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Curtiss P-36A Hawk - 2/LT Phil Rasmussen - Pearl Harbor [1/32 SH]

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4 hours ago, alain11 said:


interesting thread , I have the kit waiting on a dusty shelf for a while now .....I am intrigued , I always thought that the US P36 kept the cockpit natural metal instead of green :hmmm:  


From what I read, the early production ones were bare metal and then at some point they changed to paint.  I have no idea which way the specific aircraft I am doing was produced, so just guessed green.

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I've been working away at the riveting, but have run into a few wing and fuselage section seams popping due to the force I'm having to apply with the rivet wheel.  If I was to do this over, or more likely do a whole bunch of similar Special Hobby models in the future because I can't resist the selection of obscure subjects, I would reinforce the insides of the fuselage seams with strips of polystyrene and maybe add some reinforcing spacers inside the wings to prevent them from deforming under stress.  Next time.


I also built and painted the landing gear, which like most of the rest of the exterior on this plane are bare aluminum.  I've experimented with Vallejo, AK, Mr. Metal Color, and a few others, but IMO, when you want something plastic to really *look like it's made of metal*, it's hard to beat Alclad.  These were hit first with Alclad Gloss Black, which levels to a beautiful shine, then quickly afterwards with Alclad Airframe Aluminum.




The kit parts were a bit hard to suss out, lacking clear instructions or any locating mechanism.  Looking at reference photos I eventually sorted out (I think) how the sections of the cover slide over each other when the oleos compress.  It may not be perfect, but it sure is shiny.  I'm hoping to be able to replicate that level of metal-ness for the entire model.  To that end I bought some felt buffing cylinders for my rotary tool, and some plastic polishing compound.  Hopefully this will let me get a nice, uniform high shine to the plastic before that critical gloss black coat goes down.  Once I finally re-glue and clean up the popped seams and finish the rivets....

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Alex, the easiest way to deal with seams popping while rivetting or rescribing is to do it before assembly. It does make side-to-side alignment trickier, but the entire process is much easier at that stage, versus trying to it once you've got the wings and fuselage assembled.



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7 hours ago, LSP_Kevin said:

Alex, the easiest way to deal with seams popping while rivetting or rescribing is to do it before assembly. It does make side-to-side alignment trickier, but the entire process is much easier at that stage, versus trying to it once you've got the wings and fuselage assembled.



Yeah, that does make sense.  I had hoped to avoid destroying and having to redo my own riveting and scribing when I faired up the seams, but now I’m doing that anyway...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Been a while since I updated this thread.  A combination of a quick (local) getaway with my wife preventing me from being at the bench and a lack of desire to closely photo-journalize the slog through dealing with aligning wing to fuselage and closing the plethora of resulting gaps. That said, the airframe is assembled and ready, finally, for some paint.




Somewhere along the way I lost one of my home-made machine gun barrels and so will need to remake that.  I've also made new exhaust stubs from brass tubing and will probably scratch a replacement for the poor kit pitot tube the same way.


The underside:




It's not perfect, but I'm focusing on getting this one finished before I get distracted by another project...  It's hard to see in these photos, but the entire surface is covered in my maiden attempt at hand-made rivets.  Obviously much less sophisticated than the decal-on raised rivets we've been treated to recently, just impressed with a toothed wheel.  This closeup makes it easier to see part of the pattern.




The lines are not perfectly straight everywhere, but given that I did it entirely freehand just by following lines I penciled on, I'm actually surprised how decent it looks.  It will be interesting to see how much of it is still visible following paint - the dimples are very small and shallow, especially since I was working with already-assembled subunits (which I won't try again) and so could not press too hard.


Despite the sloggy nature of this build, I seem to have purchased another Special Hobby kit.




Why, you ask, would I do this, especially since this isn't even a PTO warbird?  Because I'm a sucker for obscure subjects, and who else but SH is ever going to do this aircraft in 1:32? - that's right, no one.  And because, based on a perusal of photos of the sprues, they did quite a complete 3-D engine on this kit, providing an opportunity for my favorite kind of detailing (although that also means I have to figure out how to open a cowling access panel or two).  And this is a 2014 tool, so *hopefully* a bit more sophisticated than the Hawk, which debuted in 2005 and was one of (I believe) their earliest 1:32 aircraft attempts.  


So back to the P-36, I shot a coat of Alclad gloss black.  Although I used Chuck's wet towel trick to try and minimize static buildup, this is FAR from being a Chuck-quality black undercoat.






The good news is that the rivets still show up well.  Once the paint has fully cured I will overspray it with Mr Leveling Thinner to try and gloss up the areas that didn't quite get there on the first try.  I left the rudder and elevators off because I'm going to underpaint them with flat gray so that they have more of an aluminum-doped fabric look (I'll mask off the ailerons and do the same for them before topcoating with Alclad).


