Construction Tips

Build a Cockpit for Your F-14 | How to Create a Custom Cockpit in an ARF | Fibreglassing Procedure for the Novice


Download the Drawings Here: F-14_Cockpit_sh1.pdf | F-14_Cockpit_sh2.pdf |

Looking for that extra bit of detail for your F-14? Well, here's a start for detailing out your cockpit. The method employed incorporates the same methodology as the below article How to Create a Custom Cockpit in an ARF. Using a good F-14 resource as a guide (take a look at specifically the "walkarounds" section) and the supplied downloadable drawings and instrument placards above to build yourself a detailed cockpit for your F-14.

Build Notes:

1. Build up the seats, instrument panels, and the cockpit base assemblies seperately.

2. Prep each of the subassemblies for paint. Install all 1/64" plywood details.

3. Paint* each of the assemblies seperately.

3. Install the instrument panel placards to the instrument panels. (3M spray glue works well for this)

4. Install each of the assemblies into the cockpit base.

Note: Some custom fitting of parts may be required to achieve a proper fit for your aircraft. Sand or add as you see fit.

*A weathered look can be achieved by mixing up a base color with white (the base color is the color you are drybrushing over, ie. black for black, green for green, etc.) and drybrushing over the surfaces. This helps accentuate details and gives a "sun-beaten" look.

Completed F-14 Cockpit
(Click to see a larger image)





(as presented in the December 2003 issue of RCM Magazine)

See the Article Here: Page 1 | Page 2

Download the Drawings Here: JHI_Seatback.dxf | JHI_Panel_Hood.dxf

As a result of building plastic models prolifically since about four years of age, I now employ detailing techniques I've used on plastics and apply them to finishing my scale R/C aircraft. In addition to getting some creative juices flowing, adding detail is fun and also brings out the "realism" of a scale R/C aircraft project. In particular I enjoy cockpit detail for the "oooh" and "ahhhh" effect, but scale weathering and color and markings can also be enhanced.

Recently, I completed work on one of our BAe Hawk ARFs and in the process I decided to add some detail to the cockpit. The techniques I will explain in this article reflect the specific steps I took in detailing the BAe Hawk ARF cockpit, but the same techniques can be utilized on any model. All drawings for adding these details to your Hawk can be downloaded here.

Before detailing any model, a bit of research must be done to guarantee authenticity. I began by doing some research about the cockpit using Aeroguide1 Hawk published by Aeolus Publishing Limited as my primary resource. After looking at the information, I determined the only things needed to transform a plain cockpit area into something deserving of a longer look were a good pilot figure, some headrests, and the use of a few simple techniques to enhance items already supplied in the kit. For this particular project, I decided to go for the TLAR (That Looks About Right) approach. When doing a scale competition aircraft, I would spend more time double checking dimensions and scaling everything according to my resources, but for an ARF model, the TLAR approach is sufficient.

Figure 1: Hybrid PilotTo begin, I needed to find the right pilot for the roughly 1/8th scale ARF Hawk. Based on the pictures I found, a full-size cockpit appeared to be relatively small thus causing the pilot to appear quite large inside the aircraft. The Williams Brothers (#17200) 2" military pilot was a good fit for the plastic cockpit floor supplied. Unfortunately, for a modern military jet, the helmet of the Williams Brothers pilot is something less than desirable. I found that Blue Box Toys offers Military "Elite Force" full pilot figures and helmets that seem to be nearly an exact match for the Williams Brothers bust. Based on this, I created a hybrid Williams Brothers/"Elite Force" pilot bust. The "Elite Force" helmet comes on a bust that is glued to a flat base. Instead of fussing with removing the bust from the base, I took the Williams Brothers bust and removed the head from the neck up (right at the collar) using a Xacto #239 razor saw. Next I removed the head from the "Elite Force" bust (a sharp Xacto knife cuts the "Elite Force" bust material quite nicely) to match the Williams Brothers bust. To ensure I had enough room for error, I cut the "Elite Force" head where I knew some trimming would be required to achieve a good fit. With a little bit of trimming, I was able to achieve the desired result. Figure 1 shows the hybrid pilot bust.

