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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Holiday greetings and some paint prep (J8M1, DHC-1)

I did try to get a couple of items across the finish line today, but decided to relax and let them fall into the category for 2018 instead. Given the damage that my native impatience can sometimes cause, I thought it might be better to set a more sedate pace. But I did at least get things prepped for the next painting session. Mostly this consisted of masking the J8M1 for the NMF area around the exhaust and gathering up items for the Chipmunk that needed some Aluminum paint.

With a number of projects wrapping up, I’ve decided what is going to enter the construction queue this week. I received the Italeri Eurofighter boxing with those four lovely Italian AF special schemes from Hannants this week, and I will start on their cockpits. That means there will be three Eurofighters in motion at the same time. So much for my idea to work on more varied aircraft types.

Also, the Special Hobby Trent Meteor will get some attention. Finally, my recently purchased Valom B-45 takes its turn.

To be honest, my biggest challenge at present is storage space. I think I have entirely maxed out my storage cases (both commercial and homemade). I can still fit small military vehicles into the spaces under wings, but I am not sure where the last couple of aircraft are going to be stored. I have to push the issue of buying a new storage case, but the reconstruction of part of our backyard fence is still holding the spot for next capital expense. I might have to build another homemade space if only to take the pressure off.

It is tied into the reorganization of the basement and garage storage spaces, but I haven’t been able to do much to advance that effort due to ongoing back issues. Ah well, life is never boring around this place!

To all the loyal subjects of Greater 72 Land, a Happy New Year! Hopefully you will find some extra time to do productive modelling in 2018.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Paint prep (J8M1, Eurofighter, Chipmunk)

As the Doomsday Clock ticks down the last few hours of 2017, there is a rush here at the 72 Land imperial production line to complete more models before the deadline. I’ve got two in queue to have their pictures taken and displayed on the blog. There are two more that might slip in under the wire. We’ll see, once we get to the traditional annual statistical review on 1-1-2018.

In the meantime, there are three items that need some paint, so much of recent workbench time was prepping for that.

While the wheel wells for the newest Eurofighter came out fine, the fin exhibited some pooling behavior, which is especially noticeable for Whites and Yellows. So, out came the low-grit sandpaper and part of the fin was buffed down. Along with this, since I have the White out, I’ll shoot another coat onto the Tiger Force Lancaster’s turrets, which just didn’t have the opaqueness that they should have.

Next, I masked up the DHC-1 Chipmunk. The wing and fin tips need to be red as part of the British Airways colors.

Finally, I buffed down the Yellow coat that had pooled rather badly on the J8M1 Shusui. I did a prime job with the last of a spray can of Testors Light Grey. Now it is ready for a coat of prototype Orange – a Gunze color that I picked up somewhere along the way. I have never used their paint line before, so this will likely be an adventure. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Paint session (F-101B, DUKW, J8M1, XP-79, Eurofighter)

I decided to do a daytime paint session today due to the temps. I remember back in the summertime when we had a nasty heat wave, and it was pretty miserable attempting to paint in an uncooled garage. Well, today was no problem when it came to cooling. The snow from Christmas Day is still on the ground (though less on the streets, thankfully). It is supposed to warm up and rain within a couple of days, so that should take care of the remainder. As it was, my hands were getting pretty numb by the time I finished the session.

The main thing I wanted to make sure was done was add the matte topcoat to the Revell F-101B Voodoo. I’m in a race to get a couple of things completed by the end of 2017, and this is one of them. It’s a nice kit, though I would have preferred a straight F-101A single seater. But when I started, the Valom kit was not available and the Revell kit was in the stash. I am pretty happy with it overall, but I still have a couple of things to do where I can irreparably screw it up before final completion.

I also got a coat of MRP Olive Drab onto the DUKW. The MRP line takes a bit of getting used to. It does not reward impatience. It is thinned enough that it will begin to pool in an instant if you are not careful. Impatient sod that I am, I need to keep reminding myself of that. Next will come the painting of the DUKW’s tires and then decaling. Do I need a gloss coat before doing that? Not sure, so stay tuned.

I was not nearly so lucky with the J8M1 Shusui/Komet. I decided to use a bottle of MRP (Chrome Yellow) which I just received this week. First of all, for any light color, I would definitely recommend a primer coat. I don’t typically prime unless I have concerns about the surface of the model – ie, to fill in scratch marks or such. But the yellow pooled almost instantly, and it is clear that this one will need to be buffed down, primed, and then repainted. Plus the Chrome Yellow was too – well, too yellow – so I may search for a better representation of the rather orangey yellow color the Japanese used for prototypes.

