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.


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.


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.






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.


What to do with a bad kit. Part The Second

Welcome back to the IL-2N build.

This installment will focus on fuselage construction.

I glued the two fuselage halves together and made sure they lined up as close to perfect as possible. It’s better to have a gap then a step. A step occurs when one half of the fuselage sits higher or lower than the other, and there is a resulting step in the seam. These are difficult to fix, and usually occur when the little pins which should help line the parts up are mislocated. This was the case in this kit, so I cut the locating pins off and just lined up the two halves by eye.

This still left some gaps in the seam which needed to be filled with putty and sanded smooth. I won’t use this column to explain how putty should be applied, but I will make note of one of my tricks.

Before I apply putty, I add some tape on both sides of the seam. This helps to keep the putty to the area where I want it, and later, when it needs to be sanded, it minimizes the amount of raised detail which will be destroyed by sanding.

with putty
sanded smooth

sanded smooth


On old airfix kits with rivets, I locate my tape line along one of the horizontal lines of rivets. This leaves an equal length rivet free space towards either side of the seem. It looks more like a rivet free panel rather than an area with the rivets sanded off.

**sorry folks, I’m feeling sick today and can’t seem to concentrate on writing, hence my explanations may seem a bit sparse. If something is unclear than just ask questions in the comments section.

Once the fuselage seams were fixed I glued on the wings. There was further filling and sanding at the wing roots, and the same tape trick was employed here.

wings on

Notice that I haven’t done anything with the cockpit yet. This for two reasons; first, there will be very little visible through the small windows; and second, the pilot figure will dominate the cockpit. After this photo was taken, I just painted everything black.

The first major conversion was the construction of exhaust shrouds. For this, I took a short length of plastic tube, cut it exactly in half length-wise, and glued the halves over the exhausts. If you don’t have styrene tubes, a length of appropriately sized plastic drinking straw might be a suitable replacement.

the tube
Cut in half

In the next installment we’ll discuss how I created the A/I radar, and schraggmusik cannons.


What to do with a bad kit

I picked up this 1/72 scale IL-2 by Airfix several weeks ago and was pretty disappointed with what was inside the box. As much as I enjoy Airfix, I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and say they are without fault. This is one of their very early kits, and it while it fits very well for an old kit, it isn’t very accurate.

old shcool modeling - recently re-released by Airfix

Now Airfix is generally not known for including a lot of fine detail into their kits, but for the most part, their kits are pretty accurate in shape and dimension. Not so with the IL-2. The fuselage is pretty spot on, but the kit does not have the characteristic swept wing of the prototype.  Nevertheless, this kit can be a fun build, and that what being an Airfix Junkie is all about, right?

Of course I’m right!

So what to do? I can just build it as is and have a funky looking Il-2, I can use the kit for practice painting, I can throw it out (not an option), or I can throw caution to the wind and turn this into a fictional aircraft…who needs accuracy when you’ve got imagination?

Imagination and strip styrene that is.

various sizes of styrene should be a part of every modeling toolkit. They're cheap and available at most hobby and craft stores

So I thought to myself, what can I do with this thing? I’m a big fan of nightfighters, and I always thought that the IL-2 would make a good platform for a radar equipped interceptor. As far as I know, this was never done, but its within the realm of possibility.

So here is what I envision: The Il-2N.

The IL-2n is a postwar development incorporating the rugged Soviet aircraft with radar and weapons technology “acquired” from captured Nazi aircraft in the Soviet push to the west. The aircraft features a wing mounted A/I radar and revised armament. The wing guns have been removed to conserve weight, while the rear gun position is replaced with two obliquely  firing 20 mm cannon, much in the fashion of German Schraggmusik. To counterweight the heavy radar pod on the starboard wing at take-off, a large drop tank is fixed to the port wing, effectively increasing the range of the aircraft and increasing its patrol-time in turn. Exhausts shrouds are fitted to the exhaust, and the canopy is modified to accept the 20 mm cannons. Camouflage is based on German mottle patterns which proved effective during WW II.

This kit involves a few simple conversions. So follow along as we turn a sub-par IL-2 into something interesting, and put an old kit to good use.

I began by converting the wings. This was pretty simple and involves cutting off the wing root siren and cannon stubs, and then sanding those areas smooth. I also plugged up the shell ejection chutes in the bottom wing with plastic-card, and modeled the simplified landing gear in the closed position. None of this is rocket science; but for the neophytes among us, this involved gluing the gear legs and wheels into the gear bay, and then covering them with the gear doors included in the kit. Since these are a bit too short to fully close. I cut larger doors from styrene strips by measuring the dimensions of the openings and then glued them over the kit doors. In the photo below one wing is painted black to show where putty will be needed to smooth things out and shape the contours of the new doors.

the gear doors are now ready to be contoured and faired into the shape of the gear wells

Since the photo was taken I have attached the ailerons and top halves of the wing. The next step will be the fuselage assembly. Stay tuned.