Category: WiP


Since the last update, I’ve been working on the cockpit so I can finally put the fuselage together.

Ejection seat itself is sufficiently detailed in the scale. I however cannot understand why, if they included the photo-etched details, they did not include the harnesses as well. Oh well, out with the Tamiya masking tape – maybe not perfect but much better than the stock seat.

I’ve mentioned the scale problem earlier. Here’s a comparison of kit’s seat to NeOmega resin one. See the difference! That’s exactly one of the reason, you cannot use any available aftermarket sets and I haven’t found any for the HobbyBoss kit.

Adding some colour to the black seat. At least the newer generation K-36 seats have olive padding instead of black leather as on earlier versions.

Adding some dark wash and drybrushing brings out all the lovely details and gives more depth, more 3D feel to the seat. Ejection seat handles are included on the PE set, but they were lost to the Styrenosaurus Rex so I’ve made my own from thin copper wire and correctly depicted the black cover for them, missing on the PE fret.

Cockpit tub detailing is done mostly with PE parts. I have to say that I haven’t seen any of the actual PAK-FA cockpit photos yet, only simulator ones, that highly resemble the ones found in the 4++ gen Su-35S. Accuracy, apart from the front instrument panel, is questionable at best. The problem is, that while the PE parts are sized spot on for plastic parts, the details on them are really faint and are a core to paint.

Using tooth pick, needles and similar pointy tools and with the helpful magnification of my Optivisor I managed to paint the pit adequately, I would say. Thin dark wash helped to bring out some details, mainly the panel lines.

Large MFDs with green buttons on the frames, were painted gloss black for shut-down monitor views. Instrument panel not yet fixed on this shot.

And the tub finally fixed into the fuselage. The fit so far is great. There are some details still missing in the cockpit, especially the HUD and details behind the ejection seat, but they will be added later, before closing the canopy.

Sukhoi T-50-5R – part 2

Hi everyone!

As promised, here is the second part of the slow progress on the T-50-5R.

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Insides of the jet intake trunks are plagued with 3 pin marks each. I’ve only bothered two fill the front two, as the last one can’t be seen anyway. HobbyBoss did opt at representing the full length intake, but the engineering to do so is far away from accurate as well as practical.

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The intakes themselves are too narrow – the fit to the lower fuselage is less than stellar with bad seams and even gaps on the inner side of the intakes. Filling and sanding is in order to rectify those, but width can hardly be corrected if at all…

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Intake trunks are made of two halves and turbine at the end. You then insert these sub assemblies into the lower half of the fuselage where they have to align with the forward part of the intake as well as the inner structure of the trunk, moulded on the wheel wells. So much about seamless intakes – good luck with that! πŸ™‚ Luckily, little of them will be seen when finished, mainly obstructed by levcons. Oh and before you correct me, that the turbine blades are rather dark metal – I usually use lighter shades for pieces that will be installed in the dark places, to be seen at all.

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And finally all the lower fuselage sub assemblies fixed and calling this part done. Next step will be building the cockpit and hopefully finishing it by the end of the week.

Hi everyone!

After almost 4 months of modelling absence (had some pretty good reasons) I’m back! I am happy to say that in the meantime I have achieved Approach Procedural rating in my Air Traffic Controller career and another happy news – a new scale modeller (hopefully) is growing up in my wife’s belly. I am building a new apartment to boot, so yeah, modelling time is a bit sparse, so this build will be a rather slow one, I guess, but what the heck – scale modelling is more of a marathon than a sprint anyway.

