Tamiya 1/35 Leopard 2A6

I haven’t been able to do much modelling recently due to work commitments but here’s a small update on the Leopard. It concerns the three vision blocks for the driver’s position and Tamiya supply pre-cut plastic sheet for these and the ones on the turret. To me they just don’t look very good so I decided to shape new ones from clear sprue then polishing them up when I had the right shape;

These will be painted silver on the outer surfaces, glued into place then masked off. I think they look a lot better now and I will repeat the process for the vision blocks on the turret.

Tamiya 1/35 Leopard 2A6

I made a start on this last week with a view to building it straight-out-of-the-box as I wanted to experiment with barracuda camouflage netting and fir tree branches that you see on heavily camouflaged modern German vehicles. For this I bought a pack of AK Interactive netting to play with and some plastic ferns that are used for artificial flower displays;

Of course straight-out-of-the-box was never going to really happen as I’ve already removed the moulded-on grab handles on the hull and looking at the particular Leopard I wanted to build in the Abrams Squad ‘Trident Juncture’ book, the rear mud flaps had been removed and stowed under the tow cables on the upper hull. With that I cut off the mud flaps from the rear hull;

The area was cleaned up and new bolt heads added using little bits of heat-stretched sprue. The attachment point for the mud flaps seems to be made of tubular steel so I cut some 0.75mm diameter plastic rod into two 19mm lengths, drilled out the ends and glued them into place;

Another little improvement concerns the tow hooks and using a dressmakers needle in a pin vice, I scribed around where the hook is located in the bracket. This will really help when applying a pin wash as the tow hook will actually look like it’s made of two parts;

I noticed that there is no internal support provided for the upper hull and due to the large surface area of this part I added some supports using lengths of sprue from the kit;

That should be sufficient to stop the upper hull flexing when fitting the turret. Although I don’t want to go berserk with the model, after looking for something else in a box of aftermarket stuff I found some bits and pieces from Leopard Club that I may as well use on this model. I also have an Eduard etch set to use although the detailing on the front hull will be mostly hidden with camo netting and fir tree branches (if it works out that is).

Hasegawa 1/72 CV-22B Osprey

With the four previous models now out of the way, I’ve got the Hasegawa CV-22B back on the bench as this is another I want finished. Because the USAF kit is out of production and fetching stupid prices I bought a MV-22 Osprey that WAS available at a decent price, the only problem is the detail differences between USAF and Marine Corps Ospreys, the USAF machines having a different arrangement of RWR’s (Radar Warning Receivers), IR jamming sensors and various other bits of kit that you don’t see on MV-22’s.

Anyway until I got side tracked with the other four builds, I was making the various add-on bits of kit from scratch and today I made the TFR (Terrain Following Radar) radome for the nose;

This was fashioned from 4mm square rod and lots of scraping and cutting was involved until I got it to fit. The next problem was how to make the radome but after looking through the spares box I found a propellor from an Airfix 1/72 C-47 that was scrapped a few years ago. I measured the propellor boss and it was just the size required so I cut it off, cleaned it up and glued it to the front of the square rod;

Using HSP (Heat Stretched Sprue) I glued some around the radome to finish it off as per the real aircraft.

Next I needed a ‘football shaped’ antenna for the upper rear fuselage and the main reason I was looking in the spares box as I was pretty sure I had one from the scrapped Airfix C-47 and luckily I found it;

This was perfect for the Osprey! The satellite dish is from the kit however the machine I’m basing my model on has a tear-drop shaped lump between the two antenna so I’ve made the basic shape from plastic strip, this will be covered in Milliput and shaped to match the reference photo’s I have. In fact the photo’s of Osprey’s flying through the Mach Loop in mid-Wales here in the UK have been invaluable as various photographers have got clear shots of the top and bottom of the fuselage which helps with the detailing and placement of the various add-on bits.

Next on the ‘to-do’ list are the various sensors on the tail fins but that will be for another blog entry.

Adventures in Plastic 1/72 Mole

That’s number four finished! Adventures in Plastic/ Aoshima’s Mole from Thunderbirds;

It’s near enough to the finish on the studio models from the original TV series so it will do for me. The only thing is one of curved pieces on the right of the framework has broke for some unexplained reason;

I have a sneaking suspicion that the thinners I use on the pigment powder might have reacted with the plastic. If this is the case then the whole model is at risk of breaking apart so be warned if any of you out there have this particular kit. There are plenty of spare parts in the box so experiment on those first.

That’s it for completing the builds that have been hanging around for ages, next on the bench will be the Hasegawa Osprey as there is still a fair bit to do before it’s ready for painting

Revell/ Matchbox 1/71 Dornier Do28D-2

That’s number three finished!

Yet another model I’m not entirely happy with as the decals look awful close up and yet again I had issues with the paint leaving a gritty finish in places, mainly down to the paint drying too fast as it hit the model due to the high temperatures we had in the UK. Paints used were from the Hataka Orange Line and they are OK but I am seriously contemplating going back to enamels as I’ve had a LOT of crap paint finishes in recent years with acrylics (even with retarders added) and something I never encountered when I used to spray enamels years ago so I may get some and see what they are like these days. Anyway at least this one is done and it’s a model that you don’t see many of (probably because it needs a LOT of work) and although I’ve attempted to bring it up to modern standards I’m sure others could do a better job. Next up for finishing is the Thunderbirds Mole as that doesn’t need much more doing to it so watch out for part four of the ‘actually finishing a model’ binge.

Hasegawa 1/72 F-104G

That’s another off the bench;

Not a bad finish considering the kit was rescued from the Shelf of Doom but I have been punished on this one as I didn’t achieve a good enough gloss finish, which means air has been trapped underneath some decals and resulted in them ‘silvering’ so that’s as far as I’m going with one.

Out of interest (for some anyway) the yellow drop tank was actually converted to carry mail when on detachment and features the Deutsche Post logo. Markings on the model are for a German Navy F-104G and probably one of the classic schemes the type featured. I could have done more with this but it’s time to call it finished and move on to another couple of ‘nearly done’ builds.

ICM 1/48 O-2A Skymaster (late production)

That’s a wrap for this one and the 2nd part of the article detailing the finish will appear on The Modelling News soon

Not a bad kit really but I’m not that happy with the overall finish as there are specks of dust on the insides of the cabin glazing and I had an issue with paint drying too fast and leaving a gritty finish in places. I did try and smooth it out but wasn’t too successful so ideally it needs stripping and repainting but I just want it off the bench now. Hopefully I can get a couple of other builds finished such as the Hasegawa 1/72 F-104G, Revell/ Matchbox 1/72 Dornier Do 28D-2, Thunderbirds Mole and possibly the Italeri 1/72 T-55 so stay tuned.

Way back when….

Once upon a time in the modelling world, some aircraft that you quite liked but were not mainstream subjects such as the Me109 or Spitfire were only available as a vac-form (vacuum-formed). Basically the aircraft shape was made from scratch, split into various bits then a sheet of thick plastic sheet was placed over the top. Using heat and a vacuum source the plastic was pulled down over the shapes and ‘hey presto’ you got a vac-form. If you were really lucky some bits such as the undercarriage, props etc were cast in metal with a canopy formed the same way but with clear plastic (obviously). Most vac-forms though didn’t have the luxury of cast metal bits so everything came on the plastic sheet.

I had tackled a couple of these types of kits back in the 80’s with the only really successful one being a Rareplanes 1/72 U-2R/ TR-1 that I actually finished, previously I attempted a Rareplanes 1/72 Seafire Mk.46/47 and a Formaplane 1/72 Hawker Nimrod (which was awful), both of which were eventually scrapped some years later.

While perusing Ebay for a 1/72 Pucara and laughing at some of the ridiculous prices that the Special Hobby and Airfix (reboxed Special Hobby) kits were fetching I came across a Rareplanes vac-form that was listed for the outrageous price of £2.50 (plus p&p) so just for the hell of it I put a bid on the model and won.

It was probably going so cheap because the canopy was missing but I’m looking at this model as a stretch of my modelling skills, including making a mould for the canopy and crash-forming it plus making the undercarriage from scratch. I believe Special Hobby are re-tooling their Pucara soon-ish so really that would be the sane option but where’s the fun in that? Mind you there would be different decal options in the SH kit which would be useful as this kit has none so I *may* end up getting one anyway.

I’m currently looking for the pictures I took of one of the Pucaras that were captured during the Falklands War in 1982, shipped back to the UK for evaluation at RAE Boscombe Down then placed on public display at the RAF Museum Cosford as that’s likely going to be the one I will model. Either way it will be an interesting project and for £2.50 it doesn’t matter if it gets scrapped, I just fancied doing a vac-form after all these years.

Italeri 1/72 T-55A

I did this as a build review for Model Military Int’l magazine a few months ago to show people what they got for their money. After the article was published and seeing a modelling buddy of mine on Facebook start a Revell 1/72 T-55A/AM, it inspired me to pick the build back up where I had left off.

Although the kit was built OOB for the review, I took off bits such as the turret grab handles, brush guards over the head lights and the too-short connecting rod between the searchlight mount and gun mantlet and replaced them with 0.3mm copper wire. I also used the wire to add the tie-down loops on the rear of the turret and for the brush guards I made a template from 2.5mm square rod to match the profile, after which copper wire was wound around it and trimmed.

Copper wire was also used for the fuel lines on the right fender and conduit tube for the headlight wiring. I applied Milliput modelling putty to the gun mantlet and fashioned a canvas cover as the one in the kit doesn’t have one.

I also used Milliput to fill in the gaps around the gun sight and machine gun covers on the turret. The two holes in the front left fender were filled in by gluing heat-stretched sprue into them and when set, trimming off the excess from the top and bottom.

All I have to do next is mask off the open engine bay and covers, get some paint on it and that will be another model finished. I have to say that 1/72 is a bit small for me armour-wise (although I’m OK with modern jets in this scale) and I’m not likely to abandon 1/35 any time soon, however this has been an interesting exercise in building a small-scale tank plus the modern tooling on these kits is light years ahead of what I grew up with as a kid. In fact I WAS thinking of taking a trip down ‘Memory Lane’ and getting the Airfix Panzer IV in this scale but then I remembered what that kit was like, took off my rose tinted glasses and shelved the idea.

New arrivals this week.

Although I’m trying to avoid buying kits I actually added two more to the stash because I am weak;

Even though my interest in WW2 German stuff is waning the Tamiya Kettenkrad was put to the top of the wanted list when it was announced as I liked the fact Tamiya had based the figures on the original 1970’s kit but done with modern tooling. I remember building the old kit waaaaay back when and I seem to recall it had a cast metal engine included too so it will be nice to put this one together, I also have an idea to get an original Tamiya kit and put them side by side but we’ll see about that.

The Airfix Chipmunk was also on the ‘most wanted’ list as I’ve always wanted to build a 1/48 Chippie but for some reason never got the Aeroclub one years ago, I guess my thinking at the time was it would be around for ages and not realising it was a limited run kit. My memories of Chipmunks were seeing the Royal Navy ones flying in and out of Roborough (now Plymouth airport) when visiting relatives in Devon as a kid as my dad would drive out to the airfield so I could see them.

Next up are some Reskit resin bits for a 1/72 CH-53 conversion that I’m planning on doing soon using the old (but still good) Airfix kit;

The conversion will be to turn the Airfix kit into a MH-53J Pave Low III as although Italeri kitted that particular version, it wasn’t that stellar a kit owing to the recessed panel lines (the CH/MH-53 had raised rivets), backward tail rotor, very basic detailing and the forward TFR fairing needs replacing.

Just looking at the resin bits they are very well detailed especially the rotor head and transmission and that alone will improve the Airfix kit no end;

The engine intakes are also nicely detailed;

Reskit also make the larger external fuel tanks as the Airfix kit features the earlier smaller type;

I also purchased replacement wheels and a refuelling probe. The biggest challenge would be making the rectangular-ish box that goes on the front of the MH-53 and the various bolt-on IR counter measures devices that are fitted, however being in the middle of making stuff from scratch for the CV-22 Osprey this should be just another step-forward. I ‘could’ have just used the front bit off the Italeri kit I had in the stash but it still would have needed some work, it may not have fitted the Airfix kit in the first place and besides which I sold the Italeri kit last week so I have to use the Airfix one now.

I was originally going to convert the Revell 1/48 CH-53G but that needed a ton of work just to bring it up to modern standards let alone converting it to a MH-53. Also the conversion kit I had was for an earlier model and needed reworking plus it was also a huge model and I don’t have the space these days and the reason why I’ve been building 1/72 stuff recently. It will make a good companion to the CV-22 Osprey as it was these that replaced the MH-53 in US Air Force service a few years ago.

Anyway that’s the plan, when I actually get around to doing it is another question.


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