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Hello,
this is not a proper work-in-progress because the conversion work actually started in 2017.
Recently though my modelling activity has increased a lot and I'm now optimistic about finishing this model in early 2021.
So I wanted to show the work done thus far, knowing that Britmodeller is the ideal place were to find constructive advice for a subject like this!
Let me introduce this work by saying that the high-back Mk.XIV has a particular place in my imagination as the "ultimate" wartime Spitfire (allright Mk.21 is even more "ultimate" but I like Mk.XIV better!).
In 1/72 scale the Mk.XIV is not so well represented. I purchased a Sword Mk XIV but discovered that its shape is not 100% correct. Shape-wise, Airfix Mk.22/24 is possibly the best 1/72 Griffon Spitfire on the market today.
When Eduard down-scaled its 1/48 Spitfire to 1/72 I checked its shape and dimensions against Monforton's plans and found out that it is very precisely done. So it started the insane idea of converting it to an accurate Mk.XIV.
I targeted Airfix Mk 22 as a possible donor of the Griffon nose... well, it looks better than Fujimi's, Sword's, even better than Airfix's own PR Mk.XIX, it just looks right to my eye! In the meantime master modeller Junpei Tenma (long time Spitfire lover) published his set of plans for the main variants of the Spitfire including Griffon-engined types. I printed 1/72 plans for the Mk XIV, purchased an Airfix Mk.22/24, and started what follows....


The Eduard Merlin cowling was cut away at the side panel line; the Airfix Griffon nose was correspondigly cut at a vertical line corresponding to the side panel line and the position of the Mk.XI fuel tank cover border.
The two parts have almost the same transversal section (both kits are very good in shape actually and this shows!) and were easily joined after some fine trimming of the Griffon nose. When later the fuselage halves were assembled, I had to shim with some plastic the lower cowling  (above the carburettor filter duct).

In the pictures below you can see the converted fuselage halves against a Mk.VIII Eduard original (actually I started with a Mk IX fuselage and hat to create my own tail wheel well) and details of the cowling with some improvements in place, the most noticeable of which is the rocker covers extension in yellowish putty (Airfix are too short). The exhaust openings should be reduced in height as shown and the cowling panel lines are reduced in depth by careful sanding. Black-marked lines are newly scribed-in, red crosses show deleted lines or particulars. Lower side cowling panel was trimmed to install Eduard's wing root parts as shown. Cowling fasteners had to be modified in quantity/position, this was done by puttying some of the existing ones and making new ones with a beading tool. A hole is missing in the right side cowling panel, I have to add it still now, arghh!  spacer.png
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The other major fuselage work is the adjustment of the vertical fin to the broader and higher Mk.XIV configuration. This was done by transplanting the relevant portion of a Sword Mk.XIV fuselage (I had it, why not using it?) and some reshaping to adapt it to the Eduard fuselage. A scaled 2,75" fin extention was added (in white styrene).
Please note that in Jun Tenma drawings this extention is not represented resulting in a wrong fin/rudder profile. The drawing has been adjusted considering this extension and the rudder shape deduced by factory drawing and photographs.

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In the following photograph you can see a comparison between a Mk.VIII and the Mk.XIV fin/rudder: overall the Mk.VIII is slightly taller here than the Mk XIV is.

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In the next couple of photographs you have a comparison of the modified right fuselage with JT scale plans (with modified tail!). The fuselage is carefully aligned to the spinner backplate and everything is precise to within 0,1-0,2mm... nice result! Please note how good the shape of the Airfix cowling is...

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Here below  a comparison of the new fuselage with the Sword relic... Sword is too short, and overall the fuselage looks too curvy (too my eyes at least).

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Next post: the wings

Stefano

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Molto interessante Stefano! You're doing what I and probably many other 1/72 Spitfire appassionati have considered, but not dared to start for fear of destroying an excellent Eduard kit and an increasingly hard-to-find Airfix 22. But it looks great so far. I see that you're using the Jumpei Temma plans which I also think are excellent.  My own approach to Sword kits has been to chop the tail off, stretch and realign, but that still leaves the other problem that you've identified, that the droop of the Griffon nose is slightly exaggerated, giving the 'curvy' look. It's particularly interesting to see that the Airfix 22 nose fits the Eduard fuselage so well. I'd always had the sense that the Airfix 22 was a bit too slim, bit it looks pretty good to me here. I'll be following.

 

Justin

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Hello Justin and Chris

thank you for your replies.

