Models for July

This month’s offerings begin with another two venerable Airfix 1/144 Airbus A.300s, part of a series of five A.300s, all the same airliner but in different liveries. If you want more details about making these, go back and have a look at my offering for June. These are both fairly straight forward models, the only difficulties being filling all the gaps and sink marks you find in kits that were made in the mid 1970s.

First is VH-TAA as it appeared in Australian Airlines livery after it came back from flying with Air Nuigini in 1989. It wore this livery until Qantas took over Australian in 1993. The decals for this model are from Hawkeye, with the corogard panels provided by Liveries Unlimited.

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Next is VH-TAA as it appeared after Qantas took over Australian in 1993. It continued to fly with Qantas until it was sold to an American air freight company in 1998. It’s history becomes a bit confusing after that and it was observed as a derelict at Adu Dhabi in 2011. I haven’t seen any photos of it after it left Qantas service so I’m not going to concern myself with making models of that airliner in post Qantas service (besides there’s only so many A.300s one can make before going bananas).

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Another series I’m making is that of the Bloch 150 series fighters. So far I’ve made the 151 and 152, straight from the RS Models 1/72 box. The Block 153 is not so easy to make, it was an experiment in the hope of improving the qualities of the Bloch 152 by fitting it with an American Pratt & Whitney Twin Row Wasp engine. The experiment did not go so well, the only 153 constructed crashed in testing and no further attempts of this kind were made, development moving on to the Bloch 155 instead.

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I had the old HR Models resin kit of the Bloch 153 that dates from some time in the 1990s but it looked to be a very difficult kit to make look as good as the RS Models Bloch 152 so I decided to do what the French did and took the engine off the HR Models kit and stuck it on the RS Models Block 152 kit. The grafting is not entirely successful, but it gives a fair impression of what the Bloch 153 looked like and is interesting to view alongside a Bloch 152. The decals come out of my spared box, the HR Models kit does include them but they blew up as I tried to apply them and, anyhow, the blue and red were far too deep in intensify for a French aircraft of this period.

Here’s two I made earlier:

There never was such as thing as a French English Electric Lightning but I had one of the very old Airfix 1/72 Lightning F.1A kits and lots of spare French decals. So here is a flight of fancy supposing that the French acquired one Lightning F.1 (I’ve done the conversion from the F.1A back to the F.1) for test purposes. At the time I made this I was using various shades of Alclad II through an airbrush nozzle far too big for it, which is the reason for such a strange looking metallic finish.

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Finally, here’s the Matchbox Hawker Tempest that I made back in 1976. It looks as though I had an airbrush by then and was using Micro Sol and Set, and a matt varnish of some sort. Things haven’t really progressed much more since then when you come down to the basics.

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Talking about history and a history of Australian fandom

David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss do a fine podcast called Two Chairmen Talking which is about what they’ve been reading and watching recently, mostly science fiction or stuff related to it.  Back in Episode 5 there is about half an hour of me being interviewed about history and the history of Australian sf fandom I’ll get back to next year.  So if you want to listen to it, try here:

Episode 5: An Incomplete History of Serious Events

Discombobulation at Expo

Our annual expedition to Expo has become something of a tradition.  I suppose I could find out when it started if I were to go back through MoB newsletters but, as a guess I’d say it was some time in the 19th Century, it seems to be so long ago.

It always happens the same way for me.  Master Mark pulls up outside my place, I put a bag of kits that I’ve fallen out of love with into the car and climb in.  Master Mark is always the driver, Master Wayne is his navigator (or interested observer when things don’t go right), Master Mick sits behind Wayne and I fill the vacant space.  And away we go.  Mark has always picked something interesting for us to listen to, most memorably was the year we had old American radio serials including The Shadow (who knows).  Customarily Mark also provides me with a book on the life and saying of the great Greek philosopher Pythagoras because he feels I need that kind of help as I am going to Expo with the intention of buying and selling.  Thus equipped we seem to reach Sandown in a only a few minutes.

