2020 Year in Review

“May you live in interesting times.” – ancient Chinese curse

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2020 in the form of a gingerbread house.

Oddly for a method of telling time, the positioning of our new year is arbitrary from a physical perspective and should have no actual bearing on earthly events, but here’s hoping for a better 2021 anyway!

I’ll look for the “win” here even if it is minor: We modelers are fortunate to have an inherently solitary hobby in these times.  Overall modeling appears to have picked up, Hornsby (parent company of Airfix) is reporting profits for the first time in years.  Modeling podcasts have come into their own and make bench time even more enjoyable.

The biggest void from a modeling perspective in my opinion is the cancellation of the shows.  I usually attend half a dozen per year and they are always a fine day out, with friends, new kits, and getting to see the work of hundreds of fellow modelers.  Also missing was the Half Price Books annual clearance sale where literally semi-truck loads of books are sold at ridiculously low prices at the state fairgrounds.

On a different note, perhaps the most interesting story of the year received very little attention – the U.S. government admitted that it was studying materials retrieved from vehicles of extraterrestrial origin.  Another commentary on the year 2020.

Blog Statistics and News

2020 was the second complete year for the Inch High Guy blog.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, so 366 posts due to the leap year.  The blog received 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors, up from 27,174 views and 7,303 visitors last year.  The most popular post was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 1,857 views, followed by “The B-17E and the Myth of the Bendix Ventral Turret” with 1,116 views.  Forts appear to be popular around here!

Link:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Link: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/the-b-17e-and-the-myth-of-the-bendix-ventral-turret/

I am still struggling with the counter-intuitive Word Press editor, and that was only made worse with the introduction of the Word Press “Block Editor” in September.  This eliminated some useful functions while re-naming and moving others, with no apparent improvements on the user end.  On a more positive note, I did finally locate the tagging function and busied myself adding tags to all posts old and new.

I have linked several posts on ScaleMates, where the walk-around posts of museum aircraft have proved to be the most popular.  The Women Warriors posts have found a following with wargamers over on The Miniatures Page, among others.  I had intended for these pictures to tell their own stories, but there have been a few requests for captions.  Easier said than done with the modern-era photos as information ranges from obvious to impossible-to-determine, but there may be hope for the historical pictures.

Models Built in 2020

Forty-seven completions, twenty-nine aircraft and eighteen vehicles.  In addition I painted fifteen figures (plus one dog) and constructed three diorama bases. Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, if you want to see more finished pictures or the construction posts just follow the tags at the bottom of this post or enter the descriptions in the search bar in the upper right column.

Hasegawa Kawanishi Kyofu (Rex) x 2

Tamiya Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

Aoshima Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

MPM Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

Hasegawa Kawanishi Shiden Kai (George) x 2

Hasegawa Mitsubishi Raiden (Jack)

Fujimi Aichi B7A1 Ryusei (Grace)

LS Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo (Willow)

AZ Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo (Willow)

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk x 5

Tamiya Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Airfix Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress conversion to B-17E x 2

RPM Hotchkiss H35 French Light Tank

RAF Bomber Supply Set x 2 (6 vehicles)

IBG Chevrolet C15A Personnel Lorry

Monogram Boeing F4B-4 x 2

Rare Bits Boeing F4B-1 Conversion

Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk

Matchbox Boeing P-12E x 2

Czech Master Resin Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk

Plastic Soldier StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun x 3

Trumpeter StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun

Revell Heinkel He 177A-5 Greif

Revell Junkers Ju 88P-1 Conversion

Hasegawa Heinkel He 111H-20

Italeri 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter

Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H

Planet Models Resin Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Revell Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Trumpeter Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Forward

Arma hobby has just announced a P-51 B/C Mustang in 1/72. The computer renders look good and show areas such as the wing leading edge and wheel well openings which have given other manufacturers problems appear to have been rendered properly. Here’s hoping! Every previous B/C in 1/72 scale has had some major shape issue so an accurate new tool kit has been at the top of many modeler’s wish lists for many years now. The early Mustangs, if done well, are sure to be a hit and a license to print money for Arma so here’s wishing for a successful release!

In more local news Ms. Inch High put a Creality LD-002R 3-D resin printer under the Christmas tree this year. These are very useful if you know what you’re doing, which I don’t at this point. Hopefully I will soon though, and I look forward to printing something useful. It is an amazing technology to have sitting on the bench. For all the talk of “Death of the Hobby” in some circles, I have yet to see any hint of it from here.

I have enjoyed putting this together, and have enjoyed hearing from other modelers and discovering other blogs.  A big thank you to all who have visited here, commented, followed, and especially those who have posted links.  

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

Boeing F4B-1 Conversion in 1/72 Scale

This is a conversion of the Monogram F4B-4 kit which back-dates it to the earlier F4B-1 using the RareBits vacuform fuselage and a Radial Engines & Wheels resin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine.  Not overly difficult and the result is version which you don’t see much at the model shows.  I scratchbuilt a cockpit and added lots of plumbing to the engine.  The aircraft is marked as the Squadron Commander’s aircraft from VF-5 “Red Rippers” assigned to the USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1932.  The decals were sourced from several Starfighter Decals sheets.