Justin-the conversion job would not have been possible without accurate 1/72 plans; the work of Mr.Tenma is really helpful in this sense. Considering that the Eduard fuselage profile and the Airfix nose profile are almost perfect the most difficult part of the job is correctly aligning the nose to the fuselage and this can be effectively done only with the help of the plans. If I remember correctly for each fuselage half I severed the Eduard cowling at the precise panel line and Airfix nose with some exceeding margin, then refined progressively the cut of the Airfix cowling comparing the two parts together on the plans. When the measure was just right, I glued square-section rod pieces to the interior of the fuselage and the interior of the nose in a way that they interleave when the two parts are coupled together (as it happens and not surprisingly, both Airfix and Eduard fuselages have the same thickness, about 1mm).The joint of the rod pieces to the relative parts has to be reinforced with cyano glue and needs some rest before use because the rods will exert some force during the gluing process. At this point the two parts were coupled, aligned to the drawing, and glued with MEK (or was it Tamiya Extra Thin cement?). The interleaving rod segments (well evident in the above photograph showing the interior of the fuselage halves) keep the exterior face of the fuselage parts level, so that you don't have to worry with sanding the exterior of the fuselage (and ruin the rivets of Eduard fuselage). After the two parts are adjusted in a satisfactory condition, the backside of the now reunited fuselage is drown in CA thickened putting flour over it (this is visible in the photograph). At the end the two parts match very, very well except for the fact that you will find a sensible gap in the lower cowling when assembling the two halves. In this sense, possibly the Airfix nose is a bit slim, yes- I'm fairly sure that the Eduard firewall has the right dimension: the Airfix cowling fits nicely to the upper Eduard fuselage but leaves a gap on the bottom part. Sadly I do not have a photograph showing this part of the work. Sorry for the long description- but that is to explain that by careful planning of the job, you can't do wrong and get a very clean result.

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When you have that fuselage before your eyes...the next thing you want to do is seeing it mated to that huge spinner and five blade propeller!

So I rememeber spending some hour in refining the Mk.22 airscrew.

-I thinned the blades to an acceptable level;

-found the center of the baseplate, drilled it and added a copper propeller shaft;

-added the blade half-collar to the baseplate;

-assembled the spinner without blades, mounted it on a drill and turned it to sand it smooth and etched the line in front of the blades.

-drilled the 8 small holes.

To install the propeller I had to provide a countershaft (white styrene tubing visible in this picture) inside the fuselage after assembling it, but this is not worth describing in detail

 

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Hi Stefano,

 

fascinating thread and thanks for posting your images and descriptions of the process. I'm looking forward to your work on the wings.

 

3 hours ago, steh2o said:

-assembled the spinner without blades, mounted it on a drill and turned it to sand it smooth and etched the line in front of the blades.

 

Could I trouble you to describe how you mount the spinner in the drill? Do you engrave the line while turning, and if so, how do you manage to centre the spinner from the outset and keep it centred?

 

thanks very much,

 

Andrew.

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Hello Andrew,

thank you for the positive comments.

To answer your question I had to find out the Mk.22 instructions and set up this picture:spacer.png

As you can see. part A10 (spinner backplate) has a round recess in which part A9 mounts. I seem to remember that this recess still was 1.5mm diameter, and I simply drilled it through with a 1.5mm bit. Then I sliced that 20mm section of copper tubing (1,47mm diameter) and I inserted it for 2-3mm in the backplate hole, again using MEK to "stick" the backplate to the copper shaft. The head of the shaft protrudes a bit from the inner face of the holed-through A10.

At this point I made this (now you see the complete airscrew, the operation was done with just A10+copper shaft):

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There are three copper blocks of exactly equal height surrounding and keeping the copper shaft perpendicular to the blocks horizontal surface, just like a lathe spindle. You press the  backplate against the blocks surface and glue the shaft with fluid CA The shaft is now well centered and perpendicular to the backplate. If you have an actual spindle which is precise enough on the claws end surface, you can use that instead. When glue is well solid, you can mount the spinner on the backplate with a very tiny amount  of CA-gel (so you can detach it afterwards) and turn the assembly on the drill. I suspect that the line on A21 (spinner) was done in another way...it is too fine...

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...by fixing a new sharp blade on a block of the right height, then turning aroud the spinner laying on the desktop and etching a precise line.

Hope this helps,

Stefano

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That’s wonderful, Stefano! Thanks so much for taking the trouble to describe (and ilustrate) the process so well - I really appreciate it. Keep up the great work.

 

Andrew.

