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View Full Version : SR-71 & YF-12A Build, 1/48th



Stitch
17 Jan 15,, 02:21
Bought four of these kits many moons ago (probably back in the '80's), two SR-71's and two YF-12A's; apparently built one of them back in the '90's (probably an SR-71, whereabouts unknown), and have FINALLY gotten around to putting them together properly. I also apparently made an abortive attempt to assemble a second one (a YF-12), because I have some loose parts with old glue still on them.

In any case, I have enough parts in one place to assemble 2-1/2 Blackbirds (missing too many pieces to make a third one), so I'll make one complete SR-71 in late '90's markings (i.e.: almost none), and one complete YF-12A in early '60's markings (the attractive two-tone black & silver scheme with full-color stars & bars). I decided to build both of these at the same time since there are so many parts common between them (pretty much the only difference between the two is the forward fuselage).

I've already partially begun both kits, so I'll try and upload some pictures before I get too much farther along. Unfortuantely, the decals are probably shot (of course, they're 30 years old!), so I'm doing the SR-71 in it's ultimate all-black scheme (no national markings), and I'll have to find out what kind of shape the 30-year old YF-12 decals are in next week.

Here's what the sprues looked like before I cut most of the parts off (shots courtesy of Swanny's Models, http://www.swannysmodels.com/index.html):

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Like I said, I'll take some shots of my WIP this weekend, and post them next week.

Thanks for looking!

Builder 2010
26 Jan 15,, 01:27
I've been up close and personal with both planes at the Wright Patterson National Museum of the Air Force. If you've never been there, it could be a 'bucket list' item. As for the decals, you may try and restore them using Microsol's Liquid Decal Film. You brush it on and it lays down a new surface and protects them from fracturing. If they're yellowed, some folks say taping it to a window that gets direct sunshine and let the sun bleach them back to clear. I've never done that so so I can't vouch for how well it works. Look forward to seeing your build.

What scale are the kids? Who made them?

Stitch
26 Jan 15,, 22:48
I've been up close and personal with both planes at the Wright Patterson National Museum of the Air Force. If you've never been there, it could be a 'bucket list' item. As for the decals, you may try and restore them using Microsol's Liquid Decal Film. You brush it on and it lays down a new surface and protects them from fracturing. If they're yellowed, some folks say taping it to a window that gets direct sunshine and let the sun bleach them back to clear. I've never done that so so I can't vouch for how well it works. Look forward to seeing your build.

What scale are the kids? Who made them?

I've been "up close and personal" with an A-12 and an SR-71; the A-12 was down in San Diego, and the SR-71 is at the old Castle AFB in Atwater, CA (not too far from where I live). Unfortunately, the A-12 is up on a pedestal, so you can't get very close to it, but the SR-71 at Castle is on the ground, so you can actually touch it, if you want to.

Actually, I started decaling the YF-12A yesterday and, believe it or not, the decals are fine! Amazing! After 30 years of sitting in a box, and being moved a couple of times, they're in great shape (although I did store them in a ziplock bag, that seemed to help). You can never tell with decals; I've had some decals that aren't all that old (maybe 5 years, max) disintegrate as soon as they hit the water, then you get 30 year+ old decals that do just fine. Go figure.

And, yes, I actually do have a (small) bottle of Microsol's Liquid Decal Film, though I try not to use it much, as it does make the decal thicker, and the decal set I use (MM Decal Set) doesn't seem to soften them up very much (like it does with a straight decal) once they've been coated.

The kits are the old Testors/Italeri 1/48th kits that are, last time I checked, still OOP (unfortunately); I'm hoping that Italeri will one day decide to reissue them so that I can get them again (since Testors isn't really in the model business anymore). The only kits of the SR-71/YF-12 that are currently available are 1/72nd kits, which are a little small for me (I much prefer 1/48th aircraft kits). I hear you can still find unbuilt SR-71/YF-12 kits on the market every once in a while, but they are becoming rarer and rarer, and the price has tripled on those things in the last few years (understandably).

Anyway, these are some shots I took last week, I should be able to get some more done this week; here are the two main landing gear bays (so far):

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In case you can't tell, these are both the right landing gear bays; one's for the SR-71 (the one on the left), and the other one is for the YF-12. One thing I'm fairly "anal" about is getting the right color for my models, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what color the landing gear bays are on the SR-71/YF-12; the only decent pictures I was able to find online were for the SR-71 (there aren't that many detail pictures of the YF-12), so I had to go off of that. Apparently, natural titanium can be anywhere from a fairly bright, silvery color, to a darkish bronze color, and anything in between; it seems to get darker as it ages, since the older SR-71 landing gear bays were darker than the natural exposed titanium of the YF-12. However, in order to make my models more interesting and colorful, I used a lighter (MM Steel) landing gear bay on my (all black) SR-71, and a darker (MM Jet Exhaust) landing gear bay on the "silver" YF-12. If I had to do it over again (and I might!), I'd do it the other way around to be more accurate.

