Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 in Plastic

I had hoped for six, but after a few years of zero, three is nice.

1.  The Blitzed Airfix Spitfire IX. An easy build, but detail is really lacking. Markings are "approximate."

2.  I enjoyed the Airfix P-40. Sure the landing gear is too stalky and the canopy is too tall, but overall it was a fun build. My RCAF one will have all the corrections.

3.  Platz X-47B. Really nice kit with no vices and most importantly no canopy masking!

After a few years of zero output, I managed three complete kits in 2015. (Sadly, not a single one was a Zero.) It has been nice to rediscover the joy of the hobby and actually finish things. I finally came to the conclusion that I'll never be a great modeler and decided to just build a kit. That Blitz Spitfire was pretty low on the quality scale, but the Tomahawk was better, and the X-47B even better. It appears that by giving up chasing the dragon of perfection, I end up finishing things I am happy with. (And I'm sure the deadline of having the model done for display case installations didn't hurt either.) Sadly, not a single finished model fit my RCAF theme. I'll have to focus on that in 2016!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

X-47B on Internet Modeler

My Platz X-47B model has been published on Internet Modeler.  Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fleet Air Arm Pilots in the Battle of Britain

Seventy-five years after the Battle of Britain, a small subset of pilots who fought in the crowded skies above England have almost been forgotten.  They are the Fleet Air Arm pilots, who took to the air, along with their Royal Air Force counterparts, to defend the British Isles.

Some of the Fleet Air Arm pilots while training with 7 Operational Training Unit at
RAF Hawarden  in June 1940.  Jimmy Gardner, Admiral Blake, Dickie Cork,
and Francis Dawson-Paul can be seen in this photo.  

During the Battle, the Fleet Air Arm had one resource that the RAF desperately needed:  pilots.  While aircraft could be built rather quickly in factories, it took time to train men. In the dark days of 1940, the FAA loaned a small group of pilots to the RAF for attachment to their expanding complement of fighter squadrons.  Two of these pilots, Sub Lieutenant Francis Dawson-Paul, who flew Spitfires with 64 Squadron, and Sub Lieutenant Arthur “Admiral” Blake, who flew Spitfires with 19 Squadron, quickly became aces.

As always, Canadian-born pilots were included in the mix.  Two Canadian Fleet Air Arm pilots were to earn their Battle of Britain clasp with Fighter Command.

Jack Conway Carpenter was born in Toronto, but as a young boy returned to his ancestral Wales.  He joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1939, but was attached to the RAF in June 1940.  He joined 229 Squadron flying Hurricanes, but was quickly transferred to 46 Squadron, which also flew Hurricanes.  While flying with 46 Squadron, he downed a Bf-110 on September 3, 1940, then shot down a Bf-109 on September 5, 1940.  Sadly, his short life ended just a few days later when he was shot down while flying Hurricane P3201.  He attempted to bail out of his stricken aircraft, but his parachute failed to open.

Roy Baker-Falkner, was born in England, but grew up in British Columbia.  He is better known for leading attacks against the Tirpitz during Operation Tungsten in 1944, but  was also involved in the Battle of Britain.  Sadly, his contribution to the Battle with Fighter Command is unknown, but he was awarded the Battle of Britain clasp for having flown at least one operational sortie with RAF Fighter Command during the period of July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940.  (There is no question that Baker-Falkner was flying operations with 812 Squadron during the Battle of Britain.  This Fleet Air Arm unit, flying Fairey Swordfish, was attached to RAF Coastal Command for laying mines in German-held harbors as well as bombing sorties against German invasion barges.  However, only pilots attached to Fighter Command during the Battle are eligible for the Battle of Britain clasp.  While one can debate the merit of the decision to leave out bomber and Coast Command aircrew who served during the Battle, it appears possible that Baker-Falkner was not actually eligible to receive the clasp.)

Dickie Cork of 242 Squadron and Admiral Blake during the Battle of

A further Canadian connection to the Battle are the three Fleet Air Arm pilots attached to 242 (Canadian) Squadron.  Ostensibly, a Canadian squadron, 242 Squadron always had a complement of non-Canadian pilots attached to the unit.  After suffering heavy losses in France, Midshipman Peter Patterson, Sub Lieutenant Richard “Dickie” Cork, and Sub/Lt. Jimmy Gardner joined the Squadron in the summer of 1940.  While Patterson was killed in September 1940, both Dickie Cork and Jimmy Gardner made ace while flying with the Canadians of 242 Squadron.  Dickie Cork flew as the wingman for 242 Squadron’s famous CO Douglas Bader, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his “exemplary courage and coolness in successful action against enemy bombers.”  He later commanded 880 Squadron flying Sea Hurricanes, but was killed in a Corsair crash in 1944.  Jimmy Gardner survived the Battle and returned to fly with the Fleet Air Arm for the rest of the war.  To retain their nautical flavor during their time with the RAF, Cork and Garner wore naval uniforms and Gardner painted Nelson’s Trafalgar "England Expects" signal on the side of his Hurricane.  (Photos courtesy of the Fleet Air Arm Museum.)

The left side of Jimmy Gardner’s 242 Squadron Hurricane was painted
with Nelson’s "England Expects" signal from the Battle of Trafalger.
It is believed that the Hurricane which carried this art was P2884 LE-V.  Gardner
flew LE-V most often with 242 Squadron.

Modeler's Note:  Xtradecal has recently issued a decal sheet in both 1/72 and 1/48 scale which includes aircraft flown by Gardner and Cork.  Sadly, there are some issues with the depiction of Gardner’s aircraft as they have included no serial number, the aircraft is incorrectly marked as LE-T, and they’ve included a spurious flag signal for the right side of the Hurricane.  (LE-T was Hurricane V7203 in which Canadian Pilot Office Joseph Latta went missing on January 1941.)  Dickie Cork’s P2831 LE-K is much more accurate and carries a RN style crown painted under the cockpit.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Aircraft Modelling

Title: Airframe Workbench Guide - Aircraft Modelling
Author: Libor Jekl
Publisher: Valiant Wings Publishing

There are a few modelers out there on the internet whose work always catches my attention...Paul Boyer, Mike Grant, Tony O'Toole, Joe Youngerman and the author of this new book, Libor Jekl.  If the work weren't enough, the book is one of the few modeling manuals that is dedicated to 1/72 scale modeling. (The only other one that comes to mind is the previously mentioned Mr. Boyer's "Building and Displaying Scale Model Aircraft.") It appears to me that many how-to books often avoid 1/72 subjects in favor of focusing on larger 1/32 and 1/48 models. Maybe it is easier to illustrate the author's techniques?

The other unique thing about this small ring-bound book is that it is not an introduction to modeling or even a complete modeling manual. Jekl focused on more advanced skills, often related to finishing, and skipped all the basics. For example, the first chapter (on rigging) opens with the Gloster Gladiator in primer. Besides rigging, the book includes chapters on scribing, rivets, weathering, natural metal, and resin kits. The final chapter is interesting in that it gives the author's tips on how to finish models quickly...oddly named Kwik-building. All are worth considering, but the last one is possibly the most unique suggestion I've ever seen in a modeling go out, take a walk, and get some exercise!

Each chapter is profusely illustrated with in-progress photos and each chapter has a gallery of the finished project. I do wish more words were included to guide the modeler in each step; the book looks like a gallery of Libor's work. (Which isn't a bad thing.  Looking at his models is fun.) The only real complaint with the book is that there is no consistent layout. Sometimes a set of steps are numbered 1-2-3, sometimes it is A-B-C, and sometimes there are no labels for the steps at all.

I enjoyed the book and it is a quick and easy read. I picked up a few tips I want to try out; especially the decal-like rivets that were used on the Hellcat. (Obviously, I spent too much of my youth building old Airfix kits, since I am excited to try to add raised rivets to a model!)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

D-Day to VE Day

Title: D-Day to VE Day
Publisher: Valiant Wings Publishing

This magazine is the first in a new series from Valiant Wings Publishing entitled, Airframe Extra. The concept is to combine history, modeling, and profiles into a periodical that will cover a conflict or a campaign.

