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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New additions (1 of 2)

As I may have noted on this blog before, I enjoy the transitional periods of aviation design: going from biplanes to monoplanes and from props to jets. Some of the also-rans and never-builts in those categories are fascinating aircraft. And many are available in resin, if not in injected plastic. So it is no surprise that I have built a lot of planes from the early days of jet aircraft, especially naval aircraft, from the late 40s to the early 60s.

Following the recently completed (but not yet introduced on this blog) FJ-1 and AM-1 Mauler, I decided to add the Emhar FJ-4 and F3H Demon. The story I have heard is that these are two kits that were in development at Matchbox when the company ceased production. They certainly look like Matchbox models, except for the absence of trench panel lines (in fact the lines are light raised). The cockpit, especially, seems to be in their style. That is not a compliment, alas. The ejection seats are rudimentary and built as part of the cockpit tub and there isn’t any detailing.

We need to have the FJ series completed in 1:72. True, RVHP produced an FJ-3 in resin (though I have heard that RVHP is temporarily shutting down due to illness) and Special Hobby announced an FJ-2 in plastic in 2009 (though they have yet to deliver). I know there is a Falcon conversion set out there, but have never seen one.

I like the F3H Demon just because it is a unique shape. That small nose and those close, semicircular intakes. And, like the FJ-4, there is an aftermarket Xtradecal sheet with alternate markings, so you are not confined to what comes with the kit.

Another WW2 twin has been added at the same time as these two naval fighters. This is the Trumpeter Vickers Wellington. There seems to be a lot of IMC controversy about the two Wellingtons that have been introduced in the last few years, from Eduard and Trumpeter. The engineers complain about lots of detail inaccuracies from Eduard, and the visualists complain about the overdone fabric effect on the Trumpeter. I’m not too thrilled with the fabric effect, but I have seen photos of completed models, and with some light sanding and a coat of paint I don’t think it looks too bad at all. And I have heard that the Trumpeter kit builds pretty well, always a consideration for me. So that is the one I’ve chosen. I will be using the Eduard kit’s decals for the Middle Stone and Dark Earth camo with the donkey nose art.

Next: some Luft46 and late-war jets added to the production line.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trawling the stash

My trawl through the stash in the garage was made distinctly more difficult this weekend by the fact that I have just closed down our storage unit and brought all those boxes into the garage and basement. You never realize just how much crap you have accumulated in one of those units until you try to move it all in the space of a few days. One casualty of the move has been my lower back, which means I have been walking around at about a 45 degree angle most of the time. Without any access to the good stuff (I’m drug-resistant enough that OTC meds don’t really do much), let’s just say I’ve been spending a lot of time horizontal catching up on my reading.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t hobble out and find some new models to place at the beginning of the production cycle. Oh, I’m still slowly pushing the Italeri SM-82 and the Williams Bros C-46, to keep them from ending up on the Shelf of Shame. But I did want to get some brand new things started.

One was the result of a bungled assembly job. Now, I’ll admit that it is not easy to mess up a modern Revell kit. But I found a way. Typically, it was due to impatience and a seeming inability to read instructions (none of us has that problem, certainly). It was the Revell Gotha Go-229, the production version of the Horten Ho-9 flying wing. Let’s just say that I decided to ignore most of the interior of the main wheel well – until I found out that with the way the kit is engineered, a lot of the inside is visible from the outside. Plus I managed to glue some gear doors shut which fouled the nose wheel’s gear struts. And you can see the nose weight hanging right above those doors I thought should have been closed. Definitely a royal clusterschmazz. What to do?

Well, as luck would have it (why can’t I catch this sort of break in my income hunt?) I actually have two copies of this Revell kit. Since I have relatively few duplicates in the stash this was not a foregone conclusion. I believe I bought a second one when I had forgotten that I already had a copy of the kit. See, brain farts can in some instances produce good results!

