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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An end to 2013

Just between you and me, I will have no regrets for seeing the end of 2013. Ongoing unemployment, the financial hardship that brings, some health issues, and a last minute dog health disaster has marked this as annus horribilis in 72 Land. I'll never say things can't get worse, because that seems to become a divine challenge to prove me wrong, but I have every reason for anticipating a better 2014.

And no matter what is going on in the 72 Land gulag, that won't prevent me from wishing all of the blog readers a fantastic and happy New Year. May your 2014 be weighted down with new plastic! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Trumpeter Vickers Wellington

Today I am presenting my final completed model of 2013. It is the Vickers Wellington, another in the series of twin-engined World War 2 bombers.

I've always liked the look and uniqueness of the Wellington, mostly due to its geodetic design work. I actually built the Matchbox version back in the paleolithic era of modelling, and still feel that they did the best job in reproducing the trademark patterns on wing and fuselage. A somewhat clunky model with no decent detail, though.

When the MPM kit came out, I bought one and gave it a desultory start. I even got myself one of the Eduard photoetch frets (a large one IIRC) and gave it all much serious consideration. But there were some serious fit and buildability issues going on, and work stalled. Then the Trumpeter kit was issued. Every Trumpeter kit that I have built so far has been a marvel of good fit and nice detail. The things that get Trumpeter trashed on forums is that their detail accuracy is hit and miss, to be polite. However - all engineers are advised to attach earmuffs at this time - that is not my primary concern. A few mm's here and there, a clumsily reproduced engine cover, some marginally incorrect lines, just elicit a shrug and a search for the Tenax from me. However, even I wasn't thrilled with their representation of the geodetic imprint on the wings. It looked as though someone was vacuuming the inside of the wing and causing the fabric covering to suck in. A bit overdone. However, all other things being equal, I figured that a bit of judicious sanding and a coat of paint would minimize the problem.

And to be honest, I think that it did. Is it a perfect realization? No. Is it a better representation than Matchbox? No. Is it good enough for a profoundly average modeller to build and put in his display case? The answer for me at least is yes.

There are some good points to the kit. Lots of nice internal detail (not much of which can been seen in the final product, so take that for what it is worth). The fit was indeed good. I like their approach to how the geodetic structure appears in the fuselage transparencies - actual pieces inside the glass rather than just putting paintable panel lines on the glass itself. I am quite satisfied with the use of Alclad Light Burnt Metal to reproduce the exhaust rings on the engine cowling.

And there are certainly things I would do differently. I would have put the wavy camo demarcation on the fuselage side higher or lower. As it is, the line intersects the top of the window line and just looks like incompetent masking. But I meant to do that. Really. I must have messed up the positioning of the nose machine guns. They are there, but do not stick out past the turret facing. And one gun on the rear turret is carpet monster fodder. At some future point I will swipe some guns (from the MPM kit, most likely) to pretty things up.

Decals were already stolen from that MPM kit. I definitely wanted to do the one with Dark Earth and Mid Stone uppers and the donkey nose art no matter which kit got the call. It was used by 37 Squadron RAF in Egypt in January of 1942 according to the MPM instruction sheet.

I'm happy enough with this one, once I get the machine guns sorted, and will be following it with a Hasegawa B-26 and Ta-154.

This is completed model #436 (#16 and final for the year), completed in December of 2013. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas greetings 2013

As we slip into Christmas Eve here in the Pacific Time Zone, I wanted to take a moment to wish the readers of this blog a very merry Christmas. This is a very good time to be a modeller, what with all the new kits, decals, and references that are being released. I doubt it is something that can go on forever - with the modeller base aging and some prices working their way into the stratosphere - but at the very least we have the makings of a serious stash!

Merry Christmas 2013! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hasegawa Hawker Hurricane 2C (Portugese Air Force)

The next on my list of final completions of 2013 is yet another Hurricane. There is probably no need to recap my love for this type; I do support the underdogs, and the Hurricane has always been overshadowed among the general public by its stablemate, the Spitfire. But the Hurri was, if anything, a more crucial part of the defense of Britain in the early BofB period, and with much more average performance stats.

This particular example is another foreign operator, the Portugese Air Force. According to Wikipedia, they used 150+ examples in the late war and postwar periods. The decal sheet is by Colorado (Carpena), and - though I have had some issues with adhesion with some earlier sheets by Carpena - these performed as per requirements. Paints, as always, are Xtracolour, as long as my stocks hold out.

The photos are from an earlier, less than completely successful photo session. As I've mentioned, I was evicted from my former modelling space - to provide sleeping space for my son... I mean, really! :) The space I'm using doesn't have very good lighting, I've been having issues with the camera's color temperature settings, and of course this all has to be done on aperture priority settings and on a tripod in order to maximize depth of field. Nothing, as they say, is easy. But it is at least finished, which is more than many modellers can say.

I should note the missing cannon on the wing leading edge. Another feast for the carpet monster, though I should be able to pick up a replacement from Quickboost or some other aftermarket producer. The carpet monster seems to have had a more successful relocation than I did.

This is completed model #434 (#15 for the year), completed in November of 2013. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Two types enter the queue

As we count down the final completions in 2013, that is not the only work being done here at the 72 Land production line. There are actually a couple of new entries coming along.

I've decided to put a little focus on WW2 twin-engined aircraft, now that I've completed most of the WW2 heavies. There are still some to be completed but they tend to be more fringe types (Pe-8, Piaggio P-108, Me-264, Rita). All of the major RAF and USAF types are already in the display cases, though I do intend to replace the Stirling when Italeri's kit is released.

I've recently completed a Bf-110 (not the very nice Eduard kit, unfortunately), He-111, Ju-88, and a Wellington, so twin-engined types seemed like a good way to proceed. I decided to work on the Hasegawa B-26 Marauder. So far I've got the cockpit and internals together; just need to get some painting and detailing done.

The other new start is the beginning of a large cargo series. I have a number of kits (An-12, C-130, etc) but have not yet been able to pick up the new kits that have been produced in the last couple of years (A-400, C-27, any of the Anigrand transports). But I do have a copy of the Revell C-160 Transall, and somewhere along the way I picked up a Two-Six Decals set for an all-white Air France airliner version. Although I honestly don't have space for one of these in any of my display cases at the present moment, by the time I get it finished I hope to have some additional capacity. We'll see how that works out.

Here are a couple of workbench shots of the two newbies. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hasegawa Hawker Hurricane 2B (captured IJAAF)

The next in the parade of year-end completions is part of another long-standing series project. I do have a number of these on the boil at any given time, since they are especially useful in restoring modelling mojo. They provide you with a familiar kit, thereby minimizing the construction disasters that occasionally come up, and give your display case a nice capsulated history of markings.

This is a Hasegawa Hurricane 2B. I had two of the Hasegawa kits in the stash and decided that now was the time to get them built. Both of these (along with two Hobbyboss kits also in the queue) were 2s. That didn't bother me much as the new Airfix Hurricane will likely be producing a set of metal wings to go along with the already-released ragwing variant. So my mark 1 needs will be amply taken care of. That's actually a good thing, because the Hasegawa early marks have gotten a bit expensive and elusive.

Since I have done most of the variations of RAF and RAAF Hurricanes, I've been working my way through the foreign air force examples. And since I had run across a decal sheet with a captured Japanese Hurricane, that was the decision. I had to think a bit about whether I wanted to paint on the thin white fuselage stripe, but came to the conclusion that I would try the decal and if it didn't work I could always do a quick mask and paint job. Luckily the decal was very opaque and adhered well to the paint.

This is completed model #433 (#14 for the year), completed in November of 2013.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Airfix BAe Hawk T1 (100 Squadron 95th anniversary markings)

I am currently working on the traditional end-of-year rush for completing models. Some of these were pretty close in the process when I fell into the midyear mojo funk, and some had some construction to finish up. But at least 4 will be debuting before the end of calendar 2013, and it is possible that I might add one or two more to that. It will still be a slow year in terms of total completions.

Today's completion is part of a long-standing type project. I have been building BAe Hawks for much of my modelling career. It falls well into many of my preferred categories: RAF, trainers, special anniversary paint schemes. Most years the RAF paints up at least one Hawk for some sort of special occasion.

This is the Airfix Hawk. The newer tooled version, not the one from a decade or more back. It is a fine example of the Hornby ownership's art: nice shape, reasonable panel lines, no nasty surprises during construction. It is a pleasure to put one together, especially when they are so reasonably priced.

Not that it didn't have a few issues, mostly self-inflicted. I always seem to make some sort of mess of the canopy (in this case the painting of the internal seal strip). And though I didn't screw up the wheels this time, they didn't seem to want to anchor solidly into their receptacles in the gear bay, so there is an ever-so-slight list to one side.

The decals came from Xtradecal 72-156, which includes a number of special RAF schemes. I've already used the Hawk T2 from 4 Squadron, the anniversary Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 with the green tail, and have imminent plans for the 1 Squadron Eurofighter as well. But this time out, I decided on the Hawk T1 set for the 95th anniversary of 100 Squadron. It is basically put into Bomber Command markings, with a Dark Earth and Dark Green upper fuselage (the rest of the fuselage and wings in trainer Black) and a WW2 style 95oY on the fuselage side. There is also a rather attractive skull and crossbones on the underside and the tail. As always the decals performed without a hitch.

Since the lower skull crossed onto both landing gear bay doors, I used the process suggested on the instruction sheet. Using double sided tape, attach the bay doors in the closed position, apply the decal and wait for it to dry, use a sharp knife to cut along the door outline, then glue the doors in the open position.

But the snakebitten aspect of modelling followed the kit around: the pictures were pretty useless since I am transitioning to a new layout and had to shoot them in an unfamiliar spot. #1 son is back home for longer than we expected and is tired of sleeping in the living room and has requested his old room back. Not an unreasonable request, but it did mean a day of moving modelling equipment around to another space.

So all you get is one photo this time. Hopefully I can improve the focus and depth of field on the next few shots. As a bonus, I've included a shot of the display case with the Hawk collection all assembled in one place.

This is completed model #432 (#13 for the year), completed in November of 2013. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Painting exhausts

The cold weather in Seattle continues, and the resulting finger rictus during airbrushing is ongoing as well. But it didn't prevent me from enduring a (quick) session last night. There is a Wellington approaching its final stages, but the exhaust pipes and collector rings needed painting. For this I typically use Alclad Light Burnt Metal. I'm not sure if the "bronze" color callout that was on all Airfix kits of the 70s and 80s is an error or just a myth that has taken on a life of its own, but I've never really thought that was an adequate choice for British collector rings or anyone's exhausts. Now, the burnt metal color may not be perfect either - something that gets a lot of engine exhaust would likely have a darker look, at least in places - but I think it makes a nice visual compromise. Evaluate for yourself, based on the following photo.

