Got some actual work done before a late and lazy breakfast (public holiday..). There are now blobs of filler in the ejector marks on the cockpit floor, and the wing halves have been joined, as have the tailplanes. Certainly cuts down on the bulk of the sprues and the clutter in the box.
Started fiddling with the cockpit. Can't say I'm really impressed by the work Revell did here. There's some technically very "interesting" choices in the parts breakdown, and sinkholes all over the place. Also, I would expect Revell pilots to fit a Revell aircraft, especially since several of the figures are depicted in the artwork as sitting at the very stations I intended to put them in, only to find feet would have to come off and legs reduced to less than half thickness. Not being able to man the turrets without resorting to amputations would have been OK, but this sucks.
Not sure whether this is because I'm too demanding or too clumsy, but modifying figures at this scale has never been a satisfying experience for me, so this one is going to be unmanned. As stated, completely redecorating the interior was never my intention, so my corrections will be limited to moving the pilot's chair forward.
Got quite a bit of work done today, despite some resistance by the plastic. I finished construction of the cockpit module. I found it quite tricky to get the front an rear bulkheads on properly; I can't help but think Revell could have made this rather easier without sacrificing any accuracy. As it was, it involved juggling three parts that don't particularly like each other, plus a glue brush, for each bulkhead. It just so happens I am not an octupus, so this involved some unpublishable comments.. This juggling seems to be a recurring theme with this kit.
Once the cockpit module was built up, I dry-fitted the fuselage halves. Good thing too, as this revealed another recurring theme: oversized bulkheads. I'm seeing better fit from my ageing Airfix Tornado.
Some filing and more comments later I had persuaded the fuselage to fit, and primed the cockpit as a preparation for painting, and to be able to see the details better. Black plastic is rapidly rising on the "avoid if at all possible" list.
I then turned my attention to the engine pods. Some juggling with more parts than last time later, I had one of the engines mounted. As I suspected, this engine will be completely hidden once the engine pod is closed.
Further construction proved that it was also completely unnessessary to build the engine in the first place, unless planning to open up the cowling. They might have pointed that out.. The inner engine pods also hold the impressively large undercarriage. Parts 94, the lattice work that makes up the sides of the wheel wells (wheel caverns would be more accurate) are too large, and protrude from the surface of the wing, and need cutting down. The same holds for bulkheads 85, these are too large and will prevent the engine pods from lining up to the wings.
I do not believe the build sequence as indicated in the instructions is workable. The inner engine pods curve around the forward wing edge, preventing them from being attached from directly below the wing, and even when cut down to a nice fit, bulkheads 85 prevent hooking them over the front edge and then rotating them into place. I cought this while chopping the 85s down to size, and took a different approach. Bulkhead 81 was glued to engine pod half 74, with or without the Merlin and braces 84 installed. Once the glue had set, 74 was positioned over the wing edge and against bulkhead 85 (you can get a good grip on 74 and the wing, they're big enough), but not yet glued. The other engine pod half was then positioned, again without glue, against 74. Between the locator pin at the rear edge of the engine pod, bulkhead 85, and the front wing edge, the engine pod was now fairly stable against the wing. Keeping the rear of the pod halves lined up with the wing and 85, I then ran some very thin solvent glue into the seams between the rear portion of the pod halves, 85 and the pod halves, and the rear of the pod halves and the wing. No glue anywhere forward of 85 at this point. Once the (fortunately very fast glue) had set, the propellor hub was then wiggles between the pod halves at the front, and the front of the pods glued together and to the wing. Part 75 was then inserted from the front, and finally 87 attached, completing most of the pod. They're now in this state, waiting for the plastic to fully recover from the glue. Once completely set, I'll start stuffing filler into the gaps that remain between the wings and the pods.
It was hairy stick day over here. The cockpit interior of the Lancaster is as complete as it's going to get.
With the interior assembled and painted, it was then time to close the fuselage. Couldn't resist dry fitting the wings afterwards, just to get a feel for the shape and size of the model. This is a really big bird, and once completed, will easily be the biggest model in my collection.
Installed the bomb bay insert today (took some cursing, fit is again very dubious), and covered the seam between the fuselage halves in filler. This is not so much because the seam is somehow terrible, but I find that filler makes an excellent indicator to judge when the seam is sanded smooth; once all the filler is sanded off, the two halves join prefectly. Paint could do the same, except that filler also corrects any minor damage from sprue gates and such.
I've finished the engine nacelles, and all four are now on the wings. The area around the nacelles has been primed, to help me see where filler is going to be needed (did I mention I'm not fond of black plastic?)
The plane is now mostly built. All coarse construction is complete, and I've started to add all the finer bits that will go on before painting. That includes the undercarriage, except for the actual wheels, and ye gods, that's one fragile looking undercarriage. The main struts may well have the thinnest pieces of plastic in them I've ever dealt with, and this is the largest, heaviest plane I ever built. Really, really scary combination. Also, I somehow managed to get one of the sets of main struts on out of whack. Don't know which, can't for the life of me find where it went wrong, but one is at (roughly) straight angles to the wing, while the other slants noticably backwards (it doesn't help they're so long). No idea if it will be readily visible once finished, but right now, it's glaring at me.
Progress (and sleep) over since Monday have been less than stellar, on account of one of the cats going AWOL on Tuesday and Wednesday, seriously rattling the nerves of your's truly and her more faithful sister. Apparently the extended expedition didn't agree with her much, because when she did return, she felt really needed loads of attention and kept me awake begging for hugs and cuddles.
