Revell F-4E Cockpit Part
1 of 4
article is about scratch-building an illuminated cockpit for the Revell kit F-4E
(1/32). I divided the full article into 4 installments, so I could go into some
details and describe them as closely as possible.
1: Building the front cockpit: design of the cockpit panels, adding lights.
2: Completing the front cockpit: the instrument panel, the HUD.
3: Building the rear cockpit: side console panels. Dry fit of the cockpit tub.
4: Completing the rear cockpit: the Instrument panel. Final details and
OF SIDE PANELS
wanted this project to capitalize on my experience acquired by building the A380
(1/144), fully illuminated with fiber optics (FO). The Phantom F-4E had to
receive the best possible cockpit, which meant building everything from scratch.
I had a 1/32 Revell model in my stash, which would just be fine for this
purpose. I decided to build a Hellenic Air Force (HAF) F-4E “Peace Icarus”,
featuring the latest Avionics Upgrade Program (AUP). This allowed me to build an
upgraded cockpit into the mighty Phantom, with all the bells and whistles
pertaining to modern fighters technology.
started the project by snapping together the kit’s original cockpit parts. A
little Blue Tack here and there helped to keep the parts together. I had two
Tamiya pilots in my spare box, so I sat them into the Revell cockpit.
From this point on I started designing the cockpit side consoles and instrument panels. I used a cheap 2D design computer program to draw various copies in order to “right size” the new parts. I checked this by cutting the “blue prints” and Blue-Tacking them onto the kit cockpit tub.
The front instrument panel was checked with the pilot sitting in the seat. Finally I test-closed the cockpit side walls with all the new cardstock parts taped in place. Note the green squares on the panels: these are the place where the Multi Function Displays (MFD) would fit.
I design the panels? I used a mix of references: cockpit layouts from the
“Dash 1” (technical manual) and pictures from the actual AUP cockpit. The
design happened to be quite complicated, so I needed a more robust CAD program.
I learnt AutoCAD from scratch, which slowed down my progress pace quite a bit.
It took me 2-3 months to become familiar with the program’s extensive features
and draw the cockpit layouts. But the result was well worth the effort, as you
will see later on.
Below is a copy of an original “Dash 1” layout, and two screen shots showing the level of detail I could achieve on my design: realistic instruments, readable stencils, etc Later in the articles I will show you that you can even check the frequency settings on the COM / NAV panels.
BUILDING THE SIDE PANELS & ADDING LIGHT
font cockpit, with its right hand side panel completed shows how the FOs run
from the underside of the panel to the light source, a regular white LED,
powered with a 9V battery. On the finished model, the power source will be
external, so I do not have to care about providing an access panel to change the
battery inside of the model.
The FOs are glued with 2-component epoxy. It looks like an Alien nest, but the only one who drooled over the cockpit is me. And I am my no way an Alien
I cut out each sub-panel and glued them individually over the FOs with Microscale Crystal Clear. This provided a realistic 3D look and feel to the assembly. A dry fit with the kit’s seat and Tamiya pilot shows that everything is progressing well. Note that on the two pictures below, I still use the kit’s original front instrument panel. It was soon to be changed for a better, custom-etched brass panel.
THE FRONT INSTRUMENT PANEL
On the lightbox is the etching master, printed on a sheet of transparent foil. In the background is the same print, with different layers activated, on cardstock. The second photo shows the etched brass sheet against the cardstock print.
I cut out the various brass parts and folded them on a “Hold and Fold” tool. On the tool is the front instrument panel. The last photo shows the pilot, sitting in front of his brand-new brass instrument panel. His right hand is supposed to hold the control stick, not a beer
first steps in the construction of the scratch-built cockpit were completed at a
slow pace between September 2004 and January 2005.
The next article will tell you how I populated the front instrument panel with actually illuminated instruments.
Photos and text © by Pierre Greutert