On the bench 3 - Icons

'80 Years ago' Part 3: Devils are in the detail



Picking up from the previous post which laid out the plans to get stuck into not one but two large scale projects at once, here's a brief update on the trials and tribulations with styrene, resin and etched thingumyjigs.


So if you've just joined and are sitting comfortably, the aim is to put some of the talk from waffle #5 about the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain into a more tangible form and simultaneously build a 1/32nd scale Spitfire MkI and Hurricane MkI.


All of the images are taken with an old iPhone SE.



The fuzzy logic of building two kits at once is that they share common colour features and they are both simple structures with only a cockpit and basic undercarriage to detail so i can focus on my favourite bit which is painting and weathering. The other aim is also to link the process to a documentary approach to photography and introduce some basic techniques which will improve the images for social media use.


As I've said before in my 'on the bench' He162 article, I'm a fugitive from the building process and enjoy the application of paint much more than the 'coercing two bits of styrene to join together and stay stuck' job. But I am also easily distracted.


Why these two?


A recap if you've just joined: The duality is simple: historians have debated for decades that neither the Spitfire or Hurricane acting alone could have been enough to counter the Luftwaffe in the Summer of 1940. The discussion expands into the relative merits of each type and usually descends into a one legged arse kicking contest based on presumptions and skewed data.


In my amateur estimation, I think this discussion while of some academic merit, is really immaterial and that they are joint icons.


Yes the Spitfire is the epitome of the fighter aircraft. It eclipses all comers (the Mustang is undeniably a beautiful deadly machine) in the aesthetic stakes purely because if the Battle of Britain had gone the wrong way there probably would never have been a 'Cadillac of the Skies'. Nuff said?


Returning to the pseudo-academic argument, without the Hurricane, a purposeful aeroplane who's design and construction hark back to a previous age of fabric and tubular frames, the Spit would probably not prevailed against the Luftwaffe's fleets alone. Forget numbers and odds, the Hurricane is the real hero of the hour.



So where are we up to with the kit making job?


I've made a start on the cockpits of both kits and been posting some random images on Twitter. If you've got here from there, thanks for looking in and please subscribe to the site. We are nice folks here.



The story - William McKnight's Hurricane


I've chosen to recreate P2961 as it appeared at the hight of the battle in September 1940. This means losing the sky band and spinner and the black lower port wing which is represented in teh Zotz early RAF Hurricane collection sheet ZTZ32036. I do like the black wing version but this build is all about the time and the men, not my prediliction for certain configurations. Its slightly less interesting than the black wing with yellow outline roundel but it still carries McKnights skeleton artwork and the 242 Sqn boot motif.



One aspect of both of these builds is the discrepancies with colours. In this case teh Zotz sheet roundels appear to be a bright red and I'm not sure this is totally correct. The Xtradecal versions for the Spitfire are a definite 'dull brick red'. Not entirely sure these are the real deal either, but we will return to this as we approach the painting stages. As I said in a previous post, this isn't a slavish review of 'reckons'.


'Oh do shut up and get on with it"


So build wise, the PCM kit is a bit 'odd'. Some resin, some styrene - some fine detail, some clunky bits. The control column for one is a bit weird. Lumpy and too tall.


So I've made a start on trying to fashion a new spade grip from guitar wire (I think its a mid weight D string) I've had several goes at this wound around a needle file handle to get the diameter near. Not sure if it's worth the aggravation.


The work on other components from the PCM kit includes a look at the etched metal instrument panel supplied on a fret of details in the kit.


A delight in pre-painted exactness but a pain to put together and align the clear instrument faces with the dials and then getting everything to stay stuck!




Here's a shot of the Revell Spitfire panel for comparison. The etched panel also has a texture to it which is not really prototypical and is possibly something to do with the etching and colour printing process. Nice though.

In other news... I thinned the resin seat supplied in the kit (its not the correct shape and looks a bit wide plus is missing the stiffener side frame of the real thing) and made a start on the supplied etched harness.


I have to say this was easier than threading etched buckles onto paper fabric straps but again I'm not sold on the rigidity or the buckles laying across the strap rather than threading through, and it won't take a watercolour wash like a paper harness, but still I'm more or less happy with it and not overjoyed with the prospect of threading the Spit's Sutton HGW lazer cut harness later. I may need to have a lie down beforehand!



The story so far - Denys Gillam's Spitfire


I've chosen to recreate N3093 as it appeared around mid to late August 1940. It's a MkIa so some basic work will need to be carried out on the Revell MkIIa to fix the minor differences between the two marques. We'll get to these differences as they pop up in the build.


The decal sheet is the Xtradecal X32054 from Hannants. A basic sheet by today's standards, the decal placement instructions are adequate, the printed colour values not all that accurate and the paint call-outs are all Xtracolor, so a bit of judicious cross referencing is in order.


One niggly issue is the underside colour of N3093 which is stated as Sky Blue and not the more usual Sky Type S of this period. There is a smashing article here written by Rato Marczak in 2009 which is well worth a read which delves into the confusing world of RAF blues and greens.


I don't want to bore you with my take on RAF colour so I'm happy to point you at the internet and will mix my own colour to go with the generally agreed value of a 'pastel' blue which was in use and specified by the Air Min since the early 1930s. It's a bit RLM65-ish, but paler and bluer... Here's a comparator of the underside colours by Vernon Rabbetts from 2004. (sourced from Hyperscale).


Never mind that, what's going on with the plastic bits?


Like the PCM Hurricane, the Revell Spit MkII has been around for a few years and is well known. The cockpit has some nice detail which is good in parts but needs help in others. Enter Barracuda Studios and the sublime resin details and decals of Roy Sutherland. I picked a new seat with armour plate (was this fitted to the MkIa? we'll find out laters) new wheels and a couple of other bits which we'll get to as the build progresses.


I didn't have the luxury of a new etched panel for the Spitfire, reasoning that the kit styrene one is pretty good. Err, yeah. . . but in a moment of creme-de-menthe fuelled madness I set to, thinning the styrene panel part and opening up the dials to take some decal instruments from the kit sheet. Its old school modelling brought back to life I tell ya!


And true to form the openings refuse to stay round despite gentle reaming with a rat tail file. It's all getting locked away inside a pokey little office anyway. . .


So that's about it for now. There's still a Hobby Hoss F84E to finish, an Airfix EE Lightning F1A (when the decals turn up from the bowels of Airfix spares department (lovely people!) Oh, and the canopy of the Revell Francophiled He162 to paint.


No biggie. . "just, need, to, concentrate. . ."


What's next?


In the next post we'll look at the main assemblies of each kit and assess the work needed to get the big bits sorted.


We will also cover some basic photography lighting technique when using mobile phones to document working at the hobby bench. Some quick easy tricks which don't spoil the build flow.


Did I say I have a thing about details?



Kia kaha, be good, be kind (but don't suffer tightly wound fools and their conspiracies).


Anthony

Wellington - 1-4th October 2020.


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