Things did not go that way this year and discombobulated me right from the start and where I stayed for the rest of the day.  Having sold off quite a lot of my unwanted stuff at our display day I didn’t have much of interest to put on our sellers table at the Expo swap n smell but, nevertheless, I had a bag to go into the car.  But when I got in there was no Master Mick who had called in sick at the last minute.  This was disturbing enough but then I discovered there was no Pythagoras to read to put me in the right frame of mind for the day.  Instead, I had to gaze out the window at the world outside.  It was wet and miserable, and even more miserable when we got to Melbourne.  ‘How do people live here happily?’, I asked myself.  The answer is, of course, that we keep Ballarat a closely guarded secret.

The trip became even more disturbing when Master Mark announced that he had devised a new route to get to Expo, more direct apparently without the optional extras of visiting unsuspecting car parks in the middle of suburbia.  And this was so.  We got off the freeway and headed up one of the suburban main roads until, without any confusion or drama, we arrived at the turn off to the Sandown racecourse.

It was raining when we got there.   Usually there is a long queue of sellers with their bags and boxes lined up across the car park, chatting and comparing their wares.  This year we all headed for a covered area upstairs and huddled in a state of semi-confusion waiting to be let into the hall.  As a result there was less of the usual convivial banter that sets the tone for the day.  Then, the biggest blow to my equilibrium, the swap n smell had been moved into a different hall – a bigger and more commodious one with plenty of space for people to walk around without the overcrowding we experienced in the previous room.

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It is a step in the right direction as far as Expo is concerned, really, but it put me right off my game.  It had been a morning devoted to confronting me with the unexpected, one or two changes can be invigorating but not a cascade of them!

This year Wayne and I put our small collection of surplus kits on our table and set off in search of new kits to fall in love with.  I had a short list of things I might be interested in and saw none of them.  I did manage to pick up another Revell A.310 for a mere $10, and a couple of other things, but overall the kits on offer seemed to be all the usual stuff that we’ve seen at swap and sells these past decade.  Either I’m a jaded old modeller or the events of the previous couple of hours had disabled my enthusiasm, I looked over pile after pile of pre-loved kits with little of the interest and excitement I’ve had in previous years.  I hope I’m not jaded, I’d like to think that the events of the day had just put me off my game.

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Perhaps the prices that sellers are asking for their kits has something to do with it.  Master Wayne, who is a student of such things, tells me that these days many of the prices he saw were comparable with the prices of new kits.  All I know is that I was so desperate enough to buy something that I was tempted by a kit of a Citroen CV2 but when I looked at the selling price I put the kit back on the pile again.  True, I did pay about the same price for a kit of the Boeing Stratoliner that I found later on, but one was the kit of an interesting airliner, and the other wasn’t.

Eventually the hall was thrown open to the great unwashed masses and they swarmed in.  In this new, bigger hall, it took a while for them to work their way up to our far end, but eventually they made it to our area.  Boy, there was a lot of them.  It was crowded, not as thickly as in previous years but still enough that you had to barge your way through the crowd if you wanted to get anywhere.  I’m told that the reduced population density also reduced the offense caused by some modeller’s lack of experience with hygiene products, it certainly wasn’t as pungent on our side of the table as it has been on some earlier visits.

Also evident was a lack of interest in most of the stuff on our table.  Buyers would come to our table, fumble listlessly through our piles and move on.  We both sold a few things but it seemed to us that most buyers didn’t know what they wanted and were just looking for some inspiration.  I thought some of our kits were bargains and I reckon that if you can’t find inspiration in a nice resin kit of an A.310 you are having difficulties with life.  There were some people wandering around with piles of kits under their arms or in bags they had thoughtfully brought with them.  Some had wives or girlfriends with them who looked intensely uninterested in proceedings (perhaps they were there to supervise their male’s spending).

