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!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Three Beaus together

Here are all three - Tamiya 1:48, Airfix 1:72 and Mark 1 Models 1:144th. They make a nice set.

I always notice a problem afterwards! I now see that I haven't taken the masking tape off  landing light on the port wing of the 1:48th version!

Now that I have all three, I can see the differences. I "almost" wish that I could start again. I know a few things now that I didn't then but I can live with how they are.

You can see a screen show by clicking on any one of the images.

Monday, January 01, 2018

The big Beau is finished

I had most of today to tidy up the work on the 1:48th Beaufighter. I have to say that I have enjoyed this build. Everything goes together perfectly. The decals went down very easily except for the "L" on the squadron code. On one side it broke into three but went back together without any issues. I had to drill a small hole in the top of the rudder to fit a tiny metal pin. This holds the rear end of the radio aerial wire - made from my usual Aeroclub "stretchy thread"

The Eduard masking worked fine although it needed a bit of working out so see how it fitted. The decals were ideal. I did have to sort out some alternate parts in the kit which Tamiya would have you leave off but some careful checking proved that some of the alternates were needed - the navigation dome and the auto-pilot, for instance. I also had to check which tail wheel to fit.

Problems? Always! I thought, after checking, that I didn't have to open up any holes in the underside of the wings or the fuselage when it cam to fitting rockets and bombs but, of course, I found out that I should have done some drilling. As it happened, I could sand the pins off and flat mount everything. It was obvious where they had to go.

One good story about the Aussie Beaufighters is about AB-122, which is the subject of my 1:72 Beaufighter. The web site ADF Serials has this to say: "07/08/45 flown by SQNLDR Gulliver and was the first of eight 93 Sqn Beaufighters to attack 'Japanese' oil tanker with rockets at Tabuan River Sarawak. Post war it was discovered the sunk ship was the 'Mia Moana', the private yacht of the Rajah of Sarawak!"

You have to love stories like that!

Well, that is it. I have finished my RAAF run. My next posting will show all three of the models together. My next build will be a Banff Strike Wing "TorBeau", which comes "as is" in the latest Airfix boxing. The box art is fantastic.

Here are the images of the complete Tamiya 1:48th Beau. As ever, you can click on any image and get a nice slideshow.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

I thought that the small Beaufighter was finished, but...

I have spent today working on the 1:144th Beaufighter. It has been a fiddle from start to finish. I missed putting part of the engine into the nacelles so I had to work around that by cutting things down and fiddle-faddling around. I, eventually, got the propellors on. A coat of Xtracrylix matt varnish brought everything together.  I then painted the cockpit glass and fitted it. I use Gator's Grip for fitting transparent parts. This works very well - and quickly. 

Setting up my camera, I took at least 7 shots of the model (one at every focus point) in each pose. I then, as usual, used Helicon Focus to patch these together into a single image. I now have three nicely posed images, fully in focus. However - I will discuss this after you have seen the images.

By clicking on one of the images, you can see a side show. This is when the problems come to light. Firstly, I have made a bit of a mess of the panel lines on the cockpit transparency and it doesn't sit correctly on the plane. This means, that I will have to remove it, clean it up and start again! Secondly, I originally fitted the plastic tailplanes as I thought that these would be easier to fit and glue. However, I had continuing trouble with the port tailplane until, eventually, it fell off and the carpet monster claimed it. Luckily, there was a pair of resin tailplanes in the box, which were the correct ones for this particular marking anyway so, reluctantly, I had to use them. I hate superglue! Anyway, I got them fixed but now, under the glare of the lights and the enlargement, I can see that the port one isn't finished off at all nicely. This will have to be worked on carefully as I don't want to take the tailplane off AGAIN!

Two Beaufighters progress and the book is a disappointment

Let us deal with the book first. I was going for some sort of presentation of the life of the Banff Strike Wing but what I got was almost a rewrite of the group battle diaries with a few personal remembrances thrown in. Each chapter is a litany of descriptions of sorties, their actions and results. Because the narrative is very dry, no personalities come out and, eventually, I find myself skipping over further details descriptions of attacks.

The book has a very nice selection of images but only one map - which appears to be a railway map of north east Scotland. Given the unfamiliarity of the Norwegian coastline (although I have been to Norway, I only went to Oslo!) I could have done with a few maps showing the main battle areas.

The author could have done a better job by trying to give us the feel for the operations rather than the, sad to say, tedious details of every strike. I understand that people were dying so deserve remembrance but it could have been done a very different way. How about:
Chapter 1 - An overview of why and how the wing was formed
Chapter 2 - Creation of the wing and its satellites
Chapter 3 - The various squadrons that made up the wing
Chapter 4 - A description of the operations and how they were organised
Chapter 5 - The various aircraft that were used with descriptions (and photos - for instance, there is no image of a Vickers Warwick in the book in spite of the plane being an important part of the operations for air sea rescue)
Chapters 6 - 15 - Overviews and highlights of the monthly operations
Chapter 16 - The major (and not so major) personalities - with their reminiscences.
Chapter 17 - The achievements and tragedies (ships sunk - planes shot down and so on)
Chapter 18 - A review of the whole operation from 1944 through to the end of the war
Postscript - What happened next - units and personnel.

Now that would have made a good book!

Anyway, back to the RAAF Beaufighters. I have built these alongside each other. Spraying them both in Foliage green was quite an exercise, especially as I was running low on the colour. ere are a few images showing the build.

All the bits and pieces for the 1:48 version



I am not normally one for research as I tend to make out of the box but, because the 1:48th version came from a set of decals, I had to do a bit of investigation. There are a few little changes to the plane but, because the Tamiya box allows for other kits to be presented, the parts were all there. However, there is one big thing that I missed. If you notice, I have shown you the port side of both aircraft. There is a big difference - the 1:48th has SK-L whilst the 1:144th has T-SK. On the other side of both planes, the codes is SK - T/L so no difference. As they are part of the same squadron, one would have assumed that they would be the same. Having tracked down photos of planes at both locations (Morotai for the 1:48th and Labuan for the 1:144th) I think that the Xtradecal set is wrong and it should be L-SK. However, I decalled the big one first and only saw the discrepancy when decalling the little one. Too late by then as I had put Microsol on the decals so they were never going to come off. Hence, that is how it must stay.

Next task is to fit them both with the rest of the engines and then give them a nice coat of matt varnish before fitting all the fiddly bits. Having looked at the 1:144th undercarriage, I am not looking forward to that part!