Beech UC-43 in 1/144 by Anigrand

Some people become stupid when the get old and senile, others were born that way and others again attribute the condition to strong drink. I don’t know which of these you would attribute my current state of stupidity to, but I admit to having had an attack of it.

Anigrand resin kits are a bit like Mach 2 kits, only worse. We can attribute all the faults and difficulties confronting the maker of a Mach 2 kit to a kind of Frankish bravado or perhaps post-modern over intellectualization of the kit making process for, while most modelers these days expect Germanic precision in their kits and complain bitterly about the slightest seam line or gap, M Palix expects those who make his model kits to do some of the work too so that the finished model if a collaboration between kit maker and modeler. Either that, or M Palix is partial to a little too much vin rouge with his lunch.

In comparison to this understandable deviation from contemporary kit making practice in rural France, one can only wonder what is going on in Hong Kong that Anigrand kits are the way they are. Perhaps it is some fiendish Chinese plot for world domination by exporting model kits to the world that drive those trying to make them bonkers.

The evil mind behind Anigrand makes his model kits tempting by offering kits of aeroplanes that are otherwise unavailable, and adds to that by providing three ‘bouns’ kits with the main kit in the box. As far as I can tell (from experience) the only real bonus to be had from these additional kits is that they will drive you nuts even quicker than if there was only one kit in the box.

Of course, there is no rule saying that one has to actually make these tiny little bonus kits, but one has paid good money for them and they are tempting because there are no other offerings of these kits in 1/144. My excuse is that I treat these little kits as exercises in various modeling techniques. What they really are is exercises in futility and madness.

UC-43e

Take, for example, the tiny little kit of the Beech Staggerwing which comes in the box that offers to give you an early model Boeing B-17. This B-17 B, C of D is irresistible because modifying one from a standard B-17G kit in this scale is all but impossible. That fact that the Anigrand kit is almost impossible to make well anyhow is not something that need detain us here.

The components for the Staggerwing are in the lower left hand part of the picture, there’s not many of them which also adds to the temptation to not throw the lot in the bin because one thinks, in a moment of folly, ‘How hard can this be?’

One is lured further into a false sense of security because the fuselage and the lower wing fit together without a hint of trouble or need for filler. A test fit of the top wing, always a problem with biplanes, shows that it too fits snugly and so one is lured on into the web is insanity that lies ahead.

These days Anigrand offer clear resin parts rather than the old vacformed parts they once offered. This too is an inducement into folly because it seems so simple, but when one discovers that the resin is warped and leaves large gaps under the top wings, it is time to pack it in. Not I, though. I decided to fill the gaping gaps with some clear resin – which did not go as well as I had hoped.

Moving on from that because, I say to myself, it will be hidden under the top wing, we put that on and decide to have a look at some pictures of real Staggerwings just to make sure things are going along alright. To our horror, we discover that they are not. I can only think that the reason the kit provided one with a square rear fuselage while the real aeroplane has a delightfully rounded rear fuselage, is some kind of observational or intelligence test. It has to have been done deliberately, nobody could make that kind of error by mistake.

UC-43d

Here is what a real Staggerwing looks like and here is what the Anigrand kit offers instead. What do you think is going on here, and I wonder how many little models are out there in the world looking so wrong? Will the thought police come around one day to check on who passed the test and who didn’t?

The resin is very thick in the rear fuselage so it was only a few minutes work to rasp away at the offending square edges – taking care to avoid breathing in all the resin dust floating in the air, of course. The result didn’t look too bad, so I pressed on. At this stage I was thinking of making the kit as a Beech GB-1, the US Navy version of the Staggerwing, but there were already too many problems with the kit that a bright metal finish would have shown up that I decided the only viable option was the dull drab olive of the USAAF UC-43. That would tend to camouflage the multitude of problems with the kit, and besides, that was what the kit decals offered.

