the kit that is not up to par is the intakes. Alot has been written about them and not wanting to go down the reshaping and sanding route, i replaced those...
Aftermarket that has been thrown on this kit is substantial (and was the start of a never ending spending spree filling up the resin box on the storage cabinet. Thank you ebay!).
The intakes are produced my Rhino and come in white (which is very helpful as you need to only mask the area when its time to paint). The intakes took quite some work to get blended in with the rest of the fuselage, i dont know if it was from my own doing, or if it was because of the misalignment due to the Aires wheelbays. Talking about the wheelbays, I have used the Aires offering for the nose and mains. The mains took some work to get done the nose bay was a drop in fit and only required a bit of sanding and trimming. The problem with the main wheel bays is that aires has the locating pins for the landing gear legs drilled at an angle which would have the gear skewed. you have to carefully drill the pins vertically and then reinforce the pins when you install the main gear. I used slow curing epoxy to have a really strong bond and have the gear legs aligned properly.
I also used Rhino nozzles. I had the aires closed ones but decided to keep those for the next FA18 build i have someday down the line (to which i already have amassed all the aftermarket i want). Some guys out there say that the circumference of the aires nozzles is too small, the Rhino ones are a bit bigger. I noticed there is actually a step between the fuselage and the nozzles from the photos i have seen but of course i might be mistaken.
The cockpit is academy, except for the seats which are produced by quickboost. The seats themselves are very cleanly moulded and you get a paint guide on the back of the QB pack which helps out along with the references you may use. The canopy was another issue. I drilled the rails as i saw in the reference material i had (i used DACO's Uncovering the F18). I also added the cameras on the right and left side of the rail. i used styrene and wiring for that. I used AK's new gauzy glass shine. I wasnt very impressed. The front canopy came out fine with no bubbles (i brushed them slowly off in two dippings) the main canopy was another issue due to its size. Tried to dip in two halves but impossible to get good results. When i tried to removed the stuff that's when things went horribly wrong. I tried lacquer thinners, alcohol nothing...then i tried acetone for the heck of it just to see if it would work (canopy was dump by then) nothing. Received a replacement canopy from a seller on ebay a couple of days later. That one was polished with the Novus system and shined and left as is. I also used Reheat photoetched mirrors as the kit ones looked horribly out of scale. I also used some the Eduard etch on the outside but very selectively as i kept the brunt of it for the next kit.
Thats for construction...
Painting and weathering:
I used mostly Tamiya and Gunze for the paint. The colours were mixed from the FS callouts using a nifty app i have on the iphone and adjusted accordingly for real life.
I went all out on weathering although i know a lead aircraft would never get so dirty, but i needed the exercise to get back in the grove of things. i am very happy with the results though. I started with Doug's black basing technique to get tonal variation. I also used the salt chipping technique which i find works really well on two tone grey aircraft. Furthermore i used AK's light chipping fluid on selective areas. For panel lines i used Florymodels clay wash and AK's paneliners. General grime and dirt was done using Abteilung oils, AK oils, MIG pigments and Winsor and newton oils.
Lastly the decals, i used Flying Leathernecks's Chesty P sheet which has enough for 4 aircraft. I bought this sheet because it contains the beautiful 'death dealer' aircraft. I used Microsol/Microset combo to get the decals to snuggle down but they barely did, then i used Walther's Solvaset and the Death dealer decal specifically disintegrated in a couple of places so i had to touch those up with paint. Oh well!
Flat coat used was AK's Ultra matte coat.
If i can recall right, i havent forgotten any of the major points in the build...
Since then i have built another 1/32 aircraft (my mule for the WW1 endeavours i am about to embark on. WW1 subject have sparked my love for airplanes again but more on that in another post) A scifi subject which i will post in non lsp at some other date, and my first 1/9 bust figure (that was a super steep learning curve lol)....
I am happy to be back amongst all you guys (and girls) here on the forum and am looking forward to many more posts and a work in progress in the near future
As always please do leave your criticisms good and bad as i haven't been back in the saddle for quite a while now
here comes my old catchphrase,
Stay safe and happy modeling everyone!
Below some photos of the workshop annotated, next post will be of the kit. MANY of them :-D