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Jim Kiker

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About Jim Kiker

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  1. Hi all, Sorry I’ve nearly dropped off the face of the planet for some weeks! In the last episode, Our Hero was ready to assemble the vectral pieces, complete the cockpit and nose section, and begin final finishing… Actually, by mid-May I was getting further and further behind schedule; I was planning on taking the finished model to WonderFest, one of the really neat modeling conventions anywhere. This year the ‘Fest was held on the first weekend of June. With two weeks left, it was still possible but I needed to get the front LED’s in place and add the fiber optics with the cockpit tub mounted. That was not without its own issues. With about four days left, I hit a snag in getting the upper nose into place; while I was thoroughly bummed I knew I just needed to leave her unfinished rather than completely screwing her up in a rush. So let’s play a little catch-up on the Y-wing. I previously showed a picture of the crew while still in work. Once they were mostly complete I used some tan paint to prime them, then brush painted the base colors of orange (a bit faded in this case)and off-white for the backseater’s chest protector; the pilot has opted not to wear that bit of kit since it was not comfortable for her to wear. Medium Sea Grey was used for the harness and parachute straps, dark gray for the chest packs, and so on. I masked off the figures’ heads and spray painted the helmets a very pale gray. I painted the faces with a base coat of flesh and a darker shade around the eyes, lips, etc.; I chose not to try to paint the eyes based on a figure painting guide I found and I like how that turned out. Here is an intermediate picture of the crew dogs posing for a shot before their final detail painting. If you look back at the figures in work, you will see a fine white line across their faces; my plan was to mix up some clear epoxy, add some clear yellow to it, and just drop it into the top half of the faces, relying on the .010” plastic rod I had glued on to “catch” the epoxy and make a semi-clear visor. It nearly worked pretty well. Meanwhile, the seats got a coat of Medium Sea Grey, olive green padding, a gloss clear coat, some darker washes, and a clear flat coat before going into the cockpit. As an aside, a couple of weeks after these pictures were made my buddy Wally informed me that Star Wars helmets cannot be a single color without some markings on them. So I dutifully dug around in my decal stash and came up with some tiny round decals. Here the crew is nearly done. Next up was to build the instrument panels. They were made with .015” clear for the main panels, with .020” solid rear pieces (actually the back side of the instrument panel) and .040” strip glued around the edges to make a shallow box. I glued an additional .010” sheet onto the clear sheet that had been pre-drilled to make holes to represent the gauges. The gauges were taped off and the whole box painted off black. I had a set of old instrument decals which are black faces with the instrument markings left clear. These I applied individually; this was a struggle with old decals that did not want to stay put. By the way, if you scroll back up one in the pictures, you will see the finished panels as well as the crew. Once the instrument panels were ready, they were glued into place and holes were drilled into the side edges. With that done I simply threaded one fiber optic strand into each end of the assemblies. The plan was for the light to splash around inside the boxes and gently illuminate the dials from behind. That almost worked but the light is very dim and will largely go un-noticed unless you look in from the rear angles. Ah well… two strands might have done much better! I then added