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Hi all,

A post this evening on using foam with large vac models has prompted the thought that I should post work to date here so that:

a. It's more accessible

b: I might actually extract a digit and crack on as she has become a bit of a running joke (well - the lack of progress anyway!)

Early foto's quite poor I'm afraid - only digital camera I had to hand at the time - but you should get the gist...

So - going back to Jan 2000 - in a Galaxy far, far away...

Let me introduce you all to Connie - an elegant lady that I'm sure I'll be spending quite some time with ohmy.png )

Connie is the ID Models 1:32nd scale Lockheed EC121 Constellation kit (kit used in the loosest of senses - more a case of a set of reasonably accurate (so it would seem so far!) basic airframe shapes). This aeroplane is one of my all time favourites and when I came across the kit I had to have it.

Needless to say, my fiancé Anne and myself are now house hunting - we need more space!!

When finished she'll be resplendent in US Navy blue and white colours as an EC121K Warning Star.


The moldings are reasonably cleanly formed on two huge sheets of polystyrene, roughly 60 thou thick. The box of Milliput placed next to the lower port mainplane should give you all a sense of size.


This is the second of the two sheets. The first step is to fill the larger of the shapes with Polyurethane Foam, on order to provide some strength and rigidity, both during construction and once completed.


Here's John Wilkes helping out by mixing up some foam - only use the two pack stuff, as the air drying type can continue expanding for a long period, causing real problems later! This was a big job and it's at times like these you need your friends (not just for the extra pair of hands, but also for the moral support and encouragement you need when starting a project this BIG!)


First pour - port fuselage half. Don't use too much, this stuff expands like crazy!


Starboard fuselage half - with foam in the process of expanding. All of this was done outside in sub-zero temperatures which slowed the process down and, we think, led to a denser foam.


All the major components - fuselage halves, tip tanks, nose and radomes filled and curing. More foam was needed later!


Port fuselage half and other bits removed from the backing sheet. Photo taken on my kitchen worktop on Sunday 9th Jan 2000 - UK readers will be able to compare Connie's size with the plug socket on the wall.


Edited by Iain (32SIG)
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Part - the second...

Again - once upon a time:

Well, here we are, another week on and I can honestly say that I have been working! These photos were all taken on Sunday 16th January 2000 using a digital camera that will only go up to 320 pixels in width - hence the lack of quality.


Here is my prized new possession, bought specially for this project, a bench sander with a 100mm wide 80 grit sanding belt. This cost £69 from a local DIY shop - good value as this thing is worth it's weight in gold! Note the 3M mask - this is a MUST when contemplating work like this - note the dust!!!


Connies Tip Tanks - exposed for all to see. The lower half shows the polyeurethane foam sanded back and the edges of both have been prepared on the bench sander. The Razor Saw lends a sense of scale! Both tanks have now been joined.


Connies Tail Feathers. The two halves on the bottom have been sanded back, whilst the top two still need doing. It's amazing how much time is saved by using the bench sander - each half was prepared in a couple of minutes, rather than the half hour or so it would have taken by hand using the traditional method of a sheet of wet and dry taped to a flat surface. Be careful though, the sander is VERY aggressive and it is all too easy to remove too much material. The other problem to be aware of is that of heat - don't spend more than a couple of seconds sanding one area or you'll melt the edge of the plastic!


The underbelly Radome, foam filled, prepped and ready to go, although some reshaping may be required later before fitting to the airframe. The foam filling has been 'locked' in place using very thin cyanocrylate glue (super glue).


The distinctive top Sail, with the polystyrene components on the left (still joined to each other at the base) and the foam filler which has been removed whilst the two halves are separated. Before the foam was poured into the vacform shapes, they were sprayed with a silicone mould release agent to facilitate removal of the foam once cured.


Here is the Port fuselage half with the foam plug removed - the plug is the buff coloured part at the bottom of the picture. I took the opportunity of comparing the fuselage with the plans supplied with the kit - they matched the plans almost perfectly. I just hope the plans are accurate!


Once again, the Port half being compared with the plans. Note the now complete 'sail' fairing which has been joined using cyanocrylate glue and 'Zip Kicker' to provide an instant bond. The two halves of the sail matched perfectly, but there is some assymetry when viewed from above - easily fixed with some Milliput and a session with the sander!


Well, if the drawings are to be believed, the tail fins are about right! (later found to be wrong!)


Clucking Bell! - as they say....

More research needed here as I don't totally trust the plans yet. If the outer engine nacelles need moving and the wing tip extending it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Maybe the tip tanks are a little on the long side as well.

I'll just show this photo to the next person that says the latest Tamigawa Wonderplane Mk3 has a slight warp in the wing, or a misplaced panel line! I get more fun 'modelling' than merely assembling kits - but each to their own!


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Part - the third...

My ugly mug from the early Naughties...

Yes, I know - I haven't had much to update recently on Connies progress, but thought some of you might like to see a picture taken earlier on in the Spring (2000 if I recall correctly) at Hinckley Model Show. I think the picture gives a good idea of her size!


The gentleman I'm talking to is the irrepressible Ted Taylor of Scale Models (and SIG Gallery) fame. You might also notice one of my other current projects - slightly smaller! - the Scratchbuilders Polikarpov I-16.


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Part - the fourth...

The plastic strikes back! (Dec 2000)

OK, so it's been a long time, but I never said it would be quick!

The Christmas break has given me a few hours to work on her airframe and I thought some pictures would be in order...


Working here on the horizontal stabiliser. The top and bottom halves, Port and Starboard, have been joined together, with a 20 thou polystyrene sheet insert sandwiched between the two halves at the tip to mark out the correct shape (the parts were incorrect as moulded). The correct tip profiles were then built up with super glue.

The Port and Starboard sides have then been joined to give the correct overall span (according to dimensions given on original Lockheed drawings) using a miniature 'torsion box' made from 60 thou polystyrene sheet to ensure a strong join.


Next, the central section was 'skinned' using 40 thou sheet, shaped according to plans and joined to the inner box and outer panels with a medium viscosity super glue for added strength. The picture at right shows the assembly after initial shaping. The gaps have been filled with super glue and now await a session on the bench sander to smooth everything off prior to priming with Halfords Grey Primer and subsequent panel engraving. This assembly is extremely strong! The ruler is just over 30cm/12 inches in length!!




Meanwhile, back with that huge fuselage, the foam used to fill the mouldings in Part I has been removed from the fuselage halves and the tail cut off on each side in line with the internal pressure bulkhead on the original aeroplane. These two tail halves have been bonded together with super glue and the forward face sanded to produce a flat, true, surface, to which a 40 thou skin has been bonded to form the smooth bulkhead. You will notice that as well as adding strength, the foam also provides an exact representation of the shapes required for bulkheads, without having to use a profile gauge.

The forward foam sections have been split horizontally, in line with the fuselage floor, and the Port and Starboard sections below floor level joined, prior to sanding the top surface to make it perfectly level (done on the bench sander) prior to bonding a 40 thou floor in place. Again, the foam forms a really easy way of establishing the exact shape of the floor.


Work has now commenced on marking out the positions of windows and the nose gear bay, in preparation for fuselage detailing. I use a lot of tape and careful measurement here - using the old saying, 'measure twice (at least!) - cut once.



A couple of quick 'general arrangement' pictures here that give a good idea of the shape and size of this beauty!


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Fast forward all the way to 2007...

Go on Baby, let me see you shake a tail feather...

Talking of Tail Feathers...


Tail fins have been primed with Halfords grey plastic primer and laid over a blown up scale drawing from original Lockheed plans. Dimensions cross checked and shape corroberated against photo's.

The moulded fins are too short - luckily by about the thickness of the tailplane. You can see the fin being split in two where it will go either side of the tailplane - along with the cut-out rudders.


Here's one half after surgery. A lot of cleaning up and re-shaping will be needed...


Here's the tailplane - smoothed - shaped/corrected - and under multiple coats of primer...


Edited by 32SIG
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Fuselage rear - section removed for tailplane - razor saw and scalpel to the rescue!


Foam inserts replaced in fuselage - ready for...




Spraying with grey primer to mark how much material needs removing from the foam...


And here's the marked foam plug ready for the razor saw...


After the cut!


Back in situ - nice and neat!!


Tailplane in place - area to front will be drastically remodelled when the time comes...


For a sense of size - that's a 1:32 Trumpeter P-40 for comparison!!


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Tail fins - doesn't look like it yet - but a lot of work!

The outers have been enlarged with 8mm deep 60 thou plastic sheet 'plugs', filled with casting resin for strength and the incorrectly moulded troughs where the fin hinge line supposed to be filled with Milliput. Once it's all hardened - it's out with the bench sander!

Central fin also too short - extended with 13 mm plug and again filled with casting resin. Leading edge curve is a plastic sheet sandwich which will be carved to shape. Once shape I'll use my profile guage to mark the curve along the base so that it fits snugly on the top of the tailplane.

They'll look a lot better after the next stage - and I can make a start on scribing/rivetting! :blink:


When doing this much scratchbuilding it pays to have another model for reference - in this case the 1:72 Heller Connie - simply scan, or measure the part/shape and enlarge linear dimensions by 2.25.


Having marked the level of the internal floor - I've now marked out the position/size of the crew entry door - which will be open on the completed model - I have some good pix of the interior of this area...

Note - forward fuselage sprayed with matt grey primer - makes it easier to mark up with a technical pencil.

Allways work from a single datum where possible - in this case the vertical station in line with the leading edge of the canopy.

That's all for now folks - more pics after Mr Bench Sander has come out to play... :blink::D


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Tail feathers now had a lot of work:

Filled with Polyurethane resin...

Cut, sanded, filled, re-shaped...

It's getting there...

Want to get each component spot on, primered and surface scribed/rivetted - before joining it all together and doing the fillets...


As a quick reminder of the size - Trumpeters P-40 again for comparison!



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I remember stumbling across this build on the 32SIG website many many moons ago, when I was embarking on the Stirling, which was a really bad idea as I'd not even finished a kit before I started! :doh: I can remember seeing it all & thinking :hypnotised: and occasionally re-found it searching for something else. It'd be good to have it finished sometimes Iain... how about it? ;)

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Awesome work Iain!! So what was it like being a 16 year old with a 1/32 Connie?? :)

You look real young in that pic man.

I was really young - feels like a long time ago now...

It'd be good to have it finished sometimes Iain... how about it? ;)

That's still the plan!

Am hoping you lot will nag me senseless - and I promised a few people at Scale ModelWorld that I'd make progress and take the model (not necessarily completed - but certainly 'progressed) to this years event...


Edited by 32SIG
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Thanks for the kind words folks (yes - I probably am a little on the mad side!) :pilot:

Been working on the Ju 52 and U-Boat tonight - but will try and get some more done on Connie in next few weeks...


Edited by 32SIG
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M8 that is madness in vac form! where on earth you going to store it, but keep up the good work !

Yup - it's mad ;)

We live in an old barn - one end of which houses two garages - the upstairs of which provide storage at present - but at some stage will form a display area. Got to finish the kitchen first!! :hobbyhorse:

Here's a view from today whilst I progress on the 1:32 Ju-52:


On a patio that is - for today at least - Vac Central:


Am feeling motivated again at the moment - watch this space! ;)


Edited by 32SIG
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i'm simply in awe of anyone who can tackle a project like this Iain

finish it mate i'm dyingto see it and maybe i'll get a ride in her ?


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i'm simply in awe of anyone who can tackle a project like this Iain

Erm - so am I - I haven't proved I can tackle it *yet* ;)

finish it mate i'm dyingto see it and maybe i'll get a ride in her ?


LOL - I'm dying to see it too... :deadhorse::)


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Erm - so am I - I haven't proved I can tackle it *yet* ;)


AHHH ya will mate looking at what you've done so far i have every faith in ya :analintruder:

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Dude I think its time then that you finished this Old DAME... :tease:

Teasing apart you really have an AwESOME job on your hands and I am sure that you will finsih it VERY SOON{ hin hint !!}

Looking forward to seeing more of your prgoress...{ just finish it before you have to ride the side car!!!}

HOUSTON :cowboy::pilot:

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Cheers Houston! :)

I think I got bogged down on the big stuff - so planning to start some cockpit work next.

Small parts that I can dip in and out of and feel I'm making progress...


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Hi Iain,

This is a great news to see you back with the EC-121.

We have made some discussions at Telford in 2007 about Warning Star because i have one in "small" scale, the 1/48 vac.

We have anothe discussions about E-2 Hawkeye in 1/32 that you have one sample and i have write a book about it.

I hope to see more news about your Connie.

Best regards


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi - yes - I remember talking to you!

Still haven't found that Hawkeye - I must have sold it at some point...

Will you be at Telford this year?


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