Douglas F4D-1 Skyray – Tamiya 1/48
I'd like to share my most recent completed build, which is another US jet from the 1950s. As you know from the heading, this is the Tamiya F4D-1 Skyray, also affectionately nicknamed the "Ford", a play on the F-four-D moniker. Tamiya's kit very well represents the Skyray, despite being over 20 years old. Engineering is not as flawless of modern Tamiya kits, but all and all the kit is easy to construct, with no major faults. Build-wise, the only place I had difficulty was in properly aligning the wing slats, which are two pieces due to the option of having the wingtips folded up. With this caveat aside, it was a successful out of the box build, with nothing added but glue, paint, and weathering. Shake and bake...
As you can see, of the three decal options in the box, I chose one of the less depicted schemes. I liked this scheme particularly due to the red, white and blue stripes on the wing tips, drop tanks, and vertical stabilizer. That aside, It's a straight forward light gull gray over white scheme. One thing I found to be odd is that while most aircraft carrying this scheme have their rudders painted white also, the Skyray always seemed to be painted with a grey rudder matching the rest of the vertical stabilizer. I'd be curious to know why this was, since I made the mistake of first painting it white, necessitating a repaint before decals were applied.
Paints used for were a mix of Tamiya and Vallejo, on top of Mr Hobby 1500, which can still be seen on the finished radome. These were sealed off using Tamiya clear thinned with Mr leveling thinner, which created a nice layer for the decals. As everyone is quick to point out, Tamiya decals are indeed very thick, but I have found that they react incredibly well to Micro-Sol. I was very hesitant to use them, especially around the wing tips and intakes (which I can't believe set down so well), but patience in placement and with Micro-sol application, they all sunk right into place, with only minor touch-ups needed. The upside to their thickness is that they are very durable while the Micro-sol is working on them. The obvious downside is that in many places, the edge of the carrier film can still be seen if remedial actions (multiple layers of clear, with wet-sanding between) are not taken. I did not take such actions, as it doesn't bother me much.
Following decals, I sprayed the whole aircraft with Tamiya X-35 semi-gloss clear, again thinned with Mr leveling thinner. This provided a good base for oil weather, which was done first with burnt umber, and then reapplied with more of a grey-umber mix. After this dried, I matte coated the gull grey, and followed up with some post shading, both at the panel lines, as well as on the center of the panels. Some addition weathering was added to the stores and along walk ways, etc, mainly using chalks and oils.
In regard to the stores, I decided to add all that came with the kit, including the sidewinders. Some will say that these are not period correct, but when I looked up the AIM-9B (which is the variant that would have been in use at this time) I decided that Tamiya's depiction was reasonably close. The biggest differences that I noticed was that the forward stabilizers needed trimmed down to be more triangluar in shape, and that the rear stabilizers looked a bit too large for the AIM-9B. I fixed the former and left the latter as is, since the the rear fins are a bit more of a subjective judgement, and partially concealed, anyhow.
All said and done, I really liked this kit, and it reliably produces a great looking airplane. I was torn between building it sitting static on the ground, and building it on a stand, since in my opinion an airborne Skyray is wonderfully appealing, as other iModelers have demonstrated. In the end, I still think it looks great sitting next to some of its friends, and I hope that you also like it as well.