Questions and Answers

I occasionally get mail (at ) with questions on kits, techniques and the like. I thought I'd share some of them here, in case you have the same questions. Names and email addresses withheld.

A question on finishes

> Let me begin by saying that I like your website alot,
> as someone thinking of putting a model airplane
> together it is a great source of information and a
> valuable source of example and assistance!

Thanks.  Always appreciate hearing things like that.

> My question is about painting; besides using an
> airbrush, what techniques would you recommend for
> painting camoflage/mottling? I'm not quite sure how I
> would create a suitable gradient effect of one color
> fading into another.

Mottling's the hardest of the two, but there are ways of doing it. The way
I've heard the most of is cutting masks out of stiff paper or card and
rolling a thin "bead" of Blu-Tack (a sort of clay - the stuff they use to
hold posters up would also work) a short ways "inside" the mask to hold it
slightly off the surface. This allows for a little bit of overspray, and can
be used for airbrushes or even "paint bombs" (spray cans.)

For mottling, do the same thing, but make a small mask and cut the mottle
pattern into it. Use the blu-tack again to hold the pattern off slightly and
just quickly spray over it (most mottling's much lighter.) You can use the
mask backwards, upside down, etc. in different areas or with different
colors to provide some variation.

If you brush paint, I've heard of a *few* people using thinner or very
thinned down versions of one of the colors and "tracing" the edge where the
two colors meet to blend them slightly. Haven't done it myself, so I can't
really say how it turns out.

Last point - Despite how good it looks  not all aircraft had a soft edge
between the colors. British aircraft in particular were actually painted
with full size rubber "masks" in WWII, which left a hard edge, for
instance - not to mention Luftwaffe "splinter" camo. (Of course, even THAT's
not a hard and fast rule with "in the field" repainting....)

Hope that helps,

Flying Wings

> Subject: AMT X/YB35 Flying Wing

>  Dear Sir,I have this kit ,still in the box and plastic bags! Due to 
>lack of space Iam unsure as to wether I will build it or sell.I have 
>seen your reviews on the net,and yes this companys customer relations 
>suck to say the least!!Do you have any tips on how to assemble ,or,do 
>you know any one who would want this kit,for a reasonable price plus 
>postage?I look foward to your reply, (name withheld)

If I had the spare cash at the moment, I'd buy it...

Assembly tips -
1. Fishing weight and poster "tack" clay. Fill the front edges so it 
won't sit on the tail. Use the smaller weights, they'll fit.

2. Superglue - Esp. for the seperate leading edge with the intakes. Glue 
a little, make sure it's flush, glue a bit farther down. It should keep 
you from having to sand (which is a pain with an all-metal-finish 

3. Not 100% sure on this (it has been a while) but you may want to try 
fitting all three top and bottom sections together to make sure they're 
"flush" (no gaps/ridges where they meet,) then glue them together as a 
giant top/bottom assembly.It's easier to sand or adjust the inside than 
to clean up the outside for a natural metal aircraft.

It's actually not hard to find space for it - it fits a shelf nicely  
unlike, say, a 1/48 B-17 or B-29 since it's more "wide" than anything.  
It's also pretty easy to hang from the ceiling.

Hope that helps...

Continued... Experimental types...

>Im not exactly up to date on this computer stuff!! Thanks for the tips, I think 
>I might attempt to build it.Are there any more Of these unusual types around  
>any more,as I am into WW2 and experimental types? (Personal message withheld)

Let's see, other experimental types:

YB-49 - the other flying wing, jet powered. Seems to be a bit easier to find.

N9M - In 1/48 or 1/72, from Sword. It's a limited run kit, but it was the single seat (and much smaller!) testbed for the X/YB-35.

Hobbycraft *JUST* released the P-59 Airacomet in 1/48. Two different boxings, one lets you do three aircraft, including a Naval one (in blue and yellow markings of the Naval test center) and the other should have the olive drab over neutral grey markings. They've also got an Avro Arrow out there, too.

I know there are some other kits around - Czechmaster makes some reasonably easy to build limited run kits of some oddball aircraft (the Ascender and YAK-15 come to mind.) Dragon (aka Dragon/DML or Shanghai Dragon) also make some interesting aircraft, though fit can be a bit tricky. Just about any variant of the ME-262 (how about a 50-odd mm cannon sticking out the nose, or a two seater, or bomber version?) as well as the HO-229 (or GO-229) flying wings. Those two are also served as kits by Revell (actually Revell-Germany, I think) in 1/72.

A good bit of the "Experimental" stuff of the era will be German - the Allies could afford to be conservative, after all. Things like the DO-335, HO-229 (as mentioned,) manned V-1, Tribeflugel (interesting aircraft, available in resin - heavy and expensive) or Wespe (same.) There are Japanese aircraft as well - the Kikka (sort of a Japanese ME-262) and Shinden (nifty looking aircraft) are available - the second one rather reasonably from Hasegawa. The 1/48 ran under $20, as I recall, and is supposed to be pretty easy to work on.

Sometimes the "mainstream" guys will suprise you, too - Hasegawa released the P-51D with wingtip ramjets roughly two years ago. It's just their P-51 kit with resin jets. Real aircraft, though.

Others - Revell, 1/72, has the M-21/D-21 (SR-71 and drone) show up occasionally. Testors used to have the YF-12 (SR-71 interceptor version!) out, but you have to search eBay these days.

The prototypes and experimentals are out there... You may have to look at the aftermarket for some conversions, though, as well. They're rarely released as "big name" kits. On the other hand, save the pennies and keep an eye on the Japanese kit makers. I've mentioned two from Hasegawa. Tamiya's also run by a modeler who has them work on the occasional oddball type (Gekko? What the hecks a Gekko?) that otherwise wouldn't be done, though the "standards" (Corsair, Mustang, ME-109, Spitfire) make them their money.

Those should keep you busy for a while! Enjoy!