Monday 30 December 2013

Tom Neil's silver Spitfire - AZ Spitfire IX in 1:72nd scale; Polish wings 15 - Spitfire IX 1944-46

AZ Spitfire IX in 1:72nd with home-made decals in the colours of Wing Commander Marian Duryasz and cut-out Pavla vac-form canopy.

" During the build up to the Allied invasion of Northern Europe, Battle of Britain hero Tom 'Ginger' Neil was assigned as an RAF liaison officer to an American fighter squadron. Acting as a British representative, Neil was tasked with negotiating and overcoming the countless culture clashes that existed between the two Allies and Neil's time with the Americans was anything but dull. As the Allies pushed east, Neil commandeered an abandoned Spitfire as his own personal aeroplane. Erasing any evidence of its provenance and stripping it down to bare metal, it became the RAF's only silver Spitfire. Love affair and culture clashes on hold, he took the silver Spitfire into battle alongside his US comrades until - with the war's end - he was forced to make a difficult decision. Faced with too many questions about the mysterious rogue fighter, he contemplated increasingly desperate measures to offload it, including bailing out mid-Channel. He eventually left the Spitfire at Worthy Down, never to be seen again

Only of course it was. 
D@MB was Tom Neil's silver Spitfire as it appeared after being taken over by Wing Commander Marian Duryasz, Polish liaison officer with 2nd TAF HQ in early 1945- the 'MB' standing for 'Marian' and his wife 'Barbara' . A 322 (Dutch) Squadron machine coded MK 520 this particular Spitfire had originally worn the codes 3W-K. Neil had commandeered the aircraft after it had been 'abandoned' on his airfield in Normandy. He eventually had the paint stripped back to the metal and flew it for a year before disposing of it. According to Tom Neil it did not display a serial number although I have added 'MK 520' to the lower wing surfaces. Now I kinda like silver Spitfires and I like to build Polish 'RAF' subjects in tribute to the Polish squadrons that eventually flew under the auspices of the RAF during the later war years. Terry "Airframes" Fox was kind enough to produce some decals to enable me to model Tom Neil's 'silver' Spitfire IX so I thought I'd break open an AZ "Joypack" straight away (three sets of sprues, no decals) and crack on with a silver Spitfire or two.  D@MB features in the excellent "Polish Wings" (15) volume by Wojtek Matusiak devoted to the Spitfire IX.

I had initially intended to build the AZ Spitfire IX alongside the new-tool Airfix Spitfire IX  - using the detail-less Airfix kit as a test-bed for some Pavla resin parts. Above; AZ Spit IX in 1:72 scale and, below, making a start on an Airfix IX with Pavla resin cockpit. Below this, the AZ and Airfix fuselage halves for a comparison shot and fitting the Paval resin cockpit into the Airfix IX fuselage halves..

Below; the AZ cockpit completed from the box with some etch belts (Valiant wings Hurricane I etch sheet ) and the main airframe components assembled. I could have done without having to perform the surgery on the wings which are squared-off out of the box but still need cutting 'square' along the panel line before fitting the wingtips. The parts are all numbered on the AZ instruction sheet, although there are no parts numbered on the sprues - which makes assembly a little tricky. Ditto for the lack of locating lugs, the tailplanes just butt up to the fuselage so I've drilled and inserted a fuse wire 'spar' 

AZ Spitfire after primer and aluminium coats

Reached the end of this tricky little build over Christmas - here the Pavla vac-form canopy has been cut out and partially installed with rear-view mirror attached. The canopy framing has some sort of primer finish. Home-made decals applied with Wing Commander pennants from the spares box. Note the non-standard wing roundels and non-standard stub replacing the cannon barrel in the wing leading edges.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Airfix De Havilland DH Comet 1:72nd - finished (4)

..decided to perform some more surgery on the Comet since it was looking a little 'toy-like' and I've now cut out the rudder and elevators and added the engine exhausts and undercarriage struts from fuse wire. Also scribed the cowl hinge line and the cooling gills and added the mass balances on the rudders and elevators. Completed model below - note the neat effect of the flash on the nose landing light! I've since added some better pics taken in natural light. Things still to do, the rear of the prop blades should be black and I guess the internal canopy framing might well be in black too, but you have to stop somewhere. Overall I'm happy with it - a fiver (£5) for a 50-year old kit (!!) with no cockpit and no details worthy of the name is probably a bit much though....still a fair bit of modelling 'fun' for your money I suppose... let me know what you think.

Friday 13 December 2013

.. what's on the bench?

 its sometimes hard enough getting down to some modelling let alone having to actually think about why I do what I do and write about it every week....but here's a blog post that I can write without too much thought - the bench!

My bench (below, click to see the full picture) perches on top of the dryer in my garage - it is literally a bench. Its about the size of a kitchen table - that's probably because it is an old kitchen table - minus its legs.

