Fuselage Prep


My first impression of the Vario fuselage is that it is really well made, there are far fewer surface imperfections than the Len Mount fiberglass Dauphin, but it is really weak in many places and will have to be reinforced.  So far, I have been entertaining myself with Instrument panels, Rocket Pods, and the like, now is the time to get down to the fuselage itself!  Break out the sandpaper, and my converted barbecue bib!  First, we sand down the ridge created by the seam where the 2 halves are joined.  We are going to eventually put a "world class" finish, with two layers of 2-part primer, color coat, and automotive clear, so every square millimeter has to be carefully sanded and prepped!


The seam is where a lot of the imperfections appear.  They are almost invisible until the surface is sanded, then they appear as white dots.  If they are deep, they are not a problem.  If they are just below the surface, the air inside the bubble can expand in direct sunlight, giving your model that lovely appearance of sprouting pustules.  I just press on them (quite hard) with a dental tool, and if they depress, then I dig them out and fill with Evercoat Metal Glaze.  This technique works on acne as well- try it sometime.



With the seam sanded smooth on the main fuselage, we progress to the rest of the body components...


I leave the windows, doors, etc in the fuselage for the first pass of sanding.  This maintains structural rigidity of the fuselage, allowing it to endure while I wrestle with it on the bench during sanding...  I was amazed when I read on the Vario website: "In the kit of the big AIRWOLF you will find a CFRP (carbon fibre) fuselage, which gives you the option of finishing the model just by applying the white paint."  Wow!  There is NO way paint would adhere perfectly to an un-sanded fuselage, it would probably peel off in sheets!  Besides, no matter how many Black & White Airwolf models you have seen, the actual Airwolf was a dark grey (Phantom Grey- DuPont color 5031k to be exact). Anyway, more sanding.....



Here we have the main fuselage about 75% sanded.  I fill the little pits and holes as I go, as I know I will be finding others later!  They seem to be more prevalent in areas where the thickness of the fuselage changes.  The Fein MultiMaster (orange tool towards the right), is handy for getting into corners, with it's triangular head.  Unlike the Dauphin's heavy fiberglass resin, you need a very light hand when sanding this fuselage.



Here on the vertical stabilizer, I will rough in a tube to hold the tail strobe, and I have milled a channel in the area where it bonds to the tail boom, so the wires will enter the boom at a more opportune location.  When you are this early in a project, you always have to anticipate steps you will not take for months (it reduces the things you have to re-do!)



Finally, all the pieces are sanded!  Now, we can proceed with cutting out the openings, and building the plywood interior.  With breaks to work on the surveillance pods (more on these later), this has taken only 2 weeks.... Sheesh!



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