On the Bench: Trumpeter 1/32 MiG-3 “Obnazhennyy”


For most people, summertime conjures up visions of sun and surf, of late days, sweltering heat, kickass movies, fireworks and cookouts.

It conjures those visions for me, too. But it also conjurs visions of spiders.

For some reason, my bench becomes the equivalent of a small town Dairy Queen for an unending parade of tiny spiders that get all over everything.

I’ve grudgingly come to not completely hate spiders, because they’re such ruthless dispatchers of basically all other bugs (see: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”). But these little assholes don’t do that. They just flutter down from the shop light, or wherever the hell they come from, and get into my business. Last summer, I had to put my HK B-25 away for a few months because I left it on the bench overnight and the little douche canoes built a maze of spider webs in the bomb bay so thick it looked like a bad Indiana Jones set.

That’s a long way of saying that, in the summer, I’m forced to pursue more self-contained projects that can easily be tucked inside a drawer or carried inside for the night. Projects without massive openings for dillhole spiders to throw parties in.

So as much as I want to bust out an Academy Hornet, or my Trumpeter Lightning or something else huge and awesome, I’ve decided to keep it small(ish) with Trumpy’s 1/32 MiG-3. I had plans to build this as a recce version, until a fellow modeller got my gears turning by suggesting I build it unpainted to show off the wood-and-metal construction.

“Obnazhennyy” means “uncovered” or “unpainted” in Russian, or so Google tells me…

Mig-3 Profile Mig-3 top

Of course, this quickly became WAY more complicated than a simple metal-and-wood finish. Because wood construction is way more complicated than just screwing a plywood sheet over some spars and stringers. The MiG-3 was covered with thin strips of birch plywood, laid diagonally, then covered at cross angles with more plywood, then back to the original angle, etc.

Aviation-grade basket-weaving, basically.

If you kind of unfocus your eyes, you can see it in the wing skin of this MiG-3 undergoing restoration.

And I get to try to recreate it!

Obviously, there’s going to be a MASSIVE degree of artistic license going into this project, because the final product will ultimately represent a thing that never existed. It would be like a car with everything put in it…engine, seats, floorboard carpeting, you name it…left unpainted. It does not happen. Which…thank god…because evidence isn’t exactly all over the place for the MiG-3.

So how am I going to pull this off? With a combination. The bare metal will either be Alclad or Gunze Mr. Metal (which I need to test), or may in fact be a combination. The wood will be Tamiya and Gunze paints overlaid with Uschi Van Der Rosten woodgrain decals. If you haven’t seen them in action, you need to check out James H’s Natter build on LSM…the wood looks phenomenal!

Aftermarket will be fairly light this time out. An Aires pit and Quickboost exhausts.

Stay tuned for the fun!

On the Bench: Dragon 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger I Ausf.E


Once upon a time, I built armor on a regular basis, often side-by-side with an aircraft build as a way of switching things up. In the nine months or so this went on, I managed to knock out a Tamiya M4 Sherman, AFV Club Achilles IIc, Dragon Panzer IV Ausf.G and a Cyber-Hobby Panzer III Ausf.L. Then we moved, and things kind of fell apart. I managed to finish up a T-34/85 toward the very end of 2011, and then…nothing.

My recent experience building Panda’s big 1/16 Pz.38(t) has rekindled the interest, however, and I’ve been aching to build a German cat of some kind. I even set up a poll to help choose, though the vote between the Tiger I and King Tiger has proven so close that it’s basically been a wash.

So today, on my way up to King’s Hobby, I told myself their selection would settle things. I needed Friul tracks, so whichever they had, that’s what I would build. Well, they had both. And moreover, they had both on sale for $30 – WAY cheaper than you’ll find Tiger Friuls basically anywhere.

Crap. No closer to a decision.

Fortunately, they also had Kagero’s Tiger I Topcolors book, which contains markings for 16 different Tiger tanks. I fell in love with this number on the back cover. And yes…the barrel stripes are included on the decal sheet.


My kit of choice will be Dragon’s Tiger I 3-in-1, which I actually started briefly way back in 2011. I discovered early on that it needed painting in the midst of construction, and since my paints were all packed for an impending move, well…back in the box it went.

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Aftermarket will include Cavalier resin zimmerit, an RB Model barrel, the Friuls, and a PE set to be named later (I need PE track skirts, basically…and exhaust covers would be nice…)

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Stay tuned! This is going to be a fun one!

1/16 Panda Pz.Kpfw 38(t) Pt. 4: Weathering & Finish Out


Part I: The Build-Up | Part II: Paint + Markings | Part III: Whitewash | PART IV: Weathering

Last time around, the big Pz.38(t) got its whitewash.

Pz.38(t) Whitewash

In Part IV of the build log, it’s all about the weathering and the final stages of bringing the build together.

The Tracks

After being pulled away from the bench for a week or so to tackle a big work project, I came back and decided to go ahead and knock out the tracks. These were airbrushed with a mix of 75% Vallejo Track Primer and 25% Dark Gray.

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Then washed with oils to add in some variation.

tracks after washing

Let’s Go Streaking!

With the tracks at a baseline with the rest of the tank, I turned my attention to streaking and generally dirtying up the tank.

I’ve been reading praise of AK Interactive’s weathering products for quite some time now, and have even used some of their stuff a time or two, but never for all-out weathering. And I didn’t use them this time either, as in my test runs I found the streaking products far too stark, and not very keen to back off without creating a giant mess. So I went back to my trusty oils. In this case, raw umber, Payne’s gray and transparent white.

My method for streaking is simple. I dip the tip of my trusty airbrush needle into the cap, get a tiny bit of oil paint on it, and then tap it against the tank to deposit just a hint of paint. Do this multiple times.

Then, I pull out my not-so-secret weapon: the Aqualon Wisp. This brush has a “rake” shape to it that’s just awesome for streak work.

After barely wetting the Wisp with Mona Lisa Odorless Thinner, I swipe at the tank in quick, light, vertical strokes. This streaks the oil paint down the sides of the tank just so.

Pz38 - Streaking started

Additional oil staining was done on the flat surfaces, such as the fenders and top of the turret.

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Time to Get Dirty

With the streaking done, I turned my attention to dirtying up the lower hull. I wanted it dirty, but not overly so (i.e. not caked in mud).

To get started, I mixed some MIG Russian Earth pigment with Woodland Scenics scenery glue (basically diluted white glue) and slathered it on the lower hull, then stabbed at it to create a bit more roughness, reminiscent of dried mud, rather than dust. Before I switched to Russian Earth, I tried MIG’s Dark Mud and Europe Dust. Both of them were very light and very red, and to me gave the impression the Pz.38 was trundling through Vietnam of East Texas, not the Eurasian steppe. Russian Earth is, I think, a far better pigment.

For the wheels, I did the same, only I mixed the pigment with water instead of glue, and painted it on that way. Once the water evaporated, I worked the pigments in with a wide, flat brush, and blew away the excess. The same was done with the tracks, and the tread areas were then “scuffed” with a #2 pencil to replicate the effect of metal showing through the dirt.

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I was mostly happy with this, particularly with the running gear, but I didn’t get that build up, three-dimensional look I wanted. So back to it, this time with a mix of pigment, white glue, actual dirt, an some bits of field grass cut up and stirred in.

This worked a lot better (particularly when jabbed with packing foam to roughen the texture), BUT the stuff dried like the world’s weakest chocolate milk…several degrees lighter than the surrounding effects. So I painted over the lightness with my Vallejo Track Primer/Dark Gray combo, then went over that with pigment. MUCH better.


Next, oil stains were added to the wheels, per some reference pics, and additional pigment was added in certain areas. Then the tracks were added!

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The Last Bits

At this point, the tank was mostly complete…save for the OVM tools that needed to be placed. Struggling with how to represent these, I did the following:

  • Painted the metal heads of the tools with Alclad Steel.
  • “Woodgrained” the handles of the shovel, sledge etc.
  • Applied liquid frisket randomly as a mask, then painted the tools with Lifecolor RAL 7021 Panzer Gray.
  • Removed the frisket masks, then hit the tools with True Earth Whitewash.
  • Lastly, used Gun Metal, Russian Earth and Light Rust pigments to similar wear and corrosion.

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The PE straps securing the tools on the port side were way easier to work with than the PE fender supports. They were painted in Vallejo German Chocolate Brown, then whitewashed.

And with that the Pz.38(t) build comes to an end. The final result:

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Photo Studio Upgrade

The garage photo studio got a huge upgrade last night. In fact, I’m tempted to go all Idiocracy and call it an “Upgrayyedd” (the double D’s are for a double dose of pimpin’).

ShootingTable 7

Light Evolution

Back when I first got back into modeling, I had a very simple setup consisting of two clamp-style work lamps and a sheet of posterboard.

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It worked well enough in 1/48, but even smaller 1/32 kits bumped up against the limited size of the posterboard, and I had to be careful how I shot to avoid running out of backdrop at the edges of the frame.

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With the move in the fall of 2011, I upgraded somewhat, with a dedicated space in the new garage. This setup expanded to four lights, but the same old posterboard.

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And in time came to incorporate a light tent.

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This setup got me some great shots, particularly on black and silver backdrops, but running out of backdrop was still a big issue, particularly as I’ve been moving more and more into 1/32. When you start hitting wingspans of 15″ and up, a 20″ wide backdrop becomes somewhat limiting.

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Going Big

So for Father’s Day, the better half gave me permission to splurge on a dedicated photo table…basically an aluminum tube frame supporting a 40×80″ sheet of slightly translucent plexiglass.

I got it built last night.

Overall, assembly wasn’t bad, but flattening out the rolled plexi was a pain. Working slowly and swearing a lot I eventually got it mounted to the frame. Then, after an epic session with the ShopVac to clear away spider webs and other debris, I got the new setup, um, set up.

ShootingTable 1

The diffuser bags on the main lights are awesome photographically, but big and annoying from a placement perspective. I had to get creative with the one on the right…

ShootingTable 3

Underneath, the two work lamps soldier on, providing underside illumination.

ShootingTable 4

ShootingTable 5

As for the results…well…

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The table is also big enough that I can photograph multiple subjects next to each other.

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I still have some dialing in to do in places (namely white balance), but so far I’m in love. This table makes it easy to get killer shots, and it’s more than big enough for even larger 1/32 kits like the Hobby Boss P-61 or HK B-25 Mitchell. Goodbye, days of doubling up posterboards and killing the seamlines in Photoshop!

Choosing a Big Cat

With the end of the Panda Pz.38(t) build in sight, I’m cautiously lifting my eyes to the next build(s).

While I waffle on aircraft (I’m leaning toward a MiG-3 and an He 162A-2), I have to say, the Pz.38 has re-ignited my long-dormant interest in armor. I’d been planning to follow up the 38 with a Soviet BM-21 Multiple-Rocket Launcher. Sadly I think my anticipated peaked too soon. And now in the true home stretch, I’ve found myself eyeing some big German cats. The problem?


I’m faced with three kits all giving me googly eyes…which would you choose?


King Tiger (Porsche Turret)

Panther Ausf. G

Panther Ausf. G


Tiger I Ausf.E

Review: PleasedShop Airbrushes

Recently, an eBay seller from whom I’ve bought a few ridiculously cheap items (like $1 braided airbrush hoses) sent around an email about a new online store they were opening – PleasedShop.com.

I’m always open to really cheap stuff, so I clicked over.

And then my jaw dropped.

I’m not really sure what I was expecting. But it sure as hell wasn’t $10 airbrushes. $10 airbrushes that looks to be fairly decent knockoffs of far more expensive airbrushes.

Curious, I ordered two – the $10, 0.3mm number that looks like an Iwata HP-C knockoff.

And a second $10 airbrush, a 0.2mm dual-action that looks for all the world like an Iwata HP-B.

Instead of the usual review, I’m going to do this as more of a Q&A. Mainly because I hate photographing/reviewing airbrushes. You don’t care if I can draw little food coloring stick figures on a paper towel, and neither do I. Ultimately, there are people out there who can do things with a Paasche H that would put any work I’ve done with a high-end Iwata to shame.

Ultimately, airbrushes come down largely to feel. They’re subjective.

Q. Is this a scam?

A. I was hesitant, but no. I placed my order (two airbrushes and a 10-pack of glass bottles) and received my goods in about two-three weeks. Packing wasn’t anything to write home about, but the airbrushes come in their own protective cases, and the glass bottles didn’t break or anything, so everything worked out.

Q. Are the airbrushes cheap Chinese knockoffs?

A. Yes.

Q. So that means they suck, right?

A. No. Both the 0.3mm and 0.2mm spray rather well. They aren’t as smooth as an Iwata or a Grex, and I wouldn’t necessarily favor them for work that requires detail and maximum control, but for general duties I can’t fault them.

Q. How do they “feel”?

A. Both are solid and don’t feel cheap at all. Balance is not as good as with my Iwatas, and on the HP-B knockoff the trigger seems uncomfortably close to the paint cup. 

Trigger resistance is relatively light (lighter than Iwata), and there’s a slightly gritty feel to it. Paint flow is linear and easy to anticipate.

Q. How are they to clean?

A. Overall, these airbrushes aren’t as smooth/precise as the best from Iwata/Grex/Harder & Steenbeck/etc. That means rougher textures in the paint cup, paint channel etc. And that means more places for paint to grab. These definitely require a bit more elbow grease to clean.

Q. Any problems with them?

A. Yes. The nozzles are cheap. I managed to snap one in half when reinstalling it the other night. Fortunately, replacements are also cheap.

Q. Are they worth it?

A. Yes. Think of it this way – they’re $10. Your argument is invalid. I would argue they’re worth it even just to experiment with different airbrush styles…

Conclusion. These two airbrushes aren’t about to replace my regular stable…but I have quite the stable. For me, they’re going to get the nasty jobs when I don’t want to trash out my better brushes. But for somebody looking into a first airbrush, or looking for a spare or four, I can’t recommend these highly enough. Just be sure to order some extra nozzles.


Thinning the Herd


UPDATE: WOW! The response I’ve been getting has been staggering. I’m handling all on a first-come, first-served basis, so please bear with me as I work through all the shopping lists! Kits that are spoken for have been crossed out.

