Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 Build Part I

Fine Molds began releasing their Messerschmitt Bf 109 series of kits in 2005. They boxed all the later variants from the F-series through the K, inserting a bewildering variety of combinations of small sprues to portray the versions desired. These were an immediate hit. Tamiya has recently released a G-6, but opinions vary as to how big of an improvement over the Fine Molds release it is (which speaks volumes).
These are the basic sprues in the G-6 boxing. An interesting feature which has been copied by other manufacturers is the engine molded under the cowling. This has allowed Fine Molds to account for additional versions by substituting cowling panels while allowing for the option of displaying an exposed engine.
If you like parts for the spares box and want to build a G-4 or a G-6, the Finnish boxing is the one to get. This one has the maximum number of secondary sprues, and all the original parts are still there on the main sprues. You can basically build any G-6 with the parts in this box with the exception of the tall tail varieties.
The side wall detail in the cockpit is basically raised lines with little depth. This benefits from some basic scratch building to beef up the detail. The large round structure represents the trim wheels. The real trim wheels were spoked, but I find that the spoke detail is largely hidden by the pilot’s seat and difficult to see from most angles in any case so I represent them with disks for closed canopy builds.
The cockpit under a coat of paint and with Eduard PE seatbelts. The yellow tube is a fuel line with a sight glass, a prominent detail which is not difficult to add with a piece of solder.
If you study photographs of Bf 109s it is very difficult to find one on the ground with the flaps in line with the wing, and is almost impossible to find one without the leading-edge slats deployed. These were spring loaded and intended to automatically extend at lower airspeeds to increase lift. A Bf 109 just doesn’t look natural without the slats and flaps repositioned so these were all cut out. If the Fine Molds kit could be improved, separate slats and flaps would get my vote!
The fit of the Fine Molds kit is excellent, and here it is with the flaps and slat re-attached. The inner flaps on the 109 are split to allow for the radiator exhaust, the pilot could control the engine temperature by varying the effective aperture at the trailing edge of the wing.
I made canopy masks from Tamiya tape and using Montex masks as templates. The Montex masks do not adhere well, and this especially true if there are any curves involved. I have had trouble with these, every time I’ve tried to use them they’ve lifted off so I’m going with the Tamiya tape for this build.

Fly Fiat G.50 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

For once, the Mr. Surfacer 1000 revealed no surprises. There were a few panel lines to clean up but that was it.
The camouflage is one of those intricate patterns which the Italians were known for, consisting of Sand (Giallo Mimetico 4) with mottles of Brown (Marrone Mimetico 1) and Green (Verde Mimetico 2). Undersides are Light Gray (Grigio Mimetico). I thinned the paint with Leveling Thinner and the Mr. Color went on well.
Decals are from the kit, which provides markings for four aircraft.  There are options for Croat and Luftwaffe machines, and two in Italian colors.  I had a hard time deciding between the markings used here and the ones on the box art.
The ailerons have mass balances both above and below the wings, so care must be exercised when handling the model to avoid breaking these off. There is a pitot tube on each wingtip, I made these up from Albion tube. The navigation lights are positioned on the leading edge of the wings, I made these from stretched clear sprue and colored them with Micro Krystal Klear and food coloring.
There are no surprises with this kit, it builds up quickly and looks right when done. I really enjoyed this one and will have to get more so I can do some in Finnish markings.

More completed photos here:

Fly Fiat G.50 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is a relatively new release from Fly, kit number 72039 in their 2019 Fiat G.50 family. This is one of those subjects which was used by several air forces in several different schemes, and Fly has issued boxings with both the markings and detail differences to cover several options. The problem is definitely deciding which subject to build!
The basic sprues really don’t have an overwhelming number of parts, which is a welcome change from how some manufacturers would have handled this subject. There is a small resin casting to handle a few finer pieces. One really, really nice consideration which I wish more manufacturers would emulate is the mass balances for the ailerons, the subject needs four but the kit contains five as they are easily lost. Good on you, Fly!
I added a few enhancements to the cockpit from Evergreen. The cockpit opening is small so all of this will be difficult to see unless you are one of those guys with the little flashlights at the model shows. There were no surprises with the fit of the cockpit.
This the cockpit all painted up. The contrasting colors show up pretty well, but the sidewall details tend to get lost in the shadows.
The engineering on this kit is superb, there are no seams to speak of. It’s nice to have this kind of fit on a model! Everything lined up perfectly and responded well to MEK.
There are no masks in the kit but the windscreen is small so this is not a big deal. The G.50 canopy was open on the top which would make the type interesting to fly over the Eastern Front!

Part II here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part V

Painting is one of my favorite parts of a build. This is one of the Sword kits wearing the segmented three-color scheme, with a fuselage stripe and Axis yellow recognition panel under the nose. There was a lot of masking required for this scheme, which was done with Tamiya tape.
The other palette used on this batch consisted of the standard Luftwaffe RLM 74 / 75 / 76 colors. The Mr. Color paints used were thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner and performed well.
I used Tamiya black wash to bring out the panel lines. This is best applied over a gloss coat, and any excess can be wiped away with a cotton swab and thinner. I use standard paint thinner for this, if you use a “hot” thinner like those intended for lacquers it will cut through all the paint layers.
This is the Supermodel Silurante with decals from the Sky Models sheet, which performed flawlessly. This was the only G.55 of the four which I could confirm wore the ANR fasces in the prescribed manner with both the outer axe heads facing forwards. Two of the others likely carried two “left-handed” insignia on the upper wings, the remaining example I couldn’t confirm either way.
While the paint coats were drying I went to work on the landing gear. The parts on the left are from the Supermodel kit, these are a bit clunky and like most kits of the era the legs are too thick. The middle gear are replacements built up from Albion tube and Evergreen sheet, with resin castings of the Sword wheels. The gear on the right are from the Sword kit.
When I get to this point I always get the feeling that the build is almost complete, but aside from the prop and the wheels there are still several “fiddlybits” left to make and attach. I began listing them all in my mind, but when I got to twenty I stopped counting.
A view into the cockpit showing the 3D printed seatbelts from Kits-World, KW3D72019. This was my first time using these, they really look the part. They are intended to be applied like decals, but they do have some heft to them which allows them to be draped around to a degree and looks more convincing than standard decals.
This is the Silurante with the torpedo in place. The torpedo was painted Alclad Burnt Iron, which turned out to be almost a black with very little of the iron look I was hoping for. It didn’t look bad though so I left it as it was.
Here are all four completed models together, the two Sword kits in the foreground, Special Hobby in the upper left, and Supermodel in the upper right. I really like the sleek look of the Centauro, and the design is much bigger than I expected it would be. Updating the Supermodel kit added some extra time to building the batch but it was fun to add all the little details.


The Sword kits are the most recent issue of the three.  They are limited-run kits but still nice even without the locator pins.  They are not Tamigawa kits but still go together well, with the exception of gaps at the wing roots.  You get two complete kits in the box with decals for seven different machines, and the kits provide the option for both styles of vertical tails.  Shapes look good, they have captured the outline of the G.55 well.  This is the preferred place to start as it will be the most accurate out of the box and the easiest to build, plus you’re getting two kits for the price of one.

The decals are printed by Techmod and are of the best quality.  However, if you follow Sword’s marking guides you will apply the flags backwards on the starboard side, and they do not provide wing fasces with the axe on the right side facing forward, which will certainly be wrong for some if not most of the schemes included.

The Special Hobby kit is another limited run effort and is a decade older than Special Hobby’s.  The molding has thicker attachment points on the sprues and more pronounced mold lines, and the parts show a little less finesse and detail.  Many of the finer parts are cast in resin, and there is a small fret of PE included as well.

The Special Hobby kit has some fit issues at the wing roots.  The wheelwell is provided as a resin piece, and this also does not fit well between the wing halves which results in another seam to fill along the leading edge.  The PE fret is stainless steel which makes it difficult to remove the parts, I wound up only using the radiator grids and sway braces and skipped all the rest.  The shapes look good on the finished product though.  It can still be built up into a nice model, just not as easily as the Sword kit.