As can be expected from the title, Airframe Extra #1 covers D-Day to VE Day. It starts off with a listing of important events from June 1, 1944 to May 8, 1945. This section is illustrated with photos of everything from Dakotas, to a crashed Typhoon, to an aerial view of Mulberry harbor. (While it is an aviation publication, I do think it odd that, given the topic, a photo of a Higgins boat wasn't included.)

Next up are six pages of side views of RAF types by Richard Caruana. The modeling content starts with a step by step build of Airfix's new C-47 by Libor Jekl. This and the following article on the Airfix 1/72 Spitfire XIX with aftermarket added are excellent and well worth the cost of the publication. Five pages of USAAF profiles follow, then a Colour Reference chart is included. This strikes me as an odd way to waste a page, but might be useful for modelers who don't have access to the internet?

A Bf-109G, a photo reconnaissance P-38, and a two seat ME 262 are the 1/48 modeling content. Again, all the models are well done and step by step coverage is included.  The Luftwaffe profiles are next and then the 1/32 scale coverage begins. First up is an excellent P-47D done by Daniel Zamarbide and then a short Spitfire XIX conversion. The Spitfire conversion is my only real complaint with this publication, as no step by step coverage is provided, which is even more glaring after Mr. Zamarbide's excellent article on his Thunderbolt. The book ends with a page of side views of Russian types.

This is a really neat idea for a series of publications and I look forward to future issues that will cover the Korean War and the Battle of Britain.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

1 (F) Squadron RCAF In Action

A nice little video of 1 (F) Squadron RCAF in action in order to celebrate Canada's Battle of Britain Day.

Note:  Hurricane YO-G is an example of a rare re-winged Hurricane. L1973 was built with a fabric wing, but it is clear by the time of this video that it had been refitted with a metal wing.

Modeler's Note: While we have an excellent fabric wing Hurricane Mk. I by Airfix, the two best options for a metal wing Hurricane Mk. I are either the old 70s Airfix kit or the newer and much more expensive Hasegawa kit. Sadly, the latter's quality does not live up to its high price tag. Come on, Airfix... issue a new tooled metal wing Hurri in 1/72!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Battle of Britain Remembered

Seventy-five years ago this summer, Canadian pilots, along with their Commonwealth brethren, were valiantly defending England from Luftwaffe attacks during the Battle of Britain. September 15 has since been labeled Battle of Britain Day in the UK to commemorate the two large attacks against London and a few smaller attacks against other English cities.

To commemorate those brave Canadian pilots, and especially those of 1 (F) Squadron RCAF, the RCAF painted up their 2015 demo Hornet in this attractive scheme. Coded YO-H, it has been painted up to memoralize Hurricane P3873 in which F/L Gordon D. McGregor was credited with the Squadron's first victory on August 26, 1940, when he shot down a Dornier Do.17 bomber. (Oddly,  there are many references to the aircraft being P3863, which is a typo first introduced in Kostenuk and Griffin's RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft. Hurricane P3868 was on strength with 73 Squadron during the Battle until it was severely damaged on September 7, 1940.) YO-H was operated by 1 Squadron until it was shot down on October 5, 1940, with Senator Hartland Molson bailing out of the aircraft.

Featured on the right tail of 188761 is F/L Gordon D. McGregor. McGregor made ace during the Battle of Britain and was awarded the DFC on October 25, 1940. Later rising to the rank of Group Commander, McGregor commanded X Wing in Alaska, was base commander at Patricia Bay in B.C., and finally, lead 126 (RCAF) Wing in Europe. It has been stated that he was even flying sorties with 126 Wing as late as 1945 when he was 44 years old. After the war, McGregor was president of Trans-Canada Airlines, aka Air Canada.

The right tail of the Hornet features British Primer Minister Winston Churchill.

