The Southern Maryland Scale Modelers meet every third Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm at High Tide Games, 22599 MacArthur Blvd, California, Maryland, (San Souci Plaza, between McKay's and Mission BBQ).

We are also meeting online via Zoom most Thursdays at 7pm -- an email is sent to members with meeting info.

Everyone is welcome, all we ask is that you bring a project, finished or not, theme or non-theme to share during our Show-N-Tell discussion. Okay, you don't really have to bring a project...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

120 - 1/144 F/A-18E “Digi-Hornet” by Vince Mankowski

1/144 F/A-18E “Digi-Hornet”

VFA-137 “Kestrels” CAG Aircraft 2011

By Vince Mankowski


                As most of you know, my wife and I are looking to move to Spokane, WA in the (very) near future.  To make this possible I have been looking for work very hard for the last several months, so hard in fact that I haven’t touched a model on my workbench since early February this year!  Since I have been running into road blocks (3,000 mile distance not withstanding) and growing frustrated in my search to the point a week ago that I simply said “To heck with it, I’m going to take a break and build a model!”

                Rooting around in my stash, I wanted something I could build ‘out of the box’ relatively quickly that would have a unique or striking paint scheme to it.  My eyes fell to the 1/144 Revell F/A-18E Super Hornet kit (number 03997). 



Revell 1/144 F/A-18E Super Hornet box art


I just happened to have the DXM decals for a ‘digital camouflage’ Super Hornet on hand.  The decals represent a “Commander, Air Group” or CAG aircraft from the VFA-137 Kestrels painted this way in 2011 in both an ‘early’ and a ‘later’ scheme.  The decision was made to proceed with this model, in the “digi-hornet” scheme.



DXM 1/144 Decal Set


                I started by cutting the parts to the model from all but one or two of their sprue attachment points and cleaning up the mold separation lines present on them.  Once they were cleaned up, I began the initial painting for interior colors for the cockpit, wheel wells, intakes, undercarriage and such.  Some parts I completely separated from the sprues and attached to toothpicks for preparation.



Initial painting on model parts



More initial painting


                Once the initial painting was done, I started by applying the decals (yes, DECALS!) for the instrument panel and consoles in the cockpit.  This was followed by some more painting to complete the preparation for assembly.



Instrument panel and console decals applied to the cockpit interior parts


                I followed the instructions for the most part, trapping the cockpit tub between the fuselage top and bottom halves, constructing the intakes with fan face along the fuselage, and attaching the nosecone to the fuselage assembly.  I clamped everything nice and snug to prevent any seam problems later.  I can say without reservation that this kit goes together very easily, and has great fit throughout!  There was very little in the way of seam clean up that was required.  The intakes have small attachment areas to glue them together, and are a little fiddly for folks who are not used to working in this small a scale, but other than this ‘hazard of scale’, the kit went together apace and with no troubles.

                The all-moving elevators are connected on the sprue by a plastic dowel that passes through the fuselage so you can articulate them when construction is finished.  However, due to the scheme I was applying and the fact that the colors are comprised of decals I chose to clip the dowel and simply glue the elevators in after painting and decaling the model.  This was my only deviation from the instructions.



Clamping the fuselage together while the glue dries


                Once all of the major assembly was finished, I prepared the model for painting.  I masked off the engine intakes and wheel wells to preserve the flat white prepainting.  I also masked off the canopy and while the windscreen was permanently glued in place, the canopy was lightly tacked in place using Ailene’s Tacky Glue so I could separate it later and install it in the open position.



Ventral masking for the paint job



Dorsal masking for the paint job


                Once I had applied the overall Light Ghost Gray paint scheme, I let that dry for a couple of days before coating the model in a gloss clear coat in preparation for the decals.  I also let the lacquer gloss coat dry for a couple of days before starting the decal process.



Unmasked and ready for decals


                The DXM set for this scale is unique in that it includes all the digital camouflage as decals to apply over the single base color.  Now, that was unique, however it took some 30 decals just to apply the paint scheme to the model… in 1/144 scale!  The only hard part was in the beginning, with the first decal applied (right wing) as the alignment for the entire paint job relied on getting the first decal right.  The application sequence fell out as:  right wing, spine (6 decals), left wing, right LERX (2 decals), left LERX (2 more), aft fuselage (6 decals), forward fuselage (4 decals), nose (4 decals), vertical tail(s) (6 decals), and elevators (1 decal each).  A total of 34 decals just for the paint scheme!



Applying digi-camouflage decals


                Once the color scheme was finished, then the aircraft and squadron markings had to be applied and believe it or not, it took even more decals to accomplish this.  The regular markings included items such as the “Navy” titles, squadron name on the spine, side numbers on the nose and flaps, bureau numbers under the elevators, and national insignias.  The DXM decal sheet also included some of the warning, safety, maintenance stencils and slime lights you would normally only find on models in larger scales!  All in all, I spent 3 nights applying decals to this little beast, but when they were finished I think it looked absolutely fantastic!