Being much older, the Supermodel kit is surpassed by both the others and is not the best place to start to get an accurate, detailed model.  It completely lacks any cockpit or wheelwell detail, so these will have to be added by the modeler. Panel lines are raised and the detail at the control surfaces is soft, so you will need to either ignore this or re-scribe the whole kit.  I built it as a skills exercise and for the fun of adding the improvements.

The kit does have some glaring shape issues once you get to looking at it.  The biggest of these is the fuselage is about 4 mm too short aft of the cockpit.  This can be corrected with a little surgery.  The wings are also too broad in cord, so you’ll need to reduce the trailing edge about 2 mm at the roots and 1 mm at the tips, and then thin the trailing edge from the inside.  This will throw off the dimensions of the flaps and ailerons so those will have to be re-scribed at the very least.  The fuselage appears thick and bloated compared to the other two and I couldn’t find an easy way to fix that.  I think the wing is positioned a little bit too far forward on the fuselage, another issue which I left alone.

I knew what I was getting into when I opened the box and looked forward to tinkering with the Supemodel kit, but the Sword kit is where you want to start if you want an easier row to hoe and a better finished model.

G.55 Construction Part I here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

As I said in the last post, one of my motivations for throwing the old Supermodel kit onto the pile on the bench was to practice my scribing. I’m still not very good at it but I will never get any better if I don’t keep practicing. I scribed the wings, fuselage, and horizontal tail pieces separately to make things easier, then ran MEK down the scribed lines to eliminate burrs and scribed them again. Mistakes were filled with superglue and re-scribed. In the center of the wheelwell is a cast copy of the Special Hobby engine accessories section.
I cut out the wingtip navigation lights on all the models and replaced them with chips cut from a CD case. The openings were painted with a Sharpie and a small dot of paint for the appropriate light color, then the chip was superglued in place. Everything was then filed down and polished clear.
Not surprisingly, the Supermodel kit requires the most work. The wing gun covers are cast replacements as the originals were just not close to the correct shape. The fuselage is too wide which makes the fit of the canopy a problem, the windscreen portion needed some Perfect Plastic Putty to blend in. The cooling inlet in front of the exhausts is Aluminum from a pie tin, as are the fasteners. The oversized kit air inlet was replaced with tube.
Here’s a good view of the new wheelwells. The opening was too wide which allowed for boxing in the back and reducing the opening at the same time. The oil cooler was poorly shaped and open to the interior, so this was filled and a new cooler made from Evergreen.
The Silurante required a tall tail wheel strut to allow clearance for the torpedo, and the aircraft was provided with an aerodynamic fairing for the longer tailwheel. The Supermodel kit supplies a part for this, but mine had escaped sometime over the last 50 years so I plunge molded a replacement over the end of a paintbrush.
With the gaps and filling required all three kits needed a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws. Not surprisingly I found several and ended up sanding areas and re-priming three times before I was satisfied.
General chaos on the workbench as the models enter the painting stage. I like painting. There are a couple of tag-alongs which is often the case if the color pallets are the same. My plan is to have these finished in time for the next update.

Part V here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

The Sword kits assembled well, save for gaps in the wingroots. I thinned the wing trialing edges on all four kits from the inside with files and sanding blocks.
The Special Hobby kit also had gaps at the wingroot as well as problems with seams along the wing halves caused by the resin wheelwells. The gaps along the wing leading edges were filled with superglue. I skipped the kit’s resin exhausts in favor of spares from Fine Molds Bf 109s.
The Supermodel Silurante torpedo bomber differed from a standard Centauro in several details, one of which was the deletion of the two machine guns in the upper cowl. Supermodel issued their standard Centauro kit with parts for the underwing radiators and the torpedo, so the fuselage gun troughs were filled with stretched sprue and bonded with MEK.
The final factor which made me decide to tackle the “unbuildable” Supermodel kit was the opportunity to practice scribing panel lines. Here I have reduced the chord of the wings by approximately 1 mm at the tips and 2mm at the roots, and filled the troughs at the control surfaces with stretched sprue. The horizontal stabilizer at the left shows all the detail sanded off in preparation for scribing.
An option on the Sword kit is to replace the vertical fin with a shortened version. I decided to perform this operation on one of the kits, as you can see the base will need to be trimmed and filled to blend the new fin in properly.
I cut off the Supermodel kit’s fin and replaced it with a Sword vertical tail piece instead, which is much better detailed and already has the recessed panel lines. This will also need some blending but will look a lot better than the original.

