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  1. Hello everybody, here is my latest completed project, a Bugatti 100 Racer in 1/72 using the Projekts Models limited run kit. I knew nothing of this racer until I stumbled across this kit on 'that' auction site and just had to have it. The Bugatti racer was designed in the early 1930's with the view of racing it in the 1939 Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup Race but wasn't completed before the outbreak of WW2 and like the Caudron C.714R racer, was hidden away until after the war. As you will see, the Bugatti racer was a very futuristic design to achieve the highest possible speeds. Two 450hp Bugatti type 50B racing engines were mounted behind the cockpit, each driving a shaft either side of the pilot to drive two, two-bladed contra-rotating propellers. Cooling intakes were located on the leading edges of the tri-tail assembly. It wasn't until 1970 that the decaying aircraft was bought by an American, restored and on static display at the EAA Aviation Museum. Inspired by this image, having the racer aircraft, I needed to source the Bugatti 57SC Atlantic car and a few figures. Besides the obvious problems encountered when building limited run kits; no location points, fit issues, etc, extra work was needed with making the exhaust fairings which was rather tricky and making the undercarriage doors from thin brass. The headache of the whole build was the canopy as it was a mixture of metal frames and plexiglass reinforcing frames. Painted with Humbrol 48 enamel paint and...no decals. I found this at Shapeways but in the wrong scale but asking nicely, I acquired the model but at a cost. Enhancements to the kit were fitting windows using acetate, fitting a 5-port exhaust at the back and the 'chrome' trimming along the engine covers using thin wire. Internals were painted with a Vallejo leather colour paint that was 'swished' around and excess poured out. Humbrol 48 painted externally. Tyres and grills were painted Vallejo Panzer grey and grills were dry brushed with silver. Wheel hubs were painted silver and highlighted with a Molotow Chrome pen, as were the handles, hinges and fuel filler cap. And here they both are on a concrete strip with a pilot and and a 1930's gent figures. WIP here: I'd like to thank all those who encouraged me during the build but particular thanks need to go to Claudio @Moa for helping with images and supplying some suitable figures. Stuart
  2. Hi All. After a recent acquisition from Evilbay for £10.50, this little racer has got me all pepped up, so what do we have? As the title says, the subject of interest is the Model 100 Bugatti racer in 1/72 by an unknown to me, Projekts Model Co. The Bugatti racer was designed in the early 1930's with the view of racing it in the 1939 Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup Race but wasn't completed before the outbreak of WW2 and like the Caudron C.714R racer, was hidden away until after the war. As you will see, the Bugatti racer was a very futuristic design to achieve the highest possible speeds. Two 450hp Bugatti type 50B racing engines were mounted behind the cockpit, each driving a shaft either side of the pilot to drive two, two-bladed contra-rotating propellers. Cooling intakes were located on the leading edges of the tri-tail assembly. It wasn't until 1970 that the decaying aircraft was bought by an American, restored and on static display at the EAA Aviation Museum. A nice pic from the Speedbirds book. The kit. The plastic, obviously limited run. The pictures. Their is also a correction sheet... After getting the kit, it was @Moa who helped with reference, thanks. Not to sure when this will kick into action as I've got to 'clear the decks' of other stuff first, hopefully soon. Stuart
  3. The box The kit. Not a bad kit overall but the engine is awful and the interior needs a bit of detailing. I have a week to mull over the best methods of fixing both
  4. This will be my second entry to the group build. It’s a very simple but nice kit only one sprue and a decal sheet so will probably go together very easily. More to follow.
  5. Also from last year, a build that may especially interest the British membership.} This Hart, as all harts do, loved to race. Purchased by Princess Margaret, she entered the plane in the King's Cup race of 1951 (that was cancelled), and after that in other competitions and events, some times in the company of the Hurricane seen also bellow (and that I will post after this one). The opportunity to build this racer came in the form of a set of high-quality decals produced and released by Arctic Decals. The Hawker Hart is from Amodel, and it's typical of their range: reasonably-priced, lots of parts, good detail in their masters, but in general a somewhat indifferent molding creating a bit of flash and occasionally dubious fit, making you perform a thorough cleanup session before starting. But you will get a good model if you do your homework. I have built a number of Amodel kits, showing that ultimately it's a fair deal, as long as you spend some time to get the parts sharp and clean and refine them up for a good fit. Small grumbling aside, you will need of course to de-militarize your Hart. A whole sprue of bombs and similar expendable miscellanea will go the scratchbuilding recycling department to become something better. Then a few external features will have to be modified. There are photos on the Net showing this racer with and without a faired cover for the aft position, so it's up to you. Surely it didn't race with a guy on the back of the pilot, though, so I'll be scratching a cover. The Arctic Decals set and the Amodel kit (there are other 1/72 kits of the Hart, by Airfix, Aeroclub and Kora, and the latter has also resin sets for it) is as usual excellent. (Fire engine is a commercial item) (fueling truck is scratch-built and was posted some time ago here at Britmodeller) With the Hurricane it many times shared the field (also purchased by Princess Margaret):
  6. Found a few more that I have forgotten to post, from long ago, when the hand was even less able than today. (Model built in -and text from- 2007, that is 12 years ago, when I was starting to dabble on scratchs): Retro-futurism at its best. Credited as the first delta wing plane and the first delta canard, this extremely streamlined racing machine was created by French designer Roland Nicolas Payen. It was supposed to receive an inline engine to fit the carefully polished lines of the plane, but what it got was a radial that had to be adapted to the existing fuselage, creating a sight that we only thought could come out of a comic magazine of the era. Before you ask, yes, it did fly. It never made it to the races or speed record flights, but for sure all involved had a lot of fun. The first –very cautious- flight was made by Louis Massotte, chief pilot for Bleriot, on October 1934. In April 1935 is flown by Jean Meunier. After several flights that demonstrate the critics the viability of the design, it had a bad landing and although not very badly damaged it is decided to proceed instead with other designs. Prop and wheels came from Aeroclub.
