Revell Hawker Hunter F.Mk.6 in 1/72
  Started: September/2014
Finished: January/2015

 

The Revell 1/72 offering of the famous Hawker Hunter has been around for quite a while. If memory serves me well, this kit was released during early 2000's, and I put it in the same league of the F-101 and other Revell releases of then, bringing good molding, recessed panel lines and excellent decals for comparatively low prices.

I am particularly fond of the lines of the Hunter, and wanted one in my collection for years. Knowing the Academy kit, I'm sure the Revell one is better in all aspects, so I started this one hoping to avoid major hurdles. Revell also offers the F.Mk.58 and the FGA.9, but I guess the sprues are almost identical in all three. This was mine:



I also got the Xtradecal sheet X046-72, which brings several choices of Hunters from late 50's until 70's, including demonstration markings and colorful liveries. Another interesting item to have for this project was the Eduard SS230, which includes pre-painted PE parts for the cockpit and will save me a lot of time to detail the bang seat:



Assembly started with the cockpit. Revell relief instruments on the control panel and sidewalls were so good that almost made me give up the Eduard set. But I was a tad tired of toothpick-painting from other projects, and ended up sanding all details flush and gluing the PE details. I, however, added some additional three-dimensionality by glueing little slices of white, yellow and red stretched sprue to simulate buttons and knobs. This added a lot to the PE instruments, and recovered part of the molded
3D details effects lost. I also added a bit more color here and there and made a new throttle handle. The PE control panel was glued using Pledge Future wax and, once dry, more of it was poured through the instruments openings. This produced small pools of Future that simulate the instruments' glasses very well when dry:



The PE parts which simulate the cockpit wall structure was a pain in the elbow - it simply refused to stay in place during the dry-runs. I ended cementing them in place using epoxy glue. On the other hand, after gluing the fuselage halves, the cockpit looks really nice. A few details will be added later on, as well as the ejection seat, which can be inserted through the cockpit opening without problems afterwards:



After finishing the cockpit, the build progressed fairly well, except for a couple of stops to work on self-inflicted problems. The first one was the loose fit of the wings to the fuselage. As molded by Revell, you don't have any chance to sand inside the engine intakes after installing the wings, and I wasn't really happy with the visible seams there. That's why I installed plastic shims above and below de splitter plate. They were sanded flush and made the wings click in place without any large seam.



The second problem I created was actually fun. I don't like models with heavy recessed panel lines which don't alternate recessed and raised details and rivets. Don't take me wrong, I think Revell did a nice job on the surface details, but it is a tad too heavy for my personal taste. Like I usually do in similarly molded kits, I added rivets and fasteners wherever appropriate. These were added along hatches, inspection panels and selected panel lines on the fuselage and wings, and will enhance the finish after the oil washes phase:





Reports claiming a bad fit of the outer leading edge proved correct, and I had to spend a lot of time working the area to produce an acceptable joint. I also had to reduce the thickness of the dogtooth leading edge extension for a  realistic appearence, since it is thicker than the wing structure where it is attached to. The wingtip lights followed the well known method of clear colored plastic:



Another thing which bugged me was the nothing seamless air intakes. So much so that I added a piece of thin plastic sheet, curved to match roughly the actual geometry in the real aircraft. These areas were painted white and progressively darkened towards the aft fuselage to impart a sense of depth (not painted yet in the photos below):


If you are building this model, remember that the splitter plate and the interior of the intake were painted white in most cases, but the leading edges of the splitter plate and the intake were painted in the corresponding camouflage colors. The photos below help to show this. Therefore, before you cement the wings in place, you have to paint these areas accordingly - it is virtually impossible to do it later.




Photo courtesy: Sandro Tomasetto


At this point I had only three small details to take care of: to open the gun camera port, drill the vents on the upper lip of the empty ammo link blisters, and find a way to reproduce the 30 mm Aden gun blast deflectors (molded solid in the kit). Only the third one posed a real challenge - more on that later:





By the way, in the initial versions, w
hen the Aden cannon was fired, spent ammunition links and shell cases stream out through separate ejection slots, causing a problem because as they were ejected into the slipstream, areas on the lower fuselage and airbrake were damaged by the impact of them. The problem was actually caused by the ammunition links - not the shell cases - and was successfully solved by fitting two large, external streamlined blisters, mounted under the fuselage over the link ejector ports, to collect the links from the lower two guns. The blisters became known as Sabrinas after a well-developed photo model of the 1950s. Seems to make sense to me:



