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  1. Hi mates, 2017 was an interesting year. Not as much modelling as I would have liked, but at least I finished a few things. Life got in the way again, with the usual assortment of maladies that keep you away from the bench. Every year I promise to do better... So what exactly did I accomplish this past year? 1:72 Hawker Sea Harrier FRS.1 (completed February 2017) Fujimi/Hasegawa You know, for a guy who calls himself Navy Bird it's amazing that I didn't have a Sea Harrier in my collection. However, I had a couple of kits in the stash, so it was time to get to work. As this project progressed, it quickly became a kitbash between the Fujimi and Hasegawa Sea Harrier kits. Fujimi supplied the fuselage and wings, while Hasegawa provided the canopy, nose landing gear strut, tyres, Aden gun pods, Sidewinder missiles, anti-collision light, drop tanks, and miscellaneous sundries. I scratch built the intake blow-in doors, nose gear well, and the canopy detonator box. The aftermarket supplied a resin cockpit, resin outriggers, resin nozzles, turned metal pitot probe and AoA sensor, and a whole bunch of photoetch. Oddly, none of the aftermarket accessories were designed for either of the two kits. Click here for the RFI post with complete details of improvements and modifications. 1:72 English Electric Canberra PR.9 (completed April 2017) Airfix I chose to model XH134, who wore the retirement scheme that truly marked the "End of an Era." Ashley Keates, who designed the stunning scheme, even stopped by the WIP thread for a visit. I decided to use the much-maligned "new tool" Airfix PR.9 kit and correct some of the major deficiencies along the way. I thought at first that I might do a bit of a kitbash with the Xtrakit model, but eventually I decided to save that kit for another day. Building the Airfix kit, and correcting many of its foobars was, shall we say - a bit challenging. Click here for the RFI post with details of improvements and modifications (it's a long list). (Yes, the pilot in the previous photo is indeed reading a copy of Zoo magazine. I think there's a requirement for this at Flight School.) 1:72 Grumman/General Dynamics F-111B (completed November 2017) Hasegawa/Revell/Pete's Hangar This is a conversion of the 1:72 Hasegawa F-111C/G kit, with quite a few modifications necessary to represent F-111B BuNo 151972 as she appeared during Phoenix missile testing at Hughes Aircraft. As I'm sure you're aware, the F-111B was an attempt to develop a version of the USAF F-111 "TFX" to meet the US Navy's fleet defense requirement. Only seven F-111Bs were built, and they differed from each other in many ways. The subject of my model also differed significantly from the Australian F-111C on which I based the conversion. Nevertheless, it was probably the easiest way to do it. The special logos on the tail, depicting the mythical Phoenix, were created in CorelDraw and printed on my inkjet printer, along with the BuNo and many of the stencils. Click here for the RFI post and a complete description of the conversion, the kit modifications and other improvements. 1:72 Curtiss Wright XF15C-1 (completed December 2017) Pro Resin (Olimp) The Curtiss-Wright XF15C-1 mixed-propulsion fighter was developed for the United States Navy at the end of WWII, first flying in February of 1945. Only three prototypes were built, as the US Navy moved their focus to pure jet propulsion. One of the prototypes has survived. Similar to the Ryan FR Fireball, which entered service on a limited basis, the XF15C-1 had both a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine/Curtiss Electric propeller up front and an Alis-Chalmers J36 turbojet (license built de Havilland Goblin) under the tail. The model uses the nicely cast Pro Resin kit from Olimp, and was pretty much built out of the box. I used decals from the Island of Misfit Stickers, as I found those in the kit unusable. You gotta love these aircraft from the 1950s, especially if they're Dark Sea Blue (or Extra Dark Sea Grey of course). This was the last Curtiss aircraft built for the US Navy. Click here for the RFI post. 1:72 Lockheed F-104N Starfighter (completed December 2017) Hasegawa The model was built as a tribute to Joe Walker, who was one of the "Right Stuff" test pilots at Edwards during the 50s and 60s. Joe flew just about every rocket powered X plane there was back then, including several flights in the X-15 that reached altitudes high enough to earn him his astronaut wings. Joe unfortunately lost his life flying this F-104 in a mid-air collision with the XB-70 Valkyrie bomber. This occurred during, of all things, an unauthorised marketing photo shoot for General Electric. In an effort to maintain a tight formation with the XB-70 immediately to his port side, he encountered severe turbulence from the vortices off the Valkyrie's wingtip, which was a little-understood phenomenon at the time. The turbulence was so severe that it flipped the F-104 onto its back, and sent it rolling to port and into one of the vertical fins of the XB-70. Joe was killed instantly. He had radioed in when he first felt the turbulence, saying that he didn't support the mission as it had no scientific value. True words from a true hero. The XB-70 was also lost that day, and only one of its two crew members was able to eject. And all because the marketing guys wanted a nice picture for a shareholder's report. Sad beyond words. Click here for the RFI post for more details. Now, some of you may have noticed a rather big gap between April and November when I did not complete any models. Whilst this is true, I was able to complete something much more important. Back in late 2014, I embarked on Chapter 2 of my fight with cancer. Here I am at infusion number one in November of that year: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! This past summer, after more than two years of treatments, I am once again in remission. For this, I will give up a few model completions! Hopefully, these buggers won't try and come back yet again, and 2018 will see a resumption in my "normal" activities. Today I started immunoglobulin therapy which also requires infusion, but it's not that dreaded chemo and has no real side effects. Other than getting my immune system back to where it should be, of course. Here's to a healthy and happy New Year. Peace, love, & The Beatles, Bill
