Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Shepherd

Each year for Christmas Eve, the CBC radio program As It Happens plays a reading of the Shepherd by Alan Maitland. The Shepherd of course being Fredrick Forsyth's novella about a lost Vampire pilot guided home on Christmas Eve by a mysterious Mosquito. It is a great aviation story, check it out by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CF-100 at Farnborough

A really short clip of the CF-100 at Farnborough in 1955 flown by Jan Zurakowski.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Airfix SHAR and SHAR2

Buried under the snow, I found a nice surprise on my doorstep Saturday. The new Airfix Sea Harrier FRS.1 and F/A.2. The FRS.1 was immediately dispatched to the closet of no hope, but the F/A.2 was torn into with relish. I've been waiting years for a divine scale SHAR2 that was actually buildable and after spending too much money on resin conversions for the ESCI and Hasegawa Sea Harrier kits and the horrid Xtrakit rush job (and I passed on the Special Hobby kit which was the Xtrakit model with additional detail parts), I think this one will actually get built.

In typical current Airfix style it is a simple kit with deep panel lines, and decent moldings. The moldings are not quite as crisp as the recent Spitfires and Hawks and the plastic is softer. (Looking at the side of the box, these kits were molded in India, rather then China. I think that is a first for me...a model injected in India.) The good news is that all the F/A.2 mods are included. The longer fuselage with the new nose are captured well. The fin mounted pitot tube is included, even if it would be best to replace it with a length of metal for strength. The wings also have the necessary F/A.2 modifications.

Cockpit detail is a tub, instrument panel with combing, but no heads up display, a stick, a rather small seat and a World War two style pilot. (Oddly the Spitfires had a jet pilot...oh...oh...) I planned to fit an Aeroclub white metal Martin Baker Mk.10 seat, but there is not enough room in the tub and the white metal seat is way too tall. Decals are included for the panel and consoles as there is no raised details.

Weapons include Aden gun pods, the larger F/A.2 tanks, dual Sidewinders, AMRAAMs, and Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles. (I don't think the F/A.2 carried Sea Eagles.) Sadly, while the boxart shows the fuselage mounted AMRAAMs, the pylons are not included in the kit. Bummer.

The airbrake may be position opened or closed, and both open and closed auxiliary intake doors are provided. (These should be open on the ground, though most kits mold them closed) There is some detail inside the landing gear wells, but also some injection pins molded into the detail. Also included is a nice engine fan for the intake. The exhaust nozzles are molded in two pieces each and may be difficult to make look good if the fit is anything other then stellar. The main gear wheels are slightly over bulged for my taste. The canopy looks clear and well molded, if a little thick.

Decals are provided for 800, 801, and 899 Squadrons Fleet Air Arm in overall Medium Sea Grey. The decals look very well printed, and stenciling is included. As is becoming the norm, a full colour decal placement sheet is included for each option.

I'm too lazy to get some sprue shots, but you can find theme here and here.

Again, we have a nice buildable new kit from Airfix. Yes it could use a little resin and photoetch for additional detail, but for a reasonable price a nice base is provided out of the box. It is not state of the art, but it does seem like it will be a quick build. It surely beats the socks off the competition.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum December 6, 2009

I was back in Canada a couple of weeks ago and got a chance to stop by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. There have been a few new additions to the CWH collection this year.

The Museum has recently added a new Yale to the Collection. 3400 was recently imported from the U.S. It still carries its U.S. N number N129DB. The CWH hopes to get it added to the Canadian register this winter and have it flying regularly next year.

Also recently imported from the U.S. is a Nanchang CJ-6A. Not quite sure why a CJ in a Canadian museum, but it is a very beautiful example in a rather striking paint scheme. Again it still carries its U.S. N number N8120L, and it is hoped it will be flying regularly in 2010.

Everyone loves a Panda, eh.

The most exciting addition to the collection is a TBM-3 Avenger. Some members of the crew were stripping paint.

