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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Retail therapy

Another couple of packages landed on the palatial modern runway of 72 Land’s capital today, from Hannants, Amazon, and Sprue Bros. Since they all managed to arrive on the same day, though ordered as much as 14 days apart, Mrs. 72 raised many an eyebrow at the large stack of boxes on the porch. Luckily she is a knitter, and they are every bit as bad when it comes to accumulating a stash that they probably will never get around to making.

First of all was the second in the Osprey X-Planes series, on late-war emergency fighter projects. I’m pretty interested in this new series (along with the upcoming Air Campaign books). I suspect much inspiration will come from this direction. I’ll likely keep on picking them up if I can continue to get them at decent prices.

Second are two books from Sprue Bros. The AirDoc book on German Eurofighters has been on my radar since the modern Luftwaffe started putting their Eurofighters into colorful commemorative schemes. It is printed in both German and English. Longtime readers know that I have a thing for RAF anniversary types, so this is a natural extension. I’ve already gathered up a few decal sheets which will figure in to the future construction plan. I do have two RAF Eurofighter specials to finish up before I get to the Luftwaffe types.

The second book was my first example of the Valiant Wings Airframe Album series. This is #10, which features the Messerschmitt Bf-163 Komet. The format is roughly similar to the Modellers Datafiles, not surprising since both were created by Richard Franks. There is a bit too much of excerpts from the technical manuals for my taste, but the development and operational history, and especially the markings information, were just what I was looking for. Even though I have completed a number of Komets, I’ve got plans for a captured RAF example, the Japanese MXY8, and Special Hobby’s Me-163C.

Finally came the Hannants box. Headliner for this shipment is the Mikro-Mir Miles M-47 Aerovan. I was overjoyed when I found this on the future releases list, and photos of the test sprues only made me more ready to go. It will be dropping into the construction queue right after the recent AZ DHC-1 Chipmunk. I’m inclined to also add the Airfix Short Skyvan to the queue, if only for the fact that the two aircraft had similar applications. I thought I had I had a copy of the Skyvan in the stash, but so far it has evaded my attempts to dig it out (think of the warehouse scene at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”).

Also in the box was the new IBG PZL P-23. There seems to be a lot of interest in early WW2 Polish AF types at present, and I’m on board for that. Now if we could just get that 1:72 injected Zubr.




Thursday, June 22, 2017

A long painting session

Things had really begun to back up in the paint queue due to hip pain and a general desire for downtime. But yesterday I was able to drag myself and a tray full of painting projects down to the garage for a fairly long and productive session.

First up was to put a matte top coat on the Tsar Bomba transport carriage. That was a long and complicated project that finally is going to make it across the finish line. Photos coming soon.

Then I was able to get a surface coat on the Eurofighter Red Arrows whif. Once the paint cures I’ll be able to strip the masking and see where repairs will be needed. And then comes the addition of landing gear.

Next came the coat of Intermediate Blue on the Yak-130 prototype. Looked pretty smooth when I was done, but I noticed a couple of thin spots, so it will require a polishing and a surface coat. That’s not an uncommon result, since Xtracolour blue paints have a tendency to dry a bit – for lack of a better word – sandy. But most of it doesn't look too bad. 

I gritted my teeth and started the repairs on the Beech Starship. These were made necessary by a clumsy botch while trying to mask and paint the leading edges Silver. Things seem to look ok at this point, so the next step will be to mask and paint the engines’ intake vent edges and then move to props and wheels. And replace the nose probes that were broken off during my first attempt at masking. At the same time I also did some repairs on the White areas of the Arctic Rose DC-3. Next up on that kit is to get the wheel wells painted.

Two small bits of airfield support equipment, the last two items in a Hasegawa set, got a coat of Olive Drab. I’ll soon be painting and attaching the tires. I don’t believe either of these items has any associated decals, so they will soon be moving to get their overall matte coat.

Just to top the day off, I painted the two DC-3 props silver (after having masked off the tips). They’ll go back in the box, waiting for the model to progress a bit further before they are needed. 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Academy Republic P-47 "Passionate Patsy"

Another P-47 crosses the finish line. Although I do have a P-47E two seat trainer conversion on the bench, this will likely be the final P-47 at least until I need another mojo injection. Good available kits and lots of decal options means these are never too far away from the top of the pile, but I’d like to concentrate on some more unusual types for the near term.

This is another off the new DK Decals sheet, 72-040: P-47s in the PTO. Lots of color variation and nose art on this sheet. This particular aircraft was named “Passionate Patsy” The pilot was Lt Ralph Barnes of the 310 FS, 58 FG, based in New Guinea in 1944. There appear to be two aircraft that wore the name – an Olive Drab and Neutral Grey razorback and a NMF bubbletop. Mine, as you can see, is the razor.

Nothing unexpected on the kit construction, and the decals performed as anticipated. I have become a definite fan of the DK decal series.

This is completed aircraft #477 (10 aircraft, 2 ordnance, 7 vehicles for the year 2017), finished in June of 2017.




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Marathon masking session

Workbench time this week has been primarily spent on masking and other prep for the next paint session.

I had a chance to buff the Eurofighter whif’s coat of Red Arrows Red. It will indeed need a surface coat, to get a smooth final surface and to reinforce the red paint over the overspray from the Insignia Blue rudder.

I also needed to mask the Arctic Rose DC-3 to clean up some overspray. Same with the Beech Starship, though that is to clean up a massive botch I made while trying to paint the silver leading edges.

There has also been some cockpit construction for the next models to enter the construction queue. I’m always leary of using superglue, but had to deal with resin cockpits for both a P-47E two-seat trainer conversion and the Planet N1M flying wing. Plus one of the wing halves on the N1M had gotten broken during its time in the stash and I had to repair that. The RS Models XP-79 cockpit also got some attention. The P-47E cockpit is noticeably too wide for the fuselage to close, so some fettling will be required to shave the sides down, probably prior to painting. And of course the recently acquired AZ Models DHC-1 Chipmunk is getting attention as well.

In an effort to move a couple of hangar queens along, I’ll be masking the bottom portion of the Norseman seaplane and the upper surfaces of the Hasegawa Lancaster in order to get them both ready for Black paint. These will probably not be ready for the next paint session. 


Friday, June 16, 2017

New acquisitions

I have been on a bit of buying frenzy lately, spurred by a number of early summer model completions and – I’ll admit it – some retail therapy when I was feeling sorry for myself when the van’s transmission and my right hip chose the same week to go completely dysfunctional. By and large, these are kits that are on my “buy once available” list, usually by way of Hannants, with some extras thrown in. Some of the packages are starting to arrive and the featured kit will immediately go into the construction queue.

The first of these is the relatively new AZ Models DHC-1 Chipmunk. The variant I was waiting on is the Lycoming engined version. Not for the specific engine, but rather one of the markings variants offered in this box: the British Airways hack version. There are limited opportunities to put commercial airline markings on a 1:72 kit, so I’ll take em where I can find em. It’s entering the construction queue now.

I also picked up an Academy Oshkosh truck as part of my vehicle series. I think this one will have to wait until the Stryker makes it to the complete column, though.

The rest of the items were accessories. A set of Master pitot/guns for the upcoming Me-163. I am really coming to like these Master bits. Masking sets (from Peewit) for the Balliol and Chipmunk (see above). And finally, another set of Hurricane decals, this time from Kits World. Like I need more, but I think I will start with the Iraqi markings. It does have some foreign examples that I don’t have decals for yet. Yeah, that was the reason.

Much more in the mail stream on its way to me. Because 1500 kits just isn't enough of stash for a real man...


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Academy Republic P-47 ("Pride of Lodi")

Today’s completion is another one of the clutch of P-47 razorbacks that have been winding their way through the 72 Land production line during the great mojo revival of this spring. I do have a P-47E Doublebolt conversion in the early stages, but I think that once the last of these is completed I’ll concentrate on other types for a little while. I do have kits for the main (plastic) variants of the Me-163 that I haven’t already completed, and at least a couple of Eurofighters. Also, a couple of Northrop flying wing prototypes (N1M and XP-79) are having their cockpits built and painted. And there are the usual workbench queens (Beech Starship, a Eurofighter whif, Norseman airliner, and Yak-130) that seem to be taking their sweet time moving along the production line.

This P-47 was one of four I purchased from Scale Hobbyist, since I had been having trouble finding them in stock at other retailers. The Academy kit presented no problems during the construction phase, and since I still have sufficient Olive Drab and Neutral Grey Xtracolour tins – though the stock is starting to run low - painting was no great challenge either. I did manage to not notice the White wing leading edges during the first round of painting, but that was quickly rectified.

Decals came from Kits-World 72-132. The “Pride of Lodi” set is especially attractive since it not only has a presentation name but nose art as well. I was not aware that there is a Lodi Ohio; I was only aware of the California one from my days living in that state. The plane belonged to the 342nd Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, 5th AF, and was piloted by Commanding Officer Lt Col Robert Rowland in 1943. He survived the war and was credited with 8 aerial victories.

This is completed aircraft #476 (9 aircraft, 2 ordnance, 7 vehicles for the year 2017), finished in June of 2017.




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Minor painting problems (Eurofighter whif, Tsar Bomba trailer

Despite the absence of inclement weather, I was able to get into the garage for a short painting session.

Really just two colors this time around. First was a surface coat on the Tsar Bomba trailer from AModel. The first layer was a bit thin and watery, so this helped to fill in the density of the Deep Olive Green. But of course we couldn’t make it through a session without at least one disaster: I managed to drop the trailer while moving it to the place where it would be drying. Two axles and the framework that engages with the tractor both went flying. Once everything cures I will be getting the bits reattached.

Finally, I put the first coat on the whif Red Arrows Eurofighter. I’m using some of the last of my Xtracolour Red Arrows Red. A strange development: although I used this paint just a few months ago to do a RA Hawk, it seems to have gone a bit thick and – no other word to describe it – chunky in the meantime. Lots of stirring and thinning couldn’t head off difficulties in passing through the airbrush. A bit of spattering. Although the color coat managed to get laid down on the entire airframe, I am pretty sure this will require buffing and a surface coat. There is also some evidence that overspray from the Insignia Blue rudder is showing through the red paint. So I won’t be progressing on this project until those issues are dealt with. I’ll give the paint a couple of days to cure.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Avis EADS Barracuda drone

Drones have some advantages as models. They don’t require canopy masking, for one. A great comfort to the Lazy Modeller ™. And there are a growing number of them available as 1:72 models. I’ve already completed an RQ-1, RQ-4, RQ-9, D-21, and have the Attack Hobby RQ-7 in the stash.

But today’s completion concerns the Avis EADS Barracuda. The program is a joint development between Germany and Spain and, at least according to Wikipedia, it is meant to be an equivalent of the RQ-9 Reaper. EADS wants to make some inroads to American domination of this market sector.

The kit, which was only released a couple of months ago, definitely falls into the short run category, but it is not crude by any means. Test fitting will be rewarded, but you should still expect to use up some putty in the process. The landing gear is probably the only thing one might find to be complicated. The rear fuselage / exhaust bits didn’t fit very well on my example. Decals all came from the kit, and include the various manufacturer logos.

I used Xtracolour X126 for the overall grey, based on the fact that they are apparently painted the same color as the Luftwaffe’s Eurofighters. There was an issue of paint adhesion on parts of the underside – maybe some stubborn mold release agent? A quick buff and respray fixed that.

As long as manufacturers continue to make kits of drones, I’ll be there to buy and build them. It’s an interesting little byway of aviation history. According to photos, the nose pitot does in fact droop that way. 

This is completed aircraft #475 (8 aircraft, 2 ordnance, 7 vehicles for the year 2017), finished in May of 2017.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

Painting in the land of thunder

Another paint session, another thunder and hail storm here in the Great Northwest. I swear that we have had more thunder this winter than we typically do in the summertime.

But hey, at least I was ambulatory enough to get down to the garage to paint! Most of the drudge work this time was shooting a matte coat onto the Barracuda drone, two P-47s, and an ammo trailer. They will be debuting over the next few days as completed models.

I shot a coat of Dark Olive Green on the Soviet Tsar Bomba trailer. This trailer had a lot of parts; more than are probably in most 1:72 fighters. Every crossbeam, every hinge, every handle is its own little bit. Unfortunately, this doesn’t play well to Amodel’s strength, being a short run model company with somewhat less than perfect small detail and large sprue gates. It was similar to the Tsar Bomba itself, in fact, which also had dozens of tiny bits. Still, I powered my way through it. The green was mixed pretty thin, and I suspect a surface coat will be required.

The final round of spraying for today was the cockpit and wheel wells of the next Hurricane in my long series; this time, an Egyptian AF example. Next will come the addition of some seat belts and then completion of major assembly.

I was going to shoot the first coat of Red Arrows Red onto the whif Eurofighter, but realized I had not completed the masking for the landing gear doors. So that will go onto the agenda for the next paint session. I might have to check the weather forecast to see when the next thunderstorm is due in the area.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pain and the aging modeller

I have tried to keep this blog from turning into the 60+ Modellers Book of Aches and Pains, but no doubt some have noticed that after a very productive April and May, things went radio silent for the month of June so far.

It comes down to some bad back and hip issues. I’ve always had sciatica, but this most recent attack was violent indeed. Fierce constant pain in lower back and right hip, radiating down the right leg, shin and into the big toe. My knees are actually pretty decent, all things considered. It got to the point where I could barely hobble about, and the pain level while walking, sitting, or laying down was at Defcon One. Even some pain meds I had to coax out of my physician weren’t doing much good. The last thing I could manage was bench or paint shop time.

I had x-rays of the hip, which showed lots of arthritis (which I expected). I am scheduled for a CAT scan on the lower back and hip this coming Monday, which hopefully will allow us to diagnose what is really going on and get a plan of treatment together. In the meantime, the pain levels have decreased a bit. I live in fear of a recurrence of a spinal abcess I had 15 years ago, which was one of the most hellacious periods I’ve ever spent in my life. Really, the chances are pretty low that it would be the same thing, but ugh – just the thought of that gets me shaking.

Things had improved enough that I did try for some bench time last night – and immediately made a huge botch on the Beech Starship that about had me beating my head against the wall. Combining native impatience with a desire to move quickly due to residual pain is not a good combination for model making. I’ll be going into damage control and repair on that one.

I have 3 or 4 models just waiting for overall matte coats before they can have their photos taken. I am going to try and revisit the paint booth this afternoon and hopefully can avoid another disaster. So normal service should (I hope!) resume shortly. Until then, I will leave you with this monumentally disturbing image.