Our Muse, that will guide us through these times of political darkness

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

UTVA BC-3 Troika, Aeropoxy 1/72, resin

Here is a model that I built for a friend and fellow enthusiast.
A little bit out of my usual path, but a well-proportioned plane.
The kit, released some years ago, has a number of issues, too long to describe, but since then the manufacturer has changed the resin it uses. I believe this is a kit for experienced modelers.
The last of the issues I had with this kit was the canopy framing, which comes as a plotted metal-colored vinyl, but in my sample it was useless due to the time passed since the kit was bought.
As you may notice a rascal of those who hang out around hangars stole the caps for the fuel and oil fillers:

Monday, March 4, 2019

Caudron C.366 racer - Dujin/FSC 1/72

Finally the model is completed.
For the step-by-step building process please go here:

As said before this kit is an effort of a group of friends to continue to make Dujin kits available to the modelers. It includes a very good set of photoetched parts and a nice decal sheet, all that highly commendable especially because Monsieur Dujin offered a vast line of very interesting types not found anywhere else, at a fair price.
That been said, the resin parts leave much to be desired and are plagued with pinholes and blemishes, and sometimes are slightly deformed (easily corrected carefully and gradually under hot water) that make for a not at all easy build. Some kits are better than others in that regard, since this is a cottage product, and occasionally you will get a nice one, or a dog, as I got here.
As said, photoethced parts and decals were splendid, but transparencies (you get a spare) were deficient and neither of my two samples matched well the fuselage contour (the canopy slid forward as a whole to allow access).
This is definitely for the modeler that is after a certain type (and the line has plenty of beauties) and does not mind to work quite extensively and lengthily to obtain a good replica from those deficient resin parts.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Handley Page HP42/45, Contrail vacuformed 1/72

I owe the pleasure of this kit to fellow modeler John Eaton, that very kindly let it go so I could have a go at this extremely exciting build. As we corresponded, John commented on what must have been to travel to exotic places on this gentle beast, in absolute luxury that only the well-heeled could afford.
As many of you know, there were in fact two of these Handley Page types, the HP42 and HP45, four machines each. One covered the Eastern routes while the other covered the Western ones. They differed on the powerplants and seat number and arrangement. Many other external details varied from plane to plane too, so as usual photo references are a must.
I have wanted to build this vacuformed kit for a long time. And to think that I believed that I was handling a "big kit" and model when I built this same manufacturer's Blackburn Kangaroo, but this behemoth is far, far bigger, almost 55 ctms. in span (that is for you still leaving in the dark ages about 21 1/2 inches). This design epitomizes "The Beauty in the Beast" character that I so much love about vintage, Golden Age planes: ungainly, preposterous, but ultimately irresistibly charming.
Through the years I gathered so much references on this type, that only to go trough the graphic material takes me hours (I just did it, again), not to mention the written portion of it that I leave for a rainy day (or days).
The Contrail kit is not state of the art as we all know, but I believe it will provide a decent base for a good model.
The kit , reputedly released in 1982 (37 years ago!!!) comes with some goodies in the form of Aeroclub's white metal engines and four-blade props, some airfoiled material, a metal rod for the landing gear, a few molded parts (wheels and such) a cut of clear (now yellowed) plastic and some extra styrene sheet. Accompanying the package are printed instructions, quite clear for what I can tell at a glance, and clearly printed reference photographs, not the fuzzy blackened photos much newer manufacturers some times provide. A big decal sheet is also provided to cater for (I think) every HP42/45. Not sure about how it survived the passage of time, we'll see. This kit also provides a full interior, cockpit and cabin.
There is a particular piece of engineering in this kit, as the cabin interior is eventually wrapped with a shell, which sides have the curtains already molded in, and you have to cut off the "window" area. That sub-assembly is later enclosed by the fuselage sides. 

The monster kit:
 Some details included, among them Aeroclub white metal engines and props:
 Contents of the box:
 Interior well provided:

 The cabin "shells":

 A Parnall Pixie (same scale) could take off...
 ...and land on the wings:

As explained above, the kit gives the two seating options, eastern and western, with different cabin arrangements. Since I am not decided on which one yet, parts are separated for both:
And in case you flop a corrugated part, know that styrene sheets with similar patterns are available in some model train and hobby stores:
The fabrication of the home-made seats starts:

My plan is not to replace anything that doesn't really need replacement. I will work on the interior of course since it gives me joyful and playful pleasure. I don't want to mess with the flying surfaces (although I am tempted to replace those tail surfaces which I can make in a snap and would look much better), and I don't want to mess with the fuselage, other than adding the many steampunk thingies protruding everywhere seen in many photos. I will replace the tail wheel and associated parts, and perhaps the main wheels which look a bit off.
I am also thinking (DO NOT TELL ANYONE ) of replacing the whole two sections of the front and aft window areas for strips of some sturdy clear material (since those two areas were flat, not corrugated), and just mask the windows, adding vinyl window frames in metal color. The frames as they are in the kit leave much to be desired, and I don't have photoetching capabilities, so the vinyl will be ideal (I have used "chromed" vinyl frames from the Arctic Decals set for my DH89 to great effect) That will eliminate the need of individual windows painfully fitted, and/or the dubious prospect of a clear strip behind the fuselage sides and that cumbersome "fuselage capsule" that the kit provides as a (literally in this case) convoluted solution (which I don't quite like).
So far my ebil plan.