I have a few shelves and units up for displaying old models ..though the decent looking models go straight into old shoe boxes and storage..never to be seen again. I'm not too sure why; they sure aren't good enough for any sort of competition, I'm not a member of any club and I never display them anywhere. Perhaps one day I might invest in a display cabinet. Although all you can see here are 1:72nd scale aircraft I build armour, ships and cars - although I have yet to show anything like that here. There is also a pile of Kagero 'Topcolors' books on one of the shelves - you can't really beat this series for a quick walkaround or reference pic when in the middle of a busy modelling session - all my other reference is located away out of sight - except for the magazine pile which I reckon is about 10 feet high !

..funny no matter how organised I might be I always end up working in a tiny corner piece of what is quite a large working area while debris and kits and tools and paints pile up across the table top..
The Fw 190 artwork on the far shelf unit is a Thierry Dekker framed and signed original acrylic painted artwork. Thierry has been a friend of mine from way back when he was starting out with his profile artwork. We ended up doing a book together "Profile Hangar" which is still available from Thierry's blog..the radio/cassette on the shelf is tuned in permanently to 'France infos' and I listen to French radio programmes almost exclusively, so modelling is also a good time to learn new vocabulary and keep my language skills up to scratch.

As you can see I like to keep everything out and then I'm ready to go at a moment's notice - I try and do a little bit of 'something' at least once a day, but with quite a few part-started kits on the go, progress can sometimes be rather slow!
A view of the other side of the bench - another crammed table, more part-started kits and a few built-up ones on 'display'....

to see more benches at the following links..

yet another plastic modeller
Migrant's Wanderings
Gregs Models
digital sprue
Motorsport Modeller Blog
Jay's Scale Model Adventures

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Airfix De Havilland DH Comet 1:72nd - almost completed (3)

a quick look at progress - aiming for at least three more finished builds before the end of 2013 so I have to get this Comet clear of the bench! Here are a few views of what I've done with this very old kit;

Cockpit scratched and detailed with seats, control columns, sidewall detail and instrument panel(s). Replacement canopy smash-molded, framing added with painted spare decal strip, stuck down with Klear - first time I've used decal strip for canopy framing but it worked quite well I think. Ailerons cut out with my Trumpeter scriber and re-positioned. Nose landing light from scrap plastic filed and sanded to shape - not quite as elegant as the real thing, but, still, its there.. I regret now that I haven't  bothered to cut out the horizontal stabs, haven't scribed any flaps either come to that, but you have to stop somewhere...

Two views showing the engine exhausts and fairings from scrap and wire, and the tail strut fairing, all added after the first coat of Humbrol Gloss 2 unfortunately..

Saturday 23 November 2013

Airfix De Havilland DH 88 Comet & AZ Spitfire IXc (2)

Airfix DH 88 slowly coming together. For a kit with only four 'stages' and around 24 parts it is pretty hard work getting everything lined up and smoothed down. Lots of filler required - here it is almost ready for some Halfords Primer. Pic below shows the new smash-molded canopy placed loosely over the cockpit for a test fit - second time I've had to do this recently, but it still takes about twenty attempts with a candle and plastic food container (usually a flat lid - the key is finding something of suitable thickness...)

1:72 AZ Spitfire IX almost ready for paint. Neat kit, but I'm finding the plastic a little hard and the lack of part numbers and rather poor instructions makes it a little harder to build than, say, the equivalent Airfix kit. It does however feature alternative wingtips, rudders, separate cannon bulges, two sets of spoked wheels and a lovely interior..

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Airfix De Havilland DH 88 Comet

This old Airfix kit is of course in the current catalogue although it dates from the late 1950s I believe - needless to say the fit is appalling. But still it is nice to have this 'golden oldie' available cheaply with nice new decals. The cockpit aperture is solid plastic with pilots heads inset and requires cutting away. Here I have detailed the cockpit in about ten minutes flat with an old Italeri Bf 109 cockpit and Spitfire IX seats with blu-tac leather seat-back detail. A 48th scale Spitfire flap cut in two makes for some reasonably convincing fuselage wall detail!

 To my eye this looks just as 'representative' as the Whirlybird resin. Instrument panel via a  3-D kits printed Spitfire panel...

AFAIK the colour of the Comet's cockpit is black, not the wood grain finish most modellers seem to leave it in. Period cockpit views of the real DH 88 are rare - here is one shot published in a 1971 issue of French magazine 'Le Fana de l'Aviation'. Note the large undercarriage retraction 'wheel' on the right hand side of the cockpit just visible in the lower colour pic of the Shuttleworth Comet.

Another rare view of the DH 88 cockpit from the Oz Typewriter blog.  London Daily Express air correspondent Victor Anthony Ricketts tests out elbow room for typing in the cockpit of the de Havilland DH 88 Comet.

A couple of neat views of the 'green' machine G-ACSR, subject of my boxing of the Airfix kit..

Clamping together the fuselage halves - fit is appalling.  The nose has been cut away for a piece of clear plastic that will be sanded to shape to represent the nose landing light. The engine cowls have been glued together and there is some radiator detail visible in there via an old P-51 part. Seat harnesses are fashioned from champagne bottle foil which will be painted green..