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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Italeri Savoia-Marchetti SM-82

For some reason 2014 seems to be developing into the year of Italian aircraft.  Today's completed model falls right into that category, being the Italeri Savoia-Marchetti SM-82 from a few years back. This is one in the long series of trimotors from this manufacturer; something of an Italian style point. And Italeri has followed suit, having produced the SM-79 and SM-81 as well.

I thought that the construction phase went very well, with good fit and decent detail inside and out. There were some anxious moments getting the landing gear to fit correctly, the tailwheel broke off more than once during the process, and I had some self-inflicted wounds that were incurred while painting the exhaust rings.

In fact, painting was a bit of an adventure. I was using White Ensign paints for the first time, and the experiment was generally successful. These are satin paints, a tiny bit more difficult to use than the fully gloss Xtracolours that I am more used to. I initially chose an incorrect green for the upper surfaces, which is in no way the paint's fault! But the original choice was not olive enough, and I didn't have WEM's Italian olive paint in my lineup (I had tried to buy it but at the time it was out of stock). I ended up using an Xtracolour rendition of the British olive drab, and I think it looks pretty decent. Markings were from the spares box - Tauro roundels and Xtradecal code numbers. The paint scheme itself came from a painted profile that I found on the internet at some point in the murky past, so I'm not sure who to credit for that.

Once again gratitude goes to Italeri, who have produced a good kit of an indigenous aircraft, which had formerly been available only in vacuform. Success with the SM-82 has led to some work being done on the Italeri Br-20 and Ca-311. I may have to tackle the yellow/green/red Italian camo before I'm done.

I'm in the middle of yet another display space shortage, so it appears that I will have to change the layout in my freestanding cases to accommodate more shelving. But that is a story for another day.

This is completed model #438 (#3 for the year), finished in February of 2014. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Light at the end of the airbrush tunnel?

I may have inadvertently discovered the answer to the great airbrush mystery. On the 72nd Scale Aircraft board there was a discussion concerning which airbrush everyone was using and why. The discussion wandered, as these things are prone to do, and eventually touched on thinners. Keith Rider, one of the board members, mentioned that his nozzle o-ring was destroyed by lacquer thinner. And I use lacquer thinner almost exclusively for airbrush work.

And that set the wheels to turning. Though I usually break down the nozzle for a cleaning after each session, I honestly could not remember seeing an o-ring in there. So I took the thing apart, and sure enough, no o-ring. Going to the Iwata website, I confirmed that the Eclipse HP-CS should indeed have said o-ring as part of the nozzle assembly.

So is this the origin point of my airbrush woes? Did the ring dissolve or fall out during one of the many cleaning sessions? No clue as of yet, but I do have a source for a replacement part, and will have one flying toward me within hours. I really should pick up a new nozzle tip and needle at the same time, but will try to get the new o-ring in place first.

So stay tuned; I don't think this story is over yet, but at least we may have some progress! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Airbrush Battle Royal round two - not quite there yet

I received some timely tips on airbrush malfunction in the comments section from both Joroen and Tim. (Thanks, gents). These involved helping to get a good seal on the forward parts of the airbrush with a blob of Vaseline in order to prevent air pressure loss. So I glopped a bit on the threads - you would be surprised how many questions your wife may come up with when you grab a jar of Vaseline and disappear into the basement - and tightened things up as best I could.

Soon the airbrush was running and I was spraying a matte topcoat onto the SM-82 that I recently completed (and which you'll be seeing on the blog shortly). The matte coat went on fairly well, so I thought the problem might be solved. Unfortunately, the next color up was a reshoot of the Alclad that sputtered out on me during the last session. Once again, the stream reduced and reduced until there was no paint emerging from the tip at all.

I don't thin Alclad (since it typically doesn't need it) so it wasn't a chemical reaction with thinner. There was some buildup around the outer portion of the airbrush tip, which is also unusual for Alclad. Was this another manifestation of the Alclad Curse, which only seems to be invoked whenever Alclad paint crosses the border into 72 Land? I'm not sure yet. The level of frustration was high and the evening was cold, so I decided to defer the experiment with another enamel paint until a later date.

So I'm not quite there yet, but I continue to experiment. Airbrushing is such an integral part of the modelling toolkit that I have to overcome this or start looking for a new hobby. Could I have slopped on too much Vaseline and contaminated the airstream, causing a chemical reaction with the lacquer thinner? Not sure - despite what you may have heard, I am not an expert in Vaseline usage - but I am not beaten yet. One other effect of the painting session was that I realized my surface prep for the Hasegawa B-26 was inadequate for a NMF, so I will need to do some additional buffing and put on a coat of primer.

