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Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year greetings 2019!

As the holidays start to slip by us yet again and 2018 comes to an end, I’d like to wish you and yours the happiest of New Years. Hopefully there are many completed models in your future! Now to sedate the senior cat before the fireworks start in earnest...

Sunday, December 30, 2018

MikroMir Miles Aerovan

The Miles Aerovan is one of those aircraft types that I never thought we would see as an injection molded kit. Miles kits (with the possible exception of the Master) are rather thin on the ground, except for the occasional resin kit. So I was very happy when MikroMir announced that they were doing this in their 2018 programme.

Now, understand, I knew they were a relatively new company, and a thoroughly short-run one at that. So there would be fit and alignment issues. And this kit fulfilled every concern I had on that subject. Unfortunately, this was squarely in my autumnal bout of construction frustration, which made eternal adjustment to individual pieces unlikely. I usually just crammed them together and hoped for the best.

One of the things I like about MikroMir kits is that they appear to consider the modeler when putting together their kits. Hence the masking medium that is included for all cockpit and passenger window transparencies. However... The medium they used, which is basically the sort of white stickers you would use for price tags or labels, is horrible, horrible stuff. It doesn’t conform to curves. It cannot be removed (without huge effort) once it is in place. It leaves more gunk behind than I have ever seen on a masking medium. It took me a long time, scrubbing with WD-40, to get even most of the residue cleaned off. And by then I had pushed in two of the passenger windows, which means I would have to replace them with Kristal Kleer, making them visibly different than the other windows on the fuselage. My suggestion? Take the white masks off off the backing sheet and use them as templates to make Kabuki tape replacements. You will be a much happier modeler if you do. Would something like Goo-gone have been a better choice for removing the gunk? It’s a moot point, since I don’t own any Goo-gone. If you have some, give it a try and let me know if it worked better.

The kit gives a number of markings options. I didn’t want a military one (if I have a commercial or civil option, I will use that every time). I was initially attracted to the blue and silver option, but by the time I got to that point I was just ready to be done with the thing, and the overall White paint job seemed the way to go. That resulted in markings for Sivewright Airways, a local Brit airline. The decals performed well, though they did threaten to break up a bit after application. Still, most of them behaved well if sufficient water was there to float them into place.

Plus I lost one of the props in all the Christmas preparations and had to substitute a pair of cut-down Aeroclub two-bladers I’ve had in my spares box since the dawn of time. This is why we hoard things.

Not one of my best, but they make it on the blog whether good, bad, or indifferent. This is, alas, one of the indifferent ones.

This is completed aircraft #502 (19 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 8 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in December of 2018.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Raduga AS-3 Kangaroo transport cart

Not all completions can be characterized as glamorous. Some at best are utilitarian. If they are Cold War Russian, you’re lucky if they don’t look like a tractor. This is the AS-3 transport cart, meant to haul around the AS-3 Kangaroo nuclear missile for the Tu-95.

Like all AModel kits, it had some fit and alignment issues, and definitely falls into the short run kit category. But I still enjoy them because they seem to go out of their way to produce models of the weird and wonderful byways of aircraft development, an area dear to my heart.

As you can guess, the AS-3 itself will shortly be joining the completed category. It got delayed a bit when I realized I was going to have to reshoot the overall NMF (I used trusty Alclad White Aluminum to cover up the Dull Aluminum). So stay tuned; it’ll be popping up after New Years.  

This is completed vehicle #23 (18 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 8 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in December of 2018.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Paint session (Mc-202, Cr-25, AS-3, cockpits)

The first painting session with the new compressor was a general success, though there were some issues. They weren’t so much pressure related as they were paint related.

I suspect my experimentation period with MRP Paints is coming to an end. I just can’t seem to get a consistent surface with them. They pool at a moment’s notice, and if they are not pooling, they basically don’t seem to cover at all. Every time I’ve used this paint line I’ve had to buff the surface and reshoot due to coverage issues. And of course the surface is matte, so I have to take the risk of shooting a coat of gloss over things prior to decaling (not an issue for my go-to paint, Xtracolor). I do like their range of colors, which include a lot of Italian shades that are not well served by other paint manufacturers, but the problems are just piling up. I suspect I may switch over to Colourcoats for the Italian and French shades I can’t get from US sources of Xtracolor – of which there aren’t many. But at $5.55 per teeny little tin from their US supplier? Yowtch.

