Creating a cockpit

In this world of photo-etch and resin enhancements for model kits, I have not tried to do any scratch building for years.  Instead, the strategy has been to hone my painting and highlighting skills to create wonderful renditions of scale interiors.  As discussed in my last post I started down that path with my current build, a UH-1D Huey by purchasing a UH-1B etch set.  They are not compatible with the “D” model so off to real modeling we go.


I used the “B” set etch instrument panel as a form from which to start making an interior.  Armed with my micro drills and trusty Waldron punch set I am creating the instrument panel.

I am also experimenting with adding small switches or handles.  I poke a small hole in the plastic then add a small radius wire with super glue and clip off with sharp scissors when set.

I also added a scratch a pair of rudder pedals when the kit’s set went flying from the tweezers and lost to the garage monster.


A lesson in Hueys

Started my next kit today.  Actually a set of kits of Antarctic helicopters.  I’ve always wanted to build the old Revell SO4S with its orange plastic because of the overall international orange scheme but alas I’m too cheap to pay the collector’s prices.

But a few years back an Irish company Max Decals released a set of 1/72 scale decals covering a multitude of Antarctic color schemes for various helicopters.  It has been a while since I have built a copter and so why not build three; and UH-1D, and H-34, and an H-19.

I am starting with the UH-1D.  I was able to buy an old AMT kit which is exactly the same as the Italeri kit, to finish in the international orange colors of VX-6.

I also purchased an Eduard etched set for these kits.  Trouble was the set for the 1/72 Huey is for a UH-1B.  Same thing right, D vs. B?

Well no.  So I spent an afternoon googling images of the two versions and contemplating whether to use the Eduard set on the D.  Here are notable differences;

  • The B has a single window side door, the D two windows (longer door)
  • The B has a totally different engine housing
  • The B kit has armored seats- not needed on the D antarctic version.

I compared the parts on the B etch and figured I could only use a few items like the instruments panel and seatbelts.  And so I decided that I’d put away the etch for eBay or another day and do the unthinkable – scratch build the interior.  It has been awhile since I have scratched a 1/72 scale kit cockpit.  This should be fun!

Slap’em Jack’em P-38

I’m not sure I got that quote right from the movie Airplane.  But ever since my son (who’s now 30) and I modeled together (and watched the movie about 10 times) the phrase has been used to imply we just slapped a model together without a thought to sanding, filling, filing, and all those other things that get in the way of just getting to a completed model.

Dang, it was refreshing to just build this Monogram P-38.  As I set up in a previous post I dusted off an old friend and put it her together like I would have done in my youth.  I sure am lucky that styrene has a long shelf life than me.

The build went well.  There are a number of parts that don’t quite fit together well but still the engineering given its timeframe was beautiful.  And it looks like a P-38.


The kit needed a ton of weight in the front of the booms and under the gun bay in order to stay on all three.

After years of using Alclad for my NMF paint jobs, I went with Model Master Aluminum and was very impressed with it’s cover and color.  It went over all of those teeny tiny rivets wonderfully.

The decals while usable didn’t stick too well and didn’t respond well to decal setting solutions.  The star and bar under the wing I tried first had color bleeding after I tried to get it to settle so I basically did what any 12-year-old model builder would do, slapped em on and didn’t worry about it.

The kit is on the shelves and I’m happy with the time spent.  Next on the docket are a 1/72 H-19, H-34, and UH-1D, all in antarctic markings.  Any advice on a good source of international orange would be helpful.


That’s the number of kits I have on the model shelves.

I needed to condense the models on the shelves so that I could get more on them.  They were also sharing the space with a lot of cat fur and dust so I decided to take the slew of them down, clean them and the shelves, and put them back on the shelves.

I took these photos of the lot parked on the dining room table, cleaned waiting for clean shelves.  I was happy didn’t need to toss any of them.

I built these over about 12 years.  I have one in here that is about 25 years old and a complete set of Monogram 1/48 Century Series fighters.

Monogram Nostalgia

I am waiting for three photo-etch sets from Czechoslovakia (Eduard) to build my three small helicopters and why I am waiting I decided to build an old friend from long ago that has been sitting in my pile for quite some time, a Monogram 1/4″ scale P-38.

I built at least two of these growing up in various boxing and although this kit doesn’t hold a candle to today’s fit and detail it was an amazing marvel of styrene kit engineering in its day.  We can thank the Monogram marketing and engineering team of days gone by for propelling us into the modern modelling age.   Their release of 1/48 scale replicas changed the way modelers built kits from a toy like to trying to create a detailed facsimile of the real airplane.  It was a good day to be in the hobby with lawn mowing money and a tube of Testors glue in hand!

For those of you who don’t remember the kit was engineered to be built in any one of 5 variants; some requiring extra parts and some requiring cutting pieces off and gluing on others.  I remember I modified one to build the P-38M, which started my interest in all black nightfighters (see previous posts).  Included also are a droopsnoot and photo recon version.

The instructions were as detailed as the kits.  No multiple languages and clear step by step directions.  I learned all of the parts of aircraft and ships reading Revell and Monogram instructions.

The kit is a wonder of teeny raised rivets.  Not a chance I’d be able to sand and fill seams on this kit without destroying mass quantities of them.  So in the spirit of nostalgia I am building this by slapping it together just like I used to.  The only difference in liquid rather than tube glue in most of the applications.

The other joy to discover moving into the build was the cockpit floor was missing.  I’m almost positive I bought this off eBay many moons ago and I’m not sure where it could have gone or if it was ever there.  But in years gone by I needed to do a lot of scratch building to provide the detail (no resin or etch parts to buy) so I whipped out my 0.10 and 0.20 styrene sheets and made my own floor.  Not too detailed but enough to hold the simple seat and control wheel in place.  And you know, I probably used some of the same styrene sheets I have been carrying with me for 45+ years.

The kit is approaching painting, probably this weekend.  It has been a simple and fun build.  In fact, I have a pile of old 1/4″ scale Monogram kits in the pile, and a few old Revell and Hawk kits there too that are gaining my attention.  Kind of nice having a build that you can just put together without the stress of Advanced Modelling Syndrome.  It was that unfettered building style that hooked most of us to the hobby.

Model on!

Hasegawa Hurricane Mk. IIc – Night Hurricane – Hairspray chipping method

I built three single seat black aircraft and used them to test paint chipping techniques.  This one is the Hasegawa Hurricane Mk. IIC Night Hurricane and my chipping method of choice was to use hairspray over aluminum Alclad before black paint.

The kit was built straight out of the box and went together well.  The way the wing is engineered to support different versions caused some filling and sanding around the optional parts and where the wing connected to the fuselage.

The cockpit was a pretty good representation of the complexity of the real thing however since the canopy is molded as one piece you won’t see much inside anyway.

The model was then primed with primer from a can (see previous posts) and once dry the kit was sprayed with Alclad primer in areas I planned to chip.  Note I didn’t cover the entire kit with aluminum which forced me to remember where the silver was so later when over sprayed with black paint I knew where to chip.  I also covered parts of the fabric covered areas with the original interior color since I guessed that this area wouldn’t chip silver since it wasn’t metal.


The model was then given a coat of cheap hairspray.  Everything I read online about this method suggests using the cheapest hairspray because it is not generally perfumed – no additives.  This hairspray was bought in the travel section at my local store ( because I’m cheap and didn’t need a big can!)  I decanted the hairspray and put it on with my airbrush.

After the hairspray cured for a couple of days I over coated it with Vallejo ModelAir Black.  You need to use an acrylic (water washable) paint for this to work and once painted you only have a few hours to work before the paint gets hard.  I waited 2 hours and as I found out the black paint was still pretty soft after two hours (this was a surprising but good thing).

IMPORTANT NOTE:  You need to put the paint on in a number of light coats and let them set between coats.  In a few places on the model where I painted a part off the model and tried to put one coat on the paint wound up cracking ever so slightly.  I believe this was because the “wet” of the acrylic melted the hairspray and caused it to flow a bit while the paint was setting.

So where is the silver?  Using my iPad to took pictures of the kit before black so I could remember the areas over-sprayed aluminum thus avoiding over-spraying the whole kit with aluminum and knowing where to chip.

After the paint had set a couple of hours I took a wide soft brush and using water coated a few sections of the black paint.  I was expecting the paint to set for a bit and then I would need to use my implements of destruction I had standing by to take it off.  What surprised me was in putting on more water the paint suddenly started coming off quickly and in big chunks.

So from this point, as I placed water carefully on the black paint, I could use the paint brush to slowly and randomly take paint off the silver areas.  I also used this fiberglass brush my artist daughter gave me to chip away at panel lines since it provided a good wide stiff straight line from which to take paint off.

Overall I’m really pleased with the result and will look forward to tuning the skill.  This also worked really well chipping the propeller and I could see using it in other areas where you might want to highlight two color changes (color over primer).

The one thing to look out for in my case is the paint really melted and came off fast.  Although it didn’t really come off, it just kind of melted and flowed together in different areas.  If I look closely I can see where the paint looks a bit thicker where it bunched up.

Decals were off an OWL Nightfighter Experts (#48014)  sheet.  I love OWL decals, they come off the paper quickly and go on really thin.


What did I learn;

  • Hairspray work very well for chipping
  • Overcoat colors need to have many thin coats as to not melt the hairspray
  • Paint can come off (or maybe move) in big areas if you are not careful


Hasegawa Spitfire Mk. Vb Night Fighter – Salt Chipping Technique

I built three single seat black aircraft and used them to test paint chipping techniques.  This one is the Hasegawa Spitfire Vb Night Fighter and my chipping method of choice was to use salt masking over aluminum Alclad before black paint.

Much like the Bf-109E in the previous post this kit was built straight from the box.  The kit went together well with very little fitting, sanding, and filling required.

This kit like the other two was given a coat of primer straight from the can.  You can see here how rough that turned out to be.  My previous post discusses the primer choices.  You can also see where I didn’t quite sand out the wing root – needed to be fixed.

After priming, areas of Alclad aluminum were sprayed on the kit.  I like using Alcad because it’s thin and it’s tough.

The kit is then coated a small area at a time (preferably where the Alclad is!) with water and Morton Kosher salt is sprinkled on the water.  Wherever the water is the salt sticks.  While still relatively wet the salt can be pushed around with the same brush I used to apply the water.  I applied more heavily in the areas of the wing root as you can see in the shot.

The aircraft is then given a coat of black paint.  I used the same Scalecoat used in the previous post as well as following on with streaking using ever lightened colors of black to produce a weathered look.

The salt is then brushed away with a stiff brush and ta-da paint chipping.  After a coat of Future floor polish, the decals were then applied.  I normally use Solvaset decal solvent on my decals and I really sweated this one out as you can see it wrinkled the marking up and it wasn’t un-wrinkling very fast.  It took a lot of Solvaset to make the decal finally sit down.  I think the Solvaset slightly remelts the Future and the Future sets back up before the decal has worked through the setting process.

I think I could have done a better job at arranging the salt crystals to make it look more organized.  As put on the chipping was rather random except for the wing root area.  But after a blast of Testors dullcoat, the kit actually came out looking quite nice.

What did I learn;

  • The salt method is easy to see where to put the salt on silver.  The next method documented (hairspray)requires you remember where the Alclad is or paint it all Alclad)
  • Organize the salt better, maybe along panel lines.  The salt works pretty good and produces pretty good results (see hairspray in next post!)
  • Find a different way to set Hasegawa decals.  The Solvaset works well on the OWL decals I have been using but might be a bit too strong for the Future/Stock decal mix
  • Drop using Rust-oleum primer

Thanks for your interest!