• johan.hammar@plasticfantastique.com

Building

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 8

A bit frustrated at this point. But more about that in the later part of my post.

Metal parts to the DBD-3The SBD-3

I have slowly started work on the final kit, the Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless. The kit is from Hasegawa and after I built the SBD-2 I have to admit that it’s not as good as Academy’s SBD-2. But this time I’ve added a lot of after market stuff so maybe that will compensate. But it also makes it a lot more fiddly. It’s all to easy to shoot away that 3 mm etched metal part with the tweezers into oblivion. But that is why I start this kit a bit early because it will take time.

I’m also bracing myself for the paint job. I bought paint masks for the markings on the kit. It’s an art I’m trying to master. The result looks really good compared to decals but naturally there’s more job. In some places it can be hard to get the mask to adhere to the surface. If the the surface is bended or things protrude and the mask is a bit stiff it can be hard to keep it tight. This was true when I did the SBD-2. The national insignias on the fuselage was placed quite close to the wing root and keeping the mask in place while airbrushing was a challenge. Still the end result was gratifying.

A pleasing frustration

As I mentioned at the start I’m a bit frustrated at the moment because this project gets bigger for every post. At the moment I’m still waiting for the Vindicator to clear the customs, where it has been for ten days now. As this was the penultimate kit in the project that was a bit frustrating.  But then one, or actually two, of Kosters 1/48 Flying Fortress B-17C/D/E Vacuform Conversion Kit turned up on Ebay. After a week of nail biting I managed to win one of the auctions.

A blessing in disguise as this means that I now can turn the B-17F kit I have on the shelf into a Midway B-17E adding yet another (quite large) kit into the project. So at the moment it looks like it’s going to be 14 kits in total and that I will not make my target date of July 4, the 76th anniversary.

Well more fun to do.

 

 

 

 

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 7

I’m beginning to reach the end of this project. Just putting the finishing touches to the SBD-2 Dauntless flown by Lt. Iverson. This will be the eleventh kit. Still have two to go so the tally will end at thirteen if not a conversion kit for making a B-17G Flying Fortress into a B-17E miraculously should turn up. But the chance of that happening looks bleak.

The SBD-2

While doing the Marauder I decided to include the SBD-2 into the project. Reading about Lt. Daniel Iverson and navigator Wallace J. Reid and in what state they returned to Midway made my mind up. Also the fact that the plane was patched up, used as a trainer and then lost in Lake Michigan to be salvaged in 1993 and now in a museum helped.

The kit is originally from Accurate Miniatures but my version was sold by Academy. Lucky for me the decals was for Iverson’s plane. The kit is generally a good one and really needs no changes. So basically I built it out of the box. The only extras I used was paint mask for the cockpit hood and the national insignias. The national insignias would have been hard as decals because the wings have some kind of intakes just where the insignias goes.

The only snag is that Hasegawa’s kit of the SBD-3 does not look as promising. I hope that it does not become a disappointing finish to my project.

 

The finish?

I finally bought the Vindicator. I found one reasonably priced kit on Ebay. It lacks the decals but that doesn’t matter too much as I’ve also bought paint masks for the plane I want to build. I’m looking forward to receiving it because it’s also an Accurate Miniatures kit. Also the item on Ebay was titled “2 X 1/48 Accurate Miniatures SB2U-3 Vindicator” so it will be interesting to see if it’s just one kit or if it’s actually two. According to the package tracking it’s just arrived at customs clearance in Sweden.

After the Vindicator it’s only the hero of the battle left, the SBD-3 Dauntless. If I manage to do these two during May the project will have taken me a year. Still that’s included a stop of several months when I was moving.

I’ve started a project web page where I will write the Battle Of Midway story with pictures of all my kits.

