Sunday, October 28, 2018

Let's play catch up. Lots of modelling done!

At last, I seem to have thrown off the blanket that stopped me getting on with anything other than sitting down, reading and falling asleep. Medication has a lot to do with this so I have been taking some time to get it all into some sort of balance. I thought that it would be good to do a recap of the last few months and highlight all of the successes that I have notched up. They may not be award winning but they are quite good and, given my physical and mental state, the best that I can come up with. So here goes....

My friend Mark bought me a 1:48 Hawker Sea Hurricane to go with the Vallejo set of Coastal Command paints. I have related how the undercarriage got broken and how it had to sit on a Trumpeter "flying" stand. Was it needed, though, was a pilot. Fortunately, I hadn't thrown the plastic away, so I was able to retrieve the pilot from the kit (good old Airfix still gives us pilots!). I painted him up and gave him a"Flying Officer Kite" handlebar moustache. (Flying Officer Kite was a BBC Radio character from 1947, supposedly with a handlebar moustache).

Next up is a Mk.I Hurricane, again from Airfix. This one is straight out of the box.

I then got started on my little BanffStrike Wing series. First off is an Airfix 1:72nd scale N.A. Mustang IV (P-51D) in 65 squadron markings. This was a fun project. I had to research the camouflage pattern -"Firewall", it seems but reversed on this plane. The chosen aircraft was one that was crash landed in Sweden after a battle with FW190s over the Kattegat. I also had to construct the serials and squadron codes from alphabet sets as there are no 65 squadron decal sets available. Lastly, it seems that the aircraft was painted in the US before shipping so the colours aren't the regular Ocean Grey, RAF green and Medium Sea Grey but US equivalents. Fortunately, the Xtracrylix range has the correct FS colours so I was able to finish it off correctly.

Next in the Banff set is a "TorBeau" - a torpedo armed Beaufighter X. Again, I worked from a photo of a crashed plane - this time one damaged in the famous "Black Friday" episode over Norway. The chosen aircraft was PL-O of 144 squadron, which crash-landed back at Dallachy after being hit by a FW190 and managing to fly back from the Norwegian coast with substantial damage. Again, I had to handcraft the serial and squadron codes for this one.

Lastly, in the series of completed planes comes a 66 squadron N.A. Sabre. This was made for the themed night at Ipswich IPMS last week. As usual, I got very little recognition of my presence or of my contribution, but there we are. I bought the Hobby Boss (HB) kit, forgetting that it was one of their "easy" builds.  I managed to break off the pitot tube and gave up on it fairly quickly. I then purchased the Academy kit but found that it was even worse than the HB one. I retrieved the pitot tube and fitted it to the HB one so that was, at least, complete. I purchased a set of RAF decals as I wanted it to be a bit different from how I expected the table to go. I had to fill the nose with lots of liquid lead but it still needed a little bit of tacky-wax to hold the nose down. I don't expect to get any points in the competition, even though it was one of only four completed Sabres on the table.

So, that is it for now. except for one 120mm resin figure that has been sitting on the shelf for about 18 months after my friend Mark gave it to me to "finish" When I got it, it was complete and mounted on a stand and had been undercoated. I started to paint it but lost confidence in being able to finish it correctly. Recently, I decided, in my new frame of mind, that I would restart it. I managed to find good quality images of the finished model on the maker's web site so off I went. I am very pleased with the final result. Now I see photos, I realise that it needs some more matt varnish to take the shine off.

That's about it for finished models. I have thrown a few new starts away as I was unhappy with them. My current projects are:
  1. 1:48 Kitty Hawk T-28C Trojan
  2. 1: 48 Special Hobby Hawker Seafire F Mk.XV
More on these in the next post.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Beaufighter finished and Whitley trashed!

First - the Whitley. The kit is moulded so that lots of different marks can be made. Unfortunately, this results in a rotten fit where it matters along the fuselage and around the wings. Try as I might, I could not get these "trenches" filled to any sort of decent finish so it went the same way as the Whitely that I threw away some years ago - in the bin, broken up. One day, I will get a BOAC plane to go along side my Mosquito!

