Dear friends, I greet you.
We move deeper into the construction part as we begin to have our first contact with the kinds of missile systems and their various racks, pylons, carriers and launchers. Each type of aircraft, depending on its role (reconnaissance, bomber, etc.), has the analogue weapons systems. I quote two photos of different armaments.
Here we see two typical pictures of AIM-9s’ with their carriers for the F-15 and R-77s’ for the SU-27 with their respective carriers. There are so many armament changes that sometimes your instructions offer two loading options, always depending on the kit manufacturer. But today, compared to the past we have one more option: a lot of online stores sell aftermarket sets of armament and various peripheral parts for the entire airplane, all at a higher cost of course.
Regardless of the price, I believe that improving the cockpit, missiles, engine exhausts ducts etc, undoubtedly gives special glamour to our model, providing us with parts in such a detail, (like the real ones), which are practically impossible to reproduce without such aftermarket products.
So, if possible, (economically speaking), I recommend buying them. Similarly, there are also aftermarket armament sets. In the following schematic, we see all the possible weaponry arrangement designed to be carried by the SU-35 in order to fully comprehend the armament issue It would be prudent, for aesthetic and convenience reasons, all missile systems, regardless of quantity and quality, το be painted always before glued to their supporting pylons as well as the pylons themselves, just before gluing them to the wings. This is necessary in order to paint them correctly and with ease without messing the adjacent to them surfaces. But let us not forget one last and important detail regarding the missiles. In many cases we will have rockets and bombs given in two or more pieces.
These must be scraped with our hobby knife to remove any burrs, filled with putty if necessary, sanded and after that painted before glued to their final position. Such frequent cases we have with CBU-GBU bombs, MAVERICK missiles as well as Russian weapons such as the R-77 missile, where companies do not always cast the entire mold of the rocket but usually leave the two directional fins to be glued on separately. In case we don’t follow this procedure, we will be confronted with the following situation. After painting the bomb or the missile we will observe a line along or across the weapon. It is the result of improper scraping and sanding of the piece, leading to an ant aestheticresult and I will show you what I mean, (the same often occurs with the landing gear).
Engine Exhaust ducts and their placement
The placement of the engine exhaust ducts is the next step in which the case is that the more detail, the more our preoccupation with painting and preparations, in order to look beautiful and as realistic as possible. Most models on the market at smaller scales do not have much realism because of their size, while on larger scales such as 1/32nd in many models we are dealing with several additions of detail in all parts of the aircraft.
Let’s see some samples of exhaust ducts and engines in order to get a bit of a more understanding.
Photo 01.The arrows indicate what we must scrape off in a landing
gear arm, as well aa in a respective armament surface. Note
on the right landing gear on the round part, there is a line of
plastic residue along its length that, if left as it is, will look
ugly at the end. This is what needs to be scraped and sanded
before coating in order to get a nice effect.
Photo 02.A classic case of typical exhaust ducts in a kit, unacceptable
in detail and quality.
Photo 03 – 04. A classic case of aftermarket parts. Any comments are unnecessary in relation to the previous photo…
After such examples of improvements, no matter how somebody looks at it, the addition of such parts are a big deal, that’s why I mentioned above that if it is possible and suits our pockets it’s worthwhile to invest in such aftermarket kits.
It will give points and prestige to our finished models. Regarding fitting of these pieces, nothing changes in the usual process, we simply continue to glue in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions paying attention to the amount of glue so it won’t run from the exhausts onto the fuselage resulting in a mess.
If we’ve bought aftermarket exhaust ducts, then we gladly keep the ones from the kit for our stock and use the aftermarket ones. It is preferable to paint them first and then glue them in place after we have painted the rest of the aircraft (in case they have a different color) and we have reworked them to enhance the realism. We glue them using “thick glue” and not with our custom glue for styrene parts, provided that when in place they won’t leave a large gap between the fuselage and the exhaust duct itself, because it makes no sense to prepare a part when at the end we are going to use putty and sand them all over again. But once the conditions for gluing them separately are fulfilled, leaving just a thin gap of less than a millimeter, then we proceed with gluing.
There are now the following details to examine. It is not an absolute that the exhaust ducts are always painted in a different color. In some cases we see exhaust ducts painted the same base color like the rest of the aircraft. So, in some cases we can glue them unpainted and paint the whole lot with the same color. Another case has to do with the gap I mentioned above. We may see real aircraft where there is such a gap between the airframe and the exhaust ducts as part of the engine assembly. Closing the chapter, I have to say the following: Always remember to work on the parts before gluing them to the model for obvious reasons and for convenience. It’s not the best thing to hold our model and turn it around and around in order to paint 2 exhaust ducts or engine parts with the risk of breaking something we have already glued in place. All this you will better see in practice, making mistakes which in time you will gradually learn how to avoid.
Written by Manolis Lambros
Translated by George Roumbos