Saturday 30 September 2017

(Not Quite!?) Euro-Militaire, 2017

Another wonderful sunny model-fest by the sea.

My pal Paul introduced me to Euro-Miliatire in 2016, which turned out to be its final year under the that name. Now it's the Euro Miniature Expo! There were some wonderful models on show. My interest in German WWII stuff guided me in my photography, as usual.

The biggest and most noticeable difference, to me at least, was the lesser no. of exhibiting models/modellers, with almost half the lower floor display area empty. Paul tells me the show has been shrinking over the years anyway. Apparently there was a time it spilled out of the venue and into the surrounding street!

Traders wise, however, it seemed pretty much the same as 2016. At least as far as I could discern.

I doubt I'll go again, to be honest. It was enjoyable ebough. But I overspent (as usual!).  My reason is that, in truth, it's not exactly geared to my particular tastes/requirements. As a (sort of/theoretical) wargamer I need more 1/72 land warfare stuff. And more generally, I just prefer shows that cater more to my other collecting interests, i.e. more book stalls!

A terrific diorama.

Love the weathering and the interior detailing!

Anyhoo, I bought four boxes of different Armourfast 1/72 Shermans, two Images of War titles (one on Shermans, for ref with those imminent Armourfast builds), a 1/72 Italeri Gotha transport (mit bonus Kunelwagen!), unt ein großes Buch an der Ostfront: Als Sanitätsoffizier im Rußlandfeldzug.

This book, whilst not cheap, is an amazing resource.

Paul, unlike me, went for the larger scale single figure things that's more at the heart of this show, buying a bunch of nicely sculpted white metal knights. All one-piece castings. Below are some of the amazing figures that were on show. Once again I've concentrated on German WWII stuff, which remains one of the more perennially popular categories with other modellers, it seems. Fine by me!

There were of course loads of models belonging to other categories, many of which were simply superb. So here are a few that I really liked, despite them falling outside the remit of my normal interests. The Fiat and Bentley below are amazing, and the weathering on the tractor below is terrific.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

1/76 Airfix K2 Ambulance, Pt.2

It's been aeons since I watched Ice Cold In Alex, and decided on buying and building an Austin K2 ambulance. I no longer wanted to build a diorama based on the film (too much hassle, and nowhere to put it!). Instead it'll become part of my fledgling Allied forces, for future combat with my German stuff.

This was more or less how the K2 was last time I posted.

So, I got stuck back into this one recently. First off I decided to detail the interior, using reference from several visit to museums, such as the Duxford IWM Land Warfare Hall, and the Muckleburgh Collection. It was mostly from the former that I derived the rear interior, and the latter that I worked up the cab and outside colouring.

The interior of the Duxford K2

A closer view (note: nurse has leprosy, first finger and pinky missing!)

My interior is perhaps a shade darker than the creamy colour of the K2 at Duxford, but it's near enough for me (the paler interior pic, directly above, was in fact lightened by me in Photoshop, so as to better see the floor colour/detail). As well as cutting out the very thick chunk of plastic where the communicating doorway window is, I also scratch built two stretchers - one stowed, rolled up, and one deployed - some blankets, and modified some stowage from another kit for a medics satchel and a further blanket roll.

Cutting out that communication window was a beach!

Oops, forgot to paint rear inner doors: colour-match looks close enough to me.

Building plastic-card stowage cupboards...

... in situ and painted.

Inside the rear body roof area, there's a fair bit of new detail: two scratch built overhead stowage boxes, the fan vents, four lamps, and two handle like fixtures, perhaps for hanging drips? Once I'd painted that lot up, and added them to the model, I decide to also add a bit of spare photo-etch detail from some other kit to the floor (there's a lift-up lid on the floor, for accessing a further stowage area), and some kind of dingus on the wall by the door, poss some kind of intercom?

Rear body roof detailing.

Starting to paint internal detail.

Green Stuff for blankets, stretchers, etc.

Extras painted and...

... added to the interior.

front cab/dashboard, windows masked, and glued in place.

At this juncture I noticed it was beer o'clock, and grabbed myself an evolutionary tipple...

And so it came to the time for stripping and cleaning the airbrush again, and checking all the windows were properly masked, so I could spray the exterior body work. Next, a coat or two of gloss varnish, and then the decals. The British armed forces clearly liked their Red Cross roundels, preferring to add as many as they could; including the tiny ones fore and aft on the roof, there are eight on the vehicle in all!

Crap photo of Muckleburgh K2. Very dark green!

Looking quite dark, especially with hi-contrast roundels.

Doors in place (but not glued!).

After the decals went on, it was time for another coat or two of gloss varnish, to seal them in position, and then I could add the two air vent thingies on the rooftop. Pictured below you can compare our Austin K2 with our cousins across the ponds' Dodge WC54.

One minor irritation is that the two rear door roundels are refusing to conform properly to the surface of the model - they lay over the door-handle detail - despite the use of various decal solutions that are supposed to make them adhere more closely to such contours. Can anyone advise on how I might remedy this?

The Dodge WC54, and the Austin K2, side by side.

This was my ref for the tow-rope and these little yellow signs.

'Tie me kangaroo down sport, tie me...' er...

