Monday, 14 September 2020

Wolfpack - triple build

My team at work went through another namechange and is now called Wolfpack, after the WWII submarine naval tactic.

I'm not a boat-guy, since I prefer tanks primarily and airplanes (perhaps illustrated by the stalled build of the USS Missouri), but this change inspired me to learn more about submarines, their development, technology and tactics.

This in turn led to the inspiration for building my own Wolfpack, potentially for display at work. It would help for the team identity and potentially serve as a conversation starter. (If not, I still found an excuse to build something and mention it at work)

What I really wanted was a 1/72 Type VII, but it's HUGE, rather expensive and I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it justice. Classic "I'll try to first build up my skill with a small one"-excuse.

I bought a mix of 1/144 German U-boats at the nearest (online) hobbyshop, together with some more MRP colours and other supplies. 

Weird wolfpack?

Ok, I do realize that this specific combination of U-boats is unlikely to have made up a wolfpack at one point or another, but I've checked some facts:
  • of the 20 Type II B commissioned, 6 survived until the end of the war, when they were scuttled on may 2nd, 1945.
  • 568 Type VII C were commissioned between 40-45, so any one of those was on active duty.
  • 63 were build of the type XXIII late-war (44-45). They were a coastal submarine, also serving in the Mediterranean. They entered the war as early as june 1944.
The type XXIII's earliest commission date forces my wolfpack back to the last 6 to 10 months of the war, knowing full well that the golden era of the wolfpacks was pre-1943. 
Still, with 6 Type II B's still afloat and plenty of Type VII C's to go around there's enough to make this a plausible group.


I only realized afterward that the Type VII is a LOT bigger than the Type II and XXIII, but it doesn't really matter.
Part count is also hugely different, so I'll start the smaller two and work my way up. They don't have many parts. Basically, they have a 2 or 3 part hull, some diving planes, rudders and antennae/masts and that's it. Should be a straightforward build. (The Type VII will take longer)

Type II B sprue, not much there

And in 1/144, some details are teeny tiny and a real challenge to assemble. The deck canon consist of 4 parts, all very fragile.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Challenger - Painting

A new airbrush, new paint, either we'll be reaching new levels of airbrush mastery or new levels of frustration.

The first try with MRP paint was a very satisfying experience, paint-wise. The Aztec airbrush still leaks after a few minutes, especially with these hyper-thinned paints.

BUT: now I have a NEW airbrush, an Iwata HP-C Plus, which came highly recommended. I probably should have bought this years ago, but a combination of being a cheap bastard and a lot of self-doubt kept me from it. As a matter of fact, it kept me from the bench for almost two years.

The Challenger II now has a nice coat of Olive Drab. MRP is a dream to work with and the smell isn't half as bad as I had feared.
I'll post these 2 pictures, just because of the huge difference lighting makes on the color in a photo.

Out come the thrustworthy silly putty and Tamiya tape to mask this cow's spots. (I jokingly called it a green cow and now the thought is stuck in my head)

On the front half, I masked off all surface area to be kept green. 
On the back half, I only used putty to mark the spots. Not having to mask the entire surface would save time in masking and be an exercise in airbrush control. Up to a point, this was succesfull, but I did get some overspray around the edges of the putty. They were easily touched up again with some OD, but it's a constant reminder that patience is not my strongest point.

Next time (I  might give the Panzerjägerwagen another try), I'll try to do it freehand without any masking at all, but in the end the extra time taken in airbrushing ever so slowly might take longer than the time needed to do some basic masking.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Airbrushing update - Mister Paint

I tend to "occasionally" grumble about airbrushing not going the way I want it, but it's been a long time since I truly updated on any change or progress.

Thinner = better!

For the last few sessions, I had to thin the paint really heavily so I could mist on fine layers of paint to build up to a certain effect. I experienced less issues than normal, except for one NEW problem. (keep reading)

Now, you know I mainly use Vallejo Model Air (which is already frowned upon by many) and I thought I was already thinning the paint enough (who really knows the consistency of 2% milk anyway), but clearly thinner than usual was better. (By no means, I hold any credence to spraying this from the bottle as some seem to be able)

With the paint this thin, I could paint for almost half an hour, during which I did 3 colour switches. Only after the 4th colour (yellow), I could clearly see that it was contaminated with the previous (black) colour, so something went wrong.

Thinner = leaky?

It was at this point - stepping away from the model -  that I noticed my fingers were also black and - as a matter of fact - the entire airbrush was black.

I took it apart, cleaned it thoroughly and set up for the next session, which followed roughly the same pattern. The Aztek paintbrush leaks with this superthin paint, just when I though I had found the correct consistency of said paint.

If I remove the nozzle, the thread is not painted, so that's not where the paint is getting through. I can only deduce that the paint is finding it's way through the "plunger"-thingie that moves the needle (Aztek has a very unique design) and into the body of the brush. Since the body consists of 2 halves just press-fitting together, the paint leaks out through the seam. (see picture where the paint oozes out ever so slowly).

Maybe I'm missing a seal somewhere ...

Friendly advice

I went on a rant on Facebook, finally convinced that I needed a new and better airbrush. The reason I hadn't taken that step until now is because the Aztek was "good enough", I didn't want to spend the bucks on it and a major factor may also have been analysis paralysis, not even knowing which one I should choose anyway.

The group helped to calm my tense nerves and convinced me not only to buy a new Airbrush, but also to try out a different paint, because "I would not regret it". The choice here seemed to unanimously go towards MRP or Mister Paint.

Mister paint = awesome!

I found MRP available in 1 online shop that is relatively close, so I bough just 2 colours, to try it out on the Challenger.

They arrived quickly. I noticed the hyper-thinned state of it and gave it a try. IT MAKES A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!

It sprays fantastic. I do not need to worry about overthinning the paint so it isn't paint anymore. I feared it would take longer to dry and would take a gazillion of layers to fully cover a subject, but the paint dries in front of your eyes, just by the flow of the airbrush. The thinner evaporates within seconds, so I can go over it for a second and third layer and so on.

The only drawback I can figure - if really forced to - is that a bottle of highly thinned paint runs out a lot quicker than a bottle of a thicker paint that you need to thin yourself. Strictly speaking, that means you get less surface covered for the same price, making MRP more expensive. But it's totally worth it.
Also - to put it in perspective - I used the better half of the OD (olive drab) bottle on a complete 1/35 tank. It's not like I needed an extra bottle.

Of course, the Aztek is still a leaky bucket, but I know that's not the paint's fault.

New airbrush coming in 5, 4, 3, 2 ... 1 week.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Challenger - Cut it

From the beginning, the plan was to cut the Challenger in half, to be used as book-ends. I tried first with a dremel (Proxxon actually), but the angle was too awkward to successfully cut straight. Besides, I've never been able to cut straight anyway.

One way to cut perfectly straight is with a hacksaw, which made short work of the hull.

More clamps required to force the top and half together.

I used 1mm styrene sheet to close the halves.

Filled the interior with Chinchilla sand, which I had lying around since my experiments with anti-slip surfaces on the Merkava's. Added diluted white glue to keep the sand in place. Also had to create a small styrene box around the gun breech.

Once finished, the weight of the model went from 120g to 550g. I hope it's enough to keep the books in place.
Primed in black, it's now ready to receive the first layer of paint, which will be the first time I'm trying out MRP.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Challenger - Challenging construction

Well, I think Trumpeter really took this tank's name to heart and was considerate enough to make building it an actual challenge.

Ejector marks are EVERYWHERE. I haven't seen it this bad EVER. It must be related to quality of the plastic, or timing of the ejection or ... I dunno, but it's terrible. Many are on the inside, which is fine, if they need to be anywhere, but why would you place 5 ejector pins on such small pieces? 
It must have been an engineering challenge just to put so many ejector pins in one mould.

Luckily I starting using my own sprue goo recently, so at least we can try to work with this.

Sprue attachment points are very thick right up close to the part, so removing them is an exercise in patience and skill.

Locator tabs weren't a big priority in this kit. The boxes all around the turret simply do not fit, tabs or not. Most important thing to look out for is that at least the top and visible side fits somewhat nicely. The inside/underside can have a 2 mm gap for all I care, as long as it's not visible.

At multiple points during the build, I really couldn't see why some tiny parts are separate. It feels like most of them are only there to increase the part count.
The 16 hinges for the engine covers really needn't be separate. At least the 16 grab handles would require slide moulding, so I understand them being separate, but they sure are TINY and combined with the huge attachment points, hard to clean up and easy to break. 

Hull halves also do not fit very nicely together, but with these big parts, the flex on the plastic will allow you to force them in place, and let the glue do it's magic.
Clamps and vices to the rescue!

The rearview-mirrors are a disaster. When installed, the turret can only turn with  the main gun fully elevated. I'm assuming they are retractable on the real tank?
The thingies holding up the mirror are very thin and broke off when breathing in their vicinity. I tried re-inforcing with sprue goo, which worked fine, but I forgot to account for my clumsiness. I've removed both now. I may (or may not) add them back later with steel wire, but they'll probably bend or break later when used in the book closet anyway.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

BSG - Painting

Finishing assembly of the Galactica was easy and fast. There aren't too many pieces and they fit together very well.

I've left the model in separate sub-assemblies, as that makes painting a little easier. The assemblies fit together well and, more importantly, well hidden. The locator tabs are big, sturdy and sandwiched deep between the parts, by which I mean it'll be easy to apply ample glue and not see it being squished out from in between. 

I'm not a huge fan of the decals so far. They become brittle very fast and were a pain to position somewhat correctly. The most visible part of them is at  both ends, where you want the strips to be perfectly center on the bay entrance. Doing so, moves other parts of the decal over the gap where the top half of the pylon will be glued.

I primed the model black, then sprayed all armour panelling white, added dark-grey highlights on them and light grey highlights on more of the black parts.

The idea was to go over it with a fine mist of grey until the build up was to my satisfaction. It was only a partial success, as the trick to successfully airbrushing highly thinned grey still eludes me most of the time.

Painting the base gold/black was an exercise in patience as well.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

PL-01 - As good as done

I'm going to call this one done, for now.

What I mean by that is that I want to do some post-treatment with oils to give it a slightly more faded or dusty look. I'm hesitant to start this process and distracted by other builds and lack of time and motivation. Just a short hiatus.

The lighting effect is ... ok, but not 100% as I had envisioned it. From certain angles it's fine, from other angles it appears overdone. But I guess that's the whole idea of artificially adding a light effect? I dunno ...

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Challenger - Another new project

Since my experiment with homemade Sprue Goo, I'm running dangerously low on TET (Tamiya Extra Thin cement). Dangerous, as in, I probably have enough for another 2 months, especially since I'm close to finishing up the PL-01 and the Galactica, but fellow modellers may be able to imagine the sheer horror of running low on something. The idea of running out in a busy weekend and then having to go all accross the country for new supplies ... /shudder.

It's like having an empty stash.

I don't like ordering a bottle of glue for 5 euro and spending almost twice as much on shipping, so I ordered two(!) bottles and the cheapest 1/35 scale tank I could find - that was still somewhat decent - because I've been playing with an idea.

I plan to make the tank and ... cut it in half! 

Why? Because I think it would be cool to make it into a book-rest. I've been gathering tank-related books for all but a month and a half, so if I want to give those a more prominent spot in the book shelf, I might as well make it an eye-catcher.

When looking for cheap model kits, there's a lot of choice, but a looot of junk. On one of my local suppliers' webshops, I found Trumpeter's Challenger II (kit 00308) in the second-hand section, so the decision was made. It looks to be a decent model, is of an actually interesting subject and I'll be doing it in a two-tone camouflage, which is still a bit of a learning curve, so we'll be having fun, learning a bit and being "creative" in the mean time.

If it turns out a dud, I've lost 15 euro, but had fun in the process.

Monday, 15 June 2020

BSG - Assembly

Like most sci-fi models, assembling the model works best in sub-assemblies or you run the risk of not being able to easily access certain parts for painting later.

Overall, the parts fit together well, with very big tabs and connectors. This makes it a sturdy model and difficult to mis-align parts.

The pylon arms fit in the hull and need to be aligned properly. Form some reason, these wouldn't align for me and I had to remove the protrusions on all connectors. Once removed, the pylons fit perfectly and were aligned horizontally.

The large inserts in the main hull are where the pylons would fit when retracted. This isn't an option on this model, unless you were to attack the pylon arms with a powertool. Anyone, the Galactica is most recognizable with pylons extended, so I don't really care. I think this'll look best painted flat black, to avoid too much visibility inside.

There's a large gap between the inserts and the outer hull, so with the Sprue Goo I created very recently, I did an attempt at reducing this. It'll only be visible when turning the model upside down, but hey.

The main engine at the rear is a transparent part. I painted the inside transparent blue and filled the part that has to remain transparent with Humbrol Maskol. You can use any masking fluid, or silly putty, or possibly even tape, but I found this the easiest.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

PL-01 - Colour modulation

I promised I'd try a hand at colour modulation, because I found the all-grey, little-surface-detail PL-01 too bland.

There are several techniques and an insane amount of videos on this topic. Because the base-coat was already there, pre-shading wasn't an option, so I decided to go over certain spots with a lighter version of the base-coat and others with a darker. I guess this technically qualifies it as post-shading.
When it's all done, I will also try with oils to see how easy that would be to achieve the same result.

The trick here is to go very slow, with translucent layers, and build up an effect. That means highly thinning your paint before you spray. In the past I experienced issues with just thinning paint in a ratio of  e.g. 10:1 (10 parts thinner to 1 part paint), where it would either not spray properly from my airbrush, or too quickly or the paint would spider.

My reasoning was I though I remembered reading somewhere that if you thin paint TOO much, it loses whatever quality makes it stick to the surface and it becomes a loose gathering of floating pigments instead.

So I decided to try a few different products.

Glaze medium

Sounds like something you'd thin paint with, but it's clearly meant for brush-painting figures. It's super-fluid, finds all nooks and crannies and flows there. Stays wet very long.

→ Not good.
Varnish (satin)

In a ratio of roughly 5:1 (varnish:paint) this sprayed just like I expected. Could have gone thinner for even more control over the effect.

→ Acceptable

A product by Ammo specifically for thinning paint beyond the point where it is no longer considered paint. It sprayed iffy. I'm also more inclined to put it in the brush-painting section.

→ Meh
At this point, I was no longer sure wether my spraying issues were product-related or airbrush-related, so I decided to give it a good strip & clean to be sure. There was a lot of dried paint and gunk in the body, which can't really improve it's functioning.

Airbrush thinner

As a last resort, I tried again with my default thinner. Stripping and cleaning the airbrush must have done something, because trigger control was flawless and because this thinner evaporates very fast, you can go over the same spot only seconds later. The airflow of the airbrush is enough to dry the surface.

→ OK!
So, I guess I'm back to the same old product, just learned to clean the airbrush better or more often and keep tight on the trigger-control.

Ah yes, the result!

I used a lighter tone around panel lines (where the angle changes), on flat top pannels, the top-left quadrant of the gun barrel and several oddly-angled surfaces. Darker tones around the turret ring and towards the lower part of the side skirts.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

BSG - Battlestar Galactica

I bought this kit years ago, as soon as I found out it existed. Ordered it from Moebius together with the Mk VII Colonial Viper, which I finished last year.

Not sure why I suddenly decided to start it, but I think with the Falcon finished and the PL-01 entering the decalling stage, I felt the itch to start something new.

This should be a simple and straightforward build. I'm not going to bother super-detailing between the armoured ribs, like some peope tend to do. I'm also not going to convert the starboard pylon to a museum, as portrayed in the series. I guess I'll be building here in an earlier stage of her career.

There aren't that many parts, which is not unusual for Sci-Fi kits. There's roughly 60 parts and the cannons make up a large portion of them.

Decal-wise, there's also not much. 3 times the name Galactica, a logo for on the back and 2 long decals for the inside of the pylons, which will mostly be invisible. But they're a very nice tough.
The kit includes a sturdy metal rod to hold het up above the display stand.

The inside of all parts are rife with stubs from the sprue-pooring process. While lucky they're on the INside, they need to be removed to be able to close evertyhing up.