Brand: Italeri No. 2729
Media: Injection Plastic
The North American A-36 Apache (also listed as ‘Invader’ or ‘Mustang’) was the ground attack/dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang. A total of 500 A-36s served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the Chine-Burma-India theater during World War II before being withdrawn from service in 1944. The A-36 was a modified P-51 fitted with bomb racks, dive brakes and completely redesigned heavier-duty wings.
The A-36 proved to be a potent weapon as it could be consistently put into a vertical dive at 12,000 ft with the deployed dive brakes which limited the dive speed to 390 mph. Bomb release took place between 2,000 ft and 4,000 ft followed by an immediate sharp ‘pull up’. Besides dive bombing, the A-36 would also rack up 84 aerial victories and creating 1 ‘ace’, Lt. Michael T. Russo.
As fighting and hazardous missions intensified, the A-36 suffered a high loss rate of 177 falling to enemy action in all theaters. By June 1944, the A-36 in Europe were replaced by the P-40 Warhawk and P-47 Thunderbolt. Only the USAAF operated the A-36 with 1 lone aircraft supplied to the RAF for experimental purposes.
Info adapted from Wikipedia
This is a rebox of the Accurate Miniatures kit from 1994. The Italeri boxing was first released in 2013. Inside the box are 3 gray and 1 clear sprues of plastic parts that barely take up 2/3 of the space. The kit is made up of 81 parts with only 2 clear parts that are not used. I’m assuming these are for the P-51 variant.
Details of the parts are nice with fine and consistent panel lines although they are not as sharp as modern kits. No flash is in sight but there are a few sink marks on the fuselage parts. Parts breakdown is straightforward with my following observations:
Italeri provides for 3 USAAF and 1 RAF marking options that cover A-36s from the European, African and Chine-Burma-India theaters. The one on the box cover with the shark mouth is the most interesting to me. They are nicely printed with sharp details and good register.
I did a quick dryfit of the major parts and they fit quite well. All in all, it should be a straightforward build.
As with all the prop kits I’ve built so far, progress was fast. The cockpit was quickly painted and weathered and installed before both halves of the fuselage came together. The cockpit interior looks nicely busy with quite a bit of details in the sidewalls. Alas, these weren’t visible once the fuselage was put together. I scratchbuilt the seat harness since it’s good for practice and looks better than the decal.
I built each half first then joined them together instead of the called for assembly of the front and back separately. This way I avoided the chance of a step at the joint between the nose and the main body.
I decided to go with the flattened wheels and hope I can get the orientation correct when I install them. For the wings, I attached the 1 piece bottom wing to the fuselage first before attaching the top sides. This makes it easier to minimize any gaps in the wingroots.
The landing gear, propeller and bombs were all prepped separately. The tail gear had to be installed when the 2 fuselage halves were joined. Luckily I managed to not break this part throughout the build.
The kit includes 4 barrels for the wing guns but a check online of A-36 photos show that they don’t protrude so I left them off.
The only real issue I had was a seamline on an indented area on the nose. I tried to fill it some liquid putty without much luck. In the end, I decided to live with the seamline. I also managed to break off one of the nose gun barrels which I had to carefully re-attach at the end of the build.
/waves Jedi hand: ‘You did not see the gap on the nose. Move along…’
Colors & Markings
All the options are in the same color scheme: Olive Drab over Medium Gray. I did my usual combination of black base, white marble coat then main color. This time, I used Tamiya acrylic paint thinned with lacquer thinner for the marble coat which took less time and was much easier to control and execute. The main colors were thinned quite a bit with drops of flow improver and glaze medium added to reduce the opacity so the marble coat shows up more. I think they worked quite well and had an atypical satin smooth finish and I’ll be doing the same going forward. The demarcations were done with blutack so they are a bit soft.
Markings-wise I was going to model the A-36 piloted by Lt. Bert Benear of the 526th Fighter Squadron, 86th Fighter Group flying over Italy in 1944. The badass shark mouth sold it for me. The decals for the wing bands don’t account for the grills on the dive brakes so I decided to make my life easier by masking and painting them instead. These were a custom mix of yellow and a bit of orange. I think I might overdone the color, but they matched well with the yellow in the other decals. The decals were robust, went on easily and reacted well with Mark Softer.
I began with chipping using silver acrylic paint. I also used the main colors on the silver chips to knock the contrast down slightly. Once cured I did the usual panel wash with Mig AMMO Deep Brown panel line wash. Once the panel washes have been cleaned up I installed the landing gear.
