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No Man But Ajax May Vanquish Ajax (1/72 Airfix Spitfire Vc)


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"There is no other help for us, no stronger wall to ward off disaster, no city with its ramparts to hide inside, no other army to turn the flow of battle. Here on the plains of Troy are we, our backs to the sea facing the mail-clad Trojans, far from our native land. So in the strength of our own hands is our salvation, and there can be no surrender in this fight."

 

-- Homer, The Iliad, XV (trans. A S Kline)

 

 

"Only fully experienced pilots must come here. It is no place for beginners."

 

--Hugh Pughe Lloyd, AOC Malta, to Arthur Tedder, 25 April 1942

 

 

"I thought my last minute had come and decided to sell my life dearly. I flew straight at the nearest machine with the intention of ramming it. I did not fire a shot, but the Macchi pilot, suddenly realising that his number might be up too, took violent evasive action, stalled, and crashed into the sea."

 

-- Ioannis Agorastos "John" Plagis, on 11 May 1942

 

Born to Greek parents in Hartley in what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1919, Johnny Plagis was still a Greek citizen at the start of the Second World War, though he had lived in Rhodesia all his life, and it was under the birth nationality of his parents that he served in the RAF. Plagis went to Malta on 6 March 1942 off HMS Eagle with the first sixteen Spitfires sent to that beleaguered island.

 

On 20 March 1942, Plagis's close friend and fellow Rhodesian, Pilot Officer "Douggie" Leggo, was shot down and killed by either the experte Hermann Neuhoff (who would himself be shot down by Canadian Hurricane pilot F/Sgt Garth Horricks DFM of 185 Squadron and taken captive on 10 May 1942), or Ernst Klager (taken prisoner on 3 July 1942 at El Alamein after being shot down on a frie jagd by a SAAF Kittyhawk Ia flown by Lt Sydney "Moose" Reinders). It appears that a 109 then either fired into Leggo as he dangled in his parachute, or deliberately or by accident (the attack took place at only 50 yards range) collapsed his parachute as it flew past him.

 

Regardless of what had transpired, the results for the Luftwaffe were very nearly as catastrophic as the killing of Patroclus had been for the Trojans. In his diary that night, Plagis wrote "Swear to shoot down ten for Doug -- I will, too, if it takes me a lifetime." In fact, it took him only until 7 June, a little less than three months. Among those he shot down was the 13-claim ace Fw Hans Schade on 1 April, one of four aircraft he brought down that day.

 

Plagis went on to be a Wing Commander in northwest Europe and flew Meteors with the RAF postwar, before returning to Rhodesia, where he involved himself in several deeply regrettable ventures, including a business partnership with Scientologist huckster L Ron Hubbard which ended when the latter was expelled from Rhodesia, and more seriously, Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front. In 1974, apparently unable to adjust to civilian life, Plagis died by suicide. He was married and had four children, but in the tumult of Rhodesia's subsequent collapse and reformation as Zimbabwe, they seem to have not surfaced anywhere to provide a more comprehensive biography of his life. In what is now Harare, a street is still named John Plagis Avenue after him.

 

So not a very happy story behind the model we'll be building today, which is why my leading quote for this build, is perhaps apropos: Telamonian Ajax defended the Greek ships from the assault of Hector and the Trojans almost single-handedly, but was bested by Odysseus in a contest of skill with the armour of Great Achilles as a prize. Ovid writes in Metamorphoses that Ajax, "who so often when alone, stood firm against great Hector and the sword, and flames and Jove, stood not against a single passion, wrath. The unconquerable was conquered by his grief. He drew his sword, and said...'I must use this against myself...lest any man but Ajax vanquish Ajax.'" 

 

As for the kit, it's of course the new Airfix Spitfire Vc, which I'm pretty excited about. I'm planning on using the DK Decals Aces of Malta sheet, which has markings for GL-J/BR321, which Plagis apparently flew after transferring to 249 Squadron in June of 1942. Naturally I can't find any photos of it in Cauchi's Malta Spitfire Vs, so if you have or know of one, I'd appreciate it! 

 

 

PXL_20210119_041344650

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PXL_20210119_054107514

 

So I got a little started tonight. The kit seems pretty clearly inspired by the Eduard Spitfires in terms of engineering, especially in the cockpit. The plastic seems weirdly soft and...crumbly? I used my micro-chisel to poke out the hole in the seat armour for a seatbelt, and a chunk of plastic just flaked off, as if it were puff pastry. Detail seems very soft on the heels of the Arma kit, but of course it's a great improvement on their Spitfire I, so I reckon I ought not to complain too much. 

 

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I'll sit in on this one as well if you don't mind?

Always something to learn from your builds

 

  Stay safe       Roger

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Wow! Front row seat as well!

 

I've got one of these on my worktable at the moment, and a couple more in the stash. So far, I've found it to be a good kit that goes together well, but there are already one or two things I would do slightly differently on the next one I tackle, and any hints or tips I can glean from your build will be gladly taken on board!

 

One thing I do find a bit odd is that Airfix could have incorporated a little more cockpit sidewall relief detail - there are boxes etc on the sidewalls that could have been included just as easily as rib detail - so these are the sort of things I'll be adding next time, referring to photos.

 

The DK Decals Malta Aces sheet has some great schemes on it, but (and please forgive me if I'm telling what you already know!) you might like to refer to Paul Lucas' articles in Scale Aircraft Modelling before deciding which colours you use for the camo. There's a currently-running thread here that might be of interest. 

 

Looking for to seeing your progress.

 

Kind regards,

 

Mark

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A very fine & thought provoking intro Edward, thanks, a scene well set. I'll be hanging around for this too, I can see several if these in my future. Your comment re the nature of the plastic Airfix has used is slightly disquieting, one of the big negatives of their recent production. Biscuity is my description for it. 

Steve 

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Having only just finished Steven Fry's book 'Troy' I was straight onto this build with that title.

Seems everyone has this new kit from Airfix. Still yet to reach our shores here in Oz (where if a Mk.Vc is going to be made it would be here).

Great story, Great aircraft and should be a great build.

 

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11 hours ago, stevehnz said:

Biscuity is my description for it. 

 

 

Yes, that's quite apt. It does at least have the advantage of not leaving a bloody great divot no matter how carefully one clips it off the sprue, however. So that's something.

 

Today was a busy  day. My work had a pointless all-hands-on-deck Zoom meeting today, where we learned that, once again, the organization is slashing budgets to stay afloat, as it has been for the past thirteen of the fifteen years I've worked there. Then Mrs P was troubled by what the Victorians might euphemistically call a "feminine complaint" and retired to the guest bedroom, where I assured her that if she died, I would marry her younger sister Agatha* so that the boys still had a mother. When I returned, I found Winston had deployed what he called a "hot dog army", slices of same slathered in mustard and arrayed on the tabletop in battle formation, and it was time for the boys to go to bed, immediately. Then it was time to join my Bad Movie Club on Zoom to watch Tango and Cash, the last buddy cop action movie of the 1980s (it went into limited release on December 22, 1989), and then, finally, to the grotto.

 

I only got a little bit done tonight; I just painted the silver bits and started assembling the cockpit. I honestly like the quality of the fit here. It may be a bit chonky, but Airfix has ensured a very positive fit, which should keep this from being absolutely infuriating for new modellers or drunk but more experienced modellers.

 

PXL_20210120_052428762

 

 

The painting guide says to paint the...seat...of the seat that weird red-brown colour, and then black everywhere else. I'd seen green before, but this was new to me. But as you know, I'm automaton, I fecklessly obey instructions. 

 

I also painted the wheel well parts silver and assembled them. 

 

For the seatbelts, I'm thinking of using the injection-molded ones from Fine Molds, mainly because (1) I have some and they were pricey for what you get, and (2), I've never ever seen anyone use them in a build. 

 

A thought that's occurred to me is that the parts breakdown of this is such that I reckon Airfix could potentially tool a new MkI from this. They won't, of course, but they could. 

 

Work also continues apace on Winston's Tempest. He is using Testor's acrylics for the uppersurfaces, rather than Xtracrylics, and it's really clear from this how much Xtracrylics kinda suck. A five year old can get a fairly nice finish with a brush and a bottle of Testors. Jesus Christ -- who, to be fair, was not a frequent IPMS contest winner -- would struggle to achieve the same with Xtracrylics.

 

PXL_20210119_140155017

 

 

 

 

* Mrs P does not have a sister.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Procopius said:

For the seatbelts, I'm thinking of using the injection-molded ones from Fine Molds

 

Please do mate, I have wondered what the deal was with those :)

 

Looking good by the way, as is Win's Tempest B) 

 

Cheers,

 

Stew

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20 hours ago, 2996 Victor said:

The DK Decals Malta Aces sheet has some great schemes on it, but (and please forgive me if I'm telling what you already know!) you might like to refer to Paul Lucas' articles in Scale Aircraft Modelling before deciding which colours you use for the camo. There's a currently-running thread here that might be of interest. 

 

I actually didn't know! I purchased the three issues available digitally from PocketMags. It appears that BR321 was sent to Malta off HMS Eagle during Operation STYLE on 3 June 1942. Lucas seems to suggest that the Special Erection Party (fnarr) at Gibraltar would have painted this aircraft Dark Mediterranean Blue up top and Sky Blue below after assembly and before loading her on to Eagle. I have Colourcoats Sky Blue...but...dammit! No Dark Mediterranean Blue. I gather I can possibly use my Roundel Blue unless someone else has a better suggestion.

