Hasegawa (x2) 1/72 F-15DJ Eagle Aggressor
This project took a few left turns. I had secured two Hasegawa F-15C kits over the years, either from ebay or from vendors at model shows. A few years back I saw a DMX decal set for Japanese F-15 aggressors, as the color schemes really stood out to me, and I love unique or different schemes. Since our contest theme this year is Made in Japan, I decided to try to get this ready for the show in early April. I decided to build both kits at the same time - one in US livery and the aggressor.
As I got started, I realized that there were a couple of parts missing - namely the lips of the intakes of one of the C's. I decided to secure another full kit, and when I went online, found an F-15D/DJ from Hasegawa. It was an older version of molds, which I didn't realize until I opened it up - more toy-like, less detail, raised panel lines, etc., BUT it was the 2-seat DJ version that the aggressors flew, as opposed to the single-seat C's I had started with. (I didn't realize when I got started that the Japanese aggressors that I could find reference photos for were all 2-seaters).
So, to make a long story (and build project) short, I started with the fuselage and verticle tails of the DJ (sanded and completely re-etched), attached the wings and horizontal tails of the C, opened up the intakes of the older kit and created the intake trunking and compressor blades (printed paper) and married the intake interior sections to the older kit, and added some of the other details from the C kit, such as the Sparrow clasps, the fuselage strakes, the pitots and AOA probes, and the exhaust nozzles. Not everything was a perfect fit, but I'm happy with the outcome.
Paintwork took forever. I first had issues with the two shades of Ghost Grey. I used AK Real Colors paints (I've been having good luck with them), and as I always do, I lighted both shades with an equal amount of white paint to achieve scale effect. I blackbased the model and laid down the light ghost grey, but when I laid down the dark ghost grey, there was absolutely no contrast! I assumed this was probably due to the lighter coat I had used on the light grey to retain some of the mottling of the blackbasing/marbling. So I Iightened the light grey, sprayed again, then tried the dark grey again. Still not enough contrast. On the third try I got close enough that I decided to live with it, knowing most of it would be covered by the aggressor scheme.
Then the masking for the 3 colors of the aggressor scheme took some careful planning and lots of tape and time! First there was a lot of "pre-masking" to do, because the aggressor scheme didn't cover over many of the panel lines (airbrake, control surface joints, etc.). Once I had that done, I printed out a scale diagram and used that to draw patterns, then lay the tape on the patterns and cut them out to use on the model. First time I've tried that technique, and it worked pretty well. In the end I only had a couple of spots to touch up.
The decals were up next. Whew! Those Japanese love to number every panel, and basically print the operating instructions all over the skin of the airframe! Similar to the F-4EJ Kai I had built recently. Took me a couple of weeks working a few hours at a time to get it done.
The ECM pod and air maneuvering probe were from a couple of Hasegawa weapons sets, and I matched what I saw in reference photos.
My only letdown of the project occurred after I removed the canopy masking. Even though I used static wipes on the canopy, there was still some small pieces of plastic and grit that got stuck up in the cockpit combing. Also - and this is a first - there was some sort of haze on the inside of the canopy. I don't know if some paint fumes drifted down through the mounting hole I drill in models to mount them, or what. I tried to pop the canopy off as I had glued it down with Gator Grip glue, but I applied as much pressure as I dared and couldn't pry it loose. I decided to live with it, even though to me it is an eyesore - probably my biggest disappointment for a modeling project in years, after having put so much effort into this.
The last photo is of the real bird.
14 additional images. Click to enlarge.