Name: Clare

Posts by Clare:

    Shenyang J-15 Chinese Navy Fighter

    January 10th, 2015

     

    Background

    During the 1970’s Russia started the development of modern carrier borne fighter aircraft. The Sukhoi design team started with their basic Su-27 Flanker and added such carrier items as tail-hook, folding wings and structural improvements plus a set of forward canard wings to produce their proposal, the Su-33.

    The Shenyang company of China had a working agreement with Sukhoi covering the basic Su-27 and their local version, the J-11, was in production. This agreement did not cover the Su-33 but when the Chinese Navy became interested in a carrier-borne fighter, Shenyang obtained an unfinished prototype of the Su-33 from the Ukraine and started to produce their own version. It appears that the J-15 is structurally similar to the Su-33 but utilizes Chinese engines and avionics. The Chinese name of this aircraft translates to “Flying Shark”. This model represents the first four or five test aircraft that were utilized to develop and prove carrier take-offs and landings. Like the Russians, the Chinese aircraft carriers utilize the ski-jump type of take-off.

     

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    The Kit and Construction

    This Hasegawa kit consists of four sprues of yellow molded parts plus the airplane upper and lower halves along with one sprue of very clear transparent parts. Decals for four different aircraft are provided. All are from the test unit and are mostly overall yellow. I expect that the yellow color is some sort of primer coating.

    Hasegawa have utilized their Su-33 tooling to product the J-15 model. This is fair since I was not able to detect any visual differences between the Su-33 and the J-15 from the photos that I found on the internet.

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    A simple cockpit with decal instrumentation and controls is provided along with a simple ejection seat. Once the cockpit is glued into the lower half of the model, the upper portion is then glued in place. The fit of the two parts is good however the total glue joint of this assembly is over 30 inches. I used some larger paint brushes to apply glue to the wing area and then used a Touch ‘n Flo glue applicator to seal most of the fuselage joints. Next, the two engine nacelles were assembled and installed. After a few more parts were added, the basic model was complete except for the landing gear, the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, the canards and the exhaust outlets. At this point, I decided to start painting the model.

    It is noted that many of the parts featured small nibs molded into the parts to ensure that the plastic was injected completely into the molds. This meant that most of the parts required cleaning up at both the place where they were removed from the sprue but also where the nibs had to be removed. There must have been a dozen or more nibs on the landing gear parts alone. A good set of sprue cutters and a sanding board ensured that the parts were cleaned up before assembly.

    A complete set of external rocket armament is provided but I could not find any photos of this test fleet which included any external armament. These went into my spares box. Hasegawa have since produced a production version of the J-15 which should use much of the armament. The production version features an interesting “Flying Shark” tail marking.

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    Paint and Finishing

    As noted above, I started painting the model before final assembly. The reason for painting before final assembly is that there are LOTS of surface antennae and burnt metal areas to be painted. These could NOT be masked if the model had been assembled more completely. I added the vertical and horizontal stabilizers after all these areas were painted.

    I chose to model test airplane number 551 which featured a light blue-green color on the vertical stabilizers and around the dive brake. I believe that this is also a primer coating and it looked more interesting. Of course, this made my job more difficult (smile).

    The prime overall color of the model is a mixture of White and RLM 04 Yellow. I mixed up about a half bottle of this color so that the model color would be consistent. I did the same for the tail color that was a mix of light green and light blue. The Hasegawa instructions provide FS color references for the major colors needed – a handy feature.

    The decals were of good quality and conformed readily to the surface of the model. The markings for these four aircraft were all similar, being a number of yellow and black measurement targets for the test program. Very subtle differences existed between the markings of the various test aircraft and Hasegawa were able to capture these differences so that each aircraft would end up subtly different but accurate. The decal sheet also contains a myriad of additional small markings of which, few were used. I expect that these relate to complete markings of production aircraft, some armament markings or even some Su-33 markings.

