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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 52

IN PURSUIT OF PERFECTION - A SORT OF RETURN TO NORMAL BUSINESS!

 

 

Now where was I?

 

Without wishing to bore the pants off you, I had a slight Road Traffic Accident a couple of months ago which my GP seems to think has been the cause of my painful upper arm and shoulder movements which has certainly slowed down my modelling activities and my car driving which is also a great nuisance. Nuff said about that, but may I just add a big 'thank you' to those of you who sent 'best wishes' and 'get well soon' emails. It is nice to know that the columns are appreciated.

 

I have explained the latest situation to Graham - your genial host of www.relishmodels.co.uk - and we have decided to continue the column on a 'monthly' basis instead of the previous weekly schedule when I was able to play around  with two or three models at the same time.

 

The good news is that I have actually finished the 1/32 Revell Eurofighter! I will have to put my arms up (wishful thinking actually) and admit that when Graham sent me the Eurofighter kit I was not actually enthused. Ungrateful as that may sound, modern fighter jet kits were something I just read about in the magazines, with terminology such as 'bang seats', ASRAAM's, F.O.D's and the like. It's another world - World War II aircraft they are certainly not. So it was with trepidation that I started the build of this massive aircraft, but as time went on, I actually began to get into it and slowly, but surely, it grew on me and became an obsession for researching more and more about it.

 

I had decided to build the German version of the two types offered in the kit as I thought that most would go for the RAF option. There is much information floating around the ether for both types, but if you choose to do the Luftwaffe version, I would certainly recommend the superb 'walkaround' website www.b.domke.de which I referred to virtually on a daily basis. I realise that the purchase of aftermarket accessories adds much to the overall costs, but those I obtained and fitted certainly enhanced (in my view anyway) the overall finish of the model.

 

I have mentioned in previous Columns that I had read various articles on this kit when it first came out, and the general concensus of opinion was that the kit's injection moulded undercarriage was a definite weak point. I would agree with those opinions. This is one very heavy model and if there was just one accessory that I would consider to be an absolute necessity, it would be the purchase of a metal undercarriage set from Scale Aircraft Conversions (www.scaleaircraftconversions.com). This set, once assembled and fitted to the airframe, is immensely strong with the added bonus of better detail. Highly recommended - so please budget an extra US$18.95 for the cost of the 32031 Eurofighter set from SAC when you buy the Revell kit. There will be some photographs later in this article.

 

The other aftermarket goodies I splashed out on were the Eduard cockpit and seat belt set, the Aries jet nozzles which have some amazing detail, Two Mikes resin inner weapons pylons, FOD covers for the intakes and APU exhaust plus two Flightpath (set) Laser Guided Bombs to fit onto the Two Mikes inner pylons! Phew! All these were not absolutely necessary but they certainly did improve the overall appearance. Oh! I nearly forgot, I also bought some Eduard 'Remove Before Flight' tags.

 

I think the foregoing has brought you all up to speed and I will now continue on the build from where I left off about a million years ago! The airframe was ready for painting.

 

Having pre-shaded the panel lines and shadow areas with Tamiya NATO Black, it was time to start using the Gunze acrylic paints which had given me the colour references for my version: H334 Barley Grey (BS4800 18B21) for the nose cone and other smaller 'accessories' and H337 (FS35237) Grayish Blue for the main airframe. I had never used Gunze paints before, but I always use their Matt Clear Varnish for my WWII finishes and like it very much. For the thinning medium, I had purchased a large bottle of Mr. Color Thinners 400 and diluted the acrylics about 60/40 thinners/paint which was just about right. From the photographs, the German machines appear to be kept in a pristine condition so there is not too much wear and tear and not a lot of weathering round the panel lines or 'dirty' areas on the undersides, especially near to the jet nozzles, so I was able to gauge the amount of paint to give just a hint of tonal change. The Gunze paints do go on beautifully and seem to dry even better 'shrinking' and smoothing itself around the painted area.

 

As I was painting a 'minimalist' airframe, in other words, without any hanging off bits (!) it would have been easy to miss something as there was a multitude of other parts waiting to be painted. Indeed it was easy to miss something and after I had cleaned the airbrush and sat back to examine my work, I discovered I had forgotten one of the weapons pylons! I hadn't forgotten the canopy frames though which is what I normally do.

 

Contrary to the Revell painting instructions, the leading edges of the rudder, ailerons, flaps and canards, these were painted aluminium as they appeared to be from the walkaround pics. If it is incorrect then it is down to my 'executive' decision, but it certainly looks like ali to me. Also the exposed surface caused by extending the wing slats is actually white on the Luftwaffe aircraft and not as shown in the Revell painting instructions. Also, contrary to a discussion on a well known modelling website, the slats can be shown extended with the power 'off' - see the pics on the walkaround!

 

 

The weapons were painted in various colours from what references I could find but they do tend to alter from user to user. Flightpath very kindly sent me some coloured photographs of two types, 'practice' and 'live', for the Paveway Laser Guided bomb. I chose the blue 'practice' colour.

 

 

Once all the paint work was done, it was then time for the decals. And there are loads! If I tell you that the weapons and their pylons alone accounted for about 170, although I did make all the weapons supplied with the kit of which some will not be used. I had brush coated three coats of Klear (Future) over the airframe and all the accessories to get a nice gloss finish for the decal applications - well, I thought the finish was glossy enough, but I was a tad disappointed by evidence of silvering on some of the decals.

 

Question: When the 'groundwork' has been done, do you think it is the quality of the decals when silvering occurs? Or is it the quality of the modeller who thought that his glossy surface would be sufficient? I suspect the latter, but do wonder sometimes. As an aside, although it is generally agreed that some of the best decals come with the name 'Cartograf' on the bottom of the sheet, the best I have experienced to date have been from the French company, F-Dcal, whose carrier medium just 'melted' into the background of my Revell 1/144 Globemaster.

 

Once all the decaling was completed, I sealed them all in by airbrushing my favourite mix of Gunze Matt Clear varnish (and this is where Bob at MDC cringes!) diluted 50/50 with water. I sprayed just enough to take the shine from the glossy Klear underneath and I then left the whole airframe and all the bits and pieces to rest for a couple of days.

 

I made up a temporary polystyrene holding jig to support the airframe comfortably while I prepared the attachment of the myriad of items to the under fuselage and under wing surfaces. I had previously airbrushed, added hydraulic lines and weathered the SAC metal undercarriage legs. By the way, the painted parts of the legs are not white, but more similar to a lightened Barley Grey. Dry fitting the main legs to ensure everything was lined up and square was imperative. I had decided to attach the legs to the airframe with Araldite two part resin adhesive which takes a while to cure so the legs were secured with some Tamiya tape for safe keeping. Because of their importance, I left the gear to cure for 48 hours. They were solid! Attachment of the wheel well covers and wheels concluded this section of the build.

 

 

Next came the weapons systems and wing tanks. The holes in the wings for all these items had been checked prior to spraying and just required a gentle 'cleansing' of paint and varnish. I decided to attach the weapons to their respective pylons before attaching the whole assemblies to the wings. I wasn't happy with the usual minimum fixing points and decided to enhance the attachment points with the addition of some small diameter brass rod. Holes had been drilled into the weapons and the pylons and the small lengths of rod were superglued in place making for a much stronger attachment. I have obtained various sizes of tube and rod from Albion Alloys (www.albionalloys.co.uk) and I don't think there is one model that I have completed in the past year that hasn't had their products used for some purpose or another. There will be more use of rod and tube later.

 

 

The undersides of the wings and fuselage are certainly busy as can be seen from the photograph. The ailerons and flaps were next on the attachment list and it can be seen from the photographs on the walkaround website, that these control surfaces rise at differing angles when the aircraft is on the ground and without power coursing throught it's veins. I posed these surfaces in a similar way although I kept the rudder centralised for aesthetic reasons. The end of wing pods were then attached and it was looking like a proper Eurofighter.

Now it was time (at last) to remove the masking tape that had been protecting the cockpit from all the paint spraying activity and to fit the ejection seat which had been safely 'locked away' in a sealed box after it had been completed. It was nice to see it again and it certainly looks the part with Eduard accessories. The seat assembly was glued into the 'pit with some more Araldite. The front canopy was Micro Kristel Klear(ed) into position taking care not to knock the two small rear view mirrors from their attachment points. This was followed by posing the airbrake in the open position. This was a very tight 'interference' fit which required no glueing, followed by fitting the telescopic operating arm. I had dispensed with plastic 'telescopic' leg and replaced this with a length of shiny 'rod' cut from a paper clip and superglued into a carefully drilled hole in the lower mechanism. A ready chromium plated part! This arm assembly was then superglued to the airbrake in the appropriate position.

 

 

Now, this is where I pondered long and hard. The kit's attachment 'assembly' for posing the large rear canopy in the open position is very weak to say the least. Transportation of the model with that part attached would, I fear, not be very long lasting. Because there are many things on this model that either 'dangle' or are posed dangerously open and therefore not at their strongest attachment points, I wanted to come up with a satisfactory solution.

 

Back to good old Albion Alloys slide fit rod and tube! I decided to drill a hole through the rear cockpit shelf where the kit's original open canopy attachment part had been fitted. I then inserted a length of 2mm OD tube until it touched the fuselage floor (about 2 inches) in an upright position, cut it off flush and secured it with a touch of superglue. I cut off the kit's corresponding attachment point on the finished canopy under surface (sweat on the brow here), made a small housing from a 5mm length one half of the unused plastic main gear leg, drilled another hole, and by careful angle measurement superglued a small length of the same sized tube. I had previously selected a suitable length of brass rod which fitted the tube perfectly, inserted the rod into the long 'fuselage' length of tube, added an inch or so before cutting, and then by test fitting after test fitting, I nibbled away at the rod until it was the perfect length. I now had a removable, stable, transportable and openly posable canopy.

 

 

It just remained to ensure that the canard 'wings' were an interference fit in the fuselage and we were in business! The airframe was finished. The Eduard 'Remove Before Flight' tags were fitted to certain parts of the fuselage, some of the weapons and the Two Mikes Resin engine intake FOD's. I had also scratch built some other FOD parts for the rear of the aircraft and these were also attached and tagged.

 

 

For a quick base, I had a stock of matt black 'Westfoam' board which I masked up for 'runway markings' and then sprayed with Citadel 'Skull White' from a rattle can.

 

 

Well, that's it. Job done. I have to say that it has been a very enjoyable kit to make and I understand from those 'in the know' that it is a better buy than the Trumpeter kit which is not only nearly double the price, but, is also the wrong shape at the rear. This Revell kit represents excellent value for money and certainly keeps you occupied for some considerable time. It is thoroughly recommendable - don't forget the SAC undercarriage, that is a must.

 

More soon.

 

Peter
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