It's a spring thing

My local modeling club, the Phantom Phlashers, holds their annual show and contest the first Saturday of April every year.   It's a nice opportunity to see the work of modelers around the region and have some extended social time with a bunch of guys with a lot of overlapping interests.  This year's show included a record 467 models from 93 different modelers.  One of the highlights of every show is the vendors.  It's often an opportunity to pick up a few new products, especially tools and paints, and always allows a glimpse of plastic modelling history as folks try to empty out their closets of old (and often superseded) kits.  Although the vendor turnout for those tools and supplies was thin, I did get to visit with one of the first kits I recall building, the Aurora P-61 Black Widow.  I especially enjoyed Aurora brand kits in those pre-teen years because they went together easily.  Their lack of detail didn't bother me, because I could go from a box of parts to an airplane hanging from the bedroom ceiling in an afternoon. 
Aurora P-61 from memory lane, ca. 1970

Things have changed a bit since then...

As is often the case, I had grand aspirations for all the models I would complete for the show and competition.  And, as is always the case, pesky grown-up responsibilities of family and work took priority and only a small box of aspirants made the trip an hour east to our venue in Anniston, Alabama (a location chosen to make it easier for our colleagues in Chattanooga  and Atlanta to make the show).   I entered two models in the category of 1/72 single engine propeller aircraft.  The first was a Marine Corps AU-1 Corsair in gray over white, the last of many color schemes worn by Corsairs in US service.  The other, honoring some local history, was a P-47D Thunderbolt in the markings of the US Army Air Force's 332nd Fighter Group, a Tuskegee Airmen unit serving in Italy.

USMC AU-1, Quantico 1956

USAAF P-47D; 332nd FG, Italy 1944
I also brought a couple of small vehicles, including the HMMWV featured in the last Smaller Things blog entry.  I did not finish the RAF Crash Tender mentioned in that last posting, having been distracted by another conversion opportunity in the Airfix Modelling RAF Vehicles book, an RAF Mobile Photography Lab truck (ahem..., lorry) based on the Matchbox 1/76 kit of the Leyland Retriever in their "Monty's Caravan" kit.  The HMMWV competed in the 1/48 scale and smaller military vehicles category, while the Mobile Photo Lab went into "Conversions and Scratchbuilt" class.
RAF Leyland 6x4 with Mobile Photo Lab body

The Photo Lab seemed like a good opportunity to expand my scratchbuilding skills.  The Matchbox kit supplied cab and running gear, but I built the box body to match the plans in the Airfix book.  First, I cut and glued balsa wood shapes to the proper length and width (minus 20 thousandths of an inch to accommodate the styrene sheathing).  I then added styrene quarter-round strips to form the roof-edge curve, and some .040" strips to support the roof.   Next, I wrapped 2 layers of .010 styrene sheet around the formers and clamped them in position.  I used acrylic Gator Grip adhesive to bond the layers.  I chose the Gator Grip because past experience taught me that solvent cements will wrinkle the thin styrene. I have also found that CA superglue is hard to work with in this context.  I cut the windows out of slightly oversized end pieces and after adhering them to the body, trimmed them to shape.   I used the floor of the kit's caravan body as the base of the new parts; that provided easy alignment between the kit and scratchbuilt parts.  The doors and frames on each side of the body were cut from .005 sheet plastic.  Stretched sprue provided hinge and handle details.  One other small but important detail is the louver panel at the forward end of each side.  I made those from Archer textured decals intended for model railroad use.  I had a lot of fun bringing it all together. 
Adding the outer sheathing

Balsa Core and Plastic Framing for the Photo Body 

In the end, I was rewarded with a First Place award in the category.  As an added bonus, the HMMWV took third place  in its group.

1/72 airplanes were well represented on the competition tables, with surprisingly few 1/32 aircraft entries.  I've included sampling of 1/72 models that caught my eye.

USMC DH-4 1918 (2nd place rigged A/C)

RAF Captured Bf109 (1st in single engine 1/72 prop)

Eduard F6F (2nd in single engine 1/72 prop

Airfix USN OS2U Kingfisher (3rd in 1/72 single engine prop) 

US Captured Bf109

Airfix USAAF P-51D 

Tamiya Salvadoran FG-1D

Tamiya USAAF P-47D

Airfix RAF Beaufighter

Italeri USN JD-1 (A-26)

Italeri USAF YF-12

Revell Luftwaffe RF-4E

A Dragon and a Salamander

A pair of Tweets

Italeri LA Sheriff S-58T conversion

Italeri USN Antarctic R4D-5L


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