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!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A tale of two Beaufighters

The software for the model railroad is nearly ready but I am fed up with fighting it every day. Some time ago, I made an Airfix 1:72 Beaufighter and did it up in RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) colours as a gesture to my e-mail friend (and ex-SBX customer), Mark, in sunny Sydney.

A few weeks ago, I bought the Mark 1 1:144th scale version that is in RAAF colours out of the box.

On asking what I want for Christmas, I suggested to my wife that she gets the Tamiya 1:48th version and then I would have the set!

That duly arrived on Christmas Day so I promptly ordered some RAAF decals for it. I think that all three, in ascending order, all in foliage green, would like rather good.

Anyway, I have started the build and, because they are both going to be built the same, I will make the two of them together. Should be great fun. Here is the first step - putting the cockpits together. Not much difference in size, is there?

Along with this interest, I have been made aware of the Banff Strike Wing during the latter stages of WWII. This wing was created to attack Nazi shipping bringing iron ore down from Northern Sweden along the Norwegian coast. This, very necessary, traffic had to be stopped to put the pinch on Nazi weapons manufacture. The Strike Wing was comprised of Beaufighters and Mosquitos. They had the long haul across the North Sea to the Norwegian coast and then a frantic, dangerous, two minutes of action - guns, rockets and torpedoes - none of which could be used at any real height. 216 brave souls lost their lives carrying out this task (a similar rate to that of Bomber Command).

As a result of this, I have now purchased another 1:72 Beaufighter and a Mosquito Mk. VI along with the required decals to recreate my little tribute to those brave men. Additionally, I have bought "A Separate Little War: The Banff Coastal Command StrikeWing versus the Kriegsmairine and the Luftwaffe 1944-1945" by Andrew D. Bird so that I can immerse myself further into the history. Unfortunately,a separate book of photos is out of print.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chevvie C7.R finished

I did get my brain right. I had a look at the other kits and decided to have a go at the Fujimi Ferrari 512S. What I didn't realise was that this was a very old kit. After starting work on it, I got to the point where I had to mount the engine and realised that I was never going to get it to work.

The model might follow the prototype perfectly but getting everything together and strong enough to hold the rear wheels in place was a task beyond me. This is as far as I got.

As you can see, the engine is supposed to hang off all of those thin structural arms. Well, I could see that being a bit of a stretch for me so I put the box where I could remember to take it down to the bin room. However, now that I have opened it up again, I think that I will just replace it on the shelf and have a second go some other time.

Ashamed of myself, I dragged the Corvette C7.R out one more time and had a third go at getting the black and yellow masked off. This time it worked to an halfway decent level. I decided that I would regard this as a "four feet" model. This is an expression that Aaron Spilling (an old SBX customer and creator of Paint4Models web site) used which meant "only look at this model from four feet away". Well, the Corvette isn't quite that bad but it isn't a good idea to get too close!

Any way, I finished the painting and started on the decals. There are nearly 100 of these and some are really tiny. I lost some of the little red arrows that indicate the door and panel opening catches. I scanned in one I had left, put it into Illustrator and placed it on a background of yellow as near as I could get to the car colour. Then I made a few copies and printed them out onto a sheet of white decal paper. After a coat of varnish,I placed them on the car. The idea of the yellow background was as follows. If you print yellow or red onto clear decal paper, the colour is very muted as the printer expects to get white paper behind it. However, if you print just the arrow onto white decal paper, you then have to trim the image. As the arrow is only 2mm long, this wouldn't work. By putting a yellow background, I could cut out the arrow and leave some of the background. Not ideal but better than no arrow, or at least that is what I thought. This is the result.

It looks terrible when seen at that magnification but it looks OK on the model from that four foot distance! 

In this picture you can see some of the other arrows. Although the background does show, the arrow is still there which is better than not.

Anyway, here is the finished article. 

It is a very dramatic model and I am pleased that I finished it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Stuttering halt again

I would like to blame it on medication and pain but I am just not getting it with the models I am currently making. Both the Chevvie and the Seastar suffer from the same problem. I can't mask off an area without the paint bleeding underneath.

As a consequence, I have put both kits back into their boxes in the hope - along with the BMW M3, that I will get my brain right and come back to them.

So, I have three choices - well, four actually if I include dropping making models for now and going back to my model railway. Mind you, I have a mental block there as well at the moment!

My three choices are:
  1. Make the recently purchased 1:144th Beaufighter - easy choice as it is all over foliage green, being an RAAF aircraft. This means "No Masking"!

  2. Make the Airfix 1:72 Hurricane Mk. I. This would be an easy build except that there are 51 pieces so maybe not. It does have upper surface camouflage but I managed this on the Spitfire so hopefully...

  3. Make the recently acquired Tamiya 1:24th Mercedes AMG GT3 which, again, would be a good choice as it has a single body colour so no masking as well. Also, it is a Tamiya kit so there shouldn't be any gotchas.

Then again, I have a pile of other racing sports cars to make so why not one of them?

Not sure.
Wait and see.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Easily distracted - Lockheed Seastar

As mentioned in the last entry, my next aircraft was to be the Airfix Hurricane. I only have one other aircraft in the "stash" and that is a very short run Sword Lockheed Seastar. I bought this when I was on a roll with US Navy trainers - having made a T-2 Buckeye and a T-45.

However, before buying the Hurricane, I had a look at the Sword kit and thought - no location pins, bits of resin, lots of photo-etch(PE). I can leave this one until later.

I must have had a brainstorm! I have had to give another couple of coats of yellow to the Corvette and then sand some bumpy bits down so I couldn't carry on with that. (So much for me finishing it today and getting on with the railroad tomorrow). As I was in kit building mode, I thought about the Hurricane but then said "Why not. The Seastar can't be any more difficult than resin Fairey Gannet, which I finished successfully some years ago". So, out came the Sword kit and off I went.

A nice looking plane and in white and international orange. 

First things first and the cockpits have to be built. There is quite a bit of PE in the cockpit. Fortunately, I have an Etch-mate PE folding tool and some good Zap-A-Gap CA glue. So, in my new slow and careful modelling mood, I worked slowly through.  Then the carpet monster came into play. I made up the two control panels. Both are a sandwich of a plastic back, a PE black layer for the dial faces and a PE outer layer for the panel surrounds. I got as far as gluing on the black layer for both panels and was waiting for the CA to go off. After painting the tub of the cockpit and the resin bang seats, I couldn't find one of the panels. I even asked SWMBO to have a look for me but no luck.

I used the black panel layer as a pattern and cut a new styrene backing, and, one would have thought, I painted the face black to imitate the missing PE. No, I forgot that stage so having glued the panel on, I had to paint in the tiny dials with black paint. I went for dinner. Came back an hour later and, in making the front undercarriage bay, dropped a part and went looking for it. Not only did I find the dropped part but also the panel from previous. The carpet monster was having fun with me by hiding it earlier but letting me have it back, eventually. I had to cut the front PE of the new styrene backing and put it all back together.

This is where I am at the moment. 

(you can click on any image for a slide show)

After that little episode, I began to look at moving on. The cockpits fit into the fuselage but, true to a short run kit, there is just a little bump to align everything. Added to this is that the front cockpit is glued to the front undercarriage bay which means, I am sure you can tell, lots of opportunities to fit it in the wrong place! 

As it was nearly eight pm, I decided to write up the blog and leave the kit until I am fresh tomorrow morning.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Spitfire Mk VI finished and the Corvette on the way

I had a burst of enthusiasm yesterday and finally got the Italeri Spitfire Mk. VI finished. It is straight out of the box, except for one mishap, as usual. I put the decals on the underwings, painted the yellow  leading edges and then added the red patches over the gun ports (which were supplied as decals. In trying to get them to conform, I dosed them with Microsol. Unfortunately,  I touched one of the patches before it was dry and it came off on my finger. The only solution was to paint all four as mired paint wouldn't match the decals. I masked off the yellow stripes and did some of the painting. When removing the masking, the RAF roundel on one underwing came apart with the tape.

Fortunately, Hannants sell a decal sheet of the exact ones I needed. It was £3.05 with free delivery and came within 2 days. Well done Hannants. So, I repainted the underwing decal areas and replaced the decals. All that was left to do was to fix the undercarriage and propellor.

As usual, I had a small (ha!) problem with the propellor. It has a four bladed prop but the only boss that I could find the sprues was a three bladed one. Where the correct part had gone is a mystery. I sanded off the routing slots for the three bales and managed to fit four around it. You wouldn't know.

