Jump to content

1/18 Scale P-38 Lightning

Recommended Posts

Thanks Alberto - the top view looks consistent with most pictures I see, where the cannon barrel tip barely makes it out of the (quite large) hole.  The top photo has no cannon at all!!  :)  And the bottom photo seems to have the cannon protruding quite a bit (hard to tell).  Maybe I'll just leave it alone - I am concerned if I chop it off I won't be able to restore it well.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

All right - aft canopy. 


Here is the toy part - it isn't too bad, but its length isn't quite right and it looks rather toyish.




It's section shape is to be kept, so I used it as a guide to make the sta 154 canopy frame (cut from .02 plastic sheet stock):




Adding some rod stock for window lands it looks like this (no big deal):




The two aft window panes are separated by a centerline spine.  I think it wants to be pretty stiff, so I made its middle portion from .015 inch aluminum sheet.  Here I scribed the shape (sorry alot of messy scribe lnes there) with the curved shape cut out already:




So aluminum tends to curl and mal-form when cut with snips or scissors, so I did the final cut on the end mill:




After I got that part cleaned up, I bonded some .06 plastic stock to either side to provide the window lands.  So my frame components are here:




OK, pretty boring so far, but it's critical work.


After some careful measuring and dry fitting, I installed these parts to the fuselage:






You will see the spot defroster hose hanging nicely from the frame - Oh Yeah.  The aft end of the spine was shear clipped onto the closeout frame at the end of the radio compartment.


So now the easy part is done. 


Here is a test part for the LH window pane:




It does not want to double wrap, but I have some reason to think it's going to be OK.  Wish me luck.  Next post should have the window glass in there plus its framing strips.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well - on the aft canopy, I guess I am going to declare victory.  The double curvature indeed was a bit of a problem.  It manifested itself in the center of each panel being a little flatter than it should be, so it is slightly mis-shapen.  But you have to look for it.  Let's commence with some pictures.


I developed flat patterns, but you know that because I showed the test part last post.  Here are the clear parts:




Here the clear panes have been bonded into place.  If you look for it, you can see that the curvature is a little muted in the middle of the panel:




Now for the framing - here is a typical strip:




Computer generated flat patterns are invaluable here.


So (drum roll please) here is the finished aft canopy:








Tell me what you think.


I think it is time to finish up a few items on the fuselage, button it up, and get it painted.  I am some kind of anxious to see the nose art and score board.


After that I will complete the side windows and hatch.  I am taking suggestions on how  to fabricate the exterior rear view mirror (it is supposed to be clear).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gonna try something a little different.  I'll show pictures and not say what the part is until last (hint - it has something to do with the hatch)




Lathe work?  Clear acrylic?




End mill work?




What a mess - does this guy have any idea what he is doing?




OK, that duck billed shape should be a good clue.




And there it is - the rear view mirror, shaped pretty much to scale.


More next post (coming immediately).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Recall this is what I am trying to improve on:




Here is the completed hatch.  As I said before, it is the only thing I salvaged from the original canopy:




The curved interface with the side windows was ground down to be flat, the molded shapes on top which were supposed to be rear view mirror and hinge were ground away and polished, and replaced with the new machined acrylic rear view mirror, and a better hinge made from some plastic sheet and rod.  A little sad - but the hatch will not be able to be rotated up.  Here is another view:




The side windows were much easier than anything else on the canopy - they are merely .01 inch clear plastic sheet with strips glued on:




These windows can slide into grooves on the canopy frames. 


So this is another nice milestone - complete canopy, with paint.  Here are some shots:








And with the nose:






This effort is far from perfect.  If I had it to do over again I would do a few things differently, like figure out how to get the aft glass more "blown", and redesign it such that the hatch could be opened.  But it's far better than what the toy provided.


I will now make little stub side windows, at least for one side, so it can depict an open position.


Then it's the four fuel filler caps on top of the center wing, and the ID lights on the bottom of the fuselage.  These will be all  new.  Then and only then can I button up the fuselage and commence with panels lines, etc. 


Please stay tuned!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

wow, fantastic!


I will also need to remake the windshield on my 1/18 Dauntless. Can you confirm your technique for making the clear parts is outlined somewhere earlier in your build thread? I don't want to trawl through pages of stuff again (even though I have read the whole thing).  Many thanks

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi richdlc - I wonder if you are doing a Merit Dauntless.  I just went over a long thread by Phillip1 on his fantastic model, where he used the kit parts which look good to me.  Why not use them?  Anyway, I took a hard look at the windshield, as I am not very familiar with the Dauntless.


So I do not possess a vacuform.  I believe that is the key - that and the ability to make a good mold.  I have never tried since I don't have the vacuform.  What I have done however is made "glass" that is single curvature or nearly so.  Even that has limitations (at least for me).  What I found with the P-38 (or, was reminded of) is that clear plastic sheet is more brittle and less inclined to take on a shape other than flat than its equivalent thickness white styrene, for reasons unknown to  me.  And if you ask it to do more than it wants, it will reward you with a cataract effect where the material that is forced to flow from bending or shearing begins to lose its transparent characteristic, also for reasons unknown to me.  I actually tried using my oven to soften the plastic, just as an experiment to see if I could avoid some of these things, and had poor results.  First - temperature is critical as well as time in the oven.  Temps more than 140 deg or so resulted in mal-forming that was not controllable (I think that is what the vacuform is all about!).  And second, the very act of elevating the temperature enough to soften the clear plastic seemed to start to turn it opaque.  I know there are folks out there who know how to do this; I am not one of them.


So what I can do is create accurate flat patterns for single curvature parts that do not have excessive curvature (example - P-51D side glass).  That requires either skills as a draftsman where you can flatten out a curved 3D surface, or a computer drafting/designing program that can do it for you (that's what I do).  Once that is done you simply warp the plastic sheet around something round (and smooth) to give it some curvature fairly near its final shape.  From there you have to make sure you have a frame that accepts this part - something that has a backing that you can force it into shape.  That can be difficult to do without looking messy.  Such backing has to be covered by exterior strips (which most aircraft glass enclosures have anyway).


The Dauntless windshield looks like trouble to me.  The basic windshield is single curvature, since a side view profile is a straight line.  You need that if you are not vacuforming.  But the radius of the curve is tight.   If I were doing it, I would find that the material doesn't want to be that curved, and would start to go opaque.  The thinner the gage, the more curvature it will accept.  I am sure 0.010 inch thick is too thick for that curvature (that is what I used for the P-38).  Perhaps .007 or .005 if it exists would do it.


The top of the windshield however is blown - it has a spherical shape that cannot be done with simple techniques.  You either use that portion of the kit windshield, or you use a vacuform and a mold.   That is the reason you see the kit hatch on the P-38.


Good luck on the Dauntless - let me know if you have it posted; I would like to look in!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites



I am consistently amazed at how you are turning this toy into a work of art. Although I stepped away from 1/18 (except for my Tiger and Panther), now I wish I had kept a couple to see what I could make out of them. Just shows that with a little patience (and a lot of skill) one can turn a mutt of a kit into a purebred show winner.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...