Airfix 1/24 scale Hellcat.

BarryW

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So why this kit?

This is a departure from my usual 1/32 scale aircraft, though a welcome return to WW2 subjects after a run of modern jets. I have little or no interest in the Hellcat, to me it just looks like an oversized Wildcat, a fat one at that and pretty ugly. That overall blue scheme most of them sport is boring and uninspiring. Though it was an excellent aircraft and performed well nothing of its history inspires me either.

But I do like 1/24.... I don’t build many in this scale as there is a shortage in choice of new tool subjects. My last 1/24 was the Typhoon which was a nice enjoyable build with good engineering, though the kit had some shortcomings, cheap plastic, shrinkage etc. I heard that Airfix had learned some lesson from that and corrected them with this kit....

My decision to buy this kit was very much an impulse buy and I might well not have bothered at all if the Fleet Air Arm had not operated it, which at least means there is a decent and more interesting scheme to depict. So here I am, my first Airfix since the Tiffy......

There is just one problem - what on earth will I do with it when it is done? I don’t really want it taking up shelf space alongside my 1/32 scale aircraft..... a problem that can wait....

Anyway, here is the box.

AEE30F0C-D756-4E87-8DC3-A2A4028A503E.jpeg

It is a big box packed full of plastic...
FC3085C5-1E17-4D82-A9F3-052F21ED0CD4.jpeg

I only have one item to add - apart from this it will be out of the box....
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Decals really should not be used for the major markings on 1/24 scale aircraft. Painting the markings is so much more effective....

so in this build I will include the following....

A review of my new David powered sanding tool.
A detailed explanation and guide to using paint masks for those who have not used them or have concerns about how easy it is... I promise you they are a lot easier than decals.

I will be building this kit in my usual style, wings extended, undercarriage down, all buttoned up with just the cockpit open to display a detailed cockpit.

Though out of the box is intended I do reserve the right to get a set to improve the instrument panel but that depends on what I find as I work on it. I really want a good detailed cockpit in this one...

It will be weathered but not excessively.

Paints and other materials:
MRP lacquers mostly, through the airbrush.
MRP water based acrylics for hand painting detail.
AKI wax metallisers for hand painting metal finishes (where I cannot use MRP metallisers through the airbrush)
Mig enamel washes
Uschi Metal Powders
Mig pigments
I have decided to lay down an Alclad Aqua Gloss varnish before decaling. I want to use this as a barrier between the lacquer paint and subsequent lacquer varnishes. (this will be an experiment)
Most other varnishes will be MRP though a few touches of Humbrol enamel gloss may be used if I need to hand brush a gloss somewhere.

By the time I am half way through this build I might reopen my office reducing my time at the bench. Lockdown has been good for modelling, more than doubling my time at the bench. Sadly I need to start taking on new clients in my business so cannot keep ‘skiving’ working from home too much longer. The build will also be interrupted by a week’s holiday in the Lake District, great for the missus who loves walking but miserable for me as she won’t be letting me into the pubs and restaurants ‘on pain of death’... She seems to think drinking and eating at home is as good as a nice pub and pubs are too ‘dangerous’ at the moment. Women!! can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em....

Anyway on with the build, watch this space....
 
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Jim R

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Hi Barry
Watching with interest. I don't remember ever following a 1/24 scale plane build. Looking forward to learning about painting masks.
Jim
 

Matt.

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I’m in for this build, if I remember correctly this was heavily featured in a Hornby documentary a couple of years ago. Watching with interest.
 

peterairfix

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I will be having a seat on this build.
Having done this one myself I can vouch that it's and very good build that I enjoyed and it's not often I will say that about a large scale kit.
 

homechild

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Really wish I had the space to store 1:32 and 1:24 scale kits but alas I have to live through you Barry. I’m in for this one.
 

BarryW

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As always I do a good clean up of the workbench area and replenish supplies between builds.

