Category Archives: Building

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13W: Two Builds – Part 4

At the end of my previous post, I’d got my two Junkers models as far along as I cared to take them before applying decals. And, after two months in some sort of Covid-plus-Brexit-induced postal limbo, my decals from Mika at Arctic Decals finally arrived.

Arctic Decals sheet for Junkers F13 LN-ABH and D260
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These featured the typographically correct letter “N” for LN-ABH, as well as a set of custom decals for D 260.

The decals are delicate, and the finely corrugated surface of the models challenging. Mika provides very detailed instructions on how to prepare and apply them, which I followed to the letter … and got excellent results.

LN-ABH decals
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D 260 decals
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With a layer of gloss enamel varnish applied to the kit surface, and left to dry for a week, I slid the decals on to a mix of Micro Set and slightly soapy water. They’re very thin, but pretty tough, and they held together well for positioning and then bedded down pretty well spontaneous. After they’d dried in place, I gently pressed them into the corrugations after brushing them with Micro Sol. They softened extremely quickly, so the trick was to apply Micro Sol to a small area and immediately roll a cotton bud firmly across the surface, following the line of the corrugations. As you can see, the final “painted on” effect was excellent.

So I can’t recommend these highly enough—Mika’s Arctic Decals provide markings for a variety of obscure civilian aircraft, and they’re also distributed through Lima November Decals.

With the decals in place, given time to dry, and then sealed with a coat of satin varnish, it was time to make final assembly, adding the door to D 260 and attaching the fuselage to the wings, as well as adding a few bits and bobs of final detailing.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F.13 ready to assemble
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So here they both are, posed on display bases from Coastal Kits. First, LN-ABH taking off on its final flight:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 6
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 7
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 4
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 3
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 2
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH completed 8
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And D 260 hauled up out of the water:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 2
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 3
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 4
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 5
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 6
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 7
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 completed 8
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And finally, a couple of views of the pair together:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH & D 260 completed 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 LN-ABH & D 260 completed 2
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Now. What next, I wonder?

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13W: Two Builds – Part 3

At the end of my previous post, I had reached the stage of being ready to apply decals to LN-ABH. But with the decals still in Brexit/Covid postal limbo between Finland and Scotland, I turned my attention to the earlier version of this aircraft, registered as D 260, when it was part of the Junkers Spitsbergen Expedition in 1923.

Junkers F13 D260, Svalbard
Source
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This was when the aircraft was fresh out of the factory, and so it was largely in the original configuration of the Junkers F13W, with the exception of the odd object behind the head of the man in the centre of the trio standing on the float. I’ve no idea what it is, although a poster on Britmodeller has hazarded a guess that it might be a filler cap for an extra fuel tank behind the passenger compartment. The aircraft was also fitted with extended ailerons, so (as with LN-ABH), I’ll scribe off the moulded ailerons provided with the kit, and add Master-X resin replacements.

For this aircraft I’m using a more recent issue of the Revell kit:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 boxart

Despite the box art, instructions and decals, it also includes all the necessary parts to build the float-plane version. And, importantly for my purposes, it includes a better version of the rudder, the lower extension of which was noticeably undersized in the older kits. For comparison, here’s the rudder/tail-fin assembly from the old kit I used for LN-ABH, compared to the rudder (detached from its tail-fin) from the newer kit.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13W amd F13 rudders
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This is still undersized, but in a different way. The photograph above was taken maybe 30 degrees of the vertical; the photograph of the real aircraft below is maybe 30 degrees away from the transverse position.

Reference photograph of D 260 (1)
(Source)
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By correcting for the angles in each, drawing around the kit rudder and superimposing on the corrected photograph, I get this:

Check kit rudder proportions against photograph

So the kit part is not quite deep enough, front to back. Perhaps something nearer to correct could be fashioned from a combination of the old and new rudder parts, but the fine corrugations on the parts would make seams difficult to hide. So I’m leaving it as it is.

Also visible in the photograph above is something I’m going to have to scratch-build—the near-vertical bar protruding from the underside of the tail just in front of the rudder. This seems to have been a fairly standard part of the float-plane version, though I’m not entirely sure what it was for.