    Following painting and decaling, I applied some wash to bring out control surfaces, wing folding lines, grilles etc. I also noted that the test aircraft seemed to get pretty dirty so I applied a little extra grunge in key areas. This then was sealed with a clear flat top coat and final assembly took place.

    Final assembly consisted of adding the landing gear, gear doors, tail pipes, canopies and the various pitot tubes.

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    Conclusions and Recommendations

    Even in 1/72 scale, this is a large model and makes an impressive looking display. Hasegawa have engineered the kit so that it really goes together easily and accurately. It can be readily assembled by most modelers with just a minimum of experience. The only concerns are to clean up the parts before assembly and to plan early for the painting of the various different colored panels. This kit is well recommended.

    1 Comment "

    Out-of-the-Box Armor Contest

    February 10th, 2013

    Members are reminded that the next intra-club contest will be held during the March meeting. The subject is Out-of-the-Box armor. Lets all bring an entry.

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    2013 Club Build Committments

    February 8th, 2013

    At the February Meeting, club members committed to build certain models during the 2013 year.  Following is the list so far.  Tentatively, the models should be available during the August Meeting.  All other members are who wish to join the build should list their choices below, also, contact Clare

     Commit-to-Build List – Feb. 2013

    1. Clare Wentzel                         Dewoitine D-520 – 1/72 scale
    2. Richard Prell                           Junkers Ju-87 B2
    3. Rick Cahow                             Pz III Experimental
    4. Paul Love                                F-117 – 1/48 scale
    5. Tim Miller                                P-47, P-51, P-61 or F-105 – 1/48 scale
    6. Kevin Pyard                             Airfix TSR-2 – 1/48 scale
    7. Keith Geresy                           Ki-84 or F2A – 1/48 scale
    8. Bill Geresy                              B-58A Hustler, YB-49 Flying Wing, G0-229 Flying Wing – 1/72
    9. Karen Damvelt                        Bell 222 – 1/48, MASHK 4077th – 1/35, Budweiser 8 Horse Hitch – 1/20
    10. Steve Smith                             Spitfire Mk. 22
    11. Paul Brown                              P-51 – 1/32 scale, MiG-21 F-13 – 1/48 scale
    12. Sean Killean                            M-3 British Honey – 1/35 scale
    13. Martin Schultz                         Macchi Sea Plane

     

    Must be completed for August 2013 meeting.

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    Academy F/A-18C Special Edition – Chippy Ho! 2009

    November 25th, 2012

    History –   The F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engined aircraft designed for both fighter and attack missions.  The initial versions, the A and B (two seat) entered operation in 1981.  The F/A-18C was a visually similar but had a number of improvements related to avionics and weapon carrying capability.  It started production in 1987 and has proven successful in the various roles.  The Hornet participated in Operation Desert Storm and proved very successful in combat situations.  The Hornet is also operated by the Air Forces of Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.

    The subject of my model is the CAG airplane of VFA-195, Dambusters.  They are based at the Naval Air Facility Atsugi and the scheme shown existed in April, 2009.  I tried to find out the origin of the name “Chippy Ho”.  The best answer that I got was VFA-195’s callsign is ‘Chippy’ and sometime in its early dogfight history someone spotted their VFA-195 adversary and instead of calling Tally Ho, they called Chippy Ho and the rest became a very unwritten history.

    The Kit – This kit contains five sprues with about 135 parts.  I have not seen Academy’s 1/32 Hornet but I am told that the 1/72 kit is almost like a shrunken version.  The kit features finely scribed panel lines and loads of surface detail.  It seems like every panel, grille and seam of the real airplane is reproduced on this kit.

    The clear parts are well protected.  The sprue actually forms a protective structure for the canopy parts so that they do not even touch the protective plastic bag.  The parts are perfect.

     Three color schemes are given, two versions of the Chippy Ho and a normal scheme bird, also from VFA-195.  A large, well printed decal sheet from Cartograf is provided.  The colors are bright and true and cover perfectly.  The decals had some hard areas to conform to but did a good job.