two fiber optic strands on each side console of the pilot and the WSO, adding a heavy coat of clear red and clear yellow to the ends. These turned out as desired, visible from each side but not bright. In my experience cockpit lighting is mostly set to be dim to lessen the impact on the crew’s night vision. In any event, to be honest it was a struggle to get everything into place; if the fiber optics remain unbroken through this time next year I will be very thankful! The last cockpit items were the front coaming set over the pilot’s instrument panel, and the control sticks. The sticks were made similar to modern fighters, a central short stick above a fixed pedestal (and by far the easiest way to fit a control stick into a cramped cockpit). Being in a hurry at that point, I did not take a picture of the nose with the fiber optics in place before the top piece was glued on; still, you can see some of the strands in the picture below. Alternating between the front and the rear end, I figured out a way to build the rear maneuvering vectrals inside the rings. These are only a general match for the usual Y-wing units, but I did design them as if they will work as thrust diverters mimicking the use of rudders and elevators on a real vehicle. The vertical pieces make up the rudder and a fixed forward support unit while the horizontal pieces represent the elevators. Each vertical and horizontal piece has two thicknesses of .015” sheet making the skins, with .030” spacers in between; the horizontal pieces were assembled and then cut in half. Here are the pieces ready for assembly. The assembly on the right is just pieced together for a fit check; not bad! The vertical one piece assemblies were installed first with two pieces of .030” brass tube mounted from the outside in and pushed part of the way in. The horizontal pieces were held in place on one side, and a single piece of .030” brass was used to go fully across the span of the elevators (through the rudder assembly). This gives the two assemblies a bit more rigidity. The upper and lower vertical pieces were then pushed home, all glued in with epoxy. If you look at how thin the outer rings are (having been vacuformed, remember), I needed to build as much strength into these units as I could manage; even so they will always be somewhat fragile. On the other hand, they do look pretty much in scale which pleases me a great deal. Here are the finished assemblies, minus the inner rings which will be added soon. Upper left shows the rudder on the back side; middle right shows the "front face" with the elevator pieces facing forward and the front of the rudder assembly. Well, that pretty much catches us up. I will post more as soon as I can. See you all next time! Cheers, Jim
  2. Hi Mis, And there I was, thinking that the new kit in 1/1000 would naturally be a bit smaller than the older 1/700 kit; who knew? In any event, thank you so much for your reply; it answered all my questions and then some and I am most appreciative! Cheers, Jim
  3. Hi all, I'll start by saying that I know essentially nothing about the whole Yamato saga, let alone anything about the ships. I have a Y-wing project close to the finish line and I have been thinking about more Sci Fi. I've read through this thread and gotten interested in the new Andromeda kit that seems to be just hitting the market. First, I want to know what size the new 1/1000 Andromeda will be when finished? I've been looking around on-line and found differing sizes for the box, but little hint of the model itself. Second, there also appears to be a 1/700 kit already out; how big is it and is there lighting in it or available elsewhere? Third, would it be simple for a relatively new-to-lighting modeler to successfully disconnect the new model's sound mechanism? Enlightenment I seek from the learned councils! Thanks, Jim
  4. How do I make a Spitfire PR XI in 1/48?

