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Wednesday, August 22, 2012


August is not a peak time for modelling activities. There isn’t much news on the new kit front, in many parts of the world it is too hot to do anything other than head for the beach, and there are just too many other distractions about. I’ve even noticed that hits on the 72 Land blog are down this month, though that may be related to the lack of new content as much as anything. So it will come as no surprise that I haven’t made much headway so far in August.

I’ve got a couple of items ready for paint. First, the He-162 and Ar-234 are still sitting there, staring at me reproachfully. The Ho-229 that is due to become a what-if USAF fighter awaits its Zinc Chromate wheel wells. The Sword P-47N needs its primer coat, which will be True Blue so I can just mask off the tail and cowling portions. And there are various little cockpit bits that need to be dealt with as well. The Revell Halifax has also gotten the canopies masked and is ready for the first coat of Black paint on the underside.

In construction terms, I’ve made a bit of progress on the Emhar FJ-4. The fuselage is together, and Mr Surfacer is applied and awaiting further attention. I’ve already sanded off the raised lines. Wings are next for construction and sanding.

I’ve also been toying with an idea concerning another two what-if models. I haven’t felt the need for another P-51 or F4U in the collection for a while, but I ran across two interesting ideas on the What-If Modelling forum recently. The basic premise is that the USN decided to navalize the P-51 and the USAF decided to put the F4U into European service. So what you end up with is a Mustang with a tailhook in GSB and the Corsair in Olive Drab and Neutral Grey with nose art (probably swiped from a P-47 sheet). The last thing I need right now is to add more models to the production line (with little moving forward, it has become one big traffic jam) but the idea does have some entertainment value. This probably isn’t the time to revive the B-36 in Bomber Command markings.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Siga/Ace North American FJ-1 Fury

Travelling down the 72 Land production line along with the Martin Mauler was another of the line of Siga/Ace postwar USN types, the North American FJ-1 Fury.

The Fury is essentially a jet conversion of the P-51 Mustang, which has very similar wings, tail and canopy. No wingfolds, though NA did devise a clever kneeling nosewheel, which allowed Furies to be packed together closely on deck to help with storage space. Being a first-gen jet it was underpowered, and development led to the more famous F-86 with a larger engine and swept wings. The FJ-1’s first flight was in September of 1946 and had been retired from squadron service by 1953. It served primarily as a test aircraft, though it did operate in VF-51 and Naval Reserve units. It was a contemporary of the Vought F6U Pirate (recently kitted by AZ Models).

The Fury was, if anything, a rougher kit than the Mauler. Though I certainly appreciated the injection molded canopy, the fit was approximate and there is a generous bit of filler under that blue paint. But the real trial came about when the time came for decals.

These markings are the rather famous “Weekend Warriors” nose script from the example that flew from the Oakland NAS in 1950. The decals look good on the sheet, but are excruciatingly thin, and react to water the way that other decals do to setting solution. They wrinkle, fold on themselves, and almost crumble on contact. Flooding the area to be decalled with water is essential, and even then you are trusting to luck in order to get them in place without a wrinkle. I did manage to get the largest decals specific to this particular aircraft down, but the smaller stencils were an unmitigated disaster. So you’ll see very little in the way of maintenance markings on this model. In retrospect, the biggest flaw is the loss of the red intake lip warnings around the nose. I really should have painted them instead of trusting to the decals.

Still, even with those problems it makes an interesting addition to the postwar naval lineup. I’ve got the Emhar FJ-4 in process now, and will of course add the Special Hobby FJ-3 whenever they get around to actually producing it.

I've been trying to space out the completed models because I haven't actually finished anything since early July. It just isn't a typical time of year to be working on models, especially when it is 92 degrees outside and warmer than that in the model room. We're supposed to see some 70s next week, so I'll try to get some painting done to advance the production line.

This is completed model #409 (#34 for the year), finished in July of 2012.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Building the He-162 and Ar-234

I haven’t been much of a presence in the modelling blogosphere in the last couple of weeks, primarily due to the onset of a heat wave – look, 94 IS a heat wave in Seattle – which means I have barely ventured into the modelling room. With no functioning central air and a room that faces the morning sun, it is barely survivable. I don’t even do much lawnwork this time of year. It is mostly sitting in front of a fan with a drink and ice; lots of ice.  

But there were a few days where I was able to put some time in. Mostly in the dark and cool of night, and mostly on construction. This was centered around the DML He-162 and Ar-234.

We all know the knock on first-generation 1:72 DML kits: look great on the sprues but don’t fit worth a damn. Probably the poster child for this complaint is the Ta-152. I’ve never had the intestinal fortitude to attack that one, especially with the new-tool Aoshima kit providing a much better modelling experience. But I am finding that it still holds true to a certain extent with the two types I’m currently working. The detail in both the cockpit and wheel wells is pretty impressive for our scale, though that means lots of extremely small parts that take some convincing to part from the sprues. The fit of the major components has been very indifferent too, the worst being on the dorsal engine covers for the He-162 and the wings and cockpit surround parts on the Ar-234. Still, I imagine a more talented and meticulous modeller than I would be able to manage the kits without too much trouble.

