To Krylon, or not to Krylon

In the modeling community, we often pay more for a product than what we could for a non-modeling specific product.  Like buying Tamiya Extra Thin when it can be substituted for something like methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).  This isn’t a perfect example as it’s not exactly the same stuff, but it’s close enough for this comparison.

A 40ml bottle of TET can be found for around $5 plus shipping (unless of course you live near one of the ever fewer local hobby shops that still exist).  A 32oz can of MEK can be found for about $10 at just about any hardware store.  So you can get 23x the amount of solvent for $5 more by buying a “generic” version.

Paint is really no different.

Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that when it comes to special modeling colors, i.e. RLM colors for German aircraft or most Federal Standard colors, buying specific modeling brands are well worth the cost.  You’re just not going to find the right colors in a generic spray can.

What I’m really talking about here are basic colors, or in my case, a color that I’m probably going to use one time with the day-glo orange on the SAAF T-6.

I’m at the point on the Texan where I need to start thinking about how I’m going to paint the thing.  This is the look I’m going for.

The aluminum skin is pretty straightforward but the orange areas are a color that I’ve never used in my modeling history, nor do I ever really see myself needing it again.

My original plan was to get a bottle of Mr. Paint’s Luminous Orange (MRP-194).

But then I thought about it.  For me to order these bottles of paint, I’d be spending almost $20 for the paint and shipping.  They really are the best model paints out there and are well worth the $7 per bottle cost, but here, I decided to cheap-out.

In my younger days I had used decanted Krylon spray paint as a way of making my limited money last a little longer.  I decided to give a can of their Fluorescent Red Orange a look.

Let’s see what Krylon is made of…

I went on their website and pulled up the MSDS for my specific color, which is item number 3101.  The first thing to note that it is flammable (obviously) and a carcinogen, so you’ll want to take some precautions when using it.  Basically, keep your work area well ventilated and wear a protective mask.

Once we get past the introductory information, we can take a look at the composition.  Its top four ingredients, by weight:

  • Acetone (15%)
  • Propane (12.75%)
  • Butane (12.25%)
  • Xylene (11.51%)

Acetone and Xylene are both solvents that can be found in modeling glues, so it will eat into other paints, as well as styrene, if it’s put on heavily.  Propane and butane are used as propellant.  We could go into a deep chemistry lesson and really study these individual compounds and see how each affects the paint, but it’s really not important.  It’s just important to know what’s in it so we have an idea of what it will be compatible with and how it may affect other paints and our plastic.

So now that we’ve looked at the basic properties and chemical makeup of Krylon, lets take a look at how we’ll use it as a modeler.

Decanting – The first thing that we need to do is get the paint out of the spray can.  Spray cans are great for big projects, but for scale models, the best way to use it is out of the airbrush.  We need to decant it.  Decanting isn’t a hard process, but it can be messy.  You’ll need an empty jar, some duct tape, a straw, and your can of paint.  I also like to wear nitrile gloves to keep paint off my hands, but they’re not necessary.

Stick a piece of duct tape over the jar opening, poke a hole in the tape with something pointy and push the straw into the hole.  Then just spray the paint through the straw and into the jar.

Once the paint is in the jar, you’ll probably notice that it’s bubbling a little bit.  This is the propellant that is still mixed with the paint separating into the air.  If you close your jar tightly now, you’ll notice when you open it that there is some pressure in the jar.  You should put the lid on loosely until most of the gas is out.

With the paint out of the spray can, it’s ready to be used.

Thinning – The main solvents used in Krylon are also found in lacquer thinners, making them the best option for thinning (if needed).  I like to use Mr. Leveling Thinner as its retarding properties allow it to go down smoother than the straight Krylon.

It is possible to spray without thinning as it is already thinned in the can, but it tends to go down dusty, out of the airbrush, without the MLT.

Clean-up – As with thinning, lacquer thinner can be used, but Krylon seems to be a bit stronger than what plain lacquer thinner can handle and it likes to stick in my airbrush.  So I clean it up quickly with acetone, back-flowing some air through the nozzle with it in the cup, then flush my airbrush with lacquer thinner.  The needle and parts that you can actually scrub clean up just fine with lacquer thinner.

I did a little bit of painting on my mule to get come up with my conclusions.  I also used the mule to get an idea of how the fading will look with certain colors (sections B and E).  The layers are listed below, in order, from the primer to the top coat.

  • A – Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black base coat, Krylon 3101
  • B – MS 1500 Black, Mr. Paint Marking Yellow, Krylon 3101
  • E – Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, MRP Marking Yellow, Tamiya X-22, Krylon 3101
  • F – Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, Krylon 3101

So there it is.  As I said in the beginning, it’s not really a substitute for most modeling colors, but there are times when it can be used, especially if you’re in a pinch and need something fast.  And by going this route with a color I’ll probably never use again, I saved myself $15.


Kitty Hawk T-6, Pt. 3 – The R-1340

With the cockpit assembly complete, I’m able to move on to the R-1340 and the engine compartment.  The compartment itself really starts with the cockpit as the whole motor assembly mounts to the firewall that has already been attached to the cockpit framework.

The R-1340 Wasp itself was developed in the 1920s, with its first run in December of 1925.  It was the first motor of the famed Wasp series that powered US Army Air Corps and and US Navy/Marine Corps aircraft through the second world war and beyond.  At 6,200 feet, it could pump out 600 horsepower.  Plenty of power to get new pilots trained to fly the high performance fighter aircraft of the day.

Pratt & Whitney R-1340.jpg

Kitty Hawk does a nice job on the detail side of the R-1340, but it doesn’t come through on the execution.  To start with, every single piece of the motor assembly had this ejector pin flash.




Not only do I have to get these cut off, I have to cut them off carefully enough to not break anything else off, especially on the ignition ring.  And the ones on the engine halves must be cut off deep enough that they don’t interfere with gluing the two halves together.

Once they’re off, the engine halves and ignition ring can be test fit.  The halves fit ok.  There is still a tiny gap in spots but they are on the back half and won’t be visible inside the cowl.  However, every rod on the ignition ring needed to be trimmed in order for it to sit on the engine correctly.

With everything trimmed to fit, it actually does look like a nice representation of the Wasp.

Setting the main components of the engine aside, I removed the rest of the assembly from the sprue.  The rest of the pieces didn’t fare much better than what the engine did.

The motor mounts that attach the engine to the already assembled cockpit are extremely fragile.  It doesn’t help that the sprue gates holding them on are huge.

There is really no excuse for this –

Trying to get these off the sprue in one piece was an effort in futility.  Of the 4 sets of motor mounts, 3 of them broke during removal.  And that wasn’t even being barbaric and cutting with sprue cutters, I used a razor saw.  Once they’re free of the sprue, you still have to be careful with them.  I had one break while holding it on the cutting mat to clean it up with an Xacto knife.  It just pulled right apart.

Fortunately, most of the engine pieces won’t be seen, these included.  After breaking all the mounts and getting them back together, I decided to forgo cleaning up the remaining gates and just left them alone.  As I said, they’re going to be buried in the fuselage anyway.

Once everything was off the sprue and cleaned up, it went together without much of a fuss.  The fit wasn’t perfect.  As I noted during the dry fit of the engine, there was still a small seam where the halves went together.  I used some MEK to try to melt the plastic a little more in the area and get it to close up.

The only area that really gave me a problem was the motor mounts.  They don’t have a real positive location and they like to move around in their locating holes.  I solved this by gluing with Tamiya Extra Thin and, while it was still setting, I stuck the motor mounts into the cockpit assembly to keep the mounts aligned.  I then stood the whole thing up on end and allowed the weight of the motor to put some pressure on the motor mounts.  Once the TET was set, everything was lined up properly.

Getting all the exhaust pieces lined up correctly was challenging, but again, it won’t be seen so it doesn’t need to be perfect.  (I say that in regards to this build.  If you’re planning to open the cowl and make everything visible, it will need some more attention.)

Eventually, everything was primed and painted.  Areas that won’t be seen I left alone.  Painting was done with a variety of brands, including Mr. Paint, Alclad, AK Interactive, Vallejo, and Tamiya.  One thing to note, there is no dataplate included with the kit that should go on the crankcase.  It’s not necessary, but it’s one of those little details that can really add to a build.

With everything painted, the engine assembly was attached to the cockpit.  The straps connecting the cockpit and engine assemblies were added after they were attached.  The instructions don’t show them very well, so I don’t think they are in correctly, but they work.  They are another part that is hidden anyway.

At this point, the only thing left to do is paint and attach the prop.

The propellor assembly goes together without any problem.  The hub is made of 4 pieces – the two hub halves and the counter weights.  I didn’t fill the gap between the two pieces of the prop hub as it’s two pieces in real life.  The prop blades fit rather well into the hub and should be pretty secure once glued.

The hub itself isn’t very solid in the crankcase though.  There is just a small nub that fits into the crankcase.  It’s something I’ll have to be careful with later as I’m sure it will break pretty easily.  This is something that could have been remedied by just extending the length of the pin.  Another area that wasn’t thought out well by the Kitty Hawk engineers.

The Hamilton Standard decals gave me a bit of trouble.  The yellow in the decal didn’t fill the area, so half of the writing isn’t visible.  The carrier film also folded under so it may need sanded once it’s dry.

But it’s together.  This whole subassembly fought me, but it’s put together, painted, and attached to the cockpit assembly.  That whole group has been attached to the starboard fuselage half.