I then used white, dark gray and dark brown oil paint as filters for the kit. These knock down the contrast even more so once dried, I went back in and added more chipping which gives the look of both ‘old’ and ‘new’ paint chips. The gun port residue was done with Tamiya Weathering Master. The exhaust stains were done in the same way but I also carefully sprayed some black gray acrylic paint to deepen the colors.
The whole kit was then given a flat coat and last on were the bombs, antenna and painting the wing lights. I decided not to add aerials this time.
So… not a bad result though I think I could improve on areas like the randomness of the chips and being more careful with masking of the canopy. The kit itself though, fits well and is recommended.
Number 02 of 2019
Brand: Bandai HGUC 051
Media: Injection plastic
The RGM-79GS is a late production GM deployed in the One Year War. It is an upgraded variant of the original RGM-79 GM with improvements in performance and maneuverability. Two variants were subsequently developed: the RGM-79G GM Command and the RGM-79GS GM Space Command. The RGM-79GS has performance that is onpar with the Zeon MS-14A Gelgoog and as its name implies, is optimized for space combat so it differs from the GM Command by having a backpack designed for space use, a 10% increase in output, more apogee motors and greater propellant capacity for longer operational time.
Production numbers are low and these were mostly assigned to platoon commanders. Several were featured in the OVA ‘Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket’.
Info adapted from Gundam Wiki
This kit was originally released in 2004. As such, it still suffered from some of the problems of the early HGUC line: a somewhat squat appearance, overly large hands, a short neck and limited articulation. Bandai also didn’t try too hard to hide seamlines during this time. Options include:
Of note is the lack of a clear beam saber while a clear visor is included. Parts breakdown is logical and straightforward with generally accurate colors as per the lineart. A small sticker sheet is also included.
I’ve had this kit snapped together for quite a while and decided it’ll be a ‘quickish’ build. Overall, it didn’t take too much time and any delay was simply due to my malaise.
To fix the proportion problem, I extended the upper legs, lower legs, front skirts, and forearms between 1.5mm to 2mm. I wasn’t neat about it which came back to bite me in the finishing stages. I also extended the neck polycap by 1mm to give the kit a longer-necked look and the base of the torso was extended 2mm.
I then proceeded to lose the left ‘ear muff’ which I replaced with a scratchbuilt antenna array and the cockpit door which I replaced with one fashioned from 0.25mm plastic plate. I also added verniers into the vents on the legs for added details.
Colors & Finishing
I kept the color scheme similar to the original lineart with additional red flourishes on the forehead and lower legs. I originally wanted 2-tones for the red areas but it didn’t work out. Other that that hiccup, everything went on without a hitch.
Markings were as usual from various decal sheets. I then added chipping with a sponge. Once these have cured and given an overall gloss coat, the kit went through the usual rounds of panel wash, fitering, streaks and fading with Mig AMMO Panel Line Wash Deep Brown, Mig AMMO Oilbrusher Starship Filth (a dark gray) and white oil paint. Last on is a light mist of flat coat to knock down some of the overall sheen and tie everything together.
I was supposed to finish this kit at the end of 2018 but it rolled over to 2019. In any case, add one more to my RGM collection.
Brand: Nitto Nr. SF3D Series 5
Media: Multimedia (injection plastic, brass,
rubber, lead and copper)
Markings: Wave PKA Konrad
The new armored fighting suit of the Shutoral Forces, the PKA.G in opposition to the new weapon of the Mercenery troops, the Super AFS had more strengthened mobility and armored defensive power to a series of PKA.H and was armed with a laser gun we could see in a series of AFS of Mercenery troops in the left hand. Increase of the engine output reinforced walking system in order to cope with increase in weight made the form of the PKA.G quite different from a series of H. A little reconstruction of the body of the PK.41 made it possible to fly installing the PKA.G in it like a series of H and the XPK.43 for the exclusive use of the PKA.G took the first flight at the end of 2885.
Info from the back of the box
This kit was part of the original wave of releases by Nitto in 1984 when Maschinen Krieger was still called ‘SF3D Original’.
This is a multimedia kit. Besides the 90 or so styrene parts it comes with a piece of brass mesh, 2 metal springs, 2 brass rods, 2 pieces of copper wire, 1 piece of black wire and 2 lead weights for the feet. Options on the kit includes having the face plate opened or closed and 2 different pilot heads. The limbs are attached via polycaps so some posing is possible. The kit also comes with a Panzerfaust.
This kit is pure 1980s vintage. Cement is required everywhere and while there are polycaps the kit can’t be posed in any meaningful way. Unlike modern versions of Ma.K kits, this Gustav doesn’t come with rubber joint covers (which actually present their own problems). The joints are instead the old school 2 plastic halves clamping over a polycap. I ended up making joint covers with epoxy putty. This also helped with the kit keeping a pose. I also had enough leftover epoxy putty to fashion some cushioning for the pilot seat. There’s provision for an LED (not included) in the chest but I closed it up with a minus mold.
General fitting is OK but the legs flop around even with the polycaps in place. The brass rods slot through the springs and these, when bent properly, lets me fix the leg pose. I left out the lead weights for the feet since I’ll be drilling holes to pin the kit to the base.
Oh and the kit can’t hold the included Panzerfaust. Pity.
Colors & Markings
The pilot needed to be painted and fit inside the kit first. As a testament to how lousy I am with figure painting, I only managed to get a decent result after 4 tries. Luckily I was using acrylic paint so it was easy to strip and redo.
I went with a simple color scheme of dark gray with red bands this time. The markings are from the Wave PKA Konrad kit as the one from the box is yellowed, brittle and unusable.
Weathering is kept simple with my usual rounds of oil paint dot blending, panel wash, fading and pin washes. In this case, I went with a light gray and brown so they show up over the dark gray color scheme. Chipping and mild drybrushing was done with light gray and dark brown acrylic paint. Once mounted onto the base, I also added dust on the bottom half of the Gustav.
The base is kept simple like my previous Rally Pawn build. In this case, it’s a grass field instead of the lunar surface. Once attached, I don’t like how the kit looks like it’s hovering instead of standing with some weight on the ground. It’s something to fix in the next one.
Even though the kit is vintage, the build didn’t actually take too long but it was interrupted by a few weeks of traveling and general malaise after getting back. In any case, I like the result although I really need to work on figure painting. In fact, that’s the part that took the longest time in this build. Otherwise, even scratchbuilding the joint covers was quite easy.
Brand: Hasegawa 65724
Media: Injection Plastic
The VF-25 Messiah is one of the latest variable fighters used by humans in 2059. It was developed as a replacement for the VF-171, the standard variable fighter in the New UN Spacy. Production prototypes were fielded by SMS in 2059, during Macross Frontier fleet’s voyage into the center of the Milky Way.
Like previous variable fighters, the VF-25 can transform between 3 forms. Unique to other models however, is the EX-Gear power armor integrated into the cockpit which reduces the burden on the pilot during extreme maneuvers. With the addition of various modules, the VF-25 can be configured for multiple missions. The VF-25 is also the first variable fighter to be able to transform without having to eject its armored pack (unlike the VF-1).
The VF-25S is an enhanced variant of the standard VF-25 assigned to team leaders. It also features a distinctive 4 laser armed head in Battroid mode. The build here depicts the VF-25S piloted by Skull Squadron leader Ozma Lee from the private military contractor SMS. Skull Squadron deployed with the Macross Frontier Fleet during the Vajra War.
Info adapted from Macross Mecha Manual
I’ve taken a look at this kit here.
As mentioned in my preview, this kit is basically built up in subassemblies like a typical mecha kit. Fit is great as usual for a Hasegawa Macross kit. Even better is the option to model this kit wheels up straight out of box so fitting the gear doors wasn’t an issue.
Another nice thing is that the thrusters can be assembled and painted separately so no masking was required at all for these parts.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with Ozma Lee’s VF-25S colors because I really liked the distintive skull marking on the back of his Messiah. The color scheme of 2 grays required quite a bit of masking but once done, it looked good. As best as I could, I masked and sprayed the yellow and black sections but I went with decals for the main chevrons on the fuselage. If you looked carefully, the shade of the painted and decal yellows are slightly different. Oh well, I’ll live with it.
The decals are typical Hasegawa in that they take a while to get off their backing. They are not as thin as TwoBobs or Cartograph but are robust enough to take some re-positioning without tearing. Some of them did tear but they took to re-aligning quite easily. They reacted well with Mark Softer and thankfully, the carrier film surroundings are not thick so not much trimming was required.
I went easy on the weathering with a panel wash and some light filters on random panels. I also added some streaks on the flaps, slats and in random spots. With the filter I also managed to slightly tone down the decals. It works OK but it’s something to improve on.