I got an upper surface coat of MRP305 onto the Hasegawa Macchi Mc-202. This is the second try at it, and I think it is decent enough to proceed. So next comes the gloss coat.

I also got an upper surface coat of MRP325 onto the Fiat CR-25. Many coverage and pooling issues, which will necessitate some buffing and reshooting. Insert various bits of bad language here.

My next effort was to get some Alclad Dull Aluminum onto the AS-3. This had problems as well. A few years back, it seems that there were some serious problems with certain Alclad paints. In essence, there just wasn’t enough color in the carrier medium. So you got all clear carrier and no metallic color (or very little). I thought I had chucked all the examples in my paint stocks, but guess again. The Dull Aluminum exhibited these same issues. I’ll have to try my luck with another Alclad shade (maybe Airframe Aluminum?) at the next session.

I was also able to get a Grey-green coat onto the D-520 interior and the inner surfaces of the gear doors on the Mc-202. And finally, I shot the masked tires of the AS-3’s transport cart. Both of these used Model Master paints and performed just as advertised.

I do apologize for the lack of photos today. But I've actually continued working on some of the models, so they don't represent the post-painting state. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

New acquisition: Iwata IS-600 compressor

I have had a chance to play around with my new compressor, the Iwata Sprint Jet IS-800. Compared to the dinosaur I’ve been using for the past 10 years, this thing is a major revelation. First of all, the old compressor always sounded like there was a jackhammer being used on the street outside the garage. This new one is very quiet indeed. I mean, it’s not like I had to use ear protection or anything, but the difference is nice.

Secondly, the water trap and pressure gauge adjustment seem to work well, for the small time I’ve had to play around with them. Sometimes I get a bit of spritzing when I first use the brush, but that just means I will make sure it isn’t pointed at the model when I first give it some pressure until I see how it behaves over time.

I turned the pressure gauge down most of the way and could really feel the change in the amount of air exiting the brush. I’m sure this means I’ll need to adjust the thinning ratio when I have to do some tiny mottling. I’ll be using this feature on the Fiat CR-25 that is currently working its way through paint. It’ll take some getting used to, but I’m looking forward to having the options.

If you want to see why I’m so delighted to have the new compressor, here is a comparison shot of old vs new.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Construction (Aerovan, AS-3, S-43)

Given the problems I have had in the last couple of airbrush sessions (which I think I’ve identified as water vapor in the lines due to the destruction of my inline water trap a couple of weeks back), I’ve decided to hold off on any additional airbrushing until I can take some time to adjust to the new compressor – which comes with a water trap and the ability to adjust the air pressure travelling through the brush. Not that I don’t have other work to keep me occupied until the grand unveiling. And that is quite apart from real world issues like having the kids over (along with my son’s new baby) on Christmas Eve.

Since I’ve been able to get all the dangly bits added to the Mikro-Mir Miles Aerovan, the only remaining step is to apply the decals.

I also got a primer coat on the AS-3 missile, though I have found some rough areas that have needed a bit of buffing to get ready for the Alclad Dull Aluminum. The AS-3’s transport cart is mostly assembled and just waiting for the addition of its tires.

I have masked the lower surfaces of the Fiat CR-25 and will be adding an upper surface coat of MRP325 shortly. The new compressor should make the small mottling for the olive green and dark brown camo much more doable.

A Hasegawa Dewoitine D-520 has entered the construction queue and the cockpit is assembled and ready for paint. I might follow this with their MS-406, but that is a decision for 2019.

I’ll also be adding a Sword Sikorsky JRS-1 to the construction process, to use some Avalon Airlines markings that I have coming from Arctic Decals. This is a new set. I was almost taken aback to find on ebay that the Sword kit is selling for $125. If I had two of them I might be tempted to monetize one of them to fund my next couple of Hannants orders! But I don’t.

