“Star Wars – Complete Vehicles”

SW_Vehicles1ISBN 978-1-40933-476-7. “Star Wars – Complete Vehicles” was published by Dorling Kindersley in 2013. It features the combined cutaway artworks of Hans Jenssen and Richard Chasemore. It includes all the significant ‘vehicles’ from all six released Star Wars motion pictures to date. It is thus a compilation of 5 separate and previously published books appearing from 1998 through 2007. This work is part of the Star Wars “canon”, ie it is “canonical” – officially part of the Star Wars franchise. Everything in the book has been approved by Lucas Film to the point that they even requested changes to the drawings if they clashed with previously released canon material. The artists were granted access to the Lucas Film archives to photograph original models. If it isn’t clear already this is a book of “cutaways” as in you get to see the inside of (largely) imaginary movie space ships. So much you see here is derived from the minds of the artists with reference to any internal sets that may have been filmed – be they real or CGI. Beyond that the cutaways are completely annotated with some lengthy dialogues about how the vehicle fits into the story. This is, in itself, a work of sci fi as it is written in a manner consistent with the Star Wars universe being real. As such it takes itself pretty seriously.

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Airfix 1/72nd scale Red Arrows Gnat June 2014

We last posted on the Airfix Gnat back on the 2nd June so it’s time for an update: yes, we finished it! I must say that I average one model build per year so getting one done in two months is pretty good going. It helps to build something so small, straight from the box, in one colour and without any weapons!

Eagle-eyed readers of our blog might have noticed a problem with the build in one of the photos from our last post. Yes, I added the main undercarriage on backs-to-front! By the time I noticed it was too late. Given I have been building models for 35+ years and have NEVER made a mistake like that I was left pondering how this could happen. It proved enlightening.

I believe a number of factors were at play:

  1. This is not for me – it was for my daughter, so I really wasn’t paying a lot of attention. Having said that I did study the instructions quite thoroughly without noticing the problem. It proves you have to care about your project.
  2. The Airfix Instructions show undercarriage orientation on three steps none of which indicate front or back. Only if you look very closely on some of the minor steps will you notice. But you would have to pay close attention.
  3. I used no references (other than looking at a few cockpit photos online before the cockpit was painted). Usually I pour over references to get a good mental map of the airframe layout. It is surprising how much you take such a mental map for granted. If I had done the research (if I was interested) I would have know every detail of the undercarriage.

As it turns out my daughter is none the wiser. In fact every other detail of the build went fine. However the obvious gaff means I can happily dispose of this unfortunate example onto one of my seven-year-old’s bedroom shelves (next to Moshi Monsters) without a care. It is not part of the Small Wonder canon of work.

Anyway, let’s review the rest of the build:

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So here we were in early June having finished main assembly. The fit of the wings and intakes is poor and you can see a lot of filler in the left-hand photo. By the time the right-hand photo (above) was taken I had sanded down these joints and rescribed the panel lines. Note the cockpit canopy has been added.

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Next we masked the canopy and nose landing light before airbrushing on an undercoat using Alclad II grey primer.

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We used Micromesh to smooth off the primer coat before we were back in the spray booth to add the pre-shade.

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The wheel hubs were painted with Humbrol Silver paint before a light wash of Tamiya Smoke X-19 was used to bring out the details. Then we were back to the airbrush for the first light coat of Humbrol Red paint.

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Then the second coat of Red was applied. I rather rushed this and applied the red too thickly. I should have waited to apply a third coat. OK – now only at THIS point did I notice the undercarriage is on backwards. If you look at the shot on the right I am pointing at Step 21 of the instructions that I has misinterpreted. Airfix give no indication of fore or aft. Remarkably Airfix also allow you to fit the undercarriage backward because the parts fit both ways! Now remember this is a “Starter Kit” for children aged 8 and up. We wonder how many of them made the same mistake?

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Next I masked off the undercarriage surround and hand-brushed Humbrol Silver. Two light coats did the trick before a wash of Tamiya Smoke gave it depth.

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Now we can apply the excellent decals by Cartograf. I was worried that the red would show through the white decal but it does not. Decals were applied with Micro Sol and Set which worked fine. Next I sealed in the decal using Future.