 

 

 

 

 

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 6

Just finished kit number nine, the Nakajima B5N2 Type 97 ‘Kate’. I’ve written a review of the kit here. This project has a tendency to grow under way. I started out with nine kits, including two Dauntless, so really eight. This was what I thought was reasonable as it was hard to find more kits of plane types participating in the battle. I was proven wrong. Since then I found the Aichi E13A1b ‘Jake’ the Japanese reconnaissance plane that filled an important part in the sinking of the USS Yorktown. I also managed to get hold of a B-26 Marauder and enough reference pictures and assorted decals to be able to do the build SusieQ who made a run along the deck of the Akagi. I’ve also realized that the Vought SB2U Vindicator was more active in the battle than I previously thought prompting me to go out looking fore one, no deal done yet but it’s available. I also have a B-17 Flying Fortress but it’s a B-17G and the ones on Midway was B-17E and to do that I’d need a conversion kit. This is not as readily available.

The Marauder at Midway

I’ve just started the kit that will become SusieQ. Got it in the mail yesterday after it had made a turn in the customs office.  I had already bought paint masks, photo etched parts and assorted decals for it and had them waiting. Unfortunately there is a shortage of reference pictures of the actual plane. The only picture I found is of a metal plate with the text “SusieQ” that was cut out of the wreck. So I know how that looked like. But I also found a concurrent picture of a B-26 at the Aleutian Islands equipped with a torpedo. So I will use that as a paint reference and guide to place the serial numbers etc.

Fortunately the torpedo on this B-26 looks a lot like the extra torpedo that was included in the Devastator kit. I also have to file away a few things from the fuselage from the kit that was not on the Aleutian plane. It had no forward guns on the fuselage and there’s an extra armour plate on the pilot side that needs getting rid of. There is several drawings of the SusieQ but it’s clear that the lack of reference pictures has opened the field for artistic freedom. Just the placement of the serial number differs from the tail fin to the fuselage. But the Aleutian picture helps. But weather the plane had the ‘U.S. ARMY’ text under the wing or not is an open question.

I also soon discovered that Esci’s Marauder kit is not a reboxed version of Mongrams/Revells kit as I thought. This means that not all etched metal parts from Eduard will fit my kit.

And onwards

There has been some really expensive Vindicator kits on Ebay but lately two kits have shown up at https://www.hannants.co.uk. Available today is Azur’s Vought V-156F Vindicator ‘French Navy’ but even if it’s based on Accurate Miniatures “Marine Corps Bomber SB2U-3 Vindicator
VMSB-241, Battle of Midway” it has new parts so I’m a bit uncertain. At the same time Hannants has also announced a “Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator Battle of Midway” from Academy but it’s listed as Future Releases with no date. So I’m in two minds how to act here. One thing is clear though. The Vinidactor is in the project as of now.

Then we have the B-17 Flying Fortress. They were based at Midway and made several unsuccessful bombing runs on the Japanese navy. The only snatch here is that the available kit in 1:48 is a B-17G and the ones at Midway was B-17E. There’s many small differences like the belly turret, the front glass etc. A bit too much for me to scratch build. There was a conversion kit from Koster Aero Enterprises but it’s not available anywhere. It still looks like the B-17 will be out of the race.

When it comes to the Dauntless I have two kits, one SBD-2 and one SBD-3. The older SBD-2 was based at Midway and had an active role during the battle but the SBD-3 that were based on the carriers were really the ones that saved the Americans bacon. My initial thought was to just build one of each aircraft type in this project but now I’m starting to ponder weather I should do both Dauntless anyways. The SBD-3 I’m planning for the grand finale. It has a lot of extras to the kit and it was the SBD-3’s that sealed the fate of the Japanese carriers so it will be the perfect kit to end the project with. But Maybe I should push in the SBD-2 before that? Choices, choices.

 

 

 

 

 

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 5

I’ve now started with subjects seven and eight in my project. On my display I now have the Zero, the Val, the Wildcat, the Catalina, the Buffalo and the Avenger.

I’m considering starting at new page on this site to write more about the history of each models subject. Like I do on the social medias. Well we’ll see how long that will take to get in place.