The only other color I shot was a bit of RLM04 Gelb, for the cowl, rudder, and prop spinner of the captured P-47 "Beetle" that is underway. But it highlighted an interesting problem, very similar to what happened the last time I had the airbrush out. The paint in the tin was uncommonly lumpy and thick; the only difference is that I discovered that before I ever got it into the paint cup and therefore didn't have to go through a panicked field strip and cleaning.

But it brings up a worrisome point. Now that I am no longer able to order Xtracolour paints from Hannants (due to Royal Mail restrictions), is the paint I have starting to age to the point where it is becoming chemically unstable and will be useless before much longer? I have no clue when I bought this particular tin of RLM04, though it probably at least 4-5 years old. Possibly much more. More as this issue develops.

At least I was able to get some satin topcoat from a LHS today. This should free up the logjam of completed models and allow me to get them posted in the blog. Here is a photo of the work done in the freezer last night. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An addition to the circle

Here comes another of those non-modelling posts. If you can't stand the idea of another one of my dog or travel related stories, then look away quickly!

I've taken over the daily dog-minding of an 8 month old English bulldog named Porterhouse. He belongs to a friend of my wife's, whose usual dog-minder had to quit the biz. They don't live too far away and my time is pretty open for a while, so I stepped in. I mean, c'mon, the entire job is to play with a bulldog puppy. What's not to like? 

Here are a couple of pics of the beastie. We'll shortly return to our normal airplane related content - as soon as I get near enough to a LHS to pick up some satin clear. I've got 3 models that need it in order to get finished! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I wanted to extend my wishes for a happy Thanksgiving for you and yours. 

As some of you may have gathered, this has been a trying year here in the 72 Land asylum, but I would never want it said that I was unable to see the blessings that we undoubtedly have received. And most of those are related to my wife of 30 years Sue, my son Kenton, my daughter Shannon, and those two loons, Tug the pug and Tank the French bulldog. 

The photo is not of my pug, but it might as well be. I googled the image, and it was found on the site of Houston Pug Rescue. Here is a link. If you are feeling charitable this holiday season, there are worse options than donating to a dog rescue site, whether local or national. 

Again, happy Thanksgiving 2013!  Happy happy joy joy! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A perfect storm of airbrushing disaster

Those of you who live in the Bahamas or the Gobi Desert can just sort of ignore this next bit. In the Great Northwest it has begun to get bloody cold. Highs in the low 40s, with some lows forecast for the first week of December in the low 20s (that's Fahrenheit of course, not Celsius). This does bear some relevance to last night's airbrushing session. It was somewhere in the low to mid 30s when I ventured out into the garage to get caught up on a couple of projects. At times like this I wish I had set up my paint area in some part of the house that actually gets heated. By the time I finally called the session off, my fingers were literally non-functional. I tend to be, shall we say, well insulated, so when I get that cold then it is time to find some hot chocolate and a fireplace.

In fact this airbrushing session started to show signs of becoming one of those perfect storms of disaster that make up the majority of my modelling efforts. First came a coat of Middle Stone camo on a Trumpeter Wellington. Being a great fan of Xtracolour paints, I have been hoarding my existing tins of the stuff, since it has become increasingly impossible to buy from the source (ie ,Hannants). Well, perhaps "buy" is the wrong word; they just can't ship it to you anymore.

So, whereas in earlier times I might have trashed a tin that had clearly exceeded its use-by date, I will now try to make an effort to salvage what remains in the crusty bottom of the container. So in went a little lacquer thinner and down it went into the airbrush cup.

But instead of liquefying (like it has done bazillions of times before) the paint turned into some unidentified substance with the external properties of grape jelly. And that certainly does not want to pass through the body of an airbrush. It literally gummed up the works. And of course I didn't realize that was the issue until it had literally worked its way into every internal crevice my Iwata has. I'm probably lucky it didn't back up into the compressor and muck that up as well.

Much frozen panic ensued. Try breaking down an airbrush when your fingers don't work. I still haven't gotten it entirely cleaned out, but after 20 minutes of work I was able to at least get some paint (a new load from an entirely different tin) moving through it again. I was able to complete the Middle Stone work, and even switched colors for some Ocean Grey camo on a recently constructed Hasegawa Hurricane. But that was enough drama for one evening.

Below is a shot of some recent work, including those two models (after the paint cured and the masking was stripped). Next up is getting the exhausts painted on the Wellington and sorting out the prop on the Hurricane. And I still need to get some replacement Satin for top coats of two mostly finished models. The other two models in the shot are a Revell P-47 and an Italeri SM-82.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Completing some donkey work

Even on a production line as usually busy as the one at 72 Land, not all of the work is glamorous and visual. Most is general donkey work, like masking, attaching landing gear or buffing down a pebbly paint finish. And that has been the sort of thing I've been involved in for the last couple of days.

There has been landing gear to add to both a Hurricane and a Hawk. These are close enough to getting decals that, once I find myself some more satin for the final sealer coats, you should be seeing them displayed on the blog.

