I’ve been diverted from making headway on the train layout for a couple months by work and other responsibilities. One recent rainy day I was looking at my model building backlog – a.k.a. my closet full of un-built kits:
I thought it would be good for my morale to just crank something out as long as it was something I could complete within a weekend plus a week of evenings (about 8-10 hours total build time).
I chose a 1/72 scale Hasegawa kit of a Messerschmitt Bf109G-6 that I’ve had for years. I find myself incapable of building a kit straight from the box. I remember reading that the early Israeli Air Force flew ME-109s alongside Spitfires and Mustangs – often against Egyptian Spitfires. I had some Israeli A-4 Skyhawk decals I could use so I was all set.
If you’re a train modeler you may be asking “why is this a useful exercise?” I think the answer is that all model building projects contain common elements: research, construction, finishing, photography, self-critique. There are skills common to all successful miniature projects.
I was also trying to overcome a crisis in inertia and modeling motivation…
A bit of digging showed that the plane the Israelis flew was not an ME-109 but an Avia S-199. These were produced after WWII by Czech builder Avia mating available ME-109 airframes with available Junkers Jumo-211 engines. The result was an inexpensive but unforgiving airplane that the Israelis used but retired as soon as they could.
Wikipedia – Avia S-199
101 Squadron, Israel’s first fighter squadron
Rudy Augarten – avenging the Holocaust.
It was clear my model was going to be incorrect in numerous details but I was set on completing the model anyway. It had been so long since I’ve done an airplane model I had to look up the recommended construction sequence. The main trick is building enough to be ready to paint and decal the body without having too many small detail parts in your way. Fit was generally excellent for this model and I did only a minimum of seam filling and sanding work.
I avoided using my airbrush since I do not currently have all the infrastructure in place to use it. I used a glossy gray spray paint and matching acrylic (Tamyia) paint to do the main finishing. I added decals to the glossy finish and sealed them with clear acrylic paint. The entire model was covered with a couple coats of matte finish and weathered with black acrylic paint diluted to a thin wash. This wash pooled into the panel lines and highlighted them nicely.
I installed the canopy fairly early but kept it covered with masking tape.
1/72 is a small scale in which to build a relatively small plane. The finished plane is only 5 inches long. For a model built for fun the main reason to take photographs (besides being able to share my work with the Internet) is to look for things I did right or wrong. Photos are harsh critics and see teeny details far better than my increasingly aging eyes!
Detail errors I don’t really care about: I want to get my list of errors in before I get flamed by the aerial equivalent of the rivet-counters.
The air scoop is on the wrong side of the plane for the Jumo engine. The shape of the nose near the prop is also wrong for the Jumo. The canopy on my model is the old “Galland” birdcage canopy whereas the Avias had a later model canopy with far fewer frame bars. The main wheel hubs are wrong and the markings are a fantasy I made up. I like what I built so this is really my list of “known issues that I’m not super worried about”
What do I wish I had done better?
The black wash worked great but the panel lines on the wing do not show as well as those on the fuselage.
The rudder stripes look like they were painted with a broom. I made the mistake of installing the horizontal stabilizers onto the tail before painting the stripes.
The cockpit is so dark inside it is impossible to see any details through the canopy.
With contrast enhancement:
The decal “18” on the left side shows air bubble “silvering”
The landing gear are not aligned right and this is after resetting them straighter three times!