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Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard Modernisé
MN Charles de Gaulle,
Missions against Libya, 2011
Why this plane?
The French have a good eye for designing beautiful airplanes, and the Super Etendard is one of the best looking ever. I saw pictures of this model online and immediately knew I had to build one. My only decision was between the most recent French camouflage pattern and the Argentinian colour scheme used in the Falklands war.
Having a chance to mount an AM39 Exocet under the wing was also a strong incentive to build this kit.
What was added
100% out of the box, apart from the seat belts, which were made from Evergreen strips.
Notes and lessons learned
This was a good kit, but more challenging than the Panther. I looked at lots of reference pictures online, and tried to capture the "dirty" look that most planes with this camouflage pattern end up getting in deployment (one of my reference pictures is shown in the strip above).
This kit had a few tricky parts, which contributed to my learning curve...
One of the problems is the fit between the cockpit clear part and the front section. It required some filling and sanding followed by re-scribing. If I were to do this kit again, I would try to widen the clear part using heat, by about 1 mm, before cementing, to try to get a more natural transition.
I decided to pose the horizontal stabilisers in the angled position used for take-off and landing (as in my reference picture). Perhaps for this reason, I found difficult to cement the horizontal stabilisers in place, because of the photo etch part that needs to be inserted between them and the vertical stabiliser. Moreover, due to the angle chosen, a "gap" remained in the vertical stabiliser, which the photo etch part could not cover. This resulted in the horizontal stabilisers breaking off many times during construction. I ended up having to do some serious filling using Vallejo putty, to avoid the gap, and inserting some metal rods to make the horizontal stabilisers a bit more sturdy.
Keep in mind that there are some decals that have to be applied before you affix the horizontal stabilisers + photo etch. This is not mentioned in the instructions. These look like grey polygons around the photo etch part, in my pictures.
Be careful with the positioning of the slats. It is very easy to get them misaligned in the two wings.
I thought this time I had "nailed" my problem with canopies, but alas this was still not going to be. After reading many posts about the magic properties of Future/ Pledge floor polish, I sourced a similar product from Bunnings Warehouse, (Long Life Self Shining Floor Polish) which worked very well - a couple of dips got me a very transparent canopy, and sturdy protection. Yet, I forgot to keep it drying overnight in a sealed container, so next morning there were many little flecks of dust attached. To compound the problem at the last moment I screwed up, by using poly cement which, once again, ran on the inside, causing the opaque regions you can see in my pictures. It was not until my next plane (the Tomcat) that I used the right adhesive...
Also on the topic of canopies, the instructions also don't alert you about the need to apply a decal inside the canopy before you cement it in place. This decal looks like a pair of pointy triangles, or sharp white lines, in my pictures, best seen in the views from above.
I stressed a lot about making the junction between the wing and fuselage 'seamless", as in some online models I saw, and then realised that pictures of the real thing do show a clear panel junction line at the wing root. So, happy with my result, after all.
For a little bit of extra fun I converted a kitchen chopping board that was going to be thrown out into a representation of a carrier deck, which you see in some of the pictures. This was done by creating the image in Adobe Illustrator, printing in water resistant paper, adding some extra tyre marks with Tamiya Weathering Master set B, and and airbrushing the lot with Tamiya Flat Clear (TS80).