by: Matthew Quiroz [ ]
This is one of those kits that called out to me when I saw the attractive markings. I contacted Jim Starkweather and shortly thereafter the kit was sitting on my work bench. On fist examination I was really pleased with what I saw; recessed panel lines that were consistent overall and not too heavy or too light. Kind of reads like a childrenís fairy tale about a young girl and three bears huh? I clipped a few parts out to do my usual test fitting using 3M Blue painters tape and was again pleased with what I saw. Everything fit well and fit snug. There was nary a gap to be found. Construction began with the office (Cockpit). The side panels are provided as separate pieces that can be painted separately and then installed later. The detail on them is top notch and doesnít need to be replaced with resin unless you just absolutely need to have some resin in there. About the only thing I would add would be some should and lap belts. Otherwise, things look good as they are.
ConstructionThere were no major problems with initial construction. Instructions are easy to follow and well laid out. Two panels on port side of fuselage need careful fitting when gluing to ensure proper alignment. I had to do some minor block sanding to level off a minor step in the fitting of these panels, but it didnít affect the end result. The cockpit fits well inside fuselage and is very snug. The forward fuselage will need to be held together to keep it sealed while glue dries as it wants to splay apart. A few rubber bands held mine securely. The cockpit has excellent detail and looks great under paint. The instrument panel has small attachment/gluing points so be careful when installing that. It can be glued to the back of the rear edge of the coaming once that is installed.
The main landing gear doors have tiny parts; like really tiny. There are minimal attaching points for the doors too. Iím sure most of us are familiar with the legs having either a peg or hole in the gear leg and a corresponding peg or hole in the door. Not so with this set up. The gear doors are attached to the gear legs with the three tiny parts; thatís it. If you lose one you are hosed unless you can fabricate one.
The kit provides two sets of panels for the rear of the fuselage, parts P1, P2, P4 and P5. Iím not sure what they are referred to, air bleed panels possibly, one represents the panels when the engine is running, the other, when it isnít. The ones I installed represent the running version. There are some parts left over in this once the build is complete; antennas, an extra seat, drop tanks and several other miscellaneous pieces to name a few. There are also enough decals remaining to do another two aircraft by my count. I plan on trying to use them on my Monogram F-5ís in the stash. Hopefully they fit.
Construction takes place over fourteen steps beginning with the bang seat. It is well detailed, but has a couple of knock out marks on the back rest. These can be covered with some .005 sheet plastic or hidden by using some after-market belts. I used sheet plastic. Pay careful attention to the instructions as they point out where to drill holes for smaller pieces that are added later in the build. If you miss something, you are on your own in locating them. I made small holes where these parts were to be attached and opened them wider later in the build.
The nose cone can be installed upside down if you are not careful. The instructions provide a drawing of what it should look like in profile when installed correctly and incorrectly. This kit provides separate slats and flaps that fit snug enough that they can be installed for painting, then removed and added later in the build in either a dropped or raised position. They fit snug enough I didnít need to glue them in place. Part H3 is the elevator assembly. It is a single piece that is trapped between the fuselage halves. It is also very fragile. I broke mine several times over the course of my build. Take care here.
The exhaust cans look a little shallow in appearance, but it is hard to see once painted. They are sided as well. They should angle inwards towards the each other when installed correctly. If installed wrong, they will still fit, but will angle outwards from the center line of the plane. The landing gear fit very well on my kit. It was snug getting the legs into the corresponding holes, but a little drop of Tamiya Super Thin cement freed thing up enough to allow them to snuggle down into their slots nicely. The supports fit equally as well and snug. The kit can be built with the main gear doors retracted or opened. The same can be done with the air brakes and landing lights. The centerline drop tank traps a poly cap inside which allows the tank to be swapped out with other ordinance later should the builder wish to do so.
DecalsMarkings are provided for four aircraft; all four are from VFC-111 Sundowners. Three of the four paint schemes are in shades of light blues and gray. The remaining aircraft wears a radome, tan, and wood brown scheme. The decals performed well using Solvaset. They are very thin and tend to stick to themselves easily, so one should take extra care when applying them. The tails should be painted white if using the bursting sun markings as they are translucent. I had no problems with silvering decals. The inclusion of the ACMI pod is a nice touch and its bright orange is a nice contrast to the blues and grays of the airframe.
ConclusionOverall construction took roughly 24 hours spread over several days. The kit builds quickly due to the extremely nice fit of the parts and pieces. There was very little clean-up work involved with my build. If you are looking for a fast build the features plenty of detail, and a colorful paint scheme, you canít go wrong with this one.
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