Modeling Rabbit Holes

Around the modeling interwebs, it seems like everyone is suddenly kung-fu fighting about “basic modeling skills” and, honestly, I have no desire to join in. It’s all stupid for a few reasons.

  • There is no agreed-upon threshold for “basic”, so it’s all subjective.
  • People who throw the term around non-ironically are usually humorless pedantic assholes, so whether or not it actually is condescending it comes across as such.
  • And it’s just so…damn…tiresome.

Instead, I wanted to take a moment to explore some of the absurd rabbit holes that we can find ourselves running down as modelers. In the past 24 hours, I’ve encountered three. And as I was thinking on the drive to work this morning, the level of fucks given about such insignificant things is probably baffling to anybody on the outside.

Rabbit Hole 1: P-47 Blast Tubes

For the unaware, the P-47 Thunderbolt packed eight fifty-caliber machine guns, four in each wing. These were fitted with aluminum blast tubes that, at least for the inboard three, extend well beyond the leading edge of the wing. They’re a prominent feature of the Jug, and Trumpeter’s way of handling them is asinine.

Basically, Trumpeter would have you install the guns, install the tubes, and then slide a leading edge housing over them. This is stupid because 1) it makes cleaning up that area substantially more annoying and 2) it presents challenges in painting and weathering, since the tubes are bare metal.

I go into this silliness in a bit more detail in my first installment of the P-47 build log if you want to see it a bit better for yourself. But the basic gist is this: I’m willing to go to lengths to be able to install the tubes after the fact, because it will make basically every other part of the build go more smoothly and create fewer chances for fuckups.

In tackling this problem, I first took to filing off the slightly raised collars at the base of the brass Master replacements. But even so, sliding the tubes in from the front, it’s very difficult to find the machine gun bodies, and would be even worse with the wings closed. Add to that the inboard gun seems to sit high, resulting in a tube sitting at a depressed angle compared to the rest, and it’s a shitty solution.

Hasegawa has a cleaner solution where the tubes are cut down, and slot into a wall inside the wing much closer to the leading edge. When I build Trumpeter’s P-47D-30 six years ago, I basically took this solution and applied it to the Trumpeter kit.

Now I’m thinking of doing the same again. It’s a cleaner solution than any other. So my plan is to build a little wall inside the wing, and put some kind of magnetic sheet on it. Then glue 1mm x 1mm magnets to the back of the chopped-down tubes. The difficulty is cutting turned brass at the necessary level of precision. I’m going to give it a go, but I’ve also got a set of Quickboost resin tubes on order as a backup.

Rabbit Hole 2: P-47 Curtiss Electric Prop

The P-47 used a fuckton of props throughout its life. But the Razorback pretty much used one – a relatively narrow-profile cuffed Curtiss Electric number frequently called the toothpick, since that’s what it looks like relative to the massive paddle props of later Jugs.

Trumpeter provides four props with its P-47 kits, and the toothpick is one of them, but its rather…fat…in both width and thickness. I spent a decent amount of time the other night attacking it with sanding sticks to thin it down and narrow its profile.

But…the whole time I was also wishing there was another option. To the extent of considering running down an ancient 1/32 Revell Razorback. Then a thought struck me – what about Hasegawa? I’ve got a 1/32 Hasegawa P-47M, after all. Seems unlikely they’d put the toothpick in, since they never did a Razorback, but then again, Trumpeter throws it in with the P-47N, so who knows right?

Well, I looked online and – while I will have to confirm later on when I can dig the box out – Hasegawa includes a Curtiss Electric toothpick for some reason. So…yoink! I’ll probably be stealing that to use on the Trumpeter kit.

Rabbit Hole 3: Bravo Hornet

So I had this crazy idea to bring not one, not two, but three builds to the bench now that I’ve wrapped up the F-104 and F-4D. The third? An F/A-18B Hornet in a rather striking aggressor scheme that first appeared in late 2017, I believe, and has recently been showing up in pics with some rather compelling wear, tear and grime. Furball Aero-Design just released a new 1/32 sheet with this scheme included, giving me all the impetus I needed.

Just one problem. Academy never kitted an F/A-18B.

Not to be deterred, I tracked down a Kinetic boxing of the Academy Hornet that supposedly allows you to build any legacy variant (A, A+, B, C, D). All was well and good until this morning, when I woke up to a refund and apologies that the seller did not, in fact, have the kit.

Well shit. What to do?

The key thing that I need is the A/B tails. I have the Avionix B conversion and that’ll be nice for the cockpit, but one of the tails is kinda melty, and besides I’d rather not have to use heavy resin so far aft if I can avoid it.

I happen to have an Academy A+, but it’s slated for a Canadian CF-18. And two Ds…perfect for the two-seater canopy, but it’s got them C/D tails.

I’ve also got a started then put-away-fucked-by-shitting-aftermarket-intake-screen-detail F/A-18C that is basically useless here. Except as a parts donor and maybe construction or paint mule.

Ultimately? I decided to pick up another A+. By combining it with one of the Ds, I can do a bit of transmogrification and turn an A+ and a D into a B…and a C. Or close enough to satisfy myself.

Silly? Yeah. Pricey? Academy 1/32 Hornets aren’t cheap and are getting hard to find, so…yeah. But still cheaper than the Kinetic boxing. So I guess I’ve got that going for me.

E pluribus unum and so on.

Now I’m rumbling around with the idea of building not just the B, but possibly a NAWDC F/A-18C as well. There’s an interesting brown and white number that I’ve got my eye on.


Four 1/32 builds on the go at the same time is probably a bit much. A rabbit hole of its own.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. John everett says:


    I admire your dedication to getting the Hornet exactly right. But I think it’s more work than I would be willing to do.

  2. Just learned about your blog and want to say thanks. You journey is similar to my own and I’m learning lots reading about your experience. It’s easy to get dragged into the rabbit hole as you describe and keep adding a little bit more (more aftermarket parts, better decals, etc). At some point you have to say it’s good enough. That’s what is great about this hobby. You get to decide how far down you want to go!

  3. Jeff Groves says:

    Rabbit holes are what it’s all about! We must appear really odd to people outside the hobby.

  4. Ted Briscoe says:

    You have a great website. Very well organized, easy to find topics and then to follow, great photos with good constructive content. Other than that, I think sometimes you’re too hard on yourself, after all it is a “hobby” and there is no perfect kit. Your engineering background clearly shows up in your methodology…….and you control that, most kit manufacturers don’t, they are controlled by their accounting departments.

    1. Tim Masters says:

      I agree. In fact I think ‘outsiders’ must find us a weird lot anyway apart naval gazing about skills. I mean, what must they think when they hear people like us (modellers) talking about, for example, having hornets in our stash

  5. Whitey says:

    Every time I read a post, I realize how much more I have to learn about this stuff. For me, my biggest problem has been getting too ambitious for my crappy skill level. I only recently got the hang of aftermarket decals (I know, how hard can that be?)—which is good, since Tamiya’s decals suck—and PE parts still give me headaches. Scratchbuilding parts and improvising mods is still beyond me, but hopefully I’ll get there.

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