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Found 42 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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):
  6. 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....
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. A vac Gee-Bee (the one posted before was an injected Amodel one) from 10 years ago, 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  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. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. A build from 10 years ago, another cropduster: (you may see: This modeling endeavor is the result of a gift: the 1/72 Ae. M.B.2 vac kit was very kindly sent to me by fellow modeler Luis Santos, that produced the parts time ago as a “divertimento”. The kit, as it arrived to my door, had few parts, and appeared very simple, with no surface detail. No interior or exterior details were provided either, nor transparencies or decals. The styrene was of adequate thickness, the simplicity of the molds is the small price we have to pay to be able to build esoteric aircrafts. No doubt the arcane subject made my eyebrows raise, being a plane designed and built in Argentina in the pre-second WW2 years. The prototype was designed as a light bomber, but eventually found some other, more peaceful uses as a transport and even as a crop-duster, which is the subject of this article. The lines of the plane were simple and probably the most remarkable features of the design were the high-aspect ratio of the wing and its generous size. A limited number of machines that explored some variations on the theme were produced, with minor changes in the landing gear, window arrangement, rudder shape, wing-to-fuselage fairings, fuselage covering and the fuselage top. The lines and proportions were, as said, simple but somehow pleasant. The design didn’t live long, but surely provided with some experience to designers, builders and pilots. After separating the parts I dealt with the areas that needed either filling or sanding. After searching for references I added surface detail and refined here and there. It took a little time, but it wasn’t overwhelming. A master was made for the canopy and a clear vac molded on and a cockpit was scratch-built with a fair deal of components. Once the fuselage was closed the dorsal area of the fuselage was modified (it was chopped-down as per the military version in the vac provided). Building proceeded to a point where I really needed to have a look at the photos of the crop-dusting version I was aiming for. In spite of the help of a few friends the images didn’t surface, so I half-guessed, based on comments, that area. I glued the involved parts sparingly, so if at certain point I can actually see some photos, I’ll be able to address the possible changes. Some external details were scratched, like a wind-driven generator on the left wing, the carburetor intake, engine exhausts, Pitot –under the left wing-, Venturi –left side of the cockpit, oil cooler and navigation and landing lights. The latter equipped with MV lenses. Aeroclub parts were used for the engine and the wheels. I painted the model as per its production companions, light grey, but no markings were added, again, waiting for photos to appear. One of the references states that three machines were adapted for cropdusting with two drums containing the product inside the fuselage. The research, corrections, fabrication of the missing bits and the building itself took a time; nevertheless I have now the clunky but rather charming shape of this model boasting its old refrigerator-like lines on the desk.
  16. A build from 8 years ago, related to the thread of my model of the Tupolev ANT-25. Classic planes from the Golden Age of aviation have a charm that increases with time, as it should be with classics. After finishing the Clark GA-43, it seemed natural that the Vultee V-1 would follow, as they share some characteristics, not being the least important their remarkable aesthetics. They had the same weight, were single-engine cantilever low wing monoplanes and featured modern metal monocoque fuselages. The Clark could carry ten passengers and the Vultee 8. Although aware of the Special Hobby release, I choose to exhume from my stash the Execuform vac. As described in the Clark GA-43 article, these are simple molds that should be regarded as a white canvas to express yourself. Once the research stage started, one machine immediately caught my attention: the V-1AS variant that Russian pilot Levanevsky and navigator Levchenko flew to Moscow from California -where I live- via Alaska and Siberia in 1939 (CCCP-H208 in Cyrillic). For this version a new vertical stabilizer, front cowl and floats were needed. Fortunately adequate vac floats were found in the spare parts’ bank from the same manufacturer’s Clark GA-43. The kit I had was purchased some time ago from an online vendor specialized in rare kits, since