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Everything posted by Ex-FAAWAFU

  1. 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:
  2. It does look good, doesn't it? Thus far all you have seen are close-ups, but it looks even better a reasonable viewing distance, where the rivets don't look anything like as stark: Windows drying after a bath of Clear underneath, by the way.
  3. This is why it is worth all that effort! Still a couple of tiny touch-ups to do, but this side is essentially finished on the rivet front, and at long last it is really starting to look like it always has in my mind's eye. Happy! Crisp
  4. I am not sure it's meant to be a frame, as such; until now I have always assumed it's just a slightly iffy representation of the rear part of the door, like this: Actually, that ought to be simple enough to make better. No, it's not going to be open. I became somewhat wary of opening the door in flight - as Bob says, it hangs off two runners at the top and runs in a channel at the bottom; the Lynx had an essentially identical design, and opening the door in flight was a perfectly normal thing to do (within a certain flight envelope)... right up to 1989 when a cab did it flying into Mombasa from HMS Brilliant, the door came out of the bottom channel and flapped up into the rotor disk, removing a large part of it and giving the aircraft the aerodynamic qualities of a brick. They had 9 people on board (which is a hell of a lot in a Lynx, especially in the tropics), and alas they all died, horribly. Lynx ops were modified significantly as a result, but rather surprisingly Sea Kings were unaffected. They must have decided that there were crucial differences between the designs. The Mombers crash happened during my Lynx conversion; I remember how shocked everyone was about it.
  5. It may not have started gappy, but few aircraft are Jack-proof, and these had Grubbers and Aircrewmen hoofing their way in and out many times a day - not to mention every single piece of cargo, sonobuoy and Observer's bag rat being lifted over the threshold. Over time they become quite loose. They weren't designed to be air-tight; there wasn't exactly much call for pressurisation in ASW at 200' and below.
  6. Oh, by the way: You cannot see in this shot, but the inside is now lovely and clean.
  7. There won't be much today, because I must do some proper prep for this interview tomorrow - but even on busy days I like to do a little if poss. First up, I have added the connectors for the rescue hoist (a.k.a. "winch"); the hoist itself will be the lovely FlightPath offering, which is a complex beast of PE and white metal which completely knocks spots off the over-simplified Hasegawa job. It will not, however, be added until after painting - after all, it's a different colour (indeed, it's about the only thing that is NOT RAF BG!) and the holes for the supports are already there, and the chances of knocking it off and/or damaging it are pretty much 100%. You will also note that the window is not there - see above! The other thing is rather harder to see, and might need a bit more work. Someone pointed out above that the door looks far too moulded on. I appreciate that this was a tissue-thin disguise at attempting to persuade me to cut it off and make it fully functional, but there is a grain of truth in the pathetic ruse. To say that the Sea King rear door is not exactly hermetically sealed would be something of an understatement, so visible gaps are realistic. i have therefore done a little scoring with my trusty (and utterly superb) Mr. Scriber Wedge. Same at the front. Needs a bit of cleaning up, but I think you get the general gist. More soon Crisp
  8. I confess that removing the entire door hadn't occurred to me, and it is tempting... but for now at least I am going along Martin's route. Door removal Plan B. Radome removal, nowhere (sorry, Bob!) Open doors are for the next, 819 SAR, iteration of this aircraft. Not now, Cato
  9. Well it's out - actually came out relatively easily, to the extent that it is even re-usable (I had assumed I'd damage it beyond repair). The other good news is that the marks are almost all Formula 560 Canopy Glue - I now remember applying that via the long tweezers in order to get it to stay in place, so this shouldn't be as surprising as it is. It's amazing what your mind can elect to ignore completely if it feels like it! That kind of glue comes off relatively easily with some careful tooth pick action. I have since micromesh'd it to an acceptable sheen on the inside. There is nothing to see in there, so it doesn't have to be mega crystal clear, optically perfect etc.; just looks clean and shiny. The bad news is that it is (or at least was) a very snug fit - indeed I suspect the reason it came out in the first place was that I hadn't quite got it to engage properly with its fixing lugs, so the join wasn't very strong. I have spare fuselage halves, remember, destined for future SAR and other builds, so at least I can experiment in a safe environment. I think the way ahead will be to sand it a little to make the fit a bit less snug (so I stand a chance of "pulling" it to a place that is vaguely flush with the door), and then fill any gaps with canopy glue. That's the only way I can think of giving myself enough leverage. Ho hum. Could be worse. It's fixable, I am sure - just going to take a bit of patience and/or lateral thinking. I confess I did use some somewhat naughty words when I found it, though.
  10. Houston, we have a problem. I need some advice from the BM Hive Mind. If you were paying attention a while ago, when I fitted the windows (non-AndyF117 Tribute type, that is), the pane in the cargo door didn't attache properly at first and tried to dive inside the airframe. At that stage you could still just about reach the inside of said window with a long pair of tweezers through a hole that existed at the time in the Dog Kennel. As part of preparing for primer and paint, I have been checking the masking, and a couple of them needed replacing - including the cargo door mask. Ugh. Nasty glue marks on the inside, plus some stray sanding dust which also seems to be attached to the window. Thoughts? I really don't want to just shrug and leave it - Andy's "ha'pth of tar" argument applies; having gone to all this effort, I'm b*ggered if I am going to present a shiny be-rivetted Sea King with a window featuring the sort of glue mark I used to make when I was about 6! But there is no way to reach the inside of it - not without some pretty major surgery. My present, half-formed plan is to prise it out of the airframe as it is, and replace it (I have at least 2 spare windows that are the right size & shape - thank you Hasegawa!). Probably attaching a rod to the outside pretty firmly; masking tape panel, then rod glued to tape, so that I can manipulate it from outside. Only once new window has cured with the glue do I remove the rod etc, and sand back to clarity; after all, I can sand the outside as much as I like. Would that work, or do any of you chaps have a better idea? Sod it! C
  11. Interview fine, thanks - though this one was fairly early stages; the big one is on Thursday lunchtime. So, the structure that shall henceforth be called the AndyF117 Tribute Window... can you even tell that it is multi-layered? It's subtle, but yes, you can! Forward window flush with frame, rear window inset by one window's thickness. Slight bend in frame there, but that's easily enough fixed. Leaving it all to cure fully now - then there is some cleaning up to do (though since it is canopy glue it dries clear, so there might not be as much as I think once it's all dry). No. More. Clever. Ideas. ;-) Crisp
  12. Just for the avoidance of any doubt, the windows I make will probably have more than one depth, so they look right. They absolutely, definitely, categorically will NOT be functioning sliding windows. So Bill's knowledge is, in this instance, wasted!
  13. I know how it COULD be done; I am just not sure whether I am going to bother to do it. Anyone else want to tell me how to build my model? [You're all b*stards and I hate you; you so know I'll end up doing it!]
  14. Final post until tomorrow evening at least. I am gradually making progress with the HGW rivets, this time for keeps - the (folded) tail pylon is the only bit being done at the moment, because it needs to be painted first. Most of the markings (roundels, large numbers etc) are going to be painted on this model, but the smaller marks are transfers - including, for instance, the R for Ark on the tail. I am very happy with the way that the rivets are showing up ON TOP of the markings - visible here (unfinished) across the R and the E of DANGER - which of course they do in real life. The photos actually make the rivets more prominent than they appear to the naked eye. They will all get a wash or two over the top to dull them down, but actually it isn't going to have to be too heavy. I'm also (and this is Hendie's fault again!) rather pleased with the fact that the inner rivets are at one pitch and the outer ones (which are actually on the edge of the fairing that covers the underside) are at a different pitch. Deeply, deeply sad! I know the windows aren't aligned in real life, Bob. Though I haven't glued anything yet, mine will not be 100% authentic in this regard - too difficult to get the window, PE and fuselage side to line up as it is, without introducing yet another level! Nice try, though... C
