Dickson Oh makes and paints a Hobby Boss 1/72 FM-1

Let me introduce Dickson Oh, a good modelling friend who is at the other end of the modelling spectrum from me.  I knock them out while Dickson makes little works of art.  Hopefully Dickson will allow me to show more of his work here in the future but in the meantime, here he is with a recently completed project.


1/72 FM-1 “Wildcat”

The Kit
Very simply engineered, with less than 10 parts required to complete construction. As a result, there is an expected lack of detail, especially within the cockpit and in the some of the exterior panel lines.

Being a figure painter, there was no way I could justify spending the money or effort painting a 1/72 scale pilot for a kit of this quality. Even more so given the lack of detail in the cockpit. There was only one option – depicting it in its final throes, abandoned by its own pilot.


The main body comes in two parts. Huge gaps where they go together, requiring filling with epoxy putty followed by re-scribing of panel lines over the belly of the fuselage. Otherwise straightforward with the bulk of your time spent correcting the former imperfections. I added some bullet holes on the fuselage where the fire was to lay, with some minor thinning of the hole’s edges with a Dremel tool. Some seatbelts needed to be made and I stumbled onto a useful video on youtube, modifying this modeller’s approach to suit my needs. See link below:


SMS paints used after priming, with Light Gull Grey followed by Dark Sea Grey after masking the areas off with SMS masking putty. The putty was easy to use but should be painted over as soon as possible to prevent sagging and loss of contours. The paints were lightened with Radome to highlight panels after the base coats were applied. About 2-3 coats, each with a subsequently higher concentration of Radome (i.e. subsequent coats lighter than the last).

Details were then painted in with a variety of acrylic paints (Vallejo mostly), including impressions of meters and cockpit details, followed by chipping with an acrylic metallic paint, with heavier applications on areas of higher human traffic. Final touches were then applied with a general raw umber oil wash (light), pinpoint washing with black oil paints, followed by rendering with various hues of blue and yellow oils to vary the tone of the greys in random panels, breaking up the monotony of the base colours. These planes saw heavy use after all, and I sought to introduce as much variation in colour within a small area to elicit interest in an otherwise boring subject. Exhaust streaks and the like were also applied at this stage.


The canopies were of course masked and treated as per the body. Once the masks came off, a mist of Tamiya buff was sprayed over the clear parts followed by a rough clean up with thinner on a Q-tip to complete weathering.

The seatbelts were then constructed, mostly from thin graphic tape and copper wire, looped around a thing Evergreen styrene strip then cut and superglued together to form the buckles. Graphic tape was then threaded through these buckles and secured in place with a single pin (copper wire once again) before further gluing and trimming. The graphic tape was tough enough to hold a shape of “blowing in the breeze” to achieve display purposes. These were then primed and painted by brush.


Finally, once all the elements were put together, a tuft of cotton wool was manipulated into shape, then airbrushed with red, increasing amounts of yellow towards the centre of the fire, then finally black around the periphery and in some random spots over the fire’s centre. It was attached with thin strips of double-sided tape, further manipulated to achieve the final look, then secured on it’s loosest edges with white PVA glue. Care with amount of glue used is critical to prevent bunching or clumping of the cotton wool.

Overall impressions
As the first aircraft model I have constructed in the last 15 years, this was a fun re-entry into this field. I think with the right finish, even a kit of this dubious quality can present some fun. More so arm one with the confidence to experiment with various modelling techniques you would otherwise refrain from executing on a good kit you’ve been dying to build. This was a shit kit but I levelled up. Conclusion: win.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKeep growing in the hobby and stay safe, everyone.
And FFS, be excellent to each other!

So Much Effort, So Little Result

Some modellers make one masterpiece at a time, lavishing infinite skill and patience over every tiny detail and finishing their creations with the skill of master craftsmen. Then they spend as much time again giving it the patina that turns their model from a simple plastic scale model to a likeness of the real thing bearing the marks of time and use bestow on things. Some of them then go on to locate their creations in a base that tells a story about a moment in time which creates a relationship between the people it to a location where it was used. The result can be a work of great artistry and beauty.

