Busy in the shop lately working on a new item; a A/A42R-1 Refuelling Pod aka "Buddy Pod" as it commonly referred to. The Buddy Pod is widely used on carrier aircraft such as the F/A-18E and F as well as the S-3 Viking for mid-air refuelling during training and air-combat support roles. This new addition to MH comes by way of a suggestion from "Rudd" via the ARC (Aircraft Resource Center) forum. Thanks Rudd! I thought this was great suggestion, because well, to be quite honest, I need one for my planned model projects as well and I have several kits I can see these on. And of course it's rare and not commonly available in 1/72 scale. All the makings of a good addition to Modern Hobbies.
I wanted to show you guys my progress on the item and share some modelling tips and techniques that I'm using to create the Buddy Pod that I think may be useful. If not a refresher to intermediate to advanced modellers who are using these techniques in their scale modelling.
Basis of construction
To begin crafting the pod, I needed to match the basic shape, dimensions and scale. When doing any scratch-building, I always have my reference photos close at hand. Immediately apparent was how the Buddy Pod derives from a standard external fuel tank, so I began searching for the closest match from my spares box to begin modification.
With a good candidate selected, I checked the dimensions and I discovered that it was a bit too long.
The rear and front end looked fine, so I left those areas undisturbed for now. I measured how much I had to subtract and began removing a thin section from middle of the pod with my trusty razor saw.
Next up was to check the contour of the pod. This revealed that I had to sand and re-shape the nose and tail slightly to match my references as close as possible.
After much sanding and more sanding, I had established the contour and basic shape of our buddy pod. Now its time to add detail.
When I create parts, a tip I learned from sculptors is: "establish basic shapes as you see them. Take your time, refine, add a little, take away a little from those shapes and the piece will reveal itself." A simple piece of advice that has proven itself time and again when I scratch build!
Adding detail | Panel scribing
After refining the pod into the final shape, it was time to add detail, via panel scribing. The essential tools I use are Tamiya and Hasegawa TryTool Sets. These are flexible stainless steel scribing templates containing various shapes seen on military aircraft and manga model kits to replicate panels. The scriber seen in the photo below is sold separately, is also stainless steel and has a hardened fine tip made to be used with the TryTool templates. This assortment is scaled for 1/72 models, but can used for various scale model kits.
To demonstrate how I use the templates to add detail, lets go through the steps in adding various panels to the buddy pod. These are actually maintenance access panels that the ordinance crews use to prep and maintain the pod. First I located a spot where I needed to make an access panel, in this case a circular one on top/ forward area of the pod. I found an appropriate shape on the template and began transferring the panel. I hold the template down with masking tape.
Don't be afraid to bend the template around the diameter of the pod; it is after all steel, so It can handle a lot of abuse..it was designed that way! I begin transferring the panel using the scriber tool with light pressure and increase the pressure inside the circle. I make numerous light passes, gradually increasing pressure as I go. To determine when to stop requires that you make a few passes and check your work visually. Your eyes will tell you when the panel line is deep enough or may need more passes to achieve appropriate depth to your taste. After a few seconds, checking my progress and a few more light passes I was satisfied with the established the panel.
The same process was used for a rectangular-shaped oval panel on the opposite side of the pod shown below.
Straight seem lines that run horizontal are achieved by simply using masking tape in thin strips placed according to references. I then use micro saws to lightly saw along the marked lines using the tape to serve as a straight edge.
For difficult panels I use a alternate method to transfer to the part. These where two identical square-sib type panels that are located along the bottom /left rear of the pod. Because the template did not have two identical panels side -by-side to allow me to simply lay the template on the model and transfer like before, I used the template to cut out two "scribing guides" using tamiya tape.
To do this I first found the appropriate sized panel shape on the template and cut two out with a sharp hobby knife.
Next I placed the cut-out shapes on the pod where appropriate and burnish down firmly, making sure not to distort the shape of the tape.
With the tape "scribing guides" in place, I score along the edges of the tape with a sharp hobby knife to cut a shallow channel. Take your time, and go slowly around the rounded edges to prevent the blade from slipping out. *Important: Be careful! Handling the part while free-hand tracing with your very sharp hobby knife close to your fingers and hands is dangerous..take care not to cut yourself. I can't stress the importance to go slow, take your time and don't be hasty!
After carefully scoring the panel pattern with the hobby knife, I had successfully transferred the panels to the pod. Now I transitioned to the scriber to make numerous passes using increasing light pressure to finish the panels.
After all panels are created, I finish things off by applying a thin amount of Tamiya Thin liquid cement over the panels. This melts away fine plastic dust inside the scribed lines and helps define the panels. To help show the panel detail in photos, I applied a thin acrylic grey wash.
I went ahead and carved a few vents located forward near the nose according to references. I used a sharp hobby knife.
Well,, thats the progress so far! The Buddy pod is shaping up nicely and a little more to go before it's ready to make a master mold. Next up, I'll add revet detail, the forward propeller blades, droge basket and indicator lights.