FINISHED for 2014! - Mirage 1/400 O.R.P. MAZUR
Posted by Matty on December 31, 2014, 17:11:29
Edited by board administrator September 21, 2015, 15:48:09
--Originally Posted 12/31/14-- |
by Matt Stein
I've just finished this (barely) for the end of 2014:
Click on Image to EnlargeUnburdened by the slightest knowledge of the actual ship, I picked this kit (for all the wrong reasons, it turned out - see below) for a "quickie" build. From its box art (right), showing the ship under attack by stukas, I imagined her to be perhaps the Polish "Nevada": sole ship to get underway (and accordingly then set-upon) during the surprise BlitzKrieg at Danzig (or wherever), in the opening day of WWII.
In any case, my "quickie build" idea met with immediate resistance:
Click on Image to EnlargeThe keel seam (left) needed filling, and I also had to study the deck joints quite a while before realizing they are actually well-engineered to a produce heavy, rounded lip of bumper fringing the entire deck-edge - while at the same time leaving airspace behind the topmost rows of port holes.
My real reason for having chosen this kit was a (false) recollection that it shared the precision fit and exquisite finer parts of the newer Mirage 1:400 ships, which build very nicely OOB without even needing any PE. But already with the keel, above, this kit proved not to be one of those - corroborated immediately, and with a vengeance, by the crudity of its detail parts:
Click on Image to EnlargeThe propeller guards (left) appeared ridiculously clunky and of blocky construction, whose struts I replaced with spare PE (GMM 540-scale aircraft carrier elevator support girder), wrapped onto the kit guards - only making the latter yet heavier, while the PE struts were too fine. Next time I could (and may yet) do better, simply by reconstructing everything from Plastruct rod.
Where I did do much better - also, an infinitely-more-important feature - was the bridge/pilot house:
Click on Image to EnlargeHere the parts (left) were, if anything, yet worse: offensively-heavy walls "depicting" both railing and splinter-shielding, alike - the former hacked off, for replacement with PE (see below), and the latter whittled thinner, as best I could, by about 75%. Windows and a ladder were likewise found to be crudely scribed into the thick, slab sides - in turn, to be slapped onto a box core. I cut open all the windows, replacing them around the crucial bridge rotunda just perfectly with GMM 240-scale PE ladder, while behind the side windows I opened up some airspace by cutting away just the walls of the core box. Though this did allow the intended light to show through, these windows would have turned out far better (after formation with white glue - see below), had I also thought to thin down the side walls, themselves. Another thing I neglected until too late was to put at least some detail(s) in the bridge interior - which turned out far more visible (center and right), than expected - and for which I later noticed a perfect ship's wheel and binnacle on my GMM 400-scale flush-deck 4-piper DD PE fret.
However I did make good use of this and other spare PE on many other enhancements:
Click on Image to EnlargeAlso prominent on this ship are the guns (left) and two short (searchlight and rangefinder) towers - all once again just lousy, OOB - the former to be spruced up with PE (20mm) gunsights and control wheels, again from the 400-scale DD fret, and the latter with girder supports and conical-flared railings - bashed, respectively, from 1/540 aircraft carrier radar platforms and White Ensign Models* 600-scale DD 2-bar railings. Likewise, the small bow anchor crane - OOB a slab with cuneiform-scribed "girders" (ugh!) - was replaced by a tip of a 540-scale aircraft carrier radio aerial, bent and curled to shape. Some 600-scale stair-ladder to the bridge wing similarly replaced the gangplank/cattle ramp-looking OOB piece. And from the 400-scale PE set also came some nice vertical ladder for the side of the pilot house, as well as lifeboat ropes, life rings and an "X"-grate for atop the funnel - whose mismatched scribing (left) would mercifully be pretty well hidden, up behind the pilot house (center and right). Further PE included watertight doors - bashed, due to the oddly narrow doorways, from matching 540-scale snippets - as well as 600-scale anchor chains and more 2-bar railing: to go atop the pilot house (see below).
By no means was every inadequacy addressed - as it was, I had started off expecting just to drill open the tiny ventilation cowls and venturis (left), with which I also even had trouble, after breaking my pin-drill bit! But, despite everything, most of the above was quite enjoyable, with the funnest part saved here for last:
Click on Image to EnlargeThe "solid" pilot house railings, as well as the (flat-topped) lifeboats OOB were in actuality canvas-covered - here done in scale with PE and toilet tissue, the latter peeled back to single plies (though the weave of this brand was really too loose/weak - see below). The (generally unusual) 2-bar railing with closely-spaced stanchions, I had luckily found on the White Ensign Models* 600-scale RN DDs fret, while frames for the lifeboat covers were chopped from 1/240 depth-charge racks. Once secured in place, this PE was painted with white glue and immediately the tissue ply tacked in place - then to be drizzled with diluted white glue to saturate/secure all points. The overage immediately gloms onto the nearest surface(s), from which it is then frayed/teased away (this is where the ply needs to have a least a little strength, to not completely rip off), and when done right for the lifeboat covers (which I almost achieved), this will also produce a perfect "tied-down" look.
Throughout all the tissue weave, the glue then dries - tightening up everything, to leave just a hint of sag - just like The Real Thing. Likewise for white glue forming the windows - after all painting has been done: a drop to completely flood each frame will tighten up, clearing as it dries, to form a severe-clear, drum-taut window pane. Except, that is, if the frame is too thick: then the glue will stick to the walls and dry into a dished-in surface - exactly as you see for the side windows of the pilot house (and also many of the portholes)...
Notwithstanding all the above miscalculations, challenges and ultimate shortcomings this was in fact a very fun build. Some details - like deck-edge (droop-chain) railings, or rigging - I don't like to do at this scale, as I find they just look oversized (and don't hold up well, anyway). Though there are easily another half-dozen or more details - e.g., cable reels, hatch covers, replacement propellers, etc. - not to mention complete replacement of all the guns - that this build really could have used.
But then, it wouldn't have been Finished for 2014!
Happy New Year!
P.S.: Last year's build was a lot more impressive...
* White Ensign Models recently closed their doors, but some if not all of their PE is soon to be available again, through Tom's Model Works.