The base is a round piece of wood purchased online. It was drilled with a small length of brass tube inserted and quickly sprayed flat black from a can. I then mounted a brass rod into the kit and this rod slots into the tube in the base. For my next build, I’ll try to make the rod removable on both ends to make the kit easier to handle.
Brand: Airfix A03073
Markings: Scale Nutz A72019
1/72 TNI-AU Hawk 109/209 ‘Unity Guardian’
The British Aerospace Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, twin seat advanced trainer aircraft. It is used in a trainer capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. First flown in 1974, over 900 Hawks have been sold to 18 operators around the world. The Hawk was designed to be maneuverable and can reach Mach 0.88 in level flight and the airframe is stressed for +9g. When configured for combat, the Hawk can be armed with a centerline gun pod and armaments on 4 (up to 6) hard points.
The Hawk 100 is an upgrade of the original Hawk T1 with a re-designed nose, re-designed wings with 2 additional hard points, additional avionics, optional forward looking infrared (FLIR) and HOTAS. The TNI-AU export is designated Hawk 109.
The TNI-AU first placed orders for the Hawk starting in 1978 and would operate 3 variants: Hawk Mk 53, 109 and 209. 8 Hawk 109s were delivered and assigned to Skadron Udara 1 “Elang Khatulistiwa” (1st Air Squadron “Equatorial Eagles”) and Skadron Udara 12 “Panther Hitam” (12th Air Squadron “Black Panthers”). It is flown as a primary jet trainer and 7 are still believed to be deployed by TNI-AU in 2018.
My build depicts TT-1203 circa 1997, a Hawk 109 from Skadron Udara 12 flying out of Pekanbaru AFB, Sumatra.
Info from WIkipedia
This kit was released in 2009 along with the T.1 variant. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. The cockpit is basic with instrument panel and side console details presented as decals. Other options include:
Parts break down is straightforward and the molding is crisper than Italeri but less so than Tamigawa. The panel lines are on the heavy side but are done well. There were no flash on the parts but there are some visible ejection pin marks.
Decals look well printed with sharp details although the carrier film is somewhat thick. It’s a huge sheet with complete stencils and 3 markings for 2 BAE Systems demonstrators and 1 Indian Air Force operational trainer.
In the late 2000s, Airfix started releasing modern kits with the latest molding technology and this kit is part of that wave. The plastic is softer than what I’m used to but was easy to trim, handle and sanded very easily. Sprue gates are on the heavy side but it’s nothing that some sanding can’t handle. I find that the instructions are not as user-friendly as what you get from Tamigawa. For instance, there are color call outs via a paint number but I couldn’t find a legend for the numbers anywhere.
I was building a TNI-AU Hawk 109 trainer, and based on reference photos I did the following:
The fit on the wingroots aren’t great with obvious gaps but otherwise, it’s a straightforward and quick build. I decided to prioritize the fit on the top side and leaving the major gaps on the bottom but there’s no real way to prevent the gaps on the wingroots.
An odd omission is the frame in the middle of the canopy. Airfix designed the glass plate separator inside the cockpit to replicate this frame but based on photos it should be outside the canopy, not inside. I decided to simply mask and spray this frame. Making it even stranger is this frame actually appears on the boxart and instructions. Also missing are the lights on the side of the intakes. Another odd thing is the pre-drilled holes for the centerline gunpod but not for the pylons on the wings.
Other that these small issues, it was a trouble-free build.
Colors & Markings
The TNI-AU Hawk 109 was painted in a 3 tone SEA camouflage up top and a light gray on the bottom for much of its operational life. The demarcations are solid so it was a matter of a lot of careful usage of vinyl masking tape and spraying each color.
I’ve had the Scale Nutz (since defunct?) TNI-AU Hawk sheet for a long time now. The decal sheet is marked ‘Made in Singapore’ and the decals are printed well with decently thin carrier film. All 109 and 209 Hawks from either squadrons can be modeled. While there are enough specific markings for 1 Hawk 109 or 1 Hawk 209 from either squadron, you’ll need to source the common stencils elsewhere to do so. The decals reacted well with Mark Softer and are quite easy to use.
In real life, TNI-AU maintains their Hawk 109s very well so I went with a simple panel wash for a clean finish. The final assembly of all the small antennas did provide some challenges as their pins were all oversized and had to be trimmed carefully to fit. I also managed to lose the round clear part that sits on top of the fuselage but I managed to replace this with part of the clear tree.
I can now call this done. The paint job isn’t as smooth as I want it but for a get-back-on-the-saddle project, it’ll have to do.
Number 6 of 2018