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Propeller Planes from
1939 to 2000s

USAF North American Rockwell OV-10A Bronco (1960s - 2000s)

ICM North American Rockwell OV-10A

A Ukrainian plastic kit manufacturer named ICM produced this kit, probably by scaling down the computer 3D software files from their 1/48 scale Bronco kit. This was a very enjoyable build, because the fit of the parts was so good and the engraved detailing was so crisp.

When I built my previous Bronco kit forty years ago in the 1980s, I opted to depict it on sitting on the taxiway, fully loaded for combat, with all of the flying control surfaces cut out and re-installed in the extended or out-of-neutral position. (You can see this build on the Props 2 page.) For this Bronco 2.0, I wanted to display the aircraft in flight, uncluttered with landing gear, prop blades or ordnance. I painted and installed a Fujimi pilot in the front office, and set it on an Airfix stand. Originally it was in level flight, but after seeing it in the display case for a while, I made the decision to carefully bend the two aluminum tube pins on the top of the stand to bank the aircraft left into a more interesting pose. (The pilot has just this instant returned the ailerons to neutral; just saying.)

All paint on the aircraft was Testors Model Master; all paint on the pilot was Humbrol. Decals were from the kit or from various MicroScale sets. The whip antennae were house painting brush bristles, and the wire antenna was a strand of Rayon thread. Final clear coat was a 50:50 mix of Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss and Flat Lacquer. Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images:

USN PB4Y-1 Liberator (Consolidated B-24) (World War Two)

Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator (Google)

The Consolidated B-24 J Liberator was operated by the US Navy as the PB4Y-1 Liberator, in the North Atlantic and in the Pacific in World War 2. PB4Y-1s flew out of bases in southern England to patrol the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, hunting German U-boats. Missions often lasted 12 or 13 hours, accomplishing just by their low-altitude presence in the sky the forcing down of U-boats below the surface to evade destruction. Between August 1943 and May 1945, five U-boats were sunk and many others damaged by PB4Y-1s. Nearly 200 US Navy personnel were killed during this crucial but costly assignment. The PB4Y-1s were such a threat to U-boats that the German Luftwaffe had to divert long-range twin-engine fighters such as the Junkers Ju-88 to squadrons on the coast of occupied France to try to counter the Liberators. (Alan C. Cary)

The Consolidated PB4Y-1 was 66 feet 4 inches long, 17 feet 11 inches tall, and had a wingspan of 110 feet. Empty weight was 32,505 pounds and maximum operating weight was 60,000 pounds. Top speed was 279 miles per hour and service ceiling was 32,000 feet, although anti-submarine patrols were usually conducted at altitudes of between 800 and 1,000 feet. Range was 2,960 miles. Armament was up to 8,800 pounds of depth charges and/or homing torpedos, plus up to 10 Browning .50 calibre machine guns. (Squadron Signal)

Hasegawa B-24J as PB4Y-1

This Hasegawa kit of a B-24J was pressed into service to become a PB4Y-1; fortunately, it took very little effort to make it so. In Alan C. Carey's book U.S. Navy PBY4-1 Liberator Squadrons, I found one example of a nose-turreted PB4Y-1 assigned to anti-submarine duty in England in the USN three-color camouflage of that time and place, and PB4Y-1s were on duty during the narrow window of the short-lived, red-outlined stars and bars insignia, such that I thought I could get away with this otherwise undocumented depiction. The kit went together well enough, although the Hasegawa engineering decision to enable one partial fuselage mold to be used with optional noses to cover the range of B-24 varients led to some tricky joints, which I was only partially successful in concealing.

