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Jim Kiker

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About Jim Kiker

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    North Carolina, USA

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  1. Hi GB, I really appreciate your digging into your stash on my behalf. Thank you very much for the information and for the prompt response! Cheers, Jim
  2. Hi all, I have a rather off-the-wall question to ask so please bear with me. I am doing some planning for a project and I need a compact two seat jet trainer cockpit and canopy. At a glance the Folland Gnat T1 might fit this bill but I cannot say for sure. If you have one of the Airfix 1/48 scale T1 kits, I need to know the length of the canopies and cockpit from the front edge of the windscreen to the rear-most point of the back seat canopy. Thanks in advance, Jim
  3. Hi all, Spinner/prop- who made them? Great calls from Mike and Max H.; you are both right, the spinner and prop are from the old Otaki kit! Thanks for playing, Jim
  4. Hi all, Thanks for all the positive responses, I am glad you all liked the result. For Colin- actually, I think the spare letters and numbers for the serial number and a/c code letter likely came from the 1/72 scale Ventura sheet you mentioned. The actual size of letters/numbers in use at that point in time was 4"; that size was what I could not find in 1/48 scale, light grey decals. Lucky for me the 1/72 8" size worked out really well! Cheers all, Jim
  5. Hi all, Here are some completion pictures of my latest Reconnaissance Spitfire project. The base kit is the Airfix PR XIX kit in 1/48 scale, converted to a PR XI. I have just finished an extensive Build Diary in the Work In Progress threads so please check there for all the details. Thanks again to Mr. John Adams. Cheers,
  6. Hi all, We are down to the last installment of this build diary. I am portraying this a/c early in her career, just a couple of months of operations had been completed when she flew the first recce of the German dams after the Dams Raid in May 1943. As a result I kept a light touch on the weathering. Once the airframe, propeller bits, and landing gear were ready for paint, I applied my own mix of PRU Blue to the whole model. I used enamel/lacquer paint as a base, slightly lightened the base paint and made a few quick passes running front to back on the wings and top to sides on the fuselage. In all honesty I think I should have done a little more of this, must remember for next time! I sprayed a coat of acrylic clear gloss to prep for the decals. The roundels and fin flash are standard for RAF Spitfire reconnaissance a/c. The serial number and individual plane letter "E" proved impossible for me to find in 1/48 scale, 4", light grey. A fellow modeler came to the rescue with left-overs from a 1/72 scale 8" light grey letters; in strict terms they are a skosh too big but they turned out very well. Sshh! Don't tell anyone... With the decals on I added a sealing coat of acrylic clear gloss to seal them in. I used artist's oils to do the washes, starting with a base of Paine's Grey (a dark bluish-black) and lightened it with a bit of white. I used lighter fluid (Napha) to thin the oils because it is the least strong thinner for the oils, and because the drying time is much shorter. The wash was applied in the major engine cowling lines, in the lines between the a/c control surfaces, and in some of the panels that are often opened. I added brown and some white to the base oil paint mix, then applied and spread out the oil streaks under the belly and aft of the lower air intake with a brush. I added scuffs and dings along the inner wings with a combination of silver dry brushing (very dry, actually) and some silver artist's pencil. I spread on some pastels in earth tones over the scuffing, to portray dirt and grime and to tone done the brightness of the silver. I also used the pastels to add the exhaust streaking. A final coat of clear acrylic flat sealed in the weathering, and we are done. Hhmmm... what's next? A what-if Spitfire racer, perhaps? I hope you all enjoyed the ride. I will be posting additional pictures in the Ready for Inspection threads. Cheers, Jim
  7. Hi all, Thanks for the positive vibes, I appreciate that! Nils, Please note that this article is a retrospective diary, so the model has been completed. Although I didn't mention it, I did go looking for verification of either silver or IGG for that section of the cockpit. I could not find any evidence either way for the PR XI's. I think the PR XI displayed at the USAF Air Museum (note that the name has changed) shows IGG, and I do know PR XIX's, at least the one in Sweden, also shows IGG. Which proves nothing really, so your guess is as good as mine. In terms of the overall build, I was ready to assemble the airframe. I did find one odd thing with the kit ailerons. The best fit is slightly deflected (left up, right down). Note that there is nothing in the instructions to let you know about this fit. I had already long since glued in the control stick in neutral (but forward to match drooped elevators), so I decided to place the ailerons in neutral. The right one needed a piece of .010” strip to obtain a gluing surface on its upper mounting edge, then both sides were glued in the neutral position. In the image below I was getting close to the finish line. The PR XIX has a depression on the upper left side of the fuselage behind the fixed rear canopy. This is a mount for a cabin vent. Fill this area in and sand smooth. I used a mixture of CA glue and talcum powder for this little job. You can see here the deeper resin chin that I used; I think it is from Pavla originally, but