Saturday, December 31, 2011

My goals for 2012

This is my first goal: starting a blog for all my model building.  Last year I started a blog for my Spitfire modeling because I figured I would be able to sustain it.  However I’m realizing I enjoy writing about the subjects and models I build and only half are Spitfires...
Our local club generates a list of themes for each monthly meeting to give us something to consider as we build our models.  We’ve been doing this for about 10 years now and it remains popular; ranging in about 3 models to as many as 15 (the membership is only about 40, about half make the meetings each month and it’s always a different “half” so it’s a good mix).  Each year I plan a subject/model for each theme, and each year I do better at actually completing the model for the theme.
I also try to have at least 1 Spitfire on the bench, always.  Today I’ve actually got 4, a Spitfire I, III, XIVe and XVIII, but two should be finished this weekend.  I’ll post those on my Spitfire blog.
My bench for 2012 will have the following, but may get more or less:
  • PM Models Ta-183T “whiff”
  • CMR F-51H California ANG
  • Matchbox Halifax GR II
  • Airfix Tomahawk IIb (new tooling)
  • Dragon USS Arizona
  • MPM FM-2 Wildcat VI
  • Monogram F4B, F11C or P-6E biplane
  • Airfix A6M2 Zero (new tooling)
  • Hobby Boss T-6 Texan
  • Revell A6M5 Zero
  • Revell F4F-4 Wildcat
  • Airfix Wellington III
  • CMR Seafire XV
  • Airfix Spitfire Va (new tooling)
  • Airfix Spitfire II LR (new tooling)
  • Airfix Spitfire IXc (new tooling)
  • Sword Spitfire Vc
  • Airfix Swordfish I (new tooling -- if I can get one!)
  • Hawk Gloster Javelin (my first kit, built on my own, ever - I’m doing a “build over”)
My display cabinets currently count 165 completed models.  I know there are more in a storage bin or two, but those are going to have to wait as my display shelves are full.  I hope to take a break in the Spring and have some new built-in cabinets installed, that should provide nearly 5 times the shelf space as I currently have, plus storage and some book shelves.  If and when that fills, I’ll convince my wife I need to expand displays to other rooms, but that’ll be at least 10 years from now, even at my dream rate of building.
All of my aircraft are in 72nd scale.  I tried 48th scale and even did a Me-262 in 32nd while in my ‘teens, but my budget and shelf space limited me to 72nd.  I’ve built a stash of about 300 kits, all of which are for the period 1911 to about 1955.  Okay, occasionally I’ll build something more modern, but only if the subject is right.
I also enjoy ships, and all but one is 1/700 scale.  The odd-ball is a 96th scale USS CONSTITUTION by Revell.  I first made one when 13 and about 10 years ago decided to make a second try.  It’s my slowest build, because I’m rigging her using wooden ship modeling techniques instead of the kit threads.
Thanks for reading...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

CMR Spitfire Prototype K5054

Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Prototype, K5054, post modifications after first flight
RAF Pageant, Hendon, 27th June 1936, “New aircraft No 2”
It's now 75 years after the iconic Spitfire first flew and as a fan I thought it appropriate that I add the prototype to my shelf. I'm not one to make prototypes or one-offs but decided I needed to make an exception. Interestingly, it's beginning to make me pine for related efforts, such as the Mk III, IV, and of course the Spiteful/Seafang line. 
The Aircraft
K5054 is a rather iconic aircraft.  R.J. Mitchell’s design as a Vickers private venture with Rolls-Royce in response to a poor initial design for RAF fighter specification F7/30.  That initial design had fixed landing gear and a gull wing looking much like a single seat Stuka.  Its performance was very disappointing so of course the RAF were not interested.  In 1934 R.J Mitchell was challenged to design something better, ignoring the RAF specifications (which were too restrictive) and taking full advantage of the knowledge at the Supermarine firm.  
On initial roll-out and first flight on 5th March 1936, K5054 was not painted, the aircraft having a green tinted preservative on the fuselage and wings, the engine panels were unpainted and the fabric surfaces were all covered in aluminum dope.  The Air Ministry was suitably impressed with the performance and issued a specification drawn to K5054, now F37/34).  
Mitchell wanted to make some minor improvements and on 19th March 1936, coming out on 26th March with the Mk I style rudder, landing gear doors, a smaller engine intake and a paint job.  She was finished in a blue-grey color, the actual shade is lost to time and much conjecture exists around it.  Publicly unveiled on at Eastleigh on 18th June then sent to Hendon for the RAF Pageant, where the number “2” was added.
On 27th June, 1936 at the RAF Pageant, Hendon, spectators got to see both new aircraft for the RAF, No 1 being the Hawker Hurricane and No 2 being the Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire.
Reference:  Spitfire the History
The Model
CMR make the Spitfire prototype in both configurations, first flight on 5th March and RAF Pageant on 27th June.  The kits are not the same because of the detail differences between those two dates.  CMR have a reputation for very good accuracy, lots of detail and ease of construction (for a resin kit).  This was no exception as construction was fairly straightforward and did not take long.
Cleanup was quick, the cockpit being mostly photo-etch with some resin and with superglue the fuselage was together over a weekend.  The wing is one piece and with some fiddling alignment was perfect, very little filler was needed.  The nice thing with resin is that I can fill it, then use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover and clean the seam with zero sanding and no damage to the underlying resin.
Detail parts were added and the most time consuming item was the vac canopy.  It is very clear and with patience fits perfectly.  While I could have opened the side hatch and canopy this would have been difficult and I typically don’t, so decided to keep it all closed.  The vac canopy being so thin allows some good views inside.
I used Gator Glue on the canopy, first time trying and frankly it was a dream.  Worked very well, filled in the joints and after painting looks very nice.
After priming I decided to look for the proper paint.  The range in descriptions are:
  • French Blue-Gray
  • Rolls-Royce automotive Blue
  • RLM 76 Hellblau
  • USN Intermediate Blue (1943 color)
  • USN Blue-Gray (1942 color)
There is little help on the web as it seems nobody agrees on the color, and the range of colors for the above are nearly infinite.  Nobody seems to agree on what French Blue-Gray looks like and the RR Blue is similar.  I pulled jars of the 3 paints I had and RLM 76 looked good so I used it.  After it had cured, I put a light gloss coat of Future, decals went on with no trouble and I sealed with a final coat of Future as photos show K5054 had a glossy sheen.
All done in just a few weekends, how I like my builds. Definitely a winner and of course a must for any Spitfire fan. Now to get on with that Mk III...