Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CAF Mi-17 Hips

A long while ago I mentioned the Mi-8 Hips leased by the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan. Recently, a newspaper article was publishing asking questions about the helos. Ok, Canada's military procurement and spending is always political, but what was really interesting was the quote "The Mi-17s operate in Canadian military markings and are flown by Canadian Forces pilots, said Rozenberg-Payne." Huh? I thought the Mi-8s were in civil markings with civil registrations. Turns out Canada has traded in the leased Mi-8s for leased Mi-17s and they are carrying CAF markings. See here for a picture. So the Mi-17s are designated CH-178 and the serials for the four aircraft are 178404 to 178407. (What happened to 178401 to 178403?) I understand these are Kazan Helicopters Mi-17-V5 versions of the Mi-17. Cool, eh.

Modeler's Note: Hobby Boss makes a very nice Mi-17, but it does not have the correct configuration to build the CAF variant. (What's new.) There was a conversion of the kit to the beaked nose/rear ramp Mi-8/Mi-17 in a recent Scale Aviation Modeller International.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RCAF Sabres in 1/72 (Draft)

I only deal with RCAF Sabres, so I don't know much about F-86Ds, Hs, and Ls, but I've seen lots of comments on 1/72 Sabres recently on some of the boards after the recent issue of the new Airfix kit. Much of it I find a little odd...so Sabres for discussion.

Fujimi: Issued as both a F-86F-30 and F-86F-40. Really nice kit with great scribing and good detail. However, it has always looked really fat in the nose and cockpit area to me, almost like a cross between a F-86F and F-86H. Speed brakes are square, which they aren't in real life. It also has a intake on the rear fuselage which I believe is a JASDF only addition, remember to remove it for a Korean War bird. Tanks and Sidewinders for under the wings. Closed slats only on the F-40 wing. Probably the best place to start for a F-86F even with the fat nose area.

Hobbycraft/Academy: This is the kit I get most frustrated about when it is discussed online. No matter what Hobbycraft or Academy say, or for that matter "the experts," neither of these kits can be built as any USAF F-86. These kits are Orenda engined Sabre 5s and Sabre 6s. When Canada changed engines, vents and panel lines were altered for the Orenda engines, and these kits capture most of those changes. Also, the slatted 6-3 wing was used on no USAF Sabre. Both kits are missing the sugar scoops that were retrofitted to RCAF Sabre 5s and 6s. As for the kits themselves, they are not quite as nice or as detailed as the Fujimi kit, and the scribing is a little less crisp. They also have those square airbrakes and at times seem "inspired" by the Fujimi kit. The slats are separate in the Sabre 6 boxing, but the area under the slats is not correct being recessed. Another interesting anomaly with this kit is that Academy modified it slightly when they started reboxing it. The canopy was retooled to include scribing for the ADF antenna, while the nose gear and cockpit assemblies were modified to make assembly easier. (Good.) Obviously the best place to start for a Sabre 5 or Sabre 6.

Hobbyboss: It appears from some online builds, that something is off with the shape, and it sits way too high on its landing gear. Issued as a F-86F-30 with the 6-3 hard wing and a F-86F-40 with the slatted 6-3 wing with extensions. Basic easy build kit. Looks like a fun weekend project kind of kit.

Heller: Old school with raised lines. I'm not sure what Heller was going for here, it is sold as a F-86F, but the kit is a mishmash of Sabre 6 and F-86F features. Oddly the wing chord is a little short, so while not 100% accurate, it is the closed we have out of the box to a Korean War F-86E. It also is much slimmer then the Fujimi kit, which I think is correct, but the tail is substantially shorter then the Fujimi and Hobbycraft/Academy kits. I'm not sure whose tail is correct. No underwing stores other then tanks. Detail is actually pretty good for a 70s kit, I've always believed that during this time period Heller's kits were way head of their time.

Airfix: Have one on the way, but the online sprue shots look promising. Bombs and pylons are included which is a first in 1/72. Another 6-3 hard winged F-86F-30. Arg. (It will also be issued in the new year as a 6-3 hard winged Sabre 4.) No matter how good this kit is, I feel this is a major missed opportunity for Airfix. I get why they want a Sabre in their line, but if they had done a slatted wing F-86E/Sabre 2/4 they could have cornered the market, rather then having just another 6-3 hard wing Sabre. And it doesn't make sense, as the F-86E would have allowed for a Korean war boxing, and the Sabre 2 would have allowed for a RAF boxing... But the good news is that it may be possible they tooled other wings based up on the breakdown of the parts... More comments when I get the kit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

70th Anniversay of the Battle of Britain - The Canadians

I missed posting this on Battle of Britain Day in September, but in honor of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, here is an example of the Canadian contribution. While many Canadians flew in the Battle in RAF squadrons, only 1 RCAF Squadron flew combat during the Battle of Britain. 1 Squadron RCAF arrived in England in June 1940 and were reequipped with RAF Hurricanes to replace their old RCAF fabric wing Hurricanes they brought with them. During the Battle they claimed over 30 aircraft destroyed with CO Squadron Leader Ernie McNab leading the way with 4 1/3 kills. Here is S/L McNab with a 1 Squadron Hurricane I at Northolt, England on September 12, 1940. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Modeler's Note: There are really only two choices for a Battle of Britain Hurricane I in 1/72. You can either build the old, but recently reissued, Airfix kit or the new Hasegawa kit. The Airfix kit captures the spirit of the Hurricane well, but doesn't have much in the way of detail. The newer Hasegawa kit has more detail, some of it poor like the cockpit, but has exceedingly exaggerated fabric rear fuselage detail and is really expensive, if you can find it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finish the Spitfire!

