E-7A Wedgetail – Body work

A sick day meant no traveling out to game tonight, but that did let me get a bit of progress on the Wedgetail. First up I removed all the bits I didn’t want on there: wingtips, landing gear and print. After a half hour playing with the Dremel and some needle files I ended up with the following.

Now, I’ve gouged out a couple of divets taking things off and there’s also that unattractive join running around the entire plane. I’ve previously been using green stuff for these sorts of issues, but I’ve not been entirely happy with the results. Once the green stuff is dry it becomes unworkable: any attempts to modify with a file or blade invariably tear of a chunk of the green stuff leaving you with the gap you were trying to fill. An adventure on the weekend picked up a couple of alternative gap fillers: Vallejo’s Plastic Putty and some Squadron Green Putty. Now the first is going to have the same issues as green stuff: it’s an acrylic product so it’s flexible and stretches (that’s why green stuff tears when you try to work with it once set). However, the second is a relevation (at least for me – many modellers have used it for ages).WedgeTail-BareMetal-TopsideWedgeTail-BareMetal-UndersideThe Squadron putty is really easy to use: you just slap it over the seam/gap you are trying to fill. Once you’ve made sure it covers the whole area you want to fill and have stuck it tightly into any gaps you just leave it to dry. Unlike green stuff you don’t have to have a smooth surface or clean up around your work. Once it is dry it can be sanded and cut pretty much like MDF: it doesn’t rip or tear, and there’s no grain to have pull out on you. It’s very simple to just take an emery board and run it over your surface to clear it up. The results of my first try with it are below:WedgeTail-Smoothed-TopsideWedgeTail-Smoothed-UndersideI missed something I had been planning to do up above. One of the major differences between the Wedgetail and the 737-700 is the tail comes down into the fuselage at a greater angle. This difference is down to the large radar mast that sits on top of the airliner. That means I had to go back to the files, cut a bit of the tail off (where the leading edge joins to the fuselage) and then reshape the tail to take it nice and smooth. Of course in doing this I put a couple of gouges on the roof and so had to get the Squadron Putty back out and fix it all up. This was slightly annoying as it meant getting everything back out after it was put away. However I’m quite happy with how the tail now looks and the major body work is done.WedgeTail-ShortTail-LeftsideWedgeTail-ShortTail-TopsideNext I will construct the various radar arrays and attach them to the plane. I’ve identified 6 different arrays I think are large enough to model from the dozens of various arrays and antennas that are present on the real thing. At this scale a lot of them would be tiny little spikes that would end up being broken off when it was transported around. Any way more on that next time (to be honest the next post will probably just be diagrams and waffle on what I plan on doing – I need more strip styrene.

I also put a magnet in the base to sit on the flight stand. My JSTARS is a little unsteady with the magnet not quite centred. So I wanted to find the centre of mass in order to put the magnet in the right spot. I came upon the idea of fixing a flathead screwdriver socket in my vise and then moving the plane back and forth until I was happy I had the tipping point (which would be the centre of mass). I didn’t think I’d actually be able to balance it – I was wrong.WedgeTail-Balance

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