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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dodging another disaster

I would blame my rampant ham-handedness on age, but I was like this when I was 30. There was a near-disaster in the modelling dungeon today, which only panic and an extra kit in the stash allowed me to avoid.

I've been putting together the new tool Revell BAe Hawk. This will be the third in my mini Red Arrows project. The effort has seemed to be a bit snakebit from the start, with parts that didn't want to align correctly and some that were just too bloody small for a sausage-fingered twit like me to easily handle. I think much of this is a self-inflicted wound. But the big problem came when I started masking the canopy.

The Hawk is very easy to mask; no complicated framing. But somehow, as I was painting the grey sealer strip prior to masking it up for the overall RA Red paint, I managed to get the world's most perfect glue thumbprint right in the middle of the canopy. I am honestly not sure where the glue came from. I hadn't actually started gluing anything yet in this particular session. But there must have been some somewhere on the bench, unless I have been modelling so long that I am starting to exude Tenax from my skin.

I first tried polishing it out, but my range of sandpapers just aren't fine enough to do anything other than fog the canopy further. After a few minutes of deciding whether to consign this one to the round file, I remembered there was an Italeri Hawk T2 downstairs that I had already partially cannibalized to replace some gear doors that I had lost on an earlier Hawk adventure. But honestly, what were the chances that two canopies from different kits - different companies - were going to be anywhere close to fitting the same.

Rather high, as it turns out. It wasn't an exact fit, but the area of misalignment is small, and probably not noticeable if you don't know to look for it (which unfortunately, you do, now). It won't be a perfect model, but I'm not sure that any of my 450 completions would qualify for that. But at least it isn't on its way to the landfill.

Closing out the month was a short airbrush session where I put the top coats on the Ju-287 and the Airfix ragwing Hurricane. Plus I painted the wheel wells of that Hawk. And a few miscellaneous metal bits. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Academy USGov Fat Man atomic bomb

Here is another completion, a very simple one, which is part of the ongoing ordnance project. It is the Fat Man atomic bomb (no snickering about the modeller now) that I received from fellow modeller Ray Seppala. Just a few pieces that were quickly put together, a coat of Olive Drab paint, a quick construction of a support stand, and there you are. This is the bomb that was used on Nagasaki in August of 1945.

This is completed ordnance #5 (#18 for the year), completed in March of 2016.

Monday, March 28, 2016

New models in queue (Norseman, Fortress)

Just a bit of construction and painting to note before I return to clearing out the backlog of 2016 completions.

The main thing was putting on a surface coat for the RLM71 on the topside of the Ju-287. This is the one whose paint had given me fits while applying the color coat a couple of weeks back. Prior to the paint session I buffed the upper surfaces down until it was sufficiently smooth and thinned the Xtracolour RLM71 quite drastically. This time there was no issue whatsoever; the paint went on smooth and spatter-free. The only reason I am not unmasking it at this moment is that I discovered the wheel spats were not completely covered, so I'll need to go back one more time to clean those up. Then I'll be reattaching the front wheels (which came off during the masking process) and apply the decals.

The rest of the paint session was mostly small items. A set of props for the Bv-222 in RLM70, which I also used for the wheel hubs on the support/loading trailer for the Tsar Bomb, as well as props and engines for the B-17G.

I also completed major assembly on a couple of new models in the last few days. These are both destined for a group of decals I have on the way from Hannants. I used the Academy B-17G, which will be stuck to an RAF Fortress 3, painted in Dark Earth, Dark Green, and Black. Also an ancient Matchbox Noorduyn Norseman, for which I bought a generic set of white titles to do a Royal Army example. Not yet started are a P-47 bubble which will become the "Eight Nifties" Thunderbolt from a Kit's World set. Finally, I picked up a Syhart sheet for the North Dakota Centennial F-4D, a plane I've wanted to do since I saw a photo of it, but I have run into a problem. Apparently no one makes a current F-4D - rather amazing given the number of F-4s that are circulating. Hasegawa did make one in its series of Phantoms, but it has long disappeared from their catalog. I haven't even spotted one on ebay yet, and I fear that if I do someone will be ambitious enough to ask more than I want to spend.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tamiya Supermarine Spitfire F1 (times two)

Today I present a dual completion, both of the same kit and set in the same time period. They are both Tamiya Spitfires, a well-made kit with few building vices but not much in the way of unusual paint schemes.

