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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flying Heritage Center Battle of Britain Flight Day

Another non-modelling road trip to tell about today, but this one at least has aircraft related application. I paid a visit to the Flying Heritage Center, where Microsoft co-founder (and former aircraft modeller!) Paul Allen houses his fleet of flyable historic aircraft. As you can imagine, with that much $ to throw around, the collection is very impressive, not least because all of them are maintained in flying condition, though not all will be flown. Bf-109, Hurricane, Ki-43, Fi-156, P-51, Spitfires, a recently acquired B-25, Fw-190A and D, Po-2, I-16, and even the nose of an Avro Lancaster. I didn’t ask, but I suspect that one doesn’t fly.

On many weekends during the summer, the staff takes a couple of the aircraft out and fly them for an hour or so. This weekend, being an anniversary of the Battle of Britain, they had scheduled two Spitfires and a Bf-109E. As it happened, the Arizona CAF had their B-17 and B-25 in town as well, and they would join the other three in the air. More warbirds in the air than any airshow that I have seen since attending the Chino airshow a few years back.

The Bf-109 had some cooling problems almost as soon as it took off, and landed after only two circuits. The Spits circled for a half hour, and the B-17/B-25 pair also did a few laps before landing. I had never seen a 109 in the air, so that was quite a thrill. There were hundreds of spectators in attendance; this was obviously a well run and well publicized event. If you are ever visiting the Puget Sound area, we have a lot of aviation related stops (the Museum of Flight, Olympia Flight Museum, the Boeing company tour) but you should really put the FHC on your itinerary as well. Especially since it is so close to the Boeing facility. There were quite a few partially assembled 787s parked along the way to the facility, most without engines.

I went with IPMS-Seattle’s newly elected president, Andrew Birkbeck, and ran across another long term IPMS member, Bob Labouy, while wandering the museum. There may well have  been others from the club in the significantly large crowd. Kind of warm, but excellent blue skies.

Below are a couple of tasters. The lighting in the museum hangar was a bit tricky, with the clerestory windows always backlighting the aircraft. One of those times that I would have benefited from Seattle's normal clouds.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hasegawa Junkers Ju-88A4

I was actually pretty happy with the way the J-10 turned out, though unfortunately I can’t really say that for today’s finished model. The problems were all my own fault, and the proper attitude is to make some notes on what went wrong and move on.

This is the Hasegawa North Africa boxing of the Junkers Ju-88A4. I’m a sucker for desert markings, and decided this would be a good follow up to last year’s Hs-126 and Hs-129. Like many Hasegawa kits it feels over-engineered in order to allow for the maximum number of boxings. This makes for a few seams that aren’t really needed.

But I managed to pile on the errors too. Miserable cockpit canopy masking ended up with some stray RLM65 making it to the inside of the front canopy, and some of the canopy framing being indistinct. But worst was the RLM 80 mottling. This is the second version on this kit; the first was truly lousy, and I decided to respray the RLM79 and try again. I’m not convinced that version 2.0 is much better than the original, but my unavoidable impatience kicked in again and decided that this is what I was going with. The fix, as we all know, is a compressor with a variable pressure valve so that the pressure can be cranked down to facilitate the small mottling. But that isn’t going to happen until my income returns.

Still, it is what it is, even though it will likely spend its days in the back half of the display cabinet.

This is completed model #362, finished in August of 2011.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paint shop action

Since I was in the paint shop to add the overall matte coat on the J-10 and Ju-88, I decided to get some other painting that was in queue done as well. The T-50 got its first coat of Medium Grey, while the 707 is covered in all of its blue Braniffy goodness. Both will need some buffing down and a surface coat however. Blue especially seems to be one of those colors that tends toward a bumpy finish.

On the construction line, I painted the cockpit and then completed major assembly on a new-tool Airfix Hurricane F2C. Plus I finished up the major bits on the Xtrakit Swift. And of course the Valiant is all together and waiting for some detail painting and masking prior to its first coat of White.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Trumpeter Chengdu J-10

The summer campaign continues here in 72Land. An unusual burst of activity has resulted in a couple more finished models. We’ll get to the Ju-88 in a bit, because today’s completion is in a more modern vein.