I'm leaning towards shooting the whole thing with basic Alclad Aluminum (if nothing else I have a lot of it on hand so won't run out) and then picking some specific panels to overspray with Duralumin and Airframe Aluminum for a bit of variation.  I hope to have that done before the end of the weekend - gotta keep the momentum up.  I'm off now to scan the decal sheet and Silhouette some masks.

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3 hours ago, dennismcc said:

Looking good, glad to see this back on track, though I do know how you feel, my PCM Tempest is not exactly tempting me to the work bench at the moment.





Yes.  Turns out that the black is rough on the fuselage sides above the wings.  Seems like I’ve learned and forgotten that lesson about spray direction before...  Sigh.  I think I can solve it through fine sanding and polishing, but I will need to give the paint a little bit more time to cure first.  Maybe I do need to kick off some interim project.  I certainly have enough kits laying around.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So this one got "wrapped up" in a hurry - headed not for the Shelf of Doom but maybe the Shelf of Learning Experiences....


It looks OK from 6 feet away...






Several things got short-cut as I was just focused on "finishing" it to move on to the next project, for example the blue is too primary - you see a lot of paintings of pre-war birds with lighter shades than conventional Insignia Blue, but I'm not sure that isn't just artistic license.  If I had taken more time I could have tinted this with a bit of black.


There are bits of the thing that look OK.






Although those photos really failed to focus down into the cockpit.  Trust me that it actually turned out looking halfway decent.




I ended up finishing the build because I wanted the masking/painting practice - and it worked pretty well.  I'm also happy with the "aluminum dope" look on the elevators.


The real, fatal flaw is in the NMF for the airframe as a whole.  It's much worse on the underside, where the Alclad layer crazed *significantly* over the course of several days after spraying:




Plus, it had very poor adhesion.  Not only did it pull off when I masked the undersides of the wings to paint insignia...




But it also "bridged" over the panel lines rather than settling down into them, and then pulled off or just flaked away.  You don't see as much of this on the upper side, I think because I sanded and polished the black base coat much more thoroughly (which I would not have had to do if it had gone down well), and THEN sanded and polished the first coat of Alclad before spraying a second one (on the upper surface).


Regardless, it looks OK from 6 feet away and from above, on the shelf, for now, but I definitely need to do another P-36A at some point.


As far as root cause analysis goes, I'm pretty sure that all of this trouble started with the gloss black base coat (like building a house on a weak foundation, nothing good is going to happen once the first step goes awry).  I used Alclad Gloss Black lacquer, which actually worked well on some small parts like the main gear legs, but went down very unevenly with bad rough patches when I tried to do the whole model with it.  Although it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools, I think part of this is due to my having a very small spray booth, so that it's hard to move a 1/32 model around inside it and get good spray angles - a 1/48 warbird is about the largest thing that's easy to work on inside of it (it's one of these "portable" jobs from Micro Mark; I'm building a bigger one as we speak to make bigger models easier).  I also build models so slowly that I have time to forget techniques that I learn on one project before the next one comes around.


More significantly, the Alclad gloss black never felt fully dry - even days later it had this subtle sensation of "tack" to it when handled.  I think I then compounded the problem by applying WAY too much Alclad metalizer hoping it would level and help gloss the overall look.  Instead what it did, I think, was re-wet the Alclad gloss black and lead to the mess illustrated above.


SO, the bottom line is that I need to get this NMF thing sorted and nailed down to a single, repeatable protocol before I try to paint my next warbird (Tamiya P-51, which is going to get a bunch of engine and other mechanical detail and for which I can't afford to screw up the exterior look *at all*).


First order of business is a better base black.  No more fooling with this Alclad black.  I'm going to experiment with two options - 1. Mr. Color Gloss Black (I feel like I understand how to work with Mr Color lacquers better than any other paint brand, albeit still incompletely) and 2. Chuck's recommended Tamiya TS-14 decanted from a rattle can.  I need to practice how to get a large area covered without losing the "wet edge" that allows the finish to level and gloss uniformly.


I now *remember* and will *strive not to forget* that Alclad metalizers only work if you do very light but wet (close) coats over an already super-glossy base. 


I'm also going to order and experiment with some MRP Aluminum.  The Mr. Metal Color Aluminum is WAY too chrome-shiny for my taste - does not look "real" at all.


I have a couple of 1:144 prop liner kits laying around that are amenable to NMF-heavy schemes (I think at least a DC-4 and a DC-7, and maybe another).  After doing some experiments on sheet styrene with these different paints I'll build both of those and see if I can do good NMF on them before venturing the Mustang.


Obviously any tips that anyone has are welcome.  This (NMF) has a reputation for being the hardest thing to do well, and clearly that's deserved (and it's possible to *backslide* - I've definitely gotten better results than this in the past!).  I'm sure there are multiple viable approaches; I just need one method that I can learn well enough to make it repeatable...

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