F-102A Delta Dagger
Back in the late 1980’s, I was stationed at Sembach in Germany. Having left England behind in 1986 due to reassignment, the word on aircraft modeling was mostly about what Revell and Italeri were up to. Everything in the shops was Revell or R/C related, and my only link to what was happening in the rest of the static scale world involved the Squadron shop flyers. A friend from Miami sent me a letter saying “sign up for the “Golden Eagle Society” newsletter… the word here is there are going to be 1/48 PBY’s, F-89’s and F-102’s from a major manufacturer…” I signed up, saw the newsletter, and was thinking to myself, “Yeah, right”. But at the same time I had high hopes; we had, in the space of a few years since 1982, seen the F-106 from Monogram, along with the consummate A-10, A-37, and the A-6 (the latter under the Revell label, but it was a Monogram kit based on the stock number lettering tab on the runners). Ah, if wishes were to only turn true… When I returned stateside in 1990, lo and behold, within the space of three years we had all three. Wa-hoo! Nothing like insider information.
I have built this kit on six separate occasions; one initial build with Soesterberg, Netherlands markings, four for other folks, in this case former crew chiefs and other specialist maintainers (Some of you know how it goes; people find out you build models at a more than basic level, and they say “hey, I used to work on the ‘big bug”, do you know if they ever made a model of it?”) I have also built the one with the Promodeler release. The big difference is the Case XX wing and the bulged/flattened tires (along with a couple of other extras thrown in). I have also built a “Tub”, the C&H two-seat modification of the basic kit. I am contemplating obtaining the SAC metal gear for that one; the nose gear has snapped off twice and is now bent under the weight of all that resin!
On to this build! I was lucky enough to be the winner of the new “build it as fast as you can” lottery. In the box (which was so tight it almost had to be cut open) you will find one each Former Monogram F-102A kit with Promodeler ® modifications to the tires, two bags of resin, a color photoetch fret for the instruments, and a bare photoetch fret with detail parts. (These appear to be contracted out from Eduard). Included is a Cartograf decal sheet, with markings for a camouflage F-102A (56-1389) of the 64th FIS in Vietnam, 1966, and the more common overall ADC gray F-102A (57-0907) of the 460th FIS (Commander’s aircraft) out of Portland, Oregon in 1962. I opted for this scheme, as it has an absolutely stunning tiger head for the vertical fin. You old guys know the call from the ‘50’s… “Every Man a Tiger”…
The instruction sheet is excellent; obviously the folks at “Wingnut Wings” have raised the bar, because this sheet comes close. You’ll find a full color marking guide for both aircraft, with BOTH sides and TOP AND BOTTOM markings… and a separate page for stencils. And pardon me while I note in a non-PC fashion: no funky drawings with code words; just plain English and color callouts. Not that I am slamming other languages (I can converse in two others besides English), but it’s nice to have a basic instruction sheet that doesn’t bow to international standards, or warn us that glue can be hazardous, or knives are sharp and can cut you. No kidding. No legalese!
The basic Monogram drawings were used to build up the instruction manual; there is a history section about the “Deuce” on the front, and there are color call-outs throughout the manual. Where resin and photoetch is to be used, there are detailed drawings. I had no problem locating where things were supposed to go.
First item of construction: the afterburner assembly. The kit items are improved upon by a PE flameholder grid and a resin flow cone at the back of the turbine.
When complete, you will require a flashlight to see this detail, but it is there and improves on the stock item.
My recommendation on this build is to next attach the jet intakes. The instructions have you do it later, but I have found from painful experience it is a lot easier to do without the wings in the way. Remove the pour stubs at their base, and remove most of the interior of the plastic intake trunking as indicated by my X-acto knife pointer
The reason: the original intakes were too “chunky” and the new, cleaner, one-piece intakes will have a large plastic step on the interior if you don’t.
Spend as much time as needed here to make sure the intakes are attached firmly; otherwise, you will end up (as I did) having to re-superglue everything back in place when the fuselage flexes and cracks open what was a flimsy bond. (Oops) When satisfied, give it all a primer coat, then spray the intakes from the front and back with your favorite aluminum paint (I use Tamiya, because it actually sticks to bare resin for the most part, and covers well)
Cement the two fuselage halves together. And clean up afterward. (Easier now than later…)
Now onto the cockpit assembly. The kit item is replaced with a resin tub. There are a lot of little bits that go in, so clean it up, paint it gray, and get busy installing the photoetch and resin parts. The throttle is resin, and I held off installing the control stick assembly until I had the model mostly complete. The two-handle control yoke is correct; the right was the control stick for flying the aircraft, and the left was for controlling the radar and firing rockets. Note: This was a precursor to HOTAS, or “Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick” stuff, circa 1959
The nose wheel well contains a lot of detail bits. Take your time and they’ll come out ok. I had a bit of problem with fitting a couple of them but that’s just me. The landing light shroud is much more delicate than the kit plastic item!
The new instrument panel is resin, with a photoetch panel sandwich glued to it. There are a couple of small bits, drag chute release and landing gear handle. I could not get them to stay, so they aren’t there. The panel is gorgeous! I love the tampo process for getting details. Side panels simply glue in place, and you have a cockpit. The whole assembly fits from below, after you cement the fuselage halves together. I did not install the splitter assembly and scope until after I was ready to install the windscreen.
Cool technical note: The triangular panel that fits on top of the instrument coaming was placed there to prevent excess glare and reflections between the two flat windscreens. Worked like a champ, according to a guy who used to fly them.
Wing assembly: FIRST, install the main landing gear well bulkheads like the instructions tell you to do. DON’T be STUPID like I did and get in a hurry and FORGET them. Because they are a ROYAL PAIN IN THE…, well, you know, to install after you construct the wing.
The underside of the wing has the only horrendous seam of the build here.
You WILL have to putty and WILL have to lose and replace detail. And then there is the seam on the vertical fin on the right side, but it didn’t seem in dire need of “seam” repair, HA!) Of course, this is a raised detail model, so that may not bug you. I didn’t get my shorts in a wad over it. Modeling skills required, etc. There are resin elevators and ailerons and rudder to replace the thick, out-of-scale kit items.
There are notes to remind you that you must fill the seam after you do this Uh, ok. I used the flaps and ailerons but did not replace the rudder, as that was a bit redundant in my mind.
Install the wing assembly to the fuselage. Take your time and you’ll only have a slight seam at the front just to the fore of the leading edge to scrape/fill.
The next steps would have you install the landing gear. I personally preferred to install the nose radome first. It wasn’t the best fitting item, but does look better than the kit item once installed and puttied .
Maybe mine shrunk a bit, but I know I didn’t overdo the sanding. Be careful! And, when installing the new item, the upward sweep on the lower part of the new radome is on the bottom. I recommend making witness marks (pencil) on the upper and lower seams before you finally glue it in place with superglue, to avoid the ”sideways” or “upside down” look.
After the radome, it’s time to install the previously mentioned windscreen glare splitter and windscreen. A bit of Vallejo putty smoothed it into place; let the masking begin!
Paint shop time! I started with black for the radome, masked it off, then applied the bright aluminum areas on the intakes and titanium exhaust areas. I sprayed white on the wingtips as undercoat for the “Tamiya Camel Yellow” spray can outer tips, masked them when dry, then added semi-gloss black bands on the inner section. Mask them all, and then have an airbrush party with the ADC gray overall paint scheme. Let it sit overnight (I broke my new standard and used Testors oil-based enamel; the water-based acrylic doesn’t work as well for me in this color for some reason) Wait a day, remove the masking, then gloss coat everything.
Decals next; they went on without problems, as Cartograf decals are wont to do. Cartograf; the new standard in decals... Everyone else catch up.
On to the detail shop. I used Testors Mid-Green from the Vietnam era range (FS34102) as that is closest to what I remember the “deuce” and “six” missile and wheel-bay interiors being painted. They were not WWII-era chromate green. Same for the speed brakes; darker green than Zinc-C. There is miniscule PE to install on the speed-brake actuators, which look good when painted.
There is a bit of PE that goes in the main wheel well. I got it in there, along with some of the landing gear details with lightening holes, etc. I chose not to remove the nose gear strut parts to replace them with PE; that area, as I have previously mentioned, is way too fragile to mess with. The new resin wheel/tires were excellent, with deeper, more refined detail than the kit plastic versions. (And they aren’t bulged; these are high pressure tires and they don’t bulge at all.)
The missile bay is tackled next; and there is plenty of detail here, and the new missiles (both infrared and radar guided) are excellent.
A bit fragile, but that’s what happens when you put ham-handed me on a project. I also DID paint the yellow “Explosive” bands on the missiles, but when I tried to remove the masking tape the paint ripped off. Therefore, there are only all-red missiles on my deuce. The crush-triggers (these are fiberglass triggers on the leading edge of the fins that look like white or tan paint; Falcons are “hit to kill” missiles) were painted using the edge of a brush… The exhaust nozzles for these are included, and guaranteed to give you fits; but in the end, they work. The launch trapeze assemblies have new PE launch rails to add if you don’t intend to use the missiles. Nice touch, but not used in my case.
Final details include the canopy (with interior and canopy sill details) after installing the control yoke and ejection seat. I didn’t mention it before, but this seat is fabulous! Paint, drybrush , and fit into place. Compared to the acceptable kit item, it adds the right level of detail.
Last item: Pitot tube. As noted at the beginning of the build, I initially used the Aires Quickboost item previously passed to me for review. (IMG 3369) These are nice items, (kit on the right, two Aires on left). The only problem; the resin’s not particularly strong or flexible, and ended up being snapped into oblivion. Grrrr. Remove the stub, and install the kit item; at least it gives a bit. (And won’t impale your buddy like a steel one will!). There are also a couple of antennas that are replaced with PE items from the Encore fret; an easy kill. Chop off the plastic, superglue in place, paint.
Picture time! I like it. I REALLY like it. OK, Squadron sponsors of Encore… BRING ON THE ‘SIX! And PLEASE give it Minot decals! I truly appreciate the opportunity to review this kit, and sincerely appreciate the work that went into it to make it “mo bettah”.
Well done to Encore and Squadron; a full 10 of 10 on this one.