Recent aircraft modelling

Over the last six months or so, I’ve been working very slowly on reducing my plastic kit stash.

First up was a Hobby Boss MiG-3. The kit went together easily, which you’d expect from the very low parts count.  I used a tiny bit of filler here and there, but the only real fit issue was that the canopy sat a bit low at the front and left a gap at the rear. I used some thin plastic card strips to build up the fuselage, which was a nice easy fix. I added a basic cockpit using stretched sprue, plus seatbelts. The large ventral air scoop got a couple of louvres. – just the louvres themselves, not the vertical support posts, which I decided were too hard basket. I saw in a build article (I can no longer find it, but scale plans show the inner flaps to be the wrong shape) that the flaps needed re-scribing, so I did that using a pin in a pin-vice, using Dymo tape as a guide.

I chose what I thought would be a simple scheme: a very schmick presentation aircraft, with decals from the kit. I used Tamiya white undercoat for the top surface, and Humbrol 89 for the underside. It makes for a really colourful aircraft, although in retrospect the underside could have been just a touch lighter. Some respraying was needed when I found that I had got a nice blue smudge on top of the wing. The panel lines got a restrained wash using water colours. This excellent website has a few pictures of the presentation ceremony, as well as a story hinting at why the factory might have gone to a little extra trouble to look patriotic.

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V.V. Rybalko warms up his MiG. From MiG3.SovietWarPlanes.com

The thing that really took time to fix was the arrow decals on the nose. They are too narrow, and have unsightly black outlines. I made a start on painting them, but I wasn’t able to get the arrow heads looking neat enough, because of the air scoops and such in that area. Instead I bought an after market decal set, which also had overly thin arrows, but with a bit of surgery and red paint they look fine now.

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The finished product

In May I started on the 1/72 Revell Tornado ECR, which I decided to make as a Marinefleiger IDS, simply by omitting the extra ECR bits that came with the kit.

Looking back, this is not a kit that you should start when you are anaemic and on strong pain medication. It’s very fragile: the plastic on the rear fuselage is wafer thin, so you can pop the join open if you hold the kit too firmly. The main undercarriage bays need reinforcing, unless you enjoy the challenge of putting them back in from the outside when they fall off when you’re fitting the undercarriage (which is not something I enjoyed). Also the join between the front and rear fuselage is weak. All of that can be fixed in minutes with plastic card and it will turn a kit that I found quite difficult into an easy build.

I used an Eduard etched brass detailing set, most of which you can’t see. The set didn’t include consoles for the cockpit, and while my paint job looked better than the kit decals would have, this kit is still not one for displaying with the canopy open.

My inspiration for making the kit came back in the early nineties. I was standing on the deck of a cross channel ferry and an MFG Tornado streaked past toward Dover, below the level of where I was standing. Although the one I saw was in the Norm 76 scheme of Basaltgrau over Lichtgrau, I went for the cooler looking but somewhat complicated Norm 87 scheme of Basaltgrau, Grungrau, and Blaugrau. I used Revell paints for the Basaltgrau and Grungrau, and Xtracolor for the Blaugrau.

I had made my own decals for the squadron marking, the anchors, and the ‘Marine’ marking. I was pleased at how they turned out, especially the marking for MFG 2. They were very fragile though. The rest of the markings came from the kit and an old Modeldecal set. There are a few small markings that neither set was suitable for. I guess I could have made them but they were only small.

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Don’t worry, the canopy gap is there because I hadn’t glued it down yet.

I’m pretty happy with the way the kit turned out, a bit more care earlier on would have made my life easier but that’s more my fault than the kit’s.

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