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Trumpeter F4F-3 build with rivets FINISHED!

Woody V

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Quick update.

In my opinion, the control surface ribs on this kit look more like what you would get on an old WWI aircraft kit so I decided to “see what would happen if I tried this”



Notice how smooth the fabric is as compared to the prominent ribs on the kit.



I sanded the ribs down to where I could barely detect a bump then drew on guides with a pencil to help me see where to put the rib stitching. Actually, this is just a quick “fix”. I guess if you really want to go full OCD you’d have to fill it all in and sand it down to make it completely smooth but this will do.



I used the 1/48 rib stitching from our WWI rib tape and stitching sheet to replicate the look of the actual aircraft. Not sure how this will look, might be a bit too thick but if so I’ll sand them down a little after I get a coat of primer on.


This will probably be my last post applying the Surface Details. Time to move on and get this thing buttoned up.

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Assembling the wings was pretty straightforward until I made the mistake of using the PE parts for the flaps and ailerons. What a mess. I didn’t intend to make anything movable, so I just used the PE without the rods thinking the hinge would look good. Nothing lined up even after some gentle bending and twisting. The best I got were parts that kinda’ fit and needed serious coaxing, clamping a cursing to get the gaps even. I’ll never try that again. It would be easier to either scratchbuild the hinges from card stock than work with the PE. Engineering fail.


I also had problems getting the gun barrels in the center of the wing ports. With the gun receivers on the bottom of the wing halves, and the ports in the top half, dry fitting was just too difficult so I opened up the kit ports and added styrene tube. The tube is drilled out so the gun barrels are a slip fit and the openings are drilled larger so the barrels are centered in the ports without touching. At least that’s the plan.


NOTE: There is a slight amount of lengthwise play in the wing halves so be sure you fit them so that the wing root, rather than the wing tip, is properly aligned. Otherwise the wing to fuselage fit is going to require filling, and we all know how much we hate that.

I chose to leave the gun bays closed and glued them in place from the underside. Do not use Extra Thin for this because it will flow into the seam and bridge the gap, ruining it. I used a few tiny drops of Testors glue in the black dispenser, part number #8872. I use that stuff a lot and like the built in applicator needle.


Continuing with my “I wonder what would happen if I did this” approach I also decided to fill the kit rivet holes, but not completely. I used a white artist pigment and lacquer thinner mix only which doesn’t fill the kit rivets completely in hopes the slight indentations will more realistically represent a flush riveted wing. Again, no idea what this will look like when painted.



Wing assembled showing partially filled kit rivets and tube stock gun ports.


Then it was time to dry fit the wings to the fuselage. It took me a while to figure out that the slot in the fuselage need to be opened up a bit so the tab on the wing would fit without forcing it. The way it is, it’s nearly impossible to check the fit, top and bottom, while just holding the parts together so I came up with this brain storm. 


First I opened up the slot in the fuselage so the wing tab was slightly loose in the slot. Then I drilled a small hole in the center of tab on the wing, cobbled out a square of thick card stock and used a very small threaded eyelet to pull the wing tight against the fuselage. Now I could check the wing root fit, top and bottom, and have the wing pulled tightly in place. The only downside of this is the fact that you have to install the wings before gluing the fuselage halves together.


NOTE: The wing root is actually longer than the fillet on the fuselage, and I had to make the slot longer so that the leading edge lined up. Unfortunately when the leading edge is correct the trailing edge of the wing extends past the end of the fillet, but I just decided to live with it. At this point I’m not going to spend time correcting the length of the fairing and it’s way too late to sand the trailing edge. You may want to fix this if you’re so inclined.



Detail shot of how the wing is clamped in place. For some reason I decided to fill the indentation with some card stock, but unless you intend to detail the inside of the wheel well, this is pointless.


Then I taped the fuselage halves together to check the dihedral before I glued the wings. Surprisingly the seam was perfect all the way around and the dihedral was spot on. 



Using a carpenters square and low tack to hold the fuselage in place I measured the distance from the wing tip to the matt to check dihedral. 


I then glued the wings on with a bead of Extra Thin around the wing root seam, let that dry overnight and then ran a bead of Testors glue around the seam on the inside of the fuselage. 


I forgot to mention that I painted the cockpit area before attaching the wings and attached the pouches and panel in place. I had to laugh because none of these things are visible without a flashlight and inspection mirror once the fuselage is buttoned up. But I know it’s there and that counts for something, right?




At this point I installed the cockpit assemble dry, Taped the fuselage halves together and glued the the cockpit assembly to half the fuselage only. I managed this by using a brush with Extra Thin to reach a few contact points just to tack it in place. Once this was dry, I separated the fuselage halves and did a more thorough gluing.


Doing it this way will allow me to fiddle with the fit of the landing gear assembly to be sure the plane sits square which seems to be an issue with building this kit. I had already dry fit the part and it looked pretty good but mounting the landing gear on a circular base is a recipe for disaster so I’m going to spend a little more time to be sure it’s right.




