Accurate French Colours?

You might recall that earlier this year I made some Block 150 series fighters and ended up whinging about the colours of paint I was forced by circumstances to use. I’d bought the Hataka acrylic lacquer French World War II set of ‘authentic’ colours and was not happy. Since then this has been nagging on my mind and, a couple of weeks back, I decided that enough was enough and I had to do something about it.

This whole problem began about twenty years ago when I came to the realization that I was not going to make all the kits in my Treasure in my lifetime – even if it was a very long life – and that I should specialize in some category rather than just making models of whatever took my fancy. ‘I know’, I said, ‘I’ll make French aeroplanes.’ Then, in total ignorance of the history of French aviation or the efforts of M Palix and M Dujin to make kits of every obscure French aeroplane that ever existed, I added, ‘There can’t be too many of them’.

Not knowing much about French aeroplanes or what they looked like I went to the Perth Hobby Center – we were living in Perth at the time – and bought me some French aeroplanes and some ‘authentic’ paint in French colours to put on them. The result was a set of the three French fighters at the beginning of World War II, the Morane Saulnier 406, the Bloch 152 and the Dewoitine 520. (The fact that the French entered the war with three fighter types, four if you count the Caudron 714 and five if you count the Curtiss Hawk 75, should have warned me about what I was getting into!)

The kits were from Heller and just on the makeable side of basic, and the paint was from Aeromaster. It was a brand I’d never heard of – still being basically a Humbrol user at that stage – but it was the only source of ‘authentic’ French paint, so I gave it a go. It was okay and I was happy with the results. I followed the kit instructions because there was very little literature that I’d seen about French aeroplanes and, in the period before the interweb really got going, there was no other was of finding out what French aeroplanes at the beginning of World War II should look like.

French Colours e

When we arrived in Ballarat there was no Aeromaster paint with which to continue my excursion into French aviation, but the hobby shop in Sturt Street stocked Modelmaster paints which came in a huge rack and included around eight (as I recall) French ‘authentic’ colours. So I bought them and continued on with my growing interest in French aviation. When I compared these ‘authentic’ colours to those from Aeromaster bottles there were some striking differences, which puzzled me and led me into trying to find out more about what the right colours might be. However, at that stage, there was little reliable information so I learned what I could and pottered on. Generally speaking, I didn’t know whether the Aeromaster or the Modelmaster paints were the more ‘authentic’ but since I only had access to the Modelmaster enamels I resigned myself to a state of genteel ignorance. And when the shop owner decided to get out of the Modelmaster range I bought every bottle of French paint they had which, I assumed, would last me an eternity, so it didn’t matter much.

French Colours f

However, fifteen years later, when I started to run out of some colours, I discovered that it was impossible to buy any more Modelmaster paint in Australia. This was a serious problem because I’d come to rely on Modelaster enamels for just about all my military aviation and suddenly, on the whim of some importer, I was cut off from my supply of the good stuff. This led me into a brief and unfruitful exploration of the failings of acrylic paint (for me anyhow) and then the emerging range of acrylic lacquers which I already had some experience of from my use of the Tamiya rattle can range for airliner models. However, until recently, there has been nothing in that range that was suitable for French aeroplanes, until the Hataka set that I mentioned earlier. I ordered it from BNA with much expectation but was quite disappointed when it arrived and I tried it on those Bloch 150 series fighters.

French Colours g

Which led me to the point I was at a few weeks back. I felt the increasing and undeniable need to make some more French fighters but was unable to do so because I lacked the paint with which to decorate them. However, frustration leads to action.