UC-43a

Pushing on, against all the odds, it was time to attach the undercarriage. At this point I discovered what must be the second deliberate mistake with this kit. The kit offers undercarriage that it attached to the rear spar rather than the front one, by the stabilizing arms rather than the load bearing legs that should be attached to the front spar just behind the leading edge. There is no sign of either the undercarriage legs in the kit and the doors are missing the covers for the legs. This mistake must have been deliberate, I hope that the evil kit maker in Hong Kong got a chuckle out of giving modellers like me this headache to resolve.

UC-43b

The simple thing would have been to toss the little monster into the bin at this stage but, ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’, as they say and, besides, I’d already squandered so much time on this kit that the trouble of carving openings for the front spar undercarriage legs seemed little in comparison to what I’d already gone through, or the modification of the kit undercarriage to make it all look half presentable. Which was not easy for such a small scale kit.

In the end, the little monster was completed, and here is what it looks like.

UC-43c

(March 2018)

Douglas DC-1 in 1/144 CMR conversion

In 1933 the Boeing 247 revolutionized air transport. It is said to be the first modern airliner and it demonstrated what the future of air transport could be like. It immediately drew the attention of America’s airliners who wanted them, but the production of 247 was reserved for United Airlines, which was part of the same company that owned Boeing. Needing something similar TWA approached the Douglas Aircraft Company to design an airliner that would allow it to compete with the 247. Douglas was not keen but in the end gave in to persuasion and invested $350,000 in developing the Douglas Commercial in direct competition to the Boeing 247. The first Douglas Commercial 1, the DC-1, made its first flight in July 1933 and it’s performance was so good that TWA ordered twenty more of them. For the production model Douglas made several modifications, the major one being addition of two seats to bring the passenger capacity up to 14, and renamed this version the DC-2; which began the revolution in air transport that the larger DC-3 continued.

There was only one DC-1, it made its maiden flight on I July 1933, entered service with TWA in September that year and was later sold to a Lord in Britain before being sold on to an airline in Spain where it was damaged beyond repair in 1940.

DC-1a

In my research into the DC-2 I realized that it would not be too difficult to convert a DC-2 kit into a DC-1. The major part of the exercise would be to remove a row of seats from the fuselage and to make some minor modifications to the engines. The main challenges would really be in finding decals for this new model. As it turned out, one version of the CMR 1/144 DC-2 kit included decals for a TWA DC-2 which looked as though they might by appropriate for the TWA DC-1 as well. It turned out that there were no kits of the CMR TWA DC-2 kit available anywhere (not even on ebay) but I mentioned this on the Airliners and Civil Aircraft forum and one of the members said that he had the kit with those decals and kindly offered to give them to me. The project was on!

Converting the DC-2 kit into a DC-1 was not terribly difficult. I did the calculations (always a risky business given my lack of arithmetic skills) and eventually found that if I removed a slice of fuselage from the leading edge of one window to the next everything would come out alright, just doing the opposite to what Douglas had done in adding two seats to turn the DC-1 into the DC-2. So that the one piece lower wing would fit into the shortened fuselage some major surgery was required to the lower fuselage, which was preferable to messing around with the wings themselves. By my calculation, the wings should be set back a millimeter or two to be completely accurate, but that would have entailed some life threatening surgery on the kit so I decided to pretend I never knew of that little challenge.

DC-1b

DC-1g

DC-1d

The job was achieved with lots of hacking away at defenseless resin and then the application of more than several coats of filler before everything looked smooth and whole enough to proceed with painting. For some reason – the hot and humid weather I suspect – the first attempt to achieve a decent polished aluminum finish failed miserably and I had to strip the whole thing back and try again, this time with more success. The nice shiny finish was achieved by scrupulously smoothing the surface of the model for any imperfections and then painting it all over with the Tamiya Black and then TS-83, which gives that nice polished looking finish. The decals came partly from friendly Graeme in far north Queensland and the rest from my trusty computer printer. The major registration on the upper starboard wing went hideously wrong and so badly effected the wing surface so I had to be stripped off again, which did not end entirely happily. Something also went wrong with a little blemish on the top of the fuselage which my attempts to put right only made worse. Then there was the problem with the broken propeller blade that was eaten by the carpet monster which I finally resolved by raiding a rather nasty DC-3 kit in which the propellers were about the only useful parts. It wasn’t the perfect solution but by they I was getting exasperated by the entire process. I decided to finish the model as best I could even with its various problems and hope nobody noticed.