The RS XP-79 got an overall coat of very light grey. I just eyeballed this one, using as light a grey in the US Xtracolour range as I had on hand. It looked good enough, and will allow me to get to the next bit of construction: landing gear and doors.

Finally, out came the Testors Gloss White. Not only did I need to repair some of the paint overshoot on the AZ Chipmunk, but the new-tool Revell Eurofighter has gotten to the point where I can paint the wheel wells, landing gear, and the fin. This will be a 41 Sqdrn RAF anniversary plane. My impressions of this new tool Eurofighter have been very positive so far. It will be my go-to Eurofighter when I start to branch out into Luftwaffe anniversary aircraft. Since I also recently bought the two-kit set of Italeri’s Italian AF special schemes, I will probably just use the plastic that comes in the box for at least the first two. The old Italeri Eurofighter is definitely not up to the quality of the Revell kit, but hopefully since this will be in a lineup with a dozen other planes it won’t be so noticeable. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

A white Christmas

In the roughly 32 years since we moved to the area south of Seattle, there has only been snow on the ground on Christmas Day a handful of times. And I can never remember it actually snowing on the day itself. But this year, we got a nice little Christmas Eve snowfall, which has continued into this morning. Looks like roughly 3" up to this point. 

The estate here at Castle 72 has rarely looked so....cold! I'm hoping to get an airbrush session in by tomorrow but I shudder - literally - to think what the unheated garage is going to feel like. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas to one and all

Although it is still Christmas Eve here in the great northwest USA, I know that some of you have already crossed over into Christmas Day. So I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, full of proper models (ie, the 1:72 ones), good times with the family, and - most of all - some unfettered time to pursue this great hobby of ours. Sometimes I think that time is the most difficult item to get, and I'm already retired!

I'm also posting photos of the Three Stooges, our menagerie of animals. The one-eyed fawn pug is Tug. He damaged his eye badly somewhere in the backyard this summer, which necessitated the emergency surgery. He is 9.

The black pug is Kirby (named after Jack Kirby, for those of you that get the reference). We picked him up from a breeder in fall of 2017. He, like all puppies, has only two gears: berserk and comatose. He is not easy to get a photo of because he is constantly moving as well as his black coat makes him a light sink. He is 5 months old. 

The cat is Booker, who belongs to my daughter. He is a rescue. Shannon works as a vet assistant, and he was brought in after living in a WalMart parking lot for a few months. He is a completely indoor cat since we don't want him to relive that particular adventure. The vet estimates that he is 6 or 7 years old. 

And so, to all, a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Messerschmitt Me-163B

Today’s completion started out in disappointment and ended up in great satisfaction.

One day I was exercising my Google Fu concerning Me-163 Komets. The main thing I was looking for was photos of the captured RAF example that was repainted in British markings. What I actually ran across was a paint job that I had never seen on a Komet before. It was on a Rocketeer sheet, but I soon found out that the sheet was long out of print. Quite bummed, I decided to place a request on the 72nd Scale Aircraft boards to see if anyone had the sheet but had no plans to use it. Hopes were not high.

But a gentleman with the screen name of Pyran was kind enough to let me know I could have his. He mailed it with no cost to me. Once again I have cause to be grateful to a member of that board. They are always willing to be helpful and rarely charge anything for the service (unless they are explicitly selling items). So Pyran, I tip my bottle of Cherry Coke in your direction; you were a lifesaver this day.

Komets are simple kits. I used the Academy version which I had in the stash. The one trouble I had was with the Master turned brass pitot and gun barrel set. Since this was an unarmed glider, I didn’t use the gun barrels and the pitot proved to be close enough to scale that it was literally impossible for my sausage fingers to get it out of the packaging without bending it slightly. I ended up using the kit pitot, but it is admirably thin itself.

Me-163s are one of the few aircraft that I have done a long series of (like Hurricanes, A-4s, and Eurofighters). The attraction is that there are nice models – specifically Academy – of the main variants, and numerous kits – in both plastic and resin – of many of the lesser known variants. I supposed you could consider much of the Lippisch output to be in the Komet bloodline, since many of them strongly resemble the Me-163s. But even the major 163 subvariants (DFS 194, A, B, S, C, P-20 jet, I-270, 263, J8M1) are pretty well covered.