Given my production so far in 2011, you’d be excused for thinking that I’m not a huge fan of modern aircraft. With the exception of Hawks and Typhoons, which are really more of a camo and markings collection effort than anything, I don’t seem to finish much that is in current service. There are times, however, when I get infected by an article in Air Forces Monthly, or just want something different to provide a break from the usual flow of types. After all, I really have no firm area of interest; I usually just follow the lure of inspiration.

So last month I started on a small set of next-gen fighters. There was the Italeri F-22 (currently waiting for camo paint) and the new Zvezda Sukhoi T-50 (of which more soon). I threw in the recent Trumpeter kit of the Chengdu J-10 to complete the trio. The J-10 really isn’t a fifth gen fighter – it is more in the size and style of an F-16. That spot will be filled by the J-20 that has apparently just been released in Asia by Trumpeter, and will be added to the set as soon as it appears in this country. But it was the one I had at the time I started the project, and as it happens it was finished first.

I found the kit to be in the usual Trumpeter style: good plastic, nice fit, decent detail. The ailerons could have fit more snugly, but that is a byproduct of giving you the option of setting them at an angle, so I can live with that.

Trumpeter does not provide much in the way of painting information, but cross-referencing their Gunze codes with FS numbers and (relatively un)educated guessing, I came up with Barley Grey X017 and Blue Grey X126 as camo colors. As always these are Xtracolour paints. They look pretty close to a photo I found on The kit decals, though few in number, were thin and settled down without setting solution. I did use a little MicroSol on the intake warnings, however, since they had to deal with compound curves.

This is completed model #361, finished in August of 2011.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Italeri Vought F4U4 Corsair racer

I decided to take advantage of a cooling streak in the weather to spend some time in the hotbox that is known as my hobby room in the summer. Now, this is all completely relative. Warm in the context of the 2011 Seattle summer so far is anything over 75. I believe we have had something like 5 days in the entire year that have been over 80 degrees. This may seem rather wimpy to the rest of the country, which has been in the grip of a huge heat wave. These sort of summer temps are more usual in the Yukon, or even southern mainland Alaska. But one thing is to remember is that almost no homes in the Seattle area have air conditioning. When it is 100 in Southern California, most people stay at home or at most head for their pool. But in Seattle we just sweat, since our position close to the coast tends to bring in lots of moisture too.

So, given that the 10 day forecast has a few more 80+ days in it, I figured I had better hit the model production line while I could. The Valiant has helped out here, since I have been wanting to start this one since it was announced. The entire model is together and the wheel bays and gear have been painted. It is ready for its first coat of white paint.

The Hasegawa Ju-88 is up on its gear, waiting for gear doors and decals. But right now the spotlight is on an Italeri F4U4 Corsair. I tend to think in terms of uncommon paint schemes, even with relatively common aircraft types. And I think I found one.

Since Greg Drawbaugh attended our IPMS-Seattle Spring Show this year, I took the opportunity to get some of his Draw Decals. Specifically, a Corsair that was raced at the Reno Air Races in 1969. It was fairly stock, though painted in an unusual teal color. This provided the first hurdle to jump, since there was nothing like the color in the usual paint line that I use (Xtracolour). The decal sheet does make some suggestions, but it was quite a while before I found a copy of the Model Master acrylic. Another hurdle, since I have never used acrylics, being completely content with the Xtracolour range. Trial and error got me to the point that I was satisfied with the finish. I thinned it with lacquer thinner, which is probably 28 different flavors of Wrong, but much to my delight I did not find a steaming melted pile of plastic when I came down the next morning to see how it had dried.

This particular type of Draw Decal is digital silk. They are notoriously fragile, and come on a continuous carrier film, but the advantage to the process is that it allows for the lower print runs that can support the oddball paint schemes I prefer. And it was indeed a tense ride, just waiting for one of the decals to curl under and render the whole project dead in the water. But thankfully they did not. I went easy on the decal solvent too, for fear of reactions with the acrylic paint. This type of decal doesn’t really need much solvent in any case.

This is completed model #360, finished in July of 2011.

I’ve attached photos of some other work in progress. The Valiant and Swift are finished with major construction, the J-10 has its camo started, and the T-50 has newly painted wheels wells. Finally, the 707 has its Braniff black nose painted (though not masked).