1/48 Hobby Boss YF-23 ATF

DavidsScaleModels

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Sep 16, 2022
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This build is the 1/48 Hobby Boss YF-23. This is a prototype aircraft designed by Northrop was in competition against Lockheed's F-22 back in 1990. It was nicknamed "Black Widow II" with reference to Northrop's famous P-61 from WWII. For this build I will be adding Aires resin seat and Caracal's YF-23 Prototype decal set. I will be building this as the PAV-2 prototype. As a reference I will be using Air Force Legends number 220 book written by Paul Metz. This book is filled with a lot of information on the design and development of the YF-23 as well as many detailed photos of the prototype aircraft. The kit has some items that need to be changed. The first thing is the aft section of the cockpit. This area is more of a "what if" rather than what the prototype looked like. The second thing is the kit does not have the option of having the canopy in the open position. I will need to modify the canopy for these details as well.

So to start off I cut out the areas of the cockpit tub that need to be changed. I used a lot of scrap photo etch to rebuild the areas. One thing to note is that the prototypes left a lot of these areas with the zinc chromate coating with no top coat of the grey or black that a production aircraft may have. I added the large white pipe air pipe and started making all the wire cables that mount on the rear bulkhead. I also started making the actuator that raises and lowers the canopy.

The ACES II ejection seat in the YF-23 was more like the F-117 version rather than the typical version used other aircraft like the F-16. The main difference is instead of having the ejection handle on the front of the seat between the pilots legs there are two handles on the sides of the seat.

I am still working on adding details for the rear of the cockpit tub then I will be moving onto the panel just behind the seat.



You can see all the photos and detail of this start in the build log at: https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-yf-23-atf-black-widow-ii/



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For the second week of the YF-23 I am still working on the aft section of the cockpit tub. I finished up the cable assemblies on the rear bulkhead and then I installed the ejection seat so I could measure the size I needed for the panel. The panel was made from a piece of sheet styrene and then covered with photo etch sections. A support bar was added to match the reference photo. I am not sure what the green/blue mount is but I replicated it with more photo etch. I then built the canister assembly out of styrene rod and used a photo etch screen for the base. Next I used a photo etch frame to make the mount for the canopy rod.

The panel was then mounted into place. I added the custom decals for the ID plate and the duct warning placard. In the reference photo there appears to be aluminum tape around the edge of the panel seams. I replicated this using aluminum paint. I then used some photo etch to make the in-flight camera mount on the ejection seat rail.

One of the comments I received was with respect to the landing gear. I was told that the nose gear was very delicate and breaks easily. To solve this I ordered the Scale Aircraft Conversions metal landing gear set. These actually look a little better than the kits plastic version in details as well.

I still have one more item to make that mounts on the aft bulkhead and its cable. For custom decals I need to apply the corrected "EXPERIMENTAL" decals and the ID nameplate for the top of the canister to finish off the aft section of the cockpit tub. Then I can move onto the instrument panel detailing and begin detailing the nose gear bay.

You can see all the photos and detail of this start in the build log at: https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-yf-23-atf-black-widow-ii/



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Week three of the YF-23 I finished up the cockpit. The panel behind the seat was detailed and mounted and then I worked on the instrument panel. At first glance the instrument panel decal supplied by the kit looked to be a little too large for the instrument panel. The instrument panel itself was actually detailed very close to the PAV 2. I decided to paint the panel and all the details. For the instrument screens I scanned the decals and then resized the screen decals to fit in place. The instrument panel was installed and I dry fit the cockpit into the upper fuselage. This completed the cockpit.

Under the cockpit is the nose gear bay. The details were very close to the actual bay so this was just detailed painted. The main gear bays have good details as well. However there are numerous lines throughout the bays. I will be using some tin solder to replicate these. One thing to note is the actual main bays are not painted as they would be on a production aircraft. I detailed painted the port bay to match the reference photos. I am working on adding the numerous lines in the port bay and then onto the starboard bay. There is still the intake and exhaust to be added then I need to start doing the modifications to the fuselage. There are numerous vents that need to be opened up and one vent that needs to be added just behind the canopy. I did order some photo etch screening for the vents.

You can see all the photos and detail of this start in the build log at: https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-yf-23-atf-black-widow-ii/



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Week four of the YF-23 I am working on the main landing gear bays. On the port side bay I used some solder to replicate the pipes on the front end of the bay. I used some photo etch to create the connection panel for two of the pipes. The caps were painted brass to match the golden color of the caps on the aircraft reference photos. The bay was then assembled.

I purchased the metal landing gear struts for the model but I receive a message from a fellow modeler who informed me that the metal main struts have an issue. These metal struts are made from a soft potting metal. Due to the angle that the mains sit at the soft metal tends to bend/warp over time due to the weight of the model. With that in mind I am going to use the kit main struts and the metal one for the nose.

I then studied the starboard side bay. Since the aircraft is a prototype the configuration of the starboard side bay is slightly different from the port side. The kit is molded so the bays are mirrored the same. To correctly match that of the actual PAV-2 aircraft I removed some of the details and replaced them with photo etch pieces. I also added other details using some styrene rods.

I should have the starboard side assembled this coming week and then I can start cutting open the various vents on the fuselage. It looks like a couple of them also will need to be relocated as they are not in the correct spots. Earlier this week I received the sheet of photo etch mesh screen that I will be using. I would also like to note that there will be no update next weekend. It will be Father's day weekend and I will be enjoying my second hobby of fishing with my favorite fishing partner, my lovely Wife! I will try to do an update the following Thursday.



You can see all the photos and detail of this start in the build log at: https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-yf-23-atf-black-widow-ii/



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