Thursday, September 29, 2016

Up, Up and away in my beautiful ballooooooooooooon........

.....or 99 Luftballoons on the wall, 99 Luftballoons.....

But seriously folks, I'm making great progress with the Reduced Aircraft Factory model of the Caquot Type M kit balloon available on Shapeways.

You can read the earlier installment here;

The painting has gone very well, in fact much better than I anticipated. I stumbled over a link to a postcard of a similar balloon done up in a charming checkerboard pattern. With that as a base, it was just a matter of selecting colors and a brush and getting started.

Here's the balloon after painting and following installation of the mounting post and the basket and shroud lines. The mounting post is a #6 1/2" screw that's screwed into the provided hole. To this screw, a strong rare earth magnet is glued using DAP adhesive or other strong adhesive (I'm a big fan of JB Weld). I thought I'd get smart and use a stainless steel screw with the magnet, but as I'm driving in the screw I remember....stainless steel is not magnetic! 

Here's the balloon after the basket installed. (Don't mind the hand of God in the lower left). Okay the paint job looks crummy in this picture.  I think the camera is too close. 

This looks a little better. It might be the angle. (It might be my painting skills!)

Thought I'd hold it over a game mat to get a feel for it.  

Success! The magnet on the post mates with a magnet glued to a 'bomber' peg and allows the balloon to be placed on a stand. 

Here's a view of the inverted balloon showing off the basket assembly. The great thing about this is that the basket and all the lines are a single part, making installation very easy.

The colors used on this model include  Folk Art Lemonade (the light yellow) and Americana Yellow Ochre. The basket was flat brown and the shrouds a base coat of yellow oche with a stain of flat brown and dry brushed light gray for weathering. 

Here's a shot of the primer, paints,  and screws used in the construction process. 

Now we're cooking with gas!  An Italian SVA 5 flies past this balloon somewhere on the Piave front.  The checkboard effect looks much better from a few feet away.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Heavy fighter escorts reporting for duty!

The Letord 2 and the Caudron R.11 are completed!

These both painted up nicely. Decals were from Dom's Decals and a few odds and ends from the decal box (the numbers were Woodland Scenics decals).

A box with the escorts in front and back.

The bomber box with the escorts shifted to the flanks. 

Caudron G.6 on a bomb run, as the fokker D.VI closes in. 

The Letord 2 turns as the D.VI hurtles past into the rear guns view. 

The Letord from the front, showing off the twin MG's in the nose and the prominent radiators over each engine.

The R.11 and the D.VI get close up and personal.

You can see the gunners clearly in this image. The gunners are separate items for this model. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

French firepower almost ready to take flight

Work on the R.11 and Letord 2 models discussed in a previous post is almost complete. All that is left is the final gloss and matt finish coats and adding a magnet for basing the models.

First up, the Letord 2. A nice, mid-war twin engine, three seater that packs a punch.

And of course, the Caudron R.11 "Heavy Fighter". Here's something that you see twenty years later in similar form in things like the Me110, the Potez 630,the Russian Pe-2 culminating in the P-61. But in the Great War, we're still hammering out the details and the concept.

The Caudron R.11 was envisioned as a robust recon bombing aircraft with enough armament that it could defend itself from attacking fighters. The two twin machine gun mounts gave it quite an effective punch. A mediocre bomber (The BR-14 was far superior) The R.11 found a role as a 'battle plane' serving as an escort to the bomber groups. Not a good dog fighter, but a solid powerful escort that could keep up with the bombers all the way to the target and back. In place of the bombs, a fifth machine gun was added that fired into the lower rear sector, covering the 'blind spot' the other guns could not reach. 

The balloon project is lifting off!

the 1/144 Cacquot Type M balloon is coming along slowly. The gasbag has been assembled and several coats of primer have been applied.

This particular model was painted in Black, Strong and Flexible (BSF). Unlike it's cheaper cousin, White, Strong and Flexible, BSF appears to be much less porous material. So as an experiement, unlike all previous models I am not expending time on using PVA and gloss spray coats to prepare the surface.

Several coats of white gesso were applied to the model. I allowed each coat to dry for about a day before applying the next coat. The end result yields a relatively smooth surface than should accept paint with no challenges. (Fingers crossed on this one!)

Here's the primed gasbag being supported by two bottles of paint. The grid is in 1" blocks.

In the foreground is the bridle that supports the basket.

A close up of the bridle. This still needs a couple of coats of thinned down gesso for priming. The full strength stuff is too think as you can see from this picture. 

For a better sense of scale, here's a 1/144 Phonix C.I from Shapeways for comparisonn. The C.1 is almost exactly the same size as the D.1.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Unboxing the Wings of Glory - Nieuport 11

The new Wings of Glory series 9 aircraft models have been released in the United States. One of the four models is the Nieuport 11, a spiffy little single seat fighter.  The Nieuport 11 was a smaller, simplified version of the Nieuport 10, designed specifically as a single-seat fighter. Like the "10" the "11" was a sesquiplane, a biplane with a full-sized top wing with two spars, and a lower wing of much narrower chord and a single spar. Interplane struts in the form of a "Vee" joined the wings together. The sesquiplane layout reduces drag and improves the rate of climb, as well as offering a better view from the cockpit than either biplane or monoplane, while being substantially stronger than contemporary monoplanes.

The Nieuport 11 outclassed the Fokker Eindecker in every respect, including speed, climb rate and maneuverability. It featured ailerons for lateral control rather than the Fokker'swing warping, giving lighter, quicker roll response, and its elevator was attached to a conventional tail plane which provided better pitch control as opposed to the all-moving, balanced "Morane type" elevators of the Fokker. 

Enough of the technical history, on to the plane! 

The Nieuport 11 box. Ares has gone back to a box with the 'hook' atached to the shrink wrap. This is preferred for those that save their boxes as it makes storage in a case much easier. 

The box with the plastic wrap removed. 

Removing the tray from the box we see the standard Ares Wings of Glory packing tray.

The contents of the box - one (1) model, a flight base with four (4) pegs, a maneuver deck and the plane and ace cards. 

The pack includes the plane card (lower right) as well as the pilot's 'ace' card, the ace ability and cards for the special rules associated with the plane. 

Side view showing the detail on the side of the fuselage and tail vertical stabilzer.

More of a head on view showing the gun and the grey engine cowling. The base is pretty much the standard Wings of Glory single engine fighter base showing the firing arc and  the basic plane statistics.

Here's an overhead view of the plane model showing the Lewis gun mounted on the uppoer wing. The early 1916 markings lack the red white and blue roundels that will become the standard markings for the French air corps.

At last - Nieuport 11 models are part of the Wings of Glory game! As noted above, the Nieuport is a great opponent for those Eindeckers and can mix it up with the early Albatross.

In addition to this model, there is a rocker armed 'balloon buster' version and a green 'Escadrille' model included in the series 9 release.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Reduced Aircraft Factory's 1/144 Caquot Type M Observation Balloon

Newly arrived from Shapeways is this model of the 1/144 Caquot Type M Observation Balloon.

A mainstay of the observation corps, it was frequently the target of enemy aircraft. Years ago, FFG had released a set of balloons as part of the Wings of War product line. Those products are long out of production and getting increasingly difficult to find. Thanks to Reduced Aircraft Factory, another option is to obtain a 3-D printed model of the balloon and create your own.

My model arrived in the mail this weekend, just in time for the Labor Day weekend. I opened it up and looked at the parts - it's pretty darn simple. Two parts for the gasbag and one part for the basket and ropes.

The parts of the model laid out with the rule for sizing purposes. 

So how does it scale? I pulled out one of the new Nieuport 11 models from Ares Games and placed it next to the balloon for a sense of size.

With the Nieuport 11 added for a sense of scale in 1/144.

Granted, the Nieuport is a small, single engine fighter, but you get a sense of the size of the thing.

While it may be large - it's feels fragile. The walls of the model are super thin - maybe down to the level of what the printer will handle. I suspect that once assembled, each half with support the other resulting in a much more rugged model. In addition, treating the Black Strong and Flexible material with a base material (be it Future or gloss finish) should add a little 'heft; to the model.

I'm liking what I've got - now to get it in the assembly and painting queue. The fun with Shapeways is in the ability to get a uniquely painted model on the table. This one will likely be done up in colors for either the Italian front or possibly Western Front. (Now I have to read up on balloon operations!)