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...