at the time I wasn’t aware that Execuform kits are now available from the manufacturer. Nevertheless, mine included an epoxy engine and prop that used to come with the kit before. Since the plane I was modeling had a “winter” front cowl, which almost completely blocked the view of the engine, I included the one that came with the kit. The prop after some refinement was deemed usable, but I replaced it anyway for a metal one. In some photos the plane sports a chubby spinner. Plenty of images of the V-1AS can be found on the Net, and some color clues that in some cases are not entirely accurate. After some study the choice was a blue general color with red flying surfaces and trim, plus black rubber boots on all leading edges. Many attractive liveries can be chosen for the Vultee V-1, I counted at least twelve when browsing the Net. The American Airlines and the iconic Lady Peace come to mind. All these versions require some tweaking because they diverged in minor details. Strangely enough, the markings used for the plane modeled here are the western version of the original Russian Cyrillic CCCP (actually SSSR in western language); but the code H208 wasn’t translated as N208 as it should have been, being “H” Cyrillic for “N”. Construction started by marking, scoring and separating the parts from the backing sheet, then sanding and adjusting carefully. Locating and opening windows followed, and then the interior structure was scratched from leftovers of the same kit, all of that depicted on the customary in-process photos. It is worth of note that in the Russian Vultee, although it flew 10,000 miles, the supplementary fuel tanks were in the wings, not in the fuselage as in Lady Peace. N-208 had the full eight cabin seats compliment. The bathroom was also scratched and even provided with a toilet roll for the long trip. All the cockpit and cabin detail, as it happens frequently, would be almost hidden once the fuselage halves are glued together. A vertical stabilizer was as said fabricated, considering that modifying the kit’s one would have taken more time than making a new one. Departing from the Execuform arrangement I separated the stab parts in order to be able to deal first with the aft cone of the fuselage and then add the stab halves via a spar inserted through the fuselage. The wing halves were glued, and here Execuform devised a way to “embrace” the fuselage by gluing the wing halves and later cut the upper central section in order to lodge the fuselage. The joint will need attention. Styrene “Contrail” and brass “Struz” airfoiled struts were used to prepare the attaching structure for the floats; the later were trued and detailed as per photos. Bear in mind that although wearing floats this machine had the landing gear retracted, not deleted, since after reaching Russia it left the floats and reverted to wheels. After arriving to Moscow (where Nikita Khrushchev was present!) the plane was carefully examined by the Russian aviation industry, finding it remarkably modern and intelligently built and suggested that many of its features should be incorporated in Russian design and production. Once the interior was finished windows were inserted before closing the fuselage as described in the accompanying images. One by one they were cut and adjusted, because unlike men they were not created equal. You could super-glue very thin rubber pads to your broad tweezers in order to hold the window panes as you sand their edges to make them fit. I didn’t, and scratches were the result. Sometimes in these articles what it looks like a straight line from zero to model is actually a winding, meandering, puzzling scribble that involves a good number of boo-boos and their correction (or not). I had to do a few parts more than twice, blotched, marred, patched and so forth a number of times, so if it happens to you too, don’t feel alone. While the fuselage was drying, it was time for engraving the flying surfaces’ panel lines. I had a lot of fun filling and sanding the results of the over-exuberance of my scriber. A few exterior details were fabricated like the DF loop, carb air intake, “winter” front panel for the cowl, hatches, Pitot, Venturis, exhausts, nav lights and so forth. Especially tricky were the cockpit transparencies, due to the strange angles of the panes at the front and the lack of positive locking points. Four individual panes and some tweaking did the trick. The floats were primed with their struts and inspection covers already in place; the rudders, rudder posts, horns and “pulleys” were glued and then the floats were set aside. Same for the engine, cowl, prop and associated bits. The wing was fitted to the fuselage, then the stab halves, and then the vertical surfaces were removed and replaced by the scratched, bigger ones. Then it was the somewhat dull job of puttying, sanding, re-scribing, but all in good mood listening to the music of Fito Paez, Charlie Garcia and Spinetta. After