2022 Year in Review

2022 is now in the logbooks!  Looking back there were several enjoyable builds and a few which were problematic.  I am struggling to determine any which truly stand out, I didn’t really build anything particularly unique or show stopping in any way.  I did have fun though which counts for something, but I do feel you can have fun and also build something unusual.

I attended five IPMS model shows in 2022, even after missing a few due to conflicts with my daughter’s volleyball tournament schedule.   The shows I did get to were the Dayton Wright Field Modelers, the Indianapolis Roscoe Turner show in Lebanon, Military Modelers Club of Louisville, a new show held by IPMS Duneland in Hobart, Indiana, and the Cincinnati show held at the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, Ohio.  Two of the shows I skipped entering models – Dayton so I could spend the afternoon in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, and Hobart because it was a new show and I didn’t know what to expect.  Hobart turned out to be a full-fledged show right out of the gate with a great vendors’ area and over 500 models on the tables.  I’ll definitely bring some entries next year!

2022 Cincinnati show at the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, Ohio. You have to love the 1:1 scale entries!

The publishing industry seems to have picked up some, and there are finally titles making their way down to the overstock and secondary market which is where I pick up a good number of books.  I have also been listening to audiobooks while I model, downloaded from the Indiana State Library.  Listening at the bench is a good fit, as it doesn’t interfere with modeling in any way.  Sadly, two authors which are well represented on my shelves passed away this year, Jerry Crandall and Lawrence J. Hickey.  Both will be missed.

Blog Statistics and News

The Inch High Guy blog has completed year four!  A big thanks to all who visit on a regular basis and I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day.  Total posts surpassed 1,500 last week, so there is a backlog for any new followers if you’re interested.  It’s gotten to the point where even I’ve forgotten some of the posts!  The blog received 168,566 views and 66,305 visitors this year, up from 139,675 views and 55,483 visitors in 2022.

I have never counted the models lurking in the display cases in the Secret Underground Workshop, but given that I post 2 completed builds per week with 8 photos each, that’s over 400 models and 3,200 photographs so far.  The problem with that is, even with new completions, I will run out of finished models to post sometime this year and will have to upgrade my WordPress plan as all the storage space will be filled.  The other topics regularly in the rotation show similar numbers – 200 book reviews, 200 walk arounds, etc.  It is likely that there will be some point where the blog will only be updated a few times a week instead of daily.  This may open up other possibilities with other formats, time will tell.

Models Built in 2022

41 completions, 31 aircraft and 10 vehicles. When I counted them up I was surprised that this was 7 more than last year.  Only 3 figures this year though, which is down quite a bit.  Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, construction posts and additional finished pictures can be found by searching the blog.

Pavla Curtiss AT-9 Fledgling (Jeep)

AZmodel Vought OS2U Kingfisher

Hasegawa Brewster Model B-239 Buffalo x2

Hasegawa Curtiss SOC Seagull x2

Special Hobby Seversky P-35

Revell Sd. Kfz. 173 Jagdpanther

Dragon Jagdpanzer IV L/70

Revell Sturmgeschütz IV

Arma Hobby North American P-51 B/C Mustang x12

Arma Hobby Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” x6

Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” (Repaint)

RS Models Kawasaki Ki-100

North American B-25 Mitchell x4

Airfix Sherman Firefly Vc x2

Plastic Soldier M3 Stuart Honey x3

Vickers Light Tank Mark VIB Resin Prints x2

What’s Ahead in 2023

What IS ahead in 2023?  Boy, I could really get into politics here, both international and domestic.  Let’s leave it as hopes for a just end to the war in Ukraine, and a lack of interest on the part of other dictators in starting new conflicts.

On the modeling front, most of the immediate plans are for my typical builds which are gradually becoming more routine.  There are also a few ideas for unusual subjects, but these are more involved and tend to take much longer than shake and bake kits.  I am always kicking around ideas for another ship, but ships in any scale tend to consume bench time at incredible rates.  I’m not sure that 50 work in progress posts on the same subject is a good thing.

On the home front Ms. Inch High’s weakness for dogs manifested itself again and we’re now up to four.  Both of the new arrivals were rescues adopted in the same week.  Franklin had been returned to the shelter a couple of times but is a great dog, Elenore was rescued from a dog hoarder and had had a rough life.  She was traumatized but has really come around now and is the most energetic of the pack.

Old dogs Jezabel and Teddy in the chairs, puppies Franklin and Elenore on the floor. This is why I don’t get to sit in my library on some days.

May you each live long enough to build every model in your stash!

