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The Airfix F-80C Shooting Star


The Finished Beauty
Another shiny metal bird!  I picked this one up as a "bagged kit" over at Philip's Hobby HQ in Santee.  I figured it would make for a nice quick and simple build.  Just the thing to help get me back into the lifestyle change of making models once again.  That being the case, I also made sure to start taking pictures of this little gem at each step of the way.

As a bagged kit, this only set me back about the price of a mocha (small, not grande) and that way I'd not feel to bad if I screwed it up!  The person who sold the kit to Phillip had previously repackaged the contents into a couple of Ziplock baggies and thrown away the kit box.  I guess this made it easier to store.  In any event, the kit I purchased at Phillip's had all the essentials to make it - not not the neato coolo boxtop art.  For that, I had to find an image of the kit on another site.

The Airfix Series 2 Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star kit box top

After doing a quick websearch I found the very thing over on the Scale Model Aircraft Kit Review website:  AIRFIX 1:72 F-80C SHOOTING STAR.  That review by  "Mark B" helped me along considerably and that website  is an excellent resource for info about model aircraft kits.  I highly recommend it.

My intent here is to get this kit done before the year's end.  It is a simple enough build that it really lends itself to that goal.  We'll see if I can squeeze this one through the end of the year and all the related chaos that brings.  You can follow along each day's progress by clicking that day's entires:

Day 1: A Familiar Sight
Day 2: The Fiddly Bits
Day 3:
Visible Progress!
Day 4: More Progress
Day 5: Sandbagged!
Day 6: Foiled
Day 8: The Future
Day 9: Disaster
Day 10: Decaling
Day 11: Second Coat
Day 12: Fiddly Bits
Day 13: Beauty Shots of the Finished Result!


Fuselage and Wings

OK, first things first.  This kit was originally molded in 1974 and it represents everything that Airfix had advanced to by the 70's.  Although marked as a "Series 2" it was really leaps and bounds better than the original Series 2 kits of even ten years prior.  The surface detail is nicely rendered, even by today's standards.  True, the kit comes up wanting in comparison to something issued today by Tamiya or Hasegawa, but it still is a pretty nice rendition of the Shooting Star in its own right.

Parts Sprues 01 and 02

Not much to declare in the photo above, it's pretty standard.  One nice thing though was the exhaust cone piece.  It's there in the upper left, projecting toward the camera.  This serves to seal off the rear end of the jet.  This prevents the dreaded "see through" effect that was all too common among jet models of the 50's and 60's.  Of course, these days, the exhaust cone or "burner can" piece can actually be so well molded on some kits that it becomes almost a separate model all on its own.  Nothing so fancy here but it is appreciated.

Parts Sprue 03 and those fiddly bits that came loose.

Another nice thing about this Airfix kit was its cockpit.  All the cockpit details the Series 2 kits of old used to feature just a couple of pegs molded into one side of the fuselage pieces.  Either that or something so rudimentary and crude that it was little better.  In this case, the cockpit is actually quite modern in its rendition consisting of a "tub" piece which captures some side panel detailing, the pilot's seat, and an instrument panel with the HUD (Head Up Display) molded in.

Day 1
(18 Dec 04)

A Familiar Sight...

A familiar sight!

As part of the molding process, each mold half is sprayed with a "mold release" oil / grease.  Then the molds are locked together and the plastic is injected into them.  Normally, this mold release oil evaporates off without problem.  But sometimes enough of it adheres to the plastic that it can cause a problem with glue or paint adhering properly.  So, the best thing to do is to wash the kit parts before you start making your modelOr course, then you have to dry your kit parts as well.  Nothing new here.  That, aside from figuring out which Humbrol Paint numbers meant what colors, was all that I got done on Day One.  Between the setting up, washing, and drying I probably took about an hour or so.



Day 2
(19 Dec 04)

The Fiddly Bits...

The Fiddly Bits

Make use of what you have when you have it.  With that in mind, I started painting parts of the kit while they were still attached to their sprues or while I could easily get at them.  Thus the cockpit and landing gear bays got their coat of Zinc Chromate Green while the insides of the intakes and landing gear got their silver.  The landing gears got both silver and flat black.  I'll most likely have to go back over the landing gear hubs with black so as to bring out the hub detail again. 

Yup, it's a tail sitter alright!

The next thing I did was to see just how much weight it'll take to keep this plane from being a tail sitter.  The instructions list 5 grams for a nose weight.  I like that.  Most other kit instructions fail to be so specific.  At best they'll simply mention "add weight in nose" and leave it at that.  But I still wanted to be sure here.  So I figured I needed a way to see just how much weight would be needed to keep the kit off of its tail.  To do this I had to figure some way of duplicating the rotation point for the fully assembled kit without fully assembling it.

So, I quickly taped the kit fuselage and wings together.  The tailplanes, cockpit tub, and exhaust cone fit snugly enough in the kit not to have to mess with further.  Then I measured the distance between where the main landing gear struts attach.  With that distance I simply measured it out on a piece of cardboard and then punched through two nails at those points.  These provided perfect pivot points upon which the model could rotate.

Then I set the model upon those points and, sure enough, it was a tail sitter.  Next I took the intended nose weight and simply taped it on the outside of the kit's nose.  The results are seen below.

Yup, it's a nose sitter!

This tells me that this ball of lead is sufficient to keep the kit on its nose and off its tail.  So, now I'll just flatten that lead out a bit and glue it inside the kit's nose once I'm ready to assemble the fuselage.  The reason why I went through this is that I didn't want to add too much weight to the nose less I over stress the plastic nose gear.

I figure I spent about an hour and a half on this today.



Day 3 (21 Dec 04)

Visible Progress!

Today (tonight, really) I made some highly visible progress. 

Flattened lead weight for the nose, cockpit tub and top of nosegear bay all in place

Here you can see the flattened nose weight in place along with the cockpit tub and the piece that forms the top of the landing gear bay, all in place.  You can also make out the beaded superglue along the edges of the fuselage.  It took some fiddling to get everything inside to line up properly so I could get the fuselage halves together but I did it.

The wings are on!

The wings are on!  I'm always pleased when I reach this stage in assembling a model.  With the fuselage joined and the wings attached, the kit now truly begins to look like a real airplane.

The view from below

The view from below.  Here you can see not only the details on the landing gear bay and the airbrake bays but also the nosegear as well.  This was shades of the original Series 2 kits in that the nose gear is pinned in place but is free to rotate - much like those original Series 2 kits.  The difference here though is that the gear can not fully retract.

Now it looks really like a real plane!

Now it looks really like a real plane!  Wings and tail are on!

Holding steady

Holding steady!  I wanted to be sure that the tailplanes set true.  So, instead of laying the kit down horizontally, I used the clamp there to hold it in this vertical position.  That ended my effort for this day.  Add in another hour.



Day 4 (22 Dec 04)

More progress.

Unfortunately, I didn't seat the wings with the fuselage as flush as they needed to be.  So, I had to pry the out of alignment side loose and reset it.  This revealed that the entire kit was out of alignment.  It could be that I simply didn't seat the wings down far enough or it could be that the fuselage was warped and I didn't catch it.  In any event, the misalignment is not very noticeable and I'll just live with it.  That and learn to try and catch such things in the future!

Prepped for primer on top

With the fuselage assembled, I did some quick sanding of the joins but what I really needed to do was get a coat of primer on the thing.  To keep that paint from wiping out what I'd accomplished with the cockpit and nosegear bay I had to mask them.  This consisted of just stuffing the areas with facial tissue paper.

Prepped for primer on bottom

One helpful thing about jet kits is that their exhausts provide a ready made attachment point for holding them steady whilst I spray them.  That's what you see below here.

Jet fighter on a stick!

Next step, primering! 

The primered plane

All this took me not quite an hour for this round.



Day 5 (23 Dec 04)

Sandbagged!

Well, putting a coat of primer on my bird gave me a good chance to see how bad the seems were.  I knew I'd have a problem at the wing joints but I figured I'd be able to deal with that easily enough.  The next step though, was attaching the inlets to the fuselage.  Airfix saw fit to mold those as separate pieces - not just the outer half of the inlet but also the boundary air separator.  That's a smart move as molding them into the fuselage would've eliminated the details of the fuselage side of the boundary air separator.  Unfortunately, the fit of the inlet piece to the fuselage was rather poor.  Lotsa big gaps here.  Gaps that need lotsa putty to fill.  I was rather disappointed at that.

Inlet gap

The gap on the underside was even worse.

Inlet gap on the underside

All this meant for a whole lot more puttying than I'd wanted.  However, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  So, out came the tube of Tamiya's finest and I began to slather the stuff on.  Eventually, I got it all applied.

A puttied plane

With all the seems puttied I had to call it a night as there wasn't much else I could do with the model until the putty had set.  Wrapping it all up for the night, I figure that I spent about another hour on the kit tonight.



Day 6 (1 Jan 05)

Foiled!

While this is the sixth day I've worked on this kit it is hardly just the sixth day that has transpired since I first started working on it.  I'd hoped to make faster progress on this than I've been able to.  The fit of this kit has been very problematic and that has both set me back and disappointed me as well.  Right now I'm just intent on finishing this kit so I can say that I've actually done so.

With that in mind I set down and began putting the finish on the kit's surface.

The day's work

One thing I like about using Bare Metal Foil is how quickly it changes the appearance of the model it is applied to.  While the F-80 looked rather cool in its primer gray, its looked radically different with even just a few square inches of its surface rendered in metal.  I used two different types of BMF (Bare Metal Foil) so far on this kit; Matte Aluminum and Ultra-Bright Chrome.  This breaks up the appearance of the metal surface and better replicates the actual panel differences on the real aircraft.  I'm still learning my skills using BMF when it comes to getting the bits of foil to do what I want them to do.  Complex curves are not particularly easy to get down.  I found the rounded wingtips on the F-80 to be especially so.  I've also realized that the matte finish of the primer will affect the smoothness of the foil atop it.  I was surprised at that and will have to remember to put a gloss coat of paint or a coat of Future on the model before I put BMF on another model.

Contrast

I do like the contrast though.  Once I get the foil all down I'll be zapping the model with its first coat of Future.  This will help seal the various foil panels to keep their edges from peeling up and away.  It should also help with the decaling as should "hide" any of the decal carrier film.  We'll see about that.  For now though I'll have to get busy and get the rest of the bird all foiled up.  To finish the day's efforts, I glued together all the drop tanks.  I used Tenex "plastic welder" glue for those.  I'm going to see how well they come out foiled before I decide whether I'll be attaching them to the model.  All this work too about and hour and a half.


Day 8  (15 Jan 05)

The Future!

My little F-80C was finally ready for its first clear coating.  The job of applying enough BMF to cover the bird was finally done.  It was a tedious thing made all the more difficult by the lack of panel lines on the kit's surface.  There was nothing to line things up to and the references I had didn't go into sufficient detail as to the different paneling make up.  So, it was all done by the Mark A-1 Eyeball.  Still though, I got it done enough that it was time to move on.  My "Model In A Month" deadline was too fast approaching.  So, on a nice and bright Saturday morning here in San Diego I took my Shooting Star outside and set it up to get its first coat of Future.

To apply this clear coat I set up my old Badger airbrush.  This was the very first airbrush I've owned and it was amongst the things I unearthed from storage when I started back up modeling.  As basic as the airbrush is, it should be able to handle the simple task of applying a quick coat of clear sealant to the kit's surface.  Surprisingly, the old can of Badger Propel "propellant for spray painting" still had plenty of gas in it!  I picked that can up some twenty odd years ago!  No, it only had enough to get that first coat on but it that it had that much at all was pretty surprising given all the years between when I first purchased it and now.  Anyway, in short order I had that first coat of Future on the model.  It was a bit odd applying a shiny clear coat onto a shiny metal surface as it was hard for me to tell what I'd sprayed and if the spray was sufficient to do the job.  So, I just guestimated and left it at that.  I figure that I spent about an hour here as well.  Probably a bit less than that but not much so.

Day 9 (16 Jan 05)

Disaster!

My computer hard drive crashed!  Or more accurately, the Win XP operating system on the HD became corrupted and took my drive down with it.  With the help of a former co-worker of mine, Joel, I managed to get my back online using a second computer.  Unfortunately, this meant that I also wound up losing a goodly amount of data - chief among which were all the photos I'd recently taken of this enterprise.  Thus the lack of pics of anything which took place between the start of the year and now.  Aside from that frustration, the time I had to spend getting everything back in some semblance of order was time away from finishing this model.  That meant that my "Model In A Month" goal is shot.  Damn.

Day 10 (19 Jan 05)

Decaling

At last!  My silver beauty is ready for its warpaint!  I thought this'd be pretty simple.  Once again, that was an underestimation on my part.  The first scheme I wanted to go with turned out to have some problems.  I had originally wanted to use the "Saggin Dragon" (16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter Wing, 1951) scheme as its blue nose was both both and fairly simple.  Upon closer examination I found that the decal was made such that it would not cover the entire nose as it should.  This meant that the modeler would have to paint in the missing portions.  That, in turn, meant that the modeler would also have match the particular shade of blue that the decal yielded.  For me that meant more work than I was willing to deal with so I opted for the other scheme, "The Spirit of Hobo" (80th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber wing, 1952).  The downside of that one is that it featured a hefty set of wrap around stripes for the fuselage and a set of sun rays for the tail.  But, I thought that all this should go on pretty quickly.  Wrong again!

Ready for decaling

Shown above here, my F-80 is rather resplendent in all its multi-toned panel glory.  That's exactly the effect I was looking for and the light here catches it well.  Soaking in the water there on the left are those "hefty" wraparound fuselage decals I referred to.  Getting them match up, stripe to stripe, was not as easy as I'd hoped.  The
decal that went around the upper fuselage turned out to be longer that the portion of the fuselage it was supposed to go 'round.  After some futzing and massaging it I figured I'd just let it set and then come back to trim the excess once the decal had fully dried (and thus, fully hardened.)  To help this along I applied some Micro Sol to the decal and left it be whilst I worked on the rest of the decaling.  It turned out that this was a smart move as the Micro Sol softened and flattened out the ends of the fuselage stripe decal such that it now messed nicely with the underside piece.  No further trimming was needed.

All Done

All done.  After using a whole bunch of Micro Set and Micro Sol, I finally got all the decals in position and properly snugged down to the surface of the kit.  I was rather pleased with that.  In the process of applying these decals I noticed that there was a bunch of areas which looked like they had been stained with something white.  I figured that this was due to all the water and moisture of the decaling and Set / Sol applying as it would tend to dissolve that first coat of Future I applied.  These "stains" remained even after all that water and stuff had dried off.  I was hoping that the second coat of Future would seal all this in as well as fix all these stains.  Even with the one coat of Future applied I could see that it did the job of hiding the decal films and I was happy with that.

I was also happy with how the Micro Set / Sol had helped me along with the decals.  The tail decals in particular were a major pain.  They too were to big for the part they were for.  However, after being drenched in Micro Sol they shrunk and snugged down such that I didn't have to trim anything there either.  I was rather pleased with my efforts in this go 'round.  This is the first time in many a year that I've applied so many decals to a kit.  Tonight's efforts took about an hour or so.



Day 11 (21 Jan 05)

Second Coat

After a bit of touching up on what few areas I'd missed foiling, I then took my F-80 outside for its second coat of Future.

Second coat of Future

Here above you can see the tools of my trade thus far.  On the left is that old can of Badger air, now spent from its last effort.  On the right is my 20+ year old Badger airbrush and its new can of propellant.  There in the middle is my F-80 all masked and ready for its second coat of future.  Once again things went pretty quick and, once again, it was difficult for me to tell how well coated the model was with this clear and shiny coating of floor wax.  That messy bit on the nose of the bird are two strips of used BMF that I applied there to mask the non-glare strip ahead of the cockpit.  Those two strips had originally been used to mask the rest of the nose such that I could apply the paint to make that non-glare area.  BMF come in handy for such masking.

I left my F-80 on its little pole there, a paintbrush handle held in place by a clamp, for a while.  Upon later examination I found that the second coat of Future did indeed take care of those blemishes left in the first coat after the decaling.  I was happy with that.  I was also happy that things had come along thus far and looked so good.  Today's efforts, including the set up, use, cleaning, and striking of my airbrush ensemble, took not quite an hour.  The simplicity of the coating was the reason for that.



Day 12 (22 Jan 05)

Fiddly Bits

With the model clear coated, decaled, and sealed, now it was time to apply all those little fiddly bits that would finish it off.  Thus the landing gear, gear doors, and cockpit canopy would all now be applied.  I did some quick touch ups with the cockpit bits that needed some bits of painting and then I began my gluing.  The cockpit canopy needed to be BMF'd to get its frame done.  That took a bit of focus but I soon had the foil strips all applied and then precisely cut away.  BMF really excels in this application.  I glued the canopy on using Elmer's white glue.  I didn't want to use any superglue as I know from experience that the fumes for that can scour the metal finish off of BMF.  Perhaps the coats of Future might prevent that in this case but I didn't want to take that risk nor the risk of the fumes fogging the finish on the clear plastic canopy even though that was also covered in Future.

The nose gear was simple enough to fix in position.  It had been attached from when the fuselage halves were first glued together.  I left it free to rotate in its position as I wanted to minimize the chances of it being broken off during the rest of the model making process.  Now, with all that done, I simply rotated the nose gear fully forward and then squeezed some superglue into its pivot point to lock it in place.  Would that the main gear was this simple to do!

The main landing gear of this F-80 kit comprises several pieces.  There's the landing gear strut, the wheel hub, the tire, and two gear door pieces.  The larger of those door pieces attaches directly to the gear strut and the smaller door piece nestles in beside the strut and the other door piece.  Airfix saw fit to mold a groove / channel into that larger door piece.  Unfortunately, this groove was too shallow or too poorly formed to provide much positive attachment.  This meant it was another "eyeball it" affair.  I got both main gears assembled and then I set the aside for the superglue to set up.  Once they were ready I flipped the model over on its back, propped it level with two bottles of paint under its wings, and then began the process of fiddling with getting the landing gear applied.

The attachment points for this were sadly wanting.  The gear struts themselves were rather spindly affairs and the hole molded into the wheel well for them to attach to was one which didn't lend much support.  I had to do a bit of drilling to clear the left side hole for that strut to fit into.  I applied more gap filling superglue to the ends of the gear struts and set them into place.  I had to take care positioning the landing gear assemblies as I didn't want to pop the doors off the struts as I was aligning them with the rest of the plane.  After a bit the superglue set up and that properly locked the gear struts in place.

Then it was time to apply the other gear doors and to do that I decided that my best option was to simply use some tube plastic cement.  In an "tools & stuff" auction on eBay I'd picked up several tubes of Testors Cement and that was what I used here.  Popping the cap on this let loose that cement's distinctive fumes and that brought back a lot of memories back from when this sort of cement was the only thing available to make your models with.  Ah, those were the days....

Anyway, that reverie aside, I soon had the smaller main gear doors applied as well as the two center door pieces applied.  At this time I also applied the dive brakes into their bays.  I decided to assemble them in the closed position.  Rounding things off, I also glued the nose gear doors into position as well.

Fiddly Bits

With all the fiddly bits applied, I decided to call it a day.  I wanted to give them all time to set up and thus I left them overnight.  Doing all this took an hour and a half.


Day 13 (23 Jan 05)

Beauty!

There she is....

Beauty!

That's my baby!  That's also my very first OOB (Out Of the Box) kit I've made in over two decades!  Yee Haw!

That second coat of Future did indeed hide any evidence of clear decal film as well as wiping out all those blemishes.  The Future also was thin enough that it didn't obscure the differences between the various panels and their different tones.  That's the part which I really liked.  That's one of the beauties of a natural metal finish aircraft and I was very pleased to see that this effect came through. 

On ramp awaiting takeoff

I made use of a Verlinden "Airfield Tarmac Section" for the shot above.  It's something better than just a plain gray backdrop.  It also helps put the kit in scale to its surroundings.

Gleaming

Gleaming!  More panel effect here.  You can also see the effect of the molded in canopy radio antenna.  Airfix rendered this a tad on the heavy side.  However, save but for a decal, this antenna would be very hard to depict at this scale. 

Underside

Here's the view from below.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!



Well, that about wraps it up.  I figure that, all told, this kit took me about twelve or so hours to make from start to finish.  That's actual hands-on assembly time and that wound up getting spread over thirty five or so days.  Starting this back on December 19th, I had hoped to get this done before the New Year.  Well, that was overly optimistic considering everything else that was going on at that time of the year.  Then I'd hoped to wrap it all up within a thirty day period.  I came close to that but, once again, other things got in the way.

This whole experience has been quite the learning experience for me.  Assembling the kit was something I was pretty much familiar with.  The modern (for me, at least) glues are something I'm still getting the hang of but they're not too far out of my experience for me not to have achieved basic results with.  It was the Bare Metal Foiling of this kit as well as all the decaling which put this one well over the top for me.

I also was more than a bit frustrated with the general quality of this kit.  The surface detailing was too lightly rendered to be of much use even had I not put foil over it.  The fit of the various parts, especially the intakes, was very poor and the effort expended in filling those gaps wound up destroying what detail there was to them.  The fit of the decals was also problematic and added to the frustration in making this kit.

Without that visible surface detailing to serve as reference points, my foiling of the kit became a lot more tedious.  I know my enthusiasm for this one waned early on when I found that the kit fuselage was warped and it further lessened upon finding out just how poor the fit of the intakes was and what it would take to overcome that.  Then too, I did take this one on at about the worst time to start a new project like this, i.e. just before Christmas and New Years.  This was also the very first kit I did entirely in Bare Metal Foil and that would've presented a challenge no matter what.

Given what I know now about the "features" of this kit, I'm actually inclined to give it a second go.  I recently found both a MPC/ Airfix F-80C kit and a Hasegawa T-33 kit with each going for only $1.00!  With both in hand, I should have enough good parts between the two that I'll be able to make one good Shooting Star.  At the least, I'll now know what to avoid repeating in the building!

I don't think I'll be jumping on this particular project right away though.  I'm about burnt out on metal foiling another kit just now.  I'll be back to that soon enough.  In the meantime though, I want to knock off the two other  models which have been languishing on my bench for too long.  Then I'll probably go after something painted - but simple - like one of the old Monogram Bearcat kits I have.  We'll have to see.  In the meantime, I'm going to have to find a nice sunny place to park my F-80 so the sun can shine well upon it in all its gleaming finish.

If you would like to know more about me, then ask me directly.  Just click on my email address here:
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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc

This page was last updated on: 26 January 2005  


Unless otherwise noted, all photographs and images on this page are copyright protected property of Madoc Pope.  If you would like to use any of my images you must contact me first before you do so.

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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc