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Friday, November 30, 2012

4 x P-47s

With so many projects circling around the paint room, construction is limited at present to the three new P-47s. Now that the cockpits are together, major construction came next in line. Getting the wings, fuselage and tail all together and the seams cleaned up. As I remembered, the Academy kits fit pretty well, so seam work was minimized.

The shot below shows all four P-47s that are currently in process. The Sword N has its paint complete and is just waiting for details and decals. The bubbletop just got its canopy masked tonight. The other two (razorbacks) are mostly all together and are waiting for their turn at the canopy masking station.

I do need to get the BAe Hawk T1 in gear as well. I’m committed to a more detailed documentation of the build steps on this one, so I’ll be experimenting with a different lens (a 70-200mm with macro capabilities) in order to get some better close-up photographs. Not that more detailed photos are necessarily a good thing with my models…

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Experimenting with seat belts

I have been experimenting with a simplified way to produce seatbelts for cockpits that have closed canopies, as virtually all of mine do. It is an adaptation of a method I’ve heard talked about on various forums over the years. Tamiya tape painted a leather brown stands in for the belt itself, while small plastic sheet cutouts painted a metallic shade substitute for the buckles. I’ll admit that the Eduard photoetch belts are far better visually, but the use of superglue in a small confined space makes this more of a trial than it is worth. Ask how many metal seatbelts I’ve attached to my fingers. Besides, I generally will spray someone with a water bottle if I see them approaching one of my models with a dental mirror and penlight, and only vague impressions are visible through the closed canopy anyway.

Hmmm. Well, that may require some more refinement and practice.

 I saw some injected plastic seat belt sets in 1:72 scale on the HobbyLink Japan site, produced, I believe, by Fine Molds. I’d love to give them a try, but the price was heart-stopping, and will have to wait for a bit. Still, they looked pretty good and can be attached by regular glue! God bless the pioneers of modelling science…

There are three cockpits for Academy P-47s (two razors and one bubble). Two are destined for choices off of the second Xtradecal sheet I bought recently, and which arrived the day after Thanksgiving. I happened to have a few Academy kits lying about and figured that I’m always up for adding to the 20+ P-47 lineup. These will be war weary Tbolts generally used as squadron hacks, often for bomber squadrons, toward the end of the European war. I’m constitutionally averse to creating a P-47 without nose art, and all three of these choices possess some sort of distinctive markings.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A green day in the paint shop

Three types of green, in fact.

First came two phases of work with RLM82. I had to get the color coat on the upper surfaces of the Ar-234, and the surface coat on the upper surfaces of the He-162. Some detail painting still to come on both (exhausts on the Ar-234 and intake on the He-162).

Then there was Zinc Chromate Green on all three cockpits for the trio of P-47s. Next up for these are assembly of the seatbelts and the completion of major construction.

Finally, there was the green tail and spine for the Eurofighter special scheme for 3 Squadron RAF. Although it had not been announced when I placed my decal order, Xtracolour has decided to produce tins of paint matched to this shade. On the instruction sheet itself, they were having trouble getting a color sample, so they suggested a couple of existing alternative (Humbrol HU03 and Xtracolour X151). As it happens, I have a tin of X151 on hand, and think it looks pretty close to the pictures I’ve seen on At least, close enough for the Profoundly Average Color Matcher to work with. The paint seemed a bit grainy went it went on, so unless it evens out while curing I will probably buff it down and apply a second surface coat before masking it up.

Enough with green. The last remaining color of the session was Xtracolour Dark Earth for the top of the Revell Halifax and my what-if Bomber Command B-36. The surface behaved a bit strangely on the Halifax, and manifested itself in some bare patches in the paint that looked like water bubbles under a coat of oil. I suspect the surface might still have some mold release on it – though I’m not sure why the problem didn’t show itself when I painted the undersides Black – but my strategy to solve this is to buff down the paint to plastic and make sure those spots are under the Dark Green camo areas. If that doesn’t work I’ll just respray the Dark Earth.

And now a quick look at some of the others in queue.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Post-turkey paint session

While nursing a turkey hangover, I got a chance to catch up a bit on some models that needed paint. The main event was a whole flock that needed at least some White bits: wheel wells for the Eurofighter, Phantom, and Tornado, the underside of the F3H Demon. I’ll need to let it cure for a while yet (it was still a bit tacky last I checked) but that will allow me to move forward on a bunch of projects.

