This week I finished the Zero cockpit. Not sure about all the choices I made, but overall I am fairly happy.
I am happy with the cockpit, and I think I did an all right job cleaning it up. At this stage of the Japanese war effort I doubt the A6M5 made it past a couple of months, so I figured it wouldn’t make sense to do a very heavily weathered cockpit. I wanted to make the pilot look less clean, but this is probably not the right way. He looks like a pig really.. Since Sinterklaas will be giving me a present soon that will have a couple of figures included I will have to look into how to create a good looking result!
Since this kit is fairly simple I skipped a few steps ahead in the instructions. Yesterday I applied primer to the parts I will require for the next two steps.
In other news..
When I bought my airbrush booth this summer I somehow developed this crazy idea that the filters were relatively expensive. The last time I worked with primer I noticed the booth was doing a really poor job at getting rid of the nasty air, and I finally decided to replace the paint-filled original filter.. I then found out these things aren’t as expensive as I somehow assumed they were, so I hopefully have enough of them to last me a year.
I also did a final revisit of the FW-190 A8. Last month I visited a IPMS meeting and one of the gentlemen had some nice pointers for me. Besides that I wanted to fix some obvious mistakes. In the end I decided to leave some of the bad parts.. the Zero will hopefully be beautiful, and it will replace the FW-190 which has earned a spot in the living room.
In the end I didn’t bother getting rid of the scratches in the canopy since they are quite subtle anyway. I did reattach the antenna which had come loose somehow during or just after my vacation.. I also noticed the plane was very lightly leaning to one side because the wheels were a bit loose. I cracked them off and reattached them, which nearly went wrong.
As for the details I wanted to change: the pitot tube on the starboard wing had a bronze rather than a aluminium look, and my version of the A8/R11 had a mechanism that ensured the wire from the canopy to the tail was always tensed.
Quite happy with the result, but I am done fiddling with this thing now.
Time to start the actual building of the A6M5 ‘Zero’! I plan to try some things I have seen around in the online model building world and I am really curious what I will be able to achieve.
This kit has a little pilot model included, which is fun to try and get right in terms of details. The cockpit has some nice raised details so I want to try to bring forward some of the details by coloring the flight instruments and giving dry brushing another chance.
As I said my last Zero blog I bought myself some black primer, AK Interactive Black 757. I would love to get some more depth into the cockpit so I looked around a bit and the way Matt McDougall explains it in this old blog seems like the way to go after applying the primer.
Unfortunately I got a bit carried away the first time.. This cockpit is way brighter than I had planned for it to be. I should have taken it a bit slower to see how it was building up. The second time still wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but there are some very subtle darker areas in the cockpit now.
As for the details in the cockpit, I used the reference photos I could find. This cockpit isn’t very detailed and I decided to not use the PE parts I bought, so this will be a best effort thing. Good stuff to practice on anyway!
I got myself a good LED head magnifier for those tiny cockpit details.
In between the work on the cockpit I also did work on the pilotfigure. I don’t know if all the older Revell instruction booklets are as poor as this one I will have to do proper research. Of course I don’t mind, but if you built this kit 25 years ago you would have had a hard time without internet.. for instance the pilot according to the booklet is basically matt green with a brown head.
To me (and probably many of the current modelers) the research part is a big part of the hobby. After some searching I was satisfied that the below drawing is a an accurate enough impression of what a Zero pilot would have looked like.
It was fun painting this dude, but I don’t like the detail on the model or the painting.. to be honest I had this feeling before starting this job, but since the cockpit has a low detail level I want to leave it in. Models I will buy in the future will probably not include figures though..
There is a good chance in it will look better after some more weathering work.
Anyway, back to the cockpit itself.
I first painted the dials black, then painted some of the panels and buttons and finally did dry brushing to let the dials come out. It is so much fun to see the dials appear out of the black background of the dials!
I did not expect to get this result!
Next up will be some weathering work on the cockpit, and applying primer on the air frame.
Last week I got the stuff I wanted for the A6M5 kit I got from my dad, and I’ve started the first work on it.
Last week I did a day of (civilian) plane spotting with my friend TheYottaTube and visited the Luchtvaarthobbyshop, since it is very close to Schiphol Airport. I got all the stuff I wanted.. and spent about 4 times the value of the Zero-kit on stuff I want to use it on!
The book was the most expensive purchase but it is very much worth it! For the actual build I got myself some black primer since I want to try black-basing on this one, some decals since the original ones are eaten away and some photo-etch parts because I really wanted to try my hand at building with PE.
