Academy F-4B in Progress

Ever since I’ve finished the IL-2 kits last month, I’ve been opening and closing boxes, but just haven’t felt inspired to work on anything. Then about three weeks ago I pulled out the Academy F-4B that I began working on earlier this year. Its been a slow going, very careful project, but its just what I needed. Its a challenging but not frustrating model, and every little bit I add is a little triumph.

As a reminder, here is where I had left things back in March or whenever it was.

As the year went on I dabbled with the kit here and there, but it was really back in the middle of October that I began to focus on the model. Then  I spent the last two weekends painting the kit.

I started the decals this weekend. It took two evenings to finish the zillion little stencils on the bottom of the fuselage. I hope to have the rest finished by the following weekend.

Then there are a million other little tasks before I can call this project done, but I’m in no hurry to finish.  I’m recovering from the build quickly disorder I suffered from over the last few years.
Being away from home three nights a week for work, for the last month has helped keep me away from the desk, and has kept the project fresh.

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Jet bottom blues

Modeling modern military aircraft is not all “spray it with gray, and call it a day”. I actually don’t build that many jets because I find some aspects of their construction to be tedious and frustrating.  This largely is due to the number of parts that need to be added after the model is painted. The complex landing gear components, various slats, flaps, aerials, and of course all those missiles, which can be kits in themselves.

Nevertheless, I like modern aircraft, and sometimes find myself drawn to building them.  A project that has been getting much of my attention lately, has been Fujimi’s excellent 1/72 scale F-14A.  I’m about 90% finished with the build, but am not squarely in the frustrating part of the project.

I’ve broken the missile pylons and gear doors off a few times already, and I’ve been having trouble getting the landing gear to look convincing. The red edging on the doors has led to smudges of red paint on areas nowhere near them, which meant lots of touchup painting.

Getting all those stripes on the missiles took a couple of nights, but I’m still not sure I like how they look. What do you readers think? What can I do to improve these parts of the kit, and make working on them less frustrating.

Revell’s P-26 with a twist.

Hello dear readers (and deer readers),

I’m going to go ahead and pretend it hasn’t been 2+ years since my previous update and just jump right into a new topic.

Tonight I have started work on Revell’s P-26 Peashooter. Its an elderly kit and is way short on detail. But like many kits of the era (late 60s) it has a fairly accurate overall shape.

I will be using the excellent resin upgrade sets from Starfighter Decals to bring the kit up to a more contemporary standard. In the past, the most I’ve ever done with resin was to install an ejection seat or a bomb or missile, so this is a bit intimidating to me.

The Starfighter set is most excellent. The quality of the castings is top notch, and the pieces are engineered in a way to make removal from casting blocks relatively easy.

The set also comes with a very detailed text with photos instruction guide, so if I screw up its going to be my fault and not Starfighter’s.

The eagle eyed will notice I’ve already removed the pilot’s side door, but I have not yet played with the resin bits. Construction will begin in earnest tomorrow. I got my breathing mask for when I start sanding resin (a carcinogen I’m told), and I’m excited to learn how to do something new.

Stay tuned for updates in the coming days.

Revell Fokker D.VII

Ok, so its been a good while since I actually posted any modeling content on here. That’s because I wasn’t building any “classic” kits I guess. Just a few days ago I found a 1/72 scale Revell Fokker D.VII at a flea market for less than $1.00. I couldn’t say no.

The kit is 1960s vintage and possesses none of the finesse of the Roden kit of the same aircraft. It is buildable though. In the coming weeks I’ll be documenting the build on here.

Lets begin.

To start with, I wanted to see if I could do something about the practical joke of a decal that Revell supplies for the underwing lozenge fabric. Its a white decal with the little polygons outlined in black. You’re supposed to paint each one in yourself. Yeah right! That’s going to look real good.

I wanted to see if I could get around that by coloring in the lozenges with Prismacolor pencils while the decal was still on its backing paper. The decals are pretty flat, so they take the colored pencils well. Revell gives you more of the lozenge than you will need, so I tested on a fragment by coating it with some Microscale Decal Film. I let it dry for about 20 minutes and then trimmed a fragment of the decal.

What do you know? It worked! Unfortunately it still looks fakey with those black outlines.
lozenges
So. Time for plan B. What’s plan B? I’m not sure yet. I would rather not have to purchase aftermarket lozenge decals just yet. Maybe I can find a scheme that had no unpainted fabric. Anybody know of any?

Still, its good to know that Prismacolor pencils can be used to draw on white, flat coated, decal paper to make intricate designs. Tuck that tip away for safe-keeping next time you need some nose-art. Cool!

Off to party away the old year now, but look for more updates soon.

On the Go at the Mo’

Hey gang,

In the interest of increasing audience participation I want to open up another poll of sorts on the site. I currently have to classic kits on the go; Tamiya’s 1970s era A6M2 Zero, in 1/48, and Smer’s Mig-17, also in 1/48.

The Zero may be done as soon as this coming weekend and a build review will follow, but I wanted to open up the vote to ask what you, the readers would like to see a reviewed next. In the poll is a list of classic kits in my stash. If there is something you would like to see that is not in the list, than make a suggestion in the comments. I’ll take a look for said kit next time I visit a hobby shop.

Runaway modeling

No, not runway modeling, runaway modeling.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a fairly comfortable life, with a good job, a good wife, a healthy social life, and many interests and activities outside of gluing plastic. But I do have a propensity to blow huge chunks of time at the work bench (and yes, I realize this is very much a First World “problem”). I don’t have any children, so on some nights, when there is nothing else going on, I have, at least in theory, all afternoon and evening after I come home from work, to play with my models. Sounds fun, huh? It is for a bit.

The last few evenings I have been painting my Airfix BF-110. The kit is typical modern Airfix; generally accurate in shape, but a bit spartan in terms of detail, and with those heavy handed awful panel lines. But that isn’t the point. A few nights ago I painted the aircraft in a RLM 02/71 splinter camo as the instructions suggested. After I was finished I began poking around the web to see how winter whitewash camouflage was applied to these planes and realized Airfix might have gotten the colors wrong. I immediately went into OCD mode and began repainting. Its at times like these that I tend to get sloppy, and often mess up kits.

BF-110

The original scheme was airbrushed, and masked over the course of three or four one to two hour sessions. No big deal, right? Well, once I started to repaint I got the overwhelming urge to fix the mistake NOW! I don’t understand why I get that way, but I do. I began to brush paint a new camouflage over the old pattern. Things began to go wrong. I began getting brush marks, I began to get uneven coverage. I broke off one of the wheel well doors. And I was getting tired. All in all, I had spent about 4 hours trying to fix a mistake and making it worse. I went to bed still obsessing about how I was going to fix the mess.

The next day I went to work, and the moment I got home I went back to fussing with the kit. I began to airbrush over some of my mistakes, and produced an acceptable, if somewhat sloppy, reproduction of German early-mid war camouflage. This took some three hours, most of which I could have devoted to doing something with my wife, taking the dog for a walk, going for a jog, playing guitar…hell, anything! Why, because not for a moment during those three hours did I feel like modeling! Crazy, huh?

To top it off, I caught wind of the fact that perhaps my first camouflage wasn’t wrong anyway.

second incarnation

Nevertheless, at this point I was determined to make the model not look like a complete mess, so I continued to paint. I began misting on thin coats of white paint, irregularly to simulate the winter whitewash. It was starting to look ok, so after about an hour of this, I put the model away for the evening.

No longer freaking out; the next night I came home from work, went to the gym, had some family time, and finally sat down with the kit around 6:30 PM. I fully intended to spend no more than an hour or two at the bench. I “distressed” the winter whitewash, applied a coat of floor polish (which made things looks a bit wonky again – but no stress this time as I was expecting that), and walked away. I came back at it a few hours later, once the polish was dry, and applied some decals.

now with whitewash

I should have left it there. But I decided I didn’t like that the fuselage band yellow wasn’t matching the yellow on the decals. So I started trying to fix it! Well needless to say, there went the rest of the evening again. In the end I managed to get a more or less acceptable result, but not before almost ruining parts of the finish, and fraying more nerves.

What a waste of time! I burned away, I don’t know how many valuable hours the last few nights. I have a decent looking BF-110, which will probably look pretty good once its actually finished, but A) I’m tired of the model, and really have no inclination to keep working on it now, and B) No matter how decent it ends up looking, there will be minor scars from all of my “fixing” of things.

If I had not let myself obsess over mistakes which could have been addressed slowly, over the course of a few short, productive, and FUN modeling sessions, I probably would have had the model fixed by now anyway, and would still be viewing my time with the BF-110 as a treat, a pleasant distraction. Which is what modeling should be.

I tell myself I’ll never do it again. I will manage my time more efficiently and not waste time modeling, when modeling stops being fun. There are people out there who would kill to have the luxury of leisure time, and by letting myself turn my leisure time into frustration I am doing myself a disservice, and insulting them.

Comments?

What to Do with a Bad Kit Part III

Welcome back readers (both of you) to the final installment of the IL-2N build. In this section I’ll discuss briefly how I created the final details on the kit before it was painted.

The main feature of this model was the A/I radar. I wanted something resembling the wing mounted units on US Navy nightfighters from late in WW II. To do this all you really need is a pod shape. A drop-tank, bomb, or anything else somewhat conical and with a rounded front will work. You can even use a marker cap in a pinch.
I decided to use a wing mounted slipper tank from an Airfix mosquito. This required the least amount of work.

I just glued the pod onto the wing at approximately the same location where the bomb racks would typically go, and let it dry. There were A LOT of large gaps all around, so I filled them with epoxy putty. Epoxy putty can be sculpted like modeling clay, and is very useful for modelers interested in creating new parts. I applied a good dollup of the stuff all over the slipper tank to get more of a “pod” shape. At this stage I made I wasn’t too careful about keeping it neat, as it would be sanded later.

pod

This stuff takes about 24 hours to cure, so I came back to it the following night with some wet sandpaper and began to shape it. Things were smoothed out with fine grit paper when I had the shape I wanted.

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The cannons were even simpler. I took the rear canopy section, filled it with epoxy putty, and then shaved one end at about a 50 degree angle. I glued a piece of sheet plastic to this end, and trimmed it to match the canopy profile. A short length of rod was split lengthwise (like for the exhaust shrouds in Pt II) and glued onto the flat plate, parallel to eachother. Finally, the kit’s 20 mm wing guns were stuck into the ends of the tubes. These were later painted dark gray and rubbed with ground pencil graphite.

The only work left now was standard modeling stuff. I painted and inserted one of the stiff crew figures, masked and applied the canopy and began painting. My camo choice wasn’t too inspired; just a green over gray mottle over a black bottom. For decals I used some Yugoslavian markings from a Fujimi Mig-21. The prop spinner in the kit was much to small, so I replaced it with a random spinner I had in my spares box. Don’t ask me what its from.

A little bit of weathering and detail painting and it was all done.

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There you go then. The kit is one of Airfix’s ancient relics, and really not a very nice model. Some who buy this will turn their nose at it, and to be honest, I almost did too. But even the worst kits can still be useful. I had a lot of fun building this fictional little night-fighter and now it hangs proudly from my ceiling, flying next to a Lancaster and Miles Magister. Go ahead, find your worst kit and try it. You may find yourself having fun.