I decided to use some real cotton thread as a tow-rope. I soaked it in a PVA and water solution, to tame the loose fibres, and then repeatedly broke off the tow-bar trying to attach it. I used cyano-acrylite glue to attach the rope. Eventually, after much fiddling and re-gluing, I got it in position, and then painted it. It looks a bit clunky after all that effort. Still, hey-ho, and ne'er mind.

I've also added a scratch-built yellow roundel-plate, with a stencilled no. four on it. What were these markings all about, eh? Anyone care to enlighten me?

The Airfix drivers supplied in this set (I've not built the RAF fuel tanker yet!) are amputees, missing the lower parts of their legs. I popped one in the cab, and could clearly see his missing pedal extremities. So I amputated some from a German 1/72 PSC figure, and performed a graft onto this 1/76 Brit. I'm pleased to say he has not rejected his new ankles and feet. Once he's painted, I'll see if I can slip him in to the cab.

Tow rope painted; driver post-op, with new (German!) feet.

Driver painted. Ooh, I do love this mini-military stuff!

Although I've added a fair bit to this kit, I haven't put any divisional markings on as yet. I think I'll wait to come up with something uniformly suitable on that front, so as to have consistency across my putative Allied forces. 

And, finally (perhaps?), an oil wash with Van Dyke Brown, for the K2, my PST/AER ZIS-5-BS - a WIP I'll be posting on soon - and the Clarktor 6 tractor, as pictured above. When this lot has dried, I'll give them all a once over for some final fine detailing, pop the driver in the K2, and she'll be done. 

Monday 25 September 2017

Academy 1/72 2.5 Ton Truck

The second of the two US military models Teresa treated me to at a recent '40s show, this 2.5 ton truck is another nice model from the ever reliable Academy. The pics that accompany this post aren't strictly chronological; I totally lost track of the build, somehow! I started it whilst we were away on our recent holiday in Suffolk. And now, back home and back at work, it's nearing completion.

The major sub-assemblies; sanding the wheels.

As with the Dodge ambulance, I went with the principle of building several major sub assemblies. These could then be painted to a certain basic level, before assembly. Thus process giving one the opportunity to paint certain parts - wheels, cabin interior - before final assembly makes them awkward or impossible to access.

Ready for a dry fit.

Dry fitting the various elements of the sub-assemblies is great fun, and especially so with a kit as well manufactured as this. I'm still well off perfectionist levels re perfect alignment. But plonking the parts together to get a sneak preview of how the vehicle will look is highly satisfying. 

The dry-fit, or temporary assembly.

The circular opening in the cab roof is an optional thing, as the kit allows for the building of several variants (with or without the cable-reel at the front, and with or without the MG mount over the cabin, etc.). And cutting it out was tricky. I got the smooth circular hole by wrapping sandpaper round a paintbrush handle.

Dismantled. Starting on window masks.

A YouTube video on aeroplane canopy masking has helped me improve my window masking on ground vehicles. The technique involves tracing the masks out in situ, on the model, with a nice sharp pencil, and then removing them and cutting them on a board, before re-applying the accurately (one hopes!?) trimmed masks. I'm no ninja with this technique, yet. But it has improved my working with 'glass'. I've included that video in this post, down the bottom somewhere.

Windows masked. Willys Jeep joins the party.

It was at about this point that I spied my old and neglected Academy Willys Jeep, which has sat unloved whilst the accompanying Kubelwagen and Kettenkrad were completed ages back. Adding the Jeep to my current workload seemed a no-brainer at this point. So I determined that I would replace the missing MG - one of the reasons I'd abandoned it - with one from the 2.5 ton truck set, which includes all sorts of useful extra stuff.

Grey primer, then Olive Drab.

After undercoating the truck with grey primer, both vehicles got their coat of Olive Drab. Then engine, tires, and sundry other bits (seats, steering wheels, gear knobs, etc.) were painted. The sub assemblies are still separate at this juncture. I rather like the pristine simplicity of the block-colour finish at this stage.

Tires in black, seats khaki.

Finally the sub assemblies are glued together, and the two models start to look quite nice. They're ready for a gloss coat at this stage, and then decals.

Ready for the pre-decal gloss varnish coat.

With the decals in place, it's time for another gloss coat, to seal them in, and some hand-painted detailing. By now the models are looking, though I say it myself, quite handsome.

Decals in place.

Okay, so after a few days off this model, working on some others, I got back to it today, and sealed it all in with a coat of matt varnish. I ought to do a bit more: some pin-wash detailing, highlights, and the reel of cable on the front fender. 

But for the time being, here she is in her current state. I'm quite pleased. Particularly with how the windows came out. So many of my other models end up with cack all over the windows, despite careful masking. These aren't perfect, by any means. But they're better than most of my other efforts!

Okay, not 100% finished... but they'll do for now!

And the jeep's come out alright as well. I had to snip off the old gun-mount, and then drill a tiny hole for the new MG, from the 2.5 ton truck collection. The glass on the Jeep is good, by my standard, as well. Very gratifying. Bit late to add a driver to the truck. But I might populate the Jeep...

Here's the canopy masking tutorial that I found very helpful: