As many modelers do, I often find reviews and forum comments about a model before buying it. Even if a kit is declared “unbuildable” of “fatally flawed” by some, I can at least go in to the project with some idea of what to expect. (Sometimes I find it great fun to build those kits actually…)
Other times I will buy a kit simply because it is an interesting subject at a great price, and I’ve found that I can generally wrestle the plastic into submission.
This past spring, I attended a model show in Columbia, SC, and found a kit that fit into the latter category. Sitting on a vendors table was a 1/48 F-82G, made by a company I had never heard of called Modelcraft. Of course, I’d known about the 1/72 F-82 that monogram had out for many years, but I had no idea anyone had released the kit in my favorite scale, 1/48.
Looking the parts over at the table, I could see it was certainly a short run kit. And I stood there thinking to myself “do you really want to get involved in another short run build?” Sometimes building a short run kit is like being in love with a cheating woman… you love her, but she does you wrong. But you keep coming back. I’m sure if Hank Williams built models, he would have written a song about short run kits. In fact, if you swap out the words “cheatin’ heart” with “short run kit” in Hank’s classic song, it just about works out. (Seriously… try it out… it works…) 🙂
Anyway, I decided the lure of actually completing a 1/48 scale F-82 was worth the try, so for $10, I picked up the kit.
A few Google searches showed that some folks had built it, so it could be done. All of them warned about it needing a lot of filler, which turned out to be true. Most mentioned using a vacform canopy, which was also true. Some folks said it wasn’t worth the time, but…. well, read on.
The parts looked short run. Rather rough plastic, with soft recessed detail. Quite a bit of flash and seam lines on most parts, and a few parts with a somewhat blobby appearance. However, it was not the worst looking kit I’ve ever seen of this type. And to be quite honest, I’ve seen short run kits that looked far better, and yet ended up being a worse build. (The Special Hobby Boomerang comes to mind….)
The key to this kit, overall, is careful planning and test fitting. Now, that sounds elementary, but for this kit, it is an absolute essential. Sanding every part for the best fit, and test fit as far in to the build as possible will get you to the finish without too much trouble.
The cockpit was pretty basic- a floor, IP, rudder pedals, seat and stick. There was some reasonable sidewall detail. Overall, the interior is not bad. Eduard makes a photoetch set for this kit, but I’m not a fan of photoetch, so I went OOB for this one.
The instructions will have you glue the cockpit parts in one fuselage half, and then join the other half. However, test fitting showed this might present some problems. Plus, I had to contend with the intake exhaust door on the underside.
The underside air exhaust opening consists of a “box” part that forms the interior, and a door that opens up. Test fitting showed that getting that interior part lined up, and then adding the fuselage half with the associated cockpit parts, would be a bit of trouble. After some tests of different assembly orders, I hit on one that seemed to work well.
First, I made sure to sand the fuselage halves mating edges to get the best fit possible. After painting and finishing them, I glued the fuselage halves together, minus the interior parts. Then, I glued the underside exhaust door parts together, forming a box. Once this was dry, I inserted the box through the opening in the underside of the fuselage, and then glued it in place. It took a little sanding on the sides of the box to get it in, but it worked like a charm, and the door looked just about perfect.
For the cockpit, I first put the rear decking in place through the underside of the fuselage, then immediately attached the rear bulkhead in place, and adjusted the two parts so they fit together correctly. Then I simply installed the cockpit floor in place, and it was done.
Next, I assembled the cowl halves. Normally I would have joined these to the fuselage ahead of time, but test fitting showed that might not work as well, as it could result in uneven fuselage length. So after joining the cowl parts, I sanded the mating surfaces for the cowls and fuselage to be a smooth join, removing the “lip” that was supposed to help the fit. (Because it actually interfered.) Using a plastic shim or two, I joined the cowls up to the fuselage in fairly straight fashion, and they looked pretty good.
I then added the vacform canopy from Squadron. As much as I hate vacform canopies, I managed to get these on with little trouble, and they are a drastic improvement over the kit parts, which are very thick, not clear, and fit very, very poorly.
At this point, I began the process of filling and sanding the fuselage joins. It will take a bit of filler on every join to make it smooth, but it can be done. I highly recommend making the panel lines deeper before sanding and filling, as it makes it easier to see them later. The kit plastic is very thick, so go ahead and attack it.
With the fuselages complete. I went to work on the center wing section. This actually fit pretty good, so not a lot of work was needed there. I joined each fuselage to the respective sides, and did make sure that things were as “squared up” as possible. I also added the horizontal stabilizer at this point. With those in place, I tackled the out wing portions.
I built and filled/sanded the outer wing halves, and then with a series of test fits and sanding, I joined them to the fuselage. It took some filler to close the joins, but it wasn’t actually too bad. Adding the radiator air intakes radar appendage to the underside, I was ready for painting.
The hardest part of the build was actually the painting. I don’t have a lot of experience with all-black aircraft finishes, so making it look good turned out to be a bit of a journey. I started off with Tamiya Gloss Black, and basically used various tints of that color, as well as dark grey oils, to give some variation. I also added chipping here and there, but not too much. Color photos showed it did have some chipping, but not excessively. If anything, the planes seemed to get dirty from the landing strips they used.
The kit only comes with a single set of markings, which is a shame, because their are actually quite a few good photos of various F-82G models with some colorful markings. I did not find any aftermarket sets. The decals did go on nicely, so no problems there. (If you are wondering, the nose art for the kit is “Midnight Sinner”. For my own personal reasons, I chose to leave the nose art off.)
With the decals on, I added the final bits- the undercarriage, and props. One tail wheel does sit off the ground a bit, so it’s not exactly squared-up, but other than that, it looks pretty good, I think.
Is this kit worth building? I say absolutely. Despite all the sanding and filling, it’s not difficult, just tedious. With planning, it will dress up nicely. And it will definitely give you a kit that not too many people will have displayed on their shelves.
Modelcraft actually makes three versions of the kit- the B, E and G models. To tell you how much I did like it, I actually want to build all three kits. They’re fun, not too expensive, and different. All part of the fun of modeling!