Time for an update. Using this jig has resulted in straight booms that, with the addition of the wheel wells and covers produced a pretty strong assembly. Clean up on the other hand looks to be an issue that will plague the build. With the covers on, this bird will be done in flight, more on the bird later. First a pilot is needed!
The first candidate had a mix up with his orders. The Tamiya pilot can’t be worked into the cockpit without some serious rework of both pilot and cockpit. So he’s been transferred to the MTO and will transition to P-51’s once his legs heal. In his stead is a seasoned veteran from the Monogram P-47 1968 kit. I had to spread his legs and add a bit of putty to the back of his left arm, but he turned out well, and is very excited to transition into the realm of Photo Recon!
Here’s Jim sporting the standard ETO pilot attire with some wool cuffs to boot
Academy’s intakes lacked believable grills, so these were drilled and filed out. I found some cool screen material in the form of smoking pipe screens (available in brass and silver, 5 for 0.99 cents US). I cut these to size and then glued them in place with super glue. I also added them to the intake vents on the booms (a little tricky). I recall seeing them firsthand at an air show and thought they were pretty prominent standing in front of them, so I opted to add them to this build. The kit does represent this up front (not on the boom intakes), though after painting I think they’d disappear.
Next I added the front of the nacelles to the booms, and this is where the fun with Mr. Surfacer 500 and 1200 began in earnest. Three applications to almost all the seams were done. It’s a good thing that sanding is therapeutic to my right hand (past surgery), so I didn’t mind.
I then completed the cockpit, making sure that Jim would fit and look the part. It was then time to mate the upper and lower halves of the wing assembly. I started at the cockpit and worked out towards the wingtips in two stages.
The fit here was less than banner, but I was armed with plenty of Mr. Surfacer! Next came the outer wings. My wife Rosie is a teacher, and while in Malaysia I accompanied her to the “Teachers” supply store and found these neat little clothes pins. These work just like their larger cousins, but I liked them here on the trailing edge because they held fast. I also noted that the trailing edge was a bit thick, needing more sanding…
Again I cleaned this assembly by filling, sanding and repeating two to three times.
The time finally came that I could use the second part of the jig!
The mating of the booms to the wing assembly was done in three steps over the course of a day. Having previously cut the wood, I got an early start on it as the day promised to be a hot one.
Alignment was the key, as I followed Paul Budzik’s plans, I got the tail to line up, though not as well as I’d of liked.
Next was the back boom to wing mating surfaces, and this was not good at all, oddly the front ends seemed to align pretty well on their own.
Not wanting to chance anything at this point I aligned the front nacelles with the wings and once tacky I added blue painters tape to hold it all secure for a few more hours.
I started this process at 0700, and took it all inside at 2130, making for a long and often frustrating day. Normally after such an ordeal I’d feel a sense of accomplishment or euphoria, but for me this was not the case. With all the parts assembled and the glue dried I inspected the alignment. It is aligned! Yay team!!
The fit is atrocious! I’ve pulled out the files and mean Mr. sanding stick (~250 grit) to first even all the parts out, and then will be round two of fill, sand repeat. For me this will be the best aligned P-38 I’ve built, though getting to the finish line will be a major undertaking. Now this whole time it may seem that I bash the Academy kit for fit, which it’s not the greatest, however, the sub-assemblies do fit ok with just some seam clean up needed. It’s the putting the sub-assemblies together that produces some major gaps. The canopy also isn’t made to fit too well either… so perhaps this kit doesn’t fit so well after all. That said, it is the only F-5E variant out there, so I’ll hush and get back to sanding.
More to follow. Thanks for reading my little rant.