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These days I mainly specialise in inter-war aircraft models in 1/72 scale, but within that rather large field my favourite area is the 1926-41 'Golden Age' of U.S. Civil Aviation. This is a largely untapped field for models (and likely to remain so), which neatly combines my twin passions of scratchbuilding and historical research. Lloyd Stearman was one of America's foremost designers of civil biplanes. Having been the Chief Designer of both Swallow and Travel Air, in 1927 he left to start his own company, initially in California, but soon relocated back to Wichita, Kansas, then known as the 'Air Capital', for its concentration of civil aircraft manufacturers and suppliers. The fourth successful design of his own company was the Model 4 Junior Speedmail (an earlier model was the larger 'Speedmail'), which he described as 'the finest airplane I ever designed'. Intended primarily as a mailplane, only around half the 40 constructed actually saw service in that role (with American Airways and Canadian Airways). The rest were bought for corporate use, or by wealthy private owners. Top of the range were the 4E models with 400+hp P&W Wasp power and finest of all were the 3 specials constructed for Standard Oil of California and used by their flying salesmen up and down the west coast, 1930-35. Surprisingly, around a dozen of the Stearman 4s built survive, including 2 of the 3 SOCal planes. Latterly, I've been building most of my models in pairs, which I've found to be a more efficient and fun way of increasing my modest output. So here are my models of a Stearman 4EM mailplane of Canadian Airways (Eastern Lines), Montreal, 1931 and Stearman 4E Special 'Stanavo 4' of Standard Oil of California, San Francisco,1930. Models are 100% scratchbuilt and were completed in 2017. 4EM mailplane : 4E Special : WIP Parts spread: Cockpit parts: One of my favourite 1930s biplanes..........
I decided that I needed a Porsche turreted King Tiger in my collection. After doing some research last year during the Tiger GB I decided that one of the first 5 King tigers to enter service with s.Pz.Kp.(Fkl)316 would make an interesting model to build. The Dragon kit provides decals for one of these tanks, white 13, however it is not possible to build this tank with just what is provided in the box. These first tanks had some different features and I will highlight these as I proceed with build. The Dragon kit with moulded zimmerit is a good basis as all the King Tigers with the Porsche turret had a zimmerit coating, the kit also includes a turned aluminium barrel and an etched fret for the intake mesh and tool brackets. For my reference material I will use the Waldemar Trojca King Tiger book. Starting at the top, the first problem is with the turret, Dragon has represented the cupola as being welded to the turret roof (weld highlighted with a black wash) all the Porsche turrets had the cupola bolted on, so the moulded representation of the weld needs to be removed and a plasticard insert added to the cupola underside to replace the thickness of the removed material. The roof panel welds should be flush or proud of the panels so they need to be improved with some stretched sprue melted in with thin glue. That was quickly dealt with and now looks like this: Thanks for having a peek, some work on the hull tomorrow.