 As I look again at references (it's amazing how much is online readily available) it's clear that apparently each plane had different decoration solutions, and some photos even show seats with no upholstery pattern at all, just plain textiles. Cabin trimmings vary too.
Beware that the photo in the (otherwise very nice) "Imperial Airways, The birth of the British airline industry 1914-1940" book by Robert Bluffield, that states that the interior photo is from "Hanno" is a mistake, since those are clearly the seats of the Short S.17 Kent, even if you can see a very deceptive tailcone structure behind the cabin. The Kent had it too.
So once more modelers and scholars are mislead by miss-captions -and I must say- some lazy research, since the seats of the HP42/45 had a very particular shape with the curvaceous double slope in the middle of the back support.
So once more: once you set on which of the eight planes you want to represent, bear in mind that interior and exterior details varied from plane to plane, and not only the two marks (42/45).
Speaking of windows, the kit has a flaw in that regard, since it positions both window rows in the same baseline, which is incorrect, since photos and factory drawings clearly show the aft row "rising" a bit, to better accompany the cabin floor angle upwards towards to the tail:

And the allotation of seats is completed:
Bad (but predictable) news, the protective paper of the decal sheet fused on, after almost four decades, so new ones will have to be commissioned:
 Not even in water the protective paper will let go of the decal, that otherwise is completely ok:
Funny that the decal did not shatter or broke down, it is perfectly ok on the other side as shown, but the protective paper is firmly glued on the front:
Some parts are separated from the backing sheet. Notice the small parts still on a scrap, those are the two odd seats that are located back to back to the cockpit bulkhead, and where smaller. Needless to say they need to be replaced (only for the "high density" configuration):
The size of this giant is made evident by the comparison with the in-progress Caudron C.366:
  A hair was embedded in the plastic, most likely a wholly mammoth hair, given the age of the kit:
 The molded items are coarse and their mold halves mismatched, sanded equal here:
 The tail components are liberated. Absolutely unnecessarily thick, which will make their thinning a sanding nightmare. Why the manufacturer put this parts on the very thick sheet and not with the thinner "capsule" parts will remain as another kit industry mystery that not even Poirot could solve:
More elements are extricated from the backing sheet:
 Still more to go:
The remainder of the parts is freed.
It is of note that through a molding trick, the slats and top wing wing leading edges curve down and in, in what is called an undercut, not easy to achieve on a single mold, but if you do it only in one way, you can pull the molded sheet first a bit to one side liberating the undercut and then up. Clever.
I did not bother with the capsule since at this point I don't think I will use it:

Instead of providing a cohesive body of notes regarding the many aspects of the build (historical, technical, sociological, psychological, political, culinary and the like) all that is needed in one place, I decided to just sprinkle them here and there, which is immensely more fun and utterly impractical.
So here we start:
-The tail fins do not conform to upper stab intrados as the kit and many models present it, but are slightly separated and pinned.
-Early Hannibal shows additional diagonal strut at the wing tip (later replaced by cross wires), and small stab trim.
-Extra cargo door on some on the aft right fuselage after corrugations (not on Horsa or Hanno)
-Two finned oil coolers on diagonal struts upper engines (among the myriad of gizmos that bristle all over the surface of the planes)
-Photos show the same plane with and without nose light (Hengist) or superimposed two two-blade props and four blade ones (some of the rest).
-The lower wings have a corrugated area at their roots. Those are not to be butt joined without alteration to the fuselage, but have to be altered to partially conform to the fuselage contour as shown in photos.
All models I have seen have it just butt-joined without alteration, which is inaccurate and also slightly alters the span, augmenting it:

It's only occasionally that the goddess fortune will smile upon the modeler, but today is one of those occasions. I found good wheels to replace those not so convincing from the kit. IIRC, these came with a flying model, bless their balsa wood:
A quick rummaging through the spares produced suitable cockpit seats, some potential pantry and radio elements, possibly a support for the instrument panel, and a couple extra parts to remind myself of things needed (oil coolers, for example).
No weekender, this one:

To be continued...