F-84 Thunderjet

Hobby Boss 1/72 F-84 by Tony Adams

This project was undertaken for entry into the clubs Hobby Boss  F-84 Thunderjet group build competition. This build would be the first bare metal finish project I had attempted since I resumed modelling, but I have made so much progress in developing my skills recently this would be no problem — wouldn’t it?

I purchased two kits; a “F model” that I intended to paint in French livery courtesy of an after market decal sheet from “Decals Cappena” and a G model that was to use the supplied Thunderbird display team livery. Not that I needed to purchase two Hobby Boss different kits as the parts supplied were identical. I decided not to make the kits in parallel reasoning that I could apply lessons learnt on the first kit to make a better job of the second.


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These kits are wonderful value for money, the quality is comparable to kits two or three times their price. Instead of starting with the traditional cockpit build, the solid mouldings lend themselves to get down n dirty very quickly. The moulding lines were removed with some light sanding [1] and where appropriate panel lines rescribed using Dyno tape as a guide [2]. The wings were soon attached requiring just a little filler at their roots [3]

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The equipment side panels were added and once cleaned the whole kit was given a coat of Alcad black primer [4]. This was given a light sand with 3600 Micromesh to provide a key for the Alcad top coat. I had decided to make the metal work as shiny as possible (for the Thunderbird scheme) so I choose Alcad chrome. This was spayed on at low pressure 10 – 15 psi and once two coats were applied I was cock a hoop – it looked very impressive, unfortunately it was here that things started to go seriously pear shaped!

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I left the paint a good two days to harden and then decided it would tolerate a little buffing with a soft cloth – mistake, as soon as I started rubbing the Alcad deposited itself on the cloth leaving black patches of primer. Grrrr  time to spray another coat. This went on OK and was left another couple of days but as soon as I touched it, it once again came off on my hands! The air at this time was being painted blue (not by my airbrush) I decided to claim down and make a start on the other model. This was built and primed in the same way as the first but this time I sprayed it Alcad Aluminium which went on much better and more importantly stayed on [5].

The decals I had purchased where for a French Armée d’ l’Air aircraft that was transferred from the USAF in 1953. The outer wing sections and tail were to be sprayed bright red (Tamiya X-7) I masked off the area and sprayed a white undercoat. I outlined the panel lines in black to give some preshading for the red, this was not a great idea as the red was too thin requiring a lot of coats before the preshade was obscured sufficiently, in the end I was far from happy with the effect.[6] I completed the main painting adding the olive drab anti glare finish to the fuselage top surfaces [7]

Meanwhile I had read an internet article on using kitchen foil as a bare metal finish. As the first model wasn’t looking too impressive I decided to use it to try out the technique. I removed as much of the chrome Alcad as I could with micromesh and purchased the cheapest kitchen foil I could find = thinnest. This was cut into small pieces and the non-shiny side coated in PVA glue. This was applied to the model and rubbed down with a cotton bud to remove any creases in the foil and bring out any panel detail underneath. Finally a new scalpel blade was used to cut the foil to the shape of the panels.[8][9] I was surprised how easy it was. I did make a number of mistakes, like joining the top and bottom surfaces of the wings at the leading edge which soon got very tatty. This was fixed easily by cutting the foil back to the first wing panel and then putting a new piece that wrapped around the edge. I found that as long as you kept the individual pieces of foil small (max 1″ square) the foil went on very well without any creases. The foil was thin enough to overlay adjacent panels and still look good which makes filling in gap easy. As I improved my technique I became less happy with the panels I had attempted first. Also time was getting on so I decided to complete my French F-84 before continuing with the foiling.

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The cockpit was sprayed dark green (I have a Tamiya F-84 I completed a few years ago to use as a reference, as there is little detail on interior colours form the Hobby Boss instruction sheet) , The seat and the instrument panel were dry brushed to bring out the detail, not that much will be seen once the greenhouse frames cockpit was in place[10]. This was masked (which took an age) and sprayed first green (for the interior) then Alcad silver. The wheel wells were sprayed dark yellow (Chrominate) and washed with Promodellers dark wash to give that grubby used look.

The undercarriage legs etc were then painted. I tried a new technique in painting the wheels. First they where sprayed silver (the hub colour) than a much thinned coat of dark grey (tyres are not normally black) was run around the outside of the hub with a paint brush using the capillary action to move the paint to the right areas. This was built up slowly. Once dry the rest of the wheel was painted. This was much simpler than masking the hub and produced a pretty good result.

Now I added the details. The Carpena details were incredibly thick and took a lot of microsol to lay down properly, even then the adhesion to the model was not great as I was to find out shortly.

These aircraft were rapidly transferred from the USAF in 1953 and still had some of their original markings on the underside. I used the original hobby boss details (which are brilliant) for the USAF markings and distressed them with a scalpel once dry, to make then looked uncared for.

 
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The rest of the details when on and at this point I felt I had a pretty decent model. Then my stupidity cut in… I had used a lot of microsol to soften the decals, I have noticed before that it sometimes discolours Tamiya paints. On this occasion I found a unattractive grey run on the tail section. Not a huge problem I would just have to give it a quick respray. So out with the Tamiya masking tape, a few quick blasts of the airbrush and it looked as good a new. That was until I removed the masking tape and found it took the tail plane and rear roundel decals with it. Ahhhhh . At this point it was good that these decals were so thick, with a huge amount of care I managed to remove most of the decal from the tape and reapply them. The port roundel looks pretty tatty and until I can get a replacement I will just have put it down to the hard use of the aircraft by the French.

I gave the whole airframe a wash of promodellers dark to accentuate the panel lines and then a coat of matt varnish to seal the paintwork. With the other bits and pieces added it doesn’t look too bad, at least I will have something to enter in the competition. As for the other model I have run out of time. I probably won’t finish it – as I think if I started again I could do a much better job. However I have leant a lot about foil and think that the next time I use it would produce a stunning effect.

 
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Lessons Learnt

  • Bare metal finishes are difficult
  • Don’t use Alcad Chrome for large areas
  • Foiling is straight forward and can produce great results
  • Never Never Never mask over decals
  • Be careful with Microsol and Tamiya paint (Add a protective layer of Future first)
  • Wheels can be painted easily using thinned paint

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