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McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II "HAF 40 Years of Phantoms" [Zoukei-Mura 1:48]


Alex
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Making progress on the ejection seats

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Still need to acrylic clear coat, wash, flat, pastel, etc etc.  There are aspects of how they are molded that are not super-accurate, but they are also tiny and I need to eventually finish this model so I have to draw a line somewhere and move on....

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I'm now getting foolishly obsessed with these missiles.  I found some great photos of AIM-9Ms online, so had to try and replicate them.  Started with white:

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Then masked off what needed to stay white

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Painted the bits to be metallic black

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Note that half of the front fins are still off, to make masking easier.  Next layer was Alclad Duraluminum with a bit of Steel added.

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Then mask off the fins and add a light mist coat of Pale Burnt Metal

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Mask more and do the collar at the back of the metallic area with Semi-Matte Aluminum plus a tiny bit of gray

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Finally mask more and do just the two raised bands with Mr Metal Color Titanium

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All the tape removed

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The tonal differences are subtle, but more obvious in person than the iPhone photo shows.

Used the Molotow chrome pen on the nose, the a drop of black on the very tip for the sensor window.

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All four of them

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It looks too "polished metal" right now, but a coat of flat will hopefully fix that.  In parallel I found some spare stencil decals from old sheets and took pieces to stencil the Sparrows.  I'll do these guys tomorrow the same way, then flat coat them all.  Too obsessed.  I need to finish this model.

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Sidewinders and Sparrows completed.  You can't look too close, because the "stencils" are just decal gizmology - they don't say anything that makes sense to be lettered on a missile, because they're just spares from other kits.  But at real-life scale they are too small to read and add some realism IMO.

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Fuselage is buttoned up, with the extra one-piece canopy tacked on with PVA to protect the cockpit while I paint the camo.

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And all the other bits

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One of the things I want to do with this paintjob is to "fade" a lot of the stencil decals to reflect the worn condition of the lettering that you see in photos of these aircraft.  I want to do this by misting a light coat of the camo colors over them after they are applied.  I was thinking that I would have to sandwich them between layers of clear acrylic to do this, because I have had trouble before with trying to spray lacquer clear over decals and having them lift and buckle (on my IL-62M project, specifically).

 

I mentioned this as a caution over on citadelgrad's P-47 thread, and promptly a bunch of people politely told me that I was confused, and there was no problem with laying down clear lacquer over decals.  One person went so far as to say he had used mist coats of Mr Leveling Thinner as a decal setting solution.  So with that kind of pushback I decided some further experimentation was in order.  There are no spare decals on the HAF sheet I have, so I could not experiment with those.  As an alternative, I cut a few decals from the Z-M sheet that came with the kit, and applied them to my paint color tester from a few pages back.  Once they dried, I misted over them with a 50-50 mix of Mr Leveling Thinner and the MRP paint that I will use for the camo.  Lo and behold, decals faded into the background color with no harm to the decals themselves at all:

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I will still need to try this out in a limited way once I start laying down my actual decals, since I couldn't pre-test that sheet, but this result makes me optimistic that I will be able to "fade" the stencils directly with an overlay of thinned MRP.  Which would be much simpler.

 

So, provisionally this is the "simpler" painting sequence I'm thinking about:

1. Paint everything black with Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500

2. Do white stippling to provide variation and "lighten" upper surfaces and selected panels, following photos of the actual plane as much as possible.

3. Wet sand with 4000/6000 grit to kill and roughness

4. Paint the camo colors using blu-tack snakes as masks to give a fuzzy edge.  This will be fiddly because I do not want to start by painting the whole airframe the lightest gray tone, since this will kill the stippling aspect of the black base for the other colors.  So I'm going to have to get the edges precise.  Fortunately this appears to be the way the actual planes were painted, as you can see little off-shade boundaries between some of the patches of camo color where they overlapped.  Then paint HAF roundels.

5. Wet sand again, probably 8000 grit since the MRP layer will be thin.

6. Stencil decals (all the ones I want to fade)

7. Mist over thinned MRP to fade them.

8. The rest of the decals (special anniversary markings and some of the safety signs that appear to be freshly re-applied on the actual plane).

9. Gloss acrylic layer (probably Tamiya, which I've been testing out and liking).

10. Enamel PLW (also Tamiya)

11. Flat acrylic layer.

12. Do some additional light weathering on the camo with thinned oil paint washes/filters, followed by pastel weathering as needed.

13. Seal with another flat acrylic layer.

14. Completely change focus and mask around the bare metal parts of the fuselage and tailplanes.

15. Give those areas a light wet sand to kill any roughness from camo overspray on them (I'm not going to try and avoid them in the initial camo process, I don't think it's necessary).

16. Paint them gloss black.

17. Try to do the best job I can with Alclad and possibly some Mr Metal Color to create that heat-distressed metal look on the fuselage plates and the exhaust nozzles.

18. Pastel weathering and possibly also acrylic PLW over the metal areas.

 

I started that journey tonight by painting the separate bits black.

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Once the fuselage is also painted black I'll probably glue the flaps and ailerons on - I just wanted to paint them separately so that any areas in the gaps that don't get a dense coat of the camo color will be dark instead of having bare plastic peeking through.

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8 hours ago, Brett M said:

Really nice, and…that’s a heck of a process you’ve got planned. Looking forward to see paint start going down.

It’s actually pretty necessary for me to write the steps out - I will literally go back to that post and check to make sure that I’m not skipping anything…

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Pretty in Black

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Started with mottling on the bottom.

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Partway through the top - this required lots of focus, and I think I probably should have used more diluted paint than my normal mix.  Live and learn.

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Done.  There are two small patches where I slipped and got too much paint on.  They'll need judicious sanding.  Otherwise I think it went OK for my first attempt at this method.

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1 hour ago, Jennings Heilig said:

That’s looking great!  One thing before it’s too late.  This antenna needs to be removed.  That’s the SST-181X beacon antenna.  Only used by the USAF, and not after the late 1970s.

 

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Easy to do - thanks for pointing it out!

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Light gray first

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Topsides

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One disturbing thing about this method is the oily snail tracks that the Blu-tack snakes leave behind.

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Fortunately they come right off with Goo Gone

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I am being careful to wipe off the Goo Gone with a clean, dry tissue and then wipe down with a wet tissue to pick up any Goo Gone residue.  Really don't need anything interfering with paint adhesion now.  I'm going to let this all harden off for a few hours then at least make a start on the blue tonight.

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Base camo layer is complete.  It's not amazingly good by any stretch, and it took a long time and several rounds of touch-ups to get even to this point.  But, it definitely retains the subtle tonal variation that the black-base method is supposed to produce.  I think what will (hopefully) save it is that I'm going to do quite a bit of weathering over the top, so some of the flaws will tend to get hidden.

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One learning from the process is that I seriously over-bought paint.  Thinking that MRP tends to go quickly since you use it undiluted, I bought two bottles of each of the main camo colors.  Ended up using less than half a bottle of each.  Fortunately the grays at least are pretty common FS code camo colors, so I'll end up using them on other projects.  Also on the paint front, I did end up adding some blue tint (in the form of MRP French Blue) to the blue camo shade.  Even with the addition I think it barely looks as blue as the photos of the actual planes do.  So I'm glad I tweaked it.

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2 hours ago, Jennings Heilig said:

That’s gorgeous! Those colors have to be hard to get right.

Yes, and I'm still not sure that they are exactly right.  If you look at this shot in good direct sunlight, I think the blue still ought to be lighter and "bluer" - I could have added some white to it as well.  Live and learn.

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