  15. Oh, you need all the greeblies; helicopters have to look useful. If you want sleek and shiny, you're in the wrong place (though the Lynx & Gazelle have their sleek aspects), but if you want a kick-a*se flying machine that can do almost anything, then you definitely need greeblies! Anyway. A few posts ago I showed you the FlightPath PE pilots' window frames, which are real things of beauty. I have really been struggling, however, to get them to stick to the kit windows in a manner that looks even vaguely convincing. I can get them to look like a couple of pieces of brass bolted onto the side of a Sea King for some random reason, but I want them to look like... well, like window frames, really. So I have come up with another Cunning Plan. The issue seems - at least partly - to be the thickness of the kit windows; add them to the airframe and the PE part sticks out too far. [To be fair to Hasegawa, they are designed to be painted to look like window frames themselves, obviously!] My normal countersinking is very hard to do here, and the clear plastic parts are hard and brittle. Anyway, to cut a long story short I have decided to keep the PE frames and replace the window transparencies - simple enough because they are flat. Out came an old piece of Aires packaging (Sea Vixen ejection seat, from memory) that I keep for precisely this purpose, and a few cuts later we have something approximating to a window: Since this shot I have painted the inside of the frames yellow, and once that is well and truly dry out will come the Gator Grip. Next, time to move onto the undercarriage. Eduard provide nice PE bays, but the real thing is pretty clean and simple. There are a couple of hydraulic lines in there, but nothing too complex, so I have not gone overboard. You can also see the Eduard PE piece under the stub wing. I had missed this when I was fitting Micromark rivets a couple of days ago, but Eduard's is way better. I had to trim the one on the other wing to allow the flood lamp to show. Hasegawa's undercarriage is pretty good, showing the chunky girder-like legs well. I have added a couple of hydraulic / brake lines that are prominent on the real thing, plus another of my minuscule connectors. I have also drilled out some lightening holes in the trailing arm (which you can't see here - trust me, they're there), and drilled the hole for the ground locking pin; this will eventually have a nice fat Remove Before Flight flag on it, but for now is simply a piece of brass rod in a hole: Hard to see on the undercarriage, because of the angle, is the fact that I have replaced both tie-down rings. These are the weakest part of Hasegawa's offering, and since I will be adding lashings to this beast, they need to be rings not amorphous lumps. I have actually replaced all of the tie-down rings throughout the aircraft - 2 per side on the fuselage, 2 per undercarriage leg, and this one, which is the easiest to photograph, by the tail wheel. This too will have lashings on it, so is modelled sticking out, ready for them. In this photo you can also clearly see the large hole drilled in the aircraft, where the Forth Road Bridge gear will fit. The white lugs with holes in them are 2 of the 6 attachment points for the wires that steady the HF aerial (yes, there is even going to a small amount of rigging for this cab...), which I added yesterday. You can see two others towards the rear of the tail pylon in the next photo. The third set are forward of the Looker's window, and not visible in these photos. As I said earlier, it is getting to the point where it is hard to handle this model (for fear of dislodging those greeblies that Hendie was on about). Happily a Sea King without a rotor head sits very happily on its back! Note HF aerial masts now fitted; 1 by the tail, one by the Sea Searcher radome and the third on the port sponson. More later if I get time. I am away all day tomorrow in London. Crisp P.S. the front of the undercarriage legs has had PE replacement for one section, but otherwise is kit - the torque link is kit, drilled out, and I think looks better than the flat PE equivalent:
  16. I've already been asked that; the best I can do is look at the photos (which are the only two I have) - it's either 002 or 003 (I incline to the former). I am sure your SIG can match 1988 801NAS side numbers to airframes. Sorry, but I have no more than that; I'm also not completely certain which of my squadron's cabs it was, though since I am still in touch with at least 2 of the crew, that at least would be easy enough to find out from their log books.
  17. And with dry fitted main undercarriage legs; the two Flory sanding sticks are an attempt to compensate for the lack of wheels at this stage. I think Hasegawa have captured the characteristic stoop of a taxying Sea King rather well. This is largely the equivalent of waving a 1/72 Spit over your head and making dagga-dagga noises; fun! Partly to check that everything aligns before the glue cures too hard, but mostly fun. There is a fair amount to do to the undercarriage, so it will be a few hours before it's all permanently fitted. But definite progress. [It does look a bit weird being able to see right through the exhausts, though!] C
  18. ... and now we REALLY start looking like a proper Sea King: I wasn't going to glue the sponsons on at this stage, but with all the aerials, protrusions and other lumps & bumps, it is becoming harder and harder to handle safely, so I think it's time to get her standing on her own three legs. More soon Crisp
  19. Yes, that is quite spooky. Not much done today, but this is where we are heading with the rivets: Elsewhere, I have finally fitted the sonar body. I used AK Interactive's "Worn Effects" fluid to get the battered and scratched look of the bottom, which is what the original always looked like. Not used it much, but I am pretty happy with the result: Once the glue has cured fully, this will disappear under Eduard's PE blanking plate (for the AEW cab; all Sea Kings, regardless of mark, are built with a sonar well - thus proving that all Sea Kings are really Pingers at heart) to protect it while painting etc. I have also added tiny (& thus nigh impossible to photograph) attachment plates for the HF aerial steadying lines, plus the fuel jettison pipe down by the tail wheel. The only thing still remaining before I prime the fuselage is to fit the pilots' windows - might even get to it tomorrow, though I have another big week coming up, with two more short list job interviews on Tuesday & Thursday (one of them for a real doozy of a job). More soon Crisp
  20. I swear by Aizu, though I agree it does take a degree of patience. I have no dispenser, from Hell or anywhere else; just a roll of thin tape. I used a shed-load of it when masking the lines on Ark's flight deck, and maybe that taught me the technique. New scalpel blade; add length of tape using enough excess to provide control; trim very gently with blade. You waste a fair amount, but there is nothing else like it; I can't get on with the Jammy Dogs equivalent - different material which seems prone to bleeding (which is kind of fatal when the tape is only 0.4mm wide in the first place!)
  21. Not much time at the bench today - too nice outside, for once. But here is a pattern of 0.4mm Aizu tape that you might recognise on the Barn Door: ...oh, and you guys were spookily right about Dan's mate...
  22. I'd definitely be up for some of those. I know very little about the Merlin, to be honest. When I was training it was all "by the time you get to SPLOT, you won't be flying Sea Kings any more...", but somehow it all took much longer. I have had a good crawl round an HM Mk.1, and recall being utterly gob-smacked by the sheer size of the thing, but that's about it. I assume the main differences between Mks 3 & 4 is that the latter will have a folding head, tail, etc. plus other marinisation. I know that it's possible to build a Mk.1 or 2 from the Airfix Mk.3 (not least because of Andrew's stunning version on here), but it is probably more likely that I will build a token Junglie for my collection. But yes, definitely FLY NAVY placards! This kind of stuff: Proper NATO Northern Flank Royal Marines, none of this Afghan nonsense!
  23. Amazing how much a bit of marking makes the model start to come alive.
  24. ...a-a-a-a-and here we go. This time round I am not proposing to post anything like so many progress shots of the rivets; you've seen it all before. I will show you when sections are finished, but if I document the process in such detail as last time my page count will explode the Mods' heads! But, for the record, here is the start of the (final??) riveting process. It is built on a bed of lacquer (Mr Color) paint, which is far more durable and thus ought not to peel off so readily when the carrier film is removed. once it is all in place there will be a coat of varnish on top to protect things, and then some weathering to tone things down. The major markings (roundels, side numbers) are going to be painted on using a set of Maketar masks that arrived yesterday, since that will allow the rivets to continue across them too, which they do in real life. I am convinced this will give me the look I have been after all this time - and frankly if it doesn't I am running with it anyway, or I will never finish this cab! So here you are: Phase 2 of the madness re-commenced here today.
  25. Ah well! So I'll have to build another one to be completely accurate. (I won't tell if you don't...) Tail warning marks, now with their black borders - Xtradecal black stripes, always invaluable. P.S. while we're on, I am not sure how well this shows up on iPhone pictures. I am always rather wary of single-colour schemes, because it is very easy for them to look too uniform to be remotely realistic. So the three parts of the airframe that have been painted in fact have 3 different colours - the RAF BG base, plus a darker version which contains some FS15042 Sea Blue and a lighter version which contains some FS35164 Intermediate Blue (both convenient US colours from a Mr Color US Navy set). The two non-base colours are applied pretty randomly, in squiggles. Anyway, I think it will make a much more visible difference when done on the larger scale of the fuselage side. It's one of those things that is overdone if you notice it, if you see what I mean, but you'd miss it if it weren't there.