The topic of this build will be Russia’s latest fighter, the 5th generation Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA. I have already built a model of the first prototype a few years back, when Zvezda was the first to release it in plastic form in 1:72 scale. This time, I will be building the fifth prototype. The fifth prototype was the first, not to feature the white/grey geometrical camouflage but instead a rather smart dark grey with feathered edges over light blue, a scheme that soon got the nickname ‘Shark’. Unfortunately in 2013, during one of the test flights, a problem appeared, and the plane caught fire after the pilot successfully landed and exited the stricken aircraft. The fire was extinguished and the aircraft ferried back to the Komsomolsk-on-Amur plant for refurbishment. After extensive repairs and upgrading phase, the aircraft returned to the testing program with designation T-50-5R and a hard-edged dark grey over light blue camo, similar to the airframes 056 and 058. However, it would seem that during the initial flights, some parts of the aircraft were in different colours or unpainted, giving the aircraft an interesting and patchy and surprisingly weathered appearance.

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For this build, I will be using HobbyBoss’ “1:72” PAK-FA kit. You may ask yourself why I used quote markings for the scale? Because it is quite a bit bigger than 1:72 really. Compared to Zvezda, it has better shaped nose area and the transition of engine covers into the spine, but it’s still poor in some areas, like jet intakes for example. As the prototypes differ in details between each other, I’ll try to represent the 5R to the best of my abilities and explain the required modifications as we go.

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The first thing I did was to fill the vent behind the gun port – 5R uses different kind of venting system, consisting of 3 vents, which will be added later. The second thing was to remove the dome sensor behind the cockpit – it is not there on the photos of the patchy aircraft although it reappears on the repainted one. Third mod is the addition of the panels below the back side of the cockpit. There’s an antenna of some sort installed there on both sides and additional work will go in this area at a later stage.

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Wingtips from the third prototype on, are slightly enlarged so the inserts were made from sheet styrene.

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T-50-5R also features a number of strengthening plates on its back and yet again, they were made out of sheet styrene according to the available photos.

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And last but not least – as I will be displaying aircraft parked, all the maneuvering surfaces were cut out as they will be displayed in dropped position.

MiG-29 9.13 Swifts pt.2

Painting is my favorite part of model building and this scheme provided some challenge.

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Some dread over painting white, but with Mr.Paint paints, opacity is not an issue – even with the dreaded White. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the suitable red from their range and had to resort to a Revell enamel from my collection. Masking the tails for the MiG inscriptions was a process of its own – first tracing the decal on a piece of paper, then cutting it out, retracing its outline on the tail with a 1mm offset and masking it.

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Metal shrouds on the exhaust are were painted alternating with two different Alclad paints – Dark Aluminum and Magnesium, but unfortunately the effect is not really shown in this photo.

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Exhausts on MiG-29s are truly interesting from the painting perspective. I’ve used a bunch of different Alclad paints, chipping, Tamiya weathering sets and oil washes to bring the details out. No, they are not as detailed as resin replacement, but with proper weathering techniques, they look great nevertheless.

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Decaling was an interesting affair as well. They perform nicely and do not silver. However the design is a bit complicated. The bird motive on the top is made of only 3 decals – the body and separate wings. The problem arises when you apply the wing decals over the tail extensions. I actually cut the decals to remedy this problem. Fortunately Zvezda’s design team was clever enough to include spare strips of blue, white and silver to correct such problems.

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Despite being broken into more pieces, the lower bird motive was even harder to apply than the upper one – mainly due to the fact, the shape of the fuselage with engine intakes is more complex. In the end though, with the help of hairdryer, the decals settled down and into the engravings nicely enough.

MiG-29 9.13 Swifts pt.1

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Hi everyone! Another day, another project!

Earlier this year, Zvezda released long anticipated new model of the famous MiG-29 fighter, namely the 9.13 version with slightly bigger spine than the baseline 9.12 version. Just a few months later, a new boxing was released with decals for the Swifts aerobatic group, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Upon first inspection, the model presents a typical new generation Zvezda kit. Finely engraved details but without rivet detail, nice wheelbay surfaces of correct shapes and dimensions but no wiring, basic cockpit and a nice selection of armament. Indeed, buying the Swifts version of the kit will considerably fill your armament spares box. Decals are printed in matt and appear slightly thick, but more on that when we get to decalling.

