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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 22





I have decided that the name of my column is rather a 'misnomer' because I think that perfection is something that is never achieved. You can get close to it, but there is always something you could have done better. We all know what we want to achieve and the majority of us attack the next model as though 'this is the one', but we soon realise that sometimes our dreams do not match the reality. The most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. We all can't be Telford Gold Medal winners but we can certainly enjoy the ride.



My second C17A Revell Globemaster was now approaching the painting stage. I normally try to have two models on the go at the same time so that when you reach a stage in the build programme that requires a break for, say, some gluing to cure, I like to keep myself busy on something else. I had been given a 1/48 Academy kit of the Spitfire FR.Mk.XIVe, the clipped wing and armed PR jobby. What a beautiful design this aircraft is with that bubble canopy and broader cord rudder. And as for that five bladed prop and racey bulges on the forward fuselage enclosing the two stage Griffon type 65 engine - well! I hadn't seen an Academy kit before and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a very 'Tamiya' look and feel about it with crisp, clean mouldings and very nice panel etching. A quick test fit of the wings and fuselage revealed a very good fit indeed. I am not an expert on Spitfire profiles, but perhaps their is/was a 'problem' with the nose and rudder outline, hence the after market accessories. We shall see.



I also managed to pick up from a friend some resin conversion kits for this model, namely the now virtually unobtainable American KMC update set with revised top engine cowling, more accurate rudder profile, exhausts, propeller blades and spinner and some gorgeous cockpit walls and accesories, plus the DACO resin set of new spinner and propeller blades, complete front fuselage, rudder profile, exhausts et al.



I checked out the Academy kit and discovered that there were some items missing which was a shame. I was keen to get stuck into this model and as Graham had one of the kits in stock, I had one sent down. I think at £11.98 (Graham's discounted price. Kit Ref:AC2161) this represents excellent value for money in today's high priced kits revolution. With two kits, (one not absolutely complete) I could perhaps cobble together two aircraft. What I decided to do was to utilise some resin parts from both resin after market products on the first model. I chose the KMC cockpit, rudder, spinner and propellors and the DACO complete front fuselage block and exhausts.



Out came the Tamiya Plastic Scriber and Dymo tape and it was sweaty shirt tail time again carving off huge chunks of fuselage and rudder. A couple of dry fitting exercises proved that the fit wasn't too bad but some filler would have to be applied to blend in the nose block and fuselage components. There was no problem with the rudder. Using a curved Swann Morton scalpel blade, some of the cockpit wall detail was removed as per the KMC instructions. Once all this was done and sanded smooth, the cockpit walls were carefully relieved of their casting blocks. I haven't been shown the correct way to do this, but rightly or wrongly, I gently nibbled away bit by bit with my Xuron side cutters and then cleaning everything up with an emery board.



The walls were the first job on the now re-designed fuselage halves and they fitted in very well. Thin superglue did the trick and then more detailing was added from the KMC kit plus some fine fuse wire for more realism as per the instructions. It was looking OK. I did have a problem with the fuselage floor though which had a fairly thick casting block underneath the whole floor. I don't have a belt sander or a solid flat bed upon which I could remove the block. I tried a test fit 'as was' but the floor was too thick. Although there was quite a bit of detail in the floor assembly, I decided to make my own out of scrap plasticard, plastic rod and section. It surprised me how quickly it all came together and with the addition of thin fuse wire for cabling, it looked very realistic and it is hardly seen anyway. It fitted perfectly - took an hour - job done.


The fuselage (minus the nose job) was glued together and taped up for security while I played around with the nose. I drew a centre line along the top and bottom length of the nose to aid visual lining up with the rest of the fuselage and after some nibbles here and there on the fuselage and the resin nose with the scalpel, it was ready for attachment using gel type superglue which would give me some leeway for manoeuvering. After another test fit of the wings, and once satisfied with the location, the nose was glued and then taped up for security while curing overnight.



The next morning, I did another test fit of the top and bottom wing halves, the latter having a section of the fuselage bottom as part of the moulding. The fit of everything was very good indeed and a credit to Academy. I don't know what others think of Academy kits, but my first impressions of their quality from this example is excellent. It was time to glue the plastic together with Tamiya Extra Thin cement on the plastic to plastic surface contacts and gel supeglue on the plastic to resin bits. More Tamiya tape for security and, once cured, I did a mix of my now favourite filler, Humbrol Filler diluted with Humbrol Enamel Thinners. This was spread over the nose/fuselage joint leaving a tad of excess for sanding. I have found that this mix sands beautifully and can also be scribed and drilled without breaking up.



More next week. 



Peter Buckingham.