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.

1/144 Eduard MiG-21MF Dual Combo, Part II – Paint

Part I | PART II

With main construction out of the way, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff – paint! These two MiGs are among the smallest kits I’ve ever built – I think the only things smaller are probably the 1/350 aircraft I did way back when I built Tamiya’s Enterprise as an adolescent – but I’m tackling them the same way I would a 1/32 kit.

Only…simplified.

First up…masking.Eduard very thoughtfully provides the smallest mask sheet I’ve ever seen…but without it I doubt I’d have leapt at these kits. Fortunately, despite being so small, the masks fit wonderfully.

With the masks in place (and never fear…that’s a clear mask over the top of the canopy…more on that later), I brought out the interior blue-green mix and shot the canopy framing, then hit the various green panels with Gunze Bright Green.

Eduard takes some serious time out of the mix by providing masks for these green patches, in addition to the canopy. With them masked off, I moved on to a coat of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black. Pre-shading in 1/144 is just crazy, but I can still add some variation by painting over the black. First though, metalizing the burner cans and the nose ring on the Polish MiG. I used Alclad Magnesium for this task.

One more last bit of prep painting before breaking into the main camo work – the Czech MiG-21 had a big white stripe running vertically just aft of its wings. I gave this some Gunze C69 Offwhite and masked it off once dry.

First up for the camo work, since it didn’t have a complicated fuselage stripe to mask – the Polish MiG. Eduard calls out the bottom color as Light Ghost Gray. I started to get all worried about this and then thought “wait, I’m building a 1/144 MiG and I’m starting to obsesses about the color of gray?”

So I slapped myself and got back to work. The instructions call for three greys…C305, C306 and C307 that, so far as I can tell, are basically the same temperature of gray, just lighter or darker. And I happen to have C306. And white. And black.

So I mixed C306 Gray with about 40-50% white and, heavily thinned, went to work on the underside.

Next up – the Czech MiG. The painting profile calls for RLM 65 Light Blue, but this looked too dark to my eyes, so I opted for RLM 75 Light Blue instead. Went down without a hitch. Got to love Gunze paints.

Upper Camo

After masking off the undersides – a task at once easy and insanely difficult due to the wee size of these buggers, I sprayed the Polish MiG with straight Gunze C306 Gray.

The Czech MiG was trickier. I didn’t have the recommended Gunze brown, and, well, Tamiya’s browns are all either 1) tan or 2) dark and reddish. So I mixed my own shade using XF-68 NATO Brown, XF-2 White and X-9 Orange. Ta da!

With the base colors down…now comes the tricky part. Masking for the fairly intricate camoflage patterns on both of these babies.

My first thought – tape – fills me with dread. Not only cutting out all those little curves in 1/144, but applying them over an uneven surface.

Instead, early in the build I started experimenting with liquid masks. I found Microscale’s Micro Mask to be exactly useless. As in…put it down and it simply will not come off. Rubber cement worked fantastically well, but is too thick to manage the necessary patterns. Then I came across this stuff:

It’s basically latex and ammonia, and it’s designed to be applied on paper, if you can believe it. You just brush it on, paint over it, and peel it off. I tested it out on Fail Frank with some nice and harsh laquer rattlecan paint, and it worked flawlessly. Plus, it’s controllable enough that you can manage fine patterns such as needed for camo work. In fact, it’s so controllable I’ve even used it to mask the burner cans on the MiGs.

When you paint it on, first of all, it stinks. Second, it goes on looking like thinned white glue, but dries glossy clear. You can see the masked areas in the picture below.

Next step – paint! I first went back to both aircraft with some highly thinned black, just  to give the darker colors a base to draw some contrast from. Then…the darker colors. The Polish MiG got Gunze C306 darkened with C2 black and a touch of sea blue. In my opinion too much of a touch of both, but alas. The Czech MiG got Tamiya XF-26 Deep Green lightened with some white.

After the paint dried (not long, I started removing the masks. And…ta da:

By and large, the masks did their job quite well. Though I did find that how you pull them off matters. If you rub them off with a finger, you get nice, smooth lines. lf you get one bit up and then pull (the only option on some masks on kits this small), you get some jagged edges. Rubbing over them with a paper towel smooths them out somewhat, but not entirely. Still, so much better than taping.

I also figured out why I keep having problems with my white backdrop…the posterboard itself has a very slight reddish tinge to it. So I switched back to blue for some hero shots.

Next up – decals and finishing up…

1/144 Eduard MiG-21MF Dual Combo, Part I – Construction

PART I | Part II

It seems silly to start with a dedicated “cockpit” section for 1/144 scale, so instead Part I of the MiG-21 builds is going to be straight-up construction – or everything that comes between opening the box and being ready for primer.

The Cockpit

I’m going to skip the “test-fit” section, since pics of one of the MiGs taped together litter the “on the bench” post. Suffice to say, the small wonder fits together with a precision kits far larger would envy.

After satisfying myself the thing would actually go together, I took it back apart and prepared to get down to business with the interior. The cockpit is no great shakes compared to what I’m used to in larger scales, but it’s downright amazing in 1/144.

First – it HAS a cockpit.

Second, it has a multi-piece cockpit consisting of a floor (with the base of the ejection seat molded in), a two-part seat back, control stick, instrument panel, panel combing, and sidewall/side controls. Detail on these is vague at best, but all told this cockpit is about the size of a gunsight on a 1/32 kit, so I’m not going to complain!

First thing I did with the cockpits was to isolate all the pieces. These were snipped from their sprues with the sprue tabs intact for gripping. I then got about mixing the MiGs’ rather vibrant blue-green interior color. Lacking the necessary Gunze paints referenced in the instructions, I turned to my Tamiya stockpile and pulled out X-14 Sky Blue and XF-3 Yellow. I’d read online that these should be mixed 50/50. Yeah no. More like 1 part yellow to 4 parts blue. At least if you’re trying to get close-ish to the color of the photo etch included with the larger Eduard Fishbeds.

With the color mixed, I lit up the cockpit areas. I usually use a primer, but at this scale, meh.

Next, I busted out the Vallejo Light Gray and Black Gray to paint up the ejection seats. While I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff through the airbrush (or rather, I’m just a much bigger fan of Tamiya and Gunze), nothing brush paints as well as Vallejo. Not even close.

Next up, I “detailed” the instrument panels and side consoles with some Vallejo Black, added belts of ultra-thin-sliced Tamiya tape painted Vallejo Gray Green, and went ahead and assembled the interior walls of the main gear bays, since these will have to go in ahead of closing up the fuselages. The cockpits also got a raw umber oil wash to add some depth and dirtiness.

Continuing in the do-it-before-you-close-it vein, I shot the fore and aft openings with Tamiya Flat Aluminum. God I hate this stuff, but I already had the Tamiya paints out, and these will hardly be visible anyway. Just…visible enough that I don’t want bare plastic showing.

While I had the airbrush out, I also sprayed the nosecones with Gunze Bright Green as called for in the instructions.

Weighty Matters

Being used to tail-dragging props, I eye any tricycle-geared contraption with wariness, expecting that I’ll have to cram weight somewhere to make it all work. Unfortunately, Eduard provides ZERO information, one way or the other, about whether or how much weight these little MiGs need. And the landing gear isn’t exactly the sort you can test-fit to figure it out for yourself.

Well, better safe than sorry. To add some weight, I turned to Deluxe Materials’ Liquid Gravity.

Now, this stuff isn’t liquid. Instead, it’s made up of a ton of tiny metal spheres, sort of like miniaturized buckshot. It’s got a nozzle up top not unlike what you’d find on a squeeze bottle, and lets these spheres careen out in a controllable fashion. So controllable that I was able to pour them right into the tiny nosecones of the MiGs.

To lock the Liquid Gravity in place, I put a dollop of Deluxe Materials’ Rocket Rapid medium-viscosity CA glue over the spheres and let it set.

Now…two questions.

First – will this be enough to keep the MiGs on their feet? No idea! It’s very hard to find any drawbacks in Eduard’s offering here – but the lack of weighting information is surely one of them. I could have added more Liquid Gravity, as there is ample room in the fuselage, but was hesitant considering the tininess of the nose gear. So I’ll just have to hope…

Second – what do I make of Liquid Gravity? Quite simply, I love this stuff. Now, I think it’s probably overkill if you’re trying to weight something larger, with plenty of nooks and crannies to hide big fishing weights or whatnot. For for smaller kits, or for subjects like a glass-nose B-25 where hidden space up front is at a premium, this stuff is a lifesaver! If so inclined, you could literally hide it everywhere, up under cockpit floors, in tiny recesses, you get the idea. Heck, if you find at the end of a build you didn’t add enough weight, you could easily inject some of this stuff through a tiny hole and then plug it up.

Construction

With the nosecones weighted, it was on to putting the MiGs together. There’s really not much to this. The cockpit basically consists of the floor, sidewalls, a teensy little control stick, the instrument panel and panel combing. The floor and bits that stick to it slot in perfectly up under the sidewalls, and it’s easy to glue in one side with some PVA glue, then just tape the fuselage shut to let it set. Ditto for the nosecone. To be honest, I didn’t even bother with the little engine fan piece in the aft…the only way anybody would ever see it would be with a penlight right up the blowhole anyway.

Once these pieces are set, it’s a simple matter of mating the fuselage together. I used Tenax 7R with a microbrush and knocked this out in minutes.

Next up – the tail and fuselage spine. This is easily the trickiest bit of the entire build. Basically you have one piece consisting of the tail and the port side of the spine, and another that’s more or less the starboard half of the spine.

These have to be mated, then placed atop the MiG. To approach this, I pinched the pieces together at the tail, and hit their undersides with Tenax to weld them together. Once that set  – a few seconds, basically – I placed the spine on the fuselage, pinched it together, and did the Tenax + microbrush thing to the top seam.

Now the real treat – how to get the spine onto the aircraft? Tenax sets so fast that you can’t really apply it and then join pieces together, and on something this small I didn’t want to be running the microbrush across any more areas than absolutely necessary. Superglue is too one-shot-and-that’s-it. And PVA glue has too much flex.

So I decided to try out some Deluxe Materials Rocket Plastic Glue.

It comes in a cyanoacrylate-style bottle, but don’t be fooled. This stuff is a solvent-type glue, but amazingly non-toxic. Not that I’d go mixing cocktails with it, but still. What I find interesting is that it comes with a micro-applicator and that it works a lot slower than Tenax and other solvents.

90% of the time, Tenax is awesome, but 10% of the time it’s a sledgehammer that’s too hot for it’s own good, and applying it can often mean losing precious detail.

Well, I can now speak from experience. The Rocket Plastic Glue is for the other 10%. It’s too slow to my liking for, say, a big fuselage join, but for the delicate stuff, it’s greatness. For the MiGs spines, I just ran the micro-applicator where I wanted the stuff to go (be careful…it flows just like other solvent glues), flipped them over and pressed them down onto the fuselages. Held them for about a minute, and everything was good to go.

I’ll definitely be using this stuff in the future, and can already think back to where it could have saved me on some other builds (cough…cowling of the Zvezda La-5…). I imagine it could also be useful when you want a really deep weld, as with wing-to-fuselage joins…using the Rocket Plastic Glue on the inside faces, then Tenax on the outer wingroots.

Anyway, with that the spines were in place. There were still some seams visible along the port/starboard joins, so I dabbed them with Mr. Surfacer 500, deeming putty overkill at this scale, then sanded the 500 down with fine and ultra-fine sanding sticks once it set up.

