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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Academy Republic P-47 (3 of 3)

And now for the third P-47. Another razorback, this too is the Academy kit. Quite like the other two, and no horror stories to add for this one. It is “Little Pete 2”, flown by Albert Shower of the 467 BG, 96 BW, based at RAF Rackheath in 1944. This too came from Xtradecal 72153. Not much else to be said about a type that I’ve built so many examples of, so I’ll just move on to the pictures.

This is completed model #422 (#3 for the year), finished in January of 2013.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Academy Republic P-47 (2 of 3)

Well, now that we have gotten the P-47 botch out of the way, on to more competent results. This is the second of three P-47s that have been completed in January 2013. It is “Whoooooooo” (not a Ric Flair reference I should point out), which was piloted by James Hopkins of the 405th FG, based in Europe in 1945. The one problem is that this plane requires a Curtiss Symmetric prop, which is not provided in the Academy kit. So I’ve put a Hamilton Standard prop on in the meantime, until I can either dig up the proper prop from the spares box (I believe the Tamiya kit had one) or pick up a Quickboost QB005 resin prop next time I make an order from Sprue Bros or Hannants.

All the stripes are paint, not decals. Since decals tend to be somewhat translucent, this works out best as far as I am concerned. Though I did break the dorsal antenna off more than once, at least I kept my fingers out of the decals. Speaking of decals, this set came from EagleCals 72106.

This is completed model #421 (#2 for the year), finished in January of 2013. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Academy Republic P-47 (1 of 3)

If you have been reading this blog during its two years of existence, you’ll know that I have an abiding respect for P-47s. Not only do I find it an interesting type, but there are dozens of examples with elaborate nose art and we have a superlative kit available in 1:72. That is a great combination for the Profoundly Average Modeller.

Alas, I am currently out of Tamiya P-47s. But I did find a half dozen Academy examples during a recent stash crawl. While not as gloriously incandescent as the Tamiya version, it is a good serviceable modern kit that won’t have you rolling out your inventory of creative invective. The detail is certainly better than the aged Hasegawa version. While I did pause for a moment over the Kora conversion kit for a field-converted two-seat P-47, my plan at present is to give myself some less troublesome builds.

I had recently picked up Xtradecal X72153, a sheet of war-weary P-47 squadron hacks. The rules for these non-combat aircraft are considerably more relaxed than their frontline brethren, so you tend to get all sorts of odd tail and cowl colors along with the usual nose art. Another advantage is that the subject hasn’t gotten that much mainstream attention, so most of the schemes on the sheet were new to me at least.

So I decided to take 3 of the remaining P-47s (two razors and one bubble) and put them into markings from this sheet. I feel like I can practically build a P-47 model in my sleep (some would say that’s how I must build all of my models) so there isn’t much to say about the construction. Fit fine, filler minimal. In fact the only time-consuming thing was masking and painting them, due primarily to all those stripes and cowl colors I mentioned. Today’s example required a red white and blue cowl, along with yellow stripes on both vertical and horizontal tail and wing surfaces.

Since this is the P-47 with the disaster attached I thought I would get it out of the way first. I had just put the nose art onto the cowling (a parrot with a telescope) and had applied some AeroSet. You can see where this is going. When I put the model down to dry for a while I found a glob of melted decal stuck to my thumb. I’ll spare you the details (and the language) but it was a total mess. I eventually decided to consolidate this with another example on the same decal sheet. Instead of a parrot, we have a dog (or maybe a horse; not every squadron artist was Vargas). This now carries the reviled “representative markings”, meaning it doesn’t represent an actual aircraft, but an amalgam of two. Still 5 Emergency Rescue Squadron, still with a red/white/blue cowling, still based at Boxted in the UK, still 1944. Actually, this one was a bit snakebit from the beginning in any case; I managed to overlook the blown canopy – even though I have a Pavla example of this variation in the stash – until after construction was completed. Times like this are when I doubt my resolve to display all completed models on this blog. Bah!

This is completed model #420 (#1 for the year), finished in January of 2013. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Adding the AModel Voyager

On occasion I’ll get focused on a particular model and tinker with it almost continuously while other examples in the queue languish. Such has been the case this week with the AModel kit of the Rutan Voyager.

