Sunday, September 28, 2014

Too little, too late

Hurricane Mk I, H-22, Squadron 2/1/2 Aé (Le Chardon or "The Thistle"), Belgian Air Force, Schaffen, Diest, May 1940



This is another one of my Hurricane season builds from this Summer.

The Subject


Belgium, along with a few other countries, purchased some Hurricanes either just before war started or shortly thereafter. Belgium, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Finland, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, Ireland, Egypt and even Iran. Some didn't arrive before the countries were overrun by Germany but in the case of Belgium, they were actually the first Hurricanes to see combat, albeit not much.



Unfortunately most of the 20 Hawker supplied aircraft were destroyed on the ground, only 3 lost in aerial combat. Another 80 were to be license built by Avions Fairey with 4x 12.65mm guns in place of the 8x .303s, but only 2 were completed.



This model represents one of the 20 Hawker built aircraft that were destroyed on 10 May after the initial attack. They were part of 2/1/2 Aé or No. 2 Squadron of No. 1 Group of No. 2 Air Regiment.

The Model


This is Airfix's new tooling Hurricane Mk I with the early fabric wing. I cannot say much more about the kit than I said in my last build, I gushed about the ease of construction. That hasn't changed! With this and subsequent kits I've added the Freightdog Models 5 spoke wheels (FDR72066) as well as using Peewit's masks (M72001) for the canopy. Both are very highly recommended as they make a huge difference on an already great kit.



For the Belgian Hurricanes, some sources indicate they were simply taken off the Hawker production lines ad hoc. I'm sure there was an order to it, like every 10th airframe, but I can't find it. Given the delivery timescale, 20 aircraft over about 7 months, they would represent whatever configuration the RAF were getting at the time. Since H-22 is one of the first 3 airframes delivered in the Fall of 1939, I'd expect it to represent the early configuration but with the Merlin III engine. The photo above clearly shows it to have the two blade Watts prop, so no armor.



Details were painted the same as my previous build, since they were done as a batch.

For painting I used my current standards: Vallejo 70.921 for Dark Earth, Tamiya XF81 for Dark Green, Tamiya XF16 for the Aluminium undersides. I put a coat of Future over it all and let it cure for a few days before decals.



The kit decals went down just fine using Revell's Decal Soft. I then put another coat of Future to seal it all in, followed by a misting of Microscale's Clear Satin. I had some from years ago and it still seemed okay. I did thin it 50/50 with Airfix's acrylic thinner. It toned down the glossiness just a tad.

Summary


This was another nice, easy, comfortable, quick and very enjoyable modeling experience.



Thanks for looking...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Féte de l'Air 1938

Hurricane Mk I, L1584, 111 Squadron, 1938



My Hurricane season is ending. I've had 6 of the Airfix Mk I Hurricanes in work as part of a batch build all Summer. Time to put them on the shelf.

The Subject


111 Squadron RAF was the first Hurricane squadron, receiving their aircraft beginning in late 1937. As war was looming the RAF wanted to show off their latest fighter at the Villacoublay Air Show in France on Bastille Day 1938. The aircraft wore standard camouflage and markings for the period, with the exception of the squadron number on the fuselage in flight colors. These were probably Red, Blue, and Yellow for A, B and C flights respectively.



These were well photographed aircraft and the scheme makes for a pleasing subject on the modeling shelf.

The Model


This is Airfix's new tooling Hurricane Mk I with the early fabric wing. I cannot say much more about the kit than I said in my last build, I gushed about the ease of construction. That hasn't changed! With this and subsequent kits I've added the Freightdog Models 5 spoke wheels (FDR72066) as well as using Peewit's masks (M72001) for the canopy. Both are very highly recommended as they make a huge difference on an already great kit.



For this earliest of Hurricanes a few minor configuration changes have to be made. One is not in the instructions from Airfix. Obviously this has the two-blade Watts prop. Because it has the two-blade prop, there is no armor behind the pilot (it would not have been available then anyway) and the windscreen is not yet armored. It has the early pole type radio mast and the kidney style exhausts. The pitot is the early style.



