Macross +++ 1:72 Stonewell/Belcom VF-4A "Lightning III" of the U.N. Spacy VAT-127 aggressor squadron (WAVE kit) - WiP
Painting and markings:
As mentioned above, the livery is based on an official profile which I deem authentic and canonical. My aircraft depicts a different machine from VFT-127, though, since I could not (and did not really want to) 100% replicate the profile's machine from the Macross PLUS source book, "13 Red". Especially the squadron’s emblem on the fin would create massive problems.
For the two-tone wrap-around scheme I used Humbrol 72 (Khaki Drill) and 98 (Chocolate Brown), based on the printed colors in the source book where I found the scheme. The pattern is kept close to the benchmark profile, and, lacking an underside view, I just mirrored the upper scheme. The starboard side pattern was guesstimated.
As a second-line aggressor aircraft, I weathered the VF-4 with a black ink wash, some post-shading with various lighter tones (including Humbrol 160, 168, 170 and 187) and did some wet-sanding treatment for an uneven and worn look.
Interior surfaces were painted according to visual references from various sources: the landing gear and the air intakes became white, while the cockpit was painted in RAF Dark Sea Grey.
In order to add some color to the overall brown aircraft I decided to paint the missiles all around the hull in white with tan tips – in the profile, the appear to be integrated into the camouflage, what I found dubious.
Most stencils come from the OOB sheet, but I added some more from the scrap box. The grey "kite" roundels come from an 1:72 Hasegawa Macross F-14 Tomcat kit sheet, which I acquired separately for a reasonable price. Even though it took four weeks to be delivered from Asia, the investment was worthwhile, since the sheet also provided some useful low-viz stencils.
The VAT-127 “Zentraedi Busters” unique tail insignia was more complicated, because these had to be printed at home. As a side note, concerning the fin marking, I recently found a translation of the benchmark profile's text on mahq.net, which is interesting: "The Regult within the targeting reticle on the tail met with disapproval from micronized Zentraedi pilots, and so was only used for a short time." The comment also reveals that the original aircraft's modex is "713", not just "13" as depicted, so I tried to reflect these details on my build, too.
I eventually settled for a solution that was partly inspired by the kit’s OOB fin marking and the wish for more contrast for the motif: I scanned the original Regult pod illustration from the source book and printed it on white decal sheet. This was sealed with two layers of glossy acrylic varnish (applied with a rattle can) and then cut into a white field that fills the fixed part of the fin (using the WAVE kit’s OOB fin markings as reference). Once in place and dry, two black outlines were added separately (generic decal material) which help blend the decal and the surroundings. Finally, thin strips of silver decal sheet were used for the fins’ leading edges.
This design variation, compared with the original “13 Red” illustration, led to the idea of a flight leader’s machine with slightly more prominent markings. In order to take this concept further I also gave the aircraft a white stripe around the front fuselage, placed under the kite roundel and again with black outlines for a consistent look. It’s not much different from “13 Red”, but I think that it looks conclusive and, together with the white fin markings and the missiles, livens up the VF-4’s look.
The appropriate flight leader tactical code “01 Red” was puzzled together from single digits from a Begemot Su-27 sheet, the rest of the bort numbers were taken from the OOB sheet (which incidentally feature a “01” code, too).
Concerning the OOB decal sheet, there’s much light but also some deep shadow. While the register is excellent and the carrier film flexible enough to lay down smoothly, the instructions lack information where to place the zillion of stencils (“No step” and “Beware of Blast” stuff) are to be placed! You only get references for the major markings – the rest has either to be guessed, OR you are in possession of the VF-4 source book from Softbank Publishing which was (incidentally?) released in parallel with the WAVE kit. This mecha porn offers an overview of all(!) relevant stencils on the VF-4A’s hull, and ONLY with this information the exhaustive decal sheet makes some sense…
As final steps, the VF-4 received some dry-brushing with light grey around the leading edges, some chipped paint was simulated with dry-brushed aluminum and, finally, light soot stains around the vectoring nozzles all around the hull and the weapon bays were created with graphite. Then the kit was sealed with matt acrylic varnish (Italeri).