Last two jobs were to give the model a coat of flat varnish and add the canopy. I decided to have the canopy closed.

(click on any image for a slide show)

Now that this is finished, I intend to complete the Revell Corvette C7.R. Then, it is back to the railroad for a couple of weeks. I have already purchased the next aircraft kit - an Airfix Mk. I Hawker Hurricane from the Battle of Britain. 

I need to get the Corvette finished. It is quite an easy kit building I have all of the chassis completed.

I have also sprayed the bodywork with the Zero Paints Corvette yellow.  Even though the plastic was yellow, I did give everything a coat of white primer as I find that yellow needs a white background. 

(I have just noticed, from the photo, that I have missed painting the rear view mirrors yellow!)

I should get this finished tomorrow, and apply the decals (lots of them) over the next few days.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Next Up - Revell CorvetteC7.R

I fancied this when I first saw the Hiroboy had the correct yellow. That always gets my interest.Although, I must say that I don't go much for Japanese cars at all.

OK,so there are two variants of this. Firstly, there is the Revell-Monogram version:

and then there is the Revell Germany version (which I have):

The only differences that I can see are:

  • The German body is moulded in yellow plastic whilst the US version is moulded in white
  • The US instructions are the usual Revell type whilst the German version is is full colour.
  • the box art on the US version says Level 4 whilst the German version says Level3.
The instructions are really good. See the front and back cover:

I have started on the kit. First off, so much of the interior is a basic black (maybe satin or gloss but black nonetheless) so I shot as much as I could with my trusty Vallejo polyurethane black primer.  I then sprayed the engine parts with gun metal. The parts fit very well so far. 

Here is where I am:

There is a distinct lack of suspension parts and the wheels are fixed on using two solid axles across the chassis. However, once the interior pod is fitted, none of this shows. I think that this is going to be a fun build as there aren't all the little bits of body work that need individual painting as there was on theLaFerrari. The yellow will really stand out as well.

LaFerrari sort of finished

The Tamiya LaFerrari is a fantastic kit and worth every penny of £50.00. However, there are many possibilities of making errors and I hit every one of them. None of the errors are Tamiya's fault as the kit goes together brilliantly. The problems come from completing a very smart model and giving it the pristine finish that it deserves.

The problem, for me, always revolves around using a special paint for the finish as I find that there is always some touching up to do. I use Zero Paints for my car colours as they produce the exact shades required. This means that this Ferrari is painted in Zero Paints "Rosso Corsa 322". Where the real problem comes from is that you cannot brush paint with these paints so any touch up is nigh on impossible given the way that I seem to work (sad smile). The other problem comes from the use of Zero Paints 2K Clear coat which is a two-pack varnish. This requires mixing the varnish, thinners and hardener in the correct proportions. First off, I always make too much and there are dire threats about disposing down the drain so I always have to be creative with the residue. Secondly, it is a faff to make so if you do have to touch up, there is a problem getting a consistent finish. As an example, I ended up having to respray the bonnet (hood) of the car as I, inadvertently, wiped a brush across the surface (the brush was loaded with cleaners so just laid down a slight black smudge). It was OK respraying the red but I shied away from making up some more clear coat. I brush painted several coats of Johnson's Klear and that seemed to do the job. I have used Klear before when glossing up car bodies. It can be brush painted as it is self levelling so never leaves brush marks. Secondly, the layers blend together so the final result of two or three applications is normally fine.

OK, so how is it left. Well, here is the "finished" model. I haven't stuck all of the panels down as there is so much underneath that I want to be able to see all of the work so the photos make it look as though the panels are mis-fitted. I made up a base using two layers of 5mm foam core and used Adobe Illustrator to make a cover.

One little story. there is a metal decal provided for the prancing horse on the rear panel of the car. When trying to apply this, it pinged off into the wild blue yonder, never to be seen again - or so I thought. When cutting out the foam core for the base, I turned one of the layers over to find that the little metal decal was attached to the underside. Where it came from and how it got there, I have no idea. It is now firmly fixed on the car. Mind you, although it was glued to the foam core, it wouldn't fix to the car so I had to apply a little Titebond glue.

