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Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 year-end recap

And so another calendar year comes to its creaking end. Of course we gentlemen of a certain age have noted that the damn things seem to be coming around a great deal quicker than they did when we were waiting for the school year to be over, but that tends to be drowned out in the noise of celebrations of the new year.

I can’t lie; 2012 was a difficult one for me personally. The sour economy kept me from returning to full time work and the resulting budget difficulties just kept getting worse. By now I’m sure my resume is being trashed simply because it has been a while since I’ve been employed. Sort of like the “you need experience / no one will hire you because you have no experience” conundrum of our younger days, though this is more “no one will hire you because no one has hired you”.

But that is why hobbies exist. They provide an escape when the real world wants to stab you in the backside with a pointy stick. That is one reason I model the way I do. I’m never going to be at nationals-competitor level; the occasional second place ribbon at the Seattle show (though admittedly I’ve stopped entering things altogether lately) is as high as I’ll ever get. My dopamine rush comes from completing a model to a competent standard and putting it in the display case with all those hundreds of others to the same scale. This may rate a disdainful sniff from the better sort of modeller (you should see the responses I get when I do something stupid from not paying attention and put a wheel on backwards or something like that), but then, those guys don’t tend to have 420 completed models in their display cases.

So what were the production statistics for the 72 Land Small Aircraft Restoration Production Line in 2012?

44 completed (of those, 23 jets, 21 props)

16 purchased (a net decrease in stash!)

Most of one type: 3 x P-47, 3 x BAe Hawk (and more of both coming in 2013)

Most enjoyable: probably the Valom Brigand of all things, and the three Whifs (P-51, F4U, Go-229)

Most wanted kits that I couldn’t buy: Anigrand Boeing Clipper, AModel Spruce Goose, Revell A400M, SH Douglas B-18, Platt X-47, and that list could go on and on.

Here are the completed models in 2012 and their finish date. BTW, I’m behind a bit on write-ups for finished models, so the last couple on the list will actually appear on the blog in 2013.

Rockwell B-1 Lancer
Boeing B-47 Stratojet
DeHav Vampire FB5 (608 Sqdrn RAuxAF)
Supermarine Spitfire PR19
Scottish Aviation Bulldog (Birmingham UAS)
Republic P-47D razorback ("Little Butch")
BAe Hawk T1 (2011 solo)
BAe Hawk T1 (2009 solo)
Republic P-47D bubbletop ("Chief Seattle")
Messerschmitt Me-262S3
Special Hobby
Kayaba Katsuodori
Vickers Wellesley
Gen Atom MQ-9 Reaper
Karakorum K-8
Messerschmitt Me-262B
McD-D F-18 Hornet
Messerschmitt P-1099
Messerschmitt Bf-109TL
Messerschmitt Me-262C
Messerschmitt Me-323 Gigant
Grumman F6F3 Hellcat ("Little Nugget" racer)
LTV A-7E Corsair 2 (VA-113 USN)
BAe Hawk T2 (4 Sqdrn RAF)
Fairey Swordfish (822 NAS, HMS Courageous)
Folland Gnat T1 (Yellowjackets team leader)
Lockheed 12 Electra Junior (British Airways)
Special Hobby
Horten Ho-7
Bristol Brigand  B1
Boeing B-50
AW Meteor NF11 (256 Sqdrn RAF)
Lockheed PV-1 Ventura (Free French AF)
Lockheed L10 Electra (Northwest Airlines)
Special Hobby
Martin AM-1 Mauler
North Amer FJ-1 Fury
North Amer F1J1 Mustang (whif)
Vought P-52 Corsair (whif)
Horton Go-229 (whif)
North Amer FJ-4 Fury
Heinkel He-162 Salamander (2/JG1)
Republic P-47N
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (3 Sqdrn RAF)
Handley-Page Halifax B2 (416 Sqdrn RCAF)
Arado Ar-234
McDonnell F3H Demon

Each and every one has been featured in the 72 Land blog (or will be shortly), which was one of my commitments when I started this project. Everything I build gets on here, even if it is seriously mediocre.

So here goes my best wishes to all of you for 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Revell Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4

Earlier in 2012, I remember reading about a Eurofighter Typhoon that was to be painted up in anniversary colors to celebrate 3 Squadron’s 100th. This would be the first of its type in the RAF to get a special scheme. What it lacked in artistic splendor it made up for in sheer uniqueness, and I wondered when one of the decal makers would be issuing a set for it. Xtradecal turned out to be the one – especially given Model Alliance’s rather spectacular flameout – and it was rumored to be coming sometime near the IPMS-UK Nationals in November.

When Hannants listed them as having arrived, I got my order in and received the decals a couple of weeks later. Concurrently I had started work on a Revell single-seat kit. I’m pretty familiar with this version by now; I believe I’ve built two single and two twin seaters. I have been working my way through all the active RAF squadrons with squadron bars, the sort of mini-project that I rather enjoy putting together. Even once the 3 Squadron anniversary model is finished, I’ll still need to build one in 11 Squadron and the newest one, 1 Squadron (which, coincidentally, is on the same Xtradecal sheet as the special scheme).  And then I’ll just sit back and wait to see if any other squadrons are activated.

The Revell kit is decent, and certainly a cut above the previous Italeri kit in terms of buildability and detail. It would be improved if they had supplied some internal trunking on the ventral intakes. There is just a big space there. If that bothers you, your best bet is to find aftermarket intake covers. Otherwise the biggest areas of caution are the seams between wing and fuselage. I have not yet seen the new Hasegawa kit in the flesh, but given the reasonable price of the Revell version and the history of highly unreasonable prices of recent Hasegawa kits, I suspect that whatever advantage you might see in fit will be wiped out by a simplified cockpit and hideous MSRP. But we’ll see. I’ll likely buy at least one to see how it builds.

There was some discussion about the mixed green that 3 Squadron used on the spine and fin of their special scheme. Hannants had a hard time getting a paint sample at first, and at the time the sheet was released they were leaning toward Willow Green (Xtracolour X151) as the recommended choice. Of course, after I had ordered the sheet, they were able to get a decent sample and released a matched paint sample in their Xtracolour range. The timing just didn’t work, so I took their advice and used the USN green, which I already had in my paint stock. I think it looks fine.

Probably the biggest challenge in the decaling job, unless you feel compelled to put literally every tiny stencil that the Revell kit supplies, in the red/yellow stripe that surrounds the green fin and spine. It comes in multiple pieces and the thinner sections are extremely delicate. It is without doubt the place to take your time.

The result is certainly unique at the present time, though we will no doubt see additional special schemes in the years ahead. It does look distinctive in a lineup of Eurofighters.

This is completed model #416 (#41 for the year), finished in December of 2012.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A (Neutral) Gray day in Seattle

Not a comment on Seattle’s weather – it was actually mostly sunny today – but rather the paint that was loaded into my airbrush.

It was a short session. I got some Matte on a couple of finished models (which will be making their debuts in a few days), and I sprayed the Neutral Gray color coat on the lower surfaces of the three P-47s that are travelling in a group. Since they are for war-weary fighters, the individual planes seem to have a lot of stripes, cowl colors, and tail colors that needed masking. So it was a bit more complicated than is usual for Thunderbolts.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More paint work (and a hint of the real apocalypse)

Well, what do you know? We all survived 12-21-2012. Maybe I’d better see if I can recall those emails to all my ex-bosses. But the date did coincide with our changing the dogs’ food, and if you know what new food does to a pug’s digestive tract, you’ll realize that this is nearly identical to a Mayan apocalypse.

So I guess I have to continue work on the models that I’m trying to wrap up by year’s end. There was a paint session yesterday that mostly consisted of surface coats and patch jobs.

Both the Tornado GR4 and the Ar-234 needed a surface coat. I define this as a final process for any particular color. Some colors don’t need it, but many of the greens, greys, and especially blues tend to go on rather grainy no matter how you thin them. The idea, therefore, is to blast on the color for good solid coverage, then buff them with a high-grit sandpaper (around 600 or higher), and then go in with a second highly thinned coat that will tend to clean up the peaks and valleys and give you a nice regular coat. Note that this is not a technique you would use if you like pre-shading, since the whole theory there is to just shoot enough color on to allow the dark panel line shading to come through. Since I don’t use pre-shading at present, it isn’t an issue for me.

The PO Red coat on the Phantom GR1 had a rather odd reaction on a couple of spots on the tail. There were two areas of what looked like spider-veins, as if the paint had solidified and cracked. I’ve seen something similar when mixing acrylics and enamels, but I only use enamels (with the occasional lacquer, but not in this case), so I doubt that is the issue. The only thing I could think of was sand it down and reshoot. So I did.

I also had to put some Insignia Yellow tail bands on one of the P-47 razors. When the paint cures and I can mask, the three P-47s will be ready for their Neutral Gray lower surfaces.

The final color was Alclad Light Burnt Metal, which I used for the exhaust stacks on the Revell Halifax. Tomorrow I’ll get that an the props installed and construction should be finished. I also spent some time decaling over the Christmas break, so I should be able to display some finished models shortly.

The photo below looks a bit like the previous painting session's shot, since it was mostly surface coats. Well, except for the P-47's Yellow tail bands.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from 72 Land!

Wishing all of the honorary citizens of 72 Land a Merry Christmas, followed by a prosperous and fun New Year.

We will shortly resume service with Eurofighters, P-47s, Hawks, a Demon, a Tornado, and quite possibly a partridge in a pear tree.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Painting the apocalypse away

Quite a bit of work languishing in the paint queue this week, so I set aside some time to get a few colors sprayed before the Mayan apocalypse.

After getting the Ar-234 masked up earlier this week, I was able to get the color coat of RLM81 on. It looked a little rough, so will probably require some gentle buffing and a surface coat later this weekend.

The White portions of the RAF Phantom GR1 were also masked, so the PO Red areas of the tail, outer wings, and the stripe on the fuselage were painted. Next comes another masking job to prepare for the Oxford Blue portions, primarily lower fuselage and all lower surfaces. Finally, the nosecone gets a coat of Black. Not sure if this one will get finished in December or if it will be one of the first completions in 2013.

The Tornado GR4, destined for Shiny Two anniversary markings, got a color coat of Dark Sea Grey on its upper surfaces. It will definitely require some buffing and a surface coat.

Then there were some miscellaneous bits of the Halifax that needed Black paint. Landing gear, prop spinners, wheel hubs, gear doors. Once all that dries I can install the gear and get the Yellow tips on the props. The Halifax will be getting close to the decal stage at that point.

The final color was for the aft Insignia Blue portion of one of the P-47 razors that will eventually have a red/white/blue cowling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some group photos (P-47N, He-162/Hs-132)

As I was correcting the mortifying landing gear error on the P-47N (and simultaneously causing great shame to myself and my ancestors etc etc) I decided to take a couple of group shots of recently finished models.

First is the Sword P-47N, along with its Italeri equivalent. Certainly some visual differences, esp in the wing and possibly in the stoutness of the fuselage, but not as much as I would have expected given the rough reception it got at time of release.

Then comes the He-162 with its Huma Luft46 compadre the Henschel Hs-132. Always interesting to see the same basic configuration as interpreted by two separate design teams.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sword Republic P-47N

The end of year festival of completed aircraft continues. Today’s example has a bit of a history to it. Being a serious P-47 fan, it is one of the types that I have built multiples of (some 20+ at last count). Good available kits and decals, lots of nose art, simple configurations are very appealing to a lazy toad like myself. Almost the entire history of the type is available (even including predecessors like the P-35 and P-43 and advanced types like the XP-72 and XP-47H) and this makes for a good little self-contained type display.

The one hole in this was the P-47N. Rather different from the P-47Ds in that it had a completely new wing and some significant mods to the fuselage, you can’t really get there from an early type without major work. Italeri came to the rescue with a kit, but the critical reaction to it was pretty savage. I built one anyway, but kept an eye out for new releases. Eventually Sword produced a version which was generally praised by all the micrometer types, so I got ahold of one and got started.

I found it to be a difficult build. Fit was indifferent (though detail was good), the resin bits were a bother to deal with, and I completely destroyed the wing-front gun inserts. At least the canopy was injected and not a vac. I must say that the accuracy of a particular kit becomes dramatically less important when construction has this many problems. It’s a bit like a High Planes kit; they may be pinpoint accurate, but the bloody things are unbuildable. This kit is in no way on the order of a High Planes kit, but it was a trial from beginning to end.

Since I had had some issues with un-primered Alclad, I decided to paint the overall aircraft True Blue (which was required for the tail and cowling anyway) and use that as a primer. In the end, I used Model Master Alumimum instead of Alclad. As an aside, since hope in 72 Land does apparently spring eternal, I have bought a couple of White Aluminum bottles from Sprue Bros (currently in transit). Maybe they have sold through the batch of paint that was causing me so many coverage problems. I do miss the excellent coverage and look of the Alclad.

The decals came from an Aztec sheet. While “Red-E-Ruth” was one of the options in the Sword boxing, I thought the nose art reproduction was better on the Aztec iteration. This plane was a member of the 19 FS, 318 FG, and based on Ie Shima in 1945. The pilot was Leon Cox, all according to the Sword instruction sheet.

This is completed model #415 (#40 for the year), finished in December of 2012.

Now with embarrassing landing gear fault corrected!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red and green in the paint shed

With Christmas on the horizon, it might be an appropriate omen that my painting session today consisted mostly of reds and greens. Better, I guess, than foreshadowing the Mayan cycle end.

All three of the Academy P-47s that are moving through the production line required at least patches of Insignia Red paint. One had a completely red cowling, one a partial cowling (which in the end will be red/white/blue striped), and one red stripes on the tail. Two had red canopy surrounds. As an aside, I did notice I botched something unusual about one of the razorbacks – it is supposed to have a blown Malcolm Hood cowling instead of the standard razor version. What’s worse, I think I have a Pavla vac canopy of that odd configuration somewhere in the dark recesses of the stash. Another rap on the knuckles for me, though I’m not about to tear off a perfectly good canopy at this stage of the game.

The green was represented by RAF Dark Green, and was airbrushed on to the Revell Halifax and my whif Bomber Command Peacemaker B1 (ie, B-36). I think it went on satisfactorily, so I probably won’t have to buff and respray a surface coat. An update: I was happy with the camo, so off came the masking tape, as evidenced below.

I also had a chance to do some additional masking, and got the Tornado GR4 (which, after much vacillation, I decided will be in Shiny Two anniversary markings) black spine masked. Next come upper surfaces of Dark Grey. Last, I did the camo maskings for the Ar-234 so it will be ready for the next paint session as well.

And here is a quick preview of two models that are just about to enter the decaling stage.