DC-1e

When I declared it finished I took it out for some photos, it doesn’t look too bad. Then I thought it might be interesting to compare the DC-1 to its children, the DC-2 and the DC-3. Now I can feel some more Douglas airliners coming on to make a complete set of them. Arrrrgh!

DC-1f

DC-1h

(February 2018)

 

Fokker 70 in 1/144 Revell conversion

Earlier this year I completed 1/144 scale models of some Fokker jet airliners, F-28s and Revell kits of the Fokker 100. At the end of that item I mentioned the shorter version of the Fokker 100, the Fokker 70, and that Alliance Airlines seemed to be the only airline in Australia flying it. I then mused on whether or not I’d be able to make a model of that airliner since I would need another Fokker 100 kit to convert and some Alliance decals for it. You might say that since then my fortunes have changed and I’ve now made a model of the Alliance Fokker 70.

This project became possible while I was perusing Ric Warcup’s list of the decals he has made and noticed that he has decals for the Alliance Fokker 100. I sent him a message saying that I’d like a set to use in making an Alliance Fokker 70 and he obliged, throwing in registrations for an Alliance Fokker 70 as a bonus.

Making a Fokker 70 out of a Fokker 100 should be simplicity itself, just remove plugs from the fuselage fore and aft of the wings. If you are fussy you might also source slightly different engines to replace the kit engines, though only a purist would notice the difference. You know me however, if there is an easy or a difficult way to do something I will find the more challenging way.

I blame all the following problems on the fact that I had bought the Welsh Models conversion kit for the Fokker 70 and that set me on the wrong path. Looking at the Welsh Models fuselage halves it soon became evident that this kit was designed to convert the Welsh Models Fokker 100 kit, not the Revell one. The simple solution was to simply use the length of the Welsh Models fuselage halves to show me where to make the cuts to reduce the length of the Revell kit, which is a fairly routine process. Some people recommend making the cuts for the fuselage plugs on the fuselage halves before gluing them together and then gluing the resulting parts together, but my experience has been to glue the fuselage halves together and, when they have set, mark where the cuts are to be made with masking tape and then make the cuts. If I am patient and work slowly the resulting cuts are nice, clean and square, if I rush the result is otherwise.
Working slowly and patiently the necessary cuts were made and the resulting fuselage sections went together nicely. Put alongside the Welsh Models fuselage halves the result was exactly as it should have been. Then I did what I should have done at the beginning, which is to count windows.

Fokker 70 a

Fokker 70 b

Fokker 70 c

We modellers should always be guided by the evidence of what the item we are modelling looks like, and so it is with airliners. Many versions of airliners are defined by their length with means the number of passengers they carry and the number of windows they have. For the Fokker 70 I found some good photo of Alliance Fokker 70s and counted the number of windows on each side (they are often not the same). For this airliners the count is six windows behind the over-wing escape window and fifteen in front. I then scanned the Ric Warcup decal sheet for the Alliance Fokker 100, did a bit of editing and produced an image of what the windows on the Alliance Fokker 70 should be. Then I printed that out and held it against my model. Quelle Horreur!! The model fuselage halves seemed about a centimeter longer than they should be if the decals were to look accurate. (I’ve since discovered that a slightly wider gap between the windows on the decals for the Welsh Models conversion kit mean that they fit very nicely on that kit, but using them would have been difficult because the airline livery was printed on the same decal as the windows.)

Fokker 70 d

Approaching the problem scientifically with a ruler and calculator I found that the Welsh Models Fokker 70 – and therefore my model – is a bit over scale and therefore needed more cut out of it to make an airliner to the right scale length. I measured the additional cuts and started to make them, which were this time neither slow or careful, but when I came to the necessary cut for the forward fuselage I found myself trying to cut through the lead weight I’d put there to keep the nose on the ground. Annoyed and frustrated I hurled the lot in the rubbish bin. Fade to black.

Some time later I found another Revell kit of the Fokker 100 on ebay, and in Australia too so the postage would not be outrageous. When it came time to mark and make the cuts this time I measured carefully using nothing more accurate than the number of windows in the kit, six after the escape window over the wing and fifteen before, which is not quite so simple because the Fokker 100 has two escape windows and the Fokker 70 has one, so that was another problem to resolve.

Fokker 70 e

Fokker 70 f

Fokker 70 g

This time I was not so patient or careful in making the cuts so the joints of the remaining fuselage sections was not so easy to line up, but with a lot of jiggling I finally got the nose and the wing sections lined up perfectly. Only then did I notice, Quelle Horreur!, that I’d glued the center section on to the nose the wrong way around. I’ve never seen a Fokker 70 with forward swept wings and I don’t suppose you have either.

Everything went back in the box while I regained my equilibrium and I was ready to approach the problem a few days later, razor saw in hand. It is easy enough to butt join the nose and center sections together because they have the same cross section, but cutting in the same place twice did not result in a nice smooth joint, so there was plenty of filling and sanding before the end result looked reasonable. The cross sections between the center and the tail section have little in common so I used some quick setting epoxy putty to make a plug to hold the two parts together, give the joint strength and back up the part of the bottom central section that was sanded away in merging the two parts. The end result worked out better than I had hoped.

I’d saved the resin engines from the Welsh Models conversion kit and they took to the modified Revell kit much better than I expected. There are, however, two problems with the Revell kit that really annoy me. One is that the flap tracks at the rear of the wings are moulded as separate items and the very slight indications of where they should go disappear in the slight cleaning up that is required to make the wings look presentable. You have to get them in exactly the right position because there are indentations in the wing walk lines where the flap tracks go, and if you don’t get that right the tracks and the decals don’t line up when you try to apply the decals. This has annoyed me with previous Fokker 100 models but I had a brain wave here which did not quite work as I had hoped. The walk lines on the Ric Warcup decals are for the Fokker 100 and those for the Welsh Models Fokker 70 are therefore more appropriate – remember that the Fokker 70 has only one over-wing escape window. So I scanned the Welsh Models decals, printed them on paper and carefully cut them out to use as a template when attaching the flap tracks. This worked out okay for the flap tracks but I used some SMS Extra Thin Cement to glue them in place and, of course, it also ran under the paper templates, gluing them to the wings as well. Quelle Horreur encore!

Fokker 70 h

The thing that I really don’t like about this Revell kit is the undercarriage. While it might be to scale it is also extremely fragile. Knowing this I took as many precautions as I could and only attached them when I could delay doing so no longer. Even so, the nose wheel and one of the main wheels broke off. I replaced the nose leg with something more sturdy that is not to scale, but you’re not going to notice it, and I still had the undercarriage parts from the earlier Fokker 100 I’d thrown in the bin. But if I were to make another Fokker 100 (or 70) which I’m not planning to do, I’d try to find some replacement metal undercarriage legs for it.

