Saturday, November 28, 2009

Models as Art

Yesterday, I visited the Akron Art Museum to see an exhibit on portrait painter Chuck Close. Upon entering the Museum I was attracted to an exhibit called Nuclear Enchantment by photographer Patrick Nagatani. Both the name and the photo of the post apocalyptic bats were quite intriguing.

However, the exhibit itself provided a rather interesting surprise as aircraft models were featured in many of the photographs. Here you can see the very old Hasegawa kit of the F-117.

F-111s galore at Cannon AFB.

I'm sure building all those weapons kept the photographer busy for quite a while.
(According to the display Mr. Nagatani builds all the models used in his photographs.)

My favorite was the B-36 on Meccano cradle photograph. Some of the other models are in the background, and you have to love the mushrooms.

I fall into the school of thought that even nicely built plastic models are not art. However, it is really nice to see plastic models in art. As someone who has struggled to create decent model photographs, it amazing to see how a real artist can use model airplanes to create something thoughtful that is on display in a major art museum.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Early War Lysander

Here is a Canadian built Lysander Mk. II from 110 (AC) Squadron RCAF at Rockliffe in January 1940. The dignitary is Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King. (Photos courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dr. David's Photo Hunter Update #3

OK, since the last update I've been able to make a small amount of progress, albeit in tiny steps. Three half day conferences/meetings last week and two major deadlines over the weekend certainly slowed things down. On the flip side, horrendous weather in Annapolis led me to skip the Navy (US Naval Academy) football game and gave me back a full day to handle the other stuff and a little modeling. (The Mids won a nail-biter even without my on-scene exhortations).

The little steps of progress included securing the seat and control stick in the cockpit, getting the windscreen and canopy affixed with white glue (remembering to paint a small area under the rear of the canopy in interior black), and completing the final dressing of the wing to fuselage joints.

The next bigger, and more tedious step, involved masking the canopy with strips and rectangles of Tamiya masking tape. Once that was done, I applied a quick shot of interior black to the canopy to provide the color for the "inside" framing, followed by an overall topsurface coat of Model Master Dark Sea Gray.

After that dried overnight, the camouflage pattern was delineated with very thin strips cut from Tamiya tape. The inside edges of the areas to remain gray were defined with small squares cut from the same tape. Yes, it's tedious, but I find its the best way to secure the complex curves with minimal overspray and bleedthrough errors. The photo shows the outlining and the first few squares of tape on the nose.

The gray areas were then filled in with larger squares of 3M blue tape.

Once the camo pattern was defined and masked, I carefully inspected for gaps in the tape under a bright light. A quick rub with a Polly Scale Plastic Prep impregnated cloth prepared me to spray the ModelMaster RAF Dark Green. Depite thorough stirring, this had a distinctive gloss finish on application. Though not a problem in light of the upcoming gloss coat for decaling, I worry a little about its drying time with that sheen, but I used lacquer thinner to dilute it and I have a two-and-a-half day business trip to let it cure. I'm a little concerned about leaving the masking in place that long, but any handling now would be a disaster.

Undersurface colored applied with Tamiya Silver Leaf - as anticipated, a dream to work with. Perhaps a tad bright, but I will be dulling it down.

The topside camo unmasked beautifully.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mark Smith's 1/72 AD Scout

Here are a few pictures of Mark Smith's 1/72 resin Choroszy Modelbud AD Scout aka Sparrow. Up to Mark's usual stunning standard, the rigging was done use his girlfriend's hair.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

James May Toy Stories - Airfix!

James May of Top Gear fame recently did a whole episode of his new Toy Stories TV show on Airfix and he even created a 1:1 scale Spitfire kit. Here is the full episode. Sit back and enjoy, it is great fun. It is nice to see modeling, and Airfix, get some TV coverage, even if it was only in the UK.

P.S.: On Thursday I got two copies of the brand new tool Airfix 1/72 Spitfire IX. Look for a review shortly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AviaDossier 1: Canadian Aircraft of WWII

Title: AviaDossier 1: Canadian Aircraft of WWII
Author: Carl Vincent Illustrated by Terry Higgins
Publisher: Aviaeology

This large format softcover book is the first in a new series on Canadian aircraft written by noted Canadian aircraft researcher Carl Vincent. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Vincent published books on the Blackburn Shark and the Liberator and B-17 in RCAF service, and served as editor of High Flight magazine. (A complete set of High Flight magazines and a copy of the B-24/B-17 book are among the most treasured items in my library.) Sadly, he has not published much work in the last couple of decades, but thankfully he is back with this book, and it is a stunner.

In general RCAF aircraft get given the short shift in most books and articles, and Home War Establishment get even less coverage. This AviaDossier attempts address this oversight with short chapters on 19 types operated by the RCAF, both in Canada and in Europe. Types include the expected Hurricanes, Beaufighters, and Spitfires, but also lesser known types such as the Fleet Fort, Bolingbroke IVW, and Northrop Delta. Each chapter includes a short history on the type, at least two photos, many never before published, and beautiful profile drawings by Terry Higgins.

My favorite chapter may be that on the Kittyhawk IV. As I have stated before in these pages, one of my RCAF holy grail searches was for photos of camouflaged Kittyhawk IVs. And here is one. In Olive Drab over Neutral Grey, it served with 132 (F) Squadron in British Columbia. I have an Academy P-40N sitting on my desk which will shortly be built as this aircraft. In fact modeling inspiration abounds in this book. A black and yellow target tug Shark? A Lockheed Hudson without a turret? Stocky Edwards's captured FW-190? I was also drawn in by the civil registered Fox Moth operated by the RCAF in Newfoundland. Wonder if anyone does a Fox Moth in 1/72?

This is a great book and it was worth the wait. Highly recommended to all RCAF fans and modellers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cincinnati Scale Models Contest and Swap Meet

On Saturday, Smith, Heather, and I drove down to Sharonville for the Cincinnati Scale Modelers 2009 Contest and Swap Meet. I didn't have anything done to enter in the contest...Hunter, cough...not finished... cough, so I spent most of my time selling some devil scale and a few surplus 1/72 scale kits along with David Knights. (I also finally managed to find a 1/72 F11F Tiger, not the Hasegawa kit, but what I assume is a South Korean knockoff. It will shortly hit the bench to be converted into a RCAF CF-111 Super Tiger.) We both did pretty well parting with kits for cash and it was quite fun. Matt and his son stopped by and we escaped from the model arena to have some lunch together. I didn't get a chance to take pictures of any of the models, but there was some nice stuff on display. David picked up a 2nd for his 1/72 Hunter, and for the third year in a row Mark got Best Aircraft, this time with a devil scale Japanese fighter which he riveted and stressed the skin. Mark's funky resin 1/72 AD Scout aka Sparrow failed to place. Don and his crew put on a great show, which is always one of the highlights of the fall model season.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Hunter in October

As you all might have expected, I did not finish the Hunter in October. Sadly work commitments took a turn for the busy late in the month, and little progress was made. But never fear, I will finish it! Dr. David also did not complete his Hunter within the allotted month, so we extended the deadline until Thanksgiving. Watch for more updates...