CF-188 Hornet 188761 was again chosen to the "colour bird" for the 2015 display season. It had previously served as the demo bird in 2014 when it carried the "True North Strong and Free" scheme and for a while carried a 409 Squadron "Nightmare 01" scheme with tails painted up with the Squadron mascot. Hornet 188761 also has the odd distinction of having two different pilots ejecting from the aircraft, once on October 20, 1987, at RAF Alconbury and then again on June 19, 2004, at Yellowknife Airport. After both incidents, the aircraft was repaired and returned to service.

The Hornet prepares for its first Twilight airshow of 2015.

While I have not been a fan of the last few (dozen) CF-18 special schemes, I especially like this one. (I'm sure its historical connection and Hurricane content has something to do with it!) I wish the Squadron could have painted the whole jet in the Temperate Land Scheme, but there is some nice attention to detail included...especially the Hurricane wing gun patches that are painted on the leading edge slats.

All of the Hornet photos in this post were taken at the Chino Airshow in
May 2015.

Modeler's Note: Really the only CF-18 to consider in 1/72 is the Academy kit.  Canuck Models has recently reissued the kit with markings for YO-H. It appears that Hasegawa is going to be reissuing their old kit with YO-H markings in the near future, but I'd trust Canuck's research and decal art over that of Hasegawa anytime. Not to mention, the Hasegawa kit is a tough build and lacks detail.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Maroon 18 and the USAAC and USAAF

Some have asked why I included Maroon on the propeller blade of my recent P-40 (see previous two posts).

Well, a U.S. Army Air Corps paint specification issued in May 1934 called for "propeller blade - flat surface when required" to be painted Maroon 18. For most of the 30s, glare from the propeller blades in flight was not much of an issue, as the blades were unpainted wood with a small metal fitting on the leading edge to prevent damage to the blade. However, with the introduction of metal blades, glare off the blades became a concern for the pilot. It is unknown why the USAAC chose Maroon as the colour, but specs stated as follows:

To prevent glare, the face side of the propeller blades may be coated with antiglare. This coating extends from the 18-inch, or 24-inch station, as necessary, to the tip. Maroon lacquer is preferred, but if not available, maroon enamel is used. (Technical Manual - Aircraft Propellers dated January 5, 1941.)
So, for any Army aircraft with a silver blade, the rear would be Maroon 18.  Sometime after December 1941, a directive was issued to paint the whole blade black. Oddly, aviation writer Dana Bell has stated it was done "to camouflage the spinning prop in flight, which is why it covered the entire prop blade." With this new directive, Maroon 18 ceased to exist for use in the U.S. Army Air Force. A colour chip of Maroon 18 can be seen below:

So if your USAAC or USAAF aircraft has a silver blade it should have a Maroon 18 rear face. If your aircraft has a black prop, it is the usual black overall with yellow tips.

For my P-40, I used Vallejo Burnt Cadmium Red 814 as it was the only Maroon I had on hand. It appears to match the chip better than the photos. I made two mistakes on my P-40.  The first is that I extended the Maroon to the hub of the spinner...oops.  It should start from a scale 18 or 24 inches from the hub. Secondly, I did not have a chance to flat coat the Maroon before installing it on the kit. I think a nice coat of flat varnish would bring the colour closer to the look you see in the B-18 photos included here.

Life photos are © Time Inc. used for personal non-commercial use only. The photographer was Dmitri Kessel.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Airfix Tomahawk and Gear Legs

As I stated in the P-40 gallery, something didn't look right to me when I compared the photos of my model with the photos of the subject. There was too much space between the wheel and the landing gear door. I never actually noticed this on the model, but it jumped out to me in the photos. Fellow modeler Scott Hemsley and I discussed the issue and Scott pointed out the problem. It appears that Airfix got the gear legs a little long. Notice the collar in the red circle on my model?

Notice its location on the real line with the bottom of the gear doors.

 (Photo courtesy of the Carl Vincent Collection.)

