Thursday, 23 March 2017

P-51D MUSTANG: Ferocious Frankie! Work In progress Part 1.


Hello!

This is a special project-very special. Four years ago I was celebrating my 40th birthday with one of my closest friends and he presented me with Tamiya's 1/32 P-51D Mustang! I was blown away with his generosity and kindness as he had also arranged with the help of my family the trip of a lifetime in the USA. I was not expecting this wonderful gift and I was so grateful to him for all he done already. I was literally floored!

Thanks to my friend Frank I have built many wonderful kits including my beloved Spitfire MH434 which was also a 1/32 Tamiya kit. I knew that this Mustang would have to be built in his honour and so I could not think of a more fitting scheme than Ferocious Frankie.

This P-51D was flown by Major Wallace E. Hopkins, and Ferocious Frankie was named in honour of his wife Frankie. Coded B7 H of the 374th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group. Wallace Hopkins was born in Washington, Georgia and flew a total of 76 combat missions with the 361st where he flew as Operations Officer. He was an ACE credited with 8 victories and 1.5 damaged. His decorations include the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross both with Oak Leaf Clusters and the French Croix de Guerre, one of four awarded to members of the 361st. During WWII the 374th Fighter Squadron was based in southern England and distinguished itself in the finest traditions of the USAAF.

Here is how Ferocious Frankie looked with her full yellow nose towards the later end of the war, the D-day invasion stripes clearly visible.




It so happens that today that The Old Flying Machine Company owns and operates a
P-51D Mustang finished in the colours of Ferocious Frankie based a IWM Duxford alongside, my favourite Spitfire MH434. It seems quite fitting then that as in real life, I shall have MH434 and Ferocious Frankie displayed together.

Below, the modern day Ferocious Frankie at IWM Duxford. A place I truly love.




So why has it taken me so long to get around to building this model? Well, firstly I was a little nervous! This is a high end, expensive kit that my friend has given to me-I don't want to mess this up! Secondly, life gets in the way, things happen. As I wrote back in 2015, I became very ill due to my disability and after a very complex operation I am lucky to still have the use of my hands! I wanted to wait until I felt confident enough to built it and make a decent job of it. So now the time has come and this kit is on my bench.

Frank, this one is for you.


The kit:

Tamiya 1/32 P-51D MUSTANG:



This is an incredible kit and it's engineering and tooling is more than impressive! Upon opening the box and examining the highly detailed parts and the quality of the instructions, decals and so on I knew that this was something special. It is a complex kit to be sure but its quality is unsurpassed.

To show you how good it is, here is a review by Brett Green of Hyperscale:
Tamiya 1/32 P-51D Mustang

Now, lets crack on with the build!











Hope you enjoy this build as much as I am!

Happy Modelling!

Darren.






Tuesday, 14 March 2017

MERKAVA!



Hello!

As promised in my last post, here is my completed 1/35 Academy IDF Merkava Mk.III.
This kit was a gift my friend Eric who wanted to see what I could do with a modern armour kit. Well, as regular readers of this blog will know I am more of an aircraft modeller so my knowledge and skills towards armour subjects is somewhat limited!

Academy's Merkava Mk.III

Nonetheless, I found Academy's Mk.III to be an enjoyable build and learning about the fearsome IDF Merkava was of great interest to me. This main battle tank is designed to keep its crew safe and deliver a deadly powerful punch to it's enemy with speed and accuracy!

The real IDF Merkava Mk.III

The kit was a straightforward build and I was impressed with the models surface textures and details. I used Vallejo acrylics Sinai Grey to paint the tank and it was weathered with a combination of enamel washes, dry brushing with acrylic paints and a very thinned mist of sand coloured airbrushed over the model to blend everything in. I also added a crew figure from MENG's modern IDF tank crew set. The finished model was set on the display base I finished in my last post.

Here is the completed model, I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Modelling!

Darren. 













Thursday, 9 March 2017

How to make a simple display base- A step by step guide.

Hello again!

This week has brought some much needed R'n R and consequently I have had some very enjoyable free time in the studio. After finishing my LRDP diorama I began work on a 1/35 Academy IDF  Merkava Mk.III Tank.

This kit was presented to me by my friend  Eric who wanted to see what I could do with an armour subject. As an aircraft modeller in the main, it is good for me to stretch my modelling wings and work outside of my comfort zone. I have to say when it comes to armour subjects I am a complete novice! So it has been an eye opener and a journey of discovery as well as a very enjoyable diversion.  As I progressed with the tank, I thought it would be nice to present the finished model on a display base.

And so we come to the purpose of this post! I wanted to produce a simple but effective display base to present my finished model on and it occurred to me to share with you how I actually go about achieving this as so many people always ask me "How did you make the base?"

