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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.....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Williams Bros Curtiss C-46 Commando

Today’s finished model is one that spent some of its lifespan on the Shelf of Shame, though certainly not as much time as the long-term denizens of that area (like the Constellation or the B-36). The reason it was diverted to that bit of punishment duty is simply that it is a difficult kit to deal with. Though it is a long-run molding, it has a lot of the identifying marks of an early short-run kit. Fit is pretty ghastly throughout, it is a putty hog, and the instructions are one page and mostly text. There was a short shot on one of the wing pieces, which didn’t help much.

Originally the idea was to display it next to its infinitely more successful cousin, the C-47. You can see the conceptual differences in the C-46’s larger body, with much more cargo space. They still make a good comparison.

The worst construction problems I ran across were the two-part canopy that simply didn’t want to fit, that wing short-shot, another instance of brain fart (wherein I reversed the orientation of the main landing gear - now don’t start), and the general soft molding on most parts. But liberal doses of the proper sort of modeling music – in this case a live show from the Dio-era Sabbath restoration performing under the name of Heaven and Hell from 2007 – enabled me to power my way through the troubling parts of the build.

And then I came to the decals. Always on the lookout for obscure markings, and especially oriented toward commercial versions, over the years I had picked up the Leading Edge Canadian airliner conversion, and the Draw Decals Everts Cargo set. I decided I didn’t want to deal with the resin wingtips on the LE set (if you’re interested in this out of production set, it will be appearing on Ebay in a week or so). There is a relatively new Maestro Models sheet that has the BOAC camouflaged C-46 on it, and had I been starting the model now that is probably the version I would have gone for.

The decals presented me with a difficult set of problems. I don’t have an issue with markings on an overall carrier sheet; it seems easy enough to me to cut them out to size. But when the decals themselves appear to almost have no adhesive on them, that can be troubling. I have had this problem twice, on a JBot 737 set and this Draw Decal set. The symptoms that are presented are that the decal doesn’t entirely lay down on the surface of the model, and starts to pull up a bit as it dries. Also, if you try blowing a bit of dust off, you could find the decal piece actually fluttering to the floor. Finally, the markings will not conform to any irregularities on the surface. Solvent solutions do not appear to have any effect.

After asking around the various forums, the consensus seemed to be that the addition of some diluted white glue / Kristal Kleer was called for. So that’s what I did, with mixed results. If the glue solution went where it was supposed to, it seemed to work well enough. If it didn’t, the residue wanted to pool up and turn sticky within seconds, and cleanup around all those fragile decals was tough. If you put your finger on any decal, it was liable to pull up completely. So much careful handling ensued. Not easy while you’re trying to attach wheels, gear doors, props, and add Kristal Kleer to make the windows.

Eventually with some models you just want the ordeal to end. If I hadn’t made the rather boneheaded decision when I started this blog to show everything I completed, good or bad (in a vain attempt to show that production is sometimes a good thing that trumps the search for perfection that keeps most people from finishing models) then this would likely be one of the ones you wouldn’t see. However, that isn’t the case, so here it is.

This is completed model #430 (#11 for the year), finished in May of 2013. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some activity in the queue

Though a lot of my free time has been absorbed by my temp position, I still have gotten some time at the workbench in the last couple of weeks. As usual, it breaks down into two basic categories: painting and construction.

On the painting side, I spent some time doing up the cockpits for the three Soviet trainers (MiG-AT, Yak-130, and Su-28). I used Xtracolour’s Russian cockpit blue-green, though I have to admit that it seems a little bright to me. If I had it to do over, I suspect it could have used some light grey mixed in to make it a little more neutral. Still, it was pleasant to make some progress on these three models that had been languishing.

I also painted the cockpits of two Hasegawa Hurricanes, did some detail painting, added the instrument panel decals, and finished it all up by doing major construction for both of them. They now look like bona fide Hurricanes. Next up will be masking and attaching the canopy and leading edge lights, and then I’ll mask the landing gear bays. One of the 2c’s guns has separated from the wing (prior to my opening the box) and I haven’t yet found it. I might have to swipe one from an old Heller or Airfix boxing that is moulding away in the far reaches of the stash. 

As you could see from my photos of the new display case, Hurricanes are one of my favorite aircraft types. I still have a couple of resin Omega oddball versions (floatplane and one of the foreign trainers IIRC) but I think this is the last of my injected ones. That is, until the new Airfix fabric winged variant is released. Besides being able to do an authentic early Hurri, I should be able to cobble together a prototype version. The main thing giving me pause is the flat-sided canopy. Some options to consider, but unless someone releases a proper conversion, none of them are particularly easy. Still, can't wait for that release. 

But here is a shot of the current state of the Soviet trainers, the IL-28, and the Hurricanes. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

My sole purchase at the Spring Show

For the unforgivably curious, I must state for the record that I did not buy any models, decals, aftermarket bits, or books at the recent Spring Show. However, that does not mean that the checkbook was idle.

I picked up a small vertical display case that was being sold by the estate of another 1:72 modeller. It is just the right size for fighters in this scale – though it couldn’t handle much larger than a twin-engined aircraft.

So that is what I put in it. Eurofighters, Hawks, Hurricanes, and mostly likely a row of Lightnings (haven’t quite decided about that yet). If I had another one, I could probably fill it up with P-47s alone.

At present the Hawk count stands at 18, with another in the pipeline. I do still have a number of decal options for the type, though I’m running low on special schemes and might have to resort to actual in-service examples. I’m good with that, as long as they at least have squadron bars or a different camo scheme. And of course we are approaching the start of the airshow  season, so there may be some new paint jobs coming along shortly. The decal process has been very fast the last couple of years – sometimes the decal artist even has access to help from the squadron itself.

But here are some shots of my newest modeling related purchase. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Airfix BAe Hawk T1

Hawkmania continues to be unrestrained here at the 72 Land aircraft production facilities. Today’s entry is another T1, this time the slightly revised Airfix kit. Mods that I know of include a one-piece canopy, no HUDs in the cockpit, a re-tooled thinner exhaust can, and wing fences that are now molded onto the wing rather than separate. Given that the boxing has only appeared in Red Arrows markings, perhaps the rationale is to simplify the kit for the punters that will be picking up the kit at various airshows and whatnot. In any case, there is certainly nothing in this kit to dissuade the lifer modeler (ie, us) from picking them up, especially at the prices they have been seeing here in the US.

You’d think I’d be running out of Hawk markings, but you’d be wrong. This is the special set worn by a FRADU example from RNAS Yeovilton to celebrate the 100th anniversary of British naval aviation. I think they wore this tail on Sea Harriers too.

Not much to say about the experience except that the kit and decals performed excellently, and I was glad to add another Hawk to the collection.

This is completed model #429 (#10 for the year), finished in April of 2013.

Now with the correct photo!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Airfix BAe Hawk T2

I have displayed large numbers of BAe Hawks on this blog before. Good kits, good decals, and lots of RAF special markings is a huge attraction for me. So today we have another one to join the parade.

As it happens, I have all three of the current Airfix kits in process right now. The recent T1, the slightly revised T1 (in the Red Arrows box), and the T2. The first to be displayed is the most recent set of markings, for the 100th anniversary of RAF 4 Squadron based at RAF Valley in mid 2012. This is, I believe the only active T2 squadron at present. I just completed a T2 in this squadron’s standard markings last May, so I may have as many examples of different T2 markings as the RAF does!

Decals came from Xtradecal 72-156, which has so far been a gold mine for my personal modeling. I’ve already completed the 3 Squadron anniversary Eurofighter, while the Hawk T1 in faux Bomber Command markings is currently getting paint. I also have plans for the 1 Squadron Eurofighter markings as soon as I pick up another Revell kit. And I may very well do one of the Chinooks as well. Not as sure about the Sea Kings, though I never have done anything in Rescue Yellow, so never say never.

This is completed model #428 (#9 for the year), finished in April of 2013.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Italeri Martin B-57B Canberra

I know that I’ve mentioned that my own personal model inspiration can come from a lot of different directions, but there are some models that, when completed, you can’t really remember why you wanted to build one in the first place.

For me, the B-57B is one of those. I think that, in a physical sense, I first dug the Italeri kit out of the stash when I completed the new-tool Airfix Canberra PR9.  I can vaguely remember some plans to work my way through the Canberra variants: the PR9, the B-57B, maybe an older Airfix bomber canopy variant if they didn’t update it (and they haven’t yet), and even – God help me – the Mach 2 big-wing/big-engined version. There are a number of conversions produced by the Brit aftermarket for other variants as well.

Then it stalled after I got the cockpit together. It wasn’t on the Shelf of Shame, exactly, but it was under the workbench in a state of neglect. Finally, when I decided on an all-black paint scheme, and seeing that I had three black Hawks approaching the need for paint, I decided that I would go ahead and get the kit together. Being an older Italeri kit, there were some fit issues (mostly wings-to-fuselage joint and the bomb bay doors) and the raised lines had to be sanded down.

The painting coincided with the airbrush throughput problem, so it took more than one session to get full coverage. It probably wasn’t going to be one of my better efforts, so I pushed forward to at least get it finished. The paint scheme came from Xtradecal 72103. This one is from the 71st Bomb Group, 38th Bomb Wing, from Laon AB in France, approximately 1957 (meaning I was one year old at the time). The decals, as always, performed without problem, and I even remembered to include the wingtip tanks, which is important since they have some squadron-specific art on them. But despite putting the usual fishing weight in the nose, it was not enough to keep it from tail-sitting. So just ignore the giant roll of yellow tape. 

Again, not one to set up a press conference for, but good enough to lurk in the rear of the case with the Airfix PR9 (and the others as I get around to them).

This is completed model #427 (#8 for the year), finished in April of 2013.