F-80C – Saggin’ Dragon Completed

This was a very enjoyable kit and renewed my faith in HobbyBoss products.  

One thing I learned in researching this project is that the first jet fighters (and the F-80 was America’s first active duty fighter) were real gas guzzlers!  Of course, the F-80C “Saggin’ Dragon” was first based at Misawa AFB in Japan and was flying missions the length of the Korean Peninsula requiring some extra fuel load.  Plus, it was often carrying a ton of bombs, not a light package for a single jet fighter.

The large tip tanks were dubbed “Misawa tanks” as they were produced locally from a field expedient design.  They were unique to the F-80.

When it came time for weathering, I only weathered the wheel wells.  This was not a matter of “end of the project laziness” (something I could rightly be accused of a time or two in the past).  It was from looking at the photos of the F-80 fighters serving in Korea.  There were no prominent panel lines, exhaust stains, etc.  The surface of the aircraft appeared to be flat dull aluminum.  I looked at mine which had been sprayed with Vallejo Satin Varnish (70.522), and I thought it looked quite like the actual aircraft. 

In three years of war in Korea (1950 to 1953), the United States Armed Forces suffered 33,651 battle deaths, tens of thousands of wounded and thousands more who died of accident or disease serving there.  The totals rival those of the ten year long Vietnam War.  Yet, calling the Korean War the Forgotten War is accurate.  I think it is time for me to do some studying and remembering.

I really like this model, and it will  be the first of several Korean War models I intend to build next.

I liked the color scheme, but the decal of the nose decoration was never going to fit correctly, at least if I was the one applying the decal. And I thought the decal was too light a blue anyway. It was more likely an insignia blue color. And the dragon design was separate from the blue stripe.
So, I photocopied the decals. I used the photocopy as a pattern to make a mask to copy the Vallejo Air Insignia Blue paint I sprayed on the nose and tail.
Being so used to seeing streamlined modern bombs on Vietnam Era aircraft, the old WWII type bombs looked out of place on this jet. I imagine there were thousands of the older bombs left over in 1950.
The decals went on perfectly and responded well to Microsol and Microset.
It was rare to see an F-80 with its flaps and dive brakes lowered while on the ground. However, the detail of the parts invited me to lower them rather than cover them up.
The seat belts were supplied in the kit on a photo etched fret.

Hobby Boss F-80C Shooting Star – Painting

A short entry today. I masked and painted over the past few days.

I am glad I cut some stencils, because I think trying to get that decal to conform with the forward fuselage may have bested me. And, I think it would have been too long anyway.

My chosen color was Vallejo Model Air Glossy Sea Blue (71.300). The brighter blue on the painting diagram looked nice, but in photos I have seen the color appeared to be darker. Also, I theorized that available paint stocks would have been darker like Insignia Blue which is very close or the same as Glossy Sea Blue.

I sprayed the nose and the rudder stripe area, and then I applied the masks I had made. To simplify painting, I left the horizontal stabilizers off.
The kit includes both standard wing tip tanks and the larger Misawa tanks. The F-80’s were stationed in Japan at Misawa AFB early in the Korean War, and there the larger wing tip tanks were apparently locally developed. It was a long way from Japan to the fighting as it moved north in Korea.
The masking has been removed on top and things are not looking too bad.

I think I will apply decals next and then a top coat to protect them. After that, some weathering will be in order.

Hobby Boss F-80C Shooting Star – Continued

Work has continued the past few weeks. I am somewhat in awe of many of the model builders I follow who have such high production rates. My life keeps getting in the way of modeling. But progress is being made.

At some point, I think HobbyBoss contemplated including interior detail with this model but dropped the idea. For instance, the rear fuselage section could have been built either connected or separated from the forward fuselage. The engine was in three pieces. The compressor and a two piece tailpipe with detail on the outside of the tailpipe, never to be seen once it was put in place.

I believe the old Monogram kit had a removable tail section with a more complete engine.

By the way, the outside of the engine compressor had to be sanded down quite a bit to make it fit inside the rear fuselage.

Attaching the wing came next. And here there were some fit problems not caused by me. None of these comments are meant to denigrate this kit. I am enjoying building it. And, I regard fit issues as part of the hobby and merely present me with problems to be solved. It is all good.