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On 20/01/2021 at 07:18, Procopius said:

 

I actually didn't know! I purchased the three issues available digitally from PocketMags. It appears that BR321 was sent to Malta off HMS Eagle during Operation STYLE on 3 June 1942. Lucas seems to suggest that the Special Erection Party (fnarr) at Gibraltar would have painted this aircraft Dark Mediterranean Blue up top and Sky Blue below after assembly and before loading her on to Eagle. I have Colourcoats Sky Blue...but...dammit! No Dark Mediterranean Blue. I gather I can possibly use my Roundel Blue unless someone else has a better suggestion.

 

Hi Edward,

 

I hope(!) that it was of some help, although I can't help but think that sometimes ignorance is bliss! I must admit to spending several hours spread out over most of last week trying to find a good match for the Non-Specular Blue Gray specified in the DK sheet's colour call-outs for several of the Mk.Vc profiles until I found the SAM articles at the weekend. I'm now re-thinking my options.

 

On 20/01/2021 at 06:34, Procopius said:

For the seatbelts, I'm thinking of using the injection-molded ones from Fine Molds

 

I've tried the 3D-printed decals (yes, really!) from KitsWorld. Not too expensive to buy and quite fiddly to apply, I found, although that could be my ham-fistedness, of course. They look quite reasonable, and they'll certainly be fine under a closed canopy. Just FYI:

http://IMG-3209a.jpg

I know I've stopped the IGG cockpit sidewalls too far back :facepalm:

 

Kind regards,

 

Mark

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1 hour ago, Procopius said:

No Dark Mediterranean Blue. I gather I can possibly use my Roundel Blue unless someone else has a better suggestion.

For what it's worth, I used Colourcoats Roundel Blue for DMB.

 

Edit: You could mix your own, I've read that adding some blue to Extra Dark Sea Grey works.

Edited by Beard
On second thoughts
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Sorry for the delay in posting lately, chaps, I've just been a bit worn down this week. 

 

Winston glosscoated his Tempest:

 

PXL_20210121_140621787

 

 

I would love to say he did it all himself, but Winston (like his father) is easily frustrated by failure and soon handed it off to me to finish glossing. But modelling is at its heart all about failure, isn't it? Our best model is always our next one, there's always something we can improve. I'd love to think Winston might learn that from building a model, but he is after all only five. 

 

Anyway, some work on the seatbelts today. The Finemolds belts are made of very thin plastic, and cost about $5 per set you get in the box, after shipping (it's a box of four):

 

PXL_20210123_005251337

 

It fits through the armour of the seat if you're not shy about embiggening the hole:

 

PXL_20210123_005647876

 

I've given the belts a spray with Tamiya Khaki:

 

PXL_20210123_014350150

 

And as you can see, I've assembled the wings as well. 

 

 

 

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Wow, delayed maybe, but packed with interesting points...

 

55 minutes ago, Procopius said:

But modelling is at its heart all about failure, isn't it?

 

Something I had never considered, but you make your point well; for the last couple of years I have considered it a success to finish anything but I don't believe I am working my way toward my best model any more, I think that point passed and I am now getting further from it :D (In my opinion it was the first new-tool Hasegawa 'Emily' I built, for the record)

 

Those Fine Molds seatbelts don't look very bendy?

 

Win's Tempest is looking braw B) Lovely job on the camo pattern.

 

Please tell me that the Bender figurine is actually a refrigerator which stores beer in his chest cavity? I need that to be true.

 

Okay that's me done :D 

 

Cheers,

 

Stew

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5 minutes ago, Stew Dapple said:

Please tell me that the Bender figurine is actually a refrigerator which stores beer in his chest cavity? I need that to be true.

 

I'm afraid the back of the head hinges open to reveal the complete original run series on DVD.

 

6 minutes ago, Stew Dapple said:

Those Fine Molds seatbelts don't look very bendy?

 

They're actually surprisingly bendy, and I would say they seem so far to bend and retain the bend better than Eduard PE belts. But I may yet eat those words.

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1 minute ago, Procopius said:

I'm afraid the back of the head hinges open to reveal the complete original run series on DVD.

 

(Do this in Bender's voice:) Awwwww! OT, I got the full series on DVD earlier this week; little modelling predicted for the weekend :D

 

2 minutes ago, Procopius said:

 

They're actually surprisingly bendy, and I would say they seem so far to bend and retain the bend better than Eduard PE belts. But I may yet eat those words.

 

Thank you, I wish you all luck with them :)

 

Cheers,

 

Stew

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5 hours ago, Procopius said:

. But modelling is at its heart all about failure, isn't it?

Speaking as some-one who's recently crushed two KP Mustangs and an Academy P-51 into unrecognisable parts using just his bare hands, there's nothing quite so enjoyable, yet ultimately revealing of the utter futility of everything man does, as breaking a nearly-finished kit beyond repair because something during the construction process hasn't gone to plan.

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On 1/19/2021 at 4:15 AM, Procopius said:

"In what is now Harare, a street is still named John Plagis Avenue after him."

 

Crikey! I thought I recognised the name, but I didn't know anything about the story behind it !

 

xpim8Fbl.jpg

 

Sitting up straight now and paying attention ! 🙂

 

mike

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