After about an hour and a half of this listlessness we packed up our stuff.  This is the first time in years that the volume of what I purchased was more than the volume of what I sold so my bag was bigger on the way out than on the way in.  Well, the Stratoliner and A.310 did come in big boxes.  (You may have noted that I had an A.310 for sale and bought another one, which is an interesting tale I might get around to one of these days.)

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Expo downstairs was pretty much as it has been every other time we’ve been there.  There are people selling stuff around the edges of the hall and models on display in the centre, some of them in the competition and some of them in club displays.  I heard later that there had been over 800 models entered in competitions and there were, as usual, over 100 trophies to be handed out, so a lot of people were to go home happy, if you like that kind of things.  I personally enjoy the club displays more than the competition models.  True, all of the work put into making models makes we wonder if we could not instead achieve world peace if we put as much effort into that project as we do into making models.  On the other hand, perhaps making models is a kind of contribution to world peace, in its own way.

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One of the club displays was on the theme of flying boats and there were some beauties, including the Amodel 1/72 Martin Mars which confirmed me in my desire to acquire one.  On the other side of the aisle was another club display which included an immense 1/72 kit of a Saro Princess (1950s flying boat airliner), partly stuck together with tape which captivated me.  Had there been a kit of it available then and there I would have whipped out my credit card.  Fortunately it was not, and I have since calmed down a little and a modicum of reason has returned.  Still, I did order a kit of the Martin Mars on the interweb and that is quite big, so I might have scratched that itch enough for the moment.

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In my wanders around Expo I said hello to a few people, Wayne and I chatted to Frank Morgan and I had a talk with Peter of Hawkeye Models who sold me some more decal sheets of Australian airliners.  Somehow, however, I felt overwhelmed by Expo, it was either too big to take in or lacking something to attract my distracted frame of mind.  So, when Wayne and Mark and I decided it was time to head back to the civilization that is Ballarat, I was happy to leave.

Another tradition of our trip has been to stop for a late lunch at a large service station and eatorama on the highway near Rockbank.  We did it again, and discovered that it had been invaded by hoards of leather lunged school children.  The noise was deafening.  ‘So, what did we think of the day?’ asked Master Mark, yelling to make himself heard.  I thought about it.  As usual I had enjoyed spending the day with good friends, but I had not felt any of the enjoyment at what we had seen or done that I had in earlier years.  ‘Discombulated’, was all I could think of to say.

I go to the footy

footy aI reckon it might be fifty years or more since I went to the MCG to watch a game of footy. Not that footy isn’t interesting, just that there were other more interesting things to do on the weekend during that time or we weren’t living in Melbourne or the Melbourne Football Club team was doing so poorly that it would be painful to go and watch.

My sister’s son-in-law, Mick, and I have chatted idly about going to see a Carlton (his team) and Melbourne (my team) match one day and eventually we got around to arranging it. Since both teams are languishing towards the bottom of the league ladder it seemed likely to be a fairly even, if untidy, game.

The first part of the trip to the MCG was from Ballarat to Melbourne. As part of the government’s policy of making things uncomfortable as possible the train service was replaced by road coaches for the day, which made the trip to Melbourne more cramped and uncomfortable than usual. There were a lot of people on the coach wearing Carlton colours, which seemed ominous. We met at one of the foodaramas near the station and had bite to eat. There were even more people in Carlton colours there, and a few in Melbourne colours, so I guess that a lot of people travel down from regional Victoria for the footy and meet there before going to the ground.

If the match is at the Docklands stadium then it would only be a short stroll to the ground, but since it was at the MCG it meant going back to the station and catching a suburban train to Richmond, the closest station to the ground. I’m not a great fan of crowds these days so seeing all those people headed en-masse to the ground was somewhat startling, and while there was a large crowd milling around the entrances the staff handled the security checks with admirable efficiency. (Towards the end of the match they announced the crowd attendance of over 55,000, about half the population of Ballarat.)

