Time to start bringing some of the parts together. Firstly, I glued in the bracing spar I scratch-built, taking care to make certain it was all square. Then I attached the two horizontal stabilizers. The steel rules, along with the fading grid on the cutting mat, are there to act as a guide, rather than measure any dimensions.
As expected, the tail fit isn’t exactly perfect. As I have pointed out, there’s no locating pins, sockets or whatever you may be used to on premium brands. The brass rod was all there was, and this did keep everything square, but there was still a bit of a gap to fill.
It was much the same story with the wings. That spar was a huge benefit, so I think I can pat myself on the back for that. I don’t honestly think I could have attempted this kit last summer.
Again, there was quite a gap to fill. This is the first time I have used Perfect Plastic Putty in anger. It’s good, but Vallejo’s similar stuff is easily on a par with it. Still, I have copious quantities of both, so I’ll likely flit back and forth, as the fancy takes me!
Now that I have some more micro-drills, I carried on where I left off after breaking the ones I had last week. The brass rod I have is 0.3 mm, but drilling any hole that size results in an interference fit, so I stepped the holes up to 0.4 mm. Prior to this, you can probably see tabs of masking tape, with each strut identified according to the instructions, so I know which one goes where.
Short lengths of said brass rod were then c.a’d into place.
The first batch of struts, drilled and pinned. And yes, it is possibly the most fiddly and time-consuming job I have so far attempted in my modelling life!
Before attaching the struts to any part of the bodywork, I decided I should fit the transparencies next, or there would be a good chance of knocking the struts off if I fitted the windows in after. This could be tricky, not ever having worked with vac-formed parts before. These are the holes that need filling.
It made sense to me to mask them up first, before fitting. If not I just know I’ll push them through if I tried it when in place.
Of course, trimming them, and trial fitting them, proved to be something of a headache. I used my vice to prop the fuselage up, freeing up one hand.
After dropping it inside more than three-score times, I began to grow a strong dislike for vac-formed transparencies! This was one attempt at solving that problem, by holding it in place while dry fitting, a blob of white-tac on a cocktail stick.
That was fine for dry-fitting, but no good for gluing in place, because the white-tac’s grip strength was stronger than the wet PVA glue being used to hold it in place. In the end I just fingered it in, but I had the advantage of being able to push it from behind using a cocktail stick through the opposite window opening.
Lightbulb! For the other side I just cut a thin strip of masking tape for me to hang on to while positioning it, and to support it while the glue dried.
The nose window, though more awkward to trim, was easier to fit, as it couldn’t drop inside, due to the cockpit detail being in it’s way. I have to admit, I’m rather pleased with how they turned out. I think I managed to trim them pretty much spot on, and without using the second, back-up set the kit provided. Any slivers of gaps were back-filled with PVA glue and tidied up with a damp cotton bud.
Now for the one job that has been causing me some worry since I first started this build: the struts. But first, there was some fiddly-arsed resin parts to attach to the fuselage/centre wing strut.
Knowing I would need to be able to view and access all sides and angles quickly, I brought out the Lazy Susan turntable. Each strut is placed next to its location, to minimise confusion. The original plan was to gently place each strut in the lower wing, then try to place the upper wing onto the tops. This, I theorised, would then hold everything in place while I super-glued the struts to the bottom wing.
No chance! The struts kept falling out. I’d just get one side in place then the other sides would come out, and it was almost impossible to see where the holes in the upper wing were anyway, since they were in shadow on the underside.
So in the end I just gave it my best guess. I know they’re all vertical, and there’s a little bit of flex in them, so hopefully when it comes to fitting the upper wing I can wiggle things down.
And those were the easier ones. I still have the engine nacelles and floats left to fit. Do you think anyone would notice if I left them off?!
Still, I’m up to the paint stage now, and unlike most other kits, I think for a bi-plane it’s better to paint things in separate components, as otherwise getting between the wings and around the nacelles would be all but impossible, though those of you who have actually done bi-planes before probably already know that!