I'm not positive; there are several of these made by different manufacturers but none of them are specifically made for this conversion. In my case, I added a strip of .040" plastic to the rear edge, plus a slightly overlapping piece of .020" to complete the smooth transition. I later added a resin piece for the short carb intake that was revealed in a photo of this aircraft. And extra Brownie points if you can identify the spinner and prop! Below is the top side again with a lot of tape and a cotton ball in the cockpit to eliminate over spray. I painted the frames on the rear fixed section of the cockpit first using IGG then PRU Blue. The upper frame on the windscreen was painted the same, then mounted on the airplane. After filling and smoothing, the lower frame got the same painting sequence. The sliding section framing was later painted in the same way before installation. Next, note that the wooden antenna and its little mounting plate have been attached. The wing roots got some .010" shims and some Mr. Surfacer to bring them to completion. One other visible detail here is the fasteners on the engine cowling pieces. I wound up sanding away a number of the original fasteners, so I sanded them all off early on. The Aeroclub nose is quite hard plastic so it took some work to replace the fasteners using a beading tool. Then, using a center punch to mark the center hole, I used a tiny drill pit in a handle to partially drill out each fastener. All done by hand and I'm quite pleased the the result! It is all done except for the finishing; see you next time! Cheers, Jim
  8. Hi all, With the extensive description of the canopies, let's return to the build. With all the preliminary work done, I turned back to the interior. Given the somewhat loose fit of the bulkheads, I wanted to ensure strong glue joints all along the interior. I cut thin strips of masking tape and applied them into the bulkhead mounting tracks and painted the basic Interior Grey Green (IGG). I used Sky to add worn highlights and picked out the details in off-black. Also noted in the following picture, I added a piece of .040" plastic under the slot for the antenna mast. I made the mast from a wood craft stick and included an extra 1/16" or so for mounting; when the mast was glued into place this made for a very strong assembly. Once the glued up interior sub assemblies were set, I painted up the additional bits. I only painted the visible parts of the cameras, seen at the left, to speed up construction a bit. At center, I painted up an Ultracast seat after adding the shoulder harness extensions and the wire for the locking mechanism. The wire itself is a piece of sewing thread. I pulled the thread over a candle (unlit!) and pulled it through my fingers; the candle wax smooths and removes the fine fuzz from the thread. It was then painted and added to the shoulder belt pieces. On the instrument panel on the right, I used a Yahu panel instead of the kit pieces. The kit panel was sanded down to make it smooth for adding the Yahu piece. I sprayed a clear acrylic coat of paint on the replacement panel first, then placed a small drop of clear gloss acrylic to the instruments. I find this improves the look of the basic Yahu panel. I also noticed that if the control stick is installed per instructions, it sits almost as tall as the top of the instrument panel which I think is too tall. However, there were two little pegs at the bottom of the stick, so I cut the bottom one off and mounted the stick using the second, higher, peg. A much better result in my opinion. Next up was some airframe-related painting. The interior of the inner landing gear wells received a shot of IGG; the outer portion of the main wheel wells will be painted in PRU Blue l after assembly. The interior of the radiator tubs and the area above the tubs on the lower wings were painted IGG. I also sprayed the front and rear areas of the wing mounts for the tubs in PRU Blue to make the overall painting a bit easier, and I highlighted the raised screening detail on the radiators themselves. Finally, I painted the area around the vertical camera windows in PRU Blue. I then added the camera ports from inside and punched out some round pieces of tape to cover over the ports during the rest of assembly and painting. Well, that's all for now folks; more to come! Cheers, Jim
  9. Hi MS and all, About those canopies... I was planning to tackle this later in the build process but perhaps now is a good time. I have said that unless you can convert the nose, you cannot get to the PR XI in 1/48 scale; the same is true of the canopies. Let me say up front I am not a Spit boffin but I can speak to how the modeling plays out. Can the kit canopy pieces be used for a PR XI conversion? The short answer here is No, Not Really. Starting with the windscreen, the PR XIX windscreen includes a smooth rounded shape with frames at the top and bottom edges. As kitted, the front edge overlaps the upper fuselage fuel tank panel line and there is a "dip" in the fuselage surface to help the fit of the windscreen. The PR XI windscreen however, has a flat-ish spot in the center. There are no additional frame lines (such as we see in the fighter marks) to be found but the piece is a little over 1/32" or 1mm shorter, falling just behind the panel line for upper fuel tank. Looking at the sliding section, take note that most of the PR XI Spitfires had the clear tear-drop shaped blisters that allowed better downward vision; the model I did certainly had them, so the kit sliding section was out from the get-go. And when I cut out an appropriate canopy from my Falcon set, I was surprised to find that it is a little over 1/32" or 1mm shorter than the kit piece (the kit canopy