Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pressed for Time!

We all have patches when we can’t often get to the bench, and this year is shaping up to be a short-production record like 2016. At the end of March I have my first completion (others underway, of course), and I can only say I’ve been especially busy with other concerns since the beginning of last year to excuse my distance from the hobby. That, and being in sore need of a new display case, which is also painfully true.

What to do when you’re craving a build but have only a few hours here and there to give it? Well, armour takes less prep painting than aircraft, so I usually gravitate to a tank. I recently completed that very early Tamiya Pz.II F (35009) from about two years ago (seen with the new build in the bottom photo), it had been awaiting decals as I didn’t fancy the kit sheet and was interested in going with dry prints. I collected a number of sheets but ended up using the much, much better waterslide sheet from a later edition of the same Tamiya kit – and liked the result so much I decided to build that new copy at once and do a project in grey.

The kit builds in a trice – three sittings, a “one day build” by all reasonable standards, but the finishing techniques were the full monty, all my usual suite of tricks, and I took a couple of weeks over completion. The grey was the same mix as that Pz. III F I did last year, airbrushed in Tamiya acrylics (XF-24 Grey tinted with XF-8 Blue at a ratio of 5:1, plus 30% X-22 Clear Gloss to put a fresh-paint sheen on it. I did not bother with a scale-colour effect as the next step was to spray a 5% solution of XF-23 Grey-Blue to fade the top surface. Over this went an oil wash job, pin-washes around raised detail, streaking of rust in simple dark brown, some condensation streaking in white, some tiny spots of orange for fresh rust, then an ultra-fine brush was used to install paint chips and dirt spots in rust-brown and black. I used the new Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black for the tires (though I can’t actually tell the difference from XF-69 NATO Black!) The running gear was stencilled into the mixed dunkelgrau, then the running gear and lower hull received a road grime coat of the same mixed shade as the tracks – XF-64 Red-Brown plus black at 2:1. I built up the grime gradually, and must remember to go with a thicker mix over grey in future.

I did not have much luck with the dry prints this time out, the balkenkreutzer were very difficult to align and prone to shattering – maybe the Archers are getting old? Dry prints should have a very long lifespan, so I’m not sure what was wrong. To be fair, the alignment issues were entirely down to myself, and I wasted four decals in the process, and used a kit waterslide for one of them anyway.

Mig pigments finished the effects, with ‘standard rust’ and ‘black smoke’ applied sparingly in a few places. I did my usual trick with the muffler, roughening the surface with a hard brusgh after softening the plastic with liquid cement, followed by shaking on sanding dust over wet glue to create the bubbling effect of severe rust, which looked good under paint and pigments.

The markings I chose for this one are those of 18th Panzer Division, and the grey scheme marks this vehicle as operating before the switch to dunkelgelb ordered in February 1943. She is certainly hard-used and the weather has taken its toll since the last respray. I might accessorise her with some helmets, maybe a flag, one day. She looks pretty good on the shelf and marks my second panzer grey project. I look forward to adding some halftracks to the collection in early war markings too.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, March 10, 2017

Recently Completed: Fujimi 1:72 A-7A Corsair II

I can’t believe I haven’t touched this blog in six months!!! I guess I’ve been preoccupied with my writing blog “The View from the Keyboard” which I’ve been pursuing as an adjunct to trying to build a career as a science fiction writer – give it a look, I can promise some great reads!

But what about “World in Miniature?” I certainly don’t want to abandon it, and was today amazed to find I failed to post about my last completed build. With writing and teaching last year I only completed four models, the last of which was a classic Fujimi 1:72nd scale Corsair II. The interesting thing about this project was the circuitous route it took from origins to completion.

The kit was bought bagged on eBay, the Testor edition of the A-7D, and I ripped into it with plans for my first four-tone South East Asia camo job since I was a kid. I have the Model Master Acryls for all shades lined up and was ready to do a hard masking job with broad Tamiya tape (while really hoping AML will continue to expand their line of vinyl camouflage masks to take in subjects like this.) Well, she was a bit of a challenge at the build stage, that two-part intake trunk/lower fuselage called for some careful alignment and elbow-grease to reduce the seams, but overall it went well. I read in an online review that the wings of the Fujimi Corsairs fit with such precision you can complete them separately and mount them after painting, and this eased masking considerably so I gave it a whirl. It more or less worked but the alignment of wings to fuselage, compounded relative to the ground by the inexplicably skewed stance of the landing gear, ended up being far from correct – I just don’t look at her from nose-on, if you know what I mean.

But, and here’s the big but, when Testor packed the kit they included the small sprue of Navy parts instead of the specific USAF parts (differences in landing gear and, most visibly, the air refuelling system.) Bang went plans for a –D in camo… The obvious solution was to use the Navy parts, making her indistinguishable from a –A airframe and finish her in Navy markings, which at last gave me the chance to dip into my massive Superscale collection from long ago.

I picked 72-332 CHECK and selected one of the three bicentennial schemes. The Gull Gray was Model Master, the white was Tamiya, plus Microscale clearcoats and decal chemistry, and the markings went on very nicely indeed – pretty good when you think this sheet might be twenty years old. Florey panel wash was trapped between clearcoats too, and I built her with mostly clear pylons, as this unit, VA-305, the “Lobos,” was stateside at Alameda in 1977 as a training and reserve unit, so while Corsairs were rarely seen without the full suite of underwing pylons, they were unlikely to be heavily laden in their role at that time and place.

It was a fun kit, if a challenging one, and I know there are shortcomings, the above-mentioned alignment issues high among them, plus a small antenna on the spine of the Navy bird which I was  not up to adding, and this aircraft should have had a small antiglare panel extending into the white radome area but I was not up to masking it. Hey ho, it takes a specialist to know.

I have many Fujimi Corsairs in the stash and look forward to building a collection, I have a great many decal sheets waiting to be used and my “sluf” shelf should be pretty spectacular in the end. I might build some assembly jigs to solve the alignment problems, and tackle the wings conventionally from now on.

Cheers, Mike Adamson
PS: I won’t leave it six months til next post – I have several projects on the bench so there’s plenty to talk about!