Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DC-8-61 Dress-Up

After several months on the shelf, I found I really didn't like my Revell DC-8-61
built last year without Flying Tiger colors, so I found a replacement Revell/Lodella sheet on EBay. I took a big risk being as old as they are, but thankfully they were in perfect condition and slid nicely off the backing sheet onto the model. I used MicroSet and found the acid in that stuff slightly etched the polished aluminum metalizer around the decals. It's not exactly what I wanted, but oh well - lesson learned. You can't really see it from a distance. Next time I apply decals to highly polished metalizer, no products, just water! Nevertheless, she looks stunning in her Flying Tiger Line trim and reinforces the memories I have of these slender giants flying overhead in Lancaster.

Another Williams Bros. Northrop Gamma!

I built another Williams Bros. Gamma into the Ellsworth Phase One version. Not much to say about the whole building experience other than it was fun to modify some of the pieces for this version. Painting was a little simpler in that Ellsworth's Gamma was not as shiny as the Texaco version, so not as much time was spent buffing the Testors aluminum metalizer. Decals went on perfectly, and the whole thing took less than ten hours.

Monogram 1/48 Northrop P-61A Black Widow

I really like the Monogram 1/48 scale airplane kits which came out in 1974. Monogram was growing with the kids who bought their simpler models in the 60s, and knew they wanted more detail and a more challenging building experience. That's why I really like the TBD-1 Devastator because it's a kit you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy without a lot of frustration. The same goes for the P-61 Black Widow which came out around the same time as the Devastator. Both models were preceded by the excellent 1/48 Dornier Do-335 Arrow, but I have never built that model. Maybe some day though.
Originally, the Monogram P-61 was given to me as a gift by my Godmother in 1977. It was one of the few gifted airplane models given to me which I really liked and was excited about. I know that sounds ungrateful, but as I've admitted earlier in this blog, I was very picky when it came to model airplanes. But I really enjoyed my first building experience with this model. Because it's molded in black, I didn't paint my original, and it looked fine that way. I did however paint all the interior detail in accordance with the directions, and the P-61 (B version) sat proudly on my bedroom shelf for a long time.
I bought the one pictured here several years ago and when it finally came time to open it up and get started on it, I was thrilled. I debated on what version to make it - olive drab - black - A or B - top turret or no turret - and finally decided on a black A with no top turret, factory fresh. I had seen a color picture of a turret-less A sitting on the Northrop ramp right out of the paint shop, all glossy and nice, and knew that is what I had to do. Even though the top gun turret is a prime feature of the Black Widow, the fact that it was temporarily deleted from both A and B versions due to buffeting is historically interesting. Along with that the airplane is a little sleeker looking to me with the flat top.
Construction was straight forward in accordance with the instructions - for that "sleek" look I glued all gun and engine access panels closed, as well as canopy hatches. I didn't like that Monogram molded the right engine cowl flaps open, while the left are closed - you have no options there and it doesn't look right unless you are making a diorama. So I cut between each cowl flap and pushed them inward to the closed position as best I could. I made sure I gave the model two weeks to dry after spraying it gloss black overall to prevent finger prints and smudges. The original decals were brittle, so I only used the small emergency and maintenance stencils. I used a Microscale P-61 decal sheet for the red tail boom numbers and the red wing top walkway lines. It was so much easier using the one-piece aftermarket decal for those red lines on the wing than doing Monogram's original procedure of cutting them to size and fit yourself from a large strip of red decal. That and the open cowl flap cowling are the only beefs I have with this model. Otherwise it's a beautiful, classic kit from Monogram you can still buy today online and at hobby shops.