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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 35





As the heading suggests, after last week's embarrassing episode when my bench office chair with rollers obliterated my Sopwith Pup undercarriage that had silently dropped to the carpeted floor, I do ask my self somethimes whether I am a 'fit and proper' person to be doing something as intricate as plastic aircraft (and motorcycle) modelling. However, I did have a very nice consoling email from my friend and fellow Medway Model Club member, Rod Janes, sympathising with my plight and saying that 'we have all been there!' which was uplifting. He even offered to loan the bits from his own brand new kit but as my bits were on their way, I declined the kind offer.



So the Pup was stalled awaiting the spares from New Zealand and all flights into and out of the UK had been cancelled due to the volcano in Iceland. Nothing for it but start something else - something rather special was called for. Last year when I was in the States, I had picked up one of Paul Fisher's very expensive 1/32 resin kits of the Sea Fury T20, the twin cockpit trainer version of the last piston engined fighter to be produced (allegedly). Well, I was on holiday and this was a treat and that was my excuse to my enquiring wife. The Sea Fury T20 is a beautiful looking aircraft in real life and those of you who have attended flying displays in the UK may have seen the Royal Navy T20 example strutting it's stuff. Powered by the monster Bristol Centaurus engine, this is one magnificent beast.



Paul's kit gives you the option of two types: the Royal Navy version as VZ346 or the German version of the target tug in civilian markings of D-CAMI. Evidently the Deutsche Luftfahrt Beratungsdeinst (DLB) had eighteen T20's with all but one converted into target tugs and fitted with a Swiss air powered winch which is propeller driven and located on the starboard side of the fuselage just under the centre of the cockpits. These T20's were re-designated TT20's.



Initially, I was going to do the Royal Navy version which is in silver lacquer with yellow training bands on the fuselage and wings, but the more I looked at the German version which is in red with a yellowy/orange spinner, wing tips and rudder, the more I liked it. Paul supplies the necessary parts to make the basic winch assembly complete with a small six bladed propeller but further scratch building would be required to faithfully detail the towing mechanism.



I purchased Tony Buttler's superb book on the Sea Fury through Amazon and decided to do some further research on the web. I found a wonderful site run by a guy called Thomas Genth whose father used to fly the TT20's in the 70's. Thomas has numerous photographs in full colour of most the TT20's including some of D-CAMI and I was sold on the subject! If you would like to see the site, just type the word, "Zieldarsteller" into Google and it will go straight onto the TT20 page. Scroll down for some beautiful photographs. There is a translate button from German to English.



I began the Paul Fisher kit by washing all the resin parts in warm water with kitchen detergent added to hopefully get rid of any of the horrible residue that sometimes causes painting problems on resin kits. As per the instructions, I began the build with the construction of the double cockpit module which is beautifully detailed. I had previously test fitted the cockpit tub to the fuselage and I was pleased to discover that no remedial work was required to ensure a comfy fit of the final assembly. Along with the main tub there are four thin pieces of resin 'walls' that eventually fit onto the tub sides making everything nice and cosy. According to the instructions, the cockpit is painted overall black and I chose to do this with Tamiya NATO black which is not as black as black, if you get my meaning.



The two instrument panels were of a construction that I had not seen before. The IP backing consoles were the normal shape but Paul has supplied the instrument dials in three groups on a printed clear plastic sheet which you have to carefully cut around and either attach them to the console or to the three Photo Etched dial bezel assemblies for each cockpit IP. I chose to attach the plastic dials to some very thin white Plasticard to make the dials stand out more. These were then tacked to the console with superglue and the PE bezels similarly attached after being sprayed NATO black. The result was very pleasing especially after gently rubbing the raised dial bezels to remove the paint with a very fine 'emery' board revealing the base brass. Before all the cockpit paraphanalia was attached, I started to weather the main cockpit areas by dry brushing some silver paint to show signs of wear and tear. Once done some colour was introduced by using red, white and yellow for some of the many PE levers and the side console buttons and switches. I painted the PE seat belts which also added further colour, and attached them to the seats which had also seen some dry brushing action. Once everything was ready, all the 'accessories' were glued into place and the job was completed by fitting the delicate cockpit walls to the assembly. This, of course, makes seeing the product of all your hard work detailing the cockpit very difficult, but you can if you really try!



The completed cockpit module was then epoxied into the fuselage and for this, I used a new two part product (to me) called Filla-Epoxy - a clear 5 minute epoxy which works very well. This is from the Qute Company who produce War Games Adhesives. Once settled it was time to fit the wing to the fuselage. Paul does say that there will be a certain amount of filling to be done during this particular part of the assembly, and I hadn't realised how much of an understatement that was going to be!



When I dry fitted the wing to the fuselage, I offered up the engine cowl to see how it would marry up to the wing/fuselage joint. It didn't marry up very well at all! It worked out that I would have to open up the fuselage/wing joint at the front by a massive 1/16" (UK 'old money') or roughly 2mm in modern UK parlance. To me, that is a big gap, and I would have expected something rather better from a kit that costs $185, and in this respect, this was a tad disappointing. One of the advantages of being in a model club is that quite often you can resolve modelling problems. A friend and fellow club member had recently purchased Paul Fisher's standard single cockpit Sea Fury and quite by chance, happened to have the kit with him at the club meeting. I did a quick dry fitting exercise and the same cowl/wing/fuselage matching problem was apparent, so it was not something caused by the different fuselage castings.



Please don't get me wrong, this is a terrific kit and the quality of the resin is first class, but although I know nothing about the trials and tribulations of producing resin kits, I would have thought this particular, and extremely important fit, should be better. But, hey! This is called modelling isn't it? No one said that it was all going to be easy.



Searching around in my spares box I came across some small pieces of 1/16" balsa sheet. I cut two small sections and superglued them to the inside part of the forward fuselage, dry fitted the wing/fuselage and this time the cowl married up perfectly. What to use as filler? At last November's Euro Militaire show at Folkestone, I picked up some two part white modelling putty by Sylmasta which you can also mix with colours to attain any shade. Once mixed together, I 'window puttied' the filler into the gaps and then carefully smoothed everything down having covered the nearby wing detail with Tamiya tape for protection. Once dry (I left it overnight), the putty smoothed down beautifully with wet and dry Micromesh and very light fine needle filing.



Meanwhile, the little Wingnut Wings package from New Zealand had arrived containing all the spares needed to make a new undercarriage module. Within half an hour of it's arrival, the parts had been de-sprued and primered ready for painting and assembly! My thanks to Wingnut Wings Project Co-Ordinator, Richard Alexander, and Dave Johnson for their help. I am back in the Pup business again!



More next week.


Peter Buckingham