  7. Here is one of the two Ansaldo "Brescia" racers, number 3, made specifically to race in the famous events hosted by that Italian city. Number 4 had a more powerful engine and some minor mods. The base was a not bad Pegasus injection kit, with home-concocted decals. The building post can be visited here: The drastically clipped wing and modified strut arrangement gives it an unusual but -to me, lover of oddities- appealing geometry. The model was possible thanks to aviation historian Paolo Miana and his team, as information found in their book on their Ansaldo machines filled a number of voids. https://www.gliarchiviritrovati.it/home/prodotto/gli-aerei-che-hanno-fatto-la-storia-ansaldo-sva/ They have publications on many other very interesting Italian subjects. Any potential inaccuracies are only mine. This was an almost painless adaptation of an easily obtained kit (there are many others by different manufacturers readily available) that presents a known plane under a mostly unknown guise, just the type of modeling I love. As always, I enjoyed very much reading about and working on an Italian racer, a nation that gave so much to that field of aviation, with luscious designs of undeniable appeal, even when they are unorthodox. Some of the images show my 1/72nd Italian test pilots, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and Pier Paolo Pasolini, assisted by their mechanics (out of the frame) Domenico Modugno and Adriano Celentano.
  8. (According to the Paolo Mina's book (that translates as "Airplanes That Have Made History, Ansaldo SVA"), this is a heavily retouched photo of the second Brescia racer (250hp engine). The number 4 had actually a star background. In this photo the number has been altered to follow the decoration scheme of #3) This link will take you to Kees Kort (varese2002) flickr page, that features #3: https://www.flickr.com/photos/varese2002/42416308151/in/album-72157636093418425/ Racers are like the spicy dish on the menu of civil aviation, the curry or jalapeño of winged apparatuses. One may even refer specifically to Italian racers as the pasta alla puttanesca plate. I have build very many models of them, as they are just beautiful. Long time ago a slightly bizarre one caught my attention, a (drastically) clipped wing version of the Ansaldo SVA biplane, called Brescia, as it was designed to compete in that city's famous races. In one of my excursions to the surrounding modeling grottoes (in this case during a trip to Palm Desert) I spotted and promptly acquired a Pegasus 1/72 kit of the SVA-5 with the purpose of conversion (that is to obtain a more civilized version). I have a few Pegasus kits stashed somewhere, and to be sincere they don't make a wonderful impression on me (and for what I can tell on many others as well), but having built veritable monsters that even today invoke nightmares in my mind (Merlin and the old Dujin kits, to name just two) this is not really a bad kit. Yes, it has a lot of flash, no locating devices whatsoever, some of the parts are a bit coarse, and there is not much in terms of interior detail, but I think they are perfectly buildable with some work and patience. In this case, to obtain the racing version, the wings and horizontal tail will require complete reworking, the interior a bit of improving, and a few external details added, as well as new decals. During my research I came across a wonderful publication by Italian aviation historian Paolo Miana and his team: https://www.gliarchiviritrovati.it/home/prodotto/gli-aerei-che-hanno-fatto-la-storia-ansaldo-sva/ That made me immensely happy, as I have purchased and used as references before two of his titles: "Gli aerei che hanno fatto la storia – SIAI S.64", https://www.gliarchiviritrovati.it/home/blogs/gli-aerei-che-hanno-fatto-la-storia-siai-s-64/ that I consulted for my Savoia S.64: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235050050-scratch-built-172-savoia-marchetti-s64-1928/ and his book on the Savoia Marchetti S.79 racers: "Lost Archives - Pictorial history of SIAI - Chapter I - the Sorci Verdi". https://www.gliarchiviritrovati.it/home/prodotto/siai-s-79-capitolo-i-i-sorci-verdi/ That were helpful in building two of them too: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235050724-savoia-s79-corsa-adaptation-from-the-172nd-scale-airfix-kit/ https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235050725-savoia-marcehtti-s79-corsa-conversion-of-the-172-italeri-kit/ A bagged kit, conveys a sort of vintage flavor... Contents. The machine guns are swiftly trashed: Plenty of flash: In spite of the prominent and ubiquitous flash, the plastic is soft and cleans perfectly in a matter of minutes: The "instructions" let you know that you have to fabricate your own struts. Again, do not panic, easy peasy for any modeler with a bit of experience: And in this very special and VERY happy day, an unusual and welcome sight in California: a life-giving rain, as if the sky would want to wash away the filth of these last four years, and to top everything, the sun is coming out again, shinning on all things, without distinction:
  9. A Golden Eagle flies yonder The base for this model was a vintage RarePlane vacuform kit, rather basic and with a problematic "clear" acetate fuselage that gave more than one headache. Fortunately a beautiful set from Arctic Decals helped with the build. Much had to be improved on and added to the basic vac, and for those curious here is the step-by-step building post: The first ever built Lockheed Vega was presumed lost at sea on its way to Hawaii during the Dole air race. This competition attracted many pilots and designers, many of which had ad-hoc machines created for this event, not always blessed with sound engineering or aerodynamic qualities*. The news of the time tended to minimize the ill fate of many of the competitors and a number of the planes, centering in the achievements of the winners. Many of the participants paid a heavy price, and some of them the ultimate price. It's interesting that this very public setback did not affect the career of the Lockheed Vega, nor Lockheed's name, both on their way to fame, recognition, and achievements. In an era of clumsy biplanes (and even a few stubborn triplanes**) the elegant, refined, and harmonious lines of the Vega easily overshadowed almost all contemporary planes. The aesthetic qualities of the design are evident, even today. Aviation wasn't then mature enough to accomplish the feat of a completely safe flight in mass to an archipelago situated in the middle of the Pacific, something Dole shamelessly ignored -or chose to ignore- (too much money and power almost invariably produce selective blindness) so many participants ended up paying with their lives. But times were rapidly changing, and records, competitions and extraordinary feats of design, piloting and navigation will eventually open the world to the wings of mankind. Here is a photo of the race start lineup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dole_Air_Race#/media/File:Dole_Air_Race_-_8091692321.jpg *Among them the Bryant Monoplane, something I would very much like to scratch: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/8091680924 **One of them, the Catron & Fisk "Pride of Los Angeles", notoriously trying to participate in the race: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catron_%26_Fisk_CF-10#/media/File:Pride_of_Los_Angeles.jpg
