fooly cooly

Just a little update

It's been a while since I've posted, I've been rather busy. That said, modelling has been pretty steady over the last few months, I'm currently swamped with group builds so I've got an unusually large number of kits on the go, especially in 1/48. One of my goals for the year is to clear out all the 1/48 stuff in my stash, which is moving along nicely. I've currently got the following on the go in 1/48:

Hasegawa CF-104A w/Leading Edge decals
Testors Hawk F-51D (Chrome Plated and Circa 1965) with SMP decals
Tamiya P-51D "8th AF"
Roden Gladiator MkII "F.19"
Tamiya A-10A "Preproduction Airframe #1"
Monogram Typhoon Mk 1b w/ kit decals.

The CF-104 build is just wrapping up, the A-10 and F-51D are at the decal stage, the P-51D and Typhoon are in the paint shop and the Gladiator just had the fuselage closed up.

I've also got a bunch of 1/72 stuff on the go, including the following:

Hobby Boss MS.406
AZModel Spiteful F.XIV
Academy P-51D w/ Superscale decals
Hasegawa FW-190D (original kit) w/ EagleCal decals
Heller F-8P
Revell F-4F 'JG71 Anniversary'

All but the F-4F are for group builds, the Phantom is my one non-GB build that's actually moving right now.
fooly cooly

(no subject)

Picked up a few kits yesterday at the local shop. Most interesting is Sword's Spitfire Vc. It's not cheap, but it had been noted as pretty much the definitive Vc in 1/72 and after looking at the included plastic I can see why. The molding is simply superb, gorgeous detail and the shape is just right. Well worth the cost even if I can get 2 other Spit V's for the same price elsewhere.

One other one I picked up was the Academy P-51D. Got this one for a simple reason, it has droppable flaps, which is unusual for small-scale P-51D kits. Most P-51B/C/D/K/H builds make one very major error in having the gear doors dropped and the flaps up, which is impossible on a Merlin-engined P-51 outside of maintenance. The peculiarities of the Merlin P-51's hydraulic system mean that the flaps and gear doors, which are up when the system is pressurized, bleed down after shutdown. Additionally the flaps bleed down first (and are only rarely just left down, most WW2 land fighters did not use takeoff flaps so the pilot would raise the flaps while taxiing back to the hangar after landing). So outside of a maintenance diorama there are the valid configurations for the Merlin P-51's, flaps & doors up, Flaps down, doors up or flaps & doors down. The Allison P-51's are a little different, they had door locks so the doors never dropped unless under maintenance, the later models skipped that (likely because it made servicing the gun camera a pain, the early Allison versions had the gun camera in the lower cowl).

Note this leads to one of my major annoyances with the new wings in Airfix's 1.48 Spit V's and IX's, they're designed for dropped flaps, which is almost never seen on a Spitfire. The Spitfire's flaps do not have a takeoff setting and do not bleed down so a Spitfire would almost never have the flaps dropped while on the ground.
fooly cooly

Miscellaneous Musings

I really hate stencils. I also hate lousy decal sheets. This is the reason why my CT-155 Hawk is still not finished after 2+ years of decalling. Nice kit (Airfix 2nd gen BAe Hawk in 1/48) but lousy decals. I'll finish it eventually. I figure 20 minutes of decalling a week and I should have it done by years end.

Much the same problem with the Mossy NF.XIX I finished recently, except a poorly fitting kit as well, thankfully it's light on the stencils. I managed to wrestle the kit into submission only to find that the decals were essentially useless. I'll probably build another one, but with aftermarket decals.

While I love the finish I get from my airbrush, I think I'd be better off with a simpler unit, probably something like a Paasche H. Internal mix and double action is just too fiddly. I'm sticking with airbrushing though, the finish is well worth the hassle.

The Hornby-era Airfix kits are just little gems. I've got a few of their recent 1/72 kits in my stash, and while the panel lines might be somewhat overdone the kits are otherwise great and I'll probably do all the recent smaller ones aside from the MiG-15 (which is a travesty due to a simple mistake, mixing up the fuselage length of the MiG-15 and MiG-17. Thankfully Hobbyboss makes a cheap and good MiG-15 and MiG-15UTi). Really looking forward to the recent Hawk 81/P-40B/Tomahawk 1 and I'll probably grab the new A6M2 as well. I also need to grab a couple Spit XII's and a Seafire XVII in 1/48 (one of the XII's will get cross-kitted with the spare wings from the XVII and a resin spares kit to make a RCN Seafire XV). I suspect at some point most of my 1/48 stuff will be Spits and Seafires, they're just fun builds even if they aren't a personal favourite. And the recent Airfix decals are pretty good, unlike their older ones.

