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Sunday, April 29, 2012

GenAtom MQ-9 Reaper

For the Profoundly Average Modeller, UAVs are a delight. No cockpit to build, no canopy to mask, relatively few parts, and it is not difficult to keep up with all the types that have been released in 1:72 to date (3, at least in injected plastic). Platz has been the hero in this arena up until now, releasing a Q-1 and a Q-4, both of which were reboxed by Italeri. They have also announced an X-47 UCAV for later this year. The only other main producer of UAVs is Unicraft – alas, something of a modern incarnation of Merlin kits. While they have a couple of dozen of the things, they really are pretty rough kits. Though UAVs tend to be simple enough that they might be an option for ones that will never get the injection-molded treatment. But I’m still mulling that over.

Today’s model was in fact molded by Skunk Models. It is the MQ-9 Reaper, the MQ-1 Predator’s younger and larger brother. The wingspan is noticeably larger, the tail has been reconfigured, and the -9 carries more ordnance. They are apparently used quite a bit in Afghanistan, by both the USAF and our allies.

I had put the -1 and -4 in USAF markings, so I wanted something a little different for this one. I first thought to put it in the included Border Patrol markings, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to paint the big blue stripe or take a chance that the decal would fit and look good. Finally I wimped out and took the easy way: RAF markings. The paint scheme is overall Light Compass/Ghost Gray, except for the prop and the forward landing gear leg. Why that leg is a different color is a mystery to me.

Construction did present one obstacle. The lower fuselage was short shot in the vicinity of the landing gear bay. But a small piece of plastic sheet cut to shape cured that. The error is present in both of the two kits that are included in the box, but again it is fixable. The nose probe is extremely small and delicate, and – wonder of wonders – I managed to not break it off during construction, painting, decaling, and finishing. You gotta live for the small stuff.

If anyone wants to have the second RQ-9, or the second Kayaba Katsuodori that featured a few days ago, you can have them for what I paid for them: $7 for the RQ-9 and $6 for the Katsuodori, plus postage at cost. You’ll get the box, instruction sheet, decals, and plastic. Just one kit instead of the two the manufacturer supplies.

This is completed model #388 (#13 for the year), finished in April of 2012.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Me-262 project progress

I tend to produce three kinds of blog entries (four if you count the occasional Northwest travel postings): construction, painting, and completed projects. Today falls into the painting category.

I’ve been gunning right along with the Me-262 project, now that I’ve gotten my modelling mojo back. Within the last couple of days I have put the RLM81 coat on the upper surfaces of the P-1099 and Me-262B. Then I masked the camo and put on the RLM82 coat. This evening I stripped off all the masking. A couple of aggravating places where the Tamiya tape actually pulled up some of the paint. Perhaps I haven’t been as attentive to cleaning off the plastic prior to overall painting. It seems to have happened mostly on the RLM76 paint, so I suppose it might be an issue with the tin I just opened. Unfortunately I have two other models that have received RLM76 paint and will be getting their masking shortly, so it may not be the end of this particular problem. Next step on those two are the freehand RLM81 mottling, always a tense bit of work since the margin of error is high.

The F-18 is up on its wheels too. This will be a New Orleans / LA ANG bird, which was featured on the Katrina special decal sheet that TwoBobs produced a few years back. I suppose I’ll have to build one of the more modern F-18Es now, if only to visually compare the two. You can see the partially complete Airfix Swordfish in the background of that shot as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Matchbox Vickers Wellesley

Next in the parade of finished items for April of 2012 is the Vickers Wellesley. This one has an interesting history. I even remember when and where I actually bought the thing. It was during one of our trips back to the old country (Southern California) after we had moved to Seattle. Probably 86 or 87. When in town I do the hobby shop tour, though almost everything other than Brookhurst Hobbies has gone to the great retail mall in the sky since then. There was a little hobby store in Orange that I occasionally visited, which was good for odd kits and back issues of Air Enthusiast. The Wellesley was not at all common to see at a retail store even then, and it was cheap so I snapped it up.

And it sat in the stash for a couple of decades. Last winter, I was looking for a mojo restorer, and Matchbox kits tend to be relatively easy builds, even if the detail is sometimes deficient and the panel lines trenchlike. I settled on the Wellesley, if only because it was an RAF type I had never built. I discovered, however, that the rear canopy had gone missing during the years in storage. The Wellesley has not been reissued by Revell Germany, so there was probably no way to replace that without buying an entire new kit.

