Happy New Year everyone! I never thought I’d end up writing about a Lego build, but when I saw the Lego Saturn V rocket kit in my kids’ Lego catalog, I knew that I had to have one. So, I thought it would be fun to do a little video and article in the process. That’s not to mention an afternoon spent building Legos with my son; talk about like the perfect day! This kit seems to sell out rather quickly, and I actually had a couple failed attempts to locate one. However, I was lucky enough to find one just in time for Christmas (it was a Christmas miracle! 😉 )! Lego really does some incredible models these days and my son (the Lego expert in the family) is all about it. Lego didn’t have the licensing deals when I was a kid that they do now and the models that they create these days as a result are just awesome. If you’ve not seen their special edition Millennium Falcon kit, it is their largest and most expensive set ever and it is amazing!
Being an aerospace engineer, I’ve always had a fascination with the Saturn V. It still is the largest and heaviest rocket that has ever been launched into space and it was done in a time where the first computers were only just starting. I remember building an Estes Saturn V kit with a family friend when I was a kid. It used a single D sized motor and had so much mass behind it, it launched much like the real thing off the launch pad.
The Lego Saturn V kit itself comes in a big box (labeled for ages 14+…I barely made it!) that has someContinue reading →
Welcome to the final episode in our foam kit bashing series! It was quite the journey getting here and I actually didn’t intend on it taking as long as it has to document the whole series, but life has been crazy with no signs of slowing down it seems (plus, I just started a new position at work!). If you’ve just found this series, we have gone through and completely transformed a Freewing Mirage 2000 into an Isreali Kfir. As a part of that, we covered the transformation process talking through the building methods in converting the airplane using balsa wood and foam, we’ve talked about painting and finishing and we’ve also covered how to make panel lines and add realistic weathering. I hope that you guys have enjoyed the series and are geared up with some new techniques to try on your models! To finish this series up, I thought it would be best done providing a little discussion on how the airplane flies in it’s new form as well as some of the things that were done in wrapping the airplane up and getting it tuned in the air. Also, I had a little incident with the airplane at the Warbirds & Classics event which tore out the right main landing gear mount. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity, now that we have this nice new airplane, to show how to make cosmetic repairs when they are needed as well.
In doing all of the final setup for the airplane, I didn’t want to change too many things all at once since the airplane flew well in the Mirage 2000 configuration. I knew however that I did want to change out the radio. Airtronics has been my go-to radio for quite literally, decades (even had a sponsorship with them). Though a good radio, it’s a system that’s just not supported in the US anymore and frankly, SANWA/Airtronics gave up on the airplane market years ago anyway.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Iron Eagle, there’s an incredible sequence in the movie where the lead character, Doug Masters, flies a Cessna 150 through this race they call “the snake.” This consists of him racing a guy (Knocher) on a motorcycle through a canyon. It’s a totally hokey scenario and it results in a kind of crash landing due to the guy Doug’s racing sabotaging the airplane (of course!). Though, I think Doug might have had a better chance if he wasn’t racing with full flaps down… That said, the whole flying sequence is a display of some pretty incredible flying by Art Scholl who was an amazing aerobatic pilot from back in the day. He flew for a number of movies throughout his carrier but unfortunately his carrier ended too soon while filming the spin scene for the movie Top Gun.
So, when I saw the E-Flite 2.1m Cessna 150 Aerobat, it took me back to when I watched Iron Eagle over and over as a kid (quite literally) and I knew that I wanted one. It captures everything great about the airplane and that sequence as the airplane looks great and flies aerobatics wonderfully. So, there just might be a repaint in this airplanes future… but before that, I wanted to give you guys a full review on this awesome Aerobat. The box is huge, and the airplane is big, and it’s awesome!
As noted, the airplane comes in a very sizable box that took up most of my workbench. The airplane is nicely packaged and I didn’t find any damage at all through shipping. E-flite has broken the airplane down into a small number of large components. You have the fuselage, the wings and horizontal stabilizers, Continue reading →
Panel lines and weathering are something that can really make or break a scale model. When we started this Kfir kit bash, I knew that I wanted to use it as a canvas to show some simple weathering and panel lining techniques. Very often we can get too heavy with either and so my hope here is to give some pointers for adding some realistic and effective looking panel lines and weathering that’s easy to do. These are some techniques that are pretty simple to employ and that I actually use on my competition models also.
There are so many different techniques we can turn to for this stuff, so these are just a few that I regularly use. Ultimately the best techniques are the ones you like and give you the results you’re looking for so experiment and try different techniques. The only way we develop these skills is through practice and use.
As we talk about panel lines and weathering, my recommendation is less is more. What I mean is that if you feel that a panel line is too dark, or the weathering is too heavy, then it probably is. Also, it’s highly recommended doing all of this final finish work inside under artificial light. The sun washes out much of what we apply and so the results are much less subtle once we bring the airplane inside since we’ll continue to darken until we can see a result. So, just a couple things to keep in mind as we go through this (it’ll be stated again too 😉 ).
THE PANEL LINE PROCESS
To apply panel lines to the surface, we are simply applying all of them using a mechanical pencil. This works excellent in this case because the pencil lines when applied, are darker than all of the colors on the airplane. So, as a result, you can get aContinue reading →
Continuing in our Kit Bashing 101 series, in this installment we are talking about painting camouflage and adding markings to our Kfir. The transformation from Mirage 2000 to Kfir has taken place and we’ve even added some nice Kfir specific cockpit details. So, there’s no more procrastinating, it’s time to prep and paint this jet! We have an awesome 4 tone Isreali camouflage scheme lined up that we’re going to paint and so we’ll talk through the process of achieving that. We’ll be utilizing an airbrush in the process along with some humbrol plastic model paints for the camouflage and then once painted, we will be applying our markings.
First things first though, the airplane was made paint ready. The process used was the same as what we did in our How to Refinish a Foam Warbird Series where we applied 6 coats of minwax polycrylic, primered and sanded a few times, and then finished it off by wet sanding with 600 grit sand paper to get it paint ready. There were a couple things done differently here though that are worth mentioning. First of all, there was quite a bit of texture coming through after the initial primer coat, so I decided to spray a some Rust Oleum gap filler primer. This helped build up the lower areas to even out the surface. After sanding it down with a sanding block, many of the imperfections disappeared. Being foam it’s difficult to get a perfectly smooth finish, but this helped really smooth it out. Also, this primer is ideal for prepping 3d printed parts and getting rid of the striations you get due to the layer build up.
The last thing was, I had a couple areas of the pink Home Depot foam react to the Evercoat primer when I applied it too heavy which melted some areas underneath the polycrylic. To fix it I just filled it back in with some spackle and sanded it flush. I’ve Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe that the year is half over already! It feels like since the US Scale Master’s Championships last year until now, I haven’t done all that much flying. At least certainly not as much as I could hope for. Between my kids getting into competitive travel sports added to having limited accessibility to our flying field here where I fly my large airplanes, it’s been a little difficult just getting to the field. So when the Scale Squadron’s Warbirds & Classics event peeked around the corner, needless to say I was excited! It was going to be 2 straight days of RC airplane goodness and some much needed flying! Leading up to the event, I had been focusing my spare time in the shop trying to get our little kfir kit bash project finished up for the event and this was her debut outing!
Between the Scale Squadron’s hospitality, the picturesque back drop of OCMA’s Black Starr canyon flying site, and the incredible assortment of airplanes, this event is a must go for me. I look forward to it every year and there’s always a ton of flying to be had. Plus, it’s a chance to spend a weekend flying with my dad which I cherish deeply. The beauty of the event is that there’s a great assortment of airplanes, but there’s never an issue with the flight line backing up causing much of a line. Anytime anyone wants a flight, it usually happens straight away.
Once in a long while my good Friend Brent (Corsair Nut) gets to spend some time in San Diego. We’ve been friends since we were kids as his dad used to work for my dad at one point in the shop. I have memories of him, his brother and I running around the back of the shop just doing what kids do. We reconnected about 10 or so years ago and pretty much picked up where we left off! So when he’s in town, there’s always some RC madness going on whether sporadic fly days or projects and it’s great! We’re always encouraging and pushing each other to go for that next project or running ideas off of each other on builds, etc. One thing about Brent, he is a master when it comes to working with foam and he’s shown me a lot of the techniques that I’ve been sharing with you. So, when he mentioned he was coming to town, we talked about teaming up on a quick Ultra Micro (UMX) jet. The subject? The A-5 Vigilante.
We actually planned this project (including sizing some drawings!) over a year ago on one of his previous trips. For me, I have always had this airplane in mind for a build as the proportions are perfect for an RC subject. It has a big wing, big tails and a nice wide fuselage which means good flying characteristics. For a big bird, landing gear are kind of an issue (they always are!), but for a UMX bird like this, that’s no matter. Fixed gear chicken legs here we come!
BTW, I have included the templates for the build further down in the article (no instructions), so if you’d like to give building one a shot, do it!
Now, I can’t say I was a huge help in the building process since our schedules really didn’t line up very well for the week he was here. Add to that that I was a hand down based on abroken finger I was 3 weeks into resulting from an ice hockey injury. I was fresh out of a cast but had a removable splint and couldn’t grip anything very well still even without theContinue reading →
With the advent of “Star Wars: Rogue One” being in theaters for a while and the announcement of the Episode 8 title of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” I thought it would be fun to do a little Star Wars build with the kids…and since that meant doing a video, they were all in! As a plastic model build, Star Wars models are really fun because anything goes and they always look best just dirty and weathered to the hilt. So, for Christmas, I gave the kids (along with myself ;)) a model from one of the original Star Wars trilogy, a 1/72 scale X-Wing to my daughter, a 1/48 scale Snowspeeder to me, and a 1/48 scale AT-ST Walker to my son. We actually started these over Christmas time, but things got a little crazy and so the builds took a little longer than initially planned. They were scattered, quite literally, across my work bench for a number of weeks!
As far as the kits, they are made by Bandai and they have a whole series of Star Wars kits. They are of a “press fit” design which means, no glue, but they don’t snap together either, so if you happen to mess something up, you’re able to pull things apart. However, there remains sufficient friction that everything holds together tightly. In fact, the engineering behind it is excellent and the fit is pretty killer. The other thing is, everything is molded in color. So, there are multiple sprues of different colors and in building the models, the different colored parts fill out the appropriate colors on the model. They also include stickers and water transfer decals that finish out the rest of the colors, so depending on which way you want to go you can choose either one (I went for decals, my kids went for stickers). Given all of the different colored sprues, it meant that there were quite a fewContinue reading →