Saturday, July 9, 2016

Flying Razorbacks

F-100D Super Sabre, 188th Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard about 1972

Okay, let's start with "I'm not a jet guy." This kit was started back in the early '90s, with construction and painting completed quite quickly. Then a move, followed by sea duty (minimal modeling) followed by another move. If not for a theme build of "Century Series" jets, it might still be on my shelf of doom.

The Subject

When I purchased this kit I was in a bit of a jet phase. I'd completed a F-105, Kfir, and Mirage 2000; plus was attempting a F-86 and F-84F natural metal finish. I wanted to do the F-100 in the Viet Nam era camouflage and was enjoying Esci kits as easy build and high on details (for the time).

This particular subject happens to be from the Arkansas Air National Guard; I grew up in Arkansas so this is a natural set of markings for me, however I don't remember if that was my initial draw to the kit. Anyway, not being a jet guy, I know little about the Arkansas ANG and less about the F-100.

The Model

This is the Esci kit, built straight out of the box with the kit decals. My skills were maturing (as they still are!) and while I airbrushed this kit I can see seams and the transition from one color to the next is not tight at all. At the time aftermarket was mostly just decals, and I never had any aftermarket F-100 decals.

I do remember the kit being a very easy build. It likely went together over a weekend, possibly two. Interestingly, while I used the kit decals, they went on 20 years AFTER the kit was completed. They settled down just fine on the coat of Future and the only setting solution I used was Daco soft. I followed that with a light brush on of Future over the decals as they acted like they didn't want to stick, once dry.


After my move to my current home, about 15 years ago, I unpacked this kit and found it had survived a second move quite well. Two landing gear doors were all that were missing. It did need some clean up of the finish, as the packing material sort of "stuck" to the paint. I've since determined that enamels and foam peanuts don't mix well, even if the enamel is fully cured. However...put a coat of Future (clear acrylic) on it and it seems to fare pretty well.

Anyway, digging around in my spares bin, I actually found the two missing bits. Glued them on and after decaling I had a finished model. It's over on my "jet shelf" with a few other relatively modern (post 1955) subjects; okay it's a sparse shelf.

Thanks for looking...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Swordfish and Bismarck

Fairly Swordfish Mk I, V4298/4C, 820 NAS, HMS Ark Royal, 26 May 1941

I have an affinity for biplanes, and for Naval subjects of import. The Swordfish is something I've worked on for decades, first building the Matchbox offering and also the earlier Airfix. This is my third attempt and actually won't be going on my shelf...this will be donated to the local Museum for their Battle of the Atlantic display.

The Subject

The history of the Bismarck, Hood, Prince of Wales, and Ark Royal's Swordfish is rather famous and I won't repeat it here. For more info Wikipedia is a good start. (Yes, I know, Wikipedia is only so right...but it's a start.)

This was finished in late May 2016, at about the 75th anniversary of the subject modeled. At the club meeting in June the theme was "Anniversary" so I submitted it for review.

On 26 May, it was obvious that Bismarck might just escape, so in poor weather and at extreme range Ark Royal launched her Swordfish squadron in an attempt to slow Bismarck down. V4298/4C was piloted by Sub-Lieutenant F A Swanton, Lead Armourer J R Seager at the gunner's position and Observer Gerard Woods. 4C was damaged in the attack from flak, but the Swordfish attack famously caused damage to Bismarck's rudder, rendering her helpless and steaming in circles.  Swanton and Seager were both wounded in the action.

The actual pilot/aircraft that launched the fateful torpedo was LCDR John Moffat flying 5C/L9726.

The Model

This is the recent (2011) release, kit number A04053. The kit is superbly engineered and during construction (begun in 2012!) it was quickly obvious that I needed to follow the instructions closely. Unfortunately I deviated but learned a new skill...

A key detail I wanted to add was the rigging. Not just the wires between the wings, but also the control cables to the control surfaces as well as any aerials that should be present. To my rescue was Uschi with their three elastic thread sizes, but first I had to learn a lesson. My former method is to drill holes and thread invisible thread (really just a fine clear thread) the lines so that I can pull it snug, glue, then trim. This always required that I clean up the resulting exit points on either the top or bottom of the wing structure, followed by a (if lucky) minor touch up with paint.

Not so with this kit. While I was able to find a route for the thread that included minimizing my cleanup the resulting thread thickness was just large enough to throw off the fit of the wings. How so? You ask...well, because the wings can be constructed in either the folded or spread positions, they are in 3 major sections for both top and bottom wing. Left, right and center. Once I realized (post drilling and all the other prep) that the wings would no longer fit, I decided to remove all the old thread and try the Uschi .005 inch elastic line.

First I cleaned up all the damage done to the wings trying the old method, then I redrilled some of the holes to give me a place to glue the Uschi thread. It came out ok, but when I came by to inspect it the next day, apparently one of my wing joints was off by about the thickness of the older thread...not good but barely noticeable. I will attempt a fix at some point, but not until I've studied it at length. The "fix" involves cutting the wing joint and then regluing it, the amount to remove bent about the width of a razor saw blade. If I fail, I start over with a new kit...

Otherwise the kit was a breeze, as with Airfix kits of late, careful trimming is required and just the thickness of the paint can throw off the fit, so take care.

Paints were a various lot; for the underside Sky I used Humbrol Hu90, for the upper surface Extra Dark Sea Grey I used my own formula of Tamiya acrylics (I need to write a post on it), and the Dark Slate Grey was Vallejo Model Color 892. For the shadow shading on the upper side of the lower wing I used Tamiya XF-54 for the Dark Sea Grey and XF-25 for the Slate Grey. For all the paints I brush painted with a hairy stick using a variety of thinners and retarders. It was a bit of a learning process and I've hit on a great solution using Future/Kleer and Vallejo as my preferred hairy stick paint. That will be the subject of another post as well.

Decals are from Xtradecal sheet 72-147. They applied easily over a coat of Future/Kleer and laid down nicely under a coat of Daco decal softener.


I will of course make another; I believe I have 3 more kits in my stash, all of this particular kit.  My desire is to make a Taranto strike aircraft as well as put this one on my shelf.  The third will likely be a pre-war variant, or the later ASW (all white).  Who knows, I like this one so much I may get a couple more!

Thanks for looking...