Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Airfix 1/72 Tomahawk IIA - Part 10.5!

I had planned to be further on with this model by now. In fact I was hoping to have finished it in time for the next meeting of the Hull Scale Model Club, but this seems very unlikely now. Hence this feeble update being '10.5' instead of Part 11!

By now I had hoped to have the all the decals applied, the Tomahawk weathered and - perhaps optimistically - the model finished and ready to mount on the diorama base I have designed. But, guess what, I hit some snags.

What problems? Annoyingly - in this instance - some of the issues I have experienced have been
'glossed over' (excuse the pun) by the photography!

Humbrol Gloss Cote issues back to haunt me
Basically, I made a complete mess of the glossing stage as my choice of Humbrol enamel varnish (over acrylic) appears to have been a faux pass of major proportions. At the very least I should have research this product more and done some experimentation before using it on a 'live project'.

The unfamiliar varnish has never dried properly for me (my subsequent research suggests this is a reasonably common problem and might be caused by the varnish not having been stirred sufficiently before use). It remained stubbornly tacky and this caused a lot of other problems down the line.

Handling the model became very difficult indeed. The sticky gloss coat became a trap for dust and finger prints and each touch resulted in the gradual destruction of a little bit of the basic paint coat that the varnish was actually intended to protect.

And then...

The AML Decal Set
So, the gloss problems set the scene (and may be connected) with the issues I am having with the AML decal set I bought. Ironically, while my gloss coat was too sticky one of the main problems I encountered with AML's water-slide transfers was that they weren't sticky enough!

To begin with though, while my initial impression of the decals (while still on the carrier sheet) were positive - the print and colour quality being good - once it came to applying the decals a couple of things were not so positive. The AML decals appears to be quite thick - in my opinion (similar to some of the cheaper Italieri decals I have used but perhaps not quite as glossy) and they were also did not seem to respond quite so well to either Micro Sol or Micro Set solutions.

I did take the precaution of trimming the decals as close to the graphic as I could, minimising the amount of transparent carrier film visible around the edge of each symbol. One of the effects of Micro Set/Sol is that it aids the creation of a 'painted on' effect where the carrier film appears to blend in seamlessly with the underlying paint scheme. The level to which this is successful depends on the coat onto which they are applied (gloss or Klear being best), the quality and thickness of the decals themselves (the thinner the more chance they have of blending in) and the pliability of the decal (where Micro Sol, in particularly, can help the decal conform to irregular shaped surface detail).

AML decals - sadly - seemed immune to my decal fix solutions, even the stronger Micro Sol (which I have know to completely dissolve some Hobby Boss decals in the past).

Was it the failed gloss preparatory coat onto which the decals were applied? Was it the thickness or lack of adhesion of the AML decals themselves? I know it wasn't a 'bad batch' as - I must admit - I had to order a second set of the decals as I accidentally damaged one of the vital letter transfers and the replacement set was just as stubbornly 'un-sticky' as the first was.

In consequence, although it is (ironically) not apparent from the first photo at the top of this entry, some of the decals have areas where the carrier film is obviously visible - despite repeated applications of Micro Sol - and in a couple of places the edges of some decals have persistently peeled up slightly.

My only hope is that the protective varnish 'sealing layer' I am about to apply with help to remedy this somewhat. And here I must assure you that I am NOT using Humbrol's Enamel Cote but am instead returning to my tried and tested (if somewhat thicker) Humbrol Acrylic Satin Varnish aerosol spray.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Airfix 1/72 'Tilly' utility vehicle Part 3

Well, despite the wife's unrelenting DIY regime I did find a little time over the weekend to make a tiny bit of progress on the 'Tilly'! As before I have documented this build by means of a video slideshow (but I have added some text commentary this time)...

It's all going fairly well, but I have hit on one small snag. To include this vehicle in the RAF 'Tomahawk' diorama I have planned I will want some RAF personnel. But, unfortunately, the Airfix Vehicle Set that the Tilly comes in doesn't include any figures at all (no drivers or ground crew).

I blatantly realised that this was because they want you to buy their own 1/72 'RAF Ground Crew' plastic figure set (naturally enough). More expense!

