Saturday, November 8, 2014

Airfix announcements at Telford 2014

All 1/72 -- Sea King, He-111P, Defiant

Sprue shots for the Defiant.

And the Heinkel:

They also showed the boxes for the Defiant, and mentioned it would be a first quarter release.  The Heinkel would be a third quarter and the Sea King a fourth quarter release.

Thanks for looking...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Comparing the Airfix and AZModel Spitfire Mk IX

These are the two most recent Mk IX kits on the market. The Airfix Mk IX is older, having been released in 2009 and re-released in 2014 with new decals. The AZModel Mk IX was released in 2012. While both are nearly the same in terms of timing, and are generally accurate in shape, the difference in quality is quite marked.

Airfix Mk IXc, kit A2065

This kit represents Hornby capability in model kit making as they attempt to reenter the market place. Their older Mk IX was definitely aged and a new Mk IX was certainly needed in our scale, even if only to make money for Hornby. This kit does that, albeit some details are either too heavy, or not quite right.

The panel lines are quite heavy for this scale. They are not only wide, but also deep. Granted, the majority of modelers this kit targets will use a hairy stick to paint it, and that will hide most of those awful panel lines quite well.

Cockpit detail is very poor. Again, since the target modeler will not open the canopy (I'm one of them!) there isn't much to see anyway. It is sufficient for my needs, but I admit I do like knowing it's "right" even if not visible.

The configuration is a mixed bag. The wings are listed as "c" wings, but have the wheel well bulges added post-war to the IXe and XVI machines still around. The elevator horn balances are for an early IXc, and of course the rudder is the early, rounded type. All of these can be easily corrected with basic modeling skills. The propellor is a tad short in diameter.

Because the price is so low, typically less than $8 USD, this is an easy decision for myself for a standard, early Mk IXc. The above issues are either acceptable to me, or can be corrected with minimal fuss. To make this kit into a later IXc, or IXe simply requires using the 3D-Kits upgrade set which includes a new correct prop, larger pointed rudder, a set of round exhausts and correct narrow wing bulges. This coupled with a set of Master brass cannon barrels can make this kit a real beauty, if you accept the cockpit. Total price puts this in the same price range, however as the AZModel IX.

AZModel Mk IX, kit AZ7701

This kit was released with some fanfare when AZ announced it would be made from "HQT metal molds". The initial impression, before anyone really had either the kit or any details, was this would be made using traditional steel molds instead of AZ's original ceramic molds. The ceramic molds could produce quite good detail, however they were limited in the quantities of kits they could make.

HQT simply stands for high quality technology, and as I understand it means the ceramic molds are simply coated in metal, which equates to longer life and higher production runs. Detail is still on a par with other AZ Spitfire kits, which is quite good.

The kit can make any high back Mk IX or XVI. All the bits are there to make F, LF or HF variants, including choice of wing tips; and whether 'c' or 'e' armament. Bomb racks are provided, but not bombs. Both styles of rudder are provided. A later boxing includes two new fuselage halves to make the low back (bubble canopy) variant.

In terms of construction the kit goes together quite easily. I had difficulty in only two areas: 1) the exhausts; and 2) the landing gear. Both issues were of my own doing, I didn't take good care when preparing the fuselage for the exhausts, nor in placing the wheel well inserts. I have not tried modifying the wing for standard wing tips, however I've seen some folks do this quite well. I did use the Master gun barrels and Peewit masks, which make a huge difference. Everything else came from the kit.


Either kit can make a nice high back Mk IX or XVI. For my money, and availability, I'll probably make more of the Airfix kits, but do plan to get more AZModel to use up all those clipped wing decals in my stash, as it makes a much better model in the end. In the end, it's a toss up. If cockpit detail is important, and you just cannot stand those deep panel lines, then the AZModel kit is the better choice.