Click on any image for a slide show.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Even more of a meantime and then...

I picked up an Italeri Spitfire at my local Hobbycraft, not realising that it was a bit of an unusual one. It has very pointy wing tips which were meant to help it climb and operate at very high altitudes, hopefully to be able to stop German reconnaissance planes. However, it doesn't have the classic Spitfire look but then, this was all that they had.

Quite weird! Still, as the Ferrari paint wasn't due until Monday afternoon - and I have the modelling bug again, on I went.

First problem. It states that the cockpit should be Zinc-Chromate - but this was an American finish and certainly not used on Spitfires - even I knew that!  (Or -as "any fule kno" - to quote Molesworth).) I thought that we had our own 'cockpit green' which I remember as being quite light so I substituted "Sky". I talked about this with my friend Mark (the Aviation painter - see Brunswick Fine Arts) who fished out a book that showed that I was more right than Italeri. Anyway, I got a little way in, and then the Ferrari paint came.

I am now back on the LaFerrari. What has happened? For the last few years I haven't sat down to a model for longer than 30 minutes on any occasion and then, today, I started at around 2pm and, here I am at 9.30pm, still at it. It must be that Tamiya moulding that does it. Plus, my airbrush is now working faultlessly so I can spray away, change colours and everything.

I am still working my way through very carefully. I haven't needed to open the new paint yet, so I could have got on yesterday. Anyway, this is where I am at the moment.

(Click on any image to start a slide show)

Tomorrow, I shall need to start using the Zero Paints. That should be fun, and smelly!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Something to do, meantime

I am a bit stuck on the LaFerrari because I don't have the right Ferrari red. The only one that I have is for racing cars from the 60s. I have order a bottle but it won't come until Monday and I now have itchy fingers for making plastic models again.

I had a look around my stash, such as it is, but having two cars on the go, fancied something different. I went looking for my half completed 1:72 scale Trojan T-28 but I seem to have disposed of that. I wanted something simple so didn't fancy tackling the Sword Seastar - the only aircraft kit lest (so I thought). These Sword kits are tricky to make and I am in the mood for some easy builds having got into the Tamiya LaFerrari.

First off, I did some repairs to existing models - I glued a wing back on the Buckeye, a wheel back onto  the T-45 and found a spare prop blade and wheel for the Supermarine Seafire. Having done those little jobs, I fished out a 1:144th Revell P-47D that has been sitting there for years. I have a nice little collection of 1:144th aircraft so this would fit in nicely.

This is tiny - just 70mm long - and very few parts. First off, the fuselage was put together.

This got a sprayed on coat of silver and then was masked up for the coloured bits.

I had to cut a little mask out for each side of the fin as, when they painted the tail, they didn't want to repaint the serial code so they masked that off giving the code a silver background. I then sprayed the red nose and, looking at the box art, got out some orange for the tail. Having sprayed this, something didn't look right. By checking with the instructions (maybe I should have done that before!), I saw that the box art was wrong and the tail should be yellow AND! I had sprayed the tail with fluorescent orange - no such thing in 1944! It was then that I realised that the only bottle of yellow that I had was a Vallejo one and the bottle was empty. After all those years of owning a model shop, it seems very strange having to buy paint. Normally, I just took what I needed off the shelf. Sunday morning, 10.30, I was off to my local Hobbycraft to get a bottle of Tamiya yellow. As mine was the last model shop in Ipswich, there is now nowhere that I can buy paint off the shelf, unless I want Revell or Humbrol. Thank goodness that Hobbycraft opened last year as, at least, I can now buy Tamiya easily.

Anyway, 8 miles to Martlesham and then 8 miles back with one pot of paint. Well, actually, I bought a silver marker and an Italeri Spitfire Mk. VI (in 1:72) as I would like to get back to doing a few small aircraft.

I sprayed the tail silver again, as I still have to have a silver background for the serial code and then re-masked the tail for the yellow. That is where I am at this moment.

When the yellow is dry, I will un-mask the serial code area. I will then be able to put the decals on and finish the kit off.


There was a lot more faffing around I had forgotten to paint the black areas on the fuselage upper surface. Extra to that, I needed to paint the propellor. Thank goodness my airbrush is now behaving as painting yellow would have been a longer process without it.  here we are then - the finished article.