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After the Future dried I applied liberal amounts of a dark grey wash by Flory’s Models. I was not able to get their dark wash to I used a Light Earth wash mixed with a black watercolour tablet. After a few minutes to dry I then carefully removed most of the wash with a damp lint-free cloth and cotton buds. This brought out the panel lines.


I airbrushed on a final coat of Humbrol enamel Satin before removing the masking and polishing the canopy. That’s it! All done.

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…and my client was very happy with her first model aircraft. I found an old broken photo frame (that my wife was going to throw away) and mounted a section of the Airfix box top in it. I thought my daughter could put the model on top so she wouldn’t have to handle it. As it turns out there wasn’t space on her toy shelf for it laying flat. But the tiny Gnat fits fine by itself.

So, what do we think? Is this the kit for a seven year old girl? Airfix recommend it for ages “8 & up” and I have to agree with this. It was way too small and fiddly for a child. When I purchased it for her for (as a Christmas stocking filler from “Santa”!) I had in mind the old mould version which Airfix used to supply in a red sprue. However when I found it was a new mould (in grey) this changed my plans a bit. I tried to get my girl involved in the build but – other than watching me build it – this was hard. There simply weren’t any bits for her to do other than paint a few cockpit parts. I just knew she would get quickly frustrated and the kit would never be finished. This seemed a shame so I pushed the project through under her watchful eye.

Her enthusiasm waned a bit through the project and I don’t think it did much to entertain her even if the educational value is still there. The model is still “hers”. She has had a go and seen what the process is. If I think back to how my Dad started with me he did indeed assemble my first kit with me watching. Mind you I had more enthusiasm but I was Milla’s age.

So, where next? Am I trying to make a model-builder out of her? No, not at all. Having a go at building a few models is simply part of growing up. She should benefit from having a go at this in the same way that she benefits from any other craft activity. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t “catch the bug” – it is the taking part that counts.

Her eight birthday is soon and I have checked out better alternatives for her in the local hobby shop. She wants something BIG, colourful, something that needs no glue or paint. So I have found some large-ish Revel Star Wars snap-together kits that look like fun. There are also some Tamiya Dinosaur kits that do require paint and glue. However, as there is no need for “accuracy” and nothing to screw up she can build that with glue and paint. It should be quick and fun.

So I have learnt that what a Model Company sells you as a “Starter Kit” may be anything but. Kids that age need something simple and quick to build. Maybe something on a stand not on its undercarriage legs. Something not fragile. An Airfix 1/72nd scale Gnat really wasn’t it. It seemed the right idea – on paper, but in reality we need to be slightly smarter if we are to introduce the young to model making. They have a lot of competition for their time. Enthusiasm needs to be carefully nurtured with the right sort of models to build. They will want to play with them afterwards – why not? So snap together & dinosaurs are probably a good route to take.



1/48th scale OEZ Su-7 & Kopro Su-22 build update May 2014

One month on and we have been busy on our two Sukhoi cold war jets. In our last update we had not even assembled the fuselage but all the internals were ready for assembly.

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It took a bit of fiddling to get the two intake bullets to line up. There are no alignment aids supplied by Kopro or OEZ. They relied upon being mounted on the rear bulkhead.

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Onto the assembly. The sides do not want to fit together so required lots of persuasion.


The Kopro kit doesn’t depict the M4 version with its heat exchanger ait intake in the vertical tail. So I had to scratchbuild it.

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The vertical tails were assembled.

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I drilled out the heat exchanger exhaust on the scratchbuilt tail.

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I did a lot of rescribing all over these kits as we filled in all the gaps. Then wing assembly started.

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Rescribing work on the scratchbuilt tail and wing assembly…

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Milliput was used to sculpt the main gear bay scoop. The Cutting Edge resin was blended in to the Su-22 wings.

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Getting the horizontal tail to fit on the Su-7 required quite a bit of surgery. On the right are the Cutting Edge resin flaps for the Su-22.

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The wings are another headache and needed a lot of filling and clean up.

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Adding the wings and tails to the Su-7BKL (left) and Su-22M4 (right).

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Adding in the Cutting Edge resin wing parts to the Su-22 (left). Wing roots on both kits needed a lot of filler and clean up.

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Blending in the vertical tails (Su-7BKL left and Su-22M4 right) – also quite a job – especially on the Su-22M4 and its scratch-built heat exchanger.


The Su-7BKL with all the wing roots and vertical tail root blended in.


The Su-22M4 all cleaned up.


Now working on the main undercarriage bays. Here is the Su-7BKL with the Eduard photoetch additions. These photos show before and after. On the right I have also started to add the bay lip as the white strip at the edges.




Airfix 1/7nd scale Red Arrow Gnat April & May 2014

When I was about my daughter’s age I learnt how to make model aircraft by watching my Dad do it. So when my little girl took an interest in having a go at Daddy’s hobby Santa brought her an Airfix Starter kit. She seemed interested but never quite got enthusiastic enough to start the project. Remembering how my Dad showed me how to build a kit I decided I would show her. Santa had selected a 1/72nd scale Airfix Red Arrows Gnat. It was small and brightly coloured. Perfect. I thought I had built the same model when I was about ten years of age but it turned out that Airfix have released a new moulding and this was that newer version.

So I told my little girl we would have a go at it. The ground rules were that we would do it together at the kitchen table. It would be built straight form the box. We would try and use the paint, glue and brush that came with the kit as much as possible. No extras would be added and we wouldn’t waste time airbrushing every little detail. I would go a bit further than my Dad did on that very first Gloster Gladiator – I would at least paint the model inside and out – but just the basics. I recall the Gnat I built was moulded in red plastic which was why I thought it could be built without painting. However the new moulding is in grey plastic and I am sure my daughter would feel a but let-down by that. It would have to be red.

So we set up a pattern of operating. Assembly did indeed take place at the kitchen table. I would bring a few essential tools down from my workbench such as a hobby knife and sanding stick. I would show her all the basics: cutting plastic from the sprue, how to use glue, how to paint, how to assemble, follow instructions, and so on. Our rule was “little and often” so she wouldn’t get bored. In between sessions I would take the little kit up to my workbench and do a bit of seam filling and detail painting – the sort of details that would make it look nice but that would be too boring and fiddley for a seven year old to worry about. She needed to be happy with the result and understand the steps to get there.

She is afraid of sharp knives so I handled that for her. I showed her how to download pictures form the internet as references. I showed her what colour things would be. The colours in the box were read, white, black and silver. The silver acrylic was rubbish so we used enamel for that. On the cockpit and pilot I let my daughter do the basic painting whilst I added details, wash and dry brushing so it all looked good. My daughter is looking forward to having the result in her room and already knows that it must be put somewhere where children cannot break it. That doesn’t seem to include her.

I have no idea whether she wishes to pursue this as a hobby. That isn’t the point. At this stage it is just a craft for her to have some experience of. It is good that she has some basic working knowledge of what it takes to build a model.

Here is what we did:

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Starting in the cockpit we assembled the parts together and my daughter painted pilot and base-grey in the cockpit. I added a few small paint details later for her.


I added the decals for the instrument panels and then we glued in the pilot. At this point we glued the cockpit to the fuselage. The assembly of the fuselage itself was tricky as it is all bent out of shape and the part don’t fit well. I think most 7 yr olds would have given up by now. Thankfully we worked Blue-Peter-style and I was able to whisk the project away to sort out all the fit problems!

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OK – so this is my on my workbench! It just won’t fit together without lots of clothes-pegs. The Airfix moulding is crisp and pretty but the assemblies are poorly designed and the fit is very poor. This is NOT a good starter project for a seven year old. Thankfully I can sort most of this out for her.


…and here we are at time of writing. I will need to clean up all this filler for my daughter before we proceed on to final assembly. All the bits are ready and I have painted up small fiddley bits like the wheels for her. She really wants to be involved when interesting bits happen. What seven year old would not?

We will post another update here when the project is finished. It should not take long. If the thing fitted together better it would have been a lot quicker to execute. I will airbrush on the final coat of red paint for my Daughter’s Red Arrow, but that will be as about as complicated as it should get. Then it is all hers.

Hopefully it will inspire her to have a go by herself – which is the next step I took at her age. If not then – nothing ventured, nothing gained – at least it was more Daddy/Daughter quality time.

1/48th scale OEZ Su-7 & Kopro Su-22 build update April 2014

Welcome to our April update on the Sukhoi double-bill from OEZ and Kopro. Oldies but goodies. So lets crack straight on…


Here’s what we have for you today – a collection of finished interior items.  On the left we have Su-7 items and on the right the Su-22 items.


This is the Su-7 cockpit tub made up from Eduard photoetch and kit items. These have had a pin wash and lots of dry brushing. Enamels from Humbrol and Xtracolour have been used.


These are the two intake bullets using the kit items with the Su-7 on the left and the Su-22 on the right.


The Su-22 afterburner can made up from kits items and Eduard photoetch. Finished with Humbrol Metalcote.


The Brassin ejection seat on the left and the Su-7 instrument panel on the right. The panel is by Eduard photoetch. The Brassin item is as crisp as resin can come and seems to have been cast direct from CAD drawings. Remarkable. How do they do it? Compare that to the old Cutting Edge items for the Su-22…


The Cutting Edge resin cockpit tub for Su-22. If you can paint it good it will look good. Tough job. A lot of detail there.


Look at the detail on this Cutting Edge nose gearbay. It is nothing like as crisp as the Eduard Brassin item.


This is the Cutting Edge resin ejection seat for Su-22. It is good but not in the same league as the Brassin item.


On the left the cockpit cowling for Su-22 from Cutting Edge with some Eduard photoetch. On the right the current work in progress – fixing a couple of Quickboost engine vent louvres to the side of the Su-7 fuselage. They fit peferctly – just slot in but are too small leaving a big gap all round. Lots of filler required.


Inside of the cockpits/fuselage sides – on the left the Su-22 and on the right the Su-7.


…and finally the resin afterburner can by Cutting Edge for Su-22. It takes a bit of work to get this to fit. Like the Su-7 item this is finished in Humbrol Metalcote with a bit of powders pastels rubbed in.

Tips & Techniques – soft pastels & rivets

Here we are in March 2014. Work progresses on the two Sukhois – the Su-7 and Su-22 in 1/48th scale. Before closing the fuselage all the internal work is done. This focusses on the air inlet, the cockpit and the jet pipe.


After the detail painting of the ejection seats they can look a little contrasty and toy-like. Tone them down with a brush of light grey soft pastel dust. Soft pastels can be brought at art stores. They are like chalk. Do not buy the oil pastels as they are like wax. You need the type that turns to dust when rubbed on to sand paper. As you can see in this picture I have used rough decorator’s sandpaper and rubbed the soft pastel against it. You can blend multiple pastels but buy a good selection of colours. Apply generously to the ejection seat. This works well on the darker colours – particularly black – giving a better scale appearance. On lighter colours it is better to use the pastels as a darker shade in the corners and crevices. On this dark ejection seat we are essentially dry-brushing with the pastel dust to lighten highlights.


Don’t be afraid to get the item covered thoroughly in dust. We will gently blow this away with an air-duster. This gives greater power than an airbrush and is handy too. However it can be very violent – specifically when using a new can! So be very careful. Press the button slowly and carefully direct the nozzle away from delicate items. Leave a good distance between nozzle and item lest you blast off some delicate piece of photo-etch. Once you get the hang of it it is really very easy to blow away the excess dust to get the effect you want. It should be quite subtle.


Here we are dusting the Su-7 cockpit. Focus on the highlights. It will give it a good scale “lived in” look. Later we will apply a coat of Future floor polish to seal in the dust layer. Then this cockpit will get a good pin wash of black oil paint to bring out the details.


Normally folk apply rivets using this sort of pounce wheel to the outside of a kit. However the rivets on the jet intake of the Su7 and Su-22 are very evident on all photos. I don’t have a riveter wheel small enough for these confined spaces so I did what I could with what I had. Later we will apply a pin wash of black oil paint to pick out the detail. These photos show me applying rivets to the shock cone/intake bullet based upon photos. Yes! They are fully painted at this point! I should have done it earlier but didn’t notice the opportunity until AFTER painting. In fact it makes no difference. You just need to avoid mistakes!


Su-22 left and Su-7 right. Here we see in the inside of the air intake at the nose. I am applying the rivets as best I can in limited space.

Note the subtle work with the airbrush to add artificial depth to the air intake. The kits do not offer nice intake tunnels and both just end at the cockpit. So I have ensured that this area is as black as possible! Note the Su-22 with its auxiliary air intake flap open on the left. This flops open on the ground when there is no pressure in the hydraulic system. The lower flap stays shut due to gravity. No photo of the Su-7 (that I have ever seen) shows either flap open so either it didn’t have them or they were kept shut via so mechanism that may have been deleted on the Su-22.

By April 2014 we should have these items glossed, pin washed and sealed ready for the closure of the fuselage sides. Then the fun begins with main construction.


On the Bench – 3rd Jan 2014 update – 1/48th scale OEZ Su-7 and a Kopro Su-17


The OEZ Su-7 intake shock cone on the left. As you can see this took a lot of filler and no doubt will need some work after primer is applied. The Su-22 equivalent on the right is show here upside down and also shows a lot of filler.


Two views of the Su-22 fuselage with the Cutting Edge resin exhaust pipe.


Two views of the SU-7 fuselage sides with the Eduard photo-etch cockpit walls and control panel in place. The fit between the Eduard items is very poor leaving massive gaps between the side panels and the central control panel. On the starboard side I inserted a section of the Cutting Edge control panel to join the two. This assembly presents a unique challenge in that the cockpit wall need to be added AFTER the cockpit bath is in place because the different layers of wall structure overlap. In this case I have fixed everything in place for painting purposes and will bend the photo-etch out of the way in final assembly.


On the left (above) the internal cockpit walls of the Su-22. Most of this area is filled with the Cutting Edge resin cockpit bath (shown below). The other modification here is the addition of the blower flaps for the auxiliary engine intakes. There are two each side of the forward airframe but only the upper two flop inwards under the force of gravity when the internal hydraulic pressure eases off. You can see pictures of both blower doors open inwards but this when the aircraft is hooked up to a power supply and the engine is running. As I will depict the aircraft unpowered and at rest this would not be appropriate. I did not add this feature to the Su-7 as so very few photos show these doors open. Note that these doors have been cut into the fuselage sides based upon scale plans not the kit panel lines. The kit shows these two doors as being the wrong shape and size. I have super-glued over the panels lines and will re-scribe these later on.


Close-ups of the Cutting Edge resin cockpit bath for the Su-22. It is now ready for painting.


Another two shots of the Cutting Edge cockpit.


The Cutting Edge ejection seat for the Su-22 ready for painting.


The Eduard Brassin ejection seat for the Su-7. This is without a doubt the finest piece of resin I have ever seen. The printed instructions give the impression that this has been entirely designed on a computer-aided design system. The moulding is crisp and flawless. Most of the photoetch is pre-painted. Here we see it assembled with all the photoetch [that was not pre-painted] attached. It is ready for painting.


Closer look at the Eduard photoetch employed for the Su-7 engine exhaust. There is no resin here, this is a kit part enhanced with photoetch. Note the lovely afterburner ring and the exhaust petals.


Here we can see three views of the Su-7 cockpit tub which uses some kit parts with Eduard photo-etch and a bit of scratch-building. The rear bulkhead is from the Neomega Su-22 resin cockpit. It has been cut to shape and the thinned down to fit. It really makes the rear of the cockpit come alive and look suitably ‘busy’. Unfortunately I could find no references for this area of the aircraft so had to rely upon the Eduard. They supplied nothing for the rear of the cockpit.


On the Bench – 1/48th scale OEZ Su-7 and a Kopro Su-17 – Oct 2013

With the Finemolds Millennium Falcon complete on the 22nd August 2013 I took a two month hiatus to populate the Small Wonder YouTube channel as well as rip my CD collection to MP3. By the 27th October I was ready to start the Kopro kit. I opened the Cutting Edge cockpit detail set for Su-22M and compared it to the Neomega equivalent. Both are a respectable representations of the cockpit but I chose the Cutting Edge example as a basis for the Su-17/22. The Neomega instructions consist of one small piece of paper with an exploded view of the assembly – rather inadequate. The Cutting Edge kit is much better with an entire two sides of A4 – although it is mostly text. The Cutting Edge instructions are occasionally baffling and it isn’t clear where some of the parts go because they are not mentioned at all. More diagrams and less waffle might have helped. The Neomega set includes the nosewheel undercarriage bay whilst the Cutting Edge set includes the canopy frames so a hybrid of the two will be best.

You can visit the Kopro inventory page here: http://www.small-wonder.org/Projects_KP_Su-17.htm and the OEZ inventory page here: http://www.small-wonder.org/Projects_OEZ_Su-7.htm Continue reading