Makin Island P-39Q Airacobra

NB: This page has been updated with new photos. The previous photos were not up to an acceptable standard. They were a fialed experiment with handholding the camera. I got the tripod out for these. Much sharper and much better depth of field.

It has been six weeks since I commenced this model, and it is finally completed.  Not that it took  month and a half.  Other activities took much of the time.

This is my third Arma kit.  Some of the parts are very tiny and very easy to lose, so caution is necessary.  The detail of the parts is exceptional.  As mentioned in my previous post, I was fortunate to order the kit prior to its release, so Arma included some 3D printed parts which included the most detailed 1/72 scale seat (with belts molded in) I have ever had the pleasure of using.

Arma supplies three steel ball bearings to weight the nose so the model will not be a tail-sitter.  As I was getting to the end and attaching all the small bits and pieces, I came to a place where I had only the prop and the cockpit doors to attach.  And the model was sitting on its tail!  I was not pleased.  But once I glued the prop and the doors on, it sat on its tricycle landing gear.  That is great engineering on Arma’s part to weight the model so precisely.

I liked the unusual color scheme for an Airacobra stationed on Makin Island in the Gilberts.  The color was unusual;  however, I could not find a match for it anywhere.  I settled for Vallejo Model Air 71.143 UK Light Stone.

These Arma kits are a real pleasure to build and display.  The finished models have exceptional presence on the display shelf.

Thank you for dropping by.

Three Cheers for Vallejo Model Air!

There are many modelers out there who have spoken ill of Vallejo Model Air (hereinafter “VMA”), to put it politely.  More often I hear, less politely, that the stuff sucks.

How is this?   I never have had a problem spraying VMA.

My Equipment

Either a Badger 105 Patriot with an “F” tip or a Grex XGi with a a 0.3 mm nozzle.  My compressor is a $90 one from the Wuhan Compressor Factory.  The gauge on it says the pressure I like is between 15 and 20 psi (but who knows if it really is?).  It is my second one.  The other one wore out.  They both serve and served my needs.

My Location –  Arizona  

I live in the southeast corner of The East Valley, which is the vast suburban expanse of Phoenix extending east to the Superstition Mountains.  It is also known as the Sonoran Desert.

It is dry out here.  In high summer, it is not unusual to have humidity as low as 8%, and people start commenting on how humid it is when the humidity skyrockets to 30% around monsoon season.  It is just amazing how fast things dry here.  For instance, I can wash one of my baseball hats and leave it soaking wet on the patio (in the shade) and it will be dry as a bone is less than an hour.

When I lived in New England, I had issues in the summer with the air hose getting moisture in it now and then, and I had to remember to empty the moisture collection attachment on the compressor.  Not out here.

My Thinner

I buy Vallejo Airbrush Thinner (71.161) in the 200 ml. size.  I also use Liquitex Flo-Aid.  I mix 6 parts of Vallejo thinner with 1 part of Flo-Aid.

Then I put about 4 parts of my thinner and 6 parts of VMA in my airbrush, and off I go.  Mostly I am making 1/72 and 1/48 aircraft and 1/35 armor.  That is, I am not spraying huge models.  But even though I live is an arid climate, I get little or no buildup of paint on the exposed needle.  If I do, I have a Q-tip dipped in lacquer thinner handy to clean it right off.

I prime almost everything with either Tamiya Surface Primer (rattle can) or Badger Stynylrez which I airbrush as above described.  I mask for the most part with Tamiya tape, and I have no trouble with the VMA lifting.


I run a few bowls of Lysol Clean and Fresh multi-surface cleaner through the airbrush followed by hardware store lacquer thinner.  I usually pull the needle and wipe it with a bit of paper towel with lacquer thinner on it.

A Final Point

I really like the eye dropper bottles VMA comes in.  But the only reasonable way to store these bottles in a drawer is standing ip.  And then finding the color I want is a nuisance.  I found a solution.  Each bottle get a drop of the paint it contains.  So, if I am looking for a green, I only pull the bottle with the green mark on the cap to look at the label to confirm which color I have pulled, and so forth.  It is very handy.

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Thank you for reading and visiting my blog.  It has been a few weeks since I posted anything, but the Holiday Season tends to get in the way, does it not?  Happy 2023 to everyone!

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.