Part IV here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

One trick which will help with all the kits is to take the best bits from each and clone them. In my little corner of the modeling world this is done with resin casting. Most of these parts are from the Sword kit, and most will go into the old Supermodel kit.
To lengthen the Supermodel fuselage I cut horizontally in line with the cockpit combing and then down aft of the wing root termination. The fuselage was lengthened by 4mm, and then the rear of the cockpit was built back up by about 1mm. The exhausts were cut out and replaced with spares from Fine Molds Bf 109 kits.
The Sword kit at top needed only a few tweaks. I decided to skip the Special Hobby resin cockpit walls and build the detail out using Evergreen. The Supermodel kit got a mixture of resin clones and Evergreen details as there was nothing really provided in the kit.
Here is the detail added to the Supermodel kit. The main tub is largely resin casts of Sword cockpit parts, the sidewalls are Evergreen.
I added Oxygen bottles to all three kits, just visible in blue on the right side of the pilot’s seats. I also added the seat adjustment levers to the left. The belts are missing here, awaiting the arrival of sets of 3D printed belts from Hannants.
The 3-D printed seatbelts are like decals with some thickness to them. They arrived after the fuselages were closed up so they’ll be a little harder to install, but they look great on the sheet!

Part III here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

WWII Italian aircraft are some of the more attractive designs of the period. I have a few in the stash, but oddly I have none in the display case, something which I will fix with this build. The Sword and Special Hobby kits are relatively new limited run efforts, while the ancient Supermodel kit is “mainstream” with locater pins, although the age of the molds makes this pretty much moot. “2 in 1” means different things to different manufacturers, Sword covers both interpretations by including two complete kits with parts to model two different versions. All of these are end-opening boxes, the old flattened Supermodel box best demonstrates one of the reasons why this is a bad idea.
This is a sprue shot of the Sword kit, you get two of these sprues to the box. Surface detail is finely engraved and looks great. The G.55 has engine accessories visible in the wheelwell similar to the Fw 190D, this is provided as a resin insert. In the lower left region of the sprue is a part for the shorter version of the vertical tail, to use this the molded-on tall tail must be removed with a razor saw. This kit was first issued in 2017.
The molding on the 2005 issue Special Hobby kit is a little softer, the parts a little thicker, the sprue gates a little thicker. Surface engraving is still nice.
Special Hobby provides several parts as resin castings and also a photoetch sheet for some of the finer details. These are often a mixed blessing, we’ll have to see which of these get used in the end.
The Supermodel kit was new in 1968. The Silurante was a modified version intended to carry a torpedo which necessitated splitting the radiator among other modifications. Back in the day, the cockpit detail consisted of a seat and a pilot, and the wheelwell was a hole. Surface detail is raised and the dimensions are suspect. Some modelers would call this kit “unbuildable” at this point but I see the challenge as an opportunity to hone my skills.
These are the fuselage sections taped together to compare profiles. In the foreground are the Sword and Special Hobby fuselages which match up very well. In the background are the Special Hobby and Supermodel kits. The most obvious problem is the Supermodel fuselage is about 4mm too short aft of the cockpit. This is fixable, but obviously the old Supermodel kit is not the ideal place to start if you want an accurate model out of the box.
These are the underwing parts. Sword on the bottom, Special Hobby in the middle, and Supermodel on top. Span-wise these compare well, but the Supermodel wing is too thick in chord. In addition, the old Supermodel kit has both shape and size issues with the wheel well cut-out. The other two kits compare well, both in size and detail.
Here are the wheels compared, Sword, Special Hobby, and Supermodel from left to right. The Sword wheels are closest to what can be seen in photographs.
The cockpit assemblies are a commentary on the progression of molding standards over the years. The dark gray parts are from the Sword kits, the shapes are good and the molding is good for a limited run kit. Special Hobby provides details in resin, they haven’t captured all the nuances of the prototype but the parts are functional. The Supermodel parts are an attempt at camouflaging the lack of any detail by inserting a pilot, but that was typical for the time.