Additionally, I’ve added some kits that I neglected to list the first time around. They’re in bold below.

When I got back into modeling, I told myself I wouldn’t be one of those modelers who acquired an overflowing stash.


In the last three years, I’ve certainly acquired an overflowing stash. And over that same time, my tastes in what I want to build have changed. My interests have refined, and I’ve learned some things about my preferences along the way.

And looking at my stash with fresh eyes, there’s a lot there that, if I’m honest, I know I will never build.

So it’s time to make room.

Below is the list. Things that don’t go will be getting posted to eBay soon. Shipping will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Figure about $9-11 for most kits, but I can get exact estimates as needed.

If you want to inquire, use the comments, contact me via my Facebook page, or email me at mrmcdougall@gmail.com


  • Craftworks Lavochkin La-5/-5F/-5FN – $120
  • Dragon Messerschmitt Bf 110D/E Nachtjager – $50
  • Hasegawa Mitsubishi J2M2 Raiden “Prototype” – $55
  • Hasegawa/Minicraft P-51D Mustang – $15
  • Hobbycraft SPAD XIII – $15
  • MDC Hawker Typhoon Ib
  • Revell “ProModeller” Junkers Ju 88A-1 – $40
  • Revell Panavia Tornado GR.1 (incl. extensive Desert Storm decal set) – $25
  • Roden Nieuport 28c1 – $35
  • Trumpeter F4U-4 Corsair (previous owner started painting the cockpit) – $25
  • Trumpeter P-47D-30 Thunderbolt (late bubbletop) – $75
  • Trumpeter Grumman TBF-1C Avenger (includes some FAA markings) – $70


  • Bronco Archer 17-pdr SPG – $45
  • Bronco Bishop – $45
  • Dragon M4 Sherman Composite Hull – PTO – $35
  • Dragon Panzer II Ausf.C – $30
  • Dragon Firefly Mk.Ic – $35


  • Hasegawa Su-27 “World Flanker” (sealed) – $40
  • Airfix BAE Sea Harrier FRS.1 – $10
  • Hasegawa B-24J Liberator “Assembly Ship” – $40
  • Revell Lancaster Mk.I/III – $20
  • Revell B-17G Flying Fortress – $20
  • Revell Tornado IDS – $17
  • Revell Tornado GR.1 – $17


  • Academy Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV – $15
  • Accurate Miniatures F2G Corsair (incl. detailed resin ‘corncob’ engine and Lone Star decal sheet) – $40
  • Accurate Miniatures A-36 Apache – $15
  • Accurate Miniatures P-51A Mustang – $15
  • Accurate Miniatures B-25C/D Mitchell – $35
  • Airfix Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1/3/4 – $15
  • Airfix Seafire FR.46/47 – $20
  • AMT Douglas A-20G Havoc – $10
  • Azur MS 406 – $20
  • Dragon Messerschmitt Bf 110E Nachtjager – $30
  • Dragon Messerschmitt Bf 110D-3 – $30
  • Eduard Fw 190A-5 ProfiPack – $20
  • Eduard Fw 190A-8/R2 ProfiPack (sealed) – $25
  • Eduard F6F-3 Hellcat – $20
  • Eduard Bf 109E-1 ProfiPack – $25
  • Eduard F-16 Fighting Falcon “NATO Falcons” Ltd. Edition – $35
  • Eduard SPAD XIII “American Eagles” Dual Combo – $35
  • Great Wall Hobby TBD-1 Devastator “Battle of Midway” – $55
  • Hasegawa Curtiss Kittyhawk III – $25
  • Hasegawa Curtiss Kittyhawk IV – $25
  • Hasegawa Curtiss P-40E Warhawk – $25
  • Hasegawa Fw 190A-8
  • Hasegawa Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB (teardrop) – (incl. sharkmouth decals) – $35
  • Hobby Boss Ta 152C-0 – $20
  • ICM Spitfire Mk.IXc – $15
  • ICM Spitfire Mk.VIII – $15
  • Kinetic Lockheed F-16D Block 52+ Polish AF – $45
  • Monogram B-26 Marauder – $25
  • MPM Pe-2 – $30
  • Revell (Monogram) B-24J Liberator – $20
  • Revell (Monogram) PBY-5 Catalina – $20
  • Revell B-25J Mitchell “Gun Nose” – $15
  • Revell F-8 Crusader – $10
  • Tamiya F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair (sealed) – $25
  • Tamiya Fi 156C Storch – $45
  • Tamiya Fw 190D-9 (sealed) – $20
  • Trumpeter Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 – $25
  • Trumpeter MiG-21F-13 Fishbed C – $25
  • Trumpeter Sparviero SM.79 – $35
  • Trumpeter Supermarine Spiteful – $15
  • Trumpeter Vampire FB.Mk.9 – $20