1/32 Academy F/A-18A Part 3

built as VFC-12 from F/A-18C kit

by John Wolstenholme



[G] Flaps
The ‘normal’ position for the inboard flaps and outboard flaperons (hereafter referred to as flaps), on bleeding down, is 45 deg. The kit 45 deg hinges put the flaps well below the fuselage which is obviously wrong.

Click on image below to see larger image


In order for the flaps to look right they need to be set at about 34 deg. My solution was to combine the front 20 deg (e.g. part F22) with the rear 30 deg (e.g. part F24) setting them using a 34 deg template. Solvent glue used for adjustability of joint.
Try it out using parts not required before committing to this!

Sequence of operations:
• Finish flaps in terms of filling/sanding, reduce gaps using 0.5mm card, ‘panel’ lines add/remove, match thickness of inboard/outboard flaps.
• Make new hinges and fit.
• Make adjustments (e.g. table below) with inboard/outboard flaps (doing them individually holds unwanted surprises) held in place with thin strips of sellotape, and
• then glue parts S14 – S17 to flaps (only). Note: For S14 &15, holes do not line-up on port inboard flap.
• Glue outboard flaps to wing. This gives positioning for later fitting of inboard flaps, after painting.
• Fix flap shrouds. There is a slight gap between the wing TE and the shroud, which is not evident in photos. Used 0.4mm stretched sprue inside to ‘hide’ gap.
• Remove inboard flaps.

(i) Flaps and Flap Shrouds.
#1 ‘Panel lines’ filled-in with 0.15mm stretched sprue. In close-up photos they look like welded seams.
#2 This is not a ‘panel line’. Filled/sanded to remove.
#3 0.5mm card at both ends to reduce gaps. The outboard end sanded to produce the ‘triangular’ gap between the flaps.
#4 Panel lines filled-in; span wise lines seem too rearward!
#5 New ‘panel lines’ scribed and filled-in with 0.15mm stretched sprue.
#6 As the flaps are lowered a gap is produced between the flap shroud the TE of the wing at the root. Need to extend top surface at root by ~1.5mm.
#7 Stiffening plate from 5 thou card.

Click on image below to see larger image


Inboard u/s of flaps modified to give additional clearance as photo below (Daco p.21, 57).

Click on image below to see larger image


(ii) Hinges
#1 Filed ‘tongue’ to fit groove, determined by trial fitting in #2 using template and checking outside-outside measurement of locating pegs with vernier callipers.
#2 Filed ‘groove’. Cut a slot with a junior hacksaw blade, opened up with a double sided sanding card (0.25mm), then flat needle file to ‘square’ slot. For the smallest hinge I used sanding card and offset teeth of junior hacksaw blade as a file.
#3 Measurement check/same as 30 deg parts, so measure before cutting them!

i) Tried improvising using the smallest 30deg part, but found it necessary to remake this to 34 deg.
ii) Some of the parts D24 - D31 have a noticeable longitudinal depression. This was removed, carefully using a flat needle file and W&D, without losing detail.

Click on image below to see larger image


Despite reforming hinges at 34 deg, minor adjustments were necessary to get the flaps to fit properly to the wing and each other! No two flaps are likely to be exactly the same. The information below serves as an indication of these adjustments.
[Tabular info presented in the form of a jpg below]

Click on image below to see larger image


* Replacement of lugs. Cover locating hole in flap with masking tape and draw a line through its centre. With a piece of masking tape on the side of the hinge, position the flap and make a corresponding mark on the side of the hinge for new lug.

Click on image below to see larger image

NOTE: The missile ejector mounting visible in this photo should not be so pronounced. They are not fitted to VFC-12 aircraft anyway


[A] Nose Gear
Extra detailing as photos; one thing that is perhaps not obvious is the card infill to inside hubs. Test fitted the nose leg after the gear bay was enclosed in fuselage halves. Providing G36 is free, if you put metal strut in part way and twist G36, in will go into lug.
NOTES: (i) Metal strut axle was not straight, corrected with pin vice and brass tube
(ii) Make sure parts G47/48 are set square to the leg.

Click on images below to see larger images




[B] Main Gear
Again extra detail added. I completed the legs, except for J45 (46), having fixed components J7,8,63( J5,6,63) whilst dry ‘fitted’ in the bays. Note: The metal strut axle is overlong; the wheels look ridiculous if axle is not shortened.

Click on images below to see larger images



Note: Scratch detail added to ‘knuckle’ to hide internal metal strut. See also note at end of [C] Landing Gear Bays.
The inside of the wheels are missing detail, so this is my attempt to remedy the problem using card and 1.8mm rod sections.

Click on images below to see larger images


Scratch detail added to ‘knuckle’ to hide internal metal strut.

[C] Landing Gear Bays
The Aires wheel bay set fitted very well after the usual packing and sanding/test fitting. However, there IS A PROBLEM with the vertical mounting stud for the starboard MG leg*. Insert a length of plastic rod in both port and stbd vertical mounting lugs. The stbd rod cants out further than port i.e. the axle will not be parallel to the ground. I bent the protruding metal strut on the completed leg to correct this problem. Check the lengths of J7, 8, 63(J5, 6, 63). You also have to open up the closed horizontal mounting points to fit the main legs.

* I was not aware of this problem until I saw it mentioned in Pete Fleischmann’s build. It turns out to be exactly the same problem, so Aires must have used these as the basis for the bays.
The bays are finished colour wise, but have not had ‘washes’ etc yet, but it gives an idea of the detail of these resin parts.
NOTE: For the NLG Bay you should remove the ‘lugs’ (4No) which support the middle door in the closed position.
Painting: Ducting (insulated) Hu64; Pipework/lines and ‘box’ at port front Hu27001; Metal fasteners from thin silver decal strips on gloss black enamel.

Click on images below to see larger images


Despite test dry fitting of gear legs (but without wheels!), when it came to actually fixing MLGs in place with wheels attached, BOTH wheels were out of alignment in the vertical and longitudinal planes.

Attempts to correct by bending the white metal axle resulted in the metal breaking. Filed flat, then drilled out leg and wheel to 1.2mm dia. x 4-5mm depth (0.6, 0.8,1.0, 1.2 successively) to receive 12BA brass bolt which self tapped into leg, to then take wheel. The brass bolt allowed bending to correct misalignment.

It might be worth considering, at the outset, cutting short the kit metal struts at the leg mount and axle, so that brass rod replaces these sections of white metal.


Click on image below to see larger image

Photos and text © by John Wolstenholme