Building the Freedom Model Kits X-47B

X-47B

Its a bit frightening isn´t it? I mean that thing can fly patterns and attack everything that moves within an "exclusion zone" for example. Of course it´s actually remote controled, so somewhere there must be a guy sitting in a container, but.... it´s just a small leap until these vehicles fly and operate completely automatically.

It reminded me a bit on the HAL9000 unit in Stanley Kubrick´s "2001: A Space Odyssey". Remember that conversation?:


Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

 

Imagine that thing gives you a crap like that as a response to a command. :D

Well...I know...sometimes I have too much phantasy. :D Its easy to attract me with a cool and easy-2-build canvas so here we go:

 

In the following weeks I will build Freedom Model Kit´s X-47B right here on Uschi´s. Lets see if we get that thing into the air. I suggest we begin with the forward landing gear. We dont have a cockpit so these are the only complex sub-assemblies we will encounter. I often do that at the beginning.

Part 1: Nose Gear Raw Assembly

I didnt had any issues and it all went really smooth. I will have to polish the dib-tube for a NMF with colors and polishing powder, so I did not fix two PE parts which are supposed to take place in this area. I marked this section with a text marker in the manual, so I dont forget to attach these pieces later. I hope.....

 

The only thing I customized for now was to hollow out the landing light (?). I will put some foil in it (or paint it) and re-create a glass cover. More to this later.

 

The sub-assembly is now ready to be primed so we can see if we worked clean & neat. After this we will put some hydraulics and wires to the leg in order to make it more interesting. Need to check some more reference.

 

 

Freedom Models.
X-47B Nose Gear
Freedom model kits

I dry-fitted all parts of the nose gear and adjusted it according to the holes in the wheel bay. The kit parts snap-fit, so one can put it together without glue, set everything up and let some capillar-action-glue do the work. In this case I used the Flexifile Plast-I-weld which we have as a Bsmart set here on Uschi.

 

I have left some of the photo etch pieces out of the game for now in case the primer reveals any spots which need a lil care in form of polishing. Dont wanna feed the carpet monster. This creature is huge enough already.

 

 

Part 2 Main Landing Gear Raw Assembly

The part you see in the center is called E8. Actually this part comes into force way later, but I wanted to pre-assemble the main gear as far as possible in order to paint all parts as comfortable as I could. Both E8 have a littlle sink mark right within their centers which I have filled with a drop of Mr. Dissolved Putty. The landing gear swing arms (E20/21) need a bit sanding in it´s slots in order to close well with E8.

X-47B scale modeling

On the following picture you see the raw assembly almost done. In case you wonder about the putty spots in the main leg, one of them (the circle-shaped one) is a very hidden ejector pin mark and the other one is supposed to take a lil detail piece which snapped of my tweezers and fell pray to the carpet monster.

 

On the "scissor" you can see that I have modified the connection on the scissor a bit. Actually both are U-shaped. I sandwiched one and fixed it with glue to put into the other one. Doesnt make sense? It will make sense when you are at this point.

Futhermore I have added some washers from my PE stash in order to give it a bit detail right there.

landing gear x-47B
X-47B Freedom Model Kits
X-47B Freedom Model Kits

The wheels fit a bit too well on the axle. I few turns with a suitable tool may help. Done in a few seconds. You may also consider to flaten the tires a bit at this point.

Part 3 Landing gear painting

Today I was really happy to see the wheel masks performing so well. "Item 2014 Wheels and Hatches Small" did the trick. The 9mm inner discs as well as the 7mm inner discs were used for tze main and the nose landing gear. Like a charme..... Again the produt keeps its promise to fit any 48th scale aircraft kit. I like it when a plan works out. :D

Colors used were

  • Mr.Paint MRP-4 Basic White for the wheels
  • Gunze Tire Black for the tires
  • I added some Gunze Flat base to the mix in order to flaten it down and make working with pigments as easy as possible. I also added some flat White into the mix and gave a mist from above to the tires using this brightened color mix.
Uschi masks
X-47B Freedom Model Kits

The paintworx on the landing gear continue. Since we have a few absorbers here, we have some polished tubes. I painted the entire pieces in gloss black followed by Mr.Paint Chrome. I then masked off the tube and painted everything in Mr.Paint White. After this I´ve set a lil bit preshading but....let there be pics...

X47
All painted in Chrome and masked off
Mr. Paint Uschi
RLM 66 Schwarzgrau has been used as a postshading to be coverd with another layer of White
X-47B Freedom Model Kits
Postshading has been blended in and a few details were anhanced using a white gel pen
X-47B Freedom Model Kits
X-47B Freedom Model Kits

X-47B Freedom Model Kits

After the gel pen has been used to enhance detail everything has been sealed with Mr.Paint Super Clear is which one of the best Clear Lacquers I have ever worked with. The drying time is amazing. I held the piece with my bare hand (!) and touched what I just have painted and went on. Not the slightest trace was to be seen. Very comfortable.

I moved on performing some fitting tests to see if everything can be glued with each other. I prefer to paint first and add the cables later. There aint no smart reason for that. Its just my twisted mind. :D I dont like to paint on hard to reach detail and messing around.

X-47B 1/48 Freedom Model Kits
Fitting tests prior detailing
X-47B 1/48
X-47B 1/48
X-47B 1/48
X-47B 1/48

First of all, the lamp-part has been hollowed out and a hole has ben drilled on its bottom in order to render a reflector. This reflector internally has been painted with Mr.Paint Chrome. I used the 2mm mask which comes with the "Wheels and Hatches, Small" (Uschi item 2014).

The light bulb is a piece of clear stretched sprue which as been held with its end close to an open flame, so the tip turns into a mushroom-ish shape.

This piece has been glued in to the pre-drilled hole on the bottom of the reflector. After that, the reflector has been filled up with drops of Vallejo "Still Water". This medium forms a convex shape when applied as a drop. It shrinks a lil bit but it can be applied in layers until we have it right.

The white spot you see on the light´s 10 o´clock position is a reflection of the photo lamp which has been used for taking the shot.

In the following I may share my version of the landing gear with you guys. Its MY version because I didnt dare to tackle the nose gear as it should be in a build who demands to be accurate. I went my own way and just made it more interesting. May the scratch builders or aftermarket guys consider this as being a cool playground. :D

Nevertheless I think the mission "more interesting" has been achieved.

Landing gear X-47B
Freedom X-47
1/48 X-47B

So, lets detail the main gear legs kinda the same way as the nose gear. I take the references as a rough guide but I aint gonna follow slavish. Plausible and interesting, thats the goal.

 

Remember how to do eyelets for turnbuckles? That trick with a sewing pin? Yeah like that. In this case I didnt use copper wire, I used the soldering stuff instead. This tin/lead wire has been pressed to flat on one point and twisted around a sewing pin. The "hydraulics" will run through the eyelets later.

Freedom 1/48 X-47B

And there we have the little funker with some lines runnin´through the eyelets.  I also have alu-foil strips wrapped around the leg. Together with the eyelets, it appears to be one single fixing unit.

X-47B 1/48

Next thing gonna be washes and further detail. After this I need to decide what to do with the wheel wells and weapon bay. Something need to be done to make it more interesting as well. We´ll see.

Stay tuned and thanks for watching! :-)