Part II here:

Airfix Sherman Firefly Vc Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

Priming with Mr. Surfacer 1000 turns the model into a computer render! Maybe not. One thing which struck me as a bit unusual is the lifting eyes on the hull are represented but the ones on the turret are missing. I fabricated those from beading wire.
The overall color is Olive Drab (surprise!). Tracks are Tire Black drybrushed with Silver, they will also receive various washed as part of the weathering process.
Decals are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1039. Mine are slightly out of register. The canvas roll on the engine deck is made from masking tape.
The same model as the previous photo after an application of Tamaya Black Wash. The wash adds depth to the finish and really makes the details pop.
I found a photograph showing a Firefly using nets to break up the vehicle’s outline in the Osprey New Vanguard volume. I made the netting from cheesecloth, colored with Burnt Umber oil paint. The netting was applied to the model with LiquiTape, and then saturated with a layer of GlossCote to fix it in place.
This vehicle had the Hessan tape camo applied to the turret and gun barrel. This was replicated with the cheesecloth again, this time with the Hessan tapes made from thin strips of Tamiya tape.
The Airfix Fireflys build up into nice models. The addition of the stowage sprue is a nice touch and allows the modeler to easily build many more individual vehicles than would otherwise be possible. Construction was painless, the only trap is the hull machine gun called out in the instructions.

More finished pictures here:

Airfix Sherman Firefly Vc Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is the 2020 Airfix boxing of the Sherman Firefly. The Firefly mounted the impressive 76.2 mm 17-pounder gun, which required moving the radios to a box at the back end of the turret among other modifications.
These are the three main sprues for the kit. There are parts included for two options to model the running gear here, the simplified single piece construction is likely a nod to the wargaming market. The tracks can also be modeled as a more traditional assembly using the parts on the top sprue. The difference in general appearance is actually slight, the biggest issue is the single piece option has the rubber block style track (due to mold release limitations) while the multi-piece option has the metal chevron style track. I think this is a good move, the single piece tracks are often preferable in 1/72 scale.
Frame “D” deserves special mention. With only a few exceptions, this sprue is devoted to “optional” pieces. This sprue allows the modeler to represent tanks with extra stowage and track used as additional armor. This is a most welcome addition as the lack of these components severely limits the individual vehicles which can be modeled out of the box with the majority of kits in 1/72 scale. I hope other manufacturers will follow Airfix’ lead and include similar sprues in their kits. Well done Airfix!
This is the hull built up with both track options for comparison. The single-piece option looks quite good if you want to model the rubber block tracks, the main compromise here is the guide teeth being molded as a single ridge across the span of the track. The subjects I selected for my builds used the metal chevron tracks so that’s what I used. I have filled the hull with a layer of BBs and epoxy to give the model a bit of “heft”.
There is a “gotcha” in step 43 of the instructions, and in the box art as well for that matter. Sherman Fireflys eliminated the hull machine gun (and gunner) in favor of increased ammunition storage, the gun opening was covered by armor plate. Airfix includes the armor, but shows the machine gun being mounted. They show the correct plated opening in step 44 and subsequent steps. A trap for the unwary.
The basic assembly goes together quickly and without any issues. There were some sink marks on the front part of the transmission cover which were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. It would have been nice to have an option for an open commander’s hatch (and maybe a figure) but the hatch is molded closed.
AFVs beg to be “customized”, and one vehicle which caught my eye featured the Cullen hedgerow cutter. It also used spare track as armor, but was unusual in that the track teeth were pointed outward, the reverse of what was usually seen. I also added headlight guards made from flattened solder, and lifting eyes on the turret made from beading wire. The co-axial machine gun was replaced by brass tube. At the rear of the radio box is a scratchbuilt stowage box which was seen on several Fireflys.

Part II here: