Friday, October 21, 2016

V-1 Defender

Spitfire XIV RB159 / DW-D 610 Squadron RAF, Spring 1944

I tried kit bashing, something I have done rarely and only with the Spitfire, to make a XIVc from the Airfix IX and XIX kits.

The Subject

The XIV began showing up in squadrons late 1943 and early 1944. Initially they were used to replace the MK XII that were remaining as low level interceptors of Fw-190 penetrations. When Germany began the V-1 launches just after D-Day they were reassigned to intercept the increasing number of V-1's coming across the Channel.

RB159 was delivered to No. 610 Squadron "County of Chester" Royal Auxiliary Air Force on 1 January 1944 as part of the first batch of 50 built. It served with Nos. 350, 41 and 416 Squadrons before being scrapped in 1949.

The Model

I pieced this together from 3 kits, actually: The wings, main landing gear, canopy, and cockpit came from the Airfix IX kit. The fuselage, prop, carb intake, tail wheel, tailplanes, and radiators came from the Airfix XIX kit. There was very little fit issues, the lower wings-to-fuselage joint required a bit of added plastic as the XIX fuselage insert is shorter than the IX bit on its wing.

The canopy required building up behind the cockpit; since the XIX was pressurized the aft area of the canopy goes down to the rails, unlike the XIV which was similar to the IX and was much smaller. A bit of sheet cut to fit and sanded to shape actually provided a better glue surface for the canopy.

Everything else fit quite well, and it quickly took on the "look" of the XIV. Painting was hassle free and the only decals I had for subjects that did NOT have invasion stripes was the old Academy XIV. As an aside, not a bad kit, just inaccurate in shape. So I use the cockpit, landing gear and other bits of that kit as spares for older Spitfire kits that are devoid of detail.

The Academy decals were mostly either out of register or the wrong color, but I was able to find the serial and squadron codes that were very close to the right color. I nearly masked and painted the squadron codes but chose to use the deals anyway. Roundels and fin flash were from my spare decals.


This was a relatively easy kit-bash. I've got the older Fujimi XIV as well as the Admiral/AZ XIV/XVIII kits and the new Sword XIV c/e series. This one seems to look better, but that simply could be due to my improved skills of late.

Would I do another kit-bash? Not likely for this mark. I've got enough XIV kits now that I'll meet my desires for the likely future.

Thanks for looking...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Belgian Spitfire XVI

TD231, MN-J, 350th Squadron Belgian Air Force, Fassburg 1946

The last of my Heller XVI kits.

The Subject

With the war over, many squadrons were allowed to revert their RAF roundels to their home country colors as liberated countries re-constituted their air forces from their RAF organizations.  In the case of Belgium, red, yellow and black.

350th Squadron, Belgian Air Force begin in November 1941 as No 350 (Belgian) Squadron, RAF from remnants of the Belgian Air Force evacuated from Europe in 1940.  They were initially formed on the Spitfire II, transitioning via Spitfire V and IX to the Spitfire XIV in August 1944.  They operated this mark until transition to the BAF, when they reverted to the Spitfire XVI in 1946.

350th Squadron has operated continuously since 1941; currently flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Model

Not much more can be said by me about this kit.  I'll likely never build another, but I also believe one should never say "never".

This one both gave me the most trouble and looks the best now that it's completed.  Fit was very bad on this one, the fuselage having a twist to it and the wings being too flat (little dihedral).  It's a "black plastic" kit so must be one of the latter moldings.  I was able to fix the dihedral, but gave up on the twist (warp) in the fuselage.  If I look down the centerline I can see the fin/rudder twist, but otherwise not.

The paint scheme came out quite well; I finally beat the yellow leading edge into submission.  Until now that one bit of the Day Fighter Scheme has been my bane; never able to mask it and get it painted properly.  This time I got the tape to lay down right and the consistency of the Tamiya yellow paint was proper.  It airbrushed down perfectly and after a few minutes I removed the mask with no bleed through.  Happy days!


I've a Sword XVI in the stash.  I hope to build that one soon, and then all my future XVI will either be the Sword or Eduard kits.  I forget who said it, but "Life is too short for crappy kits."

If you don't mind the raised detail, these Heller XVI Spitfires are not bad.  Just not modern.

Thanks for looking...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Airfix Wildcat

Grumman F4F-4, 9-F-20, VF-9, Operation TORCH November 1942

This is an enjoyable build that allowed me to try a couple of new techniques.  Feathering (aka free handed airbrushing) and tonal variation using simply gloss, satin and matte finishes.

The Subject

VF-9 was created in March 1942 and quickly given Wildcats before she deployed on RANGER (CV-4) to the European Theater. Some histories indicate she had F4F-3 (non-folding variant) but photos clearly show she had the -4 variant with the yellow surround. They provided fighter cover for the TORCH landings until USAAF and RAF aircraft could be landed.

The Model

This is the 2015 tooling of the Airfix F4F-4 Wildcat.  It was a very easy build and I enjoyed it immensely.

I goofed and decided to install the landing gear after putting the fuselage together and painting it.  Don't do that!  Follow the instructions step-by-step or things don't work out so well.

My objective was to paint the Non-specular Light Gray undersides, then spray the Non-specular Blue-Gray in a nice tight pattern without masking and without having to work around the already painted and installed landing gear.  So I left it out thinking it would fit in post-painting.  No, no and no.  The painting went just fine, but when I tried to install the landing gear it just didn't, fit.  Since I have two more of this kit in my stash, I pulled one off the shelf and cannibalized the landing gear.

Now the really hard part (all due to my own goofiness).  I proceeded to build the landing gear assembly inside the wheel well, versus outside and then just gluing to the firewall.  That would have been so much easier, and of course I'm a step ahead on my next one!

Painting was quite simple.  I used Model Master Acryl for all paints, except the Aluminum, Black and Tires.  Those were Tamiya.

I left off the control surfaces, since I could, until the end.  By doing that I was able to leave them unglossed for the decals.  I glossed the model using Future and then applied the Hasegawa decals for VF-9.  I used these simply because I had them and didn't have any other Wildcat at TORCH decals.  That's when my next set of problems began...

When I applied Daco soft decal softener, they crinkled up as expected...then hardened like that!  No settling down for these decals.  So I tried another decal with Micro-sol and it worked better.  Not perfect, just better.  At least I was able to get the decal to lay down with some coaxing from a cotton bud.

After the first set of decals were down, I decided to carefully sand away the crinkled ones (the two cocardes on the wing upper side) and luckily I have a second Hasegawa kit with the same decal sheet.  So I reapplied and aligned them to cover the damage done by sanding away the first decal.  Whew!  Another modeling challenge solved.

I then coated the model with a satin coat to knock down the gloss and seal the decals.  The control surfaces were left flat/matte and gave a nice faded contrast, which was a natural look on this scheme due to differential fading of the paints on the fabric versus metal.

No weathering, Navy aircraft are well maintained at sea to ensure they don't corrode.


Lots of positive reviews of this kit, and some detractors as well.  The spine is slightly shallow, and if one compares it to the Hasegawa F4F-4 kit, which was the standard for decades, it's obvious.  However the Hasegawa spine is bit too high, accentuating the difference; both kits being equal in the "error" but in the opposite directions.  Oh well, this Airfix kit is much better detailed and I like the look.  Having said that, I won't be getting rid of my Hasegawa kits as they are nice builds also.

With two more I expect to build one as a USMC bird on Guadalcanal, and the other...well there are a few other schemes out there for the -4.

Thanks for looking...