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It was a Carlton home match, I discovered, so I found myself at the end of the ground where Carlton supporters had gathered. Not that it seemed to matter much, there was a goodly supply of Melbourne fans in the crowd too. There has been a lot of chatter in the press of late about bad crowd behavior but I saw none of that as we sat and waited for the game to commence, just a lot of chatter among supporters on both sides.

The game itself was not of the highest quality, both teams are low on the premiership league ladder and the skills on display reflected this. The current habit of teams like this is to kick the ball across the ground in the hope of getting towards a scoring position rather than going right up the center of the ground, and it is a very annoying habit, as some barrackers in the crowd reminded the players.

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I didn’t mind this for the first three quarters as the Melbourne team gradually built up a very useful lead of 38 points. But in the final quarter they seemed to have forgotten how to play the game and almost all the quarter was played in the Carlton scoring half of the ground with the result that that team hit the front with only a few minutes left to play. Fortunately Melbourne scored one goad in the quarter which was enough to see the team fall over the line at the end of the game.

There was a great deal of yelling and screaming as Carlton surged in that final quarter, if the MCG had a roof it would have been lifted. At the end of the game, however, Carlton supporters, who have become used to their team losing my small margins, and Melbourne supporters, who have become used to seeing their team play poorly, began chatting again and everyone filed out, if not happily at least content that they had seen what proved to be a fairly even match.

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What did I think? I thought it interesting and diverting, but not something that I would want to do every weekend for half a year, as hundreds of thousands of fans seem to do. I might go again in the coming fifty years too.

Jet Fokkers in 1/144

After the success of the Fokker F-27 Friendship, the Fokker company next developed the F-28 Fellowship, a medium jet airliner that gave greater speed and range than the F-27 but was still smaller and cheaper than other jet airliners of the time such as the Douglas DC-9 and BAC 1-11.  F-28s did very well in Australia because the niche they filled, suited the longer and thinner routes of rural New South Wales and outback Western Australia.  They began arriving in Australia in the early 1970s with MacRobertson Miller Airlines being the first to fly them, in Western Australia.  Other major operators were Airlines of New South Wales and East West Airline in New South Wales, and the Department of Civil Aviation (later the Department of Transport and later again the Department of Aviation) which flew three, mainly to give Departmental staff flying time on jets and to test Australia’s radio navigation aids.

The F-28 came in three versions, the F-28-1000 with capacity for 70 passengers, of which 10 were registered in Australia, the F-28-3000 with increased wing span and greater range, of which three were registered in Australia, and the F-28-4000 which also had an extended fuselage and a capacity of 85 passengers, of which 12 were registered in Australia.

Making models of the F-28 is not easy.  There was an ancient American Airliners kit made many decades ago which is best consigned to the scrap bin of history.  More recently there has been the F-Rsin Plastic injection molded version and the Authentic Airliners full resin version, both kits coming in both the -1000 and -4000 versions.  The F-Rsin kit is a fairly dreadful thing, generally poorly cast and difficult to assemble. Looking at it with the benefit of hindsight, I’d reckon that F-Rsin have taken a Revell Fokker 100 kit and modified it a bit to become a F-28.  The end result is hardly worth the money paid, but it is the only game in town unless you are willing to pay for the much more expensive Authentic Airliners kit, which is a dream to assemble.


I started off with the F-Rsin F-28-1000 which I finished as one flown by MMA, using Hawkeye decals.  I was so disgusted by the quality of this kit that I threw my F-Rsin F-28-4000 in the bin and ordered the Authentic Airliners kit instead.  It was a pleasure to build, with the exception of the undercarriage legs which were so thin and fragile that they both snapped.  The only thing to do was to dive into my rubbish bin and retrieve the legs from the F-Rsin kit which may be deformed but at least hold the model off the ground in a reasonably realistic fashion.  This model was completed in the livery of Airlines of Western Australia, provided by an ancient Jet Set decal sheet which was showing its age, but the only one every printed for that airline.


