Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review; Heller De Havilland Dragon Rapide 1/72 Model Kit WW2 Aircraft Biplane RAF airfix dominie

The Box 

A rather unexpressive box, with a version shown which I don't care for too much. The artwork is well made but it isn't not in thrilling action or being exceptionally imaginative.

A much improved version in my opinion, making a good use of the perspective.

Not bad, with a very 1950s looking style, even if rather unmilitaristic for my taste.

The Kit 

A very fine kit, at least in it's first Heller releases. No flash to speak about, and very fine parts, everything fitting together nicely and tidily. The interior is a bit basic, and the chairs and other apparatus looks smaller than 1/72. 
The wheels and propellers can be made to turn perfectly.
But albeit looking like a very fine model, I consider in overall it looks wrong. I always thought it was quite a stubby airplane, and I was surprised to see that it was so small and thin in all aspects. Although the measurements are ok, I am nearly sure that the thickness and width of the wings, fuselage and motors should be much greater, it simply looks strange when compared with real photographs. It's a kind of overall feeling, but I can say that at least the engines should be wider and the wheels bigger in overall. I am not picky usually with this kind of small inaccuracies, but in this kit they have built up together to combine in a very perceptible problem.

                                       The Verdict

I would say search for a alternative model kit or wait for a new release, as this kit will possibly leave you unconvinced, at least it is for me. You can always try to fix all the small inaccuracies, but being a problem of overall dimensions you will have a hard time in doing so. The model kit in itself can be slightly hard to find, but nothing that 20 GBP cannot buy.

My version

I was a long time researching information for this kit, hoping to find something to find something truly exciting and operational. I was attracted by the Lithuanian version (which I struggled to find good images) but the overall dullness of the dark green put me off, it wasn't thrilling enough. I googled, googled and googled again, and finally found something new and unusual. Having read that some were delivered to Nationalist China, I googled in that direction, and finally found two pics of those airplanes. The first shows the aircraft in use as aerial ambulances, which isn't very combative and similar have been seen before, but the second one is really different. It shows how it has received markings from the Nationalist Air Force, received the colours in the tail fin and what apparently looks as a sort of camouflage (definitely, not plain white!). I couldn't resist to such an obscure version. I interpreted it as the Nationalists ended up using the ambulances as military transport, or simply camouflaged them as the Japanese weren't respecting too much their air ambulances (as you can see, there is still the red cross on the fuselage). I considered for the upper wing the markings would have been added too, and that it would have been painted green and the wear will have shown the white underneath.
I built this model some time ago, and nowadays I think that perhaps the green would have been applied rashly over the white as a camo, and not painted completely on top of it and later worned off. Maybe the green should have been darker.... anyway, there is plenty of room for interpretation, as the rudder fin looks very worn and faded off.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Review; Revell Boeing PT-13D Stearman Kaydet 1/72 Model Kit WW2 Aircraft Biplane USAAF Training navy n2S-5

Welcome to again a new review, this time the Stearman Kaydet from Revell! ;

  The Box 

A nice and colourful box, which invites you to buy the kit. I was many times at the point of buying it, but I am usually allergic to aircraft that didn't saw combat during WW2, although, as I later discovered, I was wrong. Anyway, this box does the job. 

Other alternative boxes;

This artwork is interesting and well done, looks a bit old fashioned, and I usually prefer artworks from the front, but it's not bad, as it looks very militaristic and operational with this colours.

This box from the late 80s is quite pathetic, from the times of the fashion of showing the built kit. It's not that the kit is badly done, but is poorly photographed. Done with a nice background, or moving the propeller, or simply before taking off on the ground, but like this it looks silly and really puts me off buying it.

The Kit 
This kit is extremely old, it is a 1960s reissue. A very fine kit at that moment, but after thousands of copies made the moulds are not what they were. When you open the box (that is quite small) you find with a even smaller couple of sprues, and when you when 1960something printed on it, you feel a bit dodged, but anyway, the kit is usually very cheap. As always, if you can get a vintage kit, much better than the latest release, if you are not bothered by the decals, which in the new version are of the highest quality.
One of the good things kit is that it is already in yellow plastic, so even if you want to paint it, it will be much easier than covering another plastic colour, and will give a much better result with the always tricky yellow paint.
You need to be prepared for lots of sanding, but all the same this was a good kit, so at least parts, when properly sanded, do fit. In a short morning you can finish the kit. Of course, as a biplane, I strongly recommend that you use solvent instead of super glue, the upper wing will thank you for it.
As an old kit, you get two very nice pilots, although they look like more 1930s adventurers than a instructor and  a learner of the USAAF.
Both wheels and propeller can be built to turn wonderfully, adding a very nice toy feeling to the kit.

       The Verdict
A very fun model to build, and for such a low price I strongly recommend it. After all, it was one of main trainer aircraft of the USAAF, and it served with the civilian air force in helping patrolling the coasts of United States, and they even succeeded in sinking two submarines.

My version
I was hoping to find some Chinese Nationalist version, or a WW2 Thai version, but surprisingly for me, nothing of the such could be found. I was at the point of giving a radical modernistic scheme with red yellow squares, or a black & gold modern civilian version, just for the fun of it. But the I came over the Civil Air Patrol markings, and they semi-operational activity, and I was convinced to do it like that. I was even at the point of building it straight-out-of-the-box, but I always find dull to make what the manufacturers suggest me.
Even if it is known that several Stearman Kaydetts served in this air force, no actual pic can be found. I was tempted to paint it maroon as some aircraft did, but as it looked a bit improbable that that colour was applied to a Kaydett, and I had a beautiful yellow surface to work on, I went for a blue and yellow version like some other very similar aircraft used in the same function.
I love how the insignias look, as it is something you are not used to see, it seems like a short-lived 1930s nation. 
I only applied a slight coat of yellow over the plastic, and then highlighted the ailerons painting black lines between them. It might give a sort of toy sensation, but I kind of like it as it is, all the same, a Kaydett wouldn't have gotten very worn, so I went for a clean look this time.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Review; Trumpeter Swedish Strv.103 b Stridsvagn 1/72 Model Kit Modern Auto-propelled artillery tank

Welcome to another modern tank review, this time the STRV 103 from the Swedish Army. One of the most remarkable and different designs from the modern era tanks.

       The Box 

Trumpeter boxes are always very dull. Just the kit made to good standard in the most common version. I would probably have more Trumpeter kits if the box artworks would have been better, the box leaves me completely cold, it doesn't transmit any sensation, and it doesn't the dull grey at the sides of the box.

The Kit 
Trumpeter kits are always very well detailed, and this is no exception. The fine detail and parts are superb, and you can specially see this in the mud rails at the top of the tank, which are beautifully made. 
One of the other great aspects of Trumpeter are the high quality elastic tracks, why you need to glue dozens of track links when rubber can do the job? Trumpeter demonstrates that you can do quality rubber tracks without losing realism. If you want to represent the tank in idle position, you can always sag them by heating the track (with hot water) and then placing plastic bars or any other object to leave them in position.
It's a wonderfully easy model to make, as there is very little flash to speak about, and everything fits nicely. The most tricky part are the small hooks, which tends to break, and you will have a job cutting out of the sprue in one piece. Fortunately, you are given some spare ones so you can even afford to lose and break one or two.
Trumpeter also makes other versions of this tank, so you will have some spare parts. 
Be careful with decals, if you don't Micro Sol products to fix them, or you don't seal them with varnish, they will break and fly off in a couple of months.

My version
I was in a mood for something different, so when I saw this "Ikea" version (it truly exists!) I said to me "why not make something different?" and "I won't be painting any other tank like this", so, even if there was some interesting alternatives, it was to be yellow and blue for  me (maybe someday I'll build the other version with reactive armour and track covers, with a white and bright green camo). You will notice the strange anti-aerial turret, and this a invention I made with a spare turret I was given. I will add shortly pics of the model with it's conventional turret, which I forgot to bring with me in the photo session up in the mountain. Everything was painted in plain colours, but it looked too new and plasticky (which was quite realistic, but looked bad) so I applied various layers of black inkings, and then I painted highlights of light blue and yellow respectively to get a more realistic, sun-lit appearance.
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review; Revell Panzerhaubitze 2000 1/72 Model Kit Modern Auto-propelled artillery tank

Today we review the most modern vehicle we've reviewed yet, the Panzerhaubitze 2000. Developed in the late 1990s, it is still in use and it is considered a state-of-the-art tank, and is starting to be exported to other countries. Probably, it will still be on use for several decades. We'll review the highly detailed Revell kit.

The Box; In the line of Revell, a very detailed artwork, with a lot of convincing power. I am not a fan of modern vehicles, but I specially searched for this kit, as it looks like a modernization of the Tiger Elephant.

The Kit;

it is a fully detailed kit, as one could imagine from such a modern subject. The detail is perfect and plentyful, and with virtually no flash at all. AS you can see it has many intricate details small bits and details on the top of the hull and turret, which have been all nicely done. It's a bit surprising that some of the tools and other removable parts are moulded on to the hull, and others require assembly, the ones of moulded in the hull look quite flat, so the advanced modeller will definitely remove them and substitute them for separate parts. The assembly is easy and the only complicate part could be the tracks which are rigid plastic and have to be glued bit by bit (although you get good long stretches of it).
The biggest criticism I have for this model is the lack of modern crew, at least one men would have been much appreciated, and even more when he is shown on the box artwork, and maybe even more knowing that it is nearly impossible (if it is indeed done) to get modern tank crew for a German tank just like it looks on the box artwork. Besides this, there is no option of leaving the hatches open, as even they are a separate part there is no hole underneath, so you will have to drill and modify if you want to include a driver and give a bit more of life to the model (only the hull hatch has a hole).

The Veredict; 

a very nice and perfect model kit, that can be very easily translated into a superb display piece. Also, being a modern Revell kit you can pick it from a shop or from eBay at a very reasonable cost. As a recommendation, I would suggest buying it from the Revell special set with tank transporter and armoured car, which I tried to search for but in the end only found the separate tank.

The Shown Example

I went for a camouflage I found in the net, a experimental digital camo. I am not sure if it has really been done, but as his operational history is still not over, why not it could be painted like this in a near future? I only applied the generic decals, leaving it without nationality, but it is supposed to be a Qatari example, where it has been exported. The other options are only Germany, Netherlands and Greece, at least up to this date (September 2015), which their camouflages are very similar and standard (the three-toned german modern camo).
 I used Tamiya Clear Blue to get the mirror effect on the visors, and painted with different tones of orange and yellow the lights so they look as if they were open. I applied various coats of dark brown and black paint, thinned with water, to make pop up all the details that Revell has offered us.

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