Painting was easy, with only two colors (red and Alclad White Aluminum) required on the fuselage/wings. The decals also performed as expected. The result is a fairly unique model in any lineup of Me-163s.

This is completed aircraft #483 (16 aircraft, 3 ordnance, 14 vehicles for the year 2017), finished in December of 2017.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Valom Mk7 nuke and Mk7 nuke transport cart

A double completion today, of one very simple bomb and a somewhat less than simple transport cart to move it around.

Longterm readers will know that I have a soft spot for bomb ordnance, especially nuclear weapons. I have visions of a display of dozens of weapons that are related to aircraft. Dumb bombs, smart bombs, nuclear bombs. What I don’t like to do is overload aircraft models with a huge loadout – my interest there is in the airframe itself, unhindered by awkward things hanging off the wings. Hence, the standalone bomb (and eventually missile) display. AModel is good for providing the larger items along with transport carts. But today’s completion is actually a Valom kit.

This is the Mark 7 Thor nuclear weapon. It appears to have started out as an add-on to their B-45. But they must have realized that there was a market for the nuke as a standalone kit. I thought that was a great idea, since I had already bought a B-45 and didn’t particularly want to buy another one just to pick up these two small sprues.

As you can imagine, the nuke only has a small number of pieces, but it still provided some head-scratching as I was building it. Neither the instructions nor the photos I was able to locate on Google were definitive as to how the middle aft fin attached to the body of the bomb. In the end I just took my best guess, but be aware that I could be wrong. A Red-brown nose (I used an Xtracolour armor paint) and a silver body (from Alclad) and it was time to add decals. There were many for such a small item, but weren’t much of an issue to add.

The transport cart was a little more complex. It has a surprising number of pieces, and none of them wanted to glue in place without trauma. Mating surfaces are necessarily small, and whenever you put pressure on one piece to get it to fit, it inevitably caused another piece to break free. Lacking 7 or 8 hands for the job, I was reduced to gluing one bit and allowing it to fully cure before moving on to the next. So in real time, this cart took far more time than  had expected.

However, they are both complete – while the B-45 still sits forlornly in the short finals queue in the upstairs hobby room. And it appears that a couple of Meteors will move into the construction queue next, so it will be there for a while longer.

This is completed ordnance #9 and completed vehicle #14 (15 aircraft, 3 ordnance, 14 vehicles for the year 2017), finished in November of 2017 (bomb) and December of 2017 (cart).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Paint prep / construction (J8M1, Chipmunk, DUKW, Eurofighter)

Some paint prep and a bit of construction were the main events on the workbench this week.

I have finished construction on the J8M1 IJN Komet, and even managed to get the canopy masked up as well. Now all I have to do is go through my paint stocks and see if I have anything that matches up to the orange-yellow that the IJN used for its trainer aircraft.

There was some overspray on the blue of the DHC-10 used by British Airways. I’ve taped it up and will repair the white at the next paint session. Since I have the white out, I will likely reinforce the color on the transparencies (mostly turrets) of the Lanc.

Finally, there will be an overall coat of Olive Drab on the completed DUKW.

In terms of construction, I got the major pieces together for the next Eurofighter in the series. This one will be in anniversary markings from 41 Sqdrn RAF. I’m using the newest-tool Revell kit. There isn’t much that is majorly different from the tooling of a few years back, though there is no sign of the mold deterioration that has plagued that release. Fit was excellent, and any sanding of seams is likely down to my own ham-handedness rather than kit problems. I do seem to have been having some glue discipline issues lately. Most likely I just need to slow down and do a more meticulous job, something I am not particularly known for. This will be my go-to Eurofighter kit, though I did recently buy the Italeri set with the four Italian AF anniversary specials, which means I’ll at least have two of that not particularly great kit in queue. I have decals for three German AF specials yet to use as well. And the special RAF schemes for the Eurofighters in 2018 have not been released to the public yet. I’m sure there are some coming – which will probably be documented by Xtradecal. But my first impressions of the new Revell version are very positive indeed. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Academy VW Schwimmwagen

With lots of medical appointments and the usual chaos of the run-up to Christmas, I’ve fallen a bit behind in documenting completions lately. At least it will provide fodder for the blog.