But first, a quick lesson about French camouflage colours prior to and into World War II. (It took me years to figure this out and I’m giving it to you for free.) Before the Munich Crisis French aeroplanes were generally bare metal (perhaps with a protective transparent varnish) but after that they were painted Gris Bleu Clair (light blue grey) on the lower surfaces and Khaki on the upper surfaces. Towards the end of 1938 more colours were added to those that could be used; Vert (green), Terre de Sienne (earth brown) and Gris Bleu Fonce (dark blue grey). Gris Bleu Clair remained the under side colour but the upper side could have a base coat of Gris Bleu Fonce or Khaki with other colours painted over it in splodges in no particular pattern. (The result was that no two French aeroplanes were identical in camouflage patterns and all the lovely camouflage patterns one sees in books and on the interweb are largely inventions of the artist’s imagination.) There was another colour, Ombre Calcinee (Modelmaster called this Chestnut Brown) which was applied to aeroplanes like night bombers and another colour, Jaune Sahara (Sahara Yellow), which was used in place of one or more of the upper camouflage colours on aeroplanes operating south of the Mediterranean. The rudders of all French aeroplanes were painted in the stripes of Bleu (Blue), Blanche (White) and Rouge (Red) of equal spacing, and that’s about the only thing you can be certain of with French aeroplanes of this period.

After the Armistice the French or Vichy Air Force, which is apparently properly called the Armee de l’Air de l’Armistice, had to apply distinguishing markings which included white bars painted along fuselage sides and around roundels, also a 30 centimeter tricolour band and the empennage and fuselage rear (apart from the rudder) and nose had to be painted yellow, with red stripes that were added later. Some sources say that after the Armistice the French Air Force had matt aluminum undersides instead of Gris Bleu Clair, and others don’t. To add to the lack of uniformity, many of the shades used were mixed from existing paint stocks to suit the local environment in which French aircraft found themselves operating.

Confused? I still am. Most kits and decal sets these days go for a scheme of Gris Bleu Clair underside and Gris Bleu Fonce upperside with Vert and Terre de Sienne randomly over that, but who knows if they are right?

Nevertheless, there appear to be basic colours that were used and none of the three sets of paint I’d used, which claimed to be ‘authentic’, seemed to be that to me. In particular, I could see no point in paying good money for more sets of Hataka lacquers in which I would use only the Gris Bleu Fonce and Gris Bleu Clair and which didn’t include the Rouge or Blue colours which seem to be uniquely French and unavailable in other lacquers. These days there are several sources of possibly accurate information on authentic French colours and, of the ranges I’ve used, I prefer those from Modelmaster, and I would have kept using them had they been available. The only colour out of that range that I might have changed was their Vert, which seems a little bit too dark according to the sources I looked at.

Then I remembered that I’d faced this problem before. After they’d banned the carriage of enamel paints on aircraft and I’d been unable to import the Xtracolous range of airliner colours, I took my precious tins of Airbus and Boeing greys to Darby’s and they made for me colour matched lacquers which I am still happily using a decade or more later. Why not, I thought, do the same thing for French colours.

French Colours a

French Colours b

I gathered together all the existing ‘authentic’ French Modelaster and Hataka paint I had, colour chips, colour information with equivalents such as FS numbers, and models I’d previously made, and made up a list of what I consider to be ‘authentic’ French colours for the eleven basic colours I need. This took several hours and is not completely authentic because I made some slight variations to suit my preferences and the models I’ve already made. For example, the Terre de Sienne is almost identical to the Modelmaster shade and slightly less dark than the sources say it should while the Vert is lighter than the Modelmaster Vert but a little darker than what the original colour might have been.

French Colours c

French Colours d

Feeling still uncertain about my choices I crossed the Rubicon (a small tributary of it at least), went along to Darby’s with my list and collection of paints and colour patches, and ordered eleven one liter cans of paint colour matched to my specifications. They looked at me strangely but ‘the customer is the customer’. Colour matching cost $35 a go and after that the cost of the paint is almost negligible so I fought off the impulse to order two liter cans instead, just in case. (The paint thins to a ratio of 1 part paint to 1.5 parts thinner, giving me 2.5 liters of each, and I don’t expect to live long enough to use all that.) One thing I hadn’t thought of, ‘Matt or gloss?’ they asked. Gloss of course.