Airfix Sherman Firefly Vc in 1/72 Scale

Here are two builds of the relatively new Airfix Sherman Firefly kits.  The models go together without any drama and the kits contain a sprue with several additional stowage pieces and extra track links, allowing the modeler to represent several individual vehicles right out of the box.  Markings are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1039 for British Fireflys in Normandy.  The crews there applied various means of breaking up the outlines of their vehicles using nets, Hessian tape, and local foliage.

Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/12/02/airfix-sherman-firefly-vc-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/

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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/12/13/airfix-sherman-firefly-vc-in-1-72-scale/

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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/12/09/airfix-sherman-firefly-vc-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/

Airfix North American B-25C Mitchell “Dirty Dora” in 1/72 Scale

“Dirty Dora” was perhaps the most famous of the 345th Bomb Group’s Mitchells, thanks in part to a series of color photographs of her taken in February, 1944.  Serial number 41-12971 was initially assigned to the 38th Bomb Group in September 1942.  She was modified into a strafer at Townville in July 1943, and was then assigned to the 499th Bomb Squadron in August, where she received her prominent nose art.  She served with the 499th for a year, after which she was declared War Weary after almost two years of combat operations.  Her final tally was 175 bombing missions, 4 aerial victories, and 3 ships sunk.   Airfix kit, markings from DK Decals sheet 72041.

Airfix North American B-25C Mitchell of the 487th BS 340th BG in 1/72 Scale

The 340th Bomb Group arrived in the Mediterranean Theater in April 1943 and served through the end of the war.  42-83472 was assigned to the Group’s 487th Squadron in Tunisia with the initial deployment.  The yellow outline to the national insignia and RAF style fin flash are typical for aircraft operating from North Africa at the time.  This is the Airfix kit with Xtradecals markings.

More completed model pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/10/13/hasegawa-north-american-b-25h-mitchell-clana-louise-in-1-72-scale/

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part VI

A big box of goodness from Hannants arrived in the nick of time with another set of DK Decals. It’s been awhile since I’ve botched up a job to the point where I had to re-order parts, but I did manage to get the decals applied to the noses this time. Not perfect, but close enough. The Mitchells of the 345th Bomb Group sported some very attractive schemes, but there is a reason you don’t see them built more often!
The Airfix sprues in their B-25C/D kits are also used in their B-25B kits, late in the build I noticed where this has resulted in a small inaccuracy. The C/D introduced a small astrodome for the navigator behind the cockpit, on the B-25B this is a small rectangular window. The kit is molded with the rectangular opening appropriate for the B, when modeling the C/D the opening should be round. Mine was opened up with drill bits from the garage until the size of the opening matched the astrodome. It looks rough but any variations are hidden under the astrodome frame.
Props are some of the subassemblies which I work on right from the start of the build and finish along the way. I sprayed the backs of the blades with Alclad to simulate the “sandblasting” paint wear often seen there.
Here are the dorsal turrets, Airfix on the left and Hasegawa on the right. The supporting interior detail is nice but cannot be seen inside the fuselage. The Hasegawa turrets sit a little too high, but this is easily remedied by trimming down the base at the bottom until the height is right.
Round engines leak oil, I grimed up the undersides with Tamiya brown wash. Paint chips were added using an old square bottle of Testors Silver applied with both brush and sponge.
This is an overall view of the underside of one of the Airfix B-25Cs. I modulated the tone of the Neutral Gray, and picked up the panel lines with a wash. The nacelles got oil streaking with a brown wash and exhaust staining with oils. I mixed in just a drop of tan with the DullCote to unify the finish and simulate dust.
These are the references which were most useful on this build. The Squadron Signal volumes are great sources for photographs and do a good job of illustrating the differences between variants. Modelers and collectors should note that there are often multiple volumes within the various series which are titled the same, in this case there are two “B-25 Mitchell” books in both the “In Action” and “Walk Around” series, so four Squadron Signal B-25 Mitchell books. Lawrence Hickey’s “Warpath Across the Pacific” is an incredible unit history, with hundreds of photos of 345 BG aircraft and their targets. Not cheap but an impressive work which is well worth the money!
Nose art for “Pretty Pat” from DK Decals

DK Decals 72041 345th Bomb Group Summary

The 345th Bomb Group Mitchells displayed some of the more interesting nose art schemes you’ll find.  The DK sheet provides fourteen choices, more than enough to keep any Mitchell fan busy.  The print quality is excellent, and the colors are opaque so no problems with coverage.

I knew the markings were going to be the major challenge of these builds, and sure enough I screwed up the decals on two of my Mitchells the first time I tried.  You’re never really beaten until you give up, so my stubborn streak manifested itself and I ordered another set.  This time I got the decals on okay, not perfect, but okay.  So what did I learn?