measures 7/16 " in length or 11mm). While mulling that over, let's look at the rear fixed canopy. The kit piece measures 9/32" or 7mm and unlike the unpressurized a/c, the sides extend down to the line of the canopy sill; I hoped that I could just glue it into position and paint the higher line of the frame higher. However, that rear piece is from 1/32 to nearly 1/16" (1- 1.5 mm) shorter from back to front than the same pieces from Tamiya, Hasegawa, or ICM kits, measuring 7mm versus an average of 8-8.5mm in other kits and vacuforms. By the way, I do not have one of the Eduard Mk IX's for comparison. So, what we find visually is replacing the windscreen with a shorter length (front to back) piece, a sliding canopy that appears too long, and a fixed rear section that is too short, at least when fitting replacement pieces. I do not know who has most correct in dimensions, but the differences make it difficult to swap out anyone else's vacuformed bits. The Airfix pieces look to me like the rear section was made to just touch the sliding section when it is closed, rather that having its front frame fitted under the rear edge of the sliding section. It is a little hard to visualize, but the with the sliding canopy closed, the pilot's seat bulkhead, the front frame of the rear fixed piece, and the rear frame of the sliding canopy should all fall in line- but they don't. Oh, and one more thing- none of the existing canopies that I have, have the same curvature to really match the Airfix fuselage curve at the top of the fixed canopy from other suppliers. I failed to take pictures of the bits I used before painting and installation (working on a deadline) but here is a picture of a PR XI done some time back by Tony Bell. The differences in the front canopies are especially noteworthy. Also, note the length front to back of the rear fixed canopy as well as the sliding section. Again, I do not know whose dimensions are off, but I can speak to what the differences mean for building this conversion from the Airfix PR XIX kit. One simple way out might be to try sanding a flat-ish section into the windscreen (without sanding a hole or creating stress cracks), or use it as-is. Use the kit unpressurized sliding canopy (it may only fit in the closed position), then use the kit's rear fixed canopy and paint the frame line higher as needed, say, 1.5-2mm above the canopy rails. Just do not expect the canopy frames to line up over the pilot's seat bulkhead. I hope this helps those of us interested in this conversion, and perhaps someone will step up and make a new PR XI canopy that fits the Airfix kit. The rest of the conversion is not all that much work! HTH and Cheers, Jim
  10. Hi all, My bad, ladies and gents, I needed to remove some duplicate content and an image from my last entry. Last Friday's entry now works much better. The PR XIX has a taller vertical fin and larger rudder, so it needed cutting down, reshaping, and adding a new (backdated) rudder. On top of that, some PR XI's got the earlier rudder (as on the Mk V's) with a rounded top, while others got the earlier pointed rudder. My subject, EN343-E, was one of the first PR XI's to be built and had a rounded, early style rudder. I had excess rudder parts in my spares; I think this one came from a Tamiya Spitfire Mk VB kit (the desert one with tan plastic). Holding it at the hinge line with the bottom of the rudder even with the bottom of the kit's vertical fin established how much the fin needs to be cut down. I then filled some extra panel lines on the fin not present before the Griffon engine came into play, and roughly reshaped the fin to match the front edge curve of the rudder tip. I made a tapered, round length of sprue and added it to the front of the rudder and filed a tapering, round indention into the rear of the fin. This allowed me to mount the rudder slightly cocked left while keeping the assembly looking like a kit piece. The next picture is out of sequence, but you can see the finished and mounted rudder. I am happy with how it turned out. Now it's time to think about all those interior pieces! In test fitting the pieces it became apparent that fitting all the bulkheads into their shallow slots was going to take some time. I soon realized that the bulkheads formed pairs of pieces with some structure in between. Also, in looking at the pilot's head armor, I noticed that the slot for the shoulder belts looked too high. I filled in the slot with CA and talcum powder and sanded it smooth, taking care not to sand off nearby detail. I drilled a row of holes a bit lower and worked them into a slot; much better now! The biggest change I made was to the bulkhead at the rear of the cockpit section. On the PR XIX this is a solid bulkhead made for the pressurized cockpit, while the PR XI's bulkhead is like the Mk IX- an open frame. While I was not positive, I was comfortable with the idea of the leaving the three oxygen bottles on their platform just behind the pilot's seat bulkhead. I therefore carefully opened up the top half of the bulkhead and added the cross piece from plastic stock. I added some shallow holes to represent the lightening holes present in these bulkheads. Turning to the seat, I started with an Ultracast unit with the Sutton harness. I added short strips of paper at the top of the seat's buckles; these formed a "V" shape, to which I later added the cable that runs backwards into the upper spine of the fuselage. The main instrument panel received the compass holder and rudder pedals from the Barracuda set with the pedals displaced to reflect the final rudder position. The instrument panel was then sanded smooth to take a replacement Photo Etch (PE) unit a bit later. Stay tuned! Cheers, Jim
