A few years ago, I’d have never imagined that I’d be writing about a time when I “used to build airplanes”. For over 10 years, that was pretty much all I built. Model after model… mostly World War II single engined fighters. In that period, over 250 models of winged things came off the construction line that was my workbench.
But as with so many things in life, times changed. In late summer 2017, I jumped into the scifi world – Gunpla, Star Wars, Warhammer, and Maschinen Krieger replaced the airplanes for the most part.
I still had a few going, though. It took a while to finish them – far longer than I typically work on a model. it’s weird, but I found it hard to focus on them. While I’d eagerly tackled them in years past, when I placed them on my workbench in the last few years, they just seemed very distant to me. But I knew they had to be finished – they were commission builds.
This Thunderchief is the last of those kits, from the time I jokingly called “BG”… Before Gundam. And thankfully, the buyer has been so very patient.
Hobby Boss’ F-105 is not a bad kit, but it’s not a great kit either. I think the biggest problem is simply a bit of overengineering. And engine that can’t be seen, and too many needless separate panels, make the build a bit of a chore.
However, the fit is generally good. It’s not Tamiya good, but there aren’t any egregious gaps that must be filled. I guess the best way to describe it is the fit is good – just not precise.
I did use a Black Box resin cockpit set instead of the kit parts. While the resin set was made for the Monogram kit, with only very minor modifications it fit inside the fuselage halves nicely. And it was definitely an improvement over the kit parts. The kit parts are certainly useable, but like the fit… they’re just good. Not great.
Because the engine would not be seen, I ended up leaving it out. I simply used the minimum number of parts required to join the forward and rear fuselage halves. Quite a bit of Mr. Surfacer was needed to close hairline cracks, with virtually every panel and join needing treatment. But it went quick – apply the Mr. Surfacer, let it dry, and clean up with cotton buds soaked in alcohol. The whole model was then primed.
Painting The Thud
The buyer had sent along an Ammo of Mig paint set, 60s-70s USAF TAC Colors ( AMIG7205). I’d not used Ammo’s paints before, so I was eager to ty them, as I’d heard good things. The colors certainly looked good.
When I first began to airbrush them on, I did as I normally would with my Tamiya paints – layer on several thin coats until full opacity was achieved. However, as I began to examine the finish of the light gray on the bottom, I was a bit perplexed.
The finish had an “orange peel” look – a slightly bumpy, textured finish. Knowing this meant I was getting too much paint on the surface at a time, I dialed back the thickness of my layers. Yet it still was not smooth.
After finally doing a bit of research on the Interwebz of the World, I found it was designed to go on in many, many thin coats. I started applying a thin coat, and then using the airbrush to dry it off. Another coat was applied, and then dried. I repeated this process across the bottom of the model, and was finally rewarded with a nice, smooth, slightly satin coat.
But it took a lot of work.
On the upper surfaces, this process was repeated, but with added twists. I rough sprayed the darker green in the areas where it would need to be, and then masked it of. Next came the lighter green, and more masking. Finally the tan was applied, and all masking was removed.
The paint did adhere well, with only a few very tiny spots lifting off with the masking – and these were easily correctable. And it all looked good – no complaints there. Still, the application was a very tedious process, and while the end results was good, I realized that other paints on the market would have looked equally as nice – and would have been far easier to apply.
(I did use Ammo paints on several more projects, to make sure I gave them a fair shake. And while they have a great range of colors that adhered well and looked quite good, the narrow “envelope of application” ultimately dissuaded me from further use of most of their line. Your mileage may vary, of course.)
An aftermarket decal set from Zotz decals was used, applied over a gloss coat of Future. The markings represent the “Memphis Belle II”, which I thought was a cool scheme that honored the famous B-17 from World War II. They went on nicely, and settled in with Solvaset without problem.
A combination of oils and enamels were used for the panel lines. Because I built the kit over a long period of time, I could never remember what I previously used – but I saw that the colors and different materials all worked together. A dark wash is a dark wash, really.
A few very small chips were added here and there with a silver pencil on the upper surfaces, and mechanical pencil on the lowers. While photos of the jet showed them to be faded, I did not see a lot of chipping abuse.
Some fading and shading was applied with the airbrush, breaking up the monotone look of each color. I didn’t want it to look to faded, but rather as an aircraft newer to the theater. The undercarriage was added, along with the armaments, and a final matte varnish applied. With the canopy unmasked, I could finally admire – and ship – the finished model.
A Change Of Era
If you want to build a 1/48 F-105, I can certainly recommend this kit. While not great, it’ will certainly do the job, and can be assembled without much fuss. The shape looks like the venerable “Thud”. I’m sure someone with a discerning eye could point out some errors – Hobby Boss kits always have them – but when it is sitting on your shelf, I don’t think anyone will mistake it for a can of peas or a statue of a chicken.
I do like how it turned out. As a child of the Vietnam era, I’ve always had an affinity for the Thunderchief. It wasn’t the sleekest jet, and certainly not the most maneuverable – but for Americans, the F-105 in many ways was the image that came to mind when thinking of the air war.
And I guess I also like that it’s this model that really represents for me the transition from “Before Gundam” to “AA” – After Airplanes. It’s not that I won’t build airplanes ever again, but for at least the foreseeable future, my attention is on things imaginary.
In any event, 10 year old Jon is pleased with it all. And at the end of the day, that’s OK with with Old Jon too.