I had to take down the photo tent (needed the table for food for the kids’ visit). We’ll shortly be bringing the elliptical upstairs and the photo tent will take the space in the lower story. But the upshot is that progress photos will be taken on the fly. Hopefully by the time the next models cross the finish line I will have resumed normal service. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas!

As the benevolent dictator of 72 Land, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. 

I do know that I'll be getting access to my new Iwata compressor tomorrow, so I'll be having another length of time for getting used to new equipment. 

We've also got the family coming over today for dinner. So I likely won't be posting anything for a day or two. 

So best wishes for the Christmas season of 2018! 

Please note that these aren't my two, although we do have one fawn and one black pug. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Italeri Autoblinda AB-43

You’ve probably noticed that I have been indulging my liking for Italian aircraft types in the latter half of 2018. The Hasegawa Mc-202 is on the boil, along with the Special Hobby Fiat CR-25. The Breda Br-88, Fiat G-55, and Breda Br-65 are lurking as well. But today’s completion is part of the vehicle expression of this Italian frenzy: the Autoblinda AB-43.

The Autoblinda series is fairly well represented in 1:72 by Italeri. They’ve done the AB-40 (at least the rail-adapted version), the AB-41, the AB-42 Sahariana, and of course this AB-43. My next one will be the AB-42, so I appear to be working backwards through the series.

The model was rather refreshing, given that it followed on the heels of the IBG Otter. Relatively few parts, very nice detailing, and they kept the wheels and hubs separate, which facilitates easier painting. In fact, it all went together with almost indecent haste, and was ready for paint in no time.

I just don’t have any confidence that my current compressor can produce a fine enough line for 1:72 armor camouflage, so I opted for the single-color version that was used by the Roma Polizia in the early 1950s. It was a dark brownish red, and I found Xtracolor Signalbraun to be a pretty good match for my purposes. I did give it a splash of acrylic brown detailing wash to help the details stand out, and it seems to have done a good job of it. Not sure if it will come across on the photos, but in person this is just about the right amount of weathering for me. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

If this had to be the last across the finish line in 2018, I would be happy enough. But I think I can still squeeze out a couple more completions before the fireworks on 12-31.

This is completed vehicle #22 (18 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 7 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in December of 2018.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

IBG GMCanada Otter

My mini-project for wheeled light recon vehicles continues with today’s completion, the GM Canada Otter.

This is the IBG kit. There were portions that were something of a struggle, not least because the kit has an enormous number of very tiny parts. Some were simply unnecessary, and could have been consolidated into fewer parts with very little trouble and a greater level of structural integrity (and avoidance of operator error!) Part of the problem was that this one came at the time when I was rushing the work and making some stupid mistakes. I have since slowed down a bit and am trying to take more meticulous time on the construction.

Plus, I am still experimenting with the amount of weathering I want to do. My natural inclination is to not do too much, given that I think that most armor models are woefully overweathered. If you’re doing a diorama, that is probably justifiable, especially if you are depicted a vehicle that has seen some heavy use. But for the typical display vehicle, I don’t think it is necessary. This Otter may have gone to far, though I can't say it shows up well in the photos. Luckily, I think I struck a more correct balance on the next vehicle that will be crossing the finish line.

This is completed vehicle #21 (18 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 6 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in December of 2018.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Paint session (Aerovan, AS-3, Fw-200, Mc-202)

Another paint session was on the schedule today. Thankfully it has not been so cold for the last few days, but it has made up for it with almost constant rain. You can definitely assume you’ll be seeing a lot of this during the winter when you live in the Great Northwest. Actually, since I am a big fan of rain, it is no problem for me.

The painting, on the other hand, was a little problematic. I think I’ve discovered that the problem I encountered at the last session is, in fact, water in the airbrush line. You’ll remember that I had a couple of instances of strange bubbling on the surface of the paint. And given that this happened shortly after the water trap on my airbrush line splintered (and necessitated buying a new braided hose) I did suspect that might be the problem. Now, the new compressor has a built-in water trap, but I won’t have access to that for another week. The cooler weather seems to make the matter of condensation in the line worse. The issue did raise its head during today’s work.

The first color was Dullcote, as a topcoat for two completed vehicles. I’ll be doing their write-ups shortly.

Next came White, to repair a rough spot on the bottom of the Miles Aerovan. Since I had the airbrush full, I went ahead and used the color as the primer for the AS-3 Kangaroo missile. Both seemed to produce a nice smooth coat. The final color on the missile will be Alclad Dull Aluminum, with some burnt metal highlights on the exhaust end.

I also gave the AS-3’s transport cart (provided by AModel) a coat of Russian Dark Green. Next will come masking the wheel disks, painting the tires Tire Black, and then attaching them to the cart.

The next color was Black, for the stripes on the Fw-200 Lufthansa airliner. It was here that the water managed to interject itself into the proceeding. I’ll definitely have to buff down some of the surfaces and reshoot.

I probably should have stopped while I was only a bit behind but continued on with the final color of the day, MRP 305 for the upper surfaces of the Hasegawa Mc-202. Lots of splattering on this one. It seems that the MRP paints are especially susceptible to the problem with water in the lines. Not sure why. Perhaps because they are very thin paints, since they are mixed for airbrush use? I’ll be doing some buffing and repairing on this one as well. Not sure if you can spot the problems on the photo below, but they are there. 

I did decide to call it a day at this point, so I didn’t get the light grey-green onto the landing gear doors of the Mc-202 and the cockpit of the Hasegawa Dewoitine D-520. These are all part of the rush to get projects finished by yearend, though the airbrush issues may have to wait on the new compressor to be fully solved. It tentatively looks like my completed total for 2018 will be around 30. Short of 2017’s 35, but still pretty substantial.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The storage crisis worsens

My display space crisis has taken a turn for the worse. The company I had ordered the maple 6 foot storage case from suddenly decided that they were going to discontinue the item (I knew it was going to take them a few months to order it in from their supplier, but deciding not to order any in at all was a surprise). So I had a choice. I could have one shipped in from Denver or accept a Black one instead of maple.

Black just doesn’t match with anything else in the room. The original 3 display cases have wooden sides and glass fronts/tops and of course all of the bookcases are wood, mostly oak. Besides being naturally dark, black just wouldn’t work visually. And shipping from Denver for a maple version ended up being a full 50% of the MSRP for the case itself. That didn’t work either.

I do have a line on some additional display when a Seattle friend relocates to New Zealand in late 2019 or early 2020. So I am possibly backing into the idea of a couple of countertop displays to take the pressure off temporarily. I’ve been very happy with a smaller case I got a few years back (roughly 28x30x12) and would be delighted if I could get another couple of those. But I have no clue of the manufacturer or of a current source (I bought it second hand, and who knows where the original came from). I’ve checked all the usual suspects – Ikea, et al – but no luck. So the countertop plan might be the best. The cases are smaller, but they are cheaper as well.

It is likely that the countertop cases will take the fighter aircraft, while anything larger will go into the larger cases. I do know I have a great deal of work to do on this project, and just want to get moving on it!

I still plan to re-shelve the existing 3 display cases as I move them into the basement from their current location in the garage. That alone should increase my storage capacity by 40%. But that is a long and somewhat costly process as well, since it involves custom-sized glass shelves.

This is the case I got a few years back. As you can see, I put it to good use!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Construction and paint prep (Fw-200, AS-3, Mc-202, D-520)

The last few days I’ve been getting ready for yet another paint session. We’re getting to the end of the calendar year, which means I would really like to get as many items across the finish line in 2018 as I can. There definitely will be a few more getting written up here, so stay tuned for that.

I was able to get the wings reattached to the Fw-200 airliner. There is some cleanup that will need to be done on the wing root, which will be complicated by the fact that I am all out of RLM63 pre-war light grey, and Xtracolor no longer makes it in that shade. They have changed it to a much darker, almost RLM02 formula. I’ll have to check out all those greys in their US range and see if I can find anything that won’t look too weird. Honestly, I don’t see how some modellers paint subassemblies prior to gluing them together. Not only do I tend to use the technique of flooding the joint with liquid glue (like Tenax or Tamiya extra thin), to get a good seal, but there is almost always some cleanup that needs to be done after assembly.

After getting the wings on, I embarked on a multiple day heroic masking session to get this plane ready for the black Lufthansa stripes on fuselage and engine nacelles. That is one of the things that kept this model on the Shelf of Shame for years. But I committed to getting it done, and now it is ready for the Black paint. Go me!

I’ll also be putting a primer coat onto the AS-3 Kangaroo Soviet missile. Normally I would prefer to spray Alclad directly onto the bare plastic, but early AModel kits just have too many fit issues that require at least a bit of filler. Thus the primer coat.

I’ve also gotten the AS-3 transport cart mostly assembled as well. It was actually more difficult to get together than the missile was, and certainly had more parts. It will be getting a coat of Russian green.

If I have enough time and energy, I will get a first upper surface coat of MRP301 on the Macchi MC-202 fighter. I also have the cockpit of the Dewoitine D-520 assembled, so it needs a coat of grey-green as well. And there are two vehicles getting a topcoat of matte to finish them off.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Italeri/Wolfpack McDonnell-Douglas T-45 Goshawk

If you have been following this blog, you’ll know that there are relatively few types that I do multiples of (Eurofighters, Tornados, P-47s, A-4s, Hurricanes). One of those types is the Bae Hawk, of which I have produced 22 so far. I’ve also finished a McDonnell-Douglas T-45 a few years back, though it is over with the USN trainer group.

Owing to the lack of availability of the Italeri T-45, I haven’t been able to do the two I’d really like to do: the Centennial of Naval Aviation pair in retro markings. Draw Decal does both sets, and I’ll probably pick them up once the kit is available again (it is in the 2018/19 catalog). But in the meantime, I picked up the Wolfpack upgraded kit. This was a bit of overkill, since I really only wanted the plastic Italeri bits. But by the time one adds in shipping to an ebay order for the T-45, it ends up being roughly the same price as the Wolfpack version. But I didn’t use the photoetch set that comes with the upgrade.

The Italeri kit itself is pretty straightforward, with few traps for the unwary. I got to the painting stage fairly quickly with this one. Since I was planning to use a markings option from the recent Caracal sheet (72-028) with its flamboyant Redhawks scheme, the painting was probably a bit more complicated than the usual Goshawk. In fact I made things more difficult for myself, not noticing that the outer wing panels were painted Insignia Red until after I had applied the first couple of fuselage decals. Some tense masking – lots of paper towels and minimal masking tape, and none touching any decal – ensued. I was worried that any contact between tape and decal would pull up the marking and send me looking for a second set of decals. Thankfully it all went well enough and I completed the decals and a final topcoat of clear varnish.

As mentioned, this is the Redhawks scheme of VT-21, based at NAS Kingsville TX. All in all, while it looked for a time like there was a disaster brewing, it came out well enough. As soon as T-45s come to market once again, you’ll likely be seeing the CoNA examples.

This is completed aircraft #501 (18 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 5 vehicles for the year 2018), finished in December of 2018.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Paint session (AB-43, Mc-202, CR-45)

Another short paint session completed today. And this one had to be short, because it was bloody cold down in the garage. Yes, it being December, the winter season has definitely started making its presence felt. But the 72 Land construction paint shop is nothing if not dedicated to progress in spite of any weather conditions.

First of all, a light gloss overcoat was sprayed on to the T-45. This one is now complete (except for removing the canopy masks) and will be premiering in the completed column shortly.

Next, a repair job was needed on the two Italian fighters. Interestingly, when I sprayed the MRP-301 grey undersides, the paint actually bubbled in a couple of places, on both fighters. It was on the part where the White had previously been applied, but not everywhere the White touched. So why in those particular spots? And why bubble at all? Unknown at present. I’m not that experienced with MRP paints, so I don’t have much of a track record to draw from. It was simple enough to buff the areas down and reshoot, but I really should not have had to. A reaction to spraying over Xtracolor? A problem due to the fact that my airbrush is currently without a water trap due to it breaking off last week? A mystery awaiting further facts.

And then finally, the AB-43 got its coat of Signalbraun. I am still working out how I want to modify the surface via washes etc. A bit of experimentation is in order.

