While working on the Sabre engine I was moving forward with fuselage assembly as well. Application of putty requires it to dry before sanding so it is a good idea to work on something else in parallel and from time to time get back to the fuselage to make another step.
Main landing gear bays were done at the beginning of the build - you can read more about it here. Now it was time to take care of the aft bay. I started with the primer - Mr. Surfacer 1500 black, then I preshaded it with mix of Grey Green and Black. Next I airbrushed base color of Grey Green followed by clear gloss GX112. Weathering wise I dot painted rivets with mix of Vellejo Luftwaffe Camo Green and White and then applied Dark Green Grey wash from PLW line.
The wings for this particular model are designed in a way that there is one bottom part and two top parts for left and right wing - this creates a pocket in between where cockpit should be fitted. During dry fitting it turned out that the whole resin cockpit frame is a bit to wide and I could not fit it in. Fortunately enough I had some room to widen the pocket. I sanded left and right ends of the wings together with the landing gear bay walls to create more space for the cockpit - I am really happy that some time ago I bought Proxxon Pensander as it turned out to be invaluable tool for this job! I had to be very careful no to sand to much, as that would result in removal of the landing gear bay wall and creation of a hole which would be not easy to fix. At this moment I had everything ready to close up the fuselage halves. First I applied epoxy glue to the contact points and attached cockpit frame to the left side of the fuselage. Next I used Tamiya Cement glue in certain places and pressed two halves together. Then I used Tamiya Extra Thin Cement over the joint lines and left it to cure over night, which finished the process of mating both fuselage halves together.
Next day when I tried to attach fuselage and wings together it turned out that somehow the aft part of the cockpit frame ended up lower than it should be. Due to this protrusion there was no way to fit it to the pocket in between the wings - aft part of the fuselage ended up to high and could not be aligned with the wings roots. To be honest I am not sure how it happened - when I was dry fitting I was able to squeeze it in - it was tight and I had to use quite a lot of force but it was doable. Nevertheless the harm was done - I used epoxy glue to have stronger bound so there was no way to unglue it and try again. The only possibility left was to sand the aft bottom part of the cockpit frame just enough so that I can close it up. Fortunately enough this will not be seen at all, but still it was not fun to partially destroy something I worked on so hard. Lessons learned for the future though - check and recheck at every possible moment to be sure that everything is still ok.
In the end I was able to close everything up, but still I ended up with slight misalignment between the fuselage and wings (at the wings roots trailing edge) as well as at the belly where the bottom parts of the wings connects with fuselage - though this was something that I fixed later on.
Decision to show the Sabre engine in all its glory required to cut off the front part of the fuselage and attach resin fire wall. This element must be mounted a bit aft in relation to the leading edge of the wings and that means that the bottom of it must be fitted in the same pocket as the cockpit frame. After dry checking it turned out that I had to make a bit more room as well in here, so I used sanding pads to do so. Next I attached small etched elements which cover holes between bottom and top parts of the wings and glued the fire wall with CA.
Now it was time to take care of the empennage, which was fast and easy. Next I cut out front gun covers and before attaching them to the cockpit I had to modify them a bit. I bought Master Cannon Tipis & Pitot Tube and to fit them in I had to drill wider holes in the front covers. After doing so and dry fitting the cannon tips I glued the covers to the wings leading edge.
Next I masked aft landing gear bay, gun bays and cockpit using Tamiya tapes, Ammo Liquid Mask and scraps of different sponges. With such prepared fuselage I started application of putty in relevant places, these are: joint line of fuselage halves front and aft of the cockpit, as well as aft of the wings on the belly, leading edges of the wings and bottom connection of the left horizontal stabilizer. All those places needed small amount of correction so I used Mr. Dissolved putty for that.
Next I took care of the wing connection with the fuselage. Due to the problems with the connection between the fuselage and the wings described above I ended up with slight misalignment especially visible at the wings root trailed edge which ended up a bit lower than the fuselage itself. Fortunately enough it was quite an easy fix - I used different grades of sanding sponges to nicely align both surfaces.