Lastly, I glued down the canopies with Micro Kristal Klear. I typically mask canopies before attaching them, but with ones this small, I figure that’s a task that’ll be easier to handle with them on the models.

And…that’s it for construction. There’s still some masking, still some minor cleanup, but for the most part, it’s on to the paint shop!

My sincere thanks to Deluxe Materials and Horizon Hobby for the review samples of Liquid Gravity and Rocket Plastic Glue!

Happy Focke-ing New Year

Once the Swiss Miss, Le Jug and the micro-MiGs are done, I’m planning to dive into a good old Focke Wulf Fw 190. But I’m absolutely torn as to which one I should build…below are the three variants/schemes I’m considering…check ’em out and let me know what you think!

Fw 190A-7 (Eduard 1/48)

Fw 190F-8 (Tamiya 1/48)

Fw 190A-8/R-2 (Eduard 1/48 or Hasegawa 1/32)

1/32 Trumpeter P-47D “French Jug”, Part I – Cockpit

PART I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

When I kicked this project off, I had every intention of going with Hasegawa’s 1/32 Jug. Until I pulled it out of the box and began fiddling with it. I’ll address why I soured on it below, but suffice to say I’ve decided to build C9*I of Groupe de Chasse I/5 “Champagne” with Trumpeter’s big P-47 instead.

What Happened?

I was really looking forward to Hasegawa’s 1/32 P-47. The kit’s been the subject of numerous glowing reviews, and I went in with high expectations. Perhaps too high. Maybe it’s some of the other kits I’ve plowed through recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve built Tamiya’s masterful 1/48 P-47 (twice) and was hoping for something along the same lines, but bigger. What I encountered instead was a letdown, simple as that, from the floppy wing spars to the ill-fitting cowl idiotically divided into four pieces. If dividing the cowl was done in the name of displaying it with various access panels removed, I’d have been okay. But it’s not. It’s just…quartered for no reason.

I decided to pull the plug on the Hasegawa as soon as my dissatisfaction set in – I’ve learned better than to plow on with a kit when my first impression is so negative. Instead, I picked up Trumpeter’s big P-47D-25.

Initial impression? This is a far more ambitious kit than the Hasegawa…and while it features some questionable engineering choices, the main airframe buildup is, in my opinion, a lot smarter. For starters, there’s no four-piece cowl silliness. While the choice to make it clear is kind of random, it’s one piece, it’s gorgeous, and it fits without an annoying step.

The wing spar is also far beefier than in the Hasegawa kit – and is actually more reminiscent of the 1/48 Tamiya Jug. Like that smaller kit, it locks the wings in place with absolute authority.

Another interesting bit is the interior ductwork. Every review of the Trumpeter Jug I’ve read has basically shaken its head at this, with good reason – it’s beyond silly to include a complicated assembly that gets trapped inside the fuselage where it’s completely invisible. Those same reviews have also noted that it’s required, because the cockpit tub rests on it, as does the firewall that ultimately helps mount the engine. I’m happy to report that  these are both LIES.

The cockpit tub sits happily on four little spars that jut out from the inner fuselage walls.

As for the firewall, it attaches to the forward wing spar, which only kinda rests on the ductwork and is actually trapped instead by the fuselage halves themselves.

Take that, needless complexity!

The Cockpit

First thing’s first, and since this is an aircraft, the first thing is the cockpit. If you’ve built Tamiya’s Jug before, the layout is instantly familiar.The cockpit itself is solid enough, but I decided to go a bit deeper and use Eduard’s interior detail set.

What can I say? 1/32 tempts me to go all AMS.

A lot of the good stuff’s in color, but I went ahead and laid down the unpainted photo etch first.

By the way, yes, that’s a photo-etch seat. Big improvement over the kit plastic, if you ask me.

Once everything was as in place as it could be, I primed it with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1200, then airbrushed it Tamiya XF-1 Black oversprayed with XF-16 Deep Green to give it some depth.

