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  1. Hello everyone, After for lurking a few years, I've decided to my progress with everyone. It might be interesting to some as the MB.162 isn't the most well known aircraft. As far as I can tell I'll even be the first to post about a scale model of this bomber on the internet. I actually stared this model a bit back so there will be enough content for the future. I will however The MB.162 was a French, four engined heavy bomber designed just before WWII. Three prototypes were constructed, of which one was finished and test flown before the German invasion. After the bombing on Villacoublay air base, were the prototypes were stationed, the 1st prototype was evacuated to Bordeaux, while the other two were destroyed in the attack. This was however in vain, as the Germans captured the country two days later. The plane was subsequently put into storage for two years. In 1942 the resumed testing the plane. It showed up sporadically in inventories until 1944, when it was presumably lost near Berlin in one of the many bombings. Very little information on this aircraft has survived the war, which is a blessing and a curse. I always want my models to be as accurate as possible, but with literally no information on the interior as far as I can tell, that will be difficult. At least no one can prove that my build is wrong either. There is a nice article in Aero Journal №32, from which I got most of my information. The plane is also featured in the video game War Thunder. However as some parts of their interpretation are straight up impossible, I won't take their interior design as truth. I however did take some inspiration from it. The kit itself is your very basic, overpriced vacuum formed kit. It's made by Broplan and bought it a while back. I always had a fascination for the more obscure aircraft of the 2nd world war, so this plane was right up my ally. Some injection moulded parts are included as well, but they're of horrendous quality, as are the decals which are pretty much unusable. I do have some post-war Aéronavale roundels from an Dornier Do-24 build, however I might just spray paint them. I'll probably decide the scheme when I get there. For scratch building I've decided to try using my 3D printer (just an ordinary FDM printer, no fancy resin). I did try to fully 3D print an aircraft kit before, however the fuselage proved too much to do. Anyway let's get started. I started out with cutting out the two forward fuselage halves, as is pretty standard. As there a no reliable plans of this plane I can't really check the contour but rough shape looks fine and the halves line up nicely without the need to force them for the most part. . I did however notice that the left wing is slightly, but noticeably more to the front. There is also a severe lack of surface detail, that is, there is none except quite a few pits. As said before, I tried to 3d print the parts this time, instead of cutting them prom plastic card. Does it save me time? No. Do I still need to manually file the parts into the correct shape? Yes. Is it easier to create fine, symmetrical details such as the framing? Maybe. But it's a new challenge and honestly quite fun. As seen in the 2nd photo above, I started with the included vacuum formed parts for the basic shape. Tape them to your screen and trace the outline. From there alter the shape until it's good enough and manually file them to the correct shape. It's here that I also discovered that the fuselage halves are not quite symmetrical. They're however close enough that I can just mirror the parts and sand them down accordingly. The details such as the door and framework are of course my own imagination. The rear part of the cockpit is finished. Trying to get the shape of the instrument panel correct was a bit of a pain, but I got there eventually. I've decided to let the cockpit be for the time being and focus on the big parts such as the bulkheads and flooring before doing the details. In the end, the fitting is pretty tight and without gaps which is nice. There are be some print lines visible, however I'll try to remove them as best as I can and print the parts in such a way they'll be on the hidden side if possible. As this part is running quite long already, I'll stop here. Next part, the bomb bay.
  2. Sanger had been promising to release a 1/48th B-52 for a number of years, and kept teasing me whenever I visited the website with a message that stated the model was under construction but nothing more - I must confess I began to question whether it would ever actually be released. However, last year it was finally ready to purchase so I took the plunge and ordered one. Any version of the venerable B-52 can be modelled, ranging from the early tall-tailed versions typified by the D-model, right through to the current-day H version. Sanger also offer a wide array of decals to accompany the kit, with many different schemes that the B-52 has worn over the years being on offer to purchase with your chosen variant. I decided to go for a current B-52H - with 'Memphis Belle IV' nose art - as I vividly remember it displaying at one of the RAF Mildenhall airshows and taking lots of pictures of it under some very stormy skies. I also had a very good wander around one at last year's airshow at RAF Fairford too, so plenty of resource material is at hand. A few weeks after I placed the order, a rather large box arrived at my work (always the best option with an eagle-eyed wife scrutinising any parcels that arrive at my house!) and inside plenty of protective bubble wrap was one of the biggest kits I've laid eyes on. Only the 1/32nd B-29 I did a few years ago exceeds it in span: The wings are massive - the 30cm/12" ruler gives a sense of scale here. Each wing is approximately 2ft so the eventual span of the finished model will be around the 4ft mark. Sparring the wings so they remain rigid is going to be quite a challenge I feel, and the thought of rubbing down all those wheel-halves doesn't fill me with joy... I imagine, due to the difficulty in obtaining a vacuumform machine large enough, the fuselage is moulded in four sections, with a lengthwise break just aft of the rear undercarriage bays. This also allows a separate mould of the differently shaped forward fuselage for the D, E, and F versions. Again, the 30cm/12" ruler shows the size of this brute: Here are the stabilisers and engine pylons: This sheet contains the vertical fin, tip-tanks, various sensors as well as the different tail turrets for the G/H versions: These are the pods for the eight Pratt and Whitney JT3D engines - unique to the H variant: A close-up of the parts reveals some lovely fine surface and panel details: Sanger provide a wealth of detailed drawings and plans in order to help with construction, as well as some nice looking decals: And finally, a comprehensive set of white metal parts for the engines, landing gear, interior as well as some further detailing parts. There's a crystal clear canopy too - but only one which means very careful cutting and no room for error! I had promised myself that I wouldn't start this until I'd finished my Shackleton project, but to be honest it's an itch I've got to scratch and I really fancy having a go at it. It'll certainly be a longer-term project as I have other builds (Shackleton included) still going on in the background, so don't hold your breath for regular updates but I'll post my progress as and when there is some. In the meantime, I've got to decide where to start: wings and engines or fuselage... Tom
  3. I owe the pleasure of this kit to fellow modeler John Eaton, that very kindly let it go so I could have a go at this extremely exciting build. As we corresponded, John commented on what must have been to travel to exotic places on this gentle beast, in absolute luxury that only the well-heeled could afford. As many of you know, there were in fact two of these Handley Page types, the HP42 and HP45, four machines each. One covered the Eastern routes while the other covered the Western ones. They differed on the powerplants, propellers, and seat number and arrangement. Many other external details varied from plane to plane too, so as usual photo references are a must. I have wanted to build this vacuformed kit for a long time. And to think that I believed that I was handling a "big kit" and model when I built this same manufacturer's Blackburn Kangaroo, but this behemoth is far, far bigger, almost 55 ctms. in span (that is for you still leaving in the dark ages about 21 1/2 inches). This design epitomizes "The Beauty in the Beast" character that I so much love about vintage, Golden Age planes: ungainly, preposterous, but ultimately irresistibly charming. Through the years I gathered so much references on this type, that only to go trough the graphic material takes me hours (I just did it, again), not to mention the written portion of it that I leave for a rainy day (or days). The Contrail kit is not state of the art as we all know, but I believe it will provide a decent base for a good model. The kit , reputedly released in 1982 (37 years ago!!!) comes with some goodies in the form of Aeroclub's white metal engines and four-blade props, some airfoiled material, a metal rod for the landing gear, a few molded parts (wheels and such) a cut of clear (now yellowed) plastic and some extra styrene sheet. Accompanying the package are printed instructions, quite clear for what I can tell at a glance, and clearly printed reference photographs, not the fuzzy blackened photos much newer manufacturers some times provide. A big decal sheet is also provided to cater for (I think) every HP42/45. Not sure about how it survived the passage of time, we'll see. This kit also provides a full interior, cockpit and cabin. There is a particular piece of engineering in this kit, as the cabin interior is eventually wrapped within a shell, which sides have the curtains already molded in, and you have to cut off the "window" area. That sub-assembly is later enclosed by the fuselage sides. The monster kit: Some details included, among them Aeroclub white metal engines and props. Notice that the Eastern route machines had different, stacked two-blade props, easier to carry on as replacements: Contents of the box: Interior provided: The cabin "shells": A Parnall Pixie (same scale) could take off... ...and land on this plane's wing: Now, because I am building at the same time seven models (six of which are posted here as ongoing WiPs), this one may have to wait a little.
  4. It comes up now and then, whether it is possible to duplicate vac-u-formed canopies. The answer is yes! I will show you how I do it. First off, the canopy you wish to replicate has to be closed at both ends. If it has already been cut out of it's plastic sheet, you are going to have to devise a way to make it hold a runny sort of product. One way might be to glue plastic pieces to the part that needs to be sealed off, using a glue such as G-S cement, which can later be dissolved with 91% rubbing alcohol, without harming the plastic. BEWARE -- THIS METHOD WILL NOT WORK ON ANY SORT OF "UNDERCUT" CANOPY!!! -- but then, I don't think the vacuform process would either! Next, I dip the canopy into a paper cup full of Future or Pledge or whatever it is now, wherever you are. I do this twice, dipping into the cup, holding the part with tweezers, and allowing to dry on a paper towel for an hour or so between coats. After each dip, I pour the left-over Future/Pledge back into the bottle, then place the now empty paper cup upside down over the canopy, while it dries, to deter any dust. The reason for the Future is twofold. First, to help make certain that the surface of the cast part will be smooth, and also because later on, if the casting doesn't want to come out of the canopy (mold), you can dissolve the Future with Windex with Ammonia D, as it is now called. Don't know why that call it that, but they do. You can also use plain or diluted ammonia, but it will smell really bad! Anyway, except for the Future and ammonia product, our needs are simple: The canopy we wish to copy, and a can of Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty. What it was used for originally, I don't know, but it works great for this. I got mine at Home Depot, you mileage may vary.. I just dump some of the Durham's fine powder into a plastic cup, then add a few drops of water, and stir with a cocktail stick. The stuff stirs much like Plaster of Paris, but dries harder (and yellow). You want to mix it until it has a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup, and pudding. That is, you don't want it too runny, as it will take forever to be dry (and be weak), but also, you don't want it to be so stiff that you have to scoop it into the mold (canopy). Fortunately, it's cheap enough to experiment with! Anyway, just make sure that your canopy will hold water, but your putty mix is more like pudding... Next, mix up the putty and pour it into the mold (canopy). Make certain that the canopy is level. I usually make sure to fill the canopy a bit above level, as the putty will shrink slightly as it settles. I also run a cocktail stick back and forth, to make sure that no bubbles are left against the canopy surface. Getting the right consistency will go a long way toward that goal. Here is what mine looks like, after drying, usually about two or three days: Usually, the Durham's will just pop out with a tiny bit of prying, preferably in an area that is not critical, as the stuff WILL scratch. If not, here is where the Windex D is your friend. Run a few drops along the edge between the canopy and the Durham's, and after a few seconds, you should be able to pop it right out. Lastly, the finished product: Note that any fine rough edges (arrow) can be sanded right off, and the bottom can be sanded flat, if need be. Note the perfectly smooth surface of the molded part, which is of course, a perfect copy from the inside of the canopy, so that after you vacuform it, should create a copy perfect to use -- plastic thickness being about the same as the original copy. If there is a little Durham's residue on the original canopy that you copied, again, the Windex D and a toothbrush will get it right off! Duck Soup, as they say... Now, where did I put that Vac-u-former? Ed
  5. Happy New Year guys. Here is my recently completed racer, a Heston Napier Type 5 using the Airframe vacuform kit in 1/72, build can be found here: The vacuform was of so-so quality and was quite thin in places so care had to be taken with any corrections that needed doing. The cockpit was scratch built, as was the undercarriage with wheels and propeller blades coming from the spares box. The build was very much a trial by combat with a couple of drops occurring during the whole process. When everything was made good, the Heston was painted with Alclad paints, a first for me. The supplied decals were Arctic Decals and were fantastic looking but having never dealt with this type of decal before, mistakes were made. Not my best by a long way and now lives in the display case albeit at the back. Stuart
  6. With the Bugatti racer now completed, time to look at the next one. For no particular reason other than it jumped into my hand, I'm going to try my hand at a 1/72 vacuform , a Heston Type 5 Racer. Nice boxart. The plastic Can't go wrong with Arctic Decals Our resident monk @Moa RFI: will hopefully point me in the right direction. I have only ever done one vacuform but it was so long ago in 1/48, I can't remember any of it. I'm sure it'll be fun. Stuart
  7. 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
  8. 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:
  9. The "Five-country flight" Etrich Taube of 1913 is now ready to take to the skies. Of undeniable organic inspiration, this graceful bird, clumsy as it may be, heralded the monoplane of the future. Almost all its structural strength came, one may state, from outside, in the form of frames, masts and rigging. A Greek philosopher (like Styrenedes) may have said that at the beginning of life structure also comes from outside as teaching and guidance, when in maturity that structure has been embodied, and it's now inside, as in modern planes. Philosophical disquisitions aside, this adorable dove, a universal symbol of peace, would soon become embroiled in less than pacific activities, to the shame of all. That's why I have chosen to represent it under its better light. Igo Etrich, its designer, was not German as some believe, his birthplace was located in what is today the Czech Republic, but was at some point under Austrian rule. The build started as a... how shall I put it... an extremely basic and old vacuform kit by Airframe, made by John Tarvin in Canada (consisting of the basic volumes and no accessories or decals). The construction process can be consulted here: Simple as they are, even old vacs can show their potential when you apply care and a little time. Some research was involved as usual, and the build was carried on trying to find the elusive balance between all the aspects involved: data available, the chosen kit, time dedicated, accuracy, etc. The build-saving decal sheet came from Arctic Decals, who delivered as usual great quality. May peace and understanding, humanity's Quixotic elusive dream, be found -sooner rather than later, before it's too late. Meanwhile, be the fragile, graceful, delicate, and inspiring outline of this bird, its symbol.
