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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hasegawa Avro Lancaster

The Avro Lancaster is another type that I have built before, but only in its Airfix incarnation from many moons ago. I haven’t completed one of the new-tool Lancs yet.

I remember a conversation with Al Trendle of Minicraft waaaaaay back in the day. They had already produced the B-17, B-24, and B-29, and a few of us were trying to sway him into doing a new tool Lancaster. He rather scoffed at the idea, with the rather forceful argument that “it would never earn us back the money it cost”. Well, nowadays we have new-tool Lancs from Hasegawa, Airfix, and Revell, so apparently someone thought it would make them a profit in the meantime. Still nothing from Minicraft, though.

This particular one is the Hasegawa kit. As you would expect, it went together wonderfully. It borders on being over-engineered, but that is the Hasegawa way. Still a million miles better than the rivet-laden ancient Airfix kit that is already on the display shelf.

The markings are from Tiger Force, the group that the RAF put together to finish up the Japanese War in 1945. But before everything was ready to go, the two bombs dropped and plans changed. They took up positions in other parts of the Pacific, but didn’t really ever appear as a unified force. The decals come from a nice Xtradecal sheet, Postwar Lancasters X72256. I’ve always had good luck with Xtradecals (they are good at producing 1:72 markings) and this time was no exception.

The most difficult part was the masking and painting. It seemed that no matter what I did, there was some overspray or leakage that needed repair. The model thus spent more than its share of time on the Shelf of Shame. But it is particularly satisfying to rescue a model from that shelf. There were definitely issues with canopy masking, self-inflicted. Much of that may have come from the respraying to repair some of the large (non-canopy) masking issues. The paint was a little thick which caused some definition issues. This is one of those models with a long gestation period, and might not have ever been seen in public except for the core philosophy of this blog (that everything completed gets photographed and displayed). Still, I’m glad that I finally could get this one into the display case and out of the “pending” area.

This is completed aircraft #513 (11 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2019), finished in March of 2019.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Italeri Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (Italian AF special)

Despite my resolve to complete some types I’ve never done before, that doesn’t mean I have abandoned my long-standing series production of Eurofighters, Hurricanes, P-47s, etc. In fact, today’s completion is another Italian AF special markings Eurofighter.

It came from the two-kit Italeri boxing, which means that I was building the Italeri kit. It lacks the finesse of the newest-mold Revell version but ends up looking like what it is supposed to by the end of the build. There were some minor fit issues along the way.

The decals went on well. I think I would have preferred to have color callouts for the Green and Brown in the spine camo, with decals for the individual markings. Instead you get decal bits for the entire spine, including the cockpit surround. That caused some anxious moments after the matte overcoat when the cockpit masking was removed. But my recommendation is to take the decals in stages, soaking them with setting solution overnight between sections. That way you run less of a risk in accidentally moving a decal that you thought was already in place.

The markings are for 12th Fighter Group from Maggio Air Base in 2017. There are still plenty of special markings schemes in the decal stash, including two more contemporary Italian specials, one Italian special from a few years back, a few German specials, and (on the way from Hannants) a Spanish Tiger Meet version. Along with the 3 Tornado retirement schemes, modern RAF fighters seem to be doing well if you like gaudy markings (which I do). Time to get some F-35 specials in gear!

This is completed aircraft #512 (10 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2019), finished in March of 2019.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Construction (Arma Hurricane, Tilly, A-4, X-3, Mc-205)

So, with all the painting going on, how is the production end of the 72 Land operation fairing?

As you have gleaned from this blog, I tend to have a lot of models in process at any one time. This makes it easy to do something while glue or paint dries, or when decals are in setting solution. And the current state is no exception. At least 11 are in motion, with another set awaiting cockpit assembly, and a stout number of examples on the Shelf of Shame. A couple of larger items on that Shelf will be coming off now that I have a bit more flexibility as far as storage space goes.

But on to work on ongoing projects. I had to assemble the Fiat CR-25 engine nacelles and clean them up in preparation for their Dark Green paint. Another plane requiring a Dark Green will be the top sides of the Polikarpov I-16 Rata.

General construction on the Arma Hurricane and the Italeri Mc-205 are mostly complete. The Tilly truck from the Airfix RAF Refuelling Set really just needs the tires masked and painted before moving to decals.

The Fujimi Blue Angels A-4 is together and needs to have the seams buffed up a bit. I don’t remember the air intakes being such a challenge on earlier Fujimi iterations of the A-4, but I’m not sure what is responsible for that. Probably me.

The AZ Models X-3 Stiletto continues to crawl along. I’ve now gotten the fuselage together and the wings/tail attached, and will next be working on the intakes and exhaust surfaces. I have also received the Peewit masking set and have masked and installed the canopy as well. It fit about as well as everything else has, so it will require so puttying and buffing around the edges.

The Azur Latecoere 298 continues to glare at me balefully since I haven’t attached its float surfaces yet. And the N1M and B-45 are still waiting for cockpit work.

I also received from Hannants a couple of masking sets for the MS-406 that I received partially built from a friend in the hobby. I’ll probably move the second one into active work once the first one – which is partially painted at present – gets further along.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Paint session (Tilly, Mc-200, CR-25)

The latest painting session came after I had moved all the trash barrels out to the street and decided that since I was in the garage anyway, why not? Impulse is the particular province of the retired.

Mostly it was routine stuff that I did today. I wanted to get the front exhaust ring on the Mc-200 painted, since I wanted to stop thinking about the complex masking job around all those raised engine areas on the cowling. But it seemed to go fine. Next comes painting the engine disk itself and adding the landing gear.

I decided to use X116 Green for the engine nacelles on the Fiat CR-25. It also seemed a decent match for the upper surfaces of the I-16 Rata, so since the airbrush was loaded I went ahead and shot that as well. Both seemed to be smooth.

There were matte topcoats to be done for two now-complete models. I’m running a bit behind on getting the most recent completions written up but should be able to catch up before the end of March.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kopro DeHav DH-88 Comet

<Sigh>. And it all started with the best of intentions, too. This probably sums up my modelling history in one sentence.

I noted in the DH-91 finish line posting that I thought it was a beautiful airliner. Today’s completion is the smaller racing counterpart to that, the DH-88 Comet. DeHavilland just produced lovely planes, period. (Which means I will likely take a stab at the Heller Dragon Rapide once the civilian Xtradecal sheet comes out). We’ve had the paleolithic Airfix kit and the laughable Frog example (whoever thought those little molded heads were adequate for an interior was not a forward-thinking individual) for what seems like ages. There have been resin upgrades from Heritage and what appears to have been an excellent resin kit from SBS. But no new modern-technology injected plastic kit of the DH-88.

When Kopro announced their version, I have to admit I was ecstatic. I had dreams of a whole row of DH-88s in all the different color schemes, civil and military, and even a couple of whif variants inspired by Tom Z’s website (

But then I had to ruin those dreams by actually building the thing. Kopro, like their stablemate AZ, tend to occupy two ends of the short-run kit scale: the high end and the low end. This one, alas, is from the low end. It’s not that the molding is bad or the detail is non-existent, but the fit and the engineering are just not that great. Parts didn’t want to line up, the landing gear struts don’t make much sense (and could have used some indication of where to attach them inside the nacelle), and even the canopy required a fair amount of fiddling. Eventually it all came together, but not something I would take to a contest.

But then came the “Black Magic” decals. To say that they are thin would be an understatement. In fact, a couple of them exploded while moving them into place on the model and became a giant jigsaw puzzle with no clear solution. Gold leaf is not resilient in any case and these were beyond fragile.

So a lineup of Comets is probably not going to happen in my lifetime, though I may eventually test the waters sometime later to do “The Burberry”. It’s like women and childbirth; sooner or later you forget how painful it was and agree to go through it all again. MikroMir has announced a DH-88 as well, though they’ve gone rather quiet about it since Kopro made their announcement. And MikroMir kits tend to share some of the same engineering shortfalls as Kopro/AZ, so whether their kit, if and when it appears, constitutes a substantial improvement over the Kopro kit remains to be seen.