As I was visiting the What If forum (here - which I heartily recommend) I found that Kit Spackman had done a speculative version of the Wellesley. What interested me was that his version had a single cockpit – and no rear canopy. Either he had a spare or had lost one like I did (maybe carpet monsters internationally have a taste for Wellesley rear canopies). One PM later and Kit was generously posting me the canopy at no cost. A good man, that.

I didn’t build anything new into the cockpit, since I planned to have both canopies closed. The kit still fit well, though I was a bit handicapped by the fact that the kit didn’t come with instructions or decals. Still, there aren’t that many parts, and I managed to figure out where they all went.

The only real disaster involved with this one is when I dropped the thing after it was all together. The landing gear didn’t survive the trip. I managed to piece them back together with plastic rod and inappropriate language.

Since I had no decals, I had to supply them via spares. I did have the 8” black letters and numbers for the serials on tail and fuselage, but I discovered that I did not have the right size for either the grey codes on the fuselage sides or the white serials under the wings.These are without roundels, which is out of the ordinary (though supported by photos I found on Google). Hannants does appear to have both in stock, so technically this will not be finished until that order eventually takes its sea voyage.

Still, I’m fairly happy with a model of a type that has never been done by anyone else and that did recover from some significant damage in the building process.

This is completed model #387 (#12 for the year), finished in April of 2012.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Minor train wreck in the paint room

I’ve been totally offline for the last few days due to an ISP meltdown. Lots of discussions about signal strength, ingress points, contamination and bleed. You never quite realize how used to having the internet available you are until it goes away for a week. 

But I digress. Anyway, we all knew the successful painting streak couldn’t last forever. Luckily the disasters were of a fairly low order, and I should be able to recover from them. I think what happened is that the variable weather of the Northwest in spring has increased the humidity enough that some water was forming inside of the line between compressor and airbrush. There was some significant spattering, a loss of pressure, and just general inefficient working of the brush. The most noticeable effect was little drops of moisture in the RLM81 upper surfaces coat on the P-1099 and Me-262B.

I let the paint thoroughly dry, and the water itself evaporated. But the surface was still a bit pocked, so I gave it a good buffing with some small-grit sandpaper. Next I will reshoot the surfaces with a well-thinned second coat of RLM81, which will hopefully even out the surface and restore the gloss finish.

The other issues with this airbrush session – some runs on the Radome Tan nose of the F-18 and a somewhat uneven matte coat on the MQ-9 Reaper – were easily overcome too. I really need to buy myself a watertrap for the airbrush line, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But if I run into the water-in-the-line phenomenon again, that will no doubt remind me to take care of it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

More on 262s

In amongst all these completions, work does continue on the production line. Most of the work today concerned masking up the four remaining units of the 262 project. The P-1099 and 262B have already had their lower surface color of RLM76 added, so those parts have been masked in preparation for the first upper surface color of RLM82. The 262C and 109TL have had their wheel wells, engines, and canopies masked to get ready for their lower surface RLM76.

I’ve also gotten the elderly Hasegawa F-18A put together, the wheel wells painted White and masked. This one, which will be in the New Orleans markings put onto a Two Bobs Katrina decal sheet, requires overall Light Compass/Ghost Gray, with a nose tip of Radome Tan.

I actually didn’t have much time available for modelling today, so I consider this something of a victory.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Special Hobby Messerschmitt Me-262 3-seater

The second finished model to cross the finish line in this latest burst of completions is yet another paper project. I have a real weakness for both WW2 1946 and postwar research airframes. This was a development of the Me-262 (and is a part of my 262 development project). The engines were moved from wing pods to the fuselage, and the wings were swept back. The cockpit was also enlarged to carry three crew. Apparently the Messerschmitt design group didn’t have enough confidence in the changes, because the entire project was cancelled in early 1945.

The Special Hobby kit was one of their earliest efforts, and it shows. The detail isn’t terribly sharp, the fit is not great (though manageable) and the canopy is vacuformed. Still, with some prudent dry-fitting I didn’t need much filler on the joints. The main disaster on this one was in attempting to attach the canopy. Being vacuform, it had to be attached with superglue, one of the banes of my existence. After holding the canopy and fuselage for a few moments to allow the glue to cure, I noticed that the canopy had moved a bit off center. No chance to move it, however, since by then the glue was set. It isn’t very noticeable unless you’re looking at it from the right angle. The canopy material itself was a little cloudy, but I did go to the trouble of putting photo-etched seat belts on the two seats that required them. It appears the third guy was considered expendable, since he didn’t have one.

The camo is Black undersides and RLM76 uppers with a ghosting of RLM75 and a White-tipped nose. I replaced some of the markings with Aeromaster crosses and swastikas, but used the kit decals for everything else. It will join the Me-262V1, Me-262A, and He-280 in the case, and will be followed shortly by the rest of the Me-262 team (P-1099, Me-262B, Me-262C, and Bf-109TL).

This is completed model #385 (#10 for the year), finished in April of 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meng Models Kayaba Katsuodori

I am not in possession of a one-track mind. I tend to have lots of projects on the burners at once. In modelling, that often means that models will get finished in groups. You saw that earlier this year when I broke through the mojo logjam and finished a number of models. I currently have a small group of kits making their way into the final stages and will be presenting them over the next week.

First up is the diminutive Kayaba Katsuodori. This was an interesting little IJN46 paper project that was intended to act primarily as a parasite fighter.  Hook it up to your Rita or Peggy, and carry it along until you found a swarm of Allied fighters to go up against. The Katsuodori could then use a rocket-assist to gain some height and then convert over to jet power to do its fighting. Somewhat similar to the Me-163, at least in usage.

The kit is the first 1:72 aircraft subject of a new kit manufacturer, Meng Models. They’ve already announced their second (a Manshu Ki-98, another project, this one similar to the SAAB J-21R). I have seen some of their armor as well – someone had completed their massive minefield crusher at last week’s Spring Show – and it looked very nice. I can attest that this kit is well engineered, with good fit and detail, and certainly won’t tax your building skills since it has a minimum number of bits. I even cut that down by using the trailer instead of wheels and not adding the RATO pods.

Markings are from the kit and are, of course, speculative. The overall IJN Grey paint job with Red tail (in this case twin fins) is pretty typical though. Decals were a bit too matte, but laid down well on the Xtracolour surface. I sourced my kit through Lucky Models, but they have since shown up at Sprue Bros, which is where I will likely get the Ki-98. A very nice job (especially given that the only previous kit of the type came from Unicraft) and I look forward to their future releases.

This is completed model #386 (#11 for the year), finished in April of 2012.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back to the paint room

After a couple of successful trips to the paint shop, I was worried that my streak was going to run aground. Red, one of those difficult paints, was on the agenda.

First up was the vertical fins of the Kayaba Katsuodori. This Meng kit is really delightfully simple, fit well, and is an unusual shape to add to the lineup. I’m quite interested to see what comes after this and their announced twin-boom IJN46 prototype.

Next came the red coat on the heavily masked Trumpeter Karakorum K-8. This little trainer, not dissimilar to a BAe Hawk, spent some time on the Shelf of Shame due to the intimidating masking job that was required. But I finally bit the bullet and got the job done this week. The paint for both this and the Katsuodori seemed to go on fairly well, but still will probably require buffing and a surface coat before decals.

The MQ-9 will likely need some attention, if only because the Light Compass Gray paint went on a tad thick and got a bit of the orange-peel look. Not enough to scrap the whole paint job; I think some polishing with small grit sandpaper will take care of things. One thing I will warn you about on this kit is the nose probe. It is one of the thinnest bits of molding I’ve seen in a while, and if you bump it at any time after construction, you’ll just be feeding the Carpet Monster. So be very careful when handling the kit. This one is in RAF markings, if only because the other two drones I’ve done (MQ-1 and RQ-4) are both in USAF colors.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hitting 10k

It appears that the 72 Land blog has hit something of a milestone, as blogs go. On Sunday, April 15, 2012, we passed 10000 page views. While I do know that there are many popular blogs out there that do that on a daily basis, for a small start up operation about a fringe hobby it really is a significant threshold.

So, to all the occasional and persistent readers who drop by on occasion to see which models I’ve managed to screw up lately, thanks. I can’t promise anything other than more of the same, but I’m glad to have all of you along for the ride.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th strikes!

Yikes! It appears that Friday the Thirteenth worked its magic today. In another of those mishaps that seem to bedevil the production line here in 72 Land, I dropped the Wellesley after it was essentially complete. Damage was mostly confined to the landing gear, but that is about the most difficult area to repair or replace. A long session of re-gluing, drying, attaching small gear struts (which, since the originals were not salvageable, were made from styrene rods) and getting the gear at a suitable angle ensued. Then an overnight glue curing session. The Wellesley is able to stand up on its wheels now, but there is still some detail painting that remains. We live next door to a pastor, and I’m surprised he wasn’t standing outside the door holding up a Bible at the clearly demonic language that was echoing through this place. 

After that, the rest of the construction session was less dramatic. Having no canopy or cockpit, the Skunk MQ-9 Reaper was quick work. One area that required some thought was the lower fuselage piece. The area near the gear doors was short-shot, so I had to patch it with a sliver of sheet styrene. What is it with landing gear this week?

The Me-262 3-seater is nearing the final turn as well. I got the gear installed, though since it was one of the early Special Hobby kits, there were no location holes, so it ended up being a simple butt joint. The lower end of the gear didn’t even have little extensions for the wheels themselves to slip onto, so I had to manufacture those as well. For a proud “assembler of plastic kits” this is getting dangerously close to “modelling”.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Working on the Wellesley

Work today included the camo on the Wellesley. Next comes the job of adding the landing gear and well doors, as well as doing some touchup on the painting for the wheel wells. Now I wish I had put a little framing detail into the wells; they are fairly large and stand out in their stark nakedness on the Black of the undersides. Ah well.

I also completed a very complicated masking job on the Karakorum K-8, the little Chinese trainer from Trumpeter. There are little pinstripe lines that were quite a challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how the red paint goes on – the contrast between the red and the white will be stark, so there is little room for paint sneaking under the masking. I had avoided this masking job for probably upwards of a year, and I’m glad to finally get this one into position for the next step. Plus, since the Katsuodori needs red fins, I can complete two paint jobs at the same time.

I’ve been working on the new Airfix Swordfish. I seem to be having more fit issues than most of the reviewers, but I will say the detail is very impressive. I’ve got the fuselage and lower wing stubs complete and will soon be starting on the main bits of the wings. I think I’ll be using one of the Xtradecal sheets, but haven’t decided which scheme to use. Which one will likely determine how much gets built before the first painting session. Unless it is a one-color scheme I wouldn’t want to be masking a spindly biplane after the wings are on. If I decide to do the Lt Aircraft Grey front fuselage and aluminum dope remainder (most likely at present) I will probably paint the grey while the fuselage is done but before the wings go on. Then I’ll mask the front and finish assembly. And finally I would shoot the Aluminum bits. That means I’ll be stripping the masking in between all those struts, but that seems the least dangerous of the alternatives. We’ll see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Progress on the Me-262 project

Having had a satisfying paint session last time, I was back in the garage today. Just a couple of jobs.

I put some faint camo on the Me-262 3-seater. Except for one small run on the starboard fuselage near the jet exhausts things went well. Next, I painted the exhaust collector ring for the Wellesley Lt Burnt Metal (one of my older Alclad paints since I don’t use it all that often, so it is not subject to the change in formula). Finally, I decided to put a high demarcation line on the P-1099 and the Me-262B, so I needed to get some additional RLM76 on the fuselage sides above the wings which I had not painted yesterday.

The 3-seater paint job wasn’t flawless, but in general things went well. I have to do some camo masking on the Wellesley and then, once the RLM76 cures, get some masking on the other two 262 variants as well. And there is some detail painting to do on the Katsuodori and 3-seater, so there is still much to do as spring starts to settle in here in the northwest.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Painting in the rain

As I stood in the garage prepping the airbrush for another session last week, I was watching what had to be one of the blackest cloud cells move over the house that I’ve seen in a while. Those of you who are not in Seattle (the majority, I’d have to assume) probably think it rains here all the time. That’s good. That’s precisely what we want you to think. But what the world calls constant rain is actually more like persistent overcast with occasional drizzle. But these clouds looked like they were going to deliver. But 30 minutes later the cell had moved on, with barely a drop of rain to show for it. Such is springtime in the Northwest.