That’ll be a late addition to the assembled kit. In the meantime, I put together a simulation of the “mystery object” on the starboard side of the aircraft, which I alluded to earlier. Some styrene sheet, a fragment of 0.5mm brass rod, and some aluminium paint produced the object below, superimposed on a British penny for scale:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 detailing
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The main modification I planned for this kit is to open one of the doors to display the interior a little better. So I used a razor saw to chop the door section out of its frame, dividing the kit fuselage half into three parts:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 prep for open door
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On the opposite side of the fuselage, I scribed in the interior door-frame, and filled the gaps around the kit’s truly horrible windows. I also needed to slightly shorten the rear bench seat of the passenger compartment, which in the kit version protrudes quite a long way into the doorway—this was easily done by carving about a millimetre-and-a-half out of the rear part of the seat before attaching it to the backrest.

I added some lap-belts to the seats, using parts from an Airwaves 1/72 photoetch RAF harness set. The belts used to be stowed in a loop around the back of the front seats in the passenger compartment, so I reproduced that appearance, and left the other belts lying loose on the seats.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 interior 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 interior 2
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 interior 3
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Perhaps because it was a newer kit, the interior and fuselage hadn’t bowed out of true, and were easier to fit together. Here’s the improved alignment between the bench seat and the door (which has acquired a little chrome door-handle fashioned out of brass rod).

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 assembly 1
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The fuselage halves closed easily, and as before I left the tail ajar, by a fraction of a millimetre, to prevent the “roof” section overhanging in that area. This one has an engine, and the original “rhino horn” exhaust.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 assembly 2
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 assembly 3
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The divided starboard side of the fuselage was easy enough to position—the rear entirely straightforward, because it locates with the port side, the forward part requiring a little alignment using the dry-fitted “roof”.

Once everything was together, I brought the lower part of the door-frame up to floor level with a sliver of styrene sheet, and also added an upper rail at the top of the door-frame. (And, of course, trimmed the excised door section accordingly.)

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 assembly 4
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As you’ve seen, I had scribed off the kit rudder, so I could pose it with a slight deflection. I also did the same with the ailerons, so that I could depict the aircraft with the characteristic “aileron droop” it had when parked. (You can see that in my second reference photograph above.) Here they are in place.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 D 260 ready for decals
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The “mystery object” on the side of the fuselage is also attached. I’ve masked the cockpit openings and the exhaust, and temporarily blocked off the doorway with a little bit of styrene, cut to shape using a masking tape template and held in place with clear glue. The whole thing has now been coated with gloss enamel varnish, ready for decals. (The kit’s “Junkers” logo is already in place.)

The wings, likewise, are painted and glossed, ready for decals. I’ve left the upper and lower halves of the wings separate, because for this aircraft I want to apply decals for the underwing registration codes, and that will be easier before the floats are attached, and the floats will be easier to attach if I glue them from inside the wing, as I did with LN-ABH.

D260 wings and floats read for decals
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You can see I’ve applied brown kit decals to the upper wing roots, which in the real aircraft appear to have had strips of wood attached to make a non-slip area for boarding. The decals are hard work to position, since they have to be applied to the raised moulded strips in the kit plastic, which inevitably traps air in the grooves between the strips. So having got them provisionally adherent to the raised strips using Micro Sol, I then slit each decal lengthways along each groove, and then smoothed the edges into the grooves with more Micro Sol.

Finally, while I was waiting for my replacement decals to arrive, I was able to use the rather lovely propeller decal that came with the original sheet. This wraps neatly around the kit propeller to produce the laminated wood appearance of the original Heine propeller.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 decalled prop
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Here it is next to the rotating propeller disc I made for the LN-ABH “in-flight” version:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 decalled prop and prop disc
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Next time—decals and final detailing.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13W: Two Builds – Part 2

By the end of my previous post, I’d completed all the necessary revisions to the kit parts to produce an in-flight model of Gidsken Jakobsen‘s ill-fated Junkers F13 floatplane, LN-ABH. (See the previous post for details of its fate.)

Unusually, I painted the fuselage and wing parts before complete assembly—because of the boxy nature of the aircraft, there were no seams that were going to need filling and sanding. One of the challenges was going to be to produce the smooth curve of black paint on either side of the fuselage at the nose of the aircraft, particularly given the very fine corrugations moulded into the kit parts. The kit provides a narrow, curved black decal, intended to act as a demarcation line for this paintwork, but the decal didn’t match the curve of the paint edge on the real aircraft.

Junkers F13 LN-ABH, Balestrand, Norway
Norsk Luftfartsmuseum public domain image NL.04060001
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First, I coated the kit parts with primer and then airbrushed on my Duralumin paint mix. In a fit of masochism born out of Covid lock-down and impatience, I didn’t use any of the commercial premixed preparations, but blended my own from Humbrol Aluminium and Gloss White, in a 4:1 ratio. (A lot of people complain that Humbrol is practically un-airbrushable, but actually it goes on quite nicely if it’s not thinned as much as usual, and is sprayed at a higher working pressure. I stirred in a little thinner until I got to a paint:thinner ratio of maybe 7:3, which is noticeably thicker than the usual “milk-like” endpoint for most airbrush paints, and then set my airbrush’s working pressure to 30 psi/2 bars.)

Then I scanned the (conveniently flat-sided) kit part and used that image as the basis to construct an appropriate curve using a graphics program, which I printed out at the correct scale, and glued to the back of a sheet of Bare-Metal Foil. I then used this as a guide to cut out the necessary curve in the foil using a new No.11 scalpel blade. Then I laid the foil on as a paint mask on the kit part, and massaged it into the fine corrugations with a cotton bud.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 masking nose
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This rigmarole worked out well. (In the view below I’ve also filled the locating holes for the wire-frame step on the port side of the fuselage, which had been removed by the time this aircraft became LN-ABH, and replaced with a ladder. I have, however, not yet removed the little triangular tail-skid support, which was absent from the float-plane version.)

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 nose painted
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The elderly kit parts had all assumed interesting curves over the years, so it took a bit of effort to get the fuselage floor to fit into one fuselage half. I glued it a little at a time, gradually flexing the parts into alignment, rather than trying to get it done all at once.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 interior in place
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The second fuselage half went on more easily.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 fuselage closed 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 fuselage closed 2
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I found I needed to leave the tail end slightly open, by a fraction of a millimetre, to avoid the roof part overhanging slightly in that region. The slight gap at the rear would be entirely covered by my replacement rudder. Here’s the fuselage largely assembled and painted, complete with new rudder, exhaust pipes and cowling tie-downs:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 Master-X fuselage 2
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 Master-X fuselage 3
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 Master-X fuselage 4
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 fuselage 1
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With Mika’s replacement decals still caught up in an endless Brexit/Covid postal delay somewhere between Finland and Scotland, and heartened by my success with the Bare-Metal Foil paint masks, I decided to make some stencils for the underwing registration letters. I scanned Mika’s original decals, corrected the “N”, and then printed the registration letters in reverse on the back of a sheet of Bare-Metal Foil.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 preparing lower wing masks
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Then I cut them out, and rubbed down the resulting stencils on to the underwing kit part (already primed and coated with Duralumin.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 lower wing masks
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 lower wing masked
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After a coat of black, the result fell into the not-great-but-not-too-bad category. The “B” in particular was going to need a little additional freehand repair work.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 lower wing painted
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The float struts in this kit are notoriously difficult to attach, since there are multiple locating holes that all need to align simultaneously with multiple locating pins. So I decided to fit the floats to the unassembled lower wing section. This let me nudge each float strut into position in its correct hole, and then secure it with a little dab of cyanoacrylate gel from the inside of the wing, before moving on to the next one.

Once the floats were attached, I also added the boarding ladder connecting the float to the wing-root on the port side, putting it together from short pieces of 0.5mm brass rod. There seem to have been two versions of this ladder, one near-vertical and one sloping:

LN-ABH ladder, vertical
Detail from Norsk Luftfartsmuseum image NL.04030006
LN-ABH ladder, sloping
Detail from Norsk Luftfartsmuseum image NL.04120004

Without any evidence to suggest which was the later version, I went for the more vertical option.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 floats attached 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 floats attached 2
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With the fuselage largely completed, I was able to dry-assemble the bulk of the aircraft to check its centre of gravity, because (as an in-flight model) I wanted to put this one on a stand. There was plenty of room inside the thick chord of the wing to place a small neodymium magnet, which I could use to attach the model to a similar magnet on an old transparent Airfix stand.

Airfix stand with neodymium magnet
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 magnet in place
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 test fitting to stand 1
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 test fitting to stand 2
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Then I closed up the wing.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 wings assembled 1
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The areas where I’d removed the moulded kit ailerons had a tendency to gap too widely, so I slipped in a little styrene strip as a spacer, and to provide an anchor point for the Master-X resin replacements.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 wings assembled 2
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These went on nicely, with only a tiny amount of sanding to get a neat fit along the length of the parts.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 Master-X ailerons added
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At this point, I gave wings and fuselage a coat of gloss enamel varnish and set them aside, still separate, to await the application of decals.

