Vietnam Super Sabre
Esci 1/72nd scale North American F-100 built and painted by Lootenant Aloominum in August 2020
This is the Esci kit, which is highly regarded despite its 1982 vintage molding. Apparently it was re-issued by Italeri in 1998 (different markings on the box art I saw). According to what I have read, the Esci 1/48th scale kit of this aircraft is not as highly regarded.
The angle of the pale sunlight at this time of the evening necessitated placing it on the back of my chair for its first photos.
The plastic is an unusual translucent tan (not as olive as it appears in this photo) but it is perfectly good.
I built it in ‘flying’ mode, that is wheels-up. Like most kits, it is ‘optimized’ for standing on its undercarriage. I had to file down the front gear doors to get them to fit in the closed position, but the main gear doors fitted perfectly except for the rear thin ones which would not go in at all and they are too small to fiddle with. I used cut cocktail sticks, filed down a bit along their exposed sides, to fill the holes prior to squirting in some fine filler. The result is not perfect, but it is acceptable by my standards.
I mostly make 1/48th scale kits nowadays, fighters anyway, but this is 1/72nd scale, so it is much much smaller. It is 8 inches (20 cm) long — 9 inches including the nose probe — and it spans 6.4 inches (16 cm). On a normal size monitor, the photos are larger than actual size and they show the imperfections of my model-making and painting far more than are noticeable in reality.
I built it as it comes except that I added a pilot. Decals are provided for several paint schemes including the one I selected; of an aircraft based at Tan Son Nhut (the world’s busiest airport at the time) near Saigon, South Vietnam, in June, 1965.
Some kits have such good fit that modelers like to say they don’t even need glue. In this case that is literally true in that my dry test-fit of the wing assembly with the fuselage was so snug and secure, it was the final fit. The same with the tailplanes.
Although I am a convert to acrylic paint, I have not found an acrylic silver that is as bright as my very old tin of Humbrol polished aluminium, which I used up a while ago, so I used a new tin of polished aluminium as the overall coat. (It is not as shiny and realistic as the old paint.) In the end, I am not sure it made any difference other than slowing up the build by a day to wait for the enamel paint to dry. I added different (darker) shades to highlight various panels and to create the burnt effect on the aft fuselage.
I dropped the almost finished model on the floor while I was painting it and broke off the nose probe. I repaired it with stretched ‘sprue’ (a bit of runner held in the hot fumes from a gas ring and then pulled apart when the plastic is semi-molten).
After applying the extensive decals, to help fix them in place forever I coated the whole thing in satin varnish (acrylic) except for the burnt effect aft fuselage. The decals for the green fin flash were not exactly the right shape (or maybe I just did not position them correctly) and I augmented them with paint of not quite the right color.
The kit, annoyingly, does not include a pilot, so I had to use one from my spare parts collection.
The engine air intake at the nose has a blank wall about a centimetre in that you have to paint matt black to avoid it being noticed. A simple interior duct there would be better.