Far too long ago for comfort, one of the members of out local IPMS group asked the gang if we would be interested in building a bunch of airplanes for the private museum of the historic aircraft club he was also part of, where he had shown us around earlier that day. Many of us pounced on that opportunity, of course, and I got me an Italeri Dakota to build. The project stalled for a bit, as markings for the particular aircraft requested are not available, and my technical capabilities took a nose dive over the past year due to computer problems.
One thing immediately struck me as odd: this is the earliest boxing of the Italeri kit,
but where all others I've ever seen have rectangular blocks posing as seats along
the fuselage sides, this one has detailed paratrooper style seats. It seems Italeri
have simplified the moulds in later editions.
The interior is mostly built, as are the wings, tailplanes, and engines. Some paint should enter the arena soonish.
The interior is done. The kit has an IP with some generic greebles on it, but I chose to use the decal from one of my Pointerdog7 sheets. Sadly, some of the inks blurred out while moving the decal, but it still looks like a busy IP, and it will be invisible once the hull is closed. Could have gone better, but I guess this was the least annoying decal to learn with.
I've made a start at closing up the fuselage. Italeri Dakota fuselages can warp and twist with the best of them, but this particular kit seems to be fairly meek. I'll still have to do it in sections, but the amount of brute force required will be minimal.
No work on the plastic, but I finally got around to finishing the decal sheet that contains the squadron codes for this one. Hopefully the plastic will soon get some attention as well.
Work has been going on in the background for a bit now. Most of the main construction is done, and I've added the rather prominent antenna spike to the tail (will need shortening, but that's trivial). The restored panel lines along the spine are a bit too bold for my liking, I'll have to find a way to tone them down a bit.
The cunning plan for toning down the panel lines: given that too much paint can wipe out panel lines, and that I have several rattlecans of otherwise not that useful primer and microfiller on hand, a solution has suggested itself. There's two heavy coats curing right now. Once cured I'll send the lot back down to the bare plastic, except (hopefully) inside the trenches. Another more moderate coat of grey primer should then reveal the result. If anticipation weren't a lazy bum, it would be killing me..
My gamble with the primer paid off. Sanded it off the general area leaving the trenches filled (no talent required, that's what sandpaper does), then used q-tips dipped in acetone to get it out of the original, more sensible panel lines, and things evened out beautifully. I'll just add this to my bag of tricks..
I sometimes think there have been more C-47 configurations than airframes. One of the things that implies is that it's vital to check any reference you can find when building a specific airframe, at a specific time, and that even then, some of the minor details are at best educated guesses. So it is with 23-14. After some discussion with "the customer", I've decided on the following bit-and-bobs configuration: long antenna right of centre, just aft of the astrodome, two small blades on either side of the dome, with wires running from them to the tail, radar 'egg' between the pitots and the centreline antenna near the wing, and a single wire between that antenna and the pitots.
I got the blade antennas scratched, which was a bit of a comedy. I got the right one on, and then promptly knocked it over into the plastic still squishy from the cement. By the time I'd managed to get it off and back on again, there were visible deformations in the soft plastic of the fuselage. Yes, I'm that clumsy even before stabbing my thumb..
Restoring the surface smoothness while working around the fragile blade antenna was interesting..
She's ready for the paintshop. The lumps blocking most of the windows are actually felt .22 barrel cleaners; highly recommended both for their intended and this particular purpose.
The model is slowly progressing through the paint shop. Primer is on, the control surfaces have been hit with silver and varnish, and I've just spent over an hour just masking them. It seems so simple, but then you realise each of those surfaces has multiple hinges(?) extending into them, and those must not be masked, and suddenly each surface requires dozens on small patches of masking tape.
I seem to have hit a rough spot. Two of them, in fact, and quite literally, between the fuselage and the engines. Rough spots in the finish do no mix well with NMF, so these will have to be fixed. That means remedial sanding, which in turn means the current paint has to cure completely before I can continue. Several days at least, so painting is on hold at least until next friday.
I got the rough spots sanded out, and it actually looks like a single coat of gloss black has dealt with the exposed bits of primer that resulted. We'll see later today, but even if another coat is needed, I'll consider myself to have gotten off easy in this respect.
Some visible progress at last..
There has been some glacial progress. The model itself has kept up fanatical resistence to being completed.
Unmasking, and closer inspection, revealed that some bits of silver paint had torn off the rudder, and that the metalliser on the tail and parts of the wing had flaws, so quite a bit of remedial painting was needed.
Then came the decals. None are available for this particular aircraft, so I had to make my own. How hard can it be to make decals for four digits, it's just text after all. Don't you believe it; I scanned through (literally) hundreds of fonts, and not one of them had these numbers. I ended up drawing them by hand. I had, in theory, decals for a Dutch C-47, from which I intended to use the roundels and the little flags on the tail. Forget it; these units used diffently sized roundels, in different locations on the airframe. I spot of begging from the rest of the local gang saved me from having to print a batch of new roundels, but now the colours of the roundels and the flags didn't match, so I made new flags from scrap decal paper with the assistance of my airbrush.
Earlier experience with the DC-2-and-a-half had tought me that large areas of clear decal paper between letters would stick out rather badly, so I trimmed the numbers right down to the edge of the black, and applied them individually. Very thin, very narrow strips of decal are terrifying to work with, but to my amazement, there were no disasters there; perhaps I'm not completly useless after all..
Getting the windscreen in place on any Dakota (except for the otherwise problematic Hobby Boss kit) is always a hassle, so I decided to tempt fate once more by scratch building a new one in situ. Bits of 0.5x0.5mm Evergreen were wiggled between the top and bottom of the opening, and painted, while the actual glass was made with PVA, like the side windows. This again went mostly well, but Karma decided enough was enough and some of the windows never dried up completly clear, so a few now look fogged over. Actually, quite realistically fogged over, and it would be quite a find if I could figure out how to do this deliberately and consistently, instead of randomly by accident.
That left antennas and other exterior greebles. I wanted to use CA gel for some of the trickier wires, but after visiting several of the local DIY and hobby stores, all I had to show for my time was a huge pile of frustration. I was saved a few days later by one of the local supermarkets. Still feels wrong though.
The kit had one last bit of resistance in store for me; while attaching a bit of EZ-line to the right hand blade antenna near the cockpit, some CA managed to run down the line and stick it to the side of the hull, messing up the paintwork just enough to need yet another bout of spot painting. Not 100% happy with the result, but I think I can only make things worse if I try further patching (I may re-blacken the lines later though).
I'm going to declare victory at this point, and call it done.
Of course, this project was not done with the completion of the build, it had to be delivered to the customer. Given that the customer was a privated museum on an active air force base, this was both a bit of an expedition, and a real treat. Some pictures of the handover inside the museum: