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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Meng Convair F-102

Every so often – at least once a decade for me – I complete a kit that seems to be angel-kissed from the beginning. No great disasters, the fit is good, painting works without trauma, decals behave, and I don’t drop the thing coming back from the paint room into a pile of sawdust or something. When it happens, it is enough of an unusual event that I feel compelled to celebrate it.

And that is exactly what happened with the Meng F-102. I have nothing to complain about on this kit. There is not a smear of filler on the whole thing. Having built a couple of elderly Hasegawa F-102/F-106 kits, this was a true revelation. I can recommend it without reservation.

The decals came from FunDekals, which is I believe Jennings Heilig’s project. The instructions are only available online, so the only thing you physically receive is the decals themselves. That was no obstacle, as the markings themselves are excellent. It does take a minor amount of thought to insure that all those green stars end up in the correct places, but luckily I was up to it. The aircraft itself is from the 48th FIS (hey! I thought this was a 1:72 only site!) based at Langley AFB in Virginia, circa 1959.

This is completed aircraft #490 (7 aircraft, 0 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in May of 2018.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Painting (cockpits, Fi-156, Ju-87G)

We are fully imbedded in the time of year where the weather (and outside activities) start to have an impact on modelling. Personally, I have a hard time when the temps get over 85 here in the Great Northwest. Airbrushing in the garage is pretty miserable, and even tinkering at the workbench upstairs becomes an exercise in advanced sweat management. My primal urge is to get to the room with the window-mounted air conditioner and just wait it out while napping and reading.

Still, this isn’t Texas after all, and we don’t have 30 straight days of extreme temps. In fact, the forecast leadup to Independence Day seems pretty nice this year, with mid-70s and a surprising amount of sunshine. So I was able to start up an airbrush session and clear out a few projects that were holding up the queue.

First on the agenda was a clear top coat on two (almost) finished models, an Italian AF special Eurofighter scheme and an RAF-captured Me-163B.

Next came a series of cockpits, all in dark grey. I used Dark Admiralty Grey from Xtracolour, mainly because a couple of the subjects were British, but really any darkish grey would probably do when the canopy is down and you can't see that much inside. This should allow me to make some further progress on getting these four kits back on track.

There was also the RLM65 undercoat of a Ju-87G. I’ve become re-interested in some early war aircraft (I’ve already done a Ju-87B) which caused me to revive this kit from the Shelf of Shame. Along with it the relatively new Airfix Do-17 and Defiant will be joining the build queue as soon as I can get some items finished and free up workbench space.

Last was the upper tail of a Fi-156, which was painted Red. I am using the Trumpf decals that were included in the 4+ book on the Storch. I suspect you won’t see that one very often on the model contest tables, always an attraction for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Airfix BAe Hawk T1 (208 Sqdrn RAF, Valley 2016)

The British Aerospace Hawk in its various incarnations (T1, T2, T-45, 200) is an aircraft that I can say that I have some experience with. There are 22 completed models in the collection so far, and today’s completion represents #23.

This is most current Airfix tooling, which is a simple and easy to assemble kit with very few vices. Given that it was an overall black paint scheme as well, even painting was a relatively pain-free task. Decals came from Xtradecal 72233, one of that company’s periodic RAF special scheme updates. This particular Hawk belongs to 208 Squadron RAF, based at the RAF Valley, and flown by Kidd and Atlett. The markings come from 2016. I did add a Master pitot. Those are great little aftermarket parts and well worth investing in. 

Not much else to be said. The current Airfix is the gold standard of Hawks, and unless I am putting together a T-45 (which I currently am, using the Wolfpack boxing of the Italeri kit with extras and a Caracal decal sheet) this is the kit I would use. Xtradecal has a huge range of Hawk decals, from basic squadron markings to rather elaborate specials.

This is completed aircraft #489 (6 aircraft, 0 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in May of 2018.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Hasegawa Daimler Mk 2 armored car

Time to catch up on some completions.

This is the Hasegawa Daimler Mk 2 armored car. The original was a parallel development with the Mk 1 Dingo (formerly available in an Ace 1:72 kit but now appears to be discontinued) that served primarily in the Western Desert.

It is a very simple model – just how I like 'em – that didn’t take long to assemble. Plus it was painted a single color. But that paint job raises an interesting point. Long-term readers will know that I do little in the way of weathering. My rationale is that I’m not doing dioramas and the fictional backstory is that these are all museum exhibits that are pretty well cleaned up prior to display. But something like this armored car, with lots of wide flat surfaces and no camo, shows the weakness of this approach. It just doesn’t look right without any color moderation at all. Not that I could become an advanced weatherer at this late stage, but I might need to at least get some post shading accommodation into a model such as this.

