Project Completed: 1/48 HobbyBoss US Navy F3H-2 Demon
I finally finished my latest workbench project; the F3H-2 Demon in 1/48. If you would like to hear more about my build experience please take a look at my recent build article posted last week, or, on my blog.
I had not built a high-visibility Navy fighter in several years so I really enjoyed the opportunity to finish this older, cold-war fighter in her bright grey, white, and red-tailed scheme. I also enjoyed the opportunity to weather and wear this finish so it resembled a carrier born, hard worked, fleet fighter toward the end of a long, challenging, deployment.
I will quickly summarize the final steps of the build. The pictures towards the end of the collection will show some of the late stage build steps and progress. At the end of the last build article she was being primed, then finished in acrylic light gull grey FS36440 on the top surfaces, and acrylic Insignia White on the bottom surfaces, and all control surfaces, except rudder and fin, which is also gull grey. As stated in previous article I built up these colors using various tones, and subtle variations of like colors. The model was also pre-shaded with the primer grey again over the panel lines to restore some of the previous panel line pre-shading. The final blending coats/layers were applied in very thin, transparent layers, maybe a 1:10 paint/thinner ratio. This allows you to control the opacity of the final coat of paint controlling how much of the pre-shade will show. It’s important to keep this last blending layer very thin if you want really good control of the final look and finish. This manner is much more time consuming but worth the extra effort, and less stressful.
Following completion of the base painting and blending coat it was time to provide some sealing of the paint to prepare for decals and weathering. I always get a bit nervous at this stage b/c I have been having some trouble with my gloss coats while experimenting with different mediums. It seems that in order to get a really gloss finish I have had to apply many coats which threatens to obscure fine surface detail, but when I go to light I get a more rough, semi-gloss appearance which does not help the weathering process and/or decals. In this last attempt I went with my old standard which was Future Floor Wax applied neat. For the most part I achieved a satisfactory finish but it was not perfect.
At this later stage I masked off the wings and used Vallejo steel to paint the wings leading edges, as well as, the horizontal stabs LE. I also masked and painted the Air Brakes housing and back side of air-brakes acrylic red. Assembly warning: It is easy to install the air-brake housing incorrectly as I did. There is no method in the molding to prevent this so use caution on this stage prior to closing the two fuselage halves. One was installed backwards and once sealed between the fuselage there was no way to correct this. I wanted to close the air-brakes to hide this but they would not close flush with the fuselage sides and looked just awful. I decided it would not really show unless you examined it closely. Please dont look closely…LOL.
Once I allowed the clear coat to dry and cure for 48 hours I applied the decals to the whole aircraft. I only had a few minor tears, and a few wanted to roll over on itself…not sure why? Use a little extra caution with them to avoid this. Overall the decals were very high quality and conformed really well using decal solutions and softeners. Actually I feel this was the most success I ever had with large decals; they adhered and conformed so well that they looked like paint and took really well to the panel line washes. Once the decals dried I coated them with Vallejo semi-gloss varnish then lightly sanded the whole plane to help blend the finish. The kit does not include any decal stencils. Another nice feature is that the decals are pre-cut to conform to the wing fences and open dive brakes.
The final stage of assembly included attachment of the various parts left off during the painting stage, and then weathering. To began weathering I spayed a tight light mist of flat black along some of the panel lines as viewed in many pictures of actual aircraft. I did not need to apply a precision pin-wash to the surface detail as this was accomplished using an entire aircraft wash as shown in some of the attached pictures. I used AK and Mig/Ammo enamel washes to accomplish this. The wash was applied right out of the bottle. Blown dry with a hair dryer. Then wiped clean using a “dry” paper napkin, yes it was dry with no thinner. Using a dry napkin helps preserve the delicate finish below the wash, prevents harm to the layers, and helps the wash stay in the surface detail and panel lines. This will only work if applied on a gloss surface. I used cotton swabs to get at the tough spots as well as a small amount of thinner to help with those stubborn spots. I finally used some of my oils to apply specific stains and streaks as needed based on actual aircraft photos. I use very small spots of oil, no thinner, and a dry brush to sweep the stains and control the look.
Finally I removed the canopy masks, and touched up as needed. I was very happy with the overall project and it was a very enjoyable build. As stated in my earlier build article this model had great detail and engineering with excellent fit. I did not experience any of the short-comings discussed in some other reviews regarding parts-fit. Zero filler was used. Surface detail was awesome. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed building this model. Now I am ready for a new US Navy high-visibility F-4 Phantom II. It is the perfect follow-up to this build due to the Demon being an older cousin to the F-4. I will build either the 1/48 Academy F-4 which I have in the stash, or the new ZM kit.
53 additional images. Click to enlarge.
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