MQ-1 Predator

This was one of the easiest builds to ever grace my resume in the past five years. The first time this build presented itself to my workbench, I was green and inexperienced. This time I had a little more confidence in myself.

As I said before, construction took no time at all without a cockpit to assemble and detail. The fuselage goes together immediately and with a great fit, you’re ready to move on to paint. There were two tiny gaps that I filled at the leading edge of the wing root on both sides. They weren’t anything serious, just noteworthy.

The theme of “simple” carried over to the airbrush with a coat of light ghost gray. There isn’t any masking to perform when building a drone so it makes for a pain-free paint job. Decals were another excellent department to the Predator. The sheet gives you multiple options to choose from and they apply great. The release time was incredible. 

After I weathered it, I felt that it lacked as a static display. With an actual manned aircraft, there are lots of little aspects that catch the eye. With a UAV, they lack the cockpit or a massive array of weapons to keep your attention. My solution was to add a little more detail with Eduard’s PE “remove before flight” banners. I also painted a piece of masking tape red and cut strips for the propeller blade and stabilizer covers. It’s a subtle way to break up the grey and give the eye more to enjoy.  


 
 
 
   

Into The Thick Of It

In their each respective capacities, I can now label myself as “into” my current builds. The past couple of days has been spent in various stages of each build. Unfortunately I have been hit head on with a few fit issues to address. Nothing too serious to panic about just yet.

The A-10’s are looking like A-10’s now. They were the first to reveal fit issues. Same problem for both which seems odd given the fact that they are from different manufacturers. The cockpits are attached to the nose wheel bay which then are attached to the interior of the underside of the nose. Both kits would not fit correctly. The Academy kit is worse than the HobbyBoss kit with about a 1/16″ gap to fill. After that problem is behind me I will focus on the fuselage seams on the Academy kit and getting the wings attached to the HobbyBoss kit.

The Su-22 is a strange one. It seems like the instructions were meant for a different kit. They are certainly for a Su-22, just not this one. To start, Mister Craft gives you a two place cockpit to build from. The instructions show a single seat cockpit. When you join the fuselage halves together, you see that something is awfully wrong. Major surgery to both the cockpit and fuselage were required to get even a decent fit. There are still gaps along the belly where the fuselage wouldn’t come together. Another “project” build for me! I will stay calm and take my time with this build.

The F-35 is lagging behind a bit but it is the better of the four so far. I have the weapons and landing gear bays installed. The cockpit is close to being finished with its array of parts. I will spend some time finishing that up this afternoon and get the fuselage halves together.

The Dinah and the X-32

Construction on my Dinah and X-32 builds have become a fizzle since my power session on Thanksgiving Day. Thanks to that spearheaded effort, I am able to say that I am making progress.
The X-32 is coming along nicely with little difficulties impeding the process. My next step is to glue the two fuselage halves together. I don’t foresee too much time filling or sanding this kit. It should be ready for paint by the end of the week.
The Dinah has been a surprise build. It offers decent detail and assembly has been great. The only issue is a good size gap on the underside when you join the fuselage halves. Other than that minor fix, I have had no fitting issues. I expect this kit to take me into the weekend and hopefully be finished early next week. My goal is to spend a lot more time on these two this week. We’ll see how life goes.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I have wasted no time in transitioning into my next builds. I have picked two kits that couldn’t be any more dissimilar from each other. On the bench for this build is Tamiya’s Boeing X-32 JSF and ARII Models Ki-46-3 (Dinah) Interceptor.
The X-32 looks good on the sprues. There aren’t too many pieces to this kit so it should be a quick build. The Dinah is a little bare but looks decent otherwise. This is my first build from ARII Models so we’ll see how this turns out. Also, this is my first build of a Japanese airplane so I’ve been doing my homework getting all the colors accurate.
I spent about two hours this morning power building. I was able to make a lot of progress getting all the pre-painting finished up. I’ll get into assembly tomorrow. I plan on these kits taking a relatively short time to get through. By the way things went this morning, these will be fun to build.

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Spitfire Mk. I

The final element of my Battle of Britain build is the Spitfire Mk. I. Like the Messerchmitt, construction of the Spitfire went just as well. At least with this one I didn’t break or ruin anything. The wing fitting was a little off but it didn’t take much to correct. This build, along with the Messerschmitt, was enjoyable. Both kits could be completed within a few days time. The only downside, to me, was the lack of an open canopy along with some cockpit detail.

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Messerschmitt Bf109E

The Messerschmitt Bf109E is one of my favorites from World War II. I enjoyed this build immensely. Part by part, it went together as one would hope for but I must confess my own faults during this build. As I previously stated, I lost the original spinner to the propeller and also broke off the tail wheel. Well, I continued to ruin two more propeller spinners before I was able to get it right. Careless mistakes, but I got through it.
The paint job took patience and lots of time. I enjoy the look of the German style paint schemes and this one was a good experience to try. It gave me confidence to build some more WWII German aircraft.

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On the Road

It’s time for my family’s annual Thanksgiving getaway and along for the trip are my Bf109 and Spitfire. We’re on our way to Frankenmuth, MI as I write this. The plan is to decal both planes tonight in the hotel room. With all the attractions around there, I might not be awake enough to fulfill my hope.
The construction of these two kits was a joy. Zero stress builds. Painting the Spitfire was a breeze. However, the Bf109 was a tedious affair. I didn’t realize all the masking I would have to do to accomplish the paint scheme. I spent a total of five sessions with the airbrush. This was my introduction into the blotchy squiggle German camouflage. I dialed down the psi and sprayed the paint with the airbrush almost touching the kit. Overall, I’m happy with both kits. This was a comforting build after the headaches of the last build. For $4.99, I got my money’s worth.

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The Battle of Britain

For my next two builds, I’ve chosen to stay with the WWII theme. I picked up Hasegawa’s limited edition Spitfire Mk. I & Messerschmitt Bf109E “Battle of Britain” kit a while back for the bargain price of $4.99. Like a few of my other builds, I had no future plans for this kit. Thanks to my WWII era initiative, they have drastically moved up in the pecking order.
Upon opening the box, you’ll find both kits in separate bags. Each kit is moulded in typical hasegawa fashion. There was some minor flashing on the Bf109. Nothing major, just a little unexpected. Everything else looks great. Cockpit detail is bare. The canopies come in the closed position making cockpit detail unnecessary. I added seat belts anyway. So far, these kits have been a pleasure to build. In a twenty-four hour period, the Bf-109E’s fuselage was complete and the wings were adhered with one round of filler into the roots. Somehow I managed to brake the tail wheel off leading me to add some protection to the wing cannons. I cut thin strips of cardboard and taped them over the guns to keep my clumsy hands from causing any more damage.
In that same time frame, I was able to get the fuselage together on the Spitfire. This build is most definitely going to be a quick one. I’ve taken two days away from the build and I am eager to get going again. If all goes as planned, these two historic fighters should be on the shelf by the weekend.

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MiG-21 MF Jayfighter

Fujimi’s MiG-21 has provided some much needed balance during my two current builds. It was nothing short of a spectacular model. While I complained about Airfix, Fujimi didn’t leave me disappointed.
Construction went in the normal fashion. Cockpit detail was as expected. I added my usual details, of course. I included ejection handles and the canopy actuator, along with some tagging along the fuselage wall. The fuselage seamed together nicely. As a bonus, there was no need to fill and sand the spine due to the electronic hump. The wings couldn’t have had a better fit. There was no need for any filler whatsoever. All the other prep work went normal.
The painting process proved to be the hardest part of the build. I sprayed the underside with Model Masters Duck Egg Blue. Unfortunately I thinned it a bit too much resulting in a few runs. I was able to correct it without having to reshoot the plane. I used 600 grit sand paper to knock the runs down followed by 1000 grit. For the other two colors I used Model Masters Dark Tan and Dark Earth. Overall a great build. Fujimi continues to set the standard in quality model kits.

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Perseverance

My favorite quote from the iconic Walt Disney is “keep moving forward”. If there is a lesson to be learned from my F-51D build, it’s to keep on building. Although my complaining was warranted, I stuck with it and found the silver lining in this kit. It took a great deal of disappointment to find that Airfix did do well on some accounts. The Mustang made it through it’s turmoil and is ready for paint.
After the gap issues in the fuselage, it was a domino effect in the fitting of the wings. After some sanding and trimming, I was able to get a snug fit. I filled the gaps, sprayed and masked the anti-glare shield on the nose, and here we sit ready for the airbrush. Painting should go way smoother than construction. If all goes well, I should be done mid-week.

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