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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 26

IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION - WILL IT EVER BE FOUND?

 

 

The 1/48 Academy Spitfire Mk.XIVe was coming along nicely as was the 1/32 Hasegawa P-51D Mustang which I had planned to finish in aluminium using the Alclad range of metallic finishes. The cockpit had gone together quite well and was really enhanced by fitting a set of Radu Brinzan's US seat belts (via the good offices of Relish Models) - these really are the business and look so realistic having used them on my 1/32 Luftwaffe Fw190, Bf109 and (sssh! the 1/35!!) Fieseler Storch. I did find the US belts a tad more fiddly on the buckles however, but well worth the effort putting them together during the course of an evening.

 

 

A couple of dry runs fitting the cockpit into the fuselage halves to make sure everything was OK, not forgetting to put the tailwheel assembly in it's location, and then it was time for gluing. I now have a stock of Tamiya Extra Fine cement from my recent visit to the States and did my normal gluing procedure of about 2 inches at a time trying to ensure a nice 'ooze' of plastic when the halves are pressed together. I use an old scalpel blade lodged between the fuselage halves not yet cemented, just to keep them apart a fraction to allow application of the glue brush.

 

 

Once everything was glued, I used Tamiya tape to keep the halves tightly together while the plastic cured. I then turned my attention to the wing sections. I did a rough dry fit of the wings to the fuselage and the joint didn't look too bad. I wasn't going to show the cannons and ammunition belts exposed, so I glued the respective covering panels into place and, at the same time, I assembled and glued the drop tanks and bombs.

 

 

One of the tasks I really enjoy is the gluing of the two wing halves, because normally, at this stage, the kit is almost half completed and you can look forward to the very best part (OK, well sometimes the very best part!) and that is the painting sequences. The tailplane halves went together seamlessly and, after a short session with a fine 'emery' board, the wing were seamless too.

 

 

 

You will recall that I did have a bit of a moan about the fit of certain parts of the fuselage which, in my humble opinion, is very unusual for a Hasegawa kit, but I have no complaints about the fit of the wing assembly to the fuselage. It was absolutely perfect and, once the glue had cured, I fitted the tailplane halves carefully checking their alignment to the wings. I find it is always easier to align the tailplanes to the wings rather than the the other way round - if you get my drift.

 

 

She was looking like a P-51 now! I then turned my attention to the nose cone and propellor assembly and here I later wished that I had painted everything separately before assembly. I don't know why I did, but I built it all together, slotting the prop blades into their respective locations. I think my original reasoning was that as the assembly was quite large in 1/32 scale, then masking would not be a problem. There are no 'pips' on the prop connecting 'rods' to ensure an accurate angle for the blades, so it needs some care to get all the angles correctly aligned and then glued with superglue gel to allow for 'wiggle' time. Once finished, the prop and nose cone assembly was put to one side until the painting was imminent. I also made the decision (not a very hard one with my propensity to break these things off) to leave the landing gear legs and their respective wheel well covers off until the final assembly.

 

 

I had also decided to show this aircraft with the cockpit closed, so after carefully masking the clear plastic canopy with Tamiya tape (using a fresh scalpel blade) and remembering to paint the anti glare panel inside the front 'windshield', the canopy assembly was also glued into place with Micro Kristal Klear. After leaving everything overnight to settle down, I gave the whole airframe a gentle rubbing down with Micro Mesh 12000, used wet with very soapy water. Once dry, I sprayed Alclad grey primer over the whole airframe and again, the next day, everything was rubbed down with Micro Mesh using the same wetting agent.

 

 

Those of you who have followed my weekly articles will know that the reason I started them was to show the 'warts and all' happenings of someone who, at a certain age, took up the hobby of plastic scale aircraft modelling two years ago. I was hoping to show others in the same boat the mistakes I made along the way. It is one long learning curve, and I remember great modeller Ted Taylor saying to me one morning in Hannants, that he is still learning after 'n' number of years. When you see Ted's models on display at Hannants and at various modelling shows in the UK you have to wonder what there is still left for Ted to learn!

 

 

Anyway, the reason for my rabbiting on about my mistakes is that I made another one with the P51. This is the first time that I was attempting an all aluminium finished airframe and I had bought in a number of different shades of Alclad from Graham to supplement my stock. The mistake I made was to use some matt black as subtle pre-shading - I feel I should have used gloss black (I am open to suggestions here!) as the White Alumium did not take too kindly to the matt which had been applied to certain panel lines. It didn't look too bad, but was not the smooth Alclad finish I wanted in all areas. I persevered.

 

 

I am now off to Italy for a week and will probably have 'plastic withdrawal symptons' within the next day or so!

 

 

More next week.

 

Peter Buckingham.

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