  10. Afternoon all, This is a build from about 10 years ago - the Aircraft in Miniature vacuform Boeing 747-300. I had it out of the loft today as it needed some repairs and I thought I'd take some up to date pictures that hadn't been sabotaged by the Photobucket debacle. This is a vacuform model that comes as a basic shell - it was fully scribed and wheel bays scratch-built. The decals were from DrawDecal and paints were from Halfords. I had the KLM blue custom-mixed to match the crown on the tail. The kit provides white metal landing gear as well as resin intakes and exhaust cones which makes life a lot easier. I think it took about 4 months from start to finish and was pretty straightforward, apart from the size. I finished it as one of KLM's 747-306 Combis from the mid-1990s. S1030348 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030350 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030351 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030355 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030357 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030359 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030362 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030367 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030369 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030371 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030375 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr S1030381 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr In this picture you can see I've placed a 12"/30cm rule to show the size... it's HUGE. S1030383 by Thomas Probert, on Flickr Regards to all, Tom
  11. Continuing with the modeling saga of less-known types, that nonetheless made significant contributions to aviation history and development, not to mention aesthetics, here is the Sopwith Bat Boat of 1913, credited as the first successful amphibian built in the UK. This is another pioneer (Like the recently-posted Lee-Richards annular wing) that should make BMs proud, being a local achievement. Thomas Sopwith came from the boating field, and used in the Bat Boat a type of construction technique called consuta: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consuta The Bat Boat design went through several incarnations. The model here represents the plane as it won the Mortimer-Singer amphibian competition of 1913, with retractable landing gear. Photos show that the plane in this configuration had an inline engine, the fore plane removed, twin rudders under the horizontal tail, and canvas fairing on the space between lower plane and fuselage. Photos show other versions with what looks like a rotary engine, different radiators, different tails and other changes. Beware that some plans out there mix features of them all, and are in general suspicious, therefore always rely on photos and compare them with the plans. There are, as far as I know, two 1/72 kits of this plane, the Joystick vacuum-formed I am using and a Luedemann resin kit, that to my eyes looks just a wee-bit chunky and an itsy-bitsy heavy-handed. I got this kit thanks to the good offices of fellow modeler L. Santos, who saw it in shop and called me to see if I wanted it (you already know the answer), thanks, L.! For those unfamiliar with this brand, you get the usual vac sheets, but also white metal parts and airfoiled struts material, both facilitating building greatly. In this case rods to build the frames that support the tail were also included. The kit came to me started. The vac sheets have been primed, the wings separated (but not cleaned or thinned), and the fuselage sides where already cut and given some reinforcement tabs typical of what we vac builders use. I do not particularly appreciate started kits, but what little it was done to this kit was ok, so I set to continue the build. The kit allows for different versions to be built. The metal parts consist of engine, fuel tank (so-so), prop (very poor) and wheels (inaccurate, solid ones). The vac floats are better replaced with a plastic rod and cones or similar, since they are not particularly good. The kit as I got it:
  12. A build from 5 years ago, posted as always with its original text. (At that time I didn't know a couple tricks to photograph the models in a convincing snowy environment, so these images will have to do for now): The somewhat strange lines of the Fairchild Super 71 bushplane seem to suggest an exercise on making a fuselage out of beer cans. The whole appearance is further enhanced by the shinny finish and the presence of a pair of floats/skis that any bush plane deserving its worth should be able to wear. The Execuform vacuformed kit is a simple approach to the matter, providing the basic shapes, a plan, resin parts that make for the stub wings where struts attach and a vacuformed clear canopy. As usual you will have to get the engine, prop, decals and detail bits by yourself. In the photos you can see the Aeroclub engine, the scratched interior and home-made decals. The Super 71 that has been restored and is exhibited at a museum shows servo tabs on the rudder. I wasn’t able to find anything like that on the photos I have of the original machine; but again, I was able to find about a dozen images, all not great in quality. In the museum the external sections of the wing are separated by a gap, in the original a metal strip fairing covered that gap. There was a time when the Super 71 was on skis. Since I have been posting here numerous articles dealing with the building of vacuformed models, all there is to be said has been already said, so I’ll keep this one short, but there are a few points to be considered nevertheless. The wings are molded as entire sections, upper and lower. The wing has an inverted gull dihedral which is portrayed in the kit parts. The wing halves, in order to have that dihedral, have been located in the backing sheet on a pedestal. It is advisable to mark and cut the wings from the “inside”, the other side of the backing sheet, not the side where you usually cut –see images- since the dividing line is more visible on that side. Be very careful with the slips of the cutter, since there is almost no guide line. Do not hurt yourself. Cut a tad further out from the actual dividing line; that will give you some slack to refine and sand later on. There are two front cowl parts, one depicts the more usual “cover-all” cowl, and the other represents one that looks more like a NACA cowl and accompanied in the original an engine shield. Study your reference material. The original stub wings were partially corrugated, so I decided to scratch them instead of using the resin ones provided. For that I made a pattern and joined part plain styrene sheet and part “corrugated” styrene sheet. The teardrop tips were made from long forgotten kit bombs, I am always happy finding other uses for them. The polished metal surfaces (fuselage) and the silver doped, fabric-covered flying surfaces should be painted accordingly to differentiate them. I went for the ski version (although it is not depicted or catered-for in the kit) for several reasons: a) Because I have a tendency to depart from the standards b) It requires a bit less struts (so they are limited to only 28 c) It adds a color note (wood) to the otherwise overall metal finish d) It makes the display of the model easier (no water, no dolly) e) When I am pretending to fly the model in the house I no longer have to take off and land in the sink or bathtub, but can use the freezer instead. I would like to thank another vacuformed kit maker, Lars Opland of Khee-Kha Art Products, for his help with data about the original plane. While waiting for some parts to dry I worked on the decals and got them ready to be home-printed. A new stabilizer was made from scratch in order to be able to show the ribbing of the original. Same for the rudder. For the abundant struts on this model brass “Strutz” were used, and a very big “thank you” goes to Andrew Nickeas. of the lands of Nottingham, since -due to the shutdown of the Aeroclub Internet store- without his help no “Strutz” would be now among my scratchbuilding supplies. The Super 71 was used mostly as a cargo plane, so I depicted the interior with bulkheads, cockpit and floor. A few battens –gas tank area reinforcements- were added to the lower wing, as well as gas caps on the upper wing. Aileron cable leads and balances were fabricated too. There were two ducts that run parallel on the upper fuselage from behind the engine to the canopy; those were also represented on the model. Exhausts were made from styrene tube and solder. A little bit laborious but worth every hour of dedication. As the song goes, it never rains in Southern California -and much less snows- but we live in hope.
