Saturday, May 9, 2020

Polishing a Turd, or Setting the Bar Low

Somehow, I had this Monogram snap-together Spitfire kit lying around (I never belonged to their Young Model Builders' Club) and decided the best way to get rid of it was to build it. It's not much of a kit, with stickers instead of decals. I guessed at first it was 1/72 scale, but I measured the wingspan and found it about 10% oversize for 1/72, which makes it approximately 1/64, which is the scale that Scalemates . Anyhow, I'd already decided to use some Scale-Master decals I had saved from an old Encore kit that I let my daughter complete the way she wanted when she was about 3 years old. (She painted it red and pink.)

This wasn't going to be a serious build, just something to hang up in my workshop. The markings I chose were for P7666, call letters EB-Z, a presentation aircraft from the Observer Corps, the personal aircraft of Sqn. Ldr. Donald Osborne Finlay of No. 41 Squadron in late 1940.
I printed out the camo pattern sized to the model and cut a template. I traced this and brush-painted it over black primer using some Humbrol acrylics that came with an Airfix kit. These tiny plastic vials of paint are tricky to stir without spilling and the weight of the lid makes them want to tip over, but they go on nicely with a brush and as far as I can tell accurately represent RAF colors. A little internet research gave me to understand that in the early years of WWII, the underside color of RAF day fighters was usually Sky Blue, aka Duck Egg Blue. Less commonly used was Sky, aka Sky Type S or Duck Egg Green (or a similar but lighter and greener color Eau-de-Nil). Least common was Sky Grey, normally used by the Fleet Air Arm and Coastal Command, but apparently this color was used by No. 41 Squadron. This color was more of neutral grey than the others, lacking their bluish or greenish hue, so I used some Testors Flat Camouflage Grey acrylic I had since it seemed a fair match.

As I recall, the Encore kit (from a Heller mold) is a little overscale, say 1/69, so the decals I used should be sized accordingly. At any rate, while the markings are still undersized for the Monogram kit, the only place it really shows is the tail flash, which is clearly too short.

I wanted to use this kit to try out washi tape for the first time. I masked the canopy with it and found the results satisfactory. I also masked off the red rectangles on the leading edge of the wing where tape was applied over the gunports, but I'd have gotten better results here just freehanding it. The washi tape also lifted a decal. Ouch! I touched it up with a Gundam marker.

The kit's representation of the main gear and their bays is laughable, and I wanted it to show it in-flight anyway, so I cut out the shallow bays to modify it so the gear are retracted. This left peg holes that I filled, and would have required even more work to show the gap where the top of the door doesn't quite cover the bay, but it wasn't worth the effort.

I also tried ways to avoid decal silvering. Decal silvering is the bane of my existence, though I must admit it's not too horrible a bane, as banes go. I gave the plane a coat of Future and used Micro Sol to wet the areas where I applied the decals, then more Micro Sol, and rolled a Qtip over the decal to press out the excess. Mostly it worked, but I also carefully chipped away clear carrier film with the tip of a #11 blade, used a pointy brush to get more Micro Sol or Micro Crystal Clear under the decal, and touched up with paint. And I still see a few little flecks of silvering. Aaarghhh!

So now I have a Spitfire hanging in my workshop. If it were some kind of masterpiece, I might find a safer place for it, but this way it livens up my workshop. Besides, if I decide I don't like it anymore, I can always stuff it full of firecrackers, like back in the good ol' days.

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