Thursday, February 28, 2019

P-400 Airacobra

Bell P-400 Airacobra, BW156/12, 35th FG, New Guinea, 1942

This is another "shelf of doom" build. When I started this kit, my choices for a P-39 variant were the old Heller P-39Q or the Revell P-39D, neither of which are as accurate as I'd prefer today. I got as far as the paint scheme and had Microscale's sheet #72-134 with a plan to "build them all".


The Subject


The P-400 was the USAAF designation for RAF Airacobra I aircraft taken from the production line and quickly sent overseas when war broke out. Originally destined for the UK the RAF eventually got their aircraft, however by that time they'd decided the underpowered (for the European theatre) Airacobra could be redirected to the USSR, who loved the type's central large cannon.


Fancy Nancy was a P-400 quickly repainted with USAAF national markings and sent to New Guinea in early 1942. The external differences between a P-400 and P-39D were a 20mm cannon + 2x .303 inch guns in the nose versus 37mm cannon + 2x .50 inch guns in the nose, respectively. Okay, to be completely accurate, the .303 inch guns in the wings were .30 inch in the P-39D. The P-400 also had a 12 exhausts per side, not the 6 exhausts on the P-39D.

The Model


This is the very old Revell P-39D kit from 19-forgotten. The instructions date the kit from 1965. "When I started" is not something I remember, but in the 90's during my "understand the correct colors" phase I acquired some (poor at the time) knowledge of US substitute paint. But first about the "conversion."

Converting (backdating actually) any P-39D kit to a P-400 isn't exactly straightforward:
  • Replace 6 exhausts with 12 exhausts - source from Quickboost 72-145
  • Replace the 37mm cannon with thinner rod to represent the longer 20mm cannon barrel. I wrapped it in Tamiya tape to represent the recoil spring.
  • Drill out 2x holes and insert barrels to represent the .30 inch guns in the wings

I only did the 20mm cannon barrel simply because (at the time) the other 2 mods were just beyond my abilities or not available. Could I have done them today? Certainly the wing guns but the exhausts would have required surgery and I just didn't want to put that much work into an old Revell P-39D when a P-400 kit exists today.


The colors are my understanding, at the time, of paints used by US makers of RAF aircraft. I knew the P-400 was in the RAF scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth over Sky (known to me today as the Temperate Land Scheme) and the colors were "off" slightly. I had read the Dark Green was bluer, more like the US Medium Green and the Dark Earth was lighter, more like Sand. So I chose a darker shade of green (not sure which) and a lighter shade of desert yellow from somewhere, and then chose (I believe) RAAF Sky Blue because for some reason I was convinced the underside was a blue color.

Yeah, I was way off! I've learned that in reality paints used for contractual requirements for MAP production (aircraft paid by UK gold) were very close to the MAP standards because the contract required it. I've found the paint charts for DuPont and supposedly the paints used were nearly identical to RAF MAP standards. There is a difference, but it's almost negligible and very hard to see. Today I'd use some paints matched exactly to MAP standards for Dark Earth and Sky, however I'd definitely use a slightly bluer Dark Green. For my next attempt at a P-400/Airacobra I.

Summary


While this doesn't look "bad" it's not going to be on my shelves forever. I have the RS Models P-400/Airacobra I kit and while it's not perfect it is much better than this one as a starting point.



Thanks for looking...

Monday, February 25, 2019

Air-Sea Rescue Defiant

Boulton-Paul Defiant ASR Mk I, V1121/BA*O, 277 Squadron, RAF, August 1942


The Subject


The Defiant was expected to intercept bombers and with it's 4x .303 Brownings easily get close enough to...oh who am I kidding. It was a really dumb idea regardless what it was designed for. Strap a heavy turret onto a fighter and then expect 2 men to take it into combat.

Ultimately the Defiant found uses after being disastrously used during the Battle of Britain. Certainly the men were brave but when the RAF quickly realized the planes were outclassed, the Defiant was immediately switched to a more reasonable mission. As a night interceptor it was better suited, but eventually it was relegated to second and third line duties.


One duty was that of Air-Sea Rescue (ASR). As crews returned from Northern Europe, whether bomber or interdiction, some would end up in the Channel or North Sea. The Defiant ASR replaced less capable aircraft and was able to nominally defend itself if it encountered Luftwaffe fighters.

The aircraft was a standard Defiant but with small bomb carriers under the outer wings, each carrying a dingy to assist crew when found. Eventually these aircraft were replaced by war weary Spitfires and Thunderbolts.

The Model


This is the Airfix Defiant kit, new tooled and released in 2015. I picked up 3 kits and the Xtradecal sheet X72217 as I wanted to have the standard day fighter, night fighter and ASR variants on my shelf. I decided my first one would be the ASR.

This is a very easy kit to build, I found it had no vices and even the turret was quite easy. I sourced the dinghy packs from overseas, but unfortunately they were incorrect. While technically a dinghy pack, they did not have the aerodynamic shapes on the fore and aft ends. Obviously these were meant for a bomb bay, not under a fighter. So I scratched up the shapes from old bombs and drop tanks in my spares bin. I do have another set as I want to make the Thunderbolt ASR someday.


I used a Peewit mask for the canopy and turret, which frankly is a must. I decided to finally give my Hataka FAA paint set a solid try as in small uses the paints didn't seem quite right, working neither for brushing or my airbrush. Eventually I determined I wasn't mixing the paint well enough as there is a steel ball in the bottle and it wasn't moving about. I stumbled on it when shaking the Interior Grey Green and suddenly the ball came loose..long story short once I got it moving about and tried it the paint worked well with both a brush as well as my airbrush (thinned of course).

I also cut away the wing tip lights and replaced these with clear sprue. I must say this makes the model anymore and I find myself doing this more consistently.

Summary


I'm looking forward to putting the others on my shelf. I really need to complete my Battle of Britain "set" as I've collected all the kits. I never seem to get past doing just one more Spitfire instead, however.



Thanks for looking...



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Aussie Kittyhawk IIA

Curtiss Kittyhawk Ia, serial unknown/U, Sqn Ldr Richard Cresswell, 77th Squadron RAAF, New Guinea, 1942

This is another one of those "started over a decade ago, not sure when, but pulled off the shelf and finished!" Completed in December 2018.


The Subject


Before knowing Squadron Leader Cresswell's history, I chose to model this subject because I like the coloring. I also have a thing for P-40's as I think they deserve better recognition for their contribution. They are as the Hurricane to the Spitfire when it comes to a P-40 versus the P-51.


The Model


This is most likely the Academy P-40E kit, from which these decals came. The model had been built and painted and literally only needed the canopy and decals. Well, to be fair, just the decals but the canopy quarter lights had gotten glue underneath and were ruined which is why it sat on the shelf so long. I wanted to replace them with something better and just never got around to it.


Ultimately I scrounged a spare canopy from my spares box (from what kit?) and these fit closely but not perfectly. I used the original windscreen and canopy but trimmed the quarter lights and finally just said "close enough" as it'll never go on a competition table.

Summary


My P-40 collection is building, I've got quite a few more in the stash to build.




Thanks for looking...


Monday, February 18, 2019

Delta

Kfir C7, 543 Zohar, Arava Guardians Squadron, IAF, 1990

I have a thing for delta aircraft. While my blog doesn't show it, yet, this is my third delta winged aircraft. Completed back in January 2018.


The Subject


I'll paraphrase this wrong but as I understand it, the Isreali Air Force procured some French made Mirage III fighters and unable to get improved variants they decided to reverse-engineer the design while also improving upon it. The result was the Kfir series which eventually competed or export sales with Dassault's Mirage series. Besides avionics a big improvement was the use of the American made J-79, also used on IAF F-4 Phantoms and for which the IAF had quite a few spares.


By the 90's the IAF was using the F-15 for interception and air superiority, relegating the Kfir to an air-to-ground mission. Side number 543 is representative of this mission. By 2000 the KFIR had been replaced by the F-16.

