It’s 2020, and this year I’m doing something a bit different. After years focused on 1/32 scale, I’m kicking the year off with a pair of 1/48 WWII subjects.
If you don’t immediately recognize them, that smaller one is a 1/48 Tamiya P-47M, and the larger one is HK’s new 1/48 B-17G Flying Fortress.
It’s been a long time…
So…why did I venture away from 1/48? And why am I now coming back?
In 2012, I really started falling into 1/32 scale. That year I build PCM’s Fiat G.55, a Hasegawa 109, HK’s B-25J, and got a decent way into a Trumpeter P-47. I fell in love with the scale, the larger canvas, and the sheer presence that 1/32 kits possess in abundance.
After that 262, I tried my hand at Eduard’s then-new Spitfire Mk.IXc and, while it’s a lovely kit, I just ran out of interest in it, and dove wholeheartedly into 1/32.
There and back again
While I love the presence of 1/32, it’s not without its drawbacks. Several of these I knew at the time, others have kind of manifested themselves over the intervening years.
- Subject selection isn’t as good. It’s just not. It’s certainly been improving, but when you have a scale that mainly consists of three players – Trumpeter, Hasegawa, and Tamiya, you run out of runway pretty quick, and a particular subject may only be represented by a single, flawed kit.
- Kit quality is variable. There are some great kits in 1/32 – like Tamiya’s Corsair lineup. But for the most part the options are good to average, and usually beset by a handful of nagging frustrations. Even Tamiya’s great P-51 has a rather shoddy cowl design. Trumpeter’s bubbletop P-47s have a terrible dorsal spine that doesn’t line up to the fuselage well, their wings are too thick, leading to poor fit at the underside wingroot, the ammo doors don’t fit, the gun fairings don’t fit, the cowl-to-fuselage join is remarkably poor, and so on.
- Aftermarket support lags 1/48. This too has been improving, but not enough. Marking options lag and certain subjects are just shit out of luck. What to spiff up the very lacking interior of HK’s B-25? Your options mostly begin and end with Eduard PE. Want aftermarket tires to replace the vinyl horror shows in Trumpeter’s Dauntless? Tough shit. Want…anything for Hasegawa’s Ki-84? NOPE.
- 1/32 kits are a time suck. I build slower nowadays than I used to. Part of that is advancing skill and patience and precision. But a huge part of it is just that 1/32 aircraft take a lot damn longer to get together. Often it’s a crapshoot whether or not a kit will hold my interest long enough to get it together. The same applies to 1/48, but even then, I typically manage to push quarter scale kits into or very nearly into paint before pulling the eject handle. With 1/32, it’s usually somewhere around the cockpit stage.
When I review the stuff I’ve built – or attempted to build – in 1/32 over the past several years, the truth of the matter is that there’s almost always a better, well-regarded kit in 1/48 that I could have aimed at. Academy F/A-18B that I had to cobble together from at least two kits? Could have just bought Kinetic’s F/A-18B. Trumpeter P-47D-20? There’s Tamiya’s superlative Razorback. Tamiya P-51s? There’s Meng’s very nice kit, and now Eduard is in the mix as well. Italeri F-104? Kinetic’s F-104 looks miles better. Trumpeter F-117? Tamiya, again. Trumpeter MiG-23MLD? Could have just as easily gone for their 1/48.
And 1/48 kits have been improving steadily since I wandered off to 1/32. Great Wall’s Su-35 is an amazing piece of engineering. Zoukei’s F-4 Phantoms are great. Tamiya’s new Bf 109 and Ki-61 and P-38 are all engineering marvels. Eduard’s wowing everyone with the new Mustang. Zvezda’s done some amazing VVS kits like the Pe-2. ICM is shocking everyone with the quality of their latest kits like the MiG-25 and B-26 Invader.
I don’t have any intention of abandoning 1/32. But I want to see how I fare with 1/48 again. Maybe I can get through projects on a more regular basis, keep myself from running out of fucks before a project gets fun, and keep my skills a bit more tuned since I’m not stuck waiting 6 months between weathering sessions.
How’s it going?
So far, so…decent. I’ve been mostly stuck in the cockpits and internals of both kits so far, and my elation is tempered with disappointment at HK’s quarter-assed treatment of the B-17’s internals.
P-47M – to aftermarket or not to aftermarket?
Tamiya’s Jug presented me with an easy choice early on. I’d snagged the Aires cockpit, planning to replace the kit parts entirely, but then I started looking at them side-by-side. There are a few details where the Aires set clearly wins out – the seat is much thinner, the throttle quadrant better detailed, and the gunsight a significant improvement. But the main cockpit parts? I saw no reason to put the kit parts aside.
Instead, I added a bit of detail and called it a day.
Both the kit and Aires seat/bulkhead arrangements feature the same problem – the seat frame’s crossbar is molded right into the bulkhead. The problem with that? P-47 harnesses looped over the back of that crossbar to anchor lower down the frame. I fixed that by shaving the crossbar off the bulkhead, adding some tubing to the Tamiya kit seat frame, and adding the Aires seat to that.
Once I had the few mods I made, details I added, and some bits from the Aires cockpit ported over, I primed everything and then gave it a coat of MRP Gunship Green, which matches the commonly-agreed FS code associated with Dark Dull Green.
At this point, I’ve been a bit on hold waiting for an Eduard Look panel to show up. I was going to use a Yahu panel, but Eduard makes one specific to the M, and that already has a cutout for where the gunsight mounts.
So while I wait, I’ve been working on the other kit.
HK B-17 – are you fucking kidding me right now?
HK’s B-17 looks absolutely gorgeous – if you’re looking at the exterior detail. Once you glimpse what’s going on with the internals, it’s another matter entirely. I think the Monogram kit might be more generous with the detail.
I mean…this is the center console.
The control yokes are no great shakes, either, so I’m scratchbuilding replacements. Can you guess which is which?
Now, to an extent I get being a bit halfassed with a B-17’s interior. Most of it will be buried the second you close the fuselage halves. But if there are two things are that prominently visible through the windscreen – it’s the center console and the control yokes!
The sad detail failfest continues with the tanks mounted on the cockpit walls. These should have been separate parts. Putting shit in relief like this is just lazy, and it dumps the tedium onto the modeler who has to mask around these fucking pills because they’re supposed to be yellow.
Again – everything will be pretty obscured once the plane is closed up, so I’m not so upset at the poor detail elsewhere in the internals. But encountering it in a few high-visibility spots is annoying.
Fortunately, Eduard has just dropped their B-17 PE set, and it may offer a reprieve and some additional detail for critical areas. So…I think I may be setting the Fort aside and paying attention to the Jug while I wait a few days.
- While the B-17’s interior sadness hacks me off, it’s also given me the push I needed to decide fuck it, I’m closing the bomb bay.
- One thing that I’m going to have to adjust to if 1/48 is going to be a thing for me – the relative lack of radial engine detail compared to 1/32. The P-47M, great as it is, doesn’t have an ignition ring for the engine!
- I’m worried about the ability of the Silhouette to cut stencil masks for these – particularly the P-47M, which has some intricate nose art and stupid thin color surrounds for the fuselage codes. We shall see.