Go back and catch up with Part #1 of the build!
In the first part of the build I set out to improve Monogram's F-16XL by replacing the forward fuselage, due to a cracked canopy. This would facilitate my desire to have an open canopy F-16XL. I covered an installation of a spare Hasegawa cockpit tub, blended the fuselage with the replacement parts, painted the cockpit, and added a push-pin metal pitot tube and small detailing to the forward fuselage. Click the link image to the right to go back and check it out from the start in case you missed it.:
Part #2 | basic modelling..
Moving on now to some basic model building..filling gaps and seams. Before committing to assembly with cement or superglue, I always, always dry-fit major parts. This has several benefits., such as; helping to identify poor fit, the location of any gaps or seams, kit damage or helping with kit bashing and conversions for accurate measuring and cutting of parts. My dry-fitting helped me identify long gaps along the wings leading edge on the underside of the fuselage. I'll use one of my favourite basic gap-filling putties for this. I'll use a method for smoothing the putty to minimize sanding using nail polish remover: Check it out In the photos below:
Squadron White putty
My favourite gap-filling putty has to be Squadron's white putty due to its fine consistency, fast-drying and finishing characteristics. I dispense a small dollop at a time and spread it with a sculpting spatula tool.
Before I spread the putty, I use masking tape to mask (and / or) protect the surrounding area so as to avoid damaging detail.
Now I spread the putty along the seam while pushing and smoothing the white putty in the gap with the small spatula. Tip: If you find the putty is drying to fast as you work; Squadron putty can be thinned with nail polish remover to keep the putty workable as you work. Well use the nail polish again in another technique..read on.
After letting the putty dry for 10-15 min I removed the masking tape. Pull the tape away from the edge (not straight up). This will avoid pulling away the setting putty from the filled gap.
Clean putty application
The result of careful tape removal, leaving a neat edge and surrounding detail is undisturbed. Now it's time to smooth the gap and blend with the model surface.
Smoothing with nail polish remover
Here's where the nail polish remover comes in again. This time I use it to smooth the puttied area, effectively blending and fairing the seam with the surrounding surface. Nail polish remover thins the putty well. Soak the tip of a cotton swap and wipe over the puttied seam to begin smoothing.
Smooth it out
Continue with cotton swabs soaked in nail polish remover along the length of the seam. The key is to smooth the putty out across the seam with light pressure to avoid removing too much putty from the gap. As you smooth the putty, the cotton swab will get caked with putty. Use fresh swabs as needed until finished.
I repeated the process for a small gap on the rudder.. When done carefully; taking your time using this method, you may find you can avoid using traditional sanding. As was the case here.
After dry-fitting the main air-intake to the underside of the fuselage, I realized that the old kit had no simulated intake trunking. It was just a gapping hole that showed through to the inside of the kit with no detail or turbine face, etc. So I simply decided to block off the intake just deep enough to paint the interior black to give the impression of deep trunking to the turbine. I could have began a lengthy scratch-building of a seamless intake, but I didn't see the need to for this model. The illusion would more than suffice for my desk-top replica. See photos below: The kit air-intake is completely lacking of any detail to simulate trunking. I'll close this up using sheet styrene." href="http://static.squarespace.com/static/51 ... unking.jpg" class="image-slide-anchor content-fill" >
Spartan intake After shaping a piece of sheet styrene to the shape of the intake, I secured it in place using liquid cement." href="http://static.squarespace.com/static/51 ... 0black.jpg" class="image-slide-anchor content-fill" >
Styrene wall Next, I airbrushed the intake interior Tamiya Flat white (XF-2)
as a preliminary to Tamiya Flat Black (XF-1) to simulate a deep interior trunking. " href="http://static.squarespace.com/static/51 ... 8/%233.jpg
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After painting the intake interior white, I set it aside to await the main fuselage colours where I will apply the standard USAF grey scheme. Now on to other details, such as static discharger whips.
