Sunday, May 22

Build review: FineMolds 1/72 F-14D Tomcat Part II

Gary's build of Finemolds F-14 Tomcat in 1/72nd scale has of course already been finished, but he has created a build article of about 10,000 words and many pictures to show you all of the elements that had to come together to create this masterwork. In this part, you see a lot more about how he got it all looking so good.

Build review: FineMolds 1/72 F-14D Tomcat - Part II
This kit is currently available exclusively from the many parts of the Model Graphix Magazine from Hobby Link Japan

Other parts of this review series:
Part 1 Modelgraphix & F-14 (engine nose & cockpit)
Part 2 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Fuselage)
Part 3 SA Magazine & F-14 (stores + Modelkasten Pilots)
Part 4 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Wings & Stores)
Part 5 Gary’s finished build galery of Finemolds 72nd scale Tomcat

Part I of the build of this kit
Part III of the build of this kit
Part IV of the build of this kit

Part V of the build of this kit

Today we continue on with Gary’s magnificent build in this – Part II of the build

Plastic model manufacturers always struggle with realistically reproducing cloth and cushions. So it was with the FineMolds provided canvas cover for the shroud covering. I needed some workable putty that could be rolled into thin sheets and applied to the shroud and give a more convincing canvas look. Magic Sculpt is designed for that job and here you can see I rolled it flat, using plain talc powder to stop it sticking to the cutting board. It took a few goes to get the effect I was after but I think it adds a great deal of interest (and realism) to this area behind the front seat. 
Here we see the forward fuselage joined with the front and rear shrouds in place. Also, notice that I have applied a base coat of white to the radar compartment bulkhead. This will be detail painted and then masked prior to main painting. 
To finish off the forward fuselage we need to add the single piece base plate. Be sure to determine before glueing what weapon load-out you intend so that you can pre-drill the appropriate holes.
Like most parts on this model the base plate is a snap fit with no gap or alignment problems to deal with. During my dry fitting stage earlier on I noticed that where the forward and main fuselage met the plates on the bottom did not line up perfectly. A very simple fix to this problem was to glue some small Evergreen sections on the overlap to give the two parts something to align to. 
Another view of the rear section of the forward fuselage showing again those alignment tabs I added. All cockpit areas have now been painted Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black and will later be weathered with washes and drybrushing.
No matter how well prepared you think you are, something almost always catches you out. In this case, I had forgotten to add any nose weight before glueing the fuselage together. Now it may not have been needed at all but I didn't want to risk her being a tail-sitter and so I worked out that I could slightly expand the hole under the forward shroud to allow me to drop in (and glue with two-part epoxy) some small lead sinkers. In all, I was able to fit in about 3 sinkers which were more than enough to keep her on the nosewheel. Problem solved.
The nosewheel well is nicely detailed with adequate ribbing and pipe detail for my taste. The chin pod can be added at this point as its painted the same colour as the fuselage. I have painted the rear part of the wheel well in black primer which will be followed by the white top coat. I almost never spray white over anything but black these days. I find white can be too bright / stark unless you tone it down with a dark primer.
With work on the nose progressing nicely, it was time to focus on the very opposite end of the model. The exhaust tube and afterburner rings are assembled and then sandwiched between the fuselage top and bottom later on.
The interior of the exhaust tube on most modern engines is made from a ceramic material. When new (and for quite some time after) it has a white finish. The rear of the engine and afterburner rings are painted simple black with a small amount of dry brushing to lift the detail. I just noticed as I was looking at the photo here that I put parts B8 on incorrectly as they should be reversed. Thankfully once the engines are sealed up even if you have a torch to look down into them you probably would not notice this mistake.
To prepare the fuselage main parts for assembly we need to add the main wheel well sidewalls and the rear beaver tail. I suggest leaving the arrestor hook off for now (part D24) as it will only get in the way when masking and painting the airbrake interiors (assuming like me you plan to have them open). Once again take careful note of which holes you need to drill in step 5. Virtually all F-14D's will need the yellow holes drilled to accommodate the shoulder pylons and if like me you intend to attach the Phoenix pylons then also pre-drill all the green holes now.
At first glance the breakdown of the fuselage looks overly complicated, however once you start to assemble them you realise that it's all very logical and because the fit is so good the whole thing clicks together requiring only a small amount of thin liquid glue to hold it all in place.
I have started to use black as a primer a lot more lately. I find it provides the best base for topcoats like white or in this case red for the airbrake interiors. The exhaust tube one-piece assembly is now lightly glued together. Be sure to avoid placing the liquid glue too near the join, lest it seep through and upset the paint on the inside.
The main wheel wells have been primed with black and then a couple of light coats of decanted Tamiya White Primer (my new favourite white paint) applied. In this case, the black base coat helps to give depth to the moulded in detail.
Once the top and bottom fuselage parts have been secured we can add the side sections, parts D14 & D15. I found these were probably the trickiest parts in the whole kit to get aligned properly as they having mating surfaces which attach to the top, bottom and front sections of the rest of the fuselage.
A top view of the mated rear fuselage sections. I have removed the black primer overspray (using a light abrasive) from around the airbrake well. I decided to leave off the wing sweep airbags at this point so I could paint them separately.
Next step is to paint and assemble the intake trunking. FineMolds provide us with a full set of intakes and a nicely detailed compressor face to simulate the front of the engines. Normally we spend a lot of time trying to avoid things like seams on the intake trunking but in this case (based on my dry fitting earlier) I decided that spending a huge amount on time and effort on trying to sand a 1:72 scale intake was not something I was up for.
The intake trunks are normally always painted white on modern jets (at least US jets). As mentioned above I realised that the seam would still be there but I reasoned that as it was so far down in the fuselage that no-one (not even those with a tiny mirror and light) would be able to see it. So each side of the intake trunk was painted (Tamiya White Primer) and carefully glued so as not to damage the paint (thus making a mess that would be visible).
With both intakes assembled next, we need to attach them into the engine nacelle housing. This is literally a click fit with virtually no gap left. The F-14 has a fairly complex variable ramp system which sits just inside the front of each intake. Like most supersonic jets such a system allows for control to slow the air entering the intake (and hence the engine) and is designed to change the geometry (shape) of the intake as the aircraft speed varies. FineMolds faithfully provides separate pieces for the ramps which allows us to display them in any position we desire.
Checking reference photos, I realised that the demarcation of the intake white and the exterior grey was not straight (like on most aircraft) but on an angle.
To make it easier to mask this area I left off the bleed air assembly and lower ramp (part E18 & E6) which allowed me access to the intake interior to lay out the masking tape. For tricky areas like this, I work with small strips of Tamiya tape laying them in place with needle nose tweezers. Once you have the demarcations masked you can backfill to protect from overspray.
With the work on the underside mostly complete now, a quick flip of the model and I installed a support beam from Evergreen rod. The plan was for this support to act as a brace for some separators I had thought would be needed for the bottom fuselage section. In the end, this was a precaution that was not needed but I decided to show it here anyway as an example of how builds can change as you progress and a reminder that you need to always plan ahead and remain flexible in your approach.
Not normally a huge fan of having too many open panels on my models my first inclination was to use the closed spine option on this kit. After thinking about it a bit more I decided that this was, after all, a review build and that I should endeavour to show as much of what the kit had to offer as I could. An open spine would also give me more options for my planned flight deck display base. A quick internet search revealed (as it so often does) the ideal shot of an F-14 with the spine open and so I had my colour reference for painting.

The base colour (Tamiya XF4 Yellow Green) was airbrushed and the piping / cabling was hand painted with Vallejo. A light wash has been applied to further accentuate the cable bundles and give a worn, grimy appearance to the whole area. 
The surface detail on this kit is some of the best I have ever seen in 1:72. I assume it is intentional that some of the panels on the fuselage have a different texture as shown in this photo. As usual, I lightly scribed each of the panel lines in preparation for the eventual panel washing after painting. In the end, I was glad I did this as I ended up applying many coats of paint so that little extra depth and sharpness to the panel lines came in handy. 
With the intake sub-assemblies complete and masked up it's time to mate them to the lower fuselage. I decided not to attach the engine exhausts at this point preferring to leave to the very end.
I primed the interior of the intakes in black as a way to give me some tonal variations when I finally laid down the colour coat. I used thin liquid glue (pure M.E.K. in most cases) to attach the parts and had to be careful to avoid damaging the applied paint too much. This photo also gives a good view of the join between the forward and rear fuselage sections. Those small plastic alignment tabs I added earlier now served their purpose by making sure the two surfaces aligned with each perfectly with no resulting step.
The ventral fins were attached and each needed a small amount of Milliput around the base to blend them into the engine nacelles. I also have attached the Phoenix mounting rails to the channel in between the engines. By OIF the Phoenix had been retired but the Tomcats still used the rails to carry LGBs and JDAMS.
Turning now to the undercarriage, I started with the nose gear. Some of these parts are very small in 1:72 (well at least for my eyes) so take your time and use your favourite liquid glue.
The landing light is provided in clear plastic but I normally prefer to just paint these over and then paint the lens in silver. In larger scales you can also use the very handy PE lens faces from someone like Eduard but in 1:72 some silver paint is adequate I have found.
As with all the white areas on this model I base coated the nose gear with black and then applied a couple of light coats of Tamiya White Primer. For the chrome finish on the oleo strut, I will use Bare Metal self-adhesive foil.
Part III of this build process is to follow in serial form over the next few days

Other parts of this review series:
Part 1 Modelgraphix & F-14 (engine nose & cockpit)
Part 2 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Fuselage)
Part 3 SA Magazine & F-14 (stores + Modelkasten Pilots)
Part 4 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Wings & Stores)
Part 5 Gary’s finished build of Finemolds 72nd scale Tomcat

Part I of the build of this kit

Part III of the build of this kit
Part IV of the build of this kit
Part V of the build of this kit

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for sending us the magazine/ model kit combo – look for the other parts of this magazine very soon and then a full build of this exciting looking little kit...

See more of Gary's wonderful builds on his Facebook Page and his Scalespot Website.