The Boneyard Build – Part 1


Act in haste, repent at leisure is an aphorism. An aphorism is a pithy observation containing a general truth. And thus the story of my F-111E Boneyard Build begins. It all started at the Modellers of Ballarat annual show on a cool April day several years ago. Involving spare cash, a vague idea over-percolated in the back of my brain of making something involving a decommissioned aircraft, and an unloved F-111E kit in 1:48th scale sitting on someone’s pile of kits to trade.

The kit

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First off, this model kit is neither good nor bad. My  kit had build issues that in hindsight the model makers could have overcome to make a more buildable kit. All other issues aside the kit does a reasonable job of representing the real aircraft. And during researching the kit I’ve learned that there are many aftermarket parts available to doll the old girl way up should you want to do just that. My intention was to build it straight from the box; giving me time away from building and weathering railway models.

Opening the box I noted that all parts were still in their bags, no parts were broken and that all the sprues were intact. We’ve all bought kits that were not in this good a state at shows from the second hand table, right? And the kit instructions were straightforward and the model appeared to be an easy build.

Starting the Build

I like to go through a model kit and see what the makers ideas are for the build and then plan how I’m going to get the thing built. Then I start from there referring to the manufacturer’s instructions for part numbers and so forth as I go, ticking off the steps I’ve completed as I go. In this way I know what I’ve done, and what needs to be done when not following the kits instructions directly.

  1. I started the build process by putting extra weight in the nose, using round fishing weights hammered to fit and attached with superglue, to make sure that the model would not drag its tail and leave the nose in the air.
  2. After putting in the wheel well and cockpit I glued the two nose halves together.
  3. The next step was to test fit the canopy.
    1. It was here where the original plan went out the window.
    2. ‘Sun Tzu’ said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. As I sat contemplating what next, I knew was taking some serious enemy fire. So when I say I test fitted the canopy, what I really meant to convey was, that I discovered that the canopy failed the fit test.  And I’m not talking a little out of true here or there. Rather we’re looking at 3 millimetres over the height of the moulding at the rear of the cockpit. Then there were the gaps between the canopy base and the top of the cockpit coaming.
    3. At this point I swore, a lot.
    4. The paint blistered on the walls, the pets ran for the back of the house.
    5. The neighbours called in noise complaints, and the family… well they wondered what mess I’d gotten myself into this time.
    6. I’ve not built an aircraft in 30 years.
    7. They’re all curvy, slippery, and not really my thing as they’re mostly without right angles, anywhere.
    8. As I sat looking at that misshapen canopy I remembered why that was.
    9. Having got to this technical impasse I was tempted to scrap the kit and keep the sprue and parts for kitbashing, super detailing, greeblies, or other future scratchbuilding work.
  4. Taking a moment to calm my frayed nerves, and looking for a Saint Bernard with a flask of booze at his throat  I cured my shock at the kit quality with a reasonable amount of Rum. Bundaberg, with a little ice (from the freezer, not the dealer) and Pepsi Max. Kept on hand strictly for medicinal purposes you understand.
    1. Then just as the booze kicked in, my creative juices began to flow.
    2. And that vague idea came back from the near dead part of my brain, where the ideas of youth reside (looking somewhat like the remains of Voldemort after Harry died and did a number on him in the Deathly Hallows Part 2).
    3. The only question now was: ‘How could I build this kit out of the box while covering the inaccuracies in the moulding and still have it look good?’
  5. And then it hit me. Not the Bundaberg, but the idea.
    1. Build something sitting out its last days in the boneyard.
    2. The positives:
      1. A simple base
      2. A simple means to cover up all the imperfections
      3. Create a really unique model that covers all of the imperfections
    3. I mean seriously – what was not to like?

What’s in part two?

In part 2 I’ll detail how I went about fixing the problems with the canopy, the joins of the nose of the aircraft to the main body section, issues with the wings, and look at some of the tools involved in getting the model built.


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