In part 2, I left off just short of getting the fuselage together, and was waiting on some plastic sheet or plexiglass to fill in the waist windows I had to remove. It’s been slow going, and my sanding arm is now bulging like Popeye’s forearms.
20 August – 2 September 2020:
- Having cut out the waist windows, I bought some of the thickest clear evergreen sheet I could find (.015″) and also some of the thinnest plexiglass sheet I could find (1/16″). I ended up deciding on the acrylic plexiglass because the plastic stock was too thin for my needs. I had never worked with plexiglass before but decided to jump in. I used the same brass template I used to cut the holes in the waist and started scribing the plexiglass attempting to cut through it. After about 45 minutes I had barely made a dent regardless of tools I used. I ended up cutting the plexiglass with nippers and it generally shattered along the line I had scribed leaving a clear plug that roughly fit into the waist window holes. I put those in place, letting them stand a bit proud of the opening, and back filled with gap filling superglue. After that had cured, I carefully sanded the plexiglass flush with the window opening and was pretty happy with the results. Once I finish all of the seam work on the rest of the model, I will polish these windows up and mask them. I think the result will be better than the clear parts from the kit, but it took a lot of time.
- With the windows in, it was finally time to take the next step of closing the fuselage. Test fitting had revealed that with the clear glazing on the nose, there is not much room for nose weight up there, and it is very clear that without weight this kit will be a tail sitter. I was out of my favorite weight, Uschi Van Der Rosen’s “Three green” shapeable nose weight (and earth seems to be out of stock) so I glued in some BBs to the only place I could fit them that might shift the center of gravity forward (more will go in the nacelles, but that comes later).
- Lots of test fitting had revealed that much of the fuselage was going to have some gaps, regardless of how well I prepped the parts. Similarly, some of the fuselage was going to be under tension to get the gaps as close as possible. As such, the fuselage was fused together with copious amounts of CA glue and allowed to cure. The nose glazing was attached and fit much better than I had anticipated. It was also attached with gap filling CA.
- At this point I was getting excited about the forward motion of the project and started applying the windscreen and other glazing. These aren’t particularly pretty but with some work, and CA glue, I got them close enough that some filler and sanding would fair them all in. Instead of moving forward, the fuselage seam along the instrument combing popped. This required carefully removing the windscreen, gluing the popped seam, filling, sanding, repainting. I reattached the windscreen. The screen popped again. The third time was the charm, but it ate up hours of my time, and my sanity.
- I started working on all of the other seams, and this has been very time consuming. And while some are troublesome, nothing is particularly difficult. Some Bondo, or Mr. Finishing Surfacer, some sanding, and it all ends up being pretty smooth. I’m most impressed with the seam work around the glazings. Some polishing with some Micromesh and I think they’ll be ready for masking.
- I changed the specific aircraft that I am going to model, opting for the OD over Neutral Grey “Lady Jean” of the 47th BG in Algeria in December 1942 over the later aircraft over-painted with sand I had originally chosen. I like the idea of the weathering possibilities of the OD in the desert environment.
- Lady Jean doesn’t have the same exhaust as the aircraft I had initially been modeling and I had to fill in the exhaust cut-outs on the cowling. Based on a video by Paul Budzik, I decided to try Apoxie Clay as a gap filler. As you can see it worked pretty well. It just needs some touch up and to be re-scribed.
- At this point, knock on wood, she’s moving forward. This week I will be working on a few more seams, some scribing, and masking. Hopefully at the next update she will be primed and ready for the fun part.