First up is another small vehicle. As you likely know, the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen is a shortened amphibious development of the same firm’s Kubelwagen. The main modification is the body tub, which provides for smooth transit through water and the reduced wheel base. Motive power in water was by a prop in the lower rear of the vehicle and land transit was via the regular transmission. Steering was accomplished by using the front wheels as rudders. Nearly 16,000 were produced during the war, and only 189 exist today. It is roughly comparable to the Ford GPA.

The kit is from Academy, part of AC13401, and also includes a German fuel truck and bomb loader. As with all of the Academy vehicles, detail is nice for the scale and I can’t complain about fit. Generally, with these small vehicles I finish major construction (not including wheels) and then paint. Most of them are only one color, which is what drives this approach. Then I go through and do whatever detail painting is necessary – in this case steering wheel, seats, exhaust and dashboard. I followed this by painting the tires and attaching the wheels.

Earlier I mentioned a quandary I was in regarding this vehicle, which I still have not resolved, and that is the windshield. No clear parts are provided by Academy and I don’t happen to have any clear plastic sheet on hand. I suspect the proper solution is to cut clear plastic to shape and then attach it with Clearfix. However, as I said, I have no such clear plastic on hand and want to get this one in the completed column. So for the purpose of these pictures, I will just leave the windshield empty and add windows at a later date. I will likely take the same approach with the DUKW, which will be debuting soon.

I continue to enjoy building these 1:72 vehicles. All are of simple construction, most are single color, and dealing with wheels is considerably easier than dealing with tracks (though eventually I’ll have to figure that part out as well). A bomb cart and DUKW are in process, with a Kubelwagen and another truck about to enter the construction queue.

This is completed vehicle #13 (15 aircraft, 3 ordnance, 13 vehicles for the year 2017), finished in November of 2017.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Painting (F-101B, Me-163 and MR Paints)

Here is a quick recap on yesterday’s paint session. As mentioned, the Me-163 and Mark 7 nuke both got their top sealer coats.

The F-101B got the exhaust area taken care of. The darker exhaust markings are fairly subtle, but I think they make the point. Next on this project is to strip off all the masking tape and get the landing gear and doors added. Then comes decals.

My first experiment with MR Paints was a success, though admittedly a small sampling. I shot an overall coat of Olive Drab onto the nuke’s transport trolley and wheels. There is no thinning involved, since these come mixed for airbrush use. This is no small issue, since once paint is thinned, it can’t really go back into the bottle. Unused paint from this source, however, can go directly back. Less wastage overall. At $7 a bottle, that’s at least some consideration. The paint sprayed smoothly with no orange peel or pooling issues. My only complaint is that it dries very matte. I’ve become so used to using Xtracolour paints that I rarely have to add any gloss to the model prior to decals. Looks like I’ll have to get used to this extra step as my Xtracolour collection diminishes and MR Paints take over. Still, very happy with my experiment so far, and am looking forward to trying additional colors.

One thing to note: MR Paints just released a wave of Italian AF colors, 32 in all. I can see what my next order will consist of. There are multiple varieties of greens, browns, yellows, greys. Italian markings can be a bit of a labyrinth, so I would suggest checking out the Stormo color guide. I know I’ll be spending some time there shortly. Start at

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Benchtime (ME-163, F-101B, Mk 7 nuke)

Workbench time in the last few days has been divided between more paint prep and a bit of cockpit construction.

I finally finished up all the detail bits on the French civilian Me-163 and have it ready for a sealer coat of semi-gloss clear. This one will stand out in the Komet lineup.

Similarly, I’ve got the decaling done for Valom’s Mark 7 Thor nuclear bomb. It won’t get its completed display until the transport cart (included in Valom’s kit) catches up. But it needs a sealer coat.

The masking is complete for the NMF area of the F-101B’s exhaust. A first coat will be in White Aluminum, followed by some detailing in Alclad Exhaust Manifold.

And I will have my first experiment with MR Paints when I hit the nuclear bomb’s transport cart with a coat of Olive Drab.

In terms of construction, I’ve got all the bits ready for paint for the Eurofighter cockpit. This is Revell’s newest-tool version. Can’t say as I’ve seen much difference so far, not including the mold deterioration that the RV4317 kit has experienced. Next job is to paint and detail the cockpit, then seal up the fuselage.

No photo today, since I’ve already taken everything down to the garage (ie, the subterranean paint shop dungeon). But I will have a paint report soon.