Thursday, November 16, 2017

M26 Pershing - Tamiya 1/35 scale, kit no. 35254

This kit made its debut in 2002.  I would consider it among the “new” kits in the Tamiya line, as opposed to the kits from the 1970’s still in production.  By that I mean newer kits have some extra accessory parts, fewer molded-in details, and tracks that are glued with plastic cement.

Which is not to say I am knocking the older kits, many of which are available and still good kits, like the M16 Multi-gun Motor Carriage (if you can find it).

There are no nits to pick here.  The frank fact is Tamiya makes some the finest plastic models on the market today.  For whatever reason, this kit was not available from any US distributor, so I ordered it from Japan via eBay.

The M26 Pershing arrived in Europe in 1945 and was involved in some actions at the end of the war.  The most important of which was the taking of the Ludendorff Railroad Bridge over the Rhein River at Remagen, Germany.  They supplied fire support as the infantry expanded the pocket and held on until reinforcements arrived.  Their heaviest use in combat came in Korea where they served with the U. S. Army and the Marines.  Markings for both WWII and Korean War Pershings are included in the kit.

The tank has always interested me as I saw them in Korea in the mid-1960’s when I served there in the Army.  Some of the old tanks were dug in up near the DMZ.  Only their turrets were showing, and it was said they guns were bore sighted at particular points.  If the North Koreans came south, several rounds would be fired at this targets (mostly road junctions and choke points) and the abbreviated crew would hop in a jeep and head south.  Or at least that is what we were told about them. 

I finished this model with Tamiya olive drab over Tamiya “rattle can” surface primer.  The surface primer sprays beautifully, levels out, and guns a very resilient  base coat.  I will be using more in the future.

I highlighted the model using Tamiya panel line fluid in black and dark brown.  This is great stuff.  I applied it after the olive drab was covered with Microscale Satin Clear Finish, which comes up a nice semi-gloss.  It provides a barrier.  After the panel line fluid is applied, a brush slightly moistened with mineral spirits is used to blend it into the surface.  It looks great when done.  I applied some “chipping” with Vallejo dark brown and the a final coating with Vallejo Model Wash European Dust (applies with a flat brush in a very thin coat).  All of this effort really makes the details pop out.

Here are some photos.  Thank you for looking.  Any comments are welcome.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Grumman F8F Bearcat or Why I am Building a non-WWII Model - Part 3

F8F-1B Bearcat, Hobby Boss, 1/48 scale, Kit no. 80357

Well, some time has passed  since my last entry here.  We have been traveling in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  And, the summer heat has broken here in Arizona and the beautiful autumn and winter weather has set in.  It tends t drive one outboards away form the model building bench.

Once we returned, I got right down to completing this model.  When I have had a longish break in building a model, I sometimes lose all interest in it.  Not here.  I returned home looking forward to finishing the model.

The model was first painted with a base coat of Tamiya Grey Surface Primer.  It sprays well and provides a good surface for final coats.  It is expensive (about $10 per can) and a fair amount is used from the can on one model.  However, it is an excellent product.

Gloss coats are not my favorite;  I avoid them.  But I could not here.  I had some Model Master Acryl Sea Blue on hand and used that.  The wheels wells are Acryl Zinc Chromate Yellow.  Testors Glosscote was applied before and after the decals.

For decals, I used some from Berna Decals.Their sheet no. 48-14 offers a number of Bearcats in French Service in Indochina.  Not that the kit decals were bad.  I was just attracted to the markings provided by Berna, which I never used before, but will in the future if they have markings I want.

Here are some photos of the finished model.  I think that Hobby Boss did a very nice job on this kit, and I look forward to building another model or two from their offerings.

One can only wonder what kind of combat record the F8F Bearcat would have compiled had the Pacific war dragged on further.  The first U.S. Navy Bearcat unit was in the Pacific at the end of the war, but had only just arrived a short time before the war ended and never flew in combat.  Jets came on so fast after the war (no pun intended) that the Bearcats quickly found themselves in reserve units.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I have several more kits I finished this year and will be posting them before long.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Grumman F8F Bearcat or Why I am Building a non-WWII Model - Part 2

F8F-1B Bearcat, Hobby Boss, 1/48 scale, Kit no. 80357

Now that I have de-bagged the parts and washed them (in Dawn and warm water), following the instructions, I am working on the cockpit.

It is nicely detailed.   The seat is very accurate according to photos I have seen.  The ejection pin marks are in places where they do not matter - a nice touch.

These “STEEL” seat belts by Eduard are really nice.  I have used them on other models.  They are beautifully colored and fairly easy to work with.  Since they are pre-painted, I cannot anneal them to make them more flexible for a more realistic draping over the seat.

The instructions are a bit vague on colors, but you can see a virtual reality “tour” of an actual F8F cockpit (and several dozen other naval aircraft) at the Naval Aviation Museum ( 

I started of with Testors Acryl Interior Green (4736) for most of the interior and Yellow Zinc Chromate (4851) for the tailwheel well.

Here is a closeup of the instrument panel.  This is constructed by carefully painting the clear panel piece around the dials and then putting the supplied decal behind it.  The result is very nice and appears quite realistic.

This shows the interior pretty much completed.  The area in front of the cockpit has some braces, part of the exhaust system and two tanks (lubricating oil and/or compressed air?).  This area will be partially visible once the wing is mounted, so I applaud Hobby Boss for supplying these details which could have been overlooked.

My last several models have been built with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement in the 40 ml bottle with the green cap.  I have found this glue to be the best I have used.  The built-in applicator allows precise dispensing.  When it fully sets, it stays set.  I am also using Tamiya Cement in the 20 ml bottle with the orange cap.  The latter is now my substitute for thick CA, as it penetrates through paint and sets up rock solid.

In this last photo, I have cemented the fuselage halves using Tamiya tape and two clothes pins to hold everything together while the Tamiya cement sets.
I am really enjoying this kit.  (All is forgiven for the Hobby Boss Hellcat shaped like a potato.)

As always, thank you for looking.  I welcome any comments.   More on the Bearcat soon.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Grumman F8F Bearcat or Why I am Building a non-WWII Model?

F8F-1B Bearcat, Hobby Boss, 1/48 scale, Kit no. 80357

For quite a long time, I have only been modeling World War II aircraft and armor.  Making a model of the Bearcat will be a departure.

A few years ago, I read Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard Fall (Lippincott 1966).  I had no idea what the French soldiers and nurses suffered there and the fight they put up against increasingly hopeless odds.  Young French nurses and paratroopers were jumping into the caldron right up until the surrender.  (A few Americans died flying some of the C-47s carrying them.)

To say that their courage and fighting ability were breathtaking is an understatement.  And flying mission after mission at the very edge of their range were the pilots of the Grumman Bearcats delivering rockets and bombs to the North Vietnamese Army that was growing in strength and numbers by the day.  The French high command wanted to draw the NVAs into a set piece battle and a base in the valley at Dien Bien Phu was to draw them in.  That part of the plan worked very well.

The Bearcat went into squadron service in May 1945, but final preparations and training for combat were still underway when Japan surrendered in August.  The Bearcat remained in production until 1949 and equipped a number of squadrons.  The basic design requirements were for an aircraft with the biggest possible engine in the smallest possible airframe.  It was a pure interceptor/fighter.  Which is why when the Korean Conflict came along, the U. S. Navy looked at the Bearcat’s ordnance carrying ability and decided to take the F4U Corsair to Korea in the ground attack role as the Corsair could lift a lot more weight.  Therefore, the Bearcat flew not a single combat mission in U. S. service.

The French had received a huge number of American aircraft during and after WWII.  Among them were a number of Bearcats which the French used in a ground attack role during their war in Vietnam.
As to the kit, Hobby Boss has not been my favorite maker.  I bought one of the their Hellcats (with the FAA markings).  The shape on that model was as far off as anything I have ever seen.  The fuselage was more like a barrel.  It is still in the stash, but its use will come when I need another paint dummy (a position currently being filled with an ancient Monogram Fw190).

As to their Bearcat kit, it has been the recipient of many very complimentary reviews.  I have examined it, and cannot see any faults at all.  Hobby Boss is reprieved for now.

There will only be three dominant colors.  The aircraft is overall dark sea blue, and Testors Acryl #4686 is perfect.  It produces a semi-gloss finish ready for decals.  The wheel wells are yellow zinc chromate (Acryl #4851) and the interior is interior green (Acryl #4736).  The rest will be some hand-brushed details.

We will see if I stay with the kit decals.  I was ordering a few items from Hannant’s in the UK, and I added some decals that looked good.  Hopefully they will be.

Aside from that, the only after market item will be some Eduard seat belts.  (I cannot seem to build a model without something from Eduard findings it way in.)

And, now I will post this and get to work on my tribute to the brave airman and soldiers of France who fought their hopeless battle so long ago and far away.  As a veteran of our war in Vietnam (U. S. Army Intelligence Service,  MACV, J-2, 1965-1966), I am in awe of what they did.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Brewster Buffalo F2A-2/Mk. I, Tamiya Kit No. MA119, 1/48 Scale

This may have been the oldest kit in my stash.  The  sprues are dated 1974.  This is the same year gives as the “new tool” date.  I am sure I bought this kit decades ago.  The yellowing of the decals shows this kit’s age, and the back of the sheet is stamped “0181”.  That is how they used to date decals, i.e., January 1981.

The kit really shows its age.  What was rather excellent in 1974 is not so excellent today.  The biggest issue being the indentations in the moldings.  I literally had to fill in the landing gear struts as the plastic shrunk as it cooled leaving indentations.  I filled in many of these voids, but finally decided I had to leave well enough alone. 

Also typical of older kits, ejection pin markings abound, and they need to be scrapped away and/or filled.  Or, in some cases, removal would have caused more damage than I wanted to repair and they were left in place.

Finally, the plastic used to mold this model is brittle and not the nice, easy to work with plastic of modern Tamiya kits.

The instructions are totally in Japanese.  I downloaded a set of instructions from the Tamiya website for one of the current releases of this kit.  That gave me the “translation” I was seeking to see what colors they were calling out.

All of the above being said, I really like this model.  It is the only 1/48 scale model of the Buffalo available, except for the now out-of-production Classic Airframes kits.

Here are some under-construction photos:

Markings for my model came from Aeromaster 48-625 “Buffalos Over South East Asia”.  I opted for one stationed in Singapore in late 1941. 

I really miss the Aeromaster line.  I know some of the Internet “experts” have referred to them as “Errormaster” based on their sometimes dubious research.  That has not been my experience.  How often do we have color photos of the actual aircraft we model?  And if we do, how accurate are the photo colors after more than seven decades?

Another product used was Montex Mini Mask No. SM 48128 for the canopy and under fuselage window.  I hate to trash any product, but these were a real disappointment.  

Normally I use Eduard masks, which are excellent.  I could not find one in stock when I was getting ready to work on this kit.  So, I bought the Montex product, which looked pretty good.  The Montex masks are black vinyl and much thicker than the Eduard kabuki tape.  Therefore, they do not snug down on curves the way the kabuki masks do.  I had a few spots they kept popping up.  They were not sized properly and were often too big.

They also had the tendency to pull up the paint on the area next to the masking, even when I attempted to trim the edge of the mask with a #11 blade.  The material  really clings to the plastic and needs to be pried up with a knife (unlike kabuki tape that comes up with a toothpick).  I ended up painting some Tamiya masking tape, cutting it into thin strips and using it to replace the places on the bottom window that pulled away.  I should have done that in the first place and saved all the fooling around with the Montex masks and gotten a better looking job!

To be sure, the many very thin frames on this model contributed to the difficulties.  None the less, I will not use Montex masks in the future.  As Cramer says on his stock market show, “Don’t buy!  Don’t buy!”  (The few sets of Montex masks I had are now in the landfill.)

The chubby little fighter had to hold the line in the Pacific during the early months of the war.  The Marines had them on Wake Island, and the British had them at Singapore and elsewhere, while the Dutch had them deployed in the Pacific with the "Military Air Service of the Royal Netherlands East Indian Army” or ML-KNIL.  The Marines regarded the Buffalo as a flying coffin.  The British were losing possessions at a breathtaking pace, and they relied on the Buffalos which were no match for more modern and better flown fighters.

Many of the Allied pilots flying the Buffalo had little experience with the aircraft, and that may account for some of the poor performance.  In modern parlance, however, you cannot put lipstick on this particular pig.  It simply was not a good aircraft.

Finland was the only country that had success with the Buffalo.  Finnish pilots racked up impressive scores flying the Buffalo against the USSR.

The markings I chose were for a Brewster Buffalo Mk I from 488 Sqd, RNZAF, flown by Pilot Officer Noel C. Sharp,  at Kallang, Singapore, in late 1941.  (For those who are more recent graduates of the American education system, Singapore was a great fortress that the British thought would not fall to the Japanese.  Unfortunately, its guns were aimed at the sea, and the Japanese army arrived from the landward side - many riding bicycles to cover terrain faster - where there was little in the way of fortifications.  In the end, hubris felled the fortress.)

I weathered the model very little, as the real Buffalos were not in service that long, only a few months.  Ultimately this particular aircraft was rendered un-flyable before its capture by the Japanese.
Even the less than successful aircraft of WWII were part of history, and I am glad to have the Buffalo in my collection, built up at long last.

These are new photos I took.  The first ones I posted were not as good.  Also, I painted the pilot figure that came with the model, something I usually do not do.  But, I have been painting a few fugures to place with the models on display to show the actual size of the real aircraft.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog, and I look forward to any comments.