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On the Bench: 1/48 Revell PV-1 Ventura

March 15, 2012
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The Lockheed PV-1 Ventura

The Lockheed Ventura was one of a handful of aircraft used by the Allies that evolved out of a civilian plane, the Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar. And so far as I know, it was the only civil aircraft redesigned to be employed in an offensive capacity. The Piper Cub saw use as a spotter plane, the Beechcraft Staggerwing as VIP transport, and the DC-3, redesignated the C-47 Skytrain, famously ferried U.S. airborne divisions into Normandy on D-Day. But the Ventura flew at things and shot at and dropped bombs on them.

Originally purchased by pretty much everyone, including RAF and Commonwealth forces and the USAAF (as the B-34), the Ventura was shifted to the Navy and Marines in an inter-service agreement that saw the Navy supplied with patrol bombers while giving the USAAF room to develop the B-29 Superfortress.

The navalized PV-1, equipped with search radar and increased fuel capacity, served as a patrol bomber, hunting Japanese shipping and bombing land targets. Despite its success in the role, the PV-1, like the other patrol bombers (with the exception of the PBY Catalina) remains far more obscure than the bombers that served with the USAAF.

The Revell Kit

This one is definitely a journey kit. I have no great love for the Ventura, and among the patrol bombers I’m actually far more a sucker for the navalized B-25, the PBJ-1. But…it’s a new-mold kit from Revell, and looks like it will be a fantastic build.

Initial test fits impressed me beyond my already high expectations. The fuselage comes together with the precision you’d expect from a modern Tamiya kit. The rear stabilizer grabs onto the fuselage so well it won’t need to be glued, and the twin tails grab the stabilizer well enough that they stay in place rather than flop and fall off. The clear parts fit exactly, and the wings, oh the wings!

Every so often I’ll see someone build a kit, paint it, THEN attach the wings. This never fails to blow my mind, since I always need at least some putty somewhere. But the way these wings attach…to a spar and slightly into the fuselage – I’ll be able to paint them on their own and attach them after the fact, which will make masking, getting on the inside of the engine booms, all of it, much easier!

That said, there are a few areas I’m less than thrilled about. The guns could be better detailed, and I’ll be replacing at least some of them with aftermarket. The props are far too narrow and will definitely be replaced. The tires could be better. And after my experience with Revell’s P-47 Razorback, I’ve sprung for the Zotz PV-1 decal sheet.

Stay tuned. This one should be fun!

On the Bench: 1/48 Hasegawa N1K1-Ja Shiden (“George”)

March 14, 2012
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After screwing the pooch on Tamiya’s Ki-84 Hayate, I had to make a decision. The Japanese Group Build over on the FSM forums fired my interest to build something Japanese, and with the loss of the Ki-84, I had several options. Currently in the middle of a 1/32 build and staring down the barrel of another, I narrowed on a 1/48 plane fairly quickly, and of the three Japanese kits in the stash, I chose the N1K1-Ja Shiden as a great testbed for chipping techniques. That, and I want to save the Hasegawa Ki-84 until I have at least one meatball-laden bird under my belt.

The Kawanishi N1K1-Ja Shiden

The Kawanishi N1K1-Ja Shiden was an evolution of the N1K1 Kyofu floatplane, built with landing gear to make it useful for landing on surfaces that weren’t water. Compared to the aging A6M Zero, which was increasingly floundering against U.S. Navy Hellcats and Corsairs, the George was a highly capable dogfighter, evenly matched with the F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang. It’s armament of four 20mm cannons could devastate anything that crossed its line of fire, though its less-than-amazing climb rate limited its effectiveness as a B-29 interceptor.

As with most mid-to-late war Japanese fighters, the N1K1 George was fiercely capable, but suffered from crippled production capacity (just over 1,000 N1K1-Ja Shidens were produced) and declining pilot quality. Oh, and fragile landing gear struts that tended to collapse on landing, which are said to have destroyed more Georges than actual combat. Oops.

The Hasegawa Kit

Believe it or not, this will be the first Hasegawa kit I’ve tackled since returning to modeling. I’m looking rather forward to it. Detail on the sprue is nice and crisp and refined, fit seems overall decent (there’s a gap at the wingroots that may call for a spreader if the cockpit tub doesn’t do the job for me), and it looks like a simple-yet-satisfying kit. Sadly…very few interesting aftermarket markings exist, so I’ll be risking using the kit decals.

Stay tuned for the build log!

H-K Models 1/32 B-25J Mitchell – It’s Coming…

March 8, 2012

Last year, I was eager to be one of the first out of the gates when Tamiya’s masterful 1/32 P-51 Mustang dropped. Between a layoff, other builds on the bench, and an impending move, I waved off.

I still haven’t touched the glorious thing.

Now, another glorious 1/32 release is imminent – H-K Models’ ginormous B-25J Mitchell. How ginormous? Well, a 1/32 P-47 Thunderbolt – definitely a scale and subject that projects “presence” – has a wingspan of about fifteen or sixteen inches.

The 1/32 B-25′s wingspan? TWENTY-FIVE INCHES! So the B-25 has almost another ruler on the Jug. I can’t think of anything out there that’ll match the sheer presence it’ll bring. Even the 1/48 kits of the big four-engine bombers – the B-17, B-24, and B-29 – they may come close in dimensions, but they won’t have the “bulk” that a B-25 in 32nd scale will have.

I’m absolutely psyched for this kit…and unlike the Mustang…I won’t let this one slip off to the stash. Work begins the day it arrives…which should hopefully be toward the end of March or early April.

To make the wait a bit easier (or harder!), some pics of a buildup of the big bastard have popped up over on Hyperscale. A few are posted below, or CLICK HERE to go check them all out.

Fiat G.55 Centauro Build Log, Pt. 3 – Painting

March 8, 2012
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Intro | Part 1 | Part 2PART 3

The adventure that has been the Pacific Coast Models Fiat G.55 Centauro finally moves into the paint stage. In addition to the crazy splinter scheme, I’ve decided to use this build to really mess with some new preshading techniques. Read more…

Okay, “NOT” on the Bench…

March 6, 2012
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The past week or so have brought some unexpected changes to the bench lineup.

First, the Airfix Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3. Back in the stash. I can’t explain why, but my interest in building a 1/48 109 just completely dried up right before I was about to break into the kit. Better to set it aside and turn my attention back to it when the bug bites again.

Second, alas, is the Tamiya Ki-84 Hayate. The build was actually going along at a cracking pace…cockpit done, fuselage sewn up…when I realized I’d glued the gun deck in backward.

Oops. And double-oops, since I attacked the part with copious amounts of Tenax from inside the fuselage. The part is welded in to a ridiculous degree, and a few halting attempts to cut it free very quickly demonstrated that it was a surgery that would kill the patient.

So for now…I’m salvaging the excellent Ultracast seat and consigning the shell to paint mule.

Two replacements are kicking off – Hasegawa’s 1/48 Kawanishi N1K1-Ja Shiden (“George”) and Revell’s new PV-1 Ventura. If you follow Doogs’ Models on Facebook, you’ve already seen the test fit. Stay tuned for actual kickoffs soon!

Aftermarket Review: Montex Canopy Masks

March 6, 2012
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Canopies. If you build aircraft, there’s no way around them. And if you’re at all like me, you probably hate the tedious process of masking them.

In the past I’ve used Eduard masks to varying degrees of success. I love the things for the acute angles and weird curves of windscreens, but find them less useful for the square panes of canopy glass that you find on so many World War II aircraft. In those cases, I’ve often resorted to either Bare Metal Foil, or the “many strips of thin-cut tape” method. Neither is ideal, but they get the job done.

When I read about Montex masks, I hoped against hope. Canopy masks – and for not just the outside, but the inside of the clear parts? And for dirt cheap (I’d estimate probably half of what Eduard masks run)? Yes. Hell yes.

Unfortunately, if something seems too good to be true…

The masks are made of a black, vinyl-like material. First sign of trouble, since Eduard abandoned this same stuff years ago due to a propensity to lift, especially around weird curves. The black is also so stark against the clear of the canopy that I found it hard to distinguish where the framing ran.

All of that would have been forgiven if the masks worked well. But they didn’t. At all. I tried them on the canopy of Pacific Coast Models’ Fiat G.55, and every single piece was out of size. Generally too small.

What the hell?

Masking the gaping center of a canopy is easy. It’s the border between the “glass” and the frame that’s the challenge. And a mask that’s too small to reach more than two of four sides at a time is more than useless.

Perhaps the Fiat G.55 mask is an aberration. But I have a sinking feeling it is not.

As much as I’d love to say I’ve found the definitive solution to masking canopies, I cannot recommend Montex Masks.

SAVE YOUR MONEY AND AVOID

 

How to Mask Fuselage Bands

March 3, 2012
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Masking is an inseparable part of modeling – particularly when aircraft are involved. Canopy glass, wing stripes, camoflage…it seems like even on aircraft that are just one color, there’s always something that needs masking.

And one of the more frustrating masking jobs – at least for me – is fuselage bands. Wing stripes are a cinch…you have a big, flat surface to work with. But aircraft fuselages – especially on World War II fighters – are rarely perfectly cylindrical. They taper. They have various ridges and protrusions. All of these make masking a straight band of uniform width a nightmare.

Fortunately, there’s a way around the pain. Here’s how. Read more…

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