1:24 1:32 1:35 Airfix Editorial Comment F-35 Lightning II Harrier Kits, Reviews 'n' Builds Lockheed Martin News Desk RAF Aircraft Spitfire USAF World War II


This week has been all about Katy Ambulances, more on that F-35 and ideas for a new 1/32 Harrier build or two. Here's your end of week round-up for all things 'Kit Box'...

In terms of approach I thought that I would stretch out once more with this build and paint it using ideas that I have seen within the fantasy and figure realms, rather than only those used on military vehicles.

Afternoon everyone – I hope that you are well!

First things, first. Let me apologise for how quiet I’ve been on here this week. I had some plans to add an update a few days back, but work rather got in the way, so it passed me by. Hopefully, this little update will make up for my tardy behaviour!

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This week has been dominated by my responsibilities to my employer, Doolittle, and my work for Tamiya Model Magazine International. I mentioned in my last update that I was working on the Airfix K2Y Ambulance, work that has continued with the application of the model’s basic finish, decals, weathering and interior decorating. It’s all been rather fun actually, the quality of the kit and the quirky nature of the subject matter, taking it away from the norm and onto something rather more engaging.

In terms of approach I though that I would stretch out once more with this build and paint it using ideas that I have seen within the fantasy and figure realms, rather than only those used on military vehicles. These are techniques that I had squirrelled away and then used, albeit it tentatively, on my Tamiya Archer and within its accompanying diorama, earlier this year. The idea, in its most basic terms, was to paint the model and surroundings as if illuminated from a single point of light. This is/was used to draw the eye of beholder into an area that you want seen first, focus being placed on an interesting detail, feature, or area, that defines the model. The Archer’s paintwork was thus duly completed to accentuate the interior, gun and figures, each of the latter being painted using a ‘Zenithal lighting’ technique that has been so popular within the figure modelling world for a number of years now. 

As it stands, I’m not fully au fait with the ideas and techniques needed to complete this method of painting, but I do like the results so far. I’m taken by the stark contrast between light and shade over the surface of the ambulance body, feeling that it makes for a more interesting finish – to me at least – than I’ve created recently when painting vehicles using more traditional steps. It can be disconcerting though. My brain needs to be constantly rebooted to push boundaries further than I am naturally comfortable crossing. Painting areas that are not subtly different in tone, but massively out of step with other parts of the model’s surface, is an illusory trick that I’m still trying to pull off, whilst at the same time convincing myself that this is the right way to go.

Of course, all of this means that you can really only view the model from one carefully-crafted position, which is fine if it is in a diorama where you are telling the viewer where the focal point is (usually the front); not so easy if the model is freestanding and thus viewable from all sides. In the case of the ambulance, the plan is to house the model in a vignette and then mount it so that it is seen back-end to front bumper, from the bottom right corner to top left. That being so, I’ve illuminated it so that rear left flank above the open left-hand door, is far brighter and more saturated that the rest of the model. That illumination is also seen over the upper left-hand edge of the cab and the rear of the front mudguard. All of these areas pushing the idea that this scene has the sun in front of it, with the back of the model and diorama, in shadow. It’s fun, but I won’t really know if it has worked until everything is done. Fingers crossed that it all comes together in the end!


Last week I posted a number of updates on here discussing this upcoming kit, details of which you can read here:



Well, as if that wasn’t enough, Tamiya USA has now added some more images that show not only the model built up, but also how the detail looks from the box, once accentuated with a wash. The results are very impressive as can be seen on their page by following this link:



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Several years back, before such things as lockdowns and political upheaval hit the public consciousness like a thunderbolt, I spent some time trying to get hold of Revell’s ancient 1/32 Harrier kit, which is still the only extant kit of a first-generation machine, in this scale. Friends gathered together and before I knew it, I had several of these old kits to build. Then Revell, bless their hearts, re-released the kit as part of their classic range to celebrate 50 years of Harrier history. So, two kits became four, and I still haven’t started any of them! This week though thanks to an old Scale Models magazine, the cogs have started turning once more…

One of the very few occasions that I’ve been to an Aero Jumble, saw me visiting an event at the Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton many moons ago. I can’t remember the exact year, but it was around 1982/83, at least sometime around then. My grandparents had suggested that I and a friend go to the show (no mean feat given that we live in Shropshire and the event was held in Somerset) and so that’s what we did. Honestly, I can’t really remember what that show was like, but I do remember buying a couple of copies of Scale Models magazine from the many stall-holders and in particular, the November 1973 edition. I also remember it rained, which seems an odd detail to hold on to…

Though I’ve kept that magazine for the thick end of 40 years (it still has a price tag on it, rescaling that I paid the princely sum of 20p for it) it’s now seen rather better days, so last week I hunted around on eBay to see if I could find a better copy. Lo a behold, there was an almost mint edition on sale, offered for less than a fiver, so what could I do? I hit the ‘buy now’ button, paid the money and sat by the front door expectantly waiting for my copy to arrive.

So, why am I so enamoured by this particular magazine and why have I gone out of my way to grab a ‘newer’ copy when really, the older one would have served a similar purpose? Well, this edition covered in detail the Revell Harrier kit, offered ideas to improve it, showed the model built ‘from the box’, how to build a 1/72 two seater (grist to the mill for a budding modeller unable to sense fear back in the day) and then update the ‘Development Batch’ aircraft that Revell modelled, into something more akin to an in-service GR1. But more than that, this issue of Scale Models contained a full set of accurate scale plans drawn by the superlative Pat Lloyd, scale plans that to this day have not really been bettered. The issue for me (‘scuse the pun…) was that I had, along the way, used my plans for a build, destroyed half of them in the process, and so was in need of a new set. Replacement needed, replacement got!

My approach will be to build them as I would have done back when the kit was released, there or thereabouts.

Though it is easy to dismiss these older magazines as little more than fodder for the hungry nostalgic, they offer an important service to the modeller, dealing as they did/do with kits that came out at the time, not through the lens of rose-tinted nostalgia, but with the dispassionate eye of someone who was there, seeing the kit for the first time. Much of the detail that they passed over, both written and illustrative, offers insights that are hard to generate when you are blinded by comparisons with newer kits that are head and shoulders better in almost every way. Here, I not only have those incredible plans, I also have a window into the past, the thoughts of two very fine reviewers (Ray Rimmell being the second – say no more) and details of how to approach two builds: from the box and altered.

As it stands, I plan to build a two Harrier models from my kits, one as a GR3, the other as XV276, the first true Harrier. Both will involve changes, but neither will be approached in a way that would not have been feasible when the kit first came out. My approach will be to build them as I would have done back when the kit was released, there or thereabouts. This will mean some simple additions and changes, the GR3 for instance needing those separate fairings in front of the forward nozzles to be blended in, the nose and tail altered to reflect the later mods and then the pylons and weapons sharpened up to improve their accuracy and detail. In fact, that might be the only place that I deviate form my plans, some bits from a 1/32 Revell Hunter perhaps coming into play to improve the tanks and SNEB pods. We’ll see. As for decals, that’s easy, because the new release contains a stunning sheet that offers two choices:

  • Harrier GR1, No.3 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Wildenrath, Germany, August 1974
  • Harrier GR1, No.20 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Wildenrath, Germany, April 1971

My planned recreation of XV276 is perhaps simpler, though still in need of some thought. Airframe modifications are a little more straightforward, only the nose with its blended boom having to be added and then the front nozzles modified to represent the five-vaned cascade nozzles fitted to that aircraft. No weapons this time of course, but a fancy, natural metal and primered finish that I will have to largely guess at unless someone can offer me a detailed four-view of it in colour! It’s a very different looking ‘Harrier’ that’s for sure, but one that will be fun to model…


As soon as Airfix announced that it was going to release the Spitfire Mk.IX in 1/24, I began to consider completing an in-depth build of the kit and then converting that build into a stand-alone book, either printed, digital, or both. Today, I took the first steps towards that goal by preordering the kit from the Airfix website, so that I can hopefully begin work on it, almost as soon as it is released.

As it stands, I have plans in mind, but no specific idea of how the model will be completed. When I first saw the options on the decal sheet, my attention was grabbed by the French Air Force machine, but now finding out that that has been covered in another magazine already, makes me want to change course and try something different. It’s a failing I appreciate, but I’m never keen to build something that another modeller has already completed for print, so this option will have to be shelved and another considered. I have some ideas, but we’ll have to see how they pan out and if as I suspect, I change course once again to take a different path to completion.

The kit is due for release later this year, so I can’t tell any more about it, or the publication that I hope will follow. As soon as I have kit to hand, we’ll take a look at it and then discuss my approach and what you can expect from my build.

See you next time.


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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!

6 comments on “YOUR WEEKEND WRAP-UP…

  1. Jason Gill

    Loving the Katy Spence.
    Looks like we have the same favourites too with the Harrier and inability to not buy a Spitfire too. The F35 news actually prompted me to buy the Italeri F35B in the vain hope to do an A, and C eventually. Not really my favourite jet but a nice challenge to get the Have Glass paint right. Plus the quandry of whether to do them with original high contrast panels or the more modern single colours that seem to be on the latest batch of jets. All down to decent references I guess. Quite fancy doing one naked unpainted too. Choices, choices.


  2. Will be watching the Harrier builds with great interest, I also have four of those, AND that magazine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous

    Looking forward to your Spit 1/24 scale build. Will definitely buy your book.

    Kit has been pre-ordered and I already have the decals from Dutch Decals to build a Dutch variant of the IXc.

    Enjoy your weekend, and greets from NYC.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Darren McQuillan

    I’m already looking forward to your build of the Spitfire and the book.


  5. Bill Clark

    The Revell Harrier has been on my ‘to do’ list for some time. I had purchased a second hand example quite a few years ago, and had made a tentative start. However, various house moves, a few “missing parts”, and some poor modelling , saw me consign this project and kit to the bin. Certainly time to revisit this project. Maybe as an early GR1 in high gloss finish….



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