  10. A Golden Eagle is lost at sea Long time ago I came across photos of the Lockheed Vega "Golden Eagle" that participated in the Dole air race to Hawaii. The plane started, but never arrived, and is presumed by most as having gone down in the Pacific. The Golden Eagle was the first Vega build, bought by George Hearst, and entered in the Dole race flown by Gordon Scott (navigator) and Jack Frost (pilot). Whilst some photos show a plane with the 2788 registration and an unusual, early style of curved small windshield and open cockpit, others show a plane as it participated in the race (as also seen in the Dole race start newsreels), with a "V" shaped more common windshield (still open "roof" in the cockpit), the actual legend "Golden Eagle" on the side, NX913 registration, and that -often seen in Lockheed planes- linear "spread array" pattern on the stab. Both had the early exposed cylinders -no NACA cowl or Townend ring- the triangular vertical tail, and a rather simple, unfaired, landing gear array. As it happens, after long perusing, reading and browsing, it is clear that the two are one and the same, with the registration changed. The color of the plane is given in one source as bright yellow. The diverse characters on the plane are certainly not black, and in fact are almost the same tonal value as the airframe color, confirming the red "trim" stated by many accounts. Yet another source (an article by Serge Pozzoli) reports orange-gold and red trim, and that would be indeed my choice, as it closely honors the name of the plane. The book Lockheed Aircraft since 1913 by R. Francillon states orange and red, and again, I think that "orange" stands for a golden paint. The plane had large signs on the sides, almost invisible in all but two of the images I have, that play a bit on the logo of the San Francisco Examiner (the sponsor) but adding "Golden Eagle" split to each side of it. The tail has an early Lockheed star logo with the word Vega in it, and the lettering Lockheed bellow it. As per details: a whole new interior has to be provided (fortunately I found a diagram). The Vega 1 was conceived as a four-seater, but for the race two fuel tanks were located ahead in the cabin, leaving a crawling space on top, and a navigator station was created with instruments, seat, a space for provisions, emergency equipment, radio, etc. An earth-inductor compass was part of the equipment, its mast with spinning windmill on the fuselage spine. A hatch for a cut-out was provided for the navigator on the cabin roof and a foldable windshield ahead of it on the wing. Opposite to what will be seen on successive models, the ailerons did not have a compensating mass, thus the ailerons leading edges were a simple straight business. These early Vegas, as mentioned, had a triangular vertical tail, a door that hinged upwards, located ahead of what will be the norm in later models, and only four windows per side. As many of you know, there is a 1/72 kit by MPM readily available -which I have in the stash- but also an old and venerable vac by Gordon Stevens of RarePlane fame. I had the good fortune of corresponding with him before his passing, at a time when I was building some of his kits. We had our good chats, as he was an affable, kind and knowledgeable gentleman, and I hope he may be looking from a cloud now and smiling, since I have chosen his kit for this build. This kit is peculiar in the sense that the fuselage (and all the interior parts and engine) are vacuum-formed in a thick clear plastic, whilst flying surfaces and other small details come in the usual white styrene sheets. No decals were included in these kits, and many of the details like engine, prop, wheels, struts and other smallish parts are better substituted. Gordon included those additional parts in the clear sheet most likely to take advantage of the space, but it's not a happy solution. I have built in another life his Bell Airacuda, similarly fashioned, and that engineering solution, that may sound practical at first, ends up being not much so, for diverse reasons. As the vac kit represents a later Vega, I will have to remove the nose NACA cowling and vertical tail, and replace them with pointy nose and triangular tail: I will have also to move the cabin door one "space" ahead, delete the aft fifth windows on both sides and replace the wheel pants-cum-partial wheel for just plain whole wheels. Landing gear struts need to be fabricated, new engine provided and a different interior fashioned. And, of course, the decals. A hefty amount of time, more than many would deem reasonable, was spent researching the many details of this plane, and lately I solved the last detail mentioned, that is, the particular details of the lettering and decoration on the plane, all from few, vague, and not very yielding images, gathered one or a few at a time, after hours and hours of perusing and browsing here and there. The vintage boxing A spurious 1/48 AMT decal sheet was put inside by a previous owner: Instructions... Plastic A not very practical approach, but may have seemed "high-tech" at the time: The door and windows are there, although I will have to change some of that:
