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!

 

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.

 

Tom Meyers Memorial Build – 2009

A blast from the past; I’m a member of agapemodels.com, that I joined about a year before Tom’s sudden tragic death in 2008. I became acquanted with Tom at a relatively early stage as the first Fellowship Build on the site was organised by him. The build was a competition in association with Accurate Miniatures as Tom was the company’s Art Director and required entrants to simply select and assemble anything from AM’s catalogue. I chose their Il-2 and was lucky enough to win.

Tom was a Christian and one of the original members of the site and after consultation with his family and those on the forums a memorial build in 2009 was agreed.

I chose as my entry, Tamiya’s ultimate ‘slammer’, their Bf109E-3 with Tom’s Possum Werks decals for ‘Macky’ Steinhoff’s bird during the Battle of Britain. Eduard’s now quite ancient brass fret for the Tamiya E3 and E4 kits was dragged out of the spares dungeon and yielded a selection of bits to busy up the pilot’s station. You’d spot belts in there obviously and these passed through an oblong hole in the seat obligingly created by me and ringed with an etched oval of brass so tiny I left the CA alone and fixed it in position easily with gloss enamel varnish. The etched leather strap for what I think was the battery cover was dobbed in with enamel gloss varnish too.

Etched trim wheels, stand and chain were added. The chain terminates in a sprocket but has nothing else to connect it with the fuselage wall, so the Punch & Judy set yielded a disc of card to suit. The etched double panel had the instrument acetate back painted in light grey, not white, as it drops the contrast and looks more in keeping with reality to my eye but that’s just a personal thing. The acetate was ‘glued’ using enamel gloss varnish to the panel rears and further dabs filled in the ‘glass’.

The instruments themselves needed edging in black and in this scale I ditched the enamel black for artists oil mixed with the UK version of Japan Dryer, Liquin. This viscous paint readily stays put and is perfect in this application.

Etched seat rails sealed the port side of the deal. The only addition on the starboard side was the etched map case holder – lots more convincing than the moulded version. It grew a map later in the build. From there it was a simple case of closing up the fuselage, adding the wings and sending the lot into traction before priming, top colours and a little weathering – truly ‘a slammer’. I hoped back in 2009, as I do now, that Tom would approve.

 

My Tuskegee Hero

Chris Clifford kindly invited me in 2016 to participate in an AMW ‘special’ focussed on aircraft of the USAAF and asked what I’d prefer to contribute.

USAAF Special

US Army Air Force ‘Special’

With the 1/32 Tamiya P-51D ‘Pacific’ boxing calling to me from the loft it seemed a perfect opportunity to align it with a long time ‘bucket list’ wish to build a Mustang as my own small tribute to Captain Roscoe Brown and his wartime ride ‘Bunnie’ / ‘Miss Kentucky State’.

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The kit sidewalls finished off with BarracudaCals cockpit decals.

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As a side note, the P-51D on display at Hendon RAF Museum is, it seems, broadly accepted as a fine quality restoration of the marque and in its natural metal finish guise, also has wings coated in aluminium lacquer, akin to that used in wartime.

My enquiries into the factory process involved (after puttying the panel joints) one or two sprayed applications of DuPont Light Grey primer. This was then overcoated with an aluminium lacquer in the ratio of eight ounces of aluminium paste to a gallon of clear lacquer or varnish. It seems the aluminium in this mix reacted vigorously with oxygen and became aluminium oxide, a greyish material which accounts (in tandem with the grey primer beneath) for the Mustang wings at Hendon being overtly grey in tone, rather than the solid silver or aluminium normally used to portray this feature on models. Depending on whether the lacquer was new or aged, therefore gives modellers scope for a more silvery grey, evolving to the darker grey of the Hendon Mustang. The build seen here can be considered somewhere between the two.

Given the grey bias of the Hendon Mustang, a concoction of Tamiya XF-19 Sky Grey (one part), Tamiya X-32 Titanium Silver (three parts), Tamiya XF-2 Flat White (one part) and Tamiya X-22 Clear (two parts) were mixed and sprayed over the appropriate parts of the wing. This gave a tone commensurate with the Hendon paint, while leaving a gentle satin finish, that was later glossed with more X-22 to more closely match the museum Mustang.

I had some dialogue with Dana Bell over this before settling on the m/o above, who kindly advised the following – “Most of the Mustang’s aluminum skin was Alclad – an aluminum alloy coated with a thin layer of pure aluminum. The aluminum coating would fix any corrosion to the surface, preventing the oxygen from migrating into the alloy core. The wings, however, were puttied to reduce friction drag, and looked like heck unless given a finish coat. On camouflaged Mustangs, there was no problem. But on uncamouflaged Mustangs, the wings needed to be painted silver for appearances’ sake. I’m attaching a shot of one of the Tuskegee P-51Bs to show how well your model matches reality.”

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The main gear doors awaiting finishing.

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The Alclad II Aluminium was given a grubby patina by the simple expedient of two thin applications of Michael Harding Lamp Black oil paint – these superlative oils have hand ground pigments and are much recommended over more popular brands.

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It occurred to me, during the early part of 2016, to see if Roscoe was on Facebook and it was soon apparent that he was. A personal message drew a rapid and kind response from him and he graciously consented to my sending him three copies of the ‘Special’ to his home in New York, so two could be signed and returned – one for editor Chris Clifford and the other for me. I received the two copies together with this copy of my covering letter endorsing the build.

Roscoe Letter 5 April 2016

It was a lovely surprise to find that Roscoe had actually signed each copy in two separate locations!

USAAF 1

USAAF 2

I was very touched by Roscoe’s overt kindness and sent him a couple of gifts by return (which he wasn’t expecting) and a while later there was a soft plunk on the door mat when this arrived.

Roscoe Photo

The passage of time makes contact with veterans from WWII an increasingly rare opportunity but I’m happy beyond measure to have had the opportunity to correspond with one of my heroes and receive his generous approval for my personal tribute.

Best of all, I was upstairs one evening when the landline rang. I heard my wife coming up the stairs. “Doctor Roscoe Brown for you”. I was floored and we spoke for about ten minutes, during which he expressed his pleasure at the sight of “Bunnie” and the build article. It was an unforgettable conversation in which he said he always did his best to meet requests from those who approached him. He added that he’d been very ill over the winter and this made his kind attention to my correspondence all the more remarkable, as he must still have been somewhat debilitated.

Dr Roscoe Brown

Sadly, Roscoe died on July 2, 2016 just weeks after we spoke on the phone and has joined his Tuskegee comrades who passed before him. I wish Roscoe blue skies with the sun on his back. He was 94.