So here’s the plan: take a little more care on the second Go-229 and put it in Luftwaffe markings. Go ahead and complete the first one, but put it in USAAC markings and make it a What-if model. Now there is a (thankfully) small segment of the modelling public that absolutely cannot tolerate whif models, though even that part seems to have shrunk in the last 10 years. Wait til those guys see my 1:72 B-36 in Bomber Command colors. But I kind of enjoy the tangent. I have done a lot of Luftwaffe 46 types in my day, but not many Allied whiffs. Well, there was the Northrop Vector, the fourth V-bomber, a Brit version of the B-49.

Next: some more new additions to the production line.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Special Hobby Lockheed 10 Electra

Another Lockheed twin joins the family today. This is the model 10 Electra. It shares the same engines as the Electra Junior, but the fuselage is slightly larger. The first flight occurred in February of 1934, and this was the model that Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared on the world circling flight in 1937.

The kit is mid-period Special Hobby, which means a vac canopy and resin engines. Fit was decent, though it did need some adjustment and filler for the seams. I left the fuselage windows for last and filled them with Kristal Kleer after the sealer coat.

Given my unsatisfactory results on the NMF P-47 some time back, primarily related to a non-consistent primer coat, I gave some thought to how I wanted to paint the model. There are patches of essentially Gloss Sea Blue on engine nacelles, nose, and flying surfaces. So I decided that, rather than try to mask those places and risk overspray, I would cover the entire model with a coat of GSB, then mask off the relevant portions and spray the Alclad. Even if I had painting troubles, at least it wouldn’t be caused by the undercoat. It worked out fairly well, though I still haven’t found any newer bottles of Alclad that want to work for me. This model, which is fairly small, took nearly an entire bottle of Airframe Aluminum to cover. The ongoing Alclad saga continues. Believe me, I wouldn’t persist except that I think that their NMF is the best in the business – when it works, at least.

The decals were from Draw Decals, using their “Digital Silk” format. The sheet has overall carrier film and the markings are very thin. They depict a Northwest Airlines in its 1940 colors. I did have one little instance of lack of adhesion. When I sprayed the sealer coat, the starboard fuselage flash actually pulled from the surface and started flapping around! A quick attempt to lay it back down and coat it with some Aero Set (being very careful not to let the setting solution touch the paint, since it can react with it) and panic was averted. I’ve always like Draw, since they make efforts to provide civil markings in 1:72 for what would otherwise be routine military models. I’ve got an eye on their Super Electra and Lodestar sheets for the future.

This is completed model #407 (#32 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


This being high summer – even in the Pacific Northwest – my attention is often pulled away from the modelling workbench. Trimming the junipers, mowing the grass, doing battle with the sinister wild blackberry bushes that are always lurking in the corners of the property. But I also, to a certain extent, just lose the desire to go into a hot hobby room and sweat my way through a session. But when I finally did go in this week, I realized that I only had a couple of models that were still in the construction phase.

In other words, most that were in process had been completed. You haven’t seen them all yet, though I’ll be rolling them out in the coming days. But this meant that I had a perfect opportunity to indulge in that beloved activity of modellers: planning new projects.

Because, let’s face it, modellers love to dream. That’s why we love to buy new kits we know – absolutely know – that we won’t be building anytime soon. Because when the kit is in the box, it is potentially the best thing you’ve ever built. No seam lines, no silvered decals, no ever-so-slightly misaligned tailplanes, no blotchy paint. It isn’t until we actually start to build something that errors and hamfisted techniques start to show up physically. The pre-build period is a sort of dreamy time of prize-winning dust-free models placed under a revolving spotlight while all your modelling cohorts shake their heads in envious awe. Right before the bubble bursts and you are forced to confront that big gluey fingerprint on the fuselage.