The next step was to pre-paint the bust and the head using Model Master enamel paints, then glue the head to the bust using slow CA. Painting the pilot is purely discretionary to the builder, but for a scale military type pilot figure, the flight suit colors are typically olive drab in color. They do vary, however, so for your particular project, some research would be required to determine authenticity. Figure 2: Finshed PilotBased on my research, I found that olive drab was a good match for the Hawk pilot. The following list of colors is what I used to paint my pilot figure (shown in Figure 2).Flight Suit - Olive Drab

Seat Belts - Medium Green

Belt Buckles, Suit Zipper - Steel

Eyes - Flat White, Green (once painted, brush a little gloss clear over the eyes to get a more realistic look)

Skin Color - Dark Tan

Eye Brows - Dark Brown

Once the pilot was completed, I moved on to adding some details to the cockpit itself. In the BAe Hawk kit, the premolded cockpit floor lends itself well to some easy detailing whice produces a more realistic aFigure 3: Headrest 3-viewppearance.

I determined that some TLAR scale seat backs were in order. Using my documentation, I came up with a shape that replicated fairly well the aircraft ejection seat backs in approximately 1/8th scale. I built the seat backs out of 1/16" balsawood. Figure 3 gives a dimensioned 3-view of the headrest and shows the construction method employed.

Once completely built up, I coated the entire wood exterior with slow CA to seal the surface and eliminate the wood grain texture. I then hit it with a little accelerator and sanded the glue smooth using 120-grit sandpaper. Next I put on a hefty coat of primer (US Chemicals lacquer or equivalent sandable primer is recommended). I repeated this step a second time and finally sprayed a third coat of primer onto the seat. At this point, voids were filled with 3M Figure 4: Finished Headrestglazing putty spot filler. Once the putty had cured, the parts were sanded smooth (some additional filling may be required if you notice additional voids), then final sanded the entire exterior surface with 600-grit sandpaper. After applying a final light coat of primer, the seat back was paint-ready. To attain a crisp, hard line between the seat and the headrest colors, I used 3M 1/8th inch "fine line" tape to mask the surface. The following colors were used to paint the seatbacks. The finished headrest is shown in Figure 4.

Overall Color - Aircraft Aggressor Grey

Headrest - Panzer Grey

Another easy detail to add to the BAe Hawk cockpit is the instrument panel hood. This feature acts as a shade for the instruments on the full size aircraft. I made this detail from a 3x5 index card. The shape is given in Figure 5 below; the picture shows the detail up close. I lightly scored each of the breaks with an Xacto knife and a ruler to get a nice crisp corner, then used thin CA to glue the patterns to the instrument panel surface.


Figure 6: Finished Instrument Panel Hood

The BAe Hawk kit also comes with an instrument panel "sticker" which has a glossy finish. To give this sticker a more scale appearance, I took a scotch brite pad and scoured the surface. I then sprayed Model Master Dull Coat over the surface to give the instrument panel an overall dull finish. Once the dull coat had dried, I brushed Model Master Gloss Coat over each of the instrument Figure 7: Finished HUDfaces (only) to simulate the glass surface over each instrument.

The last detail I added to the cockpit was the HUD (Heads Up Display). To achieve this, all that was needed was some spare clear plastic. I actually used some of the plastic cut away from the canopy itself from which I cut a small rectangle roughly .5"x.75". I glued the HUDs onto a prefinished piece of 1/64" plywood at an angle that looked about right (there's that TLAR effect again!), added two supports on either side, and the assembly was then glued onto the instrument panel. Figure 7 illustrates the final results.

There you have it! The addition of time and the addition of some small features yields a nicely detailed, personalized cockpit to enhance your ARF while adding a more scale dimension to your model. As stated in the introduction, any and all of these techniques can be used on any aircraft. You'll be surprised how a few small things can add an overall big scale effect, giving your model the appearance of a full sized aircraft in miniature.

Completed Hawk Cockpit
(Click on either to see a larger image)
 Click for larger image

 Click for larger image


One of the most requently asked questions in modeling is, "How do I fiberglass the wing?" Contrary to a variety of opinions, it is neither a difficult nor a lengthy process--providing you use proper materials and learn a few simple techniques. Fiberglass can be viewed as the final step in construction, since it prepares the structure for paint while adding strength and durability to an otherwise fragile surface.

