Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hummel progress

Slowed down a bit the last few days, didn't really make any progress on the Hummel until last night. Here's what I got done:

The photo-etch on this little box took me 45 minutes to do - yeesh!

I decided to go ahead and close the vision ports since there's zero detail inside the driver's compartment.

The gun was actually done a couple of days ago, just forgot to upload the pic.  I have a few more bits on it, 66 of the 69 total pieces (!!) that go into its construction. The paint is Model Master Acryl Panzer Dunkelgelb (Tank Dark Yellow), the color all German armor was painted from 1942 on. Green and/or brown were added in the field, either by brush or sprayed with painting gear that was standard equipment for German armor. There are three photo-etch brass plates that go on the gun as well, two info plates and the range plaque. Those will have to wait until all the painting is done as they need to be painted black with white details - oh, joy.

There is still a LOT more to go on this including the Magic Tracks - 144 individual track links per side. There's also a lot of photo-etch still to go. One thing I have discovered is that bending photo-etch without a purpose-made bending jig is tough, especially for some of the tinier bits. So far I've only managed to lose one piece, a mounting frame for the first-aid kit, due to trying to bend it with what I have and managing to break it instead. Ah, well, live and learn. This is my first photo-etch enhanced kit and I'm learning as I go.

Awesome kit so far, despite a few bobbles along the way. Can't blame those on the kit, though, they're entirely the fault of the builder.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dragon's 1/35 Hummel

I've taken a slight break from working on the Arizona. Yesterday I tried airbrushing the hull and the results were rather less than spectacular. I don't know if I over-thinned the paint or if I simply didn't prepare the surface well enough but whatever it was the paint just lifted right back off. I'm using Model Master Acryl which is a new paint for me so it may just be a new learning curve at work. Whatever it is, I've set it aside for now and decided to work on something else for a bit.

That "something else" is the Dragon 1/35 Sd.Kfz.165 Hummel (Late Production) that my wife bought for me as a delayed birthday present. This is my first Dragon kit and I must say I am extremely impressed with the quality and detail! It's one of their Smart Kits that includes photo-etch frets and an aluminum barrel for the main gun. It also has their Magic Tracks that consist of individual links - 144 of them on each side. I must say that step, building the tracks, is one I'm both looking forward to and dreading!.

Here's the box art:

I neglected to take photos of the parts trees before I started construction but there are plenty of reviews of the kit online, both video and photo.

The kit instructions are CAD generated and more resemble engineering assembly diagrams than traditional model kit instructions. Tamiya set the standard for those years ago and it's been one that other kit makers have had a hard time matching. Fortunately it's not that difficult to decipher Dragon's instructions, at least for me. Then again I do have a background in both architectural and mechanical drafting as well as multiple forms of CAD so it may just be that they're something I'm used to. Either way once you examine the parts and locations they go it's easy enough to figure out.

Assembly starts with the sprockets, idlers, return rollers, and road wheels. From there the suspension is assembled and put in place, then the final drives, driver's compartment cover, fighting compartment floor and gun mount deck are installed. Fenders go on, but where Dragon calls for installing all the fender mounted gear (tools, jack, etc.) I opted to leave those off until a later time. This is where the kit stands now (please pardon the messy workbench, it's a bad habit of mine):

Just from this much I can tell you there will be many more Dragon kits in my future! I grew up on Tamiya armor kits and while I still love them, they simply cannot match the level of detail Dragon puts in at remotely the same price. I'll still be building Tamiya but if it comes to a choice of of Dragon or Tamiya for the same subject Dragon will most likely get the nod.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Goodies for my stash

I used to have a stash of 30 or 40 kits waiting to be built. Not big by some standards - I know guys who have literally hundreds of kits in closets and on shelves - but decent. That was a long time ago, before moving out of Texas, going to college, getting married, moving again, that sort of thing. I'm slowly convincing my wife that just because I'm still working on one kit doesn't mean I can't buy another for later on. Not sure she believes me just yet but I'm persistent.

She has bought me two more kits, one a delayed birthday present and another as a thank you for replacing the broken screen on her iPad. Here's what I have in my micro-stash:

I'm really looking forward to building these!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Arizona update

I've been working on the Arizona and made a little progress. I did end up repainting the decks in  lighter color. I've also been painting the superstructure but think it's getting redone as well. There has been a lot of controversy over what color scheme the Arizona was in on Dec. 7, but documentary evidence from just after the attack and some found in the National Archives in the form of an order from Admiral Husband Kimmel give a strong push to her being painted Sea Blue ("Mediterranean Blue" in Kimmel's order) with the tops of her number 1, 2, and 4 turrets being insignia red. Prior to that she would have worn Dark Gray on her hull and Light Gray on her upperworks. Given that by the time Kimmel's order was issued she carried OS2U Kingfisher spotter planes and the kit gives you O2U Corsair biplane scouts I'll go with the earlier paint scheme.

Here are pics of how the model stands now:


The fore and aft masts aren't glued yet, still need to paint them first. That aft mast was a real bugger to get built! Three legs, two platforms, and the aft fire direction tower all trying to slip out of place and not line up right. It took me an hour to get it done!

Paint comparison

It's hard to tell but on that last photo there are three distinct shades of gray paint. I've run into a problem in that the gray paints I have are either too  dark or too light. The paint on the #3 turret barbette is almost right and I'd use it if it weren't gloss - I just don't feel like trying to hit all the necessary surfaces with dullcoat after painting them. The gray on the upper deck and that on the vertical surfaces on the aft deck are just too darned dark.  Guess it's time for another trip to the hobby shop. Oh, darn....

Friday, July 18, 2014

USS Arizona

The USS Arizona, BB39, is one of the most iconic ships in history. Originally launched in 1916 she proudly served with the US Pacific Fleet. On the morning of December 7, 1941 she was moored alongside Ford Island in Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She had recently returned from a fleet exercise and her crew was enjoying the relaxed routine of a ship at dock on a lazy Sunday morning. Most of her crew were at breakfast when the general quarters alarm sounded, the last thing they expected to hear on that fateful day. For most of them it would be their last as Arizona was hit in rapid succession by a torpedo and two bombs. The second bomb was armor piercing and struck her forecastle near the base of one of her 14" turrets. Since she was at dock many of the normal underway safety measures were not in place and it was likely that some of her internal doors were not secured. Whether that was true or not the blast from that second bomb ignited her forward powder magazines. That massive detonation and the ensuing fires killed many of her crew and trapped hundreds more below decks with no way to escape. When she settled to the bottom 1200 men went with her.

Last night my wife bought me Revell's 1/426 USS Arizona. It isn't a kit I would normally buy for myself but I'm glad she chose it. It allows me to build my own small memorial to the ship and her crew. I only hope that I can do it justice.

I will update this post with photos as the build progresses.


Started building the kit and here is the progress so far. First up ia the hull. As with most ship models this comes in two pieces, left and right halves. There are alignment tabs on the lower hull that are supposed to help the two sides line up. Unfortunately they do rather the opposite and I ended up cutting them away to get the outside of the hull to align properly. Also pictured are the forward and aft sections of the lower hull. These can be problem areas as it's very difficult to get them to close up properly. I used regular 1/2" masking tape laid about 3/4" apart to pull the sides together tightly then ran liquid cement along the joint from the inside. Some seeped through onto the masking tape but a few minutes work with an X-acto and fine sandpaper will take care of that.

I also started painting some parts by hand. Most of the work will be done with my airbrush but there are some spots where that just isn't feasible. Both the forward and aft main deck sections will be done entirely by hand. This is the forward main deck. I used Testors Acryl paints, Earth Red for the base with a wash of  Armor Sand. I'm not entirely sure I like the result and may just go over it with a lighter color. What I need to do is find out what kind of wood her decks were and try to find a paint that will match. The dark color on the lower right is Tamiya Medium Blue, a very close match to the Ocean Grey that her upperworks were painted. It isn't cooperating to well, but then again it is a 20 year old jar of paint so I may be asking to much from it!

More pics to follow!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tamiya Steyr 1500a/01

I've had this kit for many years but only finished it last night. When my brother passed away in 2006 I flew back to Texas to help my father with the burial. While we were going through my brother's stuff I found this kit, still in the shrink wrap, and decided to take it home with me. I held onto it for a few years before I did anything with it because of a couple of moves and a lack of someplace safe to display it. A couple of years ago I finally started working on it, doing a bit here, a bit there and then putting it away again. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to get it finished. Here's the result:

It took me longer than normal to build because I just can't work on models as much as I used to due to arthritis and other health issues that limit my time at the bench. There are a lot of fine details on this kit that really put my abilities to the test. Fortunately Tamiya engineers a superb kit which makes it easy to do a good job. There was only one bit of trouble along the way when the mirror got broken off, but all is well. I'm not going to say it's my best effort ever, far from it really, but I'm happy with it. Besides, I'm hesitant to do anything more for fear of causing more damage!