The first issue was the poor fit where the front of the wing meets the fuselage. This was solved by cutting a small piece of plastic card to be cemented to the fuselage to change to angle of the leading edge of the wing so that the bottom of the wing piece would be flush.

The shim solved that issue. Which left the second issue, the gap between the top of the wing panels and the fuselage. This was easily solved with some putty.

We have reached the stage where I have to make some decisions on how to paint the model. The scheme I chose was the one on the box top.

The decals provide the dragon and the Navy blue stripe as two separate decals. Not having total faith in how well the decal will conform to the model, and also how I would match the exact color of the decal with the nose section I would have to paint separately?

I decided that the best way to tackle this one was to paint the nose blue, apply masking and then paint the silver over it. What could possibly go wrong? That remains to be seen.

I scanned the decals and printed them at 100%. Using the copy as a stencil, I cut some templates from Tamiya tape. While I was at it, I cut some templates for the antiglare panel and the tail stripes.

And, I painted the wheel and flap wells along with the dive brake recesses interior green and have started masking them.

All in all, I am pleased with the kit so far. I am glad that HobbyBoss chose to kit this important aircraft from the Forgotten War in my favorite scale.

Hobby Boss F-80C Shooting Star (Kit #81725)

Now, I am onto an aircraft, a model of which I have wanted to build for years. I had two choices. One was the Monogram kit. Frankly I like Monogram kits and have built several in recent years. But I selected the HobbyBoss 1/48 scale Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star. I believe it may still be in production; I picked it up from Rare-Plane Detective at the IPMS Nats in Las Vegas last year. The kit is out of stock at SprueBrothers, and they do not have the provision for you to leave your email address for notification when it is back in stock. Perhaps our Asian friends are injecting plastic into other molds. Who Knows? Read about the kit on Scalemates here.

While I have built a number of Takom armor kits (which I think are generally excellent). The only Chinese aircraft kit I have built is a Trumpeter 1/48 scale MiG-3. It was a good kit, but I have been turned off by some others I have looked at. The HobbyBoss Hellcat looks like a Hellcat that had been mistakenly built by Brewster on the Buffalo assembly line. Tamiya, Eduard, Airfix and Monogram kits have always attracted me more, I guess.

None the less, I chose this one over the Monogram kit, and so far I am glad I did.

Here are the basic cockpit parts. The seat was assembled from six parts. The detail is passable. When I compared the instrument panel with a photo of the restored F-80C at the USAF Museum it was spot on. My painting may not have done it justice.

The seatbelt fret included with the kit is pretty nice. I sprayed it with Tamiya Grey Surface Primer which states on the can that it will prime metal. It does, but it also scrapes easily. I brush painted the belts Khaki with Vallejo Model Color, and later brush painted the buckles and such with Vallejo Model Air Silver. PE is not my friend, but I managed to get them attached to the seat with some CA

Taking a break from working on the cockpit, I decanted some spray paint to be used via airbrush later.

Good old Tamiya TS-17 Gloss Aluminum. I have done this before. All you need is an articulated plastic straw, some mounting putty (such as Loctite Fun-Tak or similar), and some newspaper or drop cloth to protect the work area in the event of some overspray (which I have not experienced). Oh, yes, a latex or vinyl glove for the hand holding the stray to the spray can nozzle. There may be a little leakage.

You can also wrap some masking tape around the assembly to further seal it. My experience is that this paint does not come out of the can with great force. It sprays into the bend in the straw, settles against the straw’s inner surface and drips into the bottle. Do not fill the bottle to the top. Fill the bottle leaving 1/3 to 1/4 of the space unused.

The paint will be loaded with what I understand is the propellant that was mixed with it to propel the paint out of the can. This gas must be allowed to evaporate out of the paint. If you put a wooden stir stick in the bottle right after decanting the paint, you will see a sudden burst of small bubbles, like foam, quickly rise to the surface. If you had filled the bottle, you would have an overflow.

My theory (please remember I am a lawyer, not a chemical engineer) is that there is a reaction with the stick that causes the propellant to gas out of the paint. I stir it a little, and then I put the cap on loosely so it is not air tight. I come back an hour or so later, and stir it again. There will be more – but fewer – bubbles. I have found that repeating this twice more seems to take care of that gas, and then I fully secure the bottle.