Unpacking the kit I found the sprues joined in pairs like this.
D52ABE7D-9EAD-4C3A-AC0F-6DA2CE41A8F8.jpeg

to make them more wieldy I separated them and cut away the central runner (or is that part really the sprue? I get them mixed up...
I also take a little time to label the sprues with post-it’s fixed with cello tape. Sounds a faff but a little time doing that saves a lot later.

D687B11A-EDE2-403A-883C-1FF940A1B3B4.jpeg

Initial impression is that the parts are cleanly moulded with sharp detail. They look to be an improvement over the Tiffy. It is still that cheap soft plastic though which will be an issue causing shrinkage and possibly warping.

I also did a quick reference for paints. Another few minutes work that save time later. The red are the MRP colours where I want to use specifics. I have since decided not to use 228 as I suspect the US interior green cockpit colour is more appropriate.

8614F224-8D6A-491F-B199-7A6E5335AE52.jpeg

Here is a shot of my workbench all set up ready to cut plastic.

2CAC7C80-5E62-4EA0-AC7A-2FAF46DF8A23.jpeg

I had enough time to start the first couple of sub assemblies.

Excellent fit but already the soft plastic is an issue, a couple of sink holes in the oxygen tank. I scored the sinks and used Mr Surfacer 500 to fill them. Tomorrow I will sand it down. One good thing about the plastic is how easy it is to clean up and prepare. I can also report that Airfix have sorted their sprue organisation issue, all the parts for the first few sub assemblies are on a single sprue, D. No searching across multiple sprues for parts to use in a single stage so far...

F15ABFF1-4B92-40DB-8B9F-836473394CEA.jpeg
 
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Jakko

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the central runner (or is that part really the sprue? I get them mixed up...
Technically, the central bit you removed is the sprue, the frame that the parts are held on is the runner. Plastic enters the mould through the sprue and flows to the parts through the runners. However, everyone calls the whole thing the sprue anyway :smiling3:
 

BarryW

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I have decided to extend this build to show how I do the basics in some detail. I am not wanting to show experienced modellers how ’to suck eggs’ but the less experienced may well be helped by it. This Airfix kit is perfect for doing this..... I would ask that any experienced modellers who want to add their experiences, ideas and suggestions, please feel free to do so. There are more ways than one to approach this hobby....

On with the build, but first I want to mention an old chestnut, on FB modelling groups (not so much here) I see a lot of people advocating painting on the sprue.

Some people might read this who are new to the hobby and learning, as I am doing some ‘basics’ I might as well cover this in a bit of detail. It may help them.

Now there are some situations when that is sensible, such as small parts that need to be painted separately, rather than as part of a sub-assembly, where the sprue attachment is on a locating tab or somewhere else that won’t be painted. In such situations I sometimes, if I think to do so, cut the section of sprue attached to the part away and use it to hold the part while painting. But that is rare.

The ‘on sprue’ painting I am referring to is where people paint all the parts on a sprue. Some say they just do primer, others perhaps, just small parts but some advocate camouflage as well. None of that makes sense for the following reasons:
1/ Primer has a number of jobs, for paint adhesion (important for water based paint) ], providing a uniform ‘canvas’ for painting (important for multi-media kits or where there has been a fair bit of ‘filling’, most importantly also for checking your build for flaws that need dealing with such as glue marks, gaps etc. At least two of those purposes are negated if you prime on the sprue....
2/ You cannot properly clean up a part while still on a sprue. By that I mean fully access and deal with mold lines and all other imperfection, not to mention sprue gates. Scraping and sanding those will ruin the paint.
3/ What about seams between parts? I see many a model on FB where the fuselage half seams have not been filled or even just sanded. This is basic stuff. As kids we may not have done that but if you want something that looks decent, as adults, it has to be done. If you have painted on the sprue it would be a lot more trouble to repaint after dealing with seams....
4/ Glue damages paint..... I need not say more there.

