Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Short Day

It's been a busy couple of days, but most of the time was spent on things other than airplanes or plastic models. Still, we're going to do a little something today, just to keep that whole A-4C thing from growing out of hand. There's been progress of a sort, so without further ado let's jump right to it.

Where'd All That Red Paint Come From, and Why Didn't You Get Any On Yourself This Time?

I dunno. If you look at the photos (and how could you miss them?) you'll see red paint, and all of it really did end up on the airplane instead of on me this time. Miracles can still happen, I suppose.

Anyway, since 1940 or so the Navy's liked to paint interior surfaces that deploy into the airstream (flaps, slats, dive brakes, etc.) gloss Insignia Red, which means we need to replicate it on our model. That's no big deal, but undercoating with white will make the red more brilliant and reduce the amount of it necessary for solid coverage. (I normally thin all my paint 40% or so, and sometimes more. A big proponent of several light coats rather than one heavy one, I am.) It's not a bad idea to do some masking first; you'll notice there's light overspray anyway, but that will go away during the final sanding/polishing of the model prior to application of the Light Gull Gray and Insignia White fuselage colors. Let's make this easy if we can.

In the spirit of making things easy, you might want to paint the intake lips red too, before you put them on the model. Take a look at photographs of real A-4Bs and Cs and you'll notice that the red warning color does indeed extend into the intake for a short distance, that distance conveniently approximating the thickness of the Hasegawa intake lips. The Smart Thing to Do would seem to be to paint the intakes red, finish off the other body work as required, then carefully attach the lips to the fuselage. Most of the parts on this kit fit really well so cleanup shouldn't be much of a problem, leaving us with just a little bit of easy masking in order to get things ready for final paint. I don't know if Hasegawa actually designed the kit with that in mind or not, but it's sure convenient!

You'll probably notice that the entire speed brake well area has been painted red too. It's my intention to have the speedboards cracked slightly open so the red needs to be there as well as inside the speed brake panels themselves, but there's a huge caveat there: Most model companies give us lots and lots of open panels, flaps, and so forth, that just don't appear in the open configuration unless the airplane is hard down and undergoing maintenance. Once again, look at photos of parked A-4s (of any variant). Those speedboards may well be cracked open a couple of inches or two, but rarely if ever will you see them fully deployed on the ground. The real airplane doesn't work that way, which means you either want your speedboards completely stowed (closed, that is) or barely cracked.

The slats are another story. They're red on their inside surfaces too, as are their wells in the leading edge of the wings, and they most assuredly will be open on the ground unless the aircraft in question is a Blue Angels A-4F. That's because the slats are aerodynamically actuated, and when the airplane is sitting still they droop. Always. They don't do that on the Foxtrot models flown by the Blues because those aircraft had the slats pinned in the closed position to prevent actuation and subsequent uncommanded attitude change of the aircraft during flight demonstrations. We're doing a VietNam-era Charlie, so our slats droop.

There's not much else to discuss today (there's lots going on around here right now!), but I did throw in a shot of the forward cockpit for your perusal. That panel and the side consoles are from the Eduard Zoom Set that we discussed a few days ago and they, plus the belts and harnesses included on that same set, really bring things to life in the cockpit. Eduard's interior sets are usually a great value for the money, and this one is no exception; it's hard to see much in the cockpit of a quarter-scale Scooter because the cockpit opening is so tiny, but those belts, consoles, and panels really help a lot.

As a final note before we leave the A-4, I've begun working certain subassemblies such as landing gear and gas bags (possibly known to you as drop tanks, but my naval aviator friends from back in the 80s always called them gas bags and I, in turn, always thought that was cool, so gas bags they are) and there's a little thing regarding those tanks that you need to be aware of. The kit's instructions tell you to use the separate rounded caps for the aft of the tanks rather than the pointy ones with the fins. You can do that, but remember that the rounded, non-finned caps allowed the tanks to be used on the centerline pylon on the fuselage and kept said tanks from striking the flight deck during a catapult launch. There are plenty of photos out there showing Charlies with finned tanks on the wing stations. You need to keep that in mind and, if possible, refer to a photo of the specific aircraft that you intend to build. It's not a 100% thing by any means, but it is almost certain that those wing tanks will have fins, particularly if you're doing a wartime aircraft configured for an alpha strike. We'll discuss that more in a couple of days when we get around to talking about ordnance.

That's it for today, folks. We'll convene again soon and see if we can't get a little farther along with this project.

Stay safe,


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