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  1. I've been wanting to do this build for a long time, ever since I read David Carpenter's book about the NX-2 nuclear powered airplane. Since the NX-2 was never built most of the book is about the test programs created to gather data for the nuclear powered aircraft program. The "ground" part of the testing took place in the desert of southern Utah, and the flying part involved the Convair NB-36H (also known as the XB-36H). One B-36H, which was damaged in a tornado, was converted into a flying test bed for a one megawatt reactor. It got a whole new front end with lots of lead and rubber shielding. The reactor was hoisted up into the aft bomb bay with a hook and plugged into the monitoring, control and cooling systems installed for the test. All this was done by remote operation. The reactor didn't power anything. Waste heat was dumped into the atmosphere through the cooling system. I've seen this done in a reasonable 1/144 scale, but you know what they say, "Go big or go home", so I'll do it in 1/72 scale. The biggest part of the conversion is the fuselage front end. I considered 3D printing my own, but I found one available at Shapeways, and even though it's pricey I figured the time savings would be worth it. The other conversion parts needed are the scoops for the reactor cooling system. Those are also available at Shapeways, but I need to print something, so the scoops are it. I'll also need to add the aft bomb bay doors - I want both bays open, with associated bulkheads. I have in mind a diorama, actually a partial diorama given the huge wing span, which shows the reactor being winched up into the aft bomb bay from it's underground bunker. Naturally you can't start a project like this without at least considering where in the #$&& am I going to put it. I'm hoping I can give it to the local Atomic Energy Museum, if they'll have it. When the project is completed I expect to be adept at NMF and panel line rescribing since that's where much of the sweat will go. So, to start with I'm rescribing panel lines using the original raised panel lines as a guide. I'll first do all the lines that don't cross the fuselage halve seams. I'll save the rest for after the fuselage halves are joined, just to make sure the lines meet properly.
  2. Hello boys and girls, perhaps you will permit me to share my latest offering here? This is another in the line of smaller scale builds that I've been busying myself with of late. I've found that time at the bench has been at a premium so I've tended toward small scale projects in an attempt to finish one or two projects. However, more recent builds have been getting steadily more and more involved. This is no exception. My intention is to detail the build here but if you frequent Britmodeller you may already have seen this so apologies to you guys for the repetition. The model is now complete and in my cabinet and a full build thread is posted on BM but I'd like to add it here too if that's ok? Anyone familiar with this tiny kit will know it's heritage. The original dates back to midway through the last century and the state of the molds are testament to this. There is alot of flash, many of the parts are mishapen and/or crude and the fit of most parts is rather "approximate". Since the Comet is such a graceful aeroplane (you can see that in Eric's 1/32nd scale build here on LSP:http://forum.largescaleplanes.com/index.php?showtopic=53255&page=10 I decided to try to improve on what the manufacturer currently turns out and get something that resembles the real deal more closely. Back in the early Fifties Airfix released "Grosvenor House" and the kit remains the same today. In many builds we'd begin with the cockpit. For this kit, there is n't one. The crew compartment is a flat deck running along the edge of the fuselage with two raised pips suggesting the pilot's heads. Since the canopy is virtually a solid piece of transparent plastic that might have been acceptable. However, the canopy of the real Comet is a very open glass house. Something had to be done. So that is where I began. I cut out the flat area and added a semblance of cockpit detail to the fuselage walls using reference photos from the web and BM's walkaround page. I took the decision early on to try to replicate the renovated airframe as she's seen today. 2014 saw her return to flight for the first time in a few years so thankfully there are quite a few contemporary images around for reference. The modern aeroplane is predominantly black inside the cockpit so I did n't go overboard with the details. An IP, trim wheel and stick made do for the front cockpit, just an IP for the rear. I "borrowed" a pair of pilots from a 1/72nd scale Chipmunk, adjusted their dress and painted them in white and dark blue flight overalls. (In truth, I should have only put a pilot in as Grosvenor House does n't carry anyone else whilst displaying currently). Due to space restrictions I omitted any seats preferring instead to glue the little people straight to the floor. Well, the back seater is sitting on the floor, the pilot is sitting on the back seater's feet...... I have n't found any drawings of the dH-88 so the position of the aircrew is a guesstimate. With a large, open space to cover the kit canopy was discarded in favour of a new version. In order to create the glazing I carved some scrap resin pour stub and crash molded some clear food packaging. The canopy is quite a complex affair and it took a while to get the shape correct. I tried to follow the shape of the real aircraft but in doing so, I created more work for myself. The aft fuselage of the Airfix kit is quite triangular in cross section above the swage line. On the full sized airframe it is more rounded at the top. This left a mismatch behind the glazing. To remedy this I slopped on some green stuff two pack putty from Games Workshop and once cured, sanded it to shape. In turn, this illuminated another shape issue. This time it was the front fuselage above the swage line. That triangular section of the aft fuselage had been continued forward meaning that the front fuselage could also benefit from some re-shaping. Some gentle sanding of the kit plastic took care of the gently curving transition but did nothing for the emaciated upper fuselage. I turned to the two-pack again. The additional bulk was sanded to shape which helped give that delicate, swooping noseline of deHavilland's design. The next job was to fashion a light in the nose. In this ancient model Airfix would have the builder suggest the nose light by applying silver paint as no clear parts are included. The nose light of the Comet is one of it's most distinuishing features and just could not be taken lightly {~groan~} ignored. With no drawings to refer to I was forced to guess the diameter of the lens. I started by sawing off the tip of the fuselage and making sure that the resultant hole was circular. I made a reflector by punching out a disc of shiny foil and dishing it over the curved handle of a paint brush in time honoured fashion. The clear cover was smash molded out of thin, clear actetate (food packaging) and the lens was constructed from several circular pieces of acetate. Not completely perfect but better than nothing. In truth I suspect that I could have gone larger.
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