OK we experienced modellers know all this but some people do it, but why? There is absolutely no reason to paint on the sprue except in those rare exceptions I first mentioned and even then it is best to cut that part of the sprue away from the rest.

So the first skill and new modeller needs to develop is to safely remove parts from the sprue.

These are what I use:
7FA54705-FB14-4EE9-9DD7-6C7AB77F29E0.jpeg

I remove parts mostly with my larger sprue nippers cutting well away from the part. Sometimes I will use the other tools where parts are fragile, or in an awkward position. Even the small razor saw sometimes is needed for a fragile part.

These are the parts for the next stages of the build removed from the sprue, before clean up.

9A46F8A8-704F-4206-AFF2-FED5368426F2.jpeg

The tools I use for clean up.
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My small Zoukei Mura clippers are great at getting right close in to the part, small and sharp. They were expensive and are hard to get though. I use them to cut away the remaining sprue gates leaving just a wipe of the fine sanding stick to finish the job. Beware of over sanding a part. The flat scrapers are handy for angles and rounded areas but most of my scraping work on mould seams is with the Zoukei Mura pointed scraper. Another expensive tool but I love the control it provides, a brilliant bit of kit able to fit into the tightest spaces. Below, the parts all cleaned up.
C9E3EB90-6717-40A4-B822-6866C8B8E38C.jpeg

There are some sink marks in the bottom right part that should be dealt with. I scored them with a knife and use Mr Surfacer 500, applied with a cocktail stick. You get a better picture of the sink holes, already scored with a knife below.
B3707C9E-5361-4E77-8193-743E69B7F3C2.jpeg
They need to be left for several hours to cure before being ready for sanding.
8C663AE7-51E0-4A50-A3C5-A9D439B55B85.jpeg
Here is ‘one I got ready earlier’ , the oxygen bottle from the first stage showing with the filler sanded.
0017465D-68C1-4E55-A33E-A5A1452D197A.jpeg
It is held in locking tweezers ready to paint.

Speaking of filler - here are the various filler that I use. Each has its own properties, advantages and disadvantages and it has its own role to play. One type of filler does not do it all. Through the build I will explain situations when each is used.

DBF2808A-D329-4811-9F5D-BD5B0C935C65.jpeg

1A813402-34FC-4BF7-8325-A63A0B268596.jpeg

see the little gap at the bottom of the control column, that is idea for me to apply a little thick c.a., it dries quickly and can be sanded. Some people mix c.a. with talcum powder and use it more widely than I do.

the other side of the control column just need a light sanding with my skinny sanding sponge.

56C2F8C4-8BFC-4836-BB52-6E04905D2C27.jpeg

No gap at all, that is the visible bit too.....
 

homechild

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It’s good of you to go into detail on this, Barry, I’m certain I’ll be learning from this thread!
 

BarryW

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Dry fitting as you go is essential. This kit has very tight tolerances and making sure the parts are properly cleaned up is vital.

The parts below are just test fitted, after test fitting I decided it would be easy to sand the MS500 in situ so I decided to apply cement. However, do note the ejection pin marks In the bulkhead. These can be a real pain In the neck and any that are visible need to be dealt with by filling and sanding. None of these will be visible. The instrument panel will be in the way and it will be set back. For that reason I decided to leave them.
5341D67E-3CF4-44F0-9C15-8458FC98FD4B.jpeg

Talking about cement - these are what I will be using....
91DE783C-EBF8-441E-942D-350DFB452025.jpeg
I will mostly be using Mr Cement S on the left. It is like Tamiya Extra Thin, but better. With this cement you apply it by brush to a join and allow capillary action to draw it in. It binds quickly and any surplus evaporates quickly. It is not for applying to a part prior to joining. Mr Cement Delux is what I use when I need to apply it before joining, I do not use nearly as much of this as I do MCS. The Mr Cement SP Black on the right I am going to try out for the first time on this build. It has a black dye and is supposed to help you to deal with seams, I am doubtful whether it really will help but I aim to give it a try

Some people seem to think Mr Cement S and TET are just for small pieces. That is not true. They are actually equally as good for larger pieces like fuselage halves. I hold the parts together with tape and ‘tac’ the cement between the pieces of tape making sure I stay well away from it, after a minute or two I remove the tape and apply the Mr Cement S by brush all along the seam. On this kit though I will use the black version to see if the black 8really does help dealing with the seams...