The CWH purchased the TBM-3E (BuNo. 53858 former C-GFPR) from Frenchman Didier Chable who had purchased the airplane from Forest Protection Ltd, Fredericton, New Brunswick in 2000. The Avenger sat at Fredericton, and while it was assigned a French civil registration (F-WQDN) it never left Canada. The CWH hopes to have the airplane flying in 2010, but it may take a few extra years.

The Fleet 21 spent most of 2009 off-site getting some work done, and it looks wonderful.

The interactive display CT-133 (CAF # 133275) has been moved off its interactive perch for an eventual repaint into Snowbird "taxi" colours. The real reason for the move however, is to free up space for assembly of the Bolingbroke. It is hoped that the wings can soon be attached to the fuselage and the project will be sitting on its gear.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MSFU Hurricane in Canada

This is an interesting one. One of the hair brained ideas the Royal Navy tested during World War Two was to launch Hurricanes off merchant ships in order to provide some air defense against bombers. The idea worked, but I would hate to be the pilot alone in a single seat fighter over the North Atlantic with no airstrip within range.

Anyway, these Hurricanes were part of the Merchant Ship Fighting Unit and often seen in Canada. In fact, it appears that 118 (F) Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was responsible for assembly and testing of the aircraft. They were certainly oft flown by RCAF pilots. The photo below is of Hurricane I Z4934 captioned as belonging to 1 Coastal Artillery Co-Operation Detachment, RCAF. This Hurricane was not on RCAF strength and while 1 CAC Detachment based out of St. John's operated Lysanders with the squadron code LU, I assume that someone just incorrectly captioned the photo, assuming it was with 1 CAC based upon the LU codes. The Hurricane was actually part of the MSFU. Note the segmented tail band for the serial and the later Hurricane II propeller and spinner. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada with thanks to Steve Sauvé.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New CHAA Harvard

Thanks to Shane Clayton we have a clip on the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association's new Harvard 4 (RCAF # 20304.) It arrived in Tillsonburg a couple of Saturday's ago after donation by Greg Tyrell's family. This aircraft has been in storage since being sold surplus after its use with the RCAF and is in 100% stock condition. It will now to the head of the restoration queue.

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...

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!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Canso and U-889

Here is a really cool photo of a Canso of 161 (BR) Squadron RCAF overseeing U-boat U-889's surrender off the coast of Canada in May 1945. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

BarracudaCals 1/72 and 1/144 Spitfires

BarracudaCals is the new decal venture from Roy Sutherland. Being Roy is both Canadian and a Spitfire fan, it is no surprise to see a RCAF Spitfire among his first releases. Sheet BC72004 is titled Spitfire Mk. IX Series Part 1, which is a little misleading as two of the options are for Spitfire Mk. VIIs... Options include HF.VII in the attractive High Altitude Fighter Scheme of Medium Sea Grey over PRU Blue, a Operation Starkey HF.VII, a pretty in PRU Pink Spitfire IX, and Spitfire MH883 as flown by Buzz Beurling with 412 Squadron RCAF. VZ-B has been issued at least once before by IPMS/Canada, but this is the only currently available sheet in 1/72. The aircraft is in the standard Day Fighter Scheme and has 30 little swastikas on then nose. (If you wish to build Buzz's other RCAF Spitfire, Eagle Editions have issued his 403 Squadron Spitfire MA585 as sheet number 72114. This aircraft has 29 German crosses as kill markings.) The decals are nicely printed, and include a supplemental sheet as Roy was not happy with the roundel and fin flash colours on the main sheet. A full set of stencils is provided for one aircraft. The instructions are in colour and quite clear about decal placement. Each aircraft has a short historical description and includes the necessary information about which wheels, elevators, and intakes were used on the aircraft. Finally, as a bonus, 1/144 decals are included for each subject. Now if only we had a kit to put them on...come on Sweet...

