20th December 2016
It’s time for some paint.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed about this build so far is how far you can get with the assembly before you have to paint something. With some kits it seems you’re constantly painting a bit, assembling a bit, painting another bit, assembling another bit. The smooth flow of paint free assembly with this kit is refreshing.
Before I can continue with the glue-fest I’ll need to get the flight deck painted and installed.
First up is a coat of Tamiya XF-54 Dark Sea Grey for the interior and all over the flight deck.
Something I find useful in doing build logs is to photograph the paint alongside the parts being painted. For one thing it’s much easier when I put up the paint list with the final reveal pics to just flick through the build and see which colours I used in the photos rather than try to remember which colours I used. And secondly it’s great to be able to go back to an old build and see what colour of paint I used for a particular stage of the build.
The seats are painted with Tamiya Flat Black. For the instrument panels I saved time by not masking them, but instead free-handing the black onto them. The desk surface will be hand painted later, so I can just cut in the straight edges with the paint brush.
For the seats and detail my go to paint for brushing is Vallejo Model Color. This is by far the best brushing acrylic I have used. It’s water based, covers brilliantly and dries fast too.
Here I’m using a wet palette to prevent the paint drying on the palette. It’s also a great place to mix colours if you need a specific shade for a touch up.
The brush I’m using is on the right and is a Winsor & Newton 7 Series Kolinsky #1 Miniature. They’re not cheap, but are just about the best brush you can get for this scale of work. The miniature series has a shorter bristle length than the regular 7 series and gives a more precise point. Seriously, with one of these you could paint in invasion stripes on a midge – you don’t need 0000 or 10/0 brushes for fine detail, far better to have a larger brush of good quality.
The seat cushions were painted in dark green with blue webbing straps, mahogany brown on the front seat armrests (leather) and then dry brushed with Citadel Necron Compound. If you haven’t tried Necron Compound, it’s a special silver dry brushing paint that has the consistency of blancmange. You dip a scruffy brush into it, wipe the excess off on the back of your thumb and dry brush away. It’s great stuff and far easier than using regular acrylic paints.
Seeing as the seats won’t be very visible I’ll call them done at this stage.
And here’s the rear of the flight deck with the desktop painted and dry brushed.
Some of the dials have been picked out in white, but I had to stop myself getting too involved here as it really won’t be seen again.
Here it is with the seats installed. Note that the rear three seats are only detailed on their backs to save time. The fronts won’t be seen.
Last job before installing the flight deck is to fit the windows. Here I’ve used PVA glue applied around the edges with a cocktail stick. It will dry totally clear.
Note that PVA glue isn’t all that strong, and a favourite trick after the fuselage is buttoned up is to inadvertently squeeze a thumb against a window and pop it into the fuselage. So definitely worth being careful!
Here’s a shot of the flight deck in situ in the starboard side of the fuselage.
Another classic error is to forget to include the nose weight. The instructions call for 25g of weight, so I’m adding 28g raided from the old tackle box for a bit of a safety margin.
Initially the weights are glued in place using CA glue cured with activator spray.
Worth noting that the 200g aerosol cans of Vitalbond activator spray are more economical and easier to use than the smaller pump bottles they do.
Same deal on the left hand side, lead shot CA glued into place.
After instantly curing the CA glue with activator spray I like to give it a coat of PVA glue. This is so that if the brittle CA glue cracks, the weights will still be held in place by the weaker (but more malleable) PVA glue. The PVA can cure in slow time after the fuselage has been closed up.
Time to close her up…
This is a lot of surface area to glue and despite Airfix’s best efforts there is little chance that a fuselage this large will mate together to be glued in on go.
Here I’ve clamped and taped up the fuselage as best I can. What I then do is find the sections that do mate perfectly and glue them first. After a few hours when the glue has cured, I come back and adjust the clamping to get another section aligned nicely and glue that. Rinse and repeat until the entire fuselage has been glued up.
After 24 hours to let the glue cure nicely the clamps are removed and we’re starting to see that classic shape.
Airfix did a good job of the fit here, no real problems and it all seems to have come together easily and accurately. A small amount of filler will be required but not much.
Here’s a masterstroke from Airfix… To avoid having to worry about the longest most visible seam on the model, they have buried it. The spine of the fuselage will be hidden under this cover. Brilliant.
I found that the “cover” sat slightly proud when dry fitted, so I sanded a small amount from the underside until it sat better. It only took a few minutes to do and will improve the final look.
But what I didn’t do was read the instructions to see that you’re supposed to cut out some notches from the part before you glue it!
Nevermind, I won’t tell anyone if you don’t 😉
Next is the fun part – attaching the wings.
A quick dry fit reveals that the wing assembly is a good fit in the fuselage, but not a perfect fit.
Here you can see some minor gaps and steps. The wing assembly can be pushed down to reduce the gaps and steps to a certain degree, but not completely.
And looking at the rear of the join there is a step there too. In the photo it doesn’t look bad but in real life the step was noticeable.
Now I will say that at this stage you could clamp it down and glue it, and you’d have a good end result. Please bear in mind that I tend to get (overly sometimes) obsessed with getting the plastic right. So for me I’m going to spend half an hour tweaking the dry fit to get the wing assembly to fit as near perfect as I can before I go for the glue.
To reduce the step at the rear, I used a 2mm Trumpeter plastic chisel to scrape away some plastic from the area marked in red below. We’re only talking about 0.5mm here.
And to allow the front section to squash down a bit lower I sanded about 0.75mm from the area under the red line below.
And finally to get the back section down a tad further I sanded the section marked in red below. I also did the same on the other side after this photo was taken.
I found it easier here to sand down the wing section before attaching it rather than gluing it in place and sanding the assembled fuselage.
Plastic prep complete I first clamped and glued the rear join of the wing to fuselage assembly.
The two outside clamps are just holding the model upright. The middle clamp is holding down the wing, it’s not clamped on the top of the fuselage as it appears in the photo.
To the rear of the wing root you can just make out a yellow peg that’s holding the rear of the wing root in place. There’s one on the other side too.
The glue (Extra Thin) was applied along the red line as marked below.
After letting the glue in the rear section suitably dry it was time to glue up the front of the wing to fuselage assembly.
As you can see, unclamped there’s a step at the top, and the area next to the intake doesn’t line up perfectly.
This is difficult to clamp so what I do is to hold the join in place with one hand, then with the other apply a good blob of CA glue inside and then hit it with activator spray to instantly cure the glue. This is like putting on a tack weld which will hold the parts in positon while I apply the slower drying hot weld glue (Tamiya Extra Thin).
Here you can see the gaps have closed up quite nicely, but there is still a slight step as indicated by the arrow.
That can be sanded out later.
The starboard side has come together much better, the arrows show where the join is and there’s hardly a step here.
I have to say that Airfix have done a great job on the engineering here. The wing to fuselage assembly has an enormous join length and is the most complex of shapes, but it goes together really well. It’s not a perfect fit and required a bit of fine tuning and clamping but when it’s done you’re hardly left with any seams at all.
If you look at the photo below, you won’t be able to see where the wing root join is. This is freshly glued, hasn’t been cleaned up and has no filler in it – literally seamless. By engineering the wing assembly the way they have, Airfix have massively reduced the amount of seam work you need to do on this kit, and let’s face it if this went together like the 1/72 Vulcan this would be a sanding and filling nightmare. Hats off to them for that!
Here’s another shot from the rear showing the lack of step on the rear joint of the wing to fuselage assembly.
Next update: More work on the fuselage and closing up the wings…