This paint airbrushes like a dream. Tamiya Lacquer Thinner lets you adjust the viscosity to the consistency you want, if needed.

By the way, you might skip all this if you simply buy the new Tamiya lacquer in a bottle, as I think it is very similar to the rattle can paint. However, I have some Tamiya rattle cans I intend to use up.

Returning to the workbench, I painted and assembled the cockpit module. Everything fit together as designed. I was assisted by photos of the F-80C restored by the USAF itself for their museum. The problem with cockpit photos is that you are often looking at a cockpit with modern avionics installed and military equipment removed, not to mention one or two less than color accurate repaint jobs. That is why the Air Force Museum restorations (or the Smithsonian) are to be relied on, in my view.

One final observation. The bulkhead in front of the cockpit has a cabinet/rack molded into it for electronic equipment, probably the radar, radio, etc. However, it is sealed into the nose of the model never to be seen again. It is as if the mold designer was getting ready to do a detailed nose bay perhaps with guns, ammo and other items. And, someone told him to go no further.

The same applies to that item on the left, which represents the front end of the jet engine. It is not very detailed, but it does not matter. It will be sealed in when the tail is attached. Unlike the Monogram model, which is designed to have the tail removed and even comes with a wheeled cart to mount it on, this kit is not designed to be finished in two large pieces.

Could it be that this model started out as a bit more ambitious a replica? Maybe, but I am glad it was marketed in the form it was. Thank you for visiting. Time to get back to the workbench.

The Arma P-51B/C Mustang – Completed

House quests having left and neglected matters having been caught up on, I was able to spend some time completing this model.

Arguably one of the most famous airplanes that fought in the European Theater, Col. James H. Howard’s North American P-51B Mustang “Ding Hao!” Col. Howard, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, was one of the relatively rare pilots who had the opportunity to down enemy aircraft in both the Pacific and European Theaters. On the nose was painted a phrase he had picked up while flying with the Flying Tigers — “Ding Hao!” — fittingly, it roughly translates as “Top Good” or “The Best”.

Now that I have had the entire experience of building and completing this kit, I am convinced that if Arma had made this exact kit in 1/48 scale, it would also have been a real winner. The engineering and the level of detail would have propelled this model to the forefront of P-51B/C models. The Accurate Miniature models would have been left looking at retirement after decades of service to the grateful modeling community.

On this project, I used the following Vallejo Model Air colors: Interior Green (71.010), US Olive Drab (71.043), Black (71.057) and US Interior Yellow (71.107).

I used Tamiya Lacquer Flat Silver (LP38), which is now my substitute for the no-longer-available Model Master Steel.

Mr. Finishing Surfacer 150 Gray thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner was used as a primer.

Hataka Orange Line (Lacquer) was used for the overall colors, and were Olive Drab 41 (Early) (C004) and Neutral Grey (FS36173)(C265). These were thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner. The combination of this thinner and these paints must be experienced to be appreciated. If Hataka was generally available here in the U.S.A., I would use it almost for everything, but alas it isn’t. At least yet. Hopefully it will be available soon in all of its many colors.

Finally, another product relatively new to me is Ammo Lucky Varnish-Mat (A.Mig-2051), which is acrylic resin, applies very easily and dries rapidly to a very flat finish. And, you can touch up with it using a brush.

I said in the recent past that I liked an occasional 1/72 scale project as they can be completed quickly. Well, not here. Arma kits in 1/72 scale take as long as the average 1/48 model.

And the result is a really nice model with tremendous presence on your display shelf.

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.

Tamiya Israeli Tank M51, 1/35 scale, Kit 323 

There is one armor subject that keeps popping up on my workbench – the Sherman tank.

The Sherman embodies the American war effort in WWII.  More than 50,000 were produced between 1942 and 1945.  (Google)   They supplied our military as well as our allies.  It was designed to be easily produced and easily maintained in the field by hurriedly trained mechanics who worked under often horrific conditions.  It was constantly improved throughout its service life.  

It was not the best tank of WWII.  Those honors go to the Russian T-34 and/or the German Panther.  (This comment might start an argument.)  But the Sherman did its job.  