A couple of weeks later Darbys rang up, my paint was ready. For my Airbus and Boeing greys, and all the white I use, I thin the paint down, making a bit over half a liter of thinned paint, which I store in 100ml glass bottles that I buy off the internet. This paint is still thicker than most of the acrylic and lacquer paint you buy for modelling these days so it can be thinned again for airbrushing, but I find that it is an excellent paint for my 0.5 Badger Patriot running at about 20 psi and rarely needs more than one coat for good coverage. So, I took the afternoon off and sat thinning paint and putting it into bottles, about seven for each shade. That was until I ran out of thinner and bottles, and had to wait for more to arrive.

French Colours i

Eager to try out my new paint, I took a couple of old Hobby Boss 1/72 Dewoitine 520s out of my Treasure and stuck them together. They are very simple kits and just right for this trial use of my new paint. Painting took around a day’s work for the two models, a little longer for the one with the Jaune and Rouge Vichy stripes of shame. The paint flows beautifully out of my airbrush and dries almost instantly. Touching up using the unthinned paint is a breeze, unlike my experience with other acrylic and lacquer paints. The gloss sheen is just about right, negates the need for a gloss coat before applying the decals, would be ideal for gloss models, and takes a matting coat with no troubles. It’s all that I hoped it would be, though that light shade Vert is going to take a little getting used to.

French Colours h

Models for December 2019

A couple of weeks ago I got some new camouflage paints for early World War II French aircraft and wanted to try them out. (see my post on ‘Authentic French Colours’)  I grabbed a couple of old Hobby Boss Dewoitine 520 kits from my Treasure, put them together and then tried out the new paint. These are not difficult kits to make and are really good value for money. There is nothing to speak of inside the cockpit, which would put off many, but apart from that they really do look like the aeroplane they are supposed to replicate. If you want something better the RS Models kits are probably the best bet these days, better than the old Hasegawa kits for my money.

For this project I used the kit decals which are, all in all, fairly good although the blue looks a little pale to me. First is Dewoitine 520 No 80 flying with the 1st Escadrille of GC I/3 in the period fairly soon after the Armistice with Germany had been signed. The first part of the Vichy Air Force marking had been applied, the white fuselage stripe and white border around the fuselage roundels.

December j

December i

The second of these two Dewoitine 520s is No 248 flying with the 4th Escadrille of GCII/7 in Tunisia in 1941. This one bears the full Vichy Air Force distinctive markings.

December l

December k

Here are some I made earlier

A Trumpeter 1/72 BAC Lightning F.6, XS898, in the colours of 5 Squadron, RAF, in 1974.

December d

December c

A Trumpeter 1/72 BAC Lightning F.53 in the colours of the Royal Saudi Air Force at Tabuk Air Base in 1977.

December b

December a

An Airfix 1/72 Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2 in the colours of 800 NAS, Fleet Air Arm, aboard HMS Eagle in 1971.

December f

December e

The prototype Saunders Roe SR.A/1 made from the very old and basic ID Models vacform kit with decals from the spares box.

December h

December g

Cat in a Box

As a rule our two cats, Tristan and Isolde, get on well together. They chase each other around the house for fun and cuddle up together on the bed, but there is one thing that causes war to break out between them. It is the old cardboard box behind my computer screen. Tristan believes it is his box and Isolde thinks that she should have it. Sometimes, when he isn’t lying in it, she will sneak in and try it on for size, and emerge with a look of smug self satisfaction on her face. But if he’s using it she will either pretend that she couldn’t care less about his box or it will be all out war. Tristan is much bigger than Isolde so the outcome is not often in doubt, but she doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘give up’ and sometimes I have to separate them. On occasions offering Tristan another box works, for a while.

cats acats bcats c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heritage of the Air in Canberra

I got back from the Heritage of the Air conference in Canberra a few days ago but have been trying to catch up since then. It was an event sponsored by ICOMOS so there was a lot of heritage discussion as well as aviation, which I found interesting, and a good time was had by all as far as I could see. It was held at University House at the Australian National University. Breakfasts and evening drinks were among the highlights of the event. Here are some photos which include one of me with James Knightly, Peter Hobbins and Matt Henderson and another of Roger Mayer talking to Robin Johnson. In addition to this I spent a day at the National Library photographing old fanzines and a few hours doing a bit of work at the Australian War Memorial. The rest of the time I spent walking around looking at things. The city has changed a lot since we left there in 1987 but not so much since we finished the Tax Office history a decade ago.

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In addition to hanging around, I gave a paper on the role of the Council of Defence in establishing aviation in Australia in 1919 and 1920. Here is a copy of what I said. There is a longer version which I will get around to publishing one of these days.

From the Same Root

The Big Douglas Airliner

Douglas had been the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial airliners since the 1930s but had lost that lead to Boeing with its 707s, 727s, 737s and 747s. There was a gap in the potential airliner market for something between the long range 707 and the new 747 Jumbo Jet, that could carry over 300 passengers for intercontinental ranges. To fill this gap Douglas began design of a three engine wide-body airliner which would be the successor to its successful (but not as successful as the Boeing 707) DC-8 four engine narrow body long-range airliner. Design work began in 1966. The prototype made its first flight on 29 August 1970, 386 were manufactured (with an additional 60 KC-10s for the US Air Force) and production ended in 1988.
Unfortunately, Lockheed had the same idea and developed its L1011 to similar specifications. They both went into production and the competition between them meant that neither was successful. The Lockheed was more technically advanced but delays in production meant the DC-10 was first into service and therefore a bit more successful. On the other hand, the DC-10 suffered from a bad safety reputation due to several fatal crashes caused by poor design, particularly around the rear cargo door.
While the DC-10 was being designed, but before construction commenced, Douglas merged with McDonnell to form McDonnell Douglas, but the ‘DC’ numbering was retained. A few DC-10s remain flying, converted to freighters with modernized cockpits and flight systems under the Boeing designation of MD-10.
The most commonly produced model was the DC-10-30 which was also the first long-range model. A total of 163 were built from 1972 to 1988, 163 were delivered to 38 different customers, beginning with KLM and Swissair in September1972. Air New Zealand acquired seven DC-10s to replace its DC-8s on its long inter-continental services and the airline flew them until around the end of 1982.
McDonnell Douglas began planning for an improved version of the DC-10 in 1976 but it was not until 1986 that the replacement was launched under the name of MD-11. Despite all kinds of plans for greater improvements, a shortage of funds in the company limited development of this new version to a few improvements including a stretched fuselage, improved wings, engines and flight systems. At the same time other companies such as Airbus and Boeing were developing entirely new airliners in the same category and the introduction of new and more efficient engines meant there was no longer the need for three engines on long distance services, all limiting the attractiveness of the MD-11. After McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997 that company decided to continue MD-11 production, though only for the freighter variant, but in 1998 the company announced it would end production after filling all existing orders. As a result only 200 were manufactured between 1988 and 2000. Although they have disappeared from passenger services there are still many MD-11s in service as freighters with companies such as FedEx, UPS and Lufthansa Cargo.
I have a particular fondness for the DC-10 and the MD-11 since it was an Air New Zealand DC-10 that we flew in in 1974 from Auckland to Los Angeles and a Swissair MD-11 that we flew in from Singapore to Zurich in 1993. I was also keen to make these models as part of my project to make all the Douglas airliners, beginning with the DC-1 and concluding with what became known as the Boeing 717. There are a few gaps to be filled, such as an ANA DC-6b, but otherwise, making the DC-10 and MD-11 fills the major gaps with only a couple of the MD-90 series to go.
There are really only five useful kits of the DC-10 in 1/144 scale, the most common are the Revell and Airfix kits which have been reboxed more times than you’ve had hot breakfasts, a Welsh Models vacformed kit, a newly released Eastern Express kit in a multiplicity of livery options, and the Accurate Airliners resin kit. I started off with the Airfix kit but it was so badly molded and warped that it ended up in the bin. I couldn’t lay my hands on the Revell kit and the Eastern Express kit had not yet been released – though given the quality of some of their recent kits I wonder if that might not have ended up in the bin as well.
Eventually I gave in and bought the Accurate Airliners resin kit, an expensive undertaking but a very nice kit indeed and almost certainly the most accurate and pleasing to work with. The main thing to say about it is that it is heavy because the fuselage is molded in one piece. While working on this I was constantly afraid that I’d pick the model up by the wing and it would snap off due to that weight, and I’m still amazed that the weight doesn’t crush the resin undercarriage. The decals were a nuisance. I hunted down some Air New Zealand decals on the interweb and, while they were pretty good, the had obviously been designed for another kit because they were about 5mm shorter that the Accurate Airliners kit. I tried a couple of tricks to fill the gap but none of them looked good enough so I ended up having to buy another sheet from overseas to fill that tiny gap. The end result is not one of my better models but, given the cost of making another one. I’ll stick with this one.

