Revell of Germany’s 1/32 FW190A-8: Not bad, not bad at all.

Having recently finished Revell of Germany’s (“RoG”) 1/32 Spitfire MKIIa, I decided to crack into their 1/32 FW190A-8. The 190 was a far more ambitious effort by the German manufacturer, with a full engine and mounts included.

Part of what made the Spitfire a fun departure from my still in-progress Tamiya Spitfire MkIX was the simplicity of the build. Simplicity that was in no small part caused by a lack of cowlings to assemble over a complex engine like that found in the beautiful Tamiya Spitfire kit. Getting a perfect fit with those Tamiya parts is a chore that while undoubtedly better than most other kits could dream of pulling off, I’ve rarely seen executed flawlessly on a built model.

Eduard’s Brassin Cockpit

Like the Spitfire, the detail in the cockpit is adequate, but this time I opted for Eduard’s Brassin replacement cockpit and HGW belts. The substantial but largely hidden increase in detail probably won’t be worth the cost to most builders, but I loved it. And, it fit perfectly. HGW fabric belts are the industry standard, in my view, and are a must-have purchase for any model I want to display with an open cockpit.

I also opted to replace almost anything that RoG intended to mold as a cylinder. As much good as can be said of the quality of the kit, RoG just hasn’t figured out how to mold small parts, particularly cylinders, in a way that won’t require prolific scraping of the mold seams to get something that resembles a circular cross section.  This means I ordered Master Model turned brass barrels and Eduards Brassin landing gear struts and wheels. All fit and worked as intended and added a splash of much needed detail in those areas. The metal landing gear were beautiful, added much needed strength, and fit perfectly.

The RoG propeller and spinner, to my eye, was wholly inadequate. This was replaced by what was ostencibly Eagle Parts resin.  After further review, I think my eBay purchase might have been a knock off of the Eagle Parts parts. Regardless, these look far better in accuracy than the kit parts, but they had their own issues. My resin props were tricky to assemble giving no real positive placement for the blades. You just had to plug the blade in to a hole on the spinner and try to align it correctly in all axis before the CA glue dries, while also doing the same to two other blades and hoping to get them aligned in a way that looks symmetrical. If you end up with the same blades and spinner I did, I’d suggest you make a jig, somehow, to get the blades aligned (or just buy the actual Eagle Parts, as it appears from the picture on their website that they have this issue solved).

I initially contemplated having the engine completely closed in the cowling or I would have spent more time detailing, weathering, and wiring the thing. 

Finally we get to the engine and cowling. Alignment issues here tend to propagate and magnify from the fire wall to the spinner. Then, you have to essentially build the cowling around the engine that likely isn’t aligned perfectly. This isn’t truly difficult, but is by far the most tricky part of the build. Its tricky enough that it will likely turn off many modelers who would find gaps and misalignment abundant if put together without multiple dry fit runs. Even so, I elected to display a cowling panel open, in part to display the better-than-average but could-be-better engine, but also to hide the gaps and misalignment that appeared around that final panel when everything else was aligned as good as I could get.

If I had to do this kit over again, I would certainly opt for the Eduard Brassin engine set. I think the substantial increase in detail, even if only visible through an open cowling, would really add that final pop to an otherwise very solid kit. And, if Eduard’s Brassin cockpit is an example, the fit of these parts would probably be better than the kit parts.

I wanted to do my 190 as one flown in the ETO. As such, I opted to use Kagero’s phenominal “FW 190s over Europe, part II“. I chose to do a FW190 A-7 as flown by Lt. Hans Ehlers, of 3./JG 1, from late 1943. To my eye, the back dating to an A-7 from the A-8 required moving the pitot in-board and leaving off the prominent upper wing bulges that would go over the cannon. I am certain that both Luftwaffe fan-boys and academics heads are exploding by my severe simplification and lack of understanding of the nuances between the two marks. Paint was Gunze RLM 74, 75 and 76 thinned 50/50 with Mr. Leveling Thinner over Mr. Finishing Surfacer black. Multi tone camouflage was completed using the Sotar 20/20 and free-handing the markings eyeing for a tight feather between the colors. Decals were a combination of those supplied in the Kagero book as well as HGW wet transfers and the kit decals.

With the RoG 190 as with their Spit IIa, the parts were well detailed and of generally high molding quality. The construction was a breeze with no real fit issues along the fuselage and wings, and the instructions are clear. A modeler with moderate skill, and significant patience, would be able to build this kit and end up with an impressive model capable of being displayed in flight with RoG’s included stand, or displayed in the usual parked configuration.

In sum, like RoG’s Spitfire MkIIa, this is a good kit, with some problems already addressed by the aftermarket. It’s generally a fun build that with an extra investment of time, and the sacrifice of some money to the AM gods, can really build into a stunner. In fact, my experience with these two Revell kits has been so positive, that I’m considering jettisoning the Tamiya 1/32 Mustang in my stash for RoG’s new tool D, ‘Stang.

A full photo journal of the build process is available here.




Huntsville Plastic Model Society Show 2018

Today I made the trek to Huntsville, Alabama, to participate in their 42nd annual model show. It was my second time attending. I had almost decided not to waste a good summer Saturday with a trip down into the gaping maw of the Crimson Elephant, but I’m glad I decided to go. This experience was far better than my first sojourn to the Rocket City in 2017.

