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  1. Well, she is done. my first finished jet airliner model. First, the executive summary. Subject: Vickers-Armstrongs Super VC-10, type 1151. Manufacturer: Roden, Kit No. 313. Scale: 1/144th (Twice as good as 1/72nd scale!) Paints Used: A combination of Tamiya Acrylic, Lacquer, and GSI Creos Mr Color and Mr Super Clear gloss lacquer finishes. Decals: Sourced from 26Decals sheet, No. STS 44276. Additional parts used: FOD covers, landing gear doors, blade antennae and water drains from NH Detail, A144-023. Montex Windscreen/window/wheel hub masks, SM 14416. Anti-Collision beacons from ELF. It's my first Roden kit, and i probably could have picked an easier one. However, it's now finished and in the books. Despite all the work, i'm pleased with the end result. For those of you who want the whole guts of the online build, you can find it here: The best way to describe this project is to say it was a learning experience, both in practical problem solving as well as program management. It was a testbed for many techniques i'd acquired over the years, incorporated into one single build. The first thing you need to know going into this project is, you will have to block-sand and fettle with the fit of just about every part, before you glue anything together. Many of the sprue lands are on the mating surfaces. The plastic is thin and brittle out near the delicately shaped stabilizer and wingtips, and you'd better be prepared to do some damage control on these, as they're not very well protected in the box. There is some flash, and out near the wingtip trailing edges its sometimes hard to tell where the part ends and the flash begins. Just about every locator pin hurts, more than helps. On surfaces like the vertical fin and wing trailing edges, there are gaps that need to be filled with C/A or .005 plastic sheet because they cannot be sanded to a perfectly flat knife edge. The cabin windows are represented by plastic strips with embossed windows which are installed from the inside. When installed, they do not all uniformly sit flush with the surrounding outer skin. This led me to my first learning experience: Tamiya White Putty doesn't work for cabin windows. The Tamiya putty was a bit fussy to spread over the cabin windows, and while i was prepared for the inevitable shrinkage and air bubbles, i was not prepared for it lifting out of the windows when masked over. On several occasions, right up to decaling and touchup repair, some Tamiya putty pulled out of the window depressions, which required tedious and messy localized re-filling and paint repair. On VC10 No. 2, i've gone with a hybrid of epoxy and CA (not by choice) and at least so far the results have been better. The fit of the main assemblies to each other is for the most part, vague. Which leads us to the second lesson from this build: Assembly "A" + Assembly "B" + 90-degree Joints = Filler. The two worst offenders here are the joint at the base of the vertical fin, and the engine pylons to the side of the fuselage. You can see all of the gory details over at my Work In Progress thread, but the bottom line is the butt ends needed to be built up with CA and re-profiled to attain a sharp 90-degree joint where there were considerable gaps. The wings incorporate a 1960s-vintage tongue and slot assembly which results in a mediocre fit at best. I sawed off the locator tongues, block sanded the butt ends of the wings flat, and fashioned new spars from plastic and aluminium tubing. It took a bit of work, but the fit was much better. With all of the major sub assemblies cleaned up, primed, and cleaned up again it came time to start bringing them all together. Which brings us to the next takeaway item from this build: Alignment is a @#$%^. The VC10 is not what i would consider a "complex" geometric shape, but the combination of the high T-Tail with the acute sweepback, along with the gracefully curved Kuechemann wingtips made getting the alignment nailed, difficult. Some of it is attributable to parallax, but some is also attributable to the slots in the sides of the vertical fin being maybe not perfectly symmetrical, leading to some minor variances in incidence. You could look at the tail from some angles and it would look fine...and from other angles, clearly something was amiss. i did my level best (pun intended) to make sure the vertical fin was glued on perfectly vertical and square to the lateral axis of the fuselage. On some days i think it looks okay, on others i feel like i was being a bit sloppy. Fences are not something to be afraid of, and brass is your friend. Sometimes. The NH detail set includes a lot of little extra details for the Roden kit, but i ultimately used only a fraction of them. One of the main items i used were the large fences that run over the wing, just inboard of the slats. Even though NH included locating pins to fit the corresponding holes for the kit plastic parts, the fit was...tenuous. I used Krystal Kleer and MiG Ammo acrylic glue, along with Mr Surfacer 500 to join and fill the 90 degree joint. Throughout the final assembly process, the fences got in the way. I was constantly putting my fat fingers on them, or next to them, causing me to bend them and crack all the filler work loose. The best way to install things like these would be at the end of the painting and weathering cycle.... ....which is exactly what i did for the smaller, leading edge fences that Roden and NH forgot about. Cutting a slot in the wing leading edge and fabricating small fences from brass sheet worked perfectly for installation at the end of the build cycle. Looking at the photos, i think they came out looking pretty good. (that should read: May 18, 2022). On VC10 Numero Dos, i've repeated the process of cutting slots in the wing leading edge, but i made the saw cuts before the upper and lower halves were glued together. I also made a very long/deep cut into the inboard upper wing plank to take a new scratchbuilt wing fence. We will see how that goes. Now, once appropriately sized pilot holes are drilled in the right locations, installing the blade antenna and drain masts was very easy. You just have to time things right so that they don't get in the way of installing other things. In my case, these go on very late in what i call the "End Game". The model was assembled mostly with Tamiya extra thin liquid cement, and i had few if any problems with joints cracking open. However, one issue that kept coming back were "ghost seams" that kept reappearing on the upper and lower fuselage joints. I inspected these areas carefully after sanding, and after priming. Once the gloss white went on the top and the gloss grey went on the bottom, the seams started to re appear. I went back over several areas to fix them. In some cases the fixes were permanent, and in others the seams came back again. In most cases, you really need to look for them, but sometimes when light shines laterally across the top of the fuselage, they jump out at you, bright as day. I don't have an explanation or excuse for this. I don't know if its operator error, or if there is just some sort of chemical incompatibility problem between the Roden styrene and the solvents in the Tamiya and Mr Color paints. The model was initially primed with my experimental mix of Mr Base White 1000 tinted with Mr Color H27 and Green. The white solar cap coverage was started off with Mr Base White 1000, and over that i applied Mr Color H1 Gloss White. When dry i sanded it down with 4000 grit micro mesh. I then sprayed the model with Mr Color Light Gull Grey and when that was dry the "ridge" where the masking tape was removed by sanding with wet 6000 micro mesh. The characteristic, dark blue "Speedbird" cheatline was masked and painted by hand. I used a mix of Tamiya Royal Blue and White for the cheatline. The Tamiya acrylics responded very well to "Carpet Bombing" with Mr Leveling Thinner and gave me a very high gloss. However, the paint was not as dry as i thought it was when i masked over the nacelles, which led to the next painful lesson: Tamiya Tape does weird things to Tamiya Acrylics and Lacquers, if they're not *really* dry. Strangely enough, i did not have similar problems with Mr Color, but when i removed the Tamiya tape from the engine nacelles, the gloss had been completely ruined, and what remained was a dull, flattish appearance which was not sticky, but somewhat rough. I had to wet sand, re mask and re paint. I'm not sure if this is a result of the solvents in the paint outgassing through the Tamiya tape, or something else. The takeaway here is to give those colours 18-24 hours to fully outgas and harden up before masking over them. This happened both with masking over the Tamiya Acrylic Royal Blue, and the Tamiya Gloss White Lacquer. Decals: Since i painted the majority of the markings, i relied on the 26Decals sheet for smaller details like the Golden Speedbird and the BOAC CUNARD logos. The 26 Decals sheet do not give you enough of the gold "Royal Mail" crests that go on the doors, so its a good thing that i bought 2 sheets. Mine has two; i think you actually need four. The decals themselves performed pretty well, but the ones provided for the cockpit windows and cabin/cargo door outlines were too big for the kit, which leads me to conclude that the sheet was really designed for the Welsh Models vacform kit, and not the Roden injection molded one. When i get round to decaling the second VC10 i will forgo using the outlines for the cargo doors at a minimum, though i will probably have to use the distinctive, split blue/white outlines for the cabin doors. After reading all the feedback from other modellers who built the kit, i decided to use the Authentic Airliners BAC 1-11 decals for the cabin windows. This tuned out to be a double edged sword. On one hand, they were the perfect size and shape for VC 10 windows and they were beautifully printed and applied just fine. The down side is, the spacing between windows on a BAC 1-11 and a VC10 are not the same. I was only able to use sets of 4 windows at a time before the slight difference in window spacing had a cumulative effect and started to throw everything off. Because the decal film was relatively thick, the edges of the decal film show up in some photos when the light his them just right (FWIW, i emailed AA, asking them to consider doing a set of cabin windows specifically for the VC10 along with some 3D printed vortex generators and windshield wipers). The final phases of painting and weathering were more or less trouble free, aside from the fact that gloss finishes require careful handling and lacquer paints are delicate and prone to chipping until covered with enough of a protective clear coat. The GSI Creos Super Clears are the best in the business for this sort of thing. Fast drying, sandable, and respond well to "Carpet Bombing". Undercarriage: This was easily the most stressful and aggravating part of the build. Why was this?? For starters, the left and right halves of the strut came together unevenly when the injection mold halves came together. This led to a stagger/offset of both all the struts, but worse, the axle locations. The axle stubs had to be cut away and almost completely rebuilt from scratch. i had to make a best guess and choose the side that was "least terrible" and carefully drill through the struts to crate new pilot holes for the axles. There is not much "meat" in this area, so to beef things up, i punched small discs from .010 styrene to create more "Flat Plate" area that would make mounting the wheels easier. Brass rod and aluminium tube was used to make axles and bushings to take the wheels. Oh by the way, the wheels aren't really round. More aggravation ensues... The good news is the struts installed more or less trouble-free. I ditched the kit provided side braces and door connection rods and replaced these with Evergreen rod. The nose gear joint is extremely weak. I got around the problem by boring out the mounting hole in the lower fuselage to take another piece of Aluminium tubing. i then lopped off the mounting pin from the top of the nose gear strut, and bored a hole down the core of the strut into which i inserted a telescoping piece of brass rod. This arrangement provided more than enough mechanical strength for the nose gear. The final undercarriage installation is fairly robust, though there was a lot of angst and head scratching in order to get there. I added the NH FOD covers, not so much because the inlets turned out badly, but because there is nothing inside the tailpipes; just 4 gaping, Conway-sized holes. Plus, i thought they would add a nice splash of colour. So, i blocked off both ends to be consistent. This has been a much longer RFI report than i usually do, but nobody up to this point has done an exhaustive "Deep Dive" narrative on building this kit...and to a lesser extent not much like this has been written about 1/144th scale airliner building in general. I know it might sound like i'm being rather hard on the folks at Roden and on this kit. IMHO, it should not have been this much work to get the desired end result. However, the model is miles better than the old Frog Super VC10 and Airfix kit, though the latter is an apples to oranges comparison. I'd love Airfix to do an all-new-tool Standard VC10, because more of those were built and there's a much wider range of markings options for those. You must admit though, its hard to beat a BOAC Speedbird in blue and white. As always, comments, thoughts, follow up questions and the like are most welcome. And now, there's this Douglas jet i heard about that they called "The Whale", and of course my Tamiya F-4B Phantom beckons. Fly Navy!!
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