Monogram 1/48 F-100D Super Sabre
|$ Currently (2004) OOP|
|Black box cockpit and Superscale decals used|
Monogram currently stands alone in the market when it comes to an F-100D in 48th scale. ESCI had an F-100 in 48th scale but apparently it was not as good as the Monogram offering, and I believe it is out of production. This Monogram kit dates back to the 1970s along with rest of their Century Series models. There have been several releases of this model. This incarnation of the Monogram F-100D is a kit that was released around 1995. Typical with any classic Monogram kits, it has raised panel lines and a detailed cockpit. As with any released classic Monogram kits it has poor fit up. I am informed that this has something to do with an aging mold. I have seen some original released Monogram kit and I can honestly say they fit mostly darn well. But despite the shortcoming of the poor fit, this kit builds into a really nice and accurate model of an F-100D.
The parts are molded in the form of silver colored styrene and the plastic has just the right stiffness and hardness. The later reincarnation of this kit is molded in grey styrene and the plastic is very soft. The molding is clean overall with very little flash to clean up. There are no photoetch parts in this release as it is not one of those Monogram “Hi-Tech” series kit.
The cockpit and the seat are highly detailed for stock parts. The seat is a three part seat that comes with molded in cushions and seat belts. Although nicely detailed, the seat could be improved when judged by 21st Century standards. A Black Box resin cockpit is a good investment, however, it is not a must have item. A good compromise would be to use the stock cockpit and use a resin seat from Legend (Korea) to kick it up another notch. Since I have AMS (Advance Modeler Syndrome), I bought and used the Black Box resin cockpit set.
Dry fitting was performed on the parts prior to assembly to assess the challenge that was to come. The fuselage halves joint is a horizontal type joint that is about quarter of the way up from the bottom of the fuselage. This joint is not perfect but do-able if a lot of liquid cement is used to melt the plastic. The tail cone and the nose intake came as separate pieces. Two choices of early or late model (F-102 nozzle) exhaust cones are provided. The instruction provides good directions as to which cone to use. These parts do not fit well to my model’s fuselage. Some shimming and serious sanding were required here.
The stabilizer was molded with the upper fuselage half. This will make sanding of the fuselage joints very difficult and messy. This also will not allow me to pose the stabilizers in the down position that I see that many parked F-100 have. To facilitate matter, I carefully cut off the stabilizer with a sharp No. 11 blade and saved them for later use.
The entire upper wings are molded as one piece with a middle tab that connects both wings together. This will make wing alignment a breeze. However, a gap is noted between the wing root and the fuselage.
As a bonus, the port side ammunition bay and gun bay are molded on the fuselage. External panels for these bays are also provided if you do not want to show these as open bays. Typical with most Monogram kits these panels go on with very noticeable gaps.
The main gear bay, nose gear bay and landing gears has sufficient details and are nicely molded. The main gear doors are beautifully detailed and should be shown in the down position to show off the details.
Scribing Panel Lines
I start the building process by wet sanding off most of the raised panel lines from the wings and fuselage. One advantage of silver colored molding is that even if you completely sanded off the raised panel lines, you can still see a clear dark impression of where the panel lines used to be. This is not so for other colored styrene. As such, I rescribed the complete model along these previous panel line locations while checking with my reference books.
I do not want to show the ammunition bay at the side of the cockpit. Typical with the Monogram kits, the panel does not fit well into the opening thus resulting in a very noticeable gap as compared to my scribed panel lines. Because I will be doing a painted silver and NMF finish, I cannot have any putty joints for they will ruin the finish. Hence, I glued the ammunition bay panel to the fuselage with copious amount of liquid cement. The aim here is to melt the plastic surrounding the joint and to let it ooze out to totally seal the seam with native plastic. Once dried, I wet sanded smooth the joints down flush with the rest of the fuselage. One of my rule of thumb for scribing is never scribe directly over a glued joint whenever possible. As such, I carefully scribed out the ammunition bay panel lines just outside the glued joints resulting in a clean scribed panel line. The scribing tools I used are shown on the photo along with the completely rescribed fuselage.
Black Box Resin Cockpit
I start by separating the resin parts from the pour stubs using a hand saw blade. After studying the instructions and dry fitting, I determined that it will be rather difficult and time consuming to thin out the kit cockpit side walls to accept the resin side walls. The best alternatives I figure is to scratch build the side wall details by using the BB parts to model from. See photo.
The rear deck and the front dash/instrument panel on the kit were cut out. To ensure a tight fit, I oversized the cut out a bit on all sides and then glued on a strip of 1/16” thick styrene strip with liquid cement. While the strip is still softened by the liquid cement, I quickly inserted the resin parts into the cut outs and pressed fit the parts together. This resulted in a perfect snug fit without any further trimming or sanding.
The BB resin seat does not fit into the resin tub because of the raised details on the starboard side of the tub wall. Consequently, all the details there are shaved off to allow the seat to fit into the tub. Fit up of the leg restraints are poor and the instruction does not help too much on this aspect. All I can do was to keep trying until it looks right and the entire seat assembly can fit into the tub. Other than that the seat fit quite well and is an excellent representation of a seat in an F-100D. The only criticism I have is that the resin seat is designed too long (out of scale) and thus the seat bangs right up against the control stick. If this were real the pilot would not be able to pull up on the control stick.
The tub, seat, side walls, instrument panel, and rear deck were painted with Gunze Aircraft Grey. After the based paint was dried, all the parts were coated with a spray of Future floor wax in preparation for an enamel wash for high lighting.
The BB tub has most of the cockpit levers built in except for the landing gear lever on the instrument panel. I added that by making it out of thin styrene sheet and glued that onto the lower left side of the instrument panel.
I had previously cut off the stabilizer from the upper fuselage. To enable them to go back onto the plane after painting, I cut a piece of aluminum tube as a mount to fit inside the rear fuselage and glue that in the same elevation as the original stabilizer would go. Another set of smaller diameter tubings were cut out and glued into a hole which I drilled into each stabilizer. This arrangement will allow each stabilizer to just fit into the mount and will allow me to pose the stabilizer in either up or down position.
Nose Air Intake
The nose air intake duct came as two halves. To facilitate sanding of the seam I cut off the rear blanking. This enables me to properly fill and sand the inside seam to come out with a seamless intake duct. After the sanding and paint, I replaced the blanking plate with a styrene piece which was painted black. The kit instruction tells you to glue the intake duct onto the upper fuselage halve before gluing on the nose intake. During dry fitting, I found that this will not ensure the best alignment of the nose intake and the intake duct. Thus, I glued them together first and then fit them to the assembled fuselage.
To ensure the best fit up possible, I cut off all the aft fuselage alignment pins. To ensure the rear portion of the fuselage halves fit well and won’t crack in the future, I glued an alignment / strengthening tab made from styrene strips to the rear lower fuselage. See photo for reference.
The fuselage halves were glued together without any fuss, although the joint was not a Tamiya fit. I generously run liquid cement along the joint until it was totally saturated with liquid cement. This “melted” much of the plastic along the seam and allow me to press fit the soften plastic together until the plastic oozes out and fill up most of the gaps present. When this dried, I wet sanded the seam with a home made sanding stick until the seam is as flat and smooth as possible. At this point I don’t care about sanding off any scribed details because I can always rescribed them back later. Any remaining gaps were filled with little bit of Tamiya putty and cyno glue.
The nose intake and the tail exhaust cone were glued on with liquid cement. These parts do not align too well to the fuselage and ended up with some gaps. Some portions do not fit flush with the rest of the fuselage. A sanding stick was used to sand the parts flush with the fuselage. Quick drying cyno glue was used to fill some of the gaps.
Wing to Fuselage Joint
The upper wings were molded together with a connector piece joining the two wings. This feature ensures the modeler can glue the wings on and get a perfect wing alignment. Even though I had studied the instructions many times, I totally forgotten that I was suppose to glue the wings and the bottom landing lights on before I can glue the fuselage halves together. This mistake turns out to be serendipitous as you will see. I separated the wings by making a single cut on the middle wing connector piece. I shaved and sand the wing to fuselage joint such that each wing will go onto the fuselage with a minimum amount of gap. Note that I won’t be able to do this if I had followed the instruction exactly. I glued the wings to the fuselage, all in the while manually aligning the wings so that they sit perpendicular to the fuselage. Doing it this way, I ended up with a wing to fuselage joint that is almost perfect and not needing very much putty.
As I mentioned above, I was suppose to glue on the two clear lenses that represents the landing lights into the lower fuselage half. But I didn’t do that. This is solved by posing the lights in a down position as shown on my reference book. I made a set of landing lights from the left over spruce and attached set of MV lenses. The landing light hinges were made from bent brass wire. The lights were attached as the very last step after painting.
The kit arrestor hook is awful looking. When I first saw it, I couldn’t figure out what it was until I referred to the instruction sheet. After studying the reference books, I decided that I can make a better looking arrestor hook than the kit supplied part. I made a new arrestor hook by bending two pieces of styrene “C” channels and glued them together. See photo. It looks just like the real hook in my reference book.
Wing Tanks and Pylons
The wing tanks provided by the kit are the 275 Imp. Gal. tanks used by the early F-100s. As every sources have pointed out, the tanks provided by Monogram is short by 1/4”. If you are totally into true scale then this will bother you a lot and you will go out and buy a set of replacement resin wing tanks from Aires. I felt the kit part is more than adequate.
The tanks from the kit come in your standard two halves type of construction, with the pylon molded to one halve of the tank. A giant gap between the tank and the pylon results when the halves are glued together. Thus, I cut off the pylon from the tank and glue this back to the tank after the tanks are all assembled and sanded smooth.
All the under wing pylons do not fit well to the wing. This is easily resolved by trimming and sanding each pylons until they fit well to the wing’s curvature. It is tedious work but it has to be done. Being lazy and already into the 5th month of building this thing, I decided to only put on the wing tanks.
Refueling Probe and Pitot Boom
The refueling probe and pitot boom on this plane are very long and slender. If I just used the kit supplied parts, I know I will break them on my first transport. Learning from my past lessons, I rebuilt these parts from small diameter aluminum tubing while using the kit parts as guide.
COLORS AND MARKINGS
Before I built this model, I know I wanted to build one of most famous and best dressed F-100; The Triple Zilch from the 20th TFW based in England in the late 50s. This aircraft was flown by a senior Officer of the wing and its marking carried the colors and unit badges of the three Fighter Squadrons.
I had studied all the reference pictures I can find of the Triple Zilch and similar F-100s in the late 1950 to early 1960 era and decided that the Triple Zilch had to have been a plane that was painted with silver lacquer and not an all natural metal finish. Thanks to Mr. Roger Jackson’s advice, coupled with other reference material, I concluded that this would have been true.
For any NMF or silver painted model, there cannot be any scratches or any basic finish imperfections present. Any imperfections will unquestionably show up after you put on the silver paint. Thus, a silver or NMF model is a true test of a modeler’s skill in basic finish techniques.
The model was wet sanded with very fine (2000 grade) wet sanding paper. This is followed by more wet sanding with even finer grade sand paper. A light test coat of silver paint was quickly sprayed onto the model to check for seams and scratches. When scratches showed up, I removed the paint and sand again. This process was repeated about 5 to 6 times until I have had enough. By this time all noticeable scratches have disappeared except for some really fine scratches remained. I am not a perfectionist kind of person so I was OK with some of those tiny scratches that you can hardly see. The tail section of the fuselage which has natural metal finish was masked off with tape.
To model a painted lacquer finish, I sprayed the Model Master’s Chrome Silver paint thinned with 30% thinner. If the Model Master Chrome Silver paint is sprayed on thick and not thinned properly, the paint will not dry well and will attract finger prints. Hence, I made sure I put on two thin coats to cover. I let each coat dried for one day before handling. Everything went well and the paint did not attract any finger prints. At this point the model looked great with its smooth shiny silver paint
Next, I sprayed on a thin coat of Future to seal the Chrome Silver paint and to dull the sliver paint so it will look like a silver lacquer finish. After drying for one hour, I masked off the areas on the upper wing and stabilizer where a darker shade of silver has to go. I used the low tack drafting tape here. Even though the tape is low tack, much care must be exercised when peeling the tape off of any silver paint. The darker shade of silver was painted using the Model Master Metalizer Stainless Steel paint.
Next comes the hard part of recreating the burnt metal look of the rear portion of the fuselage where the natural metal was heated by the engine heat. The reference books showed the Triple Zilch and other F-100s in the 50s were kept really clean and well maintained. The rear natural metal panels were kept well buffed and polished. Hence, only some light burned effect has to be modeled. To do this, I masked off sections of the rear panels and painted it with Model Master buffing Aluminum Plate Metalizer paint. After drying for 10 minutes, I buffed this up good and shiny. Then, I set my Paasche VL air brush to fine spray the Alclad’s Pale Burnt Metal in a series of vertical lines along these panels while leaving a gap between each lines. Some selected places, I double sprayed to achieve darker shading as shown by my reference materials. I can’t say enough about how well it is to spray the Alclad paint as it sprays on extremely well without having to play with the airbrush to get a fine line. To even accentuate some darker burning of the metal on the middle panels, I spray on lines of thinned out mixture of Gunze clear blue.
The above technique resulted, in my humble opinion, with a realistic rendition of the burnt metal panels on well kept F-100s. Now if I were to model a Nam era F-100s, I would go heavy with Alclad Pale Burnt Metal paint and with repeated heavy application of the Gunze clear blue. I would even repeat by going over the burnt metal lines with a thinned out mixture of red paint applied in light fine lines on selected locations just to get in some random effect.
The entire model was again coated with a coat of Future to seal everything in preparation for decaling and a light dark grey wash for panel accentuation.
Currently, there is no after market decals in 48th scale for the famous F-100 Serial No. 56-3000, nicknamed “Triple Zilch”. Superscale used to sell a sheet (sheet No. 48-80) with the Triple Zilch marking but is apparently not available at this time. The other source is Monogram which issued a stock decal sheet with the marking of this well dressed aircraft. Lucky for me, Uncle Rick of Uncle Bills Hobby Shop had one sheet and he generously gave me his.
The quality of the decal sheet is a little better than the typical Monogram stock. It is fairly thin but some markings are off register with some white showing on the outside edges. This required that most of the markings must be trimmed with a sharp No. 11 blade to get rid of the extra carrier film. The nose band and the tail lighting bolts have bubble texture, can’t do anything about that. I am just thankful that I can get hold of the decal sheet. When I wet the decal for release, some white “stuff” under each decal shows up, especially evident on text type decal with clear carrier film. I am sure this must the glue but I can’t risk keeping it on in case it does not dry clear. The Monogram decal set in nicely with Gunze’s Mr. Mark Softer decal softener. This solution is a strong solution and works well with most decals. However, it reacted a bit with the Future and when dried, it left some white stain on the surfaces around the decals. My worry was quickly dispelled when I applied a coat of Future over the completely decaled model and the stain disappeared completely.
The standard markings such as “USAF”, the national insignia, “US AIR FORCE”, and most of the stenciling came from a Superscale decal sheet for the F-100. The decals from Superscale are very thin and go on well with Micro Sol. However, most of the stenciling texts were printed off center from the carrier film. As a result, top portions of some texts disappeared when the decal was released from the backing paper.
After putting in about 5 months of on again/off again work on this kit, and putting up the challenges of painting, and decaling this thing, I am very satisfy with the end result. Even my wife likes this model because it is very colorful and she likes the burnt metal look of the rear fuselage.
It is NOT an easy model to build for the level that I was trying for, and I did not achieve a perfect model. However, I do have in my small collection, a good rendition of my favorite F-100D. It was a good challenge. Oh yea, I’m happy.
Detail & Scale Vol. 33, F-100 Super Sabre by Bert Kinzey
Detail & Scale Vol. 14, Part 1, Color and Markings of the F-100 Super Sabre by David W. Menard
f-100.org, web site dedicated to the F-100
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