Hopefully I’ll be back in a week with an update.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Haven’t had much time to work on it, what with year end tax aggravations to be done so that ate up an entire weekend, but I have managed to get the landing gear assembly installed being careful that the plane fits squarely on the tires. I didn’t have to do any adjusting - it all “fell” in place. The fit between assembly and fuselage isn’t the best, especially considering the fact that all the engineering is CAD based. This is probably a result of the kit being revised over shape issues. Sorry, I didn’t get any photos.


Next I got the fuselage buttoned up, seams filled, sanded and panel lines re-scribed. Only issue here was a slight gap at the cockpit, but some tape held it together while I glued it.



Fuselage glued. Those black lines on the wing ammo access panels are our piano hinge Surface Details. The ones on the kit just looked way oversized.



Fuselage glued, seams filled and sanded. Also re-scribed the panel lines. Of course, the ones on the bottom came out perfect, but I may have to do some tuning up one on the top. I usually fill my seams with a mix of sprue dissolved in Tamiya Xtra Thin but this time I used Tamiya putty. That will be the last time I do that because the putty just does not take scribing like styrene. I also like to do a little "chemical sanding" by running a little Xtra Thin over scribing (note the gloss around the panel lines) to soften the edge of the scribed line which doesn’t work over the putty.



Left side.

The thing to note here is that despite all the handling not one rivet has been lost.


That’s it for today. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the horizontal stabs and control surfaces on and finish up the riveting next weekend.

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Brilliant work there Woody, what a difference this is going to make to the whole finished model....I cant wait to see how she will look with primer on.  I will need to do my Trumpeter Avenger like this now I have seen your results.


Also, I agree.  The rivets on my engine nacelles on my Mosquito haven't budged at all either and I have been working all over the parts.  They are solid as a rock! And applying them is quite a nice relaxing job with satisfying results immediately 


Keep up the great work


Cheers Anthony

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Woody


This is slightly off topic question that I hope will be of more general interest.


I have two railway cars to linet out with your HO scale rivets. Each is some 18" long and requires 20 odd of both full length and vertical straight lines of rivets.


Any tips on how these may be best applied?


On my tests I have found a coat of Microsol Decal Film greatly improved handling and  with such small rivets it was easier to see what was going on with light coloured guide lines (rather than black or graphite over which the teeny decals disappear).





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Hi Les,


Geez, 18 inches... That does pose a challenge. :unsure:


Early in testing the aircraft rivets we started with black "guides" and found out real fast it wasn't going to work. In the case of the Wildcat the pencil lines only indicate where the panel lines are. If you're just putting guide lines on a smooth surface, you could try sharpening the point of a mechanical pencil to a chisel point and lay down a VERY thin line and lay the rivets down so they just touch the edge of the line. That way you'll be able to see any deviations by watching how far the rivets are from the line.


Have you already bought the rivets? If so, what's the part number in case I can suggest an alternative/free exchange if necessary.


MDF will make the clear film thicker and "easier" to handle but it also increases the chances that the edge of the film will show. BTW, clear lacquer in the aerosol does the same thing, and it's a LOT less expensive. The clear film is lacquer. HOWEVER, if you're handling issue is that the line of rivets is breaking apart it's possible the clear film is defective. The rivets are on Microscale clear film and we have had a few issues where the clear was applied too thin by them, something we have no control over. If this is the case, everything Archer has ever sold is covered by our Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee and will be replaced at no charge.


Hope that helps, but if not email me at help@archertransfers.com



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Thanks for the response, Woody and I've taken due note of your suggestions.


I am in the UK where regular supplies of your rivets have been erratic; so I have built up stocks over a number of years from various sources- including direct.


On the project mentioned I'll be using Surface Details 25, 30 and 31 of unknown production dates.


Related to your laqueur suggestion one technique I've tested with surprising success is to print the required pattern on thin coated paper (@ 0.013mm) using light blue lines (for HO scale the liners are 'hairline'). This is then laqueur coated both sides and the rivets applied 'on the flat' and laqueur sealed, then  bonded to the model as a complete 'rivetted' panel.

Basically a variation on how Peter Cooke skinned his Lancasters- time consuming but quite effective.




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See, that's what model building on your level is all about - problem solving!


Our largest dealer in the UK (who shall remain nameless) doesn't carry everything. They told me I have too many products to carry them all. The good news is that we always have plenty in stock and shipping to the UK is under $10 even though it costs close to $14! We tried charging $10 and sales took a big hit. Shipping costs are insane and we lose a little with everything we ship internationally.



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59 minutes ago, Archer Fine Transfers said:

...The good news is that we always have plenty in stock and shipping to the UK is under $10 even though it costs close to $14! We tried charging $10 and sales took a big hit. Shipping costs are insane and we lose a little with everything we ship internationally.



Hey there, fellow Tar-Heel!  I ship internationally, too, and know your pain.


Best wishes!  Love your products and your Wildcat is superb.

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Hi Woody


TBH $10 p&p is presently not too big a hit in the UK, our internal minimums can easily be half of that. Where things get expensive is when items are intercepted by Customs- that automatically doubles p&p costs through 'handling charges'.



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  • Woody V changed the title to Trumpeter F4F-3 build with rivets FINISHED!

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