Still, the set does include a selection of very nicely posed ground crew and pilots (including one female WAAF). I bought the set from Amazon and have been sorting through the poses and have picked out a group I would like to include. My one qualm is that they are soft plastic figures and so have a little flash and some seams which I will have to try and get rid of.

Hope you enjoy the slideshow. As said before, I'm experimenting with this format so please feel free to make any constructive criticisms

Friday, 17 April 2015

Airfix 1/72 'Tilly' utility vehicle Part 2

Im trying out something different today. As the Airfix Tilly is so straight forward it actually bearly needs any commentary about the building (yes, it is that well behaved) so I have decided to do a bit of a slideshow of the stages in construction and post it up as a movie...

I decided to stop at this half-way stage as I now have to do some prep work to do prior to painting the interior (masking and what-not). But this build is a breeze and it's nice to get back onto vehicles again - aircraft just ain't my thing I don't think.

Let me know what you think of me doing the construction journals in this way - as movie slideshows - and any constructive criticism or suggestions would be gratefully received.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Kitnoob goes BIG with Trumpeter's 1/35 T-54B

OK, time for something a bit different I think. I had been toying with the idea of trying out a 1/48 or 1/35 scale kit for a while now, and I have to admit the strain of my eyes had more than a little to do with my curiosity about this 'big' scale.

Well, recently I happened to visit Hull's 'Real Model Shop' on Beverley Road - just round the corner from my workplace. I had visited this shop before but as my principal interest was 1/72 armour I found that they're specialism in 'big' scale models meant that I didn't find any models for me  at the time, but then they had only recently opened I think.

Anyway, my latest visit was far more productive (even though I had only popped in for a pot of paint)!

It turns out that unbeknownst to me the guys at the shop had help form the Hull Scale Model Club. A small club of talented enthusiast who meet the first Sunday of every month. This is really good news as my home town doesn't have a model club and as I work in Hull travelling there posses little problem for the monthly meetings.

As mentioned the HSMC chaps are primarily 1/35 fans and I mentioned to them that although I world in 'Braille Scale' I have had a hankering to do something bigger no for a while. Just to see what all the fuss was about. And they suggested I have a go at a cheap and cheerful model first - rather like the way I started with Armourfast in 1/72, just to find my feet.

They had a very attractively priced Trumpeter T-54B on the shelf and - as a bit of a fan of Soviet armour - I couldn't resist...

Reviews are mixed about this kit, it isn't the best but - importantly - it isn't
the most complicated either. I certainly didn't want my first 1/35 to be one
of the newer Tamiya models...No super-detailing for me just now!
I have to admit, the chance to work on something a little larger was not only to save myself continued eyestrain but was also because some of the weathering techniques I have been keen to try out really need a bigger canvas to work effectively. A cheap, easy to build Soviet tank seemed like the perfect test.

About the Hull Scale Model Club
What surprised me is this club has been around for a couple of years now, but it's the first I had heard of it. In their own words...

"We are a bunch of friendly like minded modellers who share a common interest...We hold club competitions and attend model shows, we also have guests attend to give demonstrations or just sit and drink coffee. We have no set discipline of model making all ages and abilities welcome to join us."

HSMC table at 'Sword & Lance 2015' show.
This friendly outlook was what impressed me when I attended my first meeting at the beginning of this month. The chaps there are really not precious about what you make or how you make it, so long as you have fun doing what you are doing.

Hull Scale Model Club web site: www.hullscalemodelclub.co.uk

The club regularly attends various model shows and just last weekend they had a very successful jaunt over to 'Sword and Lance 2015' in Darlington and came away with several awards (including some first places) for their entries.

About the T-54...
I have several ideas how I might like to build this kit, the front-runners being a Finnish (Finnish again) version in a very nice splinter camo pattern and also an idea for my first attempt at a wrecked tank (everyone has to do a wreck at some point, it's modelling law)!

Next: I decide on the plan of action!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Airfix 1/72 Tomahawk IIA - Part 10

Rectified canopy...
First of all I have managed to produce a better canopy. I had to start from the beginning again (luckily I bought several of Airfix's P-40s so had spare canopies) and I managed to apply the Johnson's Klear successfully this time. There's definitely a knack to working with Klear...

Scale Model Guide - Cockpit Canopies-Acrylic Coating tips

Next I painted the canopy frame by hand. The result was quite acceptable, which just goes to show that even though you can do a lot with an airbrush there is a lot to be said for the good old fashioned paint brush - despite my shaky hand!

I first painted the frames using an enamel - Humbrol's Matt 105 (Marine Green) - as the varnished transparent plastic of the canopy seemed a little 'slippy' for acrylics. Once dry I then applied a coat of Vallejo's acrylic RAF Dark Green over the top of the enamel layer. I finished this all off with a coat of Humbrol's Satin Cote varnish (over the painted frame only, not on the transparent parts).

Gluing the canopy in place
At least I'm back on familiar and trusted ground again now. I attached the canopy pieces using Pacer's Formula '560' Canopy Glue. This despite the fact that I am not entirely sure how it differs from normal PVA - I suspect it's just very, very good quality PVA glue. But it's worked well for me up to now...

I should make a point of saying that the Airfix canopy parts are a very good fit and there were no problems. They simply slipped into place snuggly and very little glue was required.

Satin coat and decaling
Up until now I have been using Humbrols aerosol spray-can varnishes for my models, but now I want to move up a step and start applying my varnish coats using an airbrush. Obviously I am looking for a lighter, thinner varnish layer, aerosol spray layers being a little too heavy.

I have bought Humrol's Gloss and Satin Cotes, these are solvent-based varnishes and need to be used in conjunction with enamel thinners. This raises a lot of questions about thinning and how to use these varnishes with an airbrush, luckily Humbrol has produced a neat little video calming m trepidations about using a new medium (or at least an familiar medium in a new way)...

Luckily I got a chance to use Humbrol Satin Cote when I did my revised canopy, I finished the canopy frame off with a bit of Satin Cote using a brush. But this gave me a chance to experiment with using thinners and mixing the correct consistency. The Humbrol varnish worked nicely with my Vallajo Odourless Thinners and as a result I am less fretful about putting some through my airbrush.

Nice side-effect of the light gloss coat was to slightly darken the RAF camouflage
scheme. I had been worried that my version of the pattern had been too light.
The airbrushing was interesting, I am used to a wide coverage using the spray cans which only meant a couple of passes across the model to cover it. My airbrush - having a finer (narrower) nozzle - only had a smaller coverage and so I had to spray back and forth a bit at a time until I completely coated the whole model. It's a bit more complicated than my spray-can method, but the result is - as I hoped - a lighter and superior coat of varnish.

This gloss coat should ensure that the AML decal set I bought for my Tomahawk adhere to the model without 'silvering' (tiny air bubbles caught between the paint layer and the decal).

The decals - 26 Squadron, RAF, England 1941.

Interestingly, AML's decal set for European theatre Tomahawks include not only
the RAF example that I will be modelling but also a lend-lease Soviet P-40 which
appears to be ex-RAF.  It comes in a striking winter camo scheme.
As usual I will be using Microscal Micro Set decal fix to fix the decals, but also Micro Sol to soften the decals so they sink nicely into the Airfix's rather deep panel lines. The AML decals look well printed with no misalignments in the colours and I will be trying to trim the individual decals as close as I can so that they - hopefully - look 'painted on'.

Trimming the decals is a time consuming and nerve wracking process - or at least it is for me! No room for shaky hands here, the closer to the decal the better but lettering can be a bit of a bitch...

Problems...Sticky varnish
I suppose when I am always trying out new things it means I'm always coming across problems, in this case the Humbrol Gloss Cote varnish remains sticky to the touch. I've searched on the internet and found that a few people have had this problem - and some have decided never to use this varnish again! Oh dear.

What I've decided to do is persevere and return to using my trusty Humbrol acrylic spray varnishes. They may not be as fine but they work and I am pretty sure that a layer of these over my Humbrol Cote layer will solve the stickiness issue. We shall see.

In any case, I've continued on and applied the decals...

A good excuse to show off the rather novel underside of the model - which,
sadly, will be mostly hidden when mounted on the diorama I will be making.
And here another little issue popped up. I had to apply one of the roundels onto the black underwing panels and I never thought about how that would effect something so thin as a decal. If I had been really clever what I should have done is to paint a flat white circle the same size as the roundel and applied the decal over that to ensure the correct level of opacity. Another lesson learned!

Next: Another coat of varnish to protect the decals and then onto the panel lining and weathering.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Airfix 1/72 'Tilly' utility vehicle

The Standard Utility Vehicle, or 'Tilly'. Photo source: Wikipedia
I have been wondering what to do with my Airfix Tomahawk IIA now that it's nearing completion. I have constructed it with the landing gear down so mounting it on some sort of small diorama seemed on the cards. But I didn't just want to mount the aircraft with - say - a single pilot figure, I fancied having a go at something a little more involved and interesting.

As it happened, while looking around my local model shop I came across Airfix's WWII RAF Vehicle Set. This seemed to be the ideal basis for my diorama...

I decided to go for the utility car as the partner for my RAF Tomahawk. It was a vehicle made by the Standard company based on a civilian car design, the common nickname for which was the 'Tilly'.

In my head I had an idea for a little story - unfortunately I now realise that I should have planned the idea for a diorama BEFORE making the Tomahawk as I missed an obvious opportunity for a lovely little scene using Airfix's 1/72 RAF Ground Crew figure set...

Some examples from Airfix's R.A.F. Personnel (set 01747). Source: Plastic Soldier Review
My Tomahawk is a 'Army Cooperation' machine from RAF 26 Squadron the primary duty of which was tactical photo reconnaissance. As you can see the Airfix figures has an RAF crewman working with one of the photo-recon cameras (far right in picture) and this would have been ideal for my diorama IF I had discovered this first and then opened up the little side hatch in the fuselage (which I didn't). Du-Oh!

It's just one of those things. I didn't know what I was going to do with my Tomahawk when I started it, I was just doing it for a change of scene (as a break from all the trucks I had been doing). Ah well!

...And on that note, back to my truck! (Well, car really!)

I got a really good idea how this model was going to go together from this YouTube build video...

It does look a very nice little kit (Airfix are really on a roll these days it seems) and this impression was reinforced when I cracked open the box. Once again - just like the Tomahawk kit - the Airfix RAF vehicles are lovely and crisp mouldings with plenty of nice detail. The Tilly itself is a lovely little van and the instructions for it's construction are easy to understand and idiot proof (bearing in mind the last truck I was working on was the horrible Zebrano YaG-6 the AIrfix Tilly is s breath of fresh air)!

So, onwards and upwards, as I begin construction. It will be interesting to see how long this kit takes to put together.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Airfix 1/72 Tomahawk IIA - Part 9

Canopy masking, painting and attachment
And now to the bit I've been dreading. Although I've done a couple of aircraft since taking up modelling again I am still affected by memories of the mess I used to make of my model canopies when I was a kid. If I didn't get glue on them - usually a thumbprint - I made a dog's dinner of painting the canopy framework.

To complicate my worries I had decided to try out a technique whereby I dip the canopy components in Johnson's Klear floor wax. This is said to give transparent plastic parts an extra sparkle as well as protecting the 'glass' parts while you undertake work on them.

I didn't do this job quite right and unfortunately I got what is called 'pooling' where too much Klear congregates in a tiny puddle in one place and drys to for a little blob. It's fifty-fifty as to whether these blemishes are noticeable so I haven't tried to rectify them in case I make them worse. But it's worth noting that if you do want the clean off Klear again should you make a mistake you can do so using 'Windex' window cleaning liquid (which contains ammonia).

The big chunks of masking tape are protecting the rear cockpit windows, overkill
perhaps but I don't want and mishaps when I spray.
I then give the parts a quick pass with Humbrol grey primer before applying a couple of light coats of Vallejo's RAF Dark Green to match the fuselage camo pattern. Then it's the moment of truth when I remove the masking.

I suppose I could have simply painted the frame by hand, starting with an enamel priming coat. Spraying does seem a little much - and a bit wasteful - when it's just small parts like this but I do like a nice sharp line so I think it's worth it.

I'm not really pleased with the results. I've made a bit of a mess of this bit of the model - first by the bad application of Klear and then by spraying the frame instead of panting it by hand (the photo flatters the job I've made of it, it's not that good).

I'm sorely tempted to start again with one of the canopies from my other Airfix P-40. I'll sleep on it (which is always the best thing to do if you are unsure about something.)