102nd Fighter Wing

Massachusetts Air National Guard Legacy Project 

Part 3
“First Responder Eagle”

  by Ken Middleton



Here is part 3 of a 3-part article on the 102nd FW Legacy Project I recently completed. This final part focuses on the “First Responder Eagle” display which represents F-15A 77-0102 on the moment of launch on 11 September 2001 . As with the rest of the models, this is 1/48th scale, and will be donated to the unit for display at Otis Air National Guard Base.

I used the Academy F-15C kit and Two Bobs decals. The Academy kit comes with the option for dropped intakes, which is exactly what I needed for a launching display. The landing gear would be in retracting-mode, and I didn’t worry too much about the look and operation within the gear wells, but how it looked from the side. A large display base was needed, and it ended up being 1 foot wide by 2 feet long. I created a blurred runway and printed it, and attached it to sheet plastic.

The load would consist of 3 fuel tanks, 2 AIM -9s and 2 AIM -7s.

Model Preparation for an In-Flight Display
With the in-flight display, I needed to have brass tubing within the fuselage, and passed through the afterburner cans. After careful measuring and fiddling, I got the alignment and secured them with 5 minute epoxy. I then moved onto the nose and main gear, and extended the oleo portions with aluminum tubing.

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Two of the three main gears are molded shut, so I had to make them from sheet plastic. I simply traced along the panel lines onto paper, and transferred that to the plastic. I was not about to cut out the opening for the gear bay – that was too much work. The above photo shows the mock-up.  

The Display Base
The display base ended up being not as complicated as I had envisioned. Strolling through my local Home Depot store looking for a suitable base, I came across a stair/step used in home stairwells. It was made of hard pine, and measured one foot wide and four feet long – and cost around $10 USD. I had them cut it in half at two feet, and I had two bases.

I used Plastruct ˝ inch acrylic rod bent with a heating gun for the clear supports.

I measured where I needed the brass tubes to hold the acrylic rod by lining up the back of the model, and drilled the holes with wood-boring bits. To make the blurred runway, I created it in Photoshop Elements, and printed it. I used spray adhesive and attached it to sheet plastic cut to size.

I brushed 3 coats of Future on the wood base, with sanding in between each dried coat.

Once that was complete, I attached the runway to the wood base with Liquid Nails glue and placed 2 phone books to hold it down. I also added the 3 patches, and the brass plaque I had made at the local trophy shop.


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The landing gear was secured with 5 minute epoxy, and the usual final decaling and assembly proceeded.

Working every single day for a minimum of an hour, it took about 5 weeks and around 45 hours. Though one of the most challenging projects I have ever done, it was the most gratifying.


Click here for Part 1 of this article

Click here for Part 2 of this article

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Photos and text © by Ken Middleton