1:32 Editorial Comment Grumman Hasegawa Hellcat Kits, Reviews 'n' Builds Tips & Tricks


Time out is always the best way of dealing with issues within a project and modelmaking is no different...

Many times I’ve struggled to work out how I need to do something, only to subconsciously consider the question in my sleep and then come up with the answer as dawn breaks…

One of the issues with building older kits, those dusty relics that many of us store in dingy attics until the time inevitably never comes to build them, is that you are often faced with constructional challenges that don’t arise with modern offerings. Fit issues tend to be the most regular of hurdles to leap over, where parts need to be adjusted, gaps need to be filled, alignment must be corrected. Build an older kit and chances are that one, two, or indeed all three of these bug-bears, is likely to arise at some point.

At the moment I’m building Hasegawa’s a 1/32 Hellcat for my new book. A kit that was gifted to me by a close friend, this 50-year-old offering actually fits together rather well. Testament to the cleverness of the kit’s designers, all of the major airfare components line up with precision, only some slight flexing around the lower fuselage causing a note of concern, until a sprue brace widened it enough to create yet another perfect joint. The one exception to this reassuring degree of perfection is the windscreen. Here, the part fits almost where it touches – which is to say, almost not at all – so thought, care, and then some drastic surgery, is order to help things along.

Having completed the airframe to a point where I was ready to insert the cockpit, I hadn’t really thought about the glazing and only a chance comment on my Kit Box Facebook page, had me running for the bench to check how, or indeed if, it would fit without further work. It would not. Suggestions that a simple use of PVA might deal with the problems were soon dismissed as I realised that if the part was to create a smooth transition from aluminium panelling into Perspex glazing, I would need to remove part of the nose, glue the windscreen in place and then carefully smooth out the transition, in this case with superglue, mixed with talcum powder. Of course this then removed all surrounding detail, destroyed the clarity of the glazing, and then removed the moulded frame detail, all of which would in order, have to be reinstated. Oh what fun!

None of this would prove to be particularly difficult, well, almost none. The surface detail would be replaced in an identical manner to that seen on my Monogram F-106, any small, raised panels, being added with thin foil. The canopy frames would be a little more involved, not in the sense of being difficult to do, but rather in how I would get around the issue of whatever I did, showing through the glazing. Here, I needed to rebuild the frames. This was something that had ben done on my 1/24 Harrier conversion with paint, flat black layers being built up inside masks that protected the glazing, whilst at the same time revealing the precise position of their supporting metal work. On that model, the inner framing was black, so that paint could be used successfully; here, the inner framework was green, the outer, Gloss Sea Blue. How do you build up those frames without seeing them through the glazing..?

I could of course have used the green, but the paint I wanted to used was not as resilient as the lacquers I planned to used for the exterior finish, so there was the very real risk it would be removed as work progressed – not entirely satisfactory I think you would agree! Black couldn’t be used, nor Sea Blue, but I still wanted to see and feel the frames. Hmm… Time to sleep on it.

Waking up the morning, I had the answer. Why not paint the fames in place with multiple layers of flat, clear varnish? That way, I will be able to see them in place on the windscreen, multiple layers of paint creating the illusion of structure and by using a lacquer, the results will be resilient enough to stand up to the rigours of final construction leading up to the painting of the model. 

I often find that the old adage that “you should sleep on it” works really well in our hobby. Many times I’ve struggled to work out how I need to do something, only to subconsciously consider the question in my sleep and then come up with the answer as dawn breaks. That was certainly the case here, where a simple answer to what I considered to be a complex question, has allowed me to carry on with the model without further delay.

Today is all about the cockpit, a job that I hoped to have finished, yesterday. All being well, I won’t have anything further hurdles to jump and everything will now be plain sailing on the way to the finish line. If it’s not, I now know that I can take a step back, sleep on it and all being well, the answers will be there in the morning. Oh, if only it were that simple…

See you next time!

I'm formerly the editor in charge of Military In Scale magazine and latterly, Model Airplane International. Editing duties to one side, I'm now a full-time modelmaker with Doolittle Media, working to supply modelling articles and material for a number of their group titles, including MAI and Tamiya Model Magazine International. I'm also an avid fan of Assassin's creed, Coventry City FC and when the mood takes me, a drummer of only passing skill. Here though, you'll find what I do best: build models and occassionally, write about them!

2 comments on “JUST SLEEP ON IT!

  1. tcinla

    Actually, you can use black. the inside of the sliding frames on USN WW2 aircraft were flat black, because that doesn’t distract from the view looking out of them.


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