Tuesday, June 2

Build Review Pt IV: 1/48th scale North American FJ-2 Fury from Kitty Hawk - Painting, masking & finishing the kit...

On the way to perfecting his 48th scale FJ-2 Fury from Kitty Hawk. Gary has glued, sanded, substituted, finessed, preened & educated the readers on just how to turn this kit into something special. Today he adds all of the elements together to paint, weather & finish the kit in part IV of his story.

Build Review: North American FJ-2 Fury - Build Review

From Kitty Hawk 
Kit No #80155
1/48th scale
Price €44.48 / 49.35 USD  from Hobbylink Japan
Facebook Link for Kittyhawk Models
Previous parts of this story on the news...
Build Review Pt I: 1/48th scale FJ-2 Fury from Kitty Hawk - Cockpit areas
Build Review Pt II: 1/48th scale FJ-2 Fury from Kitty Hawk - Fuselage & Wings 
Build Review Pt III: 1/48th scale FJ-2 Fury from Kitty Hawk - Riveting & Sealing

Build Review Pt IV: 1/48th scale North American FJ-2 Fury from Kitty Hawk - Painting, masking & finishing the kit...

Natural metal...
Following a coat of Tamiya Fine Grey Primer on the bare plastic, my first metallic layer was Alclad ACL101 Aluminium. I have come to trust this particular Alclad shade as my workhorse metal base coat. 
It's pretty much bulletproof and provides a lovely smooth finish onto which other metal shades, from Alclad, AK and Mr Color would be applied.
One thing I like in particular about the Alclad paints is their 'maskability'. I have no fear of applying Tamiya tape over ALC101 and here I am getting ready to apply several shades of other metal paints.
Based on my previous testing of the AK Xtreme and Mr.Color Super Metalizer paints I decided to mix things up to try and get some subtle variations in not only colour but finish (sheen) of the many panels on the Fury.
Like the fuselage, the wings on the early US jets are covered in lovely panel detailing that is crying out for some attention in the form of rivet detail and careful metal shade selection. I was very happy that all my riveting work had not been lost under the layers of paint. I need not have been concerned because metal paints are so thin that they reveal all the best (and worst) parts of your surface preparation !!
Whilst probably not technically needed, I decided nonetheless to apply a very fine coat of Tamiya LP9 Gloss Clear over the metal shades to provide some level of protection from the decaling, masking and weathering to come. 
Once again based on testing I have settled on the lacquer based clears for use over the top of metalizers as I find they produce the least visible impact to the metal finish of all the clears.
Painting and creating the masks for the markings...
The time had come for me to select a final marking scheme. I was initially drawn to the very colourful VMFA-235 Death Angels but I already had my F-8E Crusader in those markings and settled instead on VMF-334 'Falcons' as I liked the red lightning bolt running down the side of the fuselage.
There are several black and white period photos of aircraft 13 from VMF-334 and as I did more research it began to dawn on me that the all too familiar Achilles heel of KittyHawk kits had found its way into this release as well. Poor research on the part of the instruction and decals has plagued just about every KH kit I have reviewed. Even a cursory comparison between the colours and sizes of the KH markings showed major errors.

