1:48 Airbrush Century Series Editorial Comment Kits, Reviews 'n' Builds Monogram Models Social Media Thought for the day... USAF


It happens to the best of us. You are just at that point when you are ready to finish your model, photograph the results and then reveal your masterpiece to the world. And then boom! Disaster strikes…

This morning, 18 hours later, the room still smells of coffee, which makes me wonder if it always will be an aromatic reminder in perpetuity that I really should pay more attention…

Yesterday, I had then pleasure of finishing my latest build, a Monogram F-105G Thunderchief, details of which I will bring you on Friday during my weekly round-up of projects, both completed and about to be started. 

This model, like everything else that I build these days was deadlined, so as time ticked inexorably by the pressure began to mount as my deadline and the needs of Brett Green, erstwhile editor of Model Airplane International, came into view over the horizon. Though I’m used to this kind of thing after having built models this way since 1992, I always feel a pressure that manifests itself in ways that can be both surprising, or at times frustrating, in equal measure. Most of the time I simply want the project finished so I can look at a completed model. Excitement mounts as something that is running on rails reaches its destination with little in the way of hold-ups. I’ve enjoyed the project, love the way the model looks, feel that everything I could do has been done well and to the best of my abilities. I’m in no rush to complete the model, so I stretch it out until that bell sounds marking the final lap of the race, and I know it’s time to wrap everything up.

And then there are the builds that I just want finished! No final lap. No additional work. Just get it done and move on!

Though I enjoyed building the F-105 – to a point… – frustrations of my own making had made the project rather more arduous than I would have liked. The kit itself was easy enough to build, many of the quirky fit issues found in the F-106 Delta Dart for example, being largely absent within the box of this more traditionally designed kit. What caused the bumps in the road was the finish, that distinctive camouflage replicated many times over the years, giving me more than a few sleepless nights this time around. Honestly, I feel that I overworked it and though I like the resulting model, there are areas that I wish I had approached differently, simplified, or completed with other materials. But, it is what it is and now that it’s complete, I can sit it in my display case alongside the others as part of my collection of Century Series jets, happy in the knowledge that that’s another chalked off the list. If I built another though, I wouldn’t paint it the same way, that’s for sure.

So, I was working on the model. It was sat on its wheels as this particular story began to unfold, weapons were in place, undercarriage all-but complete and all smaller details being cleaned up and painted, ready to be glued into and onto their respective positions. It was all going so well, until it suddenly hit the buffers and all hell broke loose…

The first part that decided not to play ball was the port, nose gear, bay door (try saying that 10 times, quickly!). I’d successfully glued the first in place (despite its rather iffy pair of hinges…) but for some reason, I couldn’t get the other to settle down, one hinge tacking itself in place, as the other popped off the inner wall. Rinse and repeat. It took – and this is no word of a lie – 10 minutes to glue this single part in place! A job that should have taken seconds, being extended out to a point where my patience was being stretched to breaking point, as the minutes ticked away to the time that this model had to be photographed.

Door in place, I sat the model on my desk and then noticed that the port inner pylon, together with its AGM-78 Standard ARM missile, were fixed at a distinctly odd angle. I’d followed the instructions, hadn’t I? Well, hadn’t I?! Everything fit in place perfectly, so why was the missile set like that when the pylon mirrored the one on the other wing that carried the drop tank? It took a while to realise that the pylon doesn’t in fact mirror that under the starboard wing: it’s reversed. The pylon faces the other way around, so that the missile doesn’t droop. I’d glued mine in place using the holes that formed part of the underwing panel, into which they fit perfectly, which is sensible, right? Now, not only did I have to break the pylon way from the wing, I had to remove the missile, re-drill new mounting holes that set the pylon in the right position and glue the whole shooting-match together without it looking like an obvious fix. Of course, none of this was mentioned in the instructions, so I’m happy to blame those, rather than my own ineptitude! But, and I am sure you’ve probably worked this out already, I had already photographed the weapons away from the wings with the pylon mounted the wrong way around, so now that too has to be explained away in my article…

And then, as if this really wasn’t enough, I managed to cause mayhem as I moved around my studio. It was, shall we say, the icing in the cake…

At this point, I decided that enough was enough and that I would take a break, make a coffee and then see if I could find some biscuits to calm the nerves before the big push onto completion and my necessary reveal. And that’s what I did. Coffee made, biscuits found, I headed back to the studio to continue work. The coffee was placed on the cupboard by the side of me and then the biscuits eaten with almost indecent haste. Attention then turned to the smaller details, aerials, fuel dump pipes, small undercarriage doors, each being cleaned-up and then fixed to cardboard with masking tape or Blue Tack, ready for airbrushing. Happy with that, I turned around to work at my painting desk, my office chair, wheeled of course, aiding in this oft-carried-out process.

And then it happened.

