Lancaster Disaster

1/72 Avro Lancaster BMkIII “Dambusters” by Tony Adams

In last months Romsey Modeller I reproduced the original write up for this build that I started over three years ago. At the time the original article was written the build was progressing nicely with the fuselage together and the wings mated to the resin flaps conversion. It was now time to start painting.

I made a shield from plastic card to stop paint entering the cockpit. With the other opening sealed with masking tape it was time to prime the model [1].

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[1] Ready for painting

[2] Alclad Grey Primer applied and  rubbed down with micromesh

At the time, my primer of choice was Alclad Grey. Primer generally shows up any imperfections in the seam finishing and this model was no exception requiring a little more work before I was happy [2]. The primer was rubbed down with micromesh to get a consistent smooth surface to apply the top coat.

I preshaded the panel lines with Tamiya X1 before spraying the undersides with Vallejo Model Color Black, this was the first time I used Vallejo paints and once I had worked out the thinning for the airbrush they sprayed OK.

The black was masked off with Tamiya tape [3] and the Vallejo Dark Earth applied to the top surfaces [4].

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[3] The black surfaces were sprayed and then masked

[4] The upper surfaces with the preshade working nicely

I was pleased with the preshading (I think this was the first time I had tried the technique). Once dry, Dark Green was applied free hand to make up the camouflage pattern. The contrast between the brown and green didn’t look correct, both the green and the brown were far too dark [5], as it turned out I didn’t have to contemplate the issue too long as disaster struck!

As I removed the masking tape the paint came along with it, not just in small areas but all over the model, the primer had just not adhered to the plastic [6].

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[5] prelude to disaster – I wasn’t happy with the contrast between the upper camouflage colours

[6] Disaster –

Obviously I had a major rework on my hands, the paint in the most part was easy to remove, it just flaked off. In some areas it had to be scraped which caused some damage to the plastic. After removing all the paint I was thoroughly demoralised and decided to move on to something else which is why the model lay untended in my loft for 3 years.

Picking up the pieces

No doubt the model would have remained in the loft indefinitely if it wasn’t for the Hasegawa competition, I reviewed my stash and this stood out as a challenge that needed to be completed. It was 50% complete and I had 3 years more modelling experience, surely I could produce something half decent.

The first job was to complete the paint removal and tend to any score marks in the plastic, for which I used Mr Surfacer and a lot of elbow grease [7]. I rescored the panel lines and used micromesh and liquid plastic polish on the fuselage windows to improve their clarity. Having used and discarded the Eduard masks for these windows I used Mr Mask liquid mask to protect them from the paint [8].

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[7] With the paint removed and the plastic restored I was ready for the second coat of primer

[8] lots of time was spent sanding the plastic and flling holes –

As I suspected the Alclad primer was causing the paint issue ( I haven’t used it since) I used my now standard Tamiya fine surface grey primer which comes in rattle can form. I hate using rattle cans so I decant the paint using a straw attached to the spray nozzle, directing the paint into a paint pot. I have discovered a neat trick to reduce the time it takes to get the propellant gas out of aerosol decanted paints through using my ultra sonic cleaner. Normally it takes 24 hours for the gas to disperse from the paint, which is fine as long as you plan in advance (which I never do). The ultra sonic cleaner stirs up the paint to do the same job in a couple of minutes. Note: be sure to place the paint in a secondary container as the paint can often overflow which would result in a difficult cleaning job [9, 10].

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[9] An ultra sonic cleaner can rapidly de-gas decanted aerosol paint

[10] the bubbles are the propellant being pushed out by the sound waves –

The model was primed and any imperfections addressed, before the top brown colour was sprayed – Note: brown first this time rather than black as it’s easier to cope with overspray of light colours. I used Mr Color paints which are currently my choice de jour for RAF camo colours. I didn’t pre shade this time as I planned to have a go at post shading and filtering [11]. The green was sprayed following the fine pencil marks that outlined the camo pattern.

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[11] Mr Color provided a much lighter Earth Brown, you can just see the pencil lines outlining the camo pattern before the Dark Green was applied

[12] The black undersides were postshaded with lightened black in the centres of the panels –

Once the green was dry, the model was masked and Mr Color Tire Black (a very dark grey rather than black)  applied to the underside. I used the same paint, lightened with white and thinned to highlight the centres of the panels. This technique makes the aircraft look much more realistic and breaks up the boring artificial black of the underside [12]. I was really pleased with the finish but once again disaster stuck as I removed the masking tape!

Disaster strikes again

I couldn’t believe it, as lumps of paint once again were pulled off by the tape, although the extent was nowhere near as extensive as the first disaster I was almost back to square one. I have never had an issue with Tamiya primer, the only thing I can think of is that there is some contaminant on the plastic which stopped the primer adhering properly[13].

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[13] B£$%&ks

[14] The paint patched up-

I seriously considered calling it a day, but after some consideration decided to press on. I rubbed the affected areas down and resprayed them with the top colour, however as the primer and several coats of paint were affected, the finish of the paintwork was far from ideal. I continued but knew I ultimately would be unhappy with the quality of the model [14].

The cockpit canopy and other glass work were dipped in Klear before masked using the brilliant Eduard mask kit, this took some time and was somewhat cathartic in reducing my disappointment in the paint work [17].

Before I fixed the canopy in place I tidied up the cockpit and renewed the map decal as it had curled up during storage in the loft.[15,16].

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[15,16] The cockpit looked impressive

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[17] Extreme masking

[18] replacing gun barrels with after market parts

I put more effort into adding etch to the undercarriage and aftermarket gun barrels [18] to the turrets but the further I went on the more unhappy I was with the paint – I had to do something about it !

As I didn’t want to strip all the paint completely once again and possibly end up with the same result I decided to try and rectify the worst of the problems which was seen on the fuselage [19].

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[19] The paintwork really let the model down

[20] To correct I a panel

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[21] And removed all the paint

[22].. but results were far from Ideal!

I masked off the complete panel [20] and removed all the paint as I reasoned the panel lines would hide differences in paint thickness [21]. I primed and resprayed but almost as soon as the paint was dry I knew that I had made the situation worse. The paint didn’t match and there was a large ridge along the panel lines [22]. That was the final straw, there was no way I was ever going to get this right, it was time to call it quits.

I have a Revell Dambuster Lancaster in the stash which is a much better kit than this Hasegawa one, I plan (if I can get enough enthusiasm ) to strip this model down and reuse a lot of the etch in the new kit. In hindsight I should have taken this approach much earlier, I have ended up wasting hours and hours and have nothing to show for it which is very frustrating; still I guess that is part of the learning curve!

One Response to Lancaster Disaster

  1. John says:

    Tony – my commiserations!

    Being midway through correcting a finishing goofup on my 1/32 Tamiya Spitfire MK VIII (Don’t soak a wing in chlorinated water to loosen a b
    e) I feel your frustration.

    I have likewise put the offending creature aside for a while – sometimes we need that psychological circuit breaker to kick in (although I hope it will be somewhat less than four years before I pick it up again).

    Being early in my return to this hobby your experience would have easily defeated me so well done for persisting – continue to

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