Last we left off, the airframe was together with the parts and we were ready to paint. In preparation, I added the landing gear. To me, this allows the plane to sit up off surfaces while drying and these were sturdy and fit perfectly with the best attachment points I have seen. To start, I used Tamiya acrylic high gloss white thinned with lacquer thinner and sprayed the bottom and slightly up the sides. I masked off the intakes as they had a great demarcation line from the previous painting and the great design. I also shot the flaps, the rudder on the tail and all the landing gear doors. This dried quickly and I masked off for the Gull Gray. I masked around the edges and the rudder and used my Gyrocut to get some wavy lines. Tamiya yellow tape was used for all masking. I sprayed the top with Xtracolor thinned with lacquer thinner and set the plane aside to dry for a few days. I also gave both horizontal stabs a coat of gloss white.
While drying, I got all the weapons and fuel tanks done. For the weapons, I built four AIM-7E and four of the AIM-9D missiles that come with the kit. These only required a little assembly and were all base coated gloss white like the airframe. I masked the missiles and painted the seeker heads the correct color and then prepared to decal. I ran into some issues with getting the decals to wrap around the missiles and used an aftermarket set to get things consistent. A flat coat and these were done. I also wanted to add the two wing tanks and the centerline tank. These were built and took a little filler and were painted white also. The missiles and the tanks both received a Flory wash to bring out the great detail and then a flat coat to protect and dull the finish.
Back to the airframe and it was time to do colors. Both wing tips and nose were masked per the drawings and given a coat of semi gloss black. Now on to the metallic colors. I masked the aft end of the plane following the well defined panel lines and using the kits directions. I did the same of the horizontal stabs and also brought out the exhaust too. I used Tamiya gloss acrylic black thinned with lacquer thinner as a base coat and sprayed all the parts with light and then progressively heavy layers ending with a wet layer and set aside to dry overnight. The next day, I had a great base for my metallics. And speaking of them, I used the Vallejo Metal Colors (reviewed here http://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/vallejo-metal-colors) which are quickly becoming my favorite. I used gunmetal and added aluminum lightly and also metallic black and several other colors to highlight the area. The exhausts were painted, jet exhaust and the tail parts aluminum with gunmetal panels. The entire things was highlighted with transparent smoke. This was set aside overnight it dries rock hard.
Now to decaling the kit. There is only one set of markings in the kit and I used it – it’s from VF-96 aboard the USS Constellation. It’s a F4 Phantom and that means 100’s of decals. It took almost 5 days at night to finish them all and a couple comments. These were the finest kit decals I have used. They were strong, thin and settled with no issue using just Microsol. This includes large decals like the wing walks and insignia all the way down to the very small stencils. Awesome. Once complete, I gloss coated the entire kit. Added a wash and flat coated it. I wanted a fairly pristine jet.
To finish the kit, the cockpit was finished by adding the seat and coaming. I wanted open canopies to show of that cockpit so I masked and painted the parts. In looking at the photos, I see a mistake on the center section where I got the black line too high. The mirrors are included and a great touch I added these last. All the pylons and weapons were added along with the flaps and speed brakes, tires and various antennae. I flat coated again making sure to miss the metallic parts. Lastly, all the landing lights and the clear parts were added and finished.
This is one of the finest kits I have built (of 400 plus). Fit is superb. Detail is excellent and the engineering is outstanding. I can’t give it enough kudos. Try one and you will buy more.
My thanks to the wonderful people at Zoukei-Mura for the opportunity to review the kit.