Monday, September 23, 2013

Third-place winner! Williams Bros. Northrop Gamma

When I bought the Williams Bros. 1/72 scale Northrop Gamma sometime back in 1977, my modeling skills had finally developed to the point I could successfully tackle such an advanced kit. After all, I'd had over fifty models under my belt by then, maybe more. I remember building the Texaco Sky Chief Phase II version, like the painting on the box top. I chose the same version to rebuild, because it requires the least modifications to the parts. The major one is cutting out the rectangles for the windows in the fuselage sides. Other than that, the kit is pretty much straight forward. My original one was hand-painted with Testors silver, complete with streaks and fingerprints. For this rebuild, I sprayed it with Testors Aluminum buffing metalizer from a can. Then I power-buffed it with a Dremel tool with cloth polishing wheel. Like the Boeing 247 I did earlier, it took a lot of buffing to get the shine. I had to recharge my Dremel's battery more than once. It's one of those things where you just want to keep on buffing because you think you're going to get a better shine. But I think I got the best I could get. The original Microscale decals went on perfectly using the Micro system. A local I.P.M.S. collector's show was coming up at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, so I decided to enter the Gamma in the "Civil/Sport, etc." category. I won third place! I really like this little kit, and I'm looking forward to completing my Williams Bros. collection with the C-46 Commando, which should be the next entry on this blog.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Williams Bros. Colorful 1/72 Martin B-10B Bomber!

I'm on a bit of a Williams Bros. kick right now; in fact right after I finished this Martin B-10B I started on the 1/72 scale Northrop Gamma. I never had the B-10B as a kid, but I remember seeing it at Peterson Hobbies. I was never really interested in the airplane - it looked kind of ugly to me. But I picked this one up a year ago at a model swap meet at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon for ten bucks. I figured if I ever got around to building it fine; if not, I'd re-sell it. But after building and making-over the challenging Boeing 247, it seemed to me this B-10B would also be a fun challenge. I really like these old Williams Bros. 1/72 scale airplanes because they are for skilled craftsmen who know how to manipulate styrene plastic. You have to do a fair amount of cutting, scribing, chopping, and scratch-building to get the desired result. Plus, the Williams Bros. give you several options of aircraft versions to choose from. For this B-10B, you get to choose from the first USAAC gloss olive drab & chrome yellow scheme, to the middle cobalt blue/chrome yellow version, or the late 30s, early 40s silver-metallic painted scheme. I chose the middle one because I like the glossy blue/yellow contrast. It was easy to do as well because the fuselage parts are already moulded in the correct color, except for the vertical fin, which must be masked off and painted yellow. I already had a bottle of Testors gloss French Blue enamel, which is very close to Cobalt Blue, so I brush painted it on the fuselage and engine nacelles. You can't even see any streaks - it went on beautifully! Testors does not make chrome yellow in a spray can, so I used regular yellow, which is darn close too. The wings are moulded in what appears to be a chrome type yellow, but the plastic was too thin and translucent, so I sprayed them with Testors white primer, then the gloss yellow. The original decals went on beautifully. Interestingly, the Williams Bros. recommend in the instructions using thin colored chart tape for the canopy and blister framework. I had a roll of Pactra blue racing trim tape, so I though I'd give that a try in order to abide by Williams' recommendation. The color of the tape matched the Testors French Blue perfectly, and it looks great. It took a little longer to do than painting, but was worth the effort.
I'm still not a big fan of the B-10B, but I love having this model to round out my collection of Williams Bros. first four model airplane kits in 1/72 scale. Next up - the Northrop Gamma and Curtis C-46 Commando!

Williams Bros. Boeing 247 Makeover

After sitting on my office shelf for a while as a USAAC C-73, looking rather drab in its natural plastic gray, I decided to give my vintage Williams Bros. Boeing 247 a makeover. I wanted her to have the United Airlines markings the kit originally came with. So, I bought a new kit with good decals, removed the Turner racer windshield and installed the airliner one. The paint job was the tricky part. The Williams Brothers recommend an anodized metal surface appearing gray. The problem with this color is, what does it really look like? Photos of early United Boeing 247s before they were painted gloss gray are difficult to determine what the original metal skin surface looked like. In some photos the aircraft appear dark, while others appear light. Turner's racer 247D apparently had the unpainted surface, at least at first, and that is what the box top art shows as well. So I decided to model that using Testors Dark Anodonic Gray, brushed on with a wide sable brush to replicate the grains in the aluminum panels. Then I lightly buffed the surface with a tissue. After that I burnished the metalizer into a nice glossy metallic finish using a Dremel tool with cloth buffing wheel. The trick was to buff the surface hard and fast enough to bring it to a gloss without pushing too hard and melting the plastic. What I like about this method is the surface doesn't require any sealer, because the paint has been rubbed so hard into the plastic, it becomes quite durable. A couple spots are lighter than the rest probably because the paint was brushed on too thin. Next time I do a finish like this I might brush on two coats before power buffing.
I don't know how old the replacement decals are, but they held together during application, and you can't even see the film around them - they're perfect. The ship's interior was already painted French Blue with aluminum seat frames, so no changes were needed there. The airliner cockpit has a rather nasty seam running down the middle, but I wasn't in the mood for filling and sanding during this makeover, so I left it as is. All-in-all, I'm happier with it now, and may in the future build the Turner racer version because I have all the parts and decals for it.