Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Revell OV-10A Bronco

I think my Dad picked this model out for me when we were at Gemco or Peterson's Hobby & Crafts. He probably liked it because the box said "North American-Rockwell" on it. Dad was working for Rockwell at the time on the space shuttle Enterprise.
This is a frustrating little model to build, especially if you want to paint the wing and undersurfaces white. The wing is moulded in two pieces which, according to the instructions, look like you can paint them white, glue it to the fuselage, and you're done. If you do that however, you discover a small area forward of the wing, centered on top the fuselage, which needs to be filled in with white. To do that requires a lot of precision masking to get it right. The undersurfaces also need to be carefully masked to replicate the wavy demarcation lines. Being a 1/72 scale model, I chose a sharp, masked line against the moulded olive green surface. It looks good from at least a foot away or more. Closer examination however reveals a lot of uneven joining surfaces. The wing fits horribly onto the fuselage, and most of the other parts don't fit that well either. This is typical Revell quality from the 1970s. Good subject, excellent packaging, but poor fitting parts.
My original try at this model revealed a lot of glue smudges and decals that flaked off days after completion. I may have had one or two colors of paint to use as well. I think the first bottle of model paint I ever bought was Testors gloss gray, and the OV-10A was one of the first kits I tried painting a few pieces on. I distinctly remember painting the interior gray as per the directions.
On this rebuild, I chose to stick by the plans, but with a lot more precision. The wings and undersurfaces were spray painted with Tamiya gloss white. Everything else was hand painted. Not enough nose weight can be added to the tiny front section to keep the model sitting on all three wheels, so Revell included a spike to prop it up. The problem is, the spike is not long enough, so the front wheel sits up off the ground. Serious modelers would have passed this one up in the early 70s and prefered Airfix's OV-10A. At any rate, this one was fun to build again, and brought back some good memories of my early collection of model airplanes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Revell B-52C Stratofortress

Next in the series of Revell model airplane kits I've built is this odd-scale Boeing B-52C Stratofortress. I originally bought this kit at Gemco, probably because it was cheap. This is Revell's 1970 reissue of their B-52 kit from the 1950s. Revell updated it in Vietnam era Strategic Air Command colors. It's a very basic little model, with no landing gear, sparse detail, and a couple of decals for the top wing. The parts are moulded in black, which makes painting easy.

The box shows the factory display model painted in some odd colors, while the instruction manual says to paint the camoflage scheme with dark green, medium green, and tan. I chose to use Testors dark green, SAC camo green, and SAC camo tan. While these colors were not available in stores when I first built this kit in 1975, I chose to use them on this rebuild for improved appearance. The camoflage pattern is hand painted, using the picture on the box as a guide. To help hide the brush stroke pattern, and minimize decal silvering, I sprayed the top of the plane with Testors gloss, then flat after the two decals dried. This went a little above and beyond the "out of the box" method of construction, but I felt it was necessary to give the model a much more improved look over the first one I did 35 years ago.
When I built this kit back in '75, I didn't paint it. It was all black with some glue smudges and lots of greasy fingerprints. This new one looks much better, and while it's not exactly an accurate model of the B-52C, it looks nice on the shelf. After all, this was one of Revell's early model kits, intended for young boys of the 1950s to slap together with glue in short order, and build up a collection of current USAF bombers and fighters Revell had to offer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SR-71 Gone But Not Forgotten!

There are no more SR-71s flying, but one can still enjoy building a model of it, even if it is forty years old. This is the Revell 1/72 scale Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. This kit was originally produced in 1967, just one year after Revell released the 1/72 scale YF-12 interceptor. Most SR-71 kit boxes have the year 1969 printed on them, however Revell continued to produce the kit with the same box art well into the 70s.
Straight from the box, the Revell SR-71 is pretty rough looking. It's as if the engineers at Revell were in a hurry to get this kit on dime store shelves. The fuselage and wings are basically two large flat pieces that fit together, rather poorly. A large gap runs around the bottom fuselage edge. The engine cowlings fit poorly as well. The verticle fins don't fit too well either. It's sparse on detail, although there isn't much detail to see on the real plane either unless you get real close to it.
Revell made the obvious choice to mould the kit in black styrene; that way inexperienced modelers could built it without painting. I didn't paint my original one back in '76, so I left this rebuild in the original black as well. This time however I ran a Dremel tool with a polishing wheel over it to rub out scrathches and marks. The orginal decals went on well using the Microscale system. Micro Sol was necessary for the wing markings to conform to the ribbing on the wing panel.
This is a pretty simple model - not much to it. Interestingly, the YF-12 kit is of much higher quality.

Revell SR-71 Blackbird!

In the backyard of our new home on J-5 in Lancaster, we had a redwood fence surrounding it. The back part of the fence faced directly towards Palmdale Air Force Facility to the South. I could stand on the lower cross brace of the fence, look over the top of it with my arms hanging over, and watch the various airplanes take off, make a right turn, fly right over our house, and make another right turn to land back at Palmdale for another go-around. It was truly amazing as a 9-year-old kid to see this going on all day long. One day, I saw a strange black airplane take off from Palmdale, and when it made it's right turn towards my house, it looked like a bat, or a kind of strange winged creature. I was actually a bit frightened by it, at the same time amazed by it. It flew by with a loud jet noise, and I ran into my house to tell my Dad about it. He said it was the SR-71.
A few weeks went by, and I saw the Revell SR-71 model at a toy store in some mall we were at in L.A. I had to have it. The box art reminded me of that day when I first caught glimpse of this amazing airplane.