This build was borne out of a work colleague’s request for me to build the kit for him. As I also had the kit in my stash, I thought I would build the two of them alongside each other. As often happens with my double builds, this one sped ahead and was completed whilst mine sat on the bench falling further and further behind.
The Eduard boxing contains the Hobby Boss plastic, brassin resin burner cans,chin pod, wheels and a PE sheet specific to this kit with a large decal sheet done by Furball Aero Designs
The HB Tomcat is a nice kit, there a few accuracy issues, most noticeably, the bottom edges of the intake openings are not parallel to the top edges as they should be, but this is only noticeable from head on. Rivets punctuate the flying surfaces which should be smooth, but apart from that, its a detail packed kit, allowing you options to open the gun bay, avionics panel, display the radar and extend the wing control surfaces.
It assembles well and does not really deserve all the wailing and teeth gnashing it gets on the internet. I put it above the Hasegawa offering, but it has been pushed into the shade a bit with the release of the tamiya kit.
Jeff had requested his model be finished in Jolly Roger markings as if just about to launch, so I used the compressed nose leg, extended the wings and dropped the flaps and leading edge slats. Naturally, all the access hatches were glued in the closed position.
Of course this meant I also had to crew the jet, so used the aerobonus crew . Although Aerobonus should be applauded for the idea of releasing seated pilots, I really wish that they would include alternative helmeted heads with visors down and masks in place. As it is, their entire range of seated pilots have visors up and masks dangling which means they can not be used for in flight models, which I imagine is what most people want them for.
I sourced correctly helmeted heads, as well as a gloved hand that grips the throttle from an Academy Phantom. As the canopy would be closed on this particular jet, I didn’t bother using the PE consoles and panels, rather relying on the entirely adequate kit parts. The canvas coverings over the instrument panel glare shields were beefed up with milliput draped over the kit parts, and then painted a dark leather colour, which according to the DACO book, is the shade the original black covers fade to.
The HB kit includes the short lived glove vanes, (they were wired shut in A models, puttied over in B models and left out altogether in Ds, I believe) requiring you to open up flashed over slots in the wing gloves. Stupidly, I didn’t, thinking I could just scribe the vanes in later, This would have worked if I was halfway good at scribing, as it was, it just created more problems for me. My tip. Open up the slots and use the kit vanes as even shut, the openings are quite prominent on the real jet.
For some reason I had a gap when fitting the bottom plate, not sure why as dry fits had shown a good fit. Fitting the phoenix pallets hid most of it and a plastic card shim covered the rest. The forward fuselage fitted to the rear with no gaps or steps as did the tailfins. I had read about fit problems when glueing the gun bay and avionics panels in the closed position, but being patient and gluing a side at a time will reward you with reasonable fit, still, I needed a small smear of Mr Surfacer around the ladder door.
Apart from this, the kit assembled quickly. I left the brass burner rings out after successfully bending one up, only to then drop the pliers on it.
The WIP shots on the front page outline my painting steps in achieving a bit of tonal variation to the Light Gull Grey
Moving onto the decals, I didn’t apply any of the stencils. as photos of the actual jet showed very few. The decal instructions call out the red turbine warning stripes to be placed along the jet nacelles whereas they should go around them. That said, I forgot to add the stripes above the NAVY titles. I was disappointed the yellow border of the VF84 sash showed through the US star, I didn’t want to lay another start and bar over the top so left it as was. For the other side I cut away the yellow border where from where the star and bar would overlay it.
The Fightertown data sheet, whilst being quite comprehensive, does not include enough stripes for a full suite of phoenix, so I could only add the stripes which would remain the most visible, and with the stores fitted, the canopy was the only part left to fit. The fit to the windscreen is not to my liking as there is a step and small gap as you can see, but at the rest of causing cracks to the canopy from forcing it, I decided to leave this too as it was.
The Jolly Rogers scheme is most attractive and I can understand why a lot of modellers choose it to adorn their Tomcats