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Lockheed F-5E Lightning

by Jamie Haggo


Lockheed F-5 Lightning


Academy's 1/48 scale F-5E Lightning is available online from Squadron.com




Ever since I saw a photograph of a reconnaissance P-38 in Haze Blue colour scheme Iíve always fancied modelling it and recently Iíve done just that. Haze Blue was a development of shaded paint, the aim being to render the painted aircraft invisible against the blue of the stratosphere, one of the first attempts of stealth! In one test, a Haze Blue lightning closed to within a few hundred feet of the target B-17 before being spotted by the crew.

For this project I wanted to get hold of the Academy P-38 F-5 however I could not track one down therefore I had no choice but to do a cut and shut on a fighter. I purchased the Paragon resin conversion with the aim of using the superior Hasegawa P-38J that the conversion was designed for however I drew a blank. This meant I was forced into buying the Academy offering, a good kit but not as refined as the Japanese example. In the end I decided to go the whole hog and bought the True Details resin cockpit, bulged tyres and Fast Frame canopy as well as the Eduard zoom etched set and Aeromaster decals. All this amounted to a sizeable outlay with large capacity for everything to go breasts aloft.




Getting Started

The first job was to prime the resin and metal with Halfords grey acrylic primer, this is an excellent product giving a very smooth thin finish whilst drying very quickly with little odour.

Next I sprayed all the relevant bits with Aeromaster US Interior green (apart from the nose wheel well......DOH!!!!) and when dry they were all treated to a wash of darkened base colour. Then I lifted all the detail by dry brushing with gradually lighter shades of base colour. In the cockpit the relevant black boxes were picked out in black and given a dry brushing with grey as was the etched instrument panel to the back of which was glued the acetate instruments, this I find is the most realistic way of producing an instrument panel and is worth the cost of the etched set itself. Dabs of red and yellow paint finished off the cockpit and brought it to life.



The resin pieces were removed from their casting blocks and superglued together, the tub was then glued onto the lower wing/fuselage centre section.


The next areas to turn to are the wheel wells and undercarriage. The wells themselves are made up of three pieces which after weathering using the same process as the cockpit were glued together using liquid poly. The instructions say that the gear legs and associated struts should be fitted at this stage, I digressed from the instructions here preferring to leave them off until after painting. The wells were then fitted into the booms which are split vertically, at this stage I added the eduard mesh radiator inserts which look great once painted up.


The top wing half was glued to the lower half trapping the resin cockpit tub. This left a gap at the rear of the equipment bay so I snapped this part off and re-glued it into a higher position, this in consequence raises the seat which is on the other side of the bulkhead but this is preferable to having a big fuselage/bulkhead.

Once the booms were set they were glued to the wings/fuselage and the tailplane glued in place. Care needs to be exercised to ensure everything dries true and square. A fair amount of filler was required around the boom/wing join which is a shame as there is some very fine rivet detail which is subsequently lost in the rubbing down.


Attention is now focused on the main part of the conversion, namely the nose pod. The two nose halves were joined together and the resin nose tip test fitted. The conversion set was designed for the Hasegawa kit which must have a slightly slimmer nose cross section as the nose insert was too narrow. Rather than sanding the nose halves to a thinner section I decided to discard the resin piece and use the kit piece which had the gun ports filled and sanded and the panel lines rescribed. The underside camera pack was superglued into position after the relevant plastic was removed with a razor saw. This bit was again too narrow but this sides were built up with filler and sanded to the correct profile.



Once all this was completed it was time to add the nose weight, the P-38 being one of the most obvious tail sitting candidates. I used Araldite mixed with fine lead shot from a fishing takle shop ( the bloke behind the counter was not suprised to here it wasnít for fishing, I was the third modeller in that day!!). The mix was duly poured into the nose cavity and left to set, initially I was flapping a bit thinking the nose would melt as it got quite hot but no such calamity occurred, much to my relief. The resin oblique camera ports were separated from the pouring blocks and superglued onto the nose halves and the whole lot was grafted onto the fuselage. The whole model was filled and sanded in the relevant bits ready for painting.



Painting, Markings and Weathering


The clear canopy was attached with white glue and then, along with the wheel wells, was masked. The model was undercoated with Halfords acrylic grey primer. I was initially sceptical about this product thinking the coat would be far too thick but nothing could be farther from the truth, a lovely thin smooth finish is produced. I only wish cars were painted in camouflage!

The next job was to spay the pre shading. For those who have not come across this technique before, pre shading is a way of breaking up the continuous colour of a scheme. It is achieved by spraying a dark colour along panel lines and in the nooks and crannies of the airframe, the camouflage colour is then sprayed over the top in thin coats allowing the shading to just be seen. It is important to tailor the colour of the shading to the camouflage for example a white scheme needs a grey for shading as black is too harsh. I have since moved on and now use the post shading technique, see my article in the reference section to see how I do this. Anyway, for this Haze Blue colour I used black shading with Xtracolour Haze Blue which was a departure for me as I usually stick to acrylics. Once the gloss of the Blue had dried hard I masked and sprayed the invasion striping under the booms. The Aeromaster sheet said that these were faded so I used off white and dark grey. To finish the painting I masked off the red panels on the cowlings and sprayed them as well as the spinners.


The decals were applied using micro sol and set and reacted really well. The fast frames which had been painted as the same time as the airframe were now applied. This is a supurb product which comprises of the painted portion of the canopy pre cut on self adhesive film which once painted just sticks onto the kits canopy.

The last construction now took place with the undercarriage being sprayed Halford Nissan Sliver and glued in at the same time as the remaining well detail. The True Details weighted wheels were painted, weathered and glued on.


This is my favourite part of modelling as before your eyes the subject turns from a model into a miniature aeroplane . The Aeromaster sheet said this scheme was well weathered which I why I chose it (I was like a pig in poo!!)
First of all a coat of Halfords clear lacquer was applied to seal in the decals but AAHHH! It started to wrinkle the paint, Mayday. I let it dry and rubbed down the affected areas with fine wet and dry. Luckily I could carry on so applied a few coats of acrylic matt varnish but I wont be applying a lacquer on enamel paint unless Itís had at least a week to dry. The next step was to run thinned brown and dark grey wash into the panel lines with a fine brush, any sploges were wiped away with a damp cloth. I never use black as I find it too harsh. The next stage was to fade the paint, this was done by misting an extremely thin white on the upper surfaces, subtlety is the order of the day as itís easy to over do it. The final thing to do was to spray the exhaust which went from brown, through grey to white. The exhausts were then added. The final task was to add the aerial wire from stretched sprue and that was the project finished.





I really enjoyed the construction of this model,. It makes a change from shake the Japanese box and out falls a model. There were a few heart stopping moments but they were well worth it as it looks great along side the standard camouflage WW2 fighters on my shelves.

Right, now whose for a pink Spitfire?


P-38 Lightning Aces of the ETO/MTO
(Aircraft of the Aces 19)
Author: John Stanaway
Illustrator: Tom Tullis
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: June 5 1998
Details: 144 pages; ISBN: 1841764388
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Jamie Haggo
Page Created 09 February, 2004
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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