Graham James - I returned to model making in 2010 after a very long absence and the "James May Experience" of going back to my childhood once I had a bit more spare time.
I'm a member of three IPMS(UK) Special Interest Groups: Harrier; Great War; and Special Schemes. SIGs are a great place to get help, support and gain knowledge and the Harrier SIG in particular has been a life-changer for me.
Up until March 2017 I ran the wesbsite for the club - this is now the responsibility of Chris King.
Models 1 to 100
Hawker Fury Mk.I, K5670 / 3, 5 Flying Training School – Airfix, 1/48th scale.
OOB build with knit-in elastic rigging.
Some folks say that the Hawker Fury should only be seen in an all-metal finish and most completed models seem to conform to this desire. I decided to follow the Alley Cat approach and go for the flight training school scheme of yellow and aluminium metal. The model represents K5670 at 5 FTS, though there’s some interpretation as to the wheel hub colour and the propeller colours. Also the fonts used for the serial numbers are not strictly accurate. I used Humbrol rattle can aluminium for the metal as a base coat, with Vallejo Chrome overlaid on top. The yellow is Humbrol Trainer Yellow, again from a rattle can. Rigged with knit-in elastic, except for the tail support wire (topside) with is Albion Alloy metal wire. Vallejo Matt Varnish to finish over the home-made decals and kit roundels.
Considering the age of the kit, the fit is not too bad and the decals were really good – this particular kit having been stored for many a year in someone’s garage. The only major problem was the strut arrangement for the fuselage to upper wing which I couldn’t get to work without breaking and re-aligning. That may be my bad model making skills of course.
Hawker Fury Mk.I
Tiger II Ausf.B with Porsche Turret, Revell, 1/72nd scale.
OOB build with decal spares. Vallejo Model Color Dark Yellow as base and Revell Acrylic #363 - Dark Green for camouflage splodges. Tracks done with a Vallejo Flat Brown / Natural Steel mix. Weathering: Artist pastels mixed with Humbrol Decal Fix and applied as washes.
The Pz.Kp.(FKL) 316 (attached to Pz.Lehr Div.) had 5 Porsche turreted King Tigers numbered 02, 11, 13, 10 and 12. I chose "11" for its seemingly unusual paint scheme, added to the fact there are some reference photos. I suspect, however, that they further illustrate I'm further from the historical truth than even I envisaged. Tiger experts will notice immediately that the Zimmerit is missing, among other errors!
The tracks took a while - again. General fit was very good and no problems. Quick to construct, but hard to find colour schemes for the 50 tanks that were deployed with this turret. As with the Tiger I, the intention of the build was to see if I found tanks interesting. The answer is no, not really. Sorry those of you who are armour modellers. The good news for you though is I will not be making any more inaccurate tank models!
Tiger II Ausf.B
Royal Navy Tow Tractor, Skunkmodels Workshop, 1/48th scale.
OOB build (minus the deck crew) and representing a tow tractor from the early 1980s when deployed aboard HMS Hermes and HMS Illustrious in Operation Corporate. Due to the lack of reference photos, there is some poetic licence with regard to accuracy I suspect.
Humbrol Yellow #69 from a rattle can was used for the main colour, with detailing from Vallejo paints including Black-Grey, Flat Red, Flat Brown, Andrea Blue, Chrome and Natural Metal. Artist Pastels used for weathering. Some home made decals for the extinguisher, "dashboard" and red tank on driver's left.
For some reason, it's difficult to get all four wheels to sit correctly on the floor without some messing about and the tyres are a very poor fit and require a lot of work to sort out the seams. The kit instructions require some proof reading and there are none for the deck crew, but they do come on their own little sprue sections, so I suppose you shouldn't really get arms and heads mixed up!
Crew access ladder - Vallejo flat red / black-grey.
RN Tow Tractor
Royal Navy Tow Tractor, Skunkmodels Workshop, 1/48th scale.
Again OOB, this being the second complete kit in the box. This time done in the dark green scheme that was used in the late 1980s I believe. Base coat was a Humbrol rattle can Dark Green with Vallejo paints for the detailing as before. Wheels and tyres still a problem. No weathering this time - thought I'd leave it clean!
RN Tow Tractor
Avro Lancaster Bomber, Meng Kids, no scale.
A simple snap-together kit designed for kids - of all ages up to 100. I replaced the kit decal markings with those of "Dagwood", ND619 / CF.D of 525 Squadron, RAF. This aircraft was one of the survivors of the Nuremberg raid of 30/31 March, 1944, where the RAF lost just over 100 aircraft out of 700 on the raid, there biggest single loss of the whole war.
The nose art "Dagwood" comes from the character Dagwood Bumstead in the Blondie comic strip created by Chic Young in 1930. He was famous for his Dagwood sandwich which was a tall, multi-layered sandwich made with a variety of meats, cheeses, and condiments. I used to eat them as a kid after being introduced to them by my father.
Painted with Vallejo Model Color - Black, Black-Grey, English Uniform (as Dark Earth) and Humbrol Dark Green from a rattle can. Life Color Silver used on the wheels. Klear + Vallejo Matt Varnish finish. Home made and kit decals.
Hawker Fury Mk.I, K8262 / 3, 8 Flying Training School, Montrose, late 1930s – LifeLike, 1/48th scale.
OOB build with knit-in elastic rigging.
Build alongside the Airfix version, I decided to finish this one in the revised trainer camouflage scheme introduced in the late 1930s in the prelude to World War II. The aircraft represented is a guess based on a photograph of thre flying in formation. It may well be inaccurate in a number of respects to the scheme's pattern and coverage. It's close enough for me.
