2021 Year in Review

2021 saw a return to some degree of normalcy, but as with any great disruption there have been some re-definitions of just what that means.  There was a return to live in-person shows which was sorely missed.  What has changed with the shows is now they are bigger and better attended, with more vendors, more model entries, and an overall increase in quality of the builds.  Fewer group activities have translated into additional modeling time for many people, and for socially introverted types this appears to have been a good thing.  It has certainly resulted in more and better models on display at the shows!

The display area of the 2021 Military Modeler’s Club of Louisville IPMS show.

I was able to go to three shows this year, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati.  All three were held in new venues, and all three were very successful and saw half again as many entries above what was normal for the club, if not more.  Many inspiring and innovative builds, and fellow modelers are always happy to share new techniques and tips to try out.  The guys at Plastic Model Mojo have taken their show on the road, and I was able to sit down with them and catch up in person, in addition to listening to their podcasts while I model.   Plastic Model Mojo here:  https://www.plasticmodelmojo.com/

Mojovians Dave and Mike in front of an Fw 190 replica at the Cincinnati IPMS show at the Tri-State Warbird Museum.

For bibliophiles the news is still not good.  Publication dates on many new books have slipped.  The secondary and overstock markets have fared little better, with fewer selections and higher prices all around.  After two years the Half Price Books traveling blow-out sale is still nowhere on the horizon, and I’m starting to wonder if it will ever return.  Hopefully soon!

Blog Statistics and News

The Inch High Guy blog has completed year three!  A big thanks to all who visit on a regular basis, whether new or old.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, although there were a couple of near misses.  The blog received 139,675 views and 55,483 visitors, up from 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors last year.  The most popular post again this year was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 3,267 views: 

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

Guess what? If you can see the ribbing on interior of a Fortress it should be Natural Aluminum, with only rare exceptions. Interior Green is for Warbirds!

Models Built in 2021

34 completions, 24 aircraft and 10 vehicles.  In addition I painted 42 figures, 14 horses, and constructed 8 diorama / vignette bases. 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.

Arma Hobby FM-2 Wildcat x 3

Azur Martin B-10

Trumpeter T-55

Takom MAZ-537 Tank Transporter

Airfix Spitfire Vc x 4

Vickers Mk. VI light tank resin print

Cunningham T1 light tank resin print x 2

Brengun Yak-1

Arma Hobby Yak-1b x 3

Hasegawa Yak-3

Dakoplast Yak-7 x 2

Valom Yak-7

Emher Yak-9

Hasegawa Fw 190D (old tool)

Hasegawa Fw 190D

Tamiya Fw 190D

Dragon Messerschmitt P.1011 x2

Dragon Julia

Revell Fw Fitzer

Revell Ho 229 (repaint)

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette

ICM Sd.Kfz. 222

First to Fight Sd.Kfz. 247

Dragon Krupp Protze Kfz. 70

Italeri sK 18 10.5 cm Field Gun

What’s Ahead in 2022

This has been a year of exciting announcements for 1/72 scale modelers.  The new Focke Wulf Fw 190D series from ICB looks spectacular, and it even includes an accurate wheelwell for the first time in the scale.  The family will cover all the Dora subtypes.  Flyhawk released a new tool SBD Dauntless which will fix the dive brake issues with Hasegawa’s kit, and will hopefully continue to be available – something which can’t be said for several Hasegawa kits.  To top it off ICM and Special Hobby have both just announced a new-tool Ki-21 “Sally” for late 2022, a subject which has long been on the list of several modelers. The Sally was strangely missing from Hasegawa’s new-ish series of Japanese twins, modelers who had to have one searched for the MPM or 1976 Revell kits.

The big news for many modelers is that Arma is now shipping their P-51B/C kits.  The previous attempts from Academy and Hasegawa both suffered from fatal, difficult to correct shape issues.  Finally, for the first time, an accurate P-51B/C is on the way!  This kit should prove to be a license to print money for Arma, here’s hoping it is a windfall for them!  I have long agitated for this subject, so to put my money where my mouth is I have placed an order through my Local Hobby Store (support your LCS!) for one.  Case.  For starters.

Now Arma, if you’re listening, we could sure use an accurate Ki-43-II Hayabusa “Oscar” in 1/72 scale.

