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!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Trumpeter 1/350 H.M.S. Eskimo (as H.M.S. Cossack)

Continuing my foray into warships, I was asked to create a 1/350 model of HMS Cossack, appearing as at the 2nd Battle of Narvik, 1940.

The nearest kit out there is this, the HMS Eskimo, a sister Tribal Class destroyer of the Cossack. I have built many Trumpeter kits in the past, and this one lives up to all the good and bad points of the others.

On the positive side, as with all Trumpeter kits, the moulding is excellent, crisp and flash free, and everything fits together beautifully. But on the other hand, true to form, there are a number of "in your face" inaccuracies that will need to be dealt with.

They key points that must be addressed are fourfold. Firstly, the bow shape is completely wrong. Trumpeter have the deck flat at the bow, when there should be a noticeable upward sweep. This is not as hard to correct as you may think at first, although it is still not for the fainthearted. Secondly, the "pom pom"  AA gun is represented in this kit as an eight gun mount - totally wrong, should be only four. Thirdly, the deck boats are all wrong in the kit, they appear to be German boats. And finally, the kit propellers are four bladed and they should be three.

To correct the bow shape, I added some packing plastic at the very tip which resulted in the deck piece being lifted up about 3mm to provide the correct sweep. The resulting gaps were filled with Milliput and sanded to shape. Unfortunately to be strictly accurate, the forward portholes and hawsepipe need to be moved, which entailed filling the existing ones and re-drilling.

The pom pom gun was fixed simply by throwing away the kit part and replacing it with the rather wonderful (but incredibly fiddly to make) Big Blue Boy etched brass version.

The deck boats were replaced with a set from Shapeways and the kit propellers replaced with the white metal set from WEM. WEM also provided a full tribal class etch set to add some sparkly detail to the whole build, along with brass gun barrels from Master, brass depth charges from Rainbow and a few other nice after market touches.

The paints used were from Lifecolor, primarily because they offer the correct shades of Admiralty grey which saved me the usual frustration paint mixing exercise. I'm not a big fan of Lifecolor acrylics, they are really hard to spray with, although they brush on beautifully, and indeed this is how I ended up painting the decks.

The kit itself went together very well, although adding the etch parts in this scale is always a challenge. I'm really starting to enjoy the warship work that is now coming my way. It is very fiddly (especially the rigging) but all the more rewarding for it.

I hope you enjoy the photos!