Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hasegawa P-47D Razorback, 1/48 scale, Kit no. 09302

Ever since I read Thunderbolt! by Robert Johnson, one of the European Theatre’s leading aces, the “Jug” has been a great favorite of mine.  Armed with eight .50 cal. Browning M-2 machine guns, it is hard to imagine the damage it inflicted while serving on all fronts.  Johnson tells how during his training, they only armed one gun on each wing.  He never fired all eight at once until he flew some fighter sweeps across the Channel into France as part of his final preparation and training when he was sent  to Europe.  The idea was to let the new pilots fly some “easy” missions before they got fully involved with longer penetration into occupied Europe.  On one of these early missions, his flight was jumped by some German fighters.  Johnson chased one of the them and got close enough to fire his guns.  He immediately evaded and dove away as he thought his plane was being hit by fire from another fighter.  Somewhat chagrined, he soon realized that he was not being hit by enemy fire.  He was experiencing the awesome vibration and noise of eight M-2 guns being fired at once from a fighter plane.

This kit has been around for some time in my stash.  It is not currently available from, but the Bubbletop version is.  I am sure it will return.  They all seem to, don’t they?

Also, in my stash was an AeroMaster sheet no. 48-389, “4th Fighter Group - The Early Days, Pt.1”.  The aircraft that caught my eye was “Donnie Boy” flown by Lt, Don S. Gentile of the 336th Fighter Squadron in February 1944.  Gentile flew Spitfires in the No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron and became the 4th’s leading ace with 21.883 kills.  He survived the war, but tragically died testing a new jet aircraft a few years later.  His P-51B Mustang with the long white sash festooned with a cross for each German he shot down has been the subject of probably thousands of P-51B models over the years.

The only other “extra” in this model is a resin seat with harness from Ultracast, which is an improvement over the kit seat and decal marking for seatbelts.

I used Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color (Black) to weather the model some.  I like the results, although I could have been neater.  It was a good first try.

If this kit can be found for reasonable money (some of Hasegawa’s current pricing is just plain nuts), it is a great addition to any 1/48 scale collection of WWII aircraft.

Friday, April 14, 2017

AMT/ERTL A-20G Havoc, 1/48th Scale, Kit No. 8894

In the early 1990’s, FineScale Modeler magazine ran their annual survey asking what aircraft the readers would like to see “kitted” and in what scale.  The decided majority said an A-20 Havoc in 1/48th scale.  That was the No. 1 choice that year.  And, in 1994, it appeared, but from an unlikely source - AMT, the car kit manufacturer. This kit has been in my stash for quite a long time, although not since 1994 as I have the AMT/ERTL version, which came along years later.  (This was during my kit collector phase when I was doing all sorts of other things other than building.)

Why so many requests for the Havoc?  Who knows?  It was on my list of wants probably because they look so fascinating.  The aircraft had a single pilot, two huge radial engines and they bristled with guns.  There are many famous photos of Havocs attacking Japanese ships in the South Pacific with guns blazing and bombs skipping into exploding ships.  There are also Havocs that served with the RAF Desert Air Force.  The USSR Air Force received the lion’s share of Havoc “G” model production.  But still, the Havoc was not as famous as the B-25 Mitchell or the B-26 Marauder.

Over the years, I collected some aftermarket items for this kit.  The first was decals from Superscale, , No. 48-1168, A-20G Havocs.  Then, the wheel and life raft resin set from True Details.  And when I recently decided to build the kit for real, I obtained a resin pilot’s seat by RESIN2detail (from eBay) and Quick Boost gun barrels (also via eBay).

And, of course, a set of Eduard masks, which are a necessity for a model like this with the amount of glass one has to cover.  I even use Eduard masks on little 1/72 scale fighter.  They save so much time and hassle.

Life raft?  Yes, refer to the photos of the area behind the pilot’s seat.  There is a yellow life raft on that shelf.  Considering that those aircraft operating with the USAAF in the Pacific were over water constantly, I am sure the rafts came in handy for downed crews.

And this is a curious thing about this kit.  There are some areas when the kit (now nearly a quarter century old - okay - excuse the hyperbole) where there is a lot of detail, like the gun turret.  The cockpit is fairly well detailed.  They even included a long-range tank for under the fuselage (that would have been used for ferrying the aircraft as it blocked the bomb bay).  So, why leave an empty shelf behind the pilot's seat where there is a glaring empty space for all the see and not include the life raft?  It is almost as if someone interrupted the mold makers and said “Speed it up and stop wasting time on too many details.”
By the way, AMT issued a 1/48th scale kit of the B-26B Marauder just at the same time Monogram released theirs.  I wonder how good a kit it might be?  They show up on eBay now and then. 
I think I will go back to Vallejo.  I have trouble finding the proper ratio of thinner to paint with some Model Master Enamel or Acryl colors.  For whatever reason, I have an easier time with Vallejo Air paints.  And cleaning up enamel paints is too smelly.

Last year, I completed a Monogram 1/48th scale B-25J Mitchell.  I expected the Havoc to be a similar kit.  It wasn’t.

First, the surface detail is finely done recessed panel lines, not the raised lines of the Mitchell.  The detail on some parts is better on the Havoc, and generally more finely detailed than the Mitchell where they chose to detail the Havoc.  The Mitchell’s wheels are much more realistically molded, however.  And the Mitchell bomb bay is reasonably detailed, while AMT left the interior detail out on the Havoc.  The Havoc has a few bombs linked together on an non-scale frame but no side wall or ceiling detail.  That is one reason why I left the bomb doors closed on the Havoc.

Second, the fit of the Havoc parts is far better than the Mitchell.  I used very little putty on the Havoc, and the engine nacelles fit the wings rather well.  The Mitchell required a fair amount of putty.

To be fair, the Mitchell molds are about 17 years older than the Havoc.  And, neither kit is a bad kit and both look great when finished.

I am very pleased with the finished model.  Here is the finished product.

As always, thank you for looking.  Comments are welcome.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tamiya Mark Fit Decal Solution

Every once in a while, a new product comes along that catches your attention.  This is one of them.

Way back when, I discovered Microsol and Microset from Microscale.  These two chemicals revolutionized the hobby for me, and I daresay not a few others.  By following their program, you could literally make decals appear to be painted on (assuming you were using some modern, thin decals).  I was really amazed at the results the first time I used them.  And while I have found some thick decals (the old Monogram decals) that resisted them, they never melted or destroyed a cecal and did not damage fragile paint surfaces.

A few weeks ago, I heard about Tamiya’s Mark Fit Decal Solution and picked some up.

Experiments on my paint test models were successful, and I decided to use them on my close-to-completion AMT A-20G Havoc. This would be a test as I had used some of my stock of Model Master enamels on this project, and the Olive Drab I used was not thinned enough and resulted in a pebbly finish in places (which I partially corrected rubbing it down with very fine sandpaper and hope will tone down further when I apply Dullcote on top of the surface).

All you need is the Mark Fit and a Q-tip.  The bottle cap is a brush to apply the solution.

Following Tamiya’s instructions on the bottle, I applied the solution to the area the decal was to be applied to.  The I placed the decal and pushed it into position with the brush.  I used the Q-tip to press the decal down to get any air bubbles out from under it.   Finally, I put some of the solution on top of the decal.  I used the Q-tip to absorb the excess that ran off the decal.  Then  you wait.  It takes longer to evaporate and dry than the Microscale solutions do.  The result has been decals that snug right down and conform beautifully.

 This is the nose cone of the aircraft that has a decal that had to be applied to its very round surface.  It conformed beautifully.  This really convinced me to keep this new solution on my workbench in the future.  One solution, the brush is in the bottle, and it really works well.

 One note of caution:  Once applied to the decal, this solution will quickly soften the decal to the point where movement of the decal may result in tearing or the decal folding over on itself or the decal really adhering to the spot it was applied to and becoming very hard to move.  So, there are two things to remember:  the first is to carefully place the decal when removing it from the backing paper so little if any movement is required, and the second is that if the decal becomes difficult to re-position, use a round soft brush flooded with water to get under the decal and move it gently to the correct position.

This is what my workbench looks like toward the end of a project - a complete mess.  When this model is done, I will clean it off and start the next project.  Someone wrote that no matter how big a work surface you have, only about 2 square feet will be usable due to this kind of clutter.  I think they were quite correct.

As always, thank you for looking and feel free to comment.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt “Eileen”, 1/72 scale, Academy Kit 2105

This kit has been in my stash for a year or two.  I like the Academy 1/72nd scale WWII fighter kits.  Recently, I obtained some Vallejo Acrylic Metal Color paints, and I thought this model would be a good project to test them on.

Grey Surface Primer followed by Gloss Black Surface Primer.  I used the grey first as I was not sure about masking over the gloss black.  Would it hold the paint?  I was sure it would, but I decided to not take a chance.  It worked perfectly.  I picked out some wing panes in  darker shade.  I am very pleased.  Here are the Vallejo colors I used:

The radio antenna too close to the canopy, so it cannot be posed as open all the way.   I decided to not move the antenna back, fill the hole, repaint, etc., so I closed the canopy.  I had done some detailing of the cockpit, but not much, so there was no big loss.  Trying to over-detail cockpits in 1/72nd scale is a challenge and often not seen later anyway.

The decals are terrible.  I had been able to use the decals that came with the Academy 1/72 scale Hawker Tempest V I made a couple of years ago.  They silvered some, but could be worked with.

Not so the decals in this kit which were the worst I have ever tried to work with.  The decals are thick, they rip and shatter easily when handled, and they are impervious to Microsol and Microset.  They do not “snuggle down” over surface details at all.

I am not alone in being disappointed in Academy decals.  I was reading a review of their B-29A kit, and that modeler was tearing his hair out after dedicating a lot of work to the kit and them finding out the decals were atrocious.

The featured marking for this kit is an aircraft with a checkered cowl.  There is no way that would work. 

I saw this kit on a list of kits recommended for a new modeler.  I hope not!  I used ever trick I could think of, including trimming the shattering decals on the tail surface with a fine file after application.Now, if you nave some nice aftermarket decals for a Bubbletop, then this would be a great kit to use them on.

Here are some more photos of the finished model:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

M24 Chaffee, 1/35 Scale, Italeri Kit No. 6431

I always liked the look of this little tank.  It was the only piece of WWII armored equipment I saw being used when I was in the U. S. Army.  When I was in Vietnam, the ARVN’s had some they were still using, and why not?  They made excellent infantry support light tanks on a battlefield with not that much enemy opposition in terms of armor.  RPGs, yes.  Other tanks, no.

The Chaffee mounted a 75mm cannon, one (1) .50 cal. M2 machine gun and two (2) .30 cal. Browning machine guns.  The Chaffee replaced the aging M5 Stuart tanks and entered service in December 1944 in Northern Europe and Italy where they arrived too late to have much of an impact on the war.  Later, they served in the Korean War and with the French in the First Indochina War.  A few, by personal observation, were still around for the Second Indochina War (the war we call the Vietnam War).  The tank was named after General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr. who helped develop the use of armor in the U. S. Army.

The kit, according to the listing on  was new in 1986.  I thought it was newer when I bought the kit.  This is a fault I have, i.e., failing to check before I buy a kit.   I probably would have gone ahead anyway, as I wanted the model, and I have had good luck with Italeri kits.

The positives for the kit are:  generally nicely detailed parts (considering the mold’s age), not enough flash worth mentioning (a plus again considering the age of the molds), and a nice selection of decals and alternate parts for several Chaffee's serving in WWII and the Korean War.

The negatives are:  the vinyl tracks are fairly stiff and a small challenge to mount on the model, the radio antennas are a little thick (and I was too lazy to snip them off and substitute some stretched sprue antennas), and no figure(s) included. 

I hate to stick pilot figures in my aircraft, because the available figures may not fit well and the kit ones look awful most of the time.  I am spoiled by Tamiya 1/35th scale armor figures, which are generally good, and wish all armor kits had one.  I do consider them a nice extra, but not a necessity to be included in a kit, so I am not dinging Italeri for not including one.

I painted the model with Vallejo Model Air Olive Drab.  I decided to not use Vallejo Surface Primer on this model, but I wanted to experiment on this model.  I was not planning any masking, so I was not concerned with masking tape pulling up paint.  When I use Vallejo Surface Primer as a base coat for Vallejo Air paint, I can mask away to my heart’s content.  Nothing will pull up the top coat when I remove the masking tape.  I have had a lot of experience with the surface primer and swear by it as a necessity for a model requiring masking.

Here, the only problem I have was some paint coming off as I mounted the tracks.  Where the tracks had to be pushed over the road wheels, some paint was scratched off.  Minor touching up with a brush handled that.  Frankly, I do not expect any acrylic paint to adhere to bare plastic well enough to stand up to any masking tape or other abuse.

I weathered this model with various Vallejo and home-mixed washes.  Mostly I was using European Dust Wash (76.523).  I applied that with a round brush followed by a flat brush t even it out and remove the excess.  Then, I let it dry and then brushed more on some of the raised features.  The model was sprayed with the light coat of Testor’s Dullcote first, and then again when I was done.  Finally, some Tamiya Weathering Master powder was brushed on the road wheels.  I am happy with the effect.

All in all, I am happy with the outcome.

With Tamiya Sherman "Easy Eight" to show size comparison.