I used a mixture of Vallejo, Xtracrylic and Humbrol paints - the latter from an aerosol can for the yellow in producing the finish. Knit-in elastic was used for the rigigng and a matt varnish applied to finish. I used a combination of old kit decals, spares and home-made for the markings.
British Airways "Offworld" Space Shuttle & Boeing 747, Hasegawa Eggplane, no scale.
Out-of-the-box build but with a mixture of home-made and kit decals to an entirely fictious theme (at the time, anyway!).
They say never say never, but this is my last eggplane build. Time to stop laying and move onto some boring modelling. I thought I'd end with another dream, that one day British Airways will offer a flight in space, courtesy of some reconditioned NASA Space Shuttles converted to take some Executive Class passengers in the former cargo bay hold. To pay tribute to what many regard as Britain's greatest explorer, the shuttle is named "Capt. James Cook" and the 747 is "Bounty" (serial G-COOK). The old speedbird logo has been resurrected from the logo archives to celebrate this new service.
Vallejo paints, principally White and Intense Blue and a mixture of decals from the kit and made-up at home.
Now, if Hasegawa were to bring out an eggplane Lockheed Martin F-35B, I might just be tempted out of eggplane retirement.
Space Shuttle & 747
Roland D.Vib, 7502/18 "P132", McCook Field, Dayton Ohio USA, May 1920. Fly Models, 1/48th scale.
An approximation of an approximation of a Roland D.Vib that was shipped to America after the end of the First World War. It was used as a test bed for experimental camouflage schemes alongside the evaluation of its performance. For more details of history and the scheme, see the Wingnut Wings version.
I ended up here as I didn't fancy the look of the decals that needed to be applied for the kit scheme. In trawling the web, I happened to see this scheme on a model and thought I'd have a go at it. Sadly I didn't find the Wingnuts information until I'd nearly finished the painting, so this really is an approximation of how it might have looked. I also know some of the basic structure of the kit (e.g. ailerons / tailplane) are also incorrect for this version. As I'm not overly worried about historical accuracy for this genre, it was no big deal.
It was yet another WW1 model where the instructions for the completion of the cockpit leave a lot to be desired. Inspired guesswork and trial-and-error are not the approach that we should be using, but Fly and Eduard seem to think that's acceptable. Outside of that, it went together fairly well, I used a mixture of paints for the scheme including Revell Aqua Hellblau, Aqua Schwarzgrun, Lifecolor Sand and a mix of Vallejo Intense Blue, Flat Red and White for the main scheme, together with Vallejo Chrome. Knit-in elastic was used for the rigging and I produced the decals on an inkjet printer. Vallejo's matt varnish was applied over Humbrol Clear for decals.
It certainly will not win any prizes, but it's another colourful addition to the collection.
Sea Harrier FA.2, N94422 / XZ439, Art Nalls Aviation, 2017 Airshow season scheme. Airfix, 1/48th scale.
This is my 27th 1/48th scale Harrier build and something slightly different. Using the old Airfix kit, I decided to model the Sea Harrier flown by Art Nalls in the USA. Registered as N94422, in used to be XZ439 when flying with the Royal Navy. At this time, it is the only civilian-owned Harrier that is currently flying. (Note though that he does have an ex-RN two-seat T.8 which he his hoping to get flying soon.) XZ439 first flew as a FRS.1 way back on 30th March 1979. It was later converted to a FA2 and first flew in that configuration in October 1989. Art Nalls purchased the aircraft from Everetts in 2006 and performed his first airshow with it in October 2008. Nine years and well over 200 display flights later they are still going strong.
Using the Harrier SIG build guide for this kit, I made a number of modifications, most visibly replacing the heat shields. Life was a bit simpler for a wheels-up configuration. The MB seat has to be replaced, so I used a Stencel seat from and AV-8B together with an old Airfix pilot to represent Art at the controls. Although the aircraft is in a very similar scheme to when flown in the Royal Navy, it does have some additional markings for Art and his sponsors, thus requiring some home decal making. I made a few minor alterations to some of these bits for ease of creation. The paint is Xtracrylix Medium Sea Grey - notably darker than the Humbrol equivalent I used on my other FA2, but no great worry as it's impossible to get the "right" colour (because what is the "right" colour?). A few other greys were used to simulate replacement panels and paint aging. Decals came from the Harrier SIG Sea Harrier End of an Era sheet for the RN elements. Again the pink is a little too deep for real-life accuracy. Vallejo matt varnish was applied to finish. I then added the various additional bumps and blades that now adorn the aircraft. Aside from the usual struggles with getting the kit to fit, it was quite an enjoyable build and one that I hope has a more than passing resemblance to the real thing.
Sea Harrier FA.2
Dassault Rafale A - Technology Demonstrator, June 1989. Heller, 1/48th scale.
This is the Heller kit of the Rafale A, or Technology Demonstrator, as seen at the Paris Airshow in June 1989. During the show, the aircraft's tail was updated with the number of flights completed, in this case 428. I've seen photos up to 437. The aircraft first flew from Istres, France on July 4th, 1986. Rafale translates as "squall" and arose as a result of France's withdrawal from the Eurofighter project, which later became the Typhoon, of course. Proving, if nothing else, that when Europeans get together the result is a lot of wind. The aircraft finished test flying in 1994 and now resides in the museum at Le Bourget. Not that you can tell by looking at the model, but this aircraft used two General Electric F404-GE-400 engines whereas the production Rafales use home-grown SNECMA M88s.
This is an out-of-the-box build with very little in the way of change to the original parts. I simply tidied up the intake internals so that you don't get a view into the insides of the aircraft and added weights to the nose - sadly the instructions forget to tell you this and I almost forgot. Not a problem with Harriers, you see. Some care is required to get the fuselage halves to join up and it is best done a section at a time. The whole intake area does require some effort and filler. The instructions are not very helpful when it comes to the undercarriage either and you'll need some reference images to help. I'm not sure I got it right, but the mistakes are mostly well hidden. The parts require a lot of cleaning up to remove sink marks, flash and moulding lines as would be expected due to the age of the kit.
The biggest problem in the end were the decals - many started to break up as they were applied and if I did the build again I'd cut the canard and wing leading edge decals so that you don't have to fold them. The stripe that passes just above the canard is also a nightmare to sort out, especially if, like me, you break the canards off during the build. You have to be careful handling the aircraft in the final stages as it's very easy to put your finger or hand on something that's then sure to break off.
The paint scheme is the in-house scheme of Dassault and the roundels / squadron badges reflect the intended use of the aircraft by the French Air Force and the French Navy. I sprayed the aircraft with Halfords White Primer and gave it a top coat of Humbrol Gloss White, also from an aerosol can. The Magic missiles were painted with LifeColor FS36320, else everything else was Vallejo acrylics, with the Mica missiles being a flat red/ white mix. Decals were from the kit, except for the addition of the tail markings which were produced at home on an inkjet printer.
The Rafale is a very nice looking aircraft and I think I shall be building a few more in the future.
Built from the kit parts and decals, substituting the kit ejection seat with a resin one from Omega and using the Xtradecal sheet X012-48 for the anniversary scheme markings.
This was a build for the IPMS Special Schemes SIG for our SMW 2017 display. There's quite a few Jaguar special schemes to choose from, but I decided to go with one from 41 Squadron to complement my 41(R) Squadron Harrier. It also seemed to be one of the less popular versions, even though there's a decal sheet out for it. The scheme lasted at least a couple of years and even appeared to survive an overcoat of ARTF when on deployment. I did toy with the idea of doing this version, but I decided to go for the clean view for a change.
This is not exactly a great kit and the decals aren't as accurate as they might be, but both are now showing their age. The kit instructions take some interpretation, particularly regarding the main undercarriage. I added some plasticard to the intake doors to more accurately represent the aircraft at dispersal. I used Humbrol's Dark Green rattle can and their Dark Sea Grey acrylic paint (brushed) for the main scheme colours. The red is Life Color's Flat Red. Undercarriage bays are painted with Xtracolor's Chromate Yellow and the undercarriage is Vallejo Model Color's USA Grey. I used the kit's decals for the stencils as they were better than the few that were included in the Xtradecal set. I used Vallejo Matt Varnish to finish.
Jaguar enthusiasts will probably tut at my lack of corrective action on the kit, but it'll no doubt keep them happy in doing so.
A straight-from-the-box build of the "bubble top" Typhoon using the kit parts and a combination of kit, home-made and spare decals. A stand was also rescued from the spares box for the in-flight staging of the model.
The temptation is always to build a Typhoon armed to the teeth with bombs or rockets and in D-Day markings, so I thought I'd look for something different and came across the story of the "Silver Bullet" in the Airfix Typhoon supplement to their 1/24th scale kit. Apparently this is the only Typhoon to have flown in service in a bare metal finish. It did however retain a camouflaged rudder, which was presumably a replacement rather than the fact they had run out of paint stripper. No reference images exist and I only found one example model. I therefore chose a clean(-ish) and simple finish to a hopefully simple model.
And what a glorious model it is - it went together beautifully with the minimum of fuss and the only mistakes are mine alone. I used Vallejo Model Color Aluminium to represent the bare metal with some black undercoating in places and a mix with Vallejo Model Color Silver on some panels to give some very subtle shading effects - too subtle unless you know where to look. I used a coat of Klear for decal preparation but for some reason, and it happens occasionally, it pooled in a few places and left some tide marks. In the end I left these to represent a bit of weathering, else it looks fairly pristine.
An enjoyable distraction from my usual builds and a pleasure to build a new tool kit that's been produced in the last couple of years. I might have to do more!
Hawker Hurricane Night Fighter Mk.IIc, QO.A / BN185, 3 Squadron, RAF Hunsdon, September 1942. Hasegawa, 1/72nd scale.
Another quick build using the parts straight out of the box. Having made a couple of camouflaged Hurricane Mk.Is, I decided to do something different for this one and chose to do a Night Fighter scheme. I found an image and profile of a 3 Squadron aircraft and decided to go for that.
This particular aircraft, BN185, was part of a batch of Mark II Hurricanes built by Hawker at their Kingston, Langley & Brooklands factories during 1941-1942. The aircraft was lost on 13th January 1943 when Pilot Officer K H Dalton (RCAF) failed to return from a night intruder operation over France. The aircraft had also been flown by the Squadron Leader, Eddie Berry, who was killed in action over Dieppe in August 1942.
There's some work to do to get the kit to fit together - the underside wing being particularly poor. As with the Typhoon, I decided to stage it wheels-up, so a pilot was rescued from the spares box, Hasegawa not providing one.
In real life, the Day Fighter Scheme was over-painted with a matt black distemper called Special Night RDM2. Apparently this had poor adhesion qualities, so was sometimes touched up with Night, other times aircraft were left looking blotchy. I decided not to paint the Day Fighter scheme underneath and went for a Vallejo Model Air Black tinted with Vallejo Model Color Intense Blue to create the Special Night. Having read a bit more, the blue tint probably applies more to Night, but you have to give the rivet counters something to argue about. Home made decals provided the serial number and squadron code and the roundels and fin flash were from spares. I sued some artists weathering powders to simulate a bit of wear and tear, finished off with Vallejo Matt Varnish. Probably not authentic, but being 1/72nd scale, it'll not get looked at on the display table at shows anyway. And yes, I deliberately omitted the exhaust flare shields after a couple of donations to the carpet monster suggested I wasn't going to win that battle
Ansaldo SVA.5 (Late), unknown serial, Training Squadron 2, Polish Air Force, late 1920s. Fly Models, 1/48th scale.
