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Captured Butcherbirds

December 29, 2011
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Came across this amazing decal sheet from Karaya while browsing eBay for another project. And I just had to have it. For the blue A-5 if nothing else.

Man, Karaya hasn’t done too much as of yet, but when they do something, it’s interesting. Captured 190s. A sweet resin Shvetzov M-82FN radial for Zvezda’s LA-5FN.

Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Also…I’m going to have to invest in another A-5 down the road…

On the Bench – A Fine Pair of Jugs

December 29, 2011
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The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

What can I say about the P-47 that hasn’t already been said? It’s my favorite plane. It’s a bruiser of an aircraft, with eight .50 cal machine guns and  a staggering capacity for absorbing damage and staying in the air.

It’s been too long since I’ve built a Jug, so how better to make up for it than by building two?

Expect lots of olive drab. And double entendres that would make James Bond roll his eyes.

INTRO | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The Tamiya Kit and “Magic Carpet”

First up is Tamiya’s 1/48 Razorback. I’ve built Tamiya’s Bubbeltop, and it remains one of the best kits I’ve ever built. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the same holds true of the humpback.

The Tamiya Jug will be finished in the striking livery of Lt. Colonel Harold Holt’s “Magic Carpet” of the 390th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. On January 1, 1945, green pilot Bob Brulle flew his boss’ ride off the primitive runway Y-29 near Asche, Belgium, when the Luftwaffe descended. Operation Bodenplatte, a daring (and foolhardy) plan to disrupt Allied air superiority during the Battle of the Bulge, was underway. Brulle, along with the rest of the 390th, as well as P-51s from the 352nd Fighter Group, engaged in an intense, low-altitude furball that ultimately shattered the German thrust at Y-29. The History Channel’s Dogfights did an excellent episode called “The Legend of Y-29″ that tells the story…you can find it pretty easily on Netflix or even YouTube.

The Revellogram Kit and “The Bug”

The Revellogram kit (Monogram molds, now sold as a Revell), for me, is a chance to make up for the disaster that befell a Monogram bubbletop I took on in the fall of 2010. I messed around with a lot of ways to improve that old kit, only to lose it to terrible decals and the efforts to remove them. Fingers crossed, the Razorback won’t meet the same fate.

The Revellogram kit will be finished in the livery of “The Bug”, flown by Captain Arlie Blood of the 510th FS/405th FG/9th Air Force. Blood’s career was a rollicking one, including two bail outs where he was too low for his chute to open properly, a time with the French Resistance, and a narrow escape from a Nazi firing squad.

Both “Magic Carpet” and “The Bug” represent P-47s of the 9th Air Force, renowned more for their devastating close air support than dogfighting the Luftwaffe.

Initial Impressions – 12.28.11

I spent the first night at the bench clearing away the detritus from my last builds, prepping parts for priming, and doing some initial test fittings.

The first immediate difference in the kits is the complexity involved.

The Revellogram is exactly as simple as its Bubbletop sister…the entire canopy tub is on piece, save the control stick and instrument panel. The wings consist of a top and bottom – the bomb racks are already molded on. Still, detail is overall not too shabby with a few exceptions (notably the sad excuses for blast tubes). The Tamiya, likewise, shares a lot with it’s Bubbletop version, with the major difference being the fuselage and, well, pretty much nothing else. The same absurd number of options and spares carry over.

Test fitting the major airframe components revealed no surprises from the Tamiya. Everything is tight and assured. So much so that I may be able to get away without applying solvent to the wing roots with some careful sanding.

The Revell kit…I must admit…surprised me. With the bubbletop, the wing fit wasn’t bad, but it did leave an awful gap at the wingroot that had to be filled by strip styrene. And the horizontal stabilizers drooped something fierce. This time around, things are much better. The wingroot gap is totally manageable, and the light gray styrene is a welcome change from the swirly silvery stuff that I guess was all the rage when my copy of the bubbletop was boxed in 1993.

Tomorrow cockpit prep starts, and I’m hoping to get to work replacing the terrible styrene rod excuses for blast tubes on the Revell.

2011 Year-End Retrospective

December 28, 2011
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If I had to sum up 2011 in a single word, I’d probably go with “grinding”.

This has been a year. Two job switches. A layoff and a month and a half of unemployment. Building a house. A move (which we’re still recovering from!). A November of aggravating ailments and injuries. The hottest summer ever recorded anywhere in the United States.

On whole, I think it’s safe to say that I’m closing out the year from a much better place then when I started it. New house with a big yard and nice, big driveway for the kids to enjoy. A job I find enjoyable and challenging. A bench that’s miles ahead of my previous, cobbled-together effort.

But it’s been a grind nonetheless.

Fortunately, I’ve had modeling to lean on for much-needed decompression. All in all, I somehow managed to knock out a total of twelve builds over the course of the year. Check ‘em out below, and click the links to check them out in greater detail.

1/48 Tamiya P-47D Thunderbolt

November 27, 2010 – January 12, 2011

What started as a recovery from a Monogram Jug gone wrong turned into one of the most enjoyable build experiences I’ve ever had. In my opinion the Tamiya P-47 is one of the absolute best 1/48 kits on the market.

1/35 Tamiya M4 Sherman Early Production

December 24, 2010 – February 7, 2011

My reentry into armor builds after nearly 17 years away. I can’t recommend the Tamiya Sherman enough as an entry into tanks.

1/32 Eduard Bf 109E-7 Trop

January 13 – February 18

My first 1/32 build and first time using Gunze-Sangyo Mr. Color paints. Enjoyed both immensely. The Eduard kit has its issues, but I love the extra presence that 1/32 scale lends.

1/48 Tamiya De Havilland Mosquito NF Mk.II

February 13 – March 13

Planned as a nice, easy build after the involved paint schemes of the P-47 and Bf 109, the Mosquito ran into issues when bad decals and aggressive application of Micro-Set ate through the Vallejo paint. But overall…the Mossie is a cool plane I will be revisiting at some point.

1/35 AFV Club Achilles Mk.IIc

February 23 – April 29

The Achilles looks a lot cooler than it builds. AFV Club’s kit is a mess of ejector pin marks, vague fits, poor location guides, and terrible instruction manual.

1/32 Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup RNAS

March 19 – June 18

My first biplane and first rigging job. So much fun, but wow did it take a long time. I have another Pup in the stash…the question is…when will I build it?

1/35 Dragon Panzer IV Ausf.G

May 4 – June 21

First experience building Dragon armor. The Panzer IV is a very good kit, excellent detail and fit all around. The dreaded Dragon instructions weren’t awful, though I really need to find a better way to do snow.

1/32 Tamiya Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII

June 23 – August 21

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s totally worth it. This kit is 110% amazing. I cannot wait to tackle Tamiya’s big P-51 in 2012!

1/48 Tamiya North American P-51D Mustang

June 22 – September 9

An excellent kit, if a bit lacking in the cockpit detail.

1/35 Cyber-Hobby Panzer III Ausf.L “Vorpanzer”

July 4 – September 11

Probably my favorite tank-building experience so far. The Panzer III doesn’t go together quite as well as the Panzer IV (mainly in the road wheels and return rollers), but it was so much fun that who cares. Looking forward to many future Dragon Panzers.

1/48 Tamiya Focke Wulf Fw 190A-3

November 24 – December 22

My first build on the new bench. Nice and simple, exactly as I wanted, but the decals are an absolute failure, and the landing gear bested me. Still…great for knocking the rust off!

1/35 Dragon T-34/85 Mod. 1944

October 3 – December 27

One of the four tanks I built to the painting stage before packing up the bench ahead of the move. A solid, relatively simple kit.

2011 Stats

Fastest Build

  • Tie: Tamiya Mosquito NF.II / Tamiya Fw 190A-3 – 28 Days

Longest Build

  • Sopwith Pup RNAS – 91 Days

Most Viewed Build

  • Tamiya P-47D Thunderbolt – “Hairless Joe” – 842 Views

The Pipeline

December 7, 2011
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With the Tamiya Fw 190A-3 well into the painting stages, I’ve already started casting furtive glances at the stash and planning my builds for the next several months.

These are obviously subject to change at the slightest provocation or whim, but right now, here’s where I’m at: Read more…

Dragon T-34/85 Build Log

December 4, 2011
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UPDATED 12.27 – Weathering Underway

Read more…

Future Build Preview – P-51D-5-NA Mustang – “Hun Hunter ~ Texas”

December 3, 2011
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If you look through my stash, it’s fairly obvious that most of my modeling interests are focused on World War II. Sure, there’s a biplane or two in there, and a few early jets, but the Second World War dominates the list.

Part of the reason is the machinery…which to me just has far more scrappiness and personality than the increasingly sterile equipment of more modern times. And that machinery, by and large, actually did stuff, be it flying combat air patrols over the front, escorting bombers, busting through the hedgerows of Normandy or what have you.

But I’m also drawn to those who operated the machines. The pilots and tank crews whose exploits are often passed over in the broader scope of the most epic war the world has ever known.

I zeroed in on Henry Brown from the first moment I read about him. Hailing from my hometown of Dallas and flying a P-51 named “The Hun Hunter ~ Texas”, Brown was one of the leading aces of the 355th Fighter Group flying out of RAF Steeple Morden.

In April 1944, flying his P-51B, Brown took on four Bf 109s to save two fellow P-51s they were stalking. A 20-minute duel against the four 109s ensued, with Brown pushing them out of a defensive Lufbery wheel and driving them off despite the fact that he was out of ammunition! A few months later, in October 1944, his P-51 was knocked down while strafing an airfield. His fellow pilot Chuck Lenfest landed to rescue him, but his plane became stuck. ANOTHER pilot, Alvin White, also landed, intending to give his plane to one of the two higher-scoring pilots, but they had already fled into the woods. Not long after, they were captured by the Luftwaffe and finished out the war in German custody.

Brown’s P-51D was every bit as distinctive as his earlier -B model, sporting the white spinner and cowl ring of the 355th and a distinctive dark green camoflage applied to the upper surfaces. On his -B it has been fairly well established that this was in fact RAF Dark Green raided from British stock rather than olive drab. There’s some debate as to which color his -D Hun Hunter wore, but I’m swayed more toward RAF Dark Green, which seems to have been the go-to for a lot of non-standard paint schemes throughout the 8th Air Force.

The Kit

I’ve been planning to build both of Brown’s P-51s and have markings for both – in 1/48th.

But I’ll be building “Hun Hunter ~ Texas” with Tamiya’s big 1/32 P-51!

I managed to score myself a second 1/32 Tamiya Mustang for 50% off during Squadron’s ridiculous Black Friday sale. Since the first one is destined to represent Col. John Meyer’s “Petie 3rd”, I’ve been considering a more camoflaged scheme for the second, and Brown’s “Hun Hunter ~ Texas” seems like a logical choice! Especially since Tamiya’s kit offers the filleted or early filletless tail.

I’ll probably be building WR-Z early in 2012, as part of a double build with the old 1/32 Hasegawa P-51D alongside. Keep an eye out!

I Just Sold My Badger Airbrushes. Here’s Why.

December 1, 2011
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Back in April, I scored a really good deal on two Badger airbrushes – the 105 Patriot and the Renegade Velocity.

When I first picked them up, I was impressed by their solidity and their balance. They felt substantially different from the Iwata and Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes they joined in my stable, much in the way that Japanese, German, and American cars have subtle yet decidedly different personalities.

Yet, today, I sold both Badger brushes.

Why?

It’s simple. Or complicated. Or both. Read more…

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