Saturday, 31 December 2016

Hunor Model 1939 Ford V8 Truck - Part 1

First build for 2017 will be a resin kit by the Hungarian company Hunor. It's another truck for my Finnish Continuation War project and is, once again, a little obscure pre-WW2 design that was typical of the Finn's reliance on civilian and commercial vehicles that were imported from America.

Nice photo of a Finnish Ford at what looks like a military fuel supply stop.
Dated 1941. Photo credit: SA KUVA
This will be my first Hunor model and despite unhappy memories of the last resin kit I made (by Zebrano) I am looking forward to this build as I have heard good things about Hunor.

The 1939 Ford V8 truck is fairly typical of the lighter type of commercial flat-bed cargo vehicles of this time. In truth, it was only slightly bigger than a pick-up truck and shared the same cab design across the range, from van to truck...

While this format was prevalent and popular at the time it's suitability as a military prime mover may be questionable because of its light weight. But still, it's availability and the reliability of its V8 engine was what the Finn's sorely needed at the time. These trucks just kept on going, as can be seen in this 2015 video of an American family's Ford, which has been their farm truck since 1953...

One final historical note worth mentioning is that, the 1939 Ford V8 design is yet another one of those late 1930s American vehicle designs that was manufactured both in the USA and in Germany! I *think* the Finn's M39 Fords were US imports rather than products of Germany's Fordwerkes. (Apparently, they were produced in Germany from 1939 to 1941. Like the Ford V3000 V8s, the way to tell the American from the German version is that the US-made models had a split windscreen, while the German Fords had a one-piece windscreen.)

The Hunor kit
The kit comes in a nice cardboard box, but inside you will be met with some polystyrene packing and a plastic bag of parts...

While I guess it's hard to produce resin models on a sprue - like plastic kits - I always wince when I see all the delicate resin components squeezed into a loose bag like this. Fingers crossed for no broken parts!

Luckily, everything seemed to be in order when I checked all the parts but there is quite a bit of flash and smaller detailed parts are attached to large blocks of resin. A lot of cutting and cleaning will be required...

One of the constant niggles (I have) with resin model manufacturers is the low quality of their printed instructions, Hunor seems to be no different...

Oh dear! Not only draw by an 8 year old child but also - when one checks the parts - a few operations are only very vaguely alluded too. For example, the flatbed supporting spars will need a lot of TLC lavished on them before they can be affixed to the underside of the flatbed.

I may be being picky, but when you consider the premium price one is being asked to pay for these kits (€35 plus shipping) you would think the least they could do is spend some time on better instructions!

Well, I guess the moral when dealing with resin kits is that it's all in the prep! So, I'll be spending quite some time preparing all the parts so that they are in a finished state ready for the assembly.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Starting afresh for 2017!

My recovery from illness has been a lot slower than I imagined, my hands have slowly begun to stop shaking which has precluded any model making or painting. But, things are starting to look up and I starting to plan ahead for a fresh start in 2017!

New Year's Resolution
Actually, the break has forced me to spend some time thinking about what I am doing with my modelling. Thus far, everything I have done has been a bit spontaneous, or eclectic or faltering as I undertook model-making in a very sporadic and unfocused manner.

2017, I have decided, will be very different. I now have a plan!

I am determined that this year will see me completing my Finnish Continuation War collection and I have even produced a Word document with a sort of road-map of how I will achieve this. This outlines everything I need to do to complete my collection using the Rapid Fire rules as a guideline for my Finnish army.

A proper outline document listing the models I have and the models
I still need in order to complete my Finnish army collection!

First Build for 2017
Looking at the gaps in my plan, I still need to build some more trucks. I never knew that a wargaming army composed of quite so many trucks, I naively imagined it was all the exciting stuff - like tanks and artillery - but I have discovered that a late 20th Century army doesn't so much 'march on its stomach' as ride around in a truck!

Not the best period photo of a Ford M39 (second from left) but still a very
interesting illustration of the eclectic nature of Finnish motor transport in 1942.
Every truck in this line-up is a different make and model!
So, the first model for 2017 will be a rather niche and potentially tricky resin Hunor 1/72 Ford Model 1939 V8 truck. This model was a little hard to get hold of and somewhat expensive, but it represents one of the less well-known vehicles that made up the Finnish WW2 inventory.  Like a lot of the Finn's motor pool at this time, the Ford M39 V8 was a pre-war import and probably a commercial civilian vehicle which was pressed into military service.

I have had a fair amount of bad experiences with resin builds (I'm looking at you Mr. Zebrano) but this is my first Hunor and they seem to have a fairly good reputation. This despite all the parts being supplied loose in a plastic bag!

Apologies, this video is in Russian (I think), but it does give you a good idea of what to expect in a Hunor box...

Let's hope this turns out to be a good start to the New Year - and I hope everyone has a happy and prosperous 2017!

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.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Hobby Boss 1/72 Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC - Part 5

Basic painting done! I like getting to the end of a phase of work. I haven't been happy with the painting with this, but let's put that behind us now...

I've test fitted the canopy, but before I glue it on permanently I'll weather the cabin interior and dip the canopy in a bath of Pledge Klear. The painting of the canopy frame will be a separate job and I will have to do a bit of masking to do this.

The next major stage is the glossing prior to applying the decals. Adding the Hobby Boss decals makes me a little nervous as I've had some bad experiences with them in the past. So fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Hobby Boss 1/72 Spitfire Vb (Trop) complete.

