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Matt Minnichsoffer
26 articles

Fear the Bones. 1/48 Fighters of the Jolly Rogers Squadron

December 26, 2022 · in Aviation · · 17 · 1.4K

One of the most documented Naval fighter squadrons in all of the modeling world, I give you my builds of the vaunted . In the history of the "Bones" five squadrons have used either the designation VF-84 or the name and insignia of the Jolly Roger: VF-17/VF-5B/VF-61 Jolly Rogers, VF-84 (1953-5), VF-84 Vagabonds/Jolly Rogers, and VF-103/VFA-103 Jolly Rogers. After all, we all want to be pirates at heart.

This whole endeavor began with my first jet fighter build a couple of years ago when I assembled on elf the most the heralded kits on the market, the F-14A Tomcat. I chose this for the kit quality first and the skull & crossbones second. About year late I decided I'd build three eras of this vaunted squadron of naval aviators. The second build was the Ming F/A-18 Super Hornet. The final build in this trio was the F-4J Phantom.

The Builds

As with all builds I learned a great deal about the various fighters and the Jolly Rogers throughout the builds. I didn't dig too deep into the “rivets” of each plane, just enough to build them without looking like I made major errors in construction and markings. All kits were painted with Vallejo acrylics and finished with various Vallejo washes and weathering pastels and given a final matte/satin mix final top clear coat.

F-14A Tomcat by Tamiya
This kit just fell together as most Tamiya kits do. A pleasure to build and the best kit of the three. The only aftermarket items used was the incredible Quinta Studio 3D printed & colored cockpit interior. These kits are wonderfully detailed and a great time-saver. Kit rank = 1st.

F/A-18 Super Hornet by
My son has built a couple Meng tank kits which were good quality so I took a chance and order their F-18. Pretty good kit other than the shallow panel detail. I didn't bother going through and re-scribing any of these except for where the filler obscured the lines all together. I probably overdid it on the weathering of this bird, but I just attribute it to a jet late into it's cruise. I spent some time with the pilots for this kit as well. I wanted to work on my skills with figures and these came out pretty good even though I glued the cockpit shut so you can't see much of the interior detail. Kit rank = 2nd.

F-4J Phantom by Academy
Now the wheels come off… Purchased this kit for the sole reason it came with the Jolly Rogers decals and I guess since it was available and I'm very impatient when I want to build something. This kit has been reviewed numerous time and I have seen splendid builds on various forums, but this one fought me every step of the way. From the primer pealing off in various places, to the ridiculous need to insert the rear landing gear so early in the build, to the canopies not staying open, yada, yada, yada. But, in the end I got it done. I will say this as a positive, the kit comes with a ton of extra parts to build various versions of the F-4J.

Modifications were the addition of the Quinta Studio cockpit interior kit again and adjusting the arms of the pilot figures to eliminate the silly “thumbs-up”. Other wise out-of-the-box as with most of my builds. This is also the only non-CAG bird of the group. I gave it a black nose cone as I liked the look better than the reference photos of the cream colored one. I don't know if at some point in it's service career this Phantom flew with with a black nose, but the odds are pretty good.

At some point after the trauma subsides I maybe build another Jolly Rogers Phantom from either a Tamiya or Zoukei-Mura and an aftermarket decal kit. Kit rank = 5th (out of 3).


Overall and fun endeavor. I haven't posted any of my builds over the last few months for lack of time to actually take the photos and writeup the article. These photos aren't the best, but at least I got this posted. Feels good to be back. Comment away and keep building.
Reader reactions:
25  Awesome

26 additional images. Click to enlarge.

17 responses

  1. Under the Jolly Roger flag 😉
    What a collection Roland, thumbs up

  2. Amazing results on all, Matt. Well done!

  3. ***T HOT! excellent builds, Just the right amount of weathering.Will you continue with an F-8 and FJ-3?

  4. Nicely done Matt, great little collection and a sharp way to display the evolution of Naval aircraft. Two thumbs up.

  5. Man, these look good! Well done Matt. It’s one of those liveries that just looks awesome on any aircraft.
    Love em!

  6. You’ve been busy, Matt, that’s a lot of work in those three kits. I think your photos look great as well.

  7. Great collection, Matt (@coondog). I have always thought these are some of the coolest markings on just about any military airplane. You will need a lot of shelf space for these. Well done.

  8. Matt Minnichsoffer (@coondog)
    I studied the pictures you posted and enjoyed reading your article. You did an excellent job on all three builds. I have never built any of the new Tamiya jets, but I have been looking at possibly grabbing both their Tomcat and their new F-4 Phantom. Someday... Both of these Tamiya kits have been given great reviews, and yours adds credibility to this because you have built their F-14, and have first hand knowledge about how they go together.

    I have some 1/48 Tamiya Corsairs under way, and they have decals for the Jolly Rogers as an option. You have done a wonderful job on these, they look very realistic.

    I definitely pressed the "like" button. It's good to have you posting again. Take care.

  9. What a fantastic idea! In fact, it's SO fantastic that I'm going to build off my Pukin' Dogs Tomcat and do the exact same thing lol 😀

  10. An excellently built quarter scale Jolly Rogers trio: cannot think of anything better!
    Congratulations Matt! You had a splendid isea and you did a wonderful job!

  11. Echoing all the above compliments, Matt @coondog
    A truly beautiful bones trio.

  12. That is a very impressive bone collection, Matt! I built the Tamiya F-14A Jolly Rogers a few years ago, and just completed the Meng F-18D Super Hornet - thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I agree on the weak panels that come with the Meng, so I added after-market 3-D panels from Quina Studio. Your F-4 Phantom looks incredible, it's on my list as well. Very cool, they all look fantastic!

  13. Nice work on all of these! Modern jets are not simple projects, well done.

  14. spectacular collection!

  15. Amazing job on all three of these beauties Matt ,well done.
    Only yesterday I watched the original Top gun , absolutely dreadful movie but Oh my those Tomcats !, I feel the need...the need for speed.

  16. Arrrghh. Most impressive matey! 😁 Great scale modeling @coondog Matt! 🍻

  17. Beautiful work on all three! I am especially partial to the Phantom, but all of them are very well done.

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