-- Originally posted 12/17/07 --
This is the most difficult parts assembly I have ever made:
It is not a resin confection; it is simply the "clear" plastic dorsal turret assembly - from two hemi-spherical halves - which came OOB on a vacu-formed sheet in the MPM 1/72 Tupolev SB-3 (or "SB-2M 103bis
"; see below). Note the large cutout for the gun elevation - leaving even less than half
of the edges - which trace only about 2/3 of a circle in the first place - where they have to butt together (right; out of focus). And don't forget I had to cut out
these parts and make
the edges perfectly smooth and to align perfectly to begin with!
If you don't immediately sense how difficult this is, just try it sometime; try cutting out
two bowls which will fit together to form a perfect, symmetrical ball with only one third
of their edges to butt/attach them together. Oiy!
Of course, this could all be done very easily if the turret were also being attached to a flat base
(ring) - and there is one provided in the kit. But I couldn't use it (yet) because I need to use this as an armature over which to form a truly clear
part; to replace the dirty-brown tinted plastic of these MPM parts.
Yes, I'm again going over to Don Czech's and we gonna make up a mess o' more awesome
stretched thermoplastic clear parts!
But first I needed to do something extra to prepare these particular parts:
Click on Image to Enlarge
Inside each little blue clay "volcano" is a dome, turret or canopy, etc.; turned upside-down, with half a popsicle stick glued to its interior and then filled with a "lava" of epoxy resin. The purpose of the clay being not only to secure the piece and create a dam for the resin but also - and primarily - to seal off completely the all-important outside surface of each part from coming in contact with any resin. (The parts had also been painstakingly masked with Scotch tape on the outside to help ensure their protection - a very necessary addition, it turned out.)
After the above, the resin "freezes" in place to form what can only be described as "parts popsicles":
Click on Image to EnlargePart-sicles
; each one now supported over its entire interior by solid resin - fixed, equally solidly - on the end of a stick. The inermost layer of clay remains embedded in the epoxy wherever it intruded through a surface piercing, leaving some flecks of blue inside the part-sicles after the piercing is dug out, but the appearance of the insides isn't important. It is the outside
surfaces - including a surprising degree of their textures - which the thermoplastic will pick up, when stretched tightly over these armatures. So, stay tuned for that
OK, by now I've recovered from the initial trauma
sufficient to back up and tell you about this build:
This SB-3 will be one from the Soviet contingent in my "Paired Twins" series; yet another example of a land-based plane which saw significant coastal/naval-related action - as just one look at the above box art will confirm. Actually, the box depiction "turns the tables" in that it shows a Soviet (L-class) submarine being bombed by a Finnish
Air Force SB-3 - no doubt purchased from the USSR just before they became belligerents. (A wacky war in that part of the world, as originally started!) The actual Finnish AF markings were not blank white circles, but four Swastika-like bars within these circles; the artwork has been "politically corrected", per many European anti-fascist-symbol laws (I have mixed feelings about this regarding historical depictions, such as here - but I guess I won't knock it, since it is increasingly clear that we still
have too many F-ing Nazis alive today in the world…)
But back to the MPM kit - of which you will see much more later: you may perhaps already surmise from the above example of the clear parts that it is rather crude; having also thick parts - with particularly thick sprue attachments - and no
locator pins/sockets on key pieces, such as the fuselage halves, as well as having sparse and rather crude surface detail. It attempts to compensate - and we shall see how successfully or not - by including some nice-looking photo-etched details, among which is even a little black anodized
fret containing one of the most effective - and apparently easily installed - depictions of an instrument panels I've ever seen! A very interesting mixture - and concept - for rounding out such a kit.
In addition of course, the subject itself - the Tupolev SB-3 - is an exceedingly rare one. I have been looking to build this plane since I was 13 years old, but had never seen one anywhere. This MPM kit was one of several I bought in October at the St. Petersburg PeliCon'07 show (Thank You, Earl!); after only learning of their very existence for the first time when I ran across them in the vendors' stacks up there.
In any case, with the above turret assembly and preparation of the other clear parts for duplication, the build of the Tupolev SB-3 is now officially off and running! (Progress updates to appear as "responses", below.)