Shortly, I’ll be listing out the new models that will be entering the production scheme this summer. Late war jets, RAF twins, some postwar USN fighters, and even one Luft46 type. You can never tell what the curious fellows of the 72 Land production facilities are going to get into next.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Academy Lockheed PV-1 Ventura

The completed model for the day is part of the Lockheed twins series, the PV-1 Ventura. This is one of the military adaptations for types that were primarily commercial. The Academy kit has been around for a number of years now, and is not to difficult to get together. While building it, I was affected by one of my periodic bouts of modelling impatience, and didn’t take adequate time to fair in the canopy or do a proper amount of masking for some of the other transparencies. Not sure why this seems to strike on occasion, but then my list of psychological damage relating to modelling is fairly long (fear of airbrushes, disinclination to start on a task I don’t like such as vacform canopies, inability to let things dry, etc).

This being a military variant, the option for a commercial marking scheme was not available. I’m not a huge fan of the three-color naval scheme and couldn’t find any decals for an all-GSB type. I did have the Zotz sheet for Venturas, with all sorts of interesting – though small – art, but finally settled on an old Carpena sheet that had a Free French example. In fact, I ended up selling the Zotz sheet on ebay. The French aircraft also had the virtue of being a single color (add laziness to my list of psychological symptoms). I had just finished a book on the problems between DeGaulle and the other Allied leaders in WW2, so the timing seemed right.

In the past I have had issues with the adhesive on Carpena sets, but these markings went on well. The antenna wires are Wonder Wire (the ceramic wire that I sadly seem to have run out of now) and were attached with white glue. A matte overcoat and some unmasking of canopies and another one went into the books.

When I committed to the 72 Land blog, one of the founding principles was that I would show whatever I finished, even if it wasn’t great work. Like many modellers, I find that the quality of some of the models produced in magazines and online can be pretty intimidating, so my aim was to show that even Profoundly Average work can be displayed with confidence. I like to think that I can produce something nice on occasion, but not everything is a contest winner, and the Ventura definitely falls into that category. Still, it will fit in well with the lineup of Electras, Lodestars, Harpoons, and other Lockheed twins.

This is completed model #406 (#31 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ebay sales

I thought I would make a quick notification that I am selling some surplus items on ebay. It will be a long process, and most of what I have listed so far are 1:32 kits and books. Eventually I will list lots of decals and some 1:72 kits too.

My seller name is A172NDGUY. Here is a link to the ebay search page; you can enter my seller handle in a field about halfway down and see all of my current items.

Hopefully I can supply some of you with some interesting modelling!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Matchbox AW Meteor NF11

Many years ago – around the type’s 50th anniversary of the first flight IIRC – Andrew Birkbeck and I decided to do a little theme display for the IPMS-Seattle annual show. We chose Meteors for the subject. And remember, this was a time period when there were no injected F8s, and all you had to work with were Airfix F3, the Frog F4, and the Matchbox nightfighters. We each took a few types and split up a Modeldecal sheet and set to work.

Now be advised that Andrew is a better, more meticulous modeller than I am, so my main concern was to not embarrass the side too badly. We did ok in the category (second, I think) and since he was getting out of 1:72 scale at the time I ended up with some of his models that had been in the competition. This formed the core of my present Meteor collection. The project has been much aided by all the Meteor models that have emerged since those days, especially MPM’s series and the Cyberhobby F3. No matter the brickbats that some of the CH Brit types have received, the Meteor was well detailed and simple to put together. Put next to my F1 and F3 from Airfix there is just no comparison.

So it comes as no surprise that I do occasionally dip into the Meteor well. The RAF squadron markings are covered in the Modeldecal series, all of which I have. MPM has done their models of the F4/8/9/10. And Xtrakit re-released the Matchbox mold, as did Revell. So there is no excuse.

But that doesn’t mean that the Matchbox kit is a flawless example of the molder’s art. It was a perfect examplar of their forte: excellent subject selection and somewhat murky execution, and over-engineered to allow for multiple variants. It would be a challenge to find a seam on the kit that wasn’t covered over in putty and Mr Surfaceer. But once you emerge from the trial of PSR, you can get on to the painting and the action that makes it all worthwhile: decaling.