The official announcement, last I heard, was over 500 entries. The skill across the board was as high as I’ve seen in my tri-annual circuitous route spanning from just outside Nashville to Chattanooga to Huntsville. I’m now in my 4th season into the world of “competetive” model building, and have made several pleasant acquaintances and recognize some familiar faces that seem to be travelling the same circuit as I.

Huntsville, at least in my experience, is a relative oddity when it comes to judging. The aircraft categories are grouped into 1/48 and larger, or 1/49 and smaller. This means that 1/48, 1/32, 1/24 and even larger builds will be grouped together based on being divided into columns such as “single engine, axis” or “single engine, other”. If it’s not readily apparent, my feeling is that the categories, especially the ones I’ve listed as examples, are both too narrow and too broad simultaneously.

With the amount of entries, it seems Huntsville could follow a more generalized pattern of 1/72 and smaller, 1/48, 1/32, and larger than 1/32 (or other) categories. The eye for detail, complexity of the build, and the ability to obtain realism where those factors intersect, seems to me to vary greatly between those common scales.

Regardless, I was lucky enough to take home a gold medal for my Trumpeter BF109F-4 “Yellow 14” as flown by Jans-Joachim Marseille. My 1/32 Revell Mk IIa Spitfire and 1/32 P-40N didn’t make the cut. C’est la vie, say the old folks.

That said, there were a few builds that caught my eye for any number of reasons.

First was this fun scene from Top Gun. It certainly got a chuckle out of me. Notice Goose keeping up foreign relations.

Next was this ambitious monster showing off the internals of the Nazi’s “bat wing”. Very well done from my glancing birds eye view.

Third was this paper space shuttle. It really was jaw dropping in scale, and its paper. I guess that’s what the P stands for in IPMS? I’ve been doing it wrong!

Next was this 1/32 Mosquito. I didn’t look to see if it was the HK or the Tamiya, but I believe this is the first big Mossie I’ve seen on the tables.

Finally, in reality, there were just too many good builds to try to list all of the eye catching workmanship. Browse through the photos and see for yourself.

To those that spent the time organizing the contest, you should be proud. The turn out was great and the atmosphere pleasant. Thanks for having me.

Revell’s 1/32 scale Spitfire MkIIa: 1/4 the cost of a Tamiya Spit, and 2/3 the quality.

If you base your modeling decisions on value, this kit needs to be top of the heap.  Revell’s new tool early war Spitfire is a gem where value intersects quality.  I highly recommend it to modeler’s of any skill.  That said, we are modelers and there are always things to complain about.

The first and major concern is, regardless of quality and how fun this kit was to build, this is actually not a Spitfire MkIIa out of the box.  It is closer to a Spitfire Mk V with a fantasy prop and spinner and incorrect ailerons. Or, it could also be a Spitfire MkIIa with an incorrect oil cooler, a fantasy prop and spinner, and incorrect ailerons.  You get to decide.

Either way, unsurprisingly, there are correction sets to let you go any way you want.  As I wanted an early war Spitfire, I chose the slightly more ambitious project of correcting the wing with a new resin set of ailerons, a corrected oil cooler, and a more detailed radiator, from Barracuda. It truly was an easy fix if you follow the instructions, with only having to cut out part of the kit wing out for the cooler and radiator. Everything fit beautifully, including the ailerons.

Beginning surgery for the Barracuda corrections.

The second concern is that the canopy included with the kit doesn’t fit correctly in the open position.  It is too narrow to slide back over the fuselage and thus will sit noticeably too high on the spine if open.  The simple solution is to put the canopy in the closed position, where the canopy fits perfectly.  Closing the canopy partially solves another problem: out of the box the cockpit is a bit sparse for an open canopy inspection. This too can be corrected rather easily, but I chose the “good enough under glass” option. For my route I simply added some HGW fabric belts, and once again leaned on Barracuda for a replacement resin seat with armor (it’s head scratching why Revell left out the armor backing from their kit).   I even used the kit decal for the instrument panel and carefully applied 5-second fix to create the appearance of lenses.  I think it turned out rather well. It’s not Tamiya, but it looks good enough.IMG_0819.JPG

Construction was a breeze.  Everything fit like it should with no real issues along the typical trouble areas like the wing root.  The horizontal stabilizers actually fit better than my experience with Tamiya Spits, and it was a relief to not have to wrestle a full Merlin, four cowlings and tiny magnets.

The third and final concern is the fit of the landing gear legs into the wing.  There is no other way to describe it but sloppy.  I used some 15 minute epoxy and spent a few minutes checking the alignment of the legs to each other and the aircraft,  and let it set. I think it came out okay, but the issue here was surprising given the overall fit of the rest of the kit.

Finally, I painted, lightly weathered, and threw on Eagle Parts resin Rotol prop and spinner and called it done.

In sum this is a great kit. There are issues, but all kits have them. For the money, especially if you want a Mk V spitfire and don’t mind errors like an incorrect prop/spinner and or ailerons, this kit will surpass even much more expensive kits.  If you want an early war Spitfire, a Mk I or II, you can invest in some resin replacement parts, and with a little work have the best early mark spitfire in 1/32 scale.


Hasegawa’s F-104C quick build and review.

