F-103 jet model

Completed in April 2016.

Hi there! So, for the very first time in my life I decided to built a model kit of an airplane. I've built a few cars and a boat or two when I was a kid, but never an airplane (that I can remember, I'm old). Which is odd as in my other hobby I get a million visits/emails from airplane modelers, so I might as well see what the fuss is all about.

Because I never do anything the easy way, I picked an obscure jet for my first build, because I need it for a Project to be Named Later... It's the Republic XF-103 Thunderwarrior, a radical 1950s design that was canceled early when it blew up the budget and only a single non-flying mock-up was ever built.

There exists a few commerical model kits of the XF-103, problem is that I refuse to buy any of them because I'm a cheapass bastard. The 1/48 Collect-aire kit runs around $170 (screw that!), the 1/72 Anigrand kit I can't find for less that $75 (fuuuuuuuck!), and the few vaccuform kits from the 1970s are of such poor quality that they look like the molds were made by blind schoolchildren and they still want upwards of $45 for them (seriously? No.).

So, I'll just build my own damn model kit. This is helped by the fact that the XF-103's design was still highly in flux when the project was canceled, so the existing kits and much of the art on the internet is based mostly on conjecture and blind guesswork. As long as I maintain the basic spirit of the prototype design I should be ok, lord knows not one type of military jet that actually made it to production ended up looking anything like the early design prints and mock-ups.

Boom, 1/48 snap-together V-2 rocket kit from Amazon.com for $11.79.

Bigger boom, 1/48 high-quality F-15E kit from eBay for (no shit) $4.50. Sometimes you try and sell an expensive model kit on eBay by starting your bidding at 97cents plus FREE shipping, hoping that there will be a bidding war in the startlingly competitive old model kit market and the price will blow up to where you can make a profit. Every so often, however, your bidding war stalls out for whatever reason (hand of fate!) and someone (me!) wins your auction at $4.50 and you end up spending three times that to mail the kit out to that lucky fool (me!).

Lesser boom, 1/72 shitty Chinese knock-off F-16 kit from the clearance shelves at my local Hobby Lobby. I bought this years ago to scavenge for spare parts for my warship models, but I think I paid under 8 bucks for it, not sure it should even count in my running cost analysis.

Step one, take my rattling old Dremel tool to the V-2, cutting out holes for landing gear and cockpits and such. God I hate the smell of burning plastic, but I love the primal scream whirring of the Dremel, very addictive. Once done, the model will be about 1/85 scale, which is workable. The elevators are actually the wings of the F-16, as is the vertical fin. The wings are those of the F-15E, and the sugar scoop air duct underneath is bashed from the Eagle's own air vents and some plastic sheet. The often gaping seems/joints in the V-2's body are filled in with Tamiya basic putty. All in all, looking sharp, baby!

The landing gear look like crap, because I made them from cut-down spures and bits from the parts box, the tires are sculpey clay. The F-103's design meant that the gear had to be extra long so nothing from either spares kit was useful. The missiles in the open bays are 1/72 Sidewinders from the F-16 kit, best I can find for now. The cockpit slides down like in the XB-70, I made it from plastic sheet and scavenged pieces and it looks awful. The seat is the Falcon's, and is surprisingly in-scale. The only pilot figure I have in that scale is in the sitting position and kinda useless.

Painted flat ADC white with Krylon Fusion spray paint from Walmart. I toyed with a bare metal finish but I don't think any metallic spray paint would look good. Ditto any sort of SEA camo, the F-103 was a pure interceptor so the light ADC scheme is fine. Buzz numbers and roundels and such I just printed out on my computer and stuck with on with Elmers glue. The FD buzz code is legit, that's what the USAF tentatively assigned to the F-103 during design. The tail is bare and the buzz numbers are missing for now, but I have a plan for that (Project to be Named Later!). Here is what it looks like when done... Crappy, yes, but the point is that it will look ok once I start photoshopping later...

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