Finally got round to taking the completion photos of my Hobby Boss desert Spit. Despite this just being a 'painting test' it turned out OK and so is worth a look...

Probably the most flattering shot as it makes the horrible canopy look 'OK'!
Classic Spitfire 'take off' shot.

The least flattering angle, as you can see the flaw with the canopy. I took
the opportunity to drill out the wing MGs, which look quite nice.
As I said, this was just a painting test - a practise paint job on a cheap kit before I took on a 'serious' project - but, for all that, it's turned out OK I think. I was particularly pleased with my 'eyeshadow' weathering.

As to the kit itself, it's actually an alright beginner's 'easy build', the most obvious flaw being the over-seized canopy (which is why I painted it 'wargame model style'). Minor niggles were the over-simplified undercarriage - which were designed only to be made in the 'down' position - and the very spindly propellors.

Still, as I bout this kit for just £2.95 I can't really complain all that much can I?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Hataka trauma over!

Hobby Boss 1/72 Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC - Part 4
Phew! This is as much as I'm doing with Hakata paints (bored now), but I have learned a few things...

Once again, I have to thank the very helpful and friendly guys over on Facebook's 'The Plastic Scale Model Making Group' (Closed Group, you need to ask to join) with whom I've had a very lively and informative discussion about Hataka paints. The upshot of this conversation was 'it's not just me' (which is nice to know) as quite a few people have found this make of acrylic paints 'tricky' to use (and to be fair, a couple have actually mastered them).

The general consensus is that - to brush-apply Hataka acrylics - you do need to use multiple thin coats of paint. This is in line with what I have found - I made an utter mess of the 'Ocean Grey' areas of the camo scheme by trying to apply it like I would have with enamels.

What will be interesting now is how the proceeding decaling and weathering stages will affect how my shoddy brush painting looks!

Monday, 1 August 2016

I still hate Hataka paints!

Hobby Boss 1/72 Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC - Part 3

The final parts of the easy build kit went together very quickly and with no real bother. I did have to fill the unsightly gap where the fuselage joins the one-piece wing component.

One other detail that's worth mentioning is the cockpit, or rather the lack of detail therein. It is better than Hobby Boss's Easy Build Spitfire that I recently made (which was nothing more than an empty slot), but that's not saying much. Still, here's what you get...

Not much to see, really. A seat, a headrest, a very rudimentary (and incorrect) joystick and a simple gunsight. I'm hoping that once the canopy is on that this poor detail will not be so noticeable.

Now, having primed the model with Humbrol Spray Acrylic Primer I started marking out the camouflage pattern using a white pencil crayon...

As this model is a painting test to see how easily Hataka paints are applied by brush I'm applying the camo scheme freehand, but some faint guidelines will help me paint a fairly realistic pattern. Hopefully.

I wasn't all that impressed with how the Hataka acrylic paints went on using an airbrush, so let's see if they brush on any better...

Nope! Not liking this!
Maybe it's just me, maybe I just don't like brush painting (large areas), but Hataka paints continue to be a challenge. However, I have learned a couple of things...

First of all, mix Hataka paints well - I mean really well. On my first attempt, I shook the Hataka paint bottle the same amount of time I do with my Vallejo paints, about 30-40 seconds (really hard). But this still resulted in a milky solution where the paint binder was not completely mixed with the paint. This resulted in a streaky and glossy 'paint' (see left wing)...

Learning from this I shook and shook and shook the Hataka paint, ensuring that the ball-bearing that they put in their bottles was floating free in the bottle (it sometimes sticks to the side if you leave the bottles unused for a while). This time, I shook the bottle for well over a minute, and the difference was marked.

The binder was properly mixed, this time, the paint was easier to apply and not quite so streaky. BUT, there was also a marked colour change in the paint compared to the colour I expected (see the right wing of the above photo). I was expecting Hataka's 'Ocean Grey' to be a darker grey (based on the Hobby Boss paint instructions), but it turned out not that much darker than the primer I sprayed on.

Hobby Boss paint instructions...
The correct RAF 'Ocean Grey'. Source: Wings Palette
The Hobby Boss paint instructions indicate a mid-charcoal grey for the fuselage, but checking online references (see above photo) it looks like Hataka is closer to the correct shade of grey. So, once again, while using Hataka paints are a challenge (at least for me, it seems) they are very good renditions of the correct original paint schemes.

And, onto the 'Dark Green'
Despite my problems, I decided that as I've gone this far I might as well complete the model and the test (I was tempted to just respray the model, but resisted)!

So...It's shake, shake, shake, shake that Hataka paint!

While still not happy, I seem to be getting the measure of brush applying Hataka paints. Unlike when airbrushing, do not attempt to use Humbrol Acrylic Thinners but instead just use ordinary tap water to get the paint to a useable consistency. I have also settled on applying two thinner coats of paint rather than trying to get a good coat with one coat.

The Hataka paint has a tendency to dry fast (as I discovered to my horror when using with an airbrush) so you have to watch our for drying stains where you are brushing over already drying paint. Two light coats helps with that issue as well.

Even so, I found I had to be reasonably speedy in applying my coats and I took the precaution of applying the paint in zones - filling in panels so that the edge of my completed areas did not show up under the next brushed section. Stop and start mid panel and you are liable to see where you stopped underneath the next coat.

The effect is still a little streaky for my tastes - I cannot say that brush painting or Hataka paints have grown on me any!