This is the (unfinished, obviously) forward section of the SR-71 with the cockpit tub in place; apparently, I had already painted it several years ago (2005?), and my skills have since improved (the Optivizor helps), so this one didn't turn out real well (the tub for the YF-12 is MUCH better!). But it will do for now (especially since you can't really see it very well anyway, even with the canopies open):

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And, finally, a comparison shot of the right engine nacelle of the SR-71 and an (unfinished) F-16 in the same scale; gives you an idea of just how big that plane is!

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Builder 2010
27 Jan 15,, 00:12
Good work! Keep it coming.

Stitch
27 Jan 15,, 23:18
As should be expected with a 30-year old styrene kit, some of the pieces (particularly the larger ones) were a bit warped, so they're taking a bit of "persuasion" to straighten them out; I figure once I get it all glued up it will be relatively straight.

Here's what I had to do to the front end of the SR-71 fuselage to get the cockpit section glued to the bottom half of the fuselage:

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I glued the very front of the fuselage together first, then worked my way back to the rear of the cockpit section.

Up next: YF-12 photos!

Stitch
02 Feb 15,, 22:37
It's very obvious these are 30+ year old kits; I assumed I would have some fit & finish issues with them, especially since the pieces are fairly large, but I figured that once I got the pieces all glued and clamped together they would sort of straighten each other out. For the most part, that's what happened; here's what I had to do to get the pieces glued together:

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And, as promised, some YF-12 pictures; here is the cockpit "tub" and control panels. I did a much better job on these than I did on the SR-71 cockpit, mostly due to my "Optivisor", I'm sure:

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Stitch
03 Feb 15,, 00:06
Part II:

Here are the (mostly) finished right engine nacelles for both the SR-71 and the YF-12; as you can tell, the YF-12 will be a little more "colorful" than the SR-71. The instructions call for a minimum of decals to be put on the YF-12, but since I'm kind of going the opposite of the SR-71 in terms of visibility, I'm planning on putting as many decals as I can on the YF-12, including ones that wouldn't have normally been on this aircraft circa 1963:

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I'm not very good at shading or weathering, so enhancements will be kept to a minimum. I'll try and get some more shots this week, I actually completed quite a bit over the weekend.

Builder 2010
03 Feb 15,, 02:23
It's looking very, very good. Those are incredible aircraft. I wonder how we're making out without them.

Stitch
03 Feb 15,, 19:54
It's looking very, very good. Those are incredible aircraft. I wonder how we're making out without them.

Thanks for the comments, Builder! I know this is mostly a "read-only" kind of thread, but it's still nice to get a response from somebody out there every once in a while.

I ended up using some of the old decals from my previously half-built SR-71 for the YF-12, because some of the YF-12 decals (particularly the larger ones) did end up coming apart on me in the water. After messing about (and spending a lot of time) with the YF-12 red wing-walk decals, I decided to remove the pieced-together YF-12 decal, and use a (still in one piece) SR-71 decal. Unfortunately, it was already dry, and no amount of decal set or water was going to remove it. So I had to resort to the dreaded tape-removal system (stick a piece of tape to the decal and peel it off); the bad news is I also peeled up some of the gloss finish (I was afraid that might happen). The good news is that once I re-gloss it, it shouldn't be that noticeable.

Pictures to follow . . .

Builder 2010
04 Feb 15,, 01:10
did you think about, or try to save the decals using something like a coating of Future floor wax or the Microsol decal film? Even though it adds thickness, at least you'd have decals that came with the kit. After coating with flat clear you may not notice the thinking. We tried this with the decals from my grandson's Hasegawa F-22. It's not that old of a kit but the decals shattered all over the place. We tried the Future Floor wax option. It worked regarding saving the decals, but it soaked into the light gray low-viz decals and showed as dark spots ruining the entire sheet. I've talked to Stevens International and they're getting a new set shipped from Japan. Unfortunately for you, you probably can't find new original decals that are any better. What about the after-market decal people?

Stitch
04 Feb 15,, 20:18
did you think about, or try to save the decals using something like a coating of Future floor wax or the Microsol decal film? Even though it adds thickness, at least you'd have decals that came with the kit. After coating with flat clear you may not notice the thinking. We tried this with the decals from my grandson's Hasegawa F-22. It's not that old of a kit but the decals shattered all over the place. We tried the Future Floor wax option. It worked regarding saving the decals, but it soaked into the light gray low-viz decals and showed as dark spots ruining the entire sheet. I've talked to Stevens International and they're getting a new set shipped from Japan. Unfortunately for you, you probably can't find new original decals that are any better. What about the after-market decal people?

