Those of us who remember the terrible day of 9/11/01 will always remember where we were and who we were with.
It was an event that changed our world and twenty years later I want to pay tribute to those we lost, those who served and of course those who still endure.
HOW IT BEGAN…….
I felt the need to do something to mark the passing of time and in my own small way I wanted make a respectful tribute in the form of a scale model.
It around the time of October 2020 that my good friend Charlie Siegfried and I were discussing a future collaboration project and what kit we would like to build. Charlie being a patriotic Alaskan wanted to build a F-15E Strike Eagle and as I had not built one for many years, it felt like a good idea. Then we got onto which kit and markings etc, before we knew it we had been chatting for hours over our zoom video call and I hit upon something.
“Y’know what would be a cool idea?” I said. “How about building one of the 391st FS Eagles that has 9/11 nose art” Charlie grinned at me instantly and said “Yeah! I like that-Lets do it!”
The USAF F-15E Strike Eagle needs no introduction, its speed, power and lethality are known throughout the world and rogue nation air forces do not want to head to head with this legendary multi role fighter. And they paint it Gunship Grey. It looks mean. It looks cool.
When you take a F-15E Eagle and add 391st FS “Bold Tigers” markings, you have some pretty special. So when I found a decal sheet with 9/11 nose art featuring the NYFD officer handing the US Flag to an American soldier with the words “I’ll take it from here” I knew this was the Eagle I wanted to build.
Over the course of a few weeks kits were ordered and aftermarket parts were sourced and decals were hunted down………
What happened over the next year was a long journey for both of us. We spoke over zoom calls or on messenger and traded or build progress, compared techniques and learned about each other lives. We had a lot of laughs too!
Here is then, a record of my 9/11 tribute build….
Thanks to Charlie a huge box landed in my studio last year and I found myself in possession of Tamiya’s 1/35 F-15E Strike Eagle. This is a big kit and there is a lot of plastic in the box to play with. In addition to this, I also had Eduards cockpit set, Printscale decals and Master Details resin figures.
Work began in the F-15’s cockpit, I colour matched Eduards PE detail set with Mig Ammo paint so that the aftermarket parts will blend with the painted kit parts.
Here are the finished instrument panels, Eduards parts really make a difference! I also made individual switches from 0.2mm plastic stock. This was painstaking work but it really added to the realism.
FIGURE IT OUT!
As I progressed through the build, I began working on the crew figures. The excellent Master Details figures were a little too big for the Tamiya cockpit so I mixed and matched them with Tamiya’s kit figures. Here is a look at how they progressed.
After the intricate work of the cockpit and the figures, attention turned to the airframe assembly and painting. Tamiya’s F-15E is an older kit with very hard plastic, however it possesses Tamiya’s great engineering and fit. Putting the airframe together was straightforward and I moved into the paintshop pretty quickly.
This was a long process, I was dealing with USAF Gunship Grey which is a difficult shade to add depth to so I decided to prime with an acrylic black base followed by multi-tone marble coat. I also wanted to replicate the worn, faded look of the Eagles that have been on deployment.
THE PAINT PROCESS….
Here’s how the paint was laid down. All the paints used were Tamiya acrylics. For the Gunship Grey I used Tamiya XF-24 Dark Grey lightened with a little white paint.
The finished paintjob turned out just how I wanted it to!
The decals were next, the Tamiya decals were very thick and were difficult to blend into the airframes surface. The Printscale deals for the squadron markings and nose art were terrible to work with. I had to buy a second sheet as the first one practically disintegrated when they went onto the model. However with much cursing and elbow grease I got them to work.
As the decals were finished and sealed in with clear gloss, I set about weathering the airframe with enamel washes and weathering pastels. This was a tricky task as I wanted the model to look weathered, but not too weathered. I feel I landed in the right place between the two.
A HOT TOPIC……
The burner cans on the F-15E Eagle are very distinctive due to their design and how their metallic surfaces weather due to the extreme heat their afterburners produce. So I chose to paint them with a mixture of Alclad II and Xtreme Metal paints. I then weathered them with metallic finish weathering pastels. You can see the process in the photographs below…..
READY FOR INSPECTION:
After all the painting, decals and weathering I ended up with a model that I could proud of…..
To finish the project off, I commissioned a custom display case for this model from legendary case maker Paul Thomson. Paul is a good friend who always produces cases of the highest quality and as an added treat I was able to visit him at his home on the sunny Devon coast when I went to collect it. It was Paul who gave me the 9/11 patch for the display. 391st FS patches were collected from generous sources who shall remain nameless, but I appreciate them more than they know!
Here is the finished display photographed in my studio.
And here I am minus my beard with the finished display,
I hope you have enjoyed this build and that it stands as a respectful tribute to the twenty year anniversary of 9/11/01 Thank you for visiting and I hope I see you next time.
All the best,