Which brings us to the final stage of applying the decals. Ric Warcup produces some very nice decal sets, often of unusual or neglected types, so they are worth looking at and I have no troubles in using them. In fact, in most cases I would recommend them. On this sheet he offers a full tail decal of blue with the yellow stripe and, in addition, just the separate yellow stripe. I’ve had a lot of trouble with full tail decals that don’t fit properly so I decided to paint the tail blue and then apply the yellow stripe. When I did that, Quelle Horreur!!, the yellow simply disappeared into the blue, leaving it a slightly different shade of green that you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know to look for it.
To resolve that problem it was an exercise of masking and airbrushing the yellow strip (thankfully the Alliance logo is simple) and finally the whole nightmare was over. The model actually looks quite nice, which is more than you can say for the process of getting there.

Fokker 70 i

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to Peter of Hawkeye Models, purveyor of fine decal sets, who tells me that demand from overseas for his Australian decal sets has kept him busy during this COVID inspired stay-at-home. He also tells me that he is almost ready to release sets of decals for various Fokker 100s including, Flight West, Qantas and Alliance. After my experience with the Ric Warcup decals this time I’d advise people to wait for the Hawkeye decal sets when they arrive, which may overcome the tail problem. And if you’re going to make these Revell kits again I’d do a better job with the flap tracks than I did and ,do yourself a serious favour, get some after-market metal undercarriage legs for them. Apart from that, it’s all fun, so they tell me.

Models for June 2020

Let’s begin with something in 1/72. This is the Kora model of the Dewoitine 53. I seem to be having a slight obsession with Dewoitine these days, and this is the latest product of this fixation. The Dewoitine 53 was not a particular success and only a few were made before moving on to more advanced fighters. This model is an reminder that one should always do some research and read the instructions fully, even if you think you know what you are doing. Only when I had finished the model did I find that the Armee de l’Air only took delivery of one of these aeroplanes and did not accept it into service. Consequently the scheme offered with the kit that I decided to use – because it was more colorful – is what they call a ‘what if scheme’. As a result I am not really happy with this model but I’m not going to repaint it, that would be too challenging.

202006 a

202006 b

F-RSIN make some beautiful little resin airliner models and this is one of them. The deHavilland DH-91 was a late pre-war design and only flew in service for Imperial Airways for a year before the Second World War over took it. Only seven were made and five of those were either destroyed by enemy action or in accidents. When it was discovered that the final accident was caused by failure of the wooden construction the other two were grounded and scrapped. A pity. This is a simple little kit but has to be put together carefully. It also lacks any of the exhaust pipes the original aeroplane had so I had to scratch build them. I experimented with AK Xtreme Metal’s paint for this one and was only later reminded that it is an enamel and not as tough as a lacquer paint. As a result it suffered from handling during applying the decals, though you can’t really see the damage in these photos.

202006 c

202006 d

This little Fokker 70 was made by cutting plugs out of a Revell kit of the Fokker 100 to reduce it to the appropriate length. It was a trial by ordeal that I’ve written about separately. The decals come from Ric Warcup and, although they are designed for the Revell Fokker 100, are mostly useable for the Fokker 70.

202006 e

202006 f

 

 

Here are two models of Airbus’s A.321, a stretched version of the Airbus A.320, made from thr Revell kit. Somehow, in my scrounging around at Swap and Sells I ended up with two A.321’s when one would have been sufficient for my purposes. The decals for both these models are from F-DCLS, the same people who produce the F-RSIN kits, and they are very high quality that I would recommend to anyone. The only warning is that I always apply a light coat of gloss clear varnish over all the decals I use and on this occasion it effected the red which blurred a little. Not the other colours, but this could be a problem in using these decals, so proceed carefully.

202006 g

202006 h

202006 i

202006 j

Finally, another Revell 1/144 Airbus A.320, this time in the early livery flown by Air New Zealand before they moved over to the newer black and white schemes. The decals are from Oldmodels, a New Zealand company.

202006 k

202006 l

Since I usually finish with something I made earlier, here it is.

This is a Revell 1/144 Airbus A.330-300 kit converted to an A.330-200 by removing fuselage plugs before and after the wings, much as I did for the Fokker 70 this time. I made this model in 2003 which was about when I began trying to make models of airliners. I had a few things to learn here; the first one is that white enamel paint yellows over time, which is why I now use lacquers which don’t appear to suffer from this problem. For some reason I don’t understand the white on this model is matt rather than gloss, perhaps I only had matt paint on hand at the time or perhaps something has happened to the paint between then and now. With this one I also filled the windows with white glue to simulate the appearance of windows, which I don’t really think works in 1/144. There are several other problems of technique that I have, hopefully, improved over time. When I’ve finished making all the A.320s I’m currently planning I’ll move on to some more A.330s which will, I hope, be an improvement on this one. I will keep this one as it is, however, as a reminder that even my model making improves over time, a little at least.

202006 m

202006 n

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.

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HobbyBoss
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.

Layout
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.

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Construction
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:

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Painting
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.

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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.

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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?

Dewoitine 520DC & Dewoitine 780 in 1/72 Hobby Boss conversions

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.

520DCa

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.

520DCb

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.

D780a

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.

D780b

D780c

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.

D780d

D780e

D780f

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.

D780g

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.

D780h

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

Airbus A.220 in 1/144 by Eastern Express

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.

box top

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.

A220

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

Models for March 2020

Let’s begin this month with a couple more Airbus A.320s. Both these are the Revell 1/144 kit of this airliner, they don’t need much work to get them looking good except removal of the surplus flap tracks. Some of the Revell kits – but not all – come with the IAE and CMF engines so that is always a point to look out for when making models from these kits.

First an Ansett Australia A.320 with the ‘Flag tail’ livery. Unlike most A.320s which had white fuselages and grey wings, the Ansett A.320s (and probably all their other airliners at this time) were painted white all over, which makes the task of painting them a little simpler. The decals for this model come from Hawkeye.

March d

March c

The New Zealand decal maker Oldmodels makes decals for all the liveries that Air New Zealand has flown it’s a.320s in. This set portrays ZK-OJH in the Star Alliance livery. All Star Alliance members have one of two of their aircraft painted in this standard livery with the name of the participating airline in smaller font lower towards the nose.

March a

March a

Compass II flew for only a few months in Australia in the early 1990s after the failure of the first Compass Airlines. The new airline’s fate was the same. But while it was flying it used a small fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-83s which are advanced versions of the old Douglas DC-9 that served on Australian airlines for many years. The kit for this model is the Minicraft 1/144 kit and the decals are from Hawkeye.

March g

March h

If you, like me, has been watching Big Jet TV on You Tube you will have seen quite a few of the new Airbus A.220s coming and going. The red Swiss markings on the white fuselage looks particularly attractive I think, so when Eastern Express released a 1/144 kit of this aeroplane I was unable to resist its attractions. It turned out be a fairly decent kit too and easy enough to make with the decals for both Swiss and Delta airliners in the box.

March e

March f

FSC Dujin have been rereleasing some of the little jems that Jean-Pierre Dujin originally released a couple of decades back. They are not the easiest of kits to make and they are resin, which puts some people off, but they are of subjects that no other kit manufacturer makes and for that reason I love them. The new versions come with decal sheets, some etch parts and much more comprehensive instructions than the earlier versions. This little model is a Mudry CAP 231EX aerobatic aeroplane in 1/72 scale.

March i

March j

Even rarer than the FSC Dujin kit is this 1/72 Farman 370 which was supplied to me by the French modeller Adrien Roy. It is fully resin and a little challenging to make, but well worth the effort if you are, like me, interested in French racing aeroplanes from the interwar period. The colour if Tamiya’s rattle can French Blue.

March k

March l

Here’s one I made earlier.

This is the Special Models 1/72 Bell XP-77 which I made in 1989. This was probably the first Special Hobbies kit I made and an early experience in the short-run injection moulded kits that started to emerge from Eastern Europe. It was a shock to the system I can tell you.

March m

March n