The past couple of nights at the bench have been awful.
I can’t seem to get traction on anything. And it’s driving me nuts.
Let’s start with the Pz.38(t). The big 1/16 tank is painted and decaled.
Of course, now I’m into the tedious task of assembling the tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really like the workable links Panda provides with the kit. They’re easily the best kit tracks I’ve ever used. But…assembling them is tedious.
And then there’s the tools and minor bits that I need to start painting before I can really start in on the weathering, and I just can’t get motivated.
So when the Fisher -C conversion arrived for the Trumpeter F-8 Crusader, I was really excited. The nose fit way better than the Rhino intake.
Sadly, the cockpit didn’t fit well into the nose, and I just couldn’t muster the wherewithal to blow another several days sanding and filing and swearing. Work has been busy, and three kids are a lot work. Bench time is supposed to be about decompression, not adding to the stress.
So tonight I pulled out the sad beast that is Trumpeter’s 1/32 MiG-17F. Figured I’d get it up and running again.
After grinding down the *$*!#(@ pour stub on the G-Factor metal canopy frame, I got the very nice AMS resin cockpit to fit. Then I started playing around with the intake nose ring and discovered that it’s off center. Not that it doesn’t fit. It’s actually MOLDED OFF CENTER.
The kit does provide parts to build a radar-equipped MiG-17PF, so I gave it a shot, but come on. The MiG-17F has some damn classic lines. The PF, on the other hand, looks like a yodeling fish.
So, ugh. What now?
I feel like I need something to really sink my teeth into, and get my groove back. Something I can break into without days of cutting and sanding and swearing.
But what? I can’t figure out a scheme I want to do for Hobby Boss’ F-84. I’m worried about tackling another questionable, like the Kinetic/Italeri F-86 Sabre. I still have miles of research to do on my 1/32 F/A-18D. I’ve got my wrecked MiG-21 project, but I’m feeling that’s a very slow burn, long-term type of affair. And I’ll be procrastinating because the diorama aspect terrifies me.
Maybe I’ll just say screw it and pull out the big Trumpeter Mi-24 Hind. The only thing I’m pushing on it is PE.
I’m burned out on 1/48 scale.
It’s strange. 1/48 is predominantly what I built as a kid. Of the thirty-two kits I’ve built since returning to the hobby around three years ago, seventeen of them – 53%.
But I’m tapped out on quarter scale.
It hit me as I was wrapping up assembly on Eduard’s beautiful new Spitfire(s).
Here’s the thing. They’re solid kits. But the whole time, I kept thinking “yeah, but they’re no 1/32 Tamiya Spit”.
I know, I know. That’s not really fair. I could count the number of kits that approach the bit Tamiya Spitires on one hand.
But fair or not, that’s what was in my head. If I really cared about what I was building, I’d do it up right with a 1/32 Tamiya Spit Mk.IX.
So I set the Spits aside to focus on Wingnut’s brilliant Sopwith Snipe. And when I rigged my last line and pronounced the biplane finished, I found that I just had zero desire to even contemplate 1/48.
Not sure where it goes from here. But look for the next several builds, at least, to be in scales that start with the number “3″.
Given its contribution to the war effort, the snarling Hawker Tempest has been given one very long shaft by the model manufacturers. When the most celebrated release is a warmed-over re-release with some included resin that literally cannot be made to fit, well, you get the idea.
It looks like that will be changing in 2013, with the release of not one but two 1/32 Tempest kits, one from Pacific Coast Models and the other from Special Hobby.
I will be reviewing the PCM Tempest when it is released, but for now, here’s a first look at the kit.
Stay tuned for more as the Tempest nears release.
In the meantime, you can pre-order the Tempest straight from PCM if you’re so inclined.
Part I | PART II| Part III | Part IV
When approaching a biplane, I think it’s helpful to consider them as a completely different genre from other aircraft. Literally, as distinctly apart as armor or ships.
With your traditional monowing aircraft, the build process is straightforward. Once the interior is sorted, you slap it together, do the seam repairs, paint it and decal it. Basically.
With biplanes, and especially depending on your scheme, this just isn’t an option. If nothing else, you’d be crazy to do full assembly before you do the painting because of the two wings. With the Snipe, I’ve taken things even further, doing almost all of the painting before and during the assembly process. I call it “pailding”. Painting + building, simultaneously.
I started by painting the cockpit shielding Tamiya XF-82 Ocean Gray, which we saw in Part I:
Clear Doped Linen
After the shielding, I moved on to the bottom of the wings and control surfaces, which I painted Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan. I then came back with Deck Tan mixed with a touch of Dark Earth and X-19 Smoke to provide some distinction between the fabric and the ribs:
To add some further definition, I taped off the ribs and sprayed a thinned coat of X-19 smoke over the tape lines, as well as some Flat Brown inboard as a start to representing linen dirtied by the engine.
This was chased with a thinned coat of Deck Tan to blend everything together.
While the under surfaces cured, I moved on to the airscrew. This one’s tricky, with a central hub of varnished wood, then gray on the forward-facing surfaces and black on the backside. I used my scraped-oil method for the central hub…
Only this time I added some burnt sienna and black to the oil to get better definition against the darker XF-52 Flat Earth.
Once the woodgraining was complete I masked the center portion with a mix of Tamiya tape and liquid frisket, then shot the blades with Gunze Flat Black.
The backsides were then masked and the fronts painted XF-82 Ocean Gray.
Moving on to the topside, I mixed up my own shade using Tamiya XF-65 Field Gray, XF-22 RLM Gray and XF-60 Dark Yellow (just a few drops) and shot it on over a base of Gunze Flat Black. I was sure to spray over the ribs and various contours first to provide a start to visually defining the wing surfaces.
Next, I taped off the ribs and went over the tape with thinned X-19 Smoke…
And then went back over them with a thinned coat of my topside green to blend everything together.
The Bentley BR.2
The engine was a piece of cake – especially next to the over-engineered mess of an R-2800 I fought on the Trumpeter Jug. Painted it up with Alclad stuff, gave it a wash of MIG Oil & Grease Stains, and that’s really about it. The engine looks damn sharp on its own and doesn’t need much help.
Fuselage is Go
Once I got the principal painting done, I pre-rigged the fuselage, glued it together, fought the seam battle up top, then painted over where the glue/sanding/filling work had obliterated the paint.
Stay tuned for decals!
Part I | PART II| Part III | Part IV
Well, it’s official…ish. Yesterday Hobby Link Japan posted a product page for TAM60324, effectively spilling the beans about Tamiya’s latest addition to it’s formidable line of 1/32 uberkits.
Speculation has been raging about this kit since, well, the announcement of the Mustang two years ago. “What next?” has been a popular topic on forums across the internet, with everything from the Corsair to the Focke Wulf Fw 190, P-38 Lightning, De Havilland Mosquito and really just about any aircraft you can name thrown into the mix.
In recent months, speculation solidified into rumor. The next superkit would be the F4U Corsair. Specifically, as it turns out, the F4U-1 “Birdcage” Corsair, so named for it’s framed canopy.
It’s obviously too soon to speculate about the kit itself. I think we can all guess that it will be amazing, and push the envelope of engineering even further than the Spitfire and Mustang. But exact features? For those we’ll have to wait for the first test shots to make their appearance. Personally, I’m eager to see how they plan to tackle the wing fold.
Instead of speculating about the kit itself, then, I figured I’d put forward some thoughts on what it means and yes, start the speculation of the next big Tamiya release!
1 – NOBODY EXPECTED THE BIRDCAGE
That Tamiya’s next 1/32 release would be a Corsair has been something of an open secret for a month or two now. But I don’t think anybody saw that they would lead off with the birdcage. If I were a betting man, I’d have put my money on the Malcom-hooded F4U-1A, but when you stop and think about it, leading off with the birdcage makes perfect business sense.
The birdcage is, I would argue, the least popular of the F4U-1 variants. Mainly because it’s slightly “off” the iconic shape represented by the F4U-1A and F4U-1D. If Tamiya released all three at once, I promise you the birdcage would be the worst seller of the lot. By releasing it first, however, Tamiya could potentially get two or three kit purchases out of a modeler, where with a different release strategy, they might only get one or two.
2 – YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT THERE WILL BE F4U-1A AND F4U-1D RELEASES
The external differences between the F4U-1 Corsairs are minor in the extreme. A slight repositioning of the cockpit and the Malcolm hood being the prominent features on the -1A, and the frameless Malcolm hood and rocket tabs defining the -1D. It is possible that Tamiya could release a single kit that could be built as either the -1A or -1D, but I would bet on two separate kits. Look for them to follow over the 12-20 months following the July release of the birdcage.
3 – DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP FOR THAT 1/32 P-51B/C MUSTANG
Tamiya has a terrible reputation for offering a variant or two of a subject, then moving on, gaps be damned. In their 1/48 lineup, they completely skipped out on the P-47N Thunderbolt and the F4U-4 and later Corsairs. In 1/32, they could have expanded their Spitfire lineup to encompass the Mk.Vc and Mk.XIV with minor changes and new parts forward of the firewalls, but alas.
A P-51B/C may seem like a no-brainer, but it would take a new fuselage and new wing (or gun fairings at the very least). I’d still hoped, but now that the Corsair is coming, it’s likely that Tamiya has moved on.
