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

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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-26_Invader):

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 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.