Tools/items required: Xacto knife, sharp scissors, razor blades, mixing cups (wax coated "Dixie" paper cups or similar work well), good quality 3/4" to 1-1/2"
dope (natural bristle) brush

Materials required: ¾ oz. or equivalent fiberglass cloth, epoxy or polyester coating resin, appropriate thinner (polyester resin is preferred as it is lighter, easier to
sand, and cures more quickly)


1) If using polyester resin, prior to beginning the glassing process, do the following:

a) Apply mid-grade CA+ smeared with a paper towel to any areas where Model Magic filler or 30-minute epoxy has been used at the surface. This is to prevent a reaction with the resin.

b) Check to make certain that there are no voids in the glue joints of the wing sheeting. The fumes from the resin can dissolve the foam underneath it. Fill voids with Model Magic filler and smear mid-grade CA+ with paper towel prior to glassing.


For purposes of these instructions, glassing of the wing is discussed.

2) Remove any dust or sanding debris from the surface to be glassed using a soft brush or vacuum cleaner. It is recommended that the bottom surfaces be glassed first.

3) Using a pair of scissors, cut two pieces of fiberglass cloth the size and shape of each wing panel overlapping the cloth across the center-section the width of the wing saddle. The cloth should be cut and trimmed about 2" oversize around the outside edges.

4) Place the cloth on the bottom of the right or left wing panel with the overlap across the center-section as planned. Smooth out the cloth with the palm of the hand to eliminate any buckles, wrinkles, etc. Next place the other piece of cloth across the opposite side of the wing, again overlapping the center-section.

5) Pour about ¾ oz. of polyester resin into a mixing cup. Add appropriate thinner to the resin in the amount of about 10% of the resin volume. Swirl in the cup to mix.

6) Now add the catalyst. Add just enough catalyst to change the color of the resin from a rose' wine color to a caramel (brown) color. Mix thoroughly. Because this is a time cure material, mix only enough to do the job as the pot life is about 10 minutes when mixed this way. The reason for using thinner in this step is to prevent
the cloth from being pulled along with the brush. The thinner acts like a sliding agent to allow the resin to flow through the cloth and to attach the cloth to the surface.

7) Begin brushing the resin (do not pour) onto the cloth in the center of the overlapped area. Brush from the center to the leading and the trailing edges of the center-section moving out along the full length of the wing. In all cases, the brushing pattern should be from the center of the part or area outward to the leading and
trailing edges.

8) Brush the resin through the cloth beyond the center of the leading edge radius and the wing tip. On the trailing edge, brush the resin about 1/4" beyond the straight edge. Do not curl or push the cloth against the trailing edge. Double-check to make sure that the cloth is attached to the bottom of the leading edge. Sight down the
length of the wing to make sure there are no "silver"-looking spots (dry areas) and eliminate any "pooled" areas by brushing away excess. The resin has a tendency to soak into the wood and seems to disappear. This is the desired end result. Set part aside to dry. Part can be put in the sun to accelerate the curing process.

9) When dry, turn the wing over. Using 120-180 grit sandpaper, remove excess cloth along the leading edge and along the wing tip to create a smooth transition for the next step. Cut along the trailing edge leaving about ½" of excess glass/resin material on the edge. This helps to create a hard trailing edge slightly beyond the balsa wood.

10) Repeat the same process on the top surface. The trailing edge should be full of resin along the cloth edge to make a solid resin edge. Allow to dry.

11) Sand away any excess materials along the leading edge and wing tips to make a smooth transition. Again, cut away excess on trailing edge this time leaving 1/4" excess material along the entire trailing edge, top and bottom.

12) Be sure the entire wing or surface is smooth before applying the second coat of resin.

13) The second coat of resin is applied full-strength and is designed to fill the weave of the cloth. Mixing is the same as previously, but thinner is not used. This coat should be applied slightly generously and smoothed out to a "flow coat". Check after about 5 minutes for fish-eye; if this occurs, brush it out.

14) All resin to cure completely. Trim excess materials, sand entire wing until smooth using about 120 grit sandpaper. Block sand trailing edge to 1/16" beyond the balsa wood. This becomes the trailing edge of the wing. If done correctly, this will come to a fairly sharp edge, replicating full-scale.

15) Primer and sand, filling any surface voids with automotive glazing putty.

Once the surface is smooth, apply final primer coat and it is ready for paint.


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