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"Painting an NSAWC Tomcat"
F-14A Part Four

by David W. Aungst

 

NSAWC F-14A Tomcat

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F-14A Tomcat and 
Black Box's F-14D replacement cockpit  are available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

The long wait is over. After two months of postings concerning the construction of the Hasegawa Tomcat kits, here is one of the finished products. The two other Tomcats I have been working on are still under construction with both being completed up to the point of getting camouflage paint applied. After a brief break to regain my composure, I will tackle these and bring them to completion, too. Until then, enjoy the one that is completed.

 

 

Hasegawa's 1/48 Scale F-14A Tomcat

 

This is Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F-14A Tomcat. To read about the building of the Hasegawa Tomcat kit, see my previous posting, "Hasegawa Tomcat Kits".

Into this model, I incorporated Black Box's resin cockpit set and Eduard's photo etchings set. Additionally, I added a Sidewinder missile and ACMI pod on the left wing glove pylon, taken from the Hasegawa aircraft weapon sets. I had to scratch build the second Sidewinder missile rail on the left glove pylon. The double Sidewinder mount on the glove pylons is the only air-to-air missile configuration not provided by Hasegawa in the kit.

 

 

Camouflage and Markings

 

With so many options available in the Hasegawa kit for modeling so many Tomcat versions, it was not an easy task to single out exactly one aircraft and set of markings to build. I was choosing between a few different aircraft that I wanted to build. Then, a friend I met through HyperScale, living in Utah, sent me an option I could not resist. He visits NAS Fallon regularly and sent me some pictures of this Tomcat followed by "official" NSAWC camouflage diagrams for the aircraft. Who was I to turn down an opportunity on such a unique paint scheme?

The final "setting of the hook" to get me to build this specific aircraft came when I met my friend from Utah at NAS Fallon (in Nevada). We were escorted on a photo tour of the NSAWC and VFC-13 flight lines. Seeing the real aircraft that I was modeling, in action, did wonders at inspiring me to continue the project and stick to this set of markings. It also answered several questions I had regarding the exact camouflage and markings of the aircraft.

 

 

The "official" NSAWC camouflage diagrams of the aircraft provided me the camouflage pattern and topside colors for this aircraft. Based on what I saw of the aircraft on the flight line, the drawings were mostly correct. The biggest variation in the camouflage is that there is a definite lighter bottom color than the gray used on the topside camouflage. The diagrams claim the bottom and topside grays are the same. I ammended my interpretations of the camouflage diagrams accordingly. The "official" diagrams also do not show the camouflage of the inside tail surfaces. Seeing and photographing the aircraft in person fixed this problem.

I "digitized" the NSAWC camouflage diagrams and corrected them to match what I found in pictures and saw in person on the flight line. Click the following links to see my camouflage and markings diagrams for this aircraft. If you would like high-resolution hard-copy prints of these diagrams, I am selling them for $5.00 (US) which includes postage. Drop me an e-mail at DWAungst@HotMail.com for more information.

 

 

Left Side
and Top

      Right Side
and Bottom
 

 

For a full research posting on this aircraft, see my reference page on the Aircraft Resource Center in the Walk Arounds section of the site. The reference page has over 50 pictures of the real aircraft taken by myself and a few friends, spanning an eighteen month portion of the aircraft's service with the NSAWC.

This camouflage is one of a couple non-standard schemes applied to Tomcats at NSAWC. The top side is a three-color splinter camouflage of two blues and a gray. The bottom is solid gray. The nose cone and tail tips are gloss white. The scheme is intended to represent Su-27 Flankers of Eastern Block air forces. The two blues are Aggressor Blue (F.S.35109) and Air Superiority Blue (F.S.35450). The gray in the topside splinter pattern is Dark Ghost Gray (F.S.36320). I determined that the lower surface color is Light Ghost Gray (F.S.36375).

The "official" NSAWC camouflage diagrams actually name Light Blue (F.S.35190) as the lighter blue color. After a long study of my pictures (and some additional information from the Fallon paint shop), I decided a closer match was Air Superiority Blue (F.S.35450). From the pictures I took and others that I have seen from different sources, the lighter blue on the aircraft is a little more rich and slightly greenish compared to Air Superiority Blue. But, Air Superiority Blue is a much closer match than Light Blue (F.S.35190).

I used all Testors Model Master enamel paints. All the colors, except Air Superiority Blue, are bottled colors in the Model Master line. As no manufacture seems to make Air Superiority Blue, I needed to do some custom mixing to achieve this color. I found Flanker Medium Blue in the Model Master line (stock#2131) was close, but it was a little too light. I used it as the major color to mix the correct color. I used the following ratio, 6:1. That is six parts Flanker Medium Blue with one part Bright Blue (F.S.35183). This provides a color that is a dead-on match with the color chip in my Federal Standard color fan.

 

 

Since the color in my pictures was slightly different from Air Superiority Blue, I created another mix to actually paint the model. My new mix was created in the following ratio, 5:2:1. That is five parts Flanker Medium Blue with two parts Bright Blue (F.S.35183) and one part Blue (F.S.35414). Decreasing the Flanker Blue (slightly) and increasing the Bright Blue content made a slightly richer blue and adding the Blue (F.S.35414) continued to make a richer blue while adding a slight greenish tone to the color. With this mix, I was now happy that I had gotten the color right.

