2012 Year in Review

Is it just me, or has 2012 flown by? On a personal front, the year of the apocalypse that wasn’t saw a major job change and the terrifying/exciting news that Mrs. Doogs and I are expecting offspring #3, due in March of this next year.

On the modeling front, this year hasn’t been as productive as I’d hoped, in large part due to several larger, lengthy projects. But still…it has been a year of learning, stretching and improvement. Four of my builds placed in area contests this year, and one of them took the top spot in its category – twice!

So what all did I get done? Here are the stats:

  • Total Completed Builds – 11
  • Average Build Time – 52 days
  • Longest Build – HK Models B-25J Mitchell – 93 days
  • Shortest Build – Eduard 1/144 MiG-21MFs – 14 days
  • Scale Breakdown – 6 x 1/48, 3 x 1/32, 2 x 1/144
  • Contest Wins – Two firsts, two seconds, two thirds

And here are the kits:

1/48 Tamiya P-47D-20 Thunderbolt – “Magic Carpet” – February

I’ve wanted to build the distinctive “Magic Carpet” ever since seeing it on the Dogfights episode “The Legend of Y-29”, and the Tamiya kit was the perfect platform for the build. Others seem to like it as well – “Magic Carpet” took first place in 1/48 Allied Props TWICE this year. Once in San Antonio, after a marathon session to finish it up in time, and once in Austin.

1/48 Revell P-47D-20 Thunderbolt – “The Bug” – February

Build alongside “Magic Carpet”, the Revellogram P-47 is the inverse of the Tamiya in many ways, and that’s kind of why I love it. Both represent the far ends of the Jug spectrum, and both have their appeal. I like the Tamiya more, but still hold massive love for the archaic Monogram tooling.

1/32 Pacific Coast Models Fiat G.55 Centauro – March

This sucker represented a ton of firsts. First limited run kit. First Italian aircraft. First scratchbuilt flaps. First cut and posed tail surfaces. It wasn’t a perfect kit by any means, but I daresay it’s the most fun I’ve had at the bench this year.

The Fiat took second place in 1/32 props at the Austin contest in the fall of 2012.

1/48 Hasegawa N1K1-Ja Shiden “George” – April

Tackled as a “recharge” build, the N1K1 was a quick-building, highly competent kit that was a great way for me to cut my teeth on Japanese aircraft and experiment with some weathering techniques.

1/48 Revell PV-1 Ventura – May

Revell’s new-tool kits really are something to behold, especially considering their low price points, and the Ventura typifies the very good engineering and general attention to detail. While I felt the kit fell down in some places (guns, wheels, other small details), it got the main airframe engineering exceptionally right.

The Peevee was deemed awesome enough that it scored second place among 1/48 large props at the Austin contest this past fall.

1/48 Tamiya Dewoitine D.520 – August

After some disastrous start/stops with several massive kits, I decided I needed something a bit more brainless, and so I reached for the D.520 as a quick build with an awesome paint scheme. And it turned out to be – mostly – a whole lot of fun. Excellent practice for painting and weathering, if I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the way the landing gear went together.

The D.520 took 3rd in 1/48 Allied Props at the Austin show this past fall.

1/48 Tamiya P-51B Mustang – “The Hun Hunter ~ Texas” – August

Lt. Henry Brown’s “The Hun Hunter ~ Texas” was another of those “must-build” kits, not just because of the Texas connection, or Brown’s crazy exploits, but also the standout RAF dark green over bare metal scheme. This one was a relatively fast and satisfying build.

1/32 HK Models B-25J Mitchell – “Bottoms Up II” – October

What’s there to say about this one? It was one intense build that I feel resulted in one of my best completes to date. It stretched me in many different ways, and probably ruined me on any further commission builds after the way FedEx crunched it.

1/144 Eduard MiG-21MF – Czech Air Force & Polish Air Force – December

These two wee MiGs were the perfect distraction from the big, 1/32 kits occupying my bench. If you’ve never broken away and built something totally random, there are a lot worse places to go than to these excellent 1/144 kits from Eduard (heck…you get two kits in the box!).

1/32 Hasegawa Bf 109G – Swiss Air Force – December

Ever since I first saw a 109 sporting the Swiss neutrality stripes, I just had to build one. This was an interesting build and one that I think holds together better at a distance, both due to the blandness of the Hasegawa kit and my own shortcomings in the finish-out.

Now…on to 2013!

1/32 Hasegawa Bf 109G-6 Part III – Painting

Hasegawa_109G_SwissLog3

Part I | Part IIPART III | Part IV

The Swiss 109 has been built, puttied, sanded, primed and made ready for paint. Time to do it to it!

Candy Canes

After laying down a black base (Tamiya X-1), I sprayed the white for the wings and rudder, using my trusty Gunze Mr. Color C69 Offwhite.

Knowing that the visual clutter of colors on this bird will knock down any changes in contrast among the white, I didn’t go for 100% even coverage, and stopped probably one or two passes short of where my mind wanted me to.

I wanted to wait for the wings to cure before masking them for the neutrality stripes, but the rudder was fair game, so I put down the masks for the rudder crosses (courtesy of Joe at Scale Precision Masks) and then sprayed the red.

After giving the white a night to cure up, I masked the candy canes. The Victory Productions decal sheet I used for inspiration gave the stripes some absurdly exact widths…down to hundredths of a millimeter. Being human, I opted for straight-up millimeters – 40mm for the big cross patches, and 15mm for the stripes. I cut these first on post-it notes to see how it would all lay out, then used them as masking guides.

Once I had the stripes masked…using my preferred method of a strip on top and a strip on bottom, pinched together at the leading edges of the wings, I placed the big Swiss crosses. This is my second build using vinyl paint masks, and for 1/32 I can’t recommend them highly enough.

With the masking done, the red was shot, and the masks removed.

Even with just the red laid down, you can already see how the local contrast of the white has flattened out.

Camoflage

With the wing stripes painted, I masked everything off and painted the undersides with Gunze RLM 65. This went down a bit weird – I think there might have been an issue with the Tamiya X-1 I put down as a base.

Once this set, I masked it as well, and moved on to the upper camoflage. This called for a brown somewhat like RAF Dark Earth, which didn’t seem right to me, as the pictures of this plane show a far lighter shade, so I cut it with some RLM 79 Sandgelb and C69 Offwhite.

Overall, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the shade. I think good, rich browns are still one of my bigger stumbling blocks as a modeler.

Moving on to the green – the Victory sheet calls this out as being very close to RLM 70 Black Green, which I tried momentarily and yeah, no way. I switched to RLM 80 Olivegrun and freehanded it with my Iwata HP-C+.

Even with the green, the brown felt somewhat washed out and sickly, so I sprayed a filter coat of Tamiya Clear Orange to warm things up a bit, then removed the masking and applied the fuselage stencils (also courtesy of Scale Precision Masks).

And with that, principal painting wrapped up.

Part I | Part II | PART III | Part IV

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

OnTheBenchTornadoGR1

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

Hasegawa_109G_SwissLog2

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.

Airframe

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?

Absolutely.

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