Jonathan Trigg, in his book D-Day Through German Eyes: How the Wehrmacht Lost France (Amberley Publishing, 2020) notes a comment from a German soldier in a POW cage on Omaha Beach amazed at the enormous volume of equipment being landed and how the Americans would simply shove a broken down tank to the side of the road and get another one so they could keep going.  We were allowed to do that thanks to the Arsenal of Democracy and the Sherman tank.

The story of the founding of the State of Israel and its military is one of the great stores of the 20th Century.  Surrounded by well armed enemies vowing its destruction, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had to prove over and over again they could take on all comers and win.  And getting the weapons they needed and could afford was a constant problem.

After WWII, the world was awash in surplus arms, and the IDF made good use of them.

An excellent article at The Online Tank Museum (https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/coldwar/israel/m51_sherman.php) contains a detailed description of the M51’s development and use by the IDF and is well worth reading.

Some interesting facts about the M51:

The M51 was a joint development project of the IDF and France.

The M51 retained the original Continental R-975 radial engine because a better engine was not easily available and the IDF needed the M51 right away.

The gun used was the 105mm cannon used in the French AMX-30 Main Battle Tank.

The M51 served in both the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The Kit

I completed this model late last year, and it appears on my “masthead” here.  I am really quite pleased with the results.  

The radio antenna is a piece of Albion Alloys Nickel Silver Rd 0.33mm purchased from SprueBrothers.com, my favorite domestic supplier of model products.  This is 10x better than my usual stretched sprue.  It actually looks like the real thing.

Aside from the .50 caliber M2 MG on the turret, the model was newly molded throughout.  The tracks are vinyl, which is fine as the suspension system holds the track tight with no sagging.  

Two figures are included, a loader and a commander.  The commander is molded wearing a US helmet.  I could not find a photo of an IDF tanker wearing a US GI helmet in the Six Day War.  There may have been one, but not in any photo I could find.

So, I got into my spares box looking for a new head for the commander, one wearing an Israeli tanker’s helmet.  This was my first attempt at figure modification.  

I found a suitable head, performed the transplant operation, but when I mounted the commander, he was looking down as if he were talking to someone standing in  front of the tank.  It looks like he is telling someone to get off the road.  Maybe he was.  Or giving some orders to a hapless private and pointing in the direction he should go.

My research came up with a formula for an appropriate paint for a correct period color.  Israeli Sand Grey was created with Tamiya Acrylic paints mixed  50% XF-60 Dark Yellow and 50% XF-57 Buff.

The model was primed in Stynylrez black primer. I painted it with some light coats to let the dark primer show through accenting contour and shadow, and I finished the upper surfaces with some Tamiya Buff to lighten them.  

I have always wanted to add the M51 to my collection, and I am pleased with this kit.  No flaws with the kit were noted.

Selling On eBay

I joined eBay in 1999. It became my go to place to find models no-longer-in-production, and it became a great place to periodically thin my stash.  It was really quite enjoyable.

eBay came in handy when we packed up and moved to Arizona in 2014.  We were downsizing.  Tons of stuff we had accumulated over the years in New England had to go.  Anything that was mailable was disposed of via eBay.

Then guess what happened.  You are quite correct, the stash got out of control again!  I consulted with a modeling friend back in New England who has been using eBay to thin out his stash.  (Thanks, Dave, your advice has proven invaluable.)

A lot has changed in the way eBay does business.

PayPal is gone or rather de-coupled from eBay.  They can work everything through your bank account.  It is much handier.

The sale fees have gone up, but what hasn’t?  On the good side, you can list a lot each month and pay no fee until the item sells.  This invites you to keep renewing your listing until the item sells.  A bazillion people a day browse the listings on eBay.  Someone will show up sooner or later to buy most anything.

Shipping rates are through the roof everywhere.  eBay is no exception, as they depend on the USPS.  Twenty years ago, a $3.25 stamp took up to 2 pounds anywhere in the USA.  Now it seems that the cost is at least $10 or much more.  And some of the major Internet retailers are selling on eBay and offer very cheap shipping, probably because they have some bulk shipping deal with UPS.  

Some people offer “free” shipping, but they seem to not understand what “free” means.  On those items I see the sale price loaded by the probable amount of postage.  For example, a kit reasonably selling for $15 with $12 shipping is sold for $27 with “free” shipping.

Everything seems to be offered by “stores”, i.e., people who are simply merchants using eBay as their storefront.  It used to a virtual flea market with individual sellers and just a few merchants.

None of this is a complaint on my part.  The cost is what it is in 2022.  1999 is way back in the rearview mirror.  But the increasing cost of shipping is driving the sale price of kits down as the sellers may have to eat some of that cost to make the sale.  Capitalism at work.

I read/hear some complaining about “eBay bandits” asking way too much and trying to rip off the poor modeler.  Frankly, that is nonsense.  The poor modeler needs to decide what price the kit is worth to him/her.  If the seller wants ten times that amount, ignore the listing and keep looking.  The buyer has no right to demand the item be sold for a certain amount.

One helpful thing eBay does when you are listing something for sale is to tell you where a successful seller started the bidding and what had been the average amount paid for the item in other auctions.  This helps quite a bit to give you a starting point when you are not sure.

If you do sell some items on eBay, huge profits are probably not going to appear.  That is unless you somehow foresaw the collapse of Wingnut Wings and bought many dozens of Sopwith Camel kits just before the end.

The bottom line is that a lot has changed, but eBay still provides us with a way to thin our stashes thereby giving other modelers a chance to enlarge theirs.  And, best of all, you have a little extra money to buy more kits and fill that stash again.  It is all good.

British Crusader Mk.III Cruiser Tank, 1/48 scale (Kit 32555)

Crusader Mk. III (Public Domain Photo)

The Crusader was a result of interwar British amor doctrine that produced tanks known as “cruiser” tanks and “infantry” tanks.  The cruiser tanks were designed as modern armored and mechanized cavalry, while the infantry tanks were designed to support an infantry attack.

The Mk. III Crusader was fitted with a larger gun than its predecessors, i.e., a 57mm or 6 pounder gun.  This larger gun cramping the inside of the turret necessitated the elimination of the gun loader whose duties were taken over by the tank commander.  This seems to have been less than satisfactory when the action started, i.e., the commander being occupied with duties other than commanding during an engagement.

And therein seems to be the story of all the tanks on either side in WWII.  There was a constant race to fit larger and larger guns to tanks to defeat the more heavily armored tanks with every bigger guns being fielded by one’s opponents.

The Crusader served fairly well in the Western Desert, but once that campaign was over they had reached the point where they were not holding their own with German armor.  Many were converted to anti-aircraft carriages, gun tractors and other uses.

I always liked the shape of the tank with the highly angled turret and large road wheels.I also wonder how the crews faired when hit with shots that broke some of those bolts loose and sent them ricocheting around the tank’s interior. That may have been unpleasant.

The kit is typical Tamiya quality.  I wish a figure had been included since my search for a British armor crewman in desert garb proved fruitless.  Armor models need a figure.

Here are the paints and weathering materials used:

Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green

Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black

Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear

Matt Lucky Varnish by Ammo

Track Base Coat (Tamiya Mix)

Vallejo Air 71.080 Rust

Vallejo 71-143 UK Light Stone

Ammo Oilbrusher – Dust A.Mig 3516

Ammo Enamel Wash “Dark Brown for Green Vehicles” A.Mig 1005

Ammo Streaking Effects – Dark Streaking Grime A.Mig 1206

Tamiya Weathering Master Set A

The model was finished with the Dark Green XF-61 that was glossed for decal application and weathering. Next, came the Ammo Wash for Green Vehicles followed by the Ammo Oilbrusher dust color and some Ammo Streaking Effect Wash for Dark Streaking Grime.  Finally, I applied Tamiya Weathering Master Sand color to unify things.  All in all, I am satisfied with the look.

After all, the Crusaders arrived in the Western Desert painted a Bronze Green and went into action.  I tried to duplicate that by starting with a straight-up green tank (see photo below) and then making it look dusty.

While my weathering work does not qualify me as an “elite modeler”, I am getting better at envisioning how to get where I want to go.  Trying to imagine a tank fresh from the garrison and then planning on what layers of dirt and tear descended on it in the field helps me put together a combination of effects producing a realistic whole.  At least that is what I am trying to do with my weathering.  More than any other aspect of model building, weathering calls for extreme patience.