Douglas a
Kits of the MD-11 are less common and there are only one or two options. In injection molding there are the Micro Mir and Eastern Express kits (which might actually be the same kit, but I’m not prepared to spend the money to find out) and the Welsh Models kit. I bought the Welsh Models kit some time ago which has the advantage of offering Swissair and Swissair Asia decals., but it was one of their earlier mostly vacformed kits and I did not fancy things like trying to make decent engine pods out of the bits of plastic in the molded plastic sheets in the box. So when the Micro Mir kit was released I bought that. It looked to be the easy option as against the vacformed kit but it had the wrong engines for the Swissair variant. Fortunately Welsh Models also offered a conversion kit for the right kind of engines in resin and white metal so I bought that too. Fhis gave me a second set of Swissair decals which, as it turned out, was a good thing.
Construction of the Micro-Mir kit was not difficult but it was not a pleasure to put together. Like many kits these days it seemed unnecessarily fussy with, for example, a detailed nose undercarriage which is all hidden inside the doors and realistically thin but also very fragile smaller bits. The end result of this fragility was that, even though I handled the model with as much care as possible, the nose undercarriage broke very quickly and could not be resurrected in any way. The only solution was to turn to the white metal parts offered by the Welsh Models kit so that if you had x-ray vision you’d see that, in addition to the replacement engines, the Micro Mir kit also has the nose undercarriage and winglets of the Welsh Models kit. (The big and uninviting sheets of vacrfomed plastic went into a bin, putting a smile on my dial.)
Painting and decaling was a challenge. The grey is my own concoction which is about as close to the grey that Douglas used on its airliners as I can get. The corogard panels are also my own concoction of metallic shades, which is a story in itself that I shan’t recount here. The underside colour gave me a lot of stress; it looks black but it isn’t and sources variously describe it as a very dark blue or purple. In the end I gave up trying to find a reliable source of information and just used the darkest of dark blues, which doesn’t look too bad really.

Douglas b
When it came to the decals it was just as well that I had two sets to work with. For one thing, they were very fragile and even though I gave them a good coating of clear varnish as insurance against them falling to bits when used, some of the longer window decals did begin to explode as I put them in place. The other reason for my good fortune was that the window decals might fit nicely on the Welsh Models kit but they are too short for the Micro Mir MD-11 kit so I had to raid the second sheet to find enough window decals to fill the spaces left by the Welsh Models decals.
In the end I felt the same way about the Micro Mir MD-11 as I felt about the Accurate Airliners DC-10. Neither was an enjoyable project, and I wouldn’t recommend them to others, but they do fill a gap in the lineup of models that I wanted to get made and they don’t look too bad.

Douglas e

Models for November 2019

First off is the Micro Mir McDonnell Douglas MD11 which has a particular fascination as I flew in one of these to Europe in 1993. The contrast between the Qantas cabin service to Singapore and the Swissair service through to Zurich was remarkable. The kit is big and solid and fairly easy to assemble. It comes with Finnair decals and engines but since I wanted to make the Swissair version I had to get new decals and engines which, fortunately, come in the form of a Welsh Models conversion kit. The most challenging part of the conversion was merging the new tail engine into the kit, which is really not too difficult. What really held me up was the apparently simple choice of the colour of the lower fuselage, it looks black, but not quite, and the decal instructions are no help at all so, eventually, I bit the bullet and used the darkest shade of blue I could find, and it doesn’t look too bad. The end result is a pretty impressive model.