I finished the "Torbeau" in PL-O colours from 144 Squadron, Dallachy, as it was on Black Friday.

The Airfix kit comes with a 144 Squadron aircraft but I wanted to make PL-O as this one is in the famous photo having done a belly landing after being hit on that fateful day. It did make it back to Dallachy, though!

I had to make up both sets of serials for PL-O and NE831. Mind you, I always have a problem and this time it is that one of the clear nav. lights has fallen out. I will try and rebuild using Krystal Kleer but it may be something that I am stuck with. There is always something!

My last recent effort has been to make a Hobby Boss easy build F-86 Sabre for the forthcoming Ipswich club themed competition. It turned out harder than I thought because the kit isn't very accurate and I used Ocean Grey as the base camouflage on the upper surfaces when it should have been dark sea grey! I have bought some decals to enable me to do an RAF Sabre so I had to keep going. I have ordered a new F-86 kit from Hannants - namely an Academy one. This is considerably dearer. I have always found Academy kits to be of good quality. I have until 23rd October so 17 days to get this done - without any mistakes!

I am getting some practice by building a Revell F4U Corsair in Royal Navy clipped wing version. This is going together nicely, albeit with some masking tape compressing joints as the kit is quite old with lots of flash.   Photos will come later.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Interim Report - Three kits in progress and a new stash

I have been busy building up a stash fund! I have lost my hobby room for the foreseeable future so I have had to reconsider how I spend my time. The decision was that I had to clear myself of all of my model railway as I think it is probable that I won't go back to model railways once the room becomes available again.

I have decided - along with some good pressure from my wife - to go, full tilt, back into plastic modelling and to improve my music capabilites. I have spent the last couple of weeks disposing of the model railway. There are two sets of funds coming from this. The money from the current railway is to go into a new, upgraded concertina (see My Other Hobbies blog). Any money from other stuff is going into a stash fund. So far this fund has reached around £350 so I am on a bit of a roll!

This is the current stash:

1:72 Revell Shackleton
1:72 Revell Texan
1:48Airfix Sea Fury
1:72 Tamiya Mosquito
1:48 Special Hobby Seafire
1:32 Kitty HawkT-28C Trojan

I am going to specialise on FleetAir Arm aircraft, as I determined six years ago, but got a bit distracted. As you can see, though, there will be a few US Navy planes included.

I am waiting to get to the IPMS Brampton show this coming Sunday where my stash money will be it quite extensively. In the meantime,  I have three models on the go, two of which are needing some third party parts. I am working on the following:

Airfix 1:72 Whitley - intended to be in BOAC colours so has been "civilianised".

Airfix 1:72 Torbeau (Torpedo fitted Beaufighter) Banff Strike Wing - custom decals.

AFV Club 1:144 Sea King

Why are they all unfinished. Well, the Whitely has some bad fit issues and I keep putting off starting painting it. There is a bad fit on the rear fuselage and also on the starboard wing join. I do need to get one top coat on and see the real issue as it always looks worse in primer. The Torbeau  has had its custom serials added but I messed u the roundel position. I am waiting for a new set of decals from Hannants. The Sea King is a lovely little kit but to move on I need to mask some windows. As I don't have any masking fluid, it has to wait until the show on Sunday. 

Remember: Click on any photo for a slideshow.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Sea Hurricane and Mustang IV

When I was at the Ipswich model show, at the Sphere stand, I picked up a set of Vallejo paints for WWII Coastal Command. My friend Mark, secretly, purchased an Airfix 1:48th Hawker Sea Hurricane so that I had something to paint. I took it home and started to make it. I made a big mistake in that I put the undercarriage on before I had finished painting. In that process, I managed to break one of the undercarriage legs!

I spoke to Airfix and, for the princely sum of £2.00, they sent me a replacement leg. If fact, they cut it off the sprue so it was all that I got - not a service as you get from The Hobby Company (Tamiya importers) who will send you a whole sprue! I was showing my wife what the problem was when I dropped the plane and broke off the other leg. Oh well, the time had come to make a flying version. To do this, I needed a stand so I got one of the nice Trumpeter stands. Now, have a look at the finished photos and tell me what is missing?

Yes, it needs a pilot! I don't normally fit figures into my cockpits but this looks a bit silly so I will have to retro-fit one from the kit. Fortunately, I haven't thrown the old sprue away yet.

BTW, the photos were taken in my new photo booth. This is a box of about 60cm - 24" cubed with the sides all velcroed so that it can be dismantled easily. It has the facility for fitting backdrops - here I have used the supplied blue one. Inside is two rows of daylight LEDs to light the model. As you can see, it works very we'll. There are no obvious shadows and I haven't had to adjust the exposure or colour setting in Photoshop, which makes a change. As usual, I have used image stacking to get the focus on all of the points of the model - these are comprised of 5 images each.

Once, that was finished, I started on the first model for my Banff Strike Wing trilogy. I did start on a Mosquito some time ago but made a mess of it so a replacement kit is in the chain. The first one is a NA Mustang IV (P-51D in US terminology). This is interesting because I have had to do some research. What me? See my description of this blog to find out my normal attitude - out of the box is all! Anyway, it isn't possible to purchase a Banff Mustang (65 Squadron flew top cover out of Peterhead for the majority of raids - Mustang IIIs and then Mustang IVs). Through Britmodeller, I found an image of a plane that had been crash landed in Sweden so I had something to go on.

As there are no decal sets for this, or any other 65 Squadron, plane, I had to purchase sets of individual codes and numbers to make the YT-E and KH695 (seen if you look carefully under the tailplane). There was two other problems. One was the camouflage scheme - the so-called firewall pattern. However, on investigation, it seems to be a mirror image. The second problem was the colour of the paints. It seems that these Mustangs were delivered directly from the USA so they didn't get painted in standard RAF colours - Green, Ocean Grey and Medium Sea Grey. In the end, I ordered some Xtracrylix paints from Hannants as follows:

XA1112 - ANA613 Olive Drab - RAF Green
XA1130 -  Gunship Grey FS16118 - nearest to ANA603 Sea Grey - Ocean Grey
XA1137 - Light Gull Grey FS16440 - nearest to ANA602 Light Grey lower surfaces - Medium Sea Grey.

The kit went together very easily, with a couple of exceptions. The mouldings are so fine that some things are too delicate. Both the control column, from the cockpit, and the aerial on the upper fuselage both broke into bits as I cut them off the sprue. As a result, both are small pieces of brass rod cut to size. 

The decals were fun to put on the model. All I could use from the kit decals were the wing and fuselage roundels plus the tail fin markings. The YT-E had to be cut individually from a sheet of sky code letters. The most difficult part of the build was putting the KH695 serials on to the fuselage under the tailplane. As each letter/number is just 1/8" high - 3 1/2 mm approx, I placed a piece of masking tape along to guide the base. However, the difficulty was compounded because the olive drab and the dark grey made it very difficult to even see the decals as they were being applied!

The kit decals included the yellow facings to the wings but experience tells me that these are very fiddly to get into place so I masked them up and sprayed Tamiya Flat Yellow instead.

It is finished so I can now get on with the Banff Dallachy Beaufighter.

BTW, there are some discussions on the internet as to whether they kept the shrouds in place to hide the exhausts but, like the Mosquitos, who had similar issues, I believe that they took them off as they gave the plane a few more knots speed. Also, it seems that some were fitted with skinny propellors. Well, I have no idea so I went with the kit ones. All in all, I am very pleased with a kit that cost the grand sum of £9.99. Mind you, I did spend £23.00 on decals and paints!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

HWGA - short for "Here we go again"!

I have been very unhappy recently with both of my main hobbies. I am finding it hard to engage with my N Gauge model railway - See my Pennvale Sands Blog. Note that it hasn't been updated since 7th June! I have also been unhappy with my plastic model making as both of the recent models that I started have ended up either discarded or with broken parts.

The Banff Strike Wing Mosquito that I was so keen on has been discarded because I can even make a mess of a Tamiya aircraft kit (it gets worse than that so hold on). One of the nose panels is completely out of place and I have started the painting so there is no fixing it. As I am very keen on the topic and I have some special decals, I will buy another kit and start again.

As previously mentioned, my friend Mark bought me an Airfix 1:48 Sea Hurricane kit, which I have been building very carefully only to break the undercarriage. I still can't explain why I even fitted the parts before the model was painted and decalled, but there we are. Fortunately, Hornby (makers of Airfix) have a good spares operation so I have new parts on their way. Watch this space.

In the meantime, I have been making the Tamiya Mercedes AMG-GT3 1:24th scale kit. Now this is a special kit, fits like a glove everywhere and the instructions are crystal clear. I even have the special Zero Paints colour used on the works cars. I have got to the point where I am starting to put the decals on and then...

Here is one side of the car:

This, I think, looks excellent and, in fact, I was very pleased with how it was coming along. I continued putting the decals on, taking care as I turned the car about to make sure that I didn't dislodge anything. I can back three hours later to inspect it and found this:

Compare the first image to the second and you will see that the door decal on the lower one has shifted and now overlaps the door! I noticed this first, when I saw the decal overhanging inside the wheel arch:

Of course, this should not be. The trouble comes in three parts.
  1. The car racing number should not overlap the door shut line;
  2. The decal has been treated with Microsol so cannot be moved and
  3. I know that it is wrong!
The answer is to finish the car and only show one side. However, 3. above still comes onto play!

I am sure that I will finish it, someday, so I have put it back into its box and back on the shelf. This is three disasters in a row so I have to do some serious calming down before going on.

I want to get back to the Banff Strike Wing so I have a Beaufighter and a Mk.IV. Mustang ready to go, along with the appropriate decals. I will need to purchase another Tamiya Mosquito to complete the set. In the meantime, I have gone back to basics. 

The latest Airfix 1:72 Mk. I Hawker Hurricane is one of their new mouldings and is a very neat little kit. I have the paints so I don't need anything else to make it. Plus, it shouldn't take more than a couple of days to do. That should give my confidence a small boost and enable me to get going again on my plan.

My Vallejo Coastal Command box comes in useful for the paints. I have sprayed up the Sky parts along with the interior  green. So far, so good.

I think that I will stick with WWII and Post-War British aircraft for now and have my eyes on the following kits. (Anyone who knows me knows that I don't hold with large stashes. Make as you buy is my motto.)
  • Airfix 1:72 Armstrong Whitley Mk.V (in BOAC colours to match my BOAC Mosquito)
  • Airfix 1:48 Hawker Sea Fury FB.II
  • Revell Avro Shackleton AEW.2 (because I like the colour).
As they used to say in the War - Gently Bentley. I will get there but it is hard. I can't forget that the Tamiya kit cost £50.00!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Tamiya Mercedes AMG-GT3 progress

All of a sudden, I am all fired up.  Airbrushing holds no fears, using aerosol spray cans is becoming common place and I am keeping much better track of the progress.

One thing that I have started to do is to use Tamiya Fine Surface Primer as my basic primer. I like the Vallejo black polyurethane primer but I have never got on with the white equivalent, even though I have tried relative makes such as AK Interactive and Mig. When making the Hawker Sea Hurricane, I used this spray can and it worked fine so I have carried on with it throughout the AMG build. It goes on quickly and easily, smells a bit but dries quickly.  I am a big fan of Wheeler Dealers, a UK TV program where they rebuild old cars. The mechanic in that program, Edd China, sometimes uses an aerosol can and he using a special technique of quick sprays across the surface rather than trying to spray a large area in one press. Using this technique has saved me a lot of stress getting all of the parts coated with primer.