I had been promising to build an F-104 for my father, a retired aerospace engineer, but could never get the proper motivation to build the lawn dart.  About two weeks from his birthday I decided that I would finally dig into Hasegawa’s oft-lauded 1/48 F-104c and do a simple canopy closed type build for him as a gift.  Three weeks later, only a week after his birthday, he had a reasonable representation of an interesting aircraft for his collection.

Like I’ve often stated, most online reviews are hyperbolic, either drastically over or under reacting to the quality of a kit.  The reviews of Hasegawa’s Starfighter are no different.  I have read that it was one of the best kits, ever. It apparently would fall together with no issue, even under the intense magnification that points out all flaws that appear under a natural metal finish.  It isn’t that, exactly, but it’s not bad, at all. In fact, it’s a quite good and enjoyable kit, with a few flaws that can be addressed with minimal effort and skill.

IMG_0736.jpgThe cockpit is quite simple and Hasegawa provides decals for the instrument panels. These don’t actually match the contours of the side panels, but look convincing enough with some Solvaset.  The ejection seat is wholly too over-simplified and I opted for the Quickboost seat instead. Some paint and a wash, and the seat is a stunning and visible addition to the kit.

The fuselage and wheels bays go together very well. The first problem comes from the intakes.  Try as I might, the intakes had a minor step that would require some shaping and re-scribing to deal with.  There is some detail that I obliterated and could not reproduce quickly, but luckily a great deal of that will later fall under the Star and Bar decals and won’t be noticeable.  Another issue is the turtle deck insert that also had an unavoidable step between it and the fuselage.  This also took sanding and filling, and some minor detail obliteration, but ended up reasonably well.IMG_0553.jpgIMG_0554.jpg

The wings come with position-able slats, ailerons, and flaps.  One of my wings came with a broken wing tip pylon that required acquisition of replacement parts and explains most of the week long delay.  Once assembled, however, they fit perfectly and can be left off until after paint, without any fear of needing to fill and sand. The wing tip tanks also fit perfectly onto the wing and are almost snug enough to not require any glue.  Almost.



Once assembled, primed, masked, and slightly polished, I decided to use Tamiya’s AS-12 silver spray right from the can as a base.  This is an exceptional product. It goes down wonderfully, dries quickly, and appears to be exceptionally durable.  On top of that, I masked off several individual panels around the exhaust to attempt to reproduce the multi-colored hues of my reference photographs and sprayed multiple colors of Alclad in different locations (aluminum, dark aluminum, white aluminum, anodized aluminum, steel, and burnt iron). The effect is convincing enough for me.

Now I was ready for markings.  The worst part of this kit were the decals.  I don’t know if it was simply a matter of them being almost 15 years old, but they were thick and resisted both Solvaset and Microset.  The curved markings for the nose band and the shock cones in the intake were terrible.  The nose band was so bad that I decided to simply mask and paint that instead of risking an issue with such a visible part of the aircraft. At this point I decided to abandon the stock Starfighter used on the box art and found a line 104 from the same unit that wouldn’t require the garish stripes on the back of the fuselage or on the nose.IMG_0611.jpg

One of the final steps was to button up the canopy.  I should have mentioned earlier that the canopy left about a 1/32″ gap between it and the glass covering the turtle deck making it unusable in the closed position.  Instead I posed it open and used Eduard’s PE for the canopy rails.  And, that makes me even more thankful for the Quickboost seat.


I finished it up with the prominent pitot tube from MasterModel, put in the resin intake covers with Eduard “remove before flight tags”, the various other probes, and called it finished. This was a quick and an enjoyable build of an historically important aircraft, and a perfect gift for a retired aerospace engineer.


And this reminds me of my favorite joke about the Starfighter, at least as it pertains to its initial troubled service with the Luftwaffe.

Q: How does one go about getting a Starfighter?

A: Buy a couple acres and wait.


Trumpeter’s 1/32 Tropical Fritz – almost but not quite.

As I’ve often mentioned in these very pages, I tend to build kits based on books I have read or currently reading.  At this point in my life, the subject has to interest me intensely to keep my attention across months long builds.  To that end, Pierre Clostermann’s “The Big Show” inspired a love for the Tempest Mk V, and rekindled an interest in the Spitfire Mk IX (a long over-due project now on the bench).  Robin Old’s autobiography “Fighter Pilot” bloated my stash with a 1/32 P-38, P-51, Shooting Star, Meteor and F-4C Phantom II.  Pertinent to this discussion is Dan Hampton’s seminal history of air combat “Lords of the Sky“. Hampton introduced me to one of the most interesting characters in the history of air combat, rivaling the original most interesting man in the world Robin Olds.

Hans-Joachim Marseille was a Luftwaffe pilot in the early stanzas of World War 2 and his famous “Yellow 14” is a fixture at any gathering of modelers.  Admittedly it is often a difficult exercise to applaud any man who voluntarily fought under the banner of Nazi Germany, but some warriors left an indelible mark on history for their exploits, bravery, chivalry, and skill.  Marseilles is inarguably one of those men.


Trumpeter’s kit of the same is an impressive mix of modern tooling and detail to build into a very impressive model.  Insofar as part layout and complexity it falls between most of Tamiya’s large scale offerings and Hasegawa’s.  That is just enough more complexity and detail to make it catch your eye, but not enough to require a dozen steps to build the cockpit or engine.  The majority of the kit fits together as well as anything you would find from either of the big two.  That said, the finicky fit of the engine makes this kit impossible to recommend to anyone unless you want a kit with a basic DB 601 engine displayed.


