Friday, October 28, 2016

New office with models! Models! Models!

One of the reasons besides laziness I haven't been posting my new models is because I've been working in a temporary office since September of last year. But I'm in my new office now, and because my employers know I like to build model airplanes, they put in a large shelf that extends one whole wall length, and this nice glass display cabinet. I have room for all my models and more as I build them. But space is not infinite, and when I do eventually reach maximum shelf capacity, I'll have to let some go. Contact me if you want any. Here's a picture of the top portion I call the "Lockheed Section" of the glass case. The Boeing B-47 sits on top on the outside. It was hanging in my temporary office, but I got a Trumpeter display stand for it and I like it better this way.

Otaki 1/144 Lockheed L-1011 Demonstrator

Yes, yes, I have been building models continuously since my last blog entry which was several months ago. One of them is this nice Otaki L-1011 Tristar in 1/144 scale. This is the first time I've built one of these. I could not afford it when it came out in the late 70s. Needless to say I could barely afford this one today! This model draws high prices due to its collectability and the fact that for years it was the only decent model kit of the Tristar. Airfix's and Revell's were based on early drawings and both had misshapen noses. Otaki got theirs right and the kit is magnificent. I used Microscale's Lockheed demonstrator decals because that airplane flew over my house in Lancaster almost every day it seemed during the 70s. Microscale originally intended these decals for the Revell Tristar, but they work just fine on the Otaki one. In fact, one could probably use them just fine on the new Eastern Express L-1011 which is a completely new molding and seems to be quite accurate. Anyway, for one to make Lockheed's first L-1011 using the Microscale decals, you have to manually paint the orange panels and red stripes. What a pain! White stripes are included on the decal sheet, which makes it easy to cover up mistakes between the demarcation lines. Other than that, it's a straightforward affair as with any other airliner model. I even won second place in the 1/144 scale category at the last IPMS show in Portland OR.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hasegawa's Classic Boeing B-47E Stratojet in 1/72 Scale!

Another model airplane kit I used to drool over at Peterson's Hobbies in Lancaster California was the Hasegawa B-47E Stratojet. It's still in production to this day I think, and older ones are still on the market at reasonable prices. The one you see here is vintage early 1970s. Hasegawa doesn't date anything on their boxes and instruction sheets, but I believe this model came out in 1973 based on reviews and advertisements about it in SCALE MODELER magazines from the time. Anyway, I built this one straight from the box with wheels up so I could hang it in my office. I think the Stratojet looks sleeker in flight too - she's really a beautiful airplane. I was originally wanting to revert her to an A model, or even a B model based on an article in an old FSM magazine, but the conversion process looked too complicated, especially in the nose area and the JATO rocket nozzles. So I just did the version she's molded in, the main production E. I used Testors buffing aluminum from a spray can and polished certain areas with a Dremel tool with buffing wheel. The anti-flash white on the undersides was painted using Tamiya white primer. Decals are stock. I left off the wing tanks to make her look more like a B model. Based on some photographs I saw, not all E models flew with the tanks on. I think she looks better this way, uncluttered and sleek.

Revell TWA Lockheed L-1011 Cutaway Display Plane

It's been almost a year since I last posted something - I've been lazy. Not with model building, but with taking pictures and posting. A fellow model builder however wrote to me today after finding this blog and now I've got some motivation to start posting again. So I'll start with a classic from 1973: the Revell "show-off" L-1011 in 1/144 scale. This kit fascinated me as a kid but I never bought it. When I finally did fly on a TWA L-1011 in the summer of 1977, the model had all but disappeared from store shelves. It's an expensive model these days on the market, but I found this affordable one on eBay in a tattered box with no decals. I used a set of TWA decals from the Otaki L-1011. The side "star streak" arrows didn't line up with the windows, but all I had to do was cut them at different locations, line them up, and cover any disparities with generic red striping decal pieces.
The cabin interior of the model was the most work. I hand painted all the seats, floors, galleys, etc. to match the box cover art. On the TWA Tristar I flew in, I don't remember the cabin being all different colors but I wanted to make the model look like the box cover.
I used Tamiya gloss white from a rattle can for the upper fuselage, and Testors canned chrome silver for the underbelly and wings. Mistakes were covered up with strips of Bare Metal Foil which blends with the Testors chrome almost perfectly. I airbrushed the inner wing panels with a mixture of flat gray and light gray.
This is a fun model to have in my office. It represents the early days of the L-1011. The Otaki L-1011 is a much more refined and detailed model, and I am currently working on one which I'll post once I'm finished.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rareplane 1/72 Douglas C-54 Skymaster!