  13. I have been debating (with myself) whether to make something from a game or settle for something in my stash. The game options were: a space ship from Elite Dangerous, which would involve some 3d printing something from IL2, probably based on one of my own racing skins (maybe a metallic blue & yellow P-51D?) These options are not fully closed off, but, I've decided to go with something from my stash ... A SEVANS Models Dalek, in 1:5 scale The box - with Airfix 1/72 Spitfire for scale A selection of parts, again with Airfix 1/72 Spitfire The instructions suggest this should take something like 300 minutes building time - I'll believe that when it's finished
  14. This model started life as a venerable RarePlane* vacuum-formed kit, and was converted, with some modifications, into an air show stylized machine. New engines and props, full interior -with restroom, and many other details like diverse antennas and lights were added to bring the standard just a tad higher, redeeming its destiny from tired out-of-the-war-mill, to splendorous crowd-awing aerobatic apparatus. The step-by-step account of the transformation can be seen here: The necessary masks and decals were commissioned from Arctic Decals and were to their usual high standards. This model was built in parallel with another civil conversion of the same type using the Encore half-hearted re-pop of the original PM kit to make an American Airlines plane, and it was an interesting experience comparing the quality, engineering, behavior, and potential of both. I must say that both kits have their uses, but my heart inclines towards the vac, that although being a much earlier effort, has much more to it than the not very well rendered iteration of the injected-cum-so-so-resin-bits sister kit. Still, a great pleasure is found in playing with these old kits and honing those skills with a frill or two, and much is learned, and much is enjoyed, plus the endeavor resulting in not so common renditions with a bit of extra pizzazz. The model represents a present time aerobatic machine used on air shows.Not all kits can be used to portray this particular airframe, only the ones with the shorter nacelles and without the kink (LERX) at the wing roots. *Before his passing, I sustained a very lovely exchange with Gordon Stevens, talking much about kit-making, aviation and life. Wherever he is, I hope I made him proud with this, his creation.
  15. A build of yet another vac from 5 years ago: The General Aviation PJ-1 (AF-15) twin pusher flying boat design combines the uncommon with the visually pleasant. Five planes of this type were built and all went into service with the Coast Guard starting in 1932 as FLB (Flying Life Boats). All had names of stars starting with the letter “A” (Antares, Acrux, Acamar, Arcturus, Altair). So you have some variations on schemes and details to pick from. One was converted to a tractor version and re-designated PJ-2. It had P&Ws of slightly more power, a different canopy and of course a different engine pylon and gondola arrangement. Some of these planes had “finlets” on the stab. One machine at certain point had three-blade props, and another had the annular Townend rings way ahead of the engine. Another had a sort of small wing in a low position after the engines. Still another (or perhaps the same) had a small wing above the leading edge. No doubt there was some experimentation going on there. The General Aviation PJ-1 was specifically designed and made for the US Coast Guard. The very tangled corporate web that gave birth to this plane includes General Motors, Fokker (the wing was of Fokker design and there is more than a passing resemblance with the Fokker F-11), North American and Douglas. Another child born of this multiple parents is the Clark -General Aviation- GA-43. The JP-1 had a retractable beaching gear, but it couldn’t be used as a landing gear. The pusher configuration was of course chosen to keep the props and carbs out of the spray. They were successful in their mission and saved many lives. The Execuform vacuformed kit of the PJ-1 is made of sturdy plastic. The parts were removed from their backing sheet and as in any other vacuformed kit you have to refine those parts later on, to make for a good fit and proper thinness on trailing edges. So some careful sanding is involved, whilst frequently testing the parts to be sure you are on track. This is a relatively big kit and it will require that you scratchbuild the interior, engrave some panel lines and the separation lines of the control surfaces. Some clear plastic is provided for you to make the windows, which are all flat. Engines, propellers, wheels, struts and some minor external details (like the loop antenna or the landing lights) are all to be supplied by the modeler. Same for the decals. The kit provides good documentation and annotated 1/72 plans to accomplish all that. I would like to remind again fellow modelers that the existence of this type of kits it’s a bliss, even if they are basic, since no mainstream manufacturers is likely to produce kits of esoteric planes. Yes, you have to get some extra parts and work a little, all the better, that’s what it makes a model “yours”; you put something of you in it, and you learn and hone those skills. These types of kits are just a starting point and they are not meant to compete with mainstream ones, they just pick-up the trail where the big guys left it, so we can have interesting models of less-known types. For me and many others that’s great and worth the extra effort. US Coast Guard V113 livery was chosen, mainly because of the difficulty of printing white decals for the other (blue background) livery options (I do not have an ALPS nor I want to buy one); besides I found on the Net several pics of this particular machine. It has a less showy color scheme but overall presents a cleaner visual effect. Different wing float strut arrangements can be seen in photos during its life. Study your chosen subject and compare any plans or drawings you may have with actual photos. I decided to replace some flying surfaces and other details. Since the tail group was made of metal tube and fabric-covered, I scratched it from sheet styrene. The ailerons were corrugated metal (while the whole wing was wood) so I cut them out and replaced them with parts made from corrugated styrene sheet. Have in hand some Evergreen or Plastruct rod sections, since you will have to add the strakes that are visible on the fuselage sides and bottom and the area surrounding the engine pylons. No cockpit or interior data is provided with the kit nor could any specific info on the matter be found elsewhere, so a generic cockpit was depicted. The windows were made with the clear plastic provided with the kit, which resulted to be excellent, whatever material that is. It cut cleanly and sanded well. The step on the hull was refined and strakes (26 of them) were measured, cut, touched-up and glued to the bottom and sides. I encountered a not good merging of the wing “back” with the fuselage and found that the wing fillets needed to be corrected –I had to remove the originals-, so the area was reinforced with more styrene from inside and re-contoured. Brass “Strutz” were used for the necessary parts. MV lenses were utilized for the landing lights, and navigation lights came from the generic CMR set. Additional details –to name just a few- were loop antenna, Pitot tube, beaching gear cables and pulley anchor, rigging, wire antenna, rudder “paddles”, control horns and cables and mooring bits, the latter were part of a resin set sold by Khee-Kha Art Products for one of its bush panes. I diverged from Execuform’s recommendations regarding the type of yellow color on the plane’s scheme and some of the lettering fonts. You may see an upper wing walkway among the decals on the “in progress” images. That didn’t work. I had to mask that area and paint it almost at the very end. Retrospectively it would have been better to prepare the area where the pylons are glued and leave them out until after completion of painting. I could have done that because I worked out a good wing/pylon joint, but got carried away and glued them without a second thought. Do not forget those servo tabs on the rudder. The captioned photos will give you an idea of the steps, procedures and materials. If they don’t, you could always take up teratology or quilting. There is always hope where there is a will.