All paint was Testors Model Master enamels, except for Tamiya flat white at the undersides. Machine gun barrels were Master brand, and the radio aerials are rayon thread. The few markings were from the vast library of decals I have amassed over the last 40 years or so, and fortunately, these England-based PB4Y-1s were often very minimal in markings. Final finish was a 50-50 mix of Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss and Flat Lacquer. Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images:

Luftwaffe Mistel composite aircraft (World War Two)
Messerschmitt Bf-109 on Junkers JU-88 

Luftwaffe Mistel (Mistletoe) composite aircraft Messerschmitt Bf-109F on Junkers Ju-88 A4

The Luftwaffe "Mistel" program was an interesting attempt to create a heavy, self-propelled, guided flying bomb for precision attacks against large targets such as bridges or ships. A pilot in a single-engine fighter plane steered his aircraft as well as the unmanned, twin-engined bomb-aircraft on top of which his fighter was attached. After aiming the bomb-aircraft at the target, a gyroscopically controlled autopilot would keep the bomb-aircraft locked on target. The pilot of the fighter would then detach himself from the bomb-aircraft and fly safely home. In theory.

Many of the bomb-aircraft (usually worn-out standard bombers) had the nose and cockpit replaced with a massive shaped-charge warhead, intended to do maximum damage. The Mistel system worked reasonably well at steering and releasing the bomb-aircraft, but in practice, the composite aircraft were too unwieldy to avoid destruction by any defensive fighter planes in the target area or on route to the intended target. Of the approximately 250 Mistel weapons deployed, very few succeeded in reaching a target and releasing the bomb-aircraft, and the results were almost uniformly ineffective. (Osprey Publishing; Wikipedia)

Italeri Bf-109F+Hasegawa Ju88 A4 Mistal composite aircraft

This project started out with the purchase of an Aires Mistel resin conversion set of parts to mate a Hasegawa Junkers Ju-44 A4 to a Hasegawa kit of a Messerschmidt Bf-109, both of which I already owned. Although the quality of the resin shaped-charge warhead was excellent, skepticism on my part about the sturdiness of the Aires struts between the two aircraft shelved the model for a while. Later, I found an Italeri Mistel combo kit and bought it. I decided to use the Hasegawa Ju-88 and the Italeri struts and Bf-109 for the build. I did all of the assembly work, including making the Italeri struts fit the Hasegawa Ju-88 A4, but I lost interest before painting the two aircraft. Despite buying an excellent Osprey book on the Mistel aircraft, hopefully for inspiration, I shelved the project again anyway, for maybe a year or two.
Finally, I noticed on eBay a set of Print Scale decals for Mistel combo aircraft, and this was the push I needed to resume. How to do the mottle camouflage on the lower fuselage sides of the Bf-109 was a puzzle to me, and initially I experimented with dry-brush stippling the splotches with small, stiff paint brushes, but in the end I went with clear decal sheet that I airbrushed with the appropriate camouflage colors, and then cut out decal splotches as tiny as I could manage with an X-acto swivel knife. I think the results are only poor-to-fair, but it was the best I could do. I have a second Mistel project in the wings (Hasegawa Ju-44G, Airfix Fw-190, Italeri struts and another Aires resin shaped-charge warhead), so I can attempt some other technique for mottled camouflage on it, someday.

All paint was Testors Model Master, lightened with white for scale effect. Final finish was a mix of Testors Model Master Clear Semi-Gloss and Clear Flat Lacquer. Antenna on the Bf-109 was Infini-Model rayon thread. Pitot tubes on each aircraft were Master brand turned brass.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images:     

Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah (World War Two)

Mitsubishi Ki-46 III Dinah

The Mitsubishi Ki-46 III was (in my opinion) a particularly attractive version of the series of reconnaissance aircraft code-named "Dinah" by the Allies. Designed in early 1938, the Dinah was a very long-ranged, high-altitude photo-recon airplane that could fly 2,500 miles (round trip) and attain a maximum altitude of 34,400 feet. Top speed was 391 miles per hour at 20,000 feet. Wingspan was 48 feet, length 36 feet, height 12 feet 8 inches, empty weight 8,440 pounds, and maximum loaded weight was 14,300 pounds. Some 611 Dinah IIIs were built. (Francillon)

