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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Huma DFS 228

This is the first part of my tale of twin modelling disasters for the week. They involve two normally very reliable aspects of modelling techniques: Micro/AeroSol and Alclad.

The Micro/AeroSol disaster involves a recently completed model of the DFS 228 rocket powered experimental vehicle from the end of WW2. That would be the Huma kit, of course. It was one of the first kits where Huma pioneered the use of extremely fine plastic parts. These things were thin; more like a plastic version of photoetch than traditional short-run plastic parts. The parts were mostly for the cockpit, and unlike photoetch they used regular styrene glue. That is a vast advantage in my mind. But they were exceptionally fiddly, and are almost completely hidden when you install the cockpit into this particular aircraft.

I have always liked experimental aircraft, so I decided to use the decals for one of the test planes. It was in overall RLM02, no disadvantage either. The decals, like most from Huma, had a dead matte surface. Not an optimal choice, since it always seems to look a little different from the surrounding paint surface even if you bomb it with a top coat of semigloss. Huma decals are also notorious for being pretty thick and unwilling to conform to the model surface. I figured that a bath of decal softener might take care of that. And that is where I got into trouble.

I trimmed the decals down to reduce the amount of uncolored carrier film that was going to be on the model. So far so good. They went down well onto the Xtracolor gloss surface. Then I put on some AeroSol to soften them up. I noticed after a few minutes that the solution was actually changing the reflective surface of the paint. It was almost a slightly different color. Sensing disaster, I tried to daub off what was left of the liquid solution. And up came the paint along with it! Now I could see this happening if I were using acrylics, but these were enamels thinned with lacquer thinner. They should have been hard as a rock. I was able to soak up any remaining liquid by just touching it with a paper towel corner and left everything to dry overnight.

The next day I could survey the damage. A couple of thankfully small spots where the paint had come up, and some discoloration in a couple of spots. I was able to brush paint some patches – though these never end up being exactly the same shade as the sprayed paint. Hopefully the photos won’t show the problems.

The reason for the disaster? Beats me. This was in an AeroSol bottle (as in, produced by the late Aeromaster), so it is definitely an old bottle of softener. And Sol is a stronger formula than Micro/AeroSet. But strong enough to affect dried and cured paint? That is a new one on me. I will definitely be more careful to keep any setting solutions on the decal itself in future. Many modern decals don’t even need setting solutions, though I still use them in order to really get the decal down into the panel lines. Maybe the solution was old enough that it had evaporated a bit and distilled down to something stronger. Maybe it just needs some bottled water to thin it a bit. I’ll have to keep an eye on the issue in future models.

This is completed model #347, finished in March of 2011.

2 comments:

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