Squadron/aircraft specific decals going on over the camouflage decals


                I used the Microscale decal setting solutions by putting the Set solution on the decals while the glue softened after a dip in room temperature water.  I applied the Sol solution to the spot on the model where the decal was to be placed.  Using this approach everything snuggled down just beautifully into all of the surface detail (note the photographs above carefully!).  The DXM decals responded very well to the Microscale products and did not melt, skew, or otherwise get damaged during the process and I am very happy with the results achieved.

                Once the all of the decals were applied and left alone to cure over night, I started the process of attaching all of the fiddly-bits to this model.  Believe me when I say, that in 1/144 scale the fiddly-bits are that much more fiddly when you have large hands and fingers.



Undercarriage and pylons installed, tail flying surfaces installed, gear doors are next



Oh, yeah, and the centerline tank is installed!



Gear doors, ejection seat and canopy installed, almost there!



A penny for your thoughts…



Carrier lights painted with the end of a sharpened toothpick



Ejection seat with tape belts



Low aspect photograph of the finished model



High angle photograph of the finished model


                I thoroughly enjoyed building this model.  I applied a light wash to the entire airframe to pick out surface details.  Once I cleaned up the excess with a alcohol soaked cotton bud (or two, or three) the whole thing looked really nice.  I am contemplating adding the ordnance under the wings.  I painted up the AIM-120C AAMRAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles along with a pair of GBU-31 JDAM bombs.  I think I just may add them after I get done absorbing the pleasure of finishing the first model I’ve completed since well before Christmas 2012!  I hope to not wait this long to finish another model ever again!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

120: Show and Tell

The theme for April was "Friend and Foe".  A total of 28 completed builds packed the tables, 20 of which were theme related!

First up for theme builds we have a pair of armor builds by Jonathan Wright.  The 1:35 T-34 and Stug III Ausf G were voted the winner of the theme build, and Jonathan was awarded the much sought after "Golden Clamp" award by club president Chuck Connor.  For the T-34, Jonathan started with the Tamiya kit, representing a unit from 1934 which was built OOB.  Jonathan actually started the kit in the late 80's and dusted it off and finished it just for the theme build.  The T-34 was heavily weathered using Windex and Acrylic paints.

Complimenting the T-34 is Jonathan's Stug III, which was also built from a Tamiya kit.  Jonathan built the kit OOB, with a crew from a German Flak gun kit, and added stowage.  Like the T-34, the Stug was also heavily weathered.

Moving on, we have the first of a pair of Corsair/Zero builds.  This pairing was built by Mike Colvin using the Arii 1:48 kits for both examples.  Mike commented that both were nice kits built OOB with added seat belts.  The canopy on the Zero was actually done with thin drafting tape instead of paint.
 The second Corsair/Zero pairing was built by Gerry Whiteside, this time in 1:72.  Both kits were built OOB from the Hasegawa releases, although Gerry did substitute MicroScale Decals for the Corsair.

Highlighting an in-service rivalry, Joe Hegedus brought along a Tamiya 1:48 F2A-2 Buffalo and a Hobby Boss 1:48 F4F-3 Wildcat.  Both kits were built OOB, with Yellow Wings Decals added to the Buffalo.

Nate Swift also brought along an in-service rivalry pairing from the other side in WWII.  The first is the Henchel Hs.129B-2 of 8.(Pz)/SG1 which was built OOB from the 1:48 Hasegawa kit.  The second is a Junkers Ju-87G-1 of Pz.J.Sta/St.G 2.  Nate finished the OOB 1:72 Academy kit in the markings of Hans-Ulrich Rudel.

Moving ahead slightly to the Cold War Years, we have a group of four 1:144 builds by Ken Kelly.  In the first corner is a pair of Academy bombers, the B-58 Hustler and B-47E Stratojet.  Ken originally tried painting the B-47 with rattle can aluminum from Wal-Mart, but unfortunately it didn't react well.  Ken then stripped the entire model back down to bare plastic and then repainted it by hand with Polly Scale paints.  Opposing the pair of bombers are the Minicraft MiG-21PF and Arii MiG-25 also built OOB and hand painted with Polly Scale.

Staying with the Cold War era, but stepping up slightly in size we have a pair of 1:32 builds by Jim Rotramel.  The first is the excellent Tamiya F-4D with added Cutting Edge GBU-8s and Parts-R-Us nozzles.  The second model is the not-so-excellent Trumpeter boxing of the MiG-17.  Jim went about correcting the kit's flaws by adding a Cutting Edge cockpit and seat, a never released Cutting Edge clear resin canopy, scratch built the speed brake interiors and ventral fin as well as heavily modifying the tail section.

Ryan Turgeon brought along a more modern in-service rivalry pairing in 1:48th.  His F/A-18A and F-14A both started life as Hasegawa kits.  The F/A-18A was actually converted from a "C" kit, to which Ryan also added a Wolfpack Design wing fold kit, Tamiya AIM-9 and ACMI pod, and scratch built intake and exhaust covers.  The Hornet was finished in the NSAWC scheme using Fightertown Decals.  The F-14A also benefited from an AIM-9 and ACMI pod from Tamiya as well as a Hobby Decal pitot tube and scratch built launcher.  The very challenging "Splinter" scheme was masked by hand and topped again with Fightertown Decals.

Rounding out the theme builds is this pair of modern European rivals in 1:48 by Nick Kessel.  The Slovakian MiG-29AS started life as an Academy kit, to which Nick added a Quickboost resin nose and instrument probes, Aires exhausts, Wolfpack cockpit, and Eduard intake covers.  The unique digi-camo scheme was applied using numerous decal sheets by Kopro.  Nick compliments this with the Italeri boxing of the old Esci Mirage 2000C kit.  Nick added an Aires exhaust, Black Box cockpit and TwoBobs decals.

Starting off the few remaining non-theme builds is Austin Whiteside with his trio of Star Wars LEGO kits.  Austin brought along his Z-95 Headhunter which was the precursor to the famous X-Wing fighter.  Accompanying the Z-95 is an AT-RT walker and Umbaran Mobile Heavy Cannon.  It was apparant that the Cannon also has a taste for injection molded kits...

Steve Workman was present with a very nicely finished 52ft Mill Gondola in HO scale (1:87).  Steve started with a Proto 2000 kit and replaced the floor with an American Model Builders laser cut wood deck and Kadee #58 couplers.  Final markings were done in the Chesapeake and Ohio scheme to which Steve added weathering using pastel chalks and Oily Black paint.

Previously seen in the "In Progress" updates is the beautiful P-51D Mustang built by Andrew White.  Andy started with the Tamiya 1:32 kit and modified it to represent a Pacific Theatre very long range mission escort.  Modifications included new antennas on the turtle deck fashioned from wooden toothpicks, a new navigation system, and Barracuda resin wheels.

Don Manning brought along his Tamiya 1:48 FG-1D Corsair.  Don added Eduard photo etch, Ultracast wheels and Barracuda decals to represent a unit from 1945.  The Corsair was then nicely weathered using the salt weathering technique.

Last but not least is "Mr. Corsair" himself, Joe Hegedus with an Anigrand 1:72 XA2D-1 Skyshark.  Joe may have only built this one OOB, but with a multimedia kit that is no easy task.

Not to be outdone, Joe also brought along a build that has been seen in previous "In Progress" updates, his 1:72 F4U-4 "Franken"Corsair.  Joe really raided the parts box for this one: Hasegawa fuselage and main wings, Italeri forward fuselage and belly section, High Planes guns and rocket pylons, Tamiya main pylons and drop tank, Engines and Things engine, Aeroclub propeller, Hobbyboss canopy and a combination of Italeri and Hobbyboss decals.  Wow! And who says you should ever throw out those spare parts!

That's it for this month.  Hopefully there won't be as many models at next month's meeting, because my hands are getting tired from typing this update!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

120 - In Progress

For April, there were seven in progress builds, none of which were theme related.

Gerry Whiteside returns with his 1:48 Hasegawa F-14 Tomcat and 1:72 Airfix BAe Hawk.  The F-14 will be finished in a VF-102 scheme, while the Hawk is being built for the club's Build the Same Kit theme.

We were all happy to see John Bray return to a club meeting with his latest project, a 1:48 TBD-1 Devastator.  The kit is by Great Wall, and John is building it to represent an aircraft from the Battle of Midway.  John is building the Devastator in his usual style and will be adding it to a diorama portraying the aircraft in the middle of a torpedo drop.  Overall, John says it is a good kit but he did have some issues with the fit of the multipiece canopy.  He is using a Tamiya Navy Pilots kit for the crew.

Moving on to another Navy attack aircraft of a slightly more modern vintage, we have this 1:48 A-6 Intruder being built by Mike Colvin.  Mike is building the Revell kit OOB.

Steve Lucienetti brought along a pair of 1:48 F-105 Thunderchiefs in response to an email question from the club regarding available kits of the F-105.  The completed Thud is the old Monogram kit, while the unfinished F-105 is the newer Hobby Boss release.  Steve says that the Hobby Boss kit is overly complex, and suffers from horrible instructions.  You have been Warned!

This Hobby Boss F9F-5 Panther by Andrew White doesn't seem to suffer as the Thud kit did though.  Andy is building the 1:72 kit OOB, but with the gear up.  I've always loved the old Grumman fighters, and can't wait to see this one finished.

Lastly we have this 1:72 multimedia kit being built by Joe Hegedus.  Joe is making good progress on the Douglas Sky Pirate, and I imagine we'll be seeing it in paint soon.  My money is on Blue...

120: Photo Feature - 2013 NOVA Model Classic

Here are a bunch of pictures that I took at the NOVA Model Classic that was held April 18th.