Some progress was also made in assembling a P-47 razorback. This is another in my long series of TBolt models, and will be in captured German markings. It is the one whose original nose art was "Beetle". The canopy is complete and major construction is done as well. Canopy masking is next.

The Wellington, B-36, Russian trainers, more Hurricanes, and the Italeri SM-82 are still in process. Also very early in the construction stage are a Ju-87 (desert snake!) and Mangusta helicopter. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More painting on RAF subjects

I spent part of this evening blasting some live Rammstein out of my hobby room speakers and putting together a concentrated masking session. This was in preparation for a Dark Earth painting session. A Hurricane, a Hawk, a Wellington, and part of a B-36. Why would a B-36 need Dark Earth, you ask? All will be revealed...

In the meantime, here is a shot of the results of that painting session - Hawk, Hurricane, and Wellington, at least. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cyberhobby DeHav Sea Vixen FAW1

As I was preparing today's entry, I was amazed to find that the last model completed in the 72 Land production line was in May of 2013. So nearly half of this year has produced no completions. For some modellers, even one would be progress, but since I put 44 models into that category in 2012 (and 39 in 2011) this is a significant shortfall. But at least today I can consider another one complete.

It is the maligned Dragon/Cyberhobby Sea Vixen FAW1. I think most of the complaints center around the shape of the nose, with a few choice expletives saved for details in the cockpit. If either of those disturb you, Pavla has created replacement parts for the nose, cockpit, and ejection seat. Of course, given my rather dull-witted approach to modelling in general, it doesn't bother me at all, so I built the Sea Vixen as an out-of-box project.

The good news is that the new Cyberhobby kits, whatever you think about their accuracy, do not exhibit one of the prime problems with the first generation of Dragon 1:72 kits. Those kits (like the He-219, Ta-152, P-61, etc) looked great in the box but didn't fit. But this new generation has resolved most of the engineering details to produce kits that can at least be built and completed. Not that the build was faultless, but there is not much putty on this model. A bit of Mr Surfacer to get rid of a seam or two and that was it. I did seem to enjoy knocking a couple of very small strakes on the underside off at every opportunity, which kept the carpet monster occupied.

Markings were from the kit as well, if only because I didn't happen to have any aftermarket decals available to me. I chose the gauntlet markings from 899 Squadron, Royal Navy 1962. They performed very well, even the scads of no step markings across the spine of the aircraft. An accident with the satin topcoat meant it isn't as matte as usual, but the main purpose of an out-of-box build is to produce a finished model without massive expenditure of time, and this one did that well enough. The nose may not be 100% correct, but no one is going to confuse it with a Tiger Moth.

This is completed model #431 (#12 for the year), finished in November of 2013. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Painting of the green

Activities this week include adding another model to the front of the production queue. This is something I do far too often, and always long before enough models have exited out the other end. Somewhat similar to my eating habits I suppose (though that is surely more information than you are really looking for today).

If you have been following this blog for a while you'll know that I periodically add to my P-47 collection. Mostly this is because I enjoy P-47s, there are a number of modern kits (including the best of the lot, the Tamiya kit), and the type has a propensity for nose art. But this time the inspiration came from running across a decal sheet of the famous captured TBolt called "Beetle". The Germans got ahold of it and added their own national markings, gave it a yellow underside, but decided on a whim to leave the nose art. So hopefully we'll see that model progress over this winter.

On a different subject entirely, I currently have 4 Hurricanes in queue. Two, both Hasegawa kits, have gotten their Medium Sea Grey undersides masked off, and I spent some time tonight spraying the Dark Green uppers. I'll have to let them cure for a while before I decide if the coat is sufficient, or if they need some buffing and a resprayed surface coat. Also getting some Dark Green was the top fuselage of the Bomber Command commemorative Hawk from the airshow circuit a summer or two back.

Lastly, I had a bit of a disaster with a top matte coat that I was adding to the Sea Vixen, which will be debuting shortly on the blog. I've used Xtracolours for years, including their satin clear for use as a final sealer coat. Tonight I was having some trouble getting the cap off the plastic bottle - I have painted so little this summer that it had dried solid - and managed to smash the thin and brittle plastic of the bottle itself. So all my remaining satin clear ended up all over my painting workbench, amid some very colorful and inventive expletives. Luckily matte/satin is something that is available locally, since my mailorder access to Xtracolours has been stopped by the maleficent Royal Mail.

Here are a photo of the paint work from tonight's session. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Painting some white Russians

As I try to re-engage with my modelling mojo, one of the more difficult parts is the act of airbrushing. There are so many things that can go wrong, and when the wave of Murphys Law hits, just about all of them do. So it was with gritted teeth that I got the brush assembled, the compressor turned on, and ventured into the garage for a painting session.

Thankfully, no obvious disasters. This is actually the second session this week, the first having produced the upper surface coat on the DML Sea Vixen (more on that in a few days) and the black on the undersides of the Trumpeter Wellington.

This session was primarily pointed toward the three Russian trainers that have been working their way down the production line over the last 6 months or so - probably not much faster than the real aircraft were put together. They are overall white, with some red and blue accenting that will be the result of much masking in the next few weeks. The white went on with minimal problems, at least none that I am willing to obsess over in my current state.

I decided to do another color while I was in the flow. Two of the four Hurricanes I have in process (two Hasegawa, two Hobbyboss) require MSG undersides, so they moved to the front of the queue and got that color. It looked like my mixing ratios must have been pretty close to proper, since there was no visible orange-peel effects or runs. If these were destined for competition, I would likely buff them out and apply a second coat to smooth the surface, but ruled against that. Next is some masking for these two kits as well, in preparation for getting their upper surfaces done.

Here are a couple of shots of last night's work, including a close up of the AModel Yak-130. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hard times

It is no secret that 72 Land has been pretty quiet over the last summer. To some extent this is just down to the usual causes: decent weather, other interests, competing priorities. But the bald fact is that the Land is going through a fairly difficult stretch. I am well into my third year of unemployment, barring a few temp positions. Unemployment payments are long gone. We have learned more than I ever cared to know about not spending any discretionary money. But we are still under water, and the details of managing that are many and oppressive.

My last contract as an IT Project Manager ended at Christmas of 2009. I imagine we all remember what a mess the economy was back then. Well, it has not improved much in the intervening time period. Yes, the unemployment rate went from 11% to 8%, but much of that was because of the weird way the feds measure unemployment. They don't consider how many people are unemployed, they consider how many people are drawing unemployment payments. Once your benefits expire, as mine did, you are no longer counted as unemployed, and the rate goes down! But that does not mean the number of people working has increased. And I hate their terminology for this: we are those who have "stopped looking". Nobody has stopped anything; we're just no longer drawing unemployment.

We have struggled along on my wife's salary, but the truth is that she makes 45% of what I typically do. So when I went jobless, we lost roughly 60% of our disposable income. Think about that for a second. Her income covers about 85% of the monthly recurring bills, but then you have to add food, fuel, medical expenses (copays and RXs), and any other unanticipated expense. And what happens when the car needs repair?

Long gone are the days of books, magazines, vacations, or stash expansion. Much the exact opposite in fact. I've been trying to sell things via ebay to help make ends come a bit closer together, and to try and feel a bit less useless in keeping us solvent. That is a painful process. It's like selling your kids (though in my experience kids tend to generate spending rather than profits...) At first it was things I probably wasn't going to build anyway: the odd 1:32 kit, a few 1:48 examples left over from The Supply Depot stock, some armor that I had amassed in the 30 years I have been modelling. But as the crisis continues the cuts get closer to the bone. The KMC 727 is gone, the Fliegerhorst G-38 is gone, my selection of Hasegawa Beaufighters is up for bid, my complete 20-volume set of Classic Publications Luftwaffe Colours / Jagdwaffe books is gone. And the bloodletting looks to continue for the foreseeable future. But it is never quite enough.

Oh, I do still do interviews. Second, even third interviews (where you have to figure that they are evaluating finalists). But no offers. I even apply for stuff I am massively overqualified for, like data entry or retail positions. But those employers don't want to waste time and money training someone who will likely bolt as soon as the economy improves. And be fair, they are probably right.

I'm far from alone. You can hear the cry on various boards, forums, or discussion groups. There are a lot of people, experienced professionals, unable to find work. Like an ebay sale, getting a job is a two-party transaction. If one party doesn't agree, for any conceivable reason, it will not happen. This is not a political discussion, but we live in a very business-unfriendly environment right now, and businesses will not expand when they are feeling pressured.

Not to bring everyone down, but I thought it was incumbent on me to give some insight as to why you weren't getting the every-other-day posts that I was managing for a while. There are just many days where I can't conjure the enthusiasm to stick plastic bits together, even though as a hobby, it is supposed to relieve stress rather than perpetuate it. But sometimes you just get a visit from Churchill's black dog, and the production line stops.

But let's end on a brighter note. On Sunday night I actually got the airbrush out for a short painting session. And I seem to be on the verge of finishing a decal job. No one is going to confuse it with a contest winner, but against all odds, I may actually finish a model this summer. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Russian trainers up on their gear

The modelling pace continues at glacial slowness even though the weather has reverted to a more typical climate for the Northwest. But activity hasn't been completely absent in the modelling dungeon.

I have gotten the landing gear on to the Yak-130 and the Su-28. Both of the wheel wells, as with many short-run kits, are vast spaces of virtually nothing, but I'm just not up to adding anything in them at present. With all the putty on these three models (which includes the MiG-AT), I can say with thorough confidence that they will never become contest-quality examples of the modelling art. Even assuming I started entering contests again. So I am okay with them just serving as shelf-fillers. They can do that job well since I have relatively few Russian aircraft in my display case. It's just never been one of my (many) aviation interests.

So here are some photos of the Yak-130 and Su-28 up on their pins and awaiting their turn in the painting queue. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A non-modelling summer

This has been a truly non-modelling summer. Between various Real Life events and disasters, I don’t think I have done anything even remotely modeling related since probably the 4th of July. It was something of a relief, therefore, to actually get to spend some time in the modeling dungeon last night, even if it wasn’t very long or very high quality work. At least it got the queue moving again.

Work centered on the MiG-AT from AModel. This is going to have an overall White prototype paint job, so there was no penalty for attaching the landing gear at this stage. So that is what I did, and the model can now sit on its gear while the paint is drying. Next up for this treatment are the Yak-130 and Su-28.