I am not one of those modellers. I like sticking pieces of plastic (or resin or metal) together and applying paint to the result to make it look something similar to how the original item looked. I might have the skill and patience of master modellers but exercising it does not interest me. When those modellers go to a competition they are inspired to make even better models, I am inspired to make more models. This sets me counter to current trends in modelling which emphasize the finished item as a work of art, is a trend that I am quite happy to look at but not to follow.

Many modellers, I suspect, have two or three kits on the go at the same time. It is necessary to give work to idle hands while glue, filler and paint is drying or while the modeller waits for a necessary component to arrive in the mail. Having more than one model to work on also means that if a modeller feels like sanding and scribing they have a model at that stage in the process or if they feel inclined to putting some decals on their model they can do that too. Most modellers might also have a model or two that they have become bored with that sits at the back of their shelf while they find newer kits more appealing.

Normally I would have five or six models in various stages of preparation, one or two on the verge of completion and another in the early stages of construction. This means that if I don’t want to have to face up to checking for seams and imperfections I can instead do some masking or some decalling. That’s the theory anyhow. This way I can usually count on having completed two or three models to a standard that pleases me every month, one or two of which are worth writing about. But that hasn’t happened this month. Sure, I have a couple of newly completed airliners that are not worth writing about at the moment and a little French fighter that was such an annoying kit that I refuse to mention it again. Then I look around my room and see that there are another ten or so models in various stages of completion, which means I’ve been busy this past month but have yet to see any finished models as a result. Of course there are excuses, or reasons, that none of them have been completed.

So much effort a

First off there are three Revell 1/144 A.320s that are almost completed but need some decals to complete them. Two simply need some decals for the tail markings but the ones that came with the decal sets were too small and I’m waiting for replacements. I attempted to fill the white spaces that should be covered with decals with paint mixed to the right shade but I failed in this process on both occasions, partly because the areas that need filling are not one single shade and new decal sheets will fill the gaps nicely to the right colour intensity. The third one waits because the decals for it I got from my usual source were so brittle that they cracked rather than settling down well, and I’m hopeful that decals from another supplier will take a greater liking to that model. However, during the current crisis mails are annoyingly slow, so those three models sit on the shelf, waiting patiently.

So much effort b

Another three models are three more Revell 1/144 airliners, an A.320 and two A.321s. They have gone through the process of construction and refinement to the stage that they have now entered the painting process. The engine pods are already painted, masked and mounted to the models and the first stage of painting, the metallic leading edges has been completed and allowed to sit for a day or two to set. Next they need careful masking, and have I told you before how much I dislike masking. So it might be a few days before I push those three models on to the next stage.

So much effort c

Next come three models that have all arrived at the verge of the painting stage at the same time. First is a F-Rsin 1/144 resin airliner which, being designed and built before World War II, is in an all metal finish, so that part of the process will not be difficult. I stalled on this one because it occurred to me that while the air intakes and radiators are nicely formed on this kit there were no exhaust pipes. (Such omissions are not unusual from this kit maker but if you want to make the models they offer you have to deal with them.) It took me a couple of evenings to figure out how to overcome this problem and to do something about it, and an evening of drilling holes and bending pieces of wire to replicate exhausts has now made that model almost ready for completion.

So much effort d

Next we have the new KP 1/72 MiG-19S which only arrived here a week ago. I’ve been wanting to make a decent MiG-19 model for many years and here at last is the kit to do it, more or less. However, having reached the painting stage, I now find that I don’t have the stainless steel lacquer paint to replicate the blast panels on the sides of the fuselage which are a prominent feature of all bare metal MiG-19s. That model now needs to wait until I can order the necessary paint and it arrives.

So much effort e

After that is the little Kora 1/72 Dewoitine 53 which is one of those limited run kits that emerges from eastern Europe to annoy modellers. By the standards of kits from this source this is not so bad and it amazed me by having a cockpit interior that actually fitted inside the fuselage halved snugly, until I tried to install the instrument panel as well. That was discouraging enough to set the model aside for a week or two but the delay also came because the kit offers options for models in either silver or green and silver schemes and I would have liked to make the green and silver one. However, that would have meant painting the model first and then joining the parasol wing to the fuselage, a nail biting task at the best of times and only to be attempted by geniuses when faced with a Kora kit. Eventually I decided that I would have to settle for the all silver model and yesterday went about the process of attaching the wing to the fuselage. All I want to say about that is that during the process I wished that I had more words of profanity in my vocabulary than I currently do because I needed every one of them. When a few days have past my mental equilibrium might have returned sufficient to continue with this model.


Then there is the Fokker 100 kit that sits unopened at the moment. It replaces the previous Revell 1/144 kit that I was in the process of converting to a Fokker 79, which is basically a shortened Fokker 100 with different engines. That kit ended up in my rubbish bin because, when I cut two chunks out of the fuselage of the Fokker 100 kit, I used the Welsh Models conversion kit to judge the amount of plastic to be removed. That process went very smoothly until I decided to prepare some decals for the windows of a Fokker 70, which I usually do by counting the number of windows on a photo of the real thing and creating a decal to match. Upon holding the new decal against the fuselage I discovered that it was still far too long and needed to be shortened further. A ruler and quick research into the length of a Fokker 70 confirmed my discovery. I started cutting more chunks out of the fuselage but then came across the lead weight that I’d carefully glued in the nose, lost patience with the whole thing and disposed of it. I found another kit on ebay at a reasonable price and bought it, and I’ll get around to making a Fokker 70 properly sometime soon, probably.

After that are the tiny Arctic Decals 1/144 resin kits of the deHavilland DH-86 1930s airliners which are necessary for my plans to make all the flagship airliners that Qantas flew, starting with the DH-86. (I bought two kits because I can also make the second one which was ANA’s major airliner until it was replaces by the DC-2, which I’ve already made). This is not a particularly challenging kit to make except that it lacks propellers, which is a challenged, the need to extend the tailplanes to make a DH-86 rather than a DH-86B, and the kit maker tell me that he is planning to release Qantas Empire Airways decals for this kit later in the year, so there’s no rush on that one.

So much effort f

Finally there is the 1/144 VLE Models kit of the Sikorsky S-38 flying boat. This has been haunting me for many years and one of these days I will finish it. Every so often I take the kit as I’ve made it so far out of its box, look at the plans, ponder the whole thing for an hour or two and put it back in its box which goes back on the shelf again. The real problem is the amount of strutting that needs to be done to install the engines between the two wings, I’m beginning to think that I will have to simplify the struts it just to get this project finished and that nobody will notice the difference, given the scale of the thing and the fact that nobody I know, or am likely to know, knows what a Sikorsky S-38 looks like anyhow. In a year or two I might be able to bring myself to do such a terrible thing to this little model and in the meantime it goes back into its box again.

So much effort g

So, that’s what’s holding up my modelling progress at the moment. What’s your excuse?

Models for May 2020

The Minicraft 1/144 Douglas DC-8 kit is about the best game in town though there are Welsh Model offerings, if you like resin and vacform, and there is probably the old Revell kit too. The nice thing about the Minicraft kit is that there are indentations inside the fuselage halves to show you where to cut to make the versions with the shorter fuselages, though which cuts to make is left up to the modeller. There are also wing tip extensions so that, after a bit of research, you can work out how to make all the different versions of the DC-8. The engines are a different thing and though various versions of the kit offer engines for the -60 and -70 versions, you have to go to aftermarket sources for engines for the earlier versions.

For this early -10 version I used Contrails engines and Vintage Flyer decals. The Contrails engines and the kit wings wanted nothing to do with each other and that was a problem long in the resolution. On the other hand the decals were excellent and went on with no trouble. The decal set also comes with some paint masks which help make the demarcations between the white and silver much easier than usual to work out. After having applied the decals I found out that the option I had made, Delta Air Lines N801E, had made the first passenger carrying DC-8 flight on 18 September 1959.

