A-3 Update: Wheel Wells

I spent last week working on the KA-3B Skywarrior. Hasegawa did some nice wells on this model but they left a lot out. For example, the wheel wells have nice rivet detail and some of the externally visible structure, but they left a bunch of stuff out. The mid-bay bulkheads were missing, for instance – but there are slots in the model that suggest that Hasegawa was going to include them and then forgot! There was also a mess of wiring missing (which is usually the case with ’50s jet kits).

Here’s what the bays looked like out of the box:

A-3 well 1

Nice, but no personality. There’s some good detail but plenty’s missing. I went at the model with fine solder, wire, styrene strip and even a little resin cylinder trimmed from the back of a radial engine. Here’s what this (the port side) now looks like:

A-3 Wheel Bay Pt


And the starboard side:

A-3 wheel bay Stb

There’s more to add – the lower corners have a bit of a spaghetti look to them – but that stuff will go on once the bays get their first coat of white paint.

The details are not conjecture – there are some great web references out there. My go-to for this build was the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers’ site gallery – two sets of photos of the plane at the Oakland Aviation Museum. They have tons of other walk-arounds – it’s worth poking around just to see what’s available.



An awesome nationals – followed by the usual stupid complaining

I’m back from the nationals, and I can report that it was a fun show that was remarkably smoothly run by the guys from Phoenix. There were virtually no hiccups to be seen on their part, and as a result there was very little drama other than as a result of the contest.

A lot has been written about the show, and a lot of photos can be seen in the gallery section of the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers’ website  including almost every entered model. That’s a lot of photos! The people section shows many of the club’s members at their finest (I mean, in the bar), and the winner’s presentation from the banquet is there, even, so you can find out who won. This was the result of the hard work of John Heck and Vladimir Yakubov, who made sure the “slide show” went without an error. It was truly a smooth show.

There’s a lot of good things to said about this year’s nationals. From the tenor of some of the conversations on Hyperscale, ARC and other on-line sites, there’s also a lot of bad things to be said – criticism, indictments, suggestions posed out of ignorance, and outright falsehoods. It’s especially galling when people rip the show and weren’t even there. (I won’t dignify these morons with links to their posts; that would only give them the attention they hoped for when they launched into their antics.) For instance, over on Hyperscale some yokel tried to take the IPMS to task for not having results and photos up the night of the awards banquet. There are always angry rantings about some model or another that did not win, always posted by someone who has never judged anything, let alone the model in question. And there are oodles of suggestions that the “suggester” is sure that the IPMS will never take because the officers are aloof, arrogant and dictatorial. When you read them, you realize they’d never be employed because they would set in motion a series of unintended consequences that would lead to significant damage to the event.

The thing about the Internet is that it gives everyone a soapbox. It does not require them to do the research needed to inform their comments before they ascend that soapbox, nor does it require them to be intellectually honest. Even in the afterglow of this very successful nationals, I’ve seen the usual suspects take minute, supposedly negative details (like the length of the banquet – which timed in at a very reasonable 2 hours and 5 minutes this year) and use them to attack the elected officers. This sort of spiteful, stupid behavior is where the impression of the “IPMS attitude” of years gone by has its roots. Just think how it looks to non-members: even after an event that gets everything right, by all accounts, there is still a loud mini-minority carping about anything they can find to carp about.

Here’s my promise: if I see any of this behavior, I’m not going to allow those malcontent morons to become the de facto spokesmen for the IPMS. They’re going to get it right back, couched in facts and backed up with statistics. If you’re an IPMS member, I hope you do the same. I’ve had enough of the nitwit, crybaby, criticizing, know-nothing, do-nothing numbskulls trying to rain on our parade at every turn. Enough’s enough.

Except when it comes to shows like this year’s nationals. Enough was not enough – that show could have gone on for two weeks and every moment still would have been fun. Thanks to Steve Collins, Dick Christ, Mike Reeves, Jim Clark, Paul Bradley and the many other members of the organizing board. Remember, guys – if you see me on an Internet forum badgering some snarky naysayer in the next two weeks, I’m doing it for you!