    The Build – The build starts with the nose/cockpit section.  In order to include all of the surface detail found on the nose of the aircraft, the nose consists of four pieces.  Care must be taken in assembling these parts to preserve the detail.  I found that the sides had drawn in slightly when it came time to install the cockpit tub.  When the nose was glued to the fuselage assembly, Step 5, I ended up inserting a couple of shims in the nose next to the tub and added a couple of tabs to the fuselage to ensure accurate alignment.  Note attached photos.

    The result looked perfect.  One area to be cautious is with the dive brake.  I decided to have the brake closed so I simply glued the part to the well in the fuselage.  The fit was tight and I ended up pushing the brake below the surrounding surface – the supporting flange was too deep.  Rather than mess up the surface, I left it for something for the judges to find.

    A couple of alternative parts under the intakes are provided without any explanation of which one to use.  I checked all photos that I could find and used the simple grille.  Also, a complete assortment of weapons, fuel tanks and pods is provided without any specific directions of which ones to use.  Even the box drawing and photos of the completed model were different.  I chose three tanks with the center one having the checkerboard marking (only one set of these markings were given).  I also added wing tip Sidewinders and GBU-12s on the empty pylons.  I suspect that one of the pods should have been included but I did not know which one so I left them off.  I think that the final result was sufficiently “mean” looking.

    Painting and finishing – The model is painted in the standard colors of Light and Dark Ghost Gray.  Generally clear instructions are provided and no major problems were encountered although some of the items were very small.

    Regarding the decals, you need to bring your best decal application game.  Some of the decals are very large and care must be taken to float them into place before blotting them down.  The green decals on the fuselage, wings and stabilizers are examples but they fit very well.  Green decals were also provided for the canopy frames and went into place perfectly.  These were a great addition.  The black decals that provided the walk way covered the LEX and came to a point on the fuselage.  The vanes on top of the LEXs must be applied only after the decals are in place.

    The biggest challenge was the eagle decals on the fins and  rear fuselage.  The bird covers the complete outer fin and requires a lot of attention.  These decals also include “Navy” and “USS George Washington” markings for the lower fuselage.  With my first decal, this part became hopelessly rolled up.  Fortunately, these same decals were provided for the normal scheme version so the problem was easily fixed.  For the other side, I cut the decal in two along the fuselage/fin line.  This worked much better.  The best key to alignment is to use the location of the formation lights.  Finally, the areas around the fin tips require lots of setting solution.

    Conclusion – Please do not take my comments above to be negative. I was really pleased with this kit.  It caused me some hair pulling but I was extremely pleased with the final result.  I believe that this is the most accurate F-18C on the market and can recommend it to most modelers with some building experience.

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    Mikoyan MiG-21

    April 27th, 2011

     

    Mikoyan MiG-21

    Famous Russian Aircraft

    By Yefim Gordon and Keith Dexter with Dmitriy Komissarov

    ISBN 978 1 85780 257 3

    Published by Classic Publications Ltd.

    Distributed by Specialty Press – $79.95

    www.specialtypress.com

     

    Ask me anything about the MiG-21.  I expect that I can find the answer in this book. I consider this 720 page, hardbound book to be the definitive reference book on the MiG-21.  The three authors are world famous Russian aviation writers and have combined to provide a complete and broad coverage of this famous Cold War era fighter.

     

    I volunteered to review this book because I have been a fan of MiG-21 for many years.  When I was studying Engineering, I appreciated the way that MiG engineers had met the problem of supersonic flight with reasonable landing characteristics plus, I have been a fan of Small Air Forces for years.  I am not aware of any other warplane that served in as many different Air Forces.

     

    The MiG-21, NATO designation “Fishbed”, was one of the most successful tactical fighters developed in the Soviet Union.  It entered production in 1959 and continued until 1986.  Over 12,000 units were produced in the Soviet Union plus many more in China.  Over 5000 copies were exported and many remain in service today.  With the MiG-21, the Soviet Union had a contemporary airplane that was faster, had better climb rate, was more maneuverable and less expensive then previous models. The type held 17 world records, seven of which were established by female pilots.  It represented the face of the Soviet Union for many years and was as much a Political Weapon as a Military Weapon

     

    The book is organized into twelve parts plus an appendix that includes details of about 2500 MiG-21 production aircraft.  In addition, the Introduction provides a quick overview of the design philosophy and the steps leading to the design and development the MiG-21.

     

    Part One covers the Origin of the Family.  It covers in detail the swept wing Ye-2 and Ye-50 series of prototypes and follows them as they progress into the delta wing Ye-4 and Ye-5 series.  The next four parts follow the MiG-21 into production and then the development of different variants for interception, training etc.  Part Six covers Experiments and Projects.  This chapter includes details of several designs with different intake locations, canard surfaces, STOL designs and tailless delta designs for research on the SST.  Great color and black and white photos and detailed charts provide excellent coverage of these developments.

     

    Part Seven covers production and further development of the basic MiG-21 design in China.  In 1961, the Soviet Union granted a manufacturing license to China for the basic MiG-21 F-13 model and its engine.  This became the J-7.  When an ideological rift developed between China and the Soviet Union, the Chinese started their own development of the basic model.  This included a number of models for export to nearby countries.  Chinese developments also included interceptor variants, various intake configurations and a whole series of models with a double delta wing planform.

     

    Parts Eight and Nine cover the MiG-21 in Soviet service and at war in various locations from India-Pakistan to Eritrea-Ethiopia.  Each of the wars is covered with separate photos, many in color, a number of color profiles and a write-up.  Part Ten covers some specific one-on-one comparisons between the MiG-21 and several of its major adversaries.  Of particular interest is a discussion of the comparison with a captured U.S. F-5E from Vietnam.

     

    Part Eleven covers The MiG-21 in Detail.  Essentially, this is forty pages of walk-around photos of various MiG-21 variants.  The photos, most in color, cover all of the little details that the modeler is looking for.  Great content!!

     

    Part Twelve concludes with a compilation of MiG-21 Operators.  This was pure eye candy for a dedicated Small Air Forces fan like myself. This section goes from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and is larger than most books.  It contains 245 pages, chock full of great color photos, color profiles, charts defining color and markings of specific aircraft and detailed descriptions of the usage of the MiG-21 by the different countries.

     

    This book is very highly recommended.  It contains lots and lots of new, well-organized material for the aviation historian as well as for the modeler.  I am aware that this hardcover book is somewhat expensive but the vast amount of information provided makes it a bargain.  This book contains 1350 black and white and color photos plus many, many color profiles.  The data sheet that accompanied the book states that the book includes 15 line drawings.  I counted at least 68.  Lots of much smaller monograph books are in the mid-30 to 40 dollar range so this book is a real bargain.

     

    The book can be obtained directly from Specialty Press.  They can be contacted at 1-800-895-4585 or at www.specialtypress.com.  A $6.95 shipping and handling fee will be added to each order.  The book is also available from many quality booksellers.

     

    Again, this book has my highest recommendation.  It is the definitive book on this interesting fighter plane.

     

    Clare Wentzel

    IPMS 1096

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    Romulan Bird of Prey – 1/2500 – Clare Wentzel

    April 11th, 2011

    Romulan Bird of Prey – 1/2500 – Clare Wentzel

    Star Trek fans follow the various versions of the franchise with great interest and gleefully note any differences between the various versions.  This model of the Romulan Bird of Prey appeared in some of the Enterprise episodes.  That would make it an “early” Bird of Prey as compared to the somewhat simplistic versions in the original Captain Kirk Star Trek episodes.  I love the looks of this one.

    This kit consists of the hull and the two nacelles along with a decal sheet.   The hull is normal resin color and needs to be cleaned up quite a bit.  The nacelles are green tinted translucent resin.  A lot of cleaning is required with these as well.  I suspect that the decals are printed by computer.  The first one that I applied disintegrated as I tried to apply it.  I applied Future to the remaining decals and they set down nicely.