I did give some thought to making a third F-28, this time in the livery of the Department of Transport, which I flew in a couple of times.  It would not be beyond my limited skills to make one, but the expense of having to buy another Authentic Airliners kit (and probably a F-Rsin one too for the undercarriage) made me think otherwise.  Besides, there were Revell Fokker 100s now wanting to be built.

A further development was the F-28-0100, which was marketed as the Fokker 100.  It had new, more powerful engines, a stretched fuselage that typically accommodated 107 passengers, improved wings for greater efficiency and other improvements.  When production of the Fokker 100 started 1988 it was virtually the only airliner in its class but by the mid 1990s several competitor airliners had entered the market and it became less attractive to airliners so sales fell.  As a result, only 283 had been delivered when Fokker went bankrupt in 1996.  The Fokker 100 was popular in Australia and as F-28s were taken out of service they were replaced by Fokker 100s and eventually 27 were registered in Australia, flying mainly with Skywest, now Virgin Australia, and Alliance.

Unlike the F-28, the Fokker 100 is well represented in plastic, though only by one kit.  Revell’s 1/144 Fokker 100 has all the attributes that kits of the F-28 don’t; it is easy to put together and relatively inexpensive.  (It is out of production at the moment so you will have to find copies on the interweb or at your local friendly swap n sell.)  I would warn you about any problems in building this kit but, frankly, I can’t think of any.

Aftermarket decals for the 1/144 Fokker 100 are fairly common, but not ones for those flying in the Australian region.  The only two I know of are the Southern Skies decals made for the Skywest livery and Ric Warcup decals for the Air Niugini livery.  It seems that the Skywest decals are now out of print but Ric Warcup seems to print copies of his decals when they are ordered so you should be able to get the Air Niugini decals relatively easily.  Alliance and Norfolk Air also flew Fokker 100s in Australia but I don’t know of any decals available for them.

The only challenge most modelers will face in building this kit is getting a presentable white finish, a necessary skill because almost the entire airframe is white.  My way of achieving this is to make sure the surface of the model ready for painting is absolutely smooth, which means a thorough going over with wet and dry paper of no more than 400 grit.  Then a coat or two of Tamiya white primer, followed by a light sanding with about 6000 grit micromesh.  Then three coats of white acrylic lacquer which I bought at my local automotive paint shop, another light sanding with 12000 grit micromesh and then two coats of Tamiya rattle can pure white.  What can go wrong?


A final note.  Fokker also made a shorter version of the Fokker 100 called the Fokker 70.  A model of this can be made relatively easily by shortening the fuselage of a Revell 1/144 Fokker kit or buying the Welsh Models conversion kit, which is basically a shorter fuselage.  As the process of converting the Revell fuselage will entail cutting out sections before and aft of the wings, and this takes a fair bit of calculating and careful cutting to get right, I’ve bought the Welsh Models conversion kit.  So far as I can find out, only Alliance had flown the Fokker 70 in Australia, so if I’m going to make one of these I’ll have to improve my decal making skills, which I don’t appear to have done much to improve recently.  Never mind, just in case I become a decal making genius one of these days I’m on the hunt for two more Revell 1/144 Fokker 100 kits.  We can only dream.

Models for June

We begin this month with a couple of Airbus A300s, the same airliner but in two different liveries. The first is of the first A300 delivered to TAA in 1981 in a new livery designed for the introduction of the A300s to Australian service. Unfortunately for TAA there was a severe downturn in passenger demand around the time of its delivery, rather than the growth that the airline had expected, so the A300s proved to be a near fatal disaster for TAA. To save the situation some of the airline’s A300s had their delivery delayed and others were leased. One of them was VH-TAA which leased to Condor in Germany for a few months and then to Air Niugini for the rest of the 1980s.

