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Spark Vark: 1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

Updated: Jun 28

The 1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven is a fairly basic kit with simplified details throughout the model. There are no wing slats & flaps details, however if you are looking for a basic representation of a "Spark Vark" for a relatively low cost, this may be your best bet.


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

Notable Kit Features:


  • Basic cockpit

  • Finely scribed panel lines

  • Operational swing-wing

  • Few parts

  • Relatively low cost


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

Build Inspiration:


I have liked the F-111 series but finding a decent 1/48th scale kit to build one has proved a challenge. After I came across Caracal Models EF-111A decals I decided it was time to give the 1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven kit in the stash a go. I had some reservations about building this kit so it had languished there for quite a while. I figured I would delve in and not spend too much time fixing areas that were complex or required resin add-ons. Afterwards I would see how the kit turned out and asses the situation. In the end it turned out better than I thought it would (but then, I wasn't expecting much).


USAF EF-111A Mistress of Deception Nose Art

Heads-Up Report:


  • Test fitting and sometimes modifying of parts before gluing works best

  • Basic cockpit (that you may want to replace with a Black Box version)

  • The shape of the canopy is off (actually there are a few things that are off) I also had a defect in my canopy and it wasn't very clear either however I made it work

  • The canopy does not fit well and has no option to be displayed open

  • Ejector pin marks on gear components

  • Front landing gear appears to be a fictitious layout (lacking detail) and is missing landing lights

  • Front landing gear bay is shallow and has prominent centre seam

  • Incorrect callouts in instructions on main gear (ignore step 3 until you have looked at step 18 and then look at some reference photos to hopefully figure out what is really going on here)

  • Main gear door needs to be modified for correct layout (Other details here are off as well plus the main gear bay is too shallow however, these areas were left as is)

  • Don't forget to add nose-weight (lots of room here)

  • The wing-swing and wing glove covers are toy-like (I ditched these parts and built the wing fully swept)

  • Typically EF-111 would have the middle pylon only

  • Basic engine faces provided on a flat card piece however no ducting is included

  • Simplified intakes and exhausts (could use some extra detailing or some covers perhaps?)

  • Fit of the tail to the rear fuselage required some work (cardstock filler and sanding)

  • Main fuselage is divided into a nose and rear component and the fit is mediocre at best (Get these seams cleaned up before moving along to the intakes)

  • Apparently the top louvered vent doors are incorrect

  • The ECM canoe is provided as it would appear with the gear up - you will need to do some cutting and capping off here if you build gear down

  • Dashboard hood sits about 1mm too high for canopy to attach properly

  • Fuel tanks are reported to be incorrect size / shape (I didn't use mine)


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

Kit Additions / Modifications:


  • Added some detail to the cockpit (but not nearly enough - so don't look too close)

  • Modified the nose gear layout to be more "Raven" like

  • Added thin cardstock to top of nose gear bay to eliminate the centre seam as well as added detail

  • Use part 14a main gear door (not 14 as indicated in step 3) and cut the rear portion of this door off - The larger portion is to be placed behind the main gear (Get some decent reference photos to see what is going on here)

  • Discarded all swing-wing parts as well as glove vane covers and built wings in full sweep (Typical of parked aircraft) Hindsight: You may be able to modify the wing to fuselage join to do a "Hasegawa F-14 like" slot join here, which would make painting the wings easier

  • Added heavy flat plastic tab structures to help align and strengthen the front and rear fuselage join

  • Used multiple height and width interior spreaders to improve front to rear fuselage join (it is not good on its own) Then break out the filler and sanding block

  • The stabilator fillets required filler and sanding to get smooth lines

  • I needed to add a good chunk of card stock staked up to fill in gaps on the vertical tail fit (maybe this was somehow self inflicted?)

  • If building gear down - The underside ECM canoe fairing requires the pointed ends be cut off which will later be attached to the front gear doors. Prior to attaching these, you will need to close off the open sides (which the cut opened)

  • Used Caracal Models CD48142 - EF-111A Raven in place of kit decals


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

Finishing:


The Caracal Models decals provided ten (10) options for markings, so selecting one was a bit of a debate. I decided on "Mistress of Deception" for my Spark Vark and set upon painting the underside in FS 36492, Light Gray. After that was dry, I masked off and sprayed the upper surfaces in FS 36320, Dark Ghost Gray. I used Vallejo Air paints on this model and added a bit of Pledge (floor finish) to the mix. I've found that the Vallejo Air paints are easily damaged and a bit of Pledge acts as a good hardener for the finish. Some variation of colour tone was built into the spray paint process to get a weathered look without being insulting to the maintenance crew :) The nose cone was finished in FS 36440, Gull Gray. After letting the paint cure a couple of days, I gave if a gloss coat using Pledge in preparation for the decals and panel line washes. The decals were good and didn't give me any troubles. Panel washes were a mix of tones to get some subtle lines. After all that had cured, for a couple of days, I overcoated it all with Model Master acrylic Matte Clear. Next came the final assembly of the gear, antennas and final details too fragile to add until the last moment.


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

The After-Build Report:


If you are looking for a nice accurate F-111 series aircraft in 1/48th scale, sorry to say, I don't think it exists as yet. The 1/48th Hobby Boss kit provides much more detail including the wing slats and flaps, however misses the mark in a number of areas (as does this kit). If you just want a 1/48th EF-111A Raven and aren't too concerned about the details, then if comes down to pricing and features - Academy is simplified, so if you want the slats and flaps down with more overall detail you will have to opt for the Hobby Boss. (Note: I am not mentioning the Hobbycraft or Kitech kits as they were just re-boxed versions of the Zhengdefu kit - which was a cheap rip-off of the Academy F-111 series) In the end this 1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven suited my purpose of providing a low-cost model that looks basically like a Spark Vark on the shelf, if you don't over analyse it.


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

Completed build #267 - March 2024 using the 1/48th scale Academy /Minicraft #1676 kit.


Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers


1/48th Academy EF-111A Raven

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2 Comments


willrodster
Jun 18

Hi. Just need to say this. The amount of knowledge and love that you put into your hobby is outstanding. Congratulations!!!!!

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bdmielke
6 days ago
Replying to

Thanks a lot Will - Really appreciate the comment. I have been at this hobby a long time and it is great to share the content of my aircraft collection on my website with people who have an interest. Glad you are enjoying the posts - All the best to you, David

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