    The directions seem to be hand-drawn and show a partial view of the hull indicating the general area where the nacelles are supposed to be glued and where the nacelles are to be masked to let the base color show through to represent the power plants.  It also shows generally where the decals are to be applied.  I ended up using Google to find lots of images of the Romulan Bird of Prey to make myself feel more comfortable with the assembly and the painting.

    I obtained the kit from one of the vendors at the Air Zoo contest.  He was a regular vendor at the contest so I wanted to give him a little business as a thanks.  While the kit was somewhat crude, I am pleased with the final appearance and may even look him up again this year for something new and strange.  At this scale, the model is small with a 4 ½ inch span so several can be added to the shelf.

    Clare Wentzel

     

     

     

    3 Comments "

    Republic P-43A Lancer – 1/72 – Clare Wentzel

    April 10th, 2011

    Republic P-43A Lancer
    Pavla Kit No. 72061
    1/72 Scale

    Background

    The P-43 Lancer was developed in 1938 by Seversky Aircraft Corp. as a successor to their P-35. The new model was larger overall and featured the Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engine with an exhaust driven supercharger. While the airplane possessed good altitude performance, it was apparent that it would not be able to compete with the aircraft then in operation in Europe. Small numbers were produced for the Army Air Corps and some others for export to the Chinese Air Force and the RAAF. In service, the airplane suffered from leakage from the integral wing fuel tanks and combined with the lower fuselage supercharger this caused a number of fires. The airplane was replaced by the larger, more powerful P-47 Thunderbolt.

    I first heard of the P-43 when I was reading “God is my Co-Pilot” in high school. The author, Robert L. Scott, tells about two P-43s that were given to the AVG by two Chinese pilots who were thankful to get the planes off of their hands. Scott and his ground crew got the planes’ fuel tanks sealed using everything including chewing gum. They used the planes to provide protection for the CBI route and Scott, in a fit of enthusiasm flew over the top of Mt. Everest, embarrassing the British who had spent months with a large crew when they made the first flight over Mt. Everest a few years earlier.

    The Kit

    This kit from Pavla is typical of low volume kits. The basic kit is molded in a single sprue with soft engraved surface detail. It also includes a photo etched fret and several resin items. The PE fret includes a well detailed instrument panel and the camera ports for the RAAF model. Some of the resin parts include the pilot seat, the engine, the wheels, the propeller hub, the supercharger outlet and the navigation pod. The canopy and side windows are vacu-formed. Two canopies are provided in case of a modeling accident. A well-printed decal sheet covers markings for four different aircraft, a natural metal and an olive drab U.S. Army aircraft, a camouflaged photo-recon bird from the RAAF and an olive drab model from the Chinese Air Force.

    The front and back of the kit box features color profiles of the four schemes. Sixteen pages of kit directions provide detailed illustrations of the kit assembly and markings as well as directions for some minor items that are required to be scratch built.

    Construction

    This is not a kit for beginners. The kit contains a number of challenges that must be solved to produce the finished model. The resin parts are well detailed but do not provide accurate sizing information. For example, the resin engine and the supercharger outlet parts feature very big pouring stems that do not provide accurate cut-off marks. You have to remove the stem and then sand the part down until you think that it is the correct size. The supercharger is a simple cylinder. If it had had a mounting lip, it would have fit into the fuselage correctly. I ended up gluing some plastic sheet inside the fuselage and then sanding the supercharger until it fit. Also, many other problems relate to the lack of part positioning information. Two wing spars are provided along with the top of the wheel wells. The position of these parts is only approximate and the wing assembly had to be shimmed slightly to provide equal dihedral. Also, a key feature of the airplane is the gun fairings on the cowl. The modeler has to hope that he glues them in the correct place. There is no indication of where the stretched sprue machine guns mounting holes must be drilled. The tail wheel strut was almost unrecognizable and its location was not readily apparent. I found the landing gear doors to be very thick. I used the main doors but replaced the tail wheel doors with thin sheet plastic. Finally, I had to trim the length of the main landing gear in order for the model to set right and the gear doors to look correct.

    The propeller consisted of the resin hub and three injected blades. No mounting pins or locations were provided. I’m not sure how I would have assembled the part if I had not owned one of John Vojtech’s PropMaster jigs. With the help of this tool, the assembly came out looking good.

    One other problem area was the canopy. The vacu-formed main section was well formed and easily painted. The quarter windows were another item. The kit parts were so thick that they would stand well proud of the surface. I replaced them with thin clear plastic sheet.

    Painting and Decals

    I chose to paint the model in the Chinese Air Force markings. In his book, Robert L Scott suggested that the plane that he flew over Mt. Everest had U.S. markings but it seems to me that the U.S. would have changed the markings before handing the aircraft over to the Chinese. The decals were well printed and set down well. I had some minor silvering on the tail marking but that was my fault. I had allowed the Future to pebble. The resin seat included molded-in seat belts. It was painted and installed, along with the detailed control stick, before the canopy was glued in place.

    One final concern was the radio antenna. The kit box illustration showed vertical stabilizer to wing tip antenna cables. I checked what few photos that I could find of the airplane in Chinese service and could not see any indications of these antennae. I concluded that the streamlined RF antenna below the wing, only a feature of the Chinese aircraft, served this purpose. The painting was finished with light wash to bring out the control surfaces and a few of the panel lines.

    Conclusion

    I had wanted to add a P-43 to my collection and this kit allowed me to accomplish that. Although I encountered a series of problems, the kit shape is accurate and I was satisfied with the final appearance of the model. Note, Pavla build their models in batches and this second batch has been all sold. It is currently not available from Pavla but can be ordered from Squadron or Hannants.

    The model can be recommended to skilled modelers who want to add this unique airplane to their collections.

    Clare Wentzel
    Kalamazoo Scale Modelers
    IPMS 1096

    4 Comments "

    Spad VII – 1/72 – Airfix by Clarence Wentzel

    April 6th, 2011

    Kit:  Airfix SPAD VII – WW I Fighter Classics Series – 1/72 scale
    Decals:  “Le Vieux Charles” of Capitaine Georges Guynemer

    The SPAD VII History: The French industrialist Armand Deperdussin started the famous S.P.A.D. company to initially design and produce a line of streamlined monoplane racers.  When Deperdussin was arrested for a number of questionable financial dealings, a group of industrialists headed by Louis Bleriot purchased the assets of the company, keeping the talented design staff in place.  As WW I started, the company initiated work on military designs.  The first production military aircraft by the SPAD works was the strange looking two place A.2 with the observer or gunner located in a pod in front of the engine.  The A.2 was not a great success but it resulted in the development of several features that became design characteristics for subsequent SPAD aircraft – long, thin single bay wings with a narrow gap and an additional set of interplane struts located where the flying wires crossed.

    In response to a French General Headquarters’ request for an aircraft designed around the 150-hp Hispano-Suiza engine, the SPAD engineers developed what would become the SPAD VII.  The development of the aircraft was longer than expected but when production got under way, one of the first SPAD VIIs was assigned to the popular ace Georges Guynemer of the famous Cigones squadron.  He flew the airplane in combat for the first time on 4 September 1916 and scored his fifteenth victory.  He fell in love with the SPAD and reported that “She loops wonderfully.  Her spin is a bit lazy and irregular, but deliciously soft”.  The airplane was also noted as one of the best diving aircraft of the war plus it could take a good deal more punishment than other fighters and remain in the air.

    In the spring of 1917, the more powerful 180-hp Hispano-Suiza engine became available for the SPAD VII.  The first aircraft produced with this engine, number S.254, was assigned to Guynemer and was his third SPAD.  He scored nineteen of his victories in this airplane.  This historic aircraft still exists and is on display at the Air and Space Museum at Le Bourget.  The SPAD VII was exported to various countries and was popular in many air forces.

