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 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.