The Model


This is the AMK kit of the Kfir C2/C7. Detail is extensive, fit is very tight (the thickness of airbrushed paint causing me problems). I determined quickly that I needed to study the build sequence and carefully dry-fit every part.


Five options are available, 3 each C2 variants, 2 C7 variants and 3 of the variants are exports -- the USA (used by ATAC as a contract aggressor unit) , Ecuadorian and Colombian Air Forces. All are quite colorful and weapons options includes early/late load outs of both American-supplied weapons and indigenously developed weapons.

Care has to be taken with some of the weapons markings. The air-to-air missiles are painted as training rounds (blue tubes with no warhead nor rocket motor); to be accurate they should be a medium gray. The gravity LGBs are correctly a dark olive green.

I had to break out my 0.15 Harder and Steenbeck airbrush for the camouflage scheme. It's been quite a while since I had to paint a scheme with noticeable overspray. I got the hang of low pressure, thin paint, build color in layers, quite quickly. Decals went on with no trouble at all using just Micro set/sol.

Summary


This was an enjoyable build. As noted above the fit was a very tight, so work slowly to ensure no misalignment issues. Sometimes a light swipe of a sanding stick makes a huge difference.



Thanks for looking...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

An old Marauder

Martin B-26B-2-MA Marauder, 41-17903, 37th BS, Tunisia, July 1943

I started a B-26 back in the early 90s while on deployment, and I remember sanding off all the detail, epoxying the clear bits and then polishing it all. Then I had to put it away for a move back to the USA where I then unpacked and put some paint on it. Then I moved at least 2 more times before I decided to finish it this last Summer since I had all the bits and the old Revell decals.


The Subject


"Hellcat" was an early B-26B operating out of North Africa with both the 37th and 319th BS. Apparently Hellcat was the mount of Captain David Taggart who was the first to complete 50 B-26 missions.


The Model


For years I assumed this was the Revell snap-tite kit I spent hours sanding away rivets from. Nope, it's the Airfix kit. I did sand away at it, and I DO remember building the Revell one, and getting to the same point as this one. I'm not crazy...


I painted it during my enamel years. So these are likely AeroMaster enamels as I went all in when these came out and replaced all my Testers and other enamels with them. It was my first try at the scalloped edges in Medium Green 42, with Olive Drab 41 and Neutral Gray 43. Since I was approaching this as a "just finish" project, I didn't scribe or weather. I did apply the Revell decals, but only because the Airfix decals were for a completely different scheme.

Summary



In all likelihood I got the markings wrong for this machine. I don't know my Marauders well, and this may be the only one I ever actually put on the shelf. But it looks nice and the few fellow modelers who've looked at it only said nice things.


Thanks for looking...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Paint it Black

Douglas P-70 Havoc, 39-737/68, Training Unit, USA

This was an unplanned completion. A neighbor who is 12 came over to build a model and I offered him a choice of Hobbyboss, Airfix, Revell or Matchbox...the latter three being of the older generation. He chose a Revell Havoc/Boston and and had lots of fun with his first glue bomb.


He was obviously interested in multi-engine types...so I pulled a few more and opened the Revell P-70. Turns out it was started! The wings and fuselage had been glued and prepped and really only needed to be assembled and painted. Even the canopies were on, blended in and ready for masking.

The Subject


Only 59 P-70's were manufactured, based on the A-20A attack bomber, chosen because it had sufficient excess power to handle the weight of the radar and guns.


There were other variants of the P-70, based on later variants of the A-20 series.

Most P-70's were used for night fighter crew training in the USA, but a few were actually assigned overseas until more capable night fighters were available. 9737/68 is one such example of the P-70A variant used for training crews.


The Model


This is an old kit.  I have no idea where I picked mine up at.  Likely a model shop sometime back in the 80s when they existed and it was on sale.  At the time the Revell A-20/P-70 was the only kits of the early type, with the Matchbox being the only late variant as the A-20G.


