Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Ebbro 1/20 Lotus 49


Having been persuaded to branch out into Motorsport, I decided to start with an old classic. The Lotus 49 needs no introduction to those who know the subject, put together for the 1967 F1 season and utilising the ground breaking Cosworth DFV engine which went on to dominate the sport for many years.

One of the ironies of this particular project is that the person who helped me choose this subject matter was none other than William Hewland, a very good friend of mine who inherited Hewland Engineering from his father Mike. Legendary in their own right in Motorsport, Hewland provided the gearbox for the Lotus 49B but unfortunately not the original version which is the subject of this build. Sorry mate!

Anyhow, on to the kit.It is exquisitely moulded, clean and crisp and fits together beautifully, with the possible exception of the nose cowling which really does not want to sit well. The sprues are pre-coloured in the style of the early Matchbox kits, although for a serious modeller this is irrelevant. One of the sprues is pre-coated in the familiar chrome finish so beloved of racing car kit makers, but not of modellers. A quick bath in bleach soon got rid of that. A set of brilliantly moulded and pre-painted rubber tyres is also included.

The instructions are excellently printed and intuitive, given the fact that to all intents and purposes this can be considered a Tamiya kit, the similarities should be no surprise. Included is a table of 1967 F1 GP events and the various options for decals, drivers and other car modifications are clearly represented. As far as I have been able to ascertain, all perfectly accurate as well. I chose Jim Clark's victorious car from the 1967 British Grand Prix, if only because I'm a Brit myself.

As said, the kit goes together really nicely in the main. Putting the plastic together is relatively easy. What of course is harder is getting the painting and finishing right. I used various shades of A.K. Interactive XTreme Metal on the metalwork and this worked really well IMHO. The drivers tub is fairly basic, and I added a couple of details in there (such as the gearstick hole surround) myself from spare photo etch. Incidentally, the instructions call for the tub to be painted grey, however there is a little doubt about this. It is pretty certain that the original would have been bare metal if only to save weight. Preserved examples are painted grey and this is probably where the kit makers got their data from.

The engine and gearbox are nicely detailed, but as ever, there is almost endless scope for the super detailer to go mad. In the event, my main addition was some amount of cabling based on photo references. Some of the linkages are a little fiddly to install but the end result is well worth it.

My only real problem was fitting the front cowling in such a way that it sat flush but still could be removed to view the steering and radiator mechanism. This was not easy, the parts do not seem to want to mate up well and it took a lot of fettling to get a reasonable result.

Bodywork paint finish involved much use of micromesh and repeated gloss coats, it's not something I usually have to worry about too much with beaten up old war planes but here it is important to get it looking smooth. Once the decals had been applied I finished the whole thing off with a coat of semi-matt lacquer. A full gloss coat in this scale just makes it look like a Dinky toy.

A quick tarmac diorama base finished things of nicely as well.

But all in all, a fascinating exercise for me and I look forward to doing many more in the future. I hope you enjoy the photos!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Trumpeter 1/350 H.M.S. Eskimo (as H.M.S. Cossack)

Continuing my foray into warships, I was asked to create a 1/350 model of HMS Cossack, appearing as at the 2nd Battle of Narvik, 1940.

The nearest kit out there is this, the HMS Eskimo, a sister Tribal Class destroyer of the Cossack. I have built many Trumpeter kits in the past, and this one lives up to all the good and bad points of the others.

On the positive side, as with all Trumpeter kits, the moulding is excellent, crisp and flash free, and everything fits together beautifully. But on the other hand, true to form, there are a number of "in your face" inaccuracies that will need to be dealt with.

They key points that must be addressed are fourfold. Firstly, the bow shape is completely wrong. Trumpeter have the deck flat at the bow, when there should be a noticeable upward sweep. This is not as hard to correct as you may think at first, although it is still not for the fainthearted. Secondly, the "pom pom"  AA gun is represented in this kit as an eight gun mount - totally wrong, should be only four. Thirdly, the deck boats are all wrong in the kit, they appear to be German boats. And finally, the kit propellers are four bladed and they should be three.

To correct the bow shape, I added some packing plastic at the very tip which resulted in the deck piece being lifted up about 3mm to provide the correct sweep. The resulting gaps were filled with Milliput and sanded to shape. Unfortunately to be strictly accurate, the forward portholes and hawsepipe need to be moved, which entailed filling the existing ones and re-drilling.

The pom pom gun was fixed simply by throwing away the kit part and replacing it with the rather wonderful (but incredibly fiddly to make) Big Blue Boy etched brass version.

The deck boats were replaced with a set from Shapeways and the kit propellers replaced with the white metal set from WEM. WEM also provided a full tribal class etch set to add some sparkly detail to the whole build, along with brass gun barrels from Master, brass depth charges from Rainbow and a few other nice after market touches.

The paints used were from Lifecolor, primarily because they offer the correct shades of Admiralty grey which saved me the usual frustration paint mixing exercise. I'm not a big fan of Lifecolor acrylics, they are really hard to spray with, although they brush on beautifully, and indeed this is how I ended up painting the decks.

The kit itself went together very well, although adding the etch parts in this scale is always a challenge. I'm really starting to enjoy the warship work that is now coming my way. It is very fiddly (especially the rigging) but all the more rewarding for it.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tamiya 1/350 Yukikaze


Always keen to add a string or two to my bow, I have recently been seeking warship commissions and this one fell into my lap just at the right moment. A change is as good as a rest, as they say, and I must agree that building this little beauty has re-invigorated my modelling mojo no end.

The kit itself is pure Tamiya excellence, the fit and detailing is exemplary. However as any of you who are in to this field of modelling will know, in these scales injection moulding juts doesn't quite provide the level of detail required to build a truly spectacular model. And so to the base kit were added the brilliant Infini Model photo etch and brass set, and one or two other extras to really lift things. To someone used to working in aviation scales, the photo etch parts in this scale really do test your eyesight and tweezers but it is worth it, I hope you agree, this results in a truly awesome model.