Likewise Academy. Great little kits, but the older decal sheets are crap.

The AZModels Spiteful is a real handful. Looks like a nice kit, but nothing fits. The biggest problem is the fuselage is too small at the spinner, so the spinner is larger in diameter than the fuselage. Checked the spinner against my Airfix Spit PR.XIX and it's a close match so it looks like the fuselage is the problem. Cockpit fit is also poor, the former at the rear of the cockpit is too wide for the fuselage by a fair amount. But that looks fixable.

Picked up a decent motor tool. I'd had a cheap ($60) cordless dremel for years, but the battery was toast and it only had 2 speeds and no power. The Crappy Tire $15 cheapo has full speed control and is corded. It'll do for now. I would like a high-end proper dremel, if only for the available drill press attachment.

Acquiring the motor tool has kicked my Special Hobby Tempest II build back into the queue, as I'd sidelined it due to having issues getting the pour stubs off the resin gear bays. wings are built up now and I just need to get the cockpit done and installed and then I can move on to final assembly. Dunno why people have been complaining about fit on this kit, it didn't take much fettling to get the wings together once I had the pour stubs off the gear bays. I did need to sand the wing tops down a bit on the inside but the dremel made quick work of that (would have been super-fast except I had to keep the plastic cool enough to not melt). Only real problem I have is some warpage of the walls of the gear bays, and that was present out of the box. Should be a nice build of one of my favourite aircraft once I'm done fiddling with all that damned PE. I kinda like resin bits, but PE in 1/72 is currently in the PITA category for me.

Why couldn't Special Hobby put the right engine in its F2G Super Corsair? They included a gorgeous resin late R2800. Too bad the F2G had a R4360 and even with the close cowl the difference between a 2 row, 9 cylinder per row engine and a 4 row 7 cylinder per row engine is flagrantly obvious. End result? A nice R2800 for the spares box and I'll spend $10 with Engines & Things for a proper R4360. That and the solid engine intake are the only two problems with an otherwise rather nice kit. Looking forward to that build.
fooly cooly

On Kit Choices.

In addition to my prediliction for certain subjects, I've got admittedly odd taste in kits. My preference is for kits which require a modicum of work to produce a good example with the exception of one area, that being decals.

There's a few reasons for this. The first is simple, a shake & bake kit like modern Tamiya or Hasegawa stuff is too easy to put together and doesn't last long enough in the build stage. So I get less enjoyment out of the build. I do enjoy a challenge, as long as it isn't too rediculous (ex: Merlin kits). For this reason my taste is towards Airfix, Revell, Heller and Academy kits overall with a side dose of Czech short-run stuff & similar (IE MPM, Special Hobby, AZModel et al).

The second is economics. The more challenging kits tend to be either cheaper (Airfix/Revell/Heller/Academy) or more accurate or obscure (Czech). If I'm going to pay $30-50 for a 1/72 kit it needs to be either light-years better than the $10-15 equivalent or an obscure variant. The Czech stuff is often both, the Tamiyagawa stuff rarely is either. I do buy and build older Tamiya and Hasegawa stuff, especially Hasegawa, when I can find it for a reasonable price. But I balk at paying $30+ for a common WW2 single-engine fighter in 1/72. Especially when there's already a good kit for $15 or less.

The one caveat here is decals. I have a severe dislike for lousy decals. I don't mind simple sheets, one reason I don't build a lot of modern stuff is the excess of stenciling you need to apply. But I do want thin, accurate decals that don't self-disassemble. And this is a major strike against Tamiya and Hasegawa, who are both known for their lousy decals. I also dislike older Airfix and Academy decals for this reason (especially the airfix ones which are bloody horrid). Revell & the Czechs as well as newer Academy and the newest Airfix stuff tends to have good decals. Heller stuff tends to be servicable, but often with odd accuracy issues (dark green codes for a spit??).