a rather complicated masking/painting session to do the stripes and separate the colors the horizon looked better. A few minor decals were applied at this time on the prop and the vertical stabilizer. All the bits started to come together and flat black-sprayed decals were used for the de-icing boots. The floats’ rigging was done and tiny cleats that came with one of Khee-Kha’s sets of EDO floats were added (I ordered those detailed and impeccably cast floats for the next model, the Wiley Post’s Orion/Explorer hybrid –more on that matter later, stay tuned). A well-hearted fellow modeler and friend, Christos Psarras, sent me the white registrations decals. Thanks to him the model could be finally finished. Now the Vultee with its conspicuous shape is part of the ever-growing collection of hidden beauties of the Golden Age. (The model as said is 8 years old, the photos are not the best, I see that I dodged building a beaching trolley as I do now for such models, and I photographed the model on grass. Hope all these sins are forgiven)
  17. Another model from 8 years ago, to further illustrate vac construction. I never built a model with so many names and such complicated history. Suffice to say that it is known as Faichild 150, General Aviation GA-43, Clark GA-43, and North American GA-43. The “Clark” there is the same one as in the Clark “Y” airfoil fame, for you aerodynamicists. The plane also has some Fokker strings attached. To explain here all the mergers, acquisitions, take-overs and other financial mysteries would take too much space, so let just say that it was an all-metal ten-passenger plane with –after the prototype was converted- retractable landing gear. It was used by Swissair (two machines), SCADTA in Colombia, Western Air Express in the USA, one ended up in Japan as J-BAEP and yet another somehow managed to fly in Spain on the (fortunately) anti-Franco side. A pretty good story for only five machines built in total. There is a very good article on the subject on Skyways magazine issue of January 1998. I opted to represent the prototype, since its spats and short one-seat canopy had a chubbier look that was very appealing to me. Parts were separated from the backing sheet using the well-known tachyon pulse method, and flat-sanded cautiously while testing. References were consulted in order to establish which parts were needed so they could be made with the replicator. Some goodies were beamed-up from an obscure British manufacturer with Klingon ties. Do not get rid of the leftovers of the backing sheet, many extra parts (like bulkheads, spars, seats) can be cut from them. The next thing to do was to establish the position of the windows, door and luggage hatch on the fuselage and cut them open. Five bulkheads and the cabin floor were cut from the leftovers (see, I told you!). At this point I decided, after much pondering, to diverge from the Execuform path and separate the stabilizer halves, work out the tail cone integrity, and add the stab halves later. Execuform planned the parts to provide some sort of easy keying for alignment, but I rather sand the fuselage smooth and add the stab than meander between the parts later with the sanding stick and the putty. The ten passengers chairs came next, each one made of six parts (back, seat, head cushion, two armrests and magazine pouch in the back). As per photos a few metal parts were found in my spares box too. The cavity showing the wing root from inside was closed using sheet styrene. The wing roots in the model are slightly asymmetrical, being one a bit higher than the other. Be careful to compensate for that. The wing halves were glued and their panel lines engraved. Beware that the prototype had longer span ailerons and no flaps. Also some anti-stall small sections were located at the leading edge. Those were replicated carving the styrene and adding a few small ribs. No landing lights were present at the leading edge at the time that this first machine was flown. No nav lights can be seen on the wingtips either, but two were present on the fin and on the tip of the tail cone. The whole interior, as a single unit –see images- was detailed and prepped for its later insertion between the fuselage halves. A roof was glued to one side and some detail added on those halves too. All these may sound boring or difficult, but it wasn’t at all. Is like solving a puzzle for which you create the pieces as you go. Very Zen. Once the fuselage was closed the stab halves were refined and a few parts created to better engineer its addition to the fuselage. To the wheel pants a strip was added and blended to represent the shock absorbing mechanism arrangement. Once all the painting was done and set, home-made decals and a few external details were added, and the gleaming retro beauty of the GA-43 shone away in all its glamor. And as Master Po used to say, a Shaolin monk is not ready until he builds his scratchbuilt, resin and vacuformed models.