But at least it heralded a fairly satisfying painting session. I find painting to be one of the more difficult aspects of modelling to master. It constantly seems that I’m having strange obstacles thrown into my way (bad paint, malfunctioning airbrush). But the key to consistent airbrushing is learning how to properly thin the paint. For the longest time, I was having real problems with the process until a friend at IPMS (Andrew Birkbeck, who contributed a 1:72 armor article to this site last year) came over one day and showed me how he does the thinning.

It was truly like the light had come on. Not that getting the ideal mix of paint and thinner was or is easy, but at least now I understand the process and have a target to shoot for. I was making all sorts of errors: trying to shoot unthinned paint, returning leftover thinned paint to containers, holding the brush too far – and on occasion, too close – to the subject. Since my compressor does not have a pressure valve, I’m a bit limited on how much detail work I can do. I’m much better at blasting a masked area rather than trying to do mottling or exhaust shading. And I have an exasperating tendency to thin the paint too much, and get lousy coverage and an occasional run. But my average is getting better.

I mention this because this was a day where the pieces fell in place. Most painting was seemingly effortless, and even when I was confronted with an issue, I was able to find a fix on the fly and finish the job. I put an RLM76 coat on three of the Me-262 project’s subjects (P-1099, 262B, and the 3-seater). I painted the IJN Grey coat on the Kayaba Katsuodori. Finally, I shot a Dark Earth topcoat on the Vickers Wellesley.

The IJN Grey started out a bit too thin, but I added some more paint and remixed it while in the Iwata’s attached paint cup and was able to recover. So that was lucky. Too bad the Mega Millions drawing wasn’t today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

2012 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show - pictures link

OK, I seem to have tamed Photobucket for the moment. Here is the link to my album of 1:72 models at the 2012 Spring Show.

2012 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show

2012 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show impressions

The 2012 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show is in the books, and delivered its usual level of large crowds and expertly created modelling masterpieces. The day was warm and sunny, which can sometimes interfere with good attendance, but it seemed as though every modeller in the Northwest had emerged from his modelling dungeon, blinking in the sunlight like a mole, and brought something to the show.

The walkup attendance was especially encouraging. Sometimes we as a community feel like pop culture has passed us by, given that our hobby is one of meticulous craftsmanship rather than instant results. But even if we are a bit out of the mainstream, we are at least holding our own. And though most members of the club attended, there were clearly a lot of outsiders at least interested in our hobby. That’s always a good sign.

Aircraft were very heavily represented in the model numbers, as you would expect. Seattle is an aviation city, what with Boeing and all of its attendant industries. But we have a large number of armor modellers as well. Cars are never very heavy at our shows, since the car guys have a separate large organization in town as well. Not much in juniors, but that is to be expected. Though we usually have large representation in ships, they seemed to be down in numbers this year.

1:72 had a very healthy number of entries. Some of the most interesting ones were in the commercial/airliner category. DC-6, DC-3s, F-27, Consul etc. And the multiple engine categories, which can be a little sparse, were also pretty heavy, including an XB-70 and a Tu-95. Helicopters were a little vacant as well, but biplanes more than made up for it, with well executed Gotha G-2 and Felixstowe.

Though some of our national vendors couldn’t make it this year (Draw Decals and Nostalgic Plastic were elsewhere), there were local hobby shops and people culling the stash herd, so it seemed that a lot of cash was changing hands. I managed to resist the temptation; my focus has been on targeting models that I want to build rather than padding the stash.

Below are a couple of items that caught my eye during the competition. No statement as far as quality of build goes – though even the average models were formidable – just the ones that I particularly liked.

Photobucket is struggling a bit with their download process today. All of my photos have been loaded to my laptop, but I haven’t been able to get them on Photobucket yet. As soon as they are there I will issue a blog post with the link.

Congratulations to IPMS-Seattle for another fine show to begin the display season.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Airfix BAe Hawk T1

Time for the other shoe (or in this case Hawk) to drop. I managed to get a couple of these new Airfix Hawk T1s in their Red Arrows boxing cheap from Sprue Bros. Thankfully Airfix did not follow Italeri’s example and mold them in red plastic, which may be helpful to the kiddies, but makes painting them a serious chore. But these are in standard prison grey.