Thanks for looking...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Friends and Enemies Part 2

Spitfire IXe 2011/26, 101 Squadron Isreali Air Force 1949

This is part of a "friend versus foe" theme build at our local club. I wanted to make a pair of Spitfires that were on opposing sides of a conflict, and this plus an Egyptian Spitfire fit the bill. While I could have used the same kit for both builds, I decided to also do a comparison build between the new AZModel Spitfire IX kit and the relatively new Airfix Spitfire IX.

The Subject

When Isreal wanted an air force they looked for what they could afford: cheap but effective surplus aircraft that could at least operate on a par with Isreal's adversaries. While their initial acquisition of Bf-109's (actually S-99's) was less than satisfactory, Czechoslovakia was willing to offload their Spitfires because they were being forced to upgrade to Soviet aircraft.

White 26 was one of a batch of Spitfires either flown or transported to Isreal (I'm not sure which); apparently repainted en route from the former Day Fighter Scheme to something more appropriate to the Middle East -- the Ocean Grey was overpainted with a brown color, such as Dark Earth or a similar color. I chose this particular subject simply because it was colorful, albeit the decal sheet also has subjects in overall silver as well as the Day Fighter Scheme.

The Model

This is the new AZModel Mk IX kit that was released in a Joy Pack of 3 kits with no decals and only one set of instructions. Detail is very good and any Mk IX/XVI high back version can be made from the kit. Both types of cannon bulges are provided (early and late), both carb intakes (small and Vokes), both horizontal tail planes and both rudder styles. The kit also contains bomb racks (no bombs) and while molded with clipped wing tips, standard tips are included. The landing gear also comes with the front scissors found on some later Spitfires.

Construction was very straight forward and relatively easy. What little detail was lost in construction I easily rescribed. For the cannons I decided to use the Master Spitfire 'e' wing brass cannon and .50 gun barrels. I'm convinced these are "must do" upgrade, having used them for 2 Spitfires now. They just look so much better than the plastic or resin barrels provided in most kits.

The only difficulties I had with the kit were in placement of the exhausts and the landing gear. The exhausts drop into a slot that has no backing. So if not careful a modeler can easily lose them into the fuselage, unless one either glues them on before attaching the sides together, or by applying a backing sheet inside. I chose the latter, however when it came to attaching the exhausts I realized the nice thin fuselage caused the exhausts to sit quite proud of the fuselage. My solution was to carefully sand the exhaust stub down until it fit. Unfortunately they still sit a bit proud, but that's because the stubs are now wafer thin and flexible. Any more thinner and I'd putting individual stacks on. A better solution, and I'll use it on my next AZModel build, will be to put 20 or 40 thou card fore and aft of the opening (inside of course) and then put the backing on. That will give me much more room to work with in fitting the exhausts.

The second problem was with the landing gear. I did not take great care putting the gear bay inserts into the lower wing before closing it up and as a result the mounting holes were slightly off center. The landing gear actually sit quite well in their holes and had I done the inserts correctly would have had an easy time of the landing gear. Instead I had to fiddle with lots of dry-fitting until it was about right, taking too much material off bot the landing gear and the wheel well. Certainly won't win a competition with this build.

While the build up to the painting part was actually quite quick and easy, painting took my usual months. After priming with Halford's Grey Primer, I painted with a combination of acrylics. Tamiya XF-81 RAF Dark Green, Vallejo 70.921 English Uniform for the Dark Earth, and Tamiya XF-83 Medium Sea Grey underneath. I put a coat of Future/Kleer before decals. The rudder was painted white in anticipation of the stripe decals.

I used Peewitt's canopy masks for this kit. Very inexpensive and very easy to use. I've since purchased quite a few more and plan to pick up enough to do all my Spitfires. I've found they are close enough to be used on pretty much any kit canopy.

The decals are by Techmod, sheet 72-122 and went down with no problem using water. I used a mild softener, DACO medium formula, to get them settle into the very fine detail. The rudder decals were a problem for me. As mentioned on the REAF Spitfire build, the stripes caused problems. They didn't settle as nicely and in trying to arrange them they tore. Eventually I put Future on them to help settle and seal them, then applied DACO multiple times. Again Future when on to ensure it was a well sealed rudder, but with lots of tears and pieces of white showing through. I touched it up with Tamiya XF-7 Red and frankly admit I would have spent less time just masking.

