“Not” On the Bench…

I believe the best term would be “out of my depth”.

That’s the sensation I got when I started fiddling around with Trumpeter’s 1/350 USS North Carolina kit, and pondering my plan to build the Showboat in her 1944 fit-out as the USS Washington BB-56 as she appeared in November 1942. My plan was simple. Build the kit. Paint it in the Measure 22 scheme the Washington wore off Guadalcanal. Slap the number 56 on it, instead of 55.

Then I did a little bit of research. And encountered a list of like fifty things I’d have to change. Since there are two degrees of conversion – from the battleship North Carolina to the Washington, and from 1944 fit-out to 1942. The more I learned, the more I knew I couldn’t do the lazy paint-it-like-another-ship route and be happy with it.

So I decided screw it, I’ll just build the damn Showboat. Then I started test fitting. The upper hull is a bit warpy, the deck fit is all over the place. I started feeling rather intimidated.

So I’ve decided, for now, to put her back on the shelf. I will try my hand at ships…but I’m going to re-cut my teeth on something more manageable.

Stay tuned.

Thinning the Herd

Since coming back to modeling in July 2010, I’ve accumulated quite the stash as I’ve kept an eye out for deals and succumbed to various lacks of willpower.

But in that time, my tastes and interests have evolved. I’ve found some kits I really enjoy. I’ve discovered a love for 1/32 scale that’s all but ruined me on 1/48 for tiny aircraft like the Bf 109.

So I’ve decided to thin the herd and sell off a selection of the kits I’ve come to acknowledge I’ll never build. Before I start into the eBay route, I figured I’d offer them up here. Assume shipping within the US at $9 per, though I’ve no doubt I can knock that down if you spring for multiples – particularly the smaller kits. Aftermarket and such goodies noted.

If you’re interested in anything below, just e-mail me at mrmcdougall@gmail.com…

1/32 Scale

  • Cyber-Hobby Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 – $30I’ve already build a 1/32 Emil, and I’ve got two of these Cyber-Hobby masterpieces in the stash. Only need one.
  • Trumpeter F4U-4 Corsair – $30Scored this one off eBay, only to discover I didn’t read the fine print, and that it was already (poorly) started. Completely destroyed my enthusiasm for the build. All that’s been started is the cockpit and some painting on the inside of the fuselage.
  • Trumpeter F8F-2 Bearcat – $45Gorgeous looking model, but the Bearcat just doesn’t do it for me (I like aircraft that did things). Includes SAC metal landing struts.

1/48 Scale

  • Academy Spitfire Mk.XIV – $15Includes copious aftermarket such as prop, exhausts, etc. Was the only game in town until PCM released their 1/32 Mk.XIV. Now that I’ve got the big’un, I don’t see myself building the Academy.
  • Airfix Spitfire Mk.XII – $12By all accounts a great kit. Just lost the fire.
  • Eduard Lavochkin La-7 Profi-Pack – $20What I really want? A 1/32 La-7. Maybe one day.
  • Hobbycraft F8F-2 Bearcat – $10See above about the 1/32 Bearcat and apply it to 1/48.
  • ICM P-51K Mustang – $10A copy of the Tamiya kit that allegedly doesn’t fit as well. I’ve got plenty of other Mustangs.
  • ICM Spitfire Mk.VIII – $10I’ve built Tamiya’s masterful 1/32 Mk.VIII. This one is now superfluous.
  • ICM Spitfire Mk.IX – $15Comes with ground crew and a dog. If I build a IX, it’ll be 1/32.
  • Monogram P-61 Black Widow – $0Old kit in a busted up box. Pay for shipping and it’s yours.
  • Monogram A-10 Warthog – $10Bought with the best of intentions. Oh well.
  • Revell P-47N Thunderbolt – $10I’ve got the Academy 1/48 and Trumpy 1/32 -N kits. No need for three.

1/144 Scale

  • Minicraft PBY-5 Catalina – $7Thought this would be a good idea. Couldn’t work up to a 1/144 aircraft, though.

1/35 Scale Armor

  • Cyber-Hobby Orange Box Panzer III Ausf. E/F – $20Honestly wasn’t that interested in the P.IIIE/F when I bought it.
  • Cyber-Hobby Firefly Vc Orange Box – $20When I build a Firefly Vc, I’m going to hunt down the Tasca kit.
  • Dragon M4 Sherman Composite Hull – PTO – $20 What can I say – I like Tasca’s Shermans better.
  • Zvezda T-34/85 – $15Not a very good kit, but someone with way more patience than me could certainly turn it into something.

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

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”)

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…

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.