Now, getting paint room time may be a challenge for another week or so. We’re predicted to get one of our rare 90+ days tomorrow, and anything over 80 can be thoroughly uncomfortable in the mostly non-air-conditioned residential Northwest. But when it happens, the Wellington and Sea Vixen are mostly likely to get the attention.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Second chance at a KMC 1:72 727

Well, the 1:72 Kendall / KMC Boeing 727-200 is once again offered for auction on eBay. Here is a link to it: 

KMC 1:72 727

Feel free to browse the other items I have currently up for sale. This includes the firebomber version of the Siga Grumman Guardian. There are decals, conversions, kits, and even some armor. More items are being added periodically. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Selling a 727

Some of you know of my current employment state (as in un-) and subsequent financial state (as in dreadful) and therefore know that I have been selling some items on eBay to bring in a teeny bit of my missing income. But to date it has mostly been duplicate kits, superseded kits, off-scale kits (for my concentration on 1:72 at least), and historical oddballs. But last week I put one up that was a core part of my personal collection. And it really hurt to do so.

There are a number of grail kits in our hobby, and the Kendall / KMC Boeing 727 in 1:72 is one of them. When the kit was first issued, I was still operating The Supply Depot online store, and got a number of them to sell. It was a very ambitious kit, and not terribly cheap. I seem to remember the MSRP being around $70 in an age where even substantial kits were generally in the $30s and $40s. The main pieces were injected plastic and all the details were in KMC’s usual area of resin bits.

The kit did take some beatings for accuracy – nose? Engines? Can’t remember. And there was a persistent molding flaw on the rear dorsal fuselage that was going to make getting a good seam under the middle engine intake a challenge. But it was an airliner in 1:72 in injected plastic. The only precedents were the long out of production Aurora DC-9 and 737, neither of which were great kits either. Heller had improved the landscape with their 1:72 707, and that was probably the gold standard for large airliners at the time.

I never had any doubt that I would build my KMC 727. I already had the Heller 707 and Aurora 737 in the display case and expected to add the 727 in the fullness of time. But eventually economic reality kicked in and hard decisions had to be made. So why did I let it go?

First of all, there are now other 727s around in my scale. Welsh Models has recently produced one (though admittedly with the fuselage in vacuform, something I am not very comfortable with). Authentic Airliners has one coming along as well in resin, though I have heard the sticker shock on that one may be breathtaking. So it is not like I will never be able to replace that type in my lineup. Hell, there is even a 747 out there (the Anigrand resin, which has its own set of issues). And perhaps BPK will consider one if their first kit, the 737, wasn't a financial disaster. 

Second, I have never been convinced that producing the landing gear in resin was a smart idea. I know that was KMC’s wheelhouse. But to quote others, resin is merely an extremely slow-moving liquid, and I felt there was no chance that a year or two of display wouldn’t produce two banana-shaped gear legs.

So, onto the block it went. Unfortunately there have been some payment problems with the sale, but I hope to have it cleared up next week. My creditors will be happy. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Russian construction

There is a bit of activity in the production queue to catch up with. The three Soviet trainers (Yak-130, MiG-AT, and Sukhoi Su-28) are finishing up with their major construction. The canopies are masked and attached to the airframe. Just a bit more seam work on the MiG-AT which has proven a singularly ill-fitting little monster, especially around the top of the intakes. It will be interesting to get a coat of white paint on the exterior to see what work still remains.

I have also gotten the major bits of the Trumpeter Ilyushin Il-28 assembled. In general I would have to say that it went together pretty well, though there are a couple of seams that will benefit from a bit of Mr Surfacer being run into them to eliminate them altogether. Paint schemes are pretty boring on this one; it is likely to be Polish in a NMF.

 The Wellington and Sea Vixen have been waiting patiently in the paint queue for cooler weather. Which, I note with great excitement, seems finally to be arriving in Western WA. All but two of the next 10 days are forecast to be in the 70s!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hurricane choices

I’ve already been through most of the color variations in RAF Hurricanes. Some in Dark Earth / Mid Stone / Azure Blue, some in Dark Earth / Dark Green / Sky, some in Dark Green / Ocean Grey / Medium Sea Grey. So except for the occasional aircraft with nose art and the occasional squadron markings of some sort, I seem to be putting many of them into foreign air force markings. 

I’ve decided to put the sole Mk 2B trop in captured Japanese markings from a Rising Decals set I bought a few years back. The 2C trop will be going in desert RAF colors, with a presentation nose art from Sky Decals. One of the Hobbyboss kits will be getting Sea Hurricane 2C work; one of the types without a tailhook. Lastly, the other foreign air force getting some face time in the display cabinet will be a 2C from the Portugese Air Force.

Two of these are ready for exterior paint, while two still need their wheel wells and cockpits (such as they are in the HobbyBoss kits) painted in Grey-Green. As soon as the weather gets back to normal I am planning on spending some time in the paint room. 

And as Jim mentioned in a comment on the 7-2-2013 posting, the Hobbyboss Hurricanes are rather anemic in the nasal dimension. You can see that in the nose-to-nose photo of the Hasegawa (left) and Hobbyboss (right). Not enough to get me particularly exercised, but something to note if detail accuracy is your primary interest. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The disappearing 72

No, the land of 72 has not split in half and sunk into the depths of Puget Sound. This is just the time of year that I have a hard time generating enthusiasm for anything that doesn’t involve a cold drink and shade.