I was originally going to build this kit using one of the decal options included in the box but I thought where's the fun in that. Turning to the wondrous web, I found Fly had done a kit with a Polish Air Force example. That'll be different. I managed to find one article in Aero Technika Lotnicza (6/1990) and one small photo, but no real details on which to base the build. No worries, make it up as you go along as no-one will know the difference.
Despite my previous experience, I still managed to break the upper wing section in two during the build, so this time I pinned it with metal after drilling holes in each wing. Other than that, it was built using the plastic and resin parts in the box. For the rigging I used knitting-in elastic instead of metal wire which I used on the Early version.
The green is a guess as no paint references are provided and the article simply says "khaki". I chose to combine Vallejo Model Color Intermediate Green with their Brown Violet to create a suitable looking green. Vallejo Aluminium was used for the metal cowling. Decals are from the spares box and are simply the national markings. I had to spray the markings with gloss as the first one I used split into multiple pieces. The mixed orientation of the chequerboard is deliberate and is based on one surviving image found on the web.
There'll be no prizes for accuracy, but it is a nice contrast to the earlier build and indeed my other WW1 builds.
PZ865 was the very last Hurricane completed from new by Hawker Aircraft Limited in 1944. It was purchased back from the Air Ministry and christened "The Last of the Many". During the was it was used by Hawker test pilots and then placed on the civil register as G-AMAU. During the 1950s it participated in a number of air displays, air races and starred in a number of films including Hawks in the Sun, Angels One Five and the Battle of Britain. Following a major overhaul and restoration in 1960 when it was restored to its original paint scheme, it was then used as a chase plane during the early transition trials of the Hawker P.1127 prototypes. [You knew there'd be a Harrier connection somewhere, didn't you?]. Today it is now part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The model is an attempt to represent PZ865 as she was during the P.1127 flight trials. It's the standard Hasegawa Hurricane Mk.IIc kit with the "Last of the Many" decal options with the addition of some new exhausts (which might not be the correct ones but they were all I could find at the time). There were no major issues with the build and I used Humbrol Dark Green, Vallejo Model Air Ocean Grey, Medium Sea Grey and Pastel Green (representing "Sky") for the camouflage scheme. Decals were as provided in the kit. Vallejo Matt Varnish was used for the final finish.
Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc, PZ865
Harrier AV-8B II FSD (Full Scale Development), 161397 / #2, McDonnell Douglas, early 1980s. Monogram, 1/48th scale.
My 28th 1/48th scale Harrier is the second of four AV-8B II Full Scale Development aircraft to fly (its first flight was 7th April 1982) and is seen here in the McDonnell Douglas company’s own scheme of red, white, black and gold. A dramatic scheme that generates mixed opinions, but which was crying out to be done. Later in the aircraft’s life it received a more traditional grey scheme. It now resides in the Carolinas Aviation Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. As you would expect from a development aircraft, several items were trialled, including the use of two rows of auxiliary intake doors and wings unadorned with vortex generators.
John Farley was invited by McDonnell Douglas to fly “Ship 2”, as it was referred to, in early 1982 and finally got to do so in late April 1982 as part of a six week test programme. At the time, the engine / intake combination was leading to pop surges which the airframe and engine teams blamed on each other. As John says in his book, “A View From the Hover”, he “enjoyed two hours gliding over my favourite lakebed” [near Edwards Air Force Base] in this aircraft.
This is the old and venerable Monogram kit and was built straight from the box contents, with the exception of some resin pylon fairings which were used in place of the outer pylons. Oh yes, and I had to use a spare Hasegawa windscreen and canopy after I broke the original with some over-enthusiastic handling whilst trying to polish out some scratches. For the scheme, I used spray can acrylic Humbrol White Gloss, Vallejo Model Color Black, LifeColor Red (FS31302) and Microscale Decals Trim Film Gold (FS17043) cut into strips for all the trim. I haven’t quite got the gold striping correct, but it’s close enough. It might even reflect some airframe differences between the real life and the kit – my excuse anyway. A few decals from the spares box and some home-made ones completed the scheme. The aircraft was finished with Klear to represent the gloss scheme that it wore. No weathering applied.
Was it worth all the blood, sweat and tears? I think so, but then I’m easily pleased sometimes.
Harrier AV-8B II FSD
Sea Harrier FRS.1, XZ452 / 101 VL, IFTU (700A NAS), October 1979. Kinetic Model Kits, 1/48th scale.
For my first and very belated build of a Kinetic Models Sea Harrier, I chose one of the first Sea Harriers delivered to the Royal Navy and which was assigned initially to the Intensive Flying Trials Unit, 700A NAS. XZ452 arrived at the unit on 12th October, 1979 and before the end of the same month was aboard HMS Hermes for trials work. After a category 3 accident in March 1980, the aircraft was repaired and then allocated to 899 NAS. On 1st May, 1982, XZ452 flown by Flt Lt P Barton shot down an Argentinian Mirage IIIEA but was later lost when it is thought it collided with XZ453 in bad weather on 6th May, 1982. The pilot, L/C J Eyton-Jones, was killed.
The model is painted in the Sea Harrier’s original Extra Dark Sea Grey and White scheme using Xtracrylix and Vallejo paints respectively and originally sprayed with Halfords white primer. Decals for theunit badge are from Model Alliance decal sheet (48-153) and the remainder from the Kinetic kit. Klear was used for the gloss finish.
What a pleasant change to build a Harrier produced using 21st century fabrication and manufacturing techniques. Although not without its faults, there was nothing insurmountable in the build and I look forward to doing a few more SHARs and their forthcoming T-bird.
Harrier #30 in 1/48th scale - drum roll please, thank you - is the Harrier GR.5, ZD402, which set new Federation Aeronautique Nationale VTOL Time-to-Height records for 3,000m, 6,000m, 9,000m and 12,000m on 14th August, 1989 when flown by test pilots Heinz Frick and Andy Sephton. The aircraft was on loan to Rolls-Royce for flight testing of the new Pegasus 11-61 engine and given the Heinz Frick designed paint scheme that you see on the model. After the set of flight trials for the new engine was successfully completed, the team decided to make an attempt on the official records. All the aircraft’s pylons were removed, except for the missile pylons, as was the flight instrumentation pod, which had been carried on the centre-line pylon. The rest, as they say, is history. The records were later superseded, but that was inevitable.
Unfortunately the model is a step backwards to the old Hasegawa kit after the new Kinetic, but as there’s plenty of them in the stash, I better get used to swapping around. There’s nothing new to report on the build as a result, though a pylon free Harrier was a novelty and required the use of the fairings from a T.10/T.12 conversion and a scratch built pair of fairings for the inner pylons. The “official colour” of the scheme is 75% Roundel Blue and 25% Black. My unofficial colour is a Vallejo paints mix of Dark Prussian Blue, Intense Blue and Black to get to what I hope is a close approximation. No two photographs show the same tones, so it’s all very subjective in my opinion. Vallejo white was used for the wing and tailplane tips. The aircraft’s scheme was only painted once, so replacement parts (rudder and auxiliary door) were sources from GR.5s and were thus NATO Green. The tail cone is also green as they were provided unpainted from the manufacturer. The underlying paint on the strakes is FS36375 (probably) as strakes were sourced from the USMC which had begun to use the HTPS.
Decals were from Vingtor (sheet 48-122 Harrier Test & Demonstration Aircraft #4) and a Vallejo Matt Varnish was applied for the finish. It seemed appropriate to build the aircraft in-flight!
Harrier TAV-8s, 01-808 / 8, Escadrilla 8, Spanish Navy Air Arm, Rota, 1995. Kinetic, 1/48th scale.
Harrier #31 in 1/48th scale was the first of at least half a dozen builds I will do of the new (in late 2017) Kinetic kit of the first generation Harrier trainer. Us Harrier fans have been waiting a long time for a kit that can be built straight from the box and not require resin conversions. I was fortunate to get an early copy of the kit and found myself within under two weeks before SMW in which to build and finish the kit for the Harrier SIG display. Eschewing the idea of doing an "easy" T.8 in an all black scheme, I decided to go for the scheme I've always wanted to do - the shark's mouth scheme of the TAV-8S with the Spanish Navy's air arm. The Harrier, or the Matador as she was officially known in the air arm, was nicknamed the shark because "the Pegasus engine ingests everything". The aircraft also carries the "25.000 horas" markings celebrating 25,000 flying hours of Escadrilla 8.
All-in-all, the kit goes together very well, with only a few problem areas to address. Some of these may be lessened for the next one as I now have experience of the build and will be able to take more time. I replaced the kit's Martin Baker seats with some Stencel seats from an AV-8B kit - close enough for me. Other than that, the parts are all from the kit. I even managed to add some of the photo-etch, though the tail cone lights have gone to the carpet monster - and I can see future builds doing the same!
For the main scheme I used Life Color FS36320 with some white added, and Vallejo Model Color White and Black. The decals are from the kit for stencils and markings, Aztec for the shark's mouth and home-made for the 25.000 hours markings. The finish is Vallejo's gloss varnish.
Harrier AV-8B II Plus - 165570 / WE09, VMA-214, OIF II, 2004 - Hasegawa, 1/48th scale.
Harrier build #32 sees a return to the USMC Harriers in the shape of an AV-8B II Plus with VMA-214 “Black Sheep”. This particular jet was a participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom II when the unit’s Detachment A, assigned to the 11th MEU, was embarked aboard USS Belleau Wood with HMM-166 and later ashore at Al Asad between May and November 2004. The model is depicted with a typical stores load for the early days of the conflict, namely gun pods, Litening Pod, fuel tanks and a single 1,000lb GBU-16 LGB. Most jets had their gun pods removed after a short period to reduce weight as the guns were not being used. I left them on just for variation from strakes!
Nothing to say about the build itself that I’ve not said previously before - it’s now a very familiar kit as you can imagine if you follow my builds. The GBU-16 was from one of the Hasegawa Weapons sets.
The aircraft is in standard HTPS of FS36118, FS36231 and FS36320, for which I used Life Color acrylic paints. Decals are from Flying Leathernecks decal sheet FL48006 and the spares box. Some weathering was added using artist pastel powders and zip brushables. A coat of Vallejo's Matt Varnish was applied for the finish.
Harrier AV-8B II Plus
BAE SYSTEMS Hawk Mk.120 - 272 “Vlaggie”, South African Air Force. Kinetic Hawk 100 Series 1/32nd scale kit.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) painted two Hawks - 271 and 272 - of the 85th Combat Flying School (85 CFS) in the colours of the South African Flag in early 2008. They took over airshow display duties following the phase out of the Atlas Cheetah. The unveiling of the new new colour scheme was at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2008 (AAD2008) where 271 performed its first display. The scheme is referred to in Afikaans as “Vlaggie” - the “flag”. I’m not sure if the aircraft are still in these schemes as I’ve not seen a photograph dated since late 2016. There’s no reason to suppose they have been replaced with anything else yet, though I doubt we will see them here in the UK.
