Friday, October 30, 2009


Title: F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions About Techniques Used for Construction & Painting Aircraft
Author: JM. Villalba
Publisher: Andrea Press

Thanks to a loan from David Knights, Kentucky Law Pirate and master modeler, I was recently able to check o
ut Andrea Press's new book on aircraft modeling. Much like its predecessors in the FAQ series, it is a visually stunning pictorial of in-progress modeling photos in an attempt to demonstrate modeling techniques. Text is limited to a an introductory paragraph and photo captions. The final few pages of the book are a gallery of Mr. Villalba's work. All scales are illustrated, but most of the techniques are applied to larger scale models. In addition, this book is in the so called "Spanish School" of painting and over-weathering, of which I'm not a fan. Clearly Mr. Villalba is a great modeler, but this isn't really a great modeling book. Sure, it provides inspiration, but it does little to instruct the modeler on how to achieve results similar to those of Mr. Villalba. Quite honestly I picked up very few tips in this book that will help me in my modeling. The pictures are nice, but they don't teach me anything. The captions are well keyed to the photos, but there just isn't enough text to really explain how to achieve what has been done in the photo. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I buy books for text, not just pretty pictures. On the whole I found the book hollow, and a perfect example of form over substance.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Times They Have a Changed!

As a child who grew up in Canada during the Cold War, this press release raised my eyebrow. Legal spy plane overflights of Canada by a Russia aircraft based out of a Canadian Forces Base? Open Skies indeed. I just wonder why Russia takes the time to overfly Canada. Are they scouting hockey talent for the KHL?

ADDENDUM: Turns out this is a common occurrence. Here is a pic of a TU-154 at Trenton last year. Kinda cool it is from the Cosmonaut Training Center. I understand Zvedza has a nice 1/144 kit of the TU-154 with Cosmonaut Training Center markings. That might make a neat little project.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Norseman Production for the RCAF

The first world-beater bush aircraft designed and built in Canada was the Noorduyn Norseman. Constructed by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd. of Montreal the first Norseman flew in November 14, 1935, and later went on to star in Captain of the Clouds. Even though Noorduyn had some success with the aircraft during the 30s, it was not until the RCAF and the USAAF ordered the aircraft that production really took off. These aircraft are part of the RCAF order. The photo was taken March of 1941. (Photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada/Library and Archives Canada.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hunter Update #3

It has been a rough week work wise, but I did get a little done on the Hunter. Tuesday night I dug out the airbrush and the Metalizer and got the intakes sprayed and last night I put the wings together. The Aeroclub wing inserts for the early Hunter wing fit pretty well, maybe better then the Revell parts for the dogtooth. Sadly the wingtips weren't a great fit, being thicker then the wings. Being forewarned of this problem by David Knights, I sanded them a little thinner before assembly and that helped. (Thanks David!)

I'm trying my best to make the deadline, but right now I feel behind. That being said, even if I don't make the deadline, I'll finish it up soon after. This kit is not going in to the hall of shame!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dr. David's Photo Hunter Update #2

Progress report 10/16/09.

Not a lot accomplished this week due to professional and family demands, but I have been able to accomplish a little bit on each of several nights. The epoxy putty was added around the nose extension, with masking tape at the panel line to restrict where excess putty ended up.

After sanding roughly to shape, the camera ports were located based on published drawings, then drawn on with a fine pencil and a Verlinden scribing template, drilled out with an appropriate size bit, and shaped to size with small files. These will be filled with white (PVA) glue after painting.

The Quickboost resin Mk. 9 style jetpipe and parabrake housing pieces were primed with Tamiya spray and attached. The aft fuselage interior required a swipe of two of a file around the inner lip to allow the resin to slide in, but otherwise the fit was nearly flawless. Most of the primer was sanded away as I dressed the seam.

After smearing the inside ofthe nose cone with black paint, I cut a 1/8 oz lead fishing weight into several pieces and hammered it into shapes to fit in the nose cone and above the landing gear bay. There is another full weight just behind the cockpit tub. The photo also shows the Mr. Surfacer I used on the wing-to-fuselage joints and especially the dogtooth and wingtip seams.

Subsequently I attached the nose to the fuselage and dressed the seam with Mr. Surfacer. The Sabrinas (shell casing collectors) and the airbrake went onto the underside. The Sabrinas are nicely engineered for a perfect fit. The airbrake required a couple of swipes with a sanding stick along the sides to lie flat to the fuselage.

Next steps: smooth the nose joint, adjust the flaps from Mk.6 to Mk.9 standards and close up the cockpit. If I'm both lucky and productive, I could have a primer coat on by the end of Sunday.

Progress report 10/18/09.

I have been mulling over the best way to manage my color scheme. Normally, I more-or-less use the undersurface color as an overall primer, then add to topside colors. However, in this case I am concerned that applying the underside silver first would lead to adherence problems when masking for the camo colors. I was so troubled by this that, in an almost unfathomable occurrence of turnabout-is-fair-play, I actually got two lectures assembled and a research paper re-submitted for work this weekend before I got up the nerve to tackle the problem.

I was also deciding how to manage the underwing fairing for the flap cut-outs, and got some very quick and useful help from the folks on the Britmodeller forums. In the end, I scribed the line for the cut-out in the flaps until the quarter-circle cut-out piece separated. After cleaning up the piece, I cemented it in place in the flap well, using the rest of the flap as a guide.

I masked off the cockpit, got a coffee stir stick wrapped with the right amount of tape to hold firm in the jet pipe, and shot the whole bird with Tamiya fine surface primer from a rattle can. Since the undersurface will represent a painted aluminum finish rather than natural metal, I felt that a well polished primer would be a better base than bare plastic.

Next steps: address flaws made evident by the primer, add underwing pylons, finish cockpit and add/mask canopy, and prep/mask for uppersurface gray.

The Halloween deadline is looming in a very scary way...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hunter Update #2

Now I see why I can't finish any models! After a week of decent progress comes a week of little progress. Sadly work took up most of last week, and the weekend was spent catching up on all of life's little things that got put off because of work. So in other words, little time for the Hunter. I did get the fuselage together and the new Aeroclub rear end on. I needed some body work in both places. The Aeroclub butt end fit pretty well, but still needed a little filler as it was slightly too narrow for the Revell fuselage. All the filler on the fuselage was completely because of my lack of skills and patience. A more skilled modeler could have gotten the Hunter together with a better fit and less Mr. Surfacer. So I just need to clean up the filler, get the wings together, and get some primer on this week. I'm started to get scared with Halloween getting menacingly close.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dr. David's Photo Hunter

David Geldmacher has decided to attempt to support my Revell Hunter build by doing on of his own. David is a huge reconnaissance fan, so he will be converting his Hunter into a FR.10. I'll let David take it from here.

Previously in the one month Hunter build:

I will be building Hunter FR.10 XJ633/S of 2 Sqn RAF, Gutersloh, Germany, ca.1960, as depicted on Xtradecal sheet number 72047. The aircraft was painted in RAF standard Dark Green, Dark Sea Grey and Aluminum/High Speed Silver camouflage.

The kit seat was assembled and a white metal aftermarket Martin Baker Mk.2 from A+V Models was cleaned up and primed. The cockpit interior had a large sinkhole on the port side ejection seat rail covered with a scrap of thin sheet plastic. The fuselage interior, cockpit tub, instrument panel, and both seats were sprayed in a very dark gray (scale black)

Progress report 10/5/09.

Monticello High School volleyball beats Grace Christian 3-0
Swim Team breakfast for 10/6/09 prep work complete


After looking at the painted pieces I chose the white metal version of the MB Mk.2. It is now done except for the lower ejection handle and the face curtain handles; I will wind the handles from fine yellow and black wire. The seat harness and leg straps are made from wine-bottle lead foil. Although the Revell seat is fine, an added harness would help give some depth to otherwise flat detail. The face curtain handles in the kit seat are a nice touch, but overscale. (photo). The A+V metal seat had better back cushion detail and adds easy nose weight, both of which influenced me to go that way. The Revell seat is certainly good enough to go to the spares box for that day in some distant post-apocalyptic period when I run out of white metal early British ejection seats and can't restock.

In addition to the kit's 100 gal drop tanks, a pair of 230 gal tanks was pilfered from an Airfix Hunter FGA.9. These were poorly cast with deep sink holes and had some retraction around the edges. Automotive putty filled the sink holes and Mr. Surfacer 500 was used all the way around the seam. The Airfix tanks lack the "trough" evident at the pylon attachment of the real thing, but only a Hunter expert with too much time on his hands would notice the difference in a 1/72 display-shelf model. The Revell kit tanks are fine. They await their fins, but otherwise I got a jump start on underwing stores for this compressed-time build.

Finally, the camera nose for the FR.10 must be addressed. There is a minimal addition of length, but the nose profile is altered by the addition of the forward facing camera. The Quickboost replacement piece is expedient, but inaccurate. It lacks the subtle profile change to accommodate the forward facing camera, and it inaccurately represents the location of the side facing cameras of the British photo-Hunter. Therefore, the kit nose was first sanded back to create a flat mating surface; this reduced the length by about 3-6 scale inches. The flat spot was painted black. then a piece of cylindrical clear sprue was cut ~9 scale inches long and cemented to the front of the nose (photo). I will fair this in with 2 part epoxy to create the subtly different nose profile of the FR.10. I have not yet decided how to handle the "eyelid" shutter that covered the forward facing camera when it was not active, but I will probably just sand the sprue the shape with the nose, scribe the horizontal shutter line and paint the new tip a brighter silver than the underside.

Progress report 10/6/09.

Fuselage closed, with a 1/8 oz. weight behind the cockpit. Not an easy fit to get the tub in place. I went with the instrument decals over the raised detail, using your recommendation of Future as setting agent. Things settled down reasonably well, so now there is color, fine detail, and texture on the panels.

I added the ejection handles, but I'm not real happy with the sit of the metal seat in the tub. It seems too low to me; I may go back to the kit seat. Plenty of time to decide that before adding the canopy.

Next steps will include finishing the inside of the intakes and the wings, as well as adding the Quickboost tail feathers.

Progress report 10/7/09.

Nose gear well installed in fuselage.

Intake interiors and ramps brushed with aluminum and ramps glued in place. Wings constructed. I recommend adding the dogtooth leading edge before the tips, and using conventional cement rather than CA to allow for the necessary alignments. Very nice engineering.

I also worked on the kit seat. Face curtain handles were painted yellow and, when dry, given black stripes with a Gundam marker. Cushions were painted with various flavors of Citadel Miniatures browns. I also added a wine bottle foil upper back "cushion" to replicate my metal seat and photos.

Progress report 10/8/09.

High school volleyball again tonight. (Monticello loses 3 games to 1)

The wings are now attached to the fuselage. No further progress to report.

A word to the wise: do NOT fret about anything with the consoles or panels . They are utterly invisible once the fuselage halves are together. They will be even more invisible once the canopy is sealed up.

Progress report 10/9/09.

Mr. Surfacer added to gaps at wingtip and dogtooth extensions, as well as around nose gear insert (probably not needed at the latter.

True Details belts added to kit seat and painted (forgot I had these), also a random photo-etch lower ejection handle added.

A+B epoxy putty added around nose extension.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hunter Update #1

Hey did I actually say I would post daily updates? Just kidding!

I have been making some progress on the Hunter build, but sadly not as much as I would like. I started the kit on Saturday at the IPMS/John Glenn meeting and got most of the major parts clipped off the sprues and cleaned up. On Sunday the fuselage interior and the cockpit tub got an airburshed coat of Tamiya NATO Black. Over that last few days I've been working on detail painting of the kit ejection seat. However, after some frustration with painting the kit seat, I decided last night to replace it with an Aeroclub white metal seat. (I have always been confused about which ejection seat is correct for which Hunter. I used a Martin Baker Mk. 3 which I had on hand, but some referenced point to RAF Hunters using a Martin Baker Mk. 2. I'm not sure it makes much difference though...) I also added the decals to both the instrument panel and side consoles using a healthy coating of Future floor wax as a setting solution. I hope to finish up painting the ejection seat during the next couple of days and then get the fuselage together over the weekend. I'm moving...slowly...but moving. Since my paint scheme is really simple, I hope I'm still on track to finish by the end of the month.

In other Hunter news, Dr. David Geldmacher has decided to join me with a build of a RAF Hunter FR.10. He is moving a little quicker then me and already has his fuselage together. I'll post a few photos of his project tomorrow.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The October Hunter Challenge

As many of you may have noticed I have yet to finish a model in 2009, after a 0 for 2008 run. I had mentioned to a friend that Tamiya was doing a new and expensive 1/32 scale Spitfire IX and an offer was made to buy me one for Christmas if I somehow finished something for the IPMS Cincinnati show on October 31, 2009. Since that is an offer too good to refuse I started weighing my options. I have a few mostly done projects that I have lost interest in, so while they only need a little work to get them on the shelf, I'm not sure I want to finish them right now. Then it was announced at the UAFM Forum that the next group build would be a "build the same kit" build using the Revell 1/72 Hawker Hunter. Ohhh, I've wanted to build a Hunter all year and just never got around to starting one... And it is a really nice kit... And I am a sucker for a group build...even if I never finish them... And the deadline was October 31, 2009... And the start date was October 1, 2009... It was fate I tell you! So I decided to undertake the October Hunter Challenge. I will attempt to put up a post every day on the blog both to update everyone on my progress and to force myself to make progress. I plan to build Hunter F.2 WN891 as operated by the WEE Flight of CEPE at Namao, Canada in the mid 1950s. Aeroclub will help out with the conversion. I think the overall High Speed Silver will look really slick on the sleek lines of the Hunter and will be a nice change from the usual RAF style camouflage. I can just picture the finished model in my mind...

I only foresee one major problem. How am I going to actually finish a model in a month? Wish me luck!