The Jake

I’ve written a few words about this kit in previous posts. It’s the last addition to the collection and for a long time I thought that there was no such kit in scale 1:48. But somewhere I picked up traces of an old kit that had existed and started to hunt. Lo and behold when several turned up in a search on Ebay. I finally got one from Germany.

Now this kit is from the 70’s and that is apparent. The level of details is scarce, there is a lot of moulding flash and uneven surfaces. After all these years I also suspect the decals are shot to pieces but the colours is all wrong anyway. But still it’s a Jake in the right scale.

This will probably be quite a quick build. I could have spent ages on detailing and generally fix things up on this one but I’ve decided to do my best with what there is. I’ll need some new decals but I think I can scavenge leftover from other kits and/or I will do some serious masking which would be a first for me.

I also have to decide on which Jake to do. I have the choice of two planes. The first is the one from the Heavy Cruiser ‘Tone’ that spotted the American fleet but failed to identify the carriers which proved to be fatal for the Japanese. The second is the one from the Heavy Cruiser ‘Chikuma’ that found and tracked the USS Yorktown for three hours leading to it’s sinking.

The Devastator

Now this kit is the definite opposite of the Jake kit. It comes with extra everything. Etched metal parts, paint mask, separate decals for every instrument (in pairs if you should fail one) and even a small poster with the box art. The mould is crisp and it generally looks promising. This one will take more time but will also be more gratifying to build.

I will build this with the wings extended as I have done with the other planes in this project. It’s a shame though as the kit includes pristine metal arms for the folded wings and is well detailed in the wing interior joints.

It’s a shame that this kit from Great Wall Hobby is not generally available any more. I had to hunt this one down at Ebay too. This time I got it from China. GWH has released this kit in three issues, the last with floats. You can still pick them up on Ebay at a reasonable price.

As an extra bonus the kit includes the markings of exactly the plane I want to build, the plane piloted by ensign Gay at that fateful day 4 June 1942.

On another note

The last week I’ve discovered the real depth of scalemates.com! Not only does this site have information on virtually every plastic model ever made but also rich community and a function to keep track of your kits. If you register you can keep track of which kit you’re building, have built, have in your stash or have on your wish list. You can set up projects and share info on what you’re doing. This site is a must for all modellers!

 

 

 

 

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 4

Finally I can resume my Battle Of Midway project. After almost five months in boxes all my modelling stuff is unpacked.

New workspace

This paragraph might be a bit off topic but there’s an update on the project below. In my new apartment I’ve set aside a room entirely for my hobby. It still turned out that I’ll probably will need more shelves soon. Still it’s an improvement. The desk is larger than my previous one and I added another module to my paint stand so now it has room for all the bottles (for now any ways).

I installed a black linoleum carpet on top of the oak parquet. In part for protection but also to fight the horrible carpet monster where all small plastic details disappear.

A new spray booth for when I use the air brush. So now I hope that there’ll be a bit cleaner air and less paint dust. This far the kit has proven to be better than expected.

On the other wall I have a book shelf with all the reference literature.

 

Project report

I’ve picked up where I left and am still working simultaneously with the Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo and the Grumman TBD-1 Avenger.

The paint is on the Buffalo and I have to pick the individual for the markings. Gary Asher has an excellent Flickr stream with most of the Midway Buffalo’s and accompanying pilots accounts from the fighting at https://www.flickr.com/photos/13935339@N05/with/6950100846/. It will be hard to settle on any one of them. I hope to get done with this one soon as this is not a very good model to work with as the kit is a bit dated.

The Avenger from Hobby Boss on the other hand is more enjoyable. It’s a good kit full of details. It’s also sold as a Battle Of Midway kit with markings of the only Avenger to come back from the attack on the Japanese fleet. The only snag is that it the kit is a Grumman TBD-1C Avenger which is a later model. Even the box art depicts the plane with rockets which was not used until later in the war. As far as I’ve concluded there is only minor alterations to be made though. First is to omit the rockets and file down the small panels on the wings and fill the holes. You also need to omit the radar antennas (also depicted on the box) and fill those holes in the wings. The cut off the wing mounted guns and fill the gun holes under the wings. After these small changes you are closer to the TBD-1 that flew at midway.