  18. From 4 years ago, another vacuformed model for your entertainment: The best reference I have found for this Stinson A endeavor (and many other modeling adventures) is Skyways Magazine. You will find a four-part Stinson A article on these Skyways issues: #75, Jul 2005 #76, Oct 2005 #77, Jan 2006 and #78, Apr 2006 The Formaplane Stinson A vacuformed kit: To accuse a dinosaur of lack of elegance and subtlety is not really fair. Dinosaurs were The machines of their time, and you could say that they fitted their niche properly. In the same way, it is not really fair to criticize -based on today's standards- a kit made many decades ago. Or is it? well, the fact is that while some stand up pretty darn well, like a Rareplane vacuform from Gordon Stevens, others do not fair as well. Anyway, I am sure their makers spent a lot of time, money and love making them, and I am still to hear that any of those dedicated people became rich in the process. So, when I poke a little fun at this sort of less fortunate ugly ducklings, it its good-hearted. That said, I think that vacs come mainly in three categories: A) "Different than the usual injected kit, but Very Interesting, and a subject that nobody else will likely tackle, nice accessories, let's build this one" (The mentioned Rareplane, now O.O.P. and contemporary Khee Kha Art Products offers) B ) "Oh, I see, a little bit* of work will be needed here, but again a plane I want to build and no mainstream company is willing to kit" (Execuform, some similar offers with plain but basically correct shapes and not much in the accessories department) * well, may be more than a little bit C) "Oh dear" And the winner for the third category is today's build: Formaplane/ MHW Stinson "A". You will see further down why so deservedly so. (Actually, to tell the truth, there is a forth category: "Oh C­­--p!", but we won't deal with it today) So, why vacs? You may have seen some of the many I have built. There are a number of reasons. I enjoy them a lot, it is a different approach, more involving, more creative. You learn a lot, and your modeling frontiers expand. They cover subjects that the mainstream manufacturers tend to ignore or dismiss. Many of the old and contemporary vacuformed kits are very well made, and not more difficult to build than a normal kit once you get used to their specific ways. After a lengthy but mostly enjoyable process the model was finally completed. It depicts the prototype (of which they were three configurations by the way) while still having round lower gondolas with landing gear doors. The full interior detail of course added some extra work, plus the many modifications, additions and adjustments the original kit had to go through in order to achieve a reasonably good model. Was all that work worth it? There is no right answer for that. I enjoyed -most of the time anyway- the challenge, and the model produced is far away from what a straightforward build would have rendered, I would say yes, it was worth it. Disclaimer: no carpet monsters were killed, harmed, maimed, minced, decapitated, hanged, painted in ridiculous colors, eaten, exported to Argentina, blasted to outer space, upset in any way or otherwise disturbed during the building of this model.
  19. A model from 6 years ago: As some of you may know, Charles Lindbergh wanted to purchase a Wright-Bellanca WB-2 for his epic Atlantic crossing flight. The plane had widely demonstrated its capabilities and potential several times, one of them with an endurance record in closed circuit that had miles to spare to cross the Atlantic. But Wright (company of engine fame) had sold to Bellanca and Levine the rights of the plane, now owned by their recently-formed company, “Columbia”. Levine tried to manipulate Lindbergh into a not very good deal, so Charles left and went to buy the soon-to-be universally famous Ryan NYP. Too bad for Levine. Nevertheless Levine was committed to demonstrate the plane’s worth, and since Lindbergh had accomplished the famous feat, he planed for a flight to beat Lindbergh’s record, that will reach Berlin. Chamberlin was its pilot, and Levine jumped in at the last second before departure. They actually flew to Germany, but had to unintentionally land twice in two little German towns before actually reaching Berlin. This plane, as many others, went through some minor modifications during its life. You may notice in photos a temporary annular exhaust ring between the engine and the front of the cockpit, a “pointed” spinner, or a visible propeller boss, many changes in the livery of the plane, too many to be described here, even a different propeller that was lend to the crew when they broke theirs in a nose over on route to Berlin. A sort of Townend ring can be seen in a few photos too. Bear especially in mind that the “replica” Columbia in an American museum is not at all a WB-2, but a Bellanca Skyrocket with some cosmetic treatment and it is as far removed from the real thing as a merry-go-around wood horse from the animal galloping on the prairies. Some times the Columbia is represented with yellow wings, that’s not accurate, since the wings were covered in clear-doped fabric, which has a yellowish tinge to it, but it is not at all like yellow paint. The lettering over the plane, once the record attempt started to be prepared, said “New York / Paris”; “Paris” was later changed to a hastily-written “Berlin”, then a more properly “Berlin” although in a different font than the rest, then other cities were added as the plane made its way around Europe. The base for this adaptation is the vacuformed 1/72 scale Bellanca CH-300 issued by Khee-Kha Art Products of Alaska. The Bellanca kit includes resin detail parts cast to a very high standard, vacuformed windshield and material to make the side windows. Some of these items could not be used given the differences between the CH-300 and the WB-2. A new Wright J-5 engine was located, together with adapted white metal prop and wheels from Aeroclub. The resin nose of the kit was modified to represent the WB-2 one, adjusting minimally its shape, erasing most of the louvers, and adding a couple of other details. A left-over spinner was modified to adapt it to this particular plane. First the wings have to be modified by erasing the “baleens” under the wing tanks and puttying, sanding and re-scribing the wing tanks and ailerons, which had a slightly different position. Then a new vertical stabilizer was built. I have built many vacuformed kits. The more I build them, the more I like them. List of changes (as a general guide, some areas of course involve further detail changes, like cockpit and cabin, etc) 1) Wing tanks 2) Ailerons 3) Engine / carburetor intake 4) Nose cowling 5) Prop/spinner 6) Vertical stabilizer 7) Wing struts (no “break” on the front strut geometry) 8 ) Landing gear 9) Windshield / side windows 10) Erase baleens under the wing tanks 11) Under fuselage fuel jettison fairing 12) Stitching visible on the fuselage sides 13) Stitching (some times taped-over-) over the cabin/aft fuselage joint 14) Interior 15) Deletion of right-side fuselage door 16) Deletion of aft access panel on left-side fuselage 17) Anemometer 18) Pitot
  20. A model from 4 years ago, to further illustrate vacuform construction. Here is the PANAGRA Fairchild FC-2W2 that used to land in Buenos Aires. There is one not very good photo showing extensive modifications on the fuselage with added windows. The same photos shows tail and wing bands (visual aids). Bear in mind that this very plane suffered many transformations along its career and wore different schemes, and that the plane depicted had these special bands on the wing tips and ahead of the ailerons, as a visual/rescue aid. Before being crashed and modified with the additional windows, this plane appears painted in something that renders almost black in B&W photos, showing a more common window configuration. This kit is an example of a currently produced good vacuform kit from a manufacturer that cares about his customers and product. I made my own decals on this occasion.