May a

May b

This Revell 1/144 Airbus A.320 kit is straight out of the box though with the CMF engine option. The paint scheme is over all white, which is how the Ansett A.320s appeared. The only thing that is unusual about this model is the decals which represent the first livery that Ansett A.320s appeared in. Hawkeye make decals for almost all post-war Australian airliner liveries but not for this first iteration of Ansett’s A.320s. Around the same time as that airline introduced the A.320s it also introduced to service Boeing 737-200s and I hoped that if I bought the Hawkeye decal set for that airliner it might fit on the A.320. Unfortunately it did not, the A.320 being a generally bigger airliner than the 737-200. However, I scanned my copy of the decals and, after some experimentation, enlarged the tail markings to 106 per cent and the fuselage logo to about 125 per cent, printed them out and they fit very nicely. (By the way, I well remember my first flight in an Ansett A.320, on the long flight from Melbourne back to Perth. After the sardine can experience of a 737 flight across to the eastern states the A.320 was spacious and very comfortable, even in cattle car, and the Ansett cabin service was excellent, as always.)

May c

May d

The Dewotine 551 was the military version of the Dewoitine 550 which was built to make an attempt on the air speed record. That was, in turn, a conversion of the Dewotine 520 fighter with reduced wing span and weight and more powerful engine. When the test pilot took the Dewoitine 550 up for its first flight in October 1939 he was astounded at its performance and naturally the military took an interest. By the time of the French defeat in June 1940 a handful of prototype Dewoitine 551s had been made but they never flew and the Germans ordered them to be scrapped. However, this fighter would probably have been France’s front light fighter had the war started a year later and so it is interesting from that point of view.

This fully resin kit comes from the group of enthusiasts calling themselves FGM who came together after Jean Pierre Dujin died to reissue some of his kits. Although they are resin kits, their Dujin reissues are fairly easy to put together once you get some experience in the processes involved. This kit, however, is not a produce of the Dujin workshop and is, if nothing else, a reminder of what a skilled craftsman he was. I had to extensively extend my vocabulary of foul language while making this kit. It is a real pain to assemble and would have met its fate in my rubbish bin at almost every stage of construction had I not really wanted to add this model to my collection of French aeroplanes. Let’s not go into detail, suffice it to say that the end result looks reasonably like a Dewoitine 551 might have looked like.

May e

May f

Here are three I made earlier.

I don’t know if there is another kit in 1/72 other than this Airfix Hawker Siddley Gnat T.1. It is ancient by almost any standards and needed a lot of work to make the end result look as though it had come from a more modern kit. This is also your classic tail sitter with almost no space in the nose for weight to counter the trend, but a couple of white metal after market seats helps make the inside of the cockpit make more realistic and keep the nose down. Looking at the model now I suspect that the red I used while making it is more scarlet that the Red Arrows colour scheme actually is.

May g

May h

Here is another ancient Airfix kit, the 1/72 Dassualt Super Mystere. I think that Special Hobby make a more modern kit but kits from that manufacturer are not the easiest to make. In any event, I had bought this kit many years earlier and it is like a lot of Airfix kits from this era, good honest kits but lacking a lot of the detail and fineness of more modern kits but not to be laughed at. The decals came from one of the Model Art sets, a company that specialized in French aircraft.

May i

May j

The Boeing X-32 was a concept demonstrator built to compete in the competition that was eventually won by the Lockheed Martin X-35, which became the F-35 that many people love to hate. The X-32 might have been an excellent aircraft but it is also one of the more ridiculous looking ones and it is probably just as well it did not go into production because who could take seriously an air force what flew aeroplanes looking like that. In any event, this is the Italeri 1/72 kit made straight out of the box.