I chose to do an NF11 variant. And I wanted squadron markings that I didn’t have on any other aircraft in the finished collection. I stumbled onto 256 Squadron, with their two-tone blue wave markings. And so that is what I used.

I should take this occasion to state my fondness for and gratitude to Dickie Ward, the decal artist and kingpin of Modeldecal. Even 20 years after the last original sheet was printed the markings are still fully usable, especially if stored with care. Being a big RAF fan, those Modeldecal sheets were like printed gold in the early days of my return to modelling in the mid 1980s. I gathered them up like candy, and actually used some as well! The only problem I’ve ever had philosophically is the decision to only print the unique markings on his sheets and leave the modeller to find roundels and serial numbers (which, admittedly were usually available on other Modeldecal sheets). Actually I didn’t usually have issues with there being no roundels, but serials were more of an issue. Lining up 5 little 8” (scale) single-cut decals while keeping them all properly spaced and in a straight line contributed to my personal collection of foul and blasphemous language that I find comes in handy when modelling.

This is completed model #405 (#30 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Freightdog Halifax set

Just a quick shot tonight to show some progress on the Revell Halifax. I bought the Freightdog improvement set (engine fronts, scoops, prop, wheels, tailwheel bay). At present I’ve gotten the main assembly done. Admittedly, nothing is going to truly fix the engine nacelles unless someone does an entire replacement wing. There was a rumor that Aeroclub was working on one, but I haven’t heard an update in a while.

Whether the set makes the Revell kit acceptable comes down to personal choice. Accuracy issues don’t typically upset me very much, though if there is a fix or an improvement for something obvious I will often try it. Thus, the Freightdog set. Here is a (not great) photo of the model with engine fronts installed, and one prop precariously balanced. It’s ok by me, but as always your mileage may vary.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Academy Boeing B-50

The garage is pretty much the 72 Land realm, which means that I have a luxurious amount of potential storage space. The kit stash is there as well, as are racks of magazine storage, but until the massive production of the last 2 years, model display has never been a problem. One side effect of this is that I am able to indulge my passion for large aircraft, both transports and bombers.

Just in the last year I’ve completed a B-1, Valiant, Me-323, B-47, B-24, Canberra, and today’s finished model, a Boeing B-50. This is a development of the B-29, and actually was designed under the designation of B-29D until they decided enough had changed to justify a new number. What changed was basically engine and vertical tail surfaces.

When Academy did their series of B-29s, they engineered the kit so that not only the WW2 bomber could be completed, but the B-50, KB-29, and Stratocruiser as well. I think that only the wing design caused fit and seam problems. The tail and fuselage changes were pretty easy to deal with. Most B-29s are in a NMF, so any seam work assumes an extra degree of difficulty.

I actually had not intended to build a B-50. My intention was to start on an RAF Boeing Washington B1, since I had just finished the Valiant and was interested in extending my list of postwar RAF bombers. But when I started digging in the stash, I found that the B-50 had already had its cockpit construction finished, so that seemed the easiest to continue. But I never actually started on the Washington. Such is the wandering nature of 72 Land production.

Being NMF, Alclad was required, and I still haven’t found a source of new Alclad that doesn’t have the coverage/formula issues that the more recent production run seems to be exhibiting. (An aside: I wonder if the formula changed because of all the recent regulation on what constitutes “dangerous consumer chemicals”. Maybe they were forced to chemically alter their winning recipe? I guess I should really pose the question to Alclad themselves, huh?) So since I had decided on a Weather aircraft with large patches of International Orange, I masked those bits and soldiered on with the Alclad I have. The results, were, predictably, firmly in the “meh” category. Still, I did not want this adding to my Shelf of Shame, so I forced myself to finish the model. Not the best of even the last few months, but it's not going to be in the front of the cabinet anyway.

The decals came from an older Xtradecal (old enough that it is currently out of print). Excuse the cruddy background, as I still don’t have a posterboard large enough to accommodate the four engined aircraft.

This is completed model #404 (#29 for the year), completed in June of 2012.

