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served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the Chine-Burma-India theater during World War II before being withdrawn from service in 1944.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
Once all the paint has cured, I gave the whole kit a once over with gloss coat.
For the scheme I’m doing, there are yellow wing bands which cut across the dive brakes. The decals for these don’t account for the openings on the dive brakes so to make my life easier, I decided to mask and spray the bands.
The decals for the bands are 1cm in width but the instructions show they are narrower. I decided to follow the instructions. These were a custom mix of yellow with some orange mixed in. These were sprayed over a base of some white marble coat which helps with opacity.
The decals are quite robust and went on quite easily and reacted well to Mark Softer. While looking at the marking callouts I noticed that a small part of the tailfin is supposed to be white color. This was quickly masked off and sprayed.
As usual with WWII subjects, there are a general lack of stencils. Not that I’m complaining.
The shark mouth decal took a fair bit of adjusting. I really should have cut it into 2 and re-align them.
I did the best I can with the placement and fixed the gaps with paint. However, if you looked closely, there are 2 wrinkles on the decal that I couldn’t get rid off.
Shark mouths are always cool.
Once the decals have cured and wiped down with a wet cloth, they were given a gloss coat. Next I added chipping using silver, olive drab and medium gray paint. These were added with a sponge.
I chipped random spots all over the fuselage simulating wear and tear. Heavier chipping was done for the leading edges of the wings and where I assume there’s more foot traffic.
While I used a silver color for the topside chips, I went with a black color for the bottom which shows up more on the gray. As you can see, 1 of the nose gun barrels have broken off. As usual, there’s always some sort of last minute disasters to fix.
Next is panel washing with Mig AMMO Dark Brown Wash. This fills the panel lines which add ‘depth’ and ‘weight’ to the kit. It’s subtle on the olive drab side.
It’s more obvious on the gray side.
To tone down the contrast I filtered with white, dark gray and dark brown oil paints. The filters also toned down the chipping I did.
The filters were done in the direction of air flow so it’s front to back on the wings and up and down on the fuselage.
I added more brown filters behind the main gear.
The wheel well were given a simple wash to pop the details.
To show that there are ‘new’ and ‘old’ chips I went back in and added more. Tamiya Weathering Masters was used for the soot on the gun barrels and exhaust stains. The exhaust stains were enhanced with some light spraying of Model Air Dark Panzer Grey.
The masking tape is finally removed from the canopy and… it’s OK. There are some dust spots inside the canopy that I’ll have to live with. I’m quite happy how visible the scratchbuilt harnesses are.
The bombs are finally attached. I also weathered them and figuring that operationally no one will really bother with being neat with an expendable weapon, I handpainted the yellow rings that indicated that the bombs were ‘live’.
Then the antennas are attached and the wing lights were painted. I decided skip the aerials this time and I’m finally done!
Before painting can begin, The canopy needs to be prepped. As mentioned previously, once both halves are put together, not much can really be seen in the cockpit. And since the canopy can only be installed closed, even less will be seen.
Canopy masking was with Aizu 1.5mm and 1mm masking tape for the outlines. Prop plane canopies are always ‘fun’ with all the frames. This kit is particularly more ‘fun’ as some of the framelines are soft so there’s a bit more eyeballing involved. As is usual, once outlined, I backfilled everything with Mr. Masking Sol R. The liquid mask will also help to hold the masking tape in place better. Once dry, I gave everything a spray of interior green.
The fit is quite good with only minor adjustments required for the frame above the rear windows and the middle canopy requiring some pressure to better conform over the cockpit opening.
Once done, I’m now ready for seam line fixing.
Time for painting once the gaps have all been settled. First is a base coat of black.
Next is a marble coat with white.
First on is the bottom color. The instructions call for FS 36173 Flat Dark Gray. I went with the closest shade of gray I have: AK Interactive RAF Ocean Gray which is FS 36187. Besides thinning the paint down, I added a few drops of Vallejo Glaze Medium which turned the paint slightly translucent. I also added a few drops of Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver to slow down the drying.
With the (already) thinned paint cut further with Glaze Medium, I’m able to allow the marbling coat to show through quite easily. The result is very blotchy but once the finishing gets going, they won’t look as stark.
Once cured, I masked off the gray sections with a combination of masking tape and rolled up blutack for the demarcation lines.
Then it’s Model Air US Olive Drab thinned and glazed just like the previous color.
The patchiness is more subtle on the olive drab. I think I’ll have to go back and have another go at the gray areas.
Once the main body is done, the other parts were also painted.
With the cleaning and patching up of the camouflage done, decals and finishing are next.
Cockpit work begins with a base coat of black and a marbling coat of white.
Then thin coats of Model Color Model Color German Cam. Bright Green that doubles as Interior Green. I’ve read that the A-36 might not have had green interiors but I’m going with the instructions.
This was done for all the parts that will be green color.
The kit comes with a simple decal harness but I decided to improve on it. So out comes 1.5mm masking tape and paint. Not much will be seen once the canopy is installed but hey, “I know it’s there”.
More things that won’t really be seen: weathering for the interior. But it’s good practice. First is sponge chipping with Model Air Metallic Steel.
This was quickly done on all the parts to beat them all up.
After a gloss coat, I gave everything a wash from Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Line Wash to add some depth. This was quickly cleaned up after 30 minutes of drying.
All the panels were washed the same way.
Everything was given a blast of flat coat and once they have dried, it’s time to install them and never really see them again. It’s also time for the tedious gap filling stage. 😀
New year, new build. This time it’s the Italeri rebox of the Accurate Miniatures’ 1994 release. The Italeri boxing was released in 2013 with new marking options. Boxart is quite striking and the box is quite big but it turns out the 4 runners really only barely filled 1/2 of it.
Interior details are nicely detailed though not quite as sharp as more modern kits.
The nose if molded as a separate piece of 2 halves and the instructions call for the these to be put together then connected to the fuselage which is also made up of 2 halves. I decided to attach each nose half to each fuselage half instead which should reduce the chance of any steps from occurring at the nose-to-fuselage joint later.
The sidewall details are nice and more than adequate for my needs.
So are the details in the landing gear bay.
What makes the A-36 an A-36 (and not simply a re-named P-51) are the additions of dive brakes on both surfaces of the wings. These add the capability for the A-36 to divebomb. Though nicely done, they are unfortunately molded in place.
The pilot seat attaches to the floor with only 2 thin rods. I don’t think that will be strong enough so I decided to reinforce how they join.
I added plastic plates onto the bottom of the seat. These plates will attach to the control stick rod on the floor plate and add 1 more point of connection.
0.8mm of spacers was enough for the seat to er… seat properly. And they are small enough not to be visible from above.
The rear wheel comes molded as 1 piece and will need to be attached at the beginning of construction. There’s no practical way to modify it to be inserted at the end of the build instead so I really hope it doesn’t break off…
The horizontal stabs and the landing gear were quickly prepped. Italeri provides both weighted and non-weighted wheels as options in the box. I do believe that this is the first kit I’ve done that has weighted wheels.
The kit comes with pair of 500 lbs bombs made up of 6 parts each. The 4 fins on the back are fiddly though since they are butt jointed. It took a bit of eyeball 1.0 to get them to line up properly.
A dryfit test shows that the kit should fit fine except for the bottom of the left wing being slightly warped and sink marks on both top and bottom sides of the nose.
Painting the cockpit is next and I can start cementing everything together.