May l

May k


Deviant Dewoitines

Making the D.520DC and the D.780

One of the things that makes going to Swap n Sells worthwhile is what you find lurking in the boxes of leftover stuff that dealers often have under their tables. You can’t get to them straight away because there are too many bodies pressed together trying to find bargains on the tables themselves, but later on when the crowd has diminished it is time to ferret around in those boxes of odd bits and pieces. And that’s where I found the strange little kits that enabled me to make two conversions to your standard Dewoitine 520 fighter. One of these little finds was the A+V 1/72 kit of the Dewoitine 520DC and the other was the CMR Dewoitine 780. Both were full resin kits but both were at least twenty years old and not very good. Fortunately, I had a couple of not much younger Hobby Boss Dewotine 520s that I could use as donor kits. The more recent RS kits of the Dewoitine 520 are better than the Hobby Boss ones but they are also more fragile and it looked at though converting these kits to make the two deviant Dewotines was going to require a lot of tough handling. Besides, if something went wrong and the kits ended up in the bin, I wouldn’t feel so guilty if they were the Hobby Boss ones.

The Dewotine 520DC was a post war conversion of the standard fighter. Seventeen surviving Dewoitine 520s were gathered up in July 1945 and used for pilot training and, to make training easier, one was converted to dual control (‘double commande’) by the simple expedient of putting a second seat in the space behind the cockpit, installing controls and extending the canopy. Subsequently another thirteen were converted in the same way and the last ones probably flew until around 1953.

The A+V kit of the Dewotine 520DC has almost nothing to recommend it. In comparison to more recent resin kits this one is poorly defined with poor details. In addition to the resin there were some blobby white metal undercarriage legs and a couple of instrument panels for the cockpit, but no decals and the instruction sheet is only a three view drawing of the aeroplane you are supposed to make from the resin parts. Lord help any novice modeller wanting to make a models out of this kit. After a little consideration I decided that the only parts of the kit that were useable were the instrument panels and the vacformed canopy, and then only marginally.


The conversion was fairly simple and involved removing the upper rear fuselage with a razor saw. Before doing this I had to liberate the cockpit canopy from its celluloid, always a tense few minutes made worse this time because the kit did not provide two canopies just in case, as is customary these days, and because, unlike many vacformed canopies, the shape of this one was not well defined and thus needed a lot of careful trimming was necessary before it was ready for use. The reason for doing the canopy first was, of course, to find out how much of the rear fuselage to remove. The plastic in that Hobby Boss kit is very thick so a great deal of thinning ensued to make room for the kit second pilot seat and it was a while before I realized that the seat was wider than the fuselage itself so a scrounge through the spares box found a replacement that promised to actually fit. The kit instrument panels fitted nicely and I added in a couple of other things to make the cockpit look busy which, of course, you can’t see in the finished model. The canopy needed a struggle before it was presentable and, after that, the rest of the kit went together as expected.

I was able to find a few photos of Dewoitine 520DCs on the interweb and they all looked to be in fairly poor condition and bare metal. Tamiya AS-12 Bare Metal Silver works well for this. Decals came from the spares box. I have a goodly selection of decals from wartime 520s but it seems that the French went for a deeper blue in their markings after the war so finding what was needed took a bit of finding. None of the photos I’ve seen had any unit markings, which was a blessing.


The Dewotine 780, more properly the HD.780, was a floatplane fighter designed to meet a 1937 French air ministry requirement for a floatplane fighter that could be used from shore bases and from ships. The Dewotine 520 was the basis for the new design but in order to make a floatplane from it the aeroplane needed a new nose which incorporated the radiator, a cranked wing for the floats and an enlarged tail. The prototype was ready for flight by March 1940 but by then the French had other concerns so it sat, waiting, until the Germans arrived, looked at it and ordered it to be turned into scrap without it having even flown.

If I thought the A+V kit was terrible and of little use, the CMR kit was even worse, on two counts. One was that the moulding was not very good and would need a lot of work to make it useable. The second was that in many ways it didn’t look much like a Dewoitine 780. This may be understandable since any drawings you find of it on the interweb show a Dewoitine 520 fuselage attached to a cranked wing and floats, ignoring the fact that the nose had been enlarged to accommodate the radiator (its existing location under the mid fuselage would not have been very good for a floatplane) and the tail showed no signs of enlargement. My guess is that the fuselage for this kit had been copied from the old Heller kit and would have needed severe improvement and modification to be of any use. Consequently the only really useable parts from the kit were the wings and floats and I decided that it would be easier to convert the fuselage from the Hobby Boss kit with a new nose and tail and fit the CMR wings and floats to it.