The problems all seem to stem from the construction of the engine itself. Specifically the attachment of the individual exhaust manifolds. While it builds to be a convincing replica of an important historical engine, there are problems. The exhaust are the one place in this whole model that should require a tight positive fit to assure proper orientation but the exhaust themselves have several degrees of play in their vertical orientation. As they have to protrude out through slits in the fuselage halves, this is a critical alignment.  As I found out, a slight and even imperceptible, misalignment of the exhausts can cause the flimsy fuselage nose to warp out of true making alignment of the prop hub, or the cowlings positioned in the closed position, almost impossible without significant modification. If you are planning on building this kit, I strongly suggest ignoring the instructions and finding a way to attach the exhausts after the fuselage is together, even if you want to leave the cowls open.

Another problem is that for all of the effort Trumpeter put into providing a nicely detailed engine, and cowlings with nice internal detail, they also decided to have multiple and prominent injector pin marks on the interior of each cowl.  These are difficult to remove without destroying. With some careful sanding and filling an acceptable result can be achieved.

IMG_0351Beyond that, construction was relatively simple and straight forward. It took me about as long to get the cockpit and engine built up as it did to finish the rest of the model.  Modelers should be aware that if you want to pose the lower cowl open, the drop tank cannot be installed.  This is not mentioned in the instructions and I didn’t find out until too late into the build. Further, beyond a few placard decals for the cockpit and engine, I would highly recommend aftermarket wheels and the Quickboost tropical filter.  The difference between the kit and Aires wheels is breathtaking.  The fit is flawless with no modification (a rarity with anything Aires, and aftermarket wheels in general) and it allowed me to wait until the end to install the tail wheel. The kit tropical filter is unnecessarily complicated with too chunky and out-of-scale mounts.  Both are worth the money and effort to upgrade.

One mistake I made that I can’t really blame on the kit was that I went against my usual process to install the wing-tip navigation lights.  I had presumed, given the relatively minor fit issues with the rest of the kit (engine notwithstanding it is a great kit), that the wing tip lights would simply drop in with a little glue after paint.  This is wrong assumption on almost every kit, and especially wrong on this kit.  Not only do the sprue mounting points on the lens require buffing of the part itself (and resultant minor changing of the shape of the lens), but the notches on the wing tips for the lights don’t particularly fit well without some help, and or filler.  The better method would have been to install the lights before paint, and sand/fill to fit, then mask as is per my usual. Instead I was left trying to cobble together an acceptable fix with bondic that left the port light a bit misshapen in appearance.

Overall my recommendation for the modeler who simply wants a representation of Marseille’s “Yellow 14” for their collection would be to find the Hasegawa kit (note: I haven’t built that kit specifically but have built enough Hasegawa kits of similar vintage to extrapolate).  On the other hand if you want a bit more detail than Hasegawa out of the box, and a more challenging build with a displayed engine, this kit won’t let you down.





You say you want to build a 1/48 Marauder? You’ve been warned.


In the early summer I was contacted about building a Martin B-26 Marauder as “Flak Bait” for a family friend who wanted it as a Christmas gift for a family friend of his (this family friend had actually flown on Flak Bait in December 1943).  After discussing some general parameters, such as scale, detail level, time investment and cost, we were set.

I found the options in 1/48 were a Monogram kit from 1978 and an Escii kit.  Having relatively recently built the re boxed Monogram 1/48 B-25 from the same vintage, I thought I knew what to expect. But, a Google search revealed there were only a half dozen or so build reviews, mostly from the early 2000s, and this lack of return was unusual if not concerning.  I ordered the Hasegawa boxing of the same. Thus began an odyssey that would last six months.

I began, as per usual, by reading through the few builds I could find of the Marauder online, and found that most builders, as per usual, complained of some considerable trouble with some part of the build. The gripes seem to cluster around the tail to fuselage joint and the issues with the clear parts in that area; the engine nacelle to wing joint; the lack of guidance or space to effectively fit enough weight forward of the gear to make it sit on its nose; the fit of the multi part cowlings, and; late 1970s soft detail (generally correct shape, raised panel lines, some detail inside but nothing spectacular).

For the first time in memory, and surprisingly, all reviews were correct. Not only correct, but they seemed to actually be too kind to the overall build process of this kit.  I’m used to taking the typical modern review and discounting most of it as incessant whining about how [insert kit here] isn’t on par with one of Tamiya’s recent master works that fall together leaving the modeler as little more than a painter of a three dimensional object. No, this kit would test almost every skill that I had.  The oddest thing about this relic is that a beginner with little experience and time could end with something that reasonably resembles a Marauder that would look to the uninitiated as being similar to the product that they would get out of a Tamiya Mustang/Spitfire/BF-109 in the same scale.  Conversely, to build this kit into something that an experienced modeler would get out of a similar Tamiya kit, takes an intense investment in time, effort, money, patience, and tears. I’m not sure I succeeded, either.

I could spend paragraphs griping about all of the issues I had, but I will just try to boil it down. Here are the main issues, and how I believe the intrepid modeler can deal with each.