    The Kit: The instruction sheet for this model has a copyright date of 1988 but I am sure that Airfix initially issued the kit long before that date.  The model appears to be basically accurate in overall length and wingspan.  The tips of the tail surfaces are slightly rounded where they should be pointed but they are the right size and don’t look too bad.  In line with many kits of the 60’s, the cockpit consists of a bar and a pilot to mount on the bar.  The most glaring problem with the kit is the simulation of the fabric covered wing surfaces.  Deep “trenches” are provided between each rib.  This is much too deep to be scale. The wings also featured a very noticeable ejector pin marking on the bottom surfaces.

    The kit includes a molded windscreen and features decals to produce Capitaine Georges Guynemer’s famous S.254.

    Construction: Construction started with the fuselage.  To improve the detail level, I added a simple instrument panel, a joystick, some simulated stringers and controls along the inside of the fuselage and a photo-etched pilot seat.  I also added a photo-etched cooling jacket to the machine gun.

    I sanded the top and bottom surfaces of the wings, which improved the appearance slightly, but the rib trenches are still major appearance items. I tried to fix the ejector pin flaw but the combination of curved wing surface and rib trenches made this very difficult to completely eliminate.

    A good feature of the Airfix kit is the biplane wing-mounting scheme.  Instead of individual struts, the interplane and cabane struts are molded in an inverted “U” shape and mount into slots molded into the underside of the top wing.  This fixes the struts into place so that the top wing can easily be mounted onto the fuselage and bottom wing.  A fair amount of trimming and fitting is required so that the bottom of the “U” fits completely into the slot, is even with the bottom surface of the wing and the struts are all parallel.  When this is complete, however, the upper wing will accurately fit the mounting positions in the bottom wing and fuselage.  An added advantage to the “U” shape of the struts is that the fore and aft bracing wires can be added to the struts before assembly.  These would be almost impossible to add after assembly.

    The remainder of the assembly is without problems.  The undercarriage consists of five parts that went together without problems.  The front of the nosepiece is plain, without any simulation of a grille or slats etc.  I cut a piece of fine brass screen for this area to improve the appearance.  I’m not sure it is 100% accurate but it does look better.  The exhaust system and tail bracing parts fit well although a couple of the mounting holes in the fuselage needed opening.

    Painting and Markings: The factory finish of the SPAD appeared to be uncamouflaged – clear doped – but in reality the fabric surfaces were covered with a pale pigmented yellow/beige dope.  The metal surfaces were coated with a slightly darker light brown paint.  Airfix recommend Humbrol 103 – cream and 94 – yellow brown for the colors.  I used Testors Model Master 1709 Radome Tan and 2102 Afrika Braun for these purposes.  The colors seem to match well and the final product looks correct.  The decal sheet contains all of the markings for “Le Vieux Charles”.  The decals went on easily and set readily into the canyons between the ribs.  The color was accurate for the French insignia except that they provided a red leader’s pennant for the top of the fuselage.  This should be black as noted on page 22 of the SPAD VII Aces book.

    I painted the prop using a technique that I had tried on the fuselage of my Albatros.  The prop was painted wood and then Futured.  When this was dry, a small amount of Burnt Sienna oil paint was applied with a stiff brush.  The brush is drawn along the prop blade to form the effect of wood grain.  The tires of WW I aircraft, in common with the technology of the time, were not black but were slightly natural rubber colored.  I used a mixture of 2/3 Schwarzgrau and 1/3 Wood to provide this effect.  It came out looking right.  Most of the flying wires were added using fine stainless steel wire, super glue and care.

    Conclusion: While crude by today’s standards, this kit makes a pleasant little model.  With a little care and some simple scratchbuilt additions, it can add the SPAD VII to your collection, at least until Roden or someone else comes out with a better kit.  I enjoy building models of Aces’ aircraft and have always loved the markings of the Cigones squadron.

