Jet bottom blues

Modeling modern military aircraft is not all “spray it with gray, and call it a day”. I actually don’t build that many jets because I find some aspects of their construction to be tedious and frustrating.  This largely is due to the number of parts that need to be added after the model is painted. The complex landing gear components, various slats, flaps, aerials, and of course all those missiles, which can be kits in themselves.

Nevertheless, I like modern aircraft, and sometimes find myself drawn to building them.  A project that has been getting much of my attention lately, has been Fujimi’s excellent 1/72 scale F-14A.  I’m about 90% finished with the build, but am not squarely in the frustrating part of the project.

I’ve broken the missile pylons and gear doors off a few times already, and I’ve been having trouble getting the landing gear to look convincing. The red edging on the doors has led to smudges of red paint on areas nowhere near them, which meant lots of touchup painting.

Getting all those stripes on the missiles took a couple of nights, but I’m still not sure I like how they look. What do you readers think? What can I do to improve these parts of the kit, and make working on them less frustrating.


Sprue Cutter’s Union #13: Preparation

Jon B., over at the has introduced a fun shared feature, where various modeling bloggers participate in a weekly discussion/shared topic. This is the first one I am participating in. Check out his site, and the links therein to see what the previous discussions were about. Some of them are pretty interesting.

The topic for this week is preparation for a new build. The previously published discussion on this topic were interesting for me to read. Like with all things modeling, some folks devote extensive amounts of time to a preparing for a build, while others don’t pay it any mind. Guys like Jon at seem to invest a lot of time and effort into doing background research for a build. Others, such as Mike Grant at and David Knight at don’t take it as far.

I myself tend not to do much background research on a subject. This isn’t because I don’t like to do research. As a professional scientist, research is my business. Perhaps this is one reason I like to keep it away from my hobby in large part. Another reason I don’t invest much time or energy into prep work is that I have a tendency to fall into projects.

When I finish a model I don’t actively plan what I’ll work on next. Instead I tend to spend a few days (or weeks sometimes) waffling back and forth between multiple projects. At some stage I’ll finally get past some invisible threshold on one or two of the projects and devote more time to them. There is no rhyme or reason to what gets picked. If anything, I tend to follow the path of least resistance, and get drawn to projects which are either A) well along in the build, B) not throwing up undue challenges, or C) projects influenced by other peoples’ builds which have excited me.

For example, the last two months I worked on some IL-2 kits. I finished both and wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on next. I started tinkering with an old Monogram A-4, then wandered over to a Revell Tornado for a night or two. But the two projects which really caught my fancy were a Fujimi F-14 which was already about 80% complete and an old Revell/StarfighterDecals P-26, which was inspired by some great Yellow-wings build threads by a fellow who calls himeself “Inch-high” over at the 72nd aircraft forum ()

By the time I get to this stage in a build. I’m too drawn in to do extensive background research. I may do a quick web search to see if I can see photos of the aircraft or tank to determine how to best weather it, but I can’t be bothered to find unit histories, detail close-ups and the like.

That isn’t entirely true. I tend to get a bit more obsessive about my AFV kits than my aircraft kits. I don’t know why. Maybe something to explore in a future topic.

So there you have it. My preparation is to not prepare. I model by the seat of my pants. I do enough planning in real life, and don’t need to make it an aspect of the great escape that this hobby provides for me.

Thanks Jon B. for introducing this activity. I look forward to next week’s topic. Readers, I hope you enjoy these philosophical posts.


Check out the following for more responses:

Revell’s P-26 with a twist.

Hello dear readers (and deer readers),

I’m going to go ahead and pretend it hasn’t been 2+ years since my previous update and just jump right into a new topic.

Tonight I have started work on Revell’s P-26 Peashooter. Its an elderly kit and is way short on detail. But like many kits of the era (late 60s) it has a fairly accurate overall shape.

I will be using the excellent resin upgrade sets from Starfighter Decals to bring the kit up to a more contemporary standard. In the past, the most I’ve ever done with resin was to install an ejection seat or a bomb or missile, so this is a bit intimidating to me.

The Starfighter set is most excellent. The quality of the castings is top notch, and the pieces are engineered in a way to make removal from casting blocks relatively easy.

The set also comes with a very detailed text with photos instruction guide, so if I screw up its going to be my fault and not Starfighter’s.

The eagle eyed will notice I’ve already removed the pilot’s side door, but I have not yet played with the resin bits. Construction will begin in earnest tomorrow. I got my breathing mask for when I start sanding resin (a carcinogen I’m told), and I’m excited to learn how to do something new.

Stay tuned for updates in the coming days.