Hasegawa Mitsubishi Ki-46-III Dinah

This Hasegawa kit of the Mitsubishi Ki-46-III Dinah was built essentially out-of-the box, except for adding the crew figures (from the Hasgawa Mitsubishi H8K Emily flying boat) and an Airfix in-flight stand. The Dinah is such an sleek, elegant airplane, I didn't want to spoil her lines with extended landing gear and open wheel well doors. I glued the landing gear doors shut and modified the propellor spinners. I chose a one-color paint scheme for Dinahs from Thorpe's book on Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Camouflage

All exterior paint on the aircraft was a custom mix of Testors Model Master, interior paint was Model Master, and all hand-brushed paint on the two crewmen was Humbrol. Decals were from the kit and from TechMod. Final finish was a blend of Testors Model Master Clear Semi-Gloss and Clear Flat Lacquer. Pitot tube was Master brand turned brass.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images:

USAAC Lockheed P-38J Lightning (World War Two)

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was originally designed as a long-range bomber interceptor to protect the coastlines of the continental United States. Design began in 1938, and the Lightning was the only US aircraft that was in continuous production through-out the entire Second World War. The Lightning was deployed as a fighter, fighter-bomber, bomber escort, night intruder and photo-recon aircraft. It served in the European, Mediterranean and Pacific theaters. The P-38 had a wingspan of 52 feet, a length of 37 feet 10 inches, a height of 12 feet 10 inches, and a gross weight of 17,500 pounds. Top speed was 414 miles per hour, range was 2,600 miles, and service ceiling was 44,000 feet. Armament included (4) .50 caliber machine guns and (1) 20mm cannon, plus up to 4,000 pounds of bombs. (Squadron/Signal)

Academy kit of Lockheed P-38J Lightning

This Academy kit of the P-38J Lightning took two tries to be built. I didn't want to try to assemble the five-piece Academy canopy in the closed position, so I built the first Academy P-38 and tried to mate a one-piece HobbyBoss P-38 canopy to the Academy P-38 fuselage. Initially I thought the joint between canopy and fuselage looked OK, but in the end I decided it wasn't satisfactory, and the kit-bash wasn't worth painting.

I started the second Academy kit by assembling the 5-piece canopy first, so if it didn't work out satisfactorily, I wouldn't waste any more time on the project. Fortunately, by assembling the canopy while it was taped very carefully to the fuselage, with minute amounts of Testors liquid cement applied with a very fine, small brush, it went very smoothly. Once the kit was finished and the canopy was permanently installed with any tiny gaps faired in with 30-minute epoxy, I thought it looked quite satisfactory.

The paint scheme was inspired by a set of Illiad decals, for a pair of England-based USAAC P-38Js that received an experimental "intruder" camouflage of Night Black undersides and Flight Blue upper surfaces, selected from the Illiad paint chips set for USAAC aircraft in Northern Europe. Lots of tedious masking on those twin booms and fuselage, but I think it was a pretty snazzy scheme, once finished. All paint was Testors Model Master, final finish was a mix of Testors Model Master Clear Semi-Gloss and Clear Flat Lacquer. Antenna was a stretched length of Infini-Model rayon thread. Machine gun and cannon barrels with flash suppressors were Master brand turned brass.  

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images:

RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. If Nightfighter (World War Two)

Hasegawa Bristol Beaufighter Mk. If Nightfighter

After finishing the Hasegawa Beaufighter Mk. If (see below), I wanted to build an all black Nightfighter, to emphasize the Beaufighter's handsome lines, in contrast to the disruptive effect of the three-color camouflage. To further show off its brawny elegance, I mounted it with wheels retracted and "spinning" props on an Airfix stand (erased from these images with PhotoShop), with a stalwart Revell of Germany RAF pilot figure at the controls. The build for this second, fine Hasegawa kit went smoothly, and the all black finish was a breeze compared to the prior camouflage scheme.

As before, at the engine cowlings I replaced the kit's open cooling flaps with Evergreen sheet styrene in the closed position. I used the kit's molded front radar transmitter, but added brass wire to the forward-most antenna, plus brass wires at all of the wing-mounted receiving antennae. All paint for the aircraft was Testor's Model Master, in particular MM 2034 Engine Grey for the muted, scale color flat black, except for Humbrol paint at the Townend rings/exhaust pipes and at some interior details. All paint for the Revell of Germany RAF pilot was Humbrol, as well. Markings were some ancient Cutting Edge decals that worked fine, despite their age. Final clear finish was a 50-50 mix of Testors Model Master Flat Lacquer and Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss Lacquer.

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. If (World War Two)

Bristol Beaufighter Mk. VIc (Google)

The Bristol Beaufighter was a long-range heavy fighter developed from the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. First flight was in July of 1939. First employed as a radar-equipped night fighter, subsequent marks of Beaufighters performed well as ground-strike fighters and anti-shipping torpedo bombers, often equipped with unguided rockets. Beaufighters operated in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and the South Pacific in World War II, for the RAF, RAAF and the USAAC.

The Beaufighter Mk. VI was 42 feet 9 inches long, 15 feet 10 inches tall, had a wingspan of 75 feet 10 inches, and weighed 15,200 pounds empty and 24,377 pounds fully loaded. Top speed at altitude was 323 miles per hour, service ceiling was 26,500 feet, and range was 1,500 miles. Armament consisted of four 20mm cannons in the lower fuselage, six .303 machine guns in the wings or eight 90 pound rockets, and in Coastal Command Torbeaus, one 2,127 pound torpedo. (Squadron/Signal, Profile Publications, Motorbooks International)

Hasegawa Bristol Beaufighter Mk. If

This Hasegawa kit of the Bristol Beaufighter was well engineered and went together smoothly. Hasegawa chose to mold the cooling flaps around the engine nacelles in the open position, and my research of Beaufighter images indicated this was the case some of the time, both on the ground and in the air, but I thought it spoiled the lines of the model, so I trimmed off these open flaps and replaced them with Evergreen sheet styrene and strips in the closed position. That was about the only change I made to the model.

The pleasant colors of the camouflage scheme were suggested by an article in the July 2021 issue of Scale Aircraft Modelling, that speculated that some Beaufighters in the Mediterranean RAF campaigns perhaps had the same camo scheme as documented RAF Martin Baltimores. Nearly all of the paint was Testors Model Master, except for Humbrol Antique Bronze applied to the the exhaust pipes and Townend rings at the fronts of the engine cowls. Decals were a mix of kit decals and spare serial codes and aircraft codes from the decal library. The kit decals of the red patches on the leading edges of the wings represent paper seals doped over the machine gun ports, to keep out dust until the guns were fired. Final clear finish was a 50-50 mix of Testors Clear Flat Lacquer and Clear Semi-Gloss Lacquer.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images:

USAAC Boeing B-17F (World War Two)

Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress (Google)

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the most famous aircraft in the history of aviation. When in 1935 the US Army Air Corps invited airplane manufacturers to submit proposals for a new, long range, multi-engine bomber, Boeing's engineers looked into the future and designed a truly revolutionary leap ahead in aircraft technology. All-metal wings of welded, tubular truss construction, retractable landing gear, side-by-side pilots on the flight deck, four engines instead of the assumed two, controllable pitch, constant speed propellers, defensive transparent blisters armed with machine guns, and massively capacious fuel tanks all contributed to a world-beating design. The "Flying Fortress" nickname was coined by a news reporter, and was a reference to the new bomber's intended role as a long range interceptor of enemy warships approaching the coasts of the United States, and not about the number of defensive guns it carried.

The B-17F was the initial version of the Flying Fortress deployed to England in World War Two, evolving into the new role of high altitude, precision bombing of land targets in Nazi-occupied Europe and later, Germany itself. Over 3,400 B-17Fs were built, constantly adding improvements in design based on bitterly-learned wartime experience. Eventually, over 12,700 B-17 F and B-17G aircraft delivered over 640,000 tons of bombs in Europe in 290,000 missions. Over 4,600 B-17s were lost to anti-aircraft fire and Luftwaffe fighters. In recent years, military historians have acknowledged the deliberate and cold-blooded calculus of sending heavy bombers like the B-17  into the teeth of the Luftwaffe, expressly to allow USAAC escort fighters like the North American P-51 Mustang and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt to bleed the German air force to death, prior the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day.

The B-17F was 74 feet 9 inches long, 19 feet 3 inches tall, had a wingspan of 103 feet 9 inches, weighed 35,728 pounds empty and 40,260 pounds fully loaded. Armament was up to 12,800 pounds of bombs (more typically 6,000 pounds) and up to twelve .50 cal. machine guns. Top speed was 325 miles per hour, maximum range was 4,420 miles, and service ceiling was 38,500 feet (where the air temperature could be as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit). 

(Squadron/Signal Publications; Crescent Books; Metro Books)

Revell of Germany Boeing B-17F

This Revell of Germany B-17F is at least my fifth attempt to build a 1/72 scale kit of this iconic aircraft. The goal was to build a camouflaged    B-17F, with the pointed nose glazing and without the chin turret of the B-17G, so more than 30 years ago, I started a Hasegawa kit of the early B-17F. Attempts to replace the kit's damaged nose glazing with a homemade vacuum-formed piece were unsuccessful, so I tabled the project. Ten or twelve years ago, I bought the Academy B-17F and started it, but dissatisfaction with the simplistic detailing and the excessive thickness of the kit’s nose glazing brought that build to a halt, after I had completely assembled the model (I banished it to the Shelf of Forgotten Models just before starting to mask the transparencies for painting).

A few years ago, I started the Revell of Germany new tool early B-17G, planning to plug the hole for the chin turret in the fuselage and to substitute a Squadron Products vacuum-formed nose glazing for the way too-thick Revell part, but that attempt didn’t look like it was worth finishing, either. Then a couple of years ago I bought and started the new tool Airfix kit of the B-17G, again planning to backdate the G to an F. When Revell of Germany reworked their B-17G kit to be an B-17F in "Memphis Belle" markings, I bought that kit, hoping Revell had included a useable nose glazing, but no such luck. That kit's F nose glazing was a scale 8" thick, and refracted light like the bottom of a Coca-Cola bottle. But I do have such a splendid collection of B-17 kits.

Finally, I revisited the Hasegawa B-17F nose glazing and decided that as prone to flaws and damage as it was, it was the best compromise available for accurate shape and thiness. I invested in several (OK, four) Hasegawa B-17s until I finally got one with a nearly flawless, undamaged nose glazing part. I began to modify the Airfix B-17G to receive the Hasegawa lower front fuselage and nose glazing. I planned to fit the Revell of Germany "Memphis Belle" front fuselage side glazings to the Airfix fuselage, also.

However, after some thought, I believed I could use all of the work I had already done a few years ago on the Revell of Germany B-17G (wings, horizontal stabilizers, control surfaces, turrets, full interior, engines, exhausts, cowls, etc. assembled and painted) combined with the Revell of Germany "Memphis Belle" fuselage. I grafted another Hasegawa lower front fuselage (I still had three available...) on to the "Memphis Belle" fuselage, to match the shape of the Hasegawa nose glazing. Success, albeit with many "two-steps-forward-one-step-back".

Transparency masks were by Eduard, and fit perfectly. Resin wheels/tires also by Eduard, and brass .50 cal. barrels by MasterModel were added. All exterior paint was Testors Model Master. All interior paint was Humbrol. Decals were a mix of several brands, to achieve a ficticious but plausible aircraft from the 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, 1st Combat Wing. Note the authentic but short-lived red-outlined stars and bars (June to August, 1943) on the model. Final overcoat was Testors Model Master Clear Semi-Gloss Lacquer. Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images:

New images of the B-17F, taken against a new background. The front top twin .50 caliber turret has been replaced with a better effort. I've also learned to compose and crop the images to provide lots of wasted space above the model, and extra margins at the sides of the model, to compensate for the oversize, obtrusive BACK and FORWARD arrows in the images.

