Monday, December 21, 2009

The Story So Far, Part I - Aircraft

One of my abiding interests has always been aircraft, and much of my family spent WWII in the air or otherwise involved in the air war. One grandfather worked at de Haviland Canada, the other was a bomber navigator. Two of my one grandfather's brothers were air crewmen on bombers in the RCAF, a brother of one grandmother was also in the RCAF (communications, I believe). Another close relative was a flight instructor in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Having said that, aircraft and their role in war are fascinating in and of themselves, from WWI up to the modern day (although unmanned aircraft aren't too jiggy). As much as they may look like unflyable crates today, those first aircraft were the F-22's of their time, the most sophisticated machines man could make.

So, where does that leave me in miniature? I love the 1/600 aircraft of Tumbling Dice and Oddzial Osmy (though I can't spell that without looking it up!), and I've gone in that direction for WWII and beyond. My two current periods are (1) late WWII to Korea, mainly for a hypothetical WWIII in 1945, and (2) helicopters supporting land battles. So in the latter case the 1/600 helicopters will be used with the 6mm (1/300) land forces; the scale difference shouldn't be noticeable since the action on the ground is the main thing.

For WWI I went with 1/300, mainly because there is much, much more available, and the smaller WWI aircraft would probably be mentally unstabling to paint. So far I have a few C-in-C aircraft in hand and painted, as well as two Goblintooth aircraft that came with my copy of Hostile Aircraft. My main source will be Navwar/Heroic and Ros, although they've just changed ownership so I'll wait till that settles down. I'll fill things in with C-in-C, Irregular, and Skytrex.

My first adventures in WWI were C-in-C Hanriots, done in Italian livery:

They weren't too bad to do, once I got over putting them together (more superglue ended up on me than the planes). These are on my standard aircraft bases, which I'll discuss below. I've decided the C-in-C planes will be kept on these bases, rather than stored on nails, as I don't like handling and moving them with my clumsy fingers.

Main lesson learned: It's going to take time and touch-ups.

Bonus lesson: I primed everything before I attached the upper wings and this was a mistake; the two parts fit together when raw metal, didn't fit when the coat of paint was added to both halves. I had to file them down after priming till they fit (yes, I almost cried). So next time I'll either have to complete before priming (which could make getting the underside of the upper wings a right torment to prime) or cover up the fitted bits so they stay raw metal.

I've since finished painting a Halberstadt CL.4 (C-in-C) and the Goblintooth Dr.1 and Camel. Kind of a standard scheme for the Camel, went for the obvious with the Dr.1, and pulled off an ok lozenge scheme on the Halberstadt. The undersides have their different colours too, I'll try to remember to take a picture when I have it out next. These guys have been Future'd, and are awaiting a decal day.

For my 1/600 stuff, I pulled the helicopters out of the first kits I had - Korean War USN and USAF - to experiment on, since I was a painting newbie to pretty much everything. These Sikorsky S-55's were thus my guinea pigs, but I think they turned out ok (more worthy than my photography skills show, anyway). They still need for me to pick up some main rotors, otherwise they're done.

Next were some OO UH-60's, done in a variety of colour schemes: standard brown, camo, special forces grey and desert sand. Currently I'm in an "I hate canopies" funk, so haven't gotten further on them. My basic canopy technique is to paint the fuselage, paint the canopy, touch up the fuselage (remember to get in between the canopy panels the first time, idiot!), touch up the canopy, possibly repeat. I haven't gone for fancy canopy efforts yet (adding flashes of white, for example), but may experiment with these puppies.

So I picked up this basing technique from someone on the 1/600 miniature aircraft Yahoo group (I think - may have been a different group, but either way this isn't my idea). All the aircraft get a tiny rare earth magnet (from Dom's decals) applied, then the base consists of a 1" wooden disk with 3-6 staples glued upright, sort of like [. They then get primed, painted, and sealed. The aircraft then spend their time in the "hangar" perched on nail heads, and are added to the bases for gaming.

I started with standard green on brown or two-brown schemes, but the batch below (first picture) was my second bunch, and I tried out different colours, usually when I still had some paint left in my palette from another project.

All told the bases cost about 20-25 cents apiece, plus about the same for the magnet.

Some were primed blue and left that way, for high altitude encounters. Maybe version 2 will have clouds or contrails added.

For action over water I used Polyfil to sculpt some waves, primed blue (as above), gave them a heavy dose of Future, drybushed whitecaps, then sealed with Future (for the wet look).

For action in the depths of space (Silent Death rules), I just primed some black, dotted white for stars, added a couple of comets (right hand column, second from bottom) and nebulae (bottom left), and sealed. The way over-exposed Y-Wing in the second picture is from Studio Bergstrom, and is awaiting its paint job.

Next up in the Story So Far, 2mm fantasy action with Kull of Atlantis and Imaro.


  1. For masking small parts I use blue tac.

    A lump over the end of the sprues and a blob in the hole works fine.


  2. Thanks Andrew, I'll try that with my next batch.