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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Minicraft Boeing Fortress

Given that it was the 50th anniversary of the B-17’s first flight celebration at Boeing Field in 1985 that got me interested in starting to model again, it is surprising that I haven’t built that many B-17s. I think I have a couple in the display cases somewhere, one of which is an early variant. So I decided it was time to correct that oversight, and I was aided by what at the time was a new decal sheet.

This is the Minicraft B-17. Although there are newer kits out there, I still have a few copies of this kit, and I don’t really see the new ones as enough of a quantum leap to chuck these out. If Airfix eventually issues a variant that Minicraft doesn’t do, I may have to reconsider that.

The decal sheet is the Kits World 72125, a selection of RAF Fortresses. For some reason I was drawn to the Black, Dark Green, and Dark Earth version from 214 Squadron RAF Coastal Command. It is one of the RAF B-17s that carry nose art, always a draw for me. This is for “Take It Easy” as it was at Downham Market in January of 1944. Kits World specializes in nose art, and in fact all three of the Coastal Command Fortresses on this sheet have it.

Construction, though a bit drawn out, proceeded without incident. Most of the drama came while trying to take the masking off the cockpit. This was another Cutting Edge set, in the black vinyl they were famous far. I have had nightmares dealing with the stuff. It’s probably self-inflicted, since I doubt there would be an issue if I had gotten the masks on and off in a timely manner. But this model spent some time on the Shelf of Shame, and once those masks are attached for a while, they grasp on like the model owes them money. Scratches, remaining adhesive gunk, and much foul language ensues. Some can be repaired by judicious use of WD40, but not all. However, at this point, I just found a space in the back of a display cabinet, declared victory, and headed for higher ground. Still, I think this is my last voluntary involvement with black vinyl masking medium.

This is completed aircraft #466 (#33 for the year of 2016), finished in July of 2016.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Painting in the rain (Lightning, Hawk, Hurricane, Yak-130)

It was back to the painting booth tonight. I may have mentioned this, but my paint table is along one wall of the garage. I usually just open the garage door while painting to let the fumes disburse and keep the air nice and fresh. This has its downside in the Great Northwest, given that winter can be uncomfortably cold and summer uncomfortably warm. Now that we are nearing the end of March, the daily temps are fairly moderate, and as long as you are not planning a picnic outside, the rain is not a hindrance. In fact it is relaxing as I’m doing a process that doesn’t always go well. Quite a little squall went through while I was working. 

First job was to put the surface coat on the Oxford Blue tail and spine of the Lightning F2A and the overall paint job on the Hawk demonstrator. This amounts to thinning the paint after buffing down the already painted surfaces. It all went quite well, with the areas ending up nicely gloss and smooth. Next comes more masking for the NMF coat on the Lightning and attaching the gear to the Hawk. Alas, even thinned blue paint tends to get all over everything. I ended up looking like a Smurf. 

Second was to put a red tail on an AModel Yak-130. This will be in prototype colors, the first boxing that AModel put out. This one has spent some time on the Shelf of Shame, so it is nice to get it into the production stream again. Next comes the rather complex job of masking for the blue detailing. Not sure what paint I’m going to use for that. Most pictures look almost like an ashy grey-blue, not unlike the color on WW2 French roundels. I’ll have to see what I have in stock that comes close.

Finally, the only sour note of the evening. I had to put some RLM74/75 mottles on the fuselage sides and rudder of a captured German Hurricane. I knew the chances of success were minimal. I don’t have a pressure regulator on the current compressor, so I can’t just turn down the pressure and get those fine pencil-thin paint lines that we all see on the net. They tend to end up looking like exactly what they are: small bursts of paint, either too thin or thick, entirely out of scale. I do have a new compressor picked out with all the appropriate options, but it is competing with a lot of other capital priorities in 2017 (new fencing, a new heater, summer vacation, a new microwave, and the fridge is upwards of 15 years old now). Thus, it is what it is; meh. 

Still, I am glad to be able to get on with painting and accept the results, which has been a challenge over the years. This is key to amping up the production rate in the last half of 2017. 




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Catching up on construction (Eurofighter, P-47, Hurricanes)

Things seem to be moving along at a reasonable clip on the 72 Land production line.