I DO have the Microsol clear decal film, but I haven't had much luck with it; if I do one coat, it doesn't seem to hold together very well. If I do two coats, it holds together, but then it's really thick, and it takes about a week of soaking the decal in the water to get it to come off the backing paper. The other thing I've tried is spraying the entire decal sheet with clear gloss laquer (same technique here: I need two coats to keep it together); this has worked for me a couple of times, but I still prefer to use original decals, if at all possible.

Case in point: I'm still working on finishing my old Testors nee Italeri U-2C in 1/48th scale (thread here: http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/modelers-corner/52087-1-48th-testors-u-2c-wip.html; guess I need to update this thread, too!), and I actually have THREE sets of decals for it (apparently, I had three kits of the U-2 at some point!), but none of them are any good, even AFTER I clear-coated them with Microsol Decal Film. Interestingly, the older decals were actually in better shape than the newer ones (I'm assuming it has something to do with the quality of the printing process), but they still came apart on me when I tried to use them (the newer ones totally disintegrated in the water after a few minutes). So I ended up having to "decal-bash" the U-2 from my decal stash (I have about 100 "extra" sheets of decals I keep in an airtight box, it seems to help).

Not sure if there are any after-market decal makers for the SR-71/YF-12 in 1/48th scale (there definitely are for 1/72nd SR-71/YF-12's, those are still being manufactured); it seems like decal manufacturers last about a year or two before they go out of business, or they stop making the decals I need due to low demand.

As for your Hasegawa F-22 decals, try e-mailing them for a new set; I've had good luck getting new ones for my various 1/48th weapons sets (I got a new sheet for my Weapons Set C last year, and I've got a new sheet coming for my Weapons Set A). Send an e-mail to Mary Ann at partssupport@hobbico.com, she's been very helpful to me.

Builder 2010
05 Feb 15,, 00:48
I think that's who I'm dealing with. They had to get the decals from Japan since they don't stock them. It was estimated to take from 5 to 8 weeks. We're getting to the end of that time now. Decaling is on of my favorite parts of plastic model building, but when they're disintegrating it becomes really annoying really fast.

Stitch
05 Feb 15,, 01:59
I think that's who I'm dealing with. They had to get the decals from Japan since they don't stock them. It was estimated to take from 5 to 8 weeks. We're getting to the end of that time now. Decaling is on of my favorite parts of plastic model building, but when they're disintegrating it becomes really annoying really fast.

Decaling is one of those things you either love or hate. Most of the time, I don't mind decaling, but I'm with you on the disintegrating decal thing; VERY discouraging!

Stitch
05 Feb 15,, 02:06
Here is the cockpit (and control panels) for the YF-12 in better lighting:

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And here's the midsection of the YF-12 with the red "No Step" decals in place. You can kind of see where the clearcoat got pulled up when I removed the old decal; I'm hoping another coat or two of semi-gloss will make that go away (and, yes, that's an upside-down Tamiya Tiger I holding up the YF-12!):

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Stitch
23 Feb 15,, 19:19
Okay, moving right along . . . . .

I was not very happy with the old AIM-47 Falcon air-to-air missiles provided with the kit; they lack any detail whatsoever, so all you can really do is paint them all white and be done. Also, I was missing one of the missiles from my kit(s), anyway, so I opted to "customize" my YF-12 with some more modern AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, which isn't as odd as it sounds; if the YF-12 ever HAD become operational as the F-12B, it probably would've used Phoenix's anyway, since the AIM-47 ultimately morphed into the AIM-54 in the '70's (and ended up on the F-14). Plus, the Hasegawa AIM-54's I used have a lot more detail than the kit missiles (not hard to do, but still . . .), so it definitely makes for a more interesting model; here are the missiles so far:

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Not very pretty, but it works:

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Eventually, I hope to have some sort of a little "vignette", with the YF-12 on the ground, and a couple of Phoenix missiles ready to be loaded onto it from a munitions carts like this:

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Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the nose profile on these two Phoenix's are different; one is pointy, and one is more rounded. Not sure why, they are both from the 1/48 Hasegawa Weapons Set B; I suspect that they are different vintages of the same kit (I buy the Hasegawa kits whenever my LHS has them in stock, you never know when they might stop making them!), so one was probably made in the 90's, and the other one in the 2000's.

Next up: Fuselage construction!

Builder 2010
25 Feb 15,, 00:46
It would have been a formidable fighter. The aerodynamic controls on the aero spikes was quite complex. The ability to maintain subsonic flow into the engines in all regimes was a real technical challenge that they accomplished flawlessly.

Stitch
25 Feb 15,, 17:14
It would have been a formidable fighter. The aerodynamic controls on the aero spikes was quite complex. The ability to maintain subsonic flow into the engines in all regimes was a real technical challenge that they accomplished flawlessly.

Best video I've found explaining the (complicated) operation of the JT11D-20, aka the J58:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3ao5SCedIk