Okay, “NOT” on the Bench…

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

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.



How to Mask Fuselage Bands

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. Continue reading

WingXL Announces Their First Release – 1/32 Martin B-26 Marauder

While the modeling world – or portions of it – await the impending release of the massive H-K Models 1/32 B-25J Mitchell later this month, the other half of the Wingscale debacle appears to be moving forward as well.

Rather than compete head-on with a 1/32 B-25 of its own (a B-25C/D is planned), WingXL will start things off with another twin-engined medium bomber, the Martin B-26B/C Marauder.

While there aren’t any test shots, prices, or other firm release information as of yet, WingXL’s site is indicated a Q3 2012 release, and has already posted three rather striking marking options. My favorite is Barracuda:

I’m particularly excited about this, as the B-26 is one of the really overlooked subjects of the modeling world. There are some 1/48 kits that are buildable, but they all have their share of issues and don’t live up to the Revellogram or Accurate Miniatures B-25 kits. And in 1/32 scale, there’s nothing.

Two 1/32 medium bombers is really pushing things, display-wise, but as of now, consider my interest piqued.

I’ll post more information as it becomes available.

What Next?

UPDATE 3/4/2012: Voting has wrapped, and the winner is Revell’s PV-1 Ventura. Stay tuned!

The Tamiya and Revellogram Jugs are done. The Fiat G.55 is heading into the painting stages. The Ki-84 looks like it’s going to be a nice, simple restorative build. The big-ass Washington is a long-term project, and the also-big-ass H-K B-25 won’t be arriving for a month yet.

Oh, and I’ve suffered a sudden total loss of interest around building a 1/48 Bf 109.

In other words, I’ve got room to entertain another build. But what? The voting thing has been great fun in the past, so I’m turning the choice over to the community yet again.

The contenders…

1/32 Hasegawa Bf 109G-14

While I still very much enjoy 1/48 scale, in my opinion the tiny 109 is far better served in 1/32. This G-14 would actually be built as a tall-tail G-6 in service with the Swiss Air Force. So…basically what I had in mind with the Airfix kit, only a later model and larger scale.

1/32 Trumpeter P-47N Thunderbolt

I just finished two Jugs, so right now I need another like I need a hole in the head. But it’s whispering sweet nothings…

1/35 Trumpeter KV-2

Started this beast back in October, and it’s sat since. Goal would be finishing it off as a German-captured, chain-laden beast.

1/35 Tasca M4A3(76)W Sherman

Another October wonder that’s just waiting to hit the paint stage.

1/48 Great Wall TBD-1 Devastator

It’s new. It’s blue. It’s a brilliant kit of an aircraft saddled with an unjustly awful reputation. And it’s got foldy-wings!

1/48 Revell PV-1 Ventura

It’s also new. It’s also blue. It looks like  the bee’s knees, and the aircraft I’d build has a giant octopus graphic over the dorsal turret.

Time to vote! Chances are I’ll let this run through the weekend…curious to see what  comes out! It’s never the kit I guess it’ll be!

On the Bench: 1/350 BB-56 USS Washington

The USS Washington – BB-56

Guadalcanal is usually associated with Marines and bonzai charges, but it was the Navy that bore the brunt of the casualties in the waters off the island. And it didn’t go especially well. Thanks to Marine control of Henderson Field, and the heroic efforts of the Cactus Air Force, the U.S. controlled the seas around Guadalcanal during the day. But at night, with the skies clear, the Japanese fleet sped through “The Slot” in a desperate effort to reinforce their forces on the island. By mid-November, both sides were quite exhausted. The U.S. Navy had lost destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carriers, and seen even more of its main strength limp northeast for Pearl Harbor.

On the evening of November 14th, 1942, though, the Navy had to do something. The Japanese battleship Kirishima was steaming through The Slot, intent on shelling Henderson Field with its massive guns. If it were to succeed, the Navy could lose its daylight advantage, and probably the island itself.

Assembling what force he could from the ships that remained, Admiral Willis Lee steamed for Savo Island. In a savage night battle, his destroyers were hammered. The older battleship South Dakota took several devastating hits. But the new, fast USS Washington managed to remain concealed until the right moment, then used its surface radar to train its guns on the Kirishima. While the Japanese were experts at night gunnery, human expertise has nothing on a gun director slaved to effective surface radar. The Washington landed several hits, and earned the distinction of being the only U.S. battleship to sink an enemy battleship in a surface engagement during World War II.

USS Washington - September 1942

The Washington’s gunnery and the sinking of the Kirishima more or less sealed the Japanese fate on Guadalcanal.

The Trumpeter Kit

The Trumpeter kit actually represents a later-war version of the Washington’s sister ship, the North Carolina, but the differences aren’t crazy, and both look very much like one another. What I end up with may not please rivet counters, but I’m planning to do the best early-war Washington I can pull together.

Overall the kit looks manageable, if dense. I really like that they offer a waterline build in addition to the full hull, since I’m still intending to place this one in the water.

At the moment, I’m waiting on a photo-etch set and replacement turrets (the kit’s lack the boot covers), but they should arrive within the week. And they’re a bit daunting. Well…the photo etch is, at any rate!

Stay tuned! This one will be a rather different build from my usual, and will probably take its sweet time. As long as I’m done by September, I’m happy.