Next time—a much more straightforward build for D 260.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13W: Two Builds – Part 1

Revell Junkers F13W box art
Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 boxart

So here I have two slightly different editions of the same kit, because I intend to build models of two distinctly different versions of the same airframe—specifically, Junkers Construction Number 650, which went into service as a float-plane in May 1923. (The “W” in “Junkers F13W” stands for Wasser, which is German for “water”, designating the float-plane version of this aircraft. The second kit, despite the wheeled version on the box art, includes all the necessary parts for the float-plane, too.)

This aircraft first saw service as part of the Junkers Spitsbergen Expedition, under German aircraft registration D 260.

Junkers F13 D260, Svalbard
Source
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It then knocked around Germany, Estonia and northern Norway for almost a decade before ending up in the hands of Norway’s pioneering aviator Gidsken Jakobsen, registered as LN-ABH to her Nord-Norges Aero company.

Junkers F13 LN-ABH, Balestrand, Norway
Norsk Luftfartsmuseum public domain image NL.04060001
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Unable to obtain a licence for a commercial air service, Jakobsen operated the aircraft on sightseeing trips until June 1934, when it “lost its engine” near Balestrand on the Sognefjord. Literally lost its engine, which fell out of the aeroplane into the fjord below, somewhere between Hella and Vangsnes. The pilot restored the trim of the aircraft by encouraging the front-seat passenger to climb out of the open cockpit on to the engine cowling, and then glided to a safe landing. The airframe was reportedly still airworthy, but the plane never flew again.

So I want to build two versions of this aircraft, as D 260 and LN-ABH, at the beginning and end of its eventful life. Its configuration changed considerably between these two incarnations—its paintwork was revised; it lost the aerodynamic fairings around its float struts; it may have had its engine replaced (but certainly had the engine exhausts rerouted); it lost the original boarding step on the fuselage and gained a short fixed ladder instead; and it had the factory-fitted rudder replaced with a large home-grown version that seems to have been built of wood and fabric.

Both versions of the aircraft are fairly well documented photographically, but many of the images of LN-ABH are copyrighted by the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum (the image above is a rare public-domain photo). My aim is to represent LN-ABH in flight just before its fateful accident, and I’m therefore planning on giving it the all-black rudder that’s visible in this copyright photograph, purely on the assumption that someone is more likely to paint a white rudder black than a black rudder white.

As well as building a new rudder for LN-ABH, I also needed to replace the narrow ailerons moulded into the kit wings with the extended versions that were fitted to this aircraft in both its manifestations. I contacted Master-X, who make resin conversion kits for this model, with the plan of purchasing two of their cheapest conversions from which I could extract the necessary ailerons for my own models. Picture my surprise when Lumír at Master-X not only agreed to send me just the necessary parts, but did so free of charge despite my protestations. I also order up a set of decals for LN-ABH from Lima-November Decals, but noticed that they didn’t reproduce the idiosyncratic shape of the letter “N” on the real aircraft. I was all set to revise this by hand, but when I posted about the problem on the Britmodeller website, I was contacted by Mika Jernfors of Arctic Decals, who had designed that decal sheet. He offered me a new, revised edition with the correct letter “N”, and threw in a set of decals for D 260 as well!

So I started with LN-ABH, because it needed a lot of revision to the kit parts, and I used the older Revell kit (the upper box image at the head of this post) because it has a particularly inaccurate rudder, which I would be putting in the bin anyway.

First, I thinned down the float struts. The top set are the originals, and the lower set have been thinned.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 struts thinned
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Then, I filled the hole in the kit’s engine cowling, which accommodated the original “rhino horn” exhaust. Here’s a “quotation” from the original copyright photograph I used as reference, which I trust falls in the “acceptable use” domain:

Junkers F13 LN-ABH cowling
Detail from Norsk Luftfartsmuseum image NL.04120003

Notice the tie-downs crossing the cowling, which I’ll add with stretched sprue in due course. Here’s my best effort (right) at filling the hole:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 cowling
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This was never going to be perfect, given the difficulty of reproducing the corrugations that were characteristic of this aircraft. In retrospect, it occurred to me that I might have been able to fashion a plug from the discarded rudder, but I was a little too slow with that idea.

I also fashioned a little array of exhausts from styrene rod, to depict the rather informal-looking exhausts on the real aircraft:

Junkers F13 LN-ABH exhaust and propeller
Detail from Norsk Luftfartsmuseum image NL.98140008

And I carved a new rudder out of styrene sheet. Here’s my replacement exhaust stack and rudder:

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 custom rudder and exhausts
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I’d already primed these parts when I realized that the little triangular support under the tail needed to be removed—it’s appropriate for an aircraft with a tail-skid, but not for the float-plane version.

Also, since this is going to be a flying version, I needed to depict a rotating propeller, a pilot and a front-seat passenger. Here’s the propeller:

Custom prop disk for Revell Junkers F13

I designed and printed this according to the method I’ve outlined in my post about modelling rotating propeller discs, banding it in alternating shades of light and dark brown to reproduce the appearance of a laminated wooden Heine propeller.

For my pilot and passenger, I heavily modified a pair of PJ Production Word War I pilot figures. To get them to fit into the cockpit, I need to bend their legs (and clip off their toes), as well as removing extensive areas of buttock and dropping the kit seats somewhat. Their arm positions also needed to be adjusted to avoid fouling the cockpit sides (and each other), and the kit’s control yoke ended up being levitated slightly. All of that mutilation should (he says confidently) be unnoticeable once the aircraft is assembled around them.

Here they are in position. I omitted the kit engine, since the engine compartment will now be entirely sealed, and only roughly painted the passenger compartment, which will be almost invisible through the kit’s very poor-quality windows.

Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 interior 2
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Revell 1/72 Junkers F13 interior 1
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Next time, I’ll start putting the fuselage, wings and floats together.

Eduard 1/48 Westland Lysander (Special Duties In France): Part 4

By the end of my previous post in this build log, I’d managed to get the aeroplane mostly assembled and primed. The next task was an all-over coat of Tamiya gloss black (softened with a little white and blue), ready for decals and weathering. Once that was in place, I was able to add the engine cowling and slats.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, black coat 1
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, black coat 2
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The kit decal sheet provided pre-1942 roundels and flashes, appropriate for this aircraft, and I used a sheet of red 8″ RAF letters from Fantasy Printshop for the tail number.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, decals 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, decals 3
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, decals 1
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I also added white rungs to the ladder—in the real aircraft these were painted for easy visibility in moonlight, as people scrambled in and out of the rear compartment during a frantic few minutes on the ground. You may also notice see the little scrawled “4” next to the ladder. In her marvellous memoir French Resistance In Sussex, Barbara Bertram recorded that the number of packages in the rear compartment was always marked in chalk on the side of the aircraft, to ensure that everything was unloaded.

Next, marking up the panel lines and adding a little light weathering and a few paint chips around the removable panelling. I used some LifeColor Liquid Pigment for this, switching from pale shades on the black paint to dark shades on the roundels and flashes.

After a coat of matt varnish I removed the paint masks and the two canopy sections I wanted to model as being open.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, matt 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, matt 3
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, matt 1
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Then some small parts were put in place—the front cowling and exhaust, the message hook, and a radio aerial under the fuselage. Most Lysander III’s had a radio wire running from above the cockpit to the tail, directly above the rear compartment. This was omitted in the Special Duties Lysanders, presumably to avoid garotting passengers in the dark, and to allow this sort of thing to go on unimpeded:

Loading casualties into a SD Lysander, Italy 1945

Then the long-range fuel tank under the belly, which (judging from photographs) had a rather shinier finish than the fuselage.

The side window is easily modelled in the down position, since it slid down into the side of the fuselage. So I portrayed its upper edge with a styrene strip. The sliding overhead cockpit canopy is tricker, because it slid on rails to lie over the central part of the canopy, like this:

Lysander sliding canopy

The thick kit parts don’t fit snugly one on top of the other, so I resorted to a little visual cheating, sanding off the moulded frame of the cockpit section, and extending its edges downwards with a little styrene—I’d rather have the canopy a little oversized than teetering like a small hat on a large head. Here it is, with the rails attached:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, revised canopy roof
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As a final touch, I added some luggage designed for O-gauge railway layouts, to portray those four items that needed to be unloaded.

So here’s the final product, as close as I can get to a Special Duties Lysander on the ground in a French field.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 1
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 3
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 4
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 5
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 6
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 7
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 8
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 9
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, completed 10
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, close up
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, with Nesbitt-Dufort's book
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Eduard 1/48 Westland Lysander (Special Duties In France): Part 3

By the end of my previous post, I’d adapted all the major bits and pieces that needed to be adapted. The next thing was to get the fuselage halves closed around the interior, which was less straightforward than usual because the Eduard kit doesn’t provide any sort of locating pins on the fuselage halves—you’ve got to press them together and then nudge them into the correct alignment before the styrene glue takes effect.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, fuselage and tail assembly 1
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, fuselage and tail assembly 2
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Then things get even more tricky, because the wings need to align with the V-shaped struts which need to align with the undercarriage, and the locating positions for the struts on the undercarriage legs are exiguous, to say the least. And the wings also need to be correctly spaced to allow the upper part of the canopy to fit tightly between the wing roots. So while trying to come up with a solution to this four-way simultaneous positioning problem, I managed to spring the set of flanges for the wings free of the rest of the interior assembly—which made things much easier, because I was able to assemble both wings into a nice solid construction on a flat surface, before starting to jiggle wings, struts and undercarriage into place. So I’d recommend not following the kit instructions, and actually assembling both wings on to their flanges before attaching the whole wing assembly to the rest of the model. Here’s the result:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, general assembly 3
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, general assembly 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, general assembly 1
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And then I slotted the tailwheel into place, briefly, so that I could orientate the fuselage correctly and place the rear compartment access ladder vertically:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, ladder installation
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The kit provides no locating holes for the ladder, so it’s very much a freestyle event, using reference photographs to get the location correct.

Meanwhile, I was painting some of the minor bits and pieces that will go on later:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, sundry parts painted
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The front cowling and exhaust were a peculiar metallic shade on these aircraft, which I’ve mixed up from Tamiya Titanium Gold, Bronze and Chrome Silver. Below the propeller and engine is the message hook—the idea with this contraption is that people on the ground would attach a package or message to a loop of cord suspended between two poles, and the aircraft would fly low over the poles with the message hook extended, snatching up the package without ever having to land. These were removed or omitted from later Special Duties aircraft, but Nesbitt-Dufort’s Lysander still had it in place—it’s visible in one of the crash photographs in Part 1 of this build log. (The kit provides the hook and attachment arm, and leaves the modeller to provide a suitable length of rod to connect the two.)

And below all that are the cockpit canopy parts, all painted on their inner surfaces with Interior Green. I used Montex masks for this, since the kit provides only exterior masks. I was tricked by the masks into creating one transparent panel which is not transparent in the real aircraft—the lower square panel in the port window assembly. I rectified that later. Also, just after this photograph was taken, I took a razor saw to the port-side windows and separated the sliding pilot’s window from the rear transparency.

Then I placed (almost) all the transparent parts in their closed positions, using a thin smear of white glue to position the side window and sliding canopy—they’ll seal off the cockpit while I’m painting the exterior, but should then pop off fairly easily so that I can put them in the desired position on the finished model. The exception to this plan was the rear canopy, which is clearly intended to be modelled in the open position, and which doesn’t work very well in a closed position. So I had to mask off the rear compartment, and paint the rear canopy separately.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, masked 1
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, masked 2
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(Because of the complex curvature of some of the transparent panels, some of the corresponding paint masks have holes in the middle so that they can be applied without wrinkling. I’ve filled the central spaces with Humbrol’s purple Maskol, which brushes on as a liquid and then sets to a sticky gel.)

And here it all is with a coat of primer.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, primed 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, primed 1
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For the sake of complete paint coverage, the slats and cowling are being painted separately and will go on late in the assembly process.

Next time—paint and decals.

Eduard 1/48 Westland Lysander (Special Duties In France): Part 2

At the end of my previous post, I’d completed the assembly of the cockpit and rear compartment of this aircraft. Some more bits and pieces needed to be modified and detailed before I could begin assembly.

