Wednesday 29 April 2020

Falcon - gloss before decals

Inspired by having absolutely nothing to do in this Corona-quarantine, I picked up the Falcon again for adding some decals.

Normally, I always gloss-coat (or semi-gloss) before decals, but everybody is always going on and on about this not being necessary, so I decided to skip this step this once.

However, even with multiple applications of Micro-Sol and -Set, the decal film was still showing white spots.
Is it air trapped underneath or just the film not settling nicely?
Do some paints (I use Vallejo, also a very contested topic) yield a smoother finish than others?
On the second picture, you also see the water-marks (for lack of a better term) left by the Micro-Set, something I don't recall seeing on earlier builds.

I don't know just what it was, but after a few decals, I decided to go back to my old habits and spray a coat of Alclad II klear kote "semi-matte". It sprays very rough ("orange peel" is the technical term) if you use it straight from the bottle, so I always thin it 50/50 with White Spirit (aka "mineral spirits").

After that, there should be no more silvering, no more marks left by the Micro-Sol.

Thinned this way, it sprays and settles perfectly smooth, BUT :
  • take your time and apply multiple layers allowing each to dry (overnight, if you have the luxury of time). If you go too heavily, it stays sticky for ages.
  • clean out your AB extra thoroughly afterwards. 
    • I use Tamiya lacquer thinner as it seems to get rid of the Alclad best.
    • Once cleaned, I give it another round, just to be sure.
    • Remove the needle from the AB and let it sit overnight. It wouldn't be the first time that my needle is stuck in place because I didn't clean well enough.
      It's MUCH easier to remove the needle and next time, flush the AB with cleaner again before inserting the needle.
  • I use an older airbrush - that I never really liked - strictly for Alclad klears, just to be on the very safe side.
If all these cautions tell you it's a shitty product, who am I to say that your wrong. But switching to Alclad was a huge improvement coming from Vallejo varnishes that I used at first. I'm open to recommendations for better products. At least I'm not using floor polish :-).

This will look beter once dry

Monday 27 April 2020

Falcon - painting

I love painting models, but sometimes I hate the airbrush. Most of the time, it's probably just me, trying to rush something or not cleaning the AB enough when changing colour. Sometimes I'm convinced the thing has it in for me.
I have an Aztek airbrush, that works for what I do, but is bad at fine work. I SHOULD buy a new one (and also a better compressor), but I'm constantly arguing with myself about it costing too much money because I don't use it that often. I would probably use it more if it was a better one, but .... I'm sure many of you have had these internal debates.

On with the show!

Step 1 : protecting the already painted cockpit and gearbays. For irregularly shaped masking, I use my go-to Silly Putty.

Step 2 : priming in black and than the base-coat light-grey.

Step 3 : preparing for the blue-ish topcoat, while protecting the front and belly.

Step 4 : only the top-side of the nose left to do in slightly darker grey.

The easily recognizable round shape behind the cockpit should not be with too harsh a separation line, so I added a little "roll" of silly putty, making sure, it's still round where touching the model.

When spraying paint, I started from a backward angle spraying forward (direction of the nose), to get full coverage on the nose and sides.
Then slowly tilt the AB forward to paint closer to the silly putty, easy on the trigger, so the result is a soft transfer from grey to blue and not a harsh line.

I'm very happy with the result!

And because this is the point (May 2019) where you start adding 200+ decals, I lost interest.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Viper - Finished!

And here's the final result, on both the Mark II and mark VII.

Started in August 2014 and abandoned several times along the route. Finally finished early 2019.

