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Having toyed with the idea for a while, I've decided to start a blog. After many years lurking on Dakka and sporadically showing my work on a bunch of disparate threads, I figured it was time I just consolidated all my work into one thread of 'stuff I do'. So welcome to the musings of a bored Geordie from mists of Northumberland, the land 'Beyond the Wall'.
Current Project: 1:48 Messerchmitt Bf109/F-4 (Trop)
- Junkers Ju-88A-11 (Trop), 1942 North Africa/Malta
- Messerschmitt Bf-109/F-4 (Trop), 1942 North Africa/Malta
So what can you, my audience, expect? Well, my modelling interests are fairly broad, so here's some blurb on my modelling misadventures:
I have an abiding passion for history, so you can expect a bunch of 28mm historicals. I love Ancient Greece, so a large part of my work is a slowly expanding phalanx of Spartans (Or... Lakedaimonians, if I'm going to be pedantic!). But that's not all! There's Teutonic Knights, Peninsular War era British Army, Sengoku-Jidai era Samurai, Second World War 'Desert Rats', and pretty much whatever else takes my fancy. I also love aircraft and tanks - with an ever expanding collection of these in 1:48 scale. It's mainly Second World War machines at the moment, but some modern pieces may creep in if they catch my eye. I find this scale particularly good for dioramas, so that'll be an avenue I'll be exploring too!
But it's not just historic models either, nor just 28mm. I'm also a great fan of Sci-Fi. 40k (of course) is a staple, but also Halo, Mass Effect and Star Wars. My first real foray into painting was my much loved Salamanders, however with the coming of the Primaris I sold them all and swore to rebuild them in glorious high-fidelity (And with AMPLE conversions). That hasn't happened yet. But, Emperor willing, I'll get around to it, I promise! Supplementing the Fireborn, I've always like the Custodes, so you can hope to see them in the future too. Oh, and a Battalion of Clone Troopers from Star Wars: Legion. Mustn't forget the Clones! Or their Mandalorian brethren... Bah - too many options, too little time!
I'll leave it there. But what do I expect of YOU?
Not much, you'll be glad to hear. I want to engage with people who share my love of tiny, shiny, plastic dudes. I figure I'm in good company then . I'm always pleased to hear compliments, but I'm eager for criticism too - don't be shy to tell me how I can improve, what you'd like to see me have a crack at and feel free to suggest anything I may like. Above all, if my work is in any way 'inspirational' (My apologies if you are led into this delusion ), there's nothing I like more than sharing my techniques or thoughts - feel free to ask, or shoot me a PM.
All this said, here's a selection of my previous shinies to get the ball rolling:
Salamanders Repulsor 'Challenger Mk.I'
Chaplain Tyrtaios, 2nd Company Salamanders
633rd Assault Battalion, Grand Army of the Republic
'No Surrender', 1st Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers at Tobruk, 1941 - Submitted for Dakka's Unofficial Painting Competition April 2021 and, suprisingly, winning 1st .
'Blood on the Ice, Prussia: 1242' - Another Dakka UPC submission, which finished 3rd I think (Considering the amazing skill of everyone who participates, that was more than enough for me ).
De Havilland Mosquito FB Mk.VI 'MM417'
'Step by step walk the thousand-mile road' - Miyamoto Musashi, The Water Book
And finally, probably the most beautiful object mankind has ever created - Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc, 'EN133'.
Automatically Appended Next Post: And... POW!
First thing on my desk - a Junkers Ju-88A-11. The battles in North Africa always captivated me as a bairn, so I'm really enthused to revist my childhood with a more serious attempt. The A-11 was essentially an A-4, but 'tropicalised' to include sand filters and more expansive emergency equipment for the crew (Ditching in the vast expanse of the Mediterranean being an unpleasant end for many aircrew on both sides during the Second World War). I've not decided on which specific aircraft this will depict, but it'll be dusty, battleworn and fitting opposition for my Tomahawk. I just need to figure out how to fit it into my cabinet...
The kit is from ICM, whose offerings I haven't previously had experience with. But from what I can see the detail is crisp and the fit is also very good. The only down side is that the wheels are of the early type (A-0 to A-5 variants). To rectify this, I have a set of Eduard/Brassin wheels winging their way to me (pun intended ) which fit the A-4 onwards variants. Yes, A-4 came after A-5 in the Ju-88 line - both variants featured more powerful engines and a lengthened wingspan, however the A-5 upgraded existing airframes whilst the A-4 was a production variant. In addition to the wheels, I also splashed out on a full set of interior photoetch - including ammunition feeds/bins, cockpit dials and radio facings. Which should keep me suitably entertained!
This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/07/04 21:45:59
Some more progress on the Junkers - it's starting to look like a bomber now!
The cockpit is very well detailed, and I can't wait for the photoetch to arrive to add some intricacy to the build. One thing I've noted is that ICM's plastic is a touch brittle, and some of the finer pipes have a tendency to break under sanding pressure. The articulated ailerons was a nice touch, although I am slightly puzzled as to why ICM chose to have fixed position elevators on the main wings. In general, the fit continues to be very good with one main exception. ICM chose to hide the wing root seam, rather ingeniously, inside the area where the engine nacelle will be located. The effect is to create a stepped joint which theoretically adds strength to the wing assembly. However, I find that the cantilever effect is a little difficult to align properly, with the result that the seams on hte top or bottom open up as the wing is flexed. Unlike Tamiya's system of having internal spars which the wings slot onto, this system is a touch more finnecky. We'll have to see how it works when everything is glued up (It being taped at the moment until I can get the cockpit PE installed), but I foresee some blue words in the future!
Next step is to crack on with the engine assembly, and the nacelles. I had best give some thought to whether I want to display this bombed up or under maintenance, but fortunately ICM provides fully detailed engine bays for either option
As I’m progressing through the build, I’m aware of a certain… unease regarding my subject matter. To be specific, I’m aware that what I’m building, as with all my projects, represents a specific part of history. And one which was particularly unpleasant.
I think there’s an important obligation for scale modellers to be honest and reflective when it comes to portraying the forces of the Nazi regime, and to explain why they chose the topic. Of course, the Nazis were not unique in their brutality – but their brutality came completely out of context with most of the world at the time, and in such an abhorrently industrialised method. Now, this is the first German kit I've done since my, rather less reflective, childhood, so here is my rationale because I feel this is a particularly important subject for historical modellers to grapple with:
1. I’m a historian by occupation, and the fundamental interest for me in pursuing that is to uncover as accurate a picture of life in prior ages as we can. When it comes to modelling (and history actually), my interest is directed towards depicting conflict – and in a Second World War context that, naturally, means German vehicles too. My collection is thematic – this Junkers being a counterpart to my P-40 Tomahawk from the same era (1942 North Africa/Mediterranean). I also have plans to do a Spitfire Vb/Bf109-G duo. In some respects, then, it’s less about the aircraft and more about capturing a snapshot of history. A moment in time.
2. There is an element of aesthetics too. German engineering of the era was, albeit created to further a terrible agenda, still engineered by humans – and its aesthetic cues still strike a chord now. In other words, we can’t escape that German hardware looks ‘cool’ – it speaks to the same part of us that thinks the Spitfire was weaponised beauty and the Chieftain tank was a thuggish lump of awesome. Most of us on this site are hardwired to appreciate weaponry as a quirk of psychology, and even Nazi weaponry can be aesthetically appealing. I’ll make no bones about the fact that I love the form of Holbein daggers from the 16th century – and the Nazi daggers which retain that form are appealing because of it. It is unfortunate, but true.
3. Engineering. These machines, as mentioned, were designed for an evil purpose. But a tank is apolitical. It does not hate or feel prejudice. So, an appreciation of the design does not equate to appreciating the designer, or the user.
But let’s round this off in no uncertain terms: This kit leaves me unsettled because much as I’m interested in the history, the engineering and the aesthetics there is a core fact which is ever present in my mind.
It is this – thousands upon thousands of forced labourers died in unimaginable conditions to create aircraft like this. And millions more died while aircraft like this protected their persecutors. We owe it to them to remember this and never forget the lesson.
This may just be a model, and a ‘cool’ one at that, but I feel it is vitally important for us to acknowledge that the pleasure we get from making these kits is shadowed by abject horror. It’s not wrong to continue making these kits or appreciating the aircraft, for the above-mentioned reasons, but it is FUNDAMENTALLY CRUCIAL to acknowledge what these kits truly represent. We cannot divorce ourselves from the historical background, because down that road lies forgetfulness, ignorance and repetition. So long as that message is repeated across the hobby, successive generations of modellers can help keep the lesson alive – and the memory of those who were lost to the horror.
And apologies if this seems like pontificating or accusatory. It is only my intention to provide some perspective to why I model what I model, what they represent to me and, hopefully, to spark a thought in your minds. We are the sum of our choices, after all.
This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/05/22 15:12:29
After a struggle with some exceptionally lazy FedEx drivers, I've finally had my photoetch and late-pattern wheels delivered. Thank the Gods. Some modellers hate photoetch because it's incredibly fiddly stuff with a propensity to ping out of your tweezers at the exact point you realise you should have hoovered your floor of debris first. However, being the masochisticly stubborn Northerner that I am, I throw all such nonsense to the wind and have embraced the psychosis inducing faff that is photoetch.
I've bought 2 sets. The first is a set of interior details, including colourised dials, gauges and switches for the cockpit, alongside a bare brass sprue with all sorts of goodies like ammunition belts/bins, gun mounts, some really fine (like lacework!) rudder pedals and structural detailing. The second set is far less complex - a straightforward set of colourised seatbelts. As the aircraft kit came with no pilot figure nor with moulded harnesses, these parts are vital. Harnesses are a particular bugbear of scale modellers - mostly because when they're in scale (as these are) they can look deceptively small and unsatisfactory. I have seen some modellers ingeniously create belts from paper (which lies more naturally in the seat), but I'm content to take the easy route and use PE.
I also have the late-wheels set. This, as mentioned previously, is a must. You can guarantee that one of the first things enthusiasts will pick up on is tyre patterns, and I'm pretty sure it would also nag me because I know they're wrong. Anyway, the casting is excellent (And more photoetch is provided for some reinforcing strips), but the hubs are moulded by their backs onto the resin block, which makes removal a bit more of a labourious task than it needed to be .
In the meantime, while I've been waiting to tackle the interior, I've completed my first few sub-sections - the landing gear struts and the two engines. ICM thoughtfully provide fully decorated multi-part engine bays for the two Jumo 211 engines. These went together remarkably well, with only a little filler needed, and although I won't be displaying them (I think...) they tick the little OCD box in my head that needs them completed .
Next up, I'll be cracking on with the cockpit detailing .
Something a bit more exciting - or at least a different shade of grey. The cockpit is now 90% complete, with only the ammunition feeds to be installed once I've painted the capony and assembled the outer model. The photoetch has added a considerable amount of detail to the inside, and I'm exceptionally happy not to have lost a single piece (Although I won't lie - I came perilously close a few times!).
I always enjoy this stage of a build because the fiddly part is out of the way and I can crack on with the broader impression of the aircraft. With the fuselage now assembled and the cockpit safely ensconced within, it's quick process to build up the rest. The most time conscuming aspect (other than folding and gluing the photoetch) was to cut out the plastic tailwheel in readiness for the resin replacement. The set I bought was intended for the Dragon Models Ju88, and Eduard didn't offer one for the ICM kit, but it wasn't too difficult to excise the wheel and file an opening into the moulded plastic.
Next stop - copious amounts of fuselage filler (there is at least one open seam on the starboard fuselage) and assembly/mounting the engines.
Some lovely stuff on display mate, I think the desert scene is my favorite (and congrats on the win).
One small critique though, it would have been nice if you had weathered the 633rd AB of the GAR in a similar manner to your desert piece. They look a little too clean whilst appearing to be based in a similar environment.
ingtaer wrote:Some lovely stuff on display mate, I think the desert scene is my favorite (and congrats on the win).
One small critique though, it would have been nice if you had weathered the 633rd AB of the GAR in a similar manner to your desert piece. They look a little too clean whilst appearing to be based in a similar environment.
Look forward to seeing how the 88 progresses.
Thanks ingtaer! The desert diorama was a labour of love really. I'm a Northumbrian, so I have a passion for modelling the exploits of my ancestors in various conflicts - you'll likely find some connection to North-East England in most of my works
And I totally agree that the 633rd need some weathering. In fact, one of the reasons I got back into historical modelling was to challenge myself to do more weathering. The Spitfire was my first attempt, and since then the 633rd have been updated - I just need to update my pics now. I must remember to photograph my ARC Troopers next time I have my camera out!
Tyranid Horde wrote:Wishing I'd spotted this blog sooner, you've got a real talent for historical modelling here and I really appreciate the care you've taken in explaining why you're replicating military subjects.
Keen to see continued progress on the 88. The cockpit is looking nicely weathered so far.
That's much appreciated T.H - thank you! And don't worry, so far all you've missed is a lot of grey plastic slowly coming together
Not that I think my work is exceptional, but I think I do historical modelling better than Sci-Fi because it's also my main passion and occupation. It's an odd day for me if I haven't read something historical somewhere. I'm glad that you appreciate the little bits of potted history that I try to provide - sometimes I feel that the extra context gives more to the model than just a photograph. To me, conflict is the ultimate expression of humanity. It encapsulates the entirety of the human experience and portrays us at our best and our worst - it's a truly fascinating thing to study.
Captain Brown wrote:Great cockpit detail Warpig1815.
After filling and sanding down the fuselage (Which required a considerable amount of re-scribing panel lines - and yet more to do when my hatch scribing template arrives), tonight's job was painting the inside of the engine nacelles, and assembling them. My previous admiration of ICM's kit has somewhat evaporated when it came to this portion of the build. The 'clever' wing assembly (to hide the joint) is not so clever when it's very fiddly to align. Not only is it difficult to keep the top-side wing root seam to a minimum, but flexing the wing causes the mounting points (which are 'conveniently' keyed) to shift forwards and backwards.
Thus, when you get to mounting the nacelles, the whole thing essentially required me to push it into place with all the grace of a boxer. It would be more apt to say I beat the kit into submission at this point. Further blue words were incurred by the limitations imposed by squeezing the engines into the nacelles. And this is all following the chain laid out by the instructions. Gods help me if I'd attempted to fit the landing gear afterwards (which I usually do, to minimise masking/overspray).
Needless to say, while I'm still broadly pleased with the kit, the wing and engine assembly method are pretty much over-engineered. Apt, for a German aircraft then...
Before the pain began. I opted for a hack job on the inside, seeing as essentially none of it would show. Only basic shading, but no highlights or panel lining inside (Other than the gear and engines themselves).
The word 'fit' is not applicable here...
The 'finished' product. I dare not remove the 'laccy bands yet, and I just know that more filler is going to be required to wrangle it into shape
Case in point - the 'seam' between the engine covers and the wing are going to take quite some filling to smooth over!
Long time no post... Having been swamped with work for my Masters, the '88 has taken a backseat, but a little progress has been made!
The engine nacelles took, as expected, a canny amount of sanding to knock into shape. To top it off, thanks to stumbling across a comprehensive review of the kit, I realised that part of my filling was in error - with the gap I highlighted in the last post actually being accurate. It turns out that ICM accurately reproduced the gap between the engine nacelle and the wing fairing - but only on the top. The lower portion of the engine blends seamlessly into the undercarriage bays (Which it should not). So.... my filling was in error and required hacking back out.
On top of that, after copiously filling and sanding the rest of the misfitting nacelles, I had to re-scribe all the filler and inspection hatches, and a fair amount of panel lines. Bah!
The wheels are now painted, and I'm really happy with how I've got the softer 'tyre' black (Vallejo Black and Dark Grey, mixed at a ratio of 4:1-ish) against the satin black hubs (Tamiya X-18 Semi-Gloss Black). The 'Bola' Gondola is also attached and fully detailed, with the Zwilling ('Twin') MG-81 mount in place, along with it's ammunition feeds. It's just a pity all the detail is practically invisible. But hey, if I ever drop it, the fragments will be glorious!
Also in place are the prop assemblys. Points off for ICM here for not providing free-moving propellors (They need glued to remain on the model). Honestly, if you can't gleefully spin the propellors like a 3 year old bairn, then there's really no point in making model airplanes. So I've decided to do some engineering to pin them on and keep them freely spinning. It's in the name of accuracy. Honest!
Finally, the external harpoints are assembled and in place, and the ordnance assembled ready for painting and bombing-up. The Ju-88 could take approximately 6600lbs/3000kg of ordnance - 1400kg in the internal bays, and the rest on 4 hardpoints on the inner wings. ICM include two SC500 and two SC250 bombs to model the external payload and whilst they are well shaped it bugged me slightly that the SC250s had their tail weld seams reproduced on only one half of the two-part assembly. A minor issue really, but I swiftly rectified it by melting some sprue, drawing it out into fine strands and then gluing it into place - et voila!
At this point, the build is almost complete. The most significant part left is the canopy assembly and detailing - which I'll be doing just as soon as my Future/Pledge Floor Gloss arrives to dip the canopy in. For those of you unaware, 'Future' is an old brand name for an acrylic floor gloss. Some bright spark realised that dipping an acrylic canopy in acrylic floor gloss had the effect of filling any imperfections and turning it crystal clear. With all this detailing, I'll be damned if I'm not going to put it on display!
Last up, to break the grey tedium, something a little different. I'm having a real drive on participating in Dakka's Painting Competition, so my entry this month - Redcoats! Well - whitecoats at this point, but they'll get there. If this '88 doesn't kill me first...
So, the Ju-88 has... ground to a halt. After the last post, I cracked on with getting the canopies detailed. First, this meant 'future-ing' them. As previously explained, the technique calls for dipping the clear canopy parts in an acrylic floor polish to fill out imperfections. Which worked wonderfully, bringing the clear parts to a crystal finish. I then spent the better part of several evenings fiddling with the final pieces of photoetch to represent the armour panels inside the cockpit and the geared machine gun mounts in the rear blister canopy. This was incredibly fiddly work, and I had to re-future the canopy a few times after the superglue hazed it a little bit. Nevertheless, I managed to get it all pristine and fitted, and the ammunition feeds aligned inside the cockpit. Then, when it came time to glue it to the fuselage - I went and blobbed poly cement all over the inside of the canopy and ruined the whole piece. Irreversibly.
Fortunately, despite my 'complaints' about ICM's kit design, they kindly offer a free aftersale service on all damaged parts. Within hours of me contacting them, with no quibbles at all other than to check I'd bought from their distributor (naturally), ICM offered to send me an entirely new clear sprue, free of charge. Absolutely exceptional service, especially in today's profit driven world. I cannot praise them enough for saving me all the frustration of a ruined build.
So while I'm waiting on that I've another project to begin - a Bf-109/F-4 (Trop).
The Bf-109 is an iconic aircraft of the Second World War, as much (or even more so) than the Supermarine Spitfire. The F-4 variant was particularly popular amongst Luftwaffe pilots as it's improved aerodynamics, control surfaces and uprated supercharger improved it's handling characteristics in the air. The tropical version of the F-4 differed only in having a sand filter fitted to the supercharger intake. A supercharger compresses air so that combustion can occur at the optimal pressure regardless of altitude (air becoming thinner at great heights and lowering engine power). The dusty conditions of North Africa neccessitated fitting these filters on both Allied and Axis aircraft, as without them the engine quickly became abraded from sand ingestion.
As usual, my comments on the importance of thinking carefully about portraying Axis topics are just as important here. I'll not repeat myself (See my 2nd post), however I've chosen to portray an anonymous aircraft (i.e. - not a specific pilot's mount) as I don't care to glorify a specific pilot, for fear of inadvertantly praising someone whose motivations (or actions) were not simply out of blind duty.
Progress - the interior is all done! As per usual, Eduard's kits combine detail, accuracy, ease of building and fun all in one. Or at the least, my experience of their Spitfire Mk. IX has been met with just the same from their Bf-109. I tend to go for the Profi-pack editions, which bundle some photoetch detailing sets (interior and exterior) in with the plastic sprues, and a helpful masking set.
Eduard's 'fit' is excellent and almost everything has dropped into place seamlessly - which makes for a quick build. My only 'issue' was that this particular kit is designed more for a stationary depiction than an in-flight depiction - so all the control surfaces come with tabs to help set the control surfaces and flaps in their ground positions. As I'm doing an in-flight build, these tabs have to be filed off so that the flaps and radiator can be set in the closed positions, and the control surfaces can be posed at the correct angle for a banking turn. It's no great deal however, and most helpful for the average wheels down build.
I also topped the build off with a pilot - I've heard it's somewhat important for mimicing that flying aesthetic Little of the build remains now, other than setting the radiator flaps, working out how to fit the undercarriage into their bays (Eduard seemingly provide only a wheels down option here too) and fitting whatever PE detailing is left.
Then it's on to painting the exterior. Finally, my blog will have some colour
So the Messerschmitt is fully built. Huzzah! As predicted, Eduard didn't provide an option for a wheels up depiction. It's slightly curious because Eduard are noted for their dimensional accuracy - so you'd assume (if all parts are true to a 1/48 down scaling) that having snipped off the fixing points, the rest of the undercarriage would just slot into the wheelbays in miniature form.
It didn't. What followed was several hours of sanding down the backs of the wheels (and parts of the front which would be hidden), and the edges of the wheel fairings all with the aim of depicting an neatly stowed undercarriage. Of course, Messerschmitt's design didn't help, as the tops of the fairings have a gap through which the wheel struts can be seen - but the Eduard struts wouldn't fit! In the end, I had to split the strut in order to fit a portion into the visible part of the well while leave the hidden area without the strut. What a faff!
Nevertheless, the building shenanigans are over! On to painting this beast. I have to say it though - while I'm by no means ignorant to the horrors of war (or the Nazi regime specifically), the Bf 109F is a wonderful looking machine despite it's origins. I'm a Spitfire guy, but the Messerschmitt certainly has that 'predator' aesthetic - a shark of the skies. I would not want to have seen a pack of these diving through the African sun at me!
For this build, I'm trying a new method of pre-shading. My previous models have all used panel shading as the initial technique. This is where the panel lines are shaded in black over a light primer before the main colour is glazed over the pre-shading. The intention here is to add some visual interest to the model instead of broad swathes of monotone colour. The problem with this technique, however, is that the eye quickly realises that the effect isn't natural - the shadows are forced or the fading which the panel lines are intended to mimic is also unnatural.
So for this attempt, I'm trying an ingenious technique I've found on the internets - 'Scotch-brite' shading. Basically, this technique calls for a 'Scotch-brite' pad (In the UK we call them pan-scourers cos they, you know... scour pans ) to be torn in half horizontally, to thin it out into a porous sheet. Then, when you paint is sprayed through, the effect created is to randomly filter the paint so that it mottles the primer. The beauty of this technique is that the mottling is genuinely randomised from the holes in the pad - which perfectly mimics the random fading of paint on aircraft surfaces.
For my attempt I simply primed black (A bonus, because I find Vallejo black primer to cover better, and smoother, than their grey), and then made several passes with my pads. For this, I used Daler-Rowney inks, mixed with some matte medium to help them fix, and some flow improver to ensure a smooth application. The effect, IMHO, is perfect. The brighter spots, using a white, will tone down with the main colour filter, and hopefully add some interest to the flat surfaces