I honestly do not remember ever starting this kit.  However, given I'd sanded off all the rivet detail and polished the canopies in situ, I can reliably time this to the early 90s while aboard USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) as something I would mess with for about 30 minutes before heading to my rack.  I remember working on an Airfix B-26 (more on that in another post) at that time and after I had a port visit to South Korea and acquired a lot of Academy kits with finely recessed panel lines, and was able to get cheap Hasegawa kits in Japan I decided to step away from sanding rivets...

With the modern internet I was able to not only find a photo of a P-70, but one of this subject.  It looks natty and one quirk was the antenna pole was not vertical, but at sort of an angle.  Now that's different.

Other than weight, and thinning the radar antennae to look slightly less telephone pole sized, the only challenge I made for myself was weathering all that black paint.  How boring can an all black model be?

After priming with black Mr Surfacer I put a coat of RAF Night (Mr Color Midnight Blue with some black added) on the upper surfaces and some Tamiya NATO Black on the undersurfaces.  I made sure the overspray was quite wide so the colors blended.  I then put a coat of X22 Gloss Clear on and applied the kit decals (not bad given they were pushing 30+ years old).  Another coat of Gloss Clear and I used Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color Gray on what panel lines existed, giving the entire model a bit of a wash and wiping in the general direction of air flow.

I also added a bit more exhaust staining but that's not visible in the photos.

Summary


I had fun!

Not something I'll win awards with, but I like the look of it on my shelf.



Thanks for looking...




Friday, February 8, 2019

Vengeance Dive Bomber

Vultee Vengeance II, AN709/DB*V, RAF, Khumbirgram, India, 1942
This is from my shelf of doom. I started this at least 20 years ago, if not longer, when I was able to find the kit for a small sum...somewhere. As part of a "junkyard dogs" group build I finally finished it.


The Subject


The Vengeance was produced as a response to the success of the Stuka, but by the time it was ready for service the dive bomber was no longer in vogue given most fighters could carry the same bomb load, more accurately, with less crew at risk, do additional missions, and in a smaller package. Given the war situation Vultee was contracted to produce the Vengeance I and II by the MAP and most were delivered to either India or the RAAF.


The key difference between the Mk I and II were the wing incidence. The Mk I had a near zero incidence whilst useful in the vertical dive for stability meant that in cruise flight it was nose high and the pilot had difficulty seeing ahead. The Mk II fixed the incidence but the loss of accuracy and inability to make the dive vertically meant the aircraft was less suited for its intended role. Many were used as target towing tugs.

AN709 represents a Mk II used in India. However some online references indicate it may have operated out of Australia or New Guinea.

The Model



This is an old Frog-spawn kit released by Smer in the 90's. The decals were actually quite good so I was able to use them. When I first started the kit I used a dark green that was more olive drab and a brown that was more light earth. The actual colors should have been a Dark Earth and Dark Green uppersurface to MAP specifications (meaning a quite close match) and a lower surface that was close to Sky. After arrival it would have received a repaint in local colors as required.

I'm a bit all over the place with the references for this aircraft so I decided to use a Foliage Green and Earth Brown (very close to Dark Earth) over an RAAF Sky Blue (darker than RAF Sky Blue, but not by much). I did this because the national markings are the RAAF colors, not the FEAF colors used in India.


The canopy is overly thick, and needs a vacform replacement. I may replace it soon as I acquired a nice vacform machine earlier this year and need to practice. I instead decided to focus on figuring out how to create a split radio aerial that is 3 lines from wingtip to tail to wingtip with a center wire to the post. Then a fourth wire runs from the center wire to the starboard side of the fuselage where a junction is located. My solution was to use Uschi 0.001 thread, three lengths joined at the one end with acrylic glue. Once cured it was a bit stiff, so I drilled a small hole in the vertical tail, applied CA and dipped the Uschi end in accelerator, then touched it to the hole. That set the one end. Next was the center to the post, then I took each of the two wingtip lines and cut them slightly shorter and glued them. The last bit was applying some glue to the central wire and fuselage attachment point, then running a bit of Uschi between them. Frankly it was much easier than I thought and I like the appearance.

Summary


This is one of those odd aircraft I wanted on my shelf decades ago, but just never got around to finishing. If I ever do another it will be a modern kit to replace this one.


Thanks for looking...