November b

November a

For some time now I’ve been working myself up to making a fewAirbus A.320s in Australian and New Zealand liveries. I stared off with a Welsh Models Air France A.318 some years ago and now it’s time to get going on the rest. I intended to start with the Revell A.319 in the new British Airways retro BEA scheme but then I discovered that there was an A.319 on the Australian register, flown by Sky Traders. It had a very pleasant orange, white and grey scheme which did not require any titles (which would have been beyond my capabilities) so that’s the subject of this model. There is nothing really difficult about these Revell 1/144 A.320 series airliners apart from a little wing modification for the A.319s and A.320s which takes only a few minutes and rudimentary modelling skills. (I see that Sky Traders is now flying a new livery which would be much more difficult to replicate than the scheme that I’ve done here.)

November c

November d

Moving along on my A.320 obsession, here is a Skywest A.320, made possible by a sheet of Southern Skies decals which is now out of print, as far as I can tell. The only thing difficult about this is the blue of the tail which I mixed myself. Southern Skies released decals for three SkyWest airliners, a Fokker 50, a Fokker 100 and this A320. Fortunately for me I mixed enough paint for all three models, but only just, the paint cup on my airbrush ran dry just as I finished painting the tail on this one. Apart from that, this was a fairly routine build.

November g

November h

At a recent local scale modelling club meeting another member and I were talking about the aesthetic values of the current range of European jet fighters. Naturally the Dassault Rafale came out on top of the list and this inspired me to make a model of one. The kit I had in my Treasure was the old Italeri one which was released around the time that the Rafale entered production so I doubt that its appearance reflects the look of current operational Rafales. In any event, the kit offered only the decals necessary to represent the first production Rafale as it appeared at a display at Farnborough, painted overall gloss black which made the process of building this kit so much easier. I think that when I get around to building some operational Rafale models I’ll use the more modern Hobby Boss kits which seem to be well regarded, I wouldn’t recommend this kit for that.

November e

November f

Here are two that I made earlier, both late World War II US Navy as it turns out.

This Vought F4U-1D was made from the Hasegawa kit and is about as far as I ever went in detailing a model with the drooped flaps and detailed cockpit – made at a time when there were no aftermarket kits to help with these things. I don’t know if it shows up in these photos, but the surface is lightly crazed all over, my first experience of what happens when you airbrush lacquers over enamels. After all the effort I’d put into this kit I was quite disappointed by the result, but it’s not too bad and it was too late to do anything about it anyhow.

November i

November j

Then there is this Vought XF5U, another Hasegawa kit. These were very difficult to find at the time and I tried my best to make this a lovely looking, as it should be. Unfortunately my skills at the time were not up to it and the surface is very rough. When I completed this there was no such thing as on-line auction sites and I thought I’d never see another of these kits, so I put up with the end result. But looking at this model now I think I might try finding another kit on the internet and see if I can’t make a better model of this one next time.

November l

November k

378, the story of an Airbus A.310

While Airbus were working on their first production, the A.300, some airlines asked them is they could make a version that could carry less passengers a longer distance. Studies began and the company decided to offer a shorter, lighter version with new wings which was initially called the A.300B-10 but was then redesignated the A.310. The longer range made it useful on the trans-Atlantic route so it was fairly popular. Between 1983 and 1998 a total of 255 A310s were produced, this relatively small number was due to the introduction of the A320/321 which could carry around the same number of passengers more efficiently. The A300 and A310 had enough in common that they were both made on the same production line and it took about a day for pilots to convert from one type to the other.

a310c

Air Niugini ordered two A310s, construction numbers 378 and 549 which flew with the airline into the 2000s. At various times they had another two which flew with the airline for only short periods of time. Of these the more interesting is 378 which Air Niugini flew twice, the first time between January 1989 and April 1991 and then from November 1992 to September 2005, both times as P2-ANA. A little research shows that for the first year of that missing period this airliner flew with Compass Airlines as VH-YMI and after that airline closed it went off to Bulgaria where it flew for Jes Airlines for most of 1992, before returning to New Guinea. After it finished flying for Air Niugini it was converted to a freighter and flew for FedEx.