4 – TAMIYA CONTINUES TO PURSUE THEIR 1/32 SUBJECT-PICKING STRATEGY
So far as I can tell, Tamiya’s 1/32 subjects are chosen primarily by two factors. First – popularity. Developing kits of this magnitude can’t be cheap, so they need to sell at volume. The Zero, Spitfire, Mustang and Corsair all fit.
Second – an opening. Tamiya doesn’t avoid competition, per se, but they do seem to have an eye for subjects that nobody has nailed. Then they swoop in with the definitive kit. Trumpeter offers 1/32 F4U-1 Corsairs, but they don’t have the greatest reputation, so Tamiya has one hell of an opening.
5 – LET THE SPECULATION BEGIN
I’m going to call it right now. Tamiya’s next 1/32 subject will be the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. And it will be released in the summer of 2015.
Why the Jug? Four reasons.
- First, with the Corsair, Tamiya will now have an exquisite Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the same engine that powered the Thunderbolt.
- Second, Tamiya already has a strong foundation to build from in their 1/48 Jugs, which remain the best P-47s in any scale.
- Third, the P-47 fits the popularity qualification. I’d say it’s as or probably more popular as a subject than the Corsair.
- Fourth, nobody has nailed the P-47. The Hasegawa kit is spartan and a bit lazy in its engineering. And the Trumpeter kit, while detailed, is an absolute slog to build, with fit tolerances that fall well short of its ambitious engineering. It’s basically the Mustang situation all over again.
Why 2015? Basically, precedent.
Since 2009, Tamiya has established something of a release pattern, with new 1/32 subjects dropping in odd-numbered years, and new 1/48 subjects in even-numbered years:
- 2009 – 1/32 Spitfire Mk.IX
- 2010 – 1/48 Fi 153 Storch
- 2011 – 1/32 P-51D Mustang
- 2012 – 1/48 Il-2 Sturmovik
- 2013 – 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair
The 1/32 follow-ons – the Spitfire VII and XVI and the PTO Mustang – tend to release about a year after the first variant. So I bet we’ll see the F4U-1A and -1D in 2014, along with something new in 1/48 scale. Then the Jug (fingers crossed!) in 2015.
PART I | Part II | Part III | Part IV
As I was nearing the end of my long Trumpeter P-47 build, I was chomping at the bit for something quick and easy. A palette cleanser before diving into another ambitious project.
Then I got laid off.
The last time this happened, in the summer of 2011, Tamiya’s 1/32 Spitfire Mk.VIII went a long way toward keeping me sane during the ensuing job search. So I decided to pull another ambitious build out of the stash – Wingnut Wings’ newly-released Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe.
Without going too deep into the history (may I introduce you to my friend Google?), the Snipe was to the Great War what the Grumman F8F Bearcat or Vought F4U-4 Corsair were to World War II. In other words, a highly-capable successor to serving aircraft that arrived right at the tail end of the war, too late to really contribute. Like the later Bearcat and -4 Corsair, the Snipe went on to see spotty postwar service as more advanced aircraft and more advanced powerplants pushed the rotary-engined biplane into obsolescence.
The particular Snipe I’ll be building has an interesting backstory.
In 1919, the RAF dispatched twelve Snipes to serve on the side of the White Russians during the civil war against the Bolsheviks. At least one of the Snipes – E6351 – was captured in Poland and pressed into service by the Soviets. This Snipe was attached to the 1st Soviet Fighter Aviaotryad and flown by ace Grigoriy Stepanovich Sapozhnikov until an engine failure in September 1920 killed Grigoriy and destroyed the Snipe.
This isn’t my first Wingnut rodeo. About two years ago, I tackled their 1/32 Sopwith Pup and found it to be an exceptional, if demanding kit. On cracking the Snipe’s box, it was immediately apparent that they have not been sitting on their hands. Everything about the Snipe is a bit crisper, a bit more defined, and in some places a bit better thought-out. The evolution between the two kits is most apparent in the Vickers machine guns, which I found to be one of the few weak points of the Pup. On the Snipe, the distinctive ribbed jacket of the Vickers is molded in two halves, allowing for a hollow opening not present on the Pup’s lone machine gun.
As with most aircraft, this build begins in the cockpit.
Prep for Bracing Wires
When I built the Pup, I foolishly did all the wood graining first, then tried to go back and drill holes for the cockpit bracing wires. Having been around the block once before, this time I knocked out the bracing wires first thing.
The Snipe’s cockpit sides, like the Pup’s, are difficult to navigate with a drill of any kind, so I used my trusty old Iwata 0.35mm needle to punch the necessary holes.
With the holes made, I moved on to the wood graining.
Wood Grain Effect
Replicating wood grain is one of those things that sounds terrifying at first, but once you do it once, it’s a walk in the park.
Step 1: Lay Down Your Base Color
Since the interior wood is relatively light-ish, I started with a base of Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow. The brand doesn’t really matter, so long as it can withstand oil paints.
Step 2: Apply Your Oils
This part’s easy! Load up a brush with some artist oil paint and paint it on. For this step, I’d recommend using Raw Umber, but depending on the wood look you’re going for, or the darkness of the base color, you can certainly vary your oil shades as needed.
Step 3: Scrape the Grain
Replicating wood grain is as easy (and as hard) as scraping away the oil paint you just applied. Personally, I favor using the black packing foam that comes with many aftermarket accessories (such as Aires sets and Eduard Brassin products). Take said foam and drag it across the “wood” to create a streaking grain effect. If you want you can even jink the foam a bit to create some waviness in the grain.
For smaller sections where the foam won’t work, you can also make due with a stiff brush.
When you’re done scraping, you’ll end up with something like this:
Step 4: Varnish It!
Next, apply a coat of Tamiya Clear Yellow or Clear Orange (I personally use a mix of the two). This will replicate the shiny, varnished look found on most Great War aircraft. Mind you – it might look out of place on say, fence posts.
And that’s all there is to capturing that woodgrain effect. Seriously, it seems daunting as hell until you try it. And after that it’s a breeze.
Rigging the Bracing Wires
Once all the woodgrain was down, I moved on to the bracing wires. For these I used 0.3mm EZ-Line and some short lengths of Albion Alloy 0.5mm silver-nickel tubing that I had left over from my Pup build. For something with a more exposed cockpit, I might consider upgrading to the fancy new Gaspatch turnbuckles, but the Snipe’s cockpit opening is very small, so why bother?
Rigging the wires was as simple as dipping an end of the EZ-Line in CA glue, then shoving it into one of the holes I’d made at the outset. Once once side was fixed, I threaded on two lengths of tubing, then fed the other end of the line through the proper hole, CA’d it in place, then glued the tubing down at each end. This was way faster than the monofilament “bolo” technique I used last time around. All hail EZ-Line!
Once the lines were in place, I painted them with Model Master Metalizer Dark Anodonic Gray.
Next came the fun task of painting, well, the rest of it!
After masking and painting the rest of the interior (Alclad Aluminum ahead of the wood paneling, Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan aft), I painted the cockpit deck and sides with a base coat of black, and then went over them with Tamiya XF-82 RAF Ocean Gray. The oil and petrol tanks got the same treatment, as did the frame for the Vickers guns.
The wicker seat was painted with Vallejo Khaki and detailed with Vallejo Flat Black and Leather Brown, with a raw umber oil wash and some Model Master Dunklegrau drybrushing on the leather cushion. The belt is the photo etch one that comes with the kit. this was annealed (i.e. held over flame) to soften the brass and make it easier to bend. It was then painted with Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan and given a heavy raw umber wash.
The metal elements – the rudder pedals, control stick, etc, were painted with Rub ‘n Buff Silver Leaf, then buffed with Hawkeye’s Aluminum Polishing powder and a Dremel cloth wheel. Black was covered with Liquitex Carbon Black acrylic ink. This stuff is very thin, doesn’t obscure detail, doesn’t run, and dries to a sheen that somehow really evokes the enameled-metal look of the real thing. Copper and brass metallic paints were used on various wiring and tubing. Finally, the Vickers guns were painted black, then drybrushed with Model Master Metalizer Magnesium.
Kit decals were used to finish things off on the instrument panel…the various gauges are cool, but to me the real standouts are the decals representing brass data plaques. So cool looking!
More EZ-Line was used for the control cables routing under the cockpit frame – there’s a nice little add-on piece beneath the seat and the tank it rests upon that allows you to easily route the cables aft with proper spacing, but really once you get to the end of the cockpit frames, you can just snip everything off since it will be invisible anyway.
A Word About Assembly
The Snipe’s cockpit is remarkably well-engineered and is indeed a press fit. However, there are a LOT of parts that have to be pressed, and that can really complicate matters. I’d highly recommend using some sort of white glue (I prefer Gator’s Grip) on the inside of the cockpit just to get some hold, then using CA on the outside (all the mounting holes are open) to really lock everything in place.
And…the Snipe’s cockpit is done! Coming up next, insanity! No, seriously. Biplanes are weird beasts, and the nature of the build process literally screams that massive blocks of the actual painting be done before assembly. So Part II will focus on the pre-painting that has to go on before true assembly can begin. Stay tuned!
PART I | Part II | Part III | Part IV