  11. Here is the Seversky AP-7 as flown to victory by Jacqueline Cochran in the 1938 Bendix air race. A RarePlane P-35 vacuformed kit of old (in fact the first, no-surface-detail issue of it) was used as a base for this model (there was a later, much more detailed release). The modifications and detailing needed were extensive, and I invite you to have a look at the development of the construction here: Decals came kindly from a set that was commissioned by Morgan Girling, of the Seattle area, my gratitude to her. The decals have some minor inaccuracies, a couple are a wee-bit off size, and the "13" on the fuselage clearly shows in photos a light color outline. The number itself may have not been black as depicted, as it doesn't seem to quite match in hue the "Sever/Sky" motif. Anyway, nitpickings. If pursuing to replicate any of the several Seversky racers and civil models, attention has to be paid to a number of details, as they clearly differed from one another regarding marks, landing gear, canopy, antennas, side fuselage hatches and fuselage windows. If any of the existing kits in the market (the already mentioned much more detailed version of the Rareplane vac kit, the MPM injected kit, etc.) is used as a base for these racing/civilian models, any military equipment has to be removed and changes made. I purchased -but discarded- as a potential base kit for these builds a resin Choroszy P-35 / S-2 (Frank Fuller #77 racer) as it had inaccuracies, molding problems, flawed and incomplete decals and detail-matching problems in the belly area. Checking your kit against photos (not just profiles of plans or drawings) of the actual plane is a must if your goal is to obtain a reasonably accurate model. Bear in mind that, as it is often the case, the same plane may change during its life regarding details and marks. Racers are especially attractive and a wonderful option for those kits languishing in the stash that can be adapted to represent them, usually with only a few changes, providing a spiffy model and an exciting story to go with it. If you go for the RarePlane vac version (still present in the second hand market after all these years), remember to look for the later, more detailed version, and not the plain one I used, as the latter will make you work quite a bit more.
  12. The League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen Setting aside Amelia Earhart, vaguely known by the general public and easily recognizable by the aviation community, not much credit has been given to women in the field, in spite of their many contributions (and in some cases sacrifices). I have tried to pay a kind homage to a few of them in our own little way: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235045609-northrop-gamma-2g-conqueror-engine-jackie-cochrans-macrobertson-dream-machine/ https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235077669-jackie-cochran-twin-wasp-northrop-gamma-bendix-1935-modified-willimas-bros-172-kit/ https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235051160-caudron-c610-aiglon-elisabeth-lions-record-modified-sbs-caudron-aiglon/ https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235040453-lockheed-electra-10e-amelia-earhart-special-hobby-conversion-172/ The list of winged women is long: "Pancho" Barnes, Jean Batten, Bessie Coleman, Ruth Elder, Amy Johnson, Ruth Nichols, Elinor Smith, Louise Thaden, Bobbi Trout, Amalia Celia Figueredo, Adrienne Bolland, Maureen Dunlop and many more. Many years ago I built this very same kit, to the level I could do then: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235053070-seversky-p-35-converted-to-racer-vacuformed-rareplanes-172/ The opportunity to perhaps up the job a bit has presented again in the form of a very kind invitation to contribute a model for a display titled "Women in aviation", to be held in the future (hopefully, given the current situation) at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. This was the plane flown by Jacqueline Cochran to Victory at the 1938 Bendix race. The previous year she was the only women to finish the race. To render a Seversky AP-7 (the correct denomination of this specific version) I am using again a RarePlane P-35, modifying it as needed to reflect the differences. I am aware that other, more modern kits exists, but my nostalgic inclinations and the tickling of the challenge made me once again incline for an atavistic vacuum-formed kit. For the decals this time I am indebted to Morgan Girling, my appreciative thanks to her. Where all begins... The contents. This must have been one of Gordon's early releases, as the surface is bare, and you are advised to get prop, wheels and such from other kits. Gordon kits would eventually develop into little vac masterpieces:
  13. Here another build from 2010, nine years ago, with the same basic but not unfair take: Since I was at it with the Macchi M.C.72, I decided to also go for the M.67, which was a slightly earlier -1929- machine equipped with an Isotta Fraschini ASSO 18cyl in “W” of 1,800 hp. The particular configuration of the engine determined the shape of the front fuselage. Three machines were made and experienced the multiple problems associated which such complex pieces of engineering. Like the M.C.72, the M.67 was a pure bred racer seaplane, conceived to compete for the Schneider trophy. The lines and general arrangement are similar to those of the MC72, also having radiators on the wings, floats and struts, besides the fuselage sides and the oil cooler under the chin. It had a three-blade propeller that of course created some torque, so one float carried more fuel than the other and the wing was very slightly asymmetrical to try to compensate. The design was not fortunate due to technical problems, but one machine survives at the Vigna Di Valle museum. How to paint an Italian racer: You must know that the secret is in the tomatoes. The right ones will give the finished model that characteristic bright red racy hue. But seriously: The model followed the same methods as the similar MC72 posted here, one difference being the shapes created for the engine cylinder bank fairings. As it is sometimes the case, the carving and sanding of these particular parts and their fit over a compound-curve surface required some attention and time. Aeroclub vac floats were adapted removing a section and re-joining their front and back halves which matched the plans very well. A cockpit interior was created of which little could be seen once the fuselage halves were closed. The fuselage needed several sessions of puttying, sanding and priming. The fuselage side radiators were engraved on thin alu foil that was painted brass later on and added to the finished fuselage. Struts for the floats were adapted from Contrail streamlined stock. A leftover bomb from a kit was put to better use creating the conical spinner, and blades were re-shaped from a white metal prop. Spars were located on the fuselage to align and secure tail and wing halves. Decals, 77 of them, were home made The fantastic lines of this racer look like a sculpture influenced by artist Carra, Balla and Boccioni of Italian Futurism fame.