I knew none of this when I got around to making models of the A310. I had a couple of Revell kits and decals for the Compass and Air Niugini aircraft but did not realize that these two models would represent the same airliner at two different stages of its life. Somewhere along the line I acquired a PAS Decals Russian resin kit of the A310 and some FedEx freighter decals, not knowing that they might be useful too. Finally, at this year’s Expo I picked up another Revell kit so cheaply that I could not pass it up.

Having made all the A300s I needed to make, it was time to make the A310. The Revell kit was first released in 1984 and had been reboxed many times in different liveries since then, but it wears its age fairly well. There is absolutely nothing remarkable or difficult about this kit, it goes together as well and easily as almost all Revell airliner kits. The kit I picked up at Expo this year turned out to be the first 1984 boxing and was nice and crisp whereas the other two were released in 1995 and were showing a bit of wear and some untidy flash here and there.

First off I made one of the 1995 boxings which went together fairly well with and not too much need for filler, except for the flap tracks which had some rather intense shrinkage and needed a couple of goes to fill in. Painting for the Compass model was very simple with grey wings and white fuselage. The only difficult painting came with the engines which took eight different shades of grey, white and metallic to represent fairly well. I’m not quite sure what shape the nose undercarriage doors are supposed to be, but they don’t look like that on the real airliner, so they needed a little modification. The Hawkeye decals were a pleasure to use and although the sheet comes with its own corogard decals for the wings I used a Liveries Unlimited set which, to me at least, look more realistic.

Having completed that one I moved on to the second, this time using the earlier boxing. It is always nice to have a second go at a kit because you’ve learned all the little problems with the kit the first time around. So everything went smoothly until I realized that the earlier boxing was missing the wing end plates that are a prominent part of almost all A310s but where not, I guess, on the earliest ones. No worries, I thought, I’ll just get out the other Revell kit and use the end plates as a guide to scratch build new endplates for this one. But when I opened the box of the other kit I found that the fuselage halves had been shattered beyond repair. I don’t know how this happened but my guess is that it I may have bought it on ebay and the kit was smashed during transit. In any case, there were bits that were salvageable and they went into the spares box, while the end plates when onto this model. I had to do some work on the wing tips to make them fit, but it was not too difficult.

a310a

The painting was identical to that for the Compass model, understandably so since they were the same airliner. The Liveries Unlimited decals were okay but a touch on the fragile side in comparison to the Hawkeye decals used on the other model and needed some careful handling. This sheet makes the mistake that the Hawkeye decals for the TAA A300 makes in assuming that the cabin windows run in a straight line along the fuselage whereas, in reality, the cabin slopes up towards the rear of the fuselage, and so do the windows. Unlike the Hawkeye TAA decals, however, fixing this defect was not a problem and involved only cutting the decal sheet at the point three windows behind the over-wing door and then applying them separately sloping up towards the rear door. (This would have worked without a hitch except that I went off to the kitchen to get something after I’d applied the windows to one side. I was only gone five minutes and when I came back the remaining decals had gone. I’ve already mentioned out new cats’ propensity for nicking little bits and pieces, and that’s what must have happened on this occasion although there were no cats to be seen anywhere when I returned. Fortunately, I try to make it a habit to scan decal sheets before using them, ‘just in case’ and on this occasion it was just such a case.)

a310b

‘So, what about the third version of 378?’ I hear you ask. ‘Still in its box.’ I reply. It’s been a tough and tiring year and I need to make something simple and easy at the moment rather than joining battle with this rather excellent looking resin kit and possibly stuffing it up. The kit and the decals are ready and waiting, I just have to wait until my mojo picks up the required amount of energy to match them. In the coming year, hopefully.

a310d