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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some quick paint work

Some more time spent in the garage doing some painting today. I needed to get an anti-glare panel on the Sword P-47N painted Olive Drab. The Sword kit has been highly problematic for me. Nothing wants to fit and my fingers seem to have grown to sausage size specifically to break tiny parts on the kit (such as the resin gun insert). It is becoming one of those kits that you just want to see the back of. Too bad, since Sword has been ramping up their new kit production lately. I’m especially interested in their T-28 and two seat Harriers. And of course all those Spitfires.

Two late-war German types also got a lower surface coat of RLM76: the He-162 and the Ar-234. Both of these are old-school DML kits, and lived up to their reputation of having excellent detail (and small parts, thereby tripping the sausage-finger crisis once again) and miserable overall fit. Not as bad as the poster child for that period, the Ta-152, but a fight nevertheless.

Monday, October 29, 2012

F-4K or Phantom FG1

As mentioned a few days back, I’ve started a few kits on their journey through the small aircraft production line. Many are intended to be used with the upcoming Xtradecal 72156, their RAF anniversary sheet for 2011/12. This will include a Tornado GR4, Eurofighter F2, and Hawk T1. I’ve also decided to move forward on an unusual kit for me, a Phantom. Unusual in that I don’t find myself very interested in F-4 variants. I think this stems from when I got back into modelling in the mid-1980s. It seemed that the only new models that were coming out were F-4 variants from Hasegawa and Fujimi. I came to loathe them, when there were so many aircraft types that were being ignored in order to give us yet another F-4. Quite a contrast to today, where if you look hard enough and are able to cope with resin and the occasional vac, you can build just about anything in 1:72 that took flight.

But I digress. The Phantom variant in the box is an FG1 (in its alternate guise as a Phantom F-4K). While stash diving last week I looked inside the Fujimi box and was delighted to find an old Modeldecal sheet (72) which had an FG1 in raspberry ripple colors and Phantom 25th anniversary markings as it appeared at the IAT in 1983. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what the differences were between an F-4K and an FG1. They are both Spey-engined, but the arcana of F-4 variant details is well outside my usual area of expertise, such as it is. I posted a quick question on the 72nd Scale Aircraft board, and was quickly apprised that they were basically the same. There are two things to note: the early FG1s did not have the square sensor tail and the particular airframe in these markings had a weird little Doppler panel on the underside of the nosecone. I discovered during the exchange that Fuijimi actually released a kit of this specific airframe in these markings – with a modified nose – but that is not the kit I have. Nonetheless, I think even my Profoundly Average skills can cope with sanding the area flatter and painting in the panel’s odd metallic color.

These three kits had their cockpits partially assembled and then went to the painting station for a coat of Dark Admiralty Grey. Next up will be to finish the cockpit assemblies and then get the main bits of the airframes together.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One weekend in Vancouver

As many of you know, I occasionally stray from my usual modelling-related beat, mostly for travel-related side trips. Here comes another one.

This last weekend was the 2012 Vancouver Kennel Club all-breed dog show. I and the whole family are avowed Dog People. We've had dogs for ages (mostly pugs, with the occasional French Bulldog and English Bulldog added to the mix). My son owns a dog training business. My wife and I ran the Seattle Pug Rescue operation for more than a decade. Just to establish our bona fides.

Our dogs are not show dogs, since we have gotten most of them through Rescue. Still, we do enjoy dog shows, so I jumped at the chance when my son Kenton wanted a co-pilot for the Vancouver (WA) show.

Kenton has been working his way through Rally Obedience. These are judged trials that happen at most major dog shows. It is not based on breed conformation (which are probably the "dog shows" that most are familiar with), but rather on performance. There are a variety of difficulty levels, where dogs and their handlers are required to move through a set of increasingly complex tasks. The tasks are determined ahead of time, and the judge is there to evaluate the dog's performance of the tasks. Different types of sit and stay commands, positioning themselves in relation to the handler, knowing when to stay and when to move, and willingness to do all the tasks is important. Actually, it sounds like many jobs I've had myself.

You start out with 100 points and points are dropped if the dog misses a task or performs it badly. Ending with 100 is difficult but not unheard of. You can easily lose a few marks on style points alone. You can fail to qualify for the round if your score drops too low, usually under 70.

The novice levels keep the dog on leash (although pulling the dog through a step loses points) and allows voice commands. More advanced levels are done off-leash, and the most complex require hand signals only, guided by the commands of the judge. Kenton's dog Hank is a Bernese Mountain Dog, which is considerably larger than the usual run of dogs through our halls.

On the Saturday, Kenton and Hank had their third successful Rally Novice, which means that they have attained the first Rally level. On the Sunday, they successfully completed their first Rally Advanced, the beginning of the next stage. My congratulations to the both of them. A lot of work and training goes into those 2 minutes in the ring, and they performed well both days (96 and 93 IIRC).

Though separate, we also hung out at the conformation event. I typically watch Pugs, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, the occasional Boston, Bernese Mtn Dogs, and whatever else is going on when I have free time. The English Bulldogs were really nice, as were the Pugs. One Bully was even in the Rally competition, though she basically failed to qualify when she got bored and just sort of wandered away. Nice looking dog, though (see below). And here is a shot of one of the winning pugs, just to stick to our major preoccupation.

Although it poured the whole time we were in town and we had two adults and one large dog trying to sleep in the back of a Honda van, I think a fine time was had. We're looking forward to the Puyallup all-breed show in January. Back to our regularly scheduled model discussion shortly.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Revell Horten Go-229

The third and final of the October whifs to cross the finish line is the one that actually got me started on this tangent, the Revell Horten Go-229. While it is a vast improvement in detail from the earlier PM Go-229, the Revell kit does suffer a bit from overcomplicated engineering. It admittedly provides some really very interesting internal detail, but the number of small parts is startling given the size of the kit. When I began building the kit, I had intended to put it in Luftwaffe markings, but managed to make some ham-fisted mistakes in both the cockpit and especially in the nose wheel well area, which had me considering whether to can the model altogether. But rather than do that, I retreated to the backup position of a what if model in some other, non-authentic markings.

USAAC markings seemed likely, given that they were evaluating a number of German late-war fighters after the fighting stopped. In fact, they brought home a Go-229, though it was in pieces and was never put back into flying condition. So this model postulates that it received the usual Olive Drab and Neutral Grey camo, US markings, and the “Watson’s Whizzers” badge on its nose.

It isn’t up to Profoundly Average standards, but since I have a second chance at the kit (another copy of the boxing that I didn’t realize I even had until I went Stash-diving), the work still results in another completed model and a conversation piece.

This is completed model #412 (#37 for the year), finished in October of 2012.


I forgot to set the photo up, but once I return from Vancouver this weekend I will also include a group photo of the three what-ifs: North American F1J1 Sea Mustang, Vought P-52 Corsair, and Horten Go-229. My son’s dog (a Bernese Mountain Dog, who looks like a mountain when compared to our pug and Frenchie) is doing an agility trial in a dog show on both weekend days.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vought P-52 Corsair

The second what-if model to emerge in the early stages of the Fall Modelling Campaign is the reverse of yesterday’s concept. Whereas the navalized F1J1 assumed that the Corsair was a failure, today’s postulates that the P-51 itself was a dog and the USAAC turned to the very competent Vought F4U1 Corsair to fill the gap for long range fighter escort. All the standard disclaimers about why this didn’t happen are still in place, but it does make for some fun at the modelling bench.

The basic idea was to put the Corsair into an Olive Drab and Neutral Grey set of markings, even though most late-model Mustangs were wearing overall NMF by that time. Maybe this squadron didn’t get the memo, or they were a bunch of staunch markings traditionalists. In any case, OD and Grey it was.

Although I do have a few F4U kits in the stash, most of them are for later marks (mostly Italeri and Special Hobby). There was one old Academy kit there, back from the time when they were allied with Minicraft, so it was chosen for duty. The kit has been thoroughly surpassed by the Tamiya kit, but it is well-suited to a whif treatment.

As I mentioned earlier, the tailhook had already been removed for installation on the navalized Mustang, and I really didn’t make any other mods for switching it to a land-based operation. Many Corsairs, especially those used by the Marines, were based on land in any case. Coincidentally, I found some unused nose art markings in the Hasegawa P-51 kit that was already in process. In order to use those, I painted a Red cowl ring and rudder. The markings were for “Blondie” of the 334th FS, 4th FG, as flown by Marvin Arthur. Wouldn’t he be surprised to find out he was flying a Corsair instead of a Mustang. The 334th was based in Essex, England during the later stages of the war.

Making a whif F4U1 was a fun exercise, especially for an aircraft that is not exactly a showcase for varied camo schemes. It will definitely stand out in a lineup of mostly GSB airframes.

This is completed model #411 (#36 for the year), finished in October of 2012.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A link for Sea Mustangs

Thanks to SkippyBing of Britmodeller and Walrus of 72nd Scale Aircraft, I was given links to a page that contains all sorts of information on navalized P-51s. The overall site is devoted to P-51s, but this page is all Sea Mustang. Here is the link:

There is even a color sideview of another Mustang in Gloss Sea Blue, as flown by that famous pilot (and resident of morgues everywhere) Lt John Doe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

North American N1J1 Sea Mustang

This is the first model I have completed since early July of this year. It feels rather nice to break up the logjam, and hopefully with the advent of fall weather I can get inspired to continue on this streak. I currently have a total of 4 less than I completed last year (35 vs 39) so exceeding that record is in sight. I was hoping to crack 52 – one completed each week on average – but that may be a model too far. Well, there are still most of three months left on the clock.

This model is an unabashed what-if. There are those in the IMC that find such things to be absolutely abhorrent; it is bad enough that some people will build models of Luftwaffe wet dreams, but producing a model in historically inaccurate markings – intentionally – is a violation that borders on the quantifiably evil. If that describes you, then you’d probably better stay clear of 72 Land for a couple of weeks because the two emerging from the production line after this one will be in this genre also. I won’t even describe the Bomber Command B-36 that is currently resting on the Shelf of Shame.

Basically I was idly considering one day why some aircraft types were never used by another branch of service or country. The real-world answer didn’t take long: interservice rivalry, “not-invented here” syndrome, performance or characteristics that just didn’t make any sense when one tried to fit the aircraft into a role it wasn’t designed for. But that doesn’t mean that some USAAC fighters wouldn’t look disturbingly cool in overall Gloss Sea Blue.

A bit of trawling on the net determined that others had considered this idea long before me. There were color sideviews and completed models of various non-existent types. If you are interested in the subject and are not familiar with the site, the What If Modelers forum (to be found at What If Modellers will give you a grand introduction to the concepts. Some truly wild things get turned into three dimensional plastic there. Both of the first two I considered had been done on the site more than once.

It was a simple concept. Imagine that a major frontline fighter was a disaster for some reason, and then consider what might replace it, and in what markings. Say the F4U1 Corsair tanked and the Navy had to rely on navalized P-51s. Yes, many navy pilots would rather put an engine on a seagull than take seconds on an air force fighter, but go with the flow here. So these navalized P-51s would likely get a tailhook, folding wings, and the paint job mentioned earlier. And then I looked at the reverse: no P-51s available, so the USAAC bought themselves a bunch of F4U1s and painted them up in Olive Drab and Neutral Grey for European service. (OK, given the timeframe it would more likely be overall natural metal finish, but I really wanted OD and grey).

I spent some time in the stash. I didn’t particularly want to expend a Tamiya kit on these what if types since I still have some P-51 decals I’d like to use on a real world example. But I had a nice Hasegawa P-51D that would serve well. And, coincidentally, it was already partially painted and assembled in some prior era of modelling. Before long, it was all together and masked for painting, and out came the Xtracolour GSB.

By the way, the tailhook for the F1J1 Sea Mustang came from the Corsair kit I used, since clearly it would not be needing it. Would a Mustang need beefed-up landing gear to cope with carrier launches and landings? Probably, but remember, I was approaching this as a Visualist, not an Engineer. So the markings were the most critical item.

While the paint was curing I looked through the decal stash. I found an old MicroScale sheet (72-511 if you’re interested) where I had used most of the markings, but there were still a couple of options remaining. I selected VF-76 based in the famous deep-water coastal port of St Louis. The markings, while not flashy, would fit on the surfaces they needed to. They performed as well as ever, considering how old this sheet probably is.

This is completed model #410 (#35 for the year), finished in October of 2012.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Preparing for a new decal release

One of the advantages of restarting your model production line after a hiatus is that you can start considering what your next models will be. That’s a wonderful time for modellers, not unlike when you first open the box of a new kit. Your imagination can run free. At that point it is the best model you’ve ever built, flawless in a way that will cause the judges in your local IPMS contest to circle around you in unrestrained awe and then drop to their knees in worship. It is only later that you actually have to build the thing, misalign the wings, get glue fingerprints all over the surface, paint it in orange peel, silver the decals, and then drop the model on the ground and break off all the landing gear. But that bit of modelling reality is not for today.

I personally am very interested in a decal sheet that Xtradecal will be introducing in time for the IPMS-UK Nationals in November. Here is the link: X72-156. They’re calling it the RAF Anniversary Update for 2011/12. It hits precisely on one of my favorite themes: RAF special markings. In particular it has two aircraft I’ve been waiting to see in decal form: the first Eurofighter special and that “Bomber Command” Hawk T1. Add to that a special markings Hawk T2 (from the same squadron that just stood up with T2s), two Tornado GR4s, and the newest squadron markings for the Eurofighter and I’m a happy guy. (Remember that I’ve got 4 Typhoons with current squadron markings already built, so this is part of a longstanding project to depict Typhoons in all their RAF markings. Why Eurofighters? I dunno.)

Luckily I have a spare Revell Eurofighter still in the stash (though to complete things I will need two more). I’ll need to pick up the two Hawks, but thankfully Airfix has priced them so that, even if I had to buy them retail to avoid shipping it wouldn’t be a big investment. And I have a spare Tornado GR1 in the stash as well. A grand fellow on the 72nd Aircraft forum, Jim Bates, was kind enough to send me a surplus-to-requirements resin second nose sensor so that I can build mine as a GR4. Plus Freightdog is about to release a GR4 conversion set. Then again, I do have a copy of the Model Alliance 72128 sheet, which is for a set of four GR4s, and it has some very nice schemes (that big star or the fox tail might coax me away from the Xtradecal sheet for this one.)

Plus there is a Chinook with a small set of anniversary markings included. I have a long-stalled Italeri CH-47 that might even fit that requirement.

So the upshot is that the new models that will enter the production cycle shortly will be directly pointed at this one decal sheet. As I’ve noted before, you have to be open to inspiration in this hobby when it hits.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The fall modelling season is here

It appears that real fall weather is about to descend on the Pacific Northwest. is even hinting at a “severe weather watch” for the weekend. This actually is news because we have had an almost unprecedented 90 days of no measurable rainfall. But the important thing about the return of endless rain and 50 degrees temps is that it graphically indicates that the fall modelling season is upon us.

And it is about time. Due to various distractions, I’ve been a very indifferent modeller this summer. Nothing has actually been completed since the first week of July. I’ve barely done anything modelling related at all. But this week I began working my way back in.

The navalized P-51 (F1J1) Mustang is all painted, the gear and prop are attached, and only the landing gear doors need to be added before decaling. I’ve found a unused scheme on an old SuperScale F4U1 sheet that I’ll be using.

Plus I spent some time in the paint room. As the picture will show, I masked and painted the Red on the P-52 (whif F4U1) cowl ring and tail. I repainted the underside of the F4J Fury after adding some weapons pylons and refueling probe. And I continued my apparent underside fascination by painting the lower surfaces of the whif Go-229 that will be in USAF markings. All in all, not a bad session, with a minimum of moments that would require me to bellow obscenities out into the neighborhood through the open garage door.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shooting some Olive Drab

Although autumn is definitely in the air, I still haven’t quite acquired the fall modelling bug. It is mostly down to having that horrible bronchitis morph itself into a truly disgusting sinus infection. About the only thing you want to do with this illness is sit around and read, which I am naturally inclined to do anyway. But at least the planets aligned for one evening and I was able to get the airbrush in gear.

Not a long session; just enough to paint the upper surfaces on two models, which both needed the same color. Fist was the what-if USAAC F4U1 Corsair. I’ve given it a slight designation change in the meantime. I had been calling it a P-72 (if only because the modeller that inspired me to do this called his a P-72). But after giving it some thought, I remembered that there actually was a P-72 that was built. It was a P-47 derivative, and has in fact been kitted by Alliance Resins in 1:72. I have it in the queue for my long term P-47 project. Though I'm not terribly doctrainnaire about this - or anything else for that matter - I decided to find another fighter number that at least did not have metal cut. I eventually ended up with P-52. The Bell P-52 was similar to the Curtiss XP-55 Ascender, but was never built. Thus, P-52.

The other one in the queue requiring an Olive Drab upper coat is the Ho-229, also a what-if, which will be designated a P-58. Presumably it was brought over after the war to jumpstart the American jet program. When I first shot these, I thought the finish on both these looked a bit grainy, and that I might need to buff them both up and shoot a very thin surface coat to just even things out and gloss them up a little. But since curing they look fine, so I should be able to move on to the next steps.

I still think the P-52 might get a red cowl ring and tail tip, but that remains to be determined. At least with a what-if type no one can complain you got the markings wrong.