First, wheels. The Lysander had a spatted fixed undercarriage, with landing lights recessed into the front of the spats. The kit provides locating holes for the wheels which correspond to the position they occupy in flight—but they sink a little deeper inside the spats once the shock-absorbers are loaded on the ground. So I needed to adjust the wheel position with a little judicious chiselling. Here’s the before (left) and after (right) view:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, undercarriage revision
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And the corresponding before and after wheel positions:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, wheel repositioned
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The landing lights proved problematic. A parabolic reflector needs to be fitted inside the spat, with a transparent cover fitting flush over the top of it. There seemed to be no discernable way the kit parts could be made to fit inside the spats in the way the instructions portrayed. I ended up removing a lot of plastic before I could get things to go together neatly, like this:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, spats assembly
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The rear wheel likewise needed to be adjusted. First to remove a large fairing that doesn’t match the appearance of the Special Duties aircraft, and secondly to shorten the oleo to depict its compressed position on the ground. Here’s the original part:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, tail wheel part
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And the trimmed part in the final wheel assembly:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, modified tail wheel
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I also want to model this aircraft with the canopy open—top panel slid back, port-side window slid down. This requires a bit of work with a razor saw, because the transparent parts in the kit are not designed to allow open sections. Here’s the tricky upper canopy as supplied:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, top canopy
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And once I’d divided the two sections:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, top canopy divided
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Next, the wings. The Lysander had an innovative set of automatic flaps, connected to leading-edge slats, which deployed in response to reduced airflow over the wing. So when it was parked on the ground, both slats and flaps were fully deployed. The Eduard kit doesn’t provide any sort of option for this—flaps and slats are moulded in the stowed position, as if the aircraft were in flight. I got hold of a CMK Lysander detail set, which provides, among other things, a set of slats and flaps. But, amazingly, only the outboard slats. Since the inboard slats were mechanically connected to the flaps, it’s actually impossible for the aircraft to have flaps down without inboard slats deployed. So if I wanted to model this aircraft at rest on the ground, I was faced with building my own inboard slats. After a bit of hunting around for ideas, I used some 0.1mm aluminium sheet to reproduce the missing slats. First I applied some Tamiya masking tape to the inboard leading edge of the wing, and traced out the shape of the slats. Then I peeled off the tape and and stuck it to my aluminium sheet, so that I could cut out the correct shape. Then I taped the flat aluminium sheet into place on the leading edge, and gently bent it into shape. Presto, I had a slat.

Then I needed to remove most of the leading edges of the wings, and cut away the kit’s moulded flaps. Here’s the result of that:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, wings trimmed
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I was certainly beginning to feel a little committed at this point. I applied CMK’s replacement outboard leading edge, and improvised an inboard leading edge using the material I’d cut away from the outboard leading edge. So here’s how that all looked:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, wings and slats
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CMK provide slat supports for their outboard slats, with enough spares to allow me to add them to the inboard wing, too. I’m going to leave the slats off until late in the build, for ease of painting. But here are the flaps in position:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, CMK flaps
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Eduard provide some photoetch flap hinges, but of course they’re intended for flaps in the stowed position. They were easy enough to split and position correctly on the lowered flaps. The inboard hinges are in position, above; the outboard hinges need to wait until later in the assembly, because they attach to the wing support struts.

Next, the tail, in which I installed CMK’s replacement control surfaces and tailplanes. The Lysander tailplanes were (rather notoriously) adjustable, and needed to be cranked slightly downwards at the leading edge for take-off and landing. The kit, of course, doesn’t permit that adjustment.

Life was complicated somewhat by the fact that I seemed to have two port tailplanes from CMK:

Czech Masters Lysander tailplanes
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They’re identical top and bottom, and since I was adjusting the position of the locating tabs anyway, in order to tip the tailplanes forward, I simply sawed off the tabs and repositioned them:

Czech Masters Lysander tailplanes fixed
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More complications, however, because there’s a plate attached to the upper surface of the tailplane, which tips with it, and this plate is inconveniently moulded as part of the kit’s tail:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander tail
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I traced the plate on to Tamiya tape, again, and transferred the shape to some thin styrene sheet, before sanding off the moulded part and scribing in the missing panel lines:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander tail revision
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You can see I’ve also carved away the kit rudder, in preparation for replacing it with the CMK version, slightly deflected to the right to match my rudder pedals. The CMK rudder looked like a good fit when held against the intact model, but ended up needing a little filler to make a snug fit. Here it is, dry-fitted, with the tailplanes attached and the styrene plate in position:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, CMK rudder fitting
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So that’s all the bits and pieces ready to glue together. More next time.

Eduard 1/48 Westland Lysander (Special Duties In France): Part 1

Eduard 1/48 Lysander box art

This is Eduard’s reboxing of an old Gavia kit, which has gone through a number of iterations. This “Limited Edition” contains the original Gavia parts, along with additional parts to build a number of different aircraft, together with Eduard’s resin and photoetch detailing, and a welcome set of paint masks for the extensive canopy. (I’d just like to say, though, that whoever chose that typeface for the box lettering should be shot. Seriously. It’s not bloody Lord Of The Rings, guys.)

The kit contains few locating holes and pegs, and the instructions don’t offer many hints about correct positioning of parts—so it’s one to build with photographs of the real aircraft in front of you.

That’s slightly problematic for me, because I’m aiming to build an all-black Lysander III of the RAF’s 138 (Special Duties) Squadron. These specially modified aircraft made top-secret “pick-up” flights into Occupied France during the Second World War. (I wrote a lot more about those missions when I reviewed three memoirs dealing with the Special Duties flights to France.) The specific aircraft I want to depict is T1508, in which Squadron Leader John Nesbitt-Dufort made a forced landing in bad weather on 29 January 1942. The aircraft tipped on its nose in a ditch, and Nesbitt-Dufort was unable to set it on fire, as was the standing order. He and his two passengers, members of the French Resistance, then spent some time on the run in Occupied France.

What I have to work on are just two photographs, both of the crashed aircraft, which hardly provide extensive coverage. So I’m going to be (as seems to be almost routine for my model-building efforts) using a bit of inference to come up with a sort of “artist’s reconstruction” of the real aircraft.

John Nesbitt-Dufort's crashed Lysander, T1508
John Nesbitt-Dufort's crashed Lysander, T1508

I bought the Eduard kit because it provides some necessary Special Duties parts—the big long-range tank, and the ladder that provided rapid access to the rear compartment. Unfortunately, Eduard don’t provide any sort of depiction of the heavily modified (but poorly documented) rear compartment itself. In the real aircraft, this was effectively gutted to save weight, and passengers travelled in an out of France perched on a rear-facing plywood bench, which could fit two at a squeeze. If three or four passengers needed to be transported, someone had to sit on the floor.

The first task was assembling the various parts for the cockpit and rear compartment. The pilot’s seat had a basket base, to accommodate his parachute, and the flat photoetch part needed some careful bending:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, seat parts assembly
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The kit instructions call for the rudder pedals to be glued directly to a transverse bar in the open framework that passed for the cockpit “floor” in this aircraft. But I want to depict the aircraft with a slight rudder offset, so I built myself a little rudder bar out of brass and styrene rod. Also attached to the floor structure are the control column and the base of the seat, which has a height adjustment wheel on its right side. (Rather typically Eduard provide the wheel, but leave it to the modeller to provide the transverse rod on which the wheel is mounted.)

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, cockpit parts assembly 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, cockpit parts assembly 1
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I removed the original single seat from the rear compartment and replaced it with a sheet-styrene depiction of the notorious plywood bench. The floor of the rear compartment is also said to have been extended at the sides to meet the surrounding framework, so I added this detail with more sheet styrene.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, rear compartment floor and bench
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And finally I added a bit of wiring, using stretched sprue, to the rear of the instrument panel, which will be just about visible in the assembled model.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, instrument panel wiring
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The kit’s radio sits on a shelf in the rear compartment, but this was apparently replaced, in Special Duties aircraft, by a smaller model on a sliding shelf. This certainly makes sense, because there would otherwise be no room for anyone to sit on the floor. Since the radio itself would be out of sight in the completed kit, I contented myself with adding the rails on which the shelf slid. I also removed the gun-mount paraphernalia on the rear cover of the compartment. Some more photoetch parts needed to be added to the interior framework, and then it was ready for painting and assembly.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, general interior parts assembly
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Here’s what it turned out like, with just a little simulated scuffing to the rear compartment’s paintwork, which in early 1942 hadn’t seen much traffic:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 1
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 3
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 4
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 5
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The unsightly unpainted flanges will eventually support the wings.

There are some more modifications to be made to other kit parts before I can start gluing the big bits together. More on that next time.

Sharkit 1/72 Edgley EA-7 Optica: Part 2

At the end of my previous post in this build log, I had the basic colour scheme and much of the detailing in place. But there was a significant challenge ahead. Because I’d chosen to build the Optica that appeared in the cult-but-dire science fiction movie Slipstream.

"Slipstream" titleAnd I probably should have researched this a little better before I started work. When I started out on this project, I recalled the livery as being pale grey with random dark grey streaks, but when I rewatched the 4:3 pan-and-scan DVD which represents the film’s only English-language release, it became evident that the upper surfaces and under-wings were patterned with a stylized pattern of feathers.

Edgley Optica "Slipstream" aircraftSliptream Optica upper sideSliptream Optica undersideOops. So it was time to start printing some custom decals, producing my best “artist’s impression” of the patterns on the original aircraft, using only the blurry views available from the DVD.

Here’s an early test printing of the planned decals. (Given that I was going to use up an entire sheet of Experts-Choice decal paper, I planned to print multiple spares on that sheet.)