Boeing F4B-1 Conversion in 1/72 Scale

This is a conversion of the Monogram F4B-4 kit which back-dates it to the earlier F4B-1 using the RareBits vacuform fuselage and a Radial Engines & Wheels resin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine.  Not overly difficult and the result is version which you don’t see much at the model shows.  I scratchbuilt a cockpit and added lots of plumbing to the engine.  The aircraft is marked as the Squadron Commander’s aircraft from VF-5 “Red Rippers” assigned to the USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1932.  The decals were sourced from several Starfighter Decals sheets.

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Monogram Boeing F4B-4 in 1/72 Scale, VB-5

Another build of Monogram’s venerable F4B-4 kit.  This is one of the easiest biplane kits to build, the landing gear legs and fuselage struts are molded as part of the fuselage which results in a strong assembly and proper alignment.  If you struggle with biplane kits you will be pleased with this one, it is a joy to build.  The markings here came from Yellow Wings sheet 72-011 and represent an aircraft operated by VB-5 from the USS Ranger (CV-4).

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Monogram Boeing F4B-4 in 1/72 Scale, VF-6

This is the Monogram F4B-4 kit first released in 1968.  This is a classic kit which still holds up well by today’s standards.  I scratchbuilt a cockpit and added rigging from 0.004” Nitenol wire.  There are several ejector pin marks which will require filling, but the kit goes together well and still is regularly seen at model shows.  The markings for this one came from Yellow Wings sheet 72-011 and represent an aircraft operated by VF-6 from the USS Saratoga (CV-3).

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Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk in 1/72 Scale

This is the Monogram kit from 1968.  Even though it is over fifty years old the kit still compares well to recent releases, featuring some very nice surface detail and clever engineering which ensures correct alignment and easy construction.  I dressed this one up with a resin cockpit from Starfighter Decals, and also used their sheet 72-107 for the markings.  The aircraft is BuNo 9363 assigned to VF-1B “Tophatters” aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3) in 1933.

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Monogram Boeing F4B-1 Conversion Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is a conversion of the Monogram F4B-4 kit which back-dates it to the earlier F4B-1.  For this I’ll be using the RareBits vacuform fuselage and a Radial Engines & Wheels resin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine.  Hopefully this will result in a model which is a bit different.
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The first step is to separate the RareBits fuselage halves from their vacuform sheet.  I outlined the edges with a black marker so I could better see the separation line, then carefully traced around the piece with an Xacto knife.  The edges were then smoothed with a sanding block.
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Here are the fuselage halves with a cockpit interior roughed in with Evergreen strips.  One advantage of a vacuform fuselage is the walls are not overly thick as they sometimes are with injection molded kits.
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The interior under a coat of Alclad Aluminum and a wash.  The interiors of these little biplanes are hard to see unless you’re specifically looking for them, and even then it’s not easy to see much.
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Here the fuselage is closed up and mated with the Monogram F4B-4 lower wing and horizontal tail.  I cleaned up the gun troughs as they were shallow and a little rough.  I had also over-sanded the fuselage joint along the upper spine and had to fill the area with superglue and card.
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The fuselage struts and landing gear legs were removed from the Monogram kit.  The landing gear bracing is different on the earlier Boeing so that had to be scratched.
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I added ignition wires, inlets, and exhausts fashioned from beading wire and solder to the resin engine.  The engine is very prominent on this aircraft and will be a focal point so the extra detail is well worth adding.
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The aircraft is marked as the Squadron Commander’s aircraft from VF-5 “Red Rippers” assigned to the USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1932.  The decals were sourced from several Starfighter Decals sheets.
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Here is a comparison between a stock Monogram F4B-4 on the left and the F4B-1 conversion on the right.  The wings are the same which makes the kit look familiar, but then the differences start to become apparent.  This is a fairly straight-forward conversion and not particularly difficult to do.

Monogram Boeing F4B-4 Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is another old kit we are probably all familiar with – Monogram’s F4B-4 which was first released all the way back in 1968.  I remember building this one as a kid and they still appear regularly at model shows.  I found this one at the Local Hobby Store for a pittance.
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The kit contains just three sprues and a total of 25 parts including the windscreen.  Here again we see Monogram’s innovative approach to biplane kits which has been largely ignored by all competitors – the landing gear legs and fuselage struts are molded as part of the fuselage halves, thus ensuring a strong assembly and proper alignment.
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Monogram’s F4B-4 shares a problem with their Goshawk kit, a dozen ejection pin marks on the underside of the upper wing.  There are others on some of the smaller parts as well.  Not the end of the world but something which needs to be carefully addressed.
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I scratched up some basic cockpit details along with a seat from the spares box.  The tops of the fuselage struts have some more of those ejector pin marks which need filling.
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Here is the cockpit under a coat of Alclad.  Seat belts and the instrument panel are printed out on the photocopier. 
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Basic assembly completed.  The fit of the fuselage decking required some filler.  I find Perfect Plastic Putty is ideal for filling in gaps where conventional sanding would destroy surrounding detail.
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I made handles from stretched sprue to hold some of the more awkward pieces while painting.
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This is Don Greer’s cover from Squadron / Signal’s P-12 / F4B in Action book.  I’ve always loved his art and consider this to be one of his best efforts.  The F4B-4 in the background was from Fighting Six based on the USS Saratoga (CV-3) and is a favorite of mine.  The background is Pearl Harbor.
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Fortunately the Langley markings are included on sheet 72-011 from Yellow Wings.  You get complete markings for six different aircraft on this sheet.
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Here is 6-F-10 completed.  There is a nice contrast between the colors on the upper wing and the gray scale of the rest of the aircraft.
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I couldn’t resist building two of these.  They are nice little kits which go together well.  They were innovative in their engineering, and way ahead of their time for molding and surface detail.  Fun little builds!

Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk Build in 1/72 Scale

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The Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk is certainly one of those kits which has earned the description of “classic”.  It was first released in 1968 and is still a good kit even by the standards of today.  I built one of these in my misspent youth and even have a few surviving parts in my spares bin to prove it, so for me this has the double benefit of being a nostalgia build and a good tool.
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The kit features a low parts count but some really clever engineering.  The center struts and the landing gear legs are molded as part of the fuselage which ensures both strength and proper alignment.  Sadly this innovation was not widely copied in the decades which followed, an opportunity missed by multiple manufacturers to produce biplane kits which were easier and less frustrating to build.
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The underside of the top wing reveals a problem which must be addressed – there are a dozen ejector pin marks which require filling on this piece alone.  This is not a deal-breaker but it does result in the loss of some of the fine surface texture which represents the fabric covering.  Here I have filled the offending depressions with Mr. Surfacer 500.
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Starfighter has giving these old kits some welcome aftermarket support in the form of resin accessories and decals.  Here is the Starfighter cockpit set installed in the fuselage.  The kit is from the era when a pilot figure was all the interior you were expected to need so this set is most welcome.
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A shot of paint and the interior is ready to go.  The lack of a cockpit interior is really the only thing which the kit lacks compared to a more recent tooling.
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The lower wing is a single piece which incorporates the center section of the lower fuselage.  This results in a strong foundation and eliminates another potential alignment problem.  I sanded off the molded-in braces for the drop tank on the belly.  The seam at the lower wing was filled with Perfect Plastic Putty.
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Here is a view in the middle of the masking marathon.  Often even the simplest schemes require several colors.
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These are the decals I’ll be using, Starfighter sheet 72-107.  This set contains markings for two F11C-2 and four BFC-2.  The main difference between the two is the shape of the upper fuselage behind the cockpit.  Starfighter makes the resin conversion piece required to make the BFC-2, but for this build I stuck with the fighter version.  Starfighter Decals here:  https://www.starfighter-decals.com/
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Here are the markings on the model.  The decals went on without any drama and are a nice improvement over the kit decals.
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The kit wheels feature a nice distinct groove which separates the wheel from the tire.  This is a prefect piece to demonstrate the benefits of using capillary action to paint wheels.  Just thin the tire color and let the thinner draw the paint around the groove.  Once the color separation has been established, fill in the tire with a thicker mix of paint and even out the appearance.  The paint will flow where you need it.
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Rigging was done with 0.004” Nitenol wire glued in place with Micro Liquitape.  This view shows off the detail on the kit engine which is a fine piece, I washed it with Tamiya Panel Line Wash to bring out the detail.
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Even though this kit is over fifty years old it goes together well and is an easy build by biplane standards.