Monday, 12 November 2012

Build Review - Ocidental 1/48 Fiat G-91 R-3

One of my regular customers had a hankering for a "Gina" in 1/48. Options are limited, it's either this or the Heller version which is the same plastic. The Italeri version is not worth bothering with so I have tracked down one of these. I also have obtained the Neomega cockpit resin to dress things up a bit. The customer wants it in Luftwaffe markings, which are included in the kit but are of dubious quality, so the spares drawer will be raided on this one.

And so to the kit. Well, the mould is old. Very old. The parts are reasonably moulded, but they are very soft in outline which may present some problems. There is a lot of flash and the panel lines are deep and heavy but at least they are recessed. The kit brings to mind the golden age of plastic modelling, before we cared too much. So a challenge lies ahead. The shape is basically accurate, although I suspect that the nose may be a little long but nothing to worry about too much.

Having opted for the (frankly excellent) Neomega cockpit enhancements we start there and these painted up really well. Neomega are surely the kings of resin, often imitated but never equalled. The seat itself is a pure masterpiece and the belts are exquisitely represented - but that is for later. The tub replaces the kit parts very neatly without much argument. The only challenge is replacing the HUD section which requires a chunk of the kit plastic to be cut away. The plastic is thick and brittle and there is no way on earth that an accurate cut can be made, so I hacked away with impunity praying that the gaps could be neatly filled in later.

But before the fuselage can be closed up it is also necessary to install the undercarriage bays and this led me to my first experience of the kit engineering. Not good - the locating bars in the fuselage match the bay parts well but the actual bays are then way out of position. So some inventiveness was needed to secure them in the correct position and it was plain that some filling would be needed later. The bays themselves do incorporate some decent detail moulding inside them, if a little shallow, but at least they made some effort here.

And now to close up the fuselage halves. These fitted pretty well, the only problem being that I needed to shave the resin parts a little to get everything together - so I cannot really blame Ocidental for that. But it went together in the end and after much taping up I left it to set overnight to be sure. Once dry, I filled in the gaps around the HUD and smoothed over with filler. Next on went the wings and tail parts. These presented no real fit problems, although the port wing was rather warped and needed some heat treatment. They also needed a lot of sanding to remove the seams on the edge. The root gaps were not that bad, but they got well filled anyway.

The nose cone goes on next, and the instructions indicate that 10g of weight needs to be added to it. I would defy anyone outside of the particle physics field to get 10g of anything into that space, but I filled it with lead shot anyway. But after testing, it was clear that the additional weight of the resin cockpit as well meant that we were all OK and the tail would not sit down. The nose did, however, need a fair bit of filler and sanding to get the join seamless.

After masking the canopy and spraying it black, I gave the whole model a good coat of primer since with all that filler around the surface needed to be smoothed out well. This also revealed a few outstanding gaps and holes which I had to deal with. The underside was then sprayed light grey and masked out. I started the top side with the Lufwaffe grey and after a Blu Tack masking exercise added the dark green. I removed the masks and then proceeded to mask off the orange areas on the tail, wings and nose, which was actually a very time consuming job because of the placement of the orange panels. I mixed my own brand of dark orange to match reference photos as best as possible and applied these. Finally the tip of the tail and intake surround got an Alclad aluminium finish.

After two coats of Klear it was time for decals. This is a good time to point out how appallingly bad the kit instructions are. They just about get you through the build, but as far as the markings guide is concerned they are absolutely useless. Only a small fraction of the decals provided are even referred to and there is no positive placement indicated either. So I had to fall back on Mr Google to help me out here, along with a little educated guesswork and artistic licence. The customer wanted a Luftwaffe scheme but was not particularly fussed which one. The kit includes such a scheme but my sixth sense told me that the decals were going to be trouble, and I also did not like the German crosses which were far too fat and with a horrendously thick white border. So I raided my spares draw and fortunately managed to make up an almost complete scheme from there, but would have to fall back on the kit decals for a few of the stencils. And sure enough, when I applied them, they are very thick and glossy and refuse to submit to any amount of setting solution. Fortunately I only needed to use a few small ones.

Once done, I sealed the decals in with another coat of Klear and applied a black oil wash to the panels. After a subsequent matt coat I then applied a random mottled filter sprayed all over and also bleached out some of the panels to give a nice worn effect.

The next stage was to add the undercarriage. The kit wheels are fine, but the legs are very primitive and flashy. But I had no option but to use them so cleaned them up as best I could and after spraying, dry brushing and a little dirtying up they looked OK. The legs went on with very little trouble, but the undercarriage door arrangement (which is a little weird on the G91) was more tricky to get placed correctly. What I ended up with is not 100% accurate as the kit parts are shaped incorrectly but it's pretty close.

The final finishing touch was to paint and install the Neomega resin seat. The seat is so good that it did not need too much effort to come up looking perfect. I picked out the cushions, belts and a few other details on top of a black base and in no time it was looking excellent. I added ejection handles from my etch spares (they are not included in the Neomega set - the only black mark against it) and dropped the seat into place. This cockpit set really does turn what would otherwise be a very primitive model into something a little special.

And so she was finished. I am pretty pleased with the result, considering what one has to work with. But I have to say that one of the greatest joys of this craft is to get a decent result from a poor base, and in that sense this was a great build. But not for the faint hearted.