Next up, the seatbelts. Trumpeter gives you some crappy photo etch belts. Eduard’s detail set gives you much nicer color PE belts. But I’m a total convert to microtextiles, so on to HGW’s P-47 harness!

Here they are after assembly:

And after a wash of raw umber artist oil. The shoulder straps of Radu Brinzan’s Luftwaffe belts came along for the ride for the sake of comparison.

With the belts done, I shifted gears to the instrument panel. The panel facing is a bit too blue and gray for my taste, but it’ll look good enough once it’s all closed up.

Next, the general weathering progress…drybrushing the cockpit with Model Master Dunkelgrau and some Metalizer Aluminum, applying the color photo etch, and putting down a raw umber oil wash.

Being a fairly detailed cockpit, there’s a lot of little work that needs to happen for it to come together. Here’s some in-progress shots with the oxygen hose mounted, seat installed, HGW harnesses fitted in place, and the instrument panel and rudder assembly kind of leaning in place. The P-47 didn’t have combing over the instrument panel. Considering the backside of the instrument panel will thus be somewhat visible through the windscreen, I’ve added some wiring to busy it up.

While waiting for the seat, then the harnesses to set, I also did some work on the Mk.VIII gunsight. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Trumpeter rendition, which seems vastly oversized, so I ordered a resin replacement from Master Detail. This was attached to a photo etch mounting truss from the Eduard detail set.

There was some folding involved, but honestly the truss was pretty easy to get sorted. Just some very easy folding, really. The pics I have of the real thing show it all dusty (sort of like the area behind a TV), with wiring running along it and back down behind the instrument panel. It’s going to be fun to really detail it up! But first thing’s first, primer and paint. In this case Tamiya rattlecan primer and Vallejo Black.

Once the Mk.VIII was painted up, the rest of the cockpit went – I won’t say quickly, but it went more or less smoothly.

The gunsight and mount were lightly drybrushed with silver, the forward padding painted Vallejo Leather Brown, and the general dirtiness of the mounting truss achieved with AK Interactive Dust Effects. Some Ultrawire was twisted up and hit with Tamiya primer, then installed. Finally, the reflector glass was punched out of the provided acetate sheet and installed with Micro Kristal Klear glue.

A few additional photo-etch bits were added, as well.

Lastly, when I went to install the control stick, I noticed it was way, way too high. At basically shoulder-level with the pilot. So I sliced it down and used the removed length on the throttle quadrant.

From there, the rest was mostly putting pieces together. Gluing the gunsight and truss in place was interesting, but everything else was paint-by-numbers basic.

And with that, the cockpit it complete!

Up next, the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial!

On the Bench: 1/144 Eduard MiG-21MF Dual Combo

I’ve recently been bitten by a desire to build a few things without propellers (or with propellers facing the wrong way), but I’m also kinda sorta engrossed in two big 1/32 builds.

Conundrum!

Don’t want to crowd the bench with another big build…so instead I’ve decided to veer wildly in the exact opposite direction and build a pair of Eduard’s tiny 1/144 MiG-21MFs.

They don’t really look too tiny in that picture, do they? Small, but not “wait, what am I thinking?” small.

Yeah, about that.

These things are tiny. Seriously tiny. As in…about the size of a business card.

So why not toss in some intricate marking options? My plans right now are to build this Czech number with the goofy smile…

And this…dare I say it timeless example from the Polish Air Force.

You know, I like Poland and have a weird draw toward Polish subjects from World War II right up to today. But every time I see that insignia much first, kneejerk thought is “oh, it’s the Purina Air Force!”

Okay! Now that I’m sure I’ve offended someone, I have to admit tackling those schemes in kits the size of a business card is a little bit terrifying. But hey…that’s why I stand by this:

Stick around. Stay tuned for more, and be sure to follow Doogs’ Models on Facebook for more frequent updates, links to interesting things and lots of shared photos!