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EA-6B Prowler (02 April: Done!)


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Alrighty folks!


Some of you might remember my stalled scratch built 1/24th EA-6B. Check it out here:

 Lost the oomph and was in over my head, but I knew I could do better. I've learned loads since I started it, and some of it just wasn't up to snuff. I tossed it in the trash about a month ago and am ready to try again.  This time it'll be with a Trumpeter 1/32 A-6E, which I'll convert (similar to the way Grumman built it back in the day: i.e. take a pretty sweet airframe, mess up the CG and a bunch of other stuff and make a beast!)


This box just showed up tonight:



I've got plans printed out already and have already been studying Starfighter's build to see how he tackled his...


I'll be building it in-flight. Am investigating a couple of options--either standard in-flight and on a stand, or go full hog and figure out how to mount it on the arresting hook similar to other builds I've done. I think I can pull it off...more details as I figure that out.


Here's my options--all have personal meanings as they were my squadrons.

VAQ-135 "The Black Ravens" (happened to design that tail back in the day), if I don't do this jet, I'll do 503, which had my name on it.



Here's me and a Gator, (a Great American!) in 503 back in 1999, courtesy of Tony Holmes. 



If I can't make the arrested landing work, I'll do either of these VAQ-133 "Wizards" jets. I was toying with our Desert Bird, as I was the Maintenance Officer back then. It was a great a/c, but for such a unique project, I don't know if I want that audacious of a paint scheme.

530 fly off_2


I'm leaning towards 532--she was a War Horse during 2 trips to Afghanistan. Some airplanes always have gremlins, but not her. I think the only time she wasn't flying was when she was having inspections done. Of course as a Maintenance guy, that gives me fond memories. As a result, I have a ton of flight time in her.



So that's where I'm at... Will have to borrow a friends welder to see if I can pull off the hook attachment. Once that's out of the way, I can start building in earnest. If not, no worries, it'll still be a great addition to my collection!


This will be my first build log that I've posted to in over 3 years, so hopefully I remember to update it in a timely manner! 


More soonest, 


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Thanks gents! I wont call it pressure,  but it's nice to have interested folks following along. Gives a little pep to a build that has been missing from my previous efforts. No way I'll measure up to some of the folks using 3D printing etc, but I'm not building for them...just me (though admittedly we're our own harshest critics).


On to the build, which started yesterday. Didn't plan to, but excitment took over. Have several plans--one I drew back in the day and plans from my NATOPS manuals (have several,  including an original and the last issuance). 


Started measuring and cutting plastic to make the Football as it was known. Real name is the ALQ-99 ESM system...it's where all the gadgetry was. Still deciding if I'll just skin this and call it good, or make it to make a mould and vac the football. Havent figured out the tailhook yet, but weight will be a concern if I do go that route--a vac copy will be lighter than a skinned piece. 



More soon and thanks for following along!


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Ok, time for a quick update, as I'm going back to work full time vice teleworking. No more modeling through zoom calls or other meetings. That is until we all get sent home again... but I digress. On to the update!


Made one football by building out the basic shapes and then filling with balsa. Intent was to get the basic shapes so I could mold it and either do resin, or vacuform. Havent done my own resin before, but am keen to learn something new as I plod along. This might be the build that makes me do it. Any way, I sanded the nose fairing a bit too much. Enter the second football. Its overbuilt. If I dont do the above options, it'll be sturdy enough to withstand my hamfisted building techniques and scribing. Here's a pic for comparison. 


On my second attempt, I still need to fair it in with putty. (What's everyone's go to putty that's good for filling and scribing? ) there's LOTS of compound curves, which I couldn't do with styrene, but I'm close enough that a small layer of filler will finish it off.


Here's my first cut to destroy a really expensive kit. I've also built the second football so that it matches the shape and will slide right in--something I didn't do on the first attempt. 



And in situ 



By no means is it perfect,  but it's close. I'll hit it with primer and sand to find the low spots (a LOT like body work for those that are car guys). A little filler to blend and keep attacking from there.


More updates when I can. Hope you're all safe and healthy!


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Ok gents,


Small, but I feel, significant update to wrap up the weekend. Was stalled for a few days till I could get to the local hobby shop and grab some Tamiya putty. Grabbed some yesterday and was able to fill the low spots in the football. Have it attached to the tail as well! Pics for proof:





Some things worth pointing out... You can see where I cut out the scoop at the base of the tail (the ECS scoop on the Intruder). That’s where the fairing for the HF antenna goes. I’ll build it, but can’t attach it quite yet. I purposefully left a gap at the rear of my football so I can fair in some styrene where the rudder meets the tail. Was worried about it not being lined up and figured that was easier than building it, and then having to rebuild it once it was attached. Still need to attach the ALQ-126 behind the football. It was known as the “Coffee Can,” for obvious reasons. Not sure when it happened, but it’s actually an empty fairing...was nothing in there my entire career. I’ll also have a go at filling all those rivets, as they aren’t there on the real a/c. Will also make the antenna fairings on the tail. The football itself has some huge panel lines, usually filled with a gooey, nasty sealant (the name escapes me now). It’s really nasty...woe betide the person who ever got it on themself. Seriously, it’s worse than a bad baby’s diaper in that the more you wipe, the more it smears. I had some on my G-Suit that is still there some 15 years later! Point of the story is that the panel lines aren’t engraved, but rather proud of the skin. I have some tricks planned that I’ll share when I get there.