The small part in the picture below will fit between the floor and bulkhead. It will be best to fix this first to one of the parts for painting and to then join it to the other when the main parts come together.
272CC043-ABA5-4FAE-B421-E6DE52CD0FAF.jpeg

I did a test fit and then applied Mr Cement S to the locations in the floor.

11673064-ECE0-4487-91DD-3F2AE1D87471.jpeg

Below is an example of where Mr Delux Cement is useful. The two levers don’t fit into holes in the panel, but instead rest in slots. So I applied the slow drying cement into the slots then inserted the levers. it would have been awkward holding a lever in place to the apply cement to it, three hands would be needed for that.

874EA757-39FE-4155-A08B-1593492CC263.jpeg
In place
815D8FE2-7C7F-431C-91EF-B8E5E889E49C.jpeg

Parts for the seat, all cleaned up and ready:
F2E820DB-5AD7-495F-8A14-73CC8DD0014A.jpeg

The assembly covers two stages in the instructions and, as you can see, the cushion has belts moulded in. They can look good painted well. Due to the painting requirements this is as far as I can go with the seat for now.

7C36E5C4-DB9E-41DD-9E1C-7D2B5D42D40A.jpeg

The shoulder straps come in a single moulded piece with two strips joining them. The instructions suggest not cutting them away from the join until after test fitting. So I will paint them like this with the fitting waiting until all the internal subs come together.

F245E5DE-500E-423D-9B03-F02D7FCD7744.jpeg

It is important to always be looking several stages ahead of where you are working. I found some parts that need gluing in place on the floor before painting. A nice tight positive fit.
C524374C-7798-4ACF-983D-5065143E2A8E.jpeg

Here is where I am at... All subs attached to lolly sticks or held in locking tweezers ready to paint. All except for the bulkhead, that is waiting for the MS500 to cure so I can sand it. I will then use double sided tape to fix it to a stick.

529E121D-49A9-4176-9977-4E890096A91F.jpeg

Now I have said before how Airfix have learned to organise sprues on such a big kit. All the parts so far have come from sprue D and here we have one empty sprue for disposal.
775FAD16-4C69-4357-ABF7-42825D973C60.jpeg

With the Tiffy I was having to search out parts from multiple sprues for sub-assemblies and it was a pain in the neck.

Next - I need to remove the fuselage sides and clean them up.
5BF2F9DF-363A-448A-AE4B-CD2C27EA831E.jpeg
The exterior detail includes a ‘oil canning’ effect that I have only seen on the Tiffy. Superb detailing.

My only concern with these parts is this...
80FE7FAE-80C3-484C-B6F4-E54CD479B6FC.jpeg

I do not like it when highly visible and vulnerable bits of detail are moulded in, like that fin post, it will break.... my choices, to remove it with a clean cut, then glue it back as part of final fittings, leave it and hope for luck or try to protect it. I decided to try the latter. It should work, I hope, until I have to remove it in the painting stage.... a cut off lolly stick taped to it and the fin.

A62E1CCD-4BE3-4457-B4ED-4475DF25C146.jpeg

F95CBE43-2D51-4852-A6B3-E412FBB2C51D.jpeg
Will it work? We shall see. It is certainly less vulnerable at least for now. I can always change my mind later and cut it off I suppose...
 
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BarryW

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I am continuing to work on cockpit sub-assemblies.

This part broke when I removed it from the sprue. I don’t think I was clumsy, I think it was already damaged, the soft plastic I think is the issue.
ED6E1106-7389-4114-BB93-ABF0894018ED.jpeg
Easy enough to mend... once I had cleaned the parts up.
36DD92A7-C877-4DF6-A10F-D3B3BBE2076C.jpeg

Here they are installed into the fuselage side.
0649E558-535F-4A5C-AC39-61584F991391.jpeg

I also sanded the sink holes...

B2E0AB52-56A6-449C-8041-8695958CBB08.jpeg

Lots more subs to pull together before I start to actually paint them.... Those extraction pin holes look awful but I must resist spending time on them as they won’t be seen at all.....
 

Jim R

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Hi Barry
I appreciate all the extra work and time you are putting into this thread to show how you work and obtain such stunning results.
I am not wanting to show experienced modellers how ’to suck eggs’ but the less experienced may well be helped by it.
None of us ever stop learning, there is always something new or different so even the most skilled and experienced will pick up something I'm certain.
My small Zoukei Mura clippers are great at getting right close in to the part, small and sharp.
Tamiya are also excellent. Slightly less pricey and easier to find.
Great start to the build.
Jim
 

therapy

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Barry, as a relative newcomer I echo Jim's comments. You are putting a lot of effort into your posts for our benefit. Thanks.

Nick.
 

Ian M

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Have seen a few of these as a finished build but never a complete build thread. Also it will be refreshing to see one that is not Blue and shiny!

Looks like my coffee breaks have just gotten more interesting!!!
 

stona

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Great stuff Barry, and thanks for taking the time and making the effort to provide such a comprehensive description of your techniques.

I think that releasing parts from the sprue (we'll call them that Jakko :smiling3: ) is one of the most important things we do, and it is easy to get it wrong. I use a pair of very fine electronic side cutters rather than a purpose built sprue cutter, but it's essentially the same thing. Like you I will use a sharp blade or very fine saw if necessary. The typically brittle plastic of clear parts is sometimes a subject for the saw. Most important, whatever you use, is to cut the parts from the sprue, not break them off, which almost invariably damages the plastic in areas you don't want it damaged! With a very fine part I take a moment to think how I will release it. Whatever you do will stress the part in some way, but sometimes thinking of the order in which you will cut the attachments will reduce over stressing and breaking the weakest part of the piece. I find this particularly useful when releasing long or very thin parts, like pipework or hoses.

I can comment on your 'coloured' cement because a few years ago the idea that colour in the cement would help with seams gained considerable traction. I was one of many who tinted my thin cement with the addition of a drop or two of black paint. The tint worked but I never found any benefit to it. Of course, others may have a different opinion, but it's not something I bother with anymore.

Keep it going! It doesn't matter how experienced someone thinks they are, it's always interesting to watch how someone else does it and there is always something to learn.

Cheers

Steve
 

BarryW

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Thanks all....

I grabbed some time at the bench today...
I cemented in some bulkheads...
890DF18E-4E33-4A22-AE13-4E4A34C74098.jpeg

Below only the rear bulkhead is being cemented, the front one is just there to help make sure the rear one is correctly positioned with a flat piece sat between them.
72E22C20-E9EB-4FC4-B0AB-D6504A916A64.jpeg

here is the result
383BB0B8-AC25-4391-8BED-B701CC852503.jpeg

you will see a fair few ejector pin marks, fortunately they will not be seen so I left them alone.

Next I come to the first real build issues I have had.

the parts below are meant to fit between the fuselage sides. You would have no hope of the matching up correctly to both sides if you added them at a later stage. So i tried to do so now, with the sides dry fitted until the cement was dry on one side of the part I am inserting But... they did not fit and held the fuselage sides apart.
D765FCD5-053D-4647-8484-8E8251B31DC6.jpeg

so I tried trimming and sanding them to get a fit.
AC9826B2-4B4D-40C9-834E-23A7DFBB9F2D.jpeg

You can see above how it looked once I positioned the sides, I then reached in with a long tool to push the drooping side up and ease it into position while parting the sides slightly. I spent a while at it without luck. In the end I just decided to leave these parts out, they won’t be seen after all. Airfix simply did not engineer this well enough, even Trumpeter have done a lot better with parts like that, a good solid location in one side is all that’s really needed, plus a good fit of course.

