Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Building The Spitfire Mk24 Plastic Model (Plasmo)

This is my second plasmo build after the Italieri F-86F Sabre build posted elsewhere on this blog. It is also on a 1/32 scale making it my third 1/32 collection including the Me262. The manufacturer is Revell Germany and although Germans are known for precision, I found this kit very difficult to build as many parts did not fit properly. My earlier Italieri F-86F build was a breeze by comparison.

The model depicts the Mk24 version of the Spit which was built after the war and served with the RAF's No. 80 Squadron based in Kai Tak, Hong Kong. It was the first version that had a 24-volt electrical system. The powerplant was a 12-cylinder Rolls Royce Griffon 61 producing 2,050hp and capable of reaching 726km/h. The aircraft was armed with 4 Hispano 20mm cannons and could carry bombs and rockets under the wings.

As always, it is difficult to find the exact colours of the full scale aircraft for the model, so I searched in the local hobby stores for the nearest colours and blended them where required based on the instructions in the booklet.

The box is not what I would prefer as it opens at one end, so I moved all the contents to an Italieri box which has a top cover instead.

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The instructions are in black and white and in a loose booklet.




The parts are on 5 sprews enclosed in separate clear plastic bags with a smaller bag that contains the clear parts.



I started by building and painting the Rolls Royce Griffon 61 engine.



The pilot and his seat came next.


I then installed the seatback bulkhead, instrument panel and flight controls into the port fuselage half after painting them all. I did not use the supplied decal for the instrument panel as it would look toyish, InsteadI painted the panel blak and touched the raised parts with aluminium. There was some difficulty inserting the seat into the cockpit. Some seat back parts came loose after I forced the seat onto the cockpit floor and I had to reassemble and repaint them before reinsertion. Even then, the seat is now slightly skewed to one side.


The starboard fuselage half was then glued onto the port half. Thinking that I would need a sense antenna linking the top of the vertical stabiliser to the back of the cockpit, I inserted a black thread before gluing the two halves.


The joined two fuselage halves had misalignments and gaps along most of the joint line. I had to insert putty, file them down and sand the joined surfaces.

Next, the two lower wing halves were glued onto the mid-fuselage bottom. Here again I had to fill the gaps but this time I did not use putty. I had by then learned from the net that a mixture of talcum powder and Future floor finish would do the job better and at much lower cost. I had bought Future earlier to make the F-86F's canopy crystal clear, to protect the paintwork when adding on an oil wash for weathering, to gloss a matt paint and to seal the paintwork when finished. There was only one store in the whole city that sold Future and the product is sold as Pledge in this market. I picked up the last bottle still sitting on the shelves. It was expensive but it's a big bottle that will last years. It will come useful later.



The Future-talcum compound is adaptable to both small and big gaps. The more talcum is added the harder the compound becomes, which is ideal for filling the large gaps. As the compound takes a longer time to dry, it is easy to wipe off any excess with a cloth. Cleaning up is also a breeze as the compound dissolves in any window cleaning liquid e.g Windex.

The fuselage was then mounted on to the bottom wing halves followed by mounting the engine on to the firewall. The exhaust pipes protrude through the slots in the arms that cradle the engine and are anchored to the firewall at the rear and the engine's front plate in front. 

The Hispano 20mm cannons and ammunition were installed in the top wing halves, which were in turn glued onto the lower wing halves.The curved wing roots were then inserted between the edges of the top wing halves and the fuselage sides. Gaps were aplenty and much Future-talcum compound had to be added.



I then did some painting of the small parts such as the canopy and frames, undercarriage legs, undercarriage doors, underwing scoops, cannon barrels and the cockpit door.


Deciding to discard the starboard engine cowlings, I started to mount the port ones but this operation was the worst that I came across. The combined width of the upper and lower port cowlings was insufficient to cover the area required. A lot of Future-talcum compound had to be applied to fill the wide gap at the bottom end. At the same time the recess of the upper cowling was too narrow to accommodate the exhaust pipes. Much cutting of the upper cowling was done until the two cowling parts could be glued together.


After painting the whole aircraft's underside, the three air scoops were added on to them. The underwing air scoops were too wide to fit the recesses meant for them. I had to file away the sides until they fitted and then repaint the scoops.


The top surfaces were then painted with the camouflage scheme of No. 80 Squadron.


Decals were applied before the cannon barrels, undercarriage legs and doors and pitot tube were mounted onto the wings. The canopy had a visible scratch, so I wrongly assumed that a 2000 grit sandpaper would remove it. It was a big mistake as the canopy became a useless piece of frosty plastic. Again turning to the net, I learned that one had to continue sanding the plastic with progressively finer grit sandpapers as each finer grit smoothens away the scratches made by the previous coarser grit sandpaper. I ordered four pieces each of the 4000 grit and 6000 grit Micro Mesh sanding cloths from Rockler of USA and started to use them with water.  They worked and the result was a fairly clear canopy. Again the net taught me that Brasso is yet a finer abrasive, so I polished the canopy with it and the plastic became much clearer. Finally, dipping the whole canopy into a bowl of Future resulted in a shining clear canopy as if it just came from the factory.

One excellent feature of the model is that the clear rear canopy is mounted onto a frame and the assembly can be detached or placed at any desired position along the grooves below both sides of the cockpit sill.





















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