Arma’s P-51B/C

The second big release (for me) has a much more personal connection.  Takom has announced a U.S. Navy 16”/50 caliber triple turret in 1/72 scale, packaged as Turret One from USS Missouri (BB 63).  This kit has parts for the rangefinder which was later removed from the first turrets, but with a few modifications could represent any of the main battery turrets on the Iowa class battleships.  Now for the connection part – I served in the Navy, Missouri was my ship, Turret One was my turret.  1/72 scale Missouri’s in both the WWII and 1980’s configurations are on my bucket list, and this kit makes that project one step closer.  If the appropriate 5”/38 Mark 28 mount is ever kitted that would cinch the deal (the 1/72 scale 5”/38 Mark 38 mount included in Takom’s 1/700 Gearing class kit has an unarmored gun house, appropriate for destroyers but not battleships).

Takom’s 16″/50 turret

Lastly, we have purchased a wooded plot of land along the scenic White River, where we intend to build an energy efficient (net zero) home.  This is obviously a time-consuming project, and will inevitably impact time available for modeling and blogging.  In fact, the effects have already begun to be felt as I have been busy on the property cutting down the invasive Asian Bush Honeysuckle which is crowding out the native trees.  Hopefully there will still be opportunities for modeling, but the pace may slow a bit.  If I miss the daily posting on the blog in the coming months this will likely be the reason.

The mighty White River

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

ICM Sd.Kfz. 222 and Caesar German Cavalry Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Keeping with my recent theme of basing vehicle kit completions, this diorama will feature the ICM Sd.Kfz. 222 with figures from Caesar set H092 “WWII German Cavalry Division”. All this is still experimental on my part in hopes of improving figure painting and scenery techniques.
These are the poses. The Caesar figures are molded in a flexible plastic which takes paint well. This is better than the “toy soldier” vinyl we are all used to. There is one additional horse pose, but it is depicted leaning over making a hard turn, an odd choice.
I added an extra bedroll and reigns from masking tape. Midway through painting I decided to add an additional set of small saddlebags, an entrenching tool, and a feedbag.
Here are the figures after painting. The standing figure is also from Caesar, from their Panzer Crewmen set.
This is the beginning of a tree. The wires are from lamp cord. The size of the tree is determined by the length and number of sections of lamp cord sections used.
Wires are twisted to form the tree, and then coated liberally with Mr. Surfacer 500.
Here the Sd.Kfz. 222 and tree are mounted to the base. Foliage and grass are from Woodland Scenics.
The final scene.

ICM Sd.Kfz. 222 Build in 1/72 Scale

ICM first released their Sd.Kfz.222 kit in 2005 as kit number 72411, this is the 2011 reboxing. These were often used in the reconnaissance role, and would be just the thing for those times when you’re trapped on a country road behind a slow driver!
The parts are well-molded and the breakdown is conventional. ICM have included photoetch for the engine vent in the hull and the grenade screen atop the open turret. Both of these PE parts are useful and appropriate for the intended applications.
Assembly was quick and the fit was good with no surprises.
The model was primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and then base coated with Alclad black primer. Thin coats of Panzer Gray misted on will allow for this to provide darker shadows in the recesses if applied carefully.
Here is the effect of lighter shades thinly misted on over the black base coat. Highlights were picked up with drybrushing.
Here is the finished model with an application of mud and dust. Everything was sealed and unified with Testors DullCoat. The radio antenna is Nitenol wire.

ICM Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” of 2LT Hiromichi Shinohara in 1/72nd Scale

This is the ICM Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” in the markings of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 11th Sentai.  This particular aircraft was flown by the IJA’s leading ace, 2LT Hiromichi Shinohara during the Nomonhan Incident in May of 1939.  Shinohara was a renowned marksman.  He was credited with downing four Soviet I-16s in his first engagement on 27MAY39.  On 27JUN39 he claimed 11 Soviet fighters in one day over Tamsagbulag.  On 25JUL39 he claimed four victories, but his Ki-27 was hit in the wing tank and he was forced down behind Soviet lines.  With enemy tanks closing in, Sgt Maj Koichi Iwase landed his fighter and rescued Shinohara.  A month later, Shinohara was shot down over Lake Mororehi and killed.  He was 26.

Hiromichi Shinohara was credited with 58 victories during the Nomonhan Incident, making him the Imperial Japanese Army’s leading scorer.

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Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” Build in 1/72 Scale, Mania and ICM Kits Part III

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Two of the Nates I’m modeling were camouflaged.  Here I am using “poster putty” to mask off the tan segments of the upper surface camo.  The wing trailing edges and tail surfaces are protected using regular masking tape.  The wheels are also protected against overspray with tape.  Sharp-eyed readers will note that one of the wheels has broken off again.

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This Ki-27 is in Thai markings from Print Scale sheet 72-080.  The decals went on without any issues, but be ready as they separate from the backing sheet within a couple of seconds of touching the water.  There are markings for two different Thai Nates on the Print scale sheet.  There is a small error though, three of the elephants on the tail markings face to the left, only one faces to the right.  The elephants are always supposed to face forward on the aircraft, so you’ll need two of each if you want to use both sets of markings.  You can side-step the issue by doing a late war bird, the tail elephant markings were replaced with red-white-blue-white-red rudder stripes.

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Kit decals were used for the victory markings and lightning flash on this model, the Hinomaru and nose band are painted.  This is not the same aircraft as the box art but is from the same Sentai.  The wing walk area was masked after the rest of the model was painted and shot with Mr. Color tire black.

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I love the camouflage on this one, it was a field applied pattern.  The canopy frames remained in the light gray green factory paint.  These markings and Hinomaru are all from the ICM decal sheet, I didn’t use masks for the Hinomaru to ensure the reds were all the same tone.

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Here is the Mania kit completed.  I re-built the cockpit and added vacuform transparencies from Squadron.  The antenna mast, pitot tube, and gun sight are replacements, the kit parts were a bit clunky.  The cockpit opening is located too far to the rear, the horizontal tail planes are slightly too far forward.  The molding is not as refined and lacks the surface detail of the ICM offering, but it is easy to assemble.  I wouldn’t shy away from building another, but I would correct the cockpit opening position and the tail position the next time.

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This is one of the ICM kits.  I gave all the models a dark acrylic wash to bring out the surface details.  ICM replicates the rivet details on the surface, but these are so finely engraved that they are difficult to see even with a wash but they are there.  I like the texture, but I really doubt you could see rivets in 1/72 scale so the subtlety is accurate.  The shapes are superior to the older Mania kit, and the fuselage is more slender.  This is the better kit of the two and is more accurate.  BUT, ICM has made the kit more complex than it has to be.  There is lots of detail behind the engine which can never be seen, my advice is to simply leave it all out.  The interior structure for the tail skid also doesn’t fit and should be cut away.  The biggest problem with the kit is the landing gear, which are unnecessarily complicated and weak.

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Here is the second ICM kit.  The antenna wires are Uschi elastic line.  Since I did not use the kit’s engine exhaust parts I fabricated exhaust stubs from brass tubing flattened into ovals.  The seat has Eduard belts, but other than those additions it is all out of the box.

Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” Build in 1/72 Scale, Mania and ICM Kits Part II

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I don’t like sanding, so I’ll skip showing that part of the work in progress.  Suffice it to say there was sanding and it was not exciting.  As expected, the landing gear of the ICM kits was a disappointment.  Fit was bad and required filling, three of the legs broke off while smoothing out the seams.  All of this is an easily avoidable self-inflicted wound on ICM’s part.  Mania’s gear is much more solid and looks better.  True, the one-piece moldings had sink holes on one side, but those were easily filled before the gear was attached.  The picture shows one of the ICM kits under a coat of Mr. Surfacer primer, ready for paint.

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This kit will represent an 11th Sentai machine which had red trim at the nose.  I decided to also paint the Hinomaru while I was at it, this results in a smooth finish and ensures the tone of the reds match.  I use kabuki tape masks from Maketar and have always been pleased with their performance in the past.

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During my last build of the MiG-15s I experienced multiple problems with the Testors Model Master paints I was using.  Some jars had congealed into a rubber-like substance, some jars had glued themselves shut (resisting even channel locks), others exhibited a variety of spraying problems through the airbrush.  I have experienced all these failure modalities with TMM paints in the past, but had finally had enough.  At the start of this WiP I ordered a dozen jars of Mr. Color lacquer paints from Sprue Brothers to give them a try.  So far, I have been very impressed.  The Mr. Color paints do not separate like the TMM, they thin with regular lacquer thinner, and have demonstrated no problems going through the airbrush.  They dry quickly, and lay very flat and smooth.  I will not completely exhaust my supply of Testors paints any time soon, but I am now planning on buying Mr. Color when new paints are needed.

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Here is the 11 Sentai machine with the masks removed.  No bleed under any of the tape so she’s ready to begin the decaling process.  The other two kits have additional camouflage colors to apply so they will be ready soon.

Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” Build in 1/72 Scale, Mania and ICM Kits Part I

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This is a short work in progress build of the Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate”.  I’ll be building two of the relatively new ICM kits alongside the venerable Mania Ki-27.  The Mania kit was advanced for its time, being released in 1970 (can you believe it?).  It is best known to modelers from a series of re-boxings under the Hasegawa label.  The ICM kit is a much more recent release, and benefits from the many mold-making advances of the intervening decades.  Interestingly, both companies chose the same aircraft for their box art, depicting the mount of Kenji Shimada, commander of the 1st Chutai of the 11th Sentai, from 1939.

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First of the two ICM sprues.  There is ample detail in the cockpit and for the engine, although much of the engine detail will be hidden within the fuselage.

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The second ICM sprue contains the wings, separate ailerons, and a choice of landing gear configurations.  Surface detail is recessed and quite petite.  Rivet lines are included but are so faint that they may disappear under paint.  Note the holes on the upper wing pieces, more on these later.

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Parts for the Mania kit.  Parts breakdown is much more simplified compared to the ICM offering.  Surfaces feature both raised and recessed detail.  There is even the start of riveting on the underside of the wing, like the designers started the process but then reconsidered.  There is the option to represent the different styles of landing gear with this kit as well.

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Here is a comparison shot of the fuselage halves, Mania on top, ICM on the bottom.  Overall length compares well, the biggest difference is the cockpit opening of the Mania kit is located further back.  The ICM fuselage matches the drawings in the Famous Aircraft of the World volume.  Comparing wingspan, I measured the Mania kit at 153 mm and the ICM at 156, compared to a specified span of 157 mm in scale.

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The Mania cockpit is a bit Spartan so I fabricated a replacement from plastic stock.  I also removed the locating ridges from within the fuselage halves so the new cockpit could sit a little lower.

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Here are the engines under a coat of Alclad Aluminum and a wash of acrylic black.  The oil coolers were picked out with brass.  I added push rods to the ICM engines but left off the exhaust manifolds.  ICM provides all the supporting and internal components all the way back to the firewall, but I left them all out of these builds because experience with their I-16 kits indicated that they would be hidden on the finished model and had a good chance of interfering with fit.

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The ICM cockpit is built up on the center wing section and slides into the completed fuselage.  I useed Eduard PE belts which add a nice touch.  Interior color is a dark blue-gray, with the seat, stick, and rudder pedals picked out in aluminum.

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The Mania kit assembles quickly with no surprises.  Fit is good, with some work being needed at the wing to fuselage joints on the underside.

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The ICM kit also needed some fitting work on the underside wing boattail joints.  It is let down by a few overly-complex engineering decisions.  The horizontal tail is one piece which simplifies alignment, but it is designed to be covered by a tail piece which traps the tail skid in a slot.  This doesn’t fit well and leaves a seam, I ended up cutting off the tail skid to add at the end of the build.

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The landing gear design is also unusual.  The bent shaft is molded onto the lower half of the leg structure, the shaft is meant to be inserted into the upper strut molded into the wing and emerge through the upper surface of the wing.  To the bottom of this piece the wheel and spats are attached.  None of this fits, and sink holes in the struts only add insult.  I prefer the Mania design which is molded as a single piece.  A little finesse is sacrificed but the gear is strong.

ICM 1/72 Polikarpov Po-2 Nachthexen Night Bomber

This is a  Polikarpov Po-2 night harassment bomber of the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. The pilots in this regiment were all female, and became known as the “Night Witches” or Nachthexen in German.   By the end of the war the 46th was one of the most decorated regiments in the Soviet Air Force with 23 members being awarded the Soviet Union’s highest decoration, the Hero of the Soviet Union.  Wikipedia entry here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Witches

The kit is from ICM in 1/72 scale. Detail and fit are outstanding, it went together quite well for a biplane.  I added wiring to the engine and rebuilt the rear gun.  Decals are from the kit and behaved themselves well.  The kit prop is pitched backwards and was replaced with a Quickboost resin prop.  Rigging is EZ Line.

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