If you look at the picture of Pretty Pat above, the white bat wing is all one big decal, port and starboard.  The mouth and eyes are separate, Dirty Dora is laid out the same way.  DK provides a downloadable PDF file on their site which can be used to make a stencil to paint the black background, and the white border can be positioned over the color separation.  This gives you roughly +/- one millimeter to play with when positioning the decal.  This is obviously tricky even on a good day, and there are three potential source of error – the size and positioning of the stencil, the size and positioning of the decal, and the dimensions and shape of the model.  All three need to be in harmony for the application to work.

Another problem is the design of the decal itself.  The artwork is printed as one large decal on a very thin carrier film.  Given the design is basically a white outline, a large portion of the decal is just carrier film with no ink.  Once removed from the backing sheet, the carrier film has no rigidity to speak of, and is more likely to wrinkle rather than to allow itself to be pushed into position.  Add a rather sticky adhesive and you soon have a torn ball of film where your decal should be.  I was not able to “float” the decal to get it into position, it wanted to stick, bunch, and tear.

On the second attempt the solution was to cut the single decal into several pieces.  All the boarders were cut loose and into sections, allowing them to be positioned individually, and any portion of the decal which “stuck out” was separated to prevent it from folding over.  Each side was cut into 9 – 10 sections, and I worked my way around the black background until I got everything in place.  Still, the decal turned out to be bigger than the stenciled background, and I ended up trimming bits from the borders to get it to fit.  If I were to build Pretty Pat or Dirty Dora again (or any of the others), I would set my printer to increase the size of the PDF stencil to 105%, and maybe even a little more.  I think that would ultimately result in a better fit.

Airfix B-25C/C Mitchells

Airfix B-25C/D Summary

Airfix continues to step up their game, and their Mitchell kits are some of their better offerings.  The “trench digger” is gone, panel lines are appropriately sized and there is rivet and fastener detail on some surfaces as well.  Fit is excellent throughout.  The interior is nicely rendered and the detail is good for what can be seen through the transparencies.  There are parts provided to position the flaps in either the raised or lowered positions, and all the tail control surfaces are molded separately as well.  There are two sets of cowls included, the early type with the single collected exhaust or the individual Clayton stub exhausts.  Bomb bay doors can be open or closed, and there is a bomb load of four 500-pound bombs.  The clear parts fit well, which can be the difference between a good kit and a bad one, and two slightly different cockpit canopy styles are included.  The astrodome opening should be round, not rectangular, but this is easy to fix.  The Airfix kit is a pleasure to build and results in an attractive model when completed.

The Hasegawa B-25H (left) and B-25J (right)

Hasegawa B-25H and B-25J Summary

Hasegawa has a reputation for excellent fit and fine surface detail, and these kits certainly live up to that reputation.  Hasegawa is also known for simplified cockpits and basic wheelwells, the interior does need a little extra help but the wheelwells can’t be seen on the Mitchell anyway.  I did replace the small open portions of the wheelwell doors as these were overly thick.  The Hasegawa business model is to mold subassemblies which allow for kitting several variants from the same set of molds.  Sometimes this can result in an overly-complicated build but in this case all the differences are concentrated in the nose and the parts breakdowns make sense.  There should be two fuel dumps at the back of each nacelle, not one, and the landing lights at the wingtips should only be at the tips, not on the top and bottom.  These issues are easily fixed.  Another improvement which is well worth the time to correct is the size of the cowling front.  The kit cowling opening is too small, but can be enlarged to the proper size with a 0.5 inch drill bit – just take your time so the hard plastic doesn’t crack.  This solution is easier and cheaper than substituting the Quickboost replacements which have their own set of issues.  The Hasegawa Mitchells are great kits and a pleasure to build, and can be easily improved with a few simple adjustments.

The whole batch together! I just liked the picture.

More completed model pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/10/11/airfix-north-american-b-25c-mitchell-of-the-487th-bs-340th-bg-in-1-72-scale/

