Thursday, December 26, 2013

A very good Christmas

I hope everyone was able to have as nice a holiday as I did. Besides being home for the holidays, my wife gave me quite a surprise!

As a bit of backstory, last year when Dragon announced their 1/72 scale Saturn V I mentioned that I'd made the Monogram (or was it Revell?) 1/96 scale Saturn V when we were still putting men on the moon. I also mentioned I might have to get this kit since it was in my chosen scale.

Fast forward to the weekend before Telford and I'm considering getting one there as it would be 1) on sale; and 2) available since it was not to be found in the US. It was part of my wish list for Telford, but I got so caught up in the other models there that I decided to pass.

My wife asks me what I got at Telford (she is always interested in what projects I'm working on) so I told her and she specially asks what the most expensive item was...

My wife launched into action as soon as she knew I hadn't bought it, emailing my friend Jim from the club to ensure she got the right one (the kit, not the die cast).

She called the two area hobby stores, neither of which are very close and neither had one. Tom at the one store knew me and did some searching about, my wife even called Dragon directly but they weren't getting any in the US until January. She also tried eBay and some online shops but they all had to ship from Hong Kong.

Eventually Tom found a friend who had one and was willing to part with it.  She has it shipped to our neighbor's house.  It arrives on 20 December and while I decide to go joyriding in my Jeep with our dog, she quickly runs over and gets it wrapped while our neighbor's boys ooh and aah over the big rocket.  I get home never the wiser.

So Christmas morning we get started and as usual I get up early, reminding my wife that we have to get up and open gifts. She asks why I'm so excited and of course I remind her that sometimes Santa puts a Saturn V rocket under the tree!  She immediately asks me why I would say something like that?

After opening a couple of other gifts, my wife starts moving furniture.  To my complete surprise, she pulls the sofa forward and slips out this rather large box, which catches me totally off guard. I'm not sure what it could be, but my hopes are up as I tear into the wrapping and YES! it's the Dragon Saturn V!

I was nearly in tears as I looked at the kit and realized what she had to go through to get it without me knowing.  She's special.

*Later I find out that she immediately went into a cold sweat, thinking that I figured out what my gift was - it was hidden so I didn't even see the box until she pulled it from behind the sofa.  I didn't know about it, but was using what I consider as a standard "excited boy on Christmas Day" response.

Thanks for looking...

Friday, November 29, 2013

I finally get my work bench back

I'm probably not different than most modelers, my desk usually looks like this:

While at Telford I checked out Sphere Productions, which is part of Progressive Engineering Solutions. Sphere sells a number of laser cut storage racks designed for modelers and gamers. One item I was particularly interested in was a paint rack for organizing my paints.

Essentially, Jon (the owner) talked me out of one of his standard racks, which are meant for the modeler who is faithful to a single paint line, and convinced me to send him the number and types of paint jars I had and he'd custom make a rack for the same price as the standard rack of comparable size.

So I counted my Tamiya (large and small), Humbrol, Vallejo, ModelMaster and Gunze jars and sent him the quantities. I also stated height was not an issue but I wanted it to fit within about 12 x 18 inches (+1 inch each way if needed).

So let's take this...

Less than a week later I had my stand...

And this is the result:

Yes, I'm very happy with this. The quality is exceptional, the rack is very solid and I could easily carry the paints around if I needed (Jon makes a closable work station).

So I highly recommend this to anyone who needs to be better organized.

Thanks for looking...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Telford 2013

10 November 2013

So one of the things I got to do at Telford this year was sit in a real Spitfire. It's not a flyer, and has a few things that are actually fiberglass, but the fuselage is a real Mk IX with some history behind it.

I joined up with Jim Rotramel who came over to see family and of course do Telford while he's here.

Thanks for looking...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

LF IXe, 5531, Air Operations School, AFS Langebaanweg, SAAF, May 1953

The South African Air Force was a long time user of the Spitfire. Almost from the earliest marks. I seem to have a few SAAF aircraft, Spitfires and Hurricanes, on my shelf and it's probably due to a combination of subject and color. Typically their national markings had the red replaced with orange, and of course later the gazelle was put in the center.

And their camouflage schemes were sometimes non-standard in that they used paints more appropriate to their mission and surroundings.

The Subject

The AOS was generally used in an operational training role, teaching pilots in other types what it be like when bounced by their adversaries. Given the timeframe I admit that I'm putting 2+2 and getting 5 -- I'd like to think these Spitfires were used to mimic Yak 9 fighters the SAAF pilots might have faced over Korea.

So I fancy the idea of Spitfires and Mustangs in 1v1, 2v1, and 2v2 mock engagements over Langebaanweg operating areas; then the Mustangs deploying off to Korea for operations. These LF Mk IXe were used from about 1948-1953. Some online and decal sources call these aircraft Mk XVI because they are rear view aircraft, but in actuality the only aircraft provided to SAAF were LF Mk IXe, both standard and rear view, with pointed/broad chord rudders.

I don't know the original serial number of 5531, but it was one of a batch of 136 provided to the SAAF just after the war.

The Model

This was meant to be a quick build, one of many Heller XVI kits I've got in my stash, picked up for about $2 each at swap tables. The Heller kit is fairly accurate, the only real issues are raised panel lines, sparse decals in the cockpit and wheel bays and the radiator baths are too deep.

The radiator baths are the most obvious fix that must be done. The other details were not an issue for me; I wanted to display this model in flight so the wells would be covered up and the cockpit would have a pilot in it, hiding any detail that might have been added.

The fix for the radiators is really straight forward. Cut them off, then glue them back on. Generally the thickness of most razor saws is enough to compensate for their deepness. It appears the the baths are more accurate for a Griffon Spitfire, and may have been an error introduced when Heller was researching the Belgian Spitfires, who had a mix of XVI and XIV airframes. At any rate, the Heller kit looks wrong if these are left alone, but if corrected it becomes a very attractive model.

I took care to ensure I didn't lose much of the raised detail, and replaced any I'd lost due to seam filling. The pilot and raised landing gear are from an Airfix Mk IXc kit.

The scheme is Extra Dark Sea Grey over Medium Sea Grey. I used Humbrol paints, a mix for the EDSG (to a tin of Hu123, add 1 ml Hu34 + 0.5 ml Hu25) and Hu165 for the MSG. The spinner is Hu25. Acrylics throughout, applied via airbrush.

The decals are from AlleyCat, sheet 72009. They went on quite well using Revell's Decal Soft.

The clear stand is from Airfix.


Another enjoyable build. Very easy and different on my shelf. The club theme was "Korean War" -- any subject from that conflict. This was a stretch, but I'd already done the FR.47 Seafire.

Thanks for looking...

Sutton Coldfield Model Show

8th September 2013

Another show here in the UK that is not too far from where I'm living.  I did have to make a day of it, but I certainly enjoyed myself.  I was able to meet some nice folks, buy a few trinkets and see some great models.

Lots of photos follow...thanks for looking.