This entry is the latest in a multi-part series detailing my progress as I build Bronco Models’ 1:35 scale miniature of a piloted V1. The previous entry can be found here.
With the FI 103’s simple cockpit completed, it was time to seal up the assembly inside the two-piece fuselage. As the RE-4 was almost certainly a one-shot suicide weapon, I decided to keep the interior sidewalls bare, merely giving them a coat of Vallejo Model Air’s Steel acrylic paint. With this done, I painted the six-gauge instrument panel in Tamiya acrylic XF-63 German Grey before dropping a bit of Tamiya XF-1 Black into each gauge with a toothpick. With that dry, I dusted the cluster with a White Prismacolor pencil, covering the top panel with a dash of Prismacolor Yellow. All of this was then attached to the right-hand fuselage half and left to dry.
Next came the addition of the left-hand half…but here I encountered the first real problem of the build. Instead of fitting snugly into the notches provided in each half, the cockpit floorboard was a good 2mm too narrow: the assembly would only be secured by one side of the fuselage. I could have separated the halves, cleaned up the seam, and scratchbuilt some more flooring with Evergreen, but in this case I decided to abstain. The fit around the instrument cluster was perfect, and the cockpit pieces were seemingly immobile. Besides, I again felt that I could justify this based on the hurried, desperate nature of the prototype weapon.
In addition to this issue, I encountered an issue that I’d read about on other builders’ reviews: the locator pins on this kit are a hair too shallow and far too snug. During dry-fitting I realized that this could almost have been a Snap-Tite kit, so I made sure to cleanly sever all of the pins before actually gluing the halves together.
The Tamiya Extra-Thin Cement that I used on this part of the build was a good three years old, and yet still behaved perfectly. Of course, the solid fit of the fuselage halves (minus the locator pins) helped as well.
Once this was dry, I rigged up the assembly for sanding by using an Xacto third hand and some blue painter’s tape. This was the first time I’ve ever really found an important use for the third hand, so I was glad to finally validate that purchase from a while back.
Next, I cut the wings and vertical stabilizers from their frets, cleaned the burrs, and glued the top and bottom halves together. These then slid easily enough into the placement holes in the sides of the fuselage. Another problem was soon apparent, however – a nasty gap at the wing roots or both wings and one stabilizer! I must admit, this was a frustrating issue to find in a kit that had so few other fit issues (thus far, the only serious complaint I have had is the aforementioned cockpit fit).
Fortunately, I decided to continue to experiment with putty blends, mixing some trusty Squadron White putty with a few drops of 100% acetone. I’ve used this mix in the past to more easily spread the putty along a gap or seam, but this time I used a toothpick and old brush to work it into the gap like thin cement. Sure enough, capillary action drew it into the void, quickly filling the space with little or no excess to clean up later. Another great trick I’ve picked up on this build!
At this stage, there were only a handful of remaining parts left to be assembled, none of are going to be painted in the same sitting as the main fuselage, so it was time for a final sanding prior to priming. I rigged up the same third hand assembly as before and sanded the wing roots with varying strips of 400, 600, and 1000 grit sanding paper cut into strips. The clean nature of the liquid putty application ensured that this only took a few minutes before I was satisfied.
With this, it was on to the Tamiya Spray-Paint Working Stand Set for priming. After having decanted Tamiya Fine White primer a while back, I had a ready-thinned supply of quality primer on hand. Two coats of primer, followed by sanding, and then one more coat finally saw the end of this part of the build stage. The fuselage was complete.
This phase of the build took about six hours to complete – most of that time spent on correcting the fit and gap issues. Frustrating as those may be, they’re only to be expected in this hobby. Besides, the results so far look fantastic. I can’t wait to see how the airframe transforms as I add the unique camouflage pattern found on this particular prototype. But that, friends, is for next time. Until then, take care, and happy modeling.