If you live elsewhere than the US, you might not know that the western US has been undergoing a nasty spell of extremely hot weather for much of the summer. A recent high in Death Valley was 128, only 6 degrees away from the hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet in history. While Seattle is nowhere near that (obviously), we hit the mid-90s for a couple of days in July and there have been relatively few days in late June, July and August so far below 80. And before you Texans or Tunisians snort in derisive disgust, mid and upper 80s are enough to get the front page headline in any western Washington newspaper. Because we are so close to the coast, our heat tends to come with a good dose of humidity. Plus, we pale-skinned weather wimps just aren’t used to that kind of heat. Most houses are not air conditioned, including my own.

Add that to some problems related to my long unemployment, and it just hasn’t been a good time to spend time in the hotbox that is the hobby room, or garage that serves as my paint shed. But if I had to do it every day, it’d be work, right? I’m hoping to get back into the swing before too much longer. But then, there is only one day in the 10-day forecast below 80, so it may be September before full service is restored. 

In the meantime, here is a shot of the queue that is backing up next to my workbench. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hurricane fever

If you remember a post from a couple of months back that showed a new display case which I had purchased at the Spring Show, you’ll probably remember that the bottom two rows of that new case were filled with Hurricanes. RAF Hurricanes, foreign Hurricanes, PR Hurricanes, racing Hurricanes. And, given that there was open space on the bottom row, the promise of new Hurricanes to come.

So I have begun the process of adding those new Hurricanes. I was doing another of my infamous stash dives, rummaging around in the 72 Land National Warehouse, when I ran across the section devoted to Hurricanes. It is a bit depleted, since I haven’t been buying much in the last few years, and have actually been building things. (Counterintuitively, a net stash reduction is clearly not enough to freeze Hell over at this time). Not that you’d notice the reduction, with about 2000 kits in the garage.

There were a couple of Hasegawa IIs (a B and a C) and two Omega resin kits of oddball variants, in this case a floatplane and a Russian two-seat courier/trainer. I have to say that the floatplane got some serious consideration, but I try to limit myself to one resin kit at a time, and I’m still hoping to get the Northrop N1M back on track in the near future.

But while in another area of the stash, I ran across a couple of HobbyBoss easy kits of 2cs as well. I don’t share the disdain that some have for the ease of assembly of this line of kits, but then kits with low parts count often get an enthusiastic thumbs up from me. Since I had never built one of the HobbyBoss kits in this series, I decided to throw both of them on the workbench.

I next turned to potential markings. About the only option in the three 2cs is the filter: tropical or standard. Well, that and the prop/spinner, but both styles are available in both the Hasegawa and HobbyBoss boxes. I spent a little time rooting in my decal box, searching for an interesting set of markings that I had not yet used.

Frustratingly, many of the interesting schemes were for F1s, which have become difficult to find these days. Hopefully, Airfix will follow up their fabric wing Hurricane with a metal wing Mk 1, which would solve that problem in a simple (and inexpensive) way. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Infernal intakes

The Mikoyan MiG-AT is rather less of a design departure than the Yak-130, and in fact somewhat resembles the L-139 it was designed to replace. It had its first flight nearly 20 years ago and never made it into production.

The kit is another early AModel effort, and was even a bit more diabolical than the Yak-130 has proven to be. The main issues in this kit revolve around the intakes. The fit is suspect, the parts breakdown does you no favors, and it seems as though it is missing a part. If you look at photos on the net, the intake rim is fairly sharp. The kit parts are at 90 degree angles, and rather flat. I’ve tried doing a bit of filing at the edges, but it doesn’t seem to be improving things at all. I keep looking for an intake leading edge part – like the Su-28 had – but there is nothing there.

What is worse, the intake assembly does not fit into its assigned wing/fuselage location at all. Much putty will be involved in getting out of this one. I even had to do some scratching of a part to eliminate a giant gap between the intake floor and the wing top that it rests on. I realize that this description probably doesn’t make much sense unless you have the parts in front of you, but let’s just leave it that this is probably one of AModel’s lesser jobs.

Here is a photo of the MiG-AT in progress; as you can tell I haven’t quite got the intake problem resolved to my satisfaction yet.

Next: Hurricane heaven.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Taking a dip

Second in the set of Russian trainers is the Sukhoi Su-28. This is a trainer version of the Su-25 Frogfoot, one of those ground-pounding aircraft that seems to be composed of more ordnance than airframe.

The kit was produced by MSV, a short-lived (Ukrainian?) company that produced only two models that I know of. I suspect that the recent kit released by Art Model of the Su-28 is likely from the same molds, but not having seen it in person I can’t confirm that. The molding is somewhat basic, with thick plastic pieces on the order of the proverbial Russian tractor, but they seem to be fitting together well enough. There is some putty involved, but not on the scale of the Yak-130 so far.

In fact, the main disaster of this build had nothing to do with the kit. I was in the process of getting the wings attached to the fuselage and had a bottle of Tenax open on the bench. My last bottle of the discontinued Tenax, to be exact. So you can see where this is going. The ham fist knocked the bottle over, Tenax pooled around the bottom of the Su-28 sitting on the workbench, and dialog not heard since the last Teamster convention was unleashed upon the land. I pulled the model from the liquid and basically didn’t touch it for an hour. Thankfully the Tenax just air dried and there was no structural damage to the model. The surface is very shiny now, due to the chemical reaction, but it seems to have hardened up without distortion. I’ll be buffing it up to get any surface anomalies taken care of. Thankfully nothing else was hit by the Tenax. I managed to retain half a bottle, but will need to be deciding on my replacement for the adhesive sooner than I expected. I’m no fan of cyanoacrylate, so maybe MEK or one of the other proprietary types. I use Testors liquid (in the black square bottle with the applicator) for many uses, but like the very thin and fast Tenax for welding things like the wing to fuselage joint.

