08 April 2015

Vintage Kit Build #2 - A Back to Basics Bank Holiday Build

As the somewhat long winded title suggests, the recent bank holiday weekend has have given me time to build something new, or more accurately, something old.

A while ago I was given a box full of old model kits. Most of them could be classed as "vintage." Many had missing parts, almost all had no decals and so I'd put them to one side and had not really thought about building them.

So this weekend I decided to pick one out. Airfix's 1:72 scale Hawker Hurricane Mk I/IIB, a series 2 kit (02042), The plastic dates from 1979 and this particular boxing, I believe, is from 1990. Although the box was slightly crushed, everything appeared to be there, apart from the decals which were beyond use. This wouldn't be a problem as I had a suitable decal set, for a Mk I, to replace them with.

As for the approach to this build, I decided to keep it simple, closer to how I'd have built a model during a childhood bank holiday weekend.

The kit itself is typical of the time, raised details, next to no interior. With this in mind I decided to build it in flight, with the pilot seated, to fill the otherwise empty cockpit.

Of course less detail, less parts, less to worry about when putting it all together. The only real issue was the propeller, it was a simple piece of plastic fitted between the two halves and was a bit wobbly when moved. Certainly no Tamiya poly cap here, but it's all part of the charm.

Once assembled I moved onto the painting. I was going for an early war green and brown (rather than the late war grey on the box art). I this is where I had a bit of an ulterior motive for this build, I want to try two things. First, to try spraying a two colour camouflage scheme for the first time. Second, to see how accurate the colours were in Vallejo's Model Air RAF day fighter paint set.

Starting with the undersides I used Vallejo Grey (71.103 - RLM 84). I then moved onto the topside, spraying the whole area with the Dark Earth (71.029). Overall I was pleased, these two colours looked fairly accurate and of course sprayed easily. A quick matt varnish coat was added, again Vallejo  and then I masked the model with Blu-tack and masking tape ready for the topside green.

Here things went a little awry. I used, after following the colour sheet advice, US Dark Green (71.016 - RLM 73, no really...!) and I was thinking, it looked a little brownish. Against better judgement I removed all the masking to find next to no difference between the green and brown.

(I apologise  for the lack of photos at this point, it's a bit wordy for a while but stay with me)

Of course at this point I re-masked and resprayed.... OK, so no, I didn't. In the spirit of the old-school childhood build approach I was going for I found a better green and brush painted over the green that was closer to brown. And I actually ended up with a much better match, result! Which green I hear you ask? Russian Green (71.017), although I should add that the colour I got obviously was achieved over painting US Dark green base so I'm not sure how accurate it'll be straight out.

Surprisingly with a flat brush, the finish on an older kit with raised details is non too shabby if I do say so myself.

That just left the decals. As mentioned I had a set of spares. They came from Plastic Planet Club's Allied Fighters in the Battle for Greece set which cost me about £4 (discounted, they should be about £7) and contains decals for a single version of four different RAF aircraft (a Hurricane, Gladiator, Blenheim and Beaufighter)

An OK little set for the price I paid, full price, I'm not so sure. The decals had a habit of curling up and needed a fair bit of persuading before they'd settle down.

Anyway, after that rather lengthy post, here's the final pictures.

A rather tidy build all things considered, and you know what? I had fun doing it, which is how it should be!

19 March 2015

A Re-Review - Vallejo Model Air

A while ago I wrote a review of Vallejo's Model Air range of paints. I stand by my comments that they work really well and from a technical point of view they are still the best paints I've used with an airbrush. However a few months on and I feel I really need to add something to that review, a disclaimer if you like.


While the paints are excellent the colours are not. If you buy one of their themed colour sets expecting to be able to use them straight out of the box then you are likely to be disappointed. Simply put, the colours are not even close to what they claim to be.

RLM colours? Not even close.

So far I've investigated both their RLM and RAF colours and found them both to be some way of what they are meant to be. Greens in particular seem to be nowhere near the shades they should be. Want an RAF green? You'll probably need to use their Russian green. Luftwaffe greens? I've no idea where they've got the colours from. Light blue undersides for your Luftwaffe aircraft? You'll probably need to mix in more grey into the supposed blue than blue, and so on.

You can probably see where this is going, when I refer to my Academy 1:72 Me 163B build and as to why there's been little in the way of progress. Yes you guessed it, I sprayed it in RLM 81 and 82 straight out of the bottle and now it looks like something from a cartoon. The undersides are fine so now I've got to find a way of removing the topside colours without ruining the rest of the paintwork or the interior.

It's times like this when I find this hobby less than enjoyable. The kit is excellent, for once my skills haven't let me down, just frustrating paint shades from Vallejo...

01 March 2015

What's On The Workbench? #4

As you might have guessed by now, my "What's On The Workbench" posts are mostly filler posts when not much progress has been made on my current projects.

So what's on the workbench?

To start with, Academy's Me 163B is now assembled and has been base coated in Vallejo Model Air's silver. I had a bit of trouble with the horizontal join around the nose, which took a couple of attempts to fill to a point where I was happy with it, but it's now there.

Why a silver base coat? Well I intend to try the hairspray technique of weathering so I want the silver to show through the paint scheme. I believe the wings of the Me 163 were wooden but I decided to keep a uniform base colour so when I add further layers they too stay uniform in colour.

However I'm not going to try a previously untried technique on this model so I've quickly mocked up an old scrap kit, in this case an Airfix Spitfire, with a two colour camouflage scheme to practice on.

Again I used a silver base coat followed by a coat of Tamiya semi-gloss clear from a spray can. Once this had dried I airbrushed hairspray over the whole model, let it dry, before over spraying the camouflage scheme.

So now I just need this to dry before applying warm water and attempting to rub off some of the paint. If it works, then I intend to repeat the process on the Me 163.

20 February 2015

Build Review - Academy Me 163B/S (12460) – Part 1

At the end of my previous post I mentioned Academy's 1:72 scale Me 163B/S kit, so time to get on with it. Experimental aircraft from WWII / the early Cold War period are an area of interest to me (something I'll probably write about in the future) and so this seemed like a good kit to get me back into modelling after my break.

Academy kits seem to have a reputation as a bit hit and miss but generally I like them. Opinions on-line tend to suggest that this is a good kit so my expectations were raised. Time to have an opinion of my own.

First impressions were that this looked like a really nice kit, I especially liked that there was a choice between the standard single seat Me 163B and the two seat glider trainer, the Me 163S.

I decided to opt for the Me 163B, enhanced as usual with an Eduard photo-etch set (SS256) for the interior and some small exterior details. Colour scheme wise, I'm probably going to deviate from those offered in the box, we'll see how things go before I decide.

So to start with I built the cockpit. I took the twin seater cockpit tub, filled down the consoles, cut away the rear seat area but left the rear floor. Two reasons, first, insurance in case I made a mess of the photo-etch. It's been a while since I'd worked on something this small. Second was that I felt the longer floor would settle in the base better as cockpit slippage seems to a caused a few problems on previous builds.

However in the end my fears were unfounded. The photo-etch built beautifully and the cockpit fitted fine.

I will say one thing though, it's really small, less than 1cm x 1cm and that includes the full width of the side consoles. Yes I knew it was a small aircraft, I knew I'm working with a small scale, but still, it was tiny! However a plus side is that nice bubble canopy really opens up the cockpit compared to many aircraft of the time, so all that detail is going to be on show for a change.

Next up was the tail section, two halves together with a tail wheel assembly at the base. It appears the tail wheel is meant to be moveable but that makes it quite difficult to glue around.

I also found there was a bit of gap at the base. Pushing this together tight seemed to impede the movement of the wheel assembly so I left it. I then filled and filed it while it was dry fitted to the fuselage which ensured the wheel still moved.

As for the wings, they went together as wings should. And there we are, all the main parts assembled,ready to be put together. So far, so good. I'm really enjoying this kit, which is how it should be.

15 February 2015

A Little Bit of History Repeating?

Back when I started this blog I gave myself a “to do” list of Academy kits to build but despite the best intentions they didn’t really get built.

The P-39 was built, but if I’m honest I did not build it well, in fact it was awful and my inexperience was showed up somewhat. The P-51B looked like a good kit but I managed to make a series of mistakes which consigned it to the scrap pile, likewise with the Hellcat. The P-47 went the way of eBay and the Ju-87 remains unbuilt and may well be sold at some point in the future.

Now don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t an Academy bashing post, I was so keen to get back into modelling that I rushed, bought a stack of kits, made far too many mistakes and never achieved the original goals that I set out to achieve. And of course, I wrote off a whole lot of kits in the process.

Recently I took a break and decided to spend a bit of time going back to basics, practicing and taking a more steady approach to modelling. Of course this doesn’t make particularly good reading, which explains the absence of blog posts in the last few months, but it has been useful. Not feeling the need to do something with half an eye on how I will blog about it afterwards has also been a relief.

So back to the here and now.

Regular readers, (I’m surprised, but the stats do show that there are still some of you checking in), will notice that this blog has had an update. A new look and a new beginning. And you know what? I’ve just gone out and bought another Academy kit…