Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Valom 1/72 North American RB-45C "Tornado"

Valom can be relied upon to produce decent kits of some of the more obscure aircraft in history, and this is no exception. One of the very first jet powered bombers it is an important aircraft in its own right. But in this incarnation it was converted to reconnaissance duties. This particular kit covers a couple of aircraft used in the Korean war and the one I have built was painted black for night duties.

The kit is classic Valom. Good surface details and essentially accurate in profile however it has a strong smell of a "limited run" kit, and as such the engineering is primitive, without locating pins or particularly clear positioning. A bit of common sense and trial and error is required to get this right. A fair bit of parts clean up is also required, less because of flash but more because of ill thought out sprue links. But some decent photo etch is also included and also the engine in and out ports are provided in nicely moulded resin.

One notable omission from the kit, given that it is marketed as a reconnaissance machine, are camera ports. These I had to cut out and scratch build myself. Reference material for the RB-45C is very thin on the ground, and even less so any information on the camera ports themselves. But I followed the efforts of previous modellers and the sparse information out there and I challenge anyone to prove I have got it wrong!

Otherwise, the kit was built straight from the box. The main challenges were getting the fuselage halves lined up, fitting the internals correctly and fixing the undercarriage. The latter is very tricky, there is a lack of positive fixing points and it is hard to get the strength required to support the model. Also, the horizontal stabilisers have no fixings at all and I had to drill some rod holes to give them strength.

Decaling for this aircraft was very simple, there are no insignia or stencilling, just the tail end markings. However, weathering and all black aircraft and making it look "real" is always a challenge. I relied on various shades of black and a lot of pastels to give the whole thing some authenticity.

Despite all the build headaches, this turned into a fine model of this relatively unusual modelling subject, and I hope you enjoy the photos.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Hasegawa 1/32 FW-190A-5 "Nowotny"

After what seems a lifetime of building cold war aircraft and warships, it's a pleasant change to get back to my roots, with a good old WWII fighter. This kit is not a new mould, but is a good one, and in true Hasegawa style represents their usual policy of milking every mould they have for everything they can get. This boxing is designed to reproduce the A-5 flown by Walter Nowotny in Russia in 1943 and contains a few additional parts to represent this. But check your references carefully, Oblt. Nowotny flew many different aircraft and versions of the same aircraft, and not all sources agree on some of the specifics.

The build was to be "White 4", and my primary reference for this build was a combination of the excellent build by Chris Wauchop, the EagleCals #83 decal sheet and the Kagero "Green Heart Fighters" booklet. Into the mix came a host of aftermarket extras, including (but not limited to) the True Details cockpit set, Eagle Parts wheels, Master brass gun barrels and pitot, HD VDM Spinners and Eduard photo etch.

I'm not a huge fan of True Details parts as a rule, and avoid their resin wheels like the plague. Their attempt to represent tyre bulge usually results in an apparent flat tyre. However this cockpit set is a real gem. Accurate (as far as I can tell) and crisply moulded, and with careful painting comes up a real treat. A little messing around was needed to get it to fit (I'm not sure that it was this kit that the set was designed for, the kit part callouts are just wrong) but with a little patience all went in well.

The Eagle Parts tail wheel also has to be installed before the fuselage is closed up. Again, it does not fit this kit perfectly, and requires a little trimming and padding. But what I can state with confidence is that the Hasegawa plastic did not fail to impress. The fit of the parts is worthy of that other Japanese kit manufacturer who shall not be named when discussing Hasegawa, and everything lined up and fitted perfectly even when I thought it wouldn't due to my own messing around.

Much of the Eduard etch was not needed as it is for the cockpit which is more than adequately catered for by True Details, although I did borrow the Eduard rudder pedals. However Eduard etch was used for the undercarriage and wing flaps. Speaking of the latter, I always regret agreeing to install etched wing flaps, seems like a good idea at first but they are never straightforward. This is no exception. Much Dremel work was required thinning out the wing parts and adjusting the contours. But they knock the kit flaps into next week, and look really good, if I say so myself.

A fair bit of time was spent getting the engine right, although I forced myself to stop before I went too crazy because of course this is a closed cowling build and very little is actually visible.

Painting was done with my usual Tamiya acrylics, my own mixes in all cases (there are no direct matches for the RLM colours) and since the customer had asked for a reasonably weathered machine I spent a bit of time adding paint variations and fading at an early stage. The EagleCal #83 decals were used and went on beautifully, and after another gloss coat I applied a black oil paint wash, followed by some careful post shading and some additional oil paint weathering.

I was very pleased with the end result, not least because it has been so long since I have had an opportunity to build one of these iconic machines. I very much hope you enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Ebbro 1/20 Lotus 49

Having been persuaded to branch out into Motorsport, I decided to start with an old classic. The Lotus 49 needs no introduction to those who know the subject, put together for the 1967 F1 season and utilising the ground breaking Cosworth DFV engine which went on to dominate the sport for many years.

One of the ironies of this particular project is that the person who helped me choose this subject matter was none other than William Hewland, a very good friend of mine who inherited Hewland Engineering from his father Mike. Legendary in their own right in Motorsport, Hewland provided the gearbox for the Lotus 49B but unfortunately not the original version which is the subject of this build. Sorry mate!

Anyhow, on to the kit.It is exquisitely moulded, clean and crisp and fits together beautifully, with the possible exception of the nose cowling which really does not want to sit well. The sprues are pre-coloured in the style of the early Matchbox kits, although for a serious modeller this is irrelevant. One of the sprues is pre-coated in the familiar chrome finish so beloved of racing car kit makers, but not of modellers. A quick bath in bleach soon got rid of that. A set of brilliantly moulded and pre-painted rubber tyres is also included.

The instructions are excellently printed and intuitive, given the fact that to all intents and purposes this can be considered a Tamiya kit, the similarities should be no surprise. Included is a table of 1967 F1 GP events and the various options for decals, drivers and other car modifications are clearly represented. As far as I have been able to ascertain, all perfectly accurate as well. I chose Jim Clark's victorious car from the 1967 British Grand Prix, if only because I'm a Brit myself.

As said, the kit goes together really nicely in the main. Putting the plastic together is relatively easy. What of course is harder is getting the painting and finishing right. I used various shades of A.K. Interactive XTreme Metal on the metalwork and this worked really well IMHO. The drivers tub is fairly basic, and I added a couple of details in there (such as the gearstick hole surround) myself from spare photo etch. Incidentally, the instructions call for the tub to be painted grey, however there is a little doubt about this. It is pretty certain that the original would have been bare metal if only to save weight. Preserved examples are painted grey and this is probably where the kit makers got their data from.

The engine and gearbox are nicely detailed, but as ever, there is almost endless scope for the super detailer to go mad. In the event, my main addition was some amount of cabling based on photo references. Some of the linkages are a little fiddly to install but the end result is well worth it.

My only real problem was fitting the front cowling in such a way that it sat flush but still could be removed to view the steering and radiator mechanism. This was not easy, the parts do not seem to want to mate up well and it took a lot of fettling to get a reasonable result.

Bodywork paint finish involved much use of micromesh and repeated gloss coats, it's not something I usually have to worry about too much with beaten up old war planes but here it is important to get it looking smooth. Once the decals had been applied I finished the whole thing off with a coat of semi-matt lacquer. A full gloss coat in this scale just makes it look like a Dinky toy.

A quick tarmac diorama base finished things of nicely as well.

But all in all, a fascinating exercise for me and I look forward to doing many more in the future. I hope you enjoy the photos!