Next

These two done I’ll start up two new ones. It will probably be the Aichi E13A1 ‘Jake’, another really old kit, and the fateful Douglas TBD-1 Devastator. Both these kits were a bit hard to hunt down. The Devastator from Great Wall Hobby I found on Ebay located in China. Unfortunately the local post service failed the first delivery and sent it back. Fortunately I managed to communicate with the seller and he (she?) resent the model.

For a long time I thought there were no kits of the ‘Jake’ in scale 1:48 and had given up on it. Then one of my internet surfings paid off and I found an old model made by a company called Nichimo. And lo and behold there was a few available at Ebay. I order one from Germany and it arrived promptly. It’s a real simple kit without any cockpit interior but still it is a ‘Jake’. I will have to scavenge some old decals but at least I have two individuals to chose from thanks to this page: http://www.printscale.org/product_547.html

 

 

 

 

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 3

The Battle Of Midway project is at a standstill at the moment as a pending move has forced me to temporarily pack all my modelling stuff. Now it’s less than three weeks left until I should be able to start again. This however does not hinder me to give an update on my progress.

Progress report

I’ve completed four kits this far. The Zero, the Val, the Wildcat and the Catalina.

Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero

I’ve done the Zero flown by Lt. Cmdr. Shigeru Itaya who led the first wave at Pearl Harbour just six months before the Battle Of Midway. At Midway he led the Zero fighters during the operations. In particular he led the attack on the 15 ill-fated TBD Devastators from the USS Hornet which were all shot down. Later, after his carrier Akagi had been sunk, Itaya ditched his Zero close to the Japanese fleet and were rescued by escorting ships. In 1944 he was killed when a Mitsubishi G3M “Nell” he flew in accidentally was shot down by friendly fire over the Kuril islands. There is still some debate on which plane he flew (see earlier post) and there is some on the internet that suggest it might not even have been AI-155 but AI-159. Still most sources I’ve found say 155.

I’ve written a review of the kit from Hasegawa that you can read here.

 

Aichi D3A Val

The Val I built participated at the attack on the Midway island (at least if you’re to believe Hasegawa). I don’t have any information on the crew or more information than that this aircraft was based on the carrier Akagi. The attack on Midway was partially a failure as the American knew of the attack beforehand and could prepare a defence. Still there is no downed Vals reported from the attack (the Kates and Zeroes were less fortunate). I think that it’s safe to say that all the Vals were lost in the operation, most either went down with their carriers or was forced to ditch in the sea.

If you’re interested I’ve written a review of the kit here. This version of the kit can be hard to find though as it’s decommissioned. I found my at Ebay.

Grumman F4F Wildcat

The Wildcat I’ve built was flown by Lieutenant Commander John Thatch during the Battle Of Midway. The Wildcat was mostly out performed by the Zero. To compensate for that Thatch developed a special manoeuvre called the ‘Thatch Weave’. On the fourth of June 1942 he led a six plane sortie to defend twelve Devastators from USS Yorktown when they were attacked by 15 to 20 Japanese Zeroes. Thatch order the flight to use the Thatch Weave, the first combat use of the manoeuvre. Outnumbered and outmanoeuvred the Wildcats shot down at least four Zeroes at the loss of one Wildcat. Thatch personally shot down three of these.

I had to do some puzzling with the decals, see earlier post, but I think it went OK. You can read my review of the kit here.

 

Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina

As the Americans was aware of an oncoming attack they stationed no less than 31 Catalinas as reconnaissance planes. The one I’ve built was piloted by Ensign Jack Reid and his crew. It was the first plane to spot the Japanese Navy at about 9:00 on 3 June 1942. They had spotted the Japanese Occupation Force 500 nautical miles west-southwest of Midway but. They reported it in as the main force which is was not, however now they knew that the attack force was coming and from where. Early in the morning the day after another Catalina torpedoed and sunk the Japanese tanker Akebono Maru. This was the only successful air-launched torpedo attack by the U.S. during the entire battle.

Again I had to do some minor decal rearrangements to get the right plane. I have written a review of the kit here.

 

Other updates

In progress at the moment is the The Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo and the Grumman TBF-1C Avenger. Unfortunately these has been put away since September but soon I will be able to continue. Hopefully there will be some result in February.

Meanwhile I have not been totally idle. I’ve settled which Nakajima B5N2 ‘Kate’ to build but for this plane I’ll need a torpedo and the kit I have only features bombs. I was not able to find any suitable after market torpedo that fit the bill so I went and bought a Nakajima B6N2 ‘Jill’ from Hasegawa that has the torpedo just to get it.

I also found an old kit of the missing Aichi E13A1 ‘Jake’, the japanese reconnaissance aircraft, in form of a very old kit but available at Ebay.

 

What to do when you can’t build?

Some time ago we decided to sell our place move. This process involves styling your apartment to show it off to people who might buy it. We engaged a stylist to help us out and it did not come as a big surprise that a hobby corner where I build my plastic models with paint and glue was not considered a selling point. So I had to pack all the stuff into boxes and hide them away. The most daunting task wast to pack all my finished kits. I found that silk paper seems to be the best packing material. I will know when I finally unpack them again.

Now the apartment is sold and I have bought a new one that contains a room for my hobby. Three cheers for that. But I will not have access to it until mid January. Unpacking the stuff to repack it again is not worth the effort so this will be a Christmas without plastic.

So what do I do instead? Well one of the tough assignments is not to buy more kits. I’ve managed to refrain from doing this… almost. One day I noticed that Pilot Replicas excellent kit of the SAAB J 21A had gone off the market. A quick search on Ebay resulted in me buying the (then) only available kit all the way from France.

Reference pictures

One thing to fill my time with is to improve this web site. This summer I visited four different air museums and took a lot of detailed photographs of the aircraft on display. These serve a excellent reference material when you’re building your kits. So I’ve spent some time publishing more pictures.

I’ve added the Bücker Bü 181B-1 Bestmann, Douglas Skyraider, Hawker Hunter, North American T-6 Texan and SAAB 21 to the Walk Arounds and added more pictures to the SAAB 29 Tunnan, SAAB 32 Lansen, SAAB 35 Draken and SAAB 37 Viggen. I still have more pictures to add. More pictures of the Swedish E.E. Canberra and the SAAB 39 Gripen is on the way. I should also be able to add SAAB Safir, DeHavilland Vampire, Fokker Triplane and Sopwith Camel, amongst others, to the Walk Arounds collection.

Some reviews?

As I cannot build any kits it’s hard to do more reviews. However I found that I had some pictures of previous builds where I’ve not come around to writing the reviews. Therefore I’ve been able to add reviews of Pilot Replicas excellent kit of the SAAB J21 A-3 and Tamiyas enjoyable kit of the Fiesler Fi156 Storch. But I think that that’s about it for reviews. I could always start a few of kits in the stash to be prepared but nothing that I can publish.

Abstinence problems

I have to admit to being a bit lost some evenings or weekends. I miss the peaceful occupation of constructing an historical aircraft or anything at all as a matter of fact. I have to do with planning ahead and looking forward to what’s to come.

In my new flat I will have a special room for my hobby. A large working table, shelves for display and shelves to store my stash. Maybe I’ll even get some good ventilation solution to suck out the airbrush fumes out the window.

I can’t wait.

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 2

The Battle Of Midway project is now under way. But not without snags. Getting this right is not easy. It is clear that even if the Battle Of Midway was pivotal to the Pacific conflict it seems to be caught in between the Pearl Harbour and Guadalcanal when it comes to models and decals. In some cases there actually is some kits that specifically depicts Midway planes, but even them might not be the ones you are really after.

Get the right versions

The different Facebook groups about model building is good sources with people that can help you get it right. Unfortunately for me not until I’ve made some bad buying decisions. First I bought the Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless “Midway” US Navy from Academy. Anyone would consider this to be a safe bet. Well in one way it was. The SBD-2 Dauntless saw service at Midway at the time but on the Island, not on the carriers. It was not the SBD-2 that made the fatal attacks on the Japanese carriers, it was the SBD-3’s that was based on USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise and USS Hornet. OK, after some hunting I found a Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless from the USS Enterprise issued by Hasegawa on Ebay (the link shows another issue of the same kit but with other markings). When I’m writing this I’m still awaiting delivery. So now I’ll have two Dauntless to build.

Next snag came when I was made aware that the Brewster B-339 Buffalo from Tamiya, that I had bought, wasn’t the Buffalo used at Midway. Apparently the Buffalo used at Midway with such a bad result was the Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo. This was a later version slightly longer between the engine and the wings with a heavier engine, witch made it even more cumbersome than the earlier versions. I could have smacked some decals on the Tamiya kit and called it a F2A-3 and it would have fooled 99% of anyone watching. But that’s not who I am. After some searching I found a Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo “Battle Of Midway” from Special Hobby at Kits For Cash, a website that sells old kits.

Get the right markings

To find the right markings for the A6M2 Zero was difficult. You’d think that they’d be the same planes as in Pearl Harbour as the battles took place just six months apart. But things happened in between. At least I found that Lt. Cmdr. Shigeru Itaya that led the Zero wing of the Akagi at Pearl Harbour also participated at Midway having to ditch his plane near a cruiser after the Akagi was sunk. Now I’ve already built Itaya’s Zero from Tamiya when I did a Pearl Harbour build. Or so I thought. It turns out that Tamiya had been guessing that Itaya had flown AI-101 as his wing man flew AI-102. But if you dig in you soon realize that he flew AI-155. Now there’s no such decal set but I dug into what I had. Having the D3A1 Val, the B5N2 Kate and the A6M2 Zero with extra decals I did have some. I was saved by Hasegawa. In both their kits the Val and the Kate they’ve included full number series with four items of each number and the Kate decals fit the bill.

The Wildcat was another issue. No special decals for Midway available. So again I dug into the sources and found that Jimmy Thach, the inventor of the Thach Weave that saved so many Wildcats from the Zeroes, flew at Midway. He flew number 23 and I had 28 available so some careful cutting and puzzling and the problem solved. He also had the ‘Felix the cat’ insignia under the wind shield and luckily enough it was on the extra decals ‘Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat – USMC aces over Guadalcanal Part 2’ that I had bought.

Don’t be afraid of adding

Somewhere you have to draw the line. To build all the naval vessels and aircraft that partook in the Battle Of Midway in scale 1:48 is of course an impossible task. Leaving out the ships even building all the aircraft types that was there is a bit hard. Not only because there are so many but also because some are not available as kits (well not in 1:48 at least) and also to get the right markings as decals might be a tough task. And of course there is a limit to what you can afford. At the beginning I drew the line at eight kits and two display bases.

But as you go along you find more and once you’ve started it’s hard not to want to go further. I’ve bought two display bases, one depicting an American carrier deck the other a Japanese. But then I realized that I would build planes based at Midway. So off and away to find a base depicting the ground of a typical WWII airfield. Then the afore mentioned SBD-3 and F2A-3 Buffalo. The Avenger made it’s combat début at Midway, with a disheartening result. So when I stumbled upon a Midway edition of the Grumman TBF-1C Avenger from HobbyBoss it became a must.

But there are still limits

This is were I stand now. I have my eyes on the B-26 Marauder and the B-17 Flying Fortress who both participated from Midway. The Marauder carried torpedoes and as there is no such version available it can be hard to convert one without the proper parts (and decals). The B-17’s were B-17E and the only available kit in 1:48 in a B-17F so some research and probably conversions together with decals would also be a challenge. Also there is the Nakajima E8N2 ‘Dave’, a reconnaissance plane based on Japanese cruisers and the Vought SB2U Vindicator. Both are available but only at some steep pricing on Ebay. Well, we’ll see what the future might bring.

But the other Japanese reconnaissance aircraft that partook in the battle seems to be harder. I have still not found any kits in scale 1:48 of the Kawanishi H8K ‘Emily’ which is not surprising as it would be enormous (there is a kit in 1:72). Neither have I found any Aichi E13A1 ‘Jake’ in 1:48 which is a shame because it played a prominent role in the events.

 

 

I’ll be back with further progress and I’m also doing reviews of the kits I build so be sure to keep an eye open.

75 years after the Battle of Midway – post 1

Having the opportunity to spend some time on my hobby this summer I wanted a project or challenge to work with. My ongoing project to build the Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB (see other posts) felt too single purpose and I wanted to do more. The Typhoon can wait a bit. So I sat thinking about this when I saw a documentary of The Battle Of Midway and noted that it was the 75 years anniversary this June. As the battle was to the largest extent an aerial battle fought with planes I decided that this was the project I was looking for.

So how does one go about this project. Well primarily look at the sources available.  As I don’t want to lose a year reading books before I started I settled with various Wikipedia articles and other on-line articles on the subject. What was the key points and which were the participating plane types? Obviously I can’t build all the planes but I wanted to build one of each main types.

The planes

These are the ones I’ve decided on so far:

Japanese
  • The Nakajima B5N2 (Kate)
  • The Aichi D3A1 (Val)
  • The Mitsubishi A6M2 (Zero)
U.S.
  • The Douglas TBD-1 Devastator
  • The Grumman F4F-3A Wildcat
  • The Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless
  • The Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless
  • The Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo
  • The PBY-5A Catalina

Now there is a few missing on this list that made contributions during the battle such as on the Japanese side the Kawanishi H8K (Emily) and the Aichi E13A (Jake) and on the U.S. side the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the Martin B-26 Marauder, Grumman TBF Avenger and the Vought SB2U Vindicator. The reasons for this are two. The first is that the Japanese planes simply don’t exist in scale 1/48. At least I have not found any. The second is that I have to draw the line somewhere (I’m not that rich) and for the rest of the U.S. planes it’s hard to find corresponding decals and some of them are a bit large. Who knows, I might add some along the way.

I’m also aware that I’m forced to pull a few artistic licenses too. For example the Buffalo kit is not the right version, I’ve been told, which might go for a few others too. I was also made aware that the SBD-2 I had was based on Midway and not the version that sunk the Japanese carriers. That is why I added the SBD-3 to the stack.

A touchdown on base

I usually just photograph my planes on a clean surface, but as I’m doing such a project out of this I though I might for once have bases to display them on. At least the carrier based planes. So I bought one Japanese and one U.S. made by Eduards. These I’ve already painted (see below) which required a whole lot of masking but it was quite fun an I’m OK with the result.

Getting the models and decals wasn’t always simple. Many of them I found at Hannants, one (the Catalina) I found at my local supplier Hobbyland and the rest I found on Ebay. This meant that I got a few things from so far away as China and Australia. Unfortunately the TBD-1 was not delivered properly but was sent back to China so I’m still trying to get hold of that.

After a short opinion from some Facebook groups I’ll start with the Zero. Check back for a review and update.

Building the Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.Ib – post 3

Going forward

Having done the cockpit (see previous post) it was time to move to the front. The engine in the Hawker Typhoon is an impressive piece of work. The Napier Sabre was a British H-24-cylinder, liquid-cooled, sleeve valve, piston aero engine. Developed during the 30’s it saw daylight in 1940. Evolving from 2,200 horsepower (1,640 kW) in its earlier versions to 3,500 hp (2,600 kW) in late-model prototypes. The first operational aircraft to be powered by the Sabre were the Hawker Typhoon and Hawker Tempest.

The kit’s depiction of this power monster is made up in some XX+ parts alone and the building instructions for the engine covers X pages.. Having done the Airfix’s version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin in their de Havilland Mosquito a few years ago I must say that this was one step beyond. The the instructions pedagogics is reasonable clear and understanding exactly where the parts go is quite easy even if it’s sometime complicated.

Starting with the core

First off is the engine block. You have the option to include an electrical motor (bought separately) inside the engine to have a turning propeller on the finished model. I made the choice not to add this for two reasons. Primarily because I’m going to have open service panels on this kit and then it doesn’t make sense to have the engine running. The second reason is that I don’t want to bother about wires and stuff needed for the electrical motor.

As with the aircraft frame I chose not to paint the core engine parts before assembly. The engine block is a square affair and quite sturdy and the assembly is quite easy this far. After the main parts of the engine is done it’s time for some colour. Now, according to the instructions it should be black and browsing pictures of the Napier on the net this looks right. There’s plenty of pictures where it’s green or even metallic but these are all pictures of engines in museums etc. In all pictures of operational aircraft it’s black.

Before mounting the engine onto the aircraft frame I realized I needed to do some weathering. I’d just bought Vallejo’s Engine Grime (73.815) and thought this was the right moment to test it. At first I thought it was quite thick and covered too much but after trying some, wiping off excess and letting it dry the effect was astoundingly good.

Struts, cables and pipes

Fixing the engine block to the frame is pretty straight forward even if you need to be firm and yet careful. But you’re far from done yet. There is still 37 steps in the instruction left until you can call the engine done. There’s small parts as pipes, extra struts, cables and canisters. Mostly it’s straight forward where they go but when it comes to colour it pays to have closer looks at available reference pictures. Parts that Airfix indicate one colour for often looks more authentic in two or three colours. Most parts is either black and/or silver though.

When you arrive at the underside (in step 69) things start to get very fiddly. There’s pipes that goes in, under, over and through parts already glued. It takes a good pair of tweezers, a steady hand, an angels patience and some sheer stubbornness to succeed. Still, part D01 in step 70 had me beat. I had to cut the last 5-10 mm off to get it in place. That end is barely visible anyway so it was mostly just irritating.

Before doing the air intake on the under side I went over the result thus far again with some weathering. The metal parts got some Vallejo Engine Oil Stains (73.813) and the black parts some of Vallejo’s Engine Grime (73.815).

Taking in the intake

You start off with a plate that goes under the engine. The down side of this plate should be in external under side colour of the camouflage. It’s really the first part of the fuselage. For the underside I use Vallejo’s Model Air  BS Medium Sea Grey (71.307), in Humrolian that’s 165 Medium Sea gray.

Fitting the air intake cannister is OK. The instructions are clear down to a tenth of a m.m. what the distance should be from the rear edge of the afore mentioned plate tu the intake (30.7 m.m.) and the exact angle between the intake and the propeller shaft (90°).  Even if the fit was OK I could not get better than a about 31.3 between the air intake ant the aft edge of the plate. Let’s hope this won’t create problems later on.

After adding yet another set of pipes it’s getting close to the end of the engine part. Last main part is the ring that goes around the propeller shaft. Even if I tired to be meticulous the two pipes that should fit to this ring where too short. Which basically means that the air intake cannister sits too far forward (it didn’t make 30,7 m.m.) and still to far back (the pipes leading from it did nor meet the ring). Hmmmm…. I had to use some putty to extend them to the ring (approximately less than a m.m.).

A last pipe leading from the ring onto the rear of the engine and it’s done. Some more engine oil and engine grime and I’m happy. Although you could continue endlessly adding wires and other details if you really want to go hard core I’m satisfied with the result.

To be continued…

Next post will be about constructing the wings including the gun bay. There is a risk that a few other project gets in the way though so be patient.

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