  14. Here I present my recently completed Mustang that was built as part of the P-51 Mustang STGB but first a little detail. 'Thunderbird' was purchased from James M. Stewart for "$1 with other considerations" by Jackie Cochran. This aircraft was made from salvaged parts from other aircraft of the same type and was given a civil registration of NX5528N. Between 1949 and 1953, two more speed records were made and in 1953, 'Thunderbird' was sold back to Jimmy Stewart...for "$1 with other considerations". The build uses the second Mustang from Hasegawa's 'dual' kit and was built primarily OOB. Images showed that this racer had its propeller blades replaced with HS uncuffed 'paddle' blades and these were not included in the kit, so a resin replacement from Quickboost was obtained although the blade tips needed 'rounding off'. The instructions detail what needs to be deleted/ filled for a racer but like most/ all Mustang kits, they omit the requirement to fill the wing panel lines to 40% chord due the laminar wing, so this was also done. After being primed with Halfords Primer, the model was painted using Vallejo and Tamiya Acrylics and finished off with the kit decals. Build log here: Thanks for looking Stay safe. Stuart
  15. Here I present my recently completed Mustang that was built as part of the P-51 Mustang STGB but first a little detail. This particular 'Pony' was owned by Jackie Cochran and was originally built as a P-51B-15-NA, serial 43-24760 and given a civil registration of NX28388. Between 1946 and 1948, Jackie raced NX28388 in the Bendix Race three times and used the aircraft to set four world speed records. The build uses the Hasegawa kit and was built primarily OOB. Images showed that this racer had its propellers replaced and these were not included in the kit, so Martin ( @RidgeRunner ) kindly donated his spare prop from an F-51 kit. The instructions detail what needs to be deleted/ filled for a racer but like most/ all Mustang kits, they omit the requirement to fill the wing panel lines to 40% chord due the laminar wing, so this was also done. After being primed with Halfords Primer, the model was painted using Vallejo and Tamiya Acrylics and finished off with the kit decals. Build log here: Stuart
  16. A model from 2014, five years ago: I extricated from the closet this one made from a kit that a fellow modeler sent me time ago (Thanks, Keith!) It is an Airframe kit I believe made in Canada, date unknown, but long time ago. The plastic is very thin and flimsy. For what I can tell, the kit came with decals (now absent) but no wheels, prop, or spinner. Of course not even a trace of cockpit detail, or even an interior drawing. The engineering is indifferent, especially regarding how to match the wings and fuselage. The instructions are quite general, and a "note" advising to cut the carrier film off the wing decals with an Xacto after applying them to the model -painted aluminum/silver, mind you- left me in a state of wonder. The kit does come with a 4-view, that appeared on -and is credited to- Aeroplane Monthly. When the kit got in my hands, there was no clear canopy, but I assume one was there before. This fellow modeler had already started to cut out the parts, and was perhaps a bit enthusiastic sanding the fuselage halves, so I had to devise some remediation. There are limits to the improvements you can perform on a kit, especially one of this nature, but I aimed to obtain the most decent possible model with what I had. Prop and wheels were quickly found among the spares and aftermarket parts, but the spinner that the manufacturer -oh, so very optimistically- tells you to get somewhere, was a different story. Metal tubes are inserted in the wing leading edge to simulate the air intakes: The fuselage halves are glued, leaving the necessary gap to restore proper width -they were a bit oversanded by the previous owner-. Some backing structure is in place to receive the fillers later on: The gaps are filled-in with styrene sheet cut to size: and at the bottom: The stab halves in place, a tricky fit. The seams are blended with Tamiya putty: The exhausts follow: The not so good kit engineering determined that the wheel well internal wall be left inconcluse in the mold, so a supplement had to be fashioned: Wings are attached to the fuselage and small triangular fillets added:
  17. A build from 7 years ago: The issue #102 (April 2013) of Skyways has a long article on the Mystery Ship. “Scratchbilt” brand kits could be qualified as the most optimistic kits of all times (no kidding, and you will see why). Their #3 Travel-Air Mystery Ship is portrayed in one of the accompanying photos. The contents are as follows: three printed sheets with a 3 view, patterns, several drawings and depiction of the construction. Also there was a decal sheet by Microscale, two plastic rods and two vacuformed canopies. In this particular case the review should start: “You are on your own” (you were anyway, don’t worry) since the method given to build the model (keel, many half bulkheads, stringers, strip covering, puttying and sanding) could have worked on a larger scale or for a galleon, but it is hopeless in 1/72. The instructions also advise you to ruin other kits by cannibalizing spats and cowls that are an ill-fit anyway. The depicted method for building the stab and wing was used by the Spanish Inquisition. A truly remarkable kit, this “Scratchbilt”. Their logic and business model are equivalent to giving someone a box of rivets, the directions to an iron ore mine, a sketch and a piece of Camembert cheese and tell them to build the Eiffel Tower. I have to concede that they have a sense of humor, though, and that their brand name, “Scratchbilt”, does not hide their purpose. That being said, you still have those decals. Or do you? When David The Irrefutably Unbound from Glen Ellyn sent me some material related to the Mystery Ship, I exhumed the “kit” from the dungeons where it was kept under lock inside a coffer marked “evil”. As you can see in the photos I followed my own path here using wood for the fuselage and spats’ vacuforming plugs, the traditional one-two styrene punch for the rest, and white metal engine, prop and wheels from Aeroclub. The engine had to be modified to fit the plane’s one, which had a particular front case. The short wing struts and landing gear struts were made from brass “Strutz” stock, for which I am indebted to Andrew of England, The Slightly Iridescent. An interior was scratched as per photos, some was structural and some pour la galerie. The first Microscale decal I used was for the instrument panel and it was the source of momentary panic as I had to wait about twenty minutes for the decal to come loose from the backing sheet. Once all the main components were ready, the puttying/sanding/priming/repeat cycle ensued. The painting stage -which involved a good share of masking- required attention. At this point I tried to use the rest of the decals, but the first ones shattered in myriads of little pieces. The ones that remained in the backing sheet were treated with Testors decal bonder, but later on a few more shattered anyway as they were applied. The few remaining ones were given a few coats of Future, but again to no avail. Now, this is not Microscale’s fault, the decal must have been between 20 and 30 years old, and not properly stored. I printed the decals that failed and had a great time cutting the regs from white decal stock. The transparency was cut in three parts, the frames depicted with metal-painted decal strips, and arranged in its open position. The underwing oil coolers were made of thin aluminum sheet, engraved, cut and glued. The two Venturi probes were attached after the photos were taken (the photos of course made me realize that they were still unattached). Regarding real kits, I am aware of the 1/72 Dekno resin model of the Mystery Ship. I also built a sister ship, as I had made the wood vac masters already: Many, many pages have been written about the Travel Air Mystery Ship but I can’t tell you anything because of its inherent mystery. No ostriches or people from outer space were harmed during the construction of this model. We would like to extend our thanks to the sponsor, The Intergalactic Soenkish Empire. They used to call this a "kit". Can you believe the cheek!? A few printed sheets, a solitary strip of styrene, and a molded canopy. Even the decals shattered.
  18. Finally completed: Jackie Cochran's Northrop Gamma with its P&W Twin Wasp engine. Unfortunately she had to drop from the 1935 Bendix, encountering rough weather that forced her to return to the origin point. The plane was later on leased to Howard Hughes, who re-engined it and used it for his record flights. The step-by-step building article with the modifications needed for this specific version can be visited here: The old and venerable Williams Bros kit was modified to obtain this version. This is one those gifts that keeps on giving: I had previously built the Conqueror Gamma, also flown by Cochran: And the Experimental Overweather Laboratory (yes, @Martian, laboratory, not lavatory, so don't get confused, we know what happens when you do ) Besides this very old build: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Vb4vjFCwMeU/XyCvQ9AroFI/AAAAAAAAxWw/0gO3Z1-bebUr-GpXww1-xFjFh9I0900VwCLcBGAsYHQ/s650/01.jpg A set from Arctic Decals was commissioned for this model, and it delivered the usual quality and precision, even including masks for the tail. A word about the different schemes. Under Cochran's ownership, photos show the plane in different schemes. The one chosen here has those curved motifs on the cowl, an X registration -letter that was applied on a white patch that covered the NR one-, on tail and wings, and a line on the fuselage sides ending in an arrow at the front, and with a running hare in the middle on a rhomboidal shape. The regs. on the wing are not perpendicular to the fuselage, but parallel to the leading edge. There were other schemes, again still under Cochran's ownership: -At the race (that the plane did not complete) a number 55 was applied to the airframe, and the reg. is preceded by NR. -During what seems like the original trials, again the reg. numbers are preceded by X, and no other decoration is visible anywhere on the plane. I leave you know to dream of unending skies and open landscapes, speed and elegance, and some remarkable woman.
  19. Racers in general are well-liked by the modeling and aviation community and Schneider participants constitute a chapter of special interest for many. I am very glad that some manufacturers (KP, Karaya, Avis, SBS, among others) started to pay attention to this not really well covered area of the hobby, releasing very interesting types with greater level of detail and better accuracy than earlier industry attempts of times past. Karaya must be thanked for bringing these charming and significant types to light. Some of you may know that I recently built the manufacturer's Savoia S.65, a very nice kit, but unfortunately riddled with inaccuracies and impaired by some questionable engineering. This offer by Karaya is much, much better, and certainly deserves praise, if requiring some little revisions and the addition of missing decals. To be fair, not much is around regarding this specific machine, so sources are limited. Still, some little inaccuracies, and photos showing additional marks were easily found on the Net after a brief search. I enjoyed building this kit, and the couple of challenges it presented were overcome with just a bit of effort and the experience of many years, something we older modelers are blessed with (together with failing eyesight and shakier hands). The build of this kit erased the bad taste left by the previous S.65 (even if the results after much time and energy spent were worth it) and I would gladly build another Karaya kit - but doing some research on the type to complement the build. Karaya offers a nice array of civil types and many racers among them, some are superbly attractive. You can tell that the kit displays a high degree of finesse in details and surfaces, care has been poured into the making of the masters, yet I still have my nitpickings with certain aspects of the engineering, an area where Karaya could certainly improve and that has been pointed out in builds by other modelers of their Schneider types. My deepest thanks to Arctic Decals from whom I commissioned and acquired the corrective set. For some additional notes and a step-by-step account of the building process, please check here:
  20. Finally completed, here is the iconic racer in its green, incredible hulk aspect. Again congratulations to KP (Kovozávody Prostějov) for their increasing line of very appealing civil subjects, in this case a classic that deserved re-edition. As you can see, the kit can be turned into a nice replica, if with some (normal modeling) work. Without wanting to get into a lengthy exchange regarding this, I deem it a giant step upwards and forwards from the two very old Airfix and Novo-Frog ones. The price is convenient, and I believe you get a fair quality/price ratio. Still, I believe the SBS Comet to be the very best around, if in resin and with a larger tag price. It becomes a matter of personal choice. Many of you don't like to deal with resin or like to keep the modeling budget in check, so this is a good option. As usual you may visit the WIP thread here at BM: I am bit confused by threads that talk about a Micro-Mir DH88, and the shown digital renders exhibiting a highly detailed model. Not sure if this is going to be in production soon, or it's some kind of echo or variation of the KP kit due to the (for me) ever-tangling, mysterious, and shifting hobby company relations in Eastern Europe (whose intricacies and history I completely ignore).
  21. Well, after the not very nice experience with the noticeably inaccurate and problem-riddled Savoia S.65 by the same manufacturer, and because fellow modelers stated that their other kits were good, I decided to purchase another Karaya kit and give it a go. Today it arrived. All in all, this seems indeed a much better kit than the S.65, but we are still in the early stages of the build. These are the things that I like very much: -Subject, very appealing. -Price, fair. -Well detailed kit, convincing surface details, a number of detail parts that enhance the build. -Reasonable casting pouring blocks, making the parts not really difficult to remove and clean (one exception to be discussed later). -Reasonable engineering. -An exquisitely detailed engine. -The cockpit area has fine side wall detail (besides the natural components, included too) -Parts in general well cast (with exceptions, again to be discussed later). -A commendable non self-flattening box, if not a paradigm of rigidity either. -Thin trailing edges and flying surfaces, well represented, with nice detail, and in general highly commendable. -So far (we'll see as we go) an appearance of fidelity (not like the Savoia S.65, the misses of which could be spotted from miles away). -The wings have the panel separations, but are in one piece, making it very easy to produce the dihedral with little effort by just pushing carefully the outer panels up. That is a clever solution that deserves praise. -The location of struts, control cables, etc. is well marked and already prepared for insertion. -The struts are stamped on their pouring blocks with Roman numerals, making IDing them easier
  22. The completed Scooter. KP again must be thanked for the release of yet another beautiful civil plane. In this case the box offers the chance to build either a Scooter or its descendant the Swallow. Some parts have been provided to cater for each of them, but the wing and a couple more things need a little work to obtain a more accurate Scooter. These mods are well within the skills of an average modeler. It is indeed a colorful, jumpy little fella, much more gracious than its parent the Sopwith Camel. I went for a simple build -only correcting what I mentioned during the building post- but this can be the canvas for a lot of fun, if you decide to go that way. If you are interested and/or already have the kit, I recommend you visit the step-by-step building article to avoid a few pitfalls: Other than that, I am so very happy with this quick and rewarding build of a peppy mount that, besides being the personal plane of Harry Hawker, participated with some success in a number of aviation events later on.
