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Ex-FAAWAFU

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Everything posted by Ex-FAAWAFU

  1. Yes, though it has yet to be procured; still, at my current rate of build I just about still have time! Is that Imp Hillman or Lincoln?
  2. As my ludicrously long Sea Vixen build finally shows signs of drawing to a close, thoughts turn to what to build next. I always try to have two things on the go at any one time, with the other being my never-ending Ark Royal build - but there is a limit to how much 1/350 scratch building and detailing I can stand at any one time, and I need to have something in 1/48 (my aircraft scale of choice) to keep me going. I thought about a twin Buccaneer build - an Anti-Flash White S1 and an Ark Royal (4) final commission S2D. Those will come at some point, since I have the kits and the necessary conversion materials. But watching the splendid work of Steve (Fritag), Debs (Ascoteer) and others has convinced me that it is high time I built something that I actually flew myself. Sea King or Lynx, Sea King or Lynx... much indecision was finally tilted towards the Queen of the Skies by all the press coverage of its retirement from RN SAR service earlier this year (though the ASaC7 Baggers will soldier on for a while yet), and by markdipXV711's excellent build of an 819 SAR cab which he and I flew in together 20-odd years ago. So, since 819 (my other Sea King squadron) has just been done, I have finally plumped for an aircraft from my first tour. Pull up a bollard and listen to a true dit. 820 Naval Air Squadron, 1988, 18 months into my first front-line tour. We were part of Ark Royal (5)'s CAG (carrier air group) throughout my time on the Squadron, and in July 1988 the ship plus 801 (8 x Sea Harrier FRS1), 849B Flight (3 x Sea King AEW2), a detachment from 845 (2 x Sea King HC4) and 820 (9 x Sea King HAS5) set off for Australia, via Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei and Subic Bay (Philippines), and home via Mumbai and Gibraltar. 6 months away, and a bloody good time was had by all... Less than 2 weeks after we sailed, we were taking part in a NATO exercise in the approaches to the Med; basically we were playing the bad guys trying to force a passage through the straits, and a number of RN, USN and Spanish units were trying to stop us... including HM Submarines Torbay, Otter and Opportune. The aim of these exercises is not to be 100% realistic, but to make sure that there is maximum interaction, so occasionally there would be a 2 hour pause where the submarines, having come right inside the screen and "attacked" the hell out of the ships, would withdraw 30 miles and start again. We would knock off tracking them and leave them alone to reposition. In those long distant 1980s Cold War days, ASW was our bread and butter, and on the whole we were pretty good at it. Most of the time we did passive ASW - chucking huge quantities of sonobuoys out of the aircraft and finding submarines that way, often working with our Nimrod and P3C brethren, and often working against USSR boats rather than friendly exercise ones. In my first few weeks on the squadron we rippled 3 (3 cabs airborne 24/7) all the way from Norfolk VA to Harstad in Norway, including several days of tracking 2 Victor IIIs that were taking an interest in our games. It was pretty exhausting, but we could keep it up almost indefinitely. For the guys in the back, passive ASW was often good fun; 3-dimensional chess, and all that. But for the pilots it was skull-shatteringly dull, flying around at 4-5,000' (nosebleed territory for any self-respecting helicopter pilot) and stooging at 70kts for maximum endurance for hour after hour after hour. But on this occasion we were doing active ASW, the task for which the Sea King was originally designed. Active ASW in the daytime is enormous fun for the pilots, especially when you are in contact. At night the aircraft flies the profiles for you, closely monitored by the pilots (since you are down at 40', you want to keep a close eye on things in the pitch black; it can be a tad buttock-clenching at night). In the day, however, you generally fly it all yourself ("manual jumps" as the jargon goes) without any assistance from the AFCS (automatic flight control system), and it's a blast. So there you have the scene. I am 18 months into front line flying, and have reached the dizzy heights of being captain of my own crew. My P2 for this trip is a hugely experienced USN exchange pilot (way more experienced than me, but flying as second pilot while he gets up to speed with RN procedures). We do 45 minutes of active Torbay bashing, but then reach the pre-briefed pause while she repositions. Rather than disrupt the flying programme, we simply keep going, so we have taken a plastic milk float with us (hi tech, I tell you) and are doing some grappling training; chuck the milk float out of the back and practice SAR with it - much harder than it sounds, cos the milk float thrashes around in the down wash, so it is great training for the back seat in conning the aircraft and the front seat in hovering it precisely. A few minutes into the grapple work, with Jim the USN guy on the controls, the port engine stops... or so we thought. The Nr (rotor speed) decays as the good engine runs out of puff (too hot and too heavy to hover on one engine) and we subside rapidly onto the water yelling Mayday and punching the windows out. Phil Smith, the Observer, says he had never seen anyone strap in as fast as poor old BJ Sandoe, the Crewman who had been lying on the floor of the aircraft with his head sticking out, conning Jim onto the milk float, when suddenly the Atlantic Ocean came up to greet him. As I reached up to shut down the No 2 engine (cos you sure as heck don't want to abandon a helicopter while the rotors are still turning) it became apparent that the No 1 engine had not in fact failed, but simply run down to flight idle. The fuel computer had developed a fault and tried to shut the throttle, but there is a physical interlock built into the system for precisely this emergency, called the Flight Idle Stop, which is basically a screw jack that prevents the throttle from closing beyond a certain point - the very last thing you do when starting up is to engage it. So we over-rode the computer and managed the throttle manually, the Nr came back up to where it should be and shot off the surface of the sea like a startled rabbit, downgraded our Mayday to a Pan, and flew back to Mum. A Green Endorsement much later (still on the wall of my loo) and very shaky legs for a few hours afterwards. Well, it has to be this cab, doesn't it? So I present to you ZE419 / 014 / R of 820 Naval Air Squadron in July 1988; a bog standard Sea King HAS5. Dark blue (this was just before the days when everything became grey), black markings. Photos of the real aircraft to follow, I expect, but for now she is one of these in the distance (photo taken the day before we sailed from Pompey, so about 2 weeks before the ditching): The aircraft will be built much as in this photo, actually; folded, included the tail, with engine blanks in. The cabs in the photo have tip socks on, but I will probably build mine with the more robust blade support system known as "Forth Road Bridge" gear (as in this Mk 5 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum): The basis of the model will be the Hasegawa 1/48 Sea King, using the "Ark Royal HAR5" [no such thing; it should be HU5] edition (which for some reason Photobucket refuses to rotate, so turn your head): ...and the excellent Flightpath conversion set, which contains all sorts of goodies important to this build - notably weapons carriers, assorted aerials and a tail rotor much better suited to having a gust lock fitted to it. Herewith statutory sprue shot: ...and pic of the contents of Flightpath box and a couple of other aftermarket goodies: As it happens, I also have a Hasegawa AEW2a kit (acquired before the Mk5 kit was released, as the only game in town for a future Mk5 build). This will also be useful, since it contains a number of applicable bits such as Orange Crop ESM aerials (removed from the HU5). And since all the Hasegawa boxings are variations on the same theme, the kit already contains some parts that I will use - e.g. the HU5 has the sand filter in front of the engine intakes, but in my era we simply had the "barn door"; similarly the HU5 has the sonar removed and a blanking plate fitted. The kit contains both a barn door and a (sort of, -ish) sonar. [i also have a second complete "Ark Royal HAR5", designated eventually to be an 819 SAR aircraft... but not yet]. There will not be much progress for a few days, while I get the Vixen over the line.... Herewith photo of the appropriate log book entry (bottom line:
  3. Oh, and there is another reason why progress might appear to have been slow: I have also been restoring the first (I think) build I ever did on here, namely the Gazelle in which I did my first rotary-wing solo. This model (the Fujimi 1/48-ish one, with Model Alliance transfers) was very close to completion several years ago when it had a very unfortunate encounter with an over-excited Sporting Lucas Terrier called Zebedee. The result was complete loss of starboard skid and starboard horizontal stabiliser (as in ingested by said Terrier, bless him) plus major damage to the main rotor and canopy. For a while I thought it was irrecoverable, but since 1/48 Gazelles are not exactly two-a-penny, I've had it gathering dust on a corner of my workbench ever since - I just didn't have the heart to ditch it altogether after all that work. It is so long ago that I can't even find the WIP thread, but I do remember there were some ups and downs - another major tail-sitter, I seem to recall. However, progress with restoration is now sufficiently advanced for it to be unveiled: the new (completely scratch-built) starboard skid is installed, and she stands on her own two legs once more. The canopy has also had more polishing than is strictly good for it, so is restored to something like transparency, and been re-installed. A model Gazelle, yesterday: And again; note total loss of pitot tubes, ADF aerials under nose, some of spine control rods, et al. And, knowing what I know now, what could I do with those rivets!!? Still, I think she will be displayable again soon. The main rotor head has been strengthen and re-painted, too. Now it just needs re-installing once I have re-built the tail. Zebedee, at Christmas - looking, it has to be said, not very contrite:
  4. I am old enough to have been serving (though not yet flying) when the Lynx HAS 2 first came in. They really were Oxford Blue, and there's a Mk 2 at Yeovilton (in the reserve collection) still in that colour; having seen it at the same time as the HAS5 which appears in so many of my reference photos, I can definitely confirm that Oxford Blue is considerably "more blue" to the naked eye. Edit: Oxford Blue: RAF BG: The memory plays funny tricks, and in the end you have to opt for a shade that looks right to you. For that reason i have never really got the obsession with RLM paint chips and the like; there are so many variables - state o aircraft skin when paint was applied, what colour primer there was under it, atmospheric conditions during and after application, and then of course wear in service, that knowing the exact shade of the original paint and obsessively matching your model paint to it seems rather pointless to me... and that's before you start going into an consideration of "scale effect". Anyway (better put the lid back on that particular can of worms!), I think I might have stumbled on something - ironically, at about the same time as @Fritag did on his stellar Hawks thread. The polishing system works well, but it also emphasises every single blemish on the aircraft skin and, though the tail pylon is largely blemish free, I know that the main fuselage is not. So I have been experimenting with getting the skin smooth as possible as well as polishing purely for rivet exposure purposes. This has almost inevitably dislodged a few rivets, so I replaced them ON TOP of the base layer of RAF Blue Grey... and not a single rivet fell away with the backing transfer removal. As you know from my early endless shots of it, that was by no means the case on a layer of Tamiya white primer, whether micro-meshed or not. So I am continuing to experiment, which might explain the relative lack of apparent progress (though see also Bulldogs). After all, the whole point of this riveting exercise is to get the Sea King looking "right" in my eyes (see paint discussion above). This is what the pylon looks like this morning. Later, once everything is dry, I plan to mist a very thin layer of RAF Blue Grey [henceforth, RAF BG] on top to deaden down the raw silver. Gradually, by trial and error, I think I am crawling towards a solution that will work - or at least will give the effect I have in my mind's eye. I am certain it can be done, and personally i think it is worth the effort for a Sea King, because the rivets are such an integral part of that particular aircraft's look. I certainly do NOT plan to do this for every aircraft I build in future! I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, really; let's face it, we all know that the key to a convincing finish is as much preparation as possible to give the paint the best base to which to adhere - so why is it a surprise that the answer to getting this right is time and a lot of work preparing, polishing and so on? More later. Crisp
  5. Is it worth it? Hell yes! [But then i have to say that, really, don't I, in view of the amount of time and money I have invested...?] Welcome back! P.S. I too am still discovering things about the HGW rivets (though I'd missed that thing about Mr Surfacer; could be useful). As an experiment to replace a few that had been lost during surface prep & painting on the Sea King tail pylon, I replaced some ON TOP of the base RAF Blue Grey paint layer. And yes, just like you, every one of them stayed in place. Food for thought for future builds... Like this:
  6. No. this is not the title of a previously unknown Christmas album by the Who, but a new venture for me. I was given a kit for Christmas by my dear wife, and have decided that, since it is a relatively simple build with not that many parts, I should be able to build it fairly fast. Unlike all my other builds, I do not intend to super-detail anything, or add any after-market parts to it, other than the set of masks I already have, and probably some Airscale instruments to pep up the very visible cockpit. Oh, and a fair amount nose weight, I should imagine! So I present to you the statutory sprue shot of the Tarangus 1/48 Scottish Aviation Bulldog T1. It will be built as XX541/L of RNEFTS, RAF Topcliffe, the aircraft in which I did my first Bullfrog solo on 2 May 1985.