  16. RAM Models is to release on February 29th, 2016, 1/72nd Vickers VC-10 C.1/C.1K vacuform kits. Source: http://www.rammodels.co.uk/index.php/cPath/65 V.P.
  17. A vac Gee-Bee from 10 years ago (the one posted before was an injected Amodel one): Original text: It is as if my friends were trying to prove that there is no kit impossible to build...as long as it is other modeler who builds them. The Gee Bee needs no introduction; it is just a manned, slightly winged, aerial engine cowl. This vac, together with a few others, was given to me by fellow modeler Keith Hudson. I am grateful of course but now I may have to build them. Humbug. In any case, the Airframe vacuformed kit is old but generally nice if your standards are flexible like mine, but the styrene in this one is definitely on the thin side (I have seen other offers from this manufacturer with a pleasant thickness) to the point of both flimsiness and cause glue terror -a syndrome you develop after you melted a kit trying to glue it-. The iconic wheel pants were so thin that I decided just to hold the halves together with my fingers and wick down a bit of superglue. I had, nevertheless, to explain friends and neighbors why I was holding a minute white part on my hand for the next two days. Kidding. The decals, by Microscale, were detailed; nevertheless the shape of the larger ones (on the wings, fus, and pants) is not really well designed to wrap around the areas they are supposed to cover. I am not talking here about not being able to stretch and adapt to the model curves (which is understandable to a certain extent) but of shapes that tend not to coincide, being in general a bit large. I wonder if the decal designer ever applied them on a model. If that would have been the case it should have been realized that some adjustments (drastic in a few cases) were in order. My decal sheet was incomplete and badly crackled (nothing to blame the manufacturer for here), a fact that I caught just in time not to use them before spraying on them a few protecting coats to build up a carrier. The plan worked only for the smaller decals, but the condition and age of the larger ones was so bad originally that they shattered anyway. I had to print a set from a scan I took before doing anything with the decals, which proved wise. I also made some louvers that go on the front fuselage. At the end, a total decal nightmare. The Amodel Gee Bee (which I built long time ago) decals were less attractive and a tad pink, but the bits conformed much better to the contours, if the area they covered was smaller (more painted areas to match for the modeler). As usual, you have to ride your spares’ box (or supplier) to get engine, wheels and prop and scratch any other things you wish to add. It is worth of note though that a transparent vac canopy was provided. The model compares well to a portrait of a remote auntie I had that was a little on the chubby side. Since this was supposed to be a quickie for an informal build, a succinct interior was added and things were kept as simple as possible, which is never really simple with vacs and small models. Images depict how the parts left on the building board in the vacuum chamber magically attach to each other to eventually form a model, by gravity mainly. Anyway, did I enjoy it? you betcha. I only wish I had had a decent, new, decal sheet, because do you know what happens when you match your cowl and spats to a certain hue of a decal set, and then you have to change decals? Yes, that. The rest was pretty fun.
  18. A vac from 7 years ago: The Pander S.4 -known also as Postjager and Panderjager- was a very stylized Dutch trimotor designed by Theo Slot that first flew in 1933. It was built by the furniture company Pander & Zonen as a high speed mail plane. Only one was produced and after some mail flights it entered in the MacRobertson air race, during which it crashed and went up in smoke. The accident had nothing to do with the plane or its pilots; it was a collision with a vehicle on the tarmac. The Pander was equipped with three Wright Whirlwinds and retractable landing gear, its construction material being mostly wood, and its lines were advanced for its time. It sported flaps and “park bench” ailerons. A good deal of research was carried on before attempting actual modeling. In some images the fuselage registrations and rudder marks are absent. In others the fuselage registrations are there but not the rudder marks. In some images the word Panderjager is on the side of the nose (in small characters) and in others Postajeger is written in a bigger font (associated with a prominent antenna, earlier in the life of the plane). Some images show no nose inscriptions. Some faired bumps that are present on the lower part of the engine gondola aligned with the LG legs are absent in later photos. Execuform molds of the Pander S.4 are in line with its philosophy, simple and robust, providing a starting point for the modeler to build upon and achieve a nice replica with some good ole modeling. The kit includes –besides the vacuformed parts- resin wheels which come in halves, material for the transparencies and printed references. As said, the modeler will have to add decals, ful interior detail, engines, propellers, tail wheel and external detail at will. Separation lines for the control surfaces are also to be engraved. All this extra work is not that difficult to accomplish and the reward will be an unusual and very sleek reproduction of a pioneering design of the Golden Age of aviation. I purchased a resin trimotor set from Khee-Kha Art Products and used a few parts from the spares’ bin, scratching most of the detail otherwise and printing my own decals. Navigation lights came from the CMR resin set. Work started by creating an energy field around the workbench, thus preventing any interference from the exterior, including rays coming from secret lairs somewhere in Europe. A carpet monster zapping device was next installed. Then enough Argentinean empanadas, yerba mate, pastries, Mark Strand poetry books and Edgar Meyer’s CDs were stored in order to endure the rigors of model building. Look at the photos and if you have doubts go to Greece and consult an oracle. Their answers could be vague –to say the least- but the food is excellent. Some engineering thought was given and applied to certain areas. Especially when dealing with vacuformed kits or scratched models thinking ahead is a must, to avoid as much as possible trouble later on. It is convenient to build the interior of the model before joining the fuselage sides, the other way around may prove difficult, but otherwise very entertaining -for your fellow modelers-. I decided to make new cowls creating a cylinder with two layers of styrene sheet and a wood part glued to it to carve the front. I did it three times until I was satisfied. The cowls on the original plane are divided in quarters, the upper one is wider than the other three. They are separated by quite visible strips of metal. There are some details on the plane that you may like to reproduce: a sort of “stacked pancakes” radiator under the nose immediately after the engine cowl. The three exhausts exit through the cowls, central downwards and a bit to the left, and side engines upwards and to the right –from the pilot’s point of view-. Look at photos. The park bench ailerons align -when viewed from the front- with the leading edge. Some photos show a Pitot on the left wing. Most photos show no manufacturer decals on the center prop. Do not forget you have to make the parkbench ailerons. I used styrene sheet and some modified contrail airfoiled material for the supports. Notice that they have mass balances in the shape of rods. Other than control surfaces’ separations I did not engrave other lines, since the machine was praised for its smooth finish. The tail of the Pander requires some elements: struts, nav lights, some sort of cable that runs from mid-fin to fuselage and a conspicuous system of connected elevator horns. These sort of long-haul projects are better combined with less demanding endeavors, like climbing the Himalayas or making a fortune in a week. But, once finished, there is that extra satisfaction knowing that you put into it a little bit of you. I would like to thank Kees Kort from Holland as well as other friends (you know who you are) for their kindness and help.
