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  #1  
Old 05-11-2018, 10:49 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Washougal Washington
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Default Catching up with a Tomcat

It's been a while since I've done much building of rockets - the last I posted any builds was back in 2016. Since it is now the time of year to teach my 4th and 5th grade model rocket class, I got inspired to start building again.

I went to my pile-o-things-to-be-built, and discovered a kit that I started almost 20 years ago. The Estes Tomcat hasn't been produced since 1998, and I think I got it about that time.

For some reason, I assembled the engine mount, and then put it aside into a box. Maybe the stress of the engine mount was more than I could bear. Or maybe the build pile kept growing right over it.

I think some stuff from other rockets decided to live in this box as well.
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  #2  
Old 05-11-2018, 10:53 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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This is a swing-wing kit, in which the wings are held in place with a wire, and the wire gets moved aside with the ejection charge, letting the wings open.

The first part of the build is the horizontal stabilizers. I mean a couple of the fins.

They are supposed to have just the right angle to them, by gluing the ailerons to the fin, being propped up by a scrap of balsa.
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  #3  
Old 05-11-2018, 10:57 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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Next, the F-15 jet engines, i.e. body tubes, are attached according to an alignment jig provided with the kit. At the same time, the stabilizers are also attached.
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  #4  
Old 05-11-2018, 10:59 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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Now, the nose cone is positioned, and the cockpit shroud is positioned. It's only glued onto the nose cone, and left hanging over the body tube. This is to allow the nose cone to be removed, in case weight needs to be added for balance.

Also, the vertical stabilizers are attached.

I'm holding the vertical stabs in place at 90 degrees from the horizontal stabs with some alignment guides that I had. Those will be removed later.

You can also see that the wings have been assembled a bit, and the wire which holds the wings in place is sticking up through the tube.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:04 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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This is where I probably should have shown some painting pics. I painted the upper side a mid-gray, and the lower surface a light gray. That's how the scale modelers do it, and it sounded cool.

But, while assembling it after the paint job, a distraction occurred. The canopy, being of very, very this styrene, decided that it wanted to break.

So, my attention moved from the entire paint job and photographing it to fixing a little blemish that I couldn't stop thinking about.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:08 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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I first tried to reinforce the canopy from behind, by spreading a thin layer of plastic glue over the crack, to try and bridge the two sides together.

That worked, but.... it also melted that very, very thin styrene, making the problem worse.

Still, the problem was localized to one black panel, and wasn't yet spreading much into the gray sections of the panel.

So, I guided the melted styrene inward a tad, to be below the surface of the surrounding area.

Once the glue dried and was firmed up, I sanded off the black, put some plastic filler into the area and sanded it smooth. That filler also was dangerous to the plastic so I went with thin coats so it would dry very quickly.
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  #7  
Old 05-11-2018, 11:12 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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A problem with sanding the very, very thin styrene is that it would change shape under pressure. That made it hard to get a nicely shaped surface.

I did what I could given my skills and patience, and eventually taped off that panel, and repainted it black.

As you can see, the crack is mostly healed, but there is a permanent wound in that section of the canopy. It's actually not really noticeable, as the camera's flash attachment likes to bring out all the blemishes around.

The best solution is to view the rocket from the other side.
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Old 05-11-2018, 11:16 PM
DavidQ DavidQ is offline
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After the paint was applied and the cockpit was positioned, I went for the decals.

Which, if you've ever been there, you'll find that old decals get very brittle. Almost all of the decals broke into two or more pieces as I was soaking them or applying them. Oh well, just another chance to improve my abilities to microadjust a decal's position before it breaks again or dries in place.

Also, I applied some 1/16" pin striping in some key locations as hinted at by the cover art to improve the appearance.

Now, I'm just too afraid to fly it, because I've never been good with planes. Even planes with rocket engines in them.
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  #9  
Old 05-12-2018, 06:13 AM
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mojo1986 mojo1986 is offline
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Wow! You did a great job on that! Looks terrific, and the canopy problem really doesn't show at all.


Joe
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  #10  
Old 05-12-2018, 04:49 PM
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erik442 erik442 is offline
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That's a great looking model! I have one built but somehow never got around to painting it.
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