Well, here's how I did a simple base for my IDF Merkava:

I wanted a rectangular base that was just a bit larger than the footprint of the model I am working on so I  found an older MDF base which I had painted previously for a different subject. As this base was no longer on display I thought I would recycle it for this project.

This then, is our starting point:

Here is the old display base that I will transform into a middle east roadside for my IDF Tank.

STEP 1:

Here I have used Tamiya acrylic NATO Black as a base colour for the road.

You will notice I have also sprayed the edges of the base with a bright yellow shade. Don't worry! There is method in my madness! Yellow makes a great base for wood varnish on MDF where there is no wood grain. I will add a wood varnish to the yellow at the end and you will see!

 STEP 2: 

On the opposite side of the base I have used Vallejo Desert sand paste as a foundation for the roadside groundwork. Notice that I have positioned the roadside at an angle, this provides much more visual interest to the scene.

STEP 3:

After studying photo's of Merkava Tanks I noticed that many of the roads they travel on are in mountainous regions where roads are carved through the landscape. The result is lots of rocks strewn about the place. A quick trip around my garden furnished me with some small stones which I arranged in a random pattern onto the roadside part of the base. Each one was set in place with PVA glue.

STEP 4:

Now I spray the rocks a medium grey colour, any grey shade will do as this is a base for shades to be painted later. I have also used the same shade of grey to mist a coat of paint over the NATO Black to lighten the colour of the road surface, this adds a more natural appearance to the road. Also I have masked off two road markings and sprayed them in yellow. The bright paint will be faded out later on.
 STEP 5:

Next the rocks and surrounding ground are sprayed with Tamiya acrylic NATO Brown, to replicate the reddish brown earth often seen in the colder regions of the middle east.



STEP 6:

To blend everything together, I took a sand coloured paint and thinned it down, in this case I was using Tamiya Desert Yellow. With the airbrush I have passed over a couple of misting coats on the road surface and the rocks to give a weathered appearance.


STEP 7:

Nearly there now! This is when we apply a wood stain varnish to the yellow edges of the base. As MDF does not have any natural wood grain, this is a cheap and effective way to replicate the appearance of a natural wood. It is entirely a matter of personal taste as which wood stain you use, in this case I have chosen Rustin's Walnut wood stain.

And here we have the finished display on which my latest build will rest!





I hope you have found this simple guide helpful, if you have let me know and I'll do some more. Until next time take care and Happy Modelling!

Darren.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

THE LONG RANGE DESERT GROUP DIORAMA.

"BORN OF THE DESERT"



Hello! 

Please allow me to share with you my latest work, a 1/35 scale diorama featuring the British Army LONG RANGE DESERT GROUP. (LRDG) 

A brief history.......

The LRDG was formed specifically to carry out deep penetration, covert reconnaissance patrols and intelligence missions from behind German and Italian lines, although they sometimes engaged in combat operations as well. They were made up of Officers and Troops from New Zealand, South Africa, Britain and Australia.
Because the LRDG were experts in desert navigation they were sometimes assigned to guide other units, including the Special Air Service and secret agents across the desert. During the Desert Campaign between December 1940 and April 1943, the vehicles of the LRDG operated constantly behind the Axis lines, missing a total of only 15 days during the entire period.







Possibly their most notable offensive action was during Operation Caravan, an attack on the town of Barce and its associated airfield, on the night of 13 September 1942. However, their most vital role was the 'Road Watch', during which they clandestinely monitored traffic on the main road from Tripoli to Benghazi, transmitting the intelligence to British Army Headquarters.
With the surrender of the Axis forces in Tunisia in May 1943, the LRDG changed roles and moved operations to the eastern Mediterranean, carrying out missions in the Greek islands, Italy and the Balkans. After the end of the war in Europe, the leaders of the LRDG made a request to the War Office for the unit to be transferred to the Far East to conduct operations against the Japanese Empire. The request was declined and the LRDG was disbanded in August 1945.

The Diorama:

This project was literally handed to me the Christmas before last as a present from a good friend who knows of my interest in the desert campaign of WWII.
The gift was Tamiya's 1/35 British Command Car. A great kit of the big Chevy truck used by the LRDG which included a comprehensive selection of stowage and a superb set of figures tooled by Masterbox. It really was a diorama in a box!


The build was most enjoyable as I went along I decided to add a modified figure from another Masterbox figure set and also a camel and a palm tree to set the scene. The entire build can be seen in my previous work in progress posts for this project:


This weekend saw the completion of this project and I was able to photograph it and house the diorama in its purpose built display case. Again it literally did become a diorama in a box!

Here are some photo's of the finished diorama, I hope you enjoy them.

Happy Modelling!

Darren.