The trickiest part of this conversion was finding a way of mating the central fuselage and inner wings of the CMR kit with the Hobby Boss fuselage. It was not a simple matter of mating the wings from one kit onto the fuselage of the other because the wing fillets on the Dewoitine 780 were bigger and of a different shape to the Dewoitine 520 wing fillets. Doing this involved a lot of work with a saw and they grinding down the central fuselage of the resin kit with my trusty Dremel (the biggest work-out it’s had in years) while wearing the appropriate protection because there was resin dust everywhere. Eventually enough of the resin had been turned into dust that the Hobby Boss fuselage slipped into the void, and then there was a lot of filling to do.



My first attempts at the nose and tail were unsatisfactory because there were no plans to guide me and I did not peer carefully enough at the few photos I could find. After a few hours stuffing around I tried again, this time by cutting the rudder off the kit and replacing it with one made out of plasticard and gluing the radiator from the Hobby Boss kit under the nose and then surrounding everything with a big blob of two-part epoxy putty and then carefully sanding it away until I had a shape that look fairly much like what the photos told me. I’m not sure that I’ve got the shape of the tail or the nose exactly right but I doubt anyone is going to do better with the evidence I had available to me.
Having got the overall shape of the aeroplane as good as I thought possible, a great deal of filling and sanding followed to fill gaps and disguise other modelling indiscretions.




There are a number of imaginative side view colour schemes for the Dewotine 780 on show on the web but as far as I can tell from the available photos the only markings on the real aeroplane was the traditional data on the rudder. I’m guessing that the aeroplane was painted only in the two tone Bleu Gris Fonce and Clair scheme which seems to have been the basis of many Aeronavale schemes around this time.


I don’t suppose that there would be too many people interested in making these conversions. Even without the A+V kit is would not be too difficult to make the Dewotine 520DC but it was not flown in a very attractive colour scheme that people would find attractive. As for the Dewoitine 780, there would be too much scratch building for most people if the CMR kit was not available, and probably too much work for most modellers even if they had that kit to hand. But then I don’t have very ordinary modelling tastes, I guess.


Models for April 2020

It’s been a rather slow month for A.320 models but there should be a herd of them soon. One that did get through is this Revell 1/144 Air New Zealand A.320 in the Silver Fern livery. The decals come from Oldmodels, the windows and doors from Ric Warcup and the corogard panels and wing lines come from 8S.

April a

April b

Instead of A.320s I’ve been having a run on Dewoitine 520s in various versions. First off is a simple conversion of the Hobby Boss 1/72 Dewoitine 520 converted to a D.520DC using the vacformed canopy from the A+V resin kit. The A+V kit is not very good so it is better to use parts from the A+V kit to turn the Hobby Boss kit into a D.520DC. The photos I could find suggest that these aeroplanes had no distinctive markings so finding markings for this model was a simple matter of rummaging through the spares box.

April c

April d
Much more challenging was the Dewoitine 780 which is a combination of the CMR resin and the Hobby Boss kit. As with the A+V kit for the D.520DC, the quality of the CMR kit fuselage is so poor (and not for a D.780 anyhow) that it was easier to replace it with the fuselage from a Hobby Boss kit. When I say ‘easier’ you have to understand that this is a relative term and it was, to tell the truth, a fairly difficult conversion that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. The colours are fairly speculative but are in the fashion of Aeronavale seaplanes of the time.

April e

April f
Here are three that I made earlier.

This is the ancient Tasman Models 1/72 kit of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-19 Boomerang. I made this while in the grip of a case of AMS (Advanced Modellers Syndrome) so a lot of effort went into making this fairly ordinary kit acceptable.

April g

April h

Next is the ancient Matchbok 1/72 Boeing P-12E. I made this straight out of the box in 1975 but was well enough down the track that I knew models have to be painted. There’s no rigging on this, I wasn’t up for it then and I’m still not up for it now.

