Welcome to the Workbench.
Would you believe it?
Sometimes - quite often, I suppose - my interest is engaged by a particular design, but when the kit appears I have to think of a role which would fit in my self-imposed requirements for appearing on my workbench and if all goes well shelves, or a least a WifSIG table somewhere. The process started this time when the box art of the Adam A-500 appeared on Hannants Future Releases page, and my thoughts returned to the early 'sixties when a Varsity with an odd callsign - two, actually, with the first one needing to be replaced allegedly as a result of a security leak! - would potter round the London Terminal Area in the very small hours of the night. Given that the importance that Their Airships now place on Istar I thought that with the addition of a few odd aerials and protuberances this aircraft could similarly float surreptiously, and probably more quietly, around our domestic skies in the dark keeping us safe in our beds.
The kit has all the virtues of its stable mates from Amodel and, for me, their one drawback. It's without doubt well and cleanly moulded, the fit is pretty good although the transparency is slightly wider than the fuselage, and in particular the choice of subject is one I'm unlikely to find elsewhere; the bad bit is that some of the pieces are really very small. It's understandable given what I believe are the limitations of the moulding process, and I have little doubt that it enables me to get kits of aircraft that would otherwise not see the shelves, but I often find it increasingly hard to separate the small parts from their runner without either breaking them or watching them take a kamikaze dive for the carpet (and I don't find it any easier when they come in etched metal). I'm quite prepared to believe that it's all my fault; the small fat fingers aren't as agile as they used to be, and the eyes find it harder to pick out fragments from the clutter underfoot, but I really don't want to pass up the chance of making the sometimes unlikely models that only come my way in this format (or resin, of course). I have a roundel-wearing destination for Amodel's PiperJet for which I already have the decal sheet set aside, but while I already had a role and therefore colour scheme ready when the A-500 came through the postbox I hesitated for once over unit markings, only settling on those from an oldish Xtradecal update sheet when the model was complete and I could see how they would fit across the fins. It would of course be as unwise for me to reveal the unit here as it would be to pass on those callsigns from somewhere in the Watford skies all those years ago; who knows the reach of the official secrets act? I did enjoy making the model though, and it might even appear on a table or two when the spring is properly underway; perhaps I'll just cover it with a handkerchief.
It needn't of course cruise the London TMA, it might even have to patrol Hadrian's Wall; but from which side? 26.01.17..
I think - mid-November's a long time ago now - that the AZ Messerschmitt Me 509 was part of my carryout from last year's ScaleModelWorld, one of several of their kits that caught my eye; unlike one at least of the others I didn't have a finish for it in mind, but the forward cockpit/mid-engined layout intrigued me, and by the time it followed the Adam on to my workbench it had progressed through being a possibility for the postwar Czech air force to being sold on around 1947 to the nascent Israeli air arm. This was reinforced by reference to the first Guideline "Camouflage and Markings" on !DF/AF colours, one of the profiles being an Avia S.199 of 101 Squadron with unit marings and a thin blue/white/blue band around the rear fuselage, and the timely appearance of a set of decals from AML which included this particular aircraft. The kit included parts both for the 509 and the 309, the earlier version having a more conventionally located cockpit; one of my first steps was to detach the fuselage halves for the 509 from their sprue as part of the process of painting the interior before inserting the suitably decorated cockpit, and putting the two parts safely on one side. At this stage they disappeared and I resigned myself to putting the project on hold for a while until that I realised that by getting a second kit and using the later fuselage halves I could use the rest to make a 309, for which I could no doubt find a Czech scheme after all. Further variation was possible using the alternative wing tips and rear fuselage/fins that were also included, with the results that you see.
A problem that became evident early on with the 599 was the very limited space available for nose weight and tailsitting was inevitable, so I sliced a V-shape from a rectangular transparent sprue as a prop, though sadly it does show in the photo. The colour given for the Israeli aircraft was RLM 68 described as greenish-grey and while I couldn't find an acrylic with that label, reference to the colour chart in the back of Michael Ullman's Hikoki "Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945" led me to Tamiya's XF-69, titled Field Grey (there must be a German equivalent for "close enough for RLM work", doubtless as a single many-syllabled word). Hunting for a Czech scheme I came acress a set of decals for post-war Spitfire IXs from JBR decals, which included an example of an aircraft allocated to the National Security Corps, which I have an uncertain memory of being described as the Air Police (though I thought that included Biggles, or perhaps Dick Barton). The Spitfire with these marking retained its RAF colours but I found a Tamiya equivalent of every one's fallback RLM 02 in XF-22 RLM Grey. The two side-by-side should get a second glance (they're due to go on a table at Old Warden the day after I write this) and they've been fun to research and make, even if they've shown up some accumulating errors in my technique. AZ have produced some interesting kits recently, and a chat with their representative at Telford promised more to come with several variations. There are another pair of theirs on the bench as I write which are due to take their place on Mike's Pick, and if they're not ready for Peterborough they should make Cosford. Watch this - no, that - space.
One of the legends I've always enjoyed about the Cougar - and I do like legends, even if I'm highly suspicious of alternative facts - is that the U S Navy, presumably with Grumman's assistance, managed to persuade the lawmakers that it wasn't a new design at all, just another F9F, and therefore wouldn't need New Money. It's always seemed to me a more muscular looking cat than its predecessor, and it had the advantage of serving in the light gull gray/white era, or in the case of the two-seater in high-vis orange and white. This was another kit that I bought without knowing what I had in mind for it, and maybe even influenced by the box art of a sharkmouthed USMC TF-9J. After the two Messerschmitts I thought I should revert to my "roundels" policy, and it occurred to me in the very small hours of a sleepless hours that if there hadn't been a considerable number of Hunters available in the 'seventies the two-seat Cougar would have been suitable for equipping FRADU, and could therefore would have been the mounts for the "Blue Herons" - sponsored by Arctic Lite, of course - at an Air Tattoo, 1977 perhaps. The markings, which I don't remember having use on anything before - my apologies to Derek Morter - came from one of the excellent "Airfile" decal sets from Fantasy Printshop, and if you look very carefully you can just see the heron insignia below the nose code. I think the "Twogar" looks a touch better than the single-seater, and the kit is good enough for me to be tempted by a second, perhaps Lossie-based. Maybe I need another sleepless night. 18.02.17 ..
Other colour schemes are of course available but the phrase "Harvards is yellow" has now been engraved on my consciousness for more than sixty years, so it was inevitable that at some stage I would want to finish one of the RCAF's current Harvard IIs in that highly visible traditional "trainer" colour; and to add a parallel I decided to use in some way a link to one of the Harvard 2s from my time at Penhold. 2532 was the Mark 2 in which I spent most time, and I added the red half-rim round the intake that on the Pratt & Whitney's cowling was the marking for D Flight, 4 FTS in the mid-'fifties; the national markings on the model are those of the period with maple leaf roundels, and a WW II style fin flash with the thin white stripe. Something that's delayed its completion and that still hasn't happened is the correct application of the codes to the fuselage; they should read OJ 532, but I've been unable to get the OJ letters that were the Penhold identifier in the correct size and style, the O in particular being naturally circular without any distortion from the pure shape. my expectation and indeed hope was that they would be available on one of Mike Belcher's "Canadian" sets, but they've been type specific, and neither letter has appeared. So I've left it blank hoping one day to fill the gap. With one exception Isracast have given us a really nice little kit of a good-looking aircraft; the noswheel provided though is woefully undersized, and I found a substitute in a spares box (other T-6s are available) . 20.03.17 ..
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