Of course, my first thought is that I did something wrong, but looking around the web, it seems like this issue is featured on almost every model. So next time I'll shorten the upper part of the leg, confirm that the collar is in the right location, and see if it solves the problem.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Icelandic P-40C in 1/72

I started the Airfix 1/72 Hawk 81A-2 about the time it hit the U.S. shores (December 2012!!), planning to build an RCAF Tomahawk. I had it all together by mid-month... and then it sat... and sat. AMS got the better of me and I couldn't decide which RCAF Tomahawk to build. (Or so I deluded myself into thinking...)

This last May, my local model club started looking for models to put in a "Battle of the Atlantic" display at the Museum of Flight. Remembering the mostly built but unpainted Tomahawk, I volunteered to build a USAAF P-40C. Why a USAAF P-40 in the Battle of the Atlantic?

In July 1941, the 33 Pursit Squadron loaded its P-40Cs on the USS Wasp (CV-7) for delivery to Iceland. Even though the U.S. had yet to enter the war, they had agreed to provide fighter cover for Iceland to allow the RAF fighter squadron on duty to return to England. The U.S. had important weather stations on the island and were concerned that the country would fall into Nazi hands and be used as a stepping stone to invade North America. On August 6, the P-40s were flown off the deck of the Wasp and landed at Kaldadarnes Airfield, near Reykjavík. On the morning of August 14, 1942, a Northrop N-3PB Nomad of No. 330 Squadron (Norwegian) located a German Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor maritime patrol bomber which was conducting overflights of Iceland. What happened next is the source of some confusion; either Lieutenant Joseph Shaffer, flying a P-40C, shot down the Condor or shared in the kill with two P-38s of 27th Fighter Squadron. (I'm sure the story depends on which Squadron is asked!)  Oddly, in some accounts, Lt. Shaffer is flying a P-39. (Lt. Shaffer did shoot down a JU-88 while flying a P-39 out of Iceland on October 14, 1942.) Sadly, I could find no record of which P-40C Lt. Schaffer was flying on August 14, 1942, so this P-40C became my subject:

The kit has few vices. Sure, the wing to fuselage joint needed a little filler. Sure, the wing guns are liable to be knocked off. Most of the panel lines are fine for my purposes, but even I have to admit that the lines on the vertical fin are too heavy. Sadly, the canopy is too high, but I didn't replace it this time. (I didn't notice this until I was compiling this post, but it appears Airfix got the landing gear struts too long on the kit. Compare the sit of the prototype with the photos of my model. Looking at other Tomahawk shots, I think the collars that are below the landing gear doors on my model, should end in line with the doors. Next time I build this kit, I'll shorten the struts a little.) Overall, I enjoyed building it and it makes a nice model.

Paint is Tamiya Neutral Grey spray can for the lower surfaces and Mr. Color Olive Drab on top. Notice I even got the Maroon on the back of the prop! Decals are mostly Xtradecal but the 36 on the tail is from TwoBobs and the prop logos came from the kit. The final coat is from a Testors Acryl jar marked flat but it is more of a semi-gloss.

I ran out of time to replace the gun barrels and to weather it, but I'm reasonably happy with the final product. It is certainly an improvement over the Blitz Spitfire. (I do, however, need to read up on model photography.  Sorry the depth of field is lacking.) Even a dyed -n-the-wool RCAF fan has to admit this is a really attractive scheme and it suits the Tomahawk!

On Thursday night, the model was ensconced in the Northwest Scale Modelers's display case at the Museum of Flight for the "Battle of the Atlantic" display. Thanks to the display producers for allowing me to include my model and thanks to club member Don Conrad for the photos of the display.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


So, I spent Sunday and Monday Blitzing a Spitfire. For those not in the know, a Blitzbau is a speed build held a couple of times a year over on the Unofficial Airfix Modelers Forum. The modeler has to start, and complete, a kit either within 24 hours straight, or two 12 hour sessions on two successive days. I, of course, choose the two 12 hour sessions. Shockingly, I actually finished.

