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 www.scalemates.com  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 Scalemates.com 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.
 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Year End Wrap-up for 2016

This year I managed to complete ten (10) models.  I am sure that is a record.  (It is not that I spend all my time at the work bench.  I am active in acting as an arbitrator, state bar association committees, competitive shooting, photography here in the beautiful Southwest as well as travel.)

Next year I think I will start off with some more aircraft, which is my greater interest. 

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to write this blog.  I do not have that many readers.  Recently I looked at the statistics for this blog, and I was surprised to see that almost half of the page views are from the Russian Federation and not a few from India and other countries.

Way back in 1990 and 1991, I had the opportunity to visit Russia, which was still the USSR and St. Petersburg was still Leningrad.  Things were changing rapidly.    Of course, as someone who grew up during the Cold War, I had very mixed views of the then-USSR and what I might find there, but I was very surprised.  I found very friendly and kind people.  They spoiled their kids, but not in a bad way.  Just  very indulgent parents.  They were genuinely interested in meeting an American, just as we were in meeting them.  We seemed to have so much in common.  We were all hopeful.  Maybe we can find our way back to those hopeful days.

Anyway, I was asking my hosts about many things including scale modeling.  They said that sometimes some items were available in the stores, and one day I was presented with two old Frog kits in poly bags with no decals or instructions - just the sprues.  That was all that was available then.  From what I see from Russian modelers on the Internet today, that has changed a great deal.  They are producing some incredible models.

So, the fact that a few folks from around the world are looking at what I am posting, I think I shall keep it up.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah,  etc., and whatever you celebrate at this time of year, a happy time with your families.  And to everyone, a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tamiya German King Tiger with Production Turret, 1/35 Scale, Kit No. 35164

Armed with a derivative of the feared 88mm anti-aircraft gun, it must have been a sobering sight on the battlefield.  However, these machines were too complex and too prone to break down.  This is a result of the German procurement system, which was dominated by Hitler himself often making bizarre production decisions.  (Witness his disastrous  decision on the first jet fighter - the Me 262 - demanding it be configured as a bomber.)

Wikipedia has an informative article under the title "Tiger II". Also, in the January 2017 issue of Model Military International is an excellent walk around "Tiger II Close Up".   I believe the Tiger II and the King Tiger are one in the same, but I am no student of the various combinations and permutations of Nazi armor.  If I am wrong, maybe someone will enlighten me.

The model is a typically excellent Tamiya kit.  They are such a pleasure to build.  It is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.  And, you can get into the painting and weathering much more quickly.  You will not be wasting time removing bits of flash and/or modifying parts to get them to fit.  Nor will you have instructions that puzzle rather than guide you.


Early in the build, I decided to replace the vinyl tracks supplied with the kit.  I selected the Tamiya Separate Track Link set for this model.  They were easy to put together and paint/weather.  This was my first use of separate links, and I think I will be using them often in the future.  
 
After I went to that trouble, why put the fenders on the model and cover most of it up?  This is only my 4th armor model this century, and I was impatient to find out if a separate link track would be superior to the usual vinyl track.  And I found out it is.  If you look under the fenders, you would see the track dips down on the road wheels just like the prototype and looks quite realistic.  The Tamiya links are of course plastic and I bonded them with Tamiya Extra Thin cement, which is my favorite adhesive for most work.

The scheme I selected was the so-called “ambush” scheme.  The dots of paint were simply hand-painted on after I was done airbrushing the other three colors.   German military equipment in the war received many different types of camouflage often using three or more colors.  I really wonder how successful these schemes were compared to the plain olive drab of the U. S. Army. 

The colors I used were Vallejo Model Air Dark Yellow (71.025), Vallejo Model Air Armor Brown (71.041), and Vallejo Model Air Camouflage Dark Green (71.019).  I used various washes I mixed from acrylic paints using rust and black paint from Model Master.  The tracks and road wheels were weathered with these washes,  as well as Vallejo Model Wash European Dust (76.523).

The model represents a King Tiger that was involved with the Battle of the Bulge.

Thank you for looking and feel free to post a comment.












Eduard La-7 Weekend Edition

This kit first came out in 2004.  Full information about it is  here on www.scalemates.com.
I have always had an interest in the Great Patriotic War Against Fascism, as the Russians called the Second World War.  I visited Russia twice in 1990 and again in 1991, just as the USSR was being swept away.  It seems all the small towns and cities had museums and memorials dedicated to preserving their struggle against Nazi Germany.  I was able to see a number of the aircraft produced by them during the war, and I was amazed at how crude much of the construction was.  However, one must consider that the means of production had to be moved east of the Ural Mountains and often operated in open spaces, even during the terrible Russian winters.

We have too take these incredible hardships into account when considering what quality of paint was being produced.  Or, whether paint was being applied at all.  There are stories of how tanks left the factory in Leningrad during the siege with no paint as they rolled to the front lines which were only a few miles away.

In discussions of modeling USSR aircraft of this period, one reads on forums endless arguments about what colors they were painted.  Considering the conditions under which they were manufactured and the conditions under which paints and everything else was being made  during the war, how can anyone tell with great specificity what the colors looked like?  I doubt the paint factory commissar was flirting with the firing squad by slowing things down arguing over the shade of green paint being applied to a T-34 or Stormovik.

Therefore, after much rummaging about on the Internet, I settled for certain Vallejo colors I thought would fit the bill.  A photo of the bottle labels for those colors appears below.

The Lavochkin La-7 proved to be a solid air superiority fighter for the USSR.  A very good article detailing its history appears here in Wikipedia.

I am a sucker for Eduard kits, and this one appealed to me and ended up in my stash.  Although the molds are only 12 years old, they are somewhat crude and sparse in detail when compared with Eduard’s current 1/72 scale offerings.  However, the model is quite workable and not at all hard to build.

All in all it was fun little build.

For some reason, most USSR radial engine fighters of the period have two bright metal bands around the cowl.  Masking the stripes or bands in 1/72 scale is more than I think I could have done neatly.  So, I instead painted some Tamiya masking tape Vallejo Silver and carefully cut thin strips that I wrapped around the cowl.  They might be a tad wide, but I think they look good.

Thank you for looking and I hope you enjoy seeing this model.  It is a nice addition to my 1/72 collection.




Vallejo Colors Used on this Model












Saturday, October 8, 2016

Tamiya M4A3E8 Sherman “Easy Eight” European Theater 1/35 Scale





This is a fairly new kit, and therefore is state-of-the-art.  The part fit is near perfect, the moldings are all crisp and clean, and there is no discernible flash to deal with.  The treads are so-called rubber band.  The molding pin ejector marks are out of sight.  It is a joy to build.  (I did use some weathering but did not add any after-market parts, as it looks fine just the way it is.) 

I finished it with Vallejo Surface Primer and Vallejo Model Air Olive Drab.  The “Air” does not refer to aircraft.  It means that the paint is intended for airbrush use.  The Vallejo Model Color paints are for brushing.  Both types can be brushed on with good results, and both types can be airbrushed.  I just find that Model Color paints require more thinner.  I get good results with Vallejo’s own airbrush thinner.

The model has the markings of a 4th Armored Division Sherman at Bastogne in January 1945.  The turret stars are blacked out to aid in concealment, I assume.  As you can see, there are nothing more than the stars.  No unit or vehicle number markings are provided.  Who knows?  Maybe they had been painted over for some reason.  I cannot imagine that during the Battle of the Bulge anyone was running around looking for unit numbers.

One other point.  I paint U. S. pioneer tools the same color as the vehicle, i.e., olive drab.  During my 3 years in the U. S. Army, including a year with the 1st Armored Division, all I ever saw were these tools painted o.d.  I am assuming that was the practice during WWII.





I really liked this kit, as assembling it went so smoothly.  It is highly recommended to anyone interested in WWII armor.