It is always good to make some progress. I’ve been trying to paint in smaller batches rather than save things up for a marathon session, and this seems to be working out so far.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Construction (AB-43, AS-4, Aerovan, Fw-200)

There has been some construction going on in the mighty 72Land factory complex, though the emphasis lately seems to have been on the paint shop. Cementing bits and sanding seams can be seen as the tedious part of the process (unless you are a confirmed Engineer) but it is a necessary preliminary to getting paint and decals on the model.

Two types are getting close to their first airbrush session. The first is the Italeri AB-43 light recon vehicle. It was part of a development cycle that includes the AB-40 (many of which were converted for rail use), the AB-41, and the AB-42 Sahariana desert vehicle. All of these are produced in 1:72 by Italeri. The experience of putting together the AB-43 was enjoyable enough that I’ve got the AB-41 and AB-42 on the way from Hannants. I’ll get the AB-40 in a future order. The Italeri kits provide good detail without the unnecessarily high parts count and parts breakdown that, for example, seems common with IBG. Still, both manufacturers provide opportunities to build lesser known combat vehicles, so bless them for that. The main bits of the AB-43 are together and I am just waiting to get the details added before giving it a coat of Signalbraun for a postwar version based in Rome.

The other model falls into the ordnance category. This is the AS-3 Kangaroo, a Soviet missile that was typically carried by the Tu-95. Well, it would have to be; this is a large missile. The fuselage is actually longer than the CR-25 that it is sharing construction queue space with. Being an AModel kit, there are the typical short run fit issues, though this is one of the middle releases and not as rough as the earliest kits. Like drones, you at least don’t have to worry about masking canopies. I’ve already had some PSR work done on the fuselage prior to attaching the wing and tail, and suspect there is more such work in the future before I get to priming it. I am sort of working my way through the AS series of Soviet air-to-surface missiles, having recently completed the AS-1 Kennel, also from AModel. I don’t know of a 1:72 model of the AS-2 Kipper, unless it is included along with one of the big Russian bomber kits.

The Miles Aerovan is painted and awaiting some of the last detail bits to be added. I discovered to my distress that one of the props has gone missing. I’ve had to do a lot of moving between rooms since we adopted the most recent cat. We used the hobby room as an isolation room so that he could get adjusted to the house prior to introducing him to the other animals. Where the prop has gotten to is unknown at present, though I will continue to search. Without access to the range of metal props that Aeroclub once produced, replacing them may be a challenge.

Finally, I’ve revived a model from the Shelf of Shame. I had nearly completed an FW-200 airliner when I managed to break off the wings (don’t ask) and got so disgusted it sat on the shelf for a couple of years. But I recently picked up a PrintScale decal sheet for the type and decided it was time to bring it back to life. It is currently being masked up for the rather complex series of black strips on fuselage and engine nacelles. Then I’ll reattach the wings and get the paintwork finished.



Monday, December 3, 2018

Paint (Mc-202, CR-25, Otter)

I managed a small paint session this afternoon. Only two colors, though on four models. It was interesting that in the late afternoon I could see my breath in the garage. It is December, after all, but it has been pretty moderate in the last few weeks. Lows in the mid-20s coming this week, though.

The main event was White paint distributed onto three models. Two were Italian models (Mc-202 and CR-25) that needed a fuselage stripe. The final one was the MikroMir Miles Aerovan, which needed an overall White coat for the coming Sivewright Airways decals. Though White can sometimes be a cranky color, all seemed to go pretty well for this session. I’ll have to see how things look when it has cured.

The other color was Mid Bronze Green, applied to a GM Canada Otter light recon vehicle. After the last couple of vehicles, I’m wondering to what extent I should weather this one. I don’t go in for the extreme weathering of some modellers – I’m building what I see as museum examples, not tanks that have been in the mud for 5 months. But I learned with the Sdfkz 222 that a broad expanse of a single color just doesn’t look right to the eye. I think most of what I will do involves dark washes to bring out detail. My airbrush doesn’t have enough precision control at present to highlight panels and hatches in a lighter version of the main color. It is a work in progress and I’ll have to see where it all takes me.

That was pretty much it. I’ll catch up with the recent construction work in the next blog post.