Aircraft In Progress

Hobbyboss 1/48 F-105D- Back With A Thud

It’s been a while since this kit has made an appearance on my workbench. The last time I’d actually blogged about it was almost a year ago, in September of 2017. At that point, I’d just finished the cockpit. Normally, I don’t take more than three to four weeks to finish up a model. However, this poor fella came along at a tough time.

I’d started to get burned out on building airplanes. Much of my work had become commission work, and while being grateful for the extra income – we needed it then, and still do – I’d begun to let the fun of the hobby be drained away by the reality of building for others.

I can’t blame the clients, though. Not in the least. The blame lay squarely on my shoulders. I’d taken on too much work, and simply did not factor how strongly my productivity was tied to the fun I derived from the hobby. So working on this Thud, or any model at that point, had become very difficult.

I’d considered stepping away from the hobby entirely. Refunding all the money, sending the kits back, selling all my kits, paints, and other gear, and just calling it quits. However, two things kept me from it.

One was simply money. I build models as a part-time job. It’s how I support myself in the hobby, and it provides extra income. So giving money back was really not an option. But as I examined what had gone wrong, so to speak, with the hobby I had thoroughly enjoyed for a decade, a second, more important reason emerged.

I really do like building models. The thrill of opening a new kit. Assembling the initial parts. Painting the details. Getting it all together. The weathering process. I really had fun with all of that. But I’d gotten into a rut.

Breaking Out Of The Rut

One of the problems with the ruts of life is that we often don’t recognize them until we’re so deep into it that it’s hard to climb out. One minute you’re happily riding your bike along the trail, enjoying the scenery. Without realizing it, the tires, so to speak, get in a groove in the trial. Hardly noticeable at first, really. But as it gets deeper and deeper, you realize you can no longer turn to the left and right, or so it seems. If left unchecked, you simply are left with going where the trail takes you – not where you want to go.

I decided to shake things up a bit. Essentially, I stopped, picked my bike up, and moved it to another trail. I started building Gunpla, which led to Star Wars kits, and Warhammer kits, and other scifi stuff. Over the next few months, I found myself once again having fun. The real modeling fun I’d known before I’d let it become such a job.

I think I finally shook the monkey off my back in March, when I let my commission clients know that while I was going to finish the work I’d started for them, I’d do no more commission work. If I had to sell my models to help the family, fine. You do what you must to make ends meet. But I had to focus on enjoying the hobby first. Otherwise, I’d lose both.

Then a funny thing happened.

I felt like adding some airplanes back in the mix. And I got back to this F-105D.

Yes, Now Tell Us About The Aeroplane, Ya Nutjob

Sorry… tangent. 🙂

This kit is a bit different from more recent Hobbyboss models I’ve built. While the casting is of excellent quality, the overall fit is best described as “less than precise”. I think it suffers from being too ambitious in its breakdown.

I’m not quite sure why modelers often like having every possible panel and moving surface on a kit popped open, or deflected at all manner of angles. But many model companies seem to respond to this trend. And the trouble is, few do it precisely. Ailerons have haps, flaps don’t quite fit, panels can’t be smoothly closed up. All of that comes into play on this kit.

Getting the basic fuselage together was no problem, in and of itself. There are quite a few inserts that must be dealt with, and their less than precise fit was quickly apparent. Of course, the simple rule I followed helped sort all that out – “if something does not fit, there is something in the way.” So each piece required some sanding, shaping, and filing to try to get it reasonably flush and smooth.

The wings, however, were a hot mess. The main upper and lower portions fit fine. But the Thud had loads of little panels that must have moved as the flaps opened, because not only were the flaps and ailerons molded as separate parts, each little moving section on the upper wing part was too. Each was nicely molded with excellent rivet detail. And each fit in a manner that is best described as “mediocre”. None of it was baldly off, but all of it was slightly off.

Kits like this remind me why I like Tamiya so much. They are precise when it comes to their aircraft kit engineering, even if they aren’t overly ambitious with their breakdown. Give me that any day, every day, and twice on Sunday.

