Academy 1/72 F/A-18A Hornet

Andy Firth’s models have caught my eye for all the right reasons, over quite a period of time and their quality, tied to Andy’s quite forthright manner, have endeared me to both ever since. It’s a privilege to feature Andy’s ‘Bug’ here. The base is via Coastal Kits.

To quote Andy…

“This is Academy’s 1/72 F/A -18A+ built for a feature on the Kitmaker Network website. Built straight from the box as I’d burnt myself out superdetailing other projects and needed something simple to play with.

I have to say, it single handedly saved my modelling hobby as it was a dream to build. The best modelling experience I’ve had in quite some time.”

Airfix 1/72 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I

Mask-meister Mal Mayfield joins the guest list today with his diminutive Spitfire Mk.I from the Airfix revised tooling. Mal has championed the cause of masks over decals for many years and can be rightly considered the hobby’s number one choice for custom masks.

His top drawer skills are married to his preferred choice of masking material, a closely guarded secret for its ability to be cut in fine, intricate patterns, without shrinkage (a common problem with other vinyl options). Mal has created many bespoke masking sets for modellers that appreciate being able to apply the finishing markings just as they were created on the full size originals. Of course, it’s one thing to have the mask creation aspect sorted, you also need instructions…and Mal’s must be among the most explicitly clear and comprehensive you’ll find anywhere.

I’ve used home spun masks myself in 1/72 and am long since sold on the inherent superiority of paint over decals. With several of Mal’s sets in the bunker, I can’t wait to re-visit the pleasure they provide, when you sit back and enjoy the results.

In Mal’s own words.

“Spitfire Mk I, K9998 QJ-K, the 211th Spitfire built out of the first order for 212. Pilot was Geoffrey Wellum, the youngest pilot to fly spitfires during the Battle of Britain and this was the first Spitfire that he flew. All markings are painted on (of course).

Geoffrey Wellum lives just up the road from me and I have had a conversation with him about this spitfire and I am currently building a 1/32 scale version which will incorporate the details that he has told me about. Actually it will be the second one that I have built as the first one is wrong; that one resides in the Mullion heritage centre.

This aircraft still had the pole type antenna, so this model is wrong in that respect, it also still retained the pump up undercarriage mechanism. Geoffrey Wellum mentions this in his book, “First Light” which is a great read and I have a signed copy.”

 

Bad Wolf

Serial killer…

Do you find yourself starting more kits than you finish? Do you ever complete anything? Do you eye up the plastic in the box, as you stand in the hobby store and picture the model on your display shelf with spotless construction and a flawless finish? If so, you are likely already firmly in the grip of ‘the serial killer’, that murderer of motivation, the annihilator of ambition and crusher of confidence. It is ‘The Babadook’ of modelling…

The Babadook enters your life through the boxes of kits you bring hopefully into your home (ie ‘hoping’ your significant other hasn’t 1. Noticed; 2. Already compiled a detailed inventory of existing guilt; 3. Kept up to date with the joint account…or all three…). It lurks just out of direct sight, in the shadows of your mind. The Babadook thrives and flourishes on a diet of high ambition and lofty ideals and greedily strips its victims of these notional concepts, leaving the modeller bereft, as the latest project loses its shine and appeal and is relegated to the burgeoning pile of false starts.

But The Babadook has a weakness. A chink in its armour. It preys on fear of failure; of somehow not living up to the standards victims set for themselves, standards that are often nothing more than simply those of other modellers, rather than truly of ourselves. That’s nonetheless understandable – we’re all bombarded daily, across the gamut of our lives, with intense and highly focussed advertising, promising perfect skin, teeth and appearance, health, wealth and fairy tale relationships and these unrealistic and misleading messages also extend their groping tentacles into our hobby and beyond. ‘Buy this book’, ‘read this magazine’, ‘watch this DVD or online video’ and become an all-conquoring ‘champion of plastic’. Some can. Some do. For most though, the chase leads rapidly into the welcoming arms of The Babadook and thence, into the dingy basement of the mind that serial starters are doomed to call ‘home’.

And there’s the rub; The Babadook isn’t ‘real’. The high ambition and lofty ideals exist only as abstract concepts of the mind. None of it is ‘real’ unless you think it so. The solution, as well as the problem, begins and ends with you. Step one is to let go of expectation, just enjoy the ride and finish the project. Step two is to use your knowledge and experience to best advantage while again, relinquishing expectation and finishing the project. Step three is to understand that the root of happiness and contentment is ‘acceptance’.

I read once that ‘nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so’ but the author of this piece of quasi-psycology clearly hadn’t considered the prospect of being thrown into a live volcano for instance. We can be sure that if he or she were dropped into a lake of molten rock they’d think that that was ‘bad’ all the way down…and no-one with a working majority of their marbles still intact would argue with the veracity of that judgement.

So, stop the rot, be happy in everything you build and look forward with keen excitement to what comes next. I’ve always expressed the intent (as a one time, long, long, long time serial starter) that my modelling would thereafter be a journey in which I’d be always travelling but never arriving and there’s no room on that train for ‘The Babadook’…

Until next time.

Bad Wolf

Tamiya 1/48 P-47D ‘Razorback’

When I conceived the notion of a ‘Guest Models’ slot in the blog there was no manner of means that would see Paolo Portuesi left out, short of his declining to participate. Happily, he willingly consented and I’m extraordinarily pleased to share five images with you of his exquisite 1/48 Tamiya P-47D ‘Razorback’.

The kit is a perfect foil for Paolo’s comprehensive skill set which, coupled to his refined style, just drips with Italian flair.

Enjoy!

 

“A Voice From The Stars – a pathfinder’s story”

Hi folks:

Here’s a brief mention of ‘Altair’, one Liberator of (I believe) more than 19,000 built that after initial service with the USAAF, was passed to the RAF and found herself a Pathfinder aircraft with 614 Squadron in Amendola, Italy.

She was piloted by Australian Tom Scotland, who I had the pleasure and privilege of corresponding with over the project until he passed away on August 15, 2012. Regrettably, all his wartime photos of ‘Altair’ were stolen in a satchel he had in a car outside his home in Oz, so the rendition here is compiled from my detailed quizzing of Tom’s memory, who fielded my persistence with remarkable patience.
My brother Nick commissioned the build more years ago than I can bear to admit to here, the motivating factor being that ‘Altair’ was the home to our uncle, Ted Budd, while he trained under Tom in the Pathfinder role.

Tom, in the cockpit of his Halifax.

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Ted successfully completed his training and was assigned to another crew. It was a routine flight in February 1945, that headed out over a winter Adriatic, that his Liberator iced up and began to auger in, seemingly out of control. The pilot clearly felt as such and gave the order to bail out. The great irony was that Liberators were not particularly easy aircraft to exit in an emergency but Ted and a crew mate nonetheless made it out. Almost as soon as they popped silk, the pilot rescinded the order when the Libby came back under control (presumably the de-icing boots finally succeeded in shifting the ice) but it was too late for Ted and his crew mate who’s life expectancy in winter waters would have been measured in minutes. Despite considerable efforts, their bodies were never found. I recently visited The National Archives at Kew, England with Nick and found the official 614 Squadron record of the icing incident.

Happily, Tom has three sons living in Australia and Nick and I have been in touch again to confirm their dad’s bird is now in print (Chris Clifford, editor of Airfix Model World, kindly agreed to publish the piece, which appeared in Issue 74, January 2017).

Issue 74

As my brother Nick remarked on Facebook –

“Well, here is my late relative Ted Budd’s 1944/45 Liberator in 2016 glory. Massive thanks to my brother Steven Budd, who has faithfully replicated ‘Altair’ in tribute to Flight Sergeant Ted Budd and Flying Officer Tom Scotland. This is essentially the end game to a 10 year research of one ordinary guy’s contribution, amongst hundreds of thousands of ordinary guys contributions, who were caught up in this momentous time in our history. If I would have known at the outset what I would subsequently find out about a little known relative I would never have believed it.

It’s not beyond exaggeration to say it’s fairy-tale like in what I have been so fortunate to have learned. Our family’s vague understanding of Ted’s sad death passed down the decades, only to be resolved by a one in a million response by someone who had read the privately published Australian book ‘Voice from the Stars’.

Voice From The Stars

That was the introduction to late Flying Officer Tom Scotland DFC and an emailed response saying ‘Hi Nick, yes I knew your relative’….’I talk about him in my book’. Ted’s previously misunderstood death being resolved in the chapter simply entitled ‘Budd’. This was and continues to be an emotive journey and one that has now come to an end. I do wish our Aunt Eve, Ted’s mother was around to have learnt all this. But, given the almost spiritual-like guiding nature of where this story took me and Tom’s book being called ‘Voice from the Stars’, I don’t think I need worry too much on this last sentimental postscript.”

Ted Budd (on the right).

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Ted enjoyed his last Christmas with the squadron in December, 1944. Here, the printed menu for 614, as the notion of victory in Europe finally started to gain real traction in allied minds.

614 Xmas 1944

‘Altair’, finally on the flight line.

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The nose markings were created by Mike Grant, quite some time ago and I acknowledge his great kindness here, in temporarily coming out of ‘custom decal retirement’ to respond to my pleading.

The tail codes were sourced from a generic Xtradecals sheet and the national markings and individual aircraft letter, were created from home spun masks and sprayed.

Weathering the olive drab will form the subject of a separate ‘How To’ at a later date.

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The otherwise plain and unadorned waist interior was given a gentle leg up with a little scratched and patched plastic nic nacs.

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If my pursuit of Nicolson’s ‘Red Devil’ or Roscoe Brown’s ‘Bunnie / Miss Kentucky State’ has taught me anything, it’s this; the machines are nothing without the stories and experiences of the men and women connected to them. Whether it’s an aircraft, ship, tank, car, motorcycle or something else, all are the product of human endeavour, all have a story to tell, perhaps more than one, perhaps several or thousands.

Modelling can, if you let it, become the catalyst for explorations and adventures far beyond that attractive box art and catapult you in directions you never imagined and bring you into contact with people who might otherwise have remained strangers.

Until next time…

Wingnut Wings 1/32 Fokker E.III (Late)

The impending advent of a brand new model company, comparatively infrequent though it is, always causes a tsunami of excitement amongst plastaholics. That this one pertained to WWI aviation, in arguably that genre’s ideal scale – 1/32 and was backed and bank rolled by Peter Jackson and underpinned by the world class expertise of PJ’s The Vintage Aviator Ltd, was pure jam on top of jam, swamped in cream, with a side order of a bucket of custard.

The launch advertisements gave promise of a ‘Hisso’ engined SE5a, Bristol F2B, Junkers J.1 and an LVG C.VI. WWI modellers were beside themselves when the kits were announced and many in need of hospitalisation in the immediate wake of kit reviews of the extant plastic, brass and sundries. Wallets were emptied and non-essential body parts sold (not all of which, legally owned by the vendor) to fund the hunger for these exquisite jewels of the kit maker’s art.

More remarkable still, there was no real teething issues with the kits (beyond a minor and resolvable query connected to the J.1’s aileron length). It was as though they had been in business for decades – right from the outset. Fit and engineering were exemplary. Accuracy beyond reproach. Quality the equal of Tamiya. The instructions were a revelation; heavy, glossy paper, colour coded directions and reference photographs! Wingnut Wings did not merely feed the appetites of existing WWI buffs – they drew in many new converts and remain today an object lesson for all other companies, established and fledgling, in delivering top drawer kits at fair prices.

It wasn’t long before I had a dozen or more of these beauties in the stash and when editor, Chris Clifford offered the late Eindecker E.III for my third AMW build I snapped his hand off, simultaneously discovering that mild concussion nodding ‘yes’ is indeed a medical reality.

The build was a joy and our courtship, a flurry of rose petals and softly whispered sweet nothings, until we both lay back on consummation of our lust, sated and happy. “I wonder if she has a sister?” I naughtily pondered and indeed she has – three, an E.I, an E.II / III (early) and an E.IV. All this might suggest that that concussion should’ve received medical attention but ‘once a Wingnutter, always a Wingnutter’ and I remain incurably and incorrigibly smitten.

Laminated wooden propellors have several methods of creation. This may be the first and only time AK Interactive’s ‘Track Wash’ has been used in this capacity. The first layer dried rapidly and just one more application (and the Mk.I steady hand) created the dark lamination seen here.

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The kit readily lends itself to sub-assembly methods of construction.

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There are various ways of approaching Fokker’s signature ‘beaten metal’ cowl decoration but I chose Alclad II ALC103 Aluminium as a base with Tamiya’s Chrome Silver brushed on top. From ‘viewing distance’ (not as close here) it works effectively to convey that type of finish.

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Rigging was a combination of Bob’s Buckles, Gas Patch fittings, and Japanese Reflo monofilament fishing line (very soft, flexible and strong).

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It’s not many kits that include a teddy bear in the presentation…

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Even Wingnut’s rigging diagram wasn’t enough to convince me of the correct rigging layout, so a trip to the Science Museum in London was a suitable excuse to unravel the conundrum via their E.III example.

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Bad Wolf