On the bench 7 - icons

'80 Years ago' Part 7: "Should I stay or should I go? (with a set of rivet decals)


if you've been following this blog (all three of you, yeah!) you'll know I've been trying to keep these two parallel builds in line with historical events as an attempt to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. You'll also know that like many modellers, I often model to music, so this episode is brought to you by Chris Rea, The Clash and those cheeky, loveable knockabout Gallagher brothers.


"Bernie Rhodes knows, don't argue".


As the proverb goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. . . This episode continues the litany of thwarted good intent with a supersized helping of life which hijacked, interrupted and otherwise slowed the whole styrene jalopy to the speed of an ageing donkey carrying the carcass of a half-dead elephant on its back.


So here's episode 7 which is a short update on the thwarted/aborted attempts to get both kits into a parallel state of repair. Hopefully I'm nearly at a point where I can carry out some remedial filling of the leading edge divots left by sprue gates on steroids, rub away the pop-up sticky finger glue prints (where did they come from?) and do some general light sanding.


(All of the images are taken with a handheld iPhone 12 mini using a combination of natural light and a portable daylight rated LED work lamp).

The reluctant builder

I keep harping on about how I'm 'a painter, not a builder', and that I tend to recoil from the building process but the PCM kit really has sorely tested my patience. For more angst ridden tales of woe read on!


Denys Gillam's Revell Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia


I'm recreating 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 differences between the two.




I say differences, these really are minor and include a radio mast, the oil cooler and the Coffman blister on the port side of the nose. Revell kindly made this little detail, along with a couple of other lumps and bumps on the top of the cowling as an additional part which I think cover various drives and bits on the Merlin. Maximum mould mileage, people!


Both the radiator and the oil cooler are a bit suspect, the oil cooler in particular being just wrong in shape and intake profile. Anyone with even a vague interest in the Revell Spitfire doesn't need me to bash on about this basic error and its a straightforward fix with some resin. All good clean fun until you Dremel through your thumb. . . is time for a cuppa and a sit down yet?


Oh and yeah, flaps up too. Why risk a visit from the rivet police for flouting Kings regulations?

"I can make the Kettle run in 12 minutes"


In episode 6 I gave the innards a proper working over and retrospectively added some resin details. I even got the dreaded Sutton harness threaded onto some of the buckles and clips. I say some as not all of them would fit or would ping off into hyperspace as I removed them from the fret. The harness was one of HGWs older paper style products with a backing sheet which has been kicking around my stash for years. I have to say the current laser cut fabric texture versions are par-secs ahead of the alternatives (yeah yeah, I know all you Star Bores weirdo's, it's a measure of astronomical distance, not time. . . sheesh what's wrong with you? Get a proper hobby).



I didn't photograph this detail for episode 6 so here, by way of lazy journalism and furious backtracking to cover up the previous indiscretion (hey even Spielberg does this) is a shot of the harness and seat.


It's not the best nor the worst (you should see my attempts with the belts in a Trumpeter Me262B1a-U1), but I'm happy, and it confirms my suspicions about these things - they do add a focal point to any cockpit and lift a drab space while at the same time slowly destroying your eyesight, sanity and no doubt lungs from the superglue vapours. Just kidding, always wear a mask kids (and wash your hands!)


One other detail that cries out for replacement are the elevators and ailerons. Barracuda do a lovely set of fabric ailerons to replace the kits' wrong metal versions but sadly no matching elevators. Which is a shame as the kit items are a bit on the chunky side. The rib tapes in particular are square/angular, too pronounced and don't replicate the doped fabric over metal frame effect.


Other gripes and grumbles: The rivets - A bit on the deep side for my liking, and of dubious location/accuracy too. Given that the Spitfire was skinned mostly with flush or dome head rivets (particularly aft of the cockpit where major airframe stresses occurred) this is a bit of a worry and not ideal.



. . . Except for that one with the yellowy eye


But heck isn't this what model making is all about? Having something to point and laugh at? Suspect kit accuracy I mean, not inappropriately attired modellers at international shows (remember them?)


My jaundiced view of model making stems from a pre-digital age when a small mallet was an essential part of the tool kit, and owning three paint brushes was the mark of an expert. This young gun says sticking some bits together that are engineered to tolerances that even Rolls-Royce would baulk at is at best tedious and worst doesn't really do anything for the tyro model makers' skills. While any slippage of detail, accuracy and surgical build precision is the contemporary reviewers' bête noire, model making by osmosis from painfully perfect parts just doesn't float my Waka


Esta indecisión me molesta (sorry Mick!)


On the other hand. . . those holes erm rivets do look a bit wrong (Mr. Indecision) and leaving them 'as is' sort of says either I don't care, or I don't taken my hobby seriously enough. So, do I invest in some of those HGW or Archer rivet decals and can I afford more time (and expense), or do I live with it and give it a jolly good coat of Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500?


Well, whatever the outcome of three hours of tangential browsing on the internet for yet more modelling supplies and additional 'must haves', the Spitfire is just about, almost, nearly ready for some remedial work with some white Milliput.


Now where's that Hurricane?



Willie McKnight's PCM Hawker Hurricane Mk I


I have to take a breath at this point and say this kit is driving me berserk. It's been on the naughty shelf for some time as I get my head around its foibles. At the time I bought it, it was the only 1/32nd scale game in town (the Fly kit, another limited run yet arguably better engineered and easier to construct proposition had yet to appear).


Knowing its limitations as a low pressure limited run injection kit didn't really prepare me for the rollercoaster ride of quality fit and if ever there was a time to read one of those 'reviews' I mercilessly parodied in my 'fake news - flaky reviews' blog post, then it was probably just before I bought the PCM kit. . . Still, as I assert in the post, no amount of verbal from some bloke on their very own styrene porn channel would have dissuaded me from buying one. Suck it up buttercup, ya bought it!


So what's not to like?


Well lots really:

Yes its a limited run product and low pressure injection means some limitations such as the difficulty when creating thin crisp detail like trailing edges (the elevators are a case in point and are very thick and really not acceptable at this scale). Here's a shortish list of things in no particular order of importance, but which have raised my blood pressure to valve poppin' levels.


"It's zee plane, zee plane!":

  • the landing lamp internal recesses - are a bit 'fantasy island' - they don't fit and are not accurate and you can see the thickness of the wing section. To be honest although this seems trivial it's just not acceptable at this scale. And as they're in your face on the leading edge, they stick out like the contents of pit bull's scrotum. Not pretty.

  • the elevators - trailing edges are a bit on the chunky side and I just had to have a go at them with the Dremel. Kinda wishing I hadn't now as they've been hacked a bit but there you go... arguably better(ish). These still need a heap of work to undercut the tailplane so the elevator will sit properly and profile the elevator 'nose' without removing too much material.

  • the gun port inserts are shockers! Lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth to grind these down and sand flush. Luckily they will be getting a doped cover.







  • the Dzus fasteners on the fuselage metal panels are not only just basic raised circles but are too pronounced. The real thing are flush concentric as seen above.














The inclusion of etched parts (by Eduard) is great - but they aren't that accurate:

  • the radiator/oil cooler bathtub - granted you have to get on your scale hands and knees to see into it but its not accurate and is missing the central circular oil cooler and its feed pipes. Can I be arsed at this point?

  • he radiator door - at this scale there really should be a bit more thought into how the thing works. The two bracing struts which are quite prominent are missing as are the bent actuator rods and the holes in the skin for these to pass through. t

  • formation lights behind the radiator bath. Should be three, there's only one.

  • Sink marks - the rotol props are a a bit grim and the spinner diameter is a bit small. Fix? A back plate and filler to build up the spinner.








Fit of main parts: Oh here we go!

  • this has been well documented elsewhere by 'angry old men with years of modelling under their belts'. Let's just say the fuselage to wing gap isn't the big deal these chaps make it out to be and mine was no worse than some more modern mainstream kits.

  • there are no locator pins for the tail - but, I hear you say, this is limited run, what do expect? Well yeah, but unfortunately the Hurricane has quite a pronounced fillet fairing the horizontal tail surfaces into the fuselage and this is just not there. The solution a thin layer of Miliput sanded and profiled to shape (borrowing the fabric uniform technique from figure modellers) or leave it and cry about it laters. . .

  • The rudder and that weird separate lower part? why didn't they just separate the whole thing and provide the two variants for the fabric wing early airframe? More pratting about trying to hide a join. Sheesh.


So I'm just about at that point to give both airframes a basic coat of Mr Surfacer 500 and then a swift rub down with horse liniment before applying the Chaos Black and a diffuser light grey mottle. . .


The importance of being idle


I had hoped to be done and dusted with these two before the commencement of yuletide, but to be honest seeing that the world has all gone a Pete Tong again, I have to consider the sage words of Mr Gallagher:


I'll be fine

If you give me a minute,

A man's got a limit

I can't get a life if my heart's not in it


The next post will look at completing the main build and starting the painting process.


Without whom

Also - honourable mentions: You do follow the Spitfire Society and the Hurricane Heritage don't you? They're on social media too, give em a whirl and tag them in your posts. Standard!


Kia kaha. Be good, be kind to each other, stay safe, and go well wherever you may be.


Anthony

Wellington - 17th December 2020.


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