The origin story of the two models is kind of unique. A couple of years back, I took a table at the IPMS-Seattle Spring Show to move a few kits that I figured I would never get around to building. Included in this were two boxes of Tamiya Spits. As one of the customers was looking at them, he asked if I knew that both kits were started. In fact I didn't know, and probably would not have carted them to the show if I had realized it. I slipped them under the table and took them home.

So I decided if I wasn't going to sell them, I had better build them. The problem, as I mentioned, is that they are both bog-standard BoB paint schemes, which are not very spectacular. One day while searching for something in my decal stash, I ran across an old Aeromaster sheet, Battle of Britain Spitfires (72028). There were three planes on the sheet that at least had some sort of rudimentary nose art, though they weren't exactly prime examples of the art form. One, LO-Q, had what I gather is supposed to be a snake, though it looks rather like something my pug leaves in the back yard. The other, PR-Q, had a white stag on it. LO-Q is from RAF Tangmere in August of 1940, and was piloted by A Johnstone. PR-Q is from RAF Middle Wallop, September 1940, piloted by M Appleby. Both are Dark Green and Dark Earth over Sky.

Any of you who have built the Tamiya Spit know that it goes together with no issues. Painting was done mostly in the last days of my previous airbrush, so that was a bit problematical at times. But I persevered long enough to get them into the completed column. I do notice, as I was uploading the pictures, that the antenna masts seem to have gone to join the Carpet Monster. I'll need to replace both of them before they go into the display case.

These are completed models #450 (#14 for the year), and #452 (#17 for the year), both finished in March of 2016. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Old paint (Ju-287, ragwing, Ka-1 gyro)

Some challenges presented themselves during the airbrush session today. It seems that there are particular problems with some paints I am using, though I am at a loss to point out the root cause. It happened this time while putting the upper surface coat of RLM71 on the Ju-287 (boy, was that a masking job). The airbrush started spitting a bit and then had great trouble pushing paint through. One second it would be going great guns, the next dead stopped. I'm wondering if it wasn't a matter of paint consistency. Although the paint was well thinned, some of these tins of Xtracolour I am using are starting to get pretty old. They have a tendency to clump a bit.

Other colors used during this session (Dark Earth for the ragwing Hurricane, matte sealer coat for a couple of projects) went on fine, so it may be the particular paint that was giving me troubles.

In terms of construction, I finished the major assembly on a Fine Molds Kayaba Ka-1 gyro. This was done in the absence of instructions, which had mysteriously separated from the box sometime over the last 25 years. But we modellers are contemptuous of instructions anyway, right? The strut arrangement for the landing gear was a battle to say the least, but most parts fit well enough. Decals are easy - a pair of white outlined hinomarus on the fuselage sides and that is it.

I also got the cockpit together for the new Revell BAe Hawk. This will eventually be the 2015 Red Arrows scheme (with the Brit flag on the aft portion of the tail). The kit seems to be pretty well detailed and is going together with no major issues, though I still think that my go-to Hawk kit is going to remain the Airfix latest version. I do hate dealing with red plastic, and the Airfix still comes in Prison Grey. This will be the third Red Arrows iteration I have done, and I think the only other one is the small change in markings for the 2000 season. I have an older Fujimi Hawk to use for that one.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Airfix Shorts Tucano T1 (Remembrance Day)

Starting today's completion came about as I was prepping for my return to active modelling duty post-surgery in January. I knew I was going to start with the two remaining Eurofighter single seaters as soon as possible, and was studying the decal sheet to look for any pitfalls that would trip up the inattentive modeller (ie, me). I came across the option for a Shorts Tucano T1; a rather garish scheme of poppies that was put together as a tribute on Remembrance Day (equivalent to Veterans Day to us Yanks). And garish is right up my street, so I made a stash  dive to see what I had in the way of Tucano kits.

I found an Airfix kit that, if I remember correctly, came out at around the same time as the Concorde and TSR-2. These are all pre-Hornby kits, and it shows. Nothing really terrible, but the fit in detail and engineering between these and the current crop of Airfix releases is gargantuan. I took a leisurely attitude to this model, working on it when the mood struck and ignoring it the rest of the time. Eventually I got to the painting point - which wasn't a trial because the aircraft comes in overall Black.

And here my troubles began. And can't remember the last time I had as much trouble with a single small part as I did with the Tucano prop. This was a combination of its size - tiny - and its paint scheme - complex. There are five colors, if the spinner is included, on a piece about 3/4" wide. And most of those colors require masking. Black, White, Red, Yellow, and a Panzer Grey that I typically use for basic prop color. The front of the prop was Black and White. The rear was Panzer Grey with Yellow tips. And of course the Red hub. I tried masking and spraying, hand painting some repairs, managed to break off two of the blades due to fumbling, and even two layers of paint becomes an eyesore on something that small. At length I got to the point I seem to arrive at with many models, when the returns for continuing diminish dramatically and it is time to finish and move on. So I did.

It is still an interesting scheme. The lower "Lest We Forget" was tricky since it crossed over the landing gear doors, but came out ok in the end. Most of the decals came from Xtradecal 72216, though I tried using the supplied kit markings for a couple of small stencils. This was not a success; this was before Airfix started working with Cartograf, and the markings were thick, didn't care about setting solution, and milky to boot.

As an aside, I discovered that Tucanos have a surprising number of paint schemes, many of which have been done on 1:72 sheets by Alley Cat, Airdecal, Combat, Model Alliance, and of course Xtradecal. They come in Jubilee markings, desert colors, Battle of Britain markings, Roundel Blue overall, and Red/White training markings (including the one with a toucan on the tail, which I have already built). And the RAF likes to paint one up for the airshow season, so the unusual color schemes will probably keep coming. If I can figure out the proper approach to painting those damn props, I may have to make some more in the future.

This is completed model #449 (#13 for the year), finished in March of 2016. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hobbyboss Hawker Hurricane 2c

Hawker Hurricanes are another of my ongoing series projects. The next two completions are both from the Hobbyboss kits. My understanding is that the nose is rather thin on their version, and I admit it does look that way if you're specifically looking for it. Still, this was in their easy kit series, so it really didn't take too long to assemble. Most of the work went into masking and painting. Especially with the very thin canopy framing.

As is obvious by the markings, this is a desert aircraft, dressed in Dark Earth and Mid Stone (both Xtracolour) with decals taken from the SkyDecals sheet. I did have to hunt up roundels; I had already used all of the applicable ones that Sky provided. Still, these types are not too hard to find, and I think I raided an old Aeromaster sheet for roundels and fin flash. There is a tiny bit of nose art on both sides. This Hurricane was stationed in the western desert, likely near El Alamein in 1942.

All in all, the Hobbyboss Hurricane 2c is a fairly simple exercise, though the engineers will likely not be comfortable living with the nose shape. The real hope on the horizon is a metal-winged Hurricane (along with revised 2c and 2d variants) from Airfix, based on their ragwing tooling. I have one of those in the queue as well, though it likely won't be emerging until late this month or early next.

This is completed model #448 (#12 for the year), finished in March of 2016.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Masking and construction (Ragwing Hurricane, AH-64, Tornado)

I find myself in an unusual situation: my paint queue is empty. Well, there is the XP-56 that needs a matte coat, but I won't be doing that until I have some other items that need paint as well. So, I am stuck with lots of tasks that involve one of my least favorite aspects, masking.

There is a camo coat of Dark Earth that is needed for the ragwing Hurricane. The nose of the Tornado GR1 needs some Black, as does the underside of the Blenheim (and possibly the Lanc, but it depends on how ambitious I get). Black as well for the Tsar Bomba nose and tail. All of those need masking.

As far as construction goes, I got the majority of parts together for the Hasegawa AH-64. The last session was devoted to getting the engines and wing stubs attached. Next come all the little detail bits that need to be on before the Olive Drab paint comes calling. The canopy is masked and attached.

I had to do a small repair job to a couple of Hawks, both landing gear related. One came as a result of moving a T1 in the display case, and one was just a bump that the 50th anniversary Red Arrows Hawk sustained in the course of doing a little detail painting, in this case the exhaust. That one is ready for decals, a combination of what came with the kit and an Xtradecal sheet. 

This is a view of my rather crowded construction space on the workbench. Multi-tasking is my thing (a leftover from my project manager days). 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Monogram Consol B-36 Peacemaker

At last, I can finally say that I have rescued a model from the Shelf of Doom. And it was taking up a lot of space on that shelf.

I imagine most of us 1:72nd types have owned the Monogram 1:72 B-36 at some point in our lives, though many may have succumbed to the impossible size of it and sold it down the river. I actually have a couple of copies in the stash, and decided (long around 1998 or so) to get one built. Well, you can see how well that went, given that it is just crossing the finish line 18 years later. It has spent most of that time in an assembled but unpainted state. Maybe it was the thought of all that NMF and the troubles I had been having with Alclad paints.

But then about 4 years ago I decided on something a little unusual. Why not finish the B-36 by turning it into the world's largest whif? The thought of building something that most wouldn't build because of its size into something that most wouldn't do because it is a non-real-world fantasy was perversely appealing.

I gave what markings to use some long thought and rejecting the idea of both a Russian version and a Fed Ex version (I'm going to use that idea elsewhere, someday), I finally settled on what had been an early concept, a WW2 RAF Bomber Command type. Without the jet pods, it almost is one in any case. Conceived during the war, it became the largest piston-engined aircraft ever, and for the longest time the largest plastic model kit ever. Something else has probably eclipsed it by now in some larger scale but it might still be the plastic 1:72 king (the A Model Spruce Goose and Modelsvit An-124 are mostly fibreglass and the Anigrand 747 and C-5 are resin).

Painting came in stages, but I had all the upper surfaces done when I ran into the Great Mojo Drought of 2014-2015. It languished for what seemed like ages, but when I was trying to restart the modelling mojo after this winter's surgeries, I thought that might be just the ticket.

I did search around on the net, and while there are other whif B-36s out there, most use the 1:144 scale kit, not 1:72. But I'm not the only loon; I found a fellow on Britmodeller who had done a B-36 cropduster for a fantasy group build. Now that is thinking outside the box. I don't know what the point of spraying pesticide would be - just the sound of that thing flying low over the field would scare the bejeezus out of any bug within a five mile radius.

Nothing out of the ordinary done to the kit other than deleting the jet engines, though I did use decals from the sheet that was produced for our 1992 IPMS-Nationals here in Seattle. Now that is some deep stash diving. "Cream of the Crop" was actually a B-29 from the 19th BG in Korea.

I do have one horror story, and it came at the very end of the process (not uncommon, alas). I used Cutting Edge masks on the canopies. They stick very well and don't lift like the old grey vinyl Eduard masks have a tendency to do. Well, I've learned just how well they do stick. I couldn't get them off the model. I admit that they have been on there for far longer than recommended (like maybe 8 or 9 years) but they were terribly difficult to raise. I first tried a toothpick, my usual tool for removing canopy masking, but they just broke. Then I used an Xacto knife point to try and raise a corner so each pane could be peeled off. And it broke the Xacto point! Almost every pane has a scratch on it and there was still a lot of adhesive left behind. That was why I had to make a special store run for WD-40, which, though a silicon degreaser, does an outstanding job of cleaning up residue and making canopies shiny. There still are numerous scratches, but I am not up for polishing individual panels on something like a B-36! That was a hellacious, interminable job with no good outcome. So I finally shrugged, then went out and took some photos on the famous wood panelled airstrip here in the capitol city of 72 Land.

This is completed aircraft #446 (#10 for the year), finished in February of 2016.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Today's paintwork (Ju-287, Tsar Bomba)

Just a quick painting session tonight followed by some impromptu construction.

I did have one failure while painting. I couldn't get the bottle of Model Master semi-matte open! I don't think I can blame that on the airbrush though. I'm still searching for a pair of pliers (which seem to go to ground when they know I'm looking for them) so will have to put the matte coat on the XP-56 at my next session.

More successful was an RLM65 coat on the lower surfaces of the Ju-287 jet bomber. I've decided not to attach the RATO units to this one in order to preserve the purity of the airframe shape. Still, some complex masking will be required when it comes time to paint the upper surfaces, since all of the wheel spats are in the upper dark green as well.

Lastly, it was time to paint the center portion of the A Model Tsar Bomba. Good Lord, the construction was surprisingly difficult on this considering the relatively small size of the weapon. This mostly came from about 40 pieces of connecting hardware that surrounds the rear of the bomb and the fins. You can see what I mean if you access photos of the kit. Dozens of hellaciously tiny bits, which A Model, as a short run manufacturer, doesn't do terribly well. Trimming the sprue spurs off these bits is a trial in itself, but magnify that by the number of pieces. Later A Model kits have seen better moldings on large pieces, but the smaller ones still have some issues. The airbrush was spitting a little bit during this part of the session (maybe the paint was not correctly thinned?) but seemed to even out when I moved to the next color.

I've also noticed a rough spot on the red coat of the Red Arrows Hawk I'm in the middle of. It appears I'll need to do a bit of spot buffing and respray that portion. A job for next time.

Also, added to the front of the production queue is a Hasegawa AH-64 Apache helicopter. Just working on the cockpit at this point. Plus I've started work on the new Revell BAe Hawk, and will be putting it in 2015 Red Arrow markings (with the stylized Brit flag on the rear of the fin/rudder). This will be the third of my short Red Arrow Hawk variations project. I've finished a traditional Red Arrows Hawk, with Roundel Blue fin, though I am considering redoing that model since it is an ancient one. I've got a 50th anniversary season Hawk as well as a 2015 version in process. And then, once I get around to it, I'll do the 2000 season special. I think that is the four major variants seen to date on Hawks.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Painting a Tornado and a Hawk

This is about the fifth day in a row I've been out to the garage to do some additional airbrushing. A new tool will do that for you. In fact, I've sort of outdistanced the production queue and will need to get some things stuck together before the next paint session, mostly masking with a bit of construction.

The main job was to get the final coat of Dark Green on the Tornado GR1. I ran out of paint the last time and decided to wait to finish this one up. Howeber, when I opened a new tin of Xtracolour (one of the last I was able to get before the iron curtain of postal restrictions clamped down on enamels) I was surprised to find that the consistency of the paint in the container was not just thick - it was virtually gel. So I opened up another one; same problem. The third was actually of paint-like consistency, so off I went. I don't know yet if the two tins are salvageable. Maybe they just need some lacquer thinner to get them back to a more liquid consistency. But that is an experiment for later. I wonder if others have had this problem.

I also was able to get a first coat of Red Arrows Red on the BAe Hawk that I am doing in 50th anniversary season markings. Might need to buff it down and do a surface coat on this one, since it seemed a little rough. Perhaps I just didn't hit the sweet spot of thinning the paint.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Academy USGov Little Boy atomic bomb

This will be the fourth item of the ongoing Ordnance Project, created to display missiles, bombs, pods, and other such weapons of mass (or even limited) destruction that are not actually aircraft. Sort of a dumber second cousin to the group of UAVs I have been doing.

I knew that the Academy B-29 Enola Gay boxing came with examples of the two atomic bombs used at the end of WW2. I do have other copies of that kit (with plans for a KB-29 and a Boeing Washington) but none of that particular boxing. So I posted a note on the 72nd Scale Aircraft forum hoping that someone might be planning to just put theirs in the spares box and would take kindly to a modeller of limited means.

Ray Seppala, a longstanding member of the board, offered them up, and we exchanged the plastic bits for an old Repliscale decal sheet I had but wasn't going to use. After shipment from Australia - my models are better travelled than I am - and about 10 minutes of construction time, I had the two bombs completed. Add one color of paint for each and a couple of quick stands to display them on, and that was that.

First up is the Little Boy atomic bomb, which was used on Nagasaki in August of 1945.

This is completed ordnance #4 (#15 for the year), completed in March of 2016.

Friday, March 11, 2016

More paint, more construction (XP-56, Tornado, Ju-287)

Another successful day in the garage doing some quick painting on a couple of ongoing projects. I've actually cleared out the paint queue for a change.

First of all, I loaded the brush with RAF Dark Green in order to get a surface coat onto the upper surfaces of the ragwing Hurricane. While I was at it, I also took the opportunity to put a first color coat on the Tornado GR1 with the same paint. I always try to group these things if at all possible.

Next, I was able to put a coat of Neutral Gray onto the lower surfaces of the XP-56 after masking off the wheel wells. One unfortunate note in relation to the XP-56 is that I seem to have misplaced the decals. The national insignias will be easy to replace, but I'm not sure if I have a sheet of yellow tail code letters of the correct size. It would be so much easier to find the intact decals so I wouldn't have to line them up individually. We'll see what happens.

I have been working on a BAe Hawk in markings for the 50th display season of the UK's airshow team the Red Arrows. Today's work was to paint the tail Roundel Blue. I'll be using the Xtradecal set of markings.

A fine session, and I was still sane at the end. Meanwhile, on the workbench, I was able to add the four engines to the Ju-287 from Huma. Next comes the wheel pods, and then it will be ready for its first coat of paint. The Lancaster is about ready to have its canopies masked - the main bits of the airframe are all together now - but I'll need to paint the area under the canopy before I attach them. I'm taking conventional wisdom that the area under the greenhouse is the same color as the surfaces around the canopy. And I have stuck the first few pieces together for the AModel Tsar Bomba. Most of the parts in the kit are for the loading trolley, though there are a huge number of tiny parts for some brace hardware that appears on the outside of the rear of the device. That's going to be an exciting evening's work. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Italeri Agusta A129 Mongoose

Ever build a model of a type you don't really know very much about just for the heck of it? Now given how slowly most people build, it probably is not common. But the advantage of having a high production rate is that you can occasionally indulge in such things. Today's completion falls well into that category.

It is the Agusta A129 Mangusta (Mongoose), an attack helicopter roughly in the class of the AH-64 Apache, Eurocopter Tiger, and maybe the Mil-28. The Italeri kit is of the earlier type, with four rotors and no gatling gun on the lower nose. It does come covered with tiny rivets, but at least they aren't as prominent as some, and are easy to sand off if you are so inclined. The bits go together without much struggle, and given that the paint scheme is a single color, it makes a fairly good fast project.

There are lots of protuberances on the actual type - antennae and the like - and as usual I managed to break at least one of them off during construction. Italeri decals are a bit cloudy and inflexible at times, but with enough setting solution I was able to get them to lay down. How Italeri has produced this model but still hasn't done a 1:72 AMX I will never understand.

I have a Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters, I guess) Tiger in the stash, and may bring it down so that I can eventually display it with this one. One of the advantages of a huge stash (all wives take note, although they may not see it in the same light as we do).

This is completed aircraft #447 (#11 for the year), finished in March  of 2016.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meet the new boss (not the same as the old boss)

We have a new arrival here in 72 Land. No, not another rugrat (heaven forbid) or even another rescue dog (having just one is rather nice for a change) but a new airbrush. It came via Amazon in a sturdy cardboard container with a few special items included. Besides the bright shiny brush, there was an inline water trap (which I have been meaning to get for ages but never did), a few bottles of acrylics (which I don't use, and they were very primary colors anyway) and a tube of super lube. Why they included personal products like that - no, wait a second, it is to lube up the airbrush.

There is a thrill of anticipation as you get ready to test out a crucial tool like this. And I can say without any hesitation that the results were.... absolutely wonderful. I didn't realize just how damaged my old brush really was. All the parts move like they are supposed to, paint actually emerges from the nozzle, and the coat it lays down is nicely smooth and free of bubbles or runs. I can't tell you what a relief that was.

There was one moment of terror, and those of you who have been disappointed by something you have waited a long time for will understand this. I switched colors and was preparing to spray the wheel wells of the XP-56, fired the trigger - and nothing happened. No air, no paint, no nothing. Just like one of the symptoms of my earlier problem. I'm surprised the pacemaker didn't go off. But I fiddled with the front end, and it turned out it had been inadvertently spun open when I was dabbing off paint that had collected on the nozzle tip. If you open it up too wide, it is supposed to cut off the paint (because the geometry between the nozzle and needle gets messed up). I gave it a half turn and all was well again.

I'm sure in my ham-fisted way I will find other ways to screw up models (looking at you, Blenheim) but for a short while at least, painting won't be one of them. I was able to get those wheel wells done on the XP-56, the Dark Earth camo on the Eurofighter, the RLM65 onto the repaired underwing floats on the Bv-222, and various exhaust parts. Plus repair the bottom wing of an Operation Torch Hurricane.

Though I did have a bit of a crisis with a B-36 that has sent me to the store for WD40. That story later...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

End of a mortal enemy

I must unfortunately announce the demise of my Iwata Eclipse HP-CS airbrush, veteran of something like 15 years of use.

Today was just the last straw. There was no longer any paint coming out of the front of the airbrush. I disassembled it more than once, scrubbed it with thinner and little wire brushes, and finally had to surrender to the inevitable. The airbrush was no more, singing with the choir invisible, pushing up daisies, and other such Python references.

I suspect the little bullet shaped nozzle in the front of the brush, which cannot be cleaned physically (the opening on one end is too small to allow anything like a wire or pipe cleaner to pass through) is finally occluded with dried paint. That would likely explain the diminishing amount of paint that has been making it to the model from the paint cup. There were bubbles in the cup, which implies that some passageway was blocked. I decided to check out parts prices to keep from having to buy a new brush, but the nozzle, needle, and o-ring (all of which are damaged) came to $42 via Amazon, while a new Iwata HP-CS was $139. So, after consultation with my wife, I decided that it basically amounted to getting a replacement brush for $100. Seeing that I have always liked my Eclipse (when it worked the way I expected), and it has given many long years of service - and you know my production is higher than most modellers, not counting 2015 - this seemed like the proper thing to do. At some future point perhaps I will replace that clogged nozzle, giving me a backup brush.

It does mean that the coming days of blog entries will be filled with writing up completions and construction, since there will be no airbrushing going on til the new recruit gets here mid-week.
But finances being what they are, it was a decision that did require some thought. My BluRay player is fatally down, too, so my entertainment options are becoming limited!

But look what just jumped on to the workbench and demanded some construction attention.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Catching up on construction (Spits, Hurricanes, XP-56, Tucano)

Just a few quick notes to catch up on recent construction and paintwork.

I did finally finish the Remembrance Day Tucano, though the prop is still a mess. But I have reached the point of diminishing returns on it, so next model up please.

Work proceeds on two Battle of Britain Spitfires and two Hobbyboss Hurricane 2c. I'm just going through the slow work of painting, masking, painting, screaming, etc. The Hurricanes will be another desert scheme and an Operation Torch aircraft.

I was able to airbrush the rest of one Eurofighter's exhaust cones, though the airbrush was starting to give me fits again. I took it upstairs, disassembled it, and used a set of wire brushes to try and clean out the insides. We'll see how that worked next time.

I'm still considering more work on the Airfix Blenheim, though I may just decide to mask up the canopies and go with what I've got, however crappy it may be. Again, learnings being filed for the eventual Mk 4.

I also see some landing gear assembly in my future, with the Spitfires, Eurofighters, Hurricanes, and Blenheim all being in roughly that part of the process. The Eurofighters are especially fiddly, but I don't lack experience in the Revell kits.

I got a coat of primer on the XP-56 and am happy enough with the seams to get on with the lower surfaces and wheel well painting. It's an interesting plane, and larger than you might have thought. It's no XF-85 Goblin, that's for sure.

With this much activity going on, and a lot of models approaching the finish line, I am going to have to consider what should be entering the front of the construction process. I think it's likely the Ju-287, more BAe Hawks, and a couple of leftover two-seat Eurofighters will be in there, but that can change on a whim. I am, after all, the undisputed dictator of this production line.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Airbrushing amid the downpour

After being released from my straitjacket after the construction disasters mentioned previously, I headed off to the garage later for an airbrushing session.

The main thing to do was get some detail Alclad work done in order to facilitate a couple of stalled projects. This was made up of some exhausts bits that needed Burnt Metal paint (Hurricane, Spitfire, Tucano).

Then I got a top Semi-matte sealer coat on a couple of items about to cross the finish line (a helicopter and a Bomber Command giant, details coming soon).

I also needed to finish up a surface coat of Dark Green on the Battle of Britain anniversary Eurofighter , the Little Boy atomic bomb, and the Airfix ragwing Hurricane. Finally, a camo of Dark Earth on the two Tamiya Spitfires that have been slowing working their way through the production queue.

While all this was going on, I heard something that sounded like a train was pulling up to my driveway. When I looked out the garage door, I could barely see across the street. Sheets of rain, some hail, and strong winds were blasting down our street. Now, we rarely see this sort of storm power here in the Great Northwest. We're more set up for 100 straight days of grey skies and annoying drizzle. But this was a full blown thunderstorm, with the kind of rain I remember from my June days in Southern California. I haven't seen what the precipitation total was for today, yet, but it is probably more than we got during most of February. And what better way to cap off one of my tempestuous airbrushing sessions. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Boneheadedness (a tale of the Airfix Blenheim)

It seems that the Bonehead Virus has taken root here in 72 Land. I'm - ahem - not the most fastidious of modellers at the best of times, and at the worst? Let's just say the results can get ugly. But today's construction session didn't just make me feel all thumbs. It made me feel like I was building with two deformed pinkies and a big toe.