The modification not mentioned is the removal of the two bumps on the chin at the 4 & 8 o'clock positions on the nose just aft of the spinner. Those were added later with the Merlin III to make room for the vacuum pump and constant speed unit for the later DH prop. Of course, if there is no vacuum pump then the venturi should be installed on the port side of the fuselage. To be accurate, some aircraft with the Merlin II had the bumps, but didn't need them, as the cowling mod preceded deliveries of the newer engines. So check photos...



I replaced the wing tip lights with clear styrene sprue from the kit. Really an easy task, just cut molded in lights out, paint the tips Aluminium, cut a small bit of sprue and sand it to a nice 90 degree flat surface so it fits well. I then use a small jeweler's file to put a cut into the right angled area of the sprue, put a drop of red or green, then another coat of Aluminium. Glue it in with Cyano and when nice and hard (I wait a day) sand it all smooth followed by a good polish.



In the cockpit I painted everything Interior Grey Green by Model Master Acryl (4850), then painted the tubing and seat Aluminium. I also touched black to some knobs and used Tamiya Tape for seat belts. I sealed it all in with a coat of Future (Klear).

For painting I used my current standards: Vallejo 70.921 for Dark Earth, Tamiya XF81 for Dark Green, Tamiya XF16 for the Aluminium undersides. I struggled with the Aluminium as it kept lifting on the tape, no matter how much I let the paint cure or de-tacked the tape. Eventually I touched it up with a brush, which could be better. For Night I used Tamiya's XF69, NATO Black. It's not a true black with just a hint of green to a slightly off-black shade. I've found that a true black just looks wrong in this scale. Night is actually a blue-black but I haven't found an off-black color out of the tin that satisfies the look I'm after any better than Tamiya's XF69. The White is Tamiya's XF2. I put a coat of Future over it all and let it cure for a few days before decals.



The kit decals went down just fine using Revell's Decal Soft. I then put another coat of Future to seal it all in, followed by a misting of Microscale's Clear Satin. I had some from years ago and it still seemed okay. I did thin it 50/50 with Airfix's acrylic thinner. It toned down the glossiness just a tad. While these aircraft were well maintained and polished often, being pre-war, they probably wouldn't have the very glossy sheen that Future leaves, especially in this scale.

Summary


This is a nice, easy, comfortable, quick and very enjoyable modeling experience. I've got another 5 in various stages of completion and if one ever wanted to try their first batch build, this is a model to try it!

Thanks for looking...


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Group Captain Dudley Honor's Hurricane

Hurricane Mk I, W9266, 274 Squadron, Gerawla, Egypt, 25 May 1941



This is a contentious scheme as no color photos exist (yet) and the descriptions of the "sand and spinach" leading edge and nose are inconsistent. They range from green and brown, green and yellow, to purple and aluminum. At the time of the build, in 2010, this was my interpretation.

The Subject


While the caption said Egypt this scheme was also on 274 aircraft fighting in Greece at the time. In all likelihood they were operating out of Egypt but fighting up in the Greek isles at forward operating bases. Online there has been some arguments for/against many different choices. There seem to be no agreement on why this camo was applied, and unfortunately we'll probably never know.



This particular aircraft was flown by Dudley Honor who was a veteran of France and the Battle of Britain. During the invasion of Crete he was attacking transports (he shot down 2) but his aircraft was heavily damaged. He ditched about a half mile from the island, sank to about 40 feet before he got out of the aircraft (very lucky man). He then swam ashore and evaded the Germans for 6 days. He spotted a Sunderland evacuating senior personnel and after flashing an SOS he was flown back to Egypt where he rejoined 274 Squadron.

Dudley Honor survived the war and left the RAF as a Group Captain. He passed away at 94 in 2008.

The Model


This is another Airfix Mk I that is the older tooling. Certainly showing its age, but it's the best out there and is actually very accurate in shape. I build this OOB, however as I review the photos I should go back and fix those wing tip lights. They look horrid!

I used an Airwaves tropical filter for Mk I. I'd like to find more of this as there are a few more Mk I's I'd like to do with tropical filters. They are just a tad shorter than the ones used on the Mk II series, if I need I'll modify one of those in the future.

Paint Humbrol Hu29 for the Dark Earth, Testors Model Master MM2052 for the Mid Stone and the Sky Blue is Pollyscale PS505248. The "spaghetti" pattern are Italian decals placed on a coat of Gunze H85. All this was was sealed under a coat of Future (Klear) before the decals went on.



Decals are by Model Allaince, sheet MA-72148. They went on without a hitch using the Microscale system of Set and Sol. A further coat of Future to seal it all in, then I tried my hand at weathering since this aircraft was hard used. I've a long way to go with weathering...'nuff said. I then sealed that all in with a coat of Future mixed with Testors Clear Flat.

Summary


I want to do this one over again but using the newer tool Airfix Mk I. Okay, it's a rag wing, but with some effort it should look pretty good as a metal winged Hurricane Mk I. Plus, I want to try some of those other color options mentioned in the link above. So I'll probably redo this one in multiple colors.

Thanks for looking...


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hurricanes in Norway

Hurricane Mk I, PO-N, 46 Squadron RAF, Bardufoss, Norway, May 1940

This subject begged to be built mainly because of the history. I chose the scheme based on a profile, and while it is probably fictious, I like it as a unique scheme on my shelf.



The Subject


46 Squadron deployed aboard HMS Furious to Norway in the Spring of 1940 when Churchill believed Hitler was going to imminently invate Norway to secure the iron ore there. Hitler in turn did invade, but it was in response to the English "invasion" to do just what Churchill had feared, secure the iron ore.

46 Squadron chalked up some firsts on this deployment: first to launch a Hurricane from a carrier when the squadron flew off for Bardufoss, and then when the situation in France grew grim they landed aboard Furious for the first landing of a Hurricane. And all this with no training and no tailhook!

The paint scheme was a suggestion from the RAE for aircraft operating in the Norwegian area, being Temperate Land above but with Sky Grey for the undersides and of course the Night/White wings for identification. The high demarcation reflected the FAA scheme used in those lattitudes. In all probability the aircraft retained its original scheme with Night/White undersides. We will never know for unfortunately the squadron was lost with Furious whe she was sunk en route from Norway to England, including most of her crews and support personnel.

The Model


This is the old but accurate Mk I by Airfix. Its age is obvious by the raised detail and lack of detail in the cockpit and wheel wells. With some investment in plastic card and time, or alternatively resin aftermarket bits one can make this a very accurate model. Unfortunately my skills are not ready for the former and I dislike the latter unless it comes in the kit box.



Construction was straghtforward. I didn't add any detail but was tempted to box in the wheel wells. Having now build the new Airfix rag wing kit I'm convinced this is easier than I'd realized so I'll try that on the next one.

Paint was Humbrol enamels. Hu29 for Dark Earth and Hu116 for Dark Green. The Sky Grey is Tamiya XF-19. I think the Sky Grey is too dark, in that more contrast should exist with the codes. Since the serial numbers are not known, I didn't put any on.

Decals are from the kit and spares box. I used Medium Sea Grey codes from a sheet by Xtradecals. I put a coat of Future (Klear) to provide a gloss coat and the decals were put on using Future as a setting solution. It worked, but I found that I had to brush it on thinly, put the decal on somewhat dry, then brush another thin coat on. To ensure it laid well I then rolled a cotton swab over the decal getting all the bubbles out. After a day of curing it looked good, but I don't use that technique anymore. I've found I have little flexibility in where the decals goes once it's covered in Future...get it right the first time.

Summary


I like this scheme as it's an attention getter. I've been asked about the history behind the scheme, only to share all the history and most folks find the real history more interesting than the scheme.

Thanks for looking...