Furry distractions aside, I committed some brutalities against the bombbay insert to chop down that horrible step at the rear (could this error have been caused by someone looking at a Grand Slam modification, I seem to recall those having a step at the rear?), then sanded the whole fuselage seam smooth with a rather more delicate grade of sandpaper. The gaps between the inboard nacelles and the wing were treated to some Milliput, and finally, I gathered up the courage to attach the wings. I fully expected a serious fight, since this is the primary trouble spot on most aircraft, and this kit had shown some fit issues already, but to my surprise, the wings joined up with the fuselage very smoothly, and with a very clear postition fix. That particular part of the engineering on this kit is very much appreciated. That, roughly, was the end of Tuesday.
Wednesday was mostly spent assembling and painting the gun turrets. I always find working with transparencies in general, and painting the frames on them in particular, a rather nerve wrecking job, and my nerves weren't too good to start with at this time, so this took some time. The tail was also assembled during this day.
Yesterday, I mounted the front gunturret and fixed it in place with the "collar" (for lack of a more accurate word). The collar didn't fit worth a damn, lining up reasonably at the bottom, but leaving a gap of almost 1mm between the fairing on top and the fuselage (does anyone know what lives under that fairing?). Fixable, but sloppy, although to its credit, the turret remains turnable nicely.
I expected the rear turret to also be locked in by the pair of plastic bits at the very rear of the fuselage, but it turns out it remains completely free. I consider this a good thing, as it allows me to keep the turret safely out of harm way while I finish and paint the aircraft. What I can't figure out though, is why there were two sets of these plastic bits at the rear. I can't seem to find any difference between them, and the instructions only indicate a choice between the pairs, but no criteria for making that choice. In the end, I took the lazy option, and picked the pair with the least flash on them..
I found out what had gone wrong with the landing gear: I'd assembled the two sets differently, accounting fo the difference in shape and height. Felt really stupid there..
It's treason, I tell you. The paint has been sabotaged!
I got a nice, even coat if Xtracolor X002 laid down on the top of the Lancaster. At though it looked a bit odd at the time, but paint will occasionally do that, and then dry up perfectly. Not this time. For comparison, the picture shows the tip of the wing of a 1/48 Hurricane I did a while ago, with in theory exactly the same paint. On the Hurricane, it looks like Dark Earth to me. On the Lancaster, not so much..
Somewhat against my better judgement, I'd made a small start at masking the pattern on the wing, with the local equivalent of BlueTack. Again, this had worked well on the Hurricane, but on the darker paint on the Lancaster, it left 'bitemarks'.
I have since repainted the plane with Humbrol 29. This looks a lot more like Dark Earth, but I know from experience that this paint is very vulnerable, so before doing anything else, I'll hit it with a barrier coat of varnish.
The protective coat of varnish went on yesterday, so today I put on the camouflage. Mayby this is old hat the the others here, but the picture below shows how I tend to mask such jobs:
I scale up some image of the correct camo pattern, run it through the printer, and then cut out the bits that need to be masked. Earlier, I would have clipped these paper masks down a bit and attached them with BluTack, but since that bit me yesterday, I took an alternative approach. I cut windows in each of the masks, and put Tamiya tape over those. That give me just enough adhesive power to keep the paper closse to the plastic. I was a bit worried that paint would sneak under the edges, but the results were good.
The build is almost done. I've finished airbrushing, and put on the decals. All that remains is a dozen or so small bits sticking out of the aircraft, the wheels, and the glazing.
Almost made it, but close enough; 22:30 instead of 21:47. Just hope the crew doesn't mind their airplane smelling of wet paint..
So, the final entertainments...
I found out that one of the windows on the top was painted over/deleted on these planes, so that carefully set aside transparency was now a problem. Fortunately, I've done spot repairs on airbrushed paint before, and now always spray a scrap of decal paper along with the main target. If the part had fit perfectly (which it doesn't, and sanding is out) I thing the repair would have been completely invisible. Now, it merely takes effort to find it...
Next up was the protective varnish. I'd been dreading this part, as handbrushing it on shows (admittedly minor) brushstrokes, while airbrushing acrylics hasn't really been my thing so far; either I didn't thin it enough, and my airbrush clogged up, or I thinned it down with alcohol, and it still clogged the brush because it dries almost instantly, or I thinned it down with water, and got the surface tension so high I just got droplets on the kit. No good all around.
Then I remembered something about adding Windex. Windex doesn't exist here, but cleaning windows takes soap wherever you are, and soap lower surface tension. So I dumped in some drops of detergent and tested. To my very pleasant surprise, it worked. The mixture dumped on the kit consisted of about 50% Sylvacryl furniture varnish, 25% water, 25% alcohol, about 1ml of Talens acrylic retarder, and a few drops of detergent. Seems to have worked rather nicely.
That left fun with the glazing. The main canopy doesn't fit, you have to squeeze it down real hard to get it to go where it belongs. With the bulged sidepanels, it doesn't fit at all, and even squeezing won't help. Lots of fun getting painted transparencies to fit. Also, some bad language.. After this, it could once again be squeezed into place. Thing is, Microscale Crystal Clear (PVA?) needs a long time to set. Suffice to say that my hands hurt from keeping the pressure up forty minutes later..
Final entertainment came from the wingtip lights. One behaved, but the other went PING, straight into the jaws of the carpet monster. When questioned, the monster would only say "Burp!". I had to resort to improvisation. I superglued some fishing line accross the gap, creating a front rim. This gave me a frame, in which I could then drop some more PVA, as though making a "window". This works quite nicely, and might at some time be used instead of ill fitting lights by design rather than accident.