Believe me, it’s not because the Voyager is a stellar kit. It is one of AModel’s earlier efforts, and has all that downside on full display. The detailing can only be described as “like a Russian tractor”, the kit was covered in brown mold release gunk, and the sprue attachment points practically required tactical nukes to remove them. Still, this is a truly unique shape in the sky, and one of the few Rutan designs to make it to plastic. So once I had decided to put it in the queue it got most of my attention.

And it requires a lot of attention. There is no cockpit, but since the canopy is really only large enough to put the pilot’s head up into that isn’t a problem. The fit is miserable, requiring putty on literally every seam on the model. Though – full disclosure – I am much more willing to put up with this with a company that is strenuously trying to produce models that have not been kitted in 1:72 before. And as I’ve said elsewhere, the difference in this kit and later AModel efforts is pretty stark. They have improved measurably, which I am inclined to support by purchasing their kits, even though there is some work involved. They have done other Rutan designs in their catalog (White Knight, SS1), and some attractive modern Russian trainers (like the Yak-130 and MiG-AT).

I took a snapshot of the basic assembly. Wings and tails are in place, and the winglets have just been added. Landing gear and props have not been attached. The paint scheme is delightfully simple (all white) so that is a plus as well. Some AModel decals have behaved a bit dodgily in the past, so I’ll be holding my breath when I get to that part of the process. It’s not like there are aftermarket decals for this oddball.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wellington cockpit

Since I am in the process of decaling four different models and painting two others, it looks like the front of the production queue here at 72 Land Industries is beginning to starve. So I got a few new boxes down from the stash to start tinkering with the cockpits.

Though in one case there is no cockpit to tinker with. This is the Amodel Rutan Voyager. This is a very early AModel effort, and it shows. I was going to buy a unique shape like the Voyager no matter what the kit was like, but this shows the manufacturer’s inexperience at the time. To describe the engineering as chunky is an understatement, and I fear that more than Mr Surfacer is going to be needed as finishing putty for this one. There is no cockpit to speak of, but that really matters little as the canopy glazing is only about 1/16” wide anyway. About enough room for the pilot to stick his head up and that is it. Any other windows will be handled with Kristal Kleer since they are flat. Comparing this to a current AModel kit is something of a revelation; they have made great strides, though there is still some room for improvement.

The other new model is the exact opposite. This is the Trumpeter Vickers Wellington 1C, and the cockpit is both detailed and complex. Though I still have issues with the fabric representation, I think this will be a less stressful build. And check out the interior detail. I'll be painting the interior of the Wimpy and the Battle at the same time. 

More Hawks, a Pe-8, a Ju-287, and the Cyberhobby Sea Vixen are also getting some close examination. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Emhar F3H Demon

Postwar naval fighters of the USN is one of the many sub-topics I have pursued over the years. And last year I had a flirtation with the equivalent fighters from the RAF and FAA. So it was inevitable that eventually I would return to this line. For the longest time I couldn’t decide whether to build the Emhar F3H Demon or the Hobbycraft F2H Banshee, but finally came down on the side of the Demon. The Banshee will get its moment of attention at a later date.

Even though the F3H is known for being the predecessor of the F-4 Phantom, it shares a lot of its shape and look with the Supermarine Scimitar. Plus it was contemporary to the F5D Skyray, F8U Crusader, and F11F Tiger. And since it was in service during the golden age of colorful naval aircraft, there were lots of nice squadron color schemes to choose from.

The kit is produced by Emhar. I’ve mentioned (the urban legend?) that Emhar was supposedly formed using a group of kits that were in progress when Matchbox went toes up, but the physical evidence does lend this some support. It could easily have fit in to Matchbox’s house style in terms of both molding and subject selection. Even the kit decals have that Matchbox sort of feel. All it would take is to mold the sprues in different colors.

Fit was decent throughout. Clear bits were not cloudy. If anything can be said as a downside, there are some parts (gear doors, pylons) that are just a bit on the chunky side. More meticulous souls than I might want to replace them with card, or use the Airwaves photo-etch set (72060) that has at least a couple of the doors included.

The markings chosen are from VF-151 from 1963 and based on the USS Coral Sea. These are found on Xtradecal X72027. Curiously, Hannants no longer lists this sheet as being available, although they have an Almark sheet that must be considerably older.

