Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zhuangzi and Modeling

The last few days I have been reading a book entitled "The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life" by Harvard Professor Michael Puett. One section of the book discusses the philosopher Zhuangzi and a few concepts that are ripe to be considered in a modeling context; no matter how foreign Chinese philosophy may be to some modelers. (Outside, of course, of the tenant that any online discussion of Hobby Boss or Trumpeter kits will soon disintegrate into ugliness.) These teachings speak to cultivating our expansiveness and shifting our perspective.

Cultivating expansiveness uses the example of how a trip to the grocery store can seem like a chore unless you are accompanied by a foodie friend who had never visited said store.  The enthusiam of the friend to all the products in the store illustrate just how jaded you have become and force you to look at the trip with a differing lens.  I noticed this recently, when I was showing two new 1/72 AH-1G Cobra kits to a non-modeling friend who flew the Cobra in the U.S. Army.  He had built a 1/32 Revell Cobra in the 70s, but had not seen a plastic kit since.  He was in awe at the detail and the molding technology, things I tend to take for granted - if not outright demand - in the kits I purchase.  It really did open my eyes to the amazing moldings and detail we see in modern day plastic kits; even compared to kits from the 90s.

Shifting perspective is something I often lack in my modeling.  I am guilty of a very narrow modeling focus: I build allied 1/72 scale aircraft.  I have closed off my mind to other scales and subjects.  This was illustrated recently when I was asked to build a 1/48 jet for review.  You would not think that a simple change in scale would affect my modeling so much, but it has helped me understand the stark difference between scales, especially for painting and weathering.  Standard techniques I use in my 1/72 scale cockpits look quite crude in the 1/48 jet.  Weathering and paint technique require a different approach - I don't want a large single coloured jet that is too monotone and lacks any tonality.  So I've had to learn some new things and think in different ways on how to apply the techniques I use. Building the 1/48 jet has been quite instructive, but don't think I'm ready to really shift my perspective and build armor!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

J-47 Powered Train

Did you know that there was a train powered by twin J-47 engines enclosed in a B-36 jet pod? I didn't either. A project of the New York Central Railroad, the train was named the M-497 Black Beetle. During a test run in 1966 from Butler, Indiana to Stryker, Ohio, the train almost reached 200 mph. Sadly, the jet-train concept didn't catch on and the engines were removed and turned into snowblowers.

Someone really needs to use a spare Monogram B-36 pod and scratch build this in 1/72.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Boeing Military Display at the Museum of Flight

In addition to writing about the Hurricane, the other project I enjoyed this spring was the curation of a model display for the Museum of Flight. In exchange for having our meetings at the Museum, the Northwest Scale Modelers are tasked with creating three-month rotating lobby displays. We have two large cases located near the cafe where the exhibits are featured.

My exhibit was a display for the Boeing Centennial (this was the second such exhibit during this celebratory year) focused on Boeing Military aircraft. My intent was to show that Boeing military types have been flown around the world in multiple roles - fighters, transports, tankers, patrol aircraft, missiles, and strategic bombers.

Though I didn't build a model for the display, the other NWSM members created some beautiful models ranging from a 1/144 C-17 to a 1/72 ALCM; from a 1/72 resin Model 83 to a 1/72 B-17G. Thanks guys!

So, if you are at the Museum, check out the display. It runs until September 1, 2016.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another Reason to Love Mr. Color

Last night, I decided to paint the Airfix A6M-2 Zero which I put together four years ago. (Nothing moves quickly around here.) I pulled out my jar of Mr. Color Hemp only to find the paint solidified in the bottom of the bottle. For most brands of paint the only solution to this problem is to toss the jar in the trash. However, with Mr. Color you can bring it back to life. I added a very generous dollop of Mr. Color Leveling Thinner and let the jar sit a few hours. After a couple of vigorous stirrings and an overnight sit, I now have paint that is ready to be thinned and sprayed. Just another reason to love Mr. Color!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Iliad Design Decals

A few weeks ago, a thick envelope arrived in my mailbox containing the latest decal sheets from Iliad Design of Canada.  These two sheets were specially released for some hot new plastic, specifically the 1/48 Revell PT-17 Stearman and the 1/72 Airfix C-47 Skytrain.