  19. Star Wars BTL A-4 Y-Wing (VC03) 1:72 GreenStrawberry It's common knowledge that the new Bandai Star Wars model kits are pretty awesome, especially since they can be made without any paint or glue, but with this being a modelling forum there are likely to be a lot of us considering upgrades, because we just can't resist! GreenStrawberry have a raft of update sets for these kits that should satisfy most tastes, and they have now broadened their range by introducing a new range of vacform canopies, and with more planned and in progress. What does a vacform canopy do to improve your model? It gives you a more scale-accurate window pane to the full-size props, and it allows a greater view into the interior of the ship with less distortion. This is ideal if you're painting and/or detailing the area, or if you just want a more realistic looking canopy. The set arrives in a small box in the usual dark GS theme, with the two canopies inside protected by a ziplok bag, accompanied by an instruction sheet and a set of vinyl masks for good measure. The two canopies are different because one is moulded pre-cut into front and rear halves, while the other is moulded closed, allowing you to choose open or closed, or just build two and be done with it.  There's a lot of folks that are a bit wary of using vacform canopies, but they're actually not too difficult once you know how - if you do, skip to the next paragraph. If you fill the interior void with Blutak before you begin cutting, and use a brand new #11 blade, scoring round the cut mark lightly so that you don't drift away from the line. Once you've cut it out, offer it up to the model, and gently sand any uneven or proud areas with a sanding stick, being careful not to scuff the clear surfaces. When you're happy with the finish, peel off the Blutak and clean both sides, then dip it in your Klear/Future or whatever you use so that it's ready to use on your model. Conclusion A useful set that has been missing from the aftermarket scene until now, and they should hopefully sell well to anyone looking to add a bit more realism to their model. The range is continually expanding, so if your preferred topic isn't yet covered, keep checking back. Review sample courtesy of
  20. For some reason I forgot to upload this one, built about 2 years ago. It is related (a post war cabin modification of an existing type) to my current build of the LVG C.VI in passenger carrying guise too, posted as a WiP here at BM. In this small way, I would like to honor Edmund Rumpler, the creator of the plane. His contributions to aviation were vast and significant, and he also created a car that is a delight to contemplate, the Rumpler tropfenwagen. Because Rumpler was Jewish, he was later imprisoned by the despicable and moronic nazis, who destroyed his life and tried to ruin his legacy. This little and attractive bird was the cause of an enormous (and unexpected) amount of research. I am deeply thankful for the help received from Mr. Günter Frost and colleagues at the ADL site (Association of German Aviation History): http://www.adl-luftfahrthistorik.de/deutsch/adl_start.htm Their input was invaluable. Needless to say, any rights are theirs, and if any wrong was included, it's only mine. Their site has a plethora of interesting articles on Golden Era civil planes, mixed up with other subjects. My gratitude also goes to Sönke Schulz and Alain Bourret, indefatigable Ornithopters. Needless to say without the wonderful set from Mika Jernfors of Artic Decals there would have been no model. The Rumpler C.I (or 5A2) was converted to a limousine by the simple procedure of adding a cabin where the second position was, like putting a hat on, if you will. It was used by a short-lived German passenger airline know as Rumpler-Luftverkehr, or "that airline" for us not ready to venture into German pronunciation. My above-mentioned dear friend from Marzipanland, a province of Volkania, Sönke Schulz, and your humble have been interested in this machine for some time. Beware that at some point in the 30s a spurious hybrid (also named D290) was concocted for Lufthansa propaganda purposes and exhibited at a German museum, easy to tell apart from the original for many details, the most obvious perhaps a strange vertical stabilizer that has nothing to do with the Rumpler C.I, and wings that belonged to a C.IV. Painful and slow research provided now with data enough to build a model of the original. Many of you know my love for vacuum-formed kits. I got a quite nice Joystick Models (England) Rumpler C.I The kit is interesting, and as vacs go quite good. There are a couple things, though: the plan included in the instructions doesn't match the kit parts (or vice-versa), sometimes for more than a 1/4 inch. Those instructions do not have an exploded view or any indication as to where things go, but it's easy enough to guess. How the aileron works, different from the usual horn and cable or linkage: I carved a real laminated wood prop, only to realize that no photos showed a laminated prop (the laminations were not visible and the color was uniform): The decal sheet from Arctic Decals (I commissioned two subjects):
  21. This Aircraft I did awhile back on another site that was doing a group build on the lost art of Vacuform and Resin.At the time it seemed rather straight forward and simple. I caught it half way thru the build cycle and since I didn't think I would be able to complete the B-52 I had started at the time to finish within the given time period, I chose a "Nice, Simple, Little Airplane" I had in the stash. The build was anything but Nice and Simple ,thought the plane was smallish. So gather round Gents and Ladies as I spin you a tale you can tell your Grandchildren.....And mightily bored they'll be. Once upon a time..... long,long ago,, there was Vacuform....
  22. A build from 2007, 12 years ago: Gordon Stevens' RarePlanes Seversky Vaculand is a not that far away region that is located right after Plasticland. It limits to the East with Resinland, near the mostly unknown regions of Scratchland, were the Glue River and the Spring of Cyanoacrylate cross into Styrene Territory. Carried on the wings of Methylene and Terpene, the Greek muses of modeling, I arrived to those strange lands where I found this RarePlane’s kit of a –soon to be transformed- Seversky P-35. It is a simple vacuformed model, easy to grasp and with a pleasant styrene sheet gauge. You get the idea, not a flimsy please-don’t-glue-me kit, neither a please-grab-the-chain-saw one. As with most vacs, you have to ride the spares box or learn something for heaven’s sake and fabricate your own missing bits. Aeroclub Models and other companies also have accessories that you can buy for a modest stipend. I gathered my references, but this time I read them before building the model, which resulted to be the right thing to do. I received help from Jim Schubert, a.k.a. the Modeling Santa Claus and from other good fellows. OK then: panel lines -I skipped some-, interior bits, engine donor, prop donor, mods in the due places, Jim’s wheels, a bit more there, a bit less here and there it is, a Seversky AP-7 as flown by Jackie Cochran in the 1938 Bendix race. Or is it? Oh, drat, the decals! Out with some images that Modeling Santa provided and the inkjet printer. A few coats of varnish and voila!: A total mess. If you apply too little varnish the ink dissolves in the water; if you apply too much you end up with material suitable for transparent roofing in you house. Plan B: laser printer. This time it went much better and after a careful positioning of the many images and some decal strips for the canopy framing I was able to sit down and contemplate the chrome blender-like lines of this graceful racer. The stance says it all, isn’t it?