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part V

One of the Airfix B-25Cs will be in a desert scheme. Here is the banded paint scheme in all its masked-up glory. The color separations are masked with “worms” of poster putty and Frog Tape from the hardware store. The turret opening and engine nacelles are plugged with foam to protect the interior.
The same model after painting with most of the masking removed. The scheme is Olive Drab and Sand over Neutral Gray, all three colors deviate a bit from the Mr. Color jars. The Olive Drab was mixed with tans and applied in layers to vary the shade, likewise the Sand was darkened up with darker browns. The Neutral Gray undersides were lightened with white mixes to accent the panels.
A similar technique was used on the other three aircraft which are all Olive Drab over Neutral Gray. There was considerable variation in Olive Drab shades on USAAF aircraft, due to differences in the original mixes and the also the way they weathered. I left the cowlings off the aircraft with intricate nose art so I could get at the nose area easier. DK provides a decal for the white cheat lines on the cowlings, but I chose to mask mine rather than try to get the color separations exactly right.
This is where things went sideways. The white lines on the nose art decals are printed in left and right pieces. The decals themselves are a dangerous combination of thin film and grabby adhesive, which makes them particularly resistant to sliding around for proper positioning. While I did separate some portions which looked like they could be problematic, my decal just refused to slide into position and soon was a torn ball of decal film and ink. Also note the gap in the white line between the decals on the top of the nose.
Dirty Dora was even worse. I cut away all the outer boundary portions of the white trim so I could have better control of each section – I made six sections in all. This didn’t solve everything, it appears the decal is slightly bigger than it should be. The inner lines on the bat wings are not supposed to touch the bottom boundary line. In addition, the scoreboard is miss-aligned and the whole nose art is further aft than it should be. With the decals on it was all was too depressing to even look at. After considering my options, I have stripped off the nose decals from both Dirty Dora and Pretty Pat and pushed ahead with the other two. I haven’t given up yet, replacement decals are on the way from Hannants. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrap up this build next week!

Part VI here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/10/07/north-american-b-25-mitchell-batch-build-in-1-72-scale-part-vi/

Airfix North American P-51D of Major George Preddy in 1/72 Scale

George “Ratsy” Preddy opened his account while flying P-40s in defense of Darwin with the 9th Pursuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit group.  He was credited with two shared against Japanese aircraft, but was hospitalized after a mid-air collision with another P-40.  Upon recovery, he was eventually assigned to the 487th FS, 352nd FG flying P-47 Thunderbolts from Bodney, England.  Preddy was credited with two victories in the Thunderbolt, and earned a Silver Star for breaking up a Luftwaffe attack against a formation of B-17s.

In April 1944 the 352nd converted to the P-51 Mustang and Preddy began to score steadily.  He scored four on a single mission on 18JUL44. His best day was on 07AUG44, downing six Bf-109s during a single mission.

Preddy was rose to command the Group’s 328th Fighter Squadron as a Major.  During the Battle of the Bulge the Squadron was operating from a forward airfield located at Asche, Belgium.  On Christmas day he led a flight of ten Mustangs on a patrol.  Preddy downed two Messerschmitts, then pursued a lone Fw 190D flying over the front at low altitude.  Two other P-51s joined Preddy as they pursued the Focke Wulf at treetop height.  The aircraft crossed over American lines and were engaged by an M3 halftrack of the 430th AA Battalion mounting quad .50 machine guns.  All three P-51s were hit.  Two Mustangs were downed, including Preddy’s.  He did not survive the crash.

George Preddy was credited with 26.83 aerial victories, making him the eighth top-scoring U.S. ace.

“Cripes A’ Mighty”, piloted by Major George Preddy,328 FS, Bodney, Norfolk, Dec. 1944.  Airfix kit, Eagle Strike decal sheet IP7208.

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

This is the Hasegawa B-25J with the canopy and nose pieces in place. My B-25J will be a strafer with the nose glazing painted over which allowed me to add weight in the nose. This view also gives an impression of what will be visible through the canopy.
This is one of the Airfix B-25C, this one will also be a strafer. The canopy masks are from ASK. The resin gun pack on the fuselage side is from Quickboost, it is a style not included in either kit but is needed for certain aircraft. The Evergreen panels represent the extra armor applied to this particular aircraft.
As things move along various sub-assemblies are painted so they will be available at the end of the build. I generally tape the smaller bits to cards for painting and to ease handling.
Here is a comparison of the main gear doors, The Hasegawa doors on top are just slabs but the Airfix doors are thinner and better detailed. I’ll make some replacements for the Hasegawa doors from sheet plastic. The main landing gear bay doors on the B-25 were normally closed, they only opened when the gear was actually cycling, so no need to add any detail to the bays.
I checked the Seamwork with Mr. Surfacer 1000, corrected any flaws and re-primed. This is the Hasegawa B-25H. I noticed some flow lines in the plastic on the Hasegawa kits. This is not an issue on a camouflaged model, but on a Natural Metal Finish the flow lines can show through if you don’t use a good primer.
Three of my subjects will be strafers from the 345th Bomb Group. These are beautiful aircraft with interesting combat records, but the intricate nose art makes them difficult to model. I’ll be using the DK Decal sheet for the markings. On DK’s web page they provide a PDF file so modelers have some chance to mask off the underlying colors correctly. Here I have printed out the PDF and laid Tamiya tape over the patterns to cut out the masks.
Here are the masks after some careful cutting.
The masks applied to the model for “Dirty Dora”. Even with the masking templates there are half a dozen ways this can still go sideways and ruin the models.

Part V here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/09/30/north-american-b-25-mitchell-batch-build-in-1-72-scale-part-v/