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Monogram Boeing F4B-4 in 1/72 Scale, VB-5

Another build of Monogram’s venerable F4B-4 kit.  This is one of the easiest biplane kits to build, the landing gear legs and fuselage struts are molded as part of the fuselage which results in a strong assembly and proper alignment.  If you struggle with biplane kits you will be pleased with this one, it is a joy to build.  The markings here came from Yellow Wings sheet 72-011 and represent an aircraft operated by VB-5 from the USS Ranger (CV-4).

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Monogram Boeing F4B-4 in 1/72 Scale, VF-6

This is the Monogram F4B-4 kit first released in 1968.  This is a classic kit which still holds up well by today’s standards.  I scratchbuilt a cockpit and added rigging from 0.004” Nitenol wire.  There are several ejector pin marks which will require filling, but the kit goes together well and still is regularly seen at model shows.  The markings for this one came from Yellow Wings sheet 72-011 and represent an aircraft operated by VF-6 from the USS Saratoga (CV-3).

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Monogram Boeing F4B-1 Conversion Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is a conversion of the Monogram F4B-4 kit which back-dates it to the earlier F4B-1.  For this I’ll be using the RareBits vacuform fuselage and a Radial Engines & Wheels resin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine.  Hopefully this will result in a model which is a bit different.

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The first step is to separate the RareBits fuselage halves from their vacuform sheet.  I outlined the edges with a black marker so I could better see the separation line, then carefully traced around the piece with an Xacto knife.  The edges were then smoothed with a sanding block.

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Here are the fuselage halves with a cockpit interior roughed in with Evergreen strips.  One advantage of a vacuform fuselage is the walls are not overly thick as they sometimes are with injection molded kits.

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The interior under a coat of Alclad Aluminum and a wash.  The interiors of these little biplanes are hard to see unless you’re specifically looking for them, and even then it’s not easy to see much.

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Here the fuselage is closed up and mated with the Monogram F4B-4 lower wing and horizontal tail.  I cleaned up the gun troughs as they were shallow and a little rough.  I had also over-sanded the fuselage joint along the upper spine and had to fill the area with superglue and card.

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The fuselage struts and landing gear legs were removed from the Monogram kit.  The landing gear bracing is different on the earlier Boeing so that had to be scratched.

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I added ignition wires, inlets, and exhausts fashioned from beading wire and solder to the resin engine.  The engine is very prominent on this aircraft and will be a focal point so the extra detail is well worth adding.

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The aircraft is marked as the Squadron Commander’s aircraft from VF-5 “Red Rippers” assigned to the USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1932.  The decals were sourced from several Starfighter Decals sheets.

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Here is a comparison between a stock Monogram F4B-4 on the left and the F4B-1 conversion on the right.  The wings are the same which makes the kit look familiar, but then the differences start to become apparent.  This is a fairly straight-forward conversion and not particularly difficult to do.

Monogram Boeing F4B-4 Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is another old kit we are probably all familiar with – Monogram’s F4B-4 which was first released all the way back in 1968.  I remember building this one as a kid and they still appear regularly at model shows.  I found this one at the Local Hobby Store for a pittance.

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The kit contains just three sprues and a total of 25 parts including the windscreen.  Here again we see Monogram’s innovative approach to biplane kits which has been largely ignored by all competitors – the landing gear legs and fuselage struts are molded as part of the fuselage halves, thus ensuring a strong assembly and proper alignment.

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Monogram’s F4B-4 shares a problem with their Goshawk kit, a dozen ejection pin marks on the underside of the upper wing.  There are others on some of the smaller parts as well.  Not the end of the world but something which needs to be carefully addressed.

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I scratched up some basic cockpit details along with a seat from the spares box.  The tops of the fuselage struts have some more of those ejector pin marks which need filling.

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Here is the cockpit under a coat of Alclad.  Seat belts and the instrument panel are printed out on the photocopier. 

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Basic assembly completed.  The fit of the fuselage decking required some filler.  I find Perfect Plastic Putty is ideal for filling in gaps where conventional sanding would destroy surrounding detail.

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I made handles from stretched sprue to hold some of the more awkward pieces while painting.

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This is Don Greer’s cover from Squadron / Signal’s P-12 / F4B in Action book.  I’ve always loved his art and consider this to be one of his best efforts.  The F4B-4 in the background was from Fighting Six based on the USS Saratoga (CV-3) and is a favorite of mine.  The background is Pearl Harbor.

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Fortunately the Langley markings are included on sheet 72-011 from Yellow Wings.  You get complete markings for six different aircraft on this sheet.

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Here is 6-F-10 completed.  There is a nice contrast between the colors on the upper wing and the gray scale of the rest of the aircraft.

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I couldn’t resist building two of these.  They are nice little kits which go together well.  They were innovative in their engineering, and way ahead of their time for molding and surface detail.  Fun little builds!