The poor subject chosen for this excise was the recent Airfix Spitfire IX. I built it straight out of the box. Yep, I didn't install seat belts. I tried to be ok that it has no control column, no instrument panel, and open wheel wells. I didn't replacing the comfy chair with something prototypical. Sadly, in the name of speed, many, many historical inaccuracies were committed. (Wheels are the wrong style, no D-Day stripes, and the wheel bulges are still present on the top of the wings, etc.) Not to mention my canopy masking skills are ultra weak...

I'm glad I finished, but I'm kind of disappointed in the final model. That being said, I'm excited that I was actually able to finish a model in two first for the year...and I'm pretty happy with my shade of pink as well.  (The pink was a mix of Tamiya Flat White with a few drops of Tamiya pink added.)

The whole sorry tale...complete with a Seattle grunge history...can be found here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Canadians and the Brewster Buffalo

While neither the RCAF nor the Royal Canadian Navy operated the Buffalo in service, there are a few Canadian connections to the type.

Two Belgian Buffalos (still carrying their U.S. registrations NX93B and NX90B)
at Dartmouth are being prepared for their sea voyage by 10 (BR) Squadron, RCAF.
(Carl Vincent Collection)

The RCAF’s introduction to the Buffalo took place in June 1940 when 10 (BR) Squadron, based at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, took possession of a handful of Buffalos that had been ordered by Belgium. The first six of these aircraft were loaded onto the French aircraft carrier Béarn along with French Curtiss SBC Helldivers and Stinson 105s. When France surrendered, the carrier was diverted to Martinique and the aircraft were left outside to rot. The remaining Buffalos in the care of 10 (BR) were shipped to England onboard HMS Furious after Belgium had fallen to the Germans. These aircraft were taken on strength by the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm.

Abandoned Buffalos and Helldivers at Fort-de-France, Martinique.
(Carl Vincent Collection)

While it can be assumed that some Canadian pilots flew the Buffalos while in service with the British, a few stories stand out. Lieutenant Kenneth Lloyd Keith, DSC, of Calgary, was a Fleet Air Arm Swordfish pilot who was seconded by Commander Charles Keighly-Peach to fly Sea Gladiators from HMS Eagle. This small flight provided desperately needed fighter defense for the Mediterranean fleet. Throughout July and August of 1940, Keith defended the fleet successfully with his antiquated Gladiator biplane. By 1941, he was flying Buffalos with 805 Squadron from Dekhelia, Egypt, on convoy escort. Sadly, on June 17, 1941, he was shot down in Buffalo AX813 by a Bf-109E while on a fighter patrol over Royal Navy ships near Sidi Barrani. Keith survived the crash and was taken prisoner, but succumbed to his wounds a week later. Keith is believed to be the first allied, and only Fleet Air Arm, pilot to be shot down in a Buffalo.

One of 805 Squadron’s Buffalos (AS413) in Egypt.  (Tony O’Toole Collection)

Most of the RAF’s Buffalos were sent to the South East Asia theatre. RCAF pilot Tom Watson had the distinction of flying the last Buffalo out of Singapore on February 11, 1941. The aircraft (W8205 TD-H) had been abandoned on the field and the ground crew were able to get the aircraft running so that Watson could depart with three Hurricanes from his Squadron. Watson recounted in Brian Cull’s “Buffaloes Over Singapore”:
“I had never been in a Buffalo before and had some trouble with the throttle controls, particularly as the pitch was controlled from the dashboard. Also it took me a bit of time to figure out how to raise the wheels. We were an odd looking lot, three Hurricanes and a Buffalo leaving a smoking Singapore behind us. We had no maps and I had no parachute.”
Upon landing at Palembang’s auxiliary airfield P2, Watson was reprimanded by the CO for flying a type in which he had not received a checkout! Watson then became the only RCAF pilot to join a Royal Australian Air Force Squadron in Australia. After his escape from Singapore, he end up flying P-40Es with 77 Squadron, RAAF.

