Saturday, May 24, 2014

Building to a Theme

I’m sure I must have posted on this idea before, but sometimes you find yourself building to a theme. I found myself doing so earlier in the year, turning out a Hasegawa Bf 109 F in a North Africa scheme, then remembering that I had Gleed’s Spitfire V, also by Hasegawa, in common scale, on the shelf too and begging to be opened and finished from the mid-construction stage at which I’d left it, oh, a long time go.

No modeller worth his salt can ignore the siren song of such a notion, and before I knew it I was reassessing the older project, and imagining the two warbirds of the ’42-’43 period, contemporaries in the Mediterranean Theatre, displayed together. I doubt the pilots, Werner Shroer and Ian R. Gleed, ever met in action, but they were in-theatre in the last six months or so of the campaign before the collapse of the Axis endeavour on the continent of Africa in May 1943. It seemed just the right thing to do to build a second aircraft to compliment the first – place it in context, if you will.

The models themselves are superb, as you expect from one of the big guys from Shizuoka City, though the Messerschmitt’s tooling design calls for separate engine panels, presumably to allow for the production of change-out parts to cater to other sub-marks, and this allowed for some warpage of the forward fuselage and a lot of elbow-grease to correct the resulting inaccuracies of alignment. From the firewall back the parts matched up as perfectly as you could wish for, so it was likely simple warpage of the parts after demoulding that was to blame.

The Spitfire assembled beautifully, with only the characteristic fine mismatch on the underside at the rear of the wing subassembly to fill and sand, which seems endemic to all Spitfires the way intake seams are endemic to Phantoms, regardless of manufacturer. Other than these points, building was smooth and a pleasure, and I mixed the colours for both from Tamiya Acrylics, applied kit decals (the ones in the 109 were a special edition by Aeromaster) and used Microscale chemistry for decal set and cleaercoats. The roundels under the wings of the Spit were required to conform to various bumps and dips and took many applications of setting solution, plus attention with a blade, to lie down as well as they did, which is acceptable but not perfect. Flory (Promodeller) panel washes and MiG pigments finished the process for each, and I had my first foray into the African phase of WWII.

I like building to a theme. I have a Tamiya Jagdpangther under way, to be finished in the markings of the Ardennes offensive period/area, to compliment the King Tiger I finished six months ago, and have a Pz. IV for North Africa also underway. In a way, building to a theme allows more comprehensive justice to be done, reflecting one’s interests and the depth of research that is done, leading us on to new and fascinating projects.

Of course, themes can get out of hand… I have nine German single seat fighters underway at once, and am aiming to finish a bunch of them production line fashion, and there is something to be said for learning the requirements of certain periods and amassing the materials to do justice to them, but one’s collection shows the dearth of attention outside the theme – and begs for another theme to be addressed. What about US naval aviation? What about the British FAA? What about those vinyl sci fi figure kits? Perhaps things go in waves of interest, and that could also be a good thing. I can’t wait to get stuck into those magnificent 1:20th scale vinyl dinosaurs… One day!