The Arma P-51B/C Mustang – Painting

I selected the color scheme depicted on the kit box top – “Ding Hoa!” The main colors will be Olive Drab and Neutral Grey, both of which will be Hataka Orange Line (Lacquer) colors. Hataka lacquers airbrush like a dream when thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner. The thinner prevents paint drying on the airbrush tip and allows the application of the paint wet and not drying before it touches the model (a problem with some paints).

The white stripes were applied first with Stynylrez white primer. I find that stripes like this are best applied first as this minimizes the amount of masking one has to do. If I paint the stripes last, I find myself doing a lot of masking to protect the rest of the model finish from overspray.

Lastly, I like to paint canopies separate from the model. It is easy enough to fill the cockpit with damp tissue or some other filler to protect it. No matter how hard I try, somehow on some models some overspray gets on the inside of the canopy. It is like a dust setttling and sticking there. I find doing them separately yields a much clearer canopy, at least it does for me.

The grandchildren are arriving next week, and my hobby room is needed for an adult guest room, so I may not be able to complete this project until they depart.

I was thinking of starting a recently acquired Tamiya Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXc in 1/32scale. However, I would first like to add an aircraft from the Korean War, i.e., the Forgotten War, and a Hobby Boss F-80C Shoting Star I have will fill the bill nicely.

It is high time to start adding some Korean War aircraft, and I was able to purchase from Sprue Brothers the excellent 2022 IPMS Convention decal sheet “MIG Kills of the Forgotten War”. If you have any interest in the Korean War, grab these before they are gone. You get two F-86 one F-80, one Twin Mustang and two F9F Panthers, and they are presented in 1/48 scale and 1/72 scale. To top it off, they are printed by Cartograph.

The clip holder above from Sean’s Custom Model Tools has become an indispensable tool on my workbench. It is so handy mounting smaller pieces on sticks and keeping them out of the way yet handy to be worked on and painted. The CCI 22LR plastic cartridge box is a good size to apply some tape to and mount flat parts to be painted.

The Arma P-51B/C Mustang

Kit Box Top (C) Arma Hobby

In January, I wrote about Arma kits in a post. Shortly after that, I purchased this kit. This is nothing less than a 1/48th scale kit molded in 1/72 scale. Much has already been written and said about this kit by better modelers than I. At a local hobby shop, the proprietor told me that he could not keep the kits in stock. And from the attention this kit is receiving on the Internet and in the scale model press, it is clearly a real winner.

With all the zillions of Mustang kits out there one would think that more than a few would be the B or C model Mustangs. Most of what I see are re-pops of the Accurate Miniature kits and of course the Tamiya kit. These are all good kits, but they are in 1/48 scale.

There have been a number of P-51B/C kits in 1/72 scale, to wit: Academy (new in 1999), Airfix (new in 1978), Hasegawa (new in 1992) and Monogram (new in 1967). There were also some European kits during this period.

Not to criticize any of these past efforts (there is always someone who really loves any particular kit), but these older kits seem to have receded from the prominence they may have enjoyed in their heyday. At any rate, it is clear that Arma Hobby hit another homerun by bringing the modeling world a new, state-of-the-art 1/72 scale P-51B/C Mustang.

This kit is an Arma “Expert Set”, which means it comes with photo etch details, painting masks and six marking options. No need for aftermarket extras here.

This is where I am in construction at this time:

I sprayed the interior fuselage halves with Flat Aluminum Tamiya lacquer paint. The Interior Green and Zinc Chromate Yellow are Vallejo Air colors.
Notice the side braces on the seat. I have made 1/48 Mustangs with less detail. That seat will easily fit on a dime. I know this is not contest-winning building on my part, but there are seven (7) tiny parts there to make that much of the seat with a few more to come. I am very pleased with making it look that good.
The interior detail available in this kit far outdistances anything we were being offered last century. It shows how far consumer demand and manufacturing skill have come since then.
The stabilizer is one piece and fits perfectly into the top of the rear of the fuselage
Any putty seen here should be put down to builder error. A little panel line re-scribing will be called for.

As you can see, I am not far from the paint shop. Like my Arma Hobby PZKL P11c, I am really enjoying this build.

A-26B Invader – Part 4

Interesting Invader facts gleaned from Wikipedia (

1. The invader served in the U.S.A.A.F. during the final months of WWII, then it served and the Korean War with the U.S.A.F. and on to the Vietnam War.  

2. The Invader’s service with the U.S began in late 1944 and finally ended in 1969.

3. While the Invader served with distinction in Europe, it was not accepted with any enthusiasm by units in the Pacific.  General George Kenney, commander of the Far East Air Forces stated, “We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything.”

4. The Invader was intended to replace another Douglas Aircraft Company product – the A-20 Havoc which served throughout WWII with the U.S., the U.S.S.R., England, and the Free French A.F. in many varied roles.

In this final post about this kit/build, I have some photos and comments about the last stages of the project.

First, the argument about whether raised or engraved detail is best has raged on for years.  

I like to build one of the old Monogram kits now and then.  But, I remember when the first Arii/Otaki 1/48 scale WWII fighter became available with engraved detail, I was instantly taken with how much better the surface detail appeared.  It was so much easier to redo any engraved detail that was erased or damaged during filling and sanding.  It was very hard to do that with raised panel lines.  

I may be wrong, but I would guess that crafting the molds that produce engraved panel lines might be more involved that if the panel lines on the finished parts were to be raised.  Even so, raised detail on kits went out with the rotary dial telephone. 

Nonetheless, I enjoy what I think of as a nostalgia build now and then with a Monogram kit.

Below is a picture of some of the putty work in progress needed on this model.  I usually assume that such mismatches are my fault, because they usually are.  Here, I did my best to make the fuselage halves for better, but to no avail.  This cannot be blamed on a recent re-pop using old molds.   This copy of the kit dates back to 1996.  However, it is no big deal.  This is why putty is something that we all have on our workbenches.  

This model was, of course, destined to be a nose-sitter.  It did come with a clear plastic peg and a provision for a hole to be opened just aft of the bomb bay (although this feature was not mentioned in the instructions).  This would have provided a stilt to hold it up on all “threes”.  Monogram on their B-25J Mitchell kit molded the aft crew hatch in the fuselage bottom so it could be left open.  And, they provided a small step ladder that could be placed under the open hatch to prop the model up.  That was an imaginative solution.

I took advantage of the large empty nose cone on this model.  I taped the major component pieces together, and then I taped a plastic medicine cup to the nose and pour lead shot in until it balanced.  I added a little more for good luck.  Then, I mixed up some epoxy, dumped the shot into the nose and poured the epoxy in on top of it.  I mixed it all together with a toothpick, and let it harden.

And, it worked.

I do not pretend to be any great hand at natural metal finishes.  Basically, this is Tamiya Gloss Aluminum (TS-17) decanted from a Tamiya spray can.  The paint airbrushes beautifully, and the finish is apparently impervious to masking tape.  

The exhaust stains on the nacelles, an Invader trademark, are Tamiya Flat Black acrylic with some Tamiya Buff acrylic over-spraying it. 

Finally, although the kit came with markings for “Stinky” and the decals were still usable, I took advantage of the fact my decal stash included Aeromaster 48-160C “WWII Invaders Pt 1” which included “Stinky”.  

I would love to claim that my decal dexterity is so great that I applied Stinky’s face with one big decal over that concave noise.  Of course, that would be less than honest.  Both Aeromaster and Monogram broke the face into six pieces for average modelers like myself.

Thank you for reading this perhaps overly long post, but I wanted to get this project in the books, so to speak.  Here are some photos of the finished project.  

Maybe in a few years I will tackle another Monogram classic model, but meanwhile I shall be looking at the Tamiya, Hasegawa, Takom or miniArt kits in my stash.

All Photos (C) Matt Dyer

A-26B Invader – Part 3 – Major Parts Completed

Do you get to a point on a project that you see that end may be in sight?  I think I am at that point with this model.  A lot of masking and painting lies ahead, but I am envisioning a finished model.  

I do love the challenge of working with these old Monogram kits, but my next project will be a  more modern kit.  I have some Takom and Tamiya armor kits in the stash that might be just the thing.  But, I am getting ahead of myself…

I painted the cowlings already because they can be mounted on the model after major painting is done.  The rear part of the cowling has some zinc weights in them that should balance the model on its landing gear.  If not, that gun nose will hold all I need.  I’ll confirm that before final assembly.

Also, I carefully sanded the mating surfaces on each wing for a nice fit, and I think they will be easily mounted/glued in place after painting and decal application.  This will make painting easier, and I won’t have to worry about overspray leaving a pebbly surface on the model.

After priming with Stynylrez, I will apply Tamiya TS-17 Gloss Aluminum.  I have decanted the paint from the spray can.  This is the first time I tried that, and I was surprised how easy it was.  I thought the paint might squirt out of the drinking straw I stuck to the spray can nozzle using some Loctite “Fun-Tak” Mounting Putty as a gasket with some masking tape holding it on.  

But the paint hit the bend in the straw and dribbled right into the jar I had ready.  Afterwards, I just had to occasionally stir the paint to help disperse the propellant gas trapped in it.  I have since applied some of it with an airbrush, and it works perfectly.

There appears to be a radio on the back of that bulkhead in the front of the cockpit. A nice detail for the glass nose version of this kit that will not be seen on this version. I do not spend time on details that will not be seen on the finished model. By the way, as nearly as I can tell from a photo of the aircraft I am modeling, half the cowling was painted olive drab as I have done. (C) Matt Dyer
The more I look at this model, I see how it was derived from the Douglas Company’s successful A-20 Havoc. (C) Matt Dyer

More to come.  Thanks for visiting.

U-2A Dragon Lady in 1/72 Scale – New Kit from Hobby Boss

Hobby Boss cover art.

I heard about this kit last summer, but when I asked some vendors at the IPMS Nats in Las Vegas, nobody knew anything.  It appears to finally be on the way. I looked at eBay, and vendors in China and the UK have it for about $50 plus postage.

One US vendor advertises it as “out of stock” at $47.99.  Now, I understand that we are suffering from inflation that has not been seen for 40 years, but half a C-Note for a 1/72 scale single engine aircraft with a 13” wingspan?

Oh, well. I have always had a special interest in U-2’s, and 1/72 scale is a great size for a replica of the aircraft.  I know I will end up biting the bullet  – or the charge card – when they start being generally available here.

My interest in the U-2 dates back to my Army days.  My unit was convoying from Ft. Hood, Texas out to the Mojave Desert in California for some exercises, and we made an overnight and refueling stop at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson.  We were convoying with 1st AD Division Artillery, and I guess the Air Force guys did not like these strange guys in green uniforms with all those guns driving around their base, so they stuck us off the side of one of the runways for our overnight stay.  We spent a pleasant evening eating C rations and watching U-2’s take off and land.  It was amazing how on take off they shot up on what looked like a 70 degree angle and disappeared way up there.  I have always wondered what it would be like to ride one.

I have no idea if this kit will be good or not, but I am looking forward to finding out.

A-26B Invader – Part 2 – Cockpit

The parts detail is not bad and can be improved by the addition of some Eduard PE. The landing gear doors and nose wheel well are integral parts of the cockpit assembly.

(C) Matt Dyer

There is only one pilot position in this aircraft. There is a bicycle-type seat to the right of the pilot. According to Wikipedia, this jump seat is for a third crew member who would serve as a navigator and “loader” for the pilot-operated machine guns. Would he have had access to the six guns in the nose? Further research is necessary to flesh out this detail.

Monogram did not put too much effort into this detail. Since it will only be seen from above, it should look okay on the finished model. Vallejo Air 71.010 Interior Green was used. Weathering has yet to be applied.

There are some rather large sink marks on the interior cowl rim that required some putty. (C) Matt Dyer

A-26B Invader – Part 1 – The Kit 

The kit is presented in light grey plastic with some nice details, and – yes – raised panel lines. I cut the 20+ year old plastic bag and examined the parts.  Everything looked good, and a nice clear plastic sprue was protected in a sepeerate bag. So I washed the sprues in warm water and Dawn.  I do that with all kits, and it may be a waste of time.  I have also had fewer issues with paint lifting when masking tape is removed.

Notice the aftermarket stuff.  Ultimately, I did not use the Scale Aircraft Conversions landing gear or the Quickboost engines.  But, I had been looking forward to building this one for years, so I would pick things up when I found them.  I regard Eduard masks as necessities for WWII aircraft models.  They are just a huge time-saver, and, frankly, they are probably better than anything I would be cutting by hand in most instances.

Next time, I will be cutting parts off sprues and assembling this kit.  I was very excited to start working on this one, and I have not been disappointed.

Have You Built an Arma Hobby Kit?

I built their PZL P.11c early last year and have a couple of their kits in my stash. These kits have 1/48 scale detail in a 1/72 scale model. The “Expert Set” version comes with more decals choices, masks and a PE fret. These kits look really nice when done, and the detail is amazing. Part fit is top notch. I mixed the brown paint from Tamiya acrylic colors to match the colors I saw in photos from museums where preserved and restored examples are found. It looks close. Who knows what Polish Khaki really looked like?

The Poles fought so hard in WWII against insuperable odds. I visited Warsaw a few years ago and stood on the Warsaw bank of the Vistula River where the Poles fighting in the uprising against the Germans would have seen the Russian tanks that were supposed to be helping them. The Russians were only watching and waiting for the Nazi war machine to consume them so they could move in for the spoils.

Arma Hobby PZL P.11c, buuilt from Expert Set version. (c) Matt Dyer

Scalemates show that vendors in Europe have the P-51B/C for sale now, but I see no vendors in the USA yet. I am sure it will be along soon. Followers of “the one true scale” will at long last have a really excellent P-51 with a turtle deck. I am sure the kit is superb and will buy it when once they are obtainable here.

Box cover for the Arma Hobby 1/72 scale Mustang. (c) Arma Hobby

One thing I love about 1/72 scale kits is the fact that they can be completed in much less time than larger scale kits. They make great projects to keep your scale model mojo alive and well.