You may have seen David's many comments to finish the Spitfire. The 1/72 Airfix Spitfire XIX to be specific. I started the kit upon receiving it last year and all went ok until it came time to mask the canopy and paint. Sure the scheme is simple...overall PRU Blue...but I have a total fear of my airbrush. (In fact, as a small child whenever the lights were turned out I was always scared there was an airbrush hiding under my bed or in the closet.) Anyway...David went to China this summer and managed to acquire a special mystic scroll during his travels. He had the scroll blessed by a posse of Buddhist monks and sent it to me to motivate completion. (For you readers that are not Space Cowboys, please note that the scroll says "Finish the Spitfire" in Mandarin. "Ni ta ma de. Tianxia suoyoude ren. Dou gaisi." Oh...sorry Captain Mal...ok...I won't mislead my readers...it really means "Complete the Task," but that isn't nearly as good a story is it?) While I haven't got the Spit finished yet, I did manage to get a coat of paint on it. I used my new Grex single action brush for the first time, and for whatever reason the paint went on thick and grainy. (I'm sure it was the user, not the airbrush...) David was shocked to hear not only that I used the airbrush, but I painted the Spit. He demanded proof of life. Here is it:

I broke out the micromesh and have smoothed out the finish. Look for a repaint and completion soon. Seems I also need to practice with the Grex.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


On Saturday I attended the Shenango Scale Modelers contest in Sharon, PA for the first time. It was a small show, but there were many nice models on show. A few photos are attached of models that caught my eye. The vendor room was kind of weak and, shockingly, I purchased absolutely nothing...

James Kelley's 1/48 Trumpeter Sea Fury.

An old Airfix bus converted into the Pigeon Loft by Karen Rychlewski.

You don't see the Heller Cap-10 built very often.

Barry Numerick's beautiful 1/72 Heller Bf-108.

A 1/72 Hawker Hurricane.

Eric Larson's Wingnuts LVG C.VI.

A 1/72 Academy Swiss Hornet by James Kelley.

Another 1/72 Battle of Britain participant...a Tamyia Spitfire I.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fast and Easy Natural Metal Finishes

Like aircraft in natural metal finish? Lazy? Have an airbrush phobia? I use a fast and easy natural metal finish technique that almost completely relies upon spray cans. But not just any spray cans, Tamiya’s synthetic lacquer spray cans. Besides having a fine grain, and a natural metal look, they are lacquer based and will stand up to masking. In fact they are so durable, you can save time and cut down on clear coats as well. I also find that these cans spray so much smoother and easier than other spray cans I’ve experienced.

Step 1: You have two choices here, either have you assembled kit perfect with no flaws or relay upon a primer. I like Tamiya’s Fine Surface Primer (in gray or white, your choice) in the spray can. If I use a primer I do polish up the paint with fine micromesh before I apply the silver.

Step 2: Make sure the model is free and clean from dust and oils. I usually swab off the model with common drugstore isopropyl alcohol. (Sorry Gunze’s Mr. Whiskey will not work here…) After wiping off the model only handle it was latex gloves.

Step 3: Here is where the secret weapon is revealed. Tamiya AS-12 spray metal silver. I find that his paint leaves a beautiful slightly oxidized natural metal look. Not too shiny, but not too flat. Heat the can in warm water…but not on the burner…we do not want to send the can into space, just have the paint flow better. Shake well and apply in thin coats. In my experience silver enamels take forever to dry, but the lacquer dries super fast.

Spousal Interjection: Buy a spray booth. This stuff is smelly.

Step 4: The nice thing with this paint is that there are more options than just the AS-12. Tamiya also makes TS-17 Gloss Aluminum and TS-30 Silver leaf. If you wish to panelize you airplane, mask off panels and use either or both of these cans to add some panel variation. I find that the TS-17 leaves a nice silver doped look often seen on control surfaces. I usually mask with Tamiya tape or drafting tape. You can also mask off anti-glare panels, etc. at this time. See isn’t this paint fun? Mask all you want and nothing pulls off.

Step 5: If you are really lazy like me you can skip your clear coat and just apply decals. I usually use Future floor polish to apply decals to my natural metal aircraft. Either place a small amount of Future where the decal will be placed, apply decal, and cover in Future or just dip the decal in the Future and apply. The Future will suck the decal down into the panel lines, fuse the decal in place, and prevent silvering.

Step 6: Depending on how neat you are with your Future you can either finish the model as is or actually break out the airbrush and apply a final clear coat of your choice.

Wasn’t that fun? A nice metal airplane and no need to break out the airbrush. Sometimes it pays to be lazy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Scale Aircraft Modelling July 2010

About a year ago my long term subscription to Scale Aircraft Modelling ran out and I choose not to renew it. I wasn't enjoying the new make-over and the magazine no longer was in line with my tastes. However, when I saw that the July 2010 issue would be another Canada Day Special, I forked over my $11.99 (ouch) and decided to see if things were any better.

My big complaint with the new SAM was awful proof reading and articles with few words and little meat. Sure most of the builds were nice, but the articles didn't teach me anything. Sadly I have to report little has changed.

Things start off poorly on the cover. There is a focus on the Special Hobby Baltimore which they deem "Impressive!" What would be really impressive was if there was anything on a Special Hobby Baltimore, or indeed if Special Hobby actually made a 1/48 Baltimore. Of course they are talking about the new Maryland...but whatever...details don't matter right? Also what is a CF-5B? You see it used all the time, but there is officially no such thing. The Canadair built F-5s operated by the CAF were designated CF-116 and named CF-5A for the single seat version and designated CF-116D and named CF-5D for the two seater. Again, why would we care about details in a modelling magazine? The Title Page states: "The CF-5 was a licence-built Tiger II by Canadair..." Huh? Tiger II...um, no it was a licensed build F-5A, not F-5E... (It's ok, later in the magazine in the Next Issue section a build of the F-5E is titled Freedom Fighter...) Oh and the editorial mentions that they are grouping a book review on the Bf-109 along with some conversions to make it easier on the modeler. That sounds like a decent idea, other then there is no Bf-109 book review.

After all that, I was actually scared to read the CF-5 article, but guess what? It was decent. No major gaffs and even the designations were correct. The photo captions have some issues, like reference to the natural metal finish of the CF-5D (actually it was aluminum lacquer, which is correctly noted in the profiles), and embarrassingly a caption makes mention to note the bolt on refueling probe on an aircraft that isn't carrying it. Some nice looking drawings and plans are included for the CF-5D.

The Editor's CF-5D's built of the 1/72 Italeri kit is nicely finished, but really isn't that well built...there is a seam where the kit's front and rear section were mated that he didn't fill. Flip back a few pages and look at the pictures...it isn't here in real life. He mentions in the article that he didn't need to use any filler...well yea, he did...

The Kinetic 1/32 Sabre 6 article is ok. However, the builder clearly has little clue about Sabre wings. In the "'6-3' or not '6-3'" section he mentions how it is an important question with Sabres, and then goes on to mention that "a large proportion of them...seem to have been retro fitted with this wing at a later stage in their flying career." While this is true of RAF Sabres, it is not the case with RCAF Sabres. In fact the only RCAF Sabres ever to be retrofitted with different wings may be the few early Sabre 6s built with the '6-3' hard wing. No other RCAF Sabres ever carried more the one wing during their military carrier. Also, just which brand of interior green did the builder use for the wheel wells? Lifecolor or White Ensign? (He mentions both.) Nice model though.

And I don't even want to get into their asinine book review page. Why waste space on the publishers puffery? Just dumb. A review is a review, not rehashed marketing fodder.

Not all is terrible. I enjoyed the article on building the 1/72 MPM A-20 and even picked up a nice tip on making your own decals and the review of the 1/72 Airfix Widegon conveyed just how much fun these old kits can be.

Sadly, nothing in this issues made me regret my decision to stop buying the magazine. The cover price is out of sight, and the content is thin. The editing is terrible and many details are overlooked. But hey, the pictures are nice...maybe some think that is worth $12. Not me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Canadian Airmen and the Victoria Cross

Here is a rather neat website called For Valour about the seven Canadian airmen to win the Victoria Cross. I think this is a rather interesting approach to teaching younger people about actions of the Canadian medal winners, though I sure some of the hard core self professed "historians" will find it dumbed down.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Royal Newfoundland Air Force Fokker

Vintage Wings always has some nice aviation history and stories on their site, but it is rare that they focus on modeling. I will have to admit I'm a little jealous over that Fokker, because I would love to have a model from the RNAF in my collection. Sadly no one has done a 1/72 Budd Conestoga yet...

Friday, August 20, 2010

C.D. Howe and the Hawker Hurricane

During World War Two C.D. Howe, Minister of Supply and Munitions, was pivotal in expanding the Canadian aviation industry. Here are a few pictures of a visit to the Canadian Car and Foundry factory in Fort William, Ontario. Forget all the people and just enjoy the Hurricanes. (Photos courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada/Library and Archives Canada.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Airfix Model World Magazine

It was announced yesterday that Key Publishing and Airfix have teamed up to start a new modeling magazine called Airfix Model World. It will be a 100 page monthly magazine that covers all genres of modeling, but with an aviation focus. The editor will be Glenn Sands and the first issue is set to debut in November 2010.

I find this a very interesting announcement. First off I can't believe the UK can subsidize the number of modeling magazines currently on the market, let alone a new title. That being said, I'm really excited to see what Airfix and Key can do and I do think there is room in the market for a good (professionally proofread) magazine that deals with all areas of modeling, and with Key's experience, production values, and distribution, along with the Airfix name, it might quickly become a major player in the market.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pulamo Girls?

Model-making adds glam to bridge divide. Model building mainstream? A clothing company opening a hobby shop in a mall? Women in their 30s building models? Japan sure is a weird place.

Though I do have to admit adding glitter to a Spitfire could be fun...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Airfix Handbook

Title: The Airfix Handbook
Author: James May
Publisher: Conway Publishing

Ostensibly this slim volume is a tie in to the recent James May Toy Stories television show. However, it also functions as a short and sweet Airfix history and a good reason to never judge a book by its cover. (Ouch, is that ever a ugly cover!)

This small format hardback opens with a short history of Airfix drawing much inspiration from the Arthur Ward books, a short photographic tour of molding defects, some Roy Cross boxart, and a listing of all Spitfire kits issued by Airfix. We then have a modeling tip interlude by Chris Ellis on "10 things I wish I known when I was 10" before we get into Mr. May's project to create a 1/1 scale Airfix Spitfire. Obviously this project was better illustrated on the TV show, but it still an interesting read. Sprinkled throughout this section of the book is a short chapter on making a war movie out of Airfix tanks and a listing of the "10 Airfix kits every modeler should build." (I would quibble with the choices and suggest that most of the kits listed as honorable mentions (the 1/72 Pup, Lancaster, Vulcan, and Hurricane), should be on the main list, but isn't that what these kind of lists are for...disagreement?) Finally the book wraps up with a short build of the newer Spitfire XIX by Jonathan Mock, and, again drawn from the Ward books, a listing of Airfix kits issued year by year.

This is far from a definitive history of Airfix, but a quick and enjoyable read written by an Airfix fan. Fun.