I will bring forward some downsides of the build so far, but follow closely, as not everything is as black as this post might suggest.

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Part of the main wheel wells. There are pin marks in there, but truth be told, when installed, they are hardly visible, they are easy to remove if spotted before assembly (or warned by me :D) and are the only visible pin marks I have noticed in the entire kit.

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Engine intakes are done similar to their Su-27SM – they are two part and split along the edge. I am not a fan of such design as it requires the seam cleanup along the entire length of the engine nacelle – luckily, there’s not a lot of details in this section, so the lost panel lines are easily rescribed and a plus – intake lips are really thin!

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An unusual design of the forward part of the fuselage leaves some gaps (I am quite sure it’s not my fault as I’ve seen other modellers with the same problem). Luckily, cleanup again is quite straightforward, especially using water based putty like (Deluxe Materials Perfect Plastic Putty).

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Cockpit and the ejection seat are basic – decals (slightly out of register) for the instruments mimic the photos of the real aircraft. As I am building this model OOB and with closed canopy, I didn’t bother with super detailing, but the next will certainly be improved.

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The new generation of Zvezda kits includes the transparent plastic which has a soft elastic feel to it. Good thing is that it is not as brittle as normally transparencies are but on the other hand, clarity of the parts can be an issue and in my case, the main canopy was sort of squashed a little, sitting too low and too wide. Due to its elasticity, I force-glued it to the fuselage but nevertheless I couldn’t get a really perfect fit.

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Despite my critics, I have to admit, those are the only ones I had during the construction of the model. Apart from some minor things mentioned before, the model really falls together, is very accurate and so far, I have been really enjoying building it.

MiG-31BM; pt.14

Last days, I took time and finish the missile loadout. Several modellers have asked me why I won’t use the R-77 missiles, you get in the kit. Well, I am building aircraft according to photos and I have no proof yet, that the unit this MiG is assigned to, have received R-77s yet. The R-77 missile is just entering service with Russian Air Force, so in the near future, I guess all MiG-31 units can expect to receive these missiles, so if you want to include them on your model, it will most likely be just a little “in the future” build.

Anyhow, here’s how I dealt with the missiles.

MiG-31BM; pt. 13

I can slowly see the light at the end of the tunnel. This previous week I have completed the canopies and I am now onto painting the missiles.

MiG-31BM; pt.12

Hi everyone! Just a short update tonight. I was working on landing gears and had quite some problems with them. I managed to break the pin on the front landing gear and had to improvise, but it turned out, the front assembly was suddenly all too high. I am quite sure, it was entirely my mistake, but to this day, I haven’t figured what I did wrong and I probably never will. Anyway, I managed to fix it – case closed! The other problem was sagging of one of the main gear dollies. The model is balanced in the way, that the main landing gear carry almost all of the weight. And I kid you not – this monster is heavy. Anyway, one of the dollies started to give way under the weight and with time, started leaning to the side. If I’d build another MiG-31, I’d definitely go for a metal gear, like the SAC one – it definitely is a sound investment.

On to the photos!

MiG-31BM; pt.11

With the decals done, it was time to put some pink on her, lay down a thin protective finish over decals and start dirtying her up with artists oil paints.

MiG-31BM; pt. 10

After a marathon 7 day sessions, all or at least most of the decals have been applied. I have to say I was really impressed with Begemot decals. They are very thin, much thinner than AMK ones, as mentioned in my review, the print is thinner too and they really look great on the model. They literally suck into panel lines by themselves and no decal softener was needed. I will have at least one more decal session when I’ll finish the weapons, but the main thing is done! The only criticism in practical application of Begemot decals was, that there were errors in the instructions – I’ve hit a few mislabeled stencil decals. On the other hand, placement instructions are clear, so you can figure the correct decal just by comparing the shape of decal to the instructions and if there are L/R side opposite decals, they are labeled as, for example, 89 for the left and 90 for the right side. Decals being done, it’s time to dirty her up a bit πŸ˜‰