Weedwhackers and Lawn Darts

When I was building models as a kid, I was all about the jets and helicopters. After all, I grew up steeped in Top Gun, Iron Eagle, Afterburner, Transformers and a very hard-used collection of “In the Cockpit” documentaries. I was attending air shows right around the culmination of the Reagan 80s and the last gasps of the Cold War. I was eleven years old when Desert Storm went down. So it’s only natural that my interests ran toward F-15s and Harriers and AH-64 Apaches.

Then something happened. Well, two things. First, I got interested in World War II aviation. Second, after Desert Storm, military aviation quickly became super homogenized. If you look back now at a carrier deck from 1991, it’s amazing, the wondrous variety. Not just F/A-18 Hornets, but F-14 Tomcats, A-6 Intruders, EA-6B Prowlers, A-7 Corsair IIs…all gone now. The interesting paint schemes all turned into boring, naptime gray.

When I came back to modeling two years ago, my lack of interest in the modern era persisted. Hell, to date I don’t think I’ve built anything that served later than the first half of 1945.

Lately, though, something has changed. Maybe it’s just a desire for something different, or a realization that Desert Storm took place more than twenty years ago now. Whatever the case, I’ve had a powerful itch to build…not modern jets per se, but aircraft from those formative years, The F-15E Strike Eagle, the Tornado GR.1, MiG-29 and so on. I’ve also had a perverse desire to build some helicopters. But only some – specifically the Marines’ AH-1W Supercobra and the Soviets’ iconic Mi-24 Hind.

What’s the point of this post? Beats me. But…don’t be too shocked if you see a few builds cross this page that don’t have propeller sticking out the front.

1/32 Hasegawa Bf 109G-6 Part I – Cockpit

PART I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

I’m still waffling over the question of which Swiss 109 to depict with this build, J-711 with its RLM 74/75/76 scheme, or J-704 with its distinctive green/brown over blue.

But that’s no reason I can’t start work on the “Swiss Miss” while I try to make up my mind! So off to the races…

Test Fit

First thing’s first, seeing how the kit will go together overall.

Pretty darn well actually! The fuselage mates up nicely of course, but the fit of the tail section is a nice surprise that falls right on a panel line and leaves no gaps, steps or other apparent issues.

The wings are different from anything I’ve experienced on previous 109 builds. Instead of a bit three-piece wing and underbelly unit, Hasegawa lets the underbelly do its own thing and keeps dihedral with a nifty little wing spar.

One beef here. The plastic Hasegawa uses – at least with this wing spar – feels quite floppy. Not as big a deal on the little 109 as it is on, say, their big P-47, but still, I prefer the beefier wing spars I’ve encountered on some other kits.

The upper gun deck fits pretty well and thankfully is one of those that lets you install the guns after the fact.

The stabilizers are almost push-fit, with keyed, interlocking tabs that hold them at the proper dihedral quite well.

Happily, the front windscreen also appears to be a very good, clean fit.

Base Coating

All Gustav cockpits were finished out in RLM66, which I honestly kind of hate. The cockpit of the 109 is already closed and rather dark, and the so-dark-it’s-almost-black gray just makes everything harder to see. But, it is what it is, so I laid down a coat of Tamiya XF-1 Black and went over it with XF-63 German Grey.

Once the coat dried, details were picked out with a drybrushing of Model Master Dunkelgrau, and some chipping work with the trusty Prismacolor silver pencil. These Swiss 109Gs weren’t in service very long, since they proved very unreliable (probably due to sabotage by the slave labor the Germans employed to build them), and J-704 in particular was refurbished after a crash, so I’m assuming the offices were probably in decent condition.

Details, Details

Before moving on to the rest of the cockpit detailing, I pulled out the Eduard Zoom set I’d purchased for this build. It’s a bit limited and honestly I wish I’d thrown down the extra little bit for the full interior set. Still, the multi-part instrument panel is an impressive sight.

Frustratingly, Eduard’s color photo etch stuff always seems to photograph really poorly for me, making the color printing look way worse than it does in person. But once it’s all put together, the instrument panel looks a little something like this.

Meanwhile, in the cockpit, I wasn’t happy with the way Hasegawa depicted some of the wiring and plumbing, so I made up my own out of some wire.

Supercharger Interlude

Before closing the fuselage, I took a brief interlude to install the Eagle Editions supercharger intake. This necessitated cutting a hole in the fuselage, which wasn’t terrifying at all. Fortunately, the Dremel made quick work of most of it, and a succession of files and sanding sticks finished off the job. The supercharger was then placed, and secured with some Deluxe Materials Rocket Max cyanoacrylate glue.

The Cockpit, Nearly Done

Rather than fight with photo-etch seatbelts, I ordered a microtextile job for this kit. Alas, by the time the cockpit was nearing completion, it remained a no-show. Fortunately the cockpit is designed so that the floor slots up through the fuselage, so I went ahead and joined the fuselage halves and the tail unit, then glued in the Eduard PE instrument panel.

With the cockpit 90% done and the fuselage joined, the Swiss Miss is going to be in a holding pattern until the seatbelts and PE radiator grilles show up. Stay tuned for their appearance in Part 2 of the build log!

2nd Annual Fall Giveaway is Live!


Man, it’s hard to believe this blog’s been up and going for just over two years! What originally started as a small diversion has grown into a pretty substantial site with a following that’s nothing to sneeze at!

Last year, to mark the first anniversary and as a thank you to those of you who read and comment, I hosted a giveaway of two kits – a 1/32 Hasegawa P-47 Thunderbolt and Bronco’s 1/35 Bishop 25-pounder SPG.

Now, it’s time for round two! This year I’m streamlining things somewhat to avoid some of the confusion that popped up in 2011. So…no more voting on the giveaway kits. To make it up, though, I’m adding a third kit to the pot!

Without further adieu, here they are!

1/48 Tamiya Ilyushin Il-2M3 Shturmovik

I have to admit, when Tamiya drops a new kit, they tend to drop it as a total bombshell from almost out of the blue. Whereas we tend to know what’s coming down the pipe from Revell (hello Uhu!) or Trumpeter (1/32 Black Widow, anyone?), Tamiya plays their cards close until the kit’s more or less ready to go.

I don’t think anyone was expecting Tamiya to do a 1/48 Il-2, but my goodness is the kit a beauty. Quite possibly the single best 1/48 kit ever produced, and that’s saying a lot.

1/35 AFV Club Valentine Mk.II

To be honest, I had a hard time finding good armor to toss into the pot this year. Last year saw a lot of interesting and unique releases, but this year has definitely been lighter. Still, this recent Valentine from AFV Club is a doozy of a kit that looks a far cry from their frustrating Achilles Mk.IIc I built a while back. I have one in my stash and can say with confidence whoever wins this will be rather pleased with it!

1/72 Revell Handley Page Halifax B

Revell has quietly been on a tear lately with its 1/72 bomber fleet, and the Halifax has been receiving very solid reviews in spite of some minor shape issues with the engine nacelles (to which I say…it still looks like a Halifax!). And besides, have to cater to the tiny-scale fans out there!

What do you have to do?

Okay. Entering is simple.

  1. Leave a comment below sharing a “lesson learned” or bit of wisdom you’ve picked up from modeling. 
  2. Make sure your email is provided somewhere so I can get in touch if you win.

That’s it! Once the contest wraps up at the end of Monday, November 12th, I’ll pull a list of the comments, apply them against a random number generator, and pull out three winners. The first will get their choice between the Il-2, Valentine and Halifax. Then the second will get their choice between the two remaining kits. The third winner will get, well, the third kit.

Don’t live in the US? Don’t worry – you’re totally eligible for this contest as well. We may need to collaborate on sourcing the kit from somewhere that won’t kill on international shipping, but we’ll make it work.

So that’s it…comment away and best of luck! And thanks to you all for reading and commenting! I promise the blog will get back to normal speed soon, now that the stealth build period is behind me.

At Long Last, Some Armor Back Up in Here!

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I’ve touched an armor kit. I think it’s about time I remedy that and polish off one of my long-languishing builds.

But which one?

The Tasca M4A3(76)W Up-gunned Sherman…

…or the Trumpeter KV-2?

On the Bench: 1/32 Hasegawa Bf 109G-6 in Swiss Service

It’s kind of surprising to think of the Swiss – always neutral – as having any kind of military capability at all, but their neutrality has always been backed up by a potent defensive posture.

In the buildup to World War II, the Swiss stocked up on Messerschmitt Bf 109s, at the time the best fighter aircraft in Europe, if not the world. An early delivery of 10 Bf 109Ds was supplemented by a steady flow of 109E-3s up until Germany’s invasion of France in 1940. During the war, the Swiss Air Force came into four more 109s (two Fs and two Gs) through internment. Then, in April 1944, a German Bf 110G carrying top secret radar equipment was forced to make an emergency landing in Switzerland. In exchange for its destruction, the Nazis gave the Swiss twelve Bf 109G-6 fighters.

Nor did the Swiss keep these around for show. They defended Swiss airspace vigorously, and even got into shooting fights with German aircraft of several occasions. Toward the end of the war, as Allied air presence grew, the Swiss painted red and white “neutrality stripes” on their 109s to keep them from being confused with German fighters.

I’m planning to build one of these late-war Swiss 109Gs in the full neutrality stripe getup.

The Hasegawa Kit

There is a lot of conflicting information about the 109Gs in Swiss service. While they were all G-6 variants, there is some confusion as to which ones received which modifications. The Victory Productions decals I’m planning to use provide markings for J-705, which is commonly shown with the “tall tail” of later G variants, but with the standard framed canopy (Victory depicts it with an Erla, but an image of it crashed in 1945 clearly shows the frame-style canopy). J-707 through J-712 are pretty definitively shown with the tall tail and Erla-Haube.

Given the tall tail and Erla canopy, the Hasegawa 109G-6 kit actually won’t work too well for the Swiss markings. Instead I’ll be using the Hasegawa 109G-14, which sports both the taller tail and the Erla canopy.

As for the markings themselves, I’m planning to paint the Swiss crosses and neutrality stripes, and depict either J-705 or J-711 depending on my fancy.

Still getting my build plan sorted, so stay tuned!

On the Bench: 1/32 Hasegawa P-47D-27 in French Service

On October 1, Scale Plastic & Rail kicked off its second group build, “In Foreign Colours”. I’m still in the home stretch on my stealth build, but I’m already casting my glance toward what’s next.

I’d first aimed for Trumpeter’s 1/48 MiG-15bis, until I found it wasn’t going to be anything like a walk in the park. Back into the box it went.

Then, I settled on a French Jug. I was going to pull out a Tamiya 1/48 P-47 paired with decals from an Empire City sheet, until I found this:

I was smitten. Of course, the coolest schemes are never covered by decals, so I asked Joe at Scale Precision Masks about making me up some markings. Turns out the cowl text and the sortie marks are too small to pull off in 1/48, so, arm twisted, I decided to upsize to the Hasegawa 1/32 kit.

To be honest, this is a kit I’ve been wanting to build for a long time. My copy was actually a birthday gift from Mrs. Doogs back in 2010. At the time it was my sole 1/32 kit. Now I have a total of five 1/32 Jugs in the stash…

The Jug in French Service

After the Battle of France in 1940, several French pilots refused to surrender and stole out to Britain or French North Africa to carry on the fight. While a few, such as the famous Pierre Clostermann, were incorporated into the national air forces of the allies, many continued to serve in the Free French Air Force, which was equipped with Allied aircraft and which served more or less throughout Europe. Several FAFL (Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres) units participated in D-Day, while the famed Normandie-Niemen regiment flew Yak fighters alongside the Soviets on the Eastern Front. A bulk of the French units, however, operated in the Mediterranean and southern Europe, flying sorties against German ground targets in northern Italy and southern France.

The P-47 I’m planning to build was a member of Groupe de Chasse I/5 “Champagne”, which formed in September 1943 flying P-39 Airacobras before transitioning to the Jug toward the end of 1944. They were one of the many groups operating in southern Europe, with missions taking them into Italy, France and Germany before the end of the war.

I wish I could say that C9*I did something amazingly noteworthy, but to be honest I’ve been unable to track down more than a few pictures. But…the number of sortie markings it wears definitely indicates it was one active Jug.

Color Scheming

It’s pretty obvious that C9*I was finished in the standard olive drab over neutral gray scheme P-47s wore up until mid-1944, when the USAAF dictated that aircraft start being delivered in bare metal.It’s also clear that it wore the tricolor rudder typical of French P-47s, as well as yellow cowl flaps, wingtips, and ID bands just inboard of the guns.

But if you look closely at the forward edge of the engine cowl, particularly at the bottom, it appears that there is some different coloration there not depicted on the color profile.

My theory is that this is red, and that the image itself is somehow blue-filtered (hence the darkness of the yellow fuselage codes and tail numbers and the extreme lightness of the blue on the rudder). To see what a red cowl would look like under blue filtering, I had some Photoshop fun.

The topmost image is the red-cowled P-47, converted to black and white with a blue filter applied. The second is a straight grayscale conversion for comparison. Honestly…to me it looks entirely possible that the cowl ring was red, and this is backed up by every other GC I/5 Jug sporting a red ring up front.

So I’ll be doing C9*I with a red cowl ring.


Of course no build would be complete without aftermarket, so here’s what I’ll be throwing at “Le Jug”:

  • Eduard interior and exterior photo etch + canopy mask
  • Mastercasters wheels
  • Mastercasters replacement cowl flaps (and maybe gear bays)
  • Hasegawa brass blast tubes for the eight .50 cals

Stay tuned, this one kicks off soon!

Review: 1/48 Eduard Brassin Il-2 Wheels (for Tamiya)

It wasn’t very long ago that Eduard, best known for their excellent (and prolific) selection of photo etch and masking sets, expanded into resin accessories with their “Brassin” line. Though they have only been at it less than two years, Eduard has, in this author’s opinion, become one of the premiere players in the resin market, routinely releasing products that stand toe-to-toe with the best Aires, Ultracast and others have to offer.

Today we’ll look at Eduard’s new Brassin wheel set for one of the hottest releases of the year, the 1/48 Tamiya Il-2M3 Shturmovik.

Read the rest over at Scale Plastic & Rail