  2. Hi mates, Last year I only managed to complete four models, just dreadful. I did a little better this year mainly due to my chemo regimen getting a bit easier. I'm now in full maintenance mode and the specific batch of chemicals doesn't seem to knock me down so much. I think I would have done even more this past year if it wasn't for the arrival of grandchild number four (the first boy!) and the other grandchildren advancing to the point where you can have a sort of conversation with them. Plus it's so cute when my granddaughter comes over and the first thing she does is go to my Keurig machine and make me a cup of Joe. Sweet kid! So here are the 2016 completions - could 2017 bring even more? If wifey doesn't sell off the stash! 1:72 Fairey Firefly TT.4 (completed in February 2016) Special Hobby Technically this one was started at the end of 2015 along with its sister FR.1. I had a momentary lapse of reason on this one, and decided it would be a good idea to fold the wings. Arghhh! Nobody in their right mind ever builds a model of Fairey aircraft with folded wings. I mean, whoever was in charge of wing-folding at Fairey was clearly in charge of the Spanish Inquisition ("Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"). The link above will take you to the RFI page where you can see more photos, a list of all the corrections and additions that were made, plus a link to the WIP. 1:72 Northrop F-89J Scorpion (completed in March 2016) Revell This one came out of left field - a mojo restorer that just kind of happened while I was working on the Sea Venom. I was stuck in my usual paralysis by analysis mode when I decided that I really needed to finish a kit. I was home alone for the weekend, so I pulled this off of the shelf of doom where it had languished for a couple of decades. The cockpit was already finished as was the main fuselage construction, so I just needed to clean things up, paint it and throw on some stickers. Three days later there it was! The link above will take you to the post in the middle of the Sea Venom WIP. The kit was built OOB, nothing was added to it or changed. 1:72 de Havilland Sea Venom FAW.53 (completed in June 2016) CMR Another fantastic, highly detailed resin kit from CMR. Armed with the expert technical assistance from NAVY870, one of our distinguished forum members, this one is finished in the markings of a RAN example that he restored. There is something about de Havilland twin booms - you just gotta love 'em! I think there's a Vampire and another (gulp) Sea Vixen in my near future. The link above will take you to the RFI page where you can see more photos, a list of all the corrections and additions that were made, plus a link to the WIP. 1:72 Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk.XIVe (completed in August 2016) AZ Models What year would be complete without another Spitfire to add to the brood? This year it was the AZ kit of the beautiful F.Mk.XIVe in the markings of Ginger Lacey. I love the AZ/KP Spitfire kits and have a ton of them in the stash. The ones I've built have gone together well and certainly look the part when they're done. I helped this one out with a resin prop, photoetch cockpit, and vacuform canopy. I think next year I should do an F.21 with a contraprop...what do you think? The link above will take you to the RFI page where you can see more photos, a list of all the corrections and additions that were made, plus a link to the WIP. 1:72 Blackburn Buccaneer S.1 (completed in November 2016) Scale Resin This is the beautiful new resin kit of the Blackburn Buccaneer S.1 from Scale Resin. The detail on this is exquisite, and it is likely the most accurate Buccaneer model available today, thanks to the expert help Scale Resin received from subject matter expert Andy White. I really enjoyed building this kit (even though I hate painting white!) and it looks great next to my CMR Buccaneer S.2. Unfortunately, I relied on some bad information and made the jury struts too long - the wing tips should be much closer together than they are. As soon as I get some spare time, this will be fixed! Now that I know about it, it really bugs me... The link above will take you to the RFI page where you can see more photos, a list of all the corrections and additions that were made, plus a link to the WIP. 1:72 Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat (completed in December 2016) Monogram Last up for this year is the sleek Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat. I started this almost four years ago, and it's been on and off the shelf of doom several times. I went a bit out of control on this one, but can honestly say that it was built "OOB." Only, there was a lot more than one box! After a complete rescribe, there is a ton of aftermarket in this bird. The Aires Super Detail Set fought me here and there, but in the end I think the result was worth it. You have to admit she is a beautiful aircraft - just a wee bit too late for WWII but in time for some combat in Korea. The link above will take you to the RFI page where you can see more photos, a list of all the corrections and additions that were made, plus a link to the WIP. Thanks for reading all the way to the end, I hope it was worth your time. See you here next year, and let's hope it's more than six builds. I'll never get through my stash at that rate! Cheers, Bill