Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What I've been up to!

Bit of a hiatus in the blogging and hobby-ing over the past two months. This was due to an unexpected trip to the hospital and a stay in Hull Royal Infirmary's ICU...

After two weeks in ICU I get my first cup of tea!
I am now home and recovering nicely and starting to look into picking up where I left off with my various hobby projects. It'll take me a while to remind myself exactly what I was up to (the downside of having so many hobbies), but - at the moment - I have a lot of time on my hands as I continue my recovery.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the wonderful nurses, doctors and auxiliary staff at Hull Royal Infirmary and my thankfulness that we are blessed with a National Health Service. Also, a big thank you to TESCOS of Hull - who's first aiders attended me and called the ambulance when I originally took ill, their prompt action undoubtedly contributed to my getting through this successfully.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Hobby Boss 1/72 Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC - Part 7

Decal time!
As usual, I am dreading working with the Hobby Boss decals - they can be a nightmare.

But before I even start I have a criticism! Take note of the 'Lemon Yellow' decals - the identification letters and fuselage band - these are completely the wrong colours for RAF aircraft of this period. They should, actually, be the RAF's 'Sky Type S' (a light blue-green shade of grey) and, ironically, Hobby Boss has this colour right in their colour instructions (note the propeller boss, aircraft ID letters and fuselage 'band')...

So, what I have done is to modify the colour of my propeller boss to match HB's incorrect 'lemon yellow' decals by painting it lemon yellow too...

Bit annoying, but cheaper than buying a set of third-party Hurricane decals in the correct colour. I'll just have to accept that the finished model will be that much less authentic. So, let's get on with applying the darn things...

Microset solution really helps out and is a little less aggressive than Microsol. I've had these type of cheap Hobby Boss decals actually melt when trying to apply them using Microsol, so I'm erring on the side of caution here.

This worked pretty well, however, once applied the poor quality of the Hobby Boss decals became apparent...

Now, I had the same problem with the previous Hobby Boss model (their 'easy build' Spitfire Vb) and I found that applying a coat of spray varnish alleviated some of the 'wrinkliness' - it's the best you can do, they won't be perfect.

For me, the biggest challenge with military aircraft decals is the plane's ID letters. Lining them up and getting them to look 'straight' on the fuselage can be a wee bit difficult sometimes. But, then, I'm a bit of a fuss-pot and a worrier who will stare at something like this and convince myself it's not straight when it quite possibly is!

To add to my personal woes, Hobby Boss have provided a set of decals for the fuselage colour bands. Now, I could have (and maybe should have) dumped these and painted on the band instead, but I wanted to try out all the HB decals for this model, so here we go...

Honest;y, I don't know how aircraft modellers do it - it' took me ages to apply the ID letters and I still don't think they are straight! (This is why I like vehicles!)

The HB fuselage 'ring' decal is a little wobbly too, but that's more to do with their horrible two-part decal than my application. I did my best with it but will still end up straightening the edges using a brush and some paint. However, now these decals are on you can clearly see the inaccurate 'lemon yellow' colour I complained about earlier...And one more thing...

WARNING: As I have noted before with Hobby Boss 'Easy Build' series decals - these 'budget' decals do not work well with MICROSCALE'S MICRO SOL. It actually melts them!

Micro Set seems to work fine, but the more aggressive Micro Sol (designed to soften decals) caused the decals to 'bubble' and disintegrate with just a small application.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Gaz 55 Ambulance - Part 3

Today I moved from the construction the driver's cab to assembling the ambulance enclosure. This looks a pretty simple construction of four walls, a roof and a floor but I want to modify it slightly in light of some reference material I've found...

Note that two of the three rear windows have either been boarded up or they have integral shutters which can be closed. I have checked various other sources and this configuration is quite widespread (one of the two windows on the rear doors is also similarly covered).

Find out more here: Engines of The Red Army in WW2 - Gaz 55 Ambulance

(I also noticed that the roof on these vehicles seems to be painted or covered with a gray material. But, I will look into this a little later.)

So, first job was to cover the closed panels...

Now, I had to think about how would make the 'white' semi-opaque windows. I decided to fill these empty panels with some very thin white plasticard and cover these with an even thinner rectangle of transparent plastic over the top of it to give it a glass-like look.

But, before I installed these panel windows I thought it easier to spray the base green colour first as trying to paint the window sills after the windows are fitted would be a pain. I would then mask out the windows before continuing the painting of the ambulance.

Preparatory base coat done on the rear bodywork, it's time to try and fit all the rest of the body components together. Now, this is where things started to go a little awry!

First of all, the ambulance body parts don't actually fit all that snugly, not horrendously bad - but not terribly well either. But, when you try and put the assembled ambulance body onto the chassis and join it to the driver's cab, you have to wonder if they are part of the same kit.

In actual fact, of course, they are not (exactly) part of the same kit, as the grey ambulance body sprue is a separate addition to the green Gaz truck sprues - designed and manufactured as an after-thought. So - long story short - you will end up having to do a lot of work to get all the vehicle's major parts - chassis, front upper body and rear upper body - to fit together like they should.

As you can see, the Gaz 55's cab merges seamlessly into the ambulance body.
Unlike my PST Gaz 55 model which is - funnily enough - a bit of a car crash.
And this is where I will leave things...

As you can see from the above picture, I will have to play with all the parts and move things around - and possibly file and trim bits here and there - to get the ambulance body to mate seamlessly with the cab section. Oh, joy!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Canopy complete - Phew!

My least favourite modelling job - painting canopy frames on aircraft. I don't really do enough aircraft to practise this skill to get to the skill level I would prefer. So, in this case, I was just happy to get the darn thing done. I went down the masking route...

I know some experienced aircraft modellers will probably say that I could have done this job more quickly and easily by painting the canopy frame freehand, but I'm afraid my hands are too shaky and so I copped out!

Once masked I gave the canopy a couple of light sprays of Humbrol's Dark Green. Then I removed the masking tape and touched up by hand (I felt up to that)...

Not perfect, but acceptable for what is - after all - just a paint test model. As usual, photography flatters the results!

That out the way, I can re-mask the canopy so I can gloss the rest of the model ready for the application of Hobby Boss's dreaded decals! Will the third time be the charm? We shall see.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Zebrano's YAG 6 Completion photos

I mentioned my YAG 6 model in yesterday's post and while looking back on my posts on this horrible model I realised that I never did a 'completion post' for it! Now, I suspect this was because it was such a traumatic build and because I was just so pleased to finish it that I subconsciously blocked out any idea of showcasing the final model!

So, to rectify this, here is the finished Zebrano YAG 6 Soviet Heavy Truck (Finnish Army, 1943)...

So, there you go. The completion shots for what was undoubtedly the most horrendous kit build I have made so far! (I still shudder just thinking about it.)

If you really want to know just what was so bad about this Zebrano model - and why I will never buy another - you can look back over the build journal by following this link (posts in reverse order, last first): Zebrano 1/72 resin YAG-6 Soviet Heavy Truck.

And now, let's never talk of this model ever again!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Gaz 55 Ambulance - Part 2

Got some work done on the construction of the Gaz, and have some opinions about PST's components. The sprues are a little too over-populated for my liking and, to make matters worse, PST do try to do some components which are maybe too small and too fragile for plastic in 1/72 scale.

Sometimes, PST seem to over-engineer things, like the drive shaft. Why make one
component when three will do? To be fair to them, this may be so you get the
utmost level of detail on this part, but it does make things a bit fiddly.
Were this kit Dragon or Trumpeter a lot of these fiddly components would probably be on a separate photo-etched brass sheet. I guess that PST's priority is keeping the cost of the kit down, so they include some tiny parts on the plastic sprue. This pleases the carpet monster!

That aside, I do love the early WW2 Soviet trucks, they always put me in mind of the old TV series 'The Waltons'! Of course, the reason this would be is because these Gaz vehicles were all licence-built copies of the 1920/30 American Ford light trucks...

The other minor niggle with PST's mouldings is there is a bit of warping of components. The chassis is quite twisted and the fender footplates are a bit warped too.

The small imperfections can be easily rectified, though I did giggle when I heard that ZEBRANO may have had something to do with the design of this kit (they seem to do a lot of collaboration with PST). This brought back bad memories of their horrendous 1/72 Yag-6 Soviet Heavy Truck that I made...Oh, dear me! :(

Still, as long as you take this kit very carefully (the main instruction panel is just a jumble) you should be OK. It's been enjoyable so far.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

A break from planes - GAZ Ambulance

My short attention span strikes again! I need a break from aircraft so I rummaged in my stash (oh er, matron) and found a nice little PST GAZ Ambulance...

Technically, this kit will be part of my Finnish Continuation War project, although under the Rapid Fire wargame rules for this conflict there is no requirement to add an ambulance. But, I know for a fact that the Finns did have at least one of these Soviet-made vehicles in their inventory ('liberated' from the Red Army), and there is a nice photo of it available on the SA KUVA archive. So, I just fancied adding one to my collection.

Source: SA KUVA

What's in the box?
As usual with PST kits, the sprue complement is something of an eclectic mix made up from a basic sprue set from PST's GAZ light truck kit with the special additional sprue which has the ambulance components on it. I always appreciate PST's 'modular' approach to kit variations as it always means some left over parts that I can add to my spares box!

The main green sprue is PST's basic GAZ truck parts and the gray sprue is the
additional parts to convert the basic truck chassis into the ambulance version.
(Incidentally, in case you were wondering, there are enough parts on the green sprue to make up an ordinary GAZ light truck, with a cargo flatbed.)

One thing I appreciated was the inclusion of a sheet of transparent plastic with the 'glass' parts marked out on it. This will save me a lot of time making my own windshields.

The 'ambulance sprue' has all the parts that will replace the normal cargo flatbed on the GAZ chassis. Each side has a three-panel window, but I'm still a bit unsure whether these 'windows' should be opaque white or transparent. I will have to do some research.

Finally, the instructions are the normal PST 'photocopied' pieces of A4 paper. Perfectly useable but the quality can vary...

Directions for decals and colour scheme are left to the box artwork I'm afraid. This is a shame as there are a reasonable amount of decals and some more precise instructions for their application would have been helpful. I suppose I will have to rely on online reference.

So, fairly much the usual pros and cons for a PST kit. But, to end on a positive note, the quality of plastic is good and there is an absence of flash or any noticeable deformations. Looking forward to making this.