Red box ramble – Airfix’s 1/72 MkI Blenheim – Part One

Hi folks.

A little soirée through Airfix’s MkI Blenheim in 1/72 has beckoned, after I went up into the loft recently to look for a side project I could run parallel with a current AMW build. Scanning through possible selections from several manufacturers, those red boxes and their beautiful artwork proved, as they often do, too much to resist and this occasion was no exception.

The kit was originally bought with Xtradecals X72202 sheet and it’s inclusion of the ‘UQ’ desert scheme option, which promised to be great fun and a fine weathering target.

As many will already know, these kits, lovely as they are, need meticulous clean up of every edged surface before committing to glue – something that happily goes hand in hand with a newly acquired bluetooth speaker and an extensive modelling playlist on the iPhone.

As an aside, I routinely hang the entire kit out on pins tacked into the surrounding shelves – it makes for quick and easy parts access. More complex kits have their sprues marked with their individual letters via taped fluorescent Post-It notes, again for quick ID. I find the practice space saving, as the kit parts don’t hang over items necessary for building as a rule and if exceptionally they do, then it’s easy to keep said item on the bench itself.

A kind soul on Britmodeller posted the following pair of images of ‘UQ’ he’d retrieved from IWM archives.

1 and 2 – After circumnavigating all the edges and levelling out the imperfections, a taped test fit of the rear fuselage into the wing section was useful in throwing up the overly tight marriage that was clearly going to need easing.

3 – The consequence of this was visible underneath, with a gap between the rear and mid bomb bay sections.

4 – In tandem with this, the upper fuselage carries tabs that need to slip over the ‘spar’ when the fuselage is able to slide further forwards.

5 – Changing tack briefly, this deliberately lit shot shows a raised lip of plastic that needs filing flat, as per the nacelle front face below it. These occurrences of surplus plastic are a feature of the kit and need to be ruthlessly eliminated.

6 – Seen from above, the mating surfaces along the wing join have been slowly adjusted with a little scraping from a No.11 blade and 1200 grit abrasive. Even so, comparison with the wing trailing edge and fuselage wing fillet still shows the need to enable the fuselage to slide forwards just a little more to produce a smooth curve, one into the other.

7 – A small surprise to discover the wing tip lamp covers are solid plastic. This will never do, so the errant portions will be amputated and clear sprue blocks glued in and filed and polished to shape a bit later down the build.

8 – Call me old fashioned but Francois Verlinden was advocating removal of the so called ‘alignment pins’ back in the late ’70s and I still do it today. With everything ‘loose’, fit can be tweaked with much more abandon. In addition, the parts were rotationally sanded on a piece of 1200 grit on a heavy sheet of bevelled plate glass. This always leads to the closest possible joint and minimises the need for glue.

9 – A small incremental improvement is the removal of the moulded rudder actuators. A small hole will be drilled in the fairings and fine, stretched sprue used for a fully 3D rendition.

10 – The alignment pin massacre extended to the wings and gave an immediate improvement in fit.

11 – As the chosen decal option is a desert bird and carried tropical filters, some Barracuda Cast resin, along with their replacement wheels and a black vinyl mask set have since flown in from those folks in Lowestoft.

Expect glue and paint in the next thrilling instalment!

 

TTFN

Steve

 

Wingnut Wings 1/32 Sopwith 2F.1 ‘Ship’s Camel’

The boss asked for a trial of Drooling Bulldog’s new lacquer paint on this one. Normally I steer well clear of testing anything in a ‘live fire’ project, when completion times are at stake but on this occasion I’m glad I made the exception as (and I never thought I’d see the day I’d come to this conclusion) it’s better than Tamiya and Gunze; not just a little but by a country mile.

Glossy, silky, silky smooth, there’s literally no trace of ‘grain’. The astonishingly fine pigment is ruthlessly non-clumping and the Camel’s flanks, being flat, came up like mirrors. Adherence is another key performance marker and laid over my carefully degreased surfaces, it endured all the masking thrown at it. Happy days.

As for the Wingnut kit, it’s superb as you’d expect and great fun. Happy, happy days.

Until next time.

 

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“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

 

1/48 Zoukei-Mura McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II

Chris is a fellow Airfix Model World (AMW) contributor and as you can see, a great modeller! ‘Crisp, controlled and characterful’ define builds from CJ’s stable and his delicious Phantom is a prime example of that.

It’s a privilege to call him friend and I recommend you look out for him in future editions of AMW!

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Bad Wolf

1/48 Hasegawa Hawker Typhoon

Jon is a great friend and a wonderful guy. He’s also a very accomplished modeller with a wide clientele of loyal commission purchasers and this, coupled to his amazing output, means he’s also very practiced.

Given a predilection towards experimentation, Jon has given himself huge opportunity to explore what he likes and to push the boundaries with commission subjects he might not otherwise have covered. It’s been a sincere joy to see his abilities and the quality he produces just go skywards and that looks set to continue, as he incorporates aspects of the ‘Spanish School’  of finishing into his models. Here’s one I really love from his current crop – a quarter scale Tiffie in the European scheme.

The other thing I particularly enjoy about this build, is that it was underpinned by the human element and involved (during the commission process), research into the pilot, Squadron Leader Patrick Glynn Thornton-Brown of 609 Squadron and his ultimate fate.

Here’s the link to Jon’s page and the other images – 609 Squadron

I do hope you enjoy this and Jon’s other lovely models.

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Bad Wolf

Tamiya 1/72 F4U-1a

Back in the day my model photography was restricted to a 5mp Canon S50 ‘compact’. A minimum aperture of f8 on manual meant there was little depth a field to play with but the limited technical abilities it had taught me how to wring its neck in squeezing every ounce of performance from it.

Today the S50 is no more and model photography is via Canon’s superb 5D MkIII, usually mated to their 100mm f2.8L Macro MkII. Here’s the S50’s ‘swan song’, a selection of shots of Tamiya’s diminutive Corsair – the first kit to receive more than a token attempt at weathering. Although this was 15 odd years ago, I recall use of oils in breaking up the tone, along with dots of enamel dissolved with a little white spirit.

It reminds me of a wish to return to the ‘bent wing bastard’ again, this time with Tamiya’s cutting edge 1/32 kit.

Happy days.