  1. Cowlings. Throw the kit parts away and look for the Loon Models corrected version. You’ll still have some sanding to do and careful fitting to get it to join the nacelles properly, but you won’t have to deal with trying to maintain the shape of the cowling after filling the huge gaps left by Monogram. Note the fantastic Quickboost engine above the Loon cowling.

2. The nacelle to wing joint.  Good luck.  You’re just going to need a great deal of patience to fill and sand this area.  As I had decided to scribe the whole model, I wasn’t worried about obliterating panel lines here.  I used my trusty quad grit sanding stick, sanding sponges, several layers of gap filling super glue followed by a couple layers of Bondo to assure a smooth transition.  Patience and time here will go a long way to assuring the model builds into something nice. Without a great deal of work, especially around the nacelle tips that in places had a gap of a 1/4″ or more, there is no way to build the model without considerable gaps and steps.

IMG_10243. Weight.  I bought three bags of fishing weights and installed one each in the front of each nacelle and behind the cockpit bulkhead in what would be the radio room. Luckily I ended up with a spare kit, and used the spare cockpit bulkhead as a rear face on the weights in case anyone could actually peer into the radio room through the two tiny windows. As I found in the completed build, you can’t see anything inside there, so don’t be too worried if you don’t have an extra kit. The good news is it sits on its gear perfectly (I would also suggest using SAC metal landing gear to help bear the increased load).

IMG_10534. Fit of clear parts. If you aren’t already comfortable sanding and polishing clear parts, you will be after this build.  Beyond the canopy, nose cone, and tail gunner’s glass, there are no fewer than 8 other windows that will need to be installed before you close up the fuselage. Most of these clear parts had sizable gaps around them requiring some gap filling super glue and lots of sanding and polishing to return them to clarity (be careful not to sand flat spots on the fuselage).  The canopy, nose cone, and tail gunner’s glass all needed the same treatment. In fact, when I was done with the canopy glass I had sanded and polished off all of the raised detail.  To get the windows in place on the canopy, I carefully created the canopy ribbing with Tamiya tape and used Eduard’s & Montex masks as guides. It took a great deal longer than I had expected and the results were adequate.

There were other more minor issues, to be sure.

-The kit decals were 13 years old and had been destroyed necessitating finding the aftermarket decals for Flak Bait.

-The wings are supposed to have a 1 degree anhedral but sag a bit if allowed to rest on the kit spars. I got as close as I could.

-The tail to fuselage joint is an odd step. Use your imagination here when trying to figure out a solution. I’m not sure that I did.

-The bomb bay doors were clearly not designed to be displayed in the closed position.  Spend the extra time to build out the bomb bay with the doors open. It will take less time than trying to fill the odd gaps left by the kit parts fitting into the openings molded into the fuselage.  Also, the crew apparently accessed the rear of the ship through the bomb bay so sitting with the doors open could be an accurate portrayal of a parked Marauder.

-The landing lights are laughable but provide a good base for some scratch building. Check your references and go to town.

This was a process that just took time, patience, ingenuity and some old fashioned luck.  Unless you are an absolute beginner and gaps and weird fit aren’t an issue, or you are a relatively skilled B-26 fanatic and must build a B-26 in 1/48 scale, I would suggest you steer clear of this kit.  Anything in between will end in tears and disappointment.

Speaking of tears and disappointment, the day after I delivered this kit to my customer, who was going to deliver it to the man who flew on Flak Bait in December 1943, I was told that the latter had been admitted to hospice with only days to live. The intended recipient might not ever get to see the model built in his honor. To Mr. Greer, and those quiet souls like him who risked and gave so much in their youth, I say godspeed and thank you for a life well lived.



EduArt’s P-40N: right in the “Goldilocks zone”.

Every modeler has their own way to rate the quality of a kit. To some, a low price point trumps all other considerations. To others, ease of build or out-of-box detail might be the defining factors. To me, I prefer a good mix of out of box detail without unnecessary over-engineering, and I want it to go together in a way that is more akin to building a plastic model than carving a model out of plastic. I’m willing to pay for those considerations, although there is definitely an upper limit to my generosity.

boxartEduard’s limited Edition boxing of Hasegawa’s P-40N pushed the envelope of my desire to pay for a kit.  But, as I have come to expect from Eduard’s “profipack” boxings of other kits, everything one needs for an exceptional build is in the box.  This is no exception.  Ease of build, engineering, and detail all sit right in the “Goldilocks Zone”. The end result is a truly enjoyable build without many head-scratching engineering choices, and extra detail (including some attractive marking options) that elevate the stock Hasegawa kit into rarefied air.

There isn’t much to say about this build that can’t be said about every other build: follow the instructions, and test fit often. There are only a few areas where any modeler might need to take more time.