April i

April k

Finally, another Matchbox kit, this time the 1/72 McDonnell F-101 Voodoo with some very nice aftermarket decals. The key problem with this one when I made it was ‘what is ADC grey?’ Since then paint makers have begun offering this shade of grey in their paint ranges, had I waited a few years I wouldn’t have had to spend so much time worrying about this simple matter.

April l

April m

Making the little white Airbus

I first became aware of the Airbus A.220 while watching sessions of Big Jet TV. Most of you will not be aware of this televisual feast because you don’t think that jet airliners are among the most elegant things that humans ever invented and don’t feel the compulsion to watch them in action for hours on end. That’s your loss. Big Jet TV is very simple in conception and is really armchair plane spotting. This fellow, Jerry, take his video camera to various airport around Europe, and quite often to the United States these days, and live streams airliners landing and taking off from various airports. He puts up with rain, sleet, snow, buffeting winds and every other inconvenience you can think of and, for a very small monthly fee, I get to sit in my warm comfy chair and watch what he sees. It’s not quite the same as being there, you hear something of the rumble that Boeing 747s make as they lumber down the runway headed for destinations half way around the world, but not the air vibrating with the energy of it all. Still, I’m not really that keen to put up with all the privations of getting to, say, Heathrow, for a few seconds of that kind of not inexpensive thrill. If my modelling productivity has gone down in the past few months it’s all Jerry’s fault.

Among all the Boeing 737s, 747s, 767s, 777s and 787s and the Airbuses and the occasional Embraer, Dash-8 and so on, all painted up in an endless array of airliner liveries, many of them nice retro schemes, the Airbus A.220 stands out for its elegance and the simple red and white scheme that Swiss (now of subsidiary of Lufthansa) fly it in. Jerry and I agree that it is probably the most beautiful airliner in the skies at the moment.

The A.220 didn’t start out with Airbus but with the Canadian company Bombardier. They planned it as a slightly larger version of their Bombardier CRJ which they had taken over from Canadair at some stage. They began planning this larger version back at the end of the 1990s but ran into all kinds of trouble that led to delays and program suspensions so the first of what they called the CS100 did not fly until 2015. Part of Bombardier’s problem was that they were not set up to handle such a large and expensive challenge as the CS series and ran into supply problems and delays in getting their Pratt & Whitney engines, the litany of little problems adding up to a big one that went on. One of the big problems was that the CS series would be competition for the bottom end of both the Boeing and Airbus range of airliners so Boeing complained that the CS would be unfair competition for its Boeing 737-700MAX and lodged formal complaints with its US government which ended up with the threat of a 300 per cent import duty. Airbus was more direct and offered it’s A.319neo (a shorter version of the A.320) as direct competition to the CS series and took away sales that Bombardier would otherwise have got.

The end result of all these problems was that the whole CS project was in danger of collapsing and has, since then, got Bombardier out of the aircraft manufacturing business completely. The government of Quebec kicked in $1 billion to keep the project and Airbus came in to take a part share in the project. As things stand at the moment Airbus owns three quarters of Airbus Canada and the Quebec owns the other quarter. Parts for the A220 come from all over the place including Northern Ireland, North America and Europe and are assembled at Mirabel in Canada. A new assembly plant will be opened at Mobile in Alabama sometime soon which will, among other things, increase production capability and overcome any possibility of having to pay import duties. At the end of 2019 107 A.220s had been manufactured, there were orders for several hundred more and there may be demand for around 5,000 more over the coming twenty years. Recently Airbus toured the A.220 around Asia and Australia so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them flying in Australian liveries in a few years time – Qantas is apparently interested.

The list price for an A.220 is currently around $81 million but Airbus claim operating costs 15 to 20 per cent lower than their current competition, which is what makes them attractive. What makes them attractive to me is that they look really nice. Which brings us to making a model of one.

