On the Bench: 1/48 Hobby Boss Tornado GR.1


For the most part, I’ve never been particularly drawn to foreign jets. Growing up, it was all about American aircraft – the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, A-6 and so on. But there was always one big, whopping exception – the Panavia Tornado – the twin-engined, swing-wing strike fighter developed as a cooperation between Britain, Germany and Italy.

During Desert Storm – or Operation Granby as it was known to the Brits – the Tornado GR.1 was handed all manner of extremely dangerous strike missions. Low-level, high-speed loft bombing runs, strikes against Iraqi airfields, you name it. As a result of the dangerous mission profiles, the Tornado suffered one of the higher loss rates among allied aircraft in the winter of 1991.

I’ve always had a weak spot for the Tornado, and honestly it was the aircraft that kind of set off my recent “jet itch”. So what the hell, time to build one!

There are a few Tornado kits out there, but I’ve decided to go with the 1/48 Hobby Boss kit. There’s a lot of whinging out there about the shape accuracy, but the kit looks amazing from a detail and build perspective, and in terms of the shape, it looks exactly like a Tornado to me, so I’m not going to sweat it.

Stay tuned for some fun!


1/32 Hasegawa Bf 109G-6 Part II – Construction + Paint Prep


Part I | PART II | Part III | Part IV

When we left off in Part I, the 109’s cockpit was more or less done, and the fuselage joined:

After that, the wait for the RB Productions seatbelts and radiator grilles kind of sidelined it for a bit, and I found myself distracted by the French P-47 and the micro MiG-21s. But now it seems the Swiss Miss is getting back underway.

Cockpit Finish-Out

Radu’s belts finally arrived.

To be honest, I’m torn about these. The textile components aren’t as detailed or in my opinion as convincing as those produced by HGW. For instance, they lack the stitching detail. However, they do assemble easier and they are still miles better than PE belts.

Because of the way the shoulder harnesses anchor, they can’t go in until later, but the cockpit itself was installed into the fuselage and the lower fuselage and wing spars closed in place.


Up next? The wings! With the radiator grilles in place and the wheel wells painted first Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black and then Gunze RLM 02, everything went together nice and easy. The Hasegawa wing spars are flimsy and honestly I’d have preferred a one-piece lower wing even if it meant having to shim the upper wingroot, but they do the job.

Okay, wings installed! After that came the chin radiator intake, the upper cowl, the “bulle” bumps required for the larger 13mm MG 131 machine guns, an the Master Details replacement stabilizers.

Am I blowing through this?


But why?

In part because the kit, after the wings go on, is essentially mindless. If you can glue plastic together you can build this 109. There are some small gaps here and there, but the biggest problems you’ll have are seam lines and smoothing out your weld seams. As such, it’s boring as sin to write about.

But also because I find this kit somewhat underwhelming. It’s not a bad kit…it’s just that it feels soulless to me. It feels like some sort of study in minimum-level-of-effort efficiency across the board. I’m having a hard time finding the passion that went into this kit.

You look at any Wingnut Wings kit, or any recent Tamiya release…heck…even those tiny Eduard MiG-21s I just built, and the passion is obvious. Somebody stayed up nights thinking about that kit, tweaking the engineering this way and that, probably fighting for their ideas in meeting after meeting. Those kits, to me, are more than the sum of their plastic.

This kit, it feels exactly like the sum of its plastic, and nothing more.

So I’ll just say that the rest of it goes together more or less without incident. In mine, the tail has a slight curve to it (the tail itself, mind, not the join at the tail plug), which causes the stabilizers to look a bit weird in alignment. I think there might be some very slight dihedral issues with the wings, too, which are totally my fault for trusting the wing spars to do their job (and if they don’t, why bother?).

Let’s see…what else? Decided to pose the canopy closed because 1) the lines of the Erla hood just look better closed and 2) the “giant bar of plastic” canopy “hinge” was in no way convincing, and so prominent as to be distracting. So I shaved it off, closed up the canopy, and masked it off with Eduard’s mask set. Frustratingly, this one of their “off” sets, with the masks being slightly too long for several areas.