Making static dischargers
I wanted to add more detail, so after inspecting reference photos of the F-16 airframe including the wings, I noticed the static discharger whips located on the trailing edges of the wings, ailerons and tail fin. I checked the model and I saw the start of this abbreviated detail but, but not complete. So i began making the discharger whips using Invisible thread. The thread is appropriately thin and looked to scale with the model. Also the thread is flexible incase of bumps after the model is finished and won't break off. Perfect. Heres how I made them:
Required are Invisible thread, pin-vise w/ drill bit, and a needle mine shown (here, chucked in a wood handle)
Start the hole for the whip
Using the needle I start the hole where I'll insert the invisible thread whip. After locating where the whip is supposed to be, I carefully press the sharp needle to create an indention start a drill hole.
After starting the whole, I use the pin-vice to drill tiny holes where I'll insert small strands of the invisible thread.
Ready to insert the whips..
With the tiny holes drilled out, I'm ready to insert tiny strands of the invisible thread with tiny drops of superglue.
Strands of thread..
I clip off 1/2 inch small strands of invisible thread for the whips. I don't worry about measuring the exact length at this time..I usually install and cut to length after installation because it's easier.
To install the strands of invisible thread, I dip one end of the thread in a small pool of superglue, then insert it inside the drilled holes. I take care to position them so that the strands are straight/ level, etc. then set them in place with a tiny drop of superglue accelerator.
Trim to length..
After installing the whips in place, I now trim the strands to length with small scissors. I simply refer to reference photos, and literature for proper length translated to 1/72 scale. When all else fails, rely on what looks visually correct to your eye compared to photos.
After trimming the strands to length, the static dischargers are complete. I repeat the same process for the main wing trailing edges. Go ahead, run your finger along the whips; they're flexible, so the won't break off!
Here, a look at the completed whips along the length of the main wings.
Detailing the weapons and ordnance
Knowing that the F-16XL is/ was an experimental concept fighter and is shown with prototype AMRAAM's and AIM-9Ls, detailing them is somewhat unnecessary. However, I was having fun and wanted to flex my detailing muscle as well as share how I go about detailing missiles and ordnance; specifically their rocket nozzles for a realistic look. Here's my technique:
To open the rocket nozzle, I use a pin-vice with a small bit and drill out the nozzle
To simulate a realistic nozzle opening, I use my sharp hobby blade to reem-out the hole and thin the nozzle edge.
No detailing here, just basic assembly. Liquid cement was used and clamped with clothespins and allowed to cure.
The missiles now appear with realistic rocket nozzles and are now ready for painting and finishing.
Painting and detailing the wheels
With the fuselage and weapons assembled detailed/ ready for paint, the model is rapidly nearing the stage for painting and finishing. At this stage, lets work on the wheels. Over the years I struggled to find a method to paint and finish the wheels for a sharp clean look with no overspray of the tire colour on the white hubs. I came up with a tried and true method using Parafilm M
to get the job done. Check out the steps in the photos below:
Masking and painting tires with Parafilm-M
The method I use is to first paint the wheels the appropriate colour Flat Black or Tire Black, then mask the tire areas leaving the hub exposed to airbrush Gloss White. Parafilm M, a pair of scissors and a sharp hobby knife are needed.
Working with Parafilm-M
To begin, I cut off a 1-inch section of Parafilm-M and remove the paper backing.
Activation of adhesive
To activate Parafilm's adhesive properties, it needs to be stretched out until taught and then set aside for 20-30 sec. Parafilm's adhesive is non-residual and leaves no sticky film after removal, ideal for scale modelling.
The idea is to sandwich the wheel between the top and bottom layer of Parafilm. Using your finger, press the Parafilm into Wheel and the hub details, etc. No burnishing tool are recommended, as they can possible rip/ tear the film.
Parafilm-M/ wheel sandwich
Here you can see the wheel covered or sandwiched between the Parafilm.
Cut away the excess
I simply use the scissors to cut away excess film not needed.
Expose the hub
Now with the tire covered with Parafilm, I use a sharp number #11 blade in my hobby knife to cut around the hub. When we rubbed the Parafilm down with our fingers, the translucent Parafilm material reveals details well, allowing us to see where where we need to trim.
Removal the hub mask
After trimming around the hub with the hobby knife, you can carefully lift the Parafilm away from the area, leaving the hub exposed. If you find that you didn't slice through the Parafilm around the hub well enough, carefully do so with the tip of the hobby knife and it should come away cleanly.
Ready for airbrushing
Now you should have the the wheel hub exposed with a clean, sharp mask over the wheel tire area. Now its time to airbrush the hub Gloss White (in the case of most USAF jets). This method is ideal for airbrushing because, brush painting could possibly disturb the Parafilm-M and lift the masking material from the tire, creating more chance of a sloppy painted edge.
After a few coats of Gloss white I allowed them to dry over night or for at least several hours with Tamiya acrylics. I then airbrushed a few thin layers of Future floor finish- also allowed to dry and applied a weathering wash.
Tinting the canopy
With our new "open-canopy" F-16XL, I wanted to simulate the tinted appearance seen on most F-16s. The canopy that came with the kit was tinted "smoke." I didn't want to simply recreate that look, I wanted to go for a more gold-ish appearance. To do this, I often use Future floor finish
(AKA: Pledge floor care finish, Pledge with future shine, or Klear) with food colouring or better; a selection of artist water colors. The type I have found to work well for mixing with Future floor finish and tinting canopies are Dr. Ph. Martin brand transparent water colours.
They are available in single colours or a pack of standard colours from black to greens. I'll go through my technique below to show how I tint my aircraft canopies.
Tools of the trade..
For a gold/ smoked canopy I chose black and yellow transparent water colours. I'll need to mix these with the Future floor finish and airbrush this mix on the canopy plastic in thin layers. I have found that I prefer airbrushing because it gives me superior results as apposed to dipping or brushing that can leave brush strokes and or uneven pooling/ dripping of the tinted Future mix. Instead I typically get thin, even coats that are nearly crystal clear.
Mix it up
To make the tint, I use a ratio of 1 eye-dropper full of Future to one drop each of the Black and Yellow transparent water colour. I use a Tamiya stir tool to thoroughly mix/ and blend it together. Use your eye to either add more or less colour to your taste. If you find that you added too much colour, add more Future to the mix. When the tint looks good to you, your ready to airbrush it on.
On with the tint..
Adjust your airbrush properly. If you are using a gravity-feed airbrush such as this Iwata model, 10-15 psi is ideal. If your airbrush is a siphon-feed (colour cup on the bottom) adjust the psi to between 15-20 psi. This will aid in properly atomizing the paint or in this case or Future tint mix so it goes down on the canopy plastic in a slightly wet layer- not drying to fast or too slow...but just right. Airbrush it on with smooth passes and avoid stopping on the part to avoid pooling and dripping. Airbrush 1 to 2 thin coats and allow to dry for 10-15 min and reapply a few more thin layers and again allow it to dry.
Repeat for both parts of the canopy
Lets not forget the rear canopy section.. Repeat the application with the airbrush and allow the canopies to dry in a dust free environment. Place them down on a glass surface with a bowel over-top is ideal.
Aircraft colours | painting and finishing
Well we've, made our conversion effectively replaced the forward section of our F-16XL, replaced the cockpit, canopy, added detail, addressed the lacking intake, filled seams and tinted the new open canopy. Now, we are nearing the final stage of painting and finishing the model. The F-16XL has the standard Light Ghost underside/ Gunship Grey upper with Neutral Grey forward area near the nose. The F-16XL also has the very distinct red, white and blue scheme added. There are no decals provided to achieve the over-all finished paint scheme. All it takes is careful masking and layering the colours from lightest to dark for success. For the F-16XL I used Model Master enamels
. See the photos below for my painting sequence:
I start by pre shading with Flat Black. I attached the tinted canopy so I can airbrush the canopy framing in the same session. I take my time to airbrush as much of the panels, hatches, etc. as possible.
First layer (White)
After letting the pre shad dry for just 20 min. I cleaned the airbrush and loaded it with the first "lightest" color layer; Flat White. I could have used gloss but the flat paints dry faster and I don't have to wait days in-between colour layers.
While I had the Flat White still loaded in the airbrush, I painted the white layer on the middle of tail fin.
Second layer (Light Ghost) bottom
The next colour layer is the Light Ghost airbrushed to the underside. This second layer also serves double duty as a primer for the subsequent colours.
Light Ghost Upper..
I cut long thin strips of Tamiya tape and applied them over the white to represent the bold white striping. then I could continue airbrushing the Light Ghost on the upper forward fuselage area.
Third layer (Blue)
Now with the white striping masked and the Light Ghost applied, I got right on to airbrushing the third layer, the Flat Blue along the spin of the upper fuselage.
Prep for the 4th Layer (Gunship Grey)
After letting the blue paint cure for an hour or so, it was time for the 4th colour, Gunship Grey. Before applying, I had to mask the blue areas and around the leading and trailing edges of the model to guard against unwanted overspray.
Intake camo demarcation..
I shifted gears and addressed the camo demarcation on the intake. To accomplish this I scanned the instruction sheet, sized it to 1/72 scale and used the cut-out of the pattern as a loose mask for airbrushing.
Tail fin all dressed..
I went ahead and finished the tail by masking the blue and white and airbrushed the Flat Red to finish it off. Now its back to the main fuselage for the final Gunship Grey application.
Using "loose masks" for airbrushing..
The fine-feathered demarcation line of the Gusnship Gray over the lighter is needed here. I repeated the same technique of using scanned instruction sheet, resized and camo pattern cut out for a loose mask while airbrushing.
Cut out pattern..
After the scanning and re-sizing, the camo pattern is cut out.
Check before you proceed..
I checked to make sure that the scanned pattern was the proper size before committing further. Things looked great, so I proceeded.
Apply the pattern..
Apply the cut out pattern and place it on the model with small rolled pieces of tape (folded on itself) or Blue Tack putty. Blue Tack is ideal as it is has a low adhesive stickiness and will not likely pull up the underlying colours from the model. I tend to use thin rolled pieces of Tamiya tape for this.
Airbrush the last layer..
Now I airbrush the final Gunship Grey. I spray away from the loose mask. I strive to aim the spray over the masked edge at 90 degree angle or perpendicular so as not to cause the paint to go under the mask to cause overspray.
Remove the mask..
With the final layer applied and allowed to cure for a few hours, I can remove all masking to reveal and inspect our work for any touch ups, flaws, etc.
All painting is complete. Here, the sub- assemblies are ready for final construction to complete the F-16XL.
Future gloss over-coat
Now, after assembling the fighter, I apply a over-all gloss protective coat of Future floor finish to the model. This serves to protect the colour layers, prep for decaling and preps the surface for panel accent wash.
Ready for inspection
I finished the model by applying the decals, accenting the panel lines and posing the new tinted canopy open. All missiles, ordnance, landing gear and jet exhaust can has been painted and installed. My new "open-canopy" F-16XL is ready to taxi to her place in my modern military aircraft collection. So, as you can see, with some basic and maybe a few advanced tips & techniques; you can turn what may have been headed for the trash to a model you wouldn't hesitate to put in a model show.
Click on the images to below to have a closer look
I don't believe there is such a thing as a "bad kit." The kit manufacturers all do an amazing job at mastering model kits with awesome detail, choices of scale and subject variety, and decent fit in general. Where there is less than ideal fit, loss or lack of desired detail and accuracy; this is where the scale modeller comes in. It's up to us to make the model the best it can possibly be, only limited by his or her personal skill level and imagination. With that said, the kit gives us one heck of an amazing starting point. It is a skilled modeller who makes a great finished scale model, not the kit manufacturer. Anyway, I digress. I hope you enjoyed following along as the F-16XL came together. I also hope that you found the tips and techniques used here useful for your own scale modelling! Tell me what you think; feel free to drop a comment or question or share a tip/ technique of your own.