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.

Summary


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.

Summary




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.

Summary


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.

Differences


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.

Summary


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...


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hurricane in Training

Hurricane Mk I, L2006/Y, 11 Group Pilot Pool, RAF Sutton Bridge, August 1942



This is another of my Hurricane Season models. I chose this one simply because I had the decals, and it was a colorful subject.

The Subject


As pilots progressed through training they eventually got to fly ever higher performance aircraft in order to prepare them for types they would fly in combat. En route to Spitfires, it is possible that many flew the older Hurricanes that were no longer front line capable.



L2006 represents one of the aircraft that formed part of the training syllabus for future fighter pilots. According to my references, this aircraft could be marked as I've shown her, or have the standard Day Fighter Scheme of the period. The red band on the aft fuselage is possibly spurrious, but I like it for the color it adds.



The Model


This is yet another Airfix Hurricane Mk I with the fabric wing. The kit was announced last year and I've scooped up 7 so far and and I know I will get more. Since the subject is from 1942 I decided to use the armor plate in the cockpit, the armored windshield and the other later features from the kit. The prop is a spare from the Airfix Spitfire II kit as it's the DH variable pitch prop which was used for this Hurricane and is a common configuration. For the wheels I used the Freightdog set and for canopy masks the Peewit masks. Both are highly recommended.



For painting I used my standards: Vallejo 70-921 for Dark Earth, Tamiya XF81 for Dark Green, Tamiya X3 for the yellow and X7 for the red. I put a gloss coat of Future (Klear) before applying the decals. The decals are from The Aviation Workshop, now out of print but can be found at trade shows. They are thin and fragile, I put them on using water only, and once dry applied Daco soft formula to ensure they snuggled down. After the decals had dried I put a coat of Microscale Satin to tone down the sheen.



Summary


This is a great kit, I cannot say enough about it. It will be shown on these pages many times in the future. I really enjoyed this build, even though it's yet another boring Dark Earth / Dark Green scheme, it's just different enough to look great on my shelf.



Thanks for looking...


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

High flying Spitfire

Spitfire HF Mk VI, BS141/NN-B, 310 Squadron, Castletown, Scotland, 1943



This is one of those subjects (the Mk VI) that I've wanted to do for years, but never had the chops to tackle the wingtips. I was able to get a resin set (Airwaves I think) and finally decided I just had to dive in; my motivation was building a subject that "woulda, shoulda, coulda" been a good aircraft.

The Subject


In the Spring of 1941 the RAF was convinced Germany would restart the blitz but with higher flying bombers that were beyond the capabilities of the Mk II and V (then in development). They decided to modify the Mk Vb with a pressurized cockpit to sustain the pilot, extended wingtips for greater lift and a 4 bladed prop for more bite of the less dense air. Of course, Germany instead invaded Russia and the high altitude bomber fleet never materialized. Ultimately the RAF only build 100 HF Mk VI Spitfires; most served in just two squadrons although some served in squadrons at flight strength.



BS141 was one of those HF Mk VI aircraft that served alongside the Mk Vb in 310 Squadron. Performance of the HF Mk VI was poor at altitude, being marginally better than a suitably modified Mk Vb with 4 blade prop and extended wing tips. The latter was significantly easier to manufacture than the pressurized HF Mk VI. It was fortunate for the RAF that Germany changed its strategy in June 1941...



The Model


Since I had quite a few Airfix Vb kits on the shelf, I decided that the time had come to just do it. I also decided this would be something to model in flight, so I found a stand and prepped the fuselage to accept it. Construction was straight forward, the Airfix Vb kit has been around since 1974; I carefully measured the cut lines on the wing tips and faired them in with only 3 sessions of fill-sand-prime-fill-sand-prime.

The kit shows its age having no real cockpit detail, but that's not a problem if the pilot is painted and put in. In fact he looks like it's very crowded in there, and having sat in a Spitfire cockpit on more than one occasion I can agree that it's a snug fit! Additionally, the exterior detail is raised; which can be argued is more accurate given the lapping of the panels and the removable panels do have recessed lines. I chose not to keep the raised lines and sanded them down, but not completely off. I can see them if I look carefully.



The resin bits for the wing tips and pressurization intake went on with no difficulty. I sourced the prop from the more recent Airfix Mk IXc kit. Painting was very straight forward, I started with a lightened mix of Sky (Humbrol 90 with some gray added) because the Sky codes in the decals were obviously a lighter shade of Sky. Ultimately I still missed the mark as when the decals went on the codes took on a decidedly blue tone, and still much lighter. Oh well...

I used my standards for painting: Tamiya XF83 for Medium Sea Grey, Tamiya XF81 for Dark Green and Humbrol 106 for Ocean Grey. I had originally started to paint this model with a brush only, but in the end decided it was easier to quickly shoot major colors with my air brush.

Decals are a mix of aftermarket (Aeromaster) roundels and fin flash coupled with the codes and serial from my AZModel HF Mk VI kit. The Aeromaster decals nearly disintegrated when I used Revell's decal soft, so I stuck with water after that first underwing roundel. They worked fine from there. The AZModel decals needed a bit of softener so I used Daco's soft formula, which worked perfectly.

Summary


In the end those Sky codes make this model look "not quite right". Additionally, they appear slightly off register which may be affecting the color perception. Okay, how does a single color decal look "off register"? It appears to have been printed in two layers and one of the layers is slightly off.

I'm looking forward to building the AZModel HF Mk VI, I know it will look all the better given my experience with their Mk Vb kit -- it's the same sprues used for all the 'b' wing Spitfires. However I need to find some better / replacement Sky codes.



Thanks for looking...