48030 Stearman PT-17

The Stearman trainer really is an unsung type in the modeling world, but the new Revel kit does it justice.  Sadly, the decal options in the kit were restored warbirds, so it has been up to the aftermarket to provide in-service schemes.

Iliad came up with some stunning options on this sheet.  First off, we have a PT-17 from Number 4 British Flying Training School (BFTS) in Mesa, Arizona.  Yep, you read that right, many British pilots were trained in the U.S. under the Arnold Scheme.  (For an interesting read about a British pilot training in the United States, check out “Wings Over Georgia” by Jack Currie.)  This PT-17 is in the standard U.S. Army scheme of a Light Blue fuselage with Yellow wings.  The large fuselage codes start with B, which indicates it hails from a BFTS, and the rudder is painted in the USAAF early war red, white, and blue stripes.  The second option is PT-17 42-16546 based at Kunming, China repainted in Dark Green with Dark Earth blotches on the rudder and the upper surfaces of the wing and horizontal stabilizers.  The third option is a pretty Navy N2S-3 in aluminum dope and yellow, while the final US aircraft is a very neat Navy N2S-4 from Grosse Ile, Michigan, that retains its U.S. Army blue and yellow colour scheme but with Navy markings, including the Buzz number repeated under the fuselage.  The final option on the sheet is FJ888, one of the last PT-27s on RCAF strength.  This aircraft is overall yellow with Type B roundels above the wings.  It appears from period photos that the Boeing painted the RCAF PT-27s in U.S. Navy Orange Yellow rather than the correct RCAF shade of yellow.  The U.S. shade has more of an orange component than the RCAF shade.

72016 1/72 Berlin Airlift C-47s

The Berlin Blockade and associated Airlift are one of the most important events of the early Cold War, but the aircraft involved are rarely featured in scale model form.  Maybe it’s because the associated aircraft are transports, but I see many WWII and post war C-47s, whereas rarely is a Berlin Airlift Dak featured online, in magazines, or on the model table.  This may change with Iliad’s latest 1/72 decal sheet which includes four C-47s that participated in the Airlift.

Three USAF and one BOAC C-47 are included.  The British Overseas Airways Corporation Dakota is overall natural metal with a Union Jack on the tail, a blue BOAC speedbird on the nose and black civil registration numbers on the fuselage and above and below the wings.  G-AGIZ made 21 flights into Berlin between October and November 1948.  One USAF C-47 is also in natural metal with red cowls and tail flash.  This aircraft served with the USAF’s European Air Transport Service and features some nice logos.  But it is the two Olive Drab over Neutral Grey C-47s that will make the most interesting models.  Both aircraft have pretty generic markings, but because they were war-weary types, they feature multiple shades of Olive Drab, substantial chipping, and replacement flying surfaces.  C-47 43-15672/52 is the more restrained aircraft with some Olive Drab overpainting of older markings and a nice black and yellow tail flash.  The ailerons and elevators are doped silver replacements.  The C-47 nicknamed the “Fassberg Flyer” will be the most difficult model to pull off, but very eye-catching when completed.  The Flyer is a mix of faded Olive Drab and multiple touchups, natural metal replacement cowlings, a replacement aluminum dope rudder, a mostly removed S code from its prior Squadron, and red and white “Fassberg Flyer” codes in red and white.  Fans of weathering will love these two options.

Both decal sheets are screen printed by Canuck Model Products.  All decals are glossy, well printed, in register, and have very minimal carrier film.  Each sheet has an full colour instruction sheet with side and top views of each scheme.

These really are some neat off-the-beaten-path options and both decal sheets are quite inspirational.  I can’t wait to dig into the Revell PT-17 and the Airfix Dak in order to put the sheets to use.

Thanks to Bob at Iliad Design for the samples.