MPM’s Heinkel 177 in 1:48
To clear my head between ambitious ship builds, I sometimes build aircraft in 1:48.
I've always had a fad for the He 177, so when I found the kit, I bought it immediately.
The quality of the kit leaves a lot to be wished for, which didn't bother me too much at first, since I just wanted to build something different for a change anyway.
The kit had been spiced up with resin and PE parts for the cockpit. Since I didn't think that much of that detail would be seen behind the frames of the canopy, I didn't bother to fit all the PE parts.
The styrene parts are sometimes quite crude. For example in the case of the engine exhausts, where it was easier just to replace them with styrene tubing, that to try to shape up the original parts.
The main weakness of the kit is perhaps the joint between the wings and the fuselage. I stiffened it up with a styrene beam that I bought in London 1979 when I was a teenager. It was about time it came to use.
The trailing edges of the wings were way too thick, so I decided to sand them down.
Having made little progress with an ordinary file, I got fed up and went at it with my sanding machine. That's the first time I've used it on a kit.
Quite a lot of filling and sanding was needed to conceal joints, and after that, quite a few panel lines needed to be rescribed. I hadn't done much of that before, but after a while I got the hang of it.
When the basic assembly was done, she looked so brutally kool, that I had to fly her around in my apartment for a while. Boys will play……
Since some ten years back I've painted all my models with Vallejo colours. As I've developed my airbrushing technique, I've become more and more frustrated with the way they dry on the tip of the needle, making intricate freehand airbrushing very difficult. It was time to try something new.
I bought some cans of Aero Color, paints designed for airbrush artists and then mixed my own RLM colours to the best of my abilities. It turned out that Aero Color works really well on plastic models and I'm pretty sure that I couldn't have airbrushed this camouflage pattern freehanded if I had used Vallejos paints.
The decals were pretty fragile, so after having torn some of them, I ended up masking and airbrushing the "Balkenkreuze", which wasn't too hard.
To make the base plate come alive, I decided to make the most of the small differences of level, that are to be found even on a flat airfield. Some cutting with a small circular saw and some work with a jack plane took care of the curvature of the runway. A little chiseling on both sides of the runway made sure the grass fields by the sides weren't completely flat either.
I made the concrete plates from grey cardboard, into which I scribed some cracks using the tip of my hobby knife. Then I emphasised the crack and the joints with a little medium grey applied with the airbrush.
The grass is model railroaders grass "planted" in "earth" made from white glue, mixed with some wall putty and then pigmented with brown Vallejo paint.
After the grass was planted, I played around some more with grey on the concrete surfaces and also sprayed some clear gloss along the sides to make it look a bit wet.
The inspiration for the base plate came from this classic picture.
In hindsight I could have weathered the aircraft quite a bit more, and also applied more clear gloss to make the runway look more wet. Maybe I'll go back and do that some day. I also have a Kübelwagen and some figures waiting to be built, painted and added.