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Chapter 2: wings
The Mk.XIV was built initially with a "c" wing while later production aircraft switched to an "e" wing so working on the wing implies the choice of the particular aircraft you want to model.

I like better MkXIVs with Sky-colored spinner+ fuselage band and under-fuselage invasion stripes.

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I choose to represent RM787, an "e"-winged aircraft because:
-we have a good wartime picture of it showing the aircraft configuration;
-RM787 served post-war in the Belgian air force as SG-28 and a picture exist of it, see https://www.belgian-wings.be/supermarine-spitfire-fr-14/28;
-RM787 was the personal aircraft of Wg.Cdr. Colin Gray in Lympne (I want to build later a "basic" Mk XIc as MA408 "CG" as an ideal companion).
The only drawback in my choice is that I had no decals for it... more of it later.
About the first point- the photograph shows that the wartime RM787 had:
-"e"wing (evident by the dimension and position of the cannon blister, confirmed by the later photograph of SG-28);
-fishtail exhaust tubes (there until its demise in BAF service);
-reflector gunsight;
-Rebecca MkII antenna under the fuselage.
For a Mk XIVe the straightforward choice is modifying the Eduard "e"-wing. In my work I converted a Mk.IX fuselage, so I would say that:
-the basis for getting a high-back Mk.XIVe could be an Eduard Mk.IXe (70123).
-for a high-back Mk.XIVc, it is easier to use a Mk.VIII (short-aileron "c"-wing, retractable tailwheel).
-for a low-back Mk.XIVe, the low-back Mk XVIe without blister over the wheel wells (as in Eduard 2117).
Here following are two pictures of the available Eduard wings (not shown: the early "c" with wide cannon blister) and of my sample "e" modified to get a (hopefully) correct Mk.XIVe wing.

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Topside:
Observing photographs of BAF SG-57 I was convicted that the wartime a/cs had the small reinforcement blister bar over the wheel well (see Monforton's p.245, white styrene in the photograph)- this is not the case, as I discovered later (when I found a high-res copy of the photograph of RM764 MN-M refueling)- I removed it just before painting and restored the rivet lines.
It is clear that the original "e" wing (in the photograph is marked as 'e' DC, Dual Combo from the name of Eduard box 2117) is the right starting point.
You need to modify it for the short aileron configuration (easily done by cutting away the terminal part of the full-span aileron and adding it to the wing), and scribe in the wing fuel tank features.
Were the aircraft a "c"-winged one, the Mk.VIII boxing provides this part with no modification required. The later Mk.XIVe wing with wheel blister and reinforcement (Eduard 70126) could be used for a post war a/c even if I'm not sure if the wheel blister was ever fitted to a Mk XIV.

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Underside:
Here is a bigger amount of work.
Even for the underside the "e" wing is the starting point (for the "c" version, the Mk.VIII wing requires only the adjustement of the access panels). I have added the cavities for the underwing lamps, removed the root of the carburettor intake (to be replaced with the Airfix one), added some new panel lines and removed some. As usual the added ones are in black, the removed ones have a red mark.
There are some discrepancies between my work and Jumpei's Tenma drawing here; I based my work on the close observation of existing photographs, but in most cases I couldn't find better direct evidence than photographs of restored warbirds.

Next Stop: radiators and airscoop

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Having finished the wing modification it was now possible to dry-assemble the fuselage halves with the wing lower part. Adapting the fuselage to the wing root it becomes evident that the bottom cowling panel needs some shimming to enlarge it near the wing root.

The Airfix air filter part needs some work. Comparing it to the drawings its shape is very good but due to an imprecise moulding the intake lip needs some refining and a little lenghtening . I choose to hollow it out (a first time) with a round tool and some drill bits, then I glued a small piece of styrene sheet (still visible in the photograph below) on the lip to lengthen it as a whole. The joint was strengthened from the outside with CA, then filed and finely sanded to the correct external shape. Again using drill bits, a round and half round micro-file and sandpaper rolls, the new intake mouth was realized. The part was finished on the inside adding a brass mesh element simulating the air filter. The filter was progressively trimmed to conform to the lower wing and bottom cowling panel- also using a rigid template (the external perimeter of the front fuselage side drawing from JT plans) to determine both the correct depth from the wing-fuselage bottom surface  and longitudinal position. It was glued to the  wing bottom part with MEK, reinforcing from the inside with the CA+flour method.

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In the first photograph the reshaped wing radiator assemblies appear. An original factory drawing of the wing radiator is available, so its shape is well undestood. The width is the same as in Mk.VIII-IX, but the depth is much bigger. To build the new radiator housings, I proceeded as follows. I determined from the drawings how much increase in depth at the intake of the housing is needed (can't remember exactly now but I think in the range 1.5-1.7mm) and obtained the filling material from a donor 1/72 tank hull part, slicing 4 small parallelepipeds approximately 1.7mm (to be added  in depth, this cut must be precise and parallel ) x 1.5mm (this is the thickness of the donor part) x 20 mm (length)  Then  I sliced longitudinally the kit parts representing the sides of the housing, just under the riveted reinforcing strip.  All these cuts were done with a new razor blade, keeping it well perpendicular to the part. Tipically the blade gets distorted in the cut and for the next cut you have to choose a new sector... If the cut is precisely done you can avoid using putty in the assembling/finishing process (also: avoid using  styrene sheet as a filler material because it is softer than the plastic parts around it and produces uneven surfaces when sanded flush). Now you have three elements per housing side and you can place them on a flat surface (laying on the interior side) align them longitudinally and glue with MEK. When solid, you have to level the exterior face (which has a curved profile) by sanding, then reshape its side profile and match it to the drawings-biggest difference is in the slope at the rear. Then the panel lines are restored by scribing and it is possible to assemble the new housing using the roof part provided by Eduard. The new radiator grills are easily made with fine brass mesh glued to a rectangular styrene element: first you determine the cross-section of the new radiator element (using the newly made housing as a guide) cut to size four styrene rectangles, glue brass mesh to them with CA, keeping it well aligned to the rectangle borders, then-when CA is dry- trim the excess brass mesh with scissors. The moving doors are made out of styrene sheet and stretched sprue -I choose them to be in closed position.spacer.png

 

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Next time: internal details!

Cheers

Stefano

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Really great work Stefano.

 

As I look at this I'm imagining a world where there is an Eduard Spitfire XIV/XVIII/XIX series in full production, where you can buy the kits in your local model shop and build as many as you like, with selection of c, d (bowser) or e wings, normal or clipped wingtips, early or late rudders, high- and low-back fuselages....

 

And then I wake up, and it was all a dream.

 

Justin 

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Hello Justin, 

thank you for the comment.

I share your sadness... Eduard did a great job with the Spitfire but they ceased developing it (they didn't even venture in a proper Mk.VII or PR Mk.XI) until now when they started the new line of early Marks. Someone remarked that the development of the new-ish Spit Mk.I suspiciously followed Tamiya's 1/48 release in the same fashion as happened with the Mk.IX (following Tamiya's 1/32). One way or another, we have to wait for a couple more years before they scale down the early Marks, and that would be quite a victory! I suspect we'll never see a Griffon Spit from them in any scale, so hybridization seems to be the only solution now

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A new small contribution about cockpit detail and some info about landing gear.

When I started this work my idea was a closed canopy. At the end I decided for an open canopy but closed access door to keep the final look as clean as possible.

I decided to keep the cockpit detail rather simple because at the end you can't see too much

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Being a novice on Eduard Spitfire I had troubles fitting the modified cockpit inside the fuselage; in my next one I'll try to push detailing a little bit more. I think that the seat and the fuselage frames require some refining; If you open the side door, you can't avoid noticing the excessive thickness of the fuselage at the cockpit, but this is just my taste.

Another part that could have been engineered a lot better is the main landing gear assembly. While the provided parts have a very precise fit, detail is minimal and the gear legs are basically  wrong in the root/pivot area. Moreover, one of the nastiest thing to reproduce correctly in a Spitfire model is the correct geometry of the landing gear legs, wheels, leg covers (as I discovered...). All of this could have been addressed by Eduard in a much simpler and realistic way like Tamiya has done in their recent Mk.I, a monolithic part for both legs and toleranced wheel axles. In my next Spitfire I will try this solution, which allows for a much better result (mine is not bad anyway)

 

 

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Seen from the front the gear legs are a couple of degrees off the vertical, while the wheels are 4 degrees to the leg, the other way.... you do this totally by  hand, perhaps using a template as a reference.  A simple, Omega-shaped part would have solved the assembly problem and given a very realistic look to the finished model

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Here a brief report on the building phase of the fuselage and wings.

I assembled the wheel wells- I thinned a bit the surrounding skin panels to allow the insertion of undercarriage legs with an added pivot axle (this just mitigates that very simplified look of the retraction mechanism), then sharpened a bit the wing trailing edge and assembled  wings, wingtips and short ailerons.

