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Monday, May 30, 2016

Working on the hobby dungeon

Wishing everyone a pleasant Memorial Day. Here in western Washington, we have a very sunny and pleasant 72 degrees, perfect weather for firing up the grill and cooking some ribs and a bison sirloin. Along with a crockpot full of homemade gutbuster baked beans, that should be enough to wreck my digestive system for the next couple of days at least.

I finally got the hobby room remodel project to an acceptable phase yesterday. The HDTV has been moved upstairs, most of the painting in the room is complete, and all the electronics have been hooked up and tested. We watched "Jurassic World" last night as a premiere session, and have "Star Wars 7" on tap for this week.

It's not modelling per se (though you can glimpse the edge of my workbench in the photo below) but it is most of what I've been concentrating on this week. I haven't gotten any of the wall adornments back up yet - a clock and movie posters of the original "Ghostbusters", original "Terminator", and a favorite from the 80s, "Brainstorm". But that is work for later in the week.

Modelling content to return shortly!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Matchbox Noorduyn Norseman

Today's completion is one of those odd projects that take on a life of its own. I originally had a notion to build a Noorduyn Norseman, a chunky transport aircraft of the type I seem to like, in American olive drab and gray markings. But that isn't exactly the world's most inspiring set of markings. So off I went to a google search to see what else was available.

Lo, I found myself a Norseman model from the British Army, in green and brown wraparound. Basic decals (though I would need to assemble the serial number from individual bits) and it was a wheeled variant, which I prefer. So I saved the model photo and started work. I'm always up for a good Brit scheme.

As the model was under construction, I began getting notes with skepticism that the Norseman ever served with the Brit army. I went back to my photo, tracing it to an ARC posting. And then I noticed the date of the posting - April 1, 2011. Oy. I'll admit to feeling pretty sheepish at that point, since I never even checked before adopting the photo. But then I do have a tendency to charge ahead, occasionally without looking to see what I'm about to run into.

But y'know, I had not long before finished a what-if 1:72 B-36, for heaven's sake. I've done numerous whifs in the past. So I certainly wasn't going to let the fact that the plane never existed stop me. It would simply be my version of what a Norseman in the British army would look like.

The kit is the elderly Matchbox plastic, but it still assembles very well considering its age. Some of the transparencies are a bit tricky and don't want to seat into their assigned spots. A couple of windows I left until after painting and filled with Kristal Kleer. This however caused some downstream issues since the open windows allowed sprayed paint into the cabin and affected the main forward windscreen. Next time (and the second Norseman is already in process) I will definitely install and mask all windows in order to prevent the overspray.

Markings came from Xtradecal white lettering, and as I mentioned the serial number was assembled (badly) with individual numbers. That is meticulous work and my inborn impatience got the better of me on that one. But it didn't come out too badly overall. The second Norseman will be a real world commercial aircraft from Ear Falls Airways. There might even be a third on the horizon, since I have the Lima November Norseman sheet.

This is completed aircraft #461 (#28 for the year), finished in April of 2016.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Huma Junkers Ju-287

Over the years, I have built probably 70% of the models that Huma released in their line. I loved them in the old days, and was sorry to hear that they folded up a decade or so back. There are still a few I haven't attempted - mostly biplanes - but I decided in 2014 that I was going to start one of the larger and more distinctive shapes that they put out: the Junkers Ju-287.

The Ju-287 was developed in response to a couple of very specific requirements - outrun enemy fighters and deliver a significant bomb load - and used a variety of experimental technologies - forward swept wings and jet engines. This wasn't one of the purely paper Luft46 designs; the airframe was actually built and flown. It actually accomplished 17 flight tests before being put into long storage in early 1945 as things in Germany were in the process of complete collapse.

There were a number of planned variations on layout. I believe Planet has done one or more of these alternate Ju-287s in resin. But this Huma kit is glorious plastic, and even incorporates the last of Huma's innovations: what amounts to plastic photoetch. These bits (mostly cockpit or RATO struts) are devilishly delicate, and require attention while using them. But at least they can be glued using regular plastic glue and don't require cyanoacrylate.

This kit was just started prior to the great Lost Year of 2015, so it was one of the first I got back to work on post surgery in early 2016. It does require some attention to the seams, especially around the forward jet pods, and the canopy masking takes a while, but it is a very buildable kit. The forward landing gear are also very delicate and broke off during the painting process. I just painted them separately and reattached after decals. The decals themselves are from the kit in some cases and from spares (mostly crosses and swatstikas) in others.

It is not a small model, probably comparable to a B-25 in size. I'm fairly happy with it, and it joins the other completed Huma kits in the display case. I'm still eyeing the Triebflugel, but haven't decided to make the jump just yet.

This is completed aircraft #460 (#27 for the year), finished in March of 2016.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Airfix Hawker Hurricane ragwing

I'm going to try and work my way through the backlog of completed projects since I haven't spent much time at the workbench recently. Today's completion is the latest in a long line of Hurricanes, but there is a difference.

This the relatively new-tool ragwing Hurricane. It is really a delightful kit, especially since I was rassling with the Blenheim during much of the time I was getting this one done. Nice detail, good engineering, restrained panel lines, and a Hurricane variant that I had never built before. Can't get much better than that.

Decals were more of an issue. Early war Hurricanes are fairly boring in terms of markings. Lots of letter code combinations, and a few underside variations, so I decided that I would steer clear of RAF markings for this one. As it happens, the other option in the box is for the Belgian AF. Probably not one I would normally choose, but I do have a subset of foreign Hurricanes, so I figured why not. As with the recent Airfix decals I've used, they went on with the use of a little MicroSol quite nicely.

This kit may also be the best gateway to a Hurricane prototype. Someone needs to do the canopy and exhausts; we already have decals. 

Fairly satisfied with this one, though there are always things I should have been a bit more patient with. It is the 19th Hurricane in my display case. Next up will be a captured German version.

This is completed aircraft #459 (#26 for the year), finished in March of 2016.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A setback

Unfortunately I have to report a minor setback in the recovery of the king of 72 Land. Last Saturday night, around 4.30am, I had to make a late night bathroom stop. I was feeling pretty lightheaded anyway, and as I was returning to bed - or trying to - I passed out and landed on the floor next to the tub. My wife, understandably, freaked, and apparently I was out for a couple of minutes. I have a recollection of going down at a high rate of speed, but then nothing until I started to come out of it. Lots of dry heaving and sweating later (hope no one googles that phrase and ends up here by mistake), I was pretty much back to normal. I decided not to make an ER visit unless things developed badly from there. Pretty scary stuff.

So the main question was whether the implanted defibrillator fired. If it did, that would mean there was a fatal arrhythmia going on. If not, there was some other explanation.

Won't bore you with the details, but the device did not fire. It appears that this was a manifestation of the low blood pressure readings I've been getting in the last couple of weeks. A visit to the cardiologist and they're in the process of adjusting my BP meds. Hopefully this is a one-time experience.

I haven't been at the workbench too much in the last week. I did get a chance to mask the Hasegawa Eurofighter. Next up at the masking station is an RAF B-17.

Tug, the secret power behind the throne here, was not too thrilled with the weekend's excitement. 

Hopefully we will be back to our regular 72Land programming shortly. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Revell Eurofighter FGR4 (BofB 75th anniversary)

Long-time readers will know of my fondness for the RAF, especially current RAF/RN aircraft in commemorative colors. It seemed for a while that all we were going to get in the way of Eurofighter markings was squadron bars (which does, in itself, make a nice little subcollection). But a few years back there appeared a green-tailed aircraft from RAF 3 Squadron, and the rush has been on ever since.

Xtradecal has been very supportive of these special schemes. I believe I have every one that has been published in 1:72, and I'm waiting for 72-233, this year's version. 72-156 holds that 3 Squadron example, 72-216 has 6 and 29 Squadron, and 72-230 has the Battle of Britain commemorate and an 11 Squadron version, along with the red-tailed 29 (which I will be putting on the Hasegawa Eurofighter that I am painting now). And with 72-233 we will get the 41 Squadron anniversary example.

Today's completion is the Battle of Britain commemorative paint scheme. It is always interesting to see modern combat aircraft in WW2 paint schemes.  I believe it is taken from a Hurricane. I have built a number of Revell Eurofighters so there were no real surprises in the construction process, except that the molds seem to be showing some deterioration. Parts don't fit very well, there is excess flash, and there is just a general clunkiness that was not evident in the first few years of this kit's release. I've been spoiled by building a Hasegawa Eurofighter and will struggle to go back to Revell kits. Of course there is still the price difference.

Once I get the garage sorted, I'll be pulling out some finished models for group photos (Eurofighters, Hawks, Tornados, Hurricanes, A-4s etc).

This is completed aircraft #458 (#25 for the year), finished in March of 2016.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Garage configuration plans (inc Bv-222, Blenheim, Tornado)

We got through another of those spring heat waves here and things have at least temporarily got back to normal. I am still running far behind on getting the finished models photographed and posted on this blog, and another new project has been taking up some of my time as well.

I am going to completely reconfigure the space in the lower story and garage of the house, which has just sort of grown up like an unweeded field in the 25 years we've owned this house. I once had a storage unit that kept most of the boxes, but that went away in one of our economic purges. So I have to find a place to store uncounted storage boxes, comics longboxes, model kit boxes, 3 professional display cases and 6 build-em-yerself displays. Plus the bookshelves in the library have way too many books for the space.

The basic plan is to move all storage (boxes, longboxes, bikes, etc) into the garage. The downstairs room, designated as a daylight basement since the front door is on a level halfway between up and down, will contain all model displays and a few new bookshelves. This will mean a lot of reconfiguration and moving of heavy boxes. My back is already complaining. Moving the display cases makes for a short explanation, but is a rather complex set of moves all its own, involving emptying each case, replacing some of the internal shelves, repainting the non-glass outsides, and just generally moving models around into theme areas (RAF, experimentals, commercial, USAF etc). I hope to have in progress shots as things move along, but it will be an extensive bit of work. I have assigned myself as the lead project manager....

But now back to models. Another airbrushing section produced top matte coats for the Bv-222, Blenheim, an anniversary Tornado GR1, and another Red Arrows Hawk (more a semi-gloss on that one). Once I get the masking removed and the photographs taken, they'll be premiering on the blog (hopefully soon). I also got the fin and canards painted red on an anniversary Eurofighter (29th Squadron RAF I believe).

I've also decided the next few models to enter the construction phase: a German-captured Hurricane, a demo Hawk from Combat Decals sheet 72004, and my whif Eurofighter Red Arrows aerobatic.

Below are some shots from the painting sessions.