  7. That looks an amazing kit all right. But I do love that Draken!
  8. Is the reference to 1/71 a typo, or pointing out some subtle scale issues with this ancient kit. I think the later model Firefly was one of the best looking piston-engined aircraft of all time, so you got me!
  9. BM; the only modelling site where you will see "people-eating tyrant" in Greek (my computer skills do not stretch to writing "demophagon turannon" in proper script, unlike our Procopius). I knew that Greek A level would come in useful one day; it only took 39 years!
  10. Wow! Lovely start. I have a couple of WnW kits in my stash (Tripe-hound & RNAS Pup), and no doubt in due course I will succumb and get a Ship's Camel. I have yet to build one, but every time I see one built they look amazing. You have certainly got my attention!
  11. Just in case you thought I was joking... P.S. I know they always advise spraying red on top of white primer, but boy does it make a big difference!
  12. A day of horribly complicated masking... First, the airscrew, since this bit has actually been painted as well: A little bit of bleed in a couple of places, but nothing that cannot be sorted out. The spinner was especially challenging to get masked; not for the first time, i found myself praising the day Aizu thin tape was invented. It has been a complete life-saver on Ark Royal's deck (in its 1mm & 0.7mm form; this time I used some 1.5mm; it goes round corners way better than ordinary masking tape, which you can then use to fill in the gaps. Speaking of which... I love the Bulldog scheme, but it has to be said that it's not the simplest to paint. Still, as soon as I finish this post I'm going to flash up the old compressor and add some red to this, so here is a chance to look at it post-masking. Taken me about 3 hours to do this, so let's hope it works properly! More soon, probably with a decidedly red tinge to it. Crisp
  13. I doubt I would have thought the Heritage nose was an issue if I hadn't been building the Tarangus version alongside it; it's pretty marginal (and I suspect that the real nose lies somewhere between the two versions). It definitely doesn't make the Heritage kit "unbuildable", or any nonsense like that - as many threads on this site demonstrate, no kit is unbuildable with enough effort and skill. In many ways the Heritage kit is the better of the two - more refined detail (especially in the cockpit, which is pretty bare even in a real Bullfrog). The reason I have decided against it as my primary final version is the nose weight issue; I warn you now, cram everything possible into every conceivable orifice forward of the main wheels, and then find room for some more. If you can find a way of making a lead nose wheel - I seriously considered this at one point - then do it. But it's a lovely piece of work - it has certainly convinced me to build the Chipmunk from the same stable (my first solo was on a Chippy, during grading; Bulldog was merely first on type). So Keith, you can approach the Heritage version with confidence. Perhaps these two shots will convince you that the nose difference is marginal: There is no great difference in either wingspan or dihedral; those are distortions in the camera. I guess my reference to an airscrew comes from my roots as a Fish-Head; most professional sailors will tell you that ships have screws, not propellors. Mind you, I bet even your instructor shouted "Clear prop" during start-up...
  14. I am trying 8000, 12000 and a polishing cloth from a Tamiya polishing compound kit. The trick seems to be to take your time - you can see a couple of places where I was over-zealous in the early stages, but i am learning how it works. Slow gentle polishing is the way ahead - and you must also polish all of it (i.e. even the bits where you know there are no rivets), so the finish looks uniform. Interestingly, since the rivet process has left all sorts of tiny imperfections (little bits of glue residue etc) on the surface, this seems to be giving a subtle worn look to the surface as a whole. I can't wait to see what it looks like on the main fuselage. Still, I think this is going to work.