The book is by Robert C. Mikesh with absolutely awesome illustrations by Rikyu Watanabe. It isn’t the most extensive read on the subject, but for my purposes it is absolutely perfect: about 50 pages of information on the A6M, and the illustrations give such an amazing impression of the different types of the A6M, the generation of planes the preceded it and were developed as potential replacements, and it even has illustrations of some of the A6M’s adversaries in the sky.
About the plane
Some things I found interesting:
The alphanumeric system in use in the Imperial Navy around WW2. A6M5 can be dissected as follows:
A indicates a carrier-based fighter,
6 indicates that it is the sixth generation of planes built for the Navy.
M is for Mitsubishi.
5 is the fifth type of the plane, although the type system used for the Zero is a bit more accurate.
The Type system works a bit different than I expected. Not only is the type number directly related to last digit in the alphanumeric system. A6M5 and Type 52 are one and the same plane. Also worth mentioning is that the first digit of the Type designation is the number of the airframe design, while the second digit is the engine type.
The Zero has been at a disadvantage in terms of horsepower throughout its lifetime. It wasn’t until A6M8 (type 64) that there was a reasonable increase in power, but this last generation never made it to production because there was no more war left.
Its life has been extended time and time again for different reasons, which all too often seem to have to do with bad decision making by the Navy.
The plane is built with a aluminium alloy called Extra Super Duralumin which apparently was invented specially for the A6M. I can’t find a lot of information about it unfortunately.
The original design featured a 2 blade propeller, but the first test flights brought forward a vibration which was solved by changing this to 3 blades.
The most produced variant of the Zero was the Type 52, or A6M5. 1701 of this type were produced.
The version I will be building
The Revell kit is a Type 52, so I want to go with the top option on the decal instructions.
One of the additions on the Type 52c was another set of wing cannons. Model 63 (A6M7) was a Navy request because the newly designed bomber Yokosuka D4Y Suisei was unfit for carrier use, being too big and too fast for deck landing. Structural differences with the 52 on this one are mainly the addition of bomb racks under the wing. Both of the other options ask for more aftermarket parts, and to be honest I think I’ve spent enough on this cheap kit!
The 301 squadron of air group 202 it is then! At least, that’s what the designations mean if I understand correctly.
I have already done some work on the cockpit for this build, but I will save that for another blog. One thing I have already decided: photo etch is not for me. I never throw anything away, and if I find I can use anything to make the model look better I will, but my first experience isn’t too good and I basically decided straight away it wasn’t for me.. too fiddly! Although I do have to say, my first try was with a chair replacement. It looked awesome, but I had to glue another PE part on to it, which bended and broke and got lost.. doesn’t feel like the direction I want to take this hobby in!
The title actually portrays my feelings toward this build very well.. I do enjoy it, but there isn’t a lot of inspiration coming with it.
This simply is my slightly less loved build.. and since I spent most of the week reading up on the A6M ‘Zero’, I didn’t do a whole lot of work on it.
I took a break from airbrushing, and went on with assembling the fuselage.
I remember my dad using pieces of lead to weigh the front down on his models, and I think that would be the best material for a reasonable price. I didn’t have any lead laying around though, so I used some hooks from the local discount store and worked with CA glue for the first time to attach it to the model.. and damn, that CA stuff does not mess about! I wasn’t sure if it would hold but I can see why you wouldn’t want to get that stuff on your hands.
Onto slowly gluing the pieces together then..
As expected the paint will need some work after gluing the pieces together since of course some of it has melted off. I would have expected a better fit on these two halves though, and there are some gaps halfway the fuselage that I can’t seem to get to fit tightly.
There will be some sanding to come on this thing! Hopefully without removing too much of the detail.
It is becoming clear why painting before assembly is generally not a good idea since I will probably have to do some filling to get this right. First it’s time to let this dry though, then onto filling and sanding.
PS. I’ll do a separate blog on the Zero build this week because I am really having a blast with that one!
Actually the amount of updates is really fine for me. Obviously there is a lot less time for me to work on the hobby, but I enjoy a few minutes almost everyday and, just like all grown ups, I try to use my free days to get a couple of hours in at a time. I wish I had more energy to spend in the evening but it is what it is, and I’m sure it will get better the coming months.
Anyway, lots of stuff to talk about this week! Let’s get started.
First off, the main build. Last Sunday I visited my parents, and just like my dad used to do when we visited my grandparents, I took a model with me to do some work!
I assembled the anti-shock bodies and the rear wings, and I did sanding on the wings.
I planned on glueing the wings together but there a clear part that needs to be glued in there. For that reason I prefer to do a first couple of layers of light gray on the wings before glueing them together.
I hadn’t realized the wings actually will be light gray just like the fuselage.. this kit just won’t get any more exciting! To be able to see what I am doing I decided to do a thin layer of gray primer on the wings as well.
I started with a first layer of light gray, but spraying this color is really a pain. Tip dry is horrendous and it is very difficult to get on with it. But I managed to do a first layer on a wing side, and a first layer on the rear wings:
The final step I did on this today was attach the cockpit and the wheel bay on the starboard side. Earlier this week I did another layer of light gray on the fuselage sides, but I am fairly sure I will have to touch up on the color in the future. With that in mind, I have masked off the windows I have glued in yesterday.
At this point I already know I will not want to continue with this build until I have properly sorted the damage on the tail.
Unfortunately, the trouble started on a layer of primer that was already damaged. I should have sanded it off and perhaps do another layer. The first layer of white was sloppy and runny as well, and in the end I was left with an uneven finish. I did use my nice UMP sanders and got a nice and smooth result, but I think I have to deeper and really remove those damaged areas.
Of course all this sanding has removed some of the detailing, and even though I got a couple of good scribing tools from UMP a few weeks ago I will need to get some good tape to assist me in rescribing the panel lines.
As I said last week, I ordered a LED light that could really simulate daylight. After using it a few days, I am at least confident I am getting the best lighting possible.. Obviously it will never be as good as standing in the garden on a bright day, but winter is coming and this light is as good as it will get.. the amount of light is adjustable, and you can set warm yellow light so if you’re not working on a dull light gray model you don’t have to feel like you’re working in a garage.
Regional IPMS Meeting (NL South-West)
On Tuesday night there was a IPMS meeting planned for the South-West region in the Netherlands. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. Just a bunch of guys talking about models, is that really what I wanted to do with my evening? But then I started to doubt if I wasn’t just dealing with the good old social anxiety again, and at the last minute I decided to go just because I was afraid to sink in a hole I have been in for the last years.. and I am very happy I decided to go!
In the end I was just happy talking to a couple of very nice people who are very experienced in modeling. One of the gentleman there had a couple of nice WW2 models with him, and after having a chat with him I was really wondering: what am I doing making a civilian airplane?? There is just so much to say about all the different WW2 subjects, whether it is a tank, a plane, a V2 rocket, a half-track etc. All the different variations alone, but also the things we don’t know for sure about the subject and are left to the imagination, for instance the color of German half-tracks as they were used in the field. That stuff is up for debate, whereas the Cargolux 747 is a beauty, but completely covered in the same dull light gray and no one doubts what it looks like.
I had a chat with two gentleman there about their collection, and how they decide what to build next. I explained them that I tried to not create a ‘stash’, and that I was building the Cargolux Revell offering but not really enjoying it. Watching the nice military models on display, I expressed my love for the subject.. and while driving home later I asked myself: why am I limiting myself like this? Sure, I want to do a good job on the Cargolux, but WW2 is the subject that really interests me everyday. I play WW2 games, I read WW2 books and I love building WW2 models.
The gentleman who brought his WW2 1/48 models encouraged me to bring my FW-190 A8 to the next meeting after I showed him the pictures if the end result! He had a couple of very nice pointers for me as well, so before I take it with me there is some more stuff to adjust:
Today I will be visiting the Luchtvaarthobbyshop with my mate TheYottaTube. My wishlist:
The Zero decals
PE set for the Zero
AK Interactive 757, Black Primer and Microfiller
A good Zero research book.
Starting the Zero..
As you will have guessed, the IPMS meeting has convinced me that I should start doing work on the Zero along with the work on the B747. Time to get the required stuff and hopefully I will be able to start with it next week!
Time for a little update on my scale modeling life. ‘Tis the season to get a cold, and so I did last week. I was able to get some work done on my current build, but it is just one of the setbacks I am having with it currently.
The Cargolux Boeing 747-8F
So starting off with my progress on the build, as I announced last week I applied a very thin layer of primer.
To cleanly apply both the primer and the light gray I created a little contraption of the styrofoam I by now even can’t remember I got from. Some toothpicks with a little tack stuck on them held the body halves reasonably well in shape during work.
I thinned the paint down to an almost watery consistency, and applied multiple layers. In fact, I am still far from done with this job.
When applying the first layer of gray I noticed I made a scratch on the primer layer before it was dry. I sanded it down and cleaned it, but I might have been a bit optimistic on the covering properties of my very thinned down mixture.
If I feel well enough for it I might work ahead on some of the bigger parts, to get the feeling I am finally getting somewhere. I still haven’t gotten the wind in my sails yet since coming back from vacation.
The plan for the halves itself, is to do a good enough layer but accept that it will not be perfect yet. Perfection will have to come once the two halves are attached and small adjustments should be enough so I don’t have to try and mask off those tiny windows..
I am currently waiting on a new purchase though, that will hopefully make my life a little easier..
LED there be light
I haven’t looked it up, but I am instantly sure that in the LED/light scene that joke might be massively overused. Anyway, I am still tweaking the work space since setting up my new desk a few weeks ago.
Hopefully this will give me more room to move around.
Something that has really come forward during this build though: I need some real ‘white light’ to be be able to see in greater detail what exactly I am doing.
I really need a neutral ‘cold’ color, especially when working with all these light shades of gray. Hopefully this will help me to get the 100% even finish I will need to do a convincing commercial jet.
Here is the object that will hopefully show me the light:
Something I learned about light sources the last couple of days: you need a high K (Kelvin) number to get to an actually daylight kind of color.. unfortunately I bought another ‘2700K’ light bulb, which is essentially just your yellow standard living room light. It isn’t suitable to see the consistency of a white color paint job.
The night before flying to Madeira for my vacation, my friend TheYottaTube informed me that the Luchtvaarthobbyshop was just a five minute walk from the hotel I stayed at near the airport. Of course, I took the opportunity to check it out.
I’d love to have a nice series of photos and make a proper report of it, but this was such an ad hoc thing I didn’t even think about it. Instead, I’ll just say that:
Since pronouncing Luchtvaarthobbyshop might get funny in english, they cleverly use a good translation of ‘AviationMegastore’, and I have to say that name is spot on.
If you ever visit Amsterdam it might be a nice stop, at about a ten or fifteen minute drive from the airport.
They have a huge selection or books you can use for your research, a nice selection of new models and something particularly interesting for me at this point: they have a large supply of decals and PE parts for various scales. I have already checked their webshop and I know where I will be getting my decals from to replace the eaten-away decals for the A6M5 build!
Should it be your poison, they also have a huge area with diecast-models, and an area for flightsimulator stuff. There is also an area with scale modeling magazines, and a small area with your coffee mugs and your wall decor.. something I will be interested in to decorate the man cave at some point!
Decals for the A6M5 build
As I mention above, I think I have found a good replacement for the original decals in the Revell kit.
I really haven’t looked into what sort of livery is ‘attached’ to this decal. Looking forward to the research phase already!
The ‘nice’ thing about this model is that it is a super simple kit from 1993. As I wrote earlier it’s an 8 step build, and I think my dad got it for 15 guilders (the Euro wasn’t even around). I want to do a good job at it as I want to do on all my kits, but its is not a very detailed kit.. so what I am still doubting at this point is if I really want to spend a lot of money on custom stuff. The decals I definitly need, but I will not be getting every custom part available for this thing. Presumably the decals alone are worth more than the original price of the kit!
I am interested in getting some PE parts for it though! Even though it might be like slapping jewelry on a turd, it will still be a very nice learning experience!
That’s all for this week! Hopefully the new light will help me finish the job on the fuselage halves, and after that I want to get on with this build.
During my last build I had no problem to find inspiration to write a little piece about my progress on the build.. unfortunately this kit is a slow mover at this point, because ‘doing the wheels’ doesn’t mean doing the gear, gear re-tractors, gear covers, the wheels and a wash on all of those. I think I spent two or three hours in total on the gear.. and these are just 8 of the 18 total wheels.
Its finally done though.
Looking at the instruction booklet, I’ll be spending some time with the kits biggest parts for a while. I don’t mind about that!
It looks like the best idea is to do the light gray layer at this point, since after that I will be placing the gear and cockpit inside the fuselage halves and I don’t want to put masking tape on those tiny parts! I will apply a gloss coat layer at a later point.
The real LX-VCM is currently between Luxembourg and Miami, above Newfoundland, Canada. Since my last blog, it flew back from Budapest to Luxembourg, to Turkmenbashi and on to Taipei to Bangkok and back to Turkmenbashi to return to Luxembourg this afternoon. The distance this thing covers is amazing and since my last blog it has been in the air for about 32 hours!
I couldn’t resist by the way, and I got new stuff again. The UMP sanders are quite good, but the most important thing are the 0.2mm and 0.3mm rescribing tools. Or maybe the sweets! I can’t order from these guys too often because the sending costs are astronomical but their stuff is great.
I won’t be blogging for a while. First I’m off for a couple of days for a nice holiday, and after that I will finally be visiting a snooker event in for the first time in years! Unfortunately it isn’t easy to visit live snooker events when you’re Dutch, but I live near Belgium and they have the fantastic Luca Brecel who recently won his first major tournament. Hopefully that means more tournaments will be coming this way!