Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I've got four kits on the bench right now that had mostly been waiting for Tamiya to start shipping paint again. Joy of joys, my LHS just got some in and I will be starting up again. Maybe I can get at least one thing done for CanAmCon this year.

A good friend gifted me with Revell's 1/72 B-17! Wow! What a guy, huh?

When things got frustrating last week with my conversion of a Fairey Rotodyne into a gunship, I put that aside and opened up the B-17. I promised not so much AMS this time and dove in. Here's the thought process:

"Wow, pretty nice kit. Hmm. I think I'll OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?"

It's a big kit. While waiting for the oil paint woodwork to dry (yes, there was a lot of wood on a B-17), I thought about display and came up with a little diorama idea. For that idea, I needed bicycles.

I searched online and found that the bikes were expensive and not that good. I then found a vintage Airfix WW2 German soldier on a bike and thought I could cut away the figure. No dice.

The only thing left to do was build one. I grabbed some sprue and started stretching. My first bike turned out okay, but the lines were wrong so I hit the internet to find a pic of a 1930's Raleigh. I took this pic, scaled it down to 1/72, traced the fame, tires and fenders in illustrator and made a template:

I laid out the frame and glued it. I made a coil of copper wire on an Xacto handle to make the wheels (the handle's diameter was nearly perfect for a scale 26"). The fenders were rolled styrene sheet.

Here's the difference between the templated (in tweezers) and the non-templated bikes.

I then made a second templated bike just for fun. Here's the trio painted:

And here's a close up of a tempalted bike:

Not bad. We'll see how the B-17 itself turns out!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whoa! A new model in progress

Actually, I've got a lot in progress. An L-39 Albatross (my first 1/72 jet since high school), an Accurate Miniatures F3f-2 and an original issue AMT Mercedes 300sl. Respectively, they're waiting for Czech decals, oil wash drying and Tamiya to actually start shipping paint.

Today, however, I want to talk about my newest Biting Off More Than I Can Chew project. It's a very speculative What If; an AC-119-style gunship version of the Fairey Rotodyne.

I'd started the Rotodyne last Xmastime and tried to do it in BAE Livery but my stenciling was not great looking and the poor fit of the model meant that I'd removed some panel lines during seam filling. I shelved it until, at my last model meeting, a friend of mine (who says that he doesn't like doing WiFs) suggested a gunship version. He graciously slid me a 1/72 model of a 105 Howitzer and I was off.

Another one of my model group members is a former AC-119 pilot and offered some insight into what to do. I sketched out a basic floor plan based on his input, a Squadron C-130 book and some very small pictures on the web. I am trying to have a plan with this one so I don't get stuck and rule #1 is: NOT DO DETAIL WHERE IT CAN'T BE SEEN (see my Stranraer).

I started working on the 105 and crafted a mount vaguely like that on a modern AC-130. I then totally scratch built a 40mm Bofors. You'll notice that the Bofors is not super-detailed. This is in keeping with rule #1. I did a lot of test fitting and was going for the silhouette of a Bofors.

I then moved on to the difficult parts: rotary cannon. My pilot friend suggested that in addition to the 105 and 40mm, I should add two Vulcans and two miniguns. I found some pics of mingun mounts (not the ones that used aircraft gun pods) but there was only a single pic of a vulcan mount from an AC-119.

The barrels were individually assembled from stretched sprue. The miniguns only have four barrels but the Vulcans have a full six. There are no belts going from the ammo drum to the Vulcans as you will not be able to see them (lots of test-fitting and looking through windows to make sure of this). I 'failed' a bit on the miniguns and put ammo cans and feed chutes that you can't see.

Yes, I just noticed that the barrel group of the Vulcan is not straight. Don't worry, I'll fix it ;)

Here's the interior with all the parts. The thing on the far right is going to be the FLIR station. The window that have the kit clear in them will be painted over (embarrassment: I was scratching my head for a day or so of how to deal with filling the windows. Had some crazy ideas until I had the forehead-smacking moment)

And here's the view from the rear of the cabin. You can see why I'm not going all Stranraer on this thing.

My main worry is trying to do the finishing with all of the gun barrels sticking out. I know the fit will be just as problematic as before only now I've got all of these bits I can knock free.

Any suggestions?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

One-Month Jug

I work part-time at my local toy and hobby store (laid off graphic designer). My boss, also a modeler was gifted with a Hasegawa P-47D (Tarheel Hal) a while ago and it was left sitting behind the counter as he really didn't care much for the Jug. On Nov. 18, he offered it to me and I accepted. I like the p-47, but it's not my favorite, so I decided to use it for an experiment.