Next up will be fixing the rudder though. It’s wrong for a Prowler (and the A-6E IIRC). Essentially there’s a bigger fairing at the base, which was done to give a little more oomph to the rudder, what with that large unsightly football on top. 

Waiting for my neighbor (longtime friend from an overseas tour) to weld a couple of wires to see if I can pull off the tailhook for the arrested landing scene. Plus side of the Trumpy kit, is that it’s got lots of details on the inside, including the keel and some bulkheads, which should make some nice connection points to pull it off. I can’t really work on any other details until I figure that portion out, as I want the fuselage to be accessible.


More soon, and thanks for following along!



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7 hours ago, AlbertD said:

I really admire you for going to this level of scratch building.

Well...to be honest its a lot easier than trying to build a complete model from scratch! Seems too easy after that struggle.


At least for now anyway... I likely have several screws loose for even attemptingall this.:lol:


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OK chaps, plugging away and was hoping to have some big news with regards to the hook and inflight display. But lets get up to speed on where things stand right now.


Did some work on the rudder. As it stands, the Trumpeter rudder doesn't correctly represent an EA-6B  rudder(or A-6E rudder to be frank). I modified the base to get the correct shape. The very back is a piece of styrene cut to shape and then filled in with a mix of Apoxie Sculpt and then blended with Tamiya putty.

Here's the original rudder (too narrow):



Here's the new and improved version:





You can see how much wider it is... Also attached a piece of sprue for the tail light when that time comes. I never knew what that extension was on the base of the rudder, but it's there now. Also added the coffee can from a piece of round styrene stock I had laying about. Need to grab some Perfect Plastic Putty to fill all the rivets on the tail and empennage. They're not there on the real deal. Once that's done, I'll work on the antennas that are on the tail. Have them cut out, just need some more sanding prior to gluing. Will also start drawing out the panel lines for the football. Those are covered with about eleventeenmillion screw heads. I know archer has rivets, and I plan on getting/using their Dzeus sheet for when that time comes. What does everyone use to replicate screws? I *had* a nice photo etch sheet of small screw heads that I picked up in Akihabara years ago while living in Japan. I'll be darned if I can find it now (of course that was 3 moves and a lifetime ago...)


Anyway, here's some pics of where the tail stands right now. You can really see those god-awful rivets... I'll be happy when they're gone. I know that it's the Ironworks and all, but they're a bit much!






Now...on to the big news concerning the tailhook! Went over to a friends house and he welded some piano wire for me. Much to our surprise it actually worked! Even better, is I think it's stout enough to hold this thing up in an in-flight attitude! Here's the pics. Literally just traced the kit hook onto paper to get the right angles and he welded away. Took longer to set it up and find his hood than to do it... (excuse the poor photo quality--it's tough to photograph a grimy steel wire on white)

20200807_131053 20200807_131120


I was REALLY hoping to have something else to show you, BUT...  I broke the dang thing while getting it into the fuselage!  Seriously! The dang wire broke (and not at the weld?!) I had everything drilled up and mounting points located within bulkheads and it was going swimmingly. As I was test fitting I heard a pop, and it came apart in my hands. Better now than later on...  Already planning a second attempt tomorrow. As with everything in scratch building, be prepared to make a part multiple times. (So geht das lieben...or something to that effect!)


Most important aspect is that I have a way forward and think I can pull off the arrested landing scene. The wire was actually very stout and wasn't bending once I had the basic shapes down. Once I use JB weld to get in inside the fuse, it should hold up remarkably well.  


More soon. Essentially have the weekend to myself which will allow me to tinker and get it right!

Thanks for following along!


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Ok' think I have the tailhook sorted! Even better, it’ll work, and hopefully I’m taking enough photos for people to learn how to do their own...


After breaking my previous attempt, we went back and re-welded some wire. I think JB Weld would’ve worked too, and was up next in the bag of tricks. If you don’t have it in your modeling toolbox, I highly recommend it! Any way, the previous attempt was welded a bit like a wishbone. Not very stout, and broke just like a wishbone on Thanksgiving...  attempt number 2 was just but welding 2 pieces together similar to a tuning fork. Much, much stronger! I filed down the high spots and filled with JB Weld for extra strength. (Again, excuse the poor photos...steel is tough to photograph)


 Once I was comfortable with it, I started shaping it with a file. Added bits of styrene to start building out the hook shape. Trumpeters hook is close, but needs some finessing too. As it stands mine is about 1mm wider than scale. I haven’t added the ribbing around the side yet either, and I need to figure out the best way to replicate it without adding too much to the size. Can’t take too much metal off either without weakening the part. It’s a delicate dance, without a real engineering background or approach mind you.






So in the end, I think it’ll work. Once I get the hook to a point that I’m happy with, I’ll go over how I plan to attach it inside the fuselage.


Edited by easixpedro
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