The first disaster was on a model that hasn't been coming along too badly, an Airfix Short Tucano. There is a Memorial Day (Remembrance Day?) special marking set on the same decal sheet along with one of the two Eurofighters I am doing (Xtradecal 72-216). It is a black Tucano with lots of poppies and a slogan along the lower surfaces. The body of the model has been coming along fine. But the prop... This is a piece about an inch square with teeny blades and requires no less than three paints, and some masking to boot. Black and white sections on the front, black with yellow tips on the back. Of course I broke it early on, so I'm also now dealing with one blade that isn't connected well. No matter how I tried to mask it the paint bled under. The yellow didn't want to cover when I sprayed it. Even when I got paint in the right place, the consistency was gooey and awful. The result is something that looks like an abstract work of the Ape Men of the Indus. But I am done with dealing with it. Hopefully the vivid artwork on the body of the model will draw the eye away.

The second disaster I'm more bummed about. This involves the Airfix Blenheim. Things were going swimmingly; the fuselage and wings were together and awaited the cockpit module. But oy. If you learn nothing from this post, know that this structure is a complex entity just waiting to feast on the despair of any modeller that doesn't have an advanced engineering degree. Airfix doesn't help things by making three of the five sides of the cockpit surround out of clear parts, which makes gluing treacherous for the ham-fisted. That there are five parts at all means that it is hard to get a solid bond. And there is a lot of furniture to stuff into this small space. I made the bad situation worse by misunderstanding how the pilot seat was supposed to go together, which meant it was too wide for the space allotted. The assembled module resolutely did not want to fit into its spot in the front of the fuselage, which meant that, although I gave it some tape support during the time the glue was drying - the way it is positioned clamps do no good - the module slipped out of place and is now both fragile and misglued. Where the two clear bits in front meet is thoroughly misaligned. I can probably cover up the plastic joins with putty/surfacer, but I'm still vexed about how to get the transparencies lined up. Maybe a tiny sliver of plastic sheet that both can be glued to, assuming I can wiggle them around enough to reposition them.

Honestly, if I wasn't a fan of the type (and of Airfix) I would probably bin this and take my learnings into the Mk 4 that I will eventually buy. Plus there is that blasted core theory of this blog, that everything gets displayed, even the disasters. Still, these two have had me tearing my thankfully still abundant hair out.

Though I am glad to report that this was followed by a pretty successful airbrushing session (with added thunderstorm to boot!) More on this later. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Huma Messerschmitt P-1106

As some of you may know, I have always been a big fan of Huma kits. Although they are out of production now, for their time they were the epitome of short run engineering. So much so, in fact, that even now, most of them look and fit better than some modern short run kits. They pioneered the super tiny plastic detail sprue, which provided the modeller with pieces that seemed more like a gluable form of photoetch. And their choices were adventurous: prototypes, civil, general aviation, Luft 46, all with a distinctly German flavor. I have completed probably 80% of the entire range, and will be working to finish them all within the next couple of years. Next up is the Ju-287.

But today's completion is one of their Luftwaffe 1946 prototypes. It is the Messerschmitt P-1106, a development of the 1101 experimental fighter. I also have a DML kit of the 1101 in the upstairs construction queue waiting for my current fascination with Airfix kits to moderate. The 1106's primary new design element, along with changing the tail configuration, was moving the cockpit far to the rear of the airframe, almost in amongst the twin tails. That must have made the view forward pretty minimal during takeoff and landing. The designers couldn't project any performance improvements from the P-1101 design, so the work was suspended in the final days of the war.

The kit is typical Huma, with some test fitting necessary, and fairly little gluing surface for some bits (like landing gear doors). The main gear doors made a break for it at least once during the building process and still don't look quite as solid as I would like. Plus some of the glue fumes appear to have clouded the front edges of the canopy. And if you add the landing gear early, be prepared from them to try and escape periodically too. A few things to be careful of if you decide to add this one to your collection.

Decals were from an Aeromaster Bf-109 desert set. I had seen a sideview of the P-1106 in desert markings and knew that is what I wanted to do on my example. I think I have tracked down the original drawing to a French fellow named Vincent Bourguinon, who hosts a site called Military Drawings. Spend an hour or two cruising through his artwork sometime.

This is completed aircraft #445 (#9 for the year), finished in February of 2016.