Friday, July 13, 2012

High summer

This week has been something of a train wreck, both in personal terms and modelling terms. In addition, we’ve finally entered what could be unquestionably thought of as High Summer in the Northwest. While we have escaped the triple digit heat of much of the rest of the country, when it starts getting into the mid-80s, it gets humid since we’re so close to the ocean. And in a city where most of the houses do not have air conditioning – and our house seems to be oriented so that there is little or no breeze through it even when all doors and windows are open – mid 80s are pretty uncomfortable.

Add that to a couple of construction screwups (how do you mess up a relatively new Revell kit?). And painting issues (little air seems to be making it through the airbrush, so I suspect I’m going to have to break it down into its components, a process that I dread). And sweating so much that you need a shower after sticking little plastic pieces together for a half hour.

I’m also rather far behind in getting completed models published on the blog. I suppose, with the problems I’ve been having, that may be a blessing. Still, I should be happy that I will be able to produce content even if not much is going on at the workbench. So you should be seeing at least 6 models debut before the end of the month. Unless I go completely mad in the heat and find myself naked in the Seattle Center fountain, a result that would be good for no one.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Valom Bristol Brigand B1

Now here is one that I really had a great deal of fun with. I was not expecting to, because Valom has got something of a rep for mediocre fit. I know that I’ve put the X8B back into the stash because it looked a bit daunting. But when I found one of these at a good price during the Great Models sale prior to the Sprue Bros takeover, I couldn’t resist. It is the Bristol Brigand, a large twin engine aircraft intended to replace the Beaufighter.

Now, what I really wanted was a Brigand B1, so I could put it into the stylish Black and MSG color scheme. Unfortunately, all that was available was a T4. But if Valom followed their usual style, I figured that the plastic would be the same in both boxes, and if I paid attention I could produce a B1 from any of the boxings (except for the Buckmaster, which has a different fuselage altogether). I had the Warpaint book and a decal set from Freightdog which had the markings I was interested in, so I dived in.

I think the biggest challenges on the build were getting the fuselage to close up around the cockpit and the nacelles around the engines. Still, this really just amounts to application of traditional modelling skills, so I shouldn’t complain. Everything else fit admirably, and even though I assembled the landing gear after the nacelles and wheel wells were done (the instructions want you to install the gear while putting together the wing) it was obvious enough that no problems were encountered. When I started the kit I wasn’t totally convinced that the indented riveting was going to work, but after a coat of paint I thought it looked very good indeed. If this kit represents the advance of skill that it appears to, then I am ready for the Bombay and Harrow when they finally appear. And I may just pull that X8B down again.

The Freightdog sheet is 72004S “Brits Abroad Pt 2”. Besides the Brigand, you get a Mosquito FB6, Beaufighter TF10, later Spits (PR19 and FR18), Tempest, and Sabre F4. The Brigand is from 84 Squadron RAF, stationed in Malaya in 1948. As always, the Freightdog decals performed well, not needing any setting solution.

Though my enthusiasm level for completed models can vary considerably, I was rather happy with how this one turned out. The color scheme, the troublefree building process, the unusual shape. And of course it fit into one of my main programmes, of postwar RAF aircraft.

This is completed model #403 (#28 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Adding to the pile

I hope everyone who accesses 72 Land from the US survived the festivities for the Fourth last night. It was pretty noisy in this neighborhood until well past midnight, despite the fact that the 5th is a working day for most. Interestingly, the city recently passed an anti-fireworks ordinance which means no one can sell commercial fireworks around here. But it sounded to me like everyone just went to one of the local Indian reservations and bought their weaponry there. And since they sell the big stuff, it sounded like an artillery attack on Beirut til the wee hours. Being a current Gentleman of Leisure, I just responded by sleeping in.

But since I have a number of models in the final stages of decals and matte coats, I decided to shake down the stash and determine what the next kits to enter the production cycle should be.

