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1/18 Scale P-38 Lightning

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Thanks John!


So next on the docket is the center fuselage pod including canopy. I am approaching this part of the build with much trepidation and caution. One, I am not a very skilled panel line guy and this model really needs new panel lines. And two, I am scratch building a new canopy because the original is unacceptable, and it's going to be a bear.


Here, I'll show you:






The windshield has so many problems it is tough to know where to start. It is shaped wrong (it must be flat), and its transitions into the fuselage surface and the sta 126 frame (that is the frame the windshield terminates on) are wrong as well. It's trapezoidal shape is also wrong, being too narrow up top and too wide on the bottom. The side glass - it just sucks. Can't think of a better word. I will make new ones properly shaped.


In the picture you will see scribe curves where I will cut away the fuselage to make room for the entirely new windshield and side glass assembly I intend to make. You also see the deep trenches that are the existing panel lines - they will be filled in and done new.


And here is some of the demolition work - scary stuff:




Here are some of the new parts - a windshield glass with side posts, the sta 95 frame that the windshield attaches to at its forward (lower) end, and the beginning of the sta 126 frame that the windshield attaches to at its aft (upper) end. Lacking are the side glass details and canopy frame strips.




The windshield has me pretty excited. In real life it is bullet-proof and very thick (1.5 inches or so). The thickest clear plastic I could find easily was 1/32 inch thick, so I cut out three pieces and glued them together with 2-part epoxy. That (about .100) is good enough for me. It was messy but it cleaned up pretty good. After some future floor polish, it is just about perfect. Now to keep it that way with all the work I have to do with it. It will receive some contour grinding at its aft end, and it will receive three critical drilled .025 inch holes for the gunsight mount fitting (yup it was attached direcctly to the windshield via threaded studs - at least for the J-model).


It has become time for me to figure out how much balast to put into the nose and engine cowlings such that the model will not tip on its tail. Because before long I will button up the fuselage. So I assembled it as best I could on wheels, and added nose weight until I got there (nearly a full pound of material).


Here is a shot of some of the material:




Those are lead mini-ball slugs - I got a bucket of them from my Dad when he died last year. There are more bonded in behind the props.


Lastly, a little teaser - here is what the cockpit looks like installed:




Exciting times for the big P-38 build. I have major challenges ahead with the canopy build. Take care.

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Nice! Best of luck with the new windscreen. I don't know if you've ever had a look at Paul Budzik's website, but he does a lot of work with clear acrylic for all his transparencies. He starts off with relatively thick pieces and the files/machines them to the right shape, then gradually takes all the scratches out and polishes them to an immaculate finish. They look incredible and I was wondering if that may be a way to transition the flat windscreen to the rest of the windshield? I'm completely rubbish at polishing canopies but his site shows you it can be done......





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Craig - I have indeed visited Paul Budzik's site and he is the reason why I bought the mini-lathe.  What a great purchase.  However, Paul has outrageous skills that I don't have (and resources to boot - I believe he can take advantage of dental tools, as that is his real profession).  It is pretty evident to me he can apply the artistry and skill of making crowns and such to making model parts.  Keep in touch here though - I think you will like how I re-do the windshield and aft canopy - it is different to say the least.  I will do them essentially the same way as I did for the 1/18 Miss Velma P-51 windshield.  The sides ought to be OK too but top hatch is going to be more of a compromise, because I will be forced to use the toy part and modify it as best I can.  It is here where I wish I could do the molding thing. 

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I have been sick, and then I have been out of town, and I have been busy with...life. So my momentum was squashed. But I have gotten back to work again slowly. Here is a little progress - I present to you the Lynn model L-3 gunsight, used on just about all P-38's:




I found those photos on the web, and with some other stuff from manuals I was able to scale off many features and come up with something fairly convincing. Here are a couple of more shots:






This unit mounts directly to the windshield - three studs are threaded into 3 holes in the thick windshield, and I have done the same thing with my windshield. The little silver ball in front of the sight glass is a spare bulb wedged into its little bracket. It's going to be very visible.


Next time you see this little gem it will be mounted on a windshield which is itsself mounted onto the center fuselage. Stay tuned - critical work ahead.

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Now the windshield is installed onto the center fuselage, as is the cockpit.  And the sta 126 frame has been installed which will stabilize the windshield and complete the cutout that defnines the side glass pieces.  Here it is:




Also, that nice little L3 gunsight has been attached to the inside of the windshield:










Next is the side glass some of which is painted (not the entire cutout is glass - a nicely curved protion of the lower edge is actually metal (in our case painted plastic).  21CT forgot to do this and it looks funny (too much glass) - this will be corrected. 


I am already having issues with the side glass flat pattern test part which I generated in the computer.  Not sure what went wrong.....  My next post you will see the side glass installed on both sides, and a little panel on the centerline just in front of the windshield which will provide a blend radius.  Then the framing strips whihc will make it look finished.  All these parts are difficult to get right and present risks to the "glass" from smearing with glue or epoxy or from scratching.


Stay tuned.

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