Additionally, I scale effected the Aggressor Blue (F.S.35109) using a 5:1 ratio with Flat White.

I painted the camouflage using masks made from Scotch brand Magic Transparent tape. I considered using Parafilm-M (my normal masking medium), but thought better of it after considering some of the details of the camouflage pattern. While fairly regular, the pattern does have tight corners and straight edges that I had to take care to get right. In my experience, Scotch tape works better at these sorts of tasks.

 

Two Bobs NSAWC Decal Sheet

At the time I started this model, no after-market company made decals for this aircraft.

After visiting NAS Fallon in person and creating my own decals for the model, I found the notice on the TwoBobs Decals web site stating that they were going to produce decals for this exact aircraft. I got excited and sent TwoBobs an e-mail asking if they would be interested in my research on the aircraft. They were very interested. To make a long story short, this model is built using the new TwoBobs decals which I received from them as compensation for all my help on the decals.

I do not want to sound like a TwoBobs commercial, here, but the decal sheet is very complete. I made sure of that while I was helping them. It provides markings for the aircraft as it was seen in May of 1999. There were changes in the camouflage by April of 2000 and still more by September of 2000 that interupted the original design of the camouflage. I have noted the variations in my camouflage diagrams above.

A few issues with the decals exist, but are not that noticable on the completed model.

  • The "NSAWC" and small "20" on the tails are in black. They should be gray to match the lightning bolts. Likewise, the square and the writing for the fire extinguisher entry on the engine nacelle side are also black, but should be gray. After talking to TwoBobs, I learned these were image glitches with the software they used to create the decal images. These markings were gray in the original images, but when they translated the images to send to them to the printer, the software revised the colors of these images. Fortunately, none of the rest of the markings on the sheet were effected.
  • The small "20" on the tails should be at least 50% larger and bolder.
  • The "20" on the nose should be about 15% larger and bolder.
  • The "Danger Arresting Hook" markings on the sides of the beaver tail should be at least 100% to 150% larger. I actually printed replacements for these markings to use on my model using clear decal film and my ALPS printer.
  • The fire extinguisher writing should be about 50% smaller.
  • The lightning bolts are not sloped enough on the decal sheet. When the decals are applied, following the natural slope of the tails, the angle of the top of the lightning bolt is at the wrong slant. I fixed this by trimming the top of the decals on the model before the decals dried. Also, the Topgun badges end up not being oriented properly. This is best seen when applying the yellow cross-hair decals. The vertical orientation of the cross-hairs hits the MiG and surrounding writing differently on the left side from the right side.
  • All the provided slime lights are identical in size. While this is true of the real lights on the real Tomcat, the Hasegawa scribing of the tail top lights is different in size to the scribing on nose sides. The decals are a bit taller and a lot smaller in width than the scribing on the tail tops. The slime lights do match perfectly to the scribed lights on the sides of the nose, though. I did some judicious slicing to shorten the height of the lights for the tail tops. Then added some extra width to the lights by using some of the extra slime lights on the sheet.
  • Lastly, the turbine warning stripe should be about 25% wider and shortened in length by about a quarter of an inch. I applied a second stripe along side of the first stripe to increase its width on the model. Then, I trimmed the stripes to the correct length before the decals dried.

I only noticed these things because I saw the aircraft in person and did a lot of research to create my own decals for the model (prior to learning that TwoBobs was doing it). On the completed model, none of these issues is of any great consequence. I applied the decals using Solv-a-set and had no troubles of any sort.

For weathering, I used my typical style of thinned down enamel paint washes and air brush shading. I finished the weathering with some dry brushing to pop out the surface details. For a more complete discussion of what I do to weather my models, see my posting on "Weathering Aircraft".

 

 

Conclusion

 

This Tomcat is one of three Tomcat models that I was building all at the same time. The other two are F-14A+/B Tomcats. As I wrote at the start of this posting, these other two Tomcats are not completed, yet. After a bit of a break from them, I will return and finish both. It will likely be next year before this happens, though.

 

 

Anyone that made it to the IPMS/USA National Convention in Chicago this year has probably already seen this model in person. It was on display on the TwoBobs vending table for Friday and Saturday of the convention.

There are at least two other F-14s in similar blue camouflages from NSAWC that I have seen in pictures. None of them have exactly the same splinter camouflage pattern and each of them seems to use different combinations of colors in the camouflage. Additionally, the other two aircraft are marked in positive / negative markings rather than the all dark gray markings on the aircraft I built here.

 

 

Additional Images and Project Summary

 

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
Click the "Back" arrow on your browser to return to this page.

 

[../photogallery/photo14469/real.htm]

 

Project Statistics

Completion Date:

10 August 2001

Total Building Time:

125.1

Research:

5.9

Construction:

36.2

Painting:

54.8

Decals / Markings:

4.8

Extra Detailing / Conversion:

3.4

Go to Part One - Building the Black Box Cockpit

Go to Part Two - Painting the Cockpit for Effect

Go to Part Three - Tomcat Construction


Model, Description and Images Copyright 2001 by David Aungst
Page Created 29 August, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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