Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Wings for a Hawker Hunter

Several years ago, I bought a bunch of 15mm QRF moderns and aircraft from a shop that was closing out the line.  Among the many items I picked up that day was a  Hawker Hunter, which  I went to work on, shortly after getting home with the goodies.

I didn't notice prior to purchasing (not that it would have stopped me from buying it), but the Hunter looked to have been damaged, repaired and re-bagged.  Maybe it was a return to the shop, not sure.  Anyway, it needed more attention than I was willing to give it at the time, and ended up setting on my work table for the last few years in the early stages of repair.

During my recent cleaning binge, I decided to put it together, rather than just throw the lose parts into a box with countless other odds and ends.  Like the QRF Strikemasters that I have (another really cool plane from QRF), the Hunter has a resin fuselage and metal wings.  On the Strikemaster, the main wings are a single piece that glues firmly and securely into the bottom of the fuselage, but the Hunter's different geometry does not permit that arrangement. It's wings are each separate pieces that attach to the wing roots/jet intakes mid fuselage with a small metal tab.

Since the Hunter is somewhat larger and the wings heavier and less secure when mounted, I had reservations about the durability of the model when completed.  Not so much a complaint about the casting, as commentary about how brutal I can be with my miniatures.

After brief consideration,  I decided to replace the metal wings with styrene plastic wings.  As it turned out, a relatively quick and simple job.  The job required a few basic tools; a hobby knife, Squadron Flex-file sanding stick, a small ruler/metal cutting edge, a Tuff-Grit metal filing/sanding stick, and a pair of flush-cut nippers.

I started out by completing the repair to the fuselage that I started years ago with some putty (the fuselage had been cracked and badly repaired with some sort of glue).  In this case, as in most, I use automotive glazing compound.  It is an inexpensive, soft, fast drying, red/orange putty that comes in a squeeze tube, and can be found at automotive parts suppliers such as Advance Auto Parts or NAPA.  Dynatron and Duraglass are two manufacturers of the product.

In addition to the repair, I touched up some blemishes in the fuselage casting.  Then I used the metal wings as patterns and traced replacement wings onto a sheet of .08 inch thick styrene.  Below you can also see the landing gear that come with the kit to the right and below the fuselage.

I cut out the basic wing shape by scribing and snapping the styrene, using the metal straight-edge and hobby knife.  The shape was refined with the nippers and by filing/sanding the edges and roughing the cross-section of the wings with the Tuff-Grit file.  The wings were then cleaned up with the Squadron Flex-File sanding stick and puttied with the glazing compound as seen below.

The Tuff-Grit file will leave some divots in the plastic, but these are quickly filled with the putty.  By the time I finished puttying the tail section, the first wing was just about ready to sand.  Drying time was in the area of seven minutes.  The replacement wings are shown below with the original metal wings.

I replicated the panel lines from the original wings by scribing them with the back side of the hobby knife blade, and attached the plastic wings to the resin fuselage with super-glue.  Once the glue was dry, the joints and slot for the wing tab on the underside of the model were filled with the glazing putty and sanded.  It took two applications of putty to fill the tab slots.

The entire investment of time to replace the wings and assemble the model was less than an hour.  The model was then primed and painted with acrylic hobby paints.


This model is going to be used by the as yet, un-named, third country in my African Imagination campaign.  I ended up choosing a camouflage pattern inspired by one used by the Indonesian Air Force, but can't put the national markings on, as they haven't been designed yet either.

The completed model weighs significantly less than it would have with the original wings. mounts more easily on my aircraft stands, and is less likely to break, when I do eventually drop it.  And, I now have one less item setting on my table, holding up space bubble progress.


  1. I very satisfying end result. As always, I stand in awe of your sculpting skills - even if it was just the wings this time!

  2. Can I suggest a Name for the Country in Africa or at least a Mechanism? The Lanthanides of the Periodic table, with "we" or "sia" on the end or in the middle.

    Example - Sama­rium = Samarwe or Samarsia
    Ter­bium = Terbiwe or Terbisia