That’s when I heard the distinctive clank of crockery hitting a floor. Or rather, that’s when I heard the sound of crockery hitting a compressor, my storage boxes, paint box and then the floor, all of which seemed to happen in slow motion. That’s when I became aware that as I had turned around, the mug, filled to the brim with hot coffee and placed there only a minutes earlier, had been swept off the cupboard by the back of my chair and was now on its side under my painting desk, its entire contents covering everything around it. And when I say everything, I mean everything

At first, I just stared at the mess, the heady aroma of hot coffee filling the room as steam rose up towards me from the now soaked corner of my room. I may have stifled a nervous laugh, the kind you control when you see someone bump their head as if in a Laurel & Hardy movie, rather than painful real life…That kind. If I’m honest though, I considered losing my temper, the flying cup of kamikaze coffee seeming like the last straw that had broken this particular camel’s back. Yes, that was a consideration, a momentary lapse of reason that would end, at least in my head, with curse words, ill-judged actions and a model that at that point I would happily have flown through the window and into next door’s garden. But sense prevailed. Reason returned. Mop, bucket and half a roll of kitchen towel appearing as if by magic, there to help with the clean-up operation that I really didn’t need, but had to carried out nonetheless. It took forever. This morning, 18 hours later, the room still smells of coffee, which makes me wonder if it always will be an aromatic reminder in perpetuity that I really should pay more attention and not be, as my wife continues to remind me, the world’s clumsiest human being.

So why, dear friends, am I telling you all this? 

Well, simply to reassure you that behind all models, modellers, and their often well-publicised builds, are stories that you perhaps don’t hear; situations that are not revealed; a real life filled with accidents and incidents that are hidden behind the glare of a social media update. Yesterday was a bit of disaster that would not have been apparent to anyone that saw the model complete and then photographed, ready for publication. You perhaps might have thought that the entire project ran on shiny rails, powered along the way by skill, experience and a ‘professional’ attitude (whatever that nonsense might mean…) when the facts were more that it ground inexorably along it’s dusty road thanks to pig-headedness, ill-prepared ideas and calamities that should really have been the death-knell for this project under normal circumstances!

And now, if you don’t mind, I need a coffee – and no, I won’t be placing it behind me in the studio!

See you next time.

Before I Go!

If you have enjoyed seeing this update and reading my thoughts, please subscribe to this page and perhaps take some time to scroll through its contents – you can even leave comments under each update! It really will help me out and allow me more opportunity to grow its contents and continue with my work within the hobby and industry! If you REALLY like it, consider sharing it with your friends – the more people that see it, the more fun we will have! Thanks a lot!

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!


  1. Oh dear, feel for you.
    I have done similar with my cups of tea. Always amazes me when you look at the “mess” and think to yourself “was that a CUP of tea or a BUCKET full of tea?”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gordon J

    Love the honesty of this posting as all too often right in the last moments of a model I do something similar. While putting the finishing touches to my Tamiya Spitfire at the weekend I managed to splash brush cleaner onto the wing. Nightmare! Glad to know that modelling calamities are not limited to just me.


  3. You too…..?! I thought I was the only one…..:-) Thanks for this post that exposes the truth about modeling (or likely any other human activity). It ain’t always sunshine and roses. I have binned only one model I wanted to finish – a 1/700 Graf Spee for a club entry, altered to represent HMS Renown. Could not paint it to save my life – haven’t built a ship since….. On the other hand, overcoming a challenge is the heart of modeling for me, so there’s that…..


  4. My fakakte included my cat stepping on a box that was balanced in an “unbalanced” manner, and the weight of her paw turned said box into a trebuchet, which launched the completed model into space…. and only three hours later, it was repaired in such a way that no one would have ever known it disassembled into major sub-assemblies on completion of its first (and only) test flight. Fortunately I remembered that kitties don’t know about boxes that can become trebuchets’


  5. Over the past several years I have built a number of Monogram kits, and I always enjoy the finished product (even if the fit issues gave me a fit along the way). Looking forward to seeing the full build article in Model Airplane International, as well as your future book on the Monogram Century series. Thank you for presenting the F-105G.


  6. Christian Atkins

    Thanks Spence, after the last few days I needed a laugh. Ah, been there sooo many times…
    I still have an Italieri Gripen with the wingtip rails attached back to front to remind me. Still the F105 looks gorgeous!

    Now back to the drugery of polished, mediocre, incompetence.


  7. Paul Adams

    I spilt my bottle of AK blue grey by accident a few weeks ago. I lost 80% of the contents through my own carelessness. It went everywhere…..on the carpet, my jeans, my socks, various boxes, model club cash tins, soldering iron, and hairdryer. I’ll be forever reminded of the disaster despite my attempts to clean up the mess. To make matters worse, I ordered a replacement bottle only to find the colour was different to my original bottle. And a second replacement too. The project, a 32nd Tamiya Corsair, has now virtually ground to a halt while AK look into the problem. If only I hadn’t left the stirrer in the bottle….


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