Kit colour call outs
A correct profile for this aircraft...
As I consigned the kit decals to the appropriate receptacle sitting under my bench I settled down to a session with my computer and the Silhouette designer. The letters and numbers represented no real challenge as we can use normal computer fonts for this task and after a bit of trial and error, I was happy with the falcon and lightning bolt masks as well.
As I had recently obtained a roll of Oramask 810, a self-adhesive, semi-transparent vinyl masking material I decided to take it out for a run on this project. Starting with an easy one I applied the vinyl mask to the model surface and used some normal tape to protect from any overspray. Of course, the USMC decided to apply the MARINES partially over the speed brakes and I wanted to display these open, so I needed to deal with the partial letters on the brake as well.
The result once the black paint had dried and masking removed was some very sharp lettering. The benefit of vinyl masking is that for small subjects like we use in scale modelling the detail is very precise. The downside of vinyl masks is that they have a limited shelf life due to shrinkage and deterioration of the adhesive.
Proceeding carefully I applied the remainder of the masks and sprayed with some Gaianotes Semi-Gloss Black, as this was another new brand which appeared in my local hobby shop that I had not seen before. Thinned with Mr.Color Leveling Thinners it sprayed nicely and gave a smooth semi-gloss finish. Gaianotes is popular amongst Gundam modellers I believe but is perfectly suited to us aircraft modellers as well :)
I was able to correct the design and size of the KH kit decal for the lightning bolt and this was sprayed before the black falcon and 13 modex number were applied. I was impressed with how the vinyl Oramask 810 material was able to provide sharp lines even over many panel lines and rivets. I did burnish the masks down a bit but nothing extraordinary.
One of the other benefits of making your own masks is that you can easily add omissions from the kit decal sheet. KittyHawk did not include a decal for the MARINES marking under the port wingtip and as this was going to be quite visible once the wing was folded I simply scaled up the tail MARINES mask and cut it out.
I had originally planned to mask and paint the US insignia but I was struggling to get a good result with the multi-part masking needed for the three (red, white and blue) colours. After getting frustrated I cut myself a break and switched back to trusty decals, but certainly not the kit items. The blue used in the kit decals was way off as was the size. Kittyhawk provides four decals of all the same size, for which none is correct. I instead turned to my Furball Stars and Bars sheet and selected 25" markings for the fuselage and the larger 30" for the wings.
I did have to resort to the kit decals for the smaller stencilling as these are beyond the ability for my Silhouette cutter. All of the decals and masked markings were then sealed with another light coat of Tamiya LP9 in preparation for one last round of masking and then panel wash.
I had intentionally left all the painting of the interior bays (wheel wells, airbrakes etc) to the very end. I find it much easier to mask these areas from the outside edge rather than paint them first and mask from the inside. I ended up applying a green primer colour as I made an educated guess that given the period when the FJ-2 was in service that manufacturers were still applying these protective colours to such areas. I did find a couple of colour photo's that showed the airbrake interior in green and the nose gear door interior and airbrake in safety red.
A good wash makes you dirtier?
For a panel wash, I wanted a colour that would subtly emphasise the surface details without too much contrast (which never looks very realistic). For the job, I selected the Tamiya Dark Gray Panel Liner which is a very thin enamel-based wash product. The wash was liberally applied over the model surface because I find a little grime outside the recessed details never goes astray. 
Most enamel washes can be best removed with a very mild solvent such as White Spirit. I try and avoid the use of more refined products like thinners for this task as they tend to be 'hotter' and more aggressive risking damaging your underlying paint coats, even if you have applied a clear coat !!
The end result we are looking for is a finish that makes the panel and rivet detail more realistic but is not overpowering. The surface detail is not meant to be the star of the show, it has a supporting role. If you find your panel lines screaming at you try to tone them down with a lighter, more subtle wash colour.
The other side effect of a good panel wash is it darkens the overall 'gleam' of the metal finish. It's also true that some of the 'matt' wash pigment is left outside the panel lines and this also helps to cut the shine of the metal just that little bit.
Finishing with a Fury...
With the main finish now mostly complete I turned my attention to several of the smaller last-minute details. One of the eye-catching features of the Fury over its land-based cousin is undoubtedly the wing fold. I particularly like this type of fold where it's just a few degrees over 90 as it does not obscure any of the wing or fuselage on the model. Many of the photos of Fury flight-lines show support struts in place and I reproduced these from 0.019" brass rod. Being safety equipment would now be painted red.
As happens to us all, I misplaced (aka lost) the wing tip pitot tube. This turned out to be a good thing as it forced my hand to scratch build one from brass rod (which look way better and more in scale). The unusual kink in the pitot is to ensure the leading edge slats to not hit it when they extend.
Before attaching the canopy I had to make up a part to represent the loop antenna for the ARN6 Radio Compass which sits on a shelf just behind the seat. For this, I grabbed some clear sprue and used my Dremmel like a lathe to round off the end. This was painted using clear orange/smoke. This photo also shows the extended boarding steps on the fuselage side.
Whilst I was generally happy with the metal effect I had achieved I still felt the overall finish of the model was too fresh/clean. To address this I used the airbrush to apply grime in very targeted areas. The grime was achieved by mixing Tamiya Red Brown / Rubber Black and super heavily thinning use pure IPA (not normal X-20A thinners). This mix allows you to airbrush the 'filter' onto the model without it making a mess like you would normally get with over-thinned paint.
Using this filter grime mix you can keep coming back and slowly build up the opacity of the effect as can be seen around the filler caps on the drop tanks. These areas would quickly become grotty due to fuel spillage. As with any weathering effect, less is more.
The final assembly of the undercarriage, wing folds, airbrakes, arrestor hook and drop tanks had to undertaken with increasing care as each new addition made the model harder to find a safe holding point but in the end, it all came to together. 

Here are some close-in detail photos of the finished kit...
CONCLUSION - Kitty Hawk 1:48 FJ-2 Fury (80155)
It's normally with some apprehension that I embark on the build of any new KH kit as in my mind they have developed a habit of getting their kits 'almost right' or 'often wrong'.
This typically means parts 'almost fit' and the shape/accuracy, in general, is 'almost correct'. Markings and colours are 'close enough' to be frustrating but not fatal. I'm not saying that they need to get it perfect all the time, but I've built and reviewed enough KH kits to notice this pattern.
So it is with this kit. In many ways, KittyHawk has certainly improved. The fit of this kit is very good, the kit does not feel as over-engineered as some of their previous releases and the number of mis-formed or short shot parts has pretty much been eliminated.
The area where KittyHawk consistently drops the ball is around their research (or lack thereof) for the aircraft markings and paint schemes, especially in boxings where you have a choice of variants.
In my build, I chose to use my own masks (because I could), but I feel sorry for other modellers who need to use the kit decals because they will ruin what is otherwise a truly nice kit.

So would I recommend this kit? Hell yes, I would, it's a very good representation of the FJ-2 Fury in 1:48, probably the best we have (or are likely to have). However, unless you can make your own decals or masks I would strongly suggest you source an after-market sheet, at the very least for the national insignia.
Gary Wickham

Thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for the kit – check out all of their stuff at their website or Facebook page… 

If you like Gary's models then please do go to his website www.Scalespot.com for a whole lot more of that...