I was fairly pleased with this one, something that hasn’t always been the case this winter. But as they say, 2013 is a new year.

This is completed model #419 (#44 and final for the year 2012), finished in the waning hours of New Years Eve. Really. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The art of puttering

Lots of puttering around the modelling dungeon, though little that was worthy of a headline. It mostly consisted of taking some glamour shots of the last three completed aircraft in 2012, unmasking four models after their last trip to the paint booth, and doing some preliminary work on cockpits for some new items entering the production stream.

I suspect a lot of my bench time will be spent getting all the dangly bits hung on to the three P-47s and the Tornado GR4. Landing gear, wheels, doors, and then decals. The Phantom GR1 still needs two more visits to the paint booth (Black radome and Alclad for the bare metal portions aft of the exhausts) so it will take a bit more time.

I think the next items to enter the queue will be the three Hawks (two T1s and a T2) and probably the Trumpeter Wellington. Maybe the Zvezda Pe-8 if I feel the need to keep my WW2 heavies project in motion.  

I still haven’t reconciled myself to the way that Trumpeter did the fabric sections of wing and tail on the Wellington – it looks as though the world’s largest vacuum cleaner was sucking the fabric down into the interior space – but I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the buildability of the MPM version. I’m really out to have a pleasant, low-stress experience at this point, and the Trumpeter kits have delivered well on that front. 

Here are a couple of shots of the state of play of the models that look to the be first completions of 2013. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DML Arado Ar-234

In 2012 I started on a few late war German fighters as a result of the mini Me-262 project. You’ve already seen the He-162, and now it is time to roll out the twin-engined type. This is the Arado Ar-234, generally acknowledged as the first dedicated jet bomber.

It is not a large plane by any means, not really that much bigger than a P-47. The wing surfaces are all unswept, as that concept hadn’t taken hold in production aircraft yet. This is the DML kit, and like the He-162 it embodies pretty much all of the good and bad points of those early DML 1:72 kits. In other words, impressive detail and equally unimpressive fit. Most of the bothersome areas are in the cockpit; I felt that the wings, tail, and landing gear all cooperated. I replaced some of the photoetch framing in the cockpit with plastic rod, if only to be able to attach them with regular glue.

I do enjoy making late war and Luft 46 models, though I’m not sure I would build another Ar-234. Just not enough color schemes, though I suppose I might be tempted one day by the four engined version.

This is completed model #418 (#43 for 2012), finished in December.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Revell H-P Halifax

If you have spent any time at all on a forum concerned with 1:72 aircraft, you’ve probably heard all the ruckus concerning the Revell HP Halifax. When the kit was announced 18 months or so ago, there was general rejoicing that there would be a modern state-of-the-art kit to go along with the recent Hasegawa and Revell Lancasters. We could finally rid ourselves of the Airfix with raised lines and rivets and the Matchbox with trenches. Alas, when the kit was finally released, there was much consternation about the engine nacelles. They were far too large, and a fix wouldn’t be easy since the aft portion of the nacelles was incorporated into the wing parts.

Various solutions were put forward (though many just sourly dismissed the kit as a plastic abortion and wanted nothing more to do with it). John Adams of Aeroclub has produced some replacement parts, as did Colin at Freightdog. Colin's approach was to try to visually correct the most glaring problems (props, wheels, intakes, nacelle fronts), though this admittedly didn’t solve the underlying issues. I think they do help with the look of the finished model, but I doubt that anything less than retooled wings will satisfy some of the critics.

I can say one thing: accuracy aside, the kit fits together wonderfully and has a wealth of detail both inside the fuselage and on the exterior. It is a fine model, though perhaps not a flawless replica. One problem is that the instructions don’t do a very good job of specifying which parts options (and there are a number of them) are applicable to which variant type. Additional reference material will serve you well here.

The Freightdog parts are well-engineered as well, and went where they belonged with a minimum of fiddling. I had picked up an Xtradecal Halifax sheet, X72146, sometime recently as well (I seem to be very much in synch with the choices that Hannants makes for its 1:72 sheets) so decided to use one of the options. One thing I would suggest might be a good purchase is Quickboost’s engine exhausts (either QB72358 or QB72360). The Revell version comes in two parts, whereas the resin is in one, which means you won’t have to worry about the correct alignment of the part to the nacelle. I’m not convinced mine is correct even now, but then that is not exactly unprecedented.

The aircraft chosen is “Thundering Heard”, something of a pun on the pilot’s name (Stanley Heard) of 419 RCAF Squadron. The plane was based at Middleton St George in 1943. As always the decals performed as expected with no problems. There are a lot of nose art options for Halifaxs out there, and if you want one with the colorful tail markings, that would be Xtradecal 72133.

This is completed aircraft #417 (#42 for the year), finished in December of 2012. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One cold session

Sorry lads. Been a bit off the grid for the last week. Yet another round of interviews, which by the time of the third iteration I thought were looking pretty good. Unfortunately I found out on Saturday that I didn’t make the final cut. So things have been fairly grim around here. You get your hopes up and then… well, back to more pleasant things.

Though there were snow flurries in the Puget Sound area recently, I still ventured into the frozen tundra of the garage paint shop to do a bit of work on some fairly advanced projects. But by the time I got back inside, I nearly had frostbite. It has been getting into the 20s F overnight; that was one cold paint session!

First came the three P-47s that are travelling as a group. They needed a color coat of Olive Drab. All of them have some sort of additional cowl, tail, stripe, or canopy coloring, so they have been a more complicated project than I originally expected. Once the upper surfaces get sorted, it will be time to do a lot of unmasking and get all the little dangly bits stuck on.

Next came the Oxford Blue coat on the lower surfaces of the Phantom GR1. This is a raspberry ripple scheme, so it is by definition somewhat complex. Not quite sure why I seem to be gravitating toward multiple complicated color schemes this winter. I’ll have to embark on a nice Gloss Sea Blue USN type to cleanse the pallet.

Finally, the Tornado GR4 needed its lower surfaces painted Dark Camo Grey. This is a GR4, with the second sensor under the nose provided by a Britmodeller correspondent. Just to be different, I decided to build this with the wings folded back (all of the other Tornados I have done had the wings extended).

I seem to have stayed away from the construction end of things for a bit. I at least need to get the three Hawk trainers into process, and it would be a good time to start tinkering with the Trumpeter Wellington also. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A short session in a slow January

On what has become an exceeding sloooow January for production, I did have the chance to get in an airbrush session this evening. Just a couple of simple steps. First, I reinforced a somewhat thin lower surface coat of Neutral Gray on the three P-47s. And second, I got an overall matte coat on a couple of finished projects that will be getting their moment in the spotlight shortly.

There may be some issues with photos. Blogspot seems to have changed how they allow photos to be uploaded. It doesn't allow the option of uploading them directly from your computer. This might still need some investigation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goals for 2013?

As something of a continuation to the 2012 wrap-up a couple days back, what do I see as my primary goals in 2013?

To be honest, I haven’t really got anything specific. I am not one who has any deep philosophical interest in resolutions, there never having been one that I didn’t break without too much effort. So I generally don’t make any.

My standards (competent), talent (average), and interests (all over the 1:72 scale block) will likely remain the same. I will be influenced to start a model by the weirdest bits of inspiration, be it a magazine article, movie, general interest in a time period, a new decal sheet, or the desire to put together one of my little project groups. I am always going to have deep interests in RAF, USAF, Luftwaffe, and small air forces – roughly in that order – and will always be more interested in building a model of an obscure experimental type than most hot fighter types. I will continue to poke through the detritus of aviation history looking for something new to put on the shelf.

One thing I hope does improve soon is my earning capacity, so I can catch up on the models and books I’ve had to forego until more flush times.

And I do have hopes to return to print in 2013. It’s been almost 10 years since I had some articles published by SAM and SAvMI, but I’ve got one on the boil right now that I can hopefully flog to someone.

But even though I don’t have a plan of types to build, I do want to clear out the backlog from 2012, finishing up the things that were in their final stages in December. I have some items on the Shelf of Shame that need to get finished as well (B-36, Connie, SM-82, C-46). And here, as a teaser, is a stack of boxes that I’ve moved into the hobby room to be started as soon as space on the production line opens up.