I sealed it all with Testers Clear Flat to really down down the scheme, as these were operational I could have weathered them as well, but I'm not ready to try that again, yet.


This is a great kit, however I have not yet tried putting the standard wing tips on. This requires surgery and I typically do poorly. I think this is the definitive kit of the Mk IX otherwise. There were no faults, any issues were entirely my own doing.

Thanks for looking...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friends and Enemies Part 1

Spitfire IXc 664/L, Royal Egyptian Air Force, 1948

This kit is half of a pair built as part of our club's theme build representing both freind and foe. The challenge was to either build two subjects that represented both friend and foe, or a single subject that mixed the two, as in a BMW engined Spitfire, or Merlin engined Messerschmitt. Since I wanted a pair of Spitfires I chose this one and an Isreali Air Force Spitfire. As an added bonus, I can do a comparison build between Airfix and AZModel.

The Subject

The Royal Egyptian Air Force was founded in 1930 and became an independent air force in 1937. Seeing little service during World War II, post-war Egypt acquired a few surplus Mk IXc from the RAF after they departed Egypt. All were in the Desert Scheme of Dark Earth, Middlestone and Azure.

The REAF Spitfires saw action against Isreali and even RAF fighters during the Isreali war of independence in 1948. Once Isreal began receiving front line fighters via Czechoslovakia, such as their surplus Spitfire IX and XVI, it was the beginning of the end. The REAF replaced their Spitfires with more modern Mk 22 and jets once peace was established.

The Model

I started with the relatively new Airfix IXc kit. I used the late Vokes filter and because the subject had narrow cannon bulges on the outer side (sort of like an 'e' wing configuration, but the inner cannon was simply removed instead of the more typical .50 cal gun) I removed the wide bulge. I used the 3D-Kits Mk IX upgrade set to replace the cannon bulge and while at it used the better prop. I also boxed in the wheel wells to improve the appearance.

I used the shorter cannon barrel for the outer cannon as photos indicate shorter barrels. Otherwise this was a standard build and was very quick. I was ready for exterior paint by the end of the day having primed and cleaned up seams using Halford's Grey Primer.

I used Peewitt's canopy masks for this kit. Very inexpensive and very easy to use. I've since purchased quite a few more and plan to pick up enough to do all my Spitfires. I've found they are close enough to be used on pretty much any kit canopy.

Painting was done using a combination of Tamiya and Humbrol Acrylics. Hu29 Dark Earth, Hu225 Middle Stone and a mix for Azure using Tamiya (X16:2 + XF2:10 + XF18:5). I applied Future/Kleer before the decals. Decals are from the Techmod sheet, 72-122. They went down ok with water, but I put some DACO medium softener to ensure they laid down well; unlike most of my Techmod decals, these are very fragile. Unfortunately they silvered just a bit in places, but I put that to my decal skills, not the product.

The fuselage band gave me a bit of trouble; it kept ballooning at the crest, leaving a bubble of sorts under the decal right at the top of the fuselage. Eventually I trimmed the decal a bit, then applied some white and black paint to touch it up. Looking back, I should have simply masked this and painted it, as well as the wing stripes. That's what I typically do with stripes, but decided to use the decals. Lesson learned.


This was a relatively easy build and quite enjoyable. Had the club not done this theme, I likely would not have done this subject. Having built it, I'm glad I did as it makes for a different take on the Desert Scheme and looks good on my shelf. The comparison with the AZModel build is the subject of a future post.

Thanks for looking...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One Hundred!

