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Tim Reynaga

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  1. Adrian, Your Cutty Sark is a cool looking little model and you clearly had fun with it - so well done, I say!
  2. This is Cromwell’s diminutive 1/76 scale Wehrmacht VW staff car. The kit depicts a KdF Type 60 Volkswagen from 1943, but I built it up as a later Bundeswehr vehicle of the 1960s.
  3. Bundeswehr Käfer (Beetle) Years ago I picked up Cromwell’s diminutive 1/76 scale Wehrmacht VW staff car at a swap meet. The old resin casting was missing its wheels, and the bumper and left running board were damaged... but the unmistakable Beetle shape was there! The kit depicts a KdF Type 60 Volkswagen from 1943, but I plan to build it up as a later Bundeswehr vehicle of the 1960s. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Assembly” of this kit was straightforward; the first step was to remove the casting block at the bottom of the vehicle. The missing wheels were replaced with parts taken from a Hasegawa 1/72 VW Schwimmwagen. Although correct for a 1943 vehicle, the wheel design had changed a bit by the 1960s... but I’ll deal with that later! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Simple repairs to the damaged bumper and running board complete the assembly. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A coat of slightly lightened Tamiya acrylic Khaki Drab (XF-51) gives the little Käfer a more military look. I haven’t yet applied any kind of groundwork, so for now the bug sits on a sheet of .060 inch plastic. The wood is a bit of scrap with a neutral varnish. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ The tires and windows are now painted, appropriately, Tamiya NATO Black (XF-69). The bug didn’t come with any markings, but these decals from an old ESCI M113 will serve. In addition to the medical insignia, the Bundeswehr M113 license plates should look good on the Käfer. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I thought it would be fun to show the bug in a winter environment. After gluing the completed car to the plastic base, I began applying a slurry of baking soda with lots of water and a little PVA (white glue). Besides looking good, the “snow” offered the opportunity to obscure some of the features that would reveal that this Bundeswehr vehicle from the 1960s is actually a 1943 Käfer! The most obvious giveaways are the small split rear windows and very small rear signal mounts on the fenders, both of which had been redesigned on VWs by the mid-1960s. Under a heavy coat of snow, these problems just disappear! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ And the cold little Cold Warrior is done!
  4. This is the Life-Like Hobby Kits reissue of Pyro’s U.S.S. Constellation model from 1966. The U.S.S. Constellation is a sloop-of-war, the last sail-only warship built for the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1855, she served for close to a century before finally being retired in 1954. During her long career Constellation performed a wide variety of duties including trade protection, Civil War blockade duty, cargo transport, and as a training ship. She brought humanitarian relief for the 1879 Irish famine, and even served as the reserve flagship for the then-Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Ernest J. King, in 1941. Perhaps Constellation’s most significant contribution was early in her career with the slave trade patrol, during which she captured three slave ships and freed a total of 705 slaves. She is now preserved as a museum ship in Baltimore, Maryland. I happened to pick up a rather battered copy of the kit on the cheap a while back, but the real appeal of this model is as a reminder of a trip to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore with my dad a few years ago (that’s him in the foreground). We made the trip without the wives or kids, so we were able to do all the “boring” guy activities – USS Constellation, National Museum of the U.S. Navy at the Washington Navy Yard, USCG Taney, the Chesapeake light ship, junk food dinners every night – without fear of trying the patience of loved ones. It was great! This model will be a Christmas gift for my dad.
  5. So its back on the job with the Constellation’s paint... In what was apparently an attempt to simulate the look of oxidized copper cladding the ship carried when in service, Constellation museum staff have applied an absolutely GODAWFUL blue-green color the to the wood below the old waterline. The copper that once graced the real hull is long gone, although the Pyro model shows it in place. If I stick to my plan to depict the ship as she appears today as a museum, the “copper” detail will have to be painted green. I mixed up a sample and placed it next to the model in an attempt to get into the idea, but it is so UGLY... ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Ok, that hull green is just too awful - and historically questionable, at best! The model will be a gift to my father as a memento of our visit to the U.S.S. Constellation museum, but I’m willing to bet he may not even remember that hull color anyway. Plus, he has a print of Constellation hanging in his workshop which shows the original copper hull: Good enough for me! I went ahead and shot the copper plating detail on the hull bottom with Tamiya acrylic Dark Copper (XF-28). I was initially concerned that the metallic copper might be a little stark, but seeing it on the model I think that it will work just fine. It makes a pleasingly bright contrast to the drab colors of the rest of the ship. Anyway, that blue-green color would surely have been a cause of seasickness...! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ When my dad and I visited the ship in 2010, there were quite a few historical displays on board: Among my favorites was a sailor’s mess exhibit: Yum! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The anchors have been unshipped from the modern U.S.S. Constellation museum – but I thought I’d add them to the model anyway. The kit anchors aren’t bad, but the simplified detail and the too small, oddly conical stocks leave much to be desired. These are nothing that can’t be fixed up with a little sheet plastic and wire, though! The anchors were painted Tamiya acrylic Rubber Black (as with the hull sides) and the wooden stocks were painted Tamiya acrylic Desert Yellow with a glaze of Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna artist’s oil streaked over it for a “wood” look. For some reason the image on postcard above shows the vertical bands on the stocks to be white; they were actually black iron. Anyway, I’ll add them later. I gave the guns and assorted detail bits a Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna oil wash over their Tamiya acrylic base colors. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Disaster! After successfully applying the Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna oil wash over the guns, boat, and helm, and anchor parts, I did the same on the ship’s main deck – but this time it looked terrible! Intended to outline and highlight deck structures, the wash instead exaggerated Pyro’s famously heavy detail and made the deck look like that of a rotting hulk. Yuck. I compounded the mistake by letting the oils dry thinking the look might improve... but it didn’t. So now, unable to repair the offending mess, I pried the deck from the hull and cleaned it all off with Windex. The deck was then resprayed with the same Tamiya acrylic Deck Tan (XF-55) as before, and after reattaching it to the hull the hatches, skylights, and other molded fittings were again picked out with Buff (XF-57). This time instead of oils I applied pin washes with heavily thinned Tamiya Flat Earth acrylic (XF-52) for a more restrained effect. Better. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Before fitting the previously painted masts I added a thin coating of Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna artist’s oil over the “wood” base acrylic colors. The color would have looked good for varnished wood on a yacht, but it was just too intense for a warship in this small scale, so I wiped most of it off with a thinner soaked cloth. This left only a subtle filter of color over the base coat. I had previously made replacement yards from brass rod and tube. Before fitting the masts I established the locations of the yards. Shallow notches were then cut into the masts with a small round file to accommodate them. Although not strictly authentic, the notches will not be noticeable and will provide positive attachment points for the yards. With the masts painted and the notches cut, I secured the masts into their final locations. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The yards have been glued to the masts and painted Tamiya acrylic Red Brown (XF-64). Also, the six white plastic channels (circled in red) have been fitted to the hull. Channels (originally called “chain wales”) were timbers placed along the sides so as to lead the shrouds clear of the upper bulwarks of the ship and distribute the pressure on the ship’s sides. These .010 X .080 inch plastic strip channels will be the bases for the etched shrouds/ratlines. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ After trimming the delicate etched brass shrouds/ratlines to fit in their specific locations, I airbrushed them with flat black enamel. This was a surprisingly delicate (and messy!) process. I wanted to make sure to leave absolutely no brass showing, so they had to be shot from various angles to fully cover the intricate structure. Holding and turning them by hand while spraying turned out to be the best way to hit all the surfaces. I actually got some of the paint on the ratlines too! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ With all the prep completed, actual installation of the completed ratlines was a snap. I attached them to the ship with polyvinyl acetate (PVA) white glue thinned with water and applied with a paintbrush. The etched parts are a huge improvement over the molded kit parts – kudos again to Peter Hall for his wonderful Atlantic Models Ratlines for Sailing Ships set! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ After completing the etched brass shrouds/ratlines, it made sense to add the footropes to the yards. On a square rigged sailing ship each yard is equipped with footropes for sailors to stand on while setting or stowing the sails. I wanted to portray these, but the Atlantic Models brass ratlines set didn’t include them, and to my knowledge there is no comparable “generic” set of footropes. I first thought of adapting leftover etched railing for them, but most of the straight rails in my stash lacked the distinctive droop of the footropes. I did have some 1/350 Imperial Japanese Navy rails with the right general shape, but the upright stanchions were too close together. I ultimately found something suitable in Tom’s Modelworks 1/240 scale USS Olympia handrails set. These rails showed the droop I was looking for, and the larger scale created the appropriate spacing too. I cut out six lengths of them with each one sized to fit a specific yard. Painted flat black and attached with tiny dabs of PVA glue, the foot ropes add a touch of complexity to the rather plain yards. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ So far so good, but with all the photoetch options used up, it is time to figure out the rest of the rigging. Now I’ve done a few sailing ships before, but nothing this complex; frankly, I find the prospect of rigging this thing daunting! Model Shipways’ The Neophyte Shipmodeller’s Jackstay offers some encouragement: “It has been truly said that the rankest amateur modeler can successfully rig, though he know not his mast from a hole in the ground. Rigging is basically simple, the progressive addition of a number of details, each logical and uncomplicated.” Ok. The first task is to figure out the material for the rigging. I’ve had good luck with sewing thread before, but even the finest fiber thread wouldn’t look sharp enough in this small scale. I’ve also had success with flexible EZ line (a kind of very fine rubber string often used by model railroaders to represent scale power lines and such), but I didn’t want to risk pulling the delicately attached yards off the masts! I finally settled on wire. This spool of copper wire, which my then-toddler daughter found on the street while we were on a walk in our neighborhood, is some of the finest wire I’ve ever seen. Stretched straight and painted, it makes for petite, consistent width, temperature-stable rigging. I’ve been using it to rig my model steel navy ships for some twenty five years now! I started with the topgallant shrouds. These were lines fixed to the uppermost crosstrees to support the highest masts, the topgallants. Since they were fixed standing rigging and protected with tar, I painted them black. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Next I added the lifts. The lifts were lines used for supporting the ends of the yards to prevent them from sagging under their own weight. Since they were adjustable and had to be able to run through blocks (pulleys), these lines were not tarred. I painted them with Model Master Military Brown enamel. I also installed the ship’s boat and deck cannons – these spots will be harder to access as rigging continues! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Although effective, all those fine wire lines require careful prepping and fussy, tedious installation. They are also maddeningly subject to damage once installed... so for the numerous stays connecting the masts to each other and to the hull I am switching to EZ Line. I began with the back stays. These standing (fixed) lines served to keep the masts from falling forward under the pressure of the sails, wind, and gravity. Backstays were fitted to each step of the masts and secured to the hull just aft of the shrouds/ratlines. To attach these, I first loop a length of EZ Line around the mast top and secure it with a dot of cyanoacrylate applied with the tip of a hobby knife. The ends are left suspended over the sides with small binder clips. The weight of the clips stretches the elastic lines just enough to pull them straight. They are then secured to the hull with cyanoacrylate and the ends trimmed. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Installation of the foremast topgallant backstays. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ I also began adding forestays, which served the same purpose as the backstays but kept the masts from toppling backward. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ More stays added; there were a bewildering number of these, but The Neophyte Shipmodeller’s Jackstay was right; Rigging is basically simple, the progressive addition of a number of details, each logical and uncomplicated. Following plans, I have been building up the rigging step by step. In the interests of my continuing sanity, I don’t intend to include every single line in this small scale. Rather, I’m going for a “representational” rig that will achieve its effect by highlighting the most prominent lines. This time they are the bowsprit, jib boom, and flying jib stays leading up to the foremast. The EZ Line has turned out to be perfect for this. The elasticity of the superfine material makes for a tight, straight rig, but the diameters of all these lines are so small that they don’t place much strain on the masts which remain unbent. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Martingale stays below the bowsprit counterbalanced the bowsprit, jib boom, and flying jib stays above to keep the bowsprit assembly from being pulled up toward the foremast. The small spar below the bowsprit to which they were attached was called the “dolphin striker” – an awful name! Finishing off the standing rigging, I added additional lines to the whisker booms, those spars protruding from the sides of the bowsprit. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The standing (i.e., mast support) rigging now completed, the running rigging (the working lines used to set and adjust the sails) is next. According to Charles C. Davis’ 1926 The Ship Model Builder’s Assistant, “When a ship reaches a harbor, the sails are unbent if she is to stay any length of time... When the sails were taken off, the running gear, such as buntlines and leechlines, would be unrove and put away. So it is perfectly proper and shipshape to show a model without this gear.” This is ideal for the “laid up” condition of the Constellation museum ship – and definitely gives me latitude to omit quite a few of those complicated lines! These running rigging lines, since they had to move through blocks, were plain rope, and often showed slack – something EZ Line doesn’t reproduce well – so for these I’ll return to the dreaded copper wire. Before that, though, I found use for another etched brass part from the Toms Modelworks Olympia set; a small pulley which makes a great peak halliard for the mizzen gaff. Now, using the copper wire, I also added another peak halliard, a topping lift for the mizzen boom, and vangs. The tiny blocks (pulleys) on the vangs are .023 inch discs punched from .010 inch plastic stock. The brown-painted copper wire remains challenging to work with, but I do like that it is a little thinner, and the lighter color makes it stand out from the EZ Line used for the standing rigging. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Before proceeding with the running rigging, I installed the previously prepared anchors. Black iron bands across the wooden stocks were decal strips cut from Luftwaffe national cross markings. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Here is a typical running rigging plan for a square rigger: For a ship in laid up condition (i.e., in port for more than a short period of time) the sails and most of the running rigging would not be present, but the Constellation museum display has many of these lines permanently in place. I’ll add the braces, highlighted in yellow, for interest. Braces on square-rigged ships were the lines used to rotate a yard around the mast to allow the ship to sail at different angles to the wind. I started with the foremast lower yard brace. The real braces consisted of a line passing back through a block (pulley) connected to a “pennant” line attached to the yard. To recreate this I connected a single line from the yard to the hull, and then added a shorter second line from the hull to the place on the first line where the block would have been. The connecting point of the lines was then covered with a plastic disk to represent the block. I made the tiny block from a .023 inch disc punched from .010 inch thick plastic stock. The white plastic “wooden” block will be painted brown when I touch up the pre-painted lines. Eleven more of these to go! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ A diagram from Charles C. Davis’ The Ship Model Builder’s Assistant shows the braces attached to the ends of the foremast yards: And here are all four foremast yard braces (the lines with the pulleys on them) in place on the model: In the pictures it is hard to see, but the brown-painted wire running rigging being added now is a little finer than the previously installed black EZ Line standing rig. I am grateful for the flexibility of the EZ Line since it just bounces back whenever I touch it as I’m installing the wire lines. The wire, on the other hand, has a nasty habit of kinking unrealistically whenever bumped and has to be replaced each time my big fingers stray even a little. I’m going through a lot of wire, but learning as I go! Next up, braces for the mizzen yards. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The model has become so delicate with all that fragile rigging that I decided it would be a good idea to put it in a case before giving it to my dad. I built up a crude mockup around the model with paper strips to get a sense of what the dimensions of the clear cover should be. It may seem silly, but I find that mockups like this really do make it easier to visualize how things will look. (By the way, I’m using Ron Baluch of Grandpa's Cabinets who makes first-rate cases. I highly recommend him – I just hope he can get the case to me by Christmas!) ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The four braces on the aftermost mast yards were next. These proved a bit tricky as the proper “sag” had to be formed into each of the stiff little copper lines prior to installation. Also, fitting them in that confined space between the masts without kinking the wires or damaging the surrounding yards and lines has required extraordinarily careful attention – and more repairs, as I still bent or knocked some of the previously installed lines loose! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The last of the rigging to be installed were the braces on the main mast. Here is one on the lower mainmast yard... ...and the upper main mast yard: The rigging is pretty accurate as far as it goes, but seen as a whole, the various stays, lifts, vangs, and braces create (at least for me) an almost indecipherable tangle of lines – – and yet, this is just an abbreviated version of what the real ship carried! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ A last detail to be added to the rigging was the flag. I used decals from Microscale’s US 50 Star Flags (MC-4202) intended for HO scale trains. A 50-star U.S. flag might not seem altogether appropriate for an 1854 vessel, but hey, it is a museum ship now, right? To enable a “waving in the breeze” presentation of the flag, I first applied the decals to both sides of a piece of heavy duty household aluminum foil. Then, after trimming off the excess foil around the flag (except for a bit left on one end to serve as a handle), I gently formed undulations with a toothpick. This may sound simple, but the foil and decal films were both so delicate that I managed to mangle four different flags before getting a single useable one! With the shape established, I cut off the excess foil, touched up the edges with blue and red enamels, and attached the ensign to its halliard. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Though basic, many of these vintage Pyro kits do make for surprisingly good builds. Normally with a full-hull model to be put in a case I would mount it on brass pedestals sunk into the ship’s bottom. I didn’t plan this from the outset on this one, though, and cutting into the hull of the model at this late stage did not appeal to me! That left the kit-provided cradle. Pyro had attempted a molded-in wood grain effect, but it wasn’t very convincing... ...so I sanded off the molded wood grain and painted the cradle with Tamiya acrylic Desert Yellow (XF-59). Then I applied Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna artist’s oil paint in a streaky glaze over it to replicate a wood look. As for the nameplate, Pyro had provided “U.S. Frigate Constellation” as a printed text on the kit instruction sheet, but of course this ship wasn’t actually a frigate but rather a sloop of war. I simply printed “U.S.S. Constellation” on some resume paper instead. Then I cut one out, rolled the ends, and added some small nicks for a “parchment” effect. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ This was a fun build, and with all that rigging it has been an agreeable challenge, too. The only thing left now is to put her in the case. I ordered it a little while back, but the wood base and acrylic cover are being custom built so now I just have to be patient! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ As I wait for the arrival of the custom made display case, I took a few last pictures of the model. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The case has arrived! With the model already finished, it was a simple matter to glue it down onto the beautifully finished wood base. I also attached a patch I had picked up at the museum to add a little color. And done. I can’t wait to give it to my dad!
  6. Hi all! I thought I’d return to a build I began (and suspended) a couple of years ago, Pyro’s U.S.S. Constellation model from 1966. The U.S.S. Constellation is a sloop-of-war, the last sail-only warship built for the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1855, she served for close to a century before finally being retired in 1954. During her long career Constellation performed a wide variety of duties including trade protection, Civil War blockade duty, cargo transport, and as a training ship. She brought humanitarian relief for the 1879 Irish famine, and even served as the reserve flagship for the then-Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Ernest J. King, in 1941. Perhaps Constellation’s most significant contribution was early in her career with the slave trade patrol, during which she captured three slave ships and freed a total of 705 slaves. She is now preserved as a museum ship in Baltimore, Maryland. I happened to pick up a rather battered copy of Life-Like’s reissue of the Pyro kit on the cheap a while back, but the real appeal of this model is as a reminder of a trip to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore with my dad a few years ago (that’s him in the foreground). We made the trip without the wives or kids, so we were able to do all the “boring” guy activities – USS Constellation, National Museum of the U.S. Navy at the Washington Navy Yard, USCG Taney, the Chesapeake light ship, junk food dinners every night – without fear of trying the patience of loved ones. It was great! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Dating from 1972, Life-Like’s reissue of Pyro’s 1966 U.S.S. Constellation kit isn’t exactly new, and over the years the box has had its share of bumps – but the parts look as pristine as the day they were manufactured! In the spirit of Pyro’s simplified, quick-build model kits, I don’t plan to go crazy superdetailing this one. Maybe add some details, correct a few shortcomings… but mostly I just want to have fun with the build. One change was to add some lead weights to the inside of the hull for a bit of heft to make it more stable on its display cradle. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ The fifty year old molds are not today’s state of the art, but the parts fit reasonably well with the help of a little filler. I managed to snap off and lose the starboard bower anchor cathead while assembling the hull, but a length of .030 X .030 inch strip made for a quick repair. Pyro’s uncomplicated four-piece hull assembles quickly and easily. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Pyro depicted the capstan on the spar deck as a simplified pedestal onto which a separate capstan head, with its removable bars in place, was to be fitted. The representation was pretty basic, so I substituted a capstan raided from a 1/350 Zvezda Varyag kit. I didn’t add the removable bars to the new part, though. Their deployment didn’t make sense to me as the hatch covers are not in place – the men turning the capstan would have fallen into the ship! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The ports on the hull are molded as open with the gun muzzles visible. Cutting open the kit gunports, fabricating a gundeck inside and fitting cannon would have been a sizeable task – well beyond the scope of what I want to do with this simple kit. I contented myself with drilling out the cannon muzzles. Also, although the Zvezda Varyag capstan was definitely an improvement over the original kit representation, it too was replaced with one from a Revell U.S.S. Olympia kit that I liked even better. I nicked the adjacent fife rail while trimming away the capstan base molded to the deck; the white plastic strip is a repair. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Finishing the deck clean up, I made a simple replacement for the uninspiring kit galley stovepipe from plastic rod. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The kit helm parts, on the other hand, were well designed, but it was the plastic injection technology of the 1960s that let them down; both parts were “short shot” with most of the grab handles on the wheel perimeters incompletely molded. After cleaning up the wheels, tiny lengths Plastruct .010 inch styrene rod replaced the poorly molded handles. The rebuilt wheels should look good under a coat of paint. With these and the other minor fixes completed, it is on to the deck cannon! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ In addition to the cannon muzzles molded into the hull sides, the kit also comes with twelve separately molded weapons for the topside weather deck. Although the U.S.S. Constellation museum ship no longer has these cannon on deck, I opted to include them on the model anyway because the kit parts are so nicely done. Unfortunately the tiny parts, though well mastered, suffer from severe mold misalignment which meant the cleanup process destroyed some of the detail. They still look pretty nice, though. I upgraded them slightly by drilling out the muzzles and adding the knobs at the back ends of the barrels using .018 inch discs cut from .010 inch plastic. Test fitted in place, they add a pleasing busyness to the deck. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The masts are next. Having designed the kit back in the 1960s with young modelers in mind, Pyro simplified the composite, multi-step masts into single parts, and the complex bowsprit was reduced to a mere three parts. The moldings are basically accurate and surprisingly convincing – although some details like the molded-in flags were less successful! The biggest problem with these parts came from the low pressure plastic injection molding technology of the era; the combination of heavy sprue attachment points, knock out pin marks, and mold misalignment on these fragile parts made for some pretty tedious cleanup. My kids were able to get entirely through the ‘Happytime Murders’ puppet movie before I had the three masts prepped to receive their platforms! Once cleaned up and with the platforms attached, though, the test fitted masts don’t look bad at all. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ In typical Pyro style, the spars for each mast were molded integrally with the billowing sails. Since I want to depict the ship as she appears today as a museum, these sails won’t be needed. Rather than try to remove the spars from the sail parts, I opted to construct new ones from brass tube and rod. The tapered yards would be simulated with .8mm brass tubes (Lion Roar LT0018) combined with .019 inch brass wire (Detail Associates 2506) slipped inside and left protruding from the ends. The first were the gaff and boom for the spanker sail. I began by drilling locator holes in the mizzen to accept the .019 inch brass wire. After cutting angled gaff and horizontal boom pieces of the appropriate lengths, they were secured to the mast with dabs of cyanoacrylate. The spencer (trysail) mast was then added using lengths of Plastruct .025 inch round white plastic rod. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ I also made six .8mm tube/.019 inch wire yards – two for each of the three masts. Although period paintings (and Pyro’s original kit parts) indicate that the Constellation actually shipped up to twelve these spars in service, the present day museum has only this abbreviated rig. These will be set in place after the masts have been painted and attached to the deck. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Next came the bowsprit. After cleaning up the parts, I test fit the kit spritsail yard and twin martingales to the bowsprit – not very convincing. The kit bowsprit was acceptable, but I replaced other parts with brass tube and rod. The twin martingales – inaccurate for Constellation anyway – were replaced with a single “dolphin striker” made from the same .8mm tube with .019 inch brass wire inside it as with the spanker gaff & boom. For the lighter horizontal jib boom stay supports I used smaller .5mm tube with .010 inch rod inserts. I left a little of the rod protruding from the ends to help attach rigging later. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ A last task before painting is to sort out the shrouds/ratlines. While I’m game to accept most of Pyro’s rough and ready moldings, those massive injection molded ratlines are just too much! No problem, Peter Hall’s Atlantic Models comes to the rescue with some beautiful etched brass replacements. This set (ATEM35001) was not designed to fit any particular ship, but as generic replacement parts to be trimmed to fit individual models. In this case, the parts seem to match the Pyro Constellation’s main shrouds pretty closely right off the sheet. Test fitted to the ship, they promise to be a massive improvement with little effort! Though generic, the etched shrouds/ratlines fit reasonably closely for the foremast… ...but the main and mizzen mast shrouds don’t quite match the channels (also known as “chain wales” – those little platforms on the hull sides that form the base for the shrouds/ratlines) What’s going on here? Actually, this is a common problem among plastic sailing ship kits. Kits very often simply have the shrouds molded symmetrically which requires the channels to be incorrectly aligned with the centers of the masts. In real ships the shrouds/ratlines would begin almost vertical and fan aft, each at an increasing angle moving toward the stern so as to not interfere with the yards and sails attached to the mast fronts. Here’s a drawing showing this from Model Shipways’ The Neophyte Shipmodeller’s Jackstay: You can also see it in this aerial photo of the U.S.S. Constellation museum: Like most plastic sailing ship kits, Pyro’s Constellation model suffers from the “centered shrouds” problem. With the more accurate etched parts, though, the correction shouldn’t be all that difficult. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The mizzen was especially off with a substantial part of the shrouds hanging into space when correctly positioned. A simple fix was to add new, correctly placed, channels from .010 X .080 plastic strip which bring the shrouds farther aft – much closer to the appearance of the real ship. The fore and mainmast shrouds received the same treatment. Now to the tops! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Next come the shrouds for the top masts. These are pretty straightforward as they just require a bit of trimming to fit perfectly. Test fitted for now, I’ll fix them in place later after the masts have been painted and secured to the hull. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Painting begins with a coat of Tamiya Deck Tan (XF-55) on the weather deck followed by Tamiya Flat White (XF-2) for the masts, boat, and hull sides. I airbrushed the colors to get even coverage of these highly visible light tones, but most of the rest of the painting will be done by hand. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Constellation’s hull colors are pretty simple: white and black. I had already used pure bright white, which works in this small scale, but straight black seems too stark. I tried samples of three different blacks, finally settling on Tamiya Rubber Black (XF-85) which was just a bit lighter than the straight black. Normally I’d mask and spray the black bands beside the white, but the heavy raised surface detailing would make this approach difficult. Fortunately, that same heavy detailing can make even a fairly heavy handed brush application look reasonably good, so I set to it: With the basic colors on, the hull is starting to look like a man o‘ war! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Additional variant “wood” colors give the deck a bit more interest. The natural wood caprails, hatches, and deck hardware were painted with Tamiya Buff (XF-57) with a slightly darker Tamiya Desert Yellow (XF-59) for areas in shadow. The quarter gallery window frames, decorative stars, ‘Constellation’ banner, and eagle aft were picked out in white. Smaller details received the same colors, but the cannon barrels were painted a slightly less intense black, Tamiya NATO Black (XF-69), to reduce the contrast with the Tamiya Buff carriages. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Here’s how Constellation looks with most of the painting done and the major parts test fitted together: The copper-clad underwater hull and the display cradle still await their colors... _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ I’ve been taking a break from the U.S.S. Constellation build of late, but just the other day I happened across a bit of inspiration close to home: It is part of a 19th Century stepped mast quietly rotting on the dock at the Old Sacramento waterfront. I asked the Park Service folks there if they had any information about it, but the identity of the ship is unknown. They said it was probably a remnant of one of dozens of ships abandoned here and in San Francisco by crews deserting to join the 1849 California Gold Rush... Anyway, it reminds me of the masts on the preserved U.S.S. Constellation. I guess it is the modeling gods’ way of telling me that it’s time to get back to work! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  7. Hi all! I thought I’d return to a build I began (and suspended) a couple of years ago, Pyro’s U.S.S. Constellation model from 1966. The U.S.S. Constellation is a sloop-of-war, the last sail-only warship built for the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1855, she served for close to a century before finally being retired in 1954. During her long career Constellation performed a wide variety of duties including trade protection, Civil War blockade duty, cargo transport, and as a training ship. She brought humanitarian relief for the 1879 Irish famine, and even served as the reserve flagship for the then-Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Ernest J. King, in 1941. Perhaps Constellation’s most significant contribution was early in her career with the slave trade patrol, during which she captured three slave ships and freed a total of 705 slaves. She is now preserved as a museum ship in Baltimore, Maryland. I happened to pick up a rather battered copy of Life-Like’s reissue of the Pyro kit on the cheap a while back, but the real appeal of this model is as a reminder of a trip to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore with my dad a few years ago (that’s him in the foreground). We made the trip without the wives or kids, so we were able to do all the “boring” guy activities – USS Constellation, National Museum of the U.S. Navy at the Washington Navy Yard, USCG Taney, the Chesapeake light ship, junk food dinners every night – without fear of trying the patience of loved ones. It was great! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Dating from 1972, Life-Like’s reissue of Pyro’s 1966 U.S.S. Constellation kit isn’t exactly new, and over the years the box has had its share of bumps – but the parts look as pristine as the day they were manufactured! In the spirit of Pyro’s simplified, quick-build model kits, I don’t plan to go crazy superdetailing this one. Maybe add some details, correct a few shortcomings… but mostly I just want to have fun with the build. One change was to add some lead weights to the inside of the hull for a bit of heft to make it more stable on its display cradle. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ The fifty year old molds are not today’s state of the art, but the parts fit reasonably well with the help of a little filler. I managed to snap off and lose the starboard bower anchor cathead while assembling the hull, but a length of .030 X .030 inch strip made for a quick repair. Pyro’s uncomplicated four-piece hull assembles quickly and easily. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Pyro depicted the capstan on the spar deck as a simplified pedestal onto which a separate capstan head, with its removable bars in place, was to be fitted. The representation was pretty basic, so I substituted a capstan raided from a 1/350 Zvezda Varyag kit. I didn’t add the removable bars to the new part, though. Their deployment didn’t make sense to me as the hatch covers are not in place – the men turning the capstan would have fallen into the ship! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The ports on the hull are molded as open with the gun muzzles visible. Cutting open the kit gunports, fabricating a gundeck inside and fitting cannon would have been a sizeable task – well beyond the scope of what I want to do with this simple kit. I contented myself with drilling out the cannon muzzles. Also, although the Zvezda Varyag capstan was definitely an improvement over the original kit representation, it too was replaced with one from a Revell U.S.S. Olympia kit that I liked even better. I nicked the adjacent fife rail while trimming away the capstan base molded to the deck; the white plastic strip is a repair. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Finishing the deck clean up, I made a simple replacement for the uninspiring kit galley stovepipe from plastic rod. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The kit helm parts, on the other hand, were well designed, but it was the plastic injection technology of the 1960s that let them down; both parts were “short shot” with most of the grab handles on the wheel perimeters incompletely molded. After cleaning up the wheels, tiny lengths Plastruct .010 inch styrene rod replaced the poorly molded handles. The rebuilt wheels should look good under a coat of paint. With these and the other minor fixes completed, it is on to the deck cannon! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ In addition to the cannon muzzles molded into the hull sides, the kit also comes with twelve separately molded weapons for the topside weather deck. Although the U.S.S. Constellation museum ship no longer has these cannon on deck, I opted to include them on the model anyway because the kit parts are so nicely done. Unfortunately the tiny parts, though well mastered, suffer from severe mold misalignment which meant the cleanup process destroyed some of the detail. They still look pretty nice, though. I upgraded them slightly by drilling out the muzzles and adding the knobs at the back ends of the barrels using .018 inch discs cut from .010 inch plastic. Test fitted in place, they add a pleasing busyness to the deck. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The masts are next. Having designed the kit back in the 1960s with young modelers in mind, Pyro simplified the composite, multi-step masts into single parts, and the complex bowsprit was reduced to a mere three parts. The moldings are basically accurate and surprisingly convincing – although some details like the molded-in flags were less successful! The biggest problem with these parts came from the low pressure plastic injection molding technology of the era; the combination of heavy sprue attachment points, knock out pin marks, and mold misalignment on these fragile parts made for some pretty tedious cleanup. My kids were able to get entirely through the ‘Happytime Murders’ puppet movie before I had the three masts prepped to receive their platforms! Once cleaned up and with the platforms attached, though, the test fitted masts don’t look bad at all. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ In typical Pyro style, the spars for each mast were molded integrally with the billowing sails. Since I want to depict the ship as she appears today as a museum, these sails won’t be needed. Rather than try to remove the spars from the sail parts, I opted to construct new ones from brass tube and rod. The tapered yards would be simulated with .8mm brass tubes (Lion Roar LT0018) combined with .019 inch brass wire (Detail Associates 2506) slipped inside and left protruding from the ends. The first were the gaff and boom for the spanker sail. I began by drilling locator holes in the mizzen to accept the .019 inch brass wire. After cutting angled gaff and horizontal boom pieces of the appropriate lengths, they were secured to the mast with dabs of cyanoacrylate. The spencer (trysail) mast was then added using lengths of Plastruct .025 inch round white plastic rod. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ I also made six .8mm tube/.019 inch wire yards – two for each of the three masts. Although period paintings (and Pyro’s original kit parts) indicate that the Constellation actually shipped up to twelve these spars in service, the present day museum has only this abbreviated rig. These will be set in place after the masts have been painted and attached to the deck. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Next came the bowsprit. After cleaning up the parts, I test fit the kit spritsail yard and twin martingales to the bowsprit – not very convincing. The kit bowsprit was acceptable, but I replaced other parts with brass tube and rod. The twin martingales – inaccurate for Constellation anyway – were replaced with a single “dolphin striker” made from the same .8mm tube with .019 inch brass wire inside it as with the spanker gaff & boom. For the lighter horizontal jib boom stay supports I used smaller .5mm tube with .010 inch rod inserts. I left a little of the rod protruding from the ends to help attach rigging later. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ A last task before painting is to sort out the shrouds/ratlines. While I’m game to accept most of Pyro’s rough and ready moldings, those massive injection molded ratlines are just too much! No problem, Peter Hall’s Atlantic Models comes to the rescue with some beautiful etched brass replacements. This set (ATEM35001) was not designed to fit any particular ship, but as generic replacement parts to be trimmed to fit individual models. In this case, the parts seem to match the Pyro Constellation’s main shrouds pretty closely right off the sheet. Test fitted to the ship, they promise to be a massive improvement with little effort! Though generic, the etched shrouds/ratlines fit reasonably closely for the foremast… ...but the main and mizzen mast shrouds don’t quite match the channels (also known as “chain wales” – those little platforms on the hull sides that form the base for the shrouds/ratlines) What’s going on here? Actually, this is a common problem among plastic sailing ship kits. Kits very often simply have the shrouds molded symmetrically which requires the channels to be incorrectly aligned with the centers of the masts. In real ships the shrouds/ratlines would begin almost vertical and fan aft, each at an increasing angle moving toward the stern so as to not interfere with the yards and sails attached to the mast fronts. Here’s a drawing showing this from Model Shipways’ The Neophyte Shipmodeller’s Jackstay: You can also see it in this aerial photo of the U.S.S. Constellation museum: Like most plastic sailing ship kits, Pyro’s Constellation model suffers from the “centered shrouds” problem. With the more accurate etched parts, though, the correction shouldn’t be all that difficult. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The mizzen was especially off with a substantial part of the shrouds hanging into space when correctly positioned. A simple fix was to add new, correctly placed, channels from .010 X .080 plastic strip which bring the shrouds farther aft – much closer to the appearance of the real ship. The fore and mainmast shrouds received the same treatment. Now to the tops! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Next come the shrouds for the top masts. These are pretty straightforward as they just require a bit of trimming to fit perfectly. Test fitted for now, I’ll fix them in place later after the masts have been painted and secured to the hull. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Painting begins with a coat of Tamiya Deck Tan (XF-55) on the weather deck followed by Tamiya Flat White (XF-2) for the masts, boat, and hull sides. I airbrushed the colors to get even coverage of these highly visible light tones, but most of the rest of the painting will be done by hand. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Constellation’s hull colors are pretty simple: white and black. I had already used pure bright white, which works in this small scale, but straight black seems too stark. I tried samples of three different blacks, finally settling on Tamiya Rubber Black (XF-85) which was just a bit lighter than the straight black. Normally I’d mask and spray the black bands beside the white, but the heavy raised surface detailing would make this approach difficult. Fortunately, that same heavy detailing can make even a fairly heavy handed brush application look reasonably good, so I set to it: With the basic colors on, the hull is starting to look like a man o‘ war! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Additional variant “wood” colors give the deck a bit more interest. The natural wood caprails, hatches, and deck hardware were painted with Tamiya Buff (XF-57) with a slightly darker Tamiya Desert Yellow (XF-59) for areas in shadow. The quarter gallery window frames, decorative stars, ‘Constellation’ banner, and eagle aft were picked out in white. Smaller details received the same colors, but the cannon barrels were painted a slightly less intense black, Tamiya NATO Black (XF-69), to reduce the contrast with the Tamiya Buff carriages. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Here’s how Constellation looks with most of the painting done and the major parts test fitted together: The copper-clad underwater hull and the display cradle still await their colors... _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ I’ve been taking a break from the U.S.S. Constellation build of late, but just the other day I happened across a bit of inspiration close to home: It is part of a 19th Century stepped mast quietly rotting on the dock at the Old Sacramento waterfront. I asked the Park Service folks there if they had any information about it, but the identity of the ship is unknown. They said it was probably a remnant of one of dozens of ships abandoned here and in San Francisco by crews deserting to join the 1849 California Gold Rush... Anyway, it reminds me of the masts on the preserved U.S.S. Constellation. I guess it is the modeling gods’ way of telling me that it’s time to get back to work! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  8. Hello everyone, I just wanted to mention that Kalmbach Publishing this month has released a new modeling book, Modeling World War II in the Pacific, and one of the articles included is my piece on a Fujimi 1/700 scale Japanese Maru-Yu submarine. The Maru-YU class cargo subs were special transports deployed in a desperation program by the Imperial Army (independently of the Navy) to slip emergency supplies to starving troops on remote Pacific islands cut off by U.S. forces. The how-to article for the little diorama is in the book and I can’t republish it here, but I can give you all some pictures of the model as a preview: The book has sixteen other projects as well, including a USS Oklahoma salvage diorama, an Essex-class carrier, and a beautiful build of the Japanese cruiser Tone. Check it out!
  9. Trumpeter's 1/144 scale LCM(3)! Trumpeter included markings for both a dark blue Pacific LCM and a D-Day boat in grey. I airbrushed it Navy Blue 5-N for the Pacific boat, but I overdid the light grey streaks added for weathering so much that it ended up looking grey. Rather than redo things, I just went with it and added more grey and used the D-Day markings. The only changes I made to the kit were to add a sheet plastic door and handle (the doors weren’t flush-mounted as Trumpeter depicts) and semicircular mounts for the life rings.
  10. Eduard MiG-15s! The MiG-15 NO-37 was the mount of Lt. Jaroslav Sramek, 5th Fighter Regiment, Plzen-Line Air Base. On March 10, 1953, Lt. Sramek shot down a USAF F-84 Thunderjet that had intruded into Czech airspace. The other MiG-15 is in the livery of the 29th Guards, Dachang Air Base, China. The Soviet 29th Guards Fighter Air regiment fought in Korean War (with Chinese-marked aircraft) from November 1950 to February 1951.
  11. With the addition of the landing gear, the tiny MiG-15s are complete! The MiG-15 NO-37 was the mount of Lt. Jaroslav Sramek, 5th Fighter Regiment, Plzen-Line Air Base. On March 10, 1953, Lt. Sramek shot down a USAF F-84 Thunderjet that had intruded into Czech airspace. The other MiG-15 is in the livery of the 29th Guards, Dachang Air Base, China. The Soviet 29th Guards Fighter Air regiment fought in Korean War (with Chinese-marked aircraft) from November 1950 to February 1951.
  12. Time for decals; I started with the nonslip walkways on the wings. Eduard provided an amazing six marking options for aircraft from five different countries. And the decals are excellent quality too! I chose a Chinese and a Soviet aircraft. The markings look good, but I found the spartan Soviet set to be a bit plain, so I replaced them with the more colorful ones of a Czechoslovakian aircraft from 1953.
  13. Not if you are a 1/144 F-86!
  14. With the rest of the fittings attached, a quick coat of paint and decals slapped on, the 1/144 scale LCM(3) is complete! Trumpeter included markings for both a dark blue Pacific LCM and a D-Day boat in grey. I airbrushed it Navy Blue 5-N for the Pacific boat, but I overdid the light grey streaks added for weathering so much that it ended up looking grey. Rather than redo things, I just went with it and added more grey and used the D-Day markings. The only changes I made to the kit were to add a sheet plastic door and handle (the doors weren’t flush-mounted as Trumpeter depicts) and semicircular mounts for the life rings. And done!
  15. Painting these birds couldn’t be simpler – Tamiya Bare Metal Silver AS-12 right out of the spray can!
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