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