There was one more place which required correction - bottom connection between wings and the fuselage - this one required a different approach. Due to problems with fitting the fuselage to the wings I ended up with a slight fault between the elements. To get rid of it, first I sanded the place with different grades of sanding sponges from AK. Next I applied Tamiya Basic Type Putty and left it to cure over night. Next day I sanded all places which required attention. It turned out that this most problematic place required a bit more putty, so this time I used acrylic Putty from a.MIG. Next day I worked on it further and it started to look quite ok.
Next I cleaned the model with IPA and then airbrushed corrected surfaces with Mr. Surfacer 1000 grey to check if more work is required. It turned out that I had to add again a bit of Mr. Dissolved Putty in few places as well as in the most problematic area. Next day I got back to sanding. When that was done I rescribed all missing panel lines and rivets which were lost during the above process. Next I cleaned the model one more time with IPA and it was ready for the final layer of primer - I used for that Mr. Surfacer 1500 Grey.
As soon as the fuselage was dry it was time to inspect the fuselage and check if there are any rough places which requires slight sanding - especially in places like wing roots where paint particles tend to create vortex due to the large angular difference between airbrushed surfaces - this increases the time needed for the particles to land on the surface and that results in some of them to dry before doing so. In the end we end up with rough surfaces - we can mitigate the risk of this by proper airbrushing and thinning. Additionally I checked if there is any hair that had fouled the job and took care of it as well. Lastly I polished the entire fuselage with polishing pads starting with 3200 grid and ending at 8000 - as the model is not going to have NMF finish I was not very meticulous about it so it did not take me long to polish whole model.
Most modifications to the original plastic and preparatory work for the flaps was described in detail here. What was left to do was to remove superfluous plastic from the bottom left and right fuselage parts so that flaps structure can be fit in - that was done as soon as the fuselage was assembled together. Next already bended earlier flaps elements where once more dry fitted, the all the required corrections was made and next I started attaching them to the fuselage. First I decided to create small plastic supports which were glued to the inner structure of the fuselage wings so that flaps PE parts could sit on top - in this way I minimized the risk of the parts to be pushed to much into the wing, next I used CA glue to attach them. Already mounted part of the flaps was primed together with the fuselage.
Next I took care of hinges. First I cut out required PE parts and bended them. Next I used 0.9mm bras rod for pins. First I cut them to proper length and then check if they are nicely fitting the opening of the according hinges. Then attached all hinges using CA glue except central one on each side - if I glued all of them I would not be able to slide the pins through them later on. Next I mounted external pins, then I put on the last hinge on to the internal pin and moved the ping through the rest of already glued hinges gluing the last one at the end - I did it for both sides. Next hinges and pins were primed as well with Mr. Surfacer 1500.
Time for painting! First I mixed grey green with black (5:2 ratio) and quite heavily thinned it. Color was airbrushed under low pressure over the rivets of the flaps housings already mounted to the fuselage and between the ribs of the flaps themselves. Next I airbrushed base colour (grey green) in thin layers watching out to not entirely cover the preshading. Pins where brush painted with a mix of mix of Vallejo Luftwaffe Cam. Green, White and Deep Yellow. Hinges were painted in Silver.
Next brush chipping followed. First I used lighter shade of the mix used to paint pins, then I used Silver which was used to make chips on some of the rivets, ribs and on the edges of the flaps. Then light drybrushing followed with the same mix as described above. Now it was time to apply washes - first I used Green Brown from PLW line as a general wash. It was applied everywhere and after 15 minutes excess was removed with cotton buts and clean brush. Next everything was protected with a layer of semi gloss XP08.
Application of wash diminished visibility of silver chipping quite strongly so I reapplied it once more in certain places. Next to introduce grease on the pins I applied wash from AK. Then I applied Olive Green oilbrusher to create slight discolouration. Dirt and grease spills where created with Starship Grime and Winter Grime streaking brushers. Then Landing Gear wash was used to create dirt and dust beneath the pins and then Engine and Turbine over the hinges. To simulate more dirt and usage in certain places I used Earth Effects. Lastly I applied thin layer of clear flat XP07.
Just for the sake of taking few photos I dry fitted all the elements of the left flaps and I really like how it finally came up. Next stage is painting of the camouflage and weathering and that will be the subject of next entry. Till then!
Below a few photos of fuselage and flaps.