I’m using tape here to minimize the wing root gap and assure the correct dihedral. Note the putty around the gun inserts on the wing leading edge and a ring of filler around the tail.
  1. The .50 cal barrels are molded into their own insert that fits into the leading edge of the wing.  The barrels are very nice (and hollowed out) but this joint will need some extra attention, as well as some putty, to seamlessly transition to the wing.
  2. As the P-40N had a longer fuselage, Hasegawa elected to use the same forward fuselage from other marks, and a new longer tail section for the N version.  In order to minimize the joint between the forward and aft fuselage sections, I elected to attach each tail half to its corresponding fuselage half first.  I did this to make sure there wasn’t a step in the fuselage and that the panel lines and riveting matched up.
  3. If you elect to use the canopy provided to be shown in the open position, it has no positive location points.  In other words, without carefully gluing the canopy to the fuselage, the sliding canopy will not stay put.  This took some super thin CA glue, a glue looper, and a bit of time to assure I didn’t fog any of the clear plastic.
  4. The navigation lights will just take patience, and time.  The kit instructions ask the modeler to remove the lights molded into the wing tips and vertical tail, to then replace them with a photo-etch ring, and then install clear lights.  This was probably more effort than it was worth. If I had to build this model again, I would simply paint the molded on kit lights with Model Master chrome, and then cover that with translucent Tamiya red and green.

Beyond that, there are many areas where this kit shines. The general fit was exceptional. Even the fuselage to wing root gap was minimal, although it did require some corrective dihedral.  The provided photo-etch for the cockpit really amps up the detail and realism.  The clear parts included in the kit are wonderfully clear and required no Future or polishing to get a great result. The windscreen to fuselage engineering is masterful and Eduard’s pre cut masks fit perfectly. The landing gear were incredibly easy to install and provide one of the more solid gear attachment points I’ve ever encountered. Eduard’s resin exhaust and wheels are truly works of art. I could go on, but I won’t.

The bottom line is if you want a late war P-40 in 1/32 to add to your collection, this is a must-have. The stock kit is suitable for all but the most green of builders.  Anyone with a pocket full of cash, and a little experience using resin and photo-etch, will find this kit enjoyable and the end result suitable for display.



Special Hobby’s Tempting 1/32 Tempest MK V.

There are really only two books that have inspired me to model specific subjects. The one that matters to this discussion is Pierre Clostermann’s diary “The Big Show.” In it is an unvarnished account of the author’s time as a Free French pilot in the RAF in command of both the legendary Spitfire and the brooding Tempest Mk V. To me the Tempest with its gaping maw, cuts a profile of a bare knuckle boxer, a hard-as-coffin-nails street fighter. The Tempest exudes a singular purpose of power in a way the more elegant Spitfires, Mustangs and Lightings do not. And, having recently made the transition from 1/48 to 1/32 I had to build not only a Tempest, but one of Clostermann’s.

Clostermann in his Tempest Mk. V, NV 994.
I really enjoyed the detail and build of the cockpit, especially with the addition of HGW’s fabric belts.

Enter the Special Hobby 1/32 high tech Tempest Mk. V. I read several in box reviews and was amazed at the level of detail that Special Hobby had appeared to achieve. I ordered one and dove in with excitement and high expectations. I must admit that my initial expectations of the kit were too high, and that is not the fault of Special Hobby but of Tamiya. I had just completed Tamiya’s 1/32 Corsair and that unfairly set a bar that few kits could achieve. But, Special Hobby is not let off of the hook. While the detail is truly tantalizing, especially the cockpit, the fit and assembly is often immensely frustrating.

With a few tweaks, Special Hobby could have an exceptional kit on their hands. What Special Hobby currently has is inarguably one of the two best Tempest Mk V in 1/32 scale (note: there are only two Tempest V kits available in 1/32 scale). Make no mistake, if you are willing to invest the work, Special Hobby’s Tempest will build into an impressive and substantial display piece, but it will provide many hours of frustration and unnecessary work to get there.

I will not recount every step of my build that spanned over ten weeks, or each of the many areas that I believe needed improvement. Some of those issues could be problems I created. I will, however, address a few areas that provided me the most trouble.

  1. Wheel Bays: This is the place that needs a redesign from Special Hobby. The instructions provided in my kit were incorrect (they were correct in my version of their Mk II). The construction is unnecessarily complicated and finicky. Slight misalignments in this stage can throw off the alignment of the top wing, thus throwing off everything from the fit of wing tip lights, to the inserts Special Hobby created for the inner wing to allow the same wing moldings for the Mk. V and Mk. II. Later in the construction, Special Hobby wants the builder to install about a dozen small parts, all of which required varying degrees of modification to fit correctly. Most troubling were the fit of the knuckle where the main landing gear struts connect to the wheel bays. I had to modify them until they were almost unrecognizable. It all worked in the end, but I think that was more my will than the kit. Special Hobby should look at creating a one piece resin wheel bay insert. This would fix the correct proportions and alignment of all of the important parts.
  2. Cowling: The focal point of the Tempest V is the prominent yawning radiator/oil cooler inlet. Special Hobby created a sub assembly with the radiator faces sandwiched between two halves of the engine and radiator cowlings. After dry fitting and trying to correct the fit of this multiple part affair,
    Note filler required for a smooth transition between cowling and fuselage and inner wing inserts and wing.

    I decided the best way to assemble these parts is to ignore the steps suggested in the instructions. I glued the cowling halves together so as to be able to fill and sand the prominent seams on the inner and outer surfaces of the radiator scoop. Then, I had to sand down the radiator faces to fit into the assembled cowling. The next step is to fit the assembled cowling onto the assembled fuselage. Every build I’ve seen of this kit has had some sort of significant step/gap between the engine cowling sub assembly and the fuselage, so I am not alone. The fit of the cowling halves required substantial sanding and filling that required a great deal of riveting and scribing to resurrect from plastic sanded smooth.