And here is a photo of the Su-28’s current state. Next up is the canopy and possibly some wheel well painting.

Next: the MiG-AT and its exasperating intakes. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's alive

Looks like it is time to reactivate the shambling muck monster that is the 72 Land blog. Even though this is the time of year that many modellers go into hibernation, falling to the realities of unmown lawns and unpainted houses, I’ve just come off of an 8-week gig of temp work (thanks to CAD of Seattle) that has gotten me anxious to get back to the workbench. And since it was temp work, I now have the opportunity to do so.

So what is lurking on the workbench?

First up is a project I was just starting on when I was called away. That would be the three Soviet trainers: Yak-130, MiG-AT, and Su-28.

The Yak-130 was a multinational collaboration between Russia and Italy. About a decade or so ago they split up the partnership, but Russia continued to develop the type into the Yak-130 and Italy worked on the Aermacchi M-346. Similar in look, they no doubt differ in internals. I don’t believe the Aermacchi retained the winglets and it added some new wing fences.

AModel produced a kit of the type a few years back. It is in their older style, less refined and precise. In addition, it strikes me as over-engineered. The intakes are built up from multiple parts that they have to fit down into the fuselage under the leading edge extensions and form part of the wheel wells. The fit overall is imprecise and much filler is going into the gaps. Thankfully it isn’t a NMF surface.

In fact all three of the trainers have variations on a red, white, and blue prototype marking scheme. That means a good deal of masking, so I doubt I will add the landing gear and doors (even though they are white as well) until the main bits are painted. The carpet monster gets quite enough plastic on my watch that I don’t feel the need to make it easy for him.

The photo below shows the Yak-130 in progress. I have since added instrument panels and coaming to the cockpit and gotten all the exterior bits attached. Sanding seams is ongoing.

Next: The Su-28 and the Tenax bath. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Update on basically nothing

As the month of May winds down, there is a lot of transition going on around here. My temporary job is officially over, Mrs 72 and daughter will be returning from an out-of-town wedding early next week, and #1 son's car has possibly breathed its last. So I really have no modelling progress to plug into the blog this week. 

I've been selling some items on Ebay, but that is about the best I can do for even tangentially relating it to a modelling subject. The Soviet trainers and Hurricanes still lie in the construction queue, and the Wellington and Sea Vixen are still in the garage waiting for paint (and probably collecting up a dust layer that will need to be removed prior to that). Being away from the workbench has the pernicious effect of giving you time to think of other projects you'd like to start, even when you've got a dozen that are unfinished. 

And since I'm the primary dogkeeper while the others are out of town, I should report that the two mutts (Tug the pug and Tank the French bulldog) are being their usual mischievous selves, but thankfully not causing any damage that I can't reasonably clean up before everyone gets home! 

So stay tuned; your fix of mediocre modelling will be back before you know it! 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Some downtime

Things have been a bit quiet here in the green and pleasant land of 72 in the last couple of weeks, though occasional construction continues on the three Soviet trainers and various other projects. Mrs 72 and #1 daughter have left for a week to attend a wedding in Reno and my temporary position ends next Tuesday, so hopefully things will pick up shortly. 

It'll be all text for a while though, because I loaned my camera-to-laptop connecting cord to my daughter to take along on the trip. So while I may have some pictures in the camera, they won't make it to the blog for a week or so. You'll just have to get your quota of indifferently-built model pictures somewhere else for a while....

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Reviving a project

I have an odd strategy that I use sometimes to trick myself into rescuing a stalled model from the Shelf of Shame. I find an unstarted model that will make a good companion to the unfinished one and try to push them both to completion at the same time.

Since I’ve always liked transport aircraft and I’ve always liked Italian types, why not combine the two and go after Italian transport types? And so my interest in the Savoia-Marchetti series of (mostly) three-engined cargo aircraft was born. I’ve got copies of most of the kits that have been made in 1:72, though I haven’t built many of them. Some of that is due to the lack of good paint matches for the intellectual swamp that is Italian WW2 colors, and some is just attention being spent elsewhere.

When the Italeri SM-82 first arrived, I started it almost immediately. It was new, different, large, and seemed like a genuinely nice kit. But somewhere along the line the momentum bled off and it eventually found itself on the mostly built shelf with no good prospects for completion. So recently I decided that it was time to reinvigorate the effort. And what better way to make it a little mini-project with another kit.

My choice is something that I’ve had in the stash since the days when Tom Friske was running the eastern Washington modeling bastion known as Aviation Usk. He had done a short-run injection kit of the SM-84. Tom was always fond of Italian aircraft and saw some marketing opportunities growing out of that. Unlike his Uskian version of the SM-82, this one was all injected, though the canopy is vac.

So here is a shot of the companions on their way to the 72 Land production line. I’m concentrating mostly on the Soviet trainers at present (in terms of construction) so it may be a little while til I make significant progress. And I’ve just had my hours increased at the temp job, so my evenings may consist of frozen pizzas and an early bedtime til I adjust once again. But at least there is one less citizen of that Shelf. And wait a sec, are there other SM types sneaking into this pile.....