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According to Scalemates there were no kits made of the Bombardier CS so this Eastern Express kit is the first one of this airliner in any scale. Hannants are currently asking A$70 for a kit of this airliner in 1/144, which is far from cheap and you might be able to find one for a better price from some Eastern European company. On ebay they are being offered for around US$40, which is not much less that Hannants, given the current value of the Pacific Peso. Still, it’s a lot cheaper than having to buy a real 1:1 A.220 and the Eastern Express kit is the only one on the market at the moment, so there is little choice. Eastern Express offer this kit in a variety of different livery options but since I was keen on the Swiss livery that’s the kit I bought.

The box that the kit comes in is not large, unlike many Eastern Express boxes which are very large and in which the contents take up very little of the internal volume. In this case, the kit parts rattle around a bit, but not so much as to make one truly annoyed. As for the quality of the kit, I was pleasantly surprised. After the horror of some Eastern Express airliner kits, their Boeing 757 comes to mind, this one is rather nicely done. Far from the quality of your Japanese kit makers or even modern Airfix, but at least something that can be built up into a reasonable replica of the real thing without requiring major work. The parts fit reasonably well and don’t require oceans of filler, they appear fairly accurate and the mouldings are still relatively new and therefore fairly devoid of flash.

The most annoying thing about this kit is the instructions. As is common these days, the parts numbering is only determined by peering at a diagram of the sprues and identifying the parts that way. This is very annoying, particularly when the directions on which parts go where are on the other side of the same sheet of paper – particularly if one has the attention span of a gnat and forgets the number while turning over the sheet of paper. The result of this problem for me is that I made a couple of mistakes during the assembly process which are, fortunately, hidden under the wings so you can’t see them, and a couple of parts left rattling around in the bottom of the box when construction was finished. There was really little more work involved in putting this kit together than there is with most of your Revell and Minicraft airliners, a few dabs of filler to take came of a few smallish gaps and the airframe is taken care of.

The most difficult part of the painting is the engine pods which involved seven different paint colours (not that you’d notice). Apart from the leading edges, which were Tamiya TS-76 with a gloss black base, and the undercarriage, the entire airframe is white. This was, as usual, achieved with a coat or two of Tamiya rattle can white primer sanded with micromesh, three coats of white automotive lacquer, also sanded back with micromesh, one coat of Tamiya rattle can Pure White, another rub over with the finest Micromesh, and then a final coat of Pure White. I’ve painted the undercarriage in Airbus grey, as would be correct for Airbus’s other airliners, but since the A.220 is made in Canada it might be a different shade of grey in reality. Tough.

As an aside, for years I’ve been beating myself up about the correct colour of the wheel hubs on airliners. Fortunately for me Big Jet TV goes regularly to Toulouse where many of the Airbus airliners are made and Jerry is particularly fond of zooming in on undercarriage. As a result I can say with some certainty that when Airbus airlines come out of the factory the wheel hubs are painted the same shade of grey as is used on the rest of the basic airliner. Looking at sessions of Big Jet TV shot elsewhere it seems that when it comes to replacing wheels the maintenance crews don’t care what they put on so you could end up with any other colour they happen to have lying about. This means that when I paint my wheel hubs Airbus grey that means the airliners are fresh out of the factory, which explains why the models don’t have any weathering either. That my story, anyhow. I don’t know if this applies to Boeing airliners too, let’s hope so.


Finally we come to the decals which are, like the rest of the kit, pretty good. As usual, I gave them a coat of Tamiya TS-13 clear which has two purposes. One is in the hope of holding them together while they are being applied and the other is because TS-13 and Tamiya Pure White have the same sheen so there is no need to give the completed model a gloss coat which, I think, makes most airliners look quite unrealistic in comparison to the real thing. The decals went on well but the red bands on the tail were not wide enough to cover the entire tail. Fortunately, the other option on the sheet is for Delta and the shade of red on those decals was exactly the same as for the Swiss decals so a few slivers cut from the Delta decals took care of that little problem.

All in all, a nice little model of a beautiful airliner. It is not quite as good as the real thing, but my back yard if not big enough for one of them and neither is my bank balance, so I can’t complain. The thing I like about working in constant scale is that it allows me to compare various airliners and I was surprised to find that the A.220 is not much smaller than a standard A.320. I guess that what makes the difference is what is on the inside rather than the outside.

A220 and A320