Up next, we’ll focus on the assembly of the fuselage and the rest of the main components.  Check back soon for part 4!

Kitty Hawk T-6, Pt. 2 – The Cockpit

Welcome back, everyone!

We left part one wondering what the hell Kitty Hawk was thinking when they molded the sidewalls of the cockpit.  Thankfully, the rest of the cockpit isn’t full of the boneheaded mistake that plagues them.  Let’s take a closer look at the rest of the cockpit.

The seats aren’t anything special, but there is some nice rivet detail on the bottom as well as the framework on the back.  A separate photo-etch fret is provided for the seatbelts.  It provides two identical sets of belts, but no where in the instructions is there any guide for how the belts should attach to the seat.  The belts should go between the seat back and framework, but I glued the two pieces together before inserting the belts.

This isn’t a difficult thing to overcome, but it could have been avoided had there been any mention of the belts in the instructions.  I ended up cutting the belts apart and making them different lengths, just to get some variation.  Once they were cut, I bent them to shape to minimize any chipped paint.  Glued in position, I was able to paint and wash them.

After filling most of the ejector pin marks on the side walls, I began work to paint them and attach all of the little detail pieces.  The instructions aren’t great here.  One of the first steps involving the side walls show a fire extinguisher attached to the framework.  Well, there’s no extinguisher there, nor is there one shown in the instructions up to this point.  So after an extensive search through the sprues, I found a piece that looked to be the right one.

Turns out, the piece (or pieces as it’s actually two) is on the instructions about 3 steps away.  It ended up not being a big deal but KH could do a better job here of showing the sidewall in the condition that it should be in on the current step.  Surely all it would have taken would have been hiding the piece in the CAD drawing.

Moving along on the rest of the cockpit, I completed the instrument panels and added a new weapon to the modeling arsenal.  I had heard good things about using Bondic, a UV -cured adhesive that is completely clear once set.  I’ve seen it used for exterior lights but wanted to try it as instrument panel glass.  It works beautifully.  Before applying, I used Airscale instrument decals on the front panel.  Once they were set, I applied the Bondic with a needle to the instruments.

With the instrument panels complete, I started assembling the various pieces of the cockpit.  This part is a little tricky.  There are a lot of moving parts that need to slot into various holes on both sides of the cockpit framework.  To start, the floor goes into three holes on the bottom of both sides.  At the same time the 4-piece rudder assembly needs to be installed and if that isn’t aligned correctly, it won’t fit into the side walls.

I first installed the rear rudder pedals, making sure they were square with the rest of the cockpit as the glue set.  Once it was in place, I attached the starboard side linkage that connects the front and back set of pedals.  Again, holding it square to the cockpit while it set.  Finally, I installed the front set of pedals.

With both sets of pedals attached to the starboard side of the cockpit, as well as the starboard rudder linkage, I attached the port linkage and sidewall.  The front instrument panel was also installed.  The panel is supposed to go in before the port sidewall is attached, but it went in just as easily after it was on.  This actually all went together much better than I expected.  As long as you take some care when attaching everything it’s really not that bad.

At this point, looking at the entire assembly, it appears that the cockpit framework is a bit bowed.  But dry fitting it into the fuselage halves don’t show any problems.  The only thing I may have to do is hold the tops of the framework to the canopy sill.  I did leave the top bars of the framework disconnected from the rear bulkhead so, in case there is any bend, I’ll have a little bit of wiggle room when I install the cockpit into the fuselage.

Now the cockpit itself is basically done, though there are a few things to attach to the rear bulkhead and the firewall needs to be attached to the front.

There is some confusion with the direction the top of the rear bulkhead should face.  This piece  has two raised or recessed areas, depending on which way you install it.  The instructions don’t show which way it should go.  It makes the most sense to me that the areas would be recessed, so that’s how I installed it.  There are also two ribs that stick up off of the rear deck.  The locating holes for these pieces are way too big so when installing the ribs, keep them as far forward as you can.  Once the fuselage is together, the backside of the ribs, and the holes, won’t be visible.

Installing the rear instrument panel, it doesn’t sit securely in the sidewalls.  It has just two small nubs that sit on top of the sides.  The bottom surfaces of the IP are angled, so it should sit in place with some pressure, but with the walls being a bit bowed, they have to be held in place.  The panel is a bit more snug once the top, angled framework is added as they touch on both sides.

That’s all there is too it.  A lot of pieces in this assembly but they really don’t go together too poorly.  The most difficult part was getting the rudder pedals and their linkage together amongst the rest of the cockpit.  And the ejector pin and sink marks that plague some of the bigger pieces aren’t really visible.

With the cockpit all finished, we’ll move onto the R-1340 and it’s installation.  