Eventually, I got it all in place. I tried to find a happy medium between just sanding it all flat, and losing the detail, and yet not having it look like a boxers teeth at the end of his career. it’s not perfect, but with painting and weathering, it should look the part.

Should being the operative word.

The wing fit to the fuselage was not great. As I set them in place, a head on view showed one wing was horribly warped. It took quite a bit of coaxing under some hot water to get it near a semblance of “straight”. Once mounted on the fuselage, it generally worked. 

I did leave off the nose cap to this point, so that I could fill the forward area with weight to make sure this one was not a tail sitter. I placed lead fishing weights in, having dipped them in super glue, and occasionally blobbed in a bit more glue to make sure it was all set in place. I knew the cockpit and wheel well assembly would prevent any that broke away from falling into the aft section of the fuselage. Still, because the model would be shipped, I did not want anything rattling loose, to forever clank around inside the model’s nose. So I resorted to a simple trick – I stuff the open area around the weights with moistened bits of paper towel. To be more precise – spitballs. The very same things I used to launch from my straw during lunch back in middle school. (Who knew such talent would be useful as an adult? ; ) ) Because the paper towel was moist, it was easy to stuff in and make sure it conformed to the interior nooks and crannies. And once it dried, it would make a solid lump to hold everything in place. I knew this from experience, too… some of those spitballs I fired up to the ceiling in the lunchroom in 6th grade were still in place by the end of 8th grade. 🙂

The final bit of assembly I needed to do before priming was making a decision about all the little antennas sticking out all over the surface of the Thud. Adding them on first means they can be solidly glued in place, and when painted, look much more “organic” to the whole airframe. However, you run the risk of knocking them all off. But if you wait until the end, all the gluing can result in a marred finish. And these were too small to drill out and mount with metal rod.

I finally decided to glue them on as solidly as possible, and hope for the best. We’ll see if that decision works out. With those in place, I then applied Mr. Surfacer 500 to every join. Every. Single. One. (You can read about that process here.) While the fit was decent, there were so many hairline cracks and other tiny gaps that I decided to just hit them all.

With all in place, I was ready to prime. Doing so was quite anticlimactic. Badger’s Gray Stynylrez Primer, applied with my trusty Badger 105 Patriot, all over the model. With all the fuss and bumps and carving required to get the airframe together, it was nice to get everything covered up in a nice, uniform coat of gray. Despite all the drama leading to this point, it ended up looking half decent in its satiny gray coating. (Of course, “half decent” also implies “half indecent”… {sigh})

The next steps should be fun – adding the SEA camo scheme. I’d learned quite a bit doing that on my F-4E a few months ago. Hopefully those lessons will carry over. This one should be a bit more enjoyable, really, as it will have a much more weathered look.

Back To The Philosophical Blah Blah?

It feels good to be working on this jet. It represents having come through a tough time, and yet emerging with a newfound joy for the hobby. And I’ve learned quite a bit too, things that I would not have faced had it not been for the (continuing) journey into new genres.

I know I harp on it a lot in this blog, but I really can’t stress how important I believe it is to have fun. Whether you’re building just to set the model on your shelf, for a contest, or as a commercial endeavor… when things come along that take away the joy of the creativity, the imagination, take a step back. It may be that you’ve let the hobby take too central a place over other more important things. Or it may be that you’re simply focused on it in an unhealthy way. 

Get out of the rut. Try another genre, or build something in a way that is distinctly uncharacteristic. Maybe give it a break for a few days, weeks, or even months. you’d be amazed at how that process can give you a fresh outlook on the hobby.

For me, it was instrumental in keeping me going. And I’m glad I did. otherwise, how could I have made use of my spitball skills?

And those teachers said I’d never amount to anything… 😉

 

2 comments

  1. Right on! I turned to two things in the past 6 or so months to ‘break free’ of the rut I’ve been in. I have dove into 1/35 armor kits and learning how to do dot filters and washes. It’s made a world of difference and has helped me get back on track. A terrific read for sure and thanks for sharing your struggles (and how you got out of them).

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