Getting tanked after the nationals

I’ve been letting down on the blog since just before the nationals (which were awesome, by the way – but you’ll be able to read about that in the IPMS Journal the issue after next) to work on actual models.

First, I turned out a new Obscureco master in just two days after returning from Columbus, a 1:72 110-gallon metal drop tank, as carried by P-47s and P-51s. This was really the brainchild of Lee Forbes, who came by and reminded me of the awful, terrible Revell Mustang kit of around 1975 vintage. This model has a decent planform, but virtually everything else about the model is wrong. The nose is too skinny, the fuselage is swaybacked, the vertical tail has rounded corners, and the landing gear and gear doors are ridiculous approximations of the real things. The model’s also covered in rivets that make similar-vintage Airfix kits look positively subdued. Lee found one at the show and gave it to me; I may now give it to one of my armor-builder friends to use the rivets on their tanks.

The one thing that makes this kit worth having – at least for me and Lee – are the drop tanks. Revell either picked the wrong size and made them about right, or screwed up in a fortuitous way. Instead of the much more common 75-gallon metal tanks, these tanks scale up perfectly as the 110-gallon long-range tanks (as used by the Tuskegee Airmen on the March 24 mission to Berlin). They’re basically the same tear-drop shape as the 75-gallon tanks, only larger. The kit’s tanks aren’t detailed, but they scale out perfectly and are shaped exactly right – the only decent thing about an otherwise indecent kit.

I took one set of tank halves, cleaned up the sprue attachment points, and sanded the locating pins off of the mating surfaces. Next, I cut out a section of .005 sheet styrene of about the same dimensions as the tank and CA-glued it to the inside of one half. I trimmed up the .005 styrene, getting it close but not totally finished. Using great caution, I glued the other half of the tank to the styrene card, aligning it very carefully with the first half. This is a situation where you need to get it right the first time; otherwise, you’ll create a ridge of CA as you move the tank half around, and that will translate into a mess once it’s cast in resin.

I further trimmed up the .005 styrene using sanding sticks and great caution. The final result was a very uniform keel around the tank – just like the real thing. I then polished the tank with several degrees of sanding sticks, followed by some Blue Magic car polish to give the tank a shine. That shine will translate into a good base for the modeler to apply a natural metal finish.

To make the filler cap, I took a photoetched detail from Eduard’s set for the GMC CCKW-353 2 ½-ton truck, turned upside down. A relief valve made from fine solder and a sheet plastic nub for the rear end were added and – bang! – a master was born. Thanks to Lee Forbes!

It’s not the simplified kit part, but it’s more than I’d be willing to do twice, which makes it a great candidate for casting.

Next time: the soap-operatic story of my P-47D “Chief Seattle,” its triumph and tragedy (and possible return to triumph).

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