Here's a classic Rareplane Douglas DC-4/C-54 Skymaster vacuform model from England. Advertisements in old SCALE MODELER magazines show these were imported into the U.S. sometime in 1977. Had I found one of these at Peterson's Hobbies or one of my other favorite hobby shops in the L.A. area at the time, I would have bought it because I liked the DC-4 since I was ten. Never mind the fact that I wouldn't have been able to tackle such a difficult construction project; I had a challenging enough go at it in 2015! This is actually my second attempt at a full vacuform plastic model airplane kit, but my first successful one. The first was a 1/48 scale Ta-154 Moskito in 1994 which ended up in the trash can after a fit of rage.
This time I read some articles on vac-building from old issues of FINE SCALE MODELER. The experts were very helpful in coaching me how to properly cut out the pieces and sand them before gluing. Their main advice however was PATIENCE. This Rareplane DC-4 is made from thicker than usual sheets of plastic probably for extra strength since it's a large model. Construction was straight-forward in accordance with the simple instruction sheet provided with the kit. I had to decide early on what version to make this model, and after scouring many photographs of DC-4s and C-54s and what decals were available, I ended up settling on a straight USAAF C-54 - an early one. In fact this model represents 41-20137, the first Douglas DC-4 off the assembly line in Santa Monica, Ca. in 1942. The first 25 DC-4s ended up being basically olive drab painted airliners. 20137 and the following 24 others down the line were originally bought by American Airlines, but were commandeered by the Army for troop transport. Apparently, 28 G.I.s could be carried in luxurious comfort!
To replicate this earliest version of the Skymaster, I had to do some things: first, Rareplane molded the C-54 cargo door on the fuselage. I had to scrape all that off and sand the area down. Second, the first C-54s did not have de-icer boots so those were omitted by filling in the line which marks them along the leading edges of the wings and tails. Third, minimal antennae was installed, as pictures of some early C-54s showed mainly the basic football thing underneath and perhaps a few other doo-dads but nothing worth replicating to any extent. And finally, I applied early USAAF stars with red dots and "U.S. Army" on the wing undersides. On the real C-54s, these early stars were probably on for only a few months, maybe weeks until the 1942 blue and white stars without red dot were made standard. I would imagine in the field, the red dots were just painted over white.
Rareplane includes clear window pieces for this model, but I did not feel like spending another month
cutting each oval window opening out let alone the cockpit windows. So I just painted them black as Rareplane also suggests as an alternative. It makes the model look more like a vintage Douglas factory desk model, but it's not bad. Omitting the landing gear and the prop blades also hastened completion. A lot of filling and sanding was required along the wing joints and I'm not sure the air scoops on top of the engine nacelles are the correct length and shape, but oh well. This was quite an ambitious project for me and I'm happy with the results. She's big and looks great in my office from several feet away. I'm going to bring her up to Renton later this month for an I.PM.S. show. I doubt I'll win any award with it but I would like to show her off any way.

Otaki 1/48 Kawasaki Ki-61 "Tony"

As I was constructing the Nichimo Ki-45 I simultaneously worked on this Otaki Ki-61 because it's my second favorite Japanese subject in 1/48 scale. The Otaki Tony is a classic. It was the first one out in 1/48 scale, sometime in the late 70s. Arii got hold of it and produced it well into the 90s. I chose to build this one in a solid color like the Nick, but using a light gray in a spray can close as I could find to the medium light gray used by the Japanese Army. Again, Donald Thorpe's book was helpful in this as it showed several Tony's in basic solid color with minimal markings. No conversions here, just straight out of the box.

Nichimo 1/48 Kawasaki Ki-45 "Nick"

Although I didn't build my first one of these until about twenty years after they came out, the Nichimo Ki-45 is one of my favorite Japanese subjects in 1/48 scale. It's also featured in a 1976 issue of SCALE MODELER magazine, so I'm including it here because it's sort of a model kit from my childhood. I built the first one back in 1995 and did it straight from the box, painting it in the usual light gray-green with dark green mottling. For this second go-around, I chose to do an early version without the guns sticking out the top behind the cockpit. I also chose one of the solid color schemes the Japanese Army used - the medium blue gray. I put minimal insignia on it with no squadron or tail markings. This decision was based on some photos and diagrams I saw in Donald Thorpe's excellent book Japanese Army Air Force Camouflage and Markings by Aero Publishers, 1968.

Tamiya has the correct medium blue gray in a spray can, so painting was easy. The decals are a mix of the ones which come with the kit, and from the Otaki Ki-61.
Even though the Nick was a mediocre twin-engine fighter (like the Me-110) I still think it's a bad-ass looking airplane and I'm happy to look at it every day in my office.