  3. Other: The instructions, while pretty, often provide less than necessary clarity on how to assemble the parts, or are outright wrong (as was the case with the wheel bays). The clear parts all required some modification to fit correctly (especially the landing, navigation, and formation lights). The fit was bad enough that, when possible, I attached the lights with gap filling CA, then sanded/polished to match the surrounding contours. This means you need to put the lights on before paint so as not to destroy the paint during sanding. The gun sight is provided in a beautifully cast resin that is almost impossible to fit into the windscreen correctly. Pay great attention here, with lots of dry fitting.

Ultimately the rule on this kit is simple: dry fit constantly, plan ahead, and give yourself plenty of time to build it. This kit can’t be rushed. The Tempest requires the builder’s full attention (ironically, I think this was said by her pilots, too). With time, patience and intermediate skill, a great result awaits. As a good friend who has built the kit said, “this is the best-worst kit you’ll ever build.” In sum, it’s modern Tamiya level detail with 1960’s era Revellogram fit.


Here is an album of un-narrated pictures during the build process.

Here is an album of the completed model.

Luftwaffe Double Build – Update…final.

The themed double build that turned into a slightly off theme triple build ended with a spectacular…fizzle.

To recap, the build started with Eduard’s FW 190A-5 and Italeri’s JU 87B-2 Stuka.  The 190 was completed with some hair-pulling due to decal silvering.  Similarly frustrating, some parts issues with the Stuka put it on pause, so I started and completed a Hobby Boss Mig 3.  And then, things fell quiet for a few weeks while I waited on replacement canopy parts to arrive from Italy.

And then, more waiting.

In fact, I waited so long that I decided to just try to repair the short-shot pilot’s canopy (having already fixed the destroyed-on-sprue bomb trapeze). And, I did. It took about a week of piddling around with superglue, abrasives and bondo, but I finally got it to a place where I felt I could mask and paint the part. That I did, and like Pontious Pilote, I washed my hands of the whole ordeal.  I wasn’t terribly happy with Italeri’s customer service, but I wasn’t terribly upset at the kit. In fact, I think it turned out well despite of the effort it took to get some of the kit parts to usable form.

And then after all of that effort…the canopy parts finally arrived to great pomp and circumstance. Frankly, I might use the replacement canopy, but don’t hold me to it.

So, without further ado here are the completed builds (Stuka; 190; Mig 3).




Luftwaffe Double Build – Update 6

  1. move forward or make progress, especially when circumstances make this slow or difficult.

Finally progress on the Stuka.

In fact, I’ve made some pretty significant movement towards the goal of finishing this beast up.  In the time it has taken me to get this far on the Stuka, I have finished Trumpeter’s Mig-3, and Eduard’s FW 190A-5.  As I have mentioned ad nauseum, part of the foot-dragging on the Stuka build has been wading through some broken part issues.  Figuring those out has taken some of the wind from the proverbial sails.

As she stands right now, all of the parts issues have been addressed (no telling how long it will take me to get a replacement canopy from Italeri), and the model is almost ready for the gloss clear.  I am actually very happy with the way things are coming along with the paint.

The paint, minus the primer, are all from Vallejo’s model air Luftwaffe set (RLM 02, RLM 04, RLM 65, RLM 70, RLM 71).  I still think I prefer Model Master enamels, but these were not bad to shoot, dry quickly, and are easy to clean up. The downside is that they don’t seem to be as durable. I’ve read horror stories of Vallejo paints peeling under masks, but that isn’t a problem I have faced.

I’ve grown to prefer the so-called black basing method over pre-shading, but it takes significantly longer.  Using this method I literally paint each panel individually. This technique gives some nice subtle variation between the panesls that I find comparable to models that I’ve seen using pre and post shading methods.

For both accuracy and speed, I used LF Models pre cut vinyl masks for the camoflage. I’ve used these on several builds and really like them. Admittedly they are less helpful with the straight lines of Luftwaffe splinter camouflage than RAF schemes found on the Spitfire, Tempest, or Mossie.  Total paint time is somewhere in the 4 hour range, not including drying time between colors or masking.

I think I am on schedule to finish this kit this weekend (replacement canopy notwithstanding).  That’s a good thing as my wife is about to pop. For her sake, I hope it happens soon. She looks very uncomfortable.

Once baby day arrives I will take a couple of weeks away from the bench to get situated with a new child, but then I have a couple of builds in que for the fall.  I committed myself to the Multi-Engine (bomber) Group Build on Facebook’s Military Model Graveyard. For that I have Monogram’s 1/48  Heinkel HE 111 – H4/6 lined up, with Eduard’s PE, and other goodies. I have to submit my build in early January.  I’ve also committed myself to a Reddit s/modelmakers Strike Fighters groupbuild.  For that, I’m doing Revell’s F-15E Strike Eagle with enough ordinance to single handedly win a war. It has a tentative start date of November 1st through February 1st.  Join me there!

Luftwaffe Double Build – Update 5

With the 190 finished, and the Mig-3 added, this should probably be called the “Great Patriotic War” double build instead.

My original plan was to do the Stuka in a scheme flown from France in mid 1940, but I am considering changing that to one from flom Russia in July of 1941.  At least that way my pedantic mind can tolerate the thematic shift in the titular double build.  Yes, that sentence is truly as awful as it seems, and no I am not changing it.

On to the updates.


Having lost a weekend to a haze of BBQ, booze, friends and football (and being officially part of the largest football game-ever- [per Guinness]), I haven’t made huge step20160914_144339s on the Stuka. What I have done is to fix the bomb trapeze as best as I could with styrene rod. I’ve also painted the interior color of the canopy frames.  This revealed that I still have a little bit of work to do on some of the seams where the engine cowling meets the fuselage.  I also decided to attach all of the antenna, flap actuators, and counter-weights.  I would normally wait until the build is almost done for this step, but Italeri had a conspicuous lack of positive location for these parts.  I wanted to make sure I had a good glue bond. Attaching them pre-paint is the only way to guarantee that bond will be sufficient, and to easily clean up any mistakes with the glue. The down side is that now I have lots of easy to knock-off bits that I will have to work around during painting.  Fingers crossed.



I have made some progress here. The aircraft has been primed with the blue underside painted. The remaining parts for the Mig are in different states of prep, but most all have been primed and or painted.

Painting a two tone spinner is always a challenge. This time I masked the line between the20160914_143933 red and white with a thin strip of bare metal foil.  Getting the foil to adhere to a compound curve is much easier than any other sort of tape I have tried. And, the line is nice and sharp (for the most part). While I wait for the blue underbelly to cure, I am going to finish up the landing gear and wheels. Then, I will make some masks for the upper-white v. lower-blue demarcation line. To date I have been very impressed with Vallejo model air white paint, but I have never used it on this much of a model.  Let’s see how it works.




Luftwaffe Double Build – Update 4

This has been a rather forgettable few days for me in the hobby.  Several more precious hours vanished with not much to show.  Well, I do have something to show but it’s just transactions out of my bank account and into the pockets of various ebay merchants and

The Stuka

Italeri, I’m giving you the stank eye.

This is the second kit in a row that has come with malformed and broken parts.  For those of you with statistics backgrounds, I believe that means 100% of the Italeri kits that I own have parts issues.  The first is Italeri’s 1/72nd C-130 that I am building for a friend. One of the fuselage halves was cracked almost all of the way through.  The Stuka has

Notice the step along the bottom of the canopy in the foreground?

a short shot canopy, and a broken bomb trapeze.  The C-130 issue is in the process of being resolved, but Italeri couldn’t ship the part to me directly.  I had to go through a U.S. distributer and was told that it would take roughly 12 weeks for the parts to arrive.  That was about 6 weeks ago.  This time Italeri would deal with me directly, but that’s probably because they just told me that they didn’t have the bomb trapeze (Sprue B) but would be happy to sell me the clear sprue. I ordered a vacu-formed canopy, but it is for the Airfix Stuka. I will probably bite the bullet and simply order the correct parts from Italeri. At this point, why not?

The top right portion was broken in the bag, and the broken part was missing.

On a positive note, the delivery bearing the canopy masks I ordered  from the Czech Republic arrived.  Apparently they were rerouted to orbit Saturn before they found their way to my doorstep.  At this point, the Stuka is mostly masked and almost ready for priming.  I simply have to find a way to make the broken trapeze regenerate it’s missing section.  We will see how that works out.

To be clear, these part problems aren’t fatal to the build singularly, they are just disappointing. I had wanted to do an out of the box build for a local competition and scratch building parts would disqualify the build. Taken as a whole, it is apparent that Italeri’s quality control is flawed, as is their customer service.  There are better kits on the market at these price points, with both better quality and more responsive service. As such, Italeri just isn’t competitive in my eyes and these will be the last Italeri kits I build if other options are available.


Mig-3 Early

Trumpeter, you get the stank eye too.

This is truly a pretty nice kit. The problem is that I dropped and lost the clear landing light cover that goes in the wing after I scratched a little landing light detail. I tried to contact Trumpeter directly, but my Chinese is rusty and so are Trumpeter’s web design skills.  After some Googling I found a U.S. distributer of Trumpeter kits. I contacted them and asked if I could purchase a replacement clear sprue.  They kindly declined stating that unless I could prove I purchased the kit from them indirectly, they wouldn’t help me. I bought the kit through an unnamed auction site, so I have neither a receipt or proof that I bought it from a retailer that purchased it from them. Ugh.

I bought another kit for donor parts. Yes, I probably could have made the landing light from acrylic or otherwise, but that could create a bigger time issue than simply ordering the parts. Time I don’t have, a little pocket change for an extra kit, I do.


The next burp is completely my fault.  I bought Eduard’s beautiful landing flap detail set, and it arrived.  I dove in to the metal oragami only to find that as I had not modified portions of the wing prior to this point in construction that the flaps just didn’t fit.  I cut, trimmed, modified and filed the parts until I had nothing discernable left.  This is certainly par for the course, as I’ve recently developed a pretty terrible case of the modeling shanks.The end result is that I simply glued the kit flaps in the up position, spread around a little Perfect Plastic Putty, and called it a day.

I actually really like this kit, and would build it again (good thing as I will have a duplicate kit to build).  As it stands now, once I get the donor kit, drop in the landing light lens, I can begin priming.


It looks like the next update will have both the Stuka and the Mig in the paint booth getting a good coat of primer. In the meantime, I am off for a weekend out of town with old friends, and some football.