I also put a coat of Model Master Aluminum on the Sword P-47N. This was not Alclad, unfortunately, since I still haven’t run across a bottle of functioning Alclad in a while. I remember the days when I was using Alclad White Aluminum for the interwar RAF biplanes I was doing at the time. It covered well, adhered well, and really looked like what it was supposed to be. The last few bottles I’ve gotten (from multiple sources, I should add) have seemed to be short on metal pigment; they don’t cover at all well, and when you try to let the spray linger on a spot to increase the coverage, you get quick runs and still no coverage! To be fair, I haven’t bought a new bottle in probably a year, so maybe whatever was wrong with the batches has been resolved. I only hope it wasn’t a regulation-mandated change to formula, because if it was the usefulness of that paint line may be at an end, and that would be a true shame. I can’t say I was terribly impressed by the MM job – I think it would be more effective in evoking a doped silver paint job than NMF – but given how snakebit the P-47N has been I’m just glad to the see the end of the tunnel.

The only bottles of Alclad I have that still work are older ones of Light Burnt Metal and Jet Exhaust. I use both of them sparingly for, well, jet exhausts and special things like cowl rings on many WW2 RAF types.

I’m in the process of doing some repair work on the B-36 from the Shelf of Shame. Since I’ve also just finished masking for the upper surfaces on the Revell Halifax, I’ll use whatever is leftover in the airbrush once finished with that job to put onto the B-36 (for a RAF46 Bomber Command what-if example). We Scots-Irish are nothing if not frugal and efficient.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving - and Pugapalooza

First of all, I'd like to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving Day. Here it is a day of gorging and watching NFL football - two things I tend to be good at.

In other non-modelling news, I’ve made no secret that the 72 Land realm is a dog’s world. My wife and I have been rescuing pugs for nearly 15 years now (though we did stop being the breed reps for SPDR a few years back). My son is a trainer by profession. It seems that modelling is more publicly represented by the cat world (Mike McEvoy et al), but I know by the responses to dog-related entries that there is a significant dog constituency out there.

So here is a site you can go to when you have a free moment. My daughter Shannon operates a Pinterest board called Pugapalooza. It’s all pugs, all the time. Fat pugs, skinny pugs (there are a few), old pugs, pug puppies, pugs in hats, and more pug fart jokes than you can shake a stick at if that’s your idea of a good time. The site seems rather popular as well; it has already attracted over 1150 followers. Pinterest boards, for the uninitiated, are basically places to repost photos with captions. A simple concept, and if the subject interests you, well worth some time to graze through the pictures. Maybe I should start one for completed 1:72 aircraft models.

Here is the link:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tornado catches up

The Tornado GR4 has caught up with the other items in the production stream. This means that the major construction is mostly completed, though some details and seam work remain. It also means that I have the canopy masked. As we head into the long Thanksgiving Day weekend here in the US, I should have more than enough to occupy my time if I get a yen for airbrushing.

Just to make the queue in the paint shed even longer, I’ve also masked up the lower surfaces on the Ar-234 so I will be ready to apply the first upper surface coat of RLM81.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Canopy work

Perhaps the modelling pace is finally starting to pick up a bit here on the 72 Land small aircraft production line. Now if only my ongoing job hunt was showing any signs of life.

Occasionally a mass of partially complete models will coincidentally cause a repetition of some common task like cockpit building or adding landing gear. This is most common when you build a batch of similar aircraft (which I’ve noticed seems to be a trend on the rise, at least if some folks on 72nd Scale Aircraft or Britmodeller are any indication). Concurrent tasking is almost required when building in batches, since the whole group tends to move down the line together. And lo, I do have a small group of those in process right now.

When I bought the Xtradecal sheet with all those anniversary schemes, I also picked up a second sheet covering war weary P-47s. These were mostly razorbacks in OD/Gray, thereby avoiding the difficulties of the fearsome NMF. Since I also had a decal set saved off for an
OD/Gray bubbletop, I decided to put 3 into the front end of the sausage grinder. Unfortunately I’m fresh out of Tamiya P-47s (by far the best 1:72 kit I’ve ever built), but I do have a stack of Academy versions that I picked up due to some sale in the distant past. They’re not as nice as the Tamiyas, but they are buildable, so onto the stack they go.

The other task was what I alluded to in a previous entry. A hurricane of canopy masking. Though the Tornado and Hawk are lagging somewhat, the Demon, Eurofighter (I do have a psychological hurdle in calling it a Typhoon) and Phantom were ready to roll. I personally prefer using an Eduard yellow mask whenever the need arises, but I didn’t have any for two of these three types. So I did it the old fashioned way. To be honest, with bubble canopies like the Demon and Eurofighter the Eduard sets are not that cost-effective. However, the Phantom would have been a pain, so I was thankful to discover an unused masking set. The bottom line is that it gets them all one step closer to painting.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Starting to look like airplanes

After more than the usual amount of fettling, I’ve managed to get no less than 4 models into a state where they are actually starting to look like airplanes.

You’ve already seen a shot of the F3H Demon. Next up will be a variety of dangly bits, including pylons and undercarriage (including doors). Since everything below is painted White, there is no need for masking on the underside and all parts can be attached prior to painting.

The nose portion is moving along on the Tornado GR4. Cockpit is all together and painted. The next step is to complete the construction of wings and aft fuselage.

The Eurofighter is coming together as well. Fuselage together, nose weight added, wings built and attached. There are still a few things like vents and blade antennae to be taken care of.

The Phantom FG1 has been endowed with an upgrade. Grant Matsuoka, a fellow denizen of the 72nd Aircraft forum, had an extra modified nose and decals that were surplus to requirements. And all the way from Japan, giving me once again models that are more well-travelled than I am. Public thanks to him! Most of the decals are coming from a Modeldecal sheet, but there are some markings that are a bit yellowed, so I will replace them with the Fujimi ones (also provided by Grant). As you can see, the nose is already exchanged but some cleanup remains.

The only one that seems to be dawdling is the Hawk T1. I don’t even have the cockpit in basic form on that one yet. Since my Xtradecal sheet has been shipped, I need to keep the pressure on to be ready when it arrives. It looks like there is a significant amount of canopy masking in my future as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Telford / SMW 2012

I mentioned Telford in the last entry. In case you’re new to the modelling game, the official name is the IPMS-UK Nationals, widely referred to as Scale Model World. This is the UK’s uber-show, only 2 days long but packed with as many models and vendors as you are likely to see in one place.

The UK show differs in a couple of distinct respects from the IPMS-USA Nationals. First off, the actual model competition is something of an afterthought (except of course to the participants, I imagine). A more impressive draw is the large selection of club and SIG (special interest group) tables that fill out the hall. There are SIGs for different national air forces, what-ifs, experimentals, airliners, and aerobatic teams. The club tables are a selection of what the membership has been working on over the year, so you can find aircraft, armor, cars, figures, ships, sci-fi, and others. It is not uncommon for there to be 6000-7000 completed models on display at the show.

Of course the UK group is helped by the size of the country. Most places in the UK are within a day’s drive of Telford. Contrast this to last summer’s US Nationals in Orlando, which was nearly 4000 miles from my door. Flying is a difficult option if you are trying to bring models along. Somehow I can’t see entrusting models to the tender caresses of the TSA.

One of these years I’ll make it to a UK Nationals. Not this year, unfortunately. But then maybe they aren’t quite ready for another crazy American with a fully-charged digital camera and a high-limit Visa card dashing around like a hyperactive 10 year old on a sugar high.

And by the way, that Xtradecal sheet that I mentioned was posted to the Hannants website as available on the Tuesday after Telford. Yowtch. I don’t know if that means they had it on sale at the show or just received it after the show completed. If it was delayed, David Hannant was probably gnawing on any stationary object in frustration; it is bound to be a popular sheet. At least I did my part by ordering one earlier today.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Modelling through molasses

This seems to be slowing down into one of those modelling periods that seem to be walking through molasses. I don’t know if it is the change in seasons (Seattle seems to have dropped into actual winter in the last few days, though no snow yet) or SAD, but I am having trouble just getting myself motivated to work in the modelling dungeon. I do realize this is inexcusable, given that I’m like everyone else when I’m working – always complaining of no free time to get some modelling work done. But now that I actually HAVE the time, I’m lacking the drive.

I did try a minor session in the paint shop to break the inertia. Besides the top matte coat on the FJ-4 which featured in the last blog entry, I also painted the anti-glare strip on the Sword P-47N. Once it dries I should be able to mask it off and hope that at least one bottle of Alclad can be made to function on the NMF.

Lastly I put an upper surfaces coat of RLM82 on the tiny He-162. It went on well enough, but I still think it could use with some polishing and a second surface coat.

And of course I am still grinding my way through the cockpits for the Eurofighter, Phantom FG1, Tornado GR4 and Hawk T1. Alas, the decal sheet for three of these, Xtradecal 72-156, was supposed to be available in time for the 2012 Telford show. Although Hannants did get the Malta and T-28 sheets out in time, the RAF anniversary sheet was a no-show. I’m poised to order the sheet as soon as it becomes available, but construction and painting will continue in the meantime.

And as you can see by the photo, the Emhar F3H Demon is getting to the point where it is at least recognizable as an aircraft.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Emhar North Amer FJ-4 Fury

Another completed model, this time in the slow-burn Sabre lineup. As you might remember, I finished an FJ-1 Fury back in July, That was the beginning of the USN’s Fury (Sabre) development cycle, and today’s example was the finish: the North American FJ-4 Fury.

The kit, which most are probably familiar with, is from Emhar. I’ve heard that the aircraft kits they produced were Matchbox projects that were in motion when that company finally closed their doors. There is a fair amount of circumstantial evidence for this. The style is definitely late Matchbox, some raised lines and some trenches. Even the decals sort of have the thick Matchbox look to them. I’ve always enjoyed their kit selection, especially their emphasis on early Cold War USN fighters, and as long as your engineering expectations are not high, they can be built into acceptable models.

The instructions were somewhat vague in spots, and I’m still not sure I’ve got the weapons pylons in the right positions. Any sensible modeller would cover up the problem by a massive weapons load, but I’ve always liked having the model pretty clean and uncluttered, if only to emphasize the shape of the airframe itself.

The decals came from an Xtradecal sheet (72-037) which was produced for the Emhar kit. Since I am always on the lookout for a colorful paint scheme, I chose the CATG (Commander Air Task Group) aircraft for VA-214. The unit was based on the USS Hornet in 1958. All the color is in the decals, as the camo scheme is basic Light Gull Gray over White.

I felt like I was rushing the one a bit, so there are some problems. I should have searched harder for a wheel mask to use, and some of the exterior detail painting could have been touched up. One of the small stencil decals was captured by the Carpet Monster, never to be seen again.

There are still two models that are needed to show the full development cycle of naval Sabres/Furies: the FJ-2 and FJ-3. Both Special Hobby and Valom are threatening a -2 sometime in the future, but it has been on both lists for quite a while. The Falcon vac conversion is always available for the -3 if you can manage vacs. I believe that RVHP had a -3 in resin, though they seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth lately. So I guess I’ll wait until Special Hobby comes through.

This is completed model #413 (#38 for the year) finished in October of 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cockpits and Halifax progress

Cockpit construction and masking occupied much of my recent modelling time.

I’m still getting all the cockpit bits together for the Phantom FG1, Tornado GR4 and Hawk T1. Just detail stuff by and large. Adding decals if they are provided, painting and drybrushing the Dark Admiralty Grey surfaces, and getting everything stuck together. The traditional step after this is completing major construction for the airframes, which is where things finally begin to take on a recognizable shape.

As usual you can see all the warts when you are taking close up pictures (even if they are not obvious in person). Both the cockpits will need some additional fettling before closing up the fuselages.

A fair amount of masking is required on the Revell Halifax. I’ve gotten all the lower surfaces painted black, so it will now be time to get ready for the topside Dark Green and Dark Earth camo. And since one always seems to have extra paint left in the airbrush when you finish one of these camo jobs, I’ve also done some masking on the whif B-36 I’ve been tinkering with. Maybe I have been infected by the three whifs I built this October, but I decided that this huge monster had lurked on the Shelf of Shame long enough.

When it gets further along I’ll shoot some pictures. Any of you who have built the Monogram B-36 know that I’ll probably need to use a wide-angle lens to get the whole thing in one shot.