At this time I'm in the rather unique situation of having three Dakota builds on the bench, each a different, current tooling. That made the temptation irresistable to add a Hobby Boss kit to the production line, build them somewhat in sync, and do a step-by step comparison between the builds and kits.
I've got most of the interior built, alt least to the point where I have to start painting. Unlike the others on the production line, this one will have quite a bit of interior construction remaining to be done after most of the interior paint is on. There's simply too much detail there that I won't be able to reach with a paintbrush if I build everything up first. There'd better be a lot of detail too; I count 62 parts just for the interior, which, just for comparison, is as many as the new tool Airfix Gladiator, or their old tool Phantom, have for the entire model. Many of those parts are tricky to deal with, no sufficiently strong locators, and the only way to really get the angles correct to to line up three or four parts (this isn't criticism of the kit, there isn't really any way to make this easier)
The interior module is complete.
This is not the complete interior; some boxes are also attached to the side walls of the
fuselage, and there's a top console for the cockpit.
There a gazillion (well, ok, about 60) miniscule parts in there, and fit is sometimes iffy; not much fun when trying to join two parts that are each too small to be properly held with tweezers, let alone fingers. There are no colour callouts for quite a few of the parts, so I improvised. For some reason, HB decided it was OK for some of the black boxes to be open-ended on the fuselage facing sides, presumably because that side will not be visible. Seems kind of silly to me, really, to include a gorgeous radio/navigation room that will be completely invisible in the built product, and than play the "but it's invisible" card for the details thereof..
I can't help but feel the chairs in the cockpit are too high, especially relative to the height of the IP and the control columns.
Niggles like these aside, this if the finest interior seen on any Dakota in this scale.
I've started closing the fuselage. Even this kit doesn't manage to fit well enough for the fuselage to close without a fuss. That in turn means the very fine surface detail is going to become a bit of a liability, being very vulnerable to localised loss when working on imperfect seams.
Another hurdle this kit failed to clear is the connection between the floor and the fuselage near the cargo doors. For some reason Hobby Boss also chose to put most of the alignment aids on the starboard fuselage half, meaning that's what the floor was attached to first, meaning in turn that the gap can only be tackled once the fuselage is closed, making access to the problem more difficult.
Another odd niggle: for all their insistence that this must become a military cargo machine, the kit has seven windows on both sides. Military machines usually had only six on the port side, but no other method to create this than simply painting over the rearmost window is provided. Given the crazy number of small parts , a proper blanking plate would not have been too much to ask for in my opinion. I'll have to properly smooth over the excess window, again risking loss of the surrounding surface detail.
I just realised this kit has the full panel lines and rivets treatment on the control surfaces. To the best of my knowledge (but I will be checking, because this is fairly major) all DC-3 family aircraft had fabric covered control surfaces
I've given up on the idea of scratchbuilding new control surfaces for this model. The intent was to build it mostly OOB to see what it's made of, and I'll stick to that. It doesn't help that I don't really feel all that motivated to hack up the controls anyway. Per implication, the decals I originally had in mind for this kit will be replaced with what are essentially second choice markings, the "Camel Caravan to Berlin" set from a previously build Esci Dak.
I've been off for way too long, but I might just be back, depending on whether the jinx that kept sabotaging me has actually moved on..
There will be some changes to my approach to all these Dakota's. One on the things that was clearly part of killing my motivation was target confusion; too many nearly the same models on the bench. The Dakotas won't be banished, but I'm giving up on the idea of doing them side-by-side, and will take them on rather more sequentially.
This one has the dubious honour of being the first to restart. Since it will never become a Dakota due to Hobby Boss' bungling, it's the prime lab rat to test whether that jinx is actually gone, or merely waiting to pounce again..
For some reason I hadn't installed the cockpit roof yet, so test fitting that was the first step. Predictably, it took some hammering before it sort of fit, after which I gave it a dunking in Clear prior to painting the inside and fitting the roof console. This is now curing.
Next up was some work on the engines. These came alive nicely with a base of Burnt Iron drybrushed with Steel.
I then turned to the wheel wells. Hobby Boss have really outdone themselves here trying
to ensure the build fails.
Apart from the oil tanks, there are three parts to each wheel well. These are placed in clusters at opposite ends of what used to be the largest sprue in the box. Too bad that each of those clusters holds one part that belongs to the other set, for no apparent reason.
The construction sequence indicated is, in my opinion, the exact opposite of what it should be. The instructions suggest putting four parts together at undefined angles, with nothing to help you get it right, and then drop the result into the wings, where they'll be a very snug fit. What could possibly go wrong..
They partly had me with the first one, but I'll invert from here on in, and construct the whole thing in situ.
The final part of the interior is in place: the top console
I'd though this would be completely invisible once complete, but with the right light and some contortions, it should be possible to see the console through the side windows. We'll see..
I didn't attampt to completely paint the inside. The inside of the transparent part is completely smooth, so trying to paint the window frames seemed foolhardy in the extreme. I'll paint the proper colours from the outside, before the main primer and paint stages. Hopefully, that will do the trick.
The wing halves have been joined up. Fit at the nacelles if iffy, with entirely too large gaps between the upper and lower halves. Fortunately, they appear to be just that, gaps the should be easily filled, with no further shape issues.
Upon closer inspection, I'm even less satisfied with the seam between the fuselage halves, so more sprue soup was added before I even start sanding this line into submission.
Over the week I've installed the cockpit roof section; it is higher and narrower than the gap in the fuselage halves, so a bit of a fight going on there
I also spent quite a bit of time today sanding the fuselage seam smooth. Hard and depressing work; the hardened sprue soup puts up more of a fight than filler would, but it also matches the surface structure of the surrounding plastic perfectly, thus helping to obscure the seam. Sadly, all of this work means the surface detail is pretty much wiped out; you just can't take off that much plastic and still keep the details. I'll have to see which of the panel lines I can re-scribe, to break up the surface a bit, but the rivet lines are gone forever. The final result will not be much better than any of the much cheaper kits, and I fear it will look a bit odd with very high surface detail on the sides, and just some lines on the back and belly.
I'm declaring victory over the panel lines on top. Can't get it to stick on a photograph, so you'll have to take my word for it.
Next up: fitting the fuselage to the wing. There appears to be only about half a millimeter or so of excess plastic on each side at the front (the rear fits perfectly), so this should be easy..
This is as far as the wings would go, out of the box. The fuselage parts overlap with the actual wing, instead of slotting in between. Easy enough to fix, but the sanding involved removed detail, and smoothing over the seam will destroy more. Recurring theme on this build..
It's not even that the fit is so bad, it's quite reasonable actually, and if the level of surface detail had been similar to any of the other three current mouldings, it wouldn't been any issue.
Although I'll give Hobby Boss full points for their attempt to keep the bottom of the fuselage convex, the box under the floor was not enough, and the fuselage halves still dip inward towards the join. It's much better than the earlier kits though. I think this is one area where Airfix got it completely right; the long extension of the lower wing forming half of the fuselage bottom may look odd, but it prevents this particular problem.
Still, with the wing now fitted, it's suddenly looking like an airplane.
Paint work has started, as usual, with masking.
Masking in this case is a bit of a job. The airplane has more holes than a sieve, and somehow all need to be blocked against intruding paint. Since I'm entirely too stingy to buy masks (and feel that's somehow cheating anyway), and too lazy to make up the masks for all those little windows by hand, some experimentation has occurred..
The side windows either have a backing of tape on the inside, and then a generous blob of masking liquid from the outside to seal things up (nice but doesn't work if you can't get to the innards), or rubber wedges cut from an obsolete silicone rubber mould. The main doors didn't fit properly out of the box, so rather than work them down to a nice and easy fit, I stopped when they were a very tight squeeze, hopefully resulting in a sufficiently tight seal. The paper 'dart' in the top window speaks for itself, and the rest was fairly traditional. Even if this build won't result in a proper Dak, it will teach me a few tricks..
A light coat of primer is now drying. Maybe I'll be able to do something in black later today.
The primer revealed some embarrassing mistakes, but those were easily fixed, and the first coat of black is now on the model. It will take two or three coats; better to go slow on this than to mess up. I intend/hope to build these up during the week, so they'll be completly cured when I get to work with the metalizers over the next weekend.
Since several people I know were singing the praises of Vallejo metallizers, I decided to take them for a spin. Sadly, they performed exactly as expected of Vallejo paints: 90% of the time was spent unclogging the airbrush, and even then the result was no better than standard enamel metallics. Oh, and there's the occasional blob of paint spat out from the airbrush that wrecks the otherwise smooth finish of the model, which I'll now have to sand out and touch up once everything is dry.
I still don't like how the paint behaves, but it is extremely tolerant to abuse. I sanded holes into the metal coat right back down to the black base while dealing with the structure issues, blasted more metal over, and it blended right in, with no visible edge or difference in finish.
The damage control, and touch up for the 'shadows' created by the rubber plugs, are in full view in the picture.
Now for the next dilemma: do I shoot a coat of sealer over this, and risk the finish, or do I leave it as is, and risk damage during finishing and decalling. Decisions, decisions..
Just when it seemed the kit had given up fighting me, I found a way to trip myself up. I airbrushed the engine cowlings yesterday, and after 24 hours I didn't even stop to think to check the state of the paint before masking for the metal rear edge. I don't think I need to elaborate further..
Re-painting planned for this afternoon, followed by an extra long wait for the stuff to cure.
I decided to go with the sealer, and things turned out quite well.
Masking windows with tape from the inside and then sealing with masking fluid was not a good idea; it was nearly impossible to get the tape out because the fluid had seeped between the tape and the plastic, creating an impressive bond. I got the tape out eventually, and there's no visible damage from the butchery involved. I'm not getting an endoscope to take a detailed look inside though..
Unmasking revealed no unexpected issues (I knew in advance that the masking around the cockpit windows was inaccurate and would need touch up; easier and less work that way). Except for the fact that I'd forgotten to mask the de-icing covers on the tailplanes, and found myself putting those on free hand with a tiny brush (my nerves are beginning to settle again, thanks for asking)
The undercarriage bits and pieces are painted, and ready for assembly. Later though; I'm not going to risk any of that black paint getting funny ideas until I'm very sure it's cured.
The damaged engine cowling is a write-off. I can't get an even coat of paint on there without completly stripping it first. It will have to cure completely, after which I'll sand off (most of) the mess and start again on that part.
Wiped the damaged paint off with q-tips dipped in acetone instead of resorting to sandpaper; worked like a charm. Gunze white was not impressed by the slight colour variations that remained, and delivered a perfect basecoat in one go. Love that paint :)
After all the fighting, the undercarriage just went on without even needing cement or glue, although I did choose to reinforce the connection between the Y-shaped bits and the main legs with a drop of Clearfix which is now curing (not taking chances here, the kit might be resorting to devious plots to trip me up again)
So, at long last, I had the engine cowlings almost done. All that was needed was a quick blast of metallizer..
Back to square one.
Remainder of much hyped, very expensive junk pretending to be paint throw out with extreme prejudice.
Fortunately, being low grade acrylics, this stuff can't hold it's liquor. A tissue dipped in ethanol quickly put paid to the gunk, and was followed by a quick blast of Alclad 'bright silver'. If anything, the rim of the cowlings is now too shiny, but some satin varnish ought to fix that. If not, I'm declaring one of the ground crew to be a cowling fetishist that could never stop polishing the things; either way, I'm done with these parts.
I'm calling this done.