Earlier images of the B-17F, taken against a darker background.

RAF de Havilland Mosquito PR. IX (World War Two)

de Havilland Mosquito PR Mk. IX (Google)

The de Havilland PR. IX was a photo reconnaissance version of the Mosquito. The photo-recon Mosquitos carried cameras and film in the bomb bay, and were armed with no weapons for self defense, relying entirely on their speed, altitude and the skill of the pilot to escape destruction. Later marks of Mosquito bombers and photo-recon aircraft, such as this version, had the more powerful Merlin engines with two-stage superchargers for better high altitude performance (note the extra air intake immediately below the spinner of the propeller).

Tamiya de Havilland Mosquito PR. IX

This is the fourth Tamiya Mosquito I have built, and the first non-fighter version, with the glazed nose of the Mosquito bomber. Being the fourth build, it flew together rather quickly (no pun intended), out-of-the-box except for the Attack Squadron resin replacement engine nacelles up front, depicting the two-stage supercharged Merlins.

The overall paint scheme for later war RAF photo-recon aircraft was PRU Blue, which made this paint job very easy. All paint was Model Master, except for Humbrol Polished Aluminum at the wheel wells, wheel doors, wheels and landing gear struts. Decals were EagleCals. Final overcoat was Testors Model Master Clear Semi-Gloss Lacquer. Click on the thumbnails below for larger images:

Argentine Air Force IA-58A Pucara (1970s - 2000s)

Argentine Air Force IA-58A Pucara from the Falklands War 1982 (Google)

Special Hobby IA-58A Pucara

This is the Special Hobby kit of the IA-58A Pucara counter-insurgency turboprop aircraft, which became somewhat famous as part of the brave actions of Argentinian pilots during the Falklands War in 1982. As most limited-run kits often do, it had a few challenges, but for the most part it was a fun build. I didn't know anything about the airplane before I spotted it on the shelf of a now defunct hobby shop, but its sporty looks captured my attention, and I took it home to add to the stash for "later". I didn't think much about building it until I found a 150 page book entitled The Pucara Story for sale on Amazon, I believe. Once I received the book, with its wealth of detailed information, photos, drawings and paint references, I was inspired to move the kit nearer the top of the pile of "build soon" models. After I had finished the B-58 and the He-177, I was ready for something a little smaller and, I thought, simpler.

I added some fuselage structure details to the cockpit area, and some of my black and white film instrument panels, with tiny dabs of primary colors to liven them up. The resin ejection seats are from the kit, complete with kit-supplied photo etch seat harnesses (the photos in the Pucara book were very helpful, here) and I am inordinately proud of the black and white painted ejection pull loops on the tops of these seats.

I scratchbuilt new engine bearing assemblies at the fronts of the engine nacelles, because I thought the resin parts from the kit were a little too coarse. I added bomb sway braces from an Italeri B-57, and scratchbuilt landing lights at the fronts of the wing bomb pylons from clear styrene sprue. I added aluminum wire as brake cables to the main landing gear struts, and scratchbuilt hinge units at the wheel well doors, to give me a physical connection between the doors and the wheel wells (this is the kind of necessity you find you need to add to limited-run kits). I filed and sanded brass wire into tapered, airfoil-shaped antenna masts at the lower left side of the fuselage, with a strand of Infini Model black Lycra as the aerial.

I spent a lot of time mixing and testing out the camouflage paints, starting with the FS 495A paint numbers in the Pucara book. I was trying to achieve the very muted and low contrast color shades as seen in the book photos of Pucaras in the Falkland War, so I kept adding first white to make the green and oche colors pale, and then light grey paint to make the paints even more washed-out in hue.

Although I think the camouflage paint on the finished model as seen in person looks appropriately washed out, in these images on my computer I think the colors are still too vivid, particularly compared to the Google image of the real Pucara, seen above.  

The camouflage masking was Tamiya Kabuki tape laid on a piece of plate glass and cut with an X-Acto swivel knife, following the pattern illustrated in a three-view drawing in the June 2014 issue of Scale Aviation Modelling magazine. Canopy masking was an Eduard set of Kabuki masks. All paint was Testors Model Master except for a few details done with Humbrol; the final overall finish was a mix of Testors Model Master Clear Semi-Gloss Lacquer and Clear Flat Lacquer. Click on the thumbnails below for larger images:

Luftwaffe Heinkel He-177 A5 Greif (World War Two)

Heinkel He-177 Greif (Google)

Heinkel He-177 Greif (Google)

Revell of Germany Heinkel He-177 A5

This is the Revell of Germany kit of the He-177 A5 Greif. It was a good, fun, slow build, from February to July, 2019. The kit was an interesting mix of great and not-so-great features. It was very detailed and well molded, with a very full interior, and generally a good fit of the parts, but it also had odd, too-thick transparent parts, and very unhelpful decals: thick, not very flexible, and very prone to silvering.

I did not add much to the build: some framing detail inside the otherwise hollow tail wheel well, and square ducting going back from the raw openings of the supercharger intakes at the wing leading edges at each side of each engine cowling. I replaced most of the kit's machine gun barrels with modified, turned brass barrels. And contrary to the kit instructions, instead of installing the seven MGs and cannons to the inside of the fuselage/turrets, where the protruding barrels would all be vulnerable to breaking during the endless handling of the model during construction, painting and decaling, I separated each gun into an internal breech and its external barrel, joined by a small brass wire, and left the barrels off until right before the clear flat finish. (It's as if the engineers who designed the model and planned the assembly sequence have never, ever built a model kit in their lives...)

The camouflage scheme depicted in the box art was what really interested me in building this aircraft: my research indicated that this scheme, called Maander (scribble), was designed for anti-shipping aircraft on over-water operations. It looked very challenging, but perhaps doable after my recent experiences with masking tape for hard-edged camouflage schemes.

After masking all of the transparencies with Eduard pre-cut Kabuki tape masks, I airbrushed the undersurfaces of the model with RLM 65 Hell Blau. After masking the undersides with Tamiya Kabuki tape, I airbrushed the entire upper surface with RLM 02 Grau. With a newly bought X-Acto swivel knife, I cut the irregular, curvilinear masks out of wide pieces of Tamiya masking tape that had been temporarily applied to a piece of plate glass. Once the curvilinear masks were burnished down on to the upper surfaces, I airbrushed the RLM 73 Grun, creating the Maander pattern. I think it took about ten hours to apply all of this masking, and maybe all of fifteen minutes to remove it, once the RLM 73 was applied.  

All paint used was my new favorite: Testors Model Master enamels, lightened with flat white for scale effect. After I struggled with getting the Revell under wing Balkan cross decal to apply, I substituted SuperScale and MicroScale decals for the remaining crosses, swastikas and unit code letters. Even the smallest kit decals for fuel markers and aircraft serial numbers silvered, until I assaulted them with Walthers Solvaset, the nuclear option in decal setting solutions.

Sidebar: The three fat, winged sausages hanging under the wings and fuselage are Fritz X radio-controlled anti-shipping glide bombs, which were included in the Revell kit. The Fritz X was a remarkable, advanced guided weapon used with some success against Allied merchant ships and warships during World War II. Developed by a Lufftwaffe engineer named Max Kramer and a German radio company called Ruhrstahl, the Fritz X had a 3,000 pound armor-piercing warhead. Stubby wings and a complex array of spoilers in the tail enabled the bombardier to steer the bomb by radio control. A flare burning in the tail let the bombardier see the bomb in flight. Dropped from between 13,000 and 18,000 feet altitude, the Fritz X had a range of 3 miles.  

The final flat finish was Testors Clear Flat Lacquer, which despite my care to thin it minimally and airbrush it sparingly, came out a little bit chalky. Click on the thumbnails below for larger images:

RAF de Havilland Mosquito FB.IV (World War Two)

de Havilland Mosquito FB.IV in day fighter camouflage (Google)

Tamiya de Havilland Mosquito FB.IV in fighter-bomber camouflage, on an Airfix stand.

For fairly obvious reasons, plastic aircraft models are typically assembled with the aircraft standing on its landing gear/skis/skids/floats/whatever. However, long ago, if the subject I was building had retractable landing gear, I often built it with gear up, and carrying a pilot. I didn't bother with using the stand that often came with the older aircraft kits, either; I just rested the model on its belly on the model display shelf. When I got more serious about building my models as accurately as I could, I always built the kit with the gear down, usually without aircrew.

There are many beautiful prop airplanes in history: the North American P-51 Mustang, the Supermarine Spitfire, the Mitsubishi Dinah III, the early marks of the Dornier Do-17, the list is long and highly subjective. I think the de Havilland Mosquito is just about the most elegant and beautiful prop plane ever designed. It's a shame to mar its clean lines with protruding landing gear and open landing gear doors. Having built two Tamiya kits of the Mosquito FB.IV fighter bomber (gear down), I felt nostalgia for my more relaxed, carefree model building ways of yester-year, and decided to build yet another Mosquito FB.IV, my third, this time in flight.

I painted a pair of Revell of Germany RAF aircrew for the cockpit, forgetting to test fit them inside the cockpit before I assembled and painted them. Those poor men; what savage surgery on arms and legs I committed to get them to fit, once I finally tried to assemble the two fuselage halves together with them inside. (Fortunately, the cramped quarters and small canopy conceal my butchery.)

I installed the landing gear doors closed (surprisingly for a Tamiya kit, the doors did not meet at the centerline, requiring slivers of Evergreen plastic to seal up the gaps.) I assembled the props and spinners and chopped off the prop blades, filling the gaps in the spinner openings with more Evergreen bits and super glue, sanding away until the spinners were smooth and, well, spinning.

The camouflage paint scheme was a long excursion. Having done the two-color "Day Fighter" scheme twice already, I opted for the three-color "Fighter-Bomber" scheme for this Mosquito. For scale effect I mixed Testors Model Master Flat White with the two upper colors, Testors RAF Dark Green and Testors RAF Ocean Grey, and airbrushed samples on separate rectangles of Evergreen plastic, then applied Future Acrylic Floor Finish (to receive decals without silvering), and then Testors Clear Flat Lacquer, to preview how the paint would look on the finished model. I thought I was satisfied with the results.

I airbrushed the undersides of the Mosquito with Testors Model Master RAF Medium Sea Grey, masked the undersides, airbrushed the Ocean Grey, masked the Ocean Grey and then airbrushed the Dark Green. Once all of the masking was removed, it became obvious to me that there was way too little contrast between the Dark Green and the Ocean Grey. Not sure how that happened.

I thought long and hard about how to fix this, even to consider building a whole new Mosquito, but in the end, I decided to try and mask the Dark Green and Medium Sea Grey areas and airbrush a new coat of much lighter Ocean Grey. I used a new-to-me Tamiya product called Flexible Vinyl Tape, to oh-so-carefully follow every twist and turn of my earlier camouflage masking with this Tamiya tape, which I had slit into long pieces about 1mm wide. Success in the end, I think, but what a detour.

For once I used the kit (Tamiya) decals, and they worked quite well. This being my third build of this kit, I judiciously sliced away or sanded off much of the raised details that were going to be problematic at the decal locations. I added MasterModel turned brass .303 Browning machine gun barrels to the nose, and a brass pitot tube to the rudder. The canopy was masked with the Eduard set of Kabuki tape masks. The final coat was Testors Clear Flat Lacquer.

Once the model was photographed, I Photo-Shopped the images to correct for color balance and to erase the clear plastic Airfix stand (see the model photo above for a picture of the stand). Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images. 

Scale 1/72

Email: AtomicCannon(at)embarqmail(dot)com