I’m trying something of an experiment with painting the cockpits. Both are fairly exposed, so I’ve built them up unpainted. I’ll spray them both with a matte version of RLM02 and then do some detail painting of the various panels and handles. I don’t think they should be much more difficult to reach as part of the fuselage (remember that the cockpit surround on the Ar-234 doesn’t come as part of the fuselage but is added later). We’ll see. Hopefully the photos below will better explain what I mean.

I’m also gradually building up the cockpit for the Huma Ju-87 as well. I think the combination of tiny plastic parts and large expanses of clear cockpit glass will show to advantage. Or conversely, it will expose my ham-fisted incapacity as a modeller.

Finally, I’m progressing on a rather secret project that, with a modicum of luck, will show up in print at some future date.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Siga Martin AM-1 Mauler

I have a lot of USN models in the display cabinet in Gloss Sea Blue markings. Even an ancient rivetty Airfix TBM Avenger, which I need to replace with the newer tool Hasegawa version. But I have always liked the simple color scheme with its white insignia. So I decided to go to that well once again when beginning work on today’s finished model, the Martin AM-1 Mauler.

The Mauler was designed as a shipboard attack aircraft in the late stages of WW2. The design had as its competition the Curtiss XBTC, Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK, and of course the Douglas Skyraider, which it rather resembles. The Boeing XF8B might have been in the mix too, if only because the look is so similar. The first flight was in August of 1944. The Mauler did make it into carrier service with six attack squadrons but eventually lost out to the Skyraider’s greater reliability and handling qualities. I’ve actually seen one of the surviving airframes at the Chino museum in California, and there appears to be one in Tillamook Oregon as well.

The kit is from Siga/Ace, a short-lived company from Ukraine that managed to produce a short series of postwar USN types before vanishing. They are somewhat crude short-run kits, with soft details and large sprue gates. Fit was exactly as you would expect, and required a fair amount of putty and sanding. No effort was made to replicate the type’s unusual comb flaps, and I have heard there are issues with the location of the wheel wells. Neither of which stopped me. The kit does have petite engraved panel lines.

Siga decals are a bit notorious, though they do look ok in the box (what til you hear about the FJ-1’s decals). I did manage to get these off the backing sheet and onto the model without major mishap, though they are very thin and are prone to curling up on themselves if you are not fastidious. The markings are for a Dallas NAS aircraft in 1951.

Generally, I was satisfied with the result. The CzechMaster resin kit is likely more detailed, but I am always more comfortable with plastic if I can get it. And the Mauler fits my enjoyment of obscure aircraft types (likely the least-recognized USN aircraft that actually made it into wide squadron service). I did about have a coronary when googling for information on the type: there is an unbuilt example on ebay running for $65! Too bad I didn’t have an extra.

This is completed model #408 (#33 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New additions (2 of 2)

I have been known to start a new model for the weirdest reasons. A movie, a documentary I stumbled across on the Military Channel, books I’m reading. As I was reading the Schiffer Project X book on the Ho-9 (while getting ready for the Go-229 build), they mentioned a foursome of the plane’s contemporaries that were in various states of development when the war ended. Me-262, Ar-234, Ju-287, and He-162. Though I own them all as kits, I was amazed to find that I had only built one of them, the Me-262. So out came the DML Ar-234 and He-162 and the Huma Ju-287.

Both of the DML kits are from their first big effort at 1:72 aircraft. These models were notorious for looking great in the box and not fitting at all. The Ar-234, for being multi-engined, is surprisingly small.

The Ju-287 was one of the later Huma products, and was one where they used their technique of producing plastic pieces that were amazingly small and delicate. Almost like photoetch, but in plastic, these pieces used regular styrene glue. Much of the cockpit details are on this small fret, along with some exterior details. I have no idea exactly how they did it – or what they made the molds for these bits out of. But no one seems to have pursued the technology since Huma went toes-up. A definite loss for those of us with an abiding distaste for photoetch and superglue.

I’m on the fence about the last kit that I pulled out after seeing it in the Ho-9 book: the Planet Models Gotha P-60 project. Although it is an interesting shape (the upper view is reminiscent of an F-117 of all things), I already have a Planet Models resin in the queue, the Northrop N1M. So this one may return to the garage and await further inspiration.

So that should give you a flavor of what will be coming to a blog near you in the next few months. I can’t guarantee that others won’t be added or that some of these won’t drop off the list, but if there is one thing you can say about the Lord High Executioner of 72 Land, it is that he is a capricious cuss.