Sunday, September 14, 2014

82 Sir!

FG-1D, VMF-511, 82, USS Block Island, 1945

This was built as my contribution to a group build, "Who's the Boss?" wherein we had to build any of the then new Hobbyboss kits. I chose this subject simply because the side number was 82, my graduating class. Additionally, the Block Island was used at the Naval Academy as a training ship post war.



The Subject


VMF-511 was one of the first USMC squadrons to deploy on escort carriers with the F4U Corsair, being part of an all USMC air wing onboard the USS Block Island (CVE-106). Uniquely, 511 was originally to be used to attack V-1 sites in France, but that mission was cancelled after the Allies moved through France quickly.



VMF-511's Corsairs were all Goodyear built FG-1D, essentially identical to the F4U-1D. 511 eventually deployed to the Pacific, first engaging in the fighting off Okinawa supporting Marines on the ground, and then supported the Australian's landing on Balikpapan. After the war they supported the repatriation of prisoners of war from Formosa back to the US as part of the crew from the Block Island.

Shortly after the war VMF-511 was decommissioned.

The Model


This is one of the Hobbyboss line of "easy model" kits, and I have to say it is very easy. Because the cockpit has limited detail and the wing is one piece as is the fuselage, it all went together within an hour, and that includes a slight amount of cleanup around the wing-fuselage joint. The hardest part was filling the trenches for the rocket launchers, which instead of being stubs are long pieces of plastic card that fit into slots. If you are young (or young at heart) and want this mainly for play then that's not an issue.



Paint was very easy, all over Glossy Sea Blue; I used Aeromaster's enamel. I painted the engine and tires separately and then installed the canopy. It looks a bit tall, but otherwise not too bad. For some reason many of the Hobbyboss canopies have this fault, sitting too tall on the kit.

After a coat of Future (Klear) the kit decals went on without a hitch using the Microscale system of Sol and Set. I followed that with another coat of Future to seal it all in.

Summary


Given all the "not quite right" Corsairs on my shelf, this one is not out of place. I have a couple more given the shape is fairly accurate and that affords an inexpensive means of having more Corsairs in more markings. If you want an easy, quick, "builder's block" buster, this is the kit.



Thanks for looking...


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Seafire F.XVII

Seafire F.XVII, SX273/So50, 709 Squadron, RNAS St Merryn, 1945

In my quest for a collection of Seafires I decided this would be my only model of this mark.



The Subject


My research, albeit not first hand nor with clear documentation to support my suppositions, led me to conclude that a squadron whose number began with a "7" was either a training squadron or at best an Operational Training Unit (OTU) for the FAA. Because I liked the scheme it was obvious this aircraft was used for teaching other pilots who were working up for deployments to the Pacific, either on Fireflies, Seafires or other FAA types.



The Seafire 17 was the penultimate Seafire that used the basic Spitfire wing plan. While the Seafire XV was essentially a Mk VIII fuselage with Griffon engine and Seafire III wings and A-frame hook, the Seafire XVII realized purpose designed improvements to the airframe. Wider track to the landing gear, better oleos to improve bounce on landing, strengthened wing, and full rear view (bubble) canopy. The type was only marginally improved by the later 46/47 with the newer wing.

When the war ended of course production was scaled back. The Seafire F.17 never deployed in combat, having effectively been withdrawn by the time the Korean War started. Most were scrapped but a few soldiered on during the late 40's and early 50's in training roles and the occasional "show the flag" deployment.

The Model


This is the very high quality CMR resin kit. In terms of accuracy there isn't better. Every possible option is available in the box, and the only negative point is possibly the vac canopy...simply because it's a vac. I had now issues with the canopy and it went on straight away, the second one is now in my spares box.



Construction was straightforward. I used cyano glues and took care to ensure seams were spot on and the sanding was minimal. Lots of dry fitting up front because I knew I didn't want to build a second and my objective was to do it right the first time. This was my 3rd CMR kit so my confidence was high.

Paints are mainly Testors Acryl paints. I was still experimenting with the "right" Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey, as well as a proper Sky. For these I used Testors Dark Sea Grey and Slate Grey, because all other paints just appeared much too dark. For Sky I used ANA Sky but toned it down with some light gray (Ghost Gray if memory serves me). Subsequently I've decided the "best" Sky is Humbrol 90 but with a bit of white added. This combination just looks right to my eye, and every time I see it on my shelf next to other Seafires and FAA types, it's very obvious which one has the "right" Temperate Sea Scheme.

Decals come from the kit and went on with no trouble.

Summary


Of all the Seafires this one is my favorite. It has the sleek lines of the later Griffon Spits and it's a shame it saw limited service. But the jet age had started and with the war over, there just wasn't room for it.



Thanks for looking...


Monday, September 8, 2014

Deathrattlers in Korea

AU-1 129401, WS 24, VMA-323 USMC, Korea 1953

In my quest to have a complete set of Corsairs I picked up this Italeri kit. It was part of the batch build started 17 years ago and finished this summer.



The Subject


VMA-323 was commissioned in 1943 with the Corsair and worked up at secure Pacific bases. Eventually it saw combat at Okinawa, creating 10 aces with no losses. They continued to operate the Corsair until after the Korean conflict, their final mount being the AU-1.

The AU-1 was a purpose built attack variant of the Corsair, with additional armor and all the refinements of the F4U-5 series. Additionally, the engine had the single stage supercharger for operations predominantly at low altitudes.



At the end of the Korean War the squadron "stood down" and their aircraft were transported down to Southeast Asia where they were handed over to the French Aero Navale, who used these aircraft until they were no longer serviceable.

The Model


This is the same kit as the Italeri F4U-7 boxing, offered as a set of alternative decals and cowl ring. The major external difference between the F4U-7 and AU-1 is the cheek intakes on the cowling, which are removed for the AU-1.



All of the errors existant on the F4U-7 kit exist with this one as well. The main fault lies with the aft fuselage, which is noticably too short, making the aircraft appear squattish. At the time of the build I didn't know this, nor did I have any plans to compare.

Detail is good and construction was straightforward. As a kit there are no vices. Decals went down well over a coat of Future (Klear) using the Microscale system of Sol then Set. The decals were sealed under a final coat of Future.

Summary


I've since purchased two copies of the much more accurate F4U-7 kit from High Planes. One will of course replace my French Aeronavale -7 while the other will replace this one. Since the High Planes kits have to be treated like a short run kit, but certainly build up nicely, I'll delay replacing this one until I've more time; in the meantime, this one looks good on the shelf and fills a niche.



Thanks for looking...


Friday, September 5, 2014

The FAA's Last Kills in World War II

Seafire F.III, S115, 887 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Indefatigable, British Pacific Fleet, August 1945



I initially chose this subject because of the mix of East India Fleet and British Pacific Fleet markings. Once I got to know the details behind them, I'm glad I chose it. I finished this model back in August, 2009.

The Subject


Seafires were typically used for Combat Air Patrol (CAP) in the Pacific Theatre due to their short range but good climb and speed. What made the Spitfire good in the Battle of Britain is what made the Seafire good at sea.

When the British Pacific Fleet was established the predominant Fleet Air Arm fighter was the Seafire F.III for CAP and either Hellcats or Corsairs for long range fighter-bomber sorties. As the war drew to a close and the carriers were able to get quite close to Japan for direct strikes some Seafires, configured with a P-40 drop tank on a centerline bomb rack, provided escorts.



It was on the morning of 15 August that a strike to an airfield near Tokyo the escorting Seafires of 887 NAS engaged a number of "Zekes" and shot down at least 4. This was the last combat engagement of the war for the British; Japan announced their surrender later in the day. S115 took part in that combat.



The Model


This is the CMR resin kit of the Seafire III. It comes with these markings plus two others from 807 NAS British East Indies Fleet. After having made the High Planes Seafire III this kit was an absolute breeze! Cleanup was quick and easy; I assembled the kit using superglue and cleaned up the seams using just a smidge of filler.



The scheme is standard Temperate Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey (EDSG) and Dark Slate Grey (DSG) over a Sky undersides. I used Humbrol enamels, Hu125 for the EDSG, Hu224 for the DSG and Hu90 for Sky. While it sort of looks right, especially the lack of contrast on the upper side, in the future I'll be using lighter shades.



After putting Future (Kleer) on the model for a good base for the decals, these were applied using the Microscale system, albeit I had to fiddle with a couple of the decals. No catastrophes, but a couple needed some stronger setting solution to lay down properly. Once done it was sealed with another coat of Future, then I put a wash on it. Looking back I think I overdid the wash, but I was learning.

Summary


I enjoyed this build. The only aspect that was a challenge was the vac canopy, but I've gotten pretty good at those for Spitfires and Seafires. I hope to build at least 2 more Seafire F.III's simply because the markings choices are so varied. I hope to update this post with more recent pictures, once I add the P-40 drop tank, as it adds more interest and was unique to Seafires in the British Pacific Fleet.



Thanks for looking...


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Colorful Corsair in MUSKETEER markings

F4U-7 Corsair 133828/20, Flotilla 15.F, Suez Crisis, 1956



This is another kit "lost" on the shelf for 17 years awaiting decals. A very colorful scheme even if only worn for a short time.

The Subject


The Corsair is one of the first aircraft that enjoyed a very long life with numerous Air Forces and Navies around the world. The French Aeronavale operated a number AU-1 and F4U-7 aircraft. All were "borrowed" from the US to fight communist insurgents in Indochina under the umbrella of the Military Assistance Program in the 1950's, albeit the AU-1's were war-weary USMC aircraft from the Korean War, the F4U-7's were new built to Aeronavale specifications.



This particular Corsair was operated by Flotille 15.F (Fighter) from the French aircraft carrier La Fayette (R96) which was the former US Navy light carrier USS Langley (CVL-27). From late October to early November 1956 a joint French-British-Isreali force attempted to take control of the Suez Canal from Egypt and oust President Nassar. The French Aeronavale was tasked to strike ships in Alexandria, but the US Navy blocked them. Eventually the UN, led by the US and USSR convinced the joint Anglo-French-Isreali forces to withdraw.

Aircraft from both French and British forces, as part of Operation MUSKATEER put distinctive yellow and black markings for identification, even though the markings were on for only about 3 weeks, they make for a unique subject.

The Model


When Italeri first released this kit I jumped on it. Italeri have a reputation for easy to build kits and this proved to support that. Unfortunately, and I only found this out a couple of years ago, their Corsair line of kits has a failing in their basic shape. The fuselage is a bit too short, making the fuselage look "scrunched up". Not an easy fix, certainly not for this very average modeler, so the models will remain on my shelf until I replace them. I believe if a modeler wanted to take the aft fuselage of a Hasegawa Corsair, marry it to the nose and wings of this kit you'd get much closer than this kit out of the box.



The most difficult part of this kit was painting the stripes. I agonized over whether to paint them over the blue or paint the blue and black over the yellow. Eventually I chose the latter and I'm quite happy with the outcome. From studying photos it was obvious that the wing stripes were not the same width as the kit instructions and decals would lead you to believe, so I marked them out via the eyeball method.

The paints are Modelmaster with the exception of the Glossy Sea Blue, that's from Aeromaster. Just like the other kits in this batch, the paint had been marred by styrofoam while in storage...and just like those others a very light sanding with a super-fine stick cleaned them right up.

The decals are from the kit and went on without any hitch using the Microscale system of Sol followed by Set. I did of course put a coat of Future (Kleer) on before and after the decals.

Summary


I enjoyed this kit and with the unique shape of the nose and canopy the -7 Corsair in French colors is a nice add to the collection. As you can see in the photos, it doesn't look right in the fuselage, being obviously short. I've since discovered that High Planes Models used to sell a number of late model Corsairs, including the F4U-5, AU-1 and F4U-7. I've purchased two of the F4U-7 kits, and because they are limited run have not yet started them. One of course will be an AU-1, using the spare cowl from this Italeri kit.



Thanks for looking...