I started with the cockpit tub work as this is the most detailed and difficult after market piece to get to fit into the kit correctly. I worked on the kit pieces as well as the Aires tub assembly. The Navy refueling probe location had to be filled using the kit provided piece that allows the Air Force variant. Then a little putty was applied to hide the resulting minor gaps. The fuselage refueling panel had to be inserted and also some minor gap clean up.
Enhancements to the bleed air vents, starboard aft inspection window and forward underside vents were made.
Resin nose gear and main gear wheel bays were purchased and prepared for fit into the kit assembly. Again, sanding these parts to almost paper thinness was required in order for them to fit properly. The main gear wheel bays had exaggerated rivet details, so I sanded off the bottoms until only the cables and tubes remained then overlayed them with Eduard PE pieces in order to get the correct internal geometry.
The first photo shows the amount of sanding I had to do on the side walls in order to have them fit into the assembly after I scratch built the underside vent ramps. It also shows how I broke off the actuator arm for the nose gear! This is the most fragile part of this resin piece and attempting to repair it was too difficult and resulted in more loss of detail from the CA repair, so I purchased another and proceeded more cautiously the next time!
I scratch built the ramps using clay, once carved they were baked in the oven then installed. Blending of the clay ramps with the kit vent openings was accomplished using repeated thin applications of medium CA. This could have been done any number of ways, this is just the route I took as it gave me the best control of the ramp geometry.
In this pic you can also see the resin air scoops in place. I purchased the resin kit from XMM Modeling in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The kit included the Intakes, Ramps, Air Scoops and the J79 GE-15 front engine blade assemblies. This was the only kit I found to get the geometry of the ramps correct. There are some subtle but realistic features to the ramps that really add to the finished product. I hollowed out the openings a bit with a micro drill bit to add depth and a more realistic look.
The main gear wheel bays, here you can see the after market resin piece with the exaggerated rivets and the replacement with the PE elements on the right.
The completed main wheel bays painted.
The Vertical Stabilizer navigation light was carved out of a red glass bead. Resulting in the color not simply being painted on the surface. Two small holes were drilled on the underside of the light. Then filled with silver chrome paint to simulate the light mechanism inside. Pitot tube, artificial feel tube and angle of attack sensor are all solid brass. These after market items can be purchased from www.master-model.pl, kit 1/48 scale AM-48-049 F-4 Phantom II (Short nose version)
Angle of attack sensor, note slight upward tilt of sensor.
Update on cockpit tub build, I blended resin, kit and photo etched components for best realistic appearance.