  23. A model built 3 years ago, to indulge in the expressed predilection of some esteemed members on the inter-wars period. The beautiful Zeppelin-Staaken E4/20 passenger four-engined monoplane was a product of the postwar (that is post-WWI war), and a very good one. Wisely or not (there were, ahem, understandable fears, surely not appeased by the camouflage covering), the Allied commission decided it should be dismantled, so it bloomed only to be scraped. The mind behind this innovative use of metal (in a way different than Hugo Junkers) was Dipl. Ing. Adolph Rohrbach, later of flying boat fame. In a way, it followed the steps of an unlikely (and unrecognized) grandfather, the Sikorsky Russky Vityaz and its successor the Illya Mourometz ( from 1913!!!!!!), very big, efficient and innovative four-engine machines used in part as commercial passenger planes. So the Zeppelin-Staaken of 1919 was not really new or revolutionary in that regard, but it was a much modern design that took advantage of the advances in technology developed during WW1, being an all-metal, almost total cantilever monoplane. For the skeptics: it did fly, and flew well enough. Many years would pass until such an achievement would be recognized or even copied, or re-invented, and DECADES would pass until a conceptually similar plane was designed, built and flown. Now, the bad news: the kit: As I opened the intact bag Lalo Schifrin's "Mission Impossible" theme started to sound in the depths of my mind. The surface is a disaster, the plastic has dirt inclusions, the edges are ill-defined, the "panel lines" have been -unevenly- traced with a banana, some of the wheels are oval...I mean, how hard is to trace a circle? But I am not being totally fair, this kit is not just bad: it is horrid. No interior and no accessories complete (or incomplete?) the package. True, where else can you get a Zeppelin Staaken E4/20? Do you think Revell is going to come to the rescue? Exactly. So we are stuck with this Frankenkit until 3D printers can be bought for twenty dollars and you can produce your own. I have seen some built on the Net, with more or less fortune, valiant endeavors that I shall not dare to criticize. These brave souls did enough, whatever the results. Classic Plane from Germany was the perpetrator of this...thing, many moons ago. You get your quasi-formed (the term vacu-formed would be too optimistic) plastic of decent gauge, some clear material for the windows, a 1/72 plan that does not coincide with some parts (i.e. fuselage length, span), a page of dubious clarity with some notes. Hope and Faith are not included, and you have to provide your own. There are redeeming qualities: the plastic has a good gauge, cuts and sands easily, glues well, and its surface admits finer sanding. There were some changes on the plane that can be seen in contemporary photos, most noticeably: the addition of a canopy above the cockpit. The presence in some images of a nose wheel -to prevent nose over-. Some probes that appear in some photos over the nose area. Changes in the fairings of the wheel struts/shock absorbers. The door opens sideways in most photos but in other photo is shown opening downwards (associated with the canopy). A couple photos show the legend "Staaken" painted and crossed over. The wheels are seen with visible spokes or fabric-covered. There were two sort of tripods on the wings towards the wingtips. So, in order to reproduce an accurate version of the plane at any stage of its life you chose to, you must study photographs. Here I give you the first 4-engine passenger-carrying monoplane built mostly of metal...in 1919.
  24. Another build of a vac from 10 years ago: Fokker is a well-known name even for people not familiar with the field of aviation. Some of his designs (many not actually his, by the way, but mostly Reinhold Platz’s) are easily recognized (like the proverbial triplane); while some others are not. The prolific family of civil transports that were created by the Fokker industries (like the trimotors) somehow shadowed other unique creations, like the machine presented in this article. It was one more step upward and forward in a long line of designs that made a positive imprint in the aviation collective. Of the type introduced here only two machines were made commissioned by the United States, the design somehow failed to attract other buyers, unusual for a Fokker. Of the two machines bought by the US, one was used for the coast-to-coast flight (oval windows) and another was used as an ambulance after participating in a race with the number 43 (square windows). The Fokker designation F.IV was changed to T-2 and A-2 respectively for these planes. Their story, especially the coast-to-coast flight, is very interesting indeed, but too extensive to approach here. Give it a Google or, better yet, go to https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/18671/SAoF-0001.1-Lo_res.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y a whole Smithsonian publication on the subject with ALL you need. About vacuformed models in general: Vacs are a different media, and as such have to be treated. Think about the construction techniques for wood-and-canvas, metal, and composite planes. Each requires its own approach, tools and procedures. Build them with joy, accepting the bit of challenge, and don’t be afraid. It’s worth it. A few words based on my own experience: some vacuformed parts can be sometimes a bit flimsy and they don’t match as “perfectly” as the injected ones. That’s the nature of the beast. For some brands the surfaces may not be immaculate, and may present little pips and tiny depressions that are the marks of the molding process. You will have to fill there and sand here, yes. Just know it: it is going to be different. Not better, not worse, just different. Mark the lines surrounding the parts on the backing sheet with a permanent marker –I use an extrafine Sharpie- it will be a very important reference when cutting, and, most of all, when sanding: it will tell you where to stop! Do not use a pencil, the line will fade and become invisible. Later filling, sanding, priming and painting will make the line disappear. Vacs demand attention and patience –by the way, any kind of kit does-, but not supernatural powers. They require some planning and pondering, some improvisation too and are excellent trainers for scratch building. They make you learn and advance. Don’t worry, you may –and probably will (I do)- make a few mistakes: glue-etched fingerprints, a furrow or two as the cutter decides to go somewhere else, some bumps and some voids. Nothing to worry about, all can be corrected –I do it all the time!-. Learn from what it is available to you regarding vacs and then adjust and adapt to your own preferences. Replace things when necessary, be creative! Now, for the real tamale, the model: You get the vac parts, resin parts, metal parts, decals, clear plastic, and a brief instruction sheet. Although with blemishes here and there, the overall quality is fair. The thickness of the styrene is good; the molds are not perfect but good enough to work with, some experience is needed to build a good model. You don’t have to be a master modeler, just have some building experience. At almost 25 meters of original span the 1/72 replica is not a small model, probably not the very first vac you would like to try. The photo sequence will illustrate the steps I took in building the Fokker. The manufacturer approached the wing inventively as two upper and lower halves, a spar (the instructions wisely advise to double it with scrap material) and a wrap-around leading edge. Two images illustrate this. I laid down the spar on the lower half, and carefully dry fitted the upper half a number of times sanding the upper part of the spar until a good fit was achieved. I diverted from the instructions and joined the halves at the “truncated” lipped leading edge which has a step for the “real” leading edge to lock on. Don’t worry, look at the images. Once this was set, I glued the trailing edge which revealed a slight difference in length that was filled with putty. The wing tips required some putty too. I would recommend give the upper wing surface more curvature (just pressing with your fingers) to improve a its appearance. Beware that the upper wing has the fuel caps molded in. Don’t sand them away –or if you do, add them later as small circles. The fuselage side windows were cut out and a few blemishes dealt with. I had to supplement the area that would be in contact with the wing –see image-, since it is a wee-bit curved in the kit, while the original airfoil