Next issue....

Look at the gap at the bottom....

34532052-202B-40F1-AEE6-4904484FF68C.jpeg
That is while pressing the sides hard together.

but that’s nothing
F602802B-51A9-4FEB-AC4B-27E1CE0E042F.jpeg

This awful soft plastic is very prone to warping and shrinkage which is the issue above.. Quite simply it is not suitable for large kits.

A lot of sanding and cutting is needed to correct the first matter while the front will just have to be forced together at the appropriate time.

This demonstrates the need for test fitting. Better to do the correction now than later. I had a fair bit of plastic removal to do and even then a lot of force is needed to hold the sideS together. I will do more dry fitting later in the build once the other bulkheads are in place.

Then yet another problem....
Look at the tail hook. The only way the hook fits into the housing as shown is in the fully extended position as if the aircraft was coming In to land. In fact I think the intention of Airfix was to have the hook retractable. No chance of that, it’s not just the tight fit, there is a bit of a curve involved, the hook does not have a straight line to follow.....
2170B040-72CE-4BAD-821D-4ABA17F74012.jpeg

My solution, not to mess around thinning and bending the piece, but to cut the end off and glue it in.

BF88E8F8-674D-4315-B0D1-4135EFC9C2CD.jpeg

The other side then fits fine and then the assembly goes perfectly into the fuselage side.

6FF0277B-7FB1-4B44-8FEA-9615252A4EB5.jpeg

None of the issues above are a massive problem, though the fuselage fit takes a lot of work, but this really is idiotic, what on earth are Airfix thinking, they are getting so much right with this kit and then to do that....

Another oddity, not a problem as such.

Here are the instrument panel pieces.
87696042-2145-4A53-903B-6A08F4C6A9FE.jpeg
I do appreciate them providing the option of a panel that has instrument detail inscribed on it for painting plus an option to put decals on another that just has empty round dials with individual decals for each dial. But why do they bother with clear plastic? It is pointless. If you are using the inscribed one you will need to paint it black then paint the dial details. If you are using (as I will) the plain one with decals again you need to paint it black, apply the decals and in both cases glue on the face panel, itself painted black. Glass dials can be represented by varnish or something similar. There is no way there is any use for clear plastic. I do wonder what goes through the mind of the kit designers at times...

Anyway, I am now ready to paint prior to joining the fuselage sides and need to sort out a painting order.

Below are the parts where I will first be spraying a tan for seatbelts.
118BBF07-4AB3-4F62-9207-A07701E13B8C.jpeg
Note the bulkhead, it is the V shaped bit, clearly being the back of the seatbelts as they turn over behind the seat and they will be visable. The instructions say paint them Interior Green with the rest of the bulkhead! Clearly the painting instructions cannot be trusted.

parts below will be sprayed black
86823AF1-F233-4260-AF83-97E052D95CD6.jpeg

Aluminium - will spray this first, then the tan with the bit on the bulkhead first....
5B3DBE5A-C9BC-405E-8EA9-8712209893A7.jpeg

I will mask up the aluminium painted part above to leave the straps to ready tobe painted I will also mask the tan seatbelts on the bulkhead at the same time. Yes, MRP does dry that quick....
these two parts are then sprayed interior green alongside this lot...
6ABD9347-D90E-49AA-A1CF-B64EA12814D9.jpeg

I will then be ready for detail painting, mostly with the hairy stick.

so, why no primer...

MRP does not need it for adhesion and there are no flaws to worry about internally. I also don’t see the need for preshading either given how limited the view of the interior will be, it won’t be appreciated. That is not to say the interior won’t be weathered, watch this space!
 
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