It has been a while since I posted on this build. I’ve been a little busy with other things and couldn’t find time to write a post. I’ve been working on it, just not enough time to post. Anyway, this post will probably bit a bit longer than normal.
I finally finished with the nose gear door. The scoop door required a lot of reshaping to fit the hole. I suppose it would have been less noticeable if it was modeled with the gear down, but with gear up you have to carve quite a bit off to make it fit.
You can see from the above photo that the RCS nozzles were drilled out. The original molding was just a small circle. Here is a set of before and after photos:
Next I painted the cockpit parts. Mostly gray with some black panels, gauges, yellow eject handles, red cushions on the seat and headrest, and some orange on various parts of the ejection seat.
Now to glue the nose gear well into the bottom half and the instrument panel and cockpit tub into the upper half.
Now I needed to tape the upper and lower fuselage halves so I could do a preliminary balance check. I want the model to have a CG near the center so it will fit on it’s stand with out trying to pull itself off from the front or back. When I went to hold the model halves together so I could tape them, I noticed that the front of the fuselage would not close.
The edges of the cockpit tub were to straight and were interfering with the curvature of the lower fuselage. I got some coarse sandpaper and started removing material. Basically I was rounding the edges off.
I was then able to close the fuselage halves.
Now I needed to work on the back of the fuselage and glue in the rocket nozzle. I taped the halves together and then slid the nozzle in to the position it needed and used CA to glue the bottom half to the fuselage.
I put the wings in their spots and did a balance check. So far so good. The next balance check will be prior to drilling for the stand. At that time I’ll also tape on the vertical stabilizers so I can get a better check on the CG.
For grins I put the ejection seat in the cockpit so I could see how it would look.
I also used some epoxy to firmly attach the nozzle to the lower fuselage. I made sure the epoxy puddle flowed forward a bit so it could grab one of the mold plugs. That way if for some reason the epoxy let go there would be a mechanical fit so it would be less likely to move around.
I then moved over to the external fuel tanks. I glued them together and used a bit of filler putty to cover the seam. I also glued the pylons to the tanks. The standard model would pretty much have you stop there and have you add a few resin details. My AMS (Advanced Modeler Syndrome) wouldn’t let me do that. 1/48 scale is just about large enough to allow modeling of the piping that ran along the top of the tanks. The 1/32 scale kit includes the parts to do just that. For this model I needed to scratch build the piping.
Beside the piping there were some standoffs that kept the pipes off the surface of the tanks along with some hardware that assisted with ejecting the tanks. I used some .010 strip stock for the standoffs. I was going to use .015 styrene rods as the piping, so I needed to get a drill bit around .015 to drill holes in the standoffs. Here you can see the standoffs after I drilled them. They are a bit too tall, but I will fix that with some sandpaper after I glue them on.
After gluing some of them on and sanding them to a good height, I just had to run some test piping through to see if this idea would work. I chose two short pipes that disappear into the tanks after passing through a couple of standoffs. I had to drill the holes into the tanks as well.
That looks pretty good. As long as I can thread the .015 rod through everything without kinking or breaking it, this will work out nicely. I also had to drill larger holes at the back of each tank for the resin details to be installed. Once they were in I drilled some holes for the piping at the back.
Next it was time to scratch build the hardware that goes near the front of the tanks and has some of the piping passing through it. It was built up from a couple of sizes of styrene strip and a couple of sizes of styrene rod. A couple of the styrene rods had to be drilled out at one end to accept some of the piping. I also included a shot of my pin vise with the .015 bit. I had to be careful while holding the rods for drilling so I didn’t slip and drill into my finger. That bit isn’t much bigger than some straight pins, but it does a wonderful job.
Here is a shot of the completed parts. I thing I’ll glue them on after I paint the tanks to make masking easier.
Here are the external tanks with most all their details added. Now its time to get them primed and then paint. I’ll add the piping itself after the tanks are painted. There is no way you could mask them off while painting. The tanks are handed since they fit to the fuselage at an angle and some of the details are in different places depending whether they are on the left or the right. Also the piping is slightly different between the left and right.
I also positioned the tanks where they would go on the fuselage and drilled a register hole. The tanks will have a short piece of 1/16 inch rod that will fit into the hole and aid in getting them in their proper place. The tanks will not be installed until the plane itself is painted.
That’s it for now. Hopefully I won’t wait so long for another update. Thanks for looking.