    References:
    SPAD Fighters in Action – Squadron Signal Aircraft Number 93
    SPAD VII Aces of World War I – Osprey Aircraft of the Aces Number 39
    SPAD Scouts S VII – S XIII – Aircam Aviation Series No. 9
    French Aircraft of the First World War – Flying Machines Press

    2 Comments "

    Fold-away Photo Base

    February 19th, 2011

    In order to take a good photo of a model or a component of a model, it must be placed on a flat surface with a backdrop. In order to avoid seeing a hard line at the intersection of the surface and the backdrop, the intersection must be curved. The background has to flow smoothly into the horizontal surface. I first found out about this techniques when I worked at GM and saw how they photographed new cars.

    In the past, I have used a few yards of newspaper paper that I lay onto my table and then would drape it over a stack of kit boxes etc. to act as the backdrop. This was ok but occasionally the pile would fall down plus, the gray color of the background didn’t always work well with the model that I was trying to photograph.

    I tried to use some colored paper but the largest size that I could find seemed too small plus, it was not as flexible as the newspaper material. Looking around the basement, I had several sheets of matt board, from matting photos or lithographs. I wanted to use these 32” by 40” sheets of matt board as the background because of the different colors and textures available. To make these stiff boards curve into a horizontal surface and a backdrop, I needed to make a background holder that was easy to use. To mount the matt board, I used a scrap piece of ½ inch plywood that I had in my basement. The scrap was 30” by 48’’ so I cut it into two 30’ by 21 ¾”pieces. I used a piece of piano hinge to attach two parts and added braces to prevent them from opening past 90 degrees. I also added some pieces of ¾ inch wide flat molding to the edges opposite the hinge so that the matt board can be snapped into place. The 21 ¾ inch lengths allow the matt board to fit in place with a flat base and backdrop with 4 to 5 inch radius at the corner. I added a handle and a clasp so that the photo base can fold up compactly and fit next to a wall.

    Photo 1 shows the base folded.

    Photo 2 shows the base open.

    Photo 3 shows the base with a piece of matt board in place ready to place the model for photographing.

    Photo 4 shows a model ready to be photographed.

    Note, I would normally have used a 32’ wide piece of plywood for the project but the scrap that I had worked just as well.

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    Adaptable Model Box

    February 3rd, 2011

    Over a period of years, I have developed a system to safely and efficiently carry my models.  The key to the system is a series of “U” shaped supports that support the models. Photo 1 shows a typical “U” support.  The bottom of the “U” is sufficiently high to support the model by the wings and lift the wheels into the air.  The width of the “U” is sufficient to clear the chord of the wing and a thin strip of foam rubber in an elongated “H” shape is placed on top to protect the models.  Finally, two triangles are glued to the sides of the “U” to enable the support to stand alone.

    Next the box is chosen and prepared.  I have one small box that holds one or two models and another that holds four or more models.  The bottom and sides of the box is lined with foam-core to enable the supports to be attached as needed.  The sides of the box are also lined with foam-core leaving about a one inch space at the top to support a foam-core cover and provide some space to store model bases, reference etc.  See Photo 2.

    To use the system, a support is attached to the bottom of the box.  I use push-pins to hold the supports in place.  The second support is then positioned to support the model by its wings without breaking any gear doors or other underwing parts.  Finally, a strip of foam-core with a strip of foam glued to it is used to hold the model in place.  Again, push-pins are used to hold the strip to the supports and keep the model from moving around.  Again, choose the location of the holding strip so that it doesn’t break any antennas or canopies.  Photo 3 shows how a model can be retained by the system while Photo 4 shows how various supports are arranged in the box to allow a number of models to be carried.  The photo also shows how the side pieces of foam-core allow space for the top cover to fit.  The top cover is very important because it protects the models from being hit by a box flap and provides added strength to the box in addition to the storage space.

    Make a number of different size supports to cover the variety of models in your collection.  In some cases, you may also need to make a support for the nose of a particular model in case it can’t be supported totally by the wings.  The process is the same.  As you can see from the photos, you don’t have to be super accurate or neat with the supports and the foam padding as long as it works.  Foam-core is available in art store and craft stores.  The foam that I used is from some carpet padding.

    I hope that modelers will enjoy my Adaptable Model box System.  Enjoy and protect those precious models.

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