On the bench 4 - Icons

'80 Years ago' Part 4: Plastic fantastic and the beige resin cowboy

I originally wrote and posted this in mid October 2020 and with some historical context, the accepted period of the Battle of Britain is drawing to a close, and like the coming autumnal weather and darkening skies, a time to reflect. 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 another brief update on the trials and tribulations with styrene, resin and etched stuff.

So are you sitting comfortably?

As I've said before, I recoil from the building process and enjoy the application of paint much more than the 'sticking bits together' task of this hobby. Bizarre?

I think this is largely due to no matter how I try, I seem to be incapable of trimming stuff of the sprue without gouging some detail or other. But recently I've discovered the 'joy of Dremel', and have been somewhat absorbed into the compulsive-obsessive world of adding remedial detail and fixing the kits shortcomings. It wasn't intentional.

Yes, that's right folks, I have rekindled a desire to hack at styrene and resin with a powered tool, and in doing so have even started making my own bits of detail. Granted it's a bit basic and to be honest these 'arts and crafts' style (e.g. a bit rustic looking) details are going to be buried in the darkest recesses of the kit interior; but still, it's created a bit of a distraction and has slowed what was supposed to be a double quick double build into a slow crawl.

The story so far: William McKnight's Hurricane - Pacific Coast Models Hawker Hurricane MkI.

I've chosen to recreate P2961 as it appeared at the hight of the battle in September 1940.

If you catch my occasional Twitter rant/posts (currently on a social media sabbatical), you'll know that I think that the PCM kit is a bit of an 'odd' cove. Some lovely but truculent resin, some unlovely styrene - some fine detail, some clunky bits that are redolent of FROG kits from the early 70s.

Basically, we have to ask why? The control column for one is a bit weird. Lumpy and too tall, the seat looks too wide and the shape's a bit off in places. . . Nothing to consign it to one of those angry reviewer "this kit is pants" categories, but not the best either.

The gear bay is a case in point. A two parter of main bay and separate front wall which even with heavy duty two pack epoxy, refused to go together and stay stuck. "Nurse the foreceps!"

The next job was to sort out the vague location for the main gear legs. If you are used to the near surgical precision of just about any Tamiya or Zouki-Mura's best, then this kit will give you cold sweats. But to old sweats who love to get the knives and rat-tail files out, fixing this sort of thing is a minor engineering project.

My solution to the uncooperative wheel well was a couple of bits of alloy tube and some epoxy to make sure it all stays put.

Aligning the legs to obtain the correct rake and sit was a bit of a chore while carefully trying not to get the gear legs permanently attached at the same time.

Anyway it looks ok-ish to me. . .

Staying with the underside of the Hurricane, I had a look at the radiator/oil cooler ventral bath. For 32nd scale this is rather basic. The aperture is the wrong profile but there really isn't enough material to sculpt something a little more like the real shape.

I've used Richard Franks' Modeller's Datafile 2 Hawker Hurricane title as a reference point to thin and re-profile as much as possible; although the reference images are collated from different marques and are not an exact representation of a MkI.

The main drawback at this stage is the overall intake shape and the clunky styrene. A marked contrast to the sharp detail in the wheel well.

I've started to thin the edges and work out where the apertures for the stiffener rods and the bent radiator flap actuators should go.

The etched fret for the radiator/oil cooler matrix is not representative of the MkI. Anyway it's going to be largely hidden away once built so why fret?

The story so far - Denys Gillam's Revell Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa (converted to Mk Ia)

Nothing to see here, move along. . .

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 Revell Spit MkII has taken a bit of a back seat to the Hurricane while an order of paint and adhesive made its way down country from the lovely people at Hobby City in Auckland. I've kept the images here from episode 3 as a bit of filler. Shameless lazy journalism I know, but you know how it goes?

The panel has had a little more work done to the bezels. Pushing a round file through from the back builds up a 'lip' of styrene and creates a nice instrument bezel. Gently does it!

So once the approximate shade of cockpit green turns up I can crack on and get the Spitfires' office spruced up.

What's next?

In the next post we'll look at the painting of the cockpits and building the main assemblies of each kit.

Kia kaha. Be good, be kind stay safe, stay well.


Wellington - 10-21th October 2020 (revised September 2021).

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