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  1. Hello, mes ami! It is once again into the breach! This time with an LF Models 1/72 resin rendition of the Consolidated P-30/PB-2. Consolidated Aircraft, is the company that would eventually give us the famous delta-winged bombers and fighters of the '50s and '60s. Actually the whole lineage of this aircraft was started by what was actually at the time, the precursor of the Lockheed Aircraft Company. Rather than repeat the whole story here, I would refer you instead to the Wikipedia article HERE I will however, directly quote from the article to state the reason why this rather forlorn looking aircraft was actually important in the greater scheme of things: "The P-30 is significant for being the first fighter in United States Army Air Corps service to have retractable landing gear, an enclosed and heated cockpit for the pilot, and an exhaust-driven turbo-supercharger for altitude operation." You will note the heated cockpit for the PILOT -- even back then, the G.I.B. was of passing concern... On to the somewhat rare-ish LF kit. Like most of their kits that I have built, the molding are usually quite sharp, and the directions are quite poor. No exception here! I can certainly understand difficulties with language barriers, but line drawings, particularly more-or-less technical ones, are universal. Unless of course, they were done by your third cousin's ugly step-brother or whomever. While most items are referenced, few explicit details are given, and one must pore over the relatively few photos that can be found, none of which include complete views of the entire cockpit area. But, I digress... The kit looks like so: The inner fuselage halves have reasonable sidewall detail for the era, and the usual PE seats and belts are fine. The decals look great, and the instructions, at least, are not overly Xeroxed (photocopied to you youngsters) unto the death. One other shortcoming of the instructions is that there are no drawings, showing the parts still on the resin sprues or pour gates. More on this later. Most builds begin with the cockpit, as the first thing on the list to be done before joining the fuselage halves. In this case, I won't show much of that, because the lack of clear indications of where exactly to place the pilots floorboard, etc. are not to be had. The instrument panel and pilot's floor I think I eventually figured out; the gunner's floorboard, while it has been installed, I do not know whether it should, in fact, be further forward. Therefore, the first thing I WILL mention is the little intake at the lower front of the fuselage, where what looks like a radiator, a little circular circle thingy and a resin piece with a hole in it (supposedly positioned where air coming thru the hole would flow into the circular thingy) should be positioned: Shown above, the little part with the hole (B) should be aligned flush with the front face of the intake lip, on the starboard side of the fuselage (left arrow). The part with the radiator and the circular cooler "thingy" are inset further back from the lip of the intake on the left fuselage half, so that the "A" part in back aligns with the "B" part in front. I hope that this is clearer than the instructions, but oh well... Next up on the list of confusion is the assembly of the gunners seat, floorboard and "tilt" mechanism?: Above, the arrow point to the actual seat itself. part "Z" is the gunner's floorboard, parts "X" are two little PE "U"-shaped parts stuck to the back of the seat, one above the other. Parts "Y" are two pieces of the wire supplied in the kit that you are to cut to the length of your choice, and then bend to the curvature of your choice, and attach more-or-less as shown above. There is another piece of the wire that is laid side-to-side across the width of the seat at the very bottom in back, that anchors the two bent wire parts. Sorry that I neglected to highlight this, but it can be seen in the photo and IS shown in the kit instructions. My main problem here is that I could find ZERO photographs depicting this seat, and what can be seem from available outside shots of the aircraft don't seem to look anything like this! Dealer's choice, I suppose. Next, a view showing the I.P. and pilots section installed, and a different view of the gunner's seat, which in the combat of figuring out all of the above, has lost it's aluminum paint on the upper part of the seat. Have to fix that, I suppose: Above right, another view of the intake, as the fuse halves are glued together. Next, the bugaboo of all resin and vacuform kits -- necessary sanding. In this case, it is the three parts that comprise the turbo-supercharger and it's various fairings: Above, the un-started front fairing, then the backside of the turbo-charger -- partially sanded, and finally, on the right, the finished rear turbo fairing. All these items have to be sanded free of their resin pour blocks, or "thinned" if you will. The hardest part is sanding these things flat and even. As you can see from the arrow on the middle item, I still have a slight taper on the on the pour block that needs removal, as it is now thicker on the left side than on the right. You just have to keep sanding until the pour block becomes mere "flash", which can be cleanly snapped off. The best method I have found after all these years, is still the old sticky tape method wherein the tape has to be changed out, seemingly every few seconds! Oh, and did I mention, you stll have to sand a bit fore-and-aft as well as up-and-down, to fit various fuselage curves....? Below, lots to be seen in the next photo: First off, the turbo-charger parts. The leading fairing should be installed just behind the cowl join line, and hard against the exhaust part at it's top. I then held the actual turbine part into place temporarily, so I could align the rear fairing to fit tightly and properly. This was so the turbo could be removed and painted silver before final installation. I'm fairly certain that the two fairings will be painted blue, but I'm waiting, hoping to find a picture of this aircraft with markings for the 94th Fighter Squadron, the famed "Hat-In-The-Ring" 94th Aero Squadron of WW I fame. Part "A" is an upper cockpit panel that is installed closely behind the pilot's seat, with the cut-out nearer to the front than rear. This part will eventually have a rather prominent "roll bar" looking thing installed on it's top, not mentioned nor shown in the instructions, but rather obvious from other photos. Sometimes, the roll bar had some sort of fairing enclosing it, perhaps an early version of pilot's armor plating? It couldn't have helped rearward visibility for a fighter, but what the heck the heck, we got a G.I.B., don't we? "S" above shows my choice of location for the gunner's seat. It possibly might need to be more forward, or even tilted back more, but I have no way of knowing. Lastly, the "tail feathers" have been installed. Well, enough self-torture for now. I'll be back with more, when I gather the courage! Ed
  2. Here is my latest venture...the Heller kit of the Curtiss Helldiver, SBC-4, in French livery. I had to cobble a few things together to make it work, but I was happy with it in the end. Most importantly, I used this kit as a jumping-off point for my very first airbrushing attempt! I don't think I did too poorly, but I do need a lot more practice before I tackle any of my more intricate and/or expensive kits, like an Eduard Avia B.534 or a Special Hobby Boomerang...I am still fighting with paints (Tamiya is my first choice here) and I am convinced that Vallejo Model Colours do not spray well. In any case...Paints on this were Tamiya Royal Light Grey, Light Blue and RAF Dark Green 2, some Dark Grey Vallejo, and oil paint pin wash following the satin varnish, and a few choice rusty spots with a light rust wash...Decals are from the spares bag and, yes, they are a trifle too large for this. I could not find small French roundels and the kit sheet was so yellow with age...Tailplane is hand-painted. The kit was straightforward--watch that spindly landing gear! I had to fix it twice while rigging. Rigging is Ethicon stainless steel for the interplane double lines, sprue for the cabanes and EZ-Line for the radio antennae. Is that it...? One note...my airbrush came with three needles... .3mm, .5mm and .8mm I assumed that the .3mm was in the gun when I sprayed. No. It was the .5mm. So I have now changed it out and I predict better brushing for this small scale in the future. Thanks!
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