  15. The plan (cunning or otherwise) is that a micromesh polish once the paint is properly dry will expose just enough of the rivets. I don't want every one of them glaring out at you, but enough for you to get the fact that they are there - to my eyes that's how they look on the real thing. And I am happy to say I think it works. Still need to perfect the technique (and this is only after a very swift polish), but all this effort will not be wasted: It's very hard to photo, as ever at this scale, but you get the general drift. More soon Crisp
  16. Just to reassure those of you who seem to be concerned that I have completely disappeared into the Land of Bulldogs, it's time I brought you up to date. I have been continuing to work on the Sea King between bits of Bulldog, but it has largely been those little tidying up jobs that matter lots to the final impact, and take lots of time - but really are not that thrilling to photograph or describe. When you factor in that much of this tidying up was with our faithful HGW rivets, you might understand why I have been quiet for a bit. However, having got the tail pylon to a point where it feels good, i thought it was high time I tried applying some RAF Blue Grey. When I started out, I said I was planning to use Hataka paint, since their RAF Blue Grey looks decent, but having tried it on my Fulmar paint mule - and even on a small section of Sea King, namely one of the engine bay doors, I now think it is too dark. The real colour os dark, but has a definite tinge of blue to it (or so it feels to me - and after all, the clue is in the name), but Hataka's verges on the black in some light, and even in good light doesn't quite feel blue enough. So out came one of those tools I absolutely love, namely iModelkit. Having ascertained the BS number of the real RAF Blue Grey (BS633) and decided to revert to my fall-back paint of choice, namely Tamiya, I played around with various blacks, blues and greys, and eventually came up with my home brew version and ran it through iModelkit's paint match calculator. iModelkit added one element I would never have tried, and it definitely made a subtle difference: 11 parts XF69 NATO Black 6 parts XF8 Flat Blue 3 parts XF75 IJN Grey (Kure Arsenal) 2 parts X14 Sky Blue 2 parts XF67 NATO Green - it's this final ingredient that I'd never have thought of. It's hard to photograph, especially under artificial light with an iPhone, but I am really pleased with the result, and have mixed up enough to act as my base coat for the whole aircraft when the time comes. I will then make up some variations - slightly lighter, slightly more blue, whatever - to give tonal variation. OK, so you want to see it, don't you? Ta Dahhhh! It looks very black in that picture, but it really isn't to the naked eye. I will try one more picture: That might give you a better idea. No, you can't really see the rivets at this point, but trust me... I have a plan. More soon Crisp
  17. ...and the first bit of proper (i.e. top coat) paint - some Tamiya rattle can TS-63 NATO Black, which is my scale black of choice. A little bit of bleed under the masking, which I have partially cleaned up with a trusty cocktail stick, but nothing too horrible. Part from this, I have spent the majority of my limited modelling time today (I am also searching for a job, and painting the dining room, so time at the bench is rationed, like most of us) concocting my home brew RAF Blue Grey for the Sea King. But that's a different thread altogether! More soon - red next, I think. Crisp
  18. You have to love Tamiya primer: A little bit of extra sanding to be done at the wing roots, but otherwise I reckon we're good to go.
  19. She's looking great so far, amd every time you encounter a problem you seem to find a way round it. I'm late, but i'm in!
  20. So glad you are back on this; simply stunning.
  21. Only just caught up with this, and what a nice start. You can never have too much Dreadnought
  22. No caption necessary, really; we have primer! More soon Crisp
  23. Muppet? Shouldn't leave your shiny aircraft near a taxyway, should you? I bet you wouldn't call a Plankwing pilot who blows sand all over a beautiful helicopter by running up his engines up-wind a "Muppet". Pah! Anti-rotary-wing bias, I tell you! [Remind me to tell the dit about sand-blasting Maggie Thatcher from my Lynx sometime...]