Maryland: one good break, one bad one

Last Friday, the incomplete Maryland actually won the Model of the Month award at the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers meeting, which I thought was a real honor. The plane still needs the canopy, gear doors, bombardier’s hatches, machine gun, DF loop, landing lights and so on. I thought I might have a chance next month, but certainly not this month!

Then, on Sunday, my wife broke the model.

It wasn’t terminal . One of the gear struts broke off at the mounting point; it sheared the original plastic pin I’d added, but came off otherwise totally intact. All I had to do was drill the strut and add a new pin – this time a length of paperclip – and drill a corresponding hole in the wheel well. The Azure kit’s landing gear attachment points are a joke – they look like ejector pin marks more than a place to glue any parts – so the repaired strut is now much stronger than it was before.

How did it get broken? Totally innocently. Elizabeth moved the model in its box from her desk to mine and it slipped off its protective cradle, landing one wing low and snapping its gear. It’s actually a nice reminder that I should build a custom box with form-fitting foam cradles before I try to transport it – like to the nationals!

The next Journal: great for talking Egyptian cars into IJN battleships and watching “Knightrider” in space

This week, we’re throwing together the next issue of the IPMS/USA Journal – and by throwing, I mean working hard, fast and seemingly out of control. However, with the team of people we have, especially John Heck, it’s more like a deliberate juggling act than a slapdash rush to meet a deadline.

This issue features part one of a two-parter on building U.S. manned launch vehicles in 1:200, a build of the Moebius Models Mummy, the Hasegawa 1:350 Mutsu, a remarkable lighted build of the Knightrider K.I.T.T. and a story about a major model project at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. If that’s not variety I don’t know what is.
If you aren’t an IPMS/USA member, you’ll miss out on this issue, the July-August issue (which will drop around the time of the nationals, I suspect). You should get over to the IPMS/USA website and join if you aren’t a member. Trust me on that.

I’ve been twiddling about on the P-40 this week, hoping to get some decals on her shortly. Elizabeth is having knee surgery on Friday, so I may be busy/not busy for several days. I’d really like to have the model done for the Region 9 contest on July 25, but I don’t want to jinx myself. Also, Keith Bunyan is visiting from New Zealand next week, providing a welcome distraction from models but also presenting a distraction from models, if you know what I mean, so the contest may be out of the question unless I get a good session of building in tonight.

Also, one other item: my wife’s aunt Peggy sent two boxes of items that belonged to her husband, Maj. Hank Salisbury, USMC. One was filled with books, Pacific invasion maps (with Japanese artillery, airfields and buildings marked on them!), a USMC first-aid kit packed with its original contents, and a silk map of Japan, Korea, China and the Soviet Union. The other box had this:


This is what 53 Comet metal ship ID models look like. They’re not all Comet – several are from other manufacturers – but they all date from World War II. The notables in this collection are five unusual 1:300-scale destroyers, the carriers Yorktown, Independence and Ranger, the battlecruiser Alaska, Japanese cruisers Mogami, Aoba and Takao, and battleships Texas and Massachusetts. I’d like to find a home for them in a museum, but I may bring them to Friday night’s Silicon Valley Scale Modelers’ meeting. They’re pretty accurate, and they survived many years as toys for Hank’s kids, so they’re obviously battleship tough!

Close to the Phinish…

The Phantom is all painted, washed and dull-coated, with just a few touch-ups left. The wash went on neatly enough. I used a dark gray watercolor paint mixed with dishwashing liquid and a drop of Windex (not too much, since it can wreak havoc with the Varathane I use for gloss coating), and smeared it all over the plane. The white areas got a lightened version of this; I wanted to avoid the stark black-line look, and I think I achieved this. Over that went a heavily-thinned spray of Testors Dullcote – 25-75 Dullcote to lacquer thinner. This was definitely a time for good ventilation.

The natural metal hiney of the F-4 is not just a task to paint, it’s kind of a pain to research. It’s pretty hard to find photos of the aft section of the plane that doesn’t have it in shadow. Not to worry – I employed the best photos from about eight books, some intuition, Testors metallizers and a whole lot of Post-it notes and applied four shades of metals (all hand mixed) to the aft end, plus three more to the horizontal stabilizers, which are also now ready for addition.

I had one minor mishap when a Post-it note lifted the star-and-bar from the lower wing. I could whine about it, but I won’t – I’ll just remove what’s left of the decal with clear cellophane tape, re-gloss, put another decal on there and flat-coat it again. There a couple other areas that are a little too shiny still, so this is an opportunity more than it is a problem. There are also some very minor silvering issues with a couple of decals (most noticeably, an “F-4B” on the data block), a spot where the masking allowed some metal onto an area that should be flat gull gray, and a couple spots where the Sundowners sun’s rays need touch-ups, but these are not serious problems. Altogether, it was a productive weekend.

One little problem popped up when I test-fit the Aires burners and tail pipes. It seems the wing spar impedes the pipes, so you have about 10mm of excess wing spar to motor-tool away. This will be fun – running the motor tool inside an area already completed with a natural metal finish. Oh, joy.

After that, I’ll paint the stores (the pylons, missiles and tanks are all standing by for paint) and the gear doors and other elements (ditto) with wonderful Humbrol Matt 34. After that, it’s the canopies and the bits in the cockpit. I think I can get most of this together by next Friday – and if I need extra time, I’ll work on sticking on all the bits at the Northwest Scale Modelers Show at the Museum of Flight in Seattle! I’ll be up there talking about my book on the Fourth Fighter Group, and I’ll drag a few models up – the Mustang above is an example, since the theme is “The Mighty Eighth.” I’d also like to bring my 362nd FG collection, and maybe the FM-2. It’s too bad this show isn’t closer to home, because I’m limited to what I can carry in a small bag on the plane.

There may be a show closer to home, though. A bunch of us from Silicon Valley Scale Modelers is planning a trip up to talk about a show like this at the Travis Air Museum, which is very amenable to the idea. So Seattle may be a little fact-finding trip for me.

Life vs Modeling Time

Last weekend saw a tremendous orgy of box-filling, thanks to the timely arrival of LOTS of parts from my friend and partner, Bill Ferrante. I got 10 Obscureco orders out the door, which opens up a lot of modeling time this week, and I’ll be back hard at work on the P-40, which does indeed seem to be coming along. My niece is out visiting again, and there’s that pesky Thanksgiving to get in the way, but I plan on getting the airframe assembled with the cockpit installed before the end of the next weekend.

On Friday we had the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers meeting, and I brought my one and only copy of the 4th Fighter Group book to show off. Afterward, Roy Sutherland (another Osprey author) and I talked about that company’s products. Book publishing’s got to be a tough business, and some concepts for series work better than others. “Aircraft of the Aces,” “Aviation Elite Units” and “Combat Aircraft” made sense. The “Duels” series… not so much. Those books are too long for a discussion of, say, the tactics used by a P-51 to fight an Fw 190, but too short for any depth about the aircraft in question. They’re neither fish nor fowl – which is not surprising since they are books.

Anyway, the “Duels” series includes these titles:
Sherman Firefly vs Tiger
P-51 Mustang vs Fw 190
Panther vs T-34
U-boats vs Destroyer Escorts
Spitfire vs Bf 109

USN Carriers vs IJN Carriers
Sopwith Camel vs Fokker Dr I
P-40 Warhawk vs Ki-43 Oscar

At some point, they’re going to run out of obvious titles, so we came up with some additional ideas that would certainly be off the beaten path:

Airbus 380 vs the Accounting Profession
Pucara vs SAS Hand Grenade
Godzilla vs the Smog Monster
Italian Army vs. the Impulse to Raise One’s Hands Over One’s Head
Dave Klaus vs Everybody, Real and Imaginary
F7U Cutlass vs Gravity

Got any other titles to suggest? Send them my way in the comments…