BUILDING A COMPETITION WORTHY SCALE COCKPIT
Model Airplane News|January 2021
Scale competition is a segment in this hobby that I really enjoy.
CHRIS WOLFE

Like many, I grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot, but when I had to get corrective contact lenses in junior high school, those dreams ended so I decided to become an aerospace engineer instead. A big part of why I enjoy scale modeling so much is that it provides me the opportunity to fly and experience the airplanes I would otherwise never get to experience in full scale. So, when the U.S. Scale Masters Championships came back to California in 2019, I knew that I wanted to give it another go.

In the absence of a fresh new competition airplane, I wanted to give the championships a try with my Jet Hangar Hobbies A-7 Corsair II, but to be competition ready, it needed a few upgrades. Most notably, the airplane needed a whole new cockpit with the proper model ejection seat, along with some additional details on the landing gear and around the airframe. These were things that I had wanted to do for quite a long time, so it was a good excuse to get them done at last. After all, you know what they say, a scale project is never done … you just stop working on it! For this article, let’s talk about the cockpit and the finishing techniques used. I used a combination of traditional techniques and 3D printing, but the finishing and painting methods are applicable to any type of cockpit model, foam, plastic, or otherwise. With the advent of 3D printing it has simplified the process for scratch building many detail parts and that’s especially true for cockpits.

A NEW COCKPIT

Although the cockpit isn’t a heavily judged part of a model in competition, a nice looking cockpit can completely transform the looks of a scale model. In the case of my A-7, I was never happy with the original one that I had built as it was something that I had rushed to put into the airplane. Plus, with the model representing a late-model A-7 Corsair II from Desert Storm, the seat was completely wrong for the airplane. Not that anyone would ever know (including the judges), but the problem was that I knew!

I dusted off some old silicone molds for the cockpit panels that a friend had given me many years ago along with some additional molds that I had made for some of the additional detail parts and made new resin cast parts. Additionally, using Rhino 3D I modeled up the correct SJU-8 ejection seat for the late Navy A-7E Corsair II. 3D CAD modeling is very much a process and takes time to learn, but is essential when you want to make your own 3D printed parts. The seat started with a 2D drawing which I used to create the 3D CAD representation.

3D PRINTING & PAINTING

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