On the other end of the production queue, I have decided to delay the start of work on two new kits - the Hasegawa Ta-154 and the DML He-219 - in favor of two Italeri models of Italian aircraft: the Fiat BR-20 and the Caproni Ca-314. With a great Sky Models decal sheet of Italian bombers to provide unique markings and the completion of two other Italian models in 2014, I figured I should strike while the proverbial iron is hot. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

RS Models Ambrosini SAI-207

I am a fan of Italian aircraft design, though I haven't completed very many models of them. I may be a bit intimated by the complex green/brown/dark yellow camo schemes that many of them carry, especially with my airbrushing limitations. But I decided that in 2014 I was going to get at least a few of them completed.

And the first one to come along is the Ambrosini SAI-207. Developed from the racer SAI-7, the fighter was small and fast, but not sound structurally. It was also badly underpowered. Still, it managed to make it out to three squadrons before the armistice in 1943. There were no foreign sales. The design continued to be refined in the SAI-403 Dardo.

RS Models makes the kit of the SAI-207 in short-run injected plastic, including (hooray!) an injected canopy. I admit to leaving most of the photoetch bits out of the cockpit, given the somewhat thick canopy, since little can be seen. The fit was decent though not exceptional; a bit of filler was needed on the fuselage seam and the wing/fuselage joint. Be careful with the prop, especially while separating it from the sprue - it is very thin and delicate. Beyond that, all the work is fairly straightforward. Decals came from the kit, and you can characterize them the same as I did the prop: thin and delicate. But in decals that's a good thing!

Luckily the SAI-107 never seems to have been painted in the tricolor camo, only the dark olive green uppers and grey lower surfaces. I originally used one of the White Ensign Models paints for the green, but contrary to the paint tin's lid, it turned out to be a lighter green than I was looking for. I believe it is actually one of the camo greens. I did use WEM for the lower grey, and it worked perfectly. Upon reflection I used the Xtracolour version of the RAF's olive drab, which I think came out just fine. I hope this will become the first of many Italian aircraft to find their way through the 72 Land production line this year.

This is completed aircraft #438 (#2 of the year), completed in February of 2014.

Monday, February 3, 2014

More airbrush woes

Though we here in the great Northwest are still in the warm afterglow of Superbowl 48, that does not mean that I haven't gotten a chance to do some modelling work. A little bit of construction and a paint session, after which I spent some time determining what new kits would be joining the front of the construction queue.

I got the last bits and pieces attached to the Hasegawa B-26, so now the main work will be on surface prep. This will be a NMF, so the question always is whether to prime the surface or take a chance that you can get the plastic smooth enough to do the job. In this case I think that a primer coat will be necessary, if only because there has been some putty on a couple of the panel lines and a bit of discretionary sanding going on. The smallest grit sandpaper that I have currently is 600, so I don't think I want to put Alclad directly over that. So I will likely give it a grey undercoat of some shade. I never put black under Alclad for fear of getting one of those blinding chrome-like surfaces that I personally think look toylike and unrealistic. With my average modelling skills I need to avoid the toy look as much as possible.

When I fired up the airbrush, it was firstly to get a matte topcoat on the RS Ambrosini SAI-207, which will feature in a completion entry shortly. Beyond that, there were other Alclad doings: props for the SM-82 and the Il-28 that has been patiently awaiting paint since Christmastime. I also got the RLM78 lower surfaces applied to the desert snake Stuka.

More airbrush related woes - there is something messed up in the internal portions which is sporadically preventing good air flow through the brush. It was unable to push Alclad through, and that stuff is mixed about as thin as paint thinner. All I get in the cup is bubbles, which implies that something is blocking the tip. But when I check, there is nothing obvious there. A mystery that I am going to have to solve. This left the Il-28 looking rather spotty, and it will need another coat.

It looks like the next two in the queue will be the Hasegawa Ta-154 and the Mitsubishi Betty. I also need to work in the beginnings of the Zvezda Pe-8. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks

Now THAT was a dominating performance. Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for winning Super Bowl 48 in East Rutherford NJ. After having to listen to the media all week long, you would have thought that Peyton Manning was playing the game all by himself. You might have heard some talk of Seattle's defense, but only in terms of how difficult it was going to be for them to stop Manning's offense. Well, luckily, they seem to have overcome that obstacle. 

This is a big deal for this city. It's not a very good sports town. The only national championship they ever got was the 1979 NBA title. But there is something special about Seahawk fandom. They are rabid. They are noisy. Their cheers at home games routinely show up as minor earth tremors on the UW seismograph. Though Kansas City is a close second, Seattle is still the most noisy stadium in the NFL. 

So congratulations to the team and the city. There are going to be a lot of parties going on in the next 24 hours!