Having one overall exterior color is well within my wheelhouse as well, though I am feeling the need to produce some Hawks in earlier greys or even green/grey camo. Raspberry ripple will take some additional mulling, however. My next Hawk is liable to be a T2 (I have that Airfix kit too) when Xtradecal produces their History of 4th Squadron sheet, which promises to feature that T2 in full squadron markings. Alas, with the budget cuts that the RAF has been going through, it is liable to be the only T2 squadron for the near future, at least until the T1s start being retired at the end of the decade. Not really a problem, since I think the Hawk’s lines are much cleaner and more attractive on the T1 anyway. That T2 nose is the visual equivalent of a clown shoe.

Construction went pretty well, given that I've built a number of these new-tool Hawks now. I did manage one rather head-shaking public gaffe - getting the gear legs reversed and then posting the finished product on Britmodeller. I rectified the error and took the new pictures below.

The decal designer split the motif that goes from tail to forward fuselage into two pieces per side. Although this requires some lining up, I do prefer this method. If you trim extremely close to the decal at the base of the fin, the two decals can touch more efficiently than if it was one piece that you must try to press down into a 90 degree angle. Very often even setting solution won’t save you (experience speaking here).

This was the 2009 solo display Hawk from 208 Squadron at RAF Valley. The markings were designed to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the RAF Benevolent Fund. It really is an attractive scheme, and I’m sure it was nice to see for those of you lucky enough to have caught it on the airshow circuit.

This is completed model #383, finished in March of 2012 (#8 for the year).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coming up: IPMS Seattle Spring Show

I do want to put in an unsolicited plug for anyone within driving distance of Seattle who has this Saturday free. It is time for the annual IPMS-Seattle Spring Show. Historically, we are the biggest show north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. We usually pull about 600-700 models into the Renton Community Center and the quality of work is impressive.

I’m already charging my camera batteries, since I try to snap a photo of at least every 1:72 aircraft model in the show. I’ll feature my personal favorites in an upcoming blog entry, and then put in a link to the Photobucket account where the main block of pictures will reside. If you’re looking for other scales or non-aircraft, keep an eye on the IPMS-Seattle site; they usually publish a good selection of shots from the show.

The date is Saturday, 4-7-2012. You can get more details from the website I’ll be wearing my pin from the forum site 72nd Scale Aircraft.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting a stalled project moving again

I decided today that it was time for the stalled Me-262 project to move back to a front burner. I don’t want these models ending up on the Shelf of Shame due to neglect – or I may have to build some additional shelving…

One nice thing about moving 5 late-war types through the production line is that they share similar paint schemes. In fact, all five require RLM76. The Me-262B, Me-262C, P-1099, and Bf-109TL all need it as a lower surface color, while the Me-262 3-seater uses it for a top color. Though I doubt they’ll all be ready at once, I can still group them up when the time comes for a paint shop visit.

The P-1099 still needs some seam work and masking of wheel wells, but major construction is complete and the canopy is masked and attached. The Me-262B also has its canopy, but I ran into some trouble here. Along the way, I have managed to lose the frontmost canopy piece. Not having another 262 kit (they’re all on the production line!) I decided to build the frames in place and, when painting is complete, to recreate the three flat panels with Kristal Klear. Yes, I can hear all of you asking if the man has learned nothing from the various disasters in the last stage of model completion. Apparently I have not. The 3-seater needs some more masking and it will be ready for paint. The -B, -C, and 109TL all need some additional construction or masking, but it won’t be long.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Airfix BAe Hawk T1

I mentioned earlier that I was doing some complex decal work on two BAe Hawks. Looks like one of those is now ready for its debut. I first saw the 2011 solo display Hawk for 4 Flying Training School in an issue of Air Forces Monthly. I’m a sucker for special schemes and while not as flamboyant as some display aircraft, it looked like it would be an easy one to apply.

Sooner or later, I figured, someone would do the decals. And, sure enough, Xtradecal included it on their 72137: Hawks and Tucano sheet.

I’ve gone through enough of the new Airfix Hawks that I have the process down well. I do still have some issues with the landing gear (they don’t seem to seat into their placement holes very well) and of course painting is always fraught with danger… until it is completed. The problem that popped up late in the game this time was the tan line on the canopy for the internal glass partition. The new rule #6 (there is NO.....rule #6) is that I am not allowed to brush paint anything that is masked with yellow Tamiya tape. It’s just too easy for thickly applied paint to cause seepage underneath.  Brushpainting cockpit details is still allowed, but not on the exterior. Ah, there is always something.

These decals were indeed complex to apply. But I struggled against my natural inclination to hurry through the procedure. Apply some decals, follow with strong setting solution, and let the model dry for a few hours. I managed to mostly avoid pitfalls, though there is one leading edge stripe repair that is necessary and of course the pitot tried to escape.

Coming up shortly will be another display Hawk, this one from 2009.

This is completed model #382, finished in March of 2012 (#7 for the year).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Moving along the paint queue

Another paint session that helped move forward no less than 5 models.

First came the cockpit Grey-green, which was sprayed onto the Swordfish, Halifax, Wellesley, and Katsuodori. Although I routinely use this grey-green for both Italian and Japanese interiors as well as British, it may be that the IJN ones at least were a little darker and less grayish green. But given that the little IJN 46 fighter is so small, and very little can be seen through the canopy, I think I will let the loose rules for factually nonexistent fighters take over. In other words, close enough.

Later I also was able to shoot the Black undersides of the Special Hobby 3-seater Me-262. This model has gotten together pretty well for an early SH kit (excepting the slipped canopy, which was fully my fault and not the kit’s). Also, I took the opportunity to paint the Black undersides of the Vickers Wellesley.

Finally, there was a matte topcoat to shoot on a few nearly finished models. Lots of result for a minimal number of paint changes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Republic P-47 bubbletop

While as a Profoundly Average modeller, I don’t lay claim to any model of mine as being perfect, it’s not always that I make a total pig’s ear of a silk purse kit. However, that did happen with today’s completion (and utterly appropriate for the April Fool's Day entry).

It’s a Tamiya kit, so you know the engineering and fit is excellent. However, excellent fit cannot prevent a small part from twanging away for Parts Unknown (the home town of many masked wrestlers). In this case it was starboard the wing leading edge gun insert. It’s not a big part, but it is pretty crucial. I considered calling Tamiya America for a replacement part, but realized I would probably have to buy the entire A sprue and add shipping, which didn’t look like an attractive idea. I did get the bright idea of scanning the database on to see if anyone had done a detail set that might have included the part. Quickboost had a set for the inserts plus individual gun barrels with hollowed ends. So on my next order I picked one up.

The rest of construction was a breeze, at least until the time came for overall paint. As I mentioned in a prior entry, Alclad did it to me again, though I suspect that this time I am to blame for the results rather than an incorrect mixed paint formula. Usually when I do an aircraft with a NMF (natural metal finish) it is all metal with no other colors on the exterior. But this particular P-47 had not only a yellow cowl and canopy surround, but a red tail tip and the standard Olive Drab anti-glare panel. There was some significant overspray, but I didn’t give it a thought until I shot the Alclad.

And that is where I went wrong. Alclad will perform differently depending on the primer coat you use. Typically I don’t prime at all, and unless the model’s finish manages to pick up the little sworls from the plastic injection process that isn’t a big problem. But this time the overspray acted as a primer, and caused some really serious variances in surface shine. Where there was overspray on the surface, the Alclad looked entirely too shiny, and where there was no overspray, it was much duller and more natural looking. To me, the shiny surface (not unlike the Bare Metal Foil technique, which I also think looks unnatural) looks toylike, and takes you out of the moment and reminds you that you are looking at a model.

Given my experience with trying to repair the problematic surface of the B-47 – covered previously – I decided that I had had enough with this one and applied the decals. By the time I had issues with the remaining dangly bits (resin guns and plastic pitot) I was thoroughly ready to get this one into the display case. I put on a heavy matte coat to try and dull down the bright surface, with mixed results. The new rule is: no overspray when using Alclad. Mask everything other that the target painted area.

The decals, which performed well, were from the EagleCals 72104 set. It is “Chief Seattle”, flown by Joe Murphy for the 379th FS, 362nd FG, 9th AF. EagleCals has a pretty lengthy writeup on the aircraft, including details of a confrontation with 40 FW-190s over Bastogne in late 1944.

This is completed aircraft #384, finished in March of 2012 (#9 for the year).