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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 58





As some of you may know, as well as writing this column, I also have the pleasurable task of reviewing kits, accessories and books that come my way via Jim Hatch’s excellent modelling website www.scaleplasticandrail .com – something I have been doing from its inception, some 18 months ago.



Recently, at the IPMS Telford SMW show, and later in this column, I waxed lyrical over the 1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196A-3 displayed on the Revell stand. Quite unique for a kit of this scale and complexity, was its price. Initially released at £19.99 in December, this was later increased by about £5 but still cheap ‘at half the price’! Well done Revell.



I later had the privilege of reviewing this kit for Jim’s website and  gave it a 10/10 rating even though I did express some concern over the canopy which, for the first time in my building experience, was a kit of parts in its own right! Instead of three completely moulded canopies – windscreen, sliding centre canopy and rear canopy, the builder is presented with nine clear IKEA like flat-packed ‘panels’ complete with locating tabs to assist assembly. I must have been wearing rose tinted  without fully realising the problems, or perhaps, having realised the problems, dismissed them to the back of my mind as unimportant. Whichever way it was, I should have known better, I should have foreseen the problems, and I should have reported it as such. Failed miserably!



I am building two of these kits (the other was purchased from Graham) and to keep them company, I am also building the 1/48 version by Italeri/Tamiya Arado Ar 196 which has been in my stash for some considerable time. Read on!



Please don’t get me wrong, I love this Revell kit. The parts fit together beautifully - the engine is exquisite - the wing  jointing and tailplane fit is so magnificently engineered, it is a joy to build. A joy, that is, until you get to canopy fitting time. Or is it me?



Now, I am a bit of a ponderer and I certainly gave these items a lot of thought over numerous cups of tea before deciding which way to tackle them. Some of my friends who are going to build the Arado have said they will definitely shave off the locating tabs because there is a possibility they might be seen (and they are probably right) even after the canopy framework is painted. I was also prepared to do this, but on closer examination and after a couple of dry fits, decided otherwise. Although the canopies (as usual) just sit on top of the fuselage and do not perform any structural work, I felt the mere act of handling just butt jointed canopy parts before attaching them to the fuselage, would be fraught with danger and prone to parts separating without the added strength (albeit very slight) of the tabs. Executive decision - I decided to leave them on hoping the painted frames would hide most of the tabs! That was the first major decision.



Having decided that, the second major decision was which glue to use - cyano, Tamiya plastic cement or Gator Grip PVA. I chose the latter.



The third major decision was, “ OK let’s glue the things together, but at what angles to ensure a correct fit”? Yes you could use the fuselage sides as a guide while trying to hold (juggle?) all three pieces together at the same time. Not good in my view. Not unusually, there are also no drawn 1/32 scale ‘canopy formers’ in the instructions to use as a guide if the builder wished to make a supporting framework upon which to assemble and glue the parts. Not only that, just to complicate things a bit more, the two forward canopy frames fit to the outside edges of the fuselage sides, while the rear, smaller canopy is fitted to the inside edges therefore allowing the central sliding canopy to cover and pass it.



I have probably chosen the most awkward route, but in this humble builder’s view, I decided the way to go was by making separate balsa wood frames in order that the three parts of each set could securely sit on the framework and be taped securely while the glue was curing. Very careful measuring and re-measuring was time consuming, as was the making of the balsa wood formers and bases. Why should it be necessary to have this problem in the first place?



Perhaps the more experienced builders amongst you could have made short shrift of my problems and had the problems solved in next to no time. But why not supply the canopies already formed as in most kits? I don’t think it can be a particular production problem as Italeri/Tamiya have produced perfect canopies in their 1/48 version.



Mr Revell, your kit is fantastic and I applaud your pricing structure for this model, for your Ju88 in particular and for the many other excellent and economically priced kits in your catalogue – you put other manufacturers to shame - (think 1/72 Hasegawa ‘Zwilling’ in excess of £70!!) - but please do something about that canopy, even at this late stage. I can’t be the only one having a rant at this one and only spoiling feature of an otherwise excellent kit.



Just one more thing to add to the canopy woes  –  it is also the opinion of this humble scribe that the rear, and smaller canopy, is incorrect. The small side ‘window’ extensions are in fact ‘wind deflectors’ and as such, should have a canopy framework around their extremities with no gaps between the side and top frames for the Ar 196-A3 (see Page 375, sectional drawing, illustrated in ‘The Encyclopaedia of Weapons in World War II’, by Chris Bishop –go to ‘Google Books’ and type in ‘Ar 196 canopy’) . I have replicated this framework by attaching the very thinnest strips of ‘Evergreen’ stock but there is not much I can do about the gaps. On viewing the photographs of the Revell display model at Telford, l noticed that the sliding central canopy was covering the rear canopy!



I already have some takers for the use of my Heath Robinson looking balsa frames (perhaps I should get them moulded in resin as an accessory?) but even using those, the strength of the butt joints complete with tabs is pretty average and will still need handling like broken glass (no pun intended). I decided to paint the internal framework as well in an effort to reduce the appearance of the tabs as much as possible. You really shouldn’t have to contend with this problem no matter what price the kit in my view. I expect there are some very experienced builders out there who will just say, “Get on with it lad! It’s what we did in our day!” – and they will probably be right. However, always try to take something positive from all the negatives – Tamiya taping the framework is sooo much easier when the canopy sections are flat-packed!



Arado canopy rant over! It is still a great kit though. Would I buy another? Yes.



Away from things Arado for a bit. You might recall I was awaiting a replacement decal to finish decalling the 1/32 Paul Fisher resin Hunter T7 conversion. I am very pleased to say the decal has now arrived and has been applied, but eagle eyed friend, Medway club member and Hunter ‘guru’, Bill Clark, spotted a possible decal sizing mistake and I am currently looking into this problem. I am indebted to Bill for his email and am awaiting news from the restorers of a recently finished full sized T7 - Hunter Flying Ltd of Exeter. Evidently,  T7’s from Training Establishments, especially those with more colourful profiles, were fitted with a variety of roundel sizes, some of which, so I am given to understand, were non-standard compared to the ‘normal’ single seaters. I am trying to find the answer.


Now, unfortunately for me, this is going to be the last column for quite a while due to the call of other duties. I was, and still am, very ‘heavily’ into genealogy. I have received a ‘commission’ to do some family history research which will take some considerable time and an awful lot of research time, so things modelling will have to be put on the back burner for a while. I will therefore not have the time to write this column or, in fact, to do any reviewing for Jim’s www.scaleplasticandrail website for a while. However, all is not lost aeronautically as I have the fortunate task of just having to visit the RAF Museum archives for some aspects of the research! Result!!

Another case of taking something positive from the negatives!



Many thanks for your kind messages of support over the past year or so. Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun….and the odd rant! I hope to be writing the column again later in the year. Speak to you soon - happy modelling - Oh! And by the way, please continue to assist Graham in the upkeep of his Swiss Bank Account.