    Hi Brad, There is a lot of excellent information here and there are choices to be had in terms of the modeling. I have started a similar project although it was moved to the "I'll get back to this later" pile. I like the Airfix PR XIX, it has good shapes, the bowser wing (so no extensive filling of fighter wing panel lines), and full cameras all ready to go. I lopped off the nose about 1/8" behind the engine panel lines and mated up a Merlin front end. I used the Aeroclub Mk IX engine parts, tweaked so that the leading edge of the wing fairing fits the leading edge of the PR XIX wing's leading edges. The vertical fin can be cut down using a standard Mk IX piece to trace the line onto the inside of each fin, and then replace the rudder. The different rear canopy section can be had by using the PR XIX canopy (kit or vac) by installing the deeper clear piece and moving the lower frame line up when painting it. Beyond that, other things you will need to source/make include the PR XI's deeper chin, and also you will need to add Mk IX style smaller radiators under the wings. So while this is not a short list of items, none of them is particularly difficult. Just my two quatloos; we will be eager to see pictures when you get on with this! Cheers, Jim
  5. burning question about markings

    Hi Crane, Fernando, and all, Writing from the western side of the Atlantic, several things come to mind. In the IPMS world, U.S. judges generally are knowledgeable at the higher levels, but remember that for us, whomever shows up at a show may act as a judge or a trainee at least but may know very little about specific markings. Our IPMS rules put "accuracy" 'way down the list of things to judge against such as no seams, no glue marks, good basic finishing, and so on; this was done specifically because judges cannot know all there is to know about every aircraft (or any other set of vehicles that number in the thousands). However, this does not stop the occasional judge looking at a specific model and ruling it out (or trying to) because it's the wrong shade of Olive Drab. That is human nature to a large degree, and difficult to police at the more local shows. Finally, in the U.S. only the Out of the Box categories require the instruction sheet to accompany the model. Basically I think that there are soft limits to what the modeler can do and still have a "mainstream" semi-accurate representation of that magic "moment in history." However, in my view the fact that Olive Drab varies a great deal should not mean that you may freely use chartreuse or teal just because you like them, IF you want a relatively close approximation to a real vehicle. My one personal gripe with some what-ifers or more artistic modelers is that often times the artistic models are not designated as, shall I say, a non-accurate scheme; when other less experienced modelers see that sort of model, they often conclude that "that's the way that vehicle looked, so I'll make mine like that." For example, think of the Spanish school of finishing in which every panel line is shaded/washed and the center of every skin panel is lightened. It is artistic and it certainly breaks up the expanse of a single color; however not very many operational aircraft ever really look like that. It is artistic and surely technically challenging, just not so true to most real subjects. In the end we each model as we see fit and that's cool; just be sure to let others know if you are doing a what-if or filling in the gaps of what is known so that others will not inadvertently be led astray with their modeling. My two quatloos; cheers all!
  6. Hi all, For those of you who have chosen to reply, I thank you for all the kind words and I'm glad you are enjoying this thread! For Gimme, I have a couple of buddies who did not care to be referred to as Model Geeks. They are both big fans of American football, so I asked a few questions. Do you know the players? "Yes." Do you keep up with all the statistics? "Yes." Do you belong to a formal tailgating group? "Of course!" I see, I said; you guys are football geeks! They started to get a little steamed, then cooled down; they had to admit that they are indeed football and modeling geeks. Personally, I am happy to admit I'm a model geek; everyone is a geek about something. So mate, no need to feel old and sad. Embrace your inner geek and seek happiness where it lies. As for the Y-wing, it is certainly true that no two movie model Y-wings were exactly the same, although for the most part they are actually pretty close for anyone who is not a Star Wars fan geek. Remember too that no one who worked on those models or the movie itself knew that it would go Nova when released. At that point, it became time to cash in with merchandise, media, models, and eventually, nostalgia. That led to the novels, the cross sections books, and tons of other things. They had to create new answers to the "why do the ships look like that?" questions. And that, in my opinion, gives some modelers fits and others freedom. There were something like five studio filming Y-wing models plus a few purpose-built pyrotechnic ships designed to be blown up. A generation of modelers continue to figure out what pieces from what kits were used on each of those models and then recreate a particular Y-wing in studio scale. I have to admire the time and effort and money that takes, but I have always wanted a smaller, less expensive version. That said, I have to admit I've poured a lot of time and effort into my Y-wing, so maybe it's not so different after all. To each his own! Cheers all, Jim
  7. Well it's about time! From where I was a few weeks ago to today has taken much longer than I thought it would, but it does represent another milestone- Lights! Backtracking just a tiny bit, I got the crew's poses, equipment, and straps sorted out. Since I took their picture below, I've added a light brown coat of paint to serve as a primer for the color coats. I left off the right arms so I can get to their equipment and straps a little easier and will add them a bit later. And now on to the lights! While I had checked the basic ship wiring earlier on, I wasn't sure I would get it all correct to hook up to the stand. As you can see below, that first test worked fine. The stand is a basic box made from PVC, made by one of my model geek buddies. The stand itself is brass tubing and is capped off with a 1/8" RCA plug. Wiring runs into the base and is connected to a switch and then to an AA battery pack and a port for a wall wort (a DC converter, much like our cell phones come with). From either feed I get six volts, and the switch has an "Off" position to make set-up and take-down of the model a simple lift off affair. Finally, I have working lights! The first next thing I've done is mount the engine exhausts into the rear end of the engine nacelles. Once I connected the lights to their reflectors and that connected to the exhaust housings, the wires were carefully pulled to the front to help the engines into place. Popping the model onto her stand and flipping the switch, I get this: Needless to say, I'm very pleased with the engine lights. I'm now working on both the maneuvering vectrals and on the cockpit/crew. I'd like to tip my hat to my buddy Boz for volunteering to do the soldering; I am learning how to do it but he did the work, and between the two of us we figured out where the initial glitches were. Getting the lights on certainly gave me a recharge keep the build going, so stay tuned for the final installments. Cheers all, Jim
  8. Weathering Dark Blue Navy Colors