Back to the model, all basic subassemblies were ready, and the wings and the windscreen could be cemented in place. As I mentioned earlier, the splitter plates were assembled and painted as well as the interior of the engine air intakes. I wasn't sure about the grey/green upper camouflage to use by then, so I had to made my choices of paint brands earlier than expected. I left the horizontal stabilizers off the model until very late in the assembly:




With the main airframe ready, I could move my attention to the smaller details. Revell - like some other manufacturers - like to design nose landing gears in a way that you have to assemble the yoke with the wheel sandwiched in it. The designers there probably have never heard about sanding, masking or painting, but whatever is the reason, they are thinking about the mold price only. Anyway, the solution is simple: assemble the yoke without the wheel, sand and finish as necessary, and drill the holes to accept an axle later to support the wheel in place. This way you can paint and weather the strut and the wheel more easily as separate items and only mount the wheel during the final stages:



The nose wheel strut also received tow attaching details, missing in the kit parts. As for the main wheel struts, Revell did a nice job on them, including separated torque links and even some plumbing. I enhanced mine with more hydraulic lines made from 0,2 mm solder wire. The main wheels had the tire tread scribed in a lathe, and this operation enlarged slightly their mounting holes. A slice of brass tubing glued on the main wheel strut ensured a tight fit of the wheels again:




Revell also seems to like molding the wheel well doors in a single piece. If you want the landing gear deployed, you have to cut the doors apart. Since I was at it, I added a few rivet lines and the locking plugs missing from both the main and the nose landing gear doors. Hinges and bolts were added too, wherever applicable. The added details are highlighted in red in the drawing below. These are simple scratchbuilding jobs and add a lot to otherwise plain parts:







More rivets/fasteners were added here and there. The engine exhaust pipe was diametrally reduced on a lathe to allow its installation after closing the fuselage. I also detailed the air brake and eliminated the panel lines from the flaps which should exist for the FGA.9 and F.Mk.58 versions, only:







Earlier in this text I mentioned that I had to figure out a way to reproduce the blast deflectors of the canons. The Hunter F.6 was the first to use blast deflectors with the muzzles of the Aden 30 mm gun pack under the nose. Quoting Mark from Britmodeller forum, '...At higher altitudes it was found that firing the Hunter's guns caused a tendancy for the aircraft to pitch down. This was partly caused by the massive recoil forces generated low down in the fuselage when the guns were fired and the lower air pressure at high altitude. To compensate for the pitch down the Hunter's blast tubes were redesigned to include blast deflectors for the F.6. These were 'boxed in' sections of the blast tubes with internal curved baffles which directed some of the gun 'blast' vertically downwards. This helped to keep the aircraft's nose up and avoid the pitch down problem. The principle is exactly the same as the Cutts Compensator fitted to the muzzle of the Thompson sub-machine gun - the difference being that the Thompson had a tendancy to raise its muzzle when fired so the Cutts redirected the blast upwards instead'.



It is also interesting to add that the blast tubes were arc welded to the skin, and that on High Speed Silver painted Hunters, the color of the gun openings were left in natural metal. So, my problem at this point was how to replicate the blast deflectors. I left the model a few days aside while I tried to figure out a solution, and devise a very simple method which actually worked fine:

1. Drill the gun openings for a realistic finish.
2. Use a rotary tool to carve a shallow depression on the deflectors' side.
3. Find pieces of 1/700 scale PE ship ladders of the same width of the deflectors, cut them to size and glue on the top of the carved area.
4. Apply a bead of filler or Mr.Surfacer to conceal the PE outer edges, if necessary.

This way you have very convincing blast deflectors in 1/72 scale, but I'll save photos proving my point for later. In case you are wondering why step 2, it is just to create room for the oil wash and make the deflectors look hollow:





Meanwhile, the little Hunter received a coat of automotive acrylic primer and any remaining flaw was corrected. Pre-shading consisted of pure black applied freehand, or with the aid of a post-it.