And while we’re on the subject, how is it that we have never had the Caudron C-640 Typhon kitted? Not even Dujin did that one. The only one I’ve seen on the net (on was scratchbuilt.

This is completed aircraft #511 (9 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2019), finished in March of 2019.

There is also a shot of the two recent DeHav completions together. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Paint session (Lanc, Tilly, Mc-200)

I’ve gotten into a fairly decent rhythm of short painting sessions now that the weather has warmed up a little bit. It is still chilly in the garage, but not as bitterly cold as it was a couple of weeks back.

This one was mostly to repair some overspray that happened on the Tiger Force Lanc. There was a fair amount of masking involved, though it’s not like the overspray was all that extensive. I just hope that I didn’t get white overspray over the black areas that were already completed! This could become an endless loop. I also painted the insides of the Blue Angels A-4 intakes White.

The second color was X128 Engine Gray, meant to provide some dark accents on the Tilly truck from the Airfix RAF Refuelling Set. Still to come on this one is masking the wheel hubs and getting the tires painted.

Last was the X101 Earth mottling on the HobbyBoss MC-200. Again, perhaps not as tight a line as I would prefer, but the learning curve continues to be steep. I think that maybe a finer nose cap and needle are in order and will check prices shortly.

Again, no disasters and progress on some models, so I can’t complain.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Valom DeHav DH-91 Albatross

I have really grown to love Valom as a kitmaker. Not that they are necessarily easy kits to build, but because their subject choices seem to be tailor-made for me personally. Their DH-91 is a good case in point. A four-engined interwar British airliner, which coincidentally is one of the prettiest planes ever to fly? Sign me up.

Reality sets in pretty quickly though. Fit is not great, and with a coming NMF, that causes some disquiet early on. There is a nice little Avalon masking set for the kit – none of the other usual suspects even gave it a try – though it was vinyl, which is not the best medium for masking in my opinion. I’m a big fan of Japanese Kabuki tape due to its flexibility. Vinyl is not as bad as the label material used recently by MikroMir, but it has some issues conforming to curves. Luckily most of the panes on the DH-91 are pretty flat, so the only potential issue was getting the masks off after painting was complete.

So lots of PSR and more than my usual amount of priming. I finally decided that the time had come for paint, and shot a coat of Alclad White Aluminum (my NMF of choice in most cases). There were some formula issues that required a reshoot, but one begins to expect that on occasion here in the modeller’s paradise that is 72 Land.

The decals cooperated fully. Except for one bit, which is fully down to my not paying attention. There was one marking I expected to find on the decal sheet, since it was the same color as the registration lettering and didn’t seem to be that complex a shape. I was surprised when I got to the decal stage and discovered that, nope, the marking wasn’t there. A bit of a mystery, since the blue used by Imperial Airways doesn’t seem to be a standard one, and matching it would be a chore. So, sorry, for those of you that prize accuracy above all else. (And more importantly, what are you doing on this site in the first place?) I just left that marking off. I don’t think it detracts terribly from the overall look of the model, but just knowing it isn’t there is aggravating.

Still, it’s a finished DH-91, a type that I never thought would be done as an injected plastic kit. It will look nice in the commercial aircraft section. But it basically has me thinking “Flamingo! Flamingo! Flamingo!” as a sequel. We modellers are hard to satisfy.

The lineup of upcoming Valom models is as follows: first the B-45, then the Sparrow, then the Albemarle, the Salmon, and that big Boeing XF8F. Sometime soon, the Twin Pin will make its appearance as well. Like I said earlier, I do love their type selection.

This is completed aircraft #510 (8 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 2 vehicle for the year 2019), finished in March of 2019.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Paint session (cockpits, Tilly truck, Mc-200)

Another short painting session today, but this time in glorious sunshine (still chilly, though). Such is Spring in the Great Northwest.

The main event was painting cockpits Grey-green. This included both the Italeri MC-205 and the Arma Hurricane. That Hurricane was a trick to put together. I have heard of lots of issues in getting the fuselage to close around the assembled cockpit. I didn’t have problems with that, but the wheel wells caused some issues in getting the wing together. There will likely be some putty on the leading edge. Next comes detail painting and then major assembly.

The Tilly truck got another coat of Khaki Drab to strengthen the color saturation on the main truck and to get the wheel hubs that I forget to take care of the first time.

Final action was to crank down the air pressure and get some X102 Tan mottling onto the upper surfaces of the Mc-200. Still haven’t gotten the line as tight as I’m looking for. Perhaps I need a new nose cap and needle? Still to come is the X101 Light Earth mottling.

I do have some repair to do on the upper surfaces of the Tiger Force Lanc, but I decided to put that off until I had enough spare time to do all the masking required. No point in being slipshod and then have to repair the White overspray!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Paint session (Mc-200, Tilly truck)

Yesterday saw a short paint session amidst the snow flurries that are pestering Western Washington state at present. It really is getting rather late for such events. I’m no big fan of High Summer, since I don’t much care for extreme heat, but I think I’m done with snow drama for this winter.

Mostly smaller items, such as Alclad coats of White Aluminum on landing gear and Stainless Steel on the exhaust surround for the latest Eurofighter. I also did the exterior X147 Grey on the exterior of the Eurofighter’s landing gear doors, which I had forgotten to do last time. It’s getting close for the complex decal job required on another Italian AF special scheme.

Next came an upper surface coat of X110 Forest Green on the HobbyBoss Mc-200. It all looked pretty smooth after curing, so I will be moving on to the two-color mottling shortly.

Finally, the Tilly truck from the Airfix RAF refueling set got a coat of X816 Khaki Drab. I forgot to do the wheel hubs for this one, so it will require a second loading of this color (not one that I use very often). As it happens, the coat on the vehicle itself didn’t cover extremely well, so I will take the opportunity to strengthen up the coverage on that too while painting the hubs.

Nothing dramatic – always an advantage for a paint session – but a number of projects were advanced.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Vacuform canopy

Well, you certainly must have heard that. I really do hate using superglue. I decided to stick my toe in the (resin) pool slowly by dealing with a couple of photoetch bits and a vac canopy, before I started working on cockpit parts for the N1M and XF-103. Given my history, I’m probably lucky that my toe isn’t permanently attached to a resin part right now.

All the usual problems that I have historically had with superglue made their appearance; sort of a Greatest Hits of Unfortunate Modelling. I couldn’t get the stuff to hold on to the canopy long enough to get it straight and in place, the photoetch baseplate in the Arma Hurricane wheel well shifted while curing, and bits of my skin became permanently bonded to the Latecoere 298 that was getting the new vac canopy. I left the canopy to cure for an hour or so, then picked it up the model and the canopy promptly fell on to the floor. The pet-hair studded floor. So now the canopy has pet hair I’ll need to extract. It seems to bond that just fine, and virtually instantly. But not the canopy. I had to hold it in place for something like 25 minutes before I was confident enough to put it down again. I think I got the canopy fairly straight, but there are gaps on both sides of it. Gaps that wouldn’t be there if the cyanoacrylate had any sticking power for non-organic items. Honestly, white glue would hold it in place as well as this stuff, and it won’t hold much of anything. But the canopy would need to be cut precisely enough where spittle would hold it in place, and I don’t think my 62 year old fingers can still manage that. Still, this one is as good as I'm going to get it at this juncture.

I stated that I intended to move outside my comfort zone for this. And I well and truly have accomplished that mission. Whether I want to continue will depend on results. Not discouraged yet, but the initial trial was not a thorough-going success. We’ll have to see how things develop. Practice should help with the rough spots, but sooner or later I’ll have to confront the “life is too short for uncooperative kits” concept.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Expanding the horizon

I’ve spoken before about my initiative to move a bit outside my comfort zone and complete some models that have never featured in my building programme before. The D-520 and MC-202 were early examples of that, and they are being followed by the MS-406, Fiat CR-25, MC-200, and MC-205.

But why not go all the way with this concept? You’ll have noticed that I have a real love for Weird Aviation History, all those odd concepts and prototypes that never really had a chance for production here in the real world. But they are all over the place as 1:72 models. Unfortunately, a number of them are in resin, which requires superglue. I really can’t stand using the stuff. It never seems to want to bond, has no sheer strength, and will fog any transparency it comes into contact with. As with most of us, superglue is best at sticking my fingers together and not much else.

But it is an inevitable fact of life, at least until 3D printing progresses to the point where plastic kits are possible to print out at home. At present, even those are mostly resin. So I am just going to have to man up and confront my modelling inadequacies, or lose out on an entire sub-genre of aircraft types that I really like.

Thus, I’ve decided to introduce a few resin kits to the construction queue. Most of them are kits that have been started, but were diverted to the Shelf of Shame at some point. The first ones I am looking seriously at are the Planet Northrop N1M (part of the flying wing series), the Republic XF-103 (part of the complete Century Series), a Latecoere 298 (which, while a plastic Azur kit, does have a vac canopy), a Kora P-47 two-seater (part of my vast collection of completed Thunderbolts), and a Planet Dornier Merkur (another interwar Lufthansa type). Some of these may have problems and return to the Shelf of Shame, but I intend on giving them the old college try first.

Speaking of first, the initial step has been to dip all these vac canopies in Future (in its guise as Pledge Acrylic Floor Care) to provide a vapor barrier when the time comes to attach them with superglue. I don’t think I’ve ever done this to a canopy before; usually I just mask them, use the cyanoacrylate, and hope for the best. With predictable results. Still, hope springs eternal, and we’ll see how it all proceeds. If you hear some foul language echoing out of the Great Northwest some winter’s evening, now at least you’ll know why.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Camionetta AS-42 Sahariana

This is another in a series of light recon wheeled vehicles of WW2 and postwar. I just recently completed the Autoblinda AB-43, and the AS-42 is a basically an open-topped variation of that vehicle mounted with a couple of defensive guns. Both were kitted by Italeri.

Italeri small armor is a much more straightforward build than, say, IBG, though I have managed to cause myself problems even with this kitmaker. Parts tend to shift a bit while curing, putting them slightly (though visibly) off when completed. There is only so much time I am willing to devote to correcting a part that has already dried in place, so I usually just repair any gaps with Mr Surfacer and move on.

The two defensive guns insisted on breaking off a half dozen times during the building process, so they may be a bit shorter than originally intended. Still, it makes an interesting contrast to the earlier AS-43. I do have an AB-41 in the pipeline, and will likely pick up the rail version of the AB-40 (all by Italeri) sooner or later.

The AS-42, like many Italian combat vehicles, served in the Western Desert in 1940/41. Decals as provided by the kit were minimal and went on simply. I’m still struggling with the addition of dark washes to break up the sameness of these Desert Yellow surfaces. Definitely a work in progress.

This is completed vehicle #25 (7 aircraft, 1 ordnance, 2 vehicles for the year 2019), finished in March of 2019.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

New display case

Below is a photo of the first Detolf display case from Ikea. For as long as it took me to get the thing assembled, it certainly didn’t take as long to fill it up! It barely made a dent in the flat cases I am trying to empty as part of the grand basement/garage remodel. Still, it does provided a place for models to go in The Big Plan.

That doesn’t mean I will be slacking on replacing the wooden shelves in the horizontal display cases with glass. In fact, this will become essential if I am going to get all these 500+ models under cover to minimize dust invasion. More shelves spaced closer together means more total square footage to place models onto. And for the horizontal cases, I don’t have the same footprint size restrictions as in the tall displays, so that is where most of the bomber, transport, and commercial aircraft will end up.