Still, the simplicity can be said to be its own reward.

This is completed vehicle #17 (5 aircraft, 0 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in May of 2018.

100.000 page reads

And there it is, folks. The distinct page-read counter just notched over 100,000 views. It seems like I’ve been working on this blog forever, so it is nice to see that somebody at least is looking it over. Although many of them are probably robots looking for places to stash “Ukrainian Models Want To Love You” ads in the comments section.

Many thanks, all.

Except this is what I wish I was getting.

And this is the bald reality.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Great Amtrak Disaster of 2018

Well, that was a bit of a cluster.

As planned, my brother and I left on Monday morning for a leisurely drive down to Southern California. At the end of it, I was scheduled to board an Amtrak train (which I enjoy taking) for the ride back to Seattle.

About mid-morning, I received a voicemail alert that the train had been cancelled! You can imagine the panic, especially since I was in a place with no cell service when I picked it up. In the motel that night I called Amtrak. Apparently a tunnel had partially collapsed on the Coast Starlight route and was not due to be cleared for up to 10 days. There was no alternative Amtrak choice unless I wanted to route by way of Denver. I am not a great flyer, so that wasn’t really a choice either. Yes, I am aware of the irony of a person whose main hobby is aviation modelling and history not liking to fly.

So we had to make some stark choices. We were staying in Albany OR at the time. The Cascade route (Eugene OR to Seattle WA) was still running. The Cascade route departed from Eugene on 6-12-2018 at 4.30pm. The deciding factor was that I only had meds with me through Monday, when I was supposed to be home. That meant that even if my brother was nice enough to put me up for some extra days (he was) my meds would run out. And these are not really meds you can just stop on a whim. That decided it, and I made arrangements for the Eugene-Tacoma route on the next day.

Since we had most of a full day, we decided to go over to the Oregon coast from Corvallis and then come back to Eugene. Luckily we got a very nice and sunny day for it, which isn’t always guaranteed in the Northwest in June. Most of the more scenic parts of the coast are to the south, farther than we were going on this revised itinerary, but that was just a casualty of the replanning.

I caught the Cascades route with no problems and made it to Tacoma. And in retrospect, it may have been for the best. We were splitting a room, and I was assaulted all night long by the loudest and most inhuman sounding snoring I have ever heard in my life. Even across the room, it was like listening to a semi-truck crashing into a slaughterhouse. I doubt I would have gotten much sleep in the remaining 5 days of the trip.

I’m still getting my stuff all sorted, but should be able to resume normal modelling content shortly. Here are a couple of (the few) photos I took. First is Silver Falls State Park near Salem OR (which is beautiful and recommended if you ever take a trip to the area) and the Oregon coast.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Busy times (and plans for the future)

I have to apologize for the lack of new content in the last few weeks. Not only has real life intruded in various places (spinal surgery, neuropathy problems in the feet) but planning for a couple of notable events has been ongoing. This Sunday is my son’s delayed wedding reception – 100 people at the wife’s parents farm in Arlington WA. They had planned to hold it outside, but the forecast calls for 80% chance of rain. Always a risk in June here in the Great Northwest.

After that, I’ll be taking a week to drive back to my brother’s house in Los Angeles, by way of Oregon Coast, Lassen, Donner Memorial State Park, and Hwy 395 in CA. I’m returning via Amtrak, something I haven’t done in 15 years. So don’t expect any updates until later in the week of 6-18.

Not that I haven’t been getting modelling work done. Although I have another long paint queue waiting for attention, I have no less than 6 models in the completed column. They just need a writeup and have their photos taken. As I say, that's not likely to happen until after 6-20. The completed models are a Hasegawa Daimler Mk3 armored car, an anniversary RAF Bae Hawk T1, Meng Convair F-102, Trumpeter Textron M1117 ASV, the first of a set of four Italeri Eurofighters in Italian AF anniversary markings, and a Hobbyboss captured RAF Me-163B.

And significant progress has been made on the Mikro-mir Miles Aerovan, Airfix Short Skyvan, and a Fieseler Storch in markings from the 4+ book. The lovely Azur Northrop Gamma still glares at me sullenly from the bench, waiting to have its paint stripping completed. And I’ve started an F-15 (for those wonderful Oregon ANG decals), Wolfpack T-45 (with Tiger markings), AModel AS-1 Kennel bomb and transport cart, and the Avis American Gyro AG-4 Crusader. I even acquired the appropriate Alclad paint for its unusual copper paint finish.

Whew! So at least the content should begin to flow again, once I can push aside real life and make time to write some blog entries! And if that wasn’t enough, we are rapidly approaching another milestone: 100,000 page views! So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here is a photo of Lassen NP.