Saturday, January 31, 2009

F8F part two: Internal Bay

The first scratchbuilding I attempted was to fill the big, empty bay underneath the cockpit.

It should look like this:

Isn't that a lot more interesting?

I decided to move slowly. I bent some sprue and found a v-shaped brace and installed it with white glue to see how it'd look. Not a bad start:

I then had to fill it. I experimented with a number of techniques from stretched sprue that was too thick for antennae to basic wire. In the end, I stripped the thick-ish casing from some braided copper wire and slipped a bent piece of steel wire into the end to create the fitting. Then, I added some steel wire hydraulic wires (with casing left on the ends to simulate fittings) and some random geeblies to simulate filters and check valves. I wasn't going to attempt a recreation of the real thing, I just wanted it to appear more natural. I went for white paint rather than a zinc chromate green fro three reasons. First, more than a few of the vintage Bearcats I found photos of had white wheel wells. Second, it was just after WW2 and during WW2 USN aircraft had white wheel wells. Thirdly I thought it might show off my stuff better :)

Here it is test fitted:

I'm pretty happy with it. I learned a lot doing it. One thing was using white glue on most of the non-structural elements. I'm curious to see what happens over time; white glue is not really archival. But, It was easier to work with than super glue when gluing dissimilar materials. Plus, It could be broken when I needed to fix a mistake ;)

One thing I'm trying to do is find the border between making something perfect and knowing when I've done all I can do. I'm notorious in my artwork for re-working a piece in an attempt to make it perfect, but never actually finishing it. That is no way to learn.

Next up: landing gear and wheel wells.

listening to while posting: "Darker" by Doves

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

new model: F8F Bearcat

My new model is the Academy's 1/48 Grumman F8F Bearcat. I've decided I prefer radial engine aircraft. The possibility to add detail is more available than an inline engine (like a Mustang) or a jet engine. The Bearcat was the last fighter made in WW2 and entered service just as Japan surrendered. It saw no action with the USN, but has the distinction of being the first aircraft used by the Blue Angels.

The model isn't bad, but is lacking in detail in some places. I'm no super-detailer, but since the out-of-the-box detail of the Tamiya, I find it hard not to want to add detail. I'm not the stickler that says things like "the prop spinner on the Tamiya Spitfire is more of a proper shape than the Hasegawa but still not accurate", but I have to make things look at least naturalistic.

The places I'm going to do some detailing:

The cockpit
This needs some major detailing, so I'm making my first foray into using photo etch parts.

You non-modelers check out the size of the details. A bit overkill, perhaps? I mean look at pieces 16 and 26, for crying out loud ;)

The bay under the fuselage between the wheel wells
This is a big, empty hole. It must be filled.

The wheel wells and landing gear
I said I wasn't a stickler, but sometimes I exaggerate. I'm going to come pretty close to accurizing the landing gear. I'll try to make the wheel wells look pretty natural, but there's like a dozen hydraulic lines I'm so not putting in.

The Engine
I like doing this part. I'm going to expand (a very little bit) beyond the basic addition of ignition lines. This will be all scratch built as I'm not buying a $15 aftermarket engine. The model only cost $25 and I'm not spending almost as much on an engine.

The oil cooler flaps
Well, I think they're oil cooler flaps. Just at the top of the fuselage at the end of the engine cowling there should be two flaps. They are on every picture I've seen on a parked Bearcat, but they aren't on this model. This part frightens me the most. I have to cut holes in the fuselage and if I mess this up, I've ruined the model. We'll see if I do it. There will be NO turning back if I start.

Here's the kit

Here's the real thing

I've already started on the scratchbuilding and I've finished the fuselage bay, but that's the next post. Wish me skill

listening to while posting: "Breakdown" Jack Johnson (on

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wildcat almost done

Here's the Tamiya Wildcat I'm almost done with. I'm just waiting on some Eduard photoetch metal seatbelts taht I mailordered. After I get those, I'll finish the weathering a bit and install the aerials. The carrier deck thing is a new experiment. I went a bit too fast and didn't cut everything to the tolerances I should have. Looks not bad for a test, though.

Better photos once I get it really done. I only have a macro on my film SLR, so I'm not going to waste film on an in-progress shot.

listening to while posting: St. Louis Blues March by Glenn Miller

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I forgot

In order to let everyone know where I stand, this blog isn't to spread my vast expertise over the internets. In fact, the opposite is true. You see, I have no expertise and I'm going to post my process work in addition to my finished work in the hopes that a passing expert, say from the hyperscale forums, will tell me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong so that I can improve.




Listening to while posting: "Rite of Spring" by Angels and Airwaves

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It begins (again)

In 1989, I completed my last model. It was, if I remember correctly, a German Marder (modern infantry fighting vehicle). It was done entirely with a brush, and has not survived.

This autumn, I suddenly got the bug again. After a hard day at work, I stopped by the local hobby store and picked up an Academy Boeing P-26 Peashooter and I was hooked and I mean hooked. I had been gifted with an older Aztek airbrush a couple of years ago, but it sat idle until this September.

Here's the Peashooter. It turned out just good enough that I thought I could keep going. The pilot is from Tamiya's F4U-1a that was the next model I built:

The Corsair was an eye-opener. I'd built a lot of Tamiya armor in the late 80's but their aircraft are spectacular. The engineering of the kit was fabulous. Not just the detail, but how the pieces fit along existing panel lines to minimize seam issues. Wonderful. This Corsair is displayed on an in-progress scratch-built (scratch-building?) carrier deck. There will be better photos taken when the deck is complete:

So, that was the beginning. I'm not 75% done with a Tamiya Wildcat a nice model that I've been working on since mid-December. I'm trying to go slow and not end up with things that 'will do' and make sure that it's the best I can do.

listening to while posting: "Blood Red Roses" by Sting