P.S.: David, I looked in the whole book and never saw the phrase "Finish the Spitfire!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Hawker Hurricane Mk. II in 1/72

Since my observations on the 1/72 Spitfire Mk. V kits has been quite popular, here are my thoughts on the 1/72 Hurricane Mk. IIs.

Academy Hurricane IIc - Great detail, excellent engraved panel lines, and a decent representation of the rear fuselage fabric detail. Sadly the fuselage is way too narrow which ruins the complete look of the finished product. No tropical filter is provided and there are no underwing stores. But for the fuselage error, it would be been the best Hurricane in the scale. Sadly with the error, it cannot be recommended at all.

Airfix Hurricane I/II - An old rivet encrusted kit. No matter what the box says, it can only be built as a Mk. II. The canopy is awful being way too small and there is no way a Merlin would fit in the nose. The Mk I prop is terrible and there is no option for the tropical filter. It does have a nice selection of under wing stores.

Airfix Hurricane IIc - Brand new tooling. The rear fuselage fabic detail is excellent, but that is balanced out by the fuselage scribing being very, shall we say agricultural. The spinner is poor, and the prop blades even worse, being way too short. Something about the fuselage shape is a little off and the horizontal stabs are too small, but at least you can fit a Merlin in the nose. The rudder is also misshapen. It does have a decent cockpit and correct wheel well detail. One added bonus is that it includes Sea Hurricane conversion parts right in the box. I was expected better, but with a replacement prop and rudder looks reasonably like a Hurricane. Very reasonably priced.

Hasegawa Hurricane II family - The Hasegawa kit has a reasonable shape, but the cockpit is a joke, the seat is tiny, and the overlarge spinner is fictional for a World War Two Hurricane. (Though it is correct for a few restored warbirds.) Technically the joint line for the Mk. II nose is in the wrong place, but the overall length is ok. The fabric rear fuselage is way overdone. Some boxes contain the tropical filter. It should be better for the very high price Hasegawa is now asking for the kit.

Heller Hurricane IIc - Old school with raised panel lines. The Heller kit has pretty good shape from the firewall back, but the nose is far to thin for a Merlin. Probably the best Hurricane II prop and spinner in 1/72. Can now be found in a Smer box.

Hobby Boss Hurricane IIc - A simplified Academy clone with the same narrowness issue. It does however contain the tropical filter. As with the Academy kit it cannot be recommended because of the fuselage shape.

Matchbox Hurricane IIc - An old school Matchbox kit. Again, there is no way a Merlin would fit in the nose. This kit was later reissued as Hurricane IId with the under wing gun pods.

Revell Hurricane II family - This kit has been issued as a Hurricane IIb, Hurricane IIc, and a Sea Hurricane. One of my favorite kits. Generally the shape is pretty good, but Revell did not extend the fuselage spine under the canopy. In addition the wing chord is a little too large, but no noticeably so. Good cockpit detail. The spinner and prop are poor, as are the wheels. Something appears to be off with the windscreen. Depending on the boxing you may get under wing bombs, tank, and/or a tropic filter. Good value for the money.

I like the Revell kit the best, because it is the nicest combination of detail and shape for the price. Hasegawa is in a similar league, but much much more money. Pretty much every Hurricane on the market will need a new propeller and spinner which is very frustrating.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Build Tamiya's 1:32 Spitfire

Title: How To Build Tamiya's 1:32 Spitfire Mk. IXc
Author: Brett Green
Publisher: ADH Publishing

As I have mentioned before I'm a sucker for both modeling books and Spitfires books. So much of a sucker I bought a book on a model I'll probably never own or build...

Brett Green's entry in the How to Build series is a timely volume on the newer Tamiya Spitfire. Much hyperbole has been lavished on the big Spit, but it appears that it is justified. The book features three builds, an out of the box build of the Spitfire in RAAF markings by Brett, a desert bird by Marcus Nicholls, and a Spitfire HF Mk. VII conversion by Roy Sutherland. As is usual with Mr. Green's articles it is clear, concise, and has some useful tips. Mr. Nicholls's desert Spitfire is more an exercise in painting. One odd thing about his build, is he twice alludes to problems with fitting the cowling over the engine, but he never states what his problems were. Finally we have Mr. Sutherland's conversion. I found this the most interesting of the three articles and it certainly is a stunning finished model. However, Roy mentions a couple times that he used custom mixed Tamiya colours on his model, I just wish he had listed out the mixes so the modeler could attempt to replicate them. You gotta love the Medium Sea Grey over PRU Blue scheme.

In addition to the builds, there is a short page on the Pacific Coast Models 1/32 short run Spitfire, some profiles by Richard J Caruana, and a short walk around section on the two Spitfires at the Temora Aviation Museum.

I enjoyed the book, but I like Spitfires. Of course the real question is as a 1/72 scale modeler why did I buy this book? Well as I said I like Spitfires, but I think subconsciously I knew that I'd never finish the Tamiya kit if I bought one. So in order to avoid buying it and seeing it reside in the closet of no hope for an eternity, I bought this book, enjoyed some other modelers' builds, and now I can focus on finishing my 1/72 Airfix Spitfires.

Friday, July 16, 2010

F-35 for the CAF

It was announced today in Ottawa that Canadian Government had selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II to be Canada's next jet fighter. (Some nice background PR fluff is here.) What is interesting about the selection is that it has been a sole source contract and there was no competition with other types. As expected this has already created political controversy with the Liberal minority, who promise to cancel the contract if elected. EH-101 anyone? I'll admit I'm a little disappointed in the selection of the F-35, as I was hoping for either the Typhoon Eurofighter or the Super Hornets. But being I'm no fighter pilot, so what do I know? Well I do know the name Lightning II is kinda dumb. Have all possible fighter names been used up? Do we need to resort to sequels both in movies and aviation? I just hope the aviation sequels aren't as bad as most movie sequels. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence.)

Modeler's Note: I think the only current F-35 option in 1/72 is the Italeri kit of the STOVL X-35 prototype. Hasegawa has announced the release of a 1/72 F-35 either later this year or in 2011.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rockliffe Lysanders

Now that there is a flying Lysander in the Ottawa region, I thought it would be best to celebrate with some archive photos of Lysanders in the Ottawa region. Both these photos are of Lysander Mk. IIs of No. 110 (AC) Squadron taken at Rockcliffe in early January 1940. No. 110 (AC) Squadron later moved to England with its Lysanders and became 400 Squadron. They did not operate the Lysanders for long and were reequipped with Curtiss Tomhawks and later still Mustangs, Spitfires, and Mosquitos. Note the two tone roundels on the fuselage and the lack of a fin flash. There is also the question of the underside colour...is that sky or did the RCAF just paint the camouflage right over the aluminum dope? That wheel spat sure does look too shiny for sky. (Photos courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Modeler's Note: Still to this day, the Matchbox (later reboxed by Revell) Lysander Mk. II is top of the class. Pavla did a short run Lysander Mk. II that had some nice resin details, but was a little too narrow in fuselage width and very expensive. Airfix's Lysander from the 1970s is sold as a Lysander Mk. III "Spy Taxi," but actually is a Lysander Mk. II with the Perseus engine. The only actual Lysander Mk. III in 1/72 was the old Frog kit, which may still be available in an Eastern Express box.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canadian Stinson L-1

Here we have General Harry Crerar, Commander of the First Canadian Army in Europe during World War Two, and his personal Stinson L-1 Vigilant. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Modeler's Note: MPM did a Stinson L-1 in the 2001-2002. Thankfully it is a later MPM kit with nicer moldings and an injection molded canopy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Harrier and Jaguar at the Tate

It is not often you find aviation themed art in art museums...aviation art being the seemly exclusive purview of aviation museums...and it is even more unique to find actual aircraft in art museums. So I was a little surprising to read this BBC article about Fiona Banner's new exhibit at Tate Britain. A full size Sea Harrier and Jaguar have been re-purposed as modern art. I'd like to see the Harrier up close, as the tattoo markings are hard to see in the little picture, but the polished belly up Jaguar is really quite impressive. It does evoke the feel of a submissive animal. Neat.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ex-Defence Minister Defends Aliens, Says Hawking Wrong

From CTV news:
The longtime cabinet minister accuses Hawking of spreading misinformation about extraterrestrials.
"I think he's indulging in some pretty scary talk there that I would have hoped would not come from someone with such an established stature," Hellyer said in an interview.
"I think it's really sad that a scientist of his repute would contribute to what I would consider more misinformation about a vast and very important subject."
I'm not sure what concerns me more, that Steve Hawking just saw Independence Day...dude it came out in 1996...or that Paul Hellyer thinks alien invasion is a "very important subject." I wonder if aliens told Hellyer to unify the Canadian Forces back in 1968? Because it is about the only rational explanation...

Friday, April 30, 2010

RCAF Pacemaker

Here we have Bellanca Pacemaker G-CYVG of the RCAF on floats. The photo was taken in 1931 at Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta. The RCAF used the Bellanca mostly for photo survey work. (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of Mines and Technical Surveys/Library and Archives Canada.)

Modeler's Note: I understand Khee-Kha models of Alaska does a vacuform Pacemaker in 1/72. I'll have to get one someday.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Military Aircraft Monthly Vol. 9 Iss. 4 April 2010

A few months back rumors started that the former Model Aircraft Monthly...now renamed Military Aircraft Monthly...was going to drop all model content and become just another aircraft magazine. Turns out the rumors are true. Not only that, but because of these changes, Neil Robinson has stepped down as editor to be replaced by SAMI editor Gary Hatcher. Personally I'm sadden by this shift of focus. MAM was by far my favorite modeling magazine because it contained a nice mix of modeling and history, generally with a British focus. Since the name change, I've noticed more and more modern U.S. subjects creep into the magazine. I guess the SAM Publications owners think boring gray jets is what American readers want...

So what about the magazine itself? While the April issue was the first under Gary Hatcher and first with no modeling. Things got off to a rocky start on the cover where it advertises an article on Battle of Britain Days. Oops, no Battle of Britain Days in this issue. Then things really stumble in the Russian P-39 article where a picture of the Commemorative Air Force P-39 is captioned as "P-39 42-19597 before ferrying from Alaska." Well no, that is just a modern airshow ramp, but it does cast doubt on the veracity of the article. In addition, the Testors paint charts include a listing of German colours in the P-39 article. On a Russian P-39? Come on. Also on the minus side we get all kinds short useless articles on modern US military subjects like the Shrike missile, a photo gallery of Desert Storm helos, the Grumman's Greyhound, the EA-6B Prowler, and the Credible Sport Herc.

Not all is terrible though, there is a nice Nimrod update, outside of the photo gaff the P-39 article is quite interesting, though in my opinion it should have had more about the Alaska-Siberia Route delivery of the Cobras, and there is a good Norwegian Starfighter article by Nils Mathisrud. All of these articles have something in common, they aren't on modern U.S. military subjects and they aren't two or three pages long. Hum, imagine that...more in-depth articles are of more interest. To round out the issue, there is a gallery by Tony O'Toole on the Supermarine Scimitar with some colour profiles, a short recap of the Target Falklands Day at the Yorkshire Air Museum, and a personal view of some of the 1950s RAF "At Home Days." Books and Letters wrap up the issue.

What is really odd is that even though they are trying to excise all modeling from the magazine, almost every advertiser is for modeling products. Wonder how long that will last? They even include a few throwbacks... colour listings tied to Testors paints in the P-39 article and a short modeling section in the Nimrod article, which was sponsored by Airfix. I wonder if MAM will notice an end to such sponsorships and advertisements now that they have abandoned modeling in the magazine?

Overall I get the feeling SAM Publications has no idea where they are going with Military Aircraft Monthly and they are trying to pander to modern U.S. aircraft fans. Unfortunately, I think with the prices and distribution of the magazine in the U.S. this will be nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. I guess to look on the bright side, there is now one less magazine I need to buy.

P.S.: While things were uneven in the April issue, May looks terrible. F-16s left right and center...three articles. Great! The most boring of the gray boring jets. Can it get worse?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spartan - Seven Letters That Spanned the Globe

Title: Spartan - Seven Letters That Spanned the Globe
Author: Norman Avery
Publisher: Lulu.com

Spartan Air Service Limited and their used of the P-38 and Mosquito on photo survey work in both Canada and abroad has always fascinated me, so when I heard about this book on Spartan by Norman Avery I ordered it right away. What we have is a 170 page self published book on Spartan. Not really a history, it is more a collection of short stories covering the history of this unique post war company. As with most self published books, it could really use an editor to tighten it up. References to P38s are annoying, and in that last two chapters the story of the Airborne Sensing Unit of the CAF operating CF-100s and C-47s is repeated twice. While all the stories are very interesting, at times there appears to be little though as to which order they appear in.

That being said, the stories are a time capsule of post war aviation operations when the mantra was make it work. (Long before safety first was even a thought.) Weldy Phipps's testing of his nose modifications to that P-38 is eye opening, as are some of the field repairs and operations. I did not know that Spartan was one of the largest users of helicopters in Canada, and in an era when the machines were in their infancy it often appears they were used to the limit, if not beyond, of their capabilities. But in the end, the book is a tribute to the men of Spartan, including Phipps, John Roberts, and Don McLarty. Roberts was the co-founder and idea man behind Spartan, Phipps was the pilot and mechanical genius, and McLarty had the tough job of fixing ruffled feathers when Spartan expanded to South America. (Some of the travails in South American are highlights of the book.) Personally I would have like to have seen more photos of the P-38s and Mosquitos and a few of the photographs are really poorly printed, but these are minor quibbles. Overall it was an interesting and quick read.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Canadian Aviation Historical Society

One of the better choices I made last year was to finally join the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. I don't know why I was never a member, but after hearing they had a new editor for their Journal and about some of the topics that would be covered, I took a chance and sent in my money. Some of the topics in the 2009 Journals included Procurement of the Mustang and Vampire for the RCAF, the Westland Wapiti, George Stewart's memories of his time flying Mustangs with 424 Squadron, a nice Northrop Delta Cutaway, the Imperial Gift, TCA's Viscounts, Air Canada and SSTs, 402 Squadron Harvards, Trainer Fireflys, and some interesting Canadian civil aviation stories as well. A must for Canadian Aviation History fans.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Destruction of a Dream

Title: Destruction of a Dream - The Tragedy of Avro Canada and the CF-105 Arrow Volume 1 A.V. Roe Canada's "Per Ardua Ad Astra"
Author: Marc-Andre Valiquette
Publisher: Imaviation - Marc-Andre Valiquette

Avro Arrow books are a dime a dozen and because there are so many on the market, it is easy to sometimes miss a good one. Outside of the rather hyperbolic title, Destruction of a Dream is quite an interesting Arrow book. Published in bilingual English and French, this softcover book is really a scrapbook of Avro Canada and the Arrow. Volume One opens with the founding of National Steel Car and ends with the official name Arrow being bestowed on the CF-105.

Each section has a myriad of photos, brochures, and other Arrow collectibles. The left side of the page has the text in English, and the right side has the text in French. The text is short, but to the point. The first few sections deal with wartime and early post war projects. We have Lysanders, Ansons, and of course Lancasters. The first major postwar project for Avro was the Jetliner, and next section of the book illustrates the Jetliner program well with many colour and black and white photographs. Next we get into Orenda Engine with Sabres and the jet engined Lanc. Of course Canada's only indigenous fighter, the CF-100, is covered in detail along with the unbuilt swept wing CF-103. Again there are many interesting photographs, both in colour and in black and white. The CF-103 section is fascinating, with more photos of the CF-103 mock up and models then I have seen in the past. Of course the Avro flying saucers are included and only then do we get to the story of the Arrow. Most of the Arrow section in Volume One is dedicated to the specifications and testing. There are quite a few interesting wind tunnel models, the Nike boosted models, a few pages on the technology needed to manufacture the Arrow, and then finally the weapons of the Arrow. While this section of the book is dedicated to the weapons for the CF-105, it has some unique CF-100 photos, including Canucks fitted with Falcon missiles, Genie rockets, and some neat colour photos of the Sparrows missile program. (Dayglo Sparrows with little RCAF roundels on a CF-100 with large patches of dayglo would make an nice modeling project.) Finally, we wrap up with a section on the Iroquois engine and then the official naming of the CF-105 project as the Arrow.

What makes this book are the photographs and Valiquette has done a great job in sourcing unique photos. Rather then illustrate the CF-100 Sparrow program with the usual shots, he used the stunning colour photos. Even the Lancaster section has different photos, rather then the usual shots. I also found the period brochures and advertisements to be fascinating. I really enjoyed the book, and look forward to Volume 2.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A RCAF Lancaster Just for Matt

My friend Matt is a huge Milton Caniff fan and spends a good portion of his blog writing about Caniff. A few years ago Matt told me that Caniff's Miss Lace character from the comic strip Mail Call was used as nose art on many American bombers, most famously on the B-17G "A Bit O'Lace." Well imagine my surprise to find out that Miss Lace was also used on at least one RCAF aircraft, Lancaster KB747. Lancaster KB747 was built as a Lancaster X by Victory Aircraft Limited at Malton, Ontario in 1943 and flew 72 ops with 428 "Ghost" Squadron RCAF carrying the codes NA-X. After the war in Europe ran down, KB747 returned to Nova Scotia to join the RCAF's contribution to the Tiger Force. The RCAF Tiger Force squadrons never left Canada before the war in the Pacific ended and KB747 was struck off charge in 1947 and scrapped. KB747 was named "Madam X" after the Lionel Barrymore directed movie and carried Miss Lace as nose art.

Modeler's Notes: KB747 is an early Lancaster X with the Frazer-Nash FN50 mid-upper turret, short nose blister, paddle blade props, and standard bomb bay doors. I would assume it would has exposed exhaust stacks as carried by most Lancaster Xs. "Madam X" would be an easy build with the newer Hasegawa and Revell AG kits as they have all of the parts necessary right in the box. (I have both, but prefer the Revell AG kit based upon price.) The Airfix Lanc would require some modifications to the nacelles to expose the exhausts along with some aftermarket exhausts. Also note the large areas of paint chipping on the nose and the multi-coloured mission tally. (Photos courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Please help a Poor Widow!

It used to be that when I got those e-mails from Africa foretelling of all the riches I would acquire if only I sent someone a large chunk of money I would just delete them. Because obviously they were scams, right? Apparently not. I guess these so called scams have been given the thumbs up approval by Baker Hostetler estate attorneys. Therefore, after receiving the following e-mail the other day I felt the need to start rounding up clients and modelers to invest. How can we let two huge warehouses of modeling stuff be held hostage? Anyone want to invest? Heck, the deal is so good, I'd put in my own money...if only I hadn't blown it on all plastic.
Date: 1 April, 2010 8:05:56am
Subject: Mr. Frank Linverden
From: Mrs Bridget Linverden

Dear Friend,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the modeling world in particular. I am Mrs. Bridget Linverden, the wife of famed preshader Frank Linverden, who died recently in Carrollton, Texas. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration, and hopelessness by the present leadership of IPMS, Hasegawa, Squadron, and Hyperscale. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the hobby at the moment.

You must have heard the media reports and over the Internet about the discovery of two huge warehouses of kits and accessories in my name of which I have refused to give up to the corrupt modeling retailers. In fact the total street value of the kits, books, and accessories allegedly discovered by Brett Orange, Bruce Beamish, Damien Claus, and Mr. Squadron exceeds the tune of about $15.3 Million Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life! As you know, the modeling community has little regards for woman, hence my desire for assistance.

You can visit the Scale Testors Workshop News Broadcasts or these web site forums below for a better understanding of what I am talking about:


I deposited the keys to these warehouses with a security firm abroad whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive these keys and hold them. Additionally, would you e-bay these modeling products and hold the funds for me? I only require that you provide a $100,000 bond to secure our arrangement. What a deal! This arrangement is known to you and my personal Attorney Robert Steel, Esq, and Counselor at Law. He might be dealing with you directly for security reasons as the case may be.

In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will be willing to negotiate on your percentage share of the proceeds of sale and I will give you a first right of refusal of any of the kits, and accessories to build and enjoy.

Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more kits in your care as this is one of the few legacies we keep for our children. However, you must LOVE this hobby.

In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence.

I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith. Please include your e-mail, bank account routing number, and web forum “handle” to expedite action.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. Bridget Linverden

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Every wondered what the belly compartment of a Royal Canadian Navy Avenger AS.3 looked like? (Photo courtesy of the Canada Department of National Defence/Library and Archives of Canada.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HMS Nabob video

Here is a rather neat video of the Canadian manned escort carrier HMS Nabob, including some colour Wildcat and Avenger footage.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spam Comments

No not the so called meat... I recently noticed that many of the comments in posts, especially older posts have been nothing but spam. Sorry dear readers. I have deleted all spam that I could find...and sadly a few real comments I think...and have changed the settings on the blog to require that I approve all comments. (If anyone runs across a spam comment in any post, please let me know.) Don't worry real commentators, you will be approved even if you are ragging on my lack of completion of kits or my love of hockey. In fact I will even approve Mark's questions about where is the finished Hunter. Though I reserve the right to delete David's endless comments to "Finish the Spitfire!"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spitfire Tucano

In 2008 the RAF painted up one of their Hawk trainers in pseudo 19 Squadron Spitfire markings of Dark Green and Dark Earth over silver with 1930s style roundels. It sure looked slick. With 2010 being the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain the RAF is revisiting the idea and are again going with throwback scheme, but this time on the Tucano. See the article at Global Aviation Resource for some drawings of the proposed schemes. Neat, eh. I've had an Airfix Tucano, with the Aeroclub add-ons of course, set aside for a few years but as is usual with older Airfix kits the decals were useless. I knew there were a few RAF schemes scattered here and there on decal sheets, but nothing really caught my eye. However, this scheme will push it to the top of the pile when someone gets around to doing decals...come on Xtradecal... I just wonder if the RAF will use Sky, Egg Duck Blue, or Sky Blue for the underside?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Hobby Shops

Yes you read that right. The poor dying local hobby shop now has to contend with terrorists! See here. What worries me is that since I don't demonstrate any interest or enthusiasm in the hobby right now, I might be a terrorist.

Dan was right!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Winter Olympics

Am I the only one disappointed that neither an Anson, nor huskies featured in the Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremonies? You can't get more Canadian then this:

Photo taken in 1948 at Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Photo courtesy of Phillip E. Allen/Library and Archives Canada/C-0003956.

Go Team Canada hockey!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Airfix Spitfire I?

Quite a few eyebrows were raised when Airfix announced their 2010 releases. First off who actually believed that we would see an injected Vickers Valiant from Airfix in 1/72? I am excited to see a new tooled Sabre, but disappointed that Airfix decided to repeat the hard winged F-86F/Sabre F.4 that Fujimi and Hobbycraft/Academy has previously kitted. (Just how happy would modelers across the world be if they instead has chosen the Korean War vintage F-86E/Sabre F.2 with the early slatted wing? Why, Airfix, why?) But maybe the oddest choice was a new tool Spitfire Mk.I. I know that 2010 is the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, but the Airfix Spitfire I released in 1980 is by far the most accurate Spitfire yet injected in plastic. The shape is pretty close to perfect, even if the detail is a little sparse, and the kit sports raised panel lines. I just hope the new Spitfire will share the same excellent shape of its predecessor and add more detail. First indications do look good. See the exploded view at around 25 seconds into Airfix's latest promo video. As the gear legs and doors are modeled together, I expect his is the new 1/72 Spitfire Mk.I. Cockpit detail looks much nicer then the seat and floor only of the recent Spitfire IX.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dr. David's Photo Hunter - Done!

I had a disaster as I unmasked the dividing line between upper and lower surface colors. The Tamiya tape pulled out a chunk of the epoxy putty that had faired in the camera nose extension. I then had to mask off the nose at the first panel line, reputty (this time with lacquer based automotive putty for better adhesion), resand, and repaint all three colors. Fortunately it went well the second time through. I didn't even need to use my ready made excuse about a "replacement nose section" on the real airplane to account for mismatched camo divisions.

The finishing steps took an exceptionally long time for this model. Having completed the basic finish in mid November, I was able to work in only a few minutes of modeling each week. In the process I missed self-imposed Thanksgiving (US) and Christmas deadlines, but was able to clear enough time in a week of "working from home" to complete everything by New Year's Day.

One of the most challenging steps was getting the underwing serial numbers to properly span the landing gear and still keep their position perpendicular to the centerline. The gear doors are well-engineered to maintain alignment in the open position (perhaps the best engineering for this I've seen in 1/72 scale), but it means they don't lie flush in the closed position, even when anchored with Blu-Tak. The main axis of the main wheel bays is parallel to the sweep angle, not the centerline. So, the combination of angled and nonflush surfaces kept dragging the decal out of square. The Revell kit decals - sadly for a different airframe - have marks for where to cut the decal to fit, but Xtradecal (understandably) did not do this. Once the buzz numbers and the lower roundels were in place, I could add the underwing pylons and landing gear.

The nose gear is very delicate. Mine snapped off at the nosewheel yoke as I removed it from the sprue. I used plastic cement to make the repair, after trapping the nose wheel between the (now separated) yoke halves. This also allowed me to pose the nose wheel at a slight turn angle for interest. I let the newly reconstructed nose wheel strut cure for 3-4 days to ensure adequate strength. There is no great positive connection for the nosewheel doors either. In contrast, the beautifully-engineered main gear was a dream to assemble, with positive attachment points to maintain angles and alignments perfectly.

These reconnaissance birds usually carried four drop tanks. Revell supply only the 100 gallon size for the outer pylons. Fortunately the now-superseded Airfix Hunter FGA.9 kit includes the big 230 gallon tanks that required the flap cut-outs on the Hunter Mk 9 and subsequent variants. I robbed those and painted them all with grey tops and silver bottoms.

After gloss coating, the decals, including lots of fine airfame maintenance marks from the kit decals took nearly a full day to apply. A blizzard that day allowed me to model uninterruptedly without needing to address any out-of-the-house concerns. I used Future as the "setting solution" for the Revell decals since I've had bad silvering with this brand before. I used the Microscale "system" for the Xtradecal markings, with no problems.

After sealing everything up with a coat of Model Master semigloss clear lacquer, I used a dirty wash from Promodeller (in the UK) for the panel lines. Lots of sooty gunk shows on the undersurface silver in photos of in-service Hunters and this captured the effect nicely. I was dismayed to find that some of the wash, that was invisible when dry on the grey uppersurfaces, was outside the panel lines and reappeared as broad dark smudges with my final sealing coast of semigloss. Oh well, I guess the maintenance officer or the plane captain is going to have explaining to do at the next inspection...

I unmasked the canopy and was overjoyed to find no "surprises;" there was; however, the usual and troublesome tape gunk left behind. I tried a new approach to that with great success. Remembering Silly Putty's abilities to lift comics from the Sunday paper as a kid. I rolled a small ball of Blu-Tak and rolled it over the canopy. Voila, the gunk was gone and the canopy shone like a freshly Futured floor! I added the pitot tube and called her done, sending out the final official portraits just before noon on December 31.

Final conclusion: This is a great kit, easily built, with almost no tricky parts. It captures the long, graceful look of the Hunter beautifully. I can recommend it without reservation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Isn't this blog supposed to be, at least partly, about modeling? Notice the complete lack of modeling content recently? Notice the Hunter never got finish?

Yea well...

I guess being it is a new year and all I should have some great words about how I'm going to finish all these started kits, or this will be the year I meet my goal of finishing a kit a month, or I will finally defeat AMS, or some other blah...blah...blah. Something positive, motivational, and/or uplifting.

Well I'm not going to do that. I haven't seen the modeling bench in weeks. So all I'm going to say is someday I will finish something. No promises, no deadlines, no nothing...wish me luck.

And Mark - no the Hunter isn't done yet!