    Hi all, One thing I have noticed over time is that some modelers attempt to weather GSB with a lighter blue; this usually results in a less than authentic looking lighter blue model; as Dana has pointed out, the photos generally show more of a faded or chalky appearance. I also note from many pictures that the GSB paint often seemed to weather slightly lighter than the stars and bars markings on the upper wing and fuselage. And finally, I note that many modelers want to add overall light washes in the panel lines, which can easily lead to the toy-like appearance we work hard not to get to. So what to do? With the basic GSB paint you are using, whatever it's source, I would spray a little silver paint along the leading edges of the wings, tails and vertical fin, and along the wing roots first; this will allow you smooth/scrape off the GSB later to reveal 'bare metal'. Next, after laying on my GSB and letting it cure, I would take a small amount of the base paint, add just enough lighter gray to see it begin to lighten, and spray a light coat of it over the upper surfaces of the model. A thin coat without a definite edge is what I'd shoot for. Next, I would take a medium gray and apply a filter over the upper surfaces. Filter, meaning a small drop of the gray mixed into an airbrush cup of thinner and sprayed on in quick passes. I'm shooting to get just a slight change in the tone of the upper surface blue; if I can really see the contrast between before and after, it's too much. When I think I could use one more pass, I've learned to stop! Now I can apply the usual clear gloss to prep for decals (that is my normal process; you're may vary). If I haven't made too much of a change in the paint when I over-coated the decals with clear to seal them in, I can add a tiny amount of the mid-light gray into the clear and use it as a second filter to lighten the upper surfaces and the markings markings; I'll use straight clear to overcoat the lower surfaces. Washes: I am not a fan of using the same wash for all the various panel lines; it does not look realistic in my view. Even on dark surfaces, the major panel line joints such as along the removable panels, the engine cowlings, and the control surfaces, will create shadows and appear darker than the surface colors. I use artist's oils and Naptha (lighter fluid) for my washes, but whatever medium you use, I recommend starting with Payne's Gray (a dark bluish gray) and only add a little straight black. When applied, I want this wash to be darker than the base paint but not necessarily straight black. This wash only goes into those main panel lines where there are control surfaces, removable panels, or access hatches. The places where one panel butts up against another but are not normally removable get a different wash. I prefer a "general" wash over GSB to be just a little bit lighter that the base paint. I prefer to start with the Payne's Gray and lighten it up with white or a light tan, just until I can see that it's just barely lighter than the top layer of paint, NOT a light gray or a light tan. For a final finish, I go for a semi-flat clear overcoat over the whole model, and a really flat clear finish lightly laid on the upper surfaces. One huge caveat: Do NOT try all this directly on your current project! Practice a bit first on some scrap (I prefer excess model parts to sheet plastic since they are three dimensional) and see how the look of the GSB changes with different amounts of lighter tones laid over it. In my case, I am such a slow builder that I often practice my most tried and true finishes on some scrap plastic kit bits before bringing in my current model for the real painting sessions. There are no silver bullets to be found here, just lots of practice and a fair bit of prior research and some experimenting to find a combination that gets me close to what I see in the pictures. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing how you make out! HTH, Jim
  9. Hi all and for Jamie, I have the Tamiya kit in 1/48 scale and have plans to finish her as Mk Ic from 1942. I have an older set of resin horizontal tails for the early flat configuration. I do not have my information handy, but I am interested in your offer of resin correction pieces. Do you reckon I can make use of the appropriate version that you are thinking about? Thanks, Jim P.S. The model is a beaut!
  10. Out of the ordinary Malcolm Hood P-51B colour schemes

    Hi Brad, Check out this link to a discussion here on Britmodeller: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234963847-spitfire-and-mustang-pru/ I quite like the Mustang in the reconnaissance role in overall PRU Blue. You would need to add the camera ports but in 1/48 scale I think they have been covered by aftermarket parts. Definitely different! HTH, Jim
  11. Excalibur III P-51C Tamiya 1:48

