Friday, November 27, 2009

Fokker Triplane Build: Part 2

Off to Calgary for the here's a quick update on the Jasta 19 Dr.I builds for Canvas Eagles.

As you can see, I finally got the last two required kits in, and I'm in the process of catching them up with the other three. All fuselage assemblies have been closed up, puttied and sanded down in this shot.

Here, the fuselage sets have been primed. You may also notice that there are six planes here...not the five I had planned. Easily explained, but only understood my masochists. I figured that while I was doing these five Eduard kits, I might as well toss in a Revell build as well. I had the kit and a set of nice FCM decals to use, so what the Hell? Like six is going to be that much more work than five!

For the sixth triplane, I'm deviating from my standard practice of modeling low-scoring pilots and am doing a build for one of the most prodigious triplane pilots of the war, Hans Kirschstein. Kirschstein scored 27 victories with Jasta 6 in his three months as a fighter pilot. He was killed in late June, 1918 as a passenger in a flight accident.

His triplane was known as The Optical Illusion, due to the nature of the black & white striping which reputedly threw off the aim of attacking pilots.

Here's a three-view drawing of the aircraft.

And here is the current state of this extra sixth build. The top wing striping is on and the Jasta 6 tail markings are done.

More next week. Until then...go Roughriders!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fokker Triplane Build: Part 1

And now...onto the Jasta 19 Fokker Dr.I build.

As I've been threatening, I'm now starting into a build of five Fokker Triplanes for our Canvas Eagles games. I'm using Eduard 1/72 scale kits with Gunsight Graphics streak painting decals and the Pheon Models transfer sheet for the individual plane markings.

Why Jasta 19? Well, first of all, their markings in late March/early April 1918 were stark, and quite beautiful. They'll be easy to identify and differentiate on the game table.

Second, this was a work-a-day unit. It wasn't stacked full of celebrated pilots who were tearing up the skies of France. In fact, the unit was struggling in early 1918. I guess I'm a sucker for the also-rans! Be that as it may, as the last big German offensive of the war was getting underway (Operation Michael, March 21, 1918), Jasta 19 was one of four squadrons constituting Jagdgeschwader II, another fighter wing patterned after Manfred von Richthofen's very successful Jagdgeschwader I.

I have three of the required five kits on the hobby table...still waiting on the mail for the last two. However, the major components are prepped and I've started into the painting and wing decaling.

This is a flight line shot of Jasta 19 aircraft in April 1918. The first three planes you can see here will be included in this build.

In late March and early April, Jasta 19's leader was Leutnant Walter Gottsch. He was fated to be shot down on April 10th, 1918, just as the Jasta was starting to come into its own. His final victory total was 20 enemy aircraft. He was credited with 3 victories in this build's swastika-marked triplane before he was killed in action.

As I mentioned, Jasta 19 was a somewhat under-performing unit. JG II's new commanding officer, Rudolf Berthold, sent his own man to the squadron in order to give them a kick-start. This pilot was Leutnant Arthur Rahn. Rahn scored twice in his diamond-banded triplane. He was wounded on July 17 and finished the war with a total of 6 victories.

Leutnant Rudolf Rienau spent most of his flying career with Jasta 19. He scored once in his striped-fuselage triplane in early March, and then ran up his tally to 6 (flying a Fokker D.VII) towards the end of the war. He was shot down on September 13th 1918, but was saved by his parachute. He was killed in a flying accident in 1925.

Leutnant Hans Korner scored once in his zig-zag marked Jasta 19 triplane on the last day of March, 1918. He survived the war with a final victory total of 7. He remained in aviation after the war, but was killed in a motorcycle accident on the way to his airfield.

Back to the builds...

So I've tried to simulate Fokker paint streaks on models before. And while I was pretty satisfied with the result, it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. This time around, I've decided to go with decals for the base paint scheme.

Here are three sets of wings with the decals applied (except for the upper wing ailerons).

Pheon Models supplies a lot of source information for their decal sheet. Here you can see the guidelines for Rahn, Gottsch, Korner and Rienau's machines.

Now, of course, this is a five plane build. So...which is the fifth plane? Well, as you may know, many German records were lost or destroyed at the end of the first and second world wars. As such, our knowledge of all pilots and aircraft is incomplete. Now, what we do know is that there was a Jasta 19 pilot known as Vizefeldwebel Gerdes. He scored a single victory with the squadron on March 16th, 1918. (Sorry, no pilot photo.) We also know the following triplane flew for Jasta 19 at that time, but it's pilot was unknown. Unknown pilot...unknown plane. I dub this Gerdes' triplane! It will be the fifth and final plane of this flight.

Some plan views of this build.

OK, hopefully the last couple of models come in and I can move this build forward.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend Miscellany

After finishing the big SE5a build last weekend, I spent this weekend tidying up the hobby table and reviewing upcoming projects. Not the least of these is my planned quintuple Fokker Triplane build. I have three of the five models in right now, and started prepping these kits. I'm using Eduard models (gotta take a break from Roden!), and as I've said, these are going to be Jasta 19 machines from early April 1918. Pilot profiles and more detailed build notes next week.

My buddy Elliot and I are working on getting a Space Hulk campaign going. He's much further ahead on the miniature painting than I am. He's table-ready with all his Terminator Marines. I'm working on my Genestealers, but I suspect that Elliot will get his done first. I'll be using his in the campaign until I can get mine finished.

I'm not a fan of the Games Workshop standard paint schemes for the Genestealers, so I've worked up my own using the P3 Cryx Bane and GW Rotting Flesh colors for my slimy alien hoard.

Here they are on one of the Space Hulk game tiles.

One of my lingering WWI Canvas Eagles builds is an Airfix Hannover Cl IIIa. I don't have the jam for the intricate fuselage hex pattern paint scheme, so I've decided to go with a simple blue and white body. Top plane lozenge (by Pegasus) is on...underside lozenge to follow.

I took an opportunity this weekend to fix up a number of my Canvas Eagles planes that were a little war-worn from four years of campaigning. Many had detached magnets, dislodged landing gear axles and even broken wings. A lot of super glue later, these guys are ready to fly again.

Revell Fokkers (including one old Airfix Triplane) and a Roden Pfalz.

Airfix Albatros DVs and Roland CII. The DIII is the old Revell kit, and the Albatros CIII is from Pegasus.

Airfix Pups, Esci Nieuport 17 and a Flashback Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter single seat bomber.

While waiting for the remaining Triplane models to arrive, I've started into the wing streaking using the neat Gunsight Graphics decals.

Also had time to play Warcraft with my wife. Here is her character, Birdee, on her new Bronze Drake mount, next to me on my Red Drake. Probably doesn't mean anything to non-WoW players...but to us, getting the Bronze Drake out of Stratholme was a big deal

Til next time!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SE5a Flight Build: Part 3 of 3

My wife has done a fair bit of pottery, and she can spend many, many hours on a piece...kneading the clay, making the form, trimming it, drying it, bisque firing and glazing...only to have it all ruined with the final firing (too hot, running glaze, exploding piece...whatever). I have shared that kind of anguish making models. You go through all the meticulous steps, only to have the finished plane ruined by a spray of the matt clear coat which, wrecks the decals, or mottles the finish or whatever. I thought I was headed into another one of those awful experiences as I was finishing off this flight of SE5as. As I spray coated the undersides, I was getting some staining...and I thought, crap...this Dullcoat is reactly badly with the Future floor wax on the models.

Happily, as it turned out, the mottling was minimal. All's well that ends well.

So, here were the final steps of the build...

I got all the decals on and sealed them with a generous coating of Future floor wax. Then I added the painted exhaust stacks...kind of rusty at the front end and darker metal towards the rear. Here is a shot of the planes just before the upper wings went on the the interplane struts were popped in.

I had previously sprayed the propellers with a deck wood paint color. Then I stained them with a sepia wash and when that dried I painted the tips light grey.

Here the SE5as have their wings on and struts in. At this point, they just need undercarriages, props, Lewis gun mounts and tailplanes. The Roden kit has no guide holes for the attachment of the landing gear, so I drilled these out as best I could.

And the result...five models in under 3 weeks. Much better than my normal build time.

I Dullcoated the models, glued magnets to the undersurface of each plane, and presto...they're ready for a game of Canvas Eagles.

Would I like to do more with these builds? Yes. They deserve a little representational rigging. I game with rigged and unrigged planes. Although there isn't much of a difference on the game table, rigged planes just look better overall. These guys will get some stretched sprue rigging at some point. Also, I have some pilot figures I'd like to paint up and pop them in as well.

Well, now that that build is done, I'd like to move on to a flight of Jasta 19 triplanes from April 1918. Here's a preview!

Happy gaming!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

SE5a Flight Build: Part II

Building biplane models is always about three times harder than I think it's going to be when I start the project...

So, here are the five planes of "C" Flight, 56 Squadron, with lower wings masked and ready for a coat of paint.

I wanted to call this blog installment "Wrestling With Decals". I spent the weekend applying decals to these aircraft. For the most part, I used the markings from Americal sheet #143. However, there weren't enough lower wing rondels for all five SEs, so I scavenged a set from a Sopwith Strutter sheet.

The Americal 56 squadron sheet is quite comprehensive, and I was really looking forward to marking up "C" Flight...however, I was kind of disappointed that the fuselage letters didn't really match the "type" seen in the strong photographic evidence of this flight. Booo! Anyway, the decals were very well behaved and didn't disintegrate like the many other sheets I tried to source bits and pieces from this weekend.

One pain point was that I didn't have the proper rudder stripes anywhere. Those supplied on the Americal sheet were too wide. As it turned out, I had to cut strips of colored decal and assemble the rudder stripes bit by bit. Aggravation!

One of the reasons I was so keen on doing "C" Flight was the strong photographic record, each plane shot in early March, 1918!

Here is flight leader, Fielding Johnson in "U".

Here is Jarvis, in "V".

Mealing, the flight's 14-victory ace in "W". He was shot down and killed on the 24th of the month.

Franklin in "X".

Finally, here is Walkerdine in "Y".

As of the end of the weekend, all planes have their base coat of paint, all decals on, including their serial numbers, and the wheel disks are in their proper blue color. As you can see in the photo, the models look quite glossy. This is because I coat everything with Future floor wax to seal the paint and create a slick base for the decals. When the builds are done, they'll get a spray of Testors Dullcoat to create a matt finish. Anyway, next comes a little fuselage detail painting. Then it will be time to attach the upper wings and landing gear. The end is in sight!

I'll close this installment with a shot of "C" Flight taking off for a very chilly patrol in February.

I'm hoping that the next post will see the end of this project...but who knows? Like I said, biplanes are always longer builds than you think they're going to be.