Since I’m close to finishing more of the Lockheed twins, I thought it would be appropriate to start examining the cockpit of the Special Hobby PV-2 Harpoon. The kit looks nice on the sprue, although there will likely be some typical dry-fitting and seam work. Not much resin in this one, mostly just the engines. My plan is to put it in overall Gloss Sea Blue with the Orange fuselage stripe, but I seem to be running low on GSB Xtracolour paint. I’m not sure that I’ll have enough to finish the job.

The recently completed Ho-7 flying wing got me nosing around into that section as well. Though I didn’t opt for the B-2 yet – there are a lot of horror stories about it and I’m not mentally ready to sand down all those raised lines – I did pick up the Planet N1M and the Revell Ho-229. I completed a PM Ho-229 when that kit first came out and there was no alternative, but it will be nice to replace it with the finely produced Revell version. Maybe I’ll refinish the earlier model into some sort of what-if experiment.

The N1M is much smaller than the N9M (done by Sword) and features adjusting wingtips. Well, adjusting on the real plane; on the model you need to make your selection and glue it. The thing that worries me the most is the forward air intakes. Lots of little individual vanes to glue into the intakes. And I do mean little. The vagaries of superglue will have me sweating that one.

And of course there are the two additions to the postwar USN fighter group: the Emhar FJ-4 and F3H Demon. Both of these will be in some variation of Light Gull Gray and White, though exact markings will be coming off of the two Xtradecal sheets associated with the types. I’ll have to see what captures my interest when I get to that stage.

Not sure how much I’ll accomplish this week, with the temps rising (well, into the 80s) and a need to get out and do some lawn maintenance. I’ll be armed with a bottle of Roundup (domestic weed and wild blackberry killer, for those of you not in the US) and strking a Mad Max pose as I approach the grumbling masses of non-desirable plant material. I am become Death, destroyer of Weeds.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Planet Models Horten Ho-7

I'd like to wish the 72 Land nation a happy Independence Day. Unlike the rest of the country, the Great Northwest is still sitting in the 70s. We are supposed to break out the 80s shortly, though I hope we can avoid the 90s and 100s that the rest of the US seems to be getting roasted by at present. Y'see, that is one of the reasons why we live in Seattle...

But I digress. Since I finished the Me-262 project earlier this year, I haven’t spent much time on Luftwaffe subjects. I started out primarily interested in WW2 aircraft, though in recent years I seem to have drifted into many more Cold War types. Even when I was doing mostly WW2 stuff it tended to be RAF. But no matter what time period or nationality I am interested in at the time, I always have a serious moral weakness for those odd and wonderful experimental types. And today’s completed model falls squarely in that category.

It is the Horten Ho-7, one of the brothers’ long series of flying wings. It is similar in layout and size to the Northrop N9M (and I’ve built the Sword kit). It is still a fairly basic layout, quite a distance from the more sophisticated Ho-229 batwing shape.

The kit is by Planet. The company is a godsend for those who love the unusual and can manage the use of superglue. I have literally dozens of their kits, and have been making an effort in the last year to get more of them into my production stream (the Me-109TL was one of theirs as well). This example is a good one for a first resin kit, since the flying wing itself is one piece of solid resin that everything attachs to. Since there are four wheels, no drilling for space to locate nose weight is required, and the paint scheme is simple (RLM70 over RLM65). In fact, I think the biggest construction challenge was getting the separate prop pieces all assembled at the correct angle. I’m still not sure they are right.

Xtracolour paints were used throughout (including matte RLM02 for the wheel wells). Decals, such as they are, were provided by the kit. One exception is the walkways, which I made from a sheet of black decal material.

Flying wings can be addictive. I’ve already built the AMT B-35 and B-49 (in its whif disguise as the Northrop Vector, the fourth V-bomber) and the Sword N9M. Planet also does the N1M, and RS Models is releasing an injected version of the XP-79, and there are numerous others, mostly in the resin world. So if you want to do a flying wing, you have many options. Of course there is the mediocre Testors B-2.

This is completed model #402 (#27 for the year), finished in June of 2012.