How much and how well can I build a model in a month. Well, here's the result. Everything you see was worked on during the month. I'm sorry for the quality of the photos, I didn't feel it turned out good enough to use my SLR and macro :(

I built it OOB (if you accept that also in the box was a KMC resin cockpit).

Construction went well and after the Matchbox Stranraer, it was nice to build a model with good fit and clean detail. The cockpit took a lot of work as it was my first resin cockpit and needed some carving for proper fit. The kit seat was better, so I used that but I really liked the resin gunsight (too bad the photos won't show the tiny clear reticle I put on it).

I used Tamiya "Titan Silver" for the NMF which worked pretty well, but when it came to seeing if the finish was consistent, it was harder than white.

The "Tarheel Hal" decal was big and I thought it'd be hard to get it to sit well over the panel lines and I didn't want to mix a blue to match for the spine. So, I took to painting the blue and white and using the individual stars provided on the decal sheets. This proved to be nearly as hard. The decals were both fragile AND thick. The carrier film of the individual stars showed up awfully. I also found out that using Friskit Film was great for paint masking the blue, but NOT for the anti-glare section. Even with a coat of future, the film pulled off a good amount of decal. I suppose I shouldn't have been angry about this given that the decals didn't look great, but GRRR! anyway.

The dio base was done on Sunday; it's a bit shoddy. The figures turned out rather well, though.

The chocks and start cart I saw in a "How to Fly the P-47" video on YouTube and are totally scratch built.

As was the toolbox.

The whole thing was finished Monday (Dec 13) night. No "heroic measure" were taken for the build; I worked, drew an elven-page comic, read books, shoveled snow and watched Dr. Who with my wife. Was this a success or failure? I think right in between. It won't win any awards, but I learned a lot about seam-filling, resin-cockpits, masking, and a way to make NMF. All will serve me well in the future. By moving fast, I've now learned better how to go slow.

Also, I'm aware that maintenance would likely not be done on a plane with a full bomb load; I didn't decide on the figures or dio bits until the plane was completed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Matchbox 1/72 Stranraer: The Madness Revealed

I'm procrastinating inking the newest issue of Obscure Tales and I'm working on the Stranraer. I've completed building the interior and I've painted and washed it. It looks pretty good here. Nice and full:

Remember to click on the images as Blogger crops them to a uniform width. Most are wider

The problem is, when I button it up, it is virtually all invisible; the radio station with it's electronics rack and plush seat can only be seen if you shine a light inside and tilt the fuselage just right. Even through the dorsal gunners hatch, not much can be seen. I was fooled by the white of the Evergreen plastic into thinking stuff would pop out when I painted it cockpit green. Oh, well.

Here's the navigator's station, the only part besides the cockpit that will be visible:

The other thing I did, which will also be nearly invisible, was to make a new instrument panel. The kit panel is an embarrassment (especially when put next to the crisp, well-detailed Lewis guns and pilots). I found a panel layout diagram, drew instrument faces in Adobe Illustrator, laid them out to scale and printed them on paper. I then worked a sandwich of Evergreen sheet and paper. Turns out, that the detailed faces I worked on were a waste of time given the resolution of my HP DeskJet. At least they look busy. What did work nicely was painting the panel black and then twisting an Xacto #11 in the hole to reveal some white. In person, it makes the instruments pop. I'm debating whether to put a drop of Future on the faces as it may degrade the image more.

In other good news, I made a test of a technique I wanted to use on the wings and control surfaces (which are aluminium doped) and it worked! I'll share when I've done it for real and have some pics.

Listening to while posting: "Keep Fishin' " by Weezer

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stranraer: The Madness Continues

With the interior done except for painting, and a break to participate in 24-Hour Comics Day, I've decided to venture into Biting Off More Than I Can Chew Land. It's been a strange journey so far.

The kit canopy is VERY, VERY THICK.

With all that (hopefully) beautiful detail inside, it seems a shame to hide it behind a warped, distorting canopy. So, I've decided to build my own canopy out of sheet styrene and that thin clear plastic they use for packaging headphones and the like.

I thought and thought and sketched and sketched and came up with Technique #1. I'm building a frame of styrene. The frames are a bit wider than scale, but I think (hope) that the clearer transparencies will make up for that. We'll see how it paints up (one reason for doing it this way was easier painting of the interior of the frame. My one worry is putting the 'glass' in I have a plan, but it wasn't fully formed because I didn't think I'd get to this point without complete failure.

I've got a tentative plan for Technique #2 which I'll be attempting Sunday. I'm doing that a) just in case placing the glass in the current frame fails or b) it looks like butt.

All in all, this is the smallest, most delicate thing I've made yet. Not only that, it's the smallest most delicate thing that needs to be structural! I'm pushing the limits of my engineering ability and my tools. Some of the parts are so small that I really can't see them when they're in the tweezers. Zowie. Stay tuned!

Listening to while posting: "Swans" by Camera Obscura

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Matchbox 1/72 Stranraer

I won a Stranraer at my model building club's auction two weeks ago (US$3) and jumped right in. I wasn't planning on much of an interior, but that little open door just called to me. It is my first 1/72 scale model since 1989...

More specifically, it called to that little portion of my brain afflicted with AMS. I'm holding back a bit, not putting super-detail where it really won't be seen, but I wanted the interior aft of the door to at least look busy when the viewer's eye moves past the windows.

The admin of the forum on Seawings.co.uk was very helpful when I told him my tale when applying to the forum. He sent some awesome plans.

This is the rough, unpainted interior. Much of the little bits (Lewis magazines, first aid kits, extending lamp, etc) are not in and will be painted separately. The major furninshings are done. The cockpit is nearly done, I'm deciding on how to do the second pilots fold-away seat and rudder pedals. Click on the images for the full view. Most of the images are longer than 600px and blogger just crops them.

Sorry for the odd angle on these...

A lot of work for a tiny door. But, it had to be done. Well, maybe it didn't, but I did it anyway...

Listening to while posting: the torrential rain hitting the roof. Zowie!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well, isn't this ironic

Or, maybe not. The definition of irony sometimes escapes me.

Here's the deal and the bad joke: I don't often post finished models. One might say, I'd post a finished model when pigs fly. So, here's a flying pig:

And my build of his aircraft, FineMolds' Savoia S.21 from Haiyo Miyazki's wonderful film Porco Rosso. (make sure to click to embiggen these)

The model is a marvel of engineering in most places, silliness in others. The silliest part is in the interior. Just ahead of the cockpit is the fuel tank, beautifully molded with nuts on the mounting flanges. The silliness is that when you finish the model, this part will not be seen except for a tiny glimpse of the rear of the tank under the instrument panel. There are no provisions, or even the possibility for opening a panel.

The other silly part is the engine. The engine was full of detail, including a manifold in the aft section and exterior detail to the engine gearbox. I had to try to show this magnificent little thing, especially when I went all AMS on it and put detail that would never be seen (and since I took no photos of the finished engine before buttoning it up...)

The engine cowling pieces were thick, so I asked a fellow Mount Mansfiled Modeler if he could vacuum form a replacement for me. He was gracious enough to do so (he and his wife also had me over for dinner and a great dessert, too. Both of which I was grateful for).

Looking to the film and finding a couple of shots of the engine under repair, I set to work. Here is a screenshot:

Here's my recreation of the panels:

Here are all the pieces ready for painting:

And here it is finished and assembled. Note how I also hollowed out the exhaust and the engine cowling vents. That was pretty touchy, but looks much better:

Here's a closeup of the cockpit, the harness are scratchbuilt as the kit only came with a decal harness:

The belly was my first attempt at oil wood grain. I've developed an easy technique for using Tamiya NATO Brown to make wood grain, but the large area and need for a more subtle effect prompted me to try oils (the fact that my wife is a painter made supplies easy to get). Try as I might, however, I could not take a decent photo to show off my wood grain. It looks good, but I should have kept at it until I got a more subtle Albatros DVa-style plywood effect. Also, the stripes are painted so that I could weather them as close to the main fuselage as possible. I think I'll paint all stripes from now on. easier in some respects to decals.

While this is not good enough to enter a contest, it is the best build I've done to date. I learned a lot and there are some nice moments on the plane. (though, looking at the photos, I need to re-tension the pontoon rigging. I'll get on that before the next modeling club meeting). I'd really like to build another and use this one to build an overly-ambitious diorama of Porco's lair:

Two more pics for good measure:

next in the pipeline: another Academy 1/48 P-26 Peashooter. I'm going to make this one shine (after I get some aftermarket decals to replace the very thick kit ones.

Listening to while posting: "Aeroplane" by Bjork (wow. Is THAT ironic?)