The cannon stubs were removed and the leading edge drilled to allow the installation of Master's turned brass cannon fairings (AM 72005 E-wing EARLY). A note of caution about the cannon fairings, most of the E-winged high-backs in wartime had the conical-shaped early fairing (including RMXXX-serials). At some later stage, these were substituted with the ultimate ogival-shaped ones. This is very evident comparing war-time and post-war photographs of the same a/cs, (where possible). Obviously I had procured the E-wing LATE set and discovered this fact when I was ready for sticking them in the wing...spacer.png

Master provides a beautiful '50cal barrel end to be glued inside the inner fairing. I choose to paint the model without and install it at a later stage.

Finished with the wing I assembled cockpit and fuselage halves; having painted the area behind the seat a white Aluminum, the bottom of it is very visible! I added a panel with frames to simulate the fuselage bottom structure..

The fuselage was mounted on the wings and -surprise!- the fit was almost perfect with just a tiny bit of filler needed at the trailing edge of the wings and to smoothen the junction between air filter and cowling.spacer.png

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Added the horizontal stabilizers: I drooped a bit the elevators by separating the balance horns with a razorblade (and a portion of razorblade used as as scalpel for the oblique part) then scoring with a scalpel blade the hinge line and bending the part a bit to reach the desired angle.spacer.png

Then a lot of other small works: adding inside the cowling the propeller axle guide (the styrene tube section was glued perpendicular to a styrene holed disk 0,005" thick of the same external diameter as the propeller baseplate; the joint was reinforced with CA+flour and the disk was glued to the cowling front inserting the tube into the fuselage)

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The distance between cylinders in the Griffon half-bank is bigger than in the Merlin, so you can try modifying the pitch of a Merlin exhaust bank or buy a specific aftermarket set. I purchased a fishtail exhaust designed for Fujimi's Griffon Spitfires. The pitch is correct, but they are way too high! I sanded top and bottom to get an acceptable look (this is a difficult work because you need to almost sand away the upper- and lower walls of the exhaust tubes- to do that you thicken the upper and lower walls of each tube from the inside with a droplet of gel-CA, then proceed with sanding.

Then you build a tailwheel well (relatively simple), add the dorsal antenna insulator base and sand it flush to the fuselage (Mk.XIV had a whip antenna instead), then finishing touches to the cockpit before gluing the windscreen and rear canopy part. I added the reflector gunsight (NOT gyro... it is really evident from the photograph above reproduced that at least this a/c still had the reflector kind) and its particular mounting structure (it is well evident looking thorough the windscreen as the curved gray-green structure and mounting ring)

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The clear parts were accurately soap-washed and glued with epoxy cement (to avoid bad side effects of CA or ultrathin cement and allow for some adjustment in position before setting)

Last check before painting!

After a brief check with folks here at Britmodeller, I deleted the reinforcement blister bars on the wings

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I polished the plastic with that wonderful, ultra-high-tech product of mine- a rough wool jumper! -If you never tried it, do now! Rough-woven wool is a perfect plastic polishing agent.

Ready for the next step, paint!

 

 

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Thanks for the appreciation 101stjetmech, and happy modelling, the Airfix 22/24 is still today a benchmark for Griffon Spitfire models!

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Stefano,

:post1:

 

EXEMPLARY  build so far.

I love the Cockpit.... SO very EXQUISITE  , and detailed work there.

 

Liking your comprehensive  thread.

photos are great too.

 

:thumbsup:

:clap2:

 

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1 hour ago, 101stjetmech said:

Thanks for showing the level of detail possible on a 1:72 build. 

I'm a retread for the 1970s, just on my second build since then, an Airfix Mk XXII. 

hello.

:post1:

 

is your build on here in the WIP  section?

would love to see it.

 

Nice to have you on board.

Enjoy BM.

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Stefano, that looks really great. I may be wrong but I think that on XIVs the slim blister above the wheel well should be present, but on the frame just inboard of where you had them (i.e. the inner of the two frames above the wheel well). Check the photos here of MT847.

 

http://www.martinsammodels.com/Webpage/Pages/Real Aviation/Museums/By Aircraft/Supermarine/Spitfire/MT847/MT847.htm

 

Justin

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Thanks Houston your words are so kind!

I' m closing the gap to the work as it is now... up to now it is still progressing well, hope not to ruin everything at the last steps! As you will learn in the "paint " phase I was very close to total desperation!

So thank you and crossed fingers!

Stefano

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