Okay…so on to…

Paint Prep

Despite going together very easily, the Hasegawa 109G-14 is a pain to putty and sand, in part due to the separate wings that force you to wield a sanding stick across some intricate detailing on the undersides of the wings. Everything also seems to have very minor seams in need of puttying. I tried to knock these out with Deluxe Materials Perfect Plastic Putty and then Mr. Surfacer 500, but ultimately had to resort of the good old 3M Red Acryl putty.

After sanding this down, I hit the 109 with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer out of the rattelcan.

I typically prefer to airbrush my primer, but the Tamiya can did a pretty solid job. Not as smooth as Mr. Surfacer 1200 out of the airbrush, but not much is.

After the primer had a short time to set up, I moved along to some Tamiya XF-1 Black and put down a base for the Swiss neutrality stripes. Because white over black is way more interesting than white over light gray.

With the black base on, it’s time to wrap up Part II and move along to Part III and the painting of the Swiss Miss.

Part I | PART II | Part III | Part IV

1/32 HK Models B-25J Mitchell – Part III – Markings

Part I | Part II | PART III | Part IV

In Part I it was built. In Part II, it was painted. Now, it’s time to give the B-25 its proper markings.

The B-25 I’m building is “Bottoms Up II” of the 340th Bomb Group. There aren’t very many markings out there (yet) for the 1/32 B-25, but thankfully “Bottoms Up II” is available from KitsWorld. As is a desperately needed B-25 stencil set.

In addition to the KitsWorld decals, I’ve also decided to employ Maketar‘s paint masks for the national insignias and the tail codes. On telling Alek at Maketar about the circumstances of this build, he modified his B-25J set with the proper tail codes for “Bottoms Up II” and sent me the set gratis. Thanks, Alek! Continue reading

1/32 HK Models B-25J Mitchell – Part I – Assembly

PART I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Rather than the usual breakdown of Cockpit, Assembly, Painting and so on, I’ve decided to break out the HK B-25 build chronologically. In part because it’s a restart, and in part because there’s so much going on with it, and with the various subassemblies, that it’d be torturous to jump back and forth between all those build logs. To the build, then… Continue reading

On the Bench (Again): 1/32 HK Models B-25J Mitchell – “Bottoms Up II”

It feels weird to be writing this in early September, knowing that it won’t be published for perhaps a few months!

So here’s the skinny.

Back in May, I started in on HK Models’ absolutely massive 1/32 B-25J Mitchell. It’s hard to contemplate just how big this beast really is. Even the specs are misleading. A 24-inch wingspan just doesn’t sound all that impressive on paper. But when you consider that a big-in-its-own-right 1/32 P-47 has a wingspan of around 15 inches, well, perhaps that puts it into some perspective.

Anyway, May turned out to be a really bad time to start on something so big. I was in the middle of some professional upheaval with a new job opportunity that required that I give away about a week of my life to prepare a final presentation. Somewhere along the way, my hot start on the big Mitchell turned into a slog, and I finally had to set it aside.

Around the same time, I was contacted about building a B-25 on commission. The individual who reached out to me had a grandfather who served on “Bottoms Up II” with the 340th Bomb Group out of Corsica, and wanted me to build the plane as a gift for his father. While we originally talked about a big HK, the idea of tackling a second daunted me, and so we settled on a more manageable 1/48 Revell-Monogram B-25. I ordered everything I needed and got started.

Then, somewhere along the way – I think it was while I was swearing at the atrocious nose fit – I had a thought. Drop the Revellogram and build the big HK instead. And keep it secret, so as to surprise him when he opened the box to find a massive B-25 within.

Thus begins the journey of this big B-25 that will be done up in the markings of “Bottoms Up II”.

Before diving in to the build logs, here’s a quick recap of where the thing was when I put it down.

The cockpit and internals were coming along nicely:

As were the intricate engines…

And the thing had found its way onto its wheels at least once, just to prove that the Profimodeller nose weight was up to snuff and that the gear could take the weight. They could, but the nose strut was shakier that Michael J. Fox, so I picked up a set of very nice G-Factor struts instead.

And that’s where it left off. Check out the build logs to see it go from here.