Box art picture of the sprues picture of the sprues

DDay Robin Olds' P-38J Scat II

Build thread

Operation Overlord, despite being probably the most massive and complex military operation to date (or perhaps because of that very fact), has never been a particularly inspiring subject for me as a modeller. Ships just aren't my thing, figures or vehicles are completely generic unless part of a diorama, which is as yet beyond my abilities, and would take me years to complete instead of the weeks available. That leaves the various airforces, and they were all doing one of the same things: dropping paratroopers, dropping bombs, or defending against a Luftwaffe that never showed up. No unit particularly stands out, except perhaps the ones dropping para's, and the markings of allied airforces at that time were totally boring. Since I'm already doing an olive drab and grey Dakota for a Market Garden display later this year, that won't do either. So, I needed a better criterion to select an interesting subject.

It's pretty much a given that at some time I'll be building the F-4C flown by Robin Olds at the time of operation Bolo, and shortly before this GB was set up I'd read his biography. In that, he mentions with undeminished frustration that his squadron spent the whole of D-Day loitering over the beaches, waiting in vain for the Luftwaffe to show up to receive a generous helping of grief, and wishing equally in vain that in the absence of airborne opposition they would at least be allowed to dive down and make themselves useful by strafing the defenders on the ground. These men may well have been the only soldiers in Normandy that day who were bored out of their skulls.
My collection of 1/48 warbirds didn't have a Lightning yet, and markings for Scat II were available, so this became a simple choice after all. I just wish Scat had been left uncamouflaged, drab and grey is just, well, drab and grey..

When it comes to P-38 kits in this scale, there's little choice. The very old Revell/Monogram, the Academy, or the Hasegawa. I didn't feel like a major fight with an old kit, and the Hasegawa was insanely expensive of course. Academy it is then. Out of the box, the kit looks quite exceptable, although nothing spectacular. I added some aftermarket bits, Aires cockpit, Quickboost turbochargers, and SAC landing gear, which probably brought the total price right back to Hasegawa levels, but I suspect between them these components will deliver a better result. That said, I expect the Quickboost set to put up a fight, since liberating the parts from the pouring blocks looks like it may be problematic.

I didn't really dare tackle anything remotely complex today. With the resin cockpit and metal undercarriage involved, that meant the only things I could reasonably work on were the droptanks, and the nose section. Even these proved less than trivial, and I'm fairly certain that is not entirely my fault; fit just isn't all that great.
The instructions suggest, with great optimism, the addition of 20g to the nose cone, to avoid a tailsitter. Just to get a feeling for what that meant, I filled the nose cone with lead shot. It held all of 10g. Fortunately, the cone is mounted on another section which appears to have several times as much internal volume, which will be just as invisible. I'll check to make sure once I'm properly alert again.
I did get some research done yesterday, and it seems the painting instructions that came with the decal sheet are completely wrong. They think the plane should be in olive drab over gray camouflage, but despite all that old pictures can do to confuse us, I don't believe for one moment that this plane is anything but NMF (picture found somewhere on the web):

I've joined up the main wing halves, mostly because I need those assembled to fit the cockpit module. If that module had cooperated, the same might have been said about the wing booms, but this was not to be.
I've hacked the large and very inconvenient pouring block off the cockpit floor plate, as well as the much more managable sidewalls. Initial dry fitting of the results sent me looking for a stiff drink (hazmat-strength tea, since I never understood why anyone would voluntarily drink anything with alcohol).
After recovering from that, I sanded down the floor plate as far as I dared, but still the thing won't fit in. I need to find close to 1mm of material to destroy, and that is going to be a challenge, since as far as I can see the only candidate (the top of the front wheel well) is thinner than that. I can file it down to translucence, and once the cockpit is in place add a backing plate to the section that will support the undercarriage. Fortunately, there is room for that. I'm just not sure if that is going to be enough. Time will tell..
I guess that if all else fails, I can always build the cockpit module as a separate model, there's enough detail in there for it to be treated as such...

I took a different approach with the front wheel well. I've just spent over an hour very carefully cutting out the roof of the well, and then smoothing it over so that it will fit snugly between the sides again. The sides can now be filed down the to support the cockpit floor at just the right height, at which point I'll re-attach the roof to the bottom of the cockpit floor. This will result in the wheel well being about 1mm too shallow, but it starts out deep enough that I think I can get away with it..

I've tamed the cockpit. The picture below shows the resin cockpit on the right, with the kit cockpit on the left (yes, I have two of these). Leaning against the hull with the new cockpit is the bottom of the front wheel well, waiting for the time when it can go home...

Once the wheelwell had been de-capped, things fell into place almost by themselves; all that was required was some minor filing at the top of the well, and some grinding away at the thickness of the fuselage walls at the very back, where the rear bulkhead is. Of course, that did involve grinding down to the very scary point where the plastic becomes translucent..
The cockpit module has now been primed, and I hope to start painting soon.
In other news, I've liberated the turbo chargers from their outrageously big bulky pouring blocks. I admit this was a scary prospect, but in the end, it wasn't so bad. The only resin part left that has me a bit apprehensive now is the seat, but the scary parts are hard to see and at the bottom, so I can cheat if necessary.
I've started work on the main gear wells. Fit is dubious, but with carefully phased assembly I ought to manage (some parts need to be forced into shape, and glueing under tension is not something you want to rush).
The SAC white metal landing gear is, quite frankly, disappointing. If anything, it looks like a direct metal copy of the plastic parts that came with the kit (I had a similar suspicion with their 1/72 Dakota gears). Detail is no better, there is some minor flash, and while there are no ejector marks on the metal parts, most of them need bending into shape. I can see their use in replacing lost parts, or upgrading kits other than the ones for which these sets are intended, but other than that, it is quite beyond me why anyone would want to spend ten pounds on these sets. I might end up fitting the kit parts. Still, at least I have spares now if anything goes wrong.
The air intakes have been added to the tail boom halves. Some work with filler will be needed, as fit isn't too good (I get the feeling I've said that before..).

I'd already concluded that fit was going to be problematic enough that most seams would require filler and sandpaper, and there appears to be very little interest in proving me wrong. The kit has, however, shown itself to be a devious piece of work. The propeller blades seemed to fit onto the hub remarkably easy, fitting snugly and stably. Unfortunately, in this position they were also skewed to the rear. By the time I caught on, the blades on both props were fused rock solid to the hub.
I dug out the spare kit again, and tried to fiddle that one's props into shape, but there is simply no stable configuration that looks right. I could of course try to glue them on one by one in the instable but correct position, and no doubt each individual blade would get stuck on just about right. Just about is not the same as exactly, and with my talent for messing this sort of thing up, I'm certain I would end up with six glaringly different interpretations of just about right, messing up the model as certainly as the current back leaning props. Circumstances may yet force me to attempt this, but I'm betting there is enough time for an order for Quickboost replacements to arrive. A cop out to be sure, but this is a fight I can do without.

I scrounged around the web a bit and found more than decent pictures of the interior of a Lightning. Painting up the cockpit proved no problem.

Except for the control column, which was ready for installation, all other parts of the cockpit can be installed from the top, so I finished the tub. Due to the way this plane is built, I can put off installing the cockpit module until the very last stages of construction, which I consider a good, if unusual thing. Couldn't resist doing a quick mock-up though
I've assembled the tailbooms with the wheel wells. Not surprisingly, every seam needs filler. Still, it's beginning to look like a P-38.

The tail booms have been cleaned up, and mated to the wing. Once again, the fit was such that copious amounts of filler are needed, which is now curing for sanding down later this weekend.

I expect after market parts to have some fit problems, but the basic kit should not require filler based re-design, like this one is doing. More importantly, if a clear piece has window frames engraved on it on all edges except one, the one edge without the frames is not the edge where the gates between part and sprue should be. Guess what Academy did on the front and rear segments of the canopy... I-D-I-O-T-S
I have no idea how I'm going to get a millimeter deep non-transparency on a transparency fixed. I do know that I'm not going to burn more money on aftermarket repairs for this one. I'm beginning to think I should have shelled out for the Hasegawa in this case.

I managed to sand away most of the damaged plastic from the front transparency, and polish the part back to transparency. Unfortunately, all this sanding changed the shape of the plastic, resulting in a lens which gives a very noticable distortion in the way light passes through it. Can't be helped, this will have to do.
The Aires instrument panel cover is just the slightest bit narrower than the kit part, and needed fairing over. Fortunately, the windscreen itself fit closely enough that only the smallest line of filler was needed, enabling me to use Vallejo filler, which can be smoothed over without sanding (assuming the amount of correction needed is small, as it was here).
After some serious eyeballing of the relevant parts, I concluded that with the exeption of the armoured plate behind the pilot, what work remained on the interior would still be possible with the front and rear halves of the canopy in place, and could consequently wait until a later stage. Good thing too, since I didn't relish the thought of closing off that gap for airbrushing with all the fiddly bits already in place.
Dry fitting the SAC undercarriage legs confirmed what I had feared, that the horizontal part of the legs was too narrow, and thus fell between the anchor points provided. I'll be using the main legs from the kit instead. The nosewheel does fit, and I'll use the metal part here, since this is where most of the weight of the kit is located.
Once everything has been given time to cure completely, I'll give the kit a final bath and (hopefully) final layer of primer, and send it off to the paintshop.

Contruction is complete except for the itsy-bitsy bits, undercarriage and props, and the whole shebang is now covered in gloss black, in preparation for the NMF that I hope to get on tomorrow (thus gaining an extra 'safe' work session).

Scat is now standing on it's own three legs, and the anti-glare panels are on.
Just odd and sods from here on. And invasion stripes, of course, which with a shape as complex as this is a daunting prospect..

The white parts of the invasion stripes are on, and although some of the white managed to end up where it didn't belong, this is not nearly as bad as I feared this would be. I'm not too fond of mr Johnson right now though, on account of the bumpy, lumpy twin tail booms being just plain EVIL in this context (I'll get over that shortly..)

The decals are on (although one of the ship-specific ones gave me a heartattack by jumping right at the carpet monster without it's backing paper; fortunately the table leg grabbed it and was persuaded to hand it back), and final assembly is proceeding, with the occasional breaks to let MicroSol work it's magic.
I feel guilty about painting the brass gunbarrels I splurged on; they look so good unpainted that I was sorely tempted for a bit to 'forget' some paintwork..


Picture of the finished model Picture of the finished model

Finishing materials:

Motip primer overall
Hu21 overall
Alclad Semi-Matt Aluminium

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