Part 7: Final Assembly

After applying multiple light coats of Future, I began to apply the decals.  They are beautifully printed by Cartograph, and somewhat on the thick side.  Using the Microscale system, they conformed well to the surface detail.

The fuselage Hinomarus ("meatballs") are supplied as separate white and red discs.  The white is opaque, and showed no hint of the underlying color.  These are large decals, and somewhat difficult to move once on the model.  I used a large, soft brush and water to guide them into position.  The most difficult alignment was the yellow wing leading edge I.D. bands.  There is an over-size cut-out for the wing cannon.  I temporarily attached the engine, cowling, and propeller to correctly align the large red prop warning decal on the main float.

I had to apply the tail band higher than suggested, as it wouldn't quite span the chord.  In retrospect, I could have applied them lower, as there is an extra decal for each of the thin main float decals.  These can be used to add the to the length of the tail stripe, which would be easier than trying to match the color with paint.

After the decals had dried for a day or so, I washed the model in preparation for another coat of Future.  I do this to protect the decals from the enamel wash that I use.  The wash would not "take" over the decals.  I used a mechanical pencil here, dotting the rivets one by one.  The surface scribing on the fuselage (ahead of the "plug" for the replacement tail) and wing tops were not as crisp as the rest of the airframe.  Much of the wash here is barely perceptible.

To break up the large areas of solid color, I used Future, semi-gloss and flat coat, following different panels and different rivet lines.  When I was satisfied with the finish, it was time to bring together the floats, flaps, bombs, pitot, and antenna with the rest of the airframe.  All of these parts, with the exception of the main float, fit well.

Attachment of the main float was, by far, the most difficult part of building this kit.  The weight that I had earlier added (2 rolls of pennies) made manipulation difficult.  Using CA, I was able to get the front of the float secured.  This left a gap at the rear, which I wasn't able to close.  Installation of the rear float supports ensured that this gap wouldn't be bridged.  You may have better luck, or choose to add a shim here.  Take great care in preparation for this assembly.  Even with all the weight I added to the float, it sits further forward on the dolly than I see depicted in period photos.

The canopy is beautifully thin and clear.  There are even recessed rivets on the frames!

Attaching the engine and cowl assembly revealed another little "glitch."  The engine mounting braces kept the assembly too far forward of the fuselage.  I clipped the rear of the braces, and glued the forward "bulkhead" to the fuselage.

I still have some work to do, which won't be part of this on-line build.  I wanted to show the prop hub and counter balances under the two-part spinner.  There are gaps where these two parts meet, so after I glue, fill and sand the parts, I'll repaint the prop & spinner and add the decals.

The bombs and racks are simplified, and I want to improve them.  The ladder is incorrect, and I will scratch build a replacement.  The trolley will benefit from additional detailing.  There is also a tie down missing from the strake at the lower rear fuselage.  The Rufe's antenna wire was attached to a hole through the fin.  My #80 drill bit is broken, so I'll add the antenna wire when I get a new bit.  There is also a screen and adjustment linkage missing from the intake on the main float support.  Trumpeter just gives you an enclosed hole.

Now, for the $64,000 question.  Compared to three-view drawings and other sources, the top of the fuselage rides a little high.  But, does it look like a "Rufe"?  I certainly believe that it does.  With its sheer size, the detail, and no need for aftermarket replacement parts, I feel that this kit just cries to be built.  I would heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to have a showpiece in their collection.  Just make sure that you have enough room !

I am going to get the carrier version, the A6M2 "Zeke."  I think they'll look great together.  Now, if Trumpeter would only produce a 1/24 Me 262...

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