    Hi Caerbannog, Very nice work and a very pretty model! Regarding the inner landing gear doors, like the D's, the B and C Mustang's doors will also generally bleed down and drop open. This was common on the Merlin powered Mustangs. The gear doors opened and closed with the gear cycling on Allison engine variants, so on those Mustangs the doors were normally up when the aircraft was parked. HTH, Jim
  12. Hi all, Just a note to say that this is not another update; I had some duplicate text and pictures that somehow got added in. In the meantime, thanks to all of you who have replied and know that I appreciate the good vibes! Cheers, Jim
  13. Good evening all, Time once again for an update, and it feels like a significant one to me! With the rear end of the fuselage complete and painted/finished, it's nearly to the point where I cannot hold the model and work on it, so I will be getting all the lighting and power connections soldered up very soon and use the stand to hold the model during the final push to completion. In the meantime, I painted and installed most of the external "repair" pipes that are so common on the Y-wing. Using 1/16" copper rod, I had bent up and fitted two pipes running for and aft along the upper edge of the fuselage (one to each side), and one on each side on the upper wings. Taking note of the various colors, I eliminated straight copper, brown, rust, and orange, all colors I've seen on various models that ultimately didn't suit me. I went back to the pictures of the studio model that was given to Alan Ladd, and was pleasantly surprised- those external pipes are a pale golden metallic color. Enough to be visible yet not be the first thing an observer will notice- just up my alley. The pipes got a couple of coats of gray primer, then a light coat of Alclad Pale Burnt Metal, and two coats of clear gloss acrylic to keep the paint from being easily chipped. In the first picture below, the fuselage pipes have been installed, while the wing pieces are displayed out front along with an extra piece of copper rod to show off the finish. As more pieces go on, the assembly sequence looms larger and larger; after this photo above was taken, I mounted the two wing pipes into position and made the next big step- I attached the two engine pods permanently on the wing spars. Here is the result: The R2 unit and the wheeled thingie up between the engine oil pans at the top of the rear fuselage are just sitting in place, but they do reveal that almost all of the interior fuselage equipment is now in place. I could not resist taping on one of the engine domes; I think they turned out rather well. I have planned for some time to have a couple of obvious repairs involving those pipes. The first one you can see above just to the right of the R2 unit's socket; a section of damaged pipe was neatly cut out and capped off, and the slightly browner pipe available in the repair shop that day has been angled down into the main line. Meantime, in the next shot the fuselage pipes are more visible. Finally, here is the other local repair job. A stray blaster bolt sliced the right hand wing pipe and damaged the surface beneath. Maintenance repaired the hole in the wing skin with a metal patch and sealed it with the local brew of patching compound, then repaired a section of pipe with a handy piece of pipe and sealed off the ends; at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Well, that's all for now. Once I get the lighting sorted out, I'll get the engine exhaust assemblies mounted, construct the maneuvering vectrals, and then it is on to the cockpit! Cheers, Jim
  14. Tamiya 1/72 Mosquito drop tanks - size?

    Hi all, On the other hand, railway engines are many feet long, depending upon your orientation! :-) Cheers, Jim
  15. Retro styled A-Wing

    Hi Brother, I rather like where you're going with this; I mainly build aircraft and like many, love the Spitfire. As to your questions, I think that a medium-dark gray green would do well for washing in some shadows. Brown would work but I think it might tend to just look like dirt rather than shadows. On your second question, I would say "maybe," IF you have a lot of experience with doing washes, etc. The main reason I do clear coats before and after washes is to create a barrier between the paint and the wash. What is the barrier for? It prevents the wash from lifting the paint. The only time you can comfortably not use a wash is if the wash medium is different from the base paint. For example, I use solvent based paints and washes. If I throw a heavy wash of thinned artist's oils over my base paint, the wash will eat into the paint and in extreme cases pull it loose and make one big mess. One solution, then, is to use a clear gloss acrylic coat over the paint. Acrylics are not solvent based (in general), so it forms a barrier to the artist's oils. I can do washes in oil without worrying about it messing up the base paint. If you use acrylic paints and washes, the reverse is true and a clear coat of solvent-based paint can be used. On the other hand, you should be able to use something like the artist's oils over a base acrylic paint with no problem at all. All that said, I highly recommend trying your paint and washes on a piece of test plastic or a left-over kit piece first. Then you'll know for sure if you need the clear coats or not. Most of the time, if I just jump into a technique on my current model project, I screw it up. Far easier to test on something else, figure out how it will work, and then using it on a model is much easier and a lot less hassle. More often than not, speed in the process leads me into deep trouble. HTH, Jim