My first task was to build the chassis. One thing to mention here is that the model is, what they call, a "curbside model". In other words, it has a minimal suspension - just enough to show when turned over, for instance - and no under bonnet (hood) details so no engine and drive train. This suits me as I have never subscribed to the view that "even if you can't see it, I know that it is there".  Anyway, the chassis looks like this:

That's it. Basically, you get enough to hang the wheels on and to show through the wheel arches. The suspension itself is quite well detailed - although I now see that I have to touch up some of the paintwork after the handling required when putting it all together.

The black chassis looks a bit bad but, of course, so one will see this. The underneath is also painted black but has been sprayed with some Humbrol gloss varnish - out of an aerosol!

The body and all the parts that are body coloured are another matter. Hiroboy make a special Zero paint for this car that is colour matched to the original. Apart from the small, which Valerie always complains about, the use of this paint is extremely easy. I always where blue nitrile gloves and make sure that the room is very well aired. The paint is described on their web site as follows:

All the paints are Pre-thinned for Airbrushing. The paints supplied are called "Basecoat Paints" which are a solvent based paint (similar to Cellulose but different) which dry with a matt finish and require clearcoating. As they are solvent based they need to be applied over a suitable primer, they can be Solid, Metallic, Mica, Pearl or Candy colours.

They dry almost immediately so are very easy to use. I find that Liquid Reamer is just as good as a clean up as their specialist Airbrush Cleaner but I have a large can of the cleaner to hand so I use that. Mind you, the can is currently in storage following my move out of my hobby room so I may be forced to used the Liquid Reamer on occasion. 

Anyway, I went through the instructions and marked each part on the sprues that needed to be sprayed. I have found in the past that if I miss a part it is a right faff to get the airbrush out again just for that one bit. This time, I marked each item on its sprue with some red marker and now I have every part sprayed. All the other parts can either be hand painted or sprayed with normal acrylic paints, which are easier to use and clean up from.

Now, I have every part sprayed and having given the body a good colour coat both inside and out, I can get back onto construction.

One last comment as a reminder. All the images are taken using my Canon 80D body with my Canon 24mm USM lens (note, no zoom). The quality of images through this lens mean that I can enlarge small areas easily without any loss of detail. The camera is held on a Manfrotto tripod. I use a technique called "focus stacking" which involves taking a range of images with varying points of focus around the wanted item and then using some clever software (Helicon Focus) to tack all of the images and use only the bits that are in focus - very clever

Monday, August 06, 2018

Starting the Tamiya Mercedes AMG GT3

It's been a long time - again - between builds. I have been working on a 1:48th scale Airfix Sea Hurricane that my friend Mark bought for me. He purchased it at the Ipswich Club show because I had bought a pack of WWII Coastal Command paints to go towards my proposed theme of the Banff Strike Wing.

As you can see, it is coming along quite nicely but... (isn't there always a but with me?).

I never, ever, ever, attach anything that may break until I have finished decalling so why did I fit the undercarriage legs? 

As you can see, the port (left)  leg has broken off. Fortunately, Airfix can supply a replacement part for £2.00! Hence, it is now on hold until I get that. Incidentally, I used Tamiya sky for the band around the rear fuselage and found that it didn't match the colour of the underneath. It seems that the Vallejo sky is quite a bit darker than the Tamiya but it is too late now as I have started decalling.

In between, I have decided that I must get on with some modelling rather than just sitting and staring at a computer! I have the fantastic Tamiya 1:24th scale Mercedes AMG GT3 along with a bottle of Zero paints body colour so, under pressure from my wife to "get on with something!" I have opened up the box and started work.

The Pennington curse hit at that point. I got out my airbrush to spray the base colours (having given everything a coat of Tamiya surface primer) to find that my bottle of X-18 Semi Gloss Black was empty and my usual trusty large bottle of Vallejo Black primer was totally absent! Valerie is going out so I now have to wait until she comes back to pop up to Hobbycraft for some spares!