By then I had decided for a Hunter from No.56 Squadron, which operated their F.6s from November/1958 until January/1961, when they re-equipped with Lightnings. An early F.6 meant I had to reproduce an early RAF scheme with the famed High Speed Silver (HSS) on the undersides and Dark Sea Grey / Dark Green (DSG/DG) as top camouflage. The HSS was actually a 50/50 mixture of Aluminium and clear cellulose dope paints. Post-war RAF silver aircraft were all painted with this finish and not in natural metal with the one exception of the Lightning. I've seen modelers simply applying their favorite Aluminum hobby paint to reproduce this particular color, but if you study color photos of the period you will see that it is not so simple. I think the HSS should look more like a semi-flat metallic grey on a model.

Anyway, I started by applying an overall coat of Mr.Color #8 Silver. This way I had the wheel bays already painted with lacquer, and no protective clear coat would be necessary during the weathering phase. Following the new Airfile book on the Hunter (Robinson & Freeman, Hawker Hunter in RAF Service 1955-1990, Airfile, 2014), the chosen Hunter had the wingtips painted in white, probably in preparation to paint the checkers of No.56 Sqn as on the fuselage sides. And so I did:
 


I applied a dark brown oil-wash to the wheel wells, and the molded on details provided by Revell really stood up. I also drilled holes to accept addtional plumbing afterwards (the blue tape you see in the photos are protecting two small aerials). But I wasn't not done with the HSS, yet:


To better render the HSS, I applied a very, very thin mist of GSI #25 Dark Sea Grey over the Silver, but I must remember you that the whole aircraft would receive a semi-gloss final coat in the end. After masking the HSS, the DSG/DG upper camouflage was applied using Aerotech Automotive Lacquers, after consulting our resident RAF expert Sandro Tomasetto (thanks Sandro!). The DG was applied with the help of the 'Blu-Tack sausage' method: roll your Blu-Tack into long rolls - the tighter you want the camo pattern, the smaller you make the rolls. After you've shot the first camo color, lay out the rolls on the edges of where you want the pattern to be. It's fairly easy to copy a drawing showing the demarcations - if not right - just move/bend. I then squidge it down a little to make sure it doesn't induce any phantom spray lines. You can then fill in the spaces with low tack tape, but using a 0.2 mm airbrush you really don't need any further masking. When spraying the second color, do your best to keep the airbrush at 90 degrees to the model. The undercut of the Blu-tack roll gives you the soft edge pattern from the spray diffusing a bit under the roll. That's why you want to maintain that 90 degree angle. 

I went back later and post-shaded some areas with lighter grey/green. Pledge Future was applied in preparation for the decals on the undersides, only, as the upper colors were already very gloss. The Xtradecals performed very well, except that the red circles of the insignias were slightly off register. I had no option but to superimpose the red dots from the Revell decal sheet (thankfully separated disks), saving my day. The stencils came all from the Revell sheet, though. Here are the results:





Once the decals were fully dry, I coated the model with a semi-gloss acrylic clear, protecting the wheel bays. At this point the HSS prepared with the DSG mist really started to look what I wanted. Check out the difference to the Aluminum wheel bays after removing their masks:





I painted the nose cone with gloss black and started with one of my favorite modeling steps: the oil washes. On the undersides, I used Payne's grey, and a dark brown mix on the uppersurfaces. 







Additionally to the oil washes, I applied the airwash with a fine-tipped airbrush using a highly thinned mix of Tamiya XF-1 and XF-9 along selected panel lines, flaps areas, aft wheel bays, etc. The effect doesn't show much on the top surfaces, but I made them more heavy trailing hot air vents:






Stains and leaks were simulated using pure burnt sienna or black oils applied with a toothpick, and smudged in the direction of the airflow using a flat brush:


 
I painted the gun muzzes and openings with a steel-like metallic color, and applied a black oil wash. All the work described when preparing the blast deflectors paid off, as the final effect was exactly what I had thought from the outset:



 
After studying several color photos of operational Hunters, the model was clear coated with a semi-flat finish, tending more to the flat side. I used my own mix of Model Master Acryl gloss and flat clears:



At this point I noted a huge goof of mine: I completely forgot the serial numbers under the wings - doh! I left them for last because they have to be cut following the main wheel doors, and somehow my mind deleted them from the 'to do' list... I gently sanded the areas were they should go with a 2000 sandpaper and transferred the outline of the doors to a clear paper, fixed the paper over the decals and cut them with a sharp blade. Once dry, I retouched the semi-flat coat. The alignment is not perfect, but I considered the operation a lucky success:



Next, I used several gauges of solder wire and stretched sprue to add some hydraulic lines to the wheel bays, following photos. I didn't went crazy on this, but the few lines added really made the bays look a lot more busy:





The cockpit details were next. I started by adding cables and hoses running from the bulkhead behind the pilot's seat, again following photos:



The bang seat was from the kit, but the Eduard set changed it into a little jewel. Some extra items were added there too, and a cautious painting brought the seat to something way far from what I would obtain using only the kit parts:





And more remaining parts were finished. The stabilizers were camouflaged as the airframe, while the flaps and airbrake received their share of weathering. I left the airbrake without the DSG treatment to add some interest. The exhaust pipe was painted with Model Master Jet Exhaust, while the tail pipe ring on the aft fuselage was masked and painted with Gunze's #8 Silver:





The wing fuel tanks were also camouflaged, but I used only DSG/Silver, as I failed to find one single photo of a Hunter with 
wing fuel tanks painted DG. I used only one of the three Revell decals intended to be used on each wing tank, since these stencils seem common only for late Hunters. I would install the outer wing pylos without any ordnance:



The landing gear parts and well doors were painted and weathered to make the details stand. The unpretentious details and rivets added earlier on really showed off:





Everything ready, I finally could start assembling the last details. The landing gear was cemented in place, taking care to reproduce the correct camber of the main landing gear legs, as well as the various doors. Revell didn't supply any of the linking braces connecting the doors to the wheel legs. I made these of stretched sprue, but I left a couple missing, as it would be impossible to install them as in the prototype due to the way Revell did the main wheel bay doors:



The added details on the wheel bays really gave a nice touch, but the lack of any gluing point made the installation of the nose wheel doors difficult - practice apnea before tackling them:



 


Next, the bang seat was slid into the cockpit opening and the pilot's office came to life.



The last item painted was the sliding portion of the canopy, and I used the Revell decals for the characteristic dashed yellow lines around the frames. Eduard provided the canopy seal / rear mirror, which was glued with contact glue, just in case. A small piece of guitar string simulated the oxygen hose. I also installed the new Pitot tube, made by turning a length of brass rod on a lathe - no more broken Pitots...





Since the outer wing pylon was left empty, surface details were added to it. A new fuel vent was made with stretched cotton bud rod and added to the port side ahead of the exhaust cone. The wing flaps were the other items which required some patience to be installed in the correct position. Again, Revell made them separated, but did not provided any alignment aid.

Earlier in the project I sawed the tail light off (modeled with the fuselage in gray plastic) to replace it later by a clear part. The light was turned on a Dremel using a small piece of clear sprue and glued in place with white glue.





At this point the model was virtually done. I just added the four aerials (two atop each wing tip, two over the mid-fuselage) from stretched sprue and inserted them on previously drilled holes:








As usual, I wanted to display my Hunter on a suitable base. Nothing fancy, just a section of tarmac. For that I did not deviated much from my usual method, except that I made the tarmac surface roughness a bit heavier this time, as I wanted the concrete texture showing more after a drybrushing:





Looking at photos of operational Hunters during the 50's, I found that the it was not uncommon at RAF airbases the use of a folding, metal wheel chock. I scratchbuilt one of these for the nose wheel, but went with the more typical wooden type for the main wheels. And the base was done...





...well, almost. The Flying Colors volume on the Hunter shows an illustration of the pilots ladder, and I found interesting that some of them had a check placard which reads "Are your shoes and pockets FOD free? Check seat pins". I couldn't resist and scratchbuilt the ladder with a home made decal for the stenciled placard:





And so I finished another jet. Here are the final photos:






















I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did building this model.

 
Technical file
Kit: 
- Revell #04350
Additions: 
- Xtradecal X046-72
- Eduard SS230 1/72 Hunter Mk.6 for Revell kit
Basic colors: 
- Primer: automotive acrylic gray primer
- High Speed Silver: 
GSI Mr.Color #8 Silver misted with #25 Dark Sea Grey
- Flat black: Tamiya XF-1
- Aluminum: GSI Mr.Color #8 Silver
- Dark Sea Grey: Aerotech automotive lacquer
- Dark Green: Aerotech automotive lacquer
- Gloss clear: Pledge Future Floor Wax and Tamiya X-22
- Semi-gloss finish: Testors Model Master Acryl.
Notes: 
- Some scratchbuilt details (see text).


Rato Marczak 2015