There are certainly a few challenges in putting this kit together regarding the fitting of certain parts and sadly the Kinetic instructions are not the clearest that have ever been produced. However, with some reference to online builds and photographs the problems are not insurmountable - they rarely are. Some knowledge of the Hawk would be desirable as I found out when trying to determine what was applicable. I had to add the rear chaff and flare dispenser using plasticard and a couple of rocket project heads from a 1/72nd scale WW2 kit. I didn’t bother altering the cockpit so the cockpit peepers will no doubt be disappointed and the ejection seats are probably not that accurately represented either. I’ll not be looking again to worry.
More fun was had trying to do the scheme pattern, but then that was my choice. For it I used the following Vallejo Model Colour paints: Scarlet, Park Green Flat, Intense Blue, Black and White. I used Humbrol Trainer Yellow for the final colour, sprayed from a can. Xtracrylix Light Aircraft Grey was used for the undercarriage together with a range of Vallejo and Life Color paints for the greys, metals, etc. Masking tape was used to segregate the various colours and despite the raised surfaces in some areas, I think it worked out pretty well. Finished with Klear as usual prior to decal application. For the decals, I made my own SAAF insignia, badges, mark designation and serial numbers, the rest of the decals were from the kit, though only a limited number were applicable and I left off some that are barely visible on the real aircraft.
Ultimately I’m pleased with the model and it’s nice to at last build a true special scheme jet for the Special Schemes SIG. It makes for an eye-catching display on the model shelf too.
BAE SYSTEMS Hawk Mk.120
Dassault Rafale B, 118-HT, #323, ECE 1/30 Côte d'Argent, Mont de Marsan, l'Armée de l'air. Revell, 1/48th scale.
The Rafale has started to win overseas sales (Egypt, Qatar, India) and gaining in prominence in the military world but here in the UK does not appear to be a popular modelling subject, if my experience of attending model shows is anything to go by. Maybe it's because it's French, or perhaps it's regarded as another boring grey modern jet, who knows? A shame really, as I think it looks better than the Gripen and the Typhoon and should get wider recognition as a subject to build. It's certainly got some great special schemes, which is helpful when you're a member of the Special Schemes SIG!
Fot my second Rafale build, this time I chose the two-seater B version using the original release of the Revell kit. It's not strictly correct for the scheme which was applied to the aircraft for the NATO Tiger Meet in 2013, but rivet counters will already have noticed that. I'll let you dear reader determine the errors if you're that way inclined to do so.
There are no major difficulties with the build, but you do have to sort out the see-through to the rear via the intakes - I simply painted the insides of the aircraft black - and the intakes needs some work to clean up. Aside from some fiddling with the undercarriage struts to get them aligned, the rest was fairly plain sailing. For once the canopy is a reasonable fit, unlike on the Hasegawa Harrier! The scheme was somewhat more challenging. In consultation with fellow club member Brian Boot, we decided to do the scheme in decals rather than a mixture of decals and painting. Brian kindly created and printed the decals for me and after a few corrective iterations they were good to go. I damaged parts of them slightly when putting them on so had to mix up some paint to blend them in. I didn't do a perfect job I have to say, so let's put the result down to "weathering". The remainder of the aircraft is brush painted - I chose to use Life Color FS36270 for the main scheme. It's not the correct colour match in specification, but I think it's not a bad match. Others are free to disagree as FS36320 and FS36321 are usually described as the options to use - but then each paint manufacturer has a different interpretation of these and some are noticeably different when brushed rather than airbrushed. I used FS36320 in the undercarriage bays and the remainder of the aircraft was painted in Vallejo acrylics. Some kit and Syhart decals were used for the non-scheme items and Vallejo Matt Varnish applied to finish. No weathering has been applied.
I'm looking forward to the imminent (at time of writing) release of the C version by Revell and building a small selection of special scheme Rafales covering B, C and M versions.
Dassault Rafale B
Saab Gripen JAS39C, 39238, 211 Taktická Letka, Czech Air Force. Italeri, 1/48th scale.
211 Squadron is the sole operator of the Saab Gripen in the Czech Air Force, with the aircraft being leased from Sweden. The squadron became full members of the NATO Tiger Meet Association in 2010, having been probationary members since 2008. The squadron has produced a number of schemes for the Tiger Meet and (3)9238 was painted with the "Picasso" tiger tail for the 2013 Tiger Meet in Orland Norway. It also participated in the 2014 Tiger Meet at Schleswig-Jagel in Germany.
The observant among you will notice there's a small problem here. The Italeri kit builds into the JAS39A Gripen and not the C. However, I determined that the external differences between the A and the C are probably less than the Italeri kit and the A version it is meant to represent! It was therefore close enough for me. More importantly, I wanted to do a special scheme and they're quite limited for the A version. True to Hollywood form, I didn't want truth to get in the way of a good story. The kit is definitely showing its age and many modellers will probably want to invest in some resin and photo-etch to bring it up to modern standards. I didn't feel the need, even though I received the kit free from a club member. On the whole, the kit goes together reasonably well, but you do have to do some work to blend intakes and fill gaps, etc The biggest problem in the end was one of my own making. In adding weights into the nose to prevent it sitting on its tail, I used some Revell Plasto to seal in the weights. This turned out to be a disaster as the solvent in the putty has melted in the plastic, resulting in a deformed nose. Adding some to the outside to re-shape the nose made it worse, so I gave up. Presumably the putty had become unmixed in the tube through lack of use. You live and learn and next time I'll use superglue!