bottom was flat (from roughly ahead of the main spar backwards). I opened a few vents and cut out the top of the fuselage were the wing sits in order to have comfortable access to the interior later. The front pilot area was hollowed next. All this without joining the fuselage halves yet. Since the T-2 was a distance-duration record plane, it had two interchangeable pilot positions, one outside in the left fuselage front –the engine was aside on the right- and one inside in the left cabin, behind a huge extra fuel tank, so you have too areas that need detail attention. The resin and metal parts cover these two areas to a good degree. You get, among other parts, an instrument panel for the cabin position, but you could scratch the one for the cockpit, although it is located so far at the front and under the cowl that is probably not going to be visible. The reason of such advanced position is to clear the movement of the big control wheel. You may like to add one or two bulkheads to the aft fuselage, which will improve its rigidity when closed, and help with sanding of the seams. The front upper part of the cowling had in the real plane a panel join at the middle, so you don’t have to putty that one, sanding will suffice. Beware that there is also a laced seam at the fuselage bottom, from the cabin end to the tail skid, so don’t putty that area either. I used to replicate that lace a photoetched part. I opted not to use the resin part provided for the radiator because it was not good, but instead sanded the fuselage front flat and added a scratchbuilt part. Some other left-over photoetched parts were used here and there to enhance the detail overall. As with any other model you can go bananas or make it simple, it is all up to you. Do what makes you happy. The landing gear was glued –it is provided as a metal casting with even three tiny metal rods to detail it- Once the model was primed I added a few more photoetched parts, handles and fittings, and the cables and levers system underneath the fuselage, control horns. Now painting was approaching. Beware that the wing was ply-covered, light in color, clear varnished and with the grain running chordwise –that is for you fledglings in the direction the planes advances-. I couldn’t get a satin or gloss olive drab for the rest of the plane, so I went with a Tamiya flat one that later was Future-enhanced in order to restore some shine. I never seem to come to terms with Tamiya paints, which gave a lot of trouble in many ways, while the Model Master acrylics behaved properly. Then the controls were rigged and decals applied. Wrong, since the cables on the aft fuselage side have to go through the decals. So you know, first decals and then rigging. While we are on the decal subject I have to say they are superb, but you have to be careful and especially cautious about the golden rims that surround the windows, since if you are too enthusiastic cutting or sanding the windows out, then the rims will be too small to reach the borders. Although they have a good register as a whole, I cut all panels separate. The wing round insignias are of slightly less quality. Clear plastic windows were inserted from inside (remember I cut open the roof of the cabin?) and some structure was added that is visible from outside, as well as the instrument panel corresponding to that section. Although the provided resin exhausts were sort of ok, I made my own ones since it was an easy task (some fine metal filament wrapped around aluminum tube). The long boom for the Pitot tube was made of wood as the original, a photoetched scrap added. It is rigged to the wing by four stays. Little thingies here and there like the two Venturis on the side of the cabin, wing tie-downs on the wing tips, etc. and presto! Three other liveries can be made if you modify the kit: the A-2 ambulance –red crosses on white circles-, the racer –different A.S. number and “43” at least on the fuselage sides- and the same plane which two photos show in plain finish (most likely clear-varnished light-colored wood for the wing and doped fabric for everything else but the fuselage front. Bear in mind that the ailerons were fabric covered, so they should be painted of whatever color you are using for the fuselage. The main difference is that these versions had square windows in a different arrangement. Other details: the exhaust pipes run up vertically. They had sometimes two wheels on each side of the axle. There are also a few minor details like the stirrups and changes in the cowl vents and bumps. On a research note page three in the above-mentioned Smithsonian paper seems to erroneously describe the plane in the photo on page 3 as the T-2 used in the non-stop flight, but, given its squared windows, cowl details and vertical exhaust it is probably A.S. 64234, the A-2 painted with #43 for the 1923 St. Louis Air Meet. Oh man, this one was fun. That’s all, folks! New replacement exhaust pipes are fashioned: You need to eat your spinach to be strong like Popeye, if you want to build your vacs!
  25. A build from 8 years ago: Khee-Kha Art Products rendition of the Fairchild F.71 is up to the usual high standards of its releases. Good and comprehensive instructions with building tips, plans and livery options, resin accessories again superb and completing the package we find a vacuformed windshield and a clear plastic strip for the side windows. The molds are crisp and detailed. This was the first kit offered by Khee-Kha on its expanding range of bush plane kits. You will need decals for your personal choice of subject, but Khee-Kha offers a PIA decal set as an after-market product for this kit, or you can buy the package (kit+decals). Although the struts are molded in the backing sheet it will be advisable to replace them with airfoiled stock material, like “Strutz” or “Contrail” of the appropriate width. I used both to replace all struts, even the landing gear ones. The construction has a couple of unusual solutions, like the fuselage sides that come in two parts and the cabin roof area that requires a specific approach. Read the instructions thoroughly and carefully before even thinking of cutting the parts out of the backing sheet, that will save you of a potential headache. You must study your references and be sure to include the particularities of the specific machine you are modeling. In this case I wanted to build this for my son who builds Argentinean machines, so a plane that was used there as a photographic platform was selected. It had a different tail wheel, prop and tundra/balloon wheels. The engine also had a Townend ring and the exhausts were arranged in a particular way. For that ring I used a left over part from another Khee-Kha kit, the Bellanca Pacemaker. The wheels were cast in resin using a patterned packaging tray that fitted the bill. The kit’s prop blades were cut out and inserted into a previously scratched part made of metal tubes and plastic discs for counterweights. Instead of using the clear strip provided for the side windows I made individual panes from a CD case. As you can see in the accompanying images I made the panes first for the kit windows as they are, but realized shortly after (fortunately) that the photo mapping version had a different arrangement so two additional panes were prepared to make for the different parts. The exhausts in this particular machine as said varied from standard, and had a central element at the bottom running parallel to them that was probably an oil cooler. Therefore the resin parts were clipped at their ends and supplement accordingly, and the other element mentioned scratched. As you proceed with the building pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommended adjustments and warnings. Anchoring points for rigging and struts are subtly marked on the molds of stab and wing. Early in the process I decided to depart from some of the manufacturer’s recommendations and adapt the kit to my own evil ways. I reduced the parts for the front fuselage section to its minimum expression and utilized the full length of the fuselage sides as provided. For the spar another solution was used, although the kit’s is absolutely fine. A camera was scratched and added to the interior, plus control column and rudder pedals. The manufacturer already supplies the seat and instrument panel. Some exterior details were scratched and added like nav lights, handles, small tail skid, fuel tank caps, rudder control horn and the like. Painting in three tones of metal was followed by the application of the home-made decals and the exterior details.
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