Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Zeroes and Magnificent Lightning

Listening to: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (2011).

Apparently this blog needs to be a bit more manly. So in an effort to up the manly-ness, here is a picture of Manly Beach, Sydney for y'all.
Bebe still not here yet. Will be a week overdue by this time tomorrow. Have now been in "anytime now" quick-reaction mode for long enough that any nervousness will be overshadowed by "Finally!" when things start happening. Fi is naturally a bit over it. Charlotte is ever more aware that something is up, but still hasn't figured out she will shortly be sharing her world.

In the meantime I have been getting some modelling done. To get back into the groove, I'm revisiting a couple of kits from my childhood, the little known (if web presence is anything to go by) small scale Hasegawa Shinden ('Magnificent Lightning') and Zero (erm, 'Zero'). These were part of a range of small snap-together kits Hasegawa produced in the early 80's (at least, I have no idea when they were originally created), aimed at the young beginner market. They were cheap (hence the 'buy by coin' logo on the box) and didn't need any glue to be assembled.

I got one of each back in 1984 or so, and they were assembled and re-fighting the Pacific War in no time. In this hobby revisiting models you built as a kid can be fun, so on a whim a while ago I found some online from a secondhand retailer in the UK, at a cost of slightly more than 75p.
As can be seen by the parts layout, they are somewhat more basic than what I usually build these days, although nicely moulded for what they are (kits intended to be built in the space of an afternoon or less). The Zero is 1/100 scale which is reasonably common standard scale, but the Shinden is an oddball at the uncommon 1/106. Wierd scales like this are often known as 'Box Scale', in that the size of the model was determined by the size of the box it was going to be sold in.
The original Zero I built in the 80's is still mostly intact, complete with inappropriate French Air Force roundels that were applied in the mid 80's after the original Japanese decals had worn off, and experimental camouflage prompted by trying to hide where the brush slipped when I was painting the undersides and got grey on the top instead of the bottom.
It is interesting from a modeller's viewpoint comparing two examples of the same kit from slightly different production runs. I have no idea of the relative ages of the two (other than 'old') but there are definite differences, even though they are in theory identical. The newer one had sink marks in spots where the plastic hadn't filled out the mould properly, while the original one has a warped wing (and always has).

The original Shinden on the other hand has aged so well. It survived into the late 80's at least reasonably intact, but theses are the only parts a recent search turned up.
I might re-use the spinner that covers the propeller hub on the new Shinden (actually it is the only piece intact enough to be able to re-use), to incorporate some old with the new.

Now being that I am not 7 anymore, and not going from in the box to flying around the room in an hour or so, I thought it only proper that I build these retreads properly.

Given the cockpit and pilot in both models was represented only by a ball of plastic in a stick, and almost any change would be an improvement, I cut open both cockpits and built my own out of plastic sheet and rod. They are best described as 'representative' rather than accurate, but still better than not doing anything.
I'm guessing there are thousands of these things that have been built, but I'm betting not many with this amount of effort.

Did I mention how small these models are? If you embiggen the image you can see the seat belts I made up from tape. I have no idea how visible they will be on the finished item.
Since these two are taking approximately a thousand times longer to build than their predecessors, having been carefully glued, filled and sanded, they are only now getting painted.

Only two real Shindens were ever built, and never actually got into service, so the Shinden paint is fairly neat and tidy and straightforward and not needing to be weathered. Zeroes on the other hand were ubiquitous, and in common with other Japanese aircraft notorious for shedding paint in the late war period this model depicts. So to try and simulate that it has been undercoated with aluminum paint topped under the camouflage green, the idea being when the topcoat is done you can remove bits of it to look like chipping.
I still haven't quite figured out how that is going to work out on something this small, or which way to do it is best. Watch this space.

1 comment:

Jon said...

LOL at Manly beach. Good comeback.