Kit(s): Colonial Viper Mark II and VII
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: Revell & Moebius
Price: $25 and $40
Number of parts: ~60 and ~50
Time spent: ~40 hours
Project completion time: 5 years

Paint: (Vallejo)

Mark II
  • White primer - entire model (10+ layers)
  • US Grey (71.047) - cockpit
  • Aluminium, steel, gold, silver ... - details
Mark VII
  • Black primer
  • Base colour was trial and error mix of
    • 35% Pale grey blue (71.046)
    • 35% US grey (71.047)
    • 20% Insignia blue (71.091)
    • 10% aluminium (71.062)
  • Black, aluminium, steel, gold, silver, ... - details
Other products:
  • Alklad II klear kote (semi-matte)
  • Abteilung 502 oil
    • 180 - Copper oxide blue
    • 070 - Dark rust
    • 050 - Olive green
    • 060 - Light rust brown
    • 215 - Flesh shadow
    • 160 - Engine grease (brownish)
    • 510 - Starship filth (dirty green)
    • 170 - German grey highlight
Findings or issues:

  • Not sure you can call it an issue. I misplaced some of the smaller inserts, like for the nose of the Mark VII.
  • The front landing strut on the Mark II was warped, but nothing a little hot water couldn't fix. Nowaday's, I would use a heatgun, but I didn't have one back then.
  • The Moebius building instructions leave somewhat to be desired, but the Revell instructions can be found online.
  • The Moebius cockpit could do with a few more decals. It's pretty bland in there now.
  • Red decal stripes on Revell's Mark II are a bit short to cover the entire length. You'll need to match the paint color and do touch-ups. (Humbrol #19 is a perfect match)

I took these pictures outside in bright sunlight. I only spotted afterwards that the models have collected quite an amount of dust in the year they've been in the bookshelf already.
More and better quality pictures will be in the Facebook album.

Friday 24 April 2020

Falcon - Assembly

The Falcon has been a proud part of Belgian's airforce for decades. We started out with 160 of them, which is a lot, knowing the size of Belgium on a global scale.
As a child (we're talking about the eighties), I could count on them to take a wide turn right over my house every thursday afternoon. They were just raking up flying hours, doing standard training maneuvers. Their airbase (Kleine Brogel) was 150 km away but for this bird, that's peanuts.

I learned later that pilots often called the same restaurant in Koksijde (Belgian coast, 230km from the airbase), to let them know they were "on their way".

These pilots were heroes into the eyes of many little boys (actually, they still are). Around 12 (I think?), I visited my first airshow with my parents and brother. At a later age, I started going alone and also started training for the physical entrance exam to become a fighter pilot myself. It never amounted to anything, but it still aches when I see a fighter plane or a pilot at an event.
I was heavily into fighter planes for a long time, and honestly, still am :-). (I just expanded my interests to include tanks).

From that first airshow, we brought home two F-16 models (I don't recall which, but probably Revell as that is the biggest distributor here in Europe and available in all toy stores), one for me and one for my brother. As I recall, my brother never finished his and I finished it up.

I have a picture of both from an attic-cataloguing operation 8 years ago. With all the spare bombs and fuel tanks I created a "bomb-rack". (It also contains missiles from other models.)

Looking at it closer now ... why are the AIM-9 sidewinders yellow? 

The kit shown below, is a 1/72 scale Revell F-16 that was part of a second hand batch I procured years ago. It was sitting happily in the stash, while I was building tanks.

MLU stands for Mid-Life Update, basically the early 90's upgrade to the cockpit and avionics to be on-par with current technology.

My girlfriend's boss was a big F-16 fan, so I decided to build this to display it on her desk at work. To protect it from viewers and cleaning personnel, I would put it in a display case, for which I scoured the web to find something big enough AND affordable. I was going to add a small strip of tarmac and maybe some grass.

I hadn't counted on losing interest in the project after painting, and her boss has moved on in the meantime. BUT, that was last year, and I am now putting the finishing touches on the model. It should be finished in a week or so (famous last words, I know).

For some reason, some of the decals are missing, but there are like 6-7 decal options still to choose from and the only thing really necessary that was missing, were the Belgian roundels, which are easily found on the aftermarket in this common scale. (little decal sheet to the right)

Construction was simple and straightforward, the way one assembles airplanes. Assemble and fully paint the cockpit, close the hull, count the number of mini antennae that have gone missing and we're ready for painting.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Viper - Part 8 (Oil paint weathering)

Would you believe, it's been FIVE years since I last updated you about the Colonial Vipers?
I had to doublecheck a few times before I could believe it myself.

This is one of my on-again/off-again projects, where I just loose interest for 1 or more years.

One of the last photos of the construction phase I wanted to share was to illustrate how easy it was to perfectly align the landing struts on the Mark VII.

On the the topic of today : oil paint weathering. I used 2 completely different techniques on the 2 Vipers.

Sludge wash

We're now talking october 2015, about 8 months after the previous photo.

The Mark VII was treated with an overall sludge wash. This is the same technique I applied to the AC130H. (weathering-with-oils).

The photos speak for themselves.

Dot filters

Fast forward to may 2018, two and a half years later.

I heard and read about this dot-filter technique and watched some videos online. More specifically, the videos from Foxx on emodelsuk on this exactmodel. (Most prominently : this fragment)
I was finally ready to try my hand at it. I bought a set of Abteilung 502 oils and some odourless turpentine (you can also use mineral spirits or "White Spirit", as we call it at this side of the pond).

For my first attempt, the "dots" were waaay too big and the result was an oily sludge. It started to look a lot more like technique #1.

The big advantage of these oils, is that you can (almost) completely remove them again with a rag dipped in white spirit. It helps that I used a semi-gloss (you could call it "satin") varnish before I put on the decals and another layer to seal them in.
On a matte surface, it's harder to remove all of the oils.

A second, more subtle, attempt with smaller dots and repated application yielded more of the result that I had planned and hoped for.

The result will be better visible when I post the final pictures in the next installment.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

U-boot 434 museum Hamburg

Last summer, while passing through Germany on our way back from Poland, we stayed 2-3 nights in Hamburg. This stop halfway was specifically chosen as we did the same 2 years before (just overnight), and I had noticed there was a U-boat and you could visit it. At that time, I told my girlfriend that - next time - I would definitely want to visit it.

So, under the beautiful summer sun, we went inside and visited the U-bootmuseum. The website is in German, but Google translate does a decent job, if German is not your cup of tea.

You can make an unguided visit, but I recommend the guided tour. It's a couple euro more, but it's a pretty uninformed walk otherwise AND you get access to an otherwise restricted area.
We just came on a random day and joined a German tour, but my German is well enough to follow. You can book a tour (2 days in advance) in German, English or Russian.


The U-434 was a Russian submarine, Tango class, converted to a museum. For visitor ease, an entrance and exit were added to the back and front of the boat.

The first thing I learned was how cramped the thing is inside. Nothing compared to later era ships like depicted in the Hunt for Red October.

The second thing was that, for a crew of ~150, there were about one third the number of beds. The 60 or so beds were always occupied, because of the way the shifts were rotated.
Most of the beds were located in crew quarters, if you can call them that, but many where just stretchers, spread haphazardly across the ship, wherever there was some place to be found.

Restricted section

As part of the guided tour, you are allowed to climb up unto the command center of the ship. This contains the steering position, telephone (inter-ship), telegraph, control computers (barely worthy of the name), periscope access and what-not.
Triple-redundant systems all around.

And yes, that's me, playing helmsman.

I found it a very informative and worthwhile visit, if you're even remotely interested in U-boats.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Quick update

So, I've not done any modelling-related blogging in over 2 years. In all fairness, I haven't done much modelling whatsoever and the little work that was done, remained undocumented.

But, SOME work was done and 2 new models made it to the bench.

This Corona lockdown presented a rare opportunity in the form of free time and nothing social to do. Silver lining, right?

I'll be using the coming days/weeks to catch up on photos and start reporting on what was done.

Stay tuned!

Sneak peek :