One hundred posts. Well, I knew I'd get there, and it only recently dawned on me that I was approaching 100. So what's the magic in it? Over 7,000 views. Okay, I realize most of those are actually search bots updating their databases. I know for certain 4 people read my blog besides myself. I know one of those is not my mother, although she would if she knew about blogs and thought I'd be happy if she read it. I mean, gee whiz, isn't that what mothers are for? I know my wife doesn't read it, although she supports my hobby more than I do sometimes. I'm doing this as an outlet for me. Another creative way to complete a model, describe what I did and why; and record that completion. How many models did I complete over the years where I have no record? Too many. I'm on a good roll with my build pace. I like where I am with my hobby. I buy, I research, I build, I post. The most popular post? After the Blenheim sprue shots (go figure?) it's RAF Dark Earth and RAF Dark Green. Okay, I know trying to find a good paint can be tough, but I never would have thought posting my delvings into hobby paints would be that interesting. But then again, it can be an emotional topic on forums, right? Thanks for looking...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hurricanes in Eastern Europe

Hurricane Mk I, "3", Royal Rumanian Air Force, 1940

I chose this scheme simply because it was colorful.

The Subject

This was one of 12 Hurricane Mk I's delivered to Rumania just at the war started in September 1939, out of a total order for 50. Given the timing of the deliveries I decided to put these decals on a fabric winged Mk I instead of a metal winged one. I haven't found definitive information to say one way or the other, other than strong opinions.

Admittedly I followed the decal manufacturer's instructions, always a dangerous option. I've seen alternative profiles for this aircraft that shows the "3" as either yellow or red on a camouflaged fin and with Mickey Mouse art on the fuselage sides. I certainly would like that added art, but alas no decals exist, that I am aware of.

If one is to believe the story behind "3", it's that Horia Agarici, top Rumanian ace flew this aircraft in the opening stages of the war with Russia. He downed 2 bombers with a third probable before attrition removed the Hurricanes from the battles. He of course moved on to the IAR-80.

The Model

Another of my Hurricane Season builds, this is the new tooling of the Airfix Hurricane Mk I, early configuration with the fabric wing. An absolutely easy build with no vices whatsoever. I added 5-spoke Freightdog wheels to replace the kit's inaccurate 4-spoke wheels; everthing else is kit provided.

Painting is all acrylics; Vallejo 70.921 for Dark Earth, Tamiya XF-81 for Dark Green, XF-69 for Night, XF-2 for White, XF-16 for Aluminum, and XF-3 for the Yellow. I applied a coat of Future (Klear) to provide a good surface for the decals.

Decals are from an old Aeromaster sheet, 72-024 "Foreign Hurricanes". The decals went on with just water, but I did apply some DACO soft formula decal setting solution to ensure no silvering. I sealed the decals with Testor's acryl Flat Clear.


This is a nice subject on my shelf. If the decals for the Mickey Mouse logo show up somewhere I will consider doing this subject again, but with a metal wing so that it's different.

Thanks for looking...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

British Expeditionary Force Hurricane

Hurricane Mk I, L1766/P, 73 Squadron, F/O Edgar James "Cobber" Kain, France, April 1940

Another of my Hurricane Season batch build; this choice being special in that Cobber Kain was a famous pilot in the early war years, especially during the Battle of France and generally a household name.

The Subject

L1766 represents a transitional point for fighter camouflage as well as the configuration of the Hurricane Mk I. With the former, this aircraft still sports the White/Night wings, however experience was to show that the French rudder stripes were easily recognizable, therefore something similar was tried on allied aircraft in theatre. She still has the yellow surrounds to the wing roundels, but these would soon be removed; the yellow surrounds have already been removed from the fuselage roundels but of course these would be reinstated shortly.

The configuration is that of a late Mk I fabric winged Hurricane, however the 2 blade Watts wooden prop has not yet been replaced with a 3 blade DH or Rotol, so subsequently the armor has not been added. These would start to show up soon.

Cobber Kain flew operationally with 73 Squadron, he scored the unit's first kill in November 1930, had his 5th kill in March 1940, being the first to earn the DFC. Once the Battle for France was on his skills were demonstrated by quickly dispatching 12 more enemy aircraft in just 17 days.

On 7 June he was ordered back to the UK for rest, and on his departure he decided to do some aerobatics. Unfortunately he crashed at high speed and died instantly.

The Model

This is yet another Airfix Hurricane, built out of the box, except for spare decals from Model Alliance sheet 72147.

Construction is straightforward, I did use the Freightdog update wheels, and enhanced the cockpit with Tamiya tape seat belts. I cut off the wing tip lights and replaced them with clear sprue.

Painting is the standard pattern of Dark Earth and Dark Green. I used my preferred acrylics for these two colors of Vallejo 70.921 and Tamiya XF-81. For the underside Aluminum, I used Tamiya XF-16, Night is Tamiya's NATO Black XF-69 and White is Tamiya's XF-2. I painted the rudder stripes using Tamiya XF-7 and XF-8 over white. The entire model was then coated with a few coats of Future (Klear) to create a smooth surface for decals.

As noted above, the Paddy III decals came from Model Alliance, however the roundels are from my spares box, and are Techmod. They went on well, however the Model Alliance decals have some silvering that just would not go away. I used DACO medium setting solution and even tried using Tamiya X-20A thinner. According to a modeling colleague it makes a great setting solution if used properly. I do know that DACO's strong solution is too much for Model Alliance, experience has shown me it'll just melt them.


I truly enjoy building this kit. And I'm almost complete with my fabric wing Hurricanes.

Thanks for looking...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Metal Winged Hurricane Conversion

Modifying the Airfix rag wing to the 8 gun metal wing

I've read on line and in mags where folks have taken the Hasegawa or other metal 8-gun "a" wing kits and grafted it to the Airfix fuselage, but after looking closely at my kit I realized it cannot be too difficult with my modest modeling skills.


The obvious difference is the fabric effect versus a smooth metal. Additionally, the landing lights have to moved 4.5mm outboard (thanks to Peter at Britmodeler!), and the gun access panels are shaped differently to reflect the underlying structure. There were only 4 ejector holes on the underside, a fifth hole exists for the rag wing. The rest of the wing exterior is the same, so care has to be taken no to remove detail that should be retained.

A typical Mk I with a metal wing had the armor plating behind the cockpit, armor windscreen and 3 bladed prop. But there were exceptions and if the two bladed Watts wooden prop is installed, then the armor was not in the cockpit due to weight and balance limits. Check photos for a particular subject.

Making the changes

Layers of Humbrol filler was applied using a paintbrush. Basically, I mixed it with Humbrol's Liquid Poly to a smooth paste. I sanded each layer until the skin was smooth and the rib detail knocked down. I took care not to remove any detail that should remain, such as the fabric detail on the ailerons.

I drilled out the ejector holes on the bottom of the wing, and of course filled the 5th hole (I'm not sure what it was for, my references don't actually describe it).

I ensured the gun access cover panel lines were filled as well, and sanded down until only the outline was visible, attempting not to take any of the actual plastic. Hah! Of course same was removed...

I measured 4.5 mm and using a pencil drew the lines for cutting the new location for the landing lights. I carefully cut the same distance in from the leading edge to ensure the depth was right, then made a 90 degree cut to the leading edge where the outboard edge would be. Essentially I built up the new bit using a few layers of 0.040 inch plast sheet to fill in the area inboard of the lights. After letting the glue cure for 24 hours I sanded the leading edges smooth with the existing contour, then, using the existing light as a template, cut the inbard edge.

Since I had the saw out, I also cut the wingtip lights. I'll use bits of the clear spue to create the tip lights.

The most difficult part of the conversion was rescribing the gun access panels on the top. This is very prominant and is also very different from the fabric wing. I used plastic embossing tape to ensure the line was straight, and a scriber, cleaning up with a sharp knife. I followed "what looked right" from my references, and hand to refill and rescribe a couple of times before it looked right.


Building the kit from here is straight forward. In fact this is so easy I am definitely going to replace my other metal winged Mk I subjects with this kit. My next trick will be to convert one of these to a Sea Hurricane I...

Thanks for looking...