Friday, September 18, 2009


Title: Shipbuster - Mosquito Mk XVII "Tse-tse" An Operational History
Author: Alex Crawford
Publisher: Mushroom Model Publications

Much like the A-10, the Mosquito Mk.XVIII (aka Tse-tse) was an attempt to put a very large gun in a not much larger airframe. The Molins gun was a tank weapon which was fitted into the Mosquito as a potential replacement for the Hurricane IID. I've always been fascinated by the Mosquito Mk. XVIII ever since building an Airfix Mosquito as a young lad. Of course I built it with the large gun nose, but I really didn't know much about this version of the Mosquito. Well other then it was cool!

Alex Crawford's new book published by Mushroom Model Publications fills in the missing history on the Molins gun, its adaptation to the Mosquito, and its operational use as an anti-shipping weapon with Coastal Command. Quite an interesting tail, and quite well detailed in the book. Turns out it really wasn't that successful, and the RAF preferred rockets for anti-shipping operations. There are many pictures and profiles included, including profiles of some of the baddies (even some subs and boats.) I just wish they had included more photos of the Molins Mosquito. I understand that the photos included could possibly be the only photos of the Mosquito Mk. XVIII extant, but I'm a modeler and I always want more. I was also surprised to learn one of the Tse-tse Mosquitos was sent to the U.S. for tests at Pax River, and ended up being sold to the civilian market for use as a racer.

I had put off purchasing this book because of the apparent high price. The first surprise upon receipt was that it wasn't one of the little booklets that MMP usually publish, but rather a normal sized large paperback. While it appears a little short at 72 pages, it is quite engrossing, covers the topic well, and in my opinion was well worth the money.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Revell Privateer and the RCAF

Revell Germany have recently reissued the old Matchbox Privateer/RY-3 kit and included a decal option they claim is "Consolidated C.IX Liberator (RY-3) of No.168 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force, Rockcliffe, Ontario, Canada, 1947." The serial is JT997. This is rather odd, as the RCAF only flew one Liberator C.IX, JT973 the "Rockcliffe Ice Wagon." (Matchbox included decals for the Ice Wagon in their kit, so I just assumed Revell would do the same when it was announced that RCAF decals were included in the kit.) The description is even more confused, as not only was JT997 never on RCAF strength, 168 (HT) Squadron never operated the C.IX. (They only operated twin tailed Liberators.) In addition, by 1947 JT997 had been returned to the US Navy by the RAF and 168 (HT) Squadron was dispanded. Odd. My guess is Revell found a pic of JT997 serving with 45 Group Ferry Command in Canada and just made up the rest.

Even with the decal confusion it is nice to see the Matchbox RY-3/Privateer back in production, as the kit was commanding really high prices on the secondary market. If you really want to go whole hog and get the best out of the kit, Cobra Company has a very nice resin set available at a price.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What a Battle...

Two shots of BCATP Fairey Battles from No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School RCAF at Jarvis, Ontario. I especially like how nonchalant the crew are being with the practice bombs in the first photo. I can just picture the guy driving the truck, "Bombtruck, get your bombs here...Bombtruck." (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cold War Tech War

Title: Cold War Tech War - The Politics of America's Air Defense
Author: Randall Whitcomb
Publisher: Apogee Books

The Avro Arrow is almost a cottage industry in Canada. All these years later, new books are published on Avro Canada and on the Arrow almost every year. The Arrow also has the distinction of being one of the few aircraft that has had more plastic kits issued (three by Hobbycraft, one by Aurora, one by VP, and one by Astra) then aircraft that actually flew. The Arrow has been built up to mythic proportions and much general knowledge about the Arrow is complete fiction. (For example we all know the Arrow was killed by the USAF as they were concerned that that the RCAF would have a more advanced fighter...ok...well...whatever...)

The late Randall Whitcomb has attempted to take a slightly different approach in Cold War Tech War - The Politics of America's Air Defense by presenting the thesis that the U.S. and Canadian governments were in collusion to kill the Arrow so as to promote U.S. industry and U.S. military equipment at the expense of home grown Canadian products. (Yes I said thesis, Mr. Whitcomb presents the book as an almost academic paper with footnotes, dry prose, tables, and every other academic cliche.) As far as a thesis goes, I think it is well thought out and probably quite true. However, Mr. Whitcomb then spends most of the book veering all over the place to attempt to support his thesis. (I'm not sure how the British SST projects apply to the story, other then they were ideas presented by Avro engineers. Why all the aeronautical discussions in a book about global politics?) In the end the book becomes just another puff piece about how great an aircraft the Arrow was, and how advanced Avro Canada was. At one point he states that the Arrow would exceed the performance of all current aircraft, except maybe the F-22! In fact Mr. Whitcomb takes Avro's performance projects at face value, which at times is almost embarrassing; for example in the chapter on the Mach 3 VTO saucer project. (Also, Mr Whitcomb appears to have watched a little to much Star Wars claiming the Germans were working on lasers and beam weapons late in World War Two. Ok...)

The other major problem with the book, is quite honestly, some of it is hard to believe. Facts are wrong. For example Mr. Whitcomb states the Blackburn NA.39 never went into production...wrong, it became the Blackburn Buccaneer which served for many years with the Fleet Air Arm, and the RAF and was used in combat in the first Gulf War. He mentions Ken Follett's book Mirage...sorry the author was James Follett. And finally, he cites Wikipedia in the footnotes more then once. Really? Wikipedia? Wow. These are just a few of the mistakes I caught, so it calls into questions other "facts" he presents. In addition, the footnotes are odd. It is almost like he put them there to pretend to be academic. Some primary sources are cited, but others are just stated as facts with no cites at all. Finally, the CF-103 project isn't even mentioned in the book even though it got as far as the mockup stage.

This is not to say the book has no redeemable qualities. What Mr. Whitcomb lacks as a writer, he more then makes up for as a graphic artist. There are some stunning profiles and paintings of Avro Canada projects in the book. In addition, the Postscript should be read by every North American to understand just what is happening in today's world where economics and the economic elite drive all political decisions. Plus the book is kinda entertaining in an X-Files kinda way...just keep in mind isn't really non-fiction. More like semi-fiction. Don't believe all that you read!

P.S.: Please note that Mr. Whitcomb passed away before the book was published, so it may be a little harsh to criticize the book which was probably just a draft. Mr. Whitcomb might have edited it better and corrected some of the problems had he lived. But it was published as is and presented into the marketplace without the necessary editing and fact checking.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 IPMS/USA National Convention

Heather and I spent Thursday and Friday at the IPMS/USA Convention in Columbus. Overall it was a great show. My only complaint was that the lighting in the model room was very poor. This is a constant problem with shows hosted by IPMS/Columbus, so I'm starting to wonder if the club is a bunch of vampires or something! I was shocked by the amount and quality of the models on display. (Click here for some of my photos from the show.) I picked up a few decal sheets and resin sets, but the biggest score was a Valom H.P. Hampden with the torpedo conversion. Shockingly, I went a little crazy late Friday and purchased a new Grex airbrush... (I attended an airbrushing seminar by Rafe Morrissey on Friday which I think directly attributed to the purchase of the Grex.)

Probably the best thing about the convention; well other then seeing lots of friends, was that it jazzed me up to get back to modeling again.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Target Tug Lizzie

This is Lysander III RCAF #1557. This Lizzie was built by Westland in the UK as V9358, converted into a target tug, and operated by 3 OTU at Patricia Bay, B.C. Notice the natty white spinner, spats, and cowl flaps. Also notice the extended exhaust which was featured on many of the RCAF Lysanders. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

I have a Lysander III conversion planned in the near future using the Airfix kit, but I'm not sure I have the nerve to try the target tug scheme. Or for that matter the yellow/black serials under the wing and one the fuselage. Sure looks nice though. I also have a Matchbox Lysander II on the bench, but I'll save more details on that project for an bench update this weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mystery Ferry Command Liberator

Here is a photo of a Ferry Command Liberator taken at Gander, Newfoundland, on August 19, 1941, acting as a sort of Canadian "Air Force One." The photo caption states the Liberator is carrying Prime Minister Mackenzie King to England. I assume this is one of the Liberator LB-30As in the AM258 to AM263 serial range. Anyone know which aircraft it actually is? (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)