  23. In general I wait until I have some visual material to show before I open a new thread, but in this case the beginning is more like a statement of purpose for the new year and the layout of the type background. The Italian Macchi M.39 was a racing seaplane designed specifically to compete on the Schneider Trophy of 1926, which it won, piloted by Mario de Bernardi. Five similar machines were built, three for racing purposes with a Fiat AS.2 engine (the other two flown by Ferrarin and Bacula), and two for training purposes which had a similar but less powerful Fiat engine. They followed the design lines that were found by almost all competitors to work better, namely twin-float braced monoplanes, of extremely refined streamlining that used surface radiators. As I mentioned in previous threads, before even thinking of building, I dedicate time and effort to research, which invariably pays off big time. And this is no exception. To start with, many photos captioned as a Macchi M.39 are actually of the very similar (but not identical) Macchi M.52 and 52R. Therefore the first task is to sort out the photos, helped by three clues: -The M.52s had a much pronounced arrow angle for the wings -The M.52s had slightly larger wing radiators -The M.52s had different motifs on the fuselage and tail. -The M.52 had a slightly different windshield. (Four, four clues -Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition) After studying from photos you promptly realize: -that representations of the M.39 in drawings and 3views are often inaccurate, since they include the graphic motifs that the M.52 had. As the winner of the Schneider, the M.39 had only the number 5 on the sides, no Italian tricolore on the rudder, and no fascia roundel on the fuselage. -that the machine at the Vigna di Vale museum has a different, much later scheme than that wore at the race, and a wooden prop, used only on the practice machines, and not the Reed metal prop used on the race. -That the windshield of the museum machine is again slightly different than the one seen in photos of the winning machine. As an additional achievement, the Macchi M.39 established soon after the Schneider win a new speed record.
  24. The exceptional lines of the Savoia S.65 are a sheer delight, and although it never delivered what it promised, and did not actually compete in the Schneider Cup, the mere act of contemplating it is a source of aviation bliss. Karaya is a firmly established model manufacturer with a wide catalog that includes, to my delight, many Schneider planes. Karaya's reputation is good, but apparently my first encounter with their products was unfortunate, as I purchased a sadly inaccurate S.65. To start to make this flawed kit look like the real thing, the following was done: -Correct the spurious cut out on the fuselage top and sides, restoring the correct, continuous shape -Install the side windows, deleting the spurious extra radiators (located above the correct fuselage radiators) -Correct the shape of the elevator horn balances -Add the headrest -Correct the wrong position of the insertion of the float struts into the fuselage bottom -Substitute the ridiculous resin butt-joined booms for metal inserted ones -Correct the mistakes on the rigging -Revise position of "V" struts at the end of the floats, moving them back as per photos -Add boom fairings that continue on top and bottom of the elevator I am sure there were others, but that should be entertainment enough. A seemingly nice kit, certainly nicely molded and with good detail, completely let down by its many very visible inaccuracies. And not just minutia: blatant mistakes made absolutely obvious just by looking at photos of the original plane. The list is too long, but you may like to have a look at my many encounters during the build with frustrating errors, and to add insult to injury an engineering that left a lot to be desired, and not particularly accurate decals: Still, propelled by the sheer beauty of the type, some modifications were made, parts replaced with better ones, engineering revised, and many details corrected to obtain a model that if still not totally accurate, at least resembles much closely the original. This is a missed opportunity: such fantastic plane, and a kit that came too short, not sure why, as the general quality of the parts (accuracy and engineering apart) is good. The modifications to obtain a more credible model are too involving, and I wouldn't have done it if I knew from the start the challenges, but I started blinded by the good reputation of the manufacturer (whose other kits reputedly are accurate and nice to build). So I went on, feeling bad about trashing a kit of such beautiful plane that besides cost a pretty penny. So here are the results of much huffing and puffing, and having to continually look at references in order no to fall into accuracy traps. A paradigm of Italian design that produced a very stylized racer, and, if nothing else, a wonderful "oggetto d'arte".
  25. Well, I just got this one from Santa, and since I am away from the building board and surrounded by unruly British inlaws, I thought I should take my mind off things and psychologically shorten the time to get back home by doing these opening posts for this build. There is a long cue of WiPs that I started, and am waiting for the decals to complete a few others, so this will not be Speedy Gonzalez style at any rate, just an opening gambit. I got no magnifier nor tools with me at the moment, but I do have with me my portable hard drive with some references and the laptop. This is not a new kit on the market, so I won't be doing a full review, just stating some impressions and making some comments. Firsts impressions are cautiously optimistic. This is my first Karaya kit, a brand I stayed away so far due to their prices, however justified they may be because of to the medium and the quality. The molding looks good, no pinholes, bubbles or blobs, parts being crisp and with reasonable pouring blocks that seem easy to detach and clean. You get a dolly and trestles, a succinct interior -with some wall detail also- (yet not much will be visible anyway) and a relatively small part count. The windshield is cast as a sort of cage, not as a clear part. You may clean it (there is a bit of thin flash in many parts), paint it, and fill the voids with window-maker (clear glue), or just replace it with folded thin clear sheet. The decals seem well printed and sharp. The float halves (total bananas in my sample) have locating devices, but show no location marks for the struts that I can see, which shall make things interesting. The molding as said is quite good, yet not in the same league of -for example- SBS's offerings. I got what it looks like a short pour on one of the trolley wheels, nothing terrible tough. I see so far three noticeable issues: 1) The radiators on the wing have an exaggerated thickness, they would benefit from some toning down. 2) The kit has depicted an area immediately above the fuselage oil coolers as extra radiator surfaces (or something like that), but these areas (both sides) were actually windows, included to help the very restricted visibility the pilot had. 3) There is an abrupt transition (more like a cut-off section) of the fairings of the cylinder banks (fore and aft) mid-fuselage (cockpit area), which I don't think is correct. The windows -described above- located in panels seem in photos to make a less abrupt transition between the said volumes. .
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