The kit used for these models is the venerable Airfix 1/144 kit, which was first published in 1974. It has not been re-released since the early 2000s but copies are still often available from sites such as ebay. Overall is it a good solid kit but nothing special. It has, for example, fine raised detain on the wings and no detail worth speaking of on the fuselage. This would give those who like scribing and re-scribing panel lines a serious workout of their skills. Fortunately for me, I had the Liveries Unlimited corogard wing panels decals instead, which took away the need for any such effort.

First, this Airbus A300 as it appeared when it arrived in Australia in 1981 and flew as until 1984. The decals are from Hawkeye and contain a serious error in that the windows do not slant upwards at the rear of the passenger cabin as they should. The work involved in modifying the decals to represent this major feature in the A300 would have been extremely difficult so I did not attempt it. Instead, please pretend that I said nothing.

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The decals for VH-TAA when it flew for Air Niugini between 1984 and 1989 with the registration of P2-ANG, also come from Hawkeye. The decals for the ‘Bird of Prey’ scheme come in one complete section for each side and I could only imagine that you were supposed to apply them before attaching the model’s wings first. I took a different approach and cut the decals into three parts as carefully as I could; the upper section, the lower section and the head. Attaching the upper decals first allowed me to line them up fairly well and gave me a guide as to where to place the underside decals and the heads. Applying the decals required a fair bit of patience but turned out better than I expected.

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Next is another Revell 1/144 Fokker 100. This model was made more or less straight out of the box with the addition of Ric Warcup decals to portray an Air Niugini one, P2-ANQ which may be, for all that I know, still flying.

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And here are three that I made earlier.

The Douglas P-70 was a night fighter version of the well used Douglas A-20, or Boston as it was called when it served with the RAF. The kit is as ancient as my Airbus kits, being released by Revell in 1975, and a variation on their A-20C Havoc kit released in 1967. For all that I found it a much more modern feeling kit than the Airfix Airbus kits with a much better feeling for detail. The matt black finish makes this kit an easy one to paint, but I did increase the level of difficulty by making new radar aerials from stretched sprue to replace the parts in the kit.

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If my memory serves me right the Hindustan Aeronautics HF-24 Marut was the final design of the legendary German designer, Kurt Tank. I think it is a particularly attractive aircraft so when I stumbled across this Model Alliance 1/72 resin kit I snapped it up. It turned out to be a challenging little kit to make and there is a lot of filler hidden beneath this model’s nice polished metal finish. Because of this difficulty I might not have finished this model, had it not promised to look so delightful when it was completed.

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Finally for this month, the 1/72 Heller Dassault Mirage IV. I have never seen one of these aeroplanes live but I imagine it would be a striking sight with size combined with Dassault delta elegance, This kit was released in 1979 when Heller were producing some of the best kits of those times, and still some of the best quality kits ever, in my opinion. This Mirage IV kit is an excellent example of the company’s craft and has been released several times more recently. I’ve got another one stored up so I can make it in bare metal livery. It will be beautiful.

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Yesterday I went to Booktown Clunes which is a huge orgy of book selling and buying. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s worth finding out about on the www. Despite the manifest temptations I bought only three books, and worthy tomes they are too, none of your paperback rubbish.

My main reason for going to this event was to attend the launch of a new academic history journal titled Before/Now. It is put together by the post-graduates of the Collaborative Research Center in Australian History at Federation University, of which I am an honorary research fellow. It is a long time since I’ve been a post-graduate but, following a bit of enthusiastic encouragement, I was persuaded to write something for it, which I did. Consequently I felt it might be a good idea to go to the launch.


It turned out to be a very pleasant event with the usual glass of plonque in one hand and a copy of the journal in the other. You would have enjoyed yourself.


So here is the first issue of Before/Now, with my article on the construction of the stone gaol at Bendigo in it. There is a lot more good stuff in this inaugural issue, as you can see from the title page. Post-graduate students these days are a lot better than I was when I was one of them and a quick read of some of the articles makes me envious of their abilities.


A copy will cost you $20 and you can get a copy from the Center: CRCHA, PO Box 663, Ballarat, 3353.