  21. This post is in response to a question posted on a related thread. I thought I had posted this model, but can't find it, I may have posted images of it in reference to vacuformed kits, though. I am very grateful there is even a kit of the Kangaroo but... Many moons ago Contrail released this now somewhat outdated vacuum-formed hefty kit. It is surely not state of the art, and has many inaccuracies, but it is nevertheless a starting point, if you are willing to spend time and effort. Many of its shortcomings, some subtle and some not, have to be corrected. No little time was spent on this one. Uncountable hours of research and building and no little grief has been endured in correcting the various kit's faults, let alone the complicated building and subject to start with. This rather basic kit was given a full interior and a very high number of details not present in the molds. Needless to say the almost inexhaustible jungle of struts and rigging was the happy occasion of many a well-deserved Martini. There are myriads of pieces of advise I could list regarding this kit. The kit has some obvious but fixable mistakes. Retrospectively there are two things you shouldn't do: do not follow the kit's pre-marked locations for any of the struts, they are misaligned and will cause frustration. Measure and drill your own strut locations, and try to be as accurate as you can. And do not use the white metal exhausts, radiators and props (I used the radiators and props). They are way too heavy and will give the engine gondola too much weight and mass, making it prone to detachment at the least provocation and almost surely during transport or handling, since its securing frame is too fragile. The radiators are easily scratchbuilt, the props may need plastic or resin substitutes. Able modelers may cast the kit's metal props into resin ones. The Arctic Decals set fortunately facilitated an accurate and pleasant decoration providing its usual well-researched, easy-to-handle, well printed graphics. There were many civil Kangaroos, each one with its own quirks. Fun is to be had by those wiling to take the bold step. The British did actually design very beautiful planes, but this one is more, er, sculptural one may say...looking for some redeeming adjective, and that's precisely why we love it so much.
  22. Here is the completed model of the Barkley-Grow in its seaplane configuration. For the step-by-step building article please go to the WiP post: The kit presents only the basic shapes, you have to fabricate or provide everything else: cockpit, cabin, exterior details, decals, engines, etc. This one will surely help you develop those modeling skills! I used a set from Arctic Decals, which worked perfectly as usual. This is a nicely-shaped plane that has many possible finishing schemes, and can also be built on skis or wheels. It takes some time, but you can make a pleasant model from it. And you won't see this one around much, that's for sure!
  23. Well might as well jump right in to the fray. I managed to snag one of Gerald Elliott's B-52s. It is a beast and a half. Its not a bad set up but you definitely need some serious acreage to hang from the ceiling or even build on the bench. Here are a few images of the pieces. I have a few more research items to locate, mainly interior of the wing spoilers.
  24. I voted for "Made In Britain" GB with Contrail Mayo Composite in mind, but knowing my pace and determination I'm not sure that I could complete the whole stack in time so I decided to do one step at time and start with Mercury. Contrail's Mayo Composite kit was a joint effort between Contrail and Airframe each providing one aircraft. Airframe S.20 moulds look very basic but buildable, will require a lot of scratch building, scribing and detailing to look right.
  25. 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.
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