Monday, May 23, 2016

HWE Hurricane Project

One of the reasons my modeling has been on hiatus for a few weeks was to fallow me additional time to finish the Hurricane project for IPMS Canada.  Like most research and writing projects, this one took longer than expected, so I'm very excited to announce that Part 1 of the RCAF Home War Establishment Hurricane project is included in the Summer 2016 issue of Random Thoughts (RT), which is currently at the printer. This is my humble attempt to correct some of the confusion and misconceptions floating around about RCAF's Hawker Hurricanes.  Part 1 features the UK built Hurricanes, the CCF Battle-Hurricanes and CCF Sea Hurricanes, including a little diversion into the MSFU story.  The article is illustrated with many previously unseen photos, which include such oddities as the RCAF's Airacobra, MSFU Hurricanes refinished in Canada with atypical roundels, and Hurricane 323, the only UK built "rag wing" Hurricane to serve with both the HWE in Canada and fire its guns in anger during the Battle of Britain.

Now, I'll get busy finishing Part 2, which will feature the Hurricane XII and XIIA and a free decal sheet of HWE Hurricanes in 1/72 and 1/48.

RT, and the free decal sheet, are only available to IPMS Canada members, so please visit the link to join the Society.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Negative Ghostrider

Today is the 30th Anniversary of the release of Top Gun, a movie that probably did as much for the legacy of the F-14 Tomcat as the aircraft itself. I remember seeing it for the first time 30 years ago with my Uncle Ron in Ottawa. At the time, I was a pretty precocious youngster and was aghast at all the technical errors and blatant bombast. However, as I've grown older, I've realized the genius of the movie itself. Rock music, aviation porn (the opening scene especially), fighter jets, and naval aviators who spout pithy catch phrases. What's not to love? Pure escapist fun.  (Though I still have a hard time with line "Mayday, mayday, Mav's in trouble! He's in a flat spin, he's heading out to sea..."  Huh, what?)

However, it is not well known that Top Gun was heavily inspired by (aka plagiarized from) the British film High Flight. Both feature young aviators flying the the newest fighter type at the time (Hawker Hunters in High Flight and F-14 Tomcats in Top Gun). Both feature a climax that involves combat with a vague enemy air force. The ending of High Flight is borrowed as the introduction of Top Gun and both High Flight and Top Gun feature a cocky anti-authoritarian pilot with daddy issues. Sadly, High Flight does not contain a line about seeing a MiG-16 do a 1G negative dive and some of the ladies may lament the lack of a volleyball scene. (It does, however, feature a RC model of a UFO.)

All this being said, there are two things about Top Gun that I never really understood: Maverick and the Tomcat. I've never been the cool kid, so it's hard to relate to Mr. Cruise and, sure, Tomcats are cool and all, but I'd much rather be the in-control seasoned professional - like Jester - flying the A-4 Skyhawk. I remember when Testors issued their Italeri rebox movie tie-in models. I bypassed the F-14 and built the A-4 instead. (Sadly, it was an A-4M and not the correct A-4F, but life was much simpler then.) I also lusted after the Airfix Top Gun boxing of their A-4 Skyhawk. Thankfully, it would be years before I would see that kit in person for the first time.  That probably saved me a little childhood trauma.  (Ugh, what a terrible kit.)

With Tamiya announcing a new 1/48 F-14A Tomcat last week - interesting timing, eh? - I'd still rather see a new tool 1/72 A-4 Skyhawk family. But then, that might just be me.

It's been interesting watching the online reaction to the Tamiya F-14 announcement. I remember back in the younger days of the internet when anything released by Tamiya was hailed with reverence by modelers. These days, some have already blasted the new release as "lacking detail" and dubbed it inferior to a vaporware kit that not only hasn't been tooled, but for which CAD drawings haven't even been released. Oh, poor Tamiya, to go from being top of the hill to has-beens and "so out of touch with what serious modelers want." I'm not much a gambler, but I'll bet Tamiya gets the last laugh on this one.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Great YouTube Modeling

This article is entitled "Watch the World's Most Patient Model Maker Build Flawless Airplane Replicas." Clearly with that title the article is not about your author, but it is certainly worthwhile checking out Mr. Damek's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Badger Stynylrez Test #1

I like Mr. Surfacer, I do.  No one can prep a model like he can. Hell, if it weren't for him, many of my models would never have been finished.

Sadly, Mr. Surfacer is... smelly. Yep, you invite him into a small apartment and he stinks up the place. The rest of the family living in the small apartment asks that Mr. Surfacer never gets invited over again. So that leaves me trying to coax a spray can to put out on the balcony, and, well, that never leads to anything good.

I’ve tried other primers. Vallejo primers come in many different shades, look nice and being acrylic, they don't smell. But they also don't sand. What the hell do you do with a primer you can't sand? Maybe it isn’t a problem for a perfect builder, but I'm far from perfect. Alclad primer is interesting because it needs no thinning, but it is still a smelly lacquer. Tamiya Fine Surface Primer and Mr. Surfacer seem indistinguishable unless you want to paint white. Mr. Finishing Surfacer, especially in black, is pretty neat, but he is just as smelly as his less finished friend.

So…my clandestine relationship with Mr. Surfacer continued. I'd invite him over during the day in hopes that his smell would be gone by the time the rest of the family arrived home. I even deluded myself that the girls wouldn’t notice.  But notice they did.

So you can imagine how excited I was to read about the new Badger Stynylrez. The net said it was an acrylic primer with no odor that was easy to spray and sandable. Is this even possible, I wondered. Could my dreams come true? Or was it all marketing puffery? (The net’s never wrong, right?)

With so many choruses from so many corners, I decided to give it a try for myself. A set of three 4 ounce bottles was ordered from Amazon. White, black, and grey. The package arrived yesterday, so tonight it was time for an experiment. How would this stuff spray?

I decided to try it out on the Battle of the Barrister's Hurricane which had been primed with Mr. Finishing Surfacer Black. Of course, the primer highlighted errors where I had tried to remove the spurious fabric around the ammo bay doors.  Out came the sanding sticks and pads to make the corrections. Feeling pretty smooth, it was time to check again with another coat of primer.

The instructions make it clear that the primer should be applied at 30 PSI. That seems high, but I'm a follower. So I dialed in the pressure and added a few drops to the colour cup of the Iwata Eclipse. I misted on a light coat and then followed up with a heavier coat for coverage. I had no issues with the paint flowing through the brush and the the grey covered the black primer with no issues. Cleaning the airbrush was easy with some water. The finish looks pretty good, though not glass smooth. The best news is that neither female occupant of the apartment noticed any smell at all.

So far, so good, but the real test will come tomorrow. Can I sand out the still lingering issues around the ammo bay doors?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The New Compressor is Here!

Once the 707 killed my Sparmax compressor, I struggled with what type of air source to purchase. After doing some research online and discussing the topic with a couple of modelers (and being the cheap ass I am), I decided to try the Master Airbrush Model TC-40T compressor, for sale at slightly over $100 on Amazon. It arrived last week and, as our daughter's stuffed dog (aka THE "I'm so cool I don't even need a name" DOG) must approve all changes in our household, he had to take a look.

So far, I like it. There is some debate in the house as to whether it is slightly louder or softer than the Sparmax but there is no question I can safely spray at night without waking Claren. Not to mention, the built-in tank is a very nice touch and that alone is quite an upgrade over the Sparmax.