I started out by buffing down the Oxford Blue paint on the spine of the Bae Lightning and the overall surfaces of the demo Bae Hawk. As expected, the surface just wasn’t smooth enough, so a high-grit sandpaper was used – with lots of water – to take the high points off of any rough spots. At the next painting session, I will shoot a thin coat of Blue to get the surface nice and glossy.

You may remember that I painted the White sections of the Eurofighter that will eventually become a Red Arrows what-if. Today I began the arduous process of masking off the stripe that goes from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose. There are three areas that need some intricate masking: both sides of the fuselage and the distinctive arrow on the lower wing surfaces.

I should point out that the yellow tape you see in the photo is NOT the outline of the masked stripe down the side. I used the extra-thin white Tamiya tape specifically made for curves. It doesn’t stand out against the white painted background so you won’t really be able to see it fully until the Red coat is laid down. The yellow tape was just to fill in the masking.

The captured German Hurricane has now had its RLM74/RLM75 camo put down on the upper surfaces. Next I’ll need to paint the mottling on the fuselage and tail. I don’t have a pressure gauge on my compressor so painting small mottling is always a challenge.

Beyond these, you can see the P-47 bubbletop coming together, along with some interior paintwork on the Hobbyboss and Airfix Hurricanes. I do enjoy building these ragwing Airfix kits, and really wish they would release an updated metal wing Mk 1. The elderly rivet-infested one they have in the current catalog just isn't a modern kit. 


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Construction (P-47, Hurricanes)

Now to bring you up to date on the construction that has been going on in the workbench queue.

I put together a Hobbyboss Hurricane 2c. Unfortunately there were some problems with what is admittedly a pretty simple construction sequence. I was experimenting with some new clamps that I had purchased. They turned out to be a lot bigger than I was expecting, but figured that holding a fuselage together while drying should not be an issue. But the amount of pressure that these large clamps exerted was enough to distort the glued connection. Being a Hobbyboss kit that I bought when they first came out, I considered just trashing the whole thing. But I thought I would one stab at prying the bits apart and regluing. If that didn’t work, bin it. I did get the bits apart and discovered a secondary problem: the hole-and-socket bits on the kit (I think the fuselage is actually meant to be snap-fit) didn’t allow for a good seam. I snipped those bits off, reglued, and wrapped some rubber bands around to add pressure. I wouldn’t consider it an unqualified success, and it will need a bit of putty fu to clean everything up, but it isn’t the worst hash I’ve ever made of a seam. That this is a fact is something of a sad commentary.

Not to be thwarted by a bad seam, I went ahead on initial construction of the still relatively new Airfix ragwing Hurricane. I’ve built a couple before this, am quite familiar with the pitfalls, and got the cockpit and wing assembled. Next will come painting of the interior and then completion of major assembly.

Work continues on the Tsar Bomba transport carriage. Since this seems to be Hurricane week, I also did some masking to prepare the German captured ragwing for RLM75 paint.

The last kit to receive attention was the Academy P-47 bubbletop. This will be destined for Kits World decals. The cockpit was pretty much painted (using Model Master ZC Green) so it was time for details. I painted the instrument boxes Black and added a set of Eduard super-fabric belts. They worked well enough, attaching with white glue. Then some dry-brushing over the whole of the cockpit and the completion of major assembly. I didn’t get a good photo of the cockpit before the fuselage went together, alas.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Painting some blue (Lightning, Hawk)

I am trying to keep painting momentum going, so today I went down and did a short paint session. Luckily I had two models that needed the same color (a dark blue, for which I am using Xtracolour Oxford Blue).

These consisted of a Bae Hawk T2 (one of British Aerospace’s demo aircraft) and a special scheme Bae Lightning F2 (just the spine and fin). Any of the blues seem to have a special set of challenges when it comes to painting. I’m not sure if the pigment is ground differently or what, but it seems that whenever I shoot blue it seems to turn out a bit grainy. Not to worry; there is a technique to handle that. Shoot the color coat first, making sure coverage is good. Then, once the paint has cured, buff it down with a low-grit sandpaper. This should take away the raised area in the paint. Then, after cleaning off any dust, shoot a very diluted coat of the same color. Since this is a second coat, you don’t have to worry much about coverage, and the thinned nature of the paint will allow it to fill in the little valleys and self-level the paint.

I won’t be able to do this for a couple of days, because I need to allow the paint to cure, but I have some construction work that can be done to fill in the available bench time this week.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Panavia Tornado GR1

Today’s completed model was just a sort of passing fancy, although it does fit into a category that I enjoy: RAF fighters. It’s another 2016 model (still catching up with publishing those). I was planning to do a Tornado GR4, then discovered I didn’t have any conversions from Freightog left. After making an order for a couple more, I decided to finish this one as a GR1 and let the next one be the updated variant.

I still have some GR1 commemorative schemes on some older decal sets.  This one happens to have come from an Almark sheet, AKS11. It still can be had from Hannants if you are interested.

The aircraft was painted in the scheme for RAF 17(F) squadron back when they were celebrating their 75th anniversary. You can tell how old the sheet is because many squadrons are bumping into their 100th anniversaries now. Still, it is an interesting layout, if only because there are special bits on the wings as well as the spine and tail. Almark decals tend to be a bit thick, but they settled down well enough with SuperSol/Set.

The kit is the standard Revell Tornado GR1. A good buildable kit. I rather prefer the buildability of the Hasegawa Tornados (though if you are an engineer type, I’ve heard talk about some minor shape issues), but the price of the Revell kit can’t be beat. Having built a number of these before, I didn’t really run into any unexpected construction issues. Probably the biggest challenge in the build was masking for the overall camo, but that just goes with the territory. Another completion in a subseries of Tornados.

This is completed aircraft #465 (#32 for the year pf 2016), finished in May of 2016.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quick paint session (Lanc, DC-3)

I am striving hard to not allow myself to fall back into modelling inactivity, so yesterday I again braved the garage and did some painting.

Given that I still had a number of planes waiting for White paint, that was the color I started with. Having run out of Xtracolour (due to the British Post Office’s embargo on enamel paints) I have been using Model Master Gloss White. It doesn’t thin terribly well, tends to run even if you don’t thin it, and isn't the best covering paint either. But it’s what I’ve got.

The victims this time were an assembled Hasegawa Lancaster (which will eventually be in a white and black scheme) and a DC-3 (the future “Arctic Rose”). The Lanc looks like it will require a buffing session and a second surface coat. Probably the same for the DC-3. Repeat to myself: this is progress.

The second color was ZC green for a P-47 cockpit which will eventually wear the Kit’s World “Eight Nifties” artwork. I thought I might experiment with a couple of new techniques while I’m at it. Try for more realistic internal painting, and maybe even a wash to help highlight what detail is there. Not much can be seen through a closed razorback canopy in any case. I’m not a big fan of putting tons of weathering on the exteriors of aircraft, especially the over-use (in my opinion; YMMV) of oil paint. I’m not trying to replicate a banged up service aircraft. In fact, my personal backstory is that these are all displays in the world’s largest aircraft museum. So they are meant to be fairly clean. Believe me, there is enough latitude to screw things up with what I currently do to airplane kits – I don’t need to add another whole area of potential screw-ups!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Revell BAe Hawk T1 (Red Arrows)

Today I’m introducing a completed model that actually crossed the finish line in May of 2016. It was part of my sub-project of Red Arrows markings. I realized early last year that I had never really explored the options, and since they have produced some variations in the last couple of years (including their 50th anniversary season) I decided that now was the time.

Plus I had just picked up the new tool Revell Hawk. The first question that comes to mind is whether it is a better kit than the Airfix Hawk from a few years back. I would say it is something of a wash. The Revell kit has some options (different tail areas) and detail (dye pipes) that Airfix does not. But Airfix is, I still feel, the kit that goes together the best. The engineering is nice and tight. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t build another Revell, especially since the prices are very similar, but unless I needed the early tail for a particular project, I’d definitely buy the Airfix.

IIRC I used the kit decals, since the (non-50th) recent markings were just what I was looking for. They are a bit matte, but settled down like they were supposed to. There were some masking issues – not uncommon, and thoroughly due to my own sausage fingers – but I think the end result looks good enough to sit with the other Hawks in my display case. Having seen these photos, it looks nice the nose probe needs a minor adustment, so I'll do that shortly. 

This is completed aircraft #464 (#31 for the year pf 2016), finished in May of 2016.



And look what snuck in the front door this afternoon. More on this shortly. 


Thursday, March 9, 2017

A new tangent

Over the course of the last few months of the recent mojo drought, I experimented a bit with other types of 1:72 kits. I already had something like 12 in the paint queue and didn’t want to make that logjam even worse. I’ve been on these little tangents before, including building and displaying 1:72 ordnance. The Tsar Bomba is probably the largest example of that.

But this time I began looking closely at vehicles. Since I have a few of them that came as part of other kits I got a few out and began tinkering with them. Most will be transports, trucks, bomb loaders, cars. I may progress out into actual armor at some future point since I have a number of 1:72 armor kits in the stash.

The first two are displayed in their partially assembled but unpainted form below. One you can probably recognize as the Scheuch Schlepper that comes with the Academy Me-163B kit. It’s a simple little tractor and Komet carrier combination, all one color (Gelb 04) and the only parts that need to be painted separately are the wheels and treads.

The second is in a much more rudimentary form. It is the transport carrier for the above-mentioned Tsar Bomba. Like the TB, it is a deceptively simple original that AModel has chosen to engineer into many many parts, some unnervingly small. Still a long way to go on that one, but this is its current state.

There are airfield support vehicles and such in a number of Hasegawa kits. Airfix has recently given some attention to American and British equipment (going the range from large tankers to tiny bicycles). I’ll have to pick those up before too much longer if I enjoy the construction of the items I’ve got.

About the only thing I haven’t explored is 1:72 naval. You might be surprised how many boat kits there are in our scale. Sooner or later when Revell releases Zvezda’s pirate ship in May, assuming the price isn’t too horrendous, I’ll have to pick one of them up. And that Predator 108 kit looks interesting as well.

You never know what you’re going to find when you start exploring the cobwebbed corners of 72 Land.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

White night

If you can believe this, I believe it has been nearly a year since I fired up the airbrush. That was one prolonged mojo drought. Some of it was due to lingering health issues (cardiac problems that manifest as extreme fatigue), some that I have a near pathological fear of screwing up airbrush work. But tonight, I gritted my teeth and determined to get out to the garage and do some work or stop declaring that my main hobby was 1:72 aircraft modelling.

I’m sure this is not uncommon amongst worldwide modellers. But it is less defensible when you have been retired for a couple of years. It’s not like there are millions of entries in my social calendar that are preventing model work. But sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it. Sometimes there is an important game on, you decide you would rather read, and sometimes the irresistible call of the nap is overwhelming (post-work, just because I CAN)! But more disturbing is allowing my personal fear of airbrushing failure to prevent progress.

So I decided that tonight I was going to get some paint sprayed no matter how badly I screwed it up. I reassembled the airbrush, mixed the paint – which of course had settled over the last year into pigment and carrier. And discovered that all of my lacquer thinner had evaporated.

This caused a bit of a quandary. At best I could only use one color, since there would be no chance to flush the airbrush. And the paint I chose had to be fairly thin so that it wouldn’t orange peel the paint surface. Luckily the main color I was planning on, white, was at a sprayable thickness. So off I went. I repaired some sanding damage on the AModel Beech Starship, did some patching on the civilian Noorduyn Norseman, and added areas of white paint to both a Eurofighter (a what-if Red Arrows version) and Bae Hawk (a demo with elaborate corporate markings).

Cleaning was of course a problem. I cleaned out everything I could touch with paper towels, but that doesn’t substitute for back spraying thinner. Still, it was the best I can do until I can make a visit to Lowe’s tomorrow and buy another large can of lacquer thinner.

Still, this represents progress and I wanted to document it. There are still a few 2016 models that need to have their final photos and write-ups completed and posted. One, a Eurofighter special scheme, suffered a landing gear problem when a box managed to land on it during the Christmas holidays. So some repair work first.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll take a look at 2017 plans, ongoing construction progress, catching up with completions, and some new kits I’ve picked up recently.