Note I don't mention Italieri here. My experience with Italieri is that while they make good kits and interesting kits the two are rarely the same kit. Most of Italieri's good stuff is not to my interest and they have a well-deserved reputation for really inaccurate decals & colour callouts on the stuff I'd want to build. Good quality sheets though.
fooly cooly

Musings on Aftermarket and a couple of conversion sets I really want.

I'm generally not big on aftermarket sets beyond decals and the occasional replacement canopy. This is mostly because I'm generally OK with the detail level on most kits and particularly in the case of cockpits, I don't see the point in excessive hidden detail. I've been fighting with the cockpit on my Tempest II for exactly that reason, too much fiddly PE and resin bits that don't fit together well. That's a kit cockpit, not aftermarket (multi-media kit with included PE & resin) but it's the same issue with most aftermarket in 1/72 scale.

There is one exception to my dislike of aftermarket though and that is conversion kits. A kit to convert a given aircraft variant into another aircraft or variant, usually far more obscure, just floats my boat. Even cooler is when there's another kit which will use up the left-over bits of the base kit. Which brings me to the expensive yet desirable CMR conversion sets for 1/72 Lancasters.

The Lancaster design lasted the longest in service of all the WW2 combat aircraft. Itself a derivative of the poorly performing Avro Machester twin-engine heavy bomber, it would end up being developed into 2 different civil transports (the York and the Lancastrian) as well as another heavy bomber, the Lincoln, its civilian derivative the Tudor, and finally via the Lincoln into an aircraft intended to replace older Lancasters in the Maritime Patrol role as the Shackleton. The Shack wouldn't be fully retired from RAF service until 1990, when the last Shackleton AEW was retired almost 25 years after it was shoehorned into the roll to fill the gap until the Nimrod AEW entered service (which never happened). Not bad for an aircraft which flew initially in 1939.

CMR makes two resin conversion kits for the Lancaster in 1/72 scale. The first one is a York conversion and provides a York fuselage and empennage to which you attach the wings source from the Airfix, Hasegawa or Revell Lancasters. The second stems from the obvious realization that anyone buying the York conversion would be left with most of a Lancaster kit, with a full set of fuselage & tail bits being left over. The obvious solution to that is a B.II conversion for the rare Hercules-powered version of the Lancaster, of which 301 were built and 270+ were lost during WW2. This conversion set includes a set of wings, engines and undercarriage to replace the ones used in the York conversion. An enterprising modeller might even combine the two sets to produce the sole Hercules-powered York, one of the truly rare Lancaster variants.

The only downside to these kits? Cost. CMR's products aren't cheap, with the total bill for both sets running about $180, plus the $35-40 for the donor kit from Airfix or Revell (or $75 if you're silly and use Hasegawa's massively overpriced kit).

Yes, I want both sets. And will eventually buy them. And maybe even build them.
fooly cooly

A Resurrection of Sorts

I recently decided to revive this LJ, but with something of a change in terms of focus. Rather than being a general life blog (which is what my Facebook account is for), I'm bringing it back as a blog for my modelling activities, specifically scale aircraft modelling.

I started building models at a young age, my father is a long-time aircraft modeller and I picked that up. My interests shifted to railroad modelling when I was around 10 years old and I did that for a few years until a move and lack of space put that on the backburner. I got back into railroad modelling in 2002 or so, around the same time I started doing photography again. This was part & parcel of my turning away from what was then my 2 primary hobbies, paintball & cycling. I'd gotten sick of the level of drama in the local paintball community and had become convinced (semi-erroneoously) that I could no longer cycle due to a collection of knee & ankle injuries (it turned out the actual problem was an extremely poorly fitting bike setup, which has been resolved and I do a fair bit of cycling these days). I eventually ended up with a moderate portion of my living & diningroom taken up by a small layout before I came to two conclusions. The first was that a 1 bedroom apartment wasn't terribly well suited to having a layout suitable for more than switching puzzles. And the second was that I enjoy building models more than operating them. This led eventually to rekindling my interest in aircraft modelling, which is better suited to my modelling interests than railroad modelling since you have a lot more interesting options than reddish-brown boxcars.

In terms of aircraft modelling my primary interests are the RCAF and the Ilmavoimat (Finnish AF). In terms of time periods I prefer the approximately 1935-1955 era, ie the era of high-performance military propeller monoplanes (Ironically, this is also close to my preferred era for railroad modelling, which is the 1930-1960 late steam/early diesel era). I do stray outside of these areas on occasion, but it's rare for me to stray outside both the services and the time period I enjoy. It does happen on occasion though. Within that time period I've got somewhat more extensive interests, as I'm rather fond of the RAF, RN FAA, USN and smaller European airforces during this period. I tend to have less of an interest in Luftwaffe or USAAF/USAF subjects though, mostly because they're overdone (yeah, the RAF also gets overdone, but most of my RAF subjects are in fact either Commonwealth squadrons or the expat squadrons manned by the Poles, Czechs, french et al). I've also got a liking for Tiger Meet schemes as well as modern demo schemes, which is my one consistent interest outside my main services or time period of interest.

In terms of aircraft, I'm primarily interested in the larger single-engined fighters like the Chance-Vought Corsair or the Hawker Typhoon/Tempest family. I simply like the rugged, brutal looks of these big fighters. I also like medium & heavy bombers of the same era. I have less of an interest in the small fighters of the early/pre-war period, they're simply too delicate looking. Even the Spitfire is just too pretty to really appeal to me. In general I'm fond of the products of North American Aviation, Hawker (or at least Sir Sydney camm's work), and the various variations of Vought Aircraft.

I've also got a distinct soft spot for the unusual allied aircraft. While the Luft '46 stuff gets all sorts of press (and attention in plastic, especially from Revell of Germany) I find the experimental, prototypes & low-production types produced by the Allies to be more interesting. I'd rather build a Tempest II or a Boeing XF8B-1 (Boeing's last fighter) than yet another He162 or Ju290.

I do also have two long-term projects in slow progress. The first is to build at least 1 of every production variant of the Spitfire, from the S6B racer which the Spitfire was developed from through the Supermarine Attacker which was the last aircraft developed from Spitfire derivatives (it used the wing developed for the Spiteful/Seafang, which was an unsuccessful bid to replace the Spitfire/Seafire's wing with a new laminar-flow wing). The second is to build every variant of the Corsair, plus a model for every user of the Corsair (ie, USN, USMC, FAA, RNZAF, French Navy, and the Guatemalan AF). Given the relatively small number of variants compared to the Spitfire, this is actually the less ambitious project of the two.

At some point I'll probably start a srvey build for the RCAF & Ilmavoimat. I expect that building each type in WW2 and later service will not be all that difficult, pre-WW2 is another story as both services operated an eclectic mix of obscure types.

In terms of scale, I build primarily 1/72 although I have a mix of 1/32, 1/48 and 1/72 kits currently in the stash. The choice of 1/72 is simple, 1/72 provides a wide selection of interesting kits at a reasonably low cost and also allows for the display of a larger number of aircraft. I simply don't have the room for 1/32, where a fighter is about the same size as a 1/72 heavy bomber and 1/48, while much better on space, tends to be either much more expensive or no more detailed and there's still a size penalty (a 1/48 fighter is the size of a 1/72 medium bomber). I do build regularly in 1/48 simply due to having more than a few kits in that scale, but it's definitely not a primary focus. I don't build in 1/144 at all currently, it's just too small for the subjects I prefer. I expect to do some 1/144 stuff in the future when I build some RCAF transports, as that's the preferred scale for those kits and they get a little big even in 1/72 and I'd rather save my space for large aircraft for heavy bombers.

(no subject)

Kinda winding things down here on LJ, this journal will probably go away in the near future. Most of you should be able to find me over on Facebook, if not feel free to ask.
fooly cooly

A Little Roundup

I'm in that wonderful gap between the end of assignments and the beginning of exams right now. A little relaxation is going a long way.

First day on the bike in about a week due to weather (rain/cold). I'm starting to really get the hang of DT shifters and can shift by feel for the most part now. Boy does the Honky Tonk scoot, I can knock 10+ minutes off my standard commute if I push a little bit. Home->work in under 30 minutes, Home->School in under 25. once I'm in better shape I should be able to knock off even more as I simply can't push the couple highest gears yet, my legs are still noodly from lack of riding.

School overall is going well, I'm heading into exams with A's in 3 courses and a solid B in a fourth. Field Theory is however purely kicking my ass. I'm just barely passing at the moment and need to do well on the exam. Good news is I have a 6 day stretch where all I need to do is study field theory (and a bit of Circuits, but I mostly know that cold).

Schedule is:

Sat Apr 17 @12:30 - COE428 Algorithms
Mon Apr 19 @8:00 - MTH 314 Discrete Math
Tue Apr 20 @8:00 - CMN432 Communications
Mon Apr 26 @8:00 - ELE401 Field Theory
Wed Apr 28 @3:00 - ELE404 Circuits

Been doing a lot of model building of late. Should have some new stuff going up on FB soon. And there's some 1/48th modern stuff coming too (A-10, F-15E) in addition to my usual 1/72 WW2 stuff.
fooly cooly

Honky Tonk - First Take

The Honky Tonk arrived yesterday. Since this is about a week later than expected, I immediately headed down to Duke's Cycle to pick it up, despite the rain and cold. Rode from Duke's to school and from Eg West home (the latter in the rain)

First impressions:

Fit is damned near perfect out of the box. Saddle was pointed a bit too far up, but that's it. Shifting will take some getting used to, I've always used pods/thumbies or barcons, never with DT shifters before.

The crank and BB were not the specified ones. The bike arrived with FSA Vero compact cranks and an unidentified square-taper BB, spec is FSA Gossamer and a MegaExo BB. While this is a fairly noticable downgrade on paper, I consider it to be a net win as I prefer the easier to work on and longer-lived square-taper design to the stiffer outside-bearing BB's. If square-taper is stiff enough for my MTB, it'll do fine on a road bike. In fact the lack of a square-taper crank was one of the two issues I had with the basic spec on the Honky Tonk in the first place (the other being the rims) so I'm a fair bit happier about the change.

The Tektro brakes and levers are unbranded, as is the Formula front hub and the AlexRims rims. Not surprising on a bike from a major maker, all branded bits are either Kona or Shimano. Tektro pads still suck in the wet, I'll probably snag some Kool-stops soon, at least for the front. I do love those R200 levers though, real comfy, and the brakes themselves are very good.

The seat is comfy so far, but I'd prefer a little setback on the seatpost. Bar wrap was well done, but the front brake housing is too short and is causing the tape on the bar to tear, will have to go and get that fixed (Yay for warranty)

The fork is very nice, I didn't realize that it was lugged steel rather than a unicrown, should have as it's the same fork as the Kapu lugged frame. The frame is TIG welded except for the dropouts, which are lugged. The frame has a pump peg, so carrying a frame punp should be little trouble.

Cosmetics are a mixed bag. The painjob is gorgeous, but the bike suffers from a severe lack of silver/chrome parts. Everything is black and that's just not as nice on classic style bike as silver/chrome, especially given the gorgeous baby blue metalic paintjob. The Stem is also fugly, being a big sqare lump.

The wheelset is the other real comprimise here. The hubs are decent, with a Formula front hub and Tiagra rear built up 32x3 with 15g spokes in the front and 14g in the rear to Alex Race24 rims. The rims are the weakpoint, as they're black with unmachined braking surfaces, meaning the finish will wear quickly at the braking surfaces, braking is less positive and you can feel the rim join when braking. Otherwise the wheels are a reasonably good set of low-end road wheels.
fooly cooly

An Exercise in Bike Building or what I'd do with $3000 in Bike Money

If I had a nice big budget and was building a road bike this is what I'd build.

Kona Kapu Frame - 59cm
Cane Creek S2 headset
Nitto Noodle bars - 46cm
VO Stem - 90mm
VO Grand Cru seatpost
WTB LaserV Saddle (maybe an SST instead. Love the WTB saddles, even my lowly SpeedV)
Sugino Alpina crank 48/34 - 175mm (probably switch to a 50t big ring)
VO Grand Cru BB
Sun CR18 rims laced 32x3 with 14/15/14 spokes to Dura-Ace 7850 hubs
Shimano HG50 11-15 cassette
Dura-Ace 9spd DT shifters
Either a Tiagra FD or a NOS Dura-Ace 7700 FR, preferably the latter
Dura-Ace 7700 or 7800 RD
SRAM PC-991 chain
Campagnolo Veloce brakes (I like the looks of Skeleton brakes, could go DA 7700 instead though and maintain a DA theme)
Tektro R200A Brake Levers (personal favourite)
VO Touring Pedals
Specialized All Condition tires in 700x25c