The scheme is fairly simple, though most sources seem to disagree on the designation of the colours to use. In the end, I went with some Lifecolor paints - UA046 FS36173 Neutral Grey (modified with Vallejo Silver Grey to lighten) for the upper surface colour and UA036 FS36373 (Grey Reflectance) for the lower surface colour. Undercarriage bays were painted with Vallejo Silver Grey and the undercarriage with Vallejo White and left glossy. Decals were home-made, having been scanned and modified from various web photographs, with only a few stencils being used from the kit. The model was finished with Vallejo Matt Varnish.
This took a bit more time than I would have preferred to have spent, but the results are not too bad and I can pose the Gripen alongside the Rafale as they were both at the 2013 Tiger Meet.
Harrier GR.7, ZG475 / U, Air Warfare Centre (AWC), RAF, circa May 1995. Hasegawa, 1/48th scale.
Only the second Harrier build of this year - shock horror - and a return to the UK for a jet flown by the Air Warfare Centre whose main activity is the test and evaluation of aircraft and weapon systems. It was formed in 1993 and operated a number of Harriers of which ZG475 / U was one. The aircraft was lost in a fatal accident in June 1996. This particular aircraft is assumed to be in an experimental scheme as it has FA.2 style roundels, fin flashes and warning markings which are unique to this GR.7 I think.
Aside from an unusually bulged canopy which took some effort to get back into shape, it's a standard Hasegawa Harrier build. Taking advantage of the fact there's no definitive description of the colour scheme, I experimented with using Vallejo Medium Sea Grey (71.307) for the main scheme. Despite its fresh coat of paint, the back-end got very sooty based on the photographs I've seen, so I used some Tamiya weathering powders to achieve a similar result. Decals were a mixture of home-made, kit and after-marked ones from the FA2. Vallejo matt varnish was used to finish. The canopy MDC was a vinyl mask this time and not a decal. A little bit more challenging to apply, but it has the advantage that if you get it wrong, you can cut another one!
Another Harrier in the collection and slightly different.
Harrier T.12, ZH661 / 109, 20(R) Squadron, RAF, circa 2008. Hasegawa 1/48th scale with T-bird conversion set via Harrier SIG.
The RAF, and later Joint Force Harrier, operated a number of T.10s, some later upgraded to T.12s, in the training role. 20(Reserve) Squadron was the main operator, though the front-line squadrons 1(F), 3(F) and IV(AC) operated one jet each within the squadron. 20(R) was disbanded and replaced by IV(R) Squadron, which only lasted eight months with Harriers before the Harrier fleet was retired in December 2010. This particular jet was chosen as it gave me some painting and masking practice! It was converted to a T.12 in the summer of 2007 and was one of the fleet sold to the US in 2011.
It's been a while coming, but Harrier build #34 is a foray into the world of second generation two-seater Harriers, courtesy of the resin set mastered by the leader of the IPMS(UK) Harrier SIG. Aside from the resin, there's a vacform canopy to cut and fit. Everything you need to do the conversion is in the set if you have a donor Hasegawa / Revell GR7/9 kit, which of course I did. The parts were well cast and generally caused few problems. I receive some help in cutting the canopy which helped enormously but then undid all of the good work by managing to make the canopy look as if it has been through a sand storm. I think the lesson to be learned is dip the canopy in Klear and let it harden for a day or two before handling the canopy, and then wear gloves or use some material to stop grease getting on the canopy from your fingers. That's all I can think of that caused the damage, unless the new Klear (Pledge) has attacked the canopy. It hasn't done it with normal kit canopies, but then the vacform is acetate. Acetate is also required for the internal windscreen which you have to cut to the template provided. Some trial and error was required. For the MDCs, I had a template from which I was able to cut some white vinyl using a Silhouette Portrait Cutter. With some alignment marking, patience, cursing and some trial and error, I was able to apply the masks to the inside of the canopy. I used vinyl strips for the MDC that runs around the outside of the canopy. Masking was also used for the internal windscreen which I then painted, the vinyl holding the paint surprisingly well.
Once constructed, it's the standard painting and finishing for the Harrier. This time I used Xtracrylix Dark Sea Grey and Dark Camouflage Grey for the main scheme and their Medium Sea Grey for the obvious replacement parts acquired from other aircraft or spare stock. Decals were from the kit, home-made and spares as required. Vallejo matt varnish was applied over some Tamiya Weathering that was sealed with Humbrol Matt Varnish from a rattle can.
Harrier T.10, ZH656 / 104, 3(F) Squadron, RAF, circa 1996. Hasegawa 1/48th scale with T-bird conversion set via Harrier SIG.
3(F) operated the Harrier from 1972 to 2006 at which point it relinquished its Harriers in favour of the Typhoon. The two-seater T.10 arrived in 1995 and continued until 2006, the unit not having the opportunity to fly the T.12. This particular jet was converted to a T.12 by October 2008 and ended up taking an unexpected bath in the sea of Akrotiri in February 2009. The jet was recovered but never flew again and last I heard it had made its way to Everett in Sproughton as parts.
Photographs of 3(F) T.10s in the NATO Green / Lichen Green camouflage scheme are very rare and the only reference one I could find was for ZH656. As I wanted to do this scheme and this squadron, I had to make do. This kit was built at the same time as the T.12, so suffered all the same problems with the canopy I documented previously. Other than that, it was all relatively simple. Decals are once again a mixture of home-made, kit and after-market. For the scheme, I used Precision Paint's NATO Green and Humbrol #102 Army Green. I've used the latter before in place of the Xtracolor Lichen Green as they are pretty similar and I prefer to use acrylics where I can, although Precision Paint's enamels behave very similar to acrylics. Weathering and varnishing as per the T.12. I used Lifecolor UA036 (FS36373) Grey Reflectance over the base colours on the fuel tanks to represent ARTF which was applied to the jets during Operation Warden. I then scraped some off to give them a weathered look.
It would be really good for a mainstream kit manufacturer to produce the T.10 / T.12 / TAV-8B as they would be a welcome addition to the range. I never want to see a vacform canopy again, but I shall have to unfortunately!
Sea Harrier FA.2
Sea Harrier FA.2, ZE695 / 711, 899 NAS OEU, RN, July 1993. Kinetic 1/48th scale.
ZE695 first flew as a FRS.1 on 12th January 1988 and ended flying as an FRS.1 on 27th June 1991 after 20 flights. The aircraft had been allocated to Dunsfold and then St. Athan. Conversion to a FA.2 (FRS.2 officially at the time) followed and ZE695 flew again in this configuration on 2nd April 1993. In June 1993 the aircraft was allocated to 899 NAS OEU which was based at Boscombe Down at the time. In July 2000 ZE695 touched down in the undershoot area at Yeovilton, burst a nose wheel tyre and slewed off the runway with a collapsed undercarriage and caught fire. The pilot wisely ejected and landed safely. Originally categorised as Cat 4 Damaged, this was upgraded to Cat 5 Write-Off following the announcement of the withdrawal of the Sea Harrier from active service in 2006. ZE695 was delivered to St. Athan in September 2002 for scrapping. Later, the aircraft was bought by Everett Aero and after restoration the aircraft ended up as a commissioned work at Tate Britain in 2010 and was described thus ... "a Sea Harrier jet is suspended vertically, its bulk spanning floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Mimicking its namesake the harrier hawk, the aircraft’s surface has been reworked with hand-painted graphic feather markings - the cockpit, the eyes, the nose cone, the beak - and hung nose pointing towards the floor, bringing to mind a trussed bird." There's really no answer to that, is there?
This is my first build of the Kinetic version of the FA.2, all previous builds having been of the Airfix kit for this variant. There's a few things that require altering, but overall it's a more pleasant build experience than the Airfix kit and shows clearly the age gap between their production. I chose ZE695 because I wanted a representative of the 899 NAS OEU and also wanted a FA.2 in something other than Medium Sea Grey, in this case the trials scheme of Dark Sea Grey. Photographs suggest that in July 1993 the aircraft wore different colour unit badges each side of the fin, although this looks to have been a very brief period. It makes a good taking point, should anybody notice.
I chose Xtracrylix Dark Sea Grey for the main scheme and used a Xtracrylix and Vallejo paints for other items. The decals are from the kit, the spares box and home-made where necessary. A dab of weathering and Vallejo Matt Varnish complete the finish to Harrier build number 36.
Sea Harrier FA.2
Harrier T.60, IN654 / 54. Indian Navy. Kinetic 1/48th scale.
Harrier IN654 was the last of four T.60s delivered to the Indian Navy on 14 January 1992 and remained in service until the Sea Harriers were retired from active service in March 2016, though it may have been withdrawn from flying before that. It was operated by 300 Squadron, 551B, later 552 Squadron under the guise of SHOFTU (Sea Harrier Operational Flying Training Unit). The Indian Navy purchased 6 two-seaters in total, the last two being ex RAF/RN aircraft subsequently converted to T.60 standard after delivery.
This is my second build of the Kinetic two-seater and in a slightly more relaxed timescale than the first one. There's no major issues with the kit, but be sure to do your research beforehand to know what combination of noses, tails, aerials, etc., you need to fit. As an example, the Indian Navy used Sea Harrier pylons on their trainers and so for this example the kit ones do not need to be modified. I've not seen example photographs where the outer pylons are fitted. I chose one of the later delivered T.60s as they were painted in the revised camouflage scheme of Dark Sea Grey topsides and Light Aircraft Grey undersides. Reference photos are rare and some poetic licence is probably in effect. Xtracrylix paint was used for the scheme together with Vallejo acrylics for the other items. I used Tamiya Weathering powders and decals are from the kit, spares box and some home-made. Vallejo matt varnish was used to finish.
Overall an enjoyable build and I recommend all Harrier fans to give one a go.
Dassault Rafale B, Revell, 1/48th scale.
Dassault Rafale B, 113-HU, #322, Escadrille SPA 79 (Tête de loup), Escadron de chasse 1/4 Gascogne, Saint-Dizier, l'Armée de l'air.
This is my second Rafale B build and it was intended to be another special scheme. However, the scheme I chose turned out to be too much work and I didn't think I could do it justice (all home made markings), therefore I decided to switch to a regular squadron aircraft. As the kit contained 6 GBU-12s, I plumped for an aircraft that participated in Operation Serval in 2013 and thus carried these as live ordnance. Operation Serval was France's intervention in the north of Mali to oust Islamic militants. The initial strike by Rafales was flown from France, but subsequent strikes were from N'Djamena in Chad, still over 1,500km from the strike area. I selected B322 based on photographs of it with this configuration and some interesting hydraulic leak markings on the upper fuselage. Note the carriage of 6,000 litres of fuel in the non-supersonic configuration drop tanks.
To complete the kit, I acquired a Damocles targeting pod from L'Arsenal in France and added a third drop tank from another Rafale kit. As with the previous kit, I blanked off the intakes with plasticard. Once I switched from doing the special scheme, progress was reasonably quick as it is a one colour paint scheme (I used Life Color FS36270). Vallejo paints completed the other colours, except for the Damocles pod and Paveway bombs which used Xtracrylix FS37375. Decals were from the kit and the Syhart Rafale standard markings sheet (48915). Vallejo Matt varnish was applied to finish and weathering was done with Zig Brushable pens applied on the matt varnish.
Having done three Rafales now, it's disappointing to see this aircraft does not warrant more attention in the UK in the model making community. I will certainly be building a few more to try and redress the balance.