  11. Hi all, Turning to the wings, and actually to all the airframe parts, I gave a light sanding to all the exterior surfaces in order to knock down the panel lines a bit. Here is a before and after with the top wings. It does not show up too well, but the right wing has been sanded while the left one is out of the kit. I use 600 to 800 grit foam sanding blocks and took special care not to sand down any protruding detail on the outer surfaces. In the end I wound up doing less panel line washes since the panel lines were still big enough to show from under the paint and finishes. The kit radiators are too deep for the PR XI so they needed to made more shallow. The actual depth of the PR XI radiators should be the same as for the Mk IX's. One could simply measure the relative depths of the kit pieces to a pair of Mk IX pieces and cut a section out of the kit pieces. However, I chose to change out the radiators baths from a Mk IX. In this case, I used ICM Mk IX radiators because they fit well over the kit radiator cores and also they are molded with the cooling doors closed. As with most Spitfires, there are indented mounting points in the lower wing to set the "feet" of the radiator housings in the correct location. I used the kit radiators to trace the “feet” and cut replacements from .015” plastic sheet. It will take some time to trim and fit each foot piece, but in the end you can achieve a snug fit. I placed the finished feet in place and set the Mk IX housings over the radiator cores. I measured the gaps on the sides of the housings; this represents the amount of material that must be cut from the radiator cores to make them shallower. I removed the excess depth from the cores and test fitted the housings. Once I had the housings resting on the new feet on the lower wing, I carefully glued the housing to the feet without gluing it onto the radiator cores. I then fitted the separate radiator faces and cut them down until they fit in the openings. Finally, I ran a bead of Mr. Surfacer along the outer joint between the housings and the feet to create a little fairing. Tune in soon as I replace the rudder and begin to assemble and paint the interior bits. Cheers, Jim
  12. Hi Bob, Well you should know that I sanded off the rear lip some time back trying for a smoother fit; but that said if you want it you are welcome to it. Give me a shout via the message board. HTH, Jim
  13. Hi Jason, Finally the dawn breaks... I thought I had several pictures of the "smaller" thimble nose, such as this one: However, on close review I think this is the same nose as Freightdog gives it. Digging further, Richard Frank's book on the Mosquito has a nose profile that is pointy-ish, but when I looked at that the note indicates that the nose profile is for the NF XV. That led to a search on the NF XV and turned this up: Notice how pointed that nose is? I think the little resin nose I picked up somewhere matches that. At least now I know what goes onto my NF XII, so I'll just toddle off and have a piece Crow pie. Thank you very much for posting and successfully nudging me onto the right path! Cheers, Jim
  14. Hi all, Continuing with the fuselage, note in the upper part of the image the wing root fairing on the Aeroclub nose has been shimmed to give a better fit with the kit wings. You can also see that I have added some strip plastic to the rear fixed section of the cockpit. The PR XI uses the shorter (less tall) fixed section but the kit gives us the taller piece. This also presents us the first real problem in this conversion. The Airfix fixed rear section is shorter from front to back than the same space in Tamiya, ICM, or Revell kits by 1/32" to 1/16". I am not sure which is correct, but the shorter length here means that most vac formed replacement canopies will be too long. However, if you trim back the fixed section then most vac formed center sliding sections will also be too short. This is not easy to fix, since the bulkheads and their assemblies fit into designated slots so they cannot be moved to fit a different set of measurements. I wound up making the rear section longer to fit the vac piece, which allowed a reasonable fit for the sliding center section. In addition, note that the Airfix kit's windscreen opening was slightly too long at the front when I installed the PR XI windscreen, which has a slightly blunter front end. Finally, I sanded off the Airfix lip along the sliding section's edge; this feature is present in the pressurized PR XIX but not in the unpressurized PR XI. On the port fuselage half, note the series of narrow strips of plastic over the joint. Strips are easier to glue in and make a stronger joint that either a simple butt joint, or adding sheet plastic versus the strips; the sheet plastic would need to bend in two dimensions which will leave gaps when glued in. I also decided early on to replace the kit's short propeller assembly pin with nested brass tubing. Various plastic bits and a liberal amount of epoxy glue yields a strong support for a free-wheeling propeller when the model is done. Moving back I used most of the Barracuda cockpit upgrade resin pieces to enhance the detail. I went through my parts stash and found several pilot entry doors. I picked the longest one I had and cut an opening in the port fuselage to match. Moving back behind the cockpit, remember that we need a new antenna added; I made a narrow slot at the appropriate location on the fuselage spine and added extra plastic under the opening. When I made the antenna from a wooden craft stick, I left the bottom of the piece longer to make a stronger joint. Whew, I'm tired just writing this all out. Tune in next time! Cheers, Jim
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