Finally, some Canadian pilots in the RCNVR and Fleet Air Arm flew Buffalos as part of their training with the U.S. Navy. The Navy operated war weary F2A-2 and F2A-3 Buffalos as advanced trainers at NAS Miami. While they were clearly not combat aircraft, the Canadian pilots enjoyed their first crack at a “fighter” type.  RCNVR ace Don Sheppard was among these pilots.

The Buffalo in Scale

The Brewster Buffalo is one of those aircraft that is popular with modelers and kit manufacturers in spite of its poor reputation as a combat type. Over the years many kits have been issued in all of the major scales.

In 1/32 scale, Special Hobby and Czech Model have issued various versions of the Buffalo based upon the same kit with short run plastic and various resin and photo etch accessories depending on the boxing.

Tony O’Toole’s 1/48 scale Tamiya Buffalo done up as AX820
of 805 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm.

Tamiya has the F2A-2 and RAF Buffalo market cornered in 1/48 scale with a kit first issued in the 1970s, which still holds up well today. Special Hobby and Classic Airframes have also issued Buffalo kits, focusing on the longer F2A-3, the shorter F2A-1, and the Finnish Model 239. Again, these kits are short run plastic supplemented with resin detail parts. Classic Airframes went in to stasis a few years ago, so their kits may be difficult to find.

Legacy kits in 1/72 scale include an F2A-2 by Airfix and a RAF Buffalo by Matchbox. Both are kits of the early 1970s, and out of the two I have a preference for the Matchbox kit. This may be solely due to nostalgia; I built the kit as a young boy and enjoyed the red and white plastic used to mold the two trees.

More recently Hasegawa has issued various boxings of the Finnish Model 239, F2A-1 and F2A-2. These are very nice kits with fine engraved panel lines and excellent fit, but the kits are hard to find and quite expensive. Inexplicably, a RAF Buffalo has never been issued, even though it appears that parts were created to make this version. A resin aftermarket set has been issued by Quickboost to correct this oversight. Recently a dual boxing of an F2A-2 and F2A-3 has been issued which includes resin parts to to convert the second kit to the longer F2A-3 version.

In 2013, Hobby Boss has issued an Easy Assembly kit marked as an F2A Buffalo. It appears that Hobby Boss intended it to be a F2A-1 Buffalo and the kit includes decals for two early U.S. Navy Buffalos, including one in a spectacular “Barclay” camouflage. However, it really is a mix of F2A-1 features, the cowling, and F2A-2 parts, the large spinner. The kit has its fuselage and wings molded in one piece each with a few additional detail parts. Panel lines are finely engraved, but a few details are missing, including the under the fuselage window. (Which is provided as a decal.) Cockpit detail consists of a rather large seat, floor, and control column. (No detail is provided for the “shelf” behind the pilot.) The engine is molded as part of the cowling, and there is no wheel well detail. The parts fit well and assembly is quite simple, but the lack of detail, confusion as to what variant it is depicting, and the missing fuselage window may put off some modelers.

Friday, July 24, 2015

BoB BoB - There's a Hurricane Coming # 2

Finally, we have Hurricane progress in the Battle of the Barristers build.  As mentioned in Part 1, I'm building the Airfix kit as a 1 (F) Squadron Hurricane Mk. I.  I decided to delay my project until the summer to make this a dual build.  Since it is the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, I wanted to build the model during the actual dates of the Battle from July 10 to October 31.  Sort of as a small tribute to the only RCAF Squadron that flew operations during the Battle.  So that is how I ended up with the BoB BoB build.

The Airfix Hurricane has been an interesting experience.  This is clearly the best Hurricane in 1/72, but seemed fiddly until it was fully assembled.  The cockpit is nicely outfitted and was hand painted with Testors RAF Interior Green, while the tubing was coloured with a silver Sharpie.  The seat has also been painted aluminum, but has yet to be fitted.  I will use some of the new Eduard fabric belts on the seat and I hope my keyhole surgery skills will allow me to fit it once sanding is complete.

The wings assembly took some work; I must have got the wheel well slightly off square.  Once the well was painted aluminum, the two halves were put together.  It took some effort and gluing in sections, but with a little sanding it will be ok.  I do need to apply a skin of putty to the area around the gun bays which Airfix mistakenly depicted as fabric, rather than metal.

Fuselage fit was good, the under fuselage insert fit well, and the wing to the fuselage joint will only require a small amount of Mr. Surfacer at the root and Dissolved Putty at the front fuselage to wing join.  Hopefully I can get the filling and sanding stage done soon and move on to painting.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I'm a Ram!

Seventy-five years ago, 1 Squadron (RCAF) was the only Canadian fighter Squadron flying in the Battle of Britain.  In March 1941, 1 Squadron was renumbered 401 Squadron as part of the Article XV Squadrons agreement.  After many years on the shelf, 401 Squadron was reformed on June 30, 2015, at Cold Lake, Alberta, as Canada's newest CF-188 Hornet squadron.  On Monday, 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron flew its first operational sortie and the first photos have been released illustrating the "Ram" tail markings.  (Photos courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence.)

Modeler's Note: Really the only CF-18 to consider in 1/72 is the Academy kit.  There is an older Hasegawa kit on the market but it is a tough build and lacks detail.  Italeri also continually flogs their old kit, as does Revell, but it really isn't worth the time or energy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

RCAF Deltas in Detail

The Northrop Delta was the first modern aircraft to be operated by the RCAF, and indeed the first stressed skin type to be built in Canada. Even though the Delta was designed as an airliner, the RCAF aircraft were purchased as photo survey aircraft and no airline seats were fitted in the cabin. After the first three aircraft were delivered it was determined that the Deltas should also be outfitted as seaplane bombers. This requirement introduced bomb aimers windows, bomb racks under the wings and fuselage, and gunners hatches in the fuselage. In 1939, it was decided that the Deltas would give up their photographic role and be utilized as bomber-reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft operated in this role until being relegated to service as instructional airframes in 1941.

The Northrop Deltas were originally purchased by the RCAF for aerial
photography. Shown here are the camera rack fittings inside the cabin. 

A Delta Bomber.  Delta 673 on skis armed to the teeth.  It is hard to imagine
how the underpowered Delta maneuvered in the air with this configuration. 

 The under fuselage bomb racks with a bomb fitted.

A close up look at the under wing light stores carriers.

A view of the cockpit from the rear cabin.

The Very Pistol and shell storage behind the cockpit seats. Note the
window under the cockpit for a prone bombardier.

The Delta’s instrument panel and control wheel.

The cockpit in action.

A Lewis gun could be fitted in the rear fuselage of the Delta though the
fuselage camera port.

A view of a Delta with the wing removed and the crew hatch open.

Delta 675 was assigned to 1 (F) Squadron to assist the pilots with transition
training to their new Hawker Hurricanes. In the end the performance
was found lacking and a Harvard replaced the Delta.

Another view of Delta 675 at Sea Island, B.C. This image illustrates the
Delta’s SR-1820-F52 Cyclone engine.

Ice buildup on the horizontal stabilizers of Delta 667.

The Delta often flew on floats during RCAF service. This photo illustrates the
waterline on the floats of a fully-loaded aircraft. The floats were designed
specifically for the Delta by Canadian Vickers.

Delta 671 of 8 (GP) Squadron at RCAF Station Ottawa.  Note the open cargo
door and the Model 75 floats.

A side of the Delta 667 on floats.

Another view of Delta 667 on floats.

Two Deltas share a dock with an RCAF Norseman.  This would make a
nice, albeit difficult, diorama!

Part of the RCAF naval force assists a Delta 676. Note the second Delta
and Stranraer in the background.

During the winter of 1938, four Deltas were operated on skis.
Operation of the Delta on skis was never completely satisfactory, as trimming
problems during flight could not be overcome. The two bomb
aimers windows of differing shapes under the cockpit are also of note. 

A ski equipped Delta fitted in the ski hoist.

All Photos courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada.