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  1. The Ilyushin Il-76 (NATO code name Candid) made its maiden flight in 1971 and it still is the standard mount of the Russian airborne forces. It has also been used as a refuelling tanker and a flying command post. Almost one thousand Il-76’s of different variants have been manufactured so far and the new ones are modernized. In the civilian role the Il-76 has seen extensive service as a commercial cargo plane especially for the big and heavy items. It has also been used as an emergency transport for evacuations ands transporting humanitarian aid. Due to its ability to operate from unpaved runways, it has been useful in undeveloped areas. Some versions have also been produced for aerial firefighting. In the 1970 and 80’s The Iraqi Airways operated many Il-76’s as a cargo plane. Some of them had the rear gunners post even if the two 23 mm guns were not installed in them. I built my model from a 1/144 scale Zvezda IL-76MD kit. Its quality was very good and almost no putty or sanding was needed. Of the two variants of the plane I chose to build the one with a pointed rear tip. The other alternative would have been the version with the rear gunner’s post. The other options to choose from were 1. the plane in the flying mode, 2. with the flaps and slats extended and 3. the plane on the ground (which I chose). Additionally one could have also built the model with the cargo ramp lowered. My model depicts the Iraqi Airways plane reg. YI-ANG from the 1980’s. I ordered the smart looking decals from Liveries unlimited and the ones for the multiple glazing of the cockpit from Authentic Airliners decals. I painted the dark green areas with Tamiya TS-9 ”British Green”, the white areas with Tamiya Fine surface primer and the light grey underside and wings with Mr. Hobby’s Mr. Surfacer 1000. Afterwards I then sprayed the whole model with Tamiya TS-13 clear gloss varnish. For the minor details I used Revell’s and Vallejo’s paints.
  2. Even if vintage airliners are my real cup of tea I occasionally like to model newer planes when I find a colourful and stylish livery. Well, this is what happened with Revell's 1/144 scale Airbus A320 in the smart scheme of the Swiss charter airline Edelweiss. The company was established in 1995 and it's currently a joint operation of Swiss International Airlines and Lufthansa. The emblem of the airline is the edelweiss or the alpine star. At present the company have a fleet of ten Airbus A320's plus eight larger Airbus types and three MD-80's. The quality of the Revell kit was quite two-fold. The decals were excellent but the molding of the parts surprisingly mediocre. There were a lot of flash and ejector marks but despite those problems the details and the accuracy of the kit were quite ok. Building the model was straightforward but quite time consuming. There were a lot of decals and aftermarket details (a set from Daco) to be attached. The cockpit window decals I ordered from Authentic Airlines. Moreover, the open holes of the cabin and cockpit windows had to be filled and sanded. I first primed the model with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and then spayed the white areas with Tamiya Fine Surface primer coated with Tamiya gloss varnish. The red areas of the fuselage and the rudder were sprayed with Tamiya TS-8 Italian red. For the colleagues who want to build this kit there's a piece of advice. The white alpine star decals are quite thin and transparent and the colour underneath shines easily through. So, before I painted the red areas I masked the spots where the decals were to be attached. As to the wings and stabs I painted them with Xtracolor X150 (Awacs/Canadian Voodoo grey). For the minor details I used Vallejo acrylics. In the end I coated the model and the decals with Humbrol clear gloss varnish.
  3. The DC-9 is one of my favourite airliners. So many classic liveries look smart on that plane type. I've always liked the KLM scheme, whether it be the old stripe tail or the new blue fuselage livery. I built this KLM DC-9-15 from a Fly Models kit with Polish manufactured Techmod decals. They were quite fragile and I had to correct them at various locations. The decals were a tough fight to win. The cockpit window decals I ordered from Authentic Airliners. The kit was quite simple and easy to assemble. I had to modify certain parts and add scratch built details and there was some puttying and sanding to be done. I painted the white upper fuselage with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer that I then covered with Tamiya gloss varnish TS-13. As to the metal colour areas of the plane I primed them first with Tamiya black TS-14. After having let the black cure properly I sprayed the areas with AK Extreme metal aluminium. For the details I also used Vallejo acrylics and Humbrol enamels,
  4. I present the Zvezda Boeing 737-800 in Malev livery circa 2006. The model is OOB apart from some Daco PE and one or two small details. It was straightforward although there were a few minor annoyances such as finding one of the side struts for the main undercarriage broken when I opened the box. I somehow missed a couple of nasty sink marks on the rudder until the dark blue showed them up, a mistake I won’t make twice. That said, the positives hugely outweigh any negatives. It has the correct window line, accurate engines and accurate winglets with the options of plain wingtips and split scimitars. The Zvezda undercarriage is exquisite if a little fiddly and gives the correct stance - no more cutting down the Revell main gear! You even get a choice of cockpit clear sections with and without eyebrows and the spare could probably be donated to an Airfix 727 or 737 as an alternative to the Daco part. As usual paint was Halfords Appliance White and Racking Grey. The blue is Mr Color 35 Cobalt Blue. It has a slight purple cast (which doesn’t show up well in the photos) and it was the best off the shelf match I could find for the elusive Malev blue. Metallics are by Revell and Tamiya. The titles, fin logos and registrations are by Drawdecal. Detail decals, including replacement door outlines, are from the spares box. They are mainly Revell and Daco in origin. To my surprise and disappointment I had problems with the Authentic Airliners windows due to a significant mismatch between the window spacing on the kit and on the sheet. As usual I had made tiny pin marks on the front and rear windows of each cabin and the emergency exits to guide decal placement and I had also masked the blue paint by reference to the rear cabin windows but when I came to apply the window decals I found it impossible to get them to fit properly. I tried a bit of bodgery but the result just looked wrong. I checked an unbuilt kit and found that the decals were significantly short, for example 24 windows from the aft emergency exit to the rear window measured 85mm on the kit but only 82mm on the decals. The original Drawdecal windows and several other 738 decals in my stash agreed with the kit and it was pretty clear that either I had got a rogue set of window decals or AA had got it wrong. Off came the AA windows and on went a Daco set which fitted perfectly. The Daco windows were then carefully overlaid with the non-framed windows left over from the AA sheet which had to be applied individually, all 84 of them, a lengthy and tedious job which taxed my limited patience (non-existent according to my wife) and my ageing eyesight. I‘m not convinced that the result really justifies the effort, certainly not close up, and my next 738 will probably have PAS or 8aDecs windows. The decal issue had nothing to do with the kit and I thoroughly enjoyed the Zveda 738. I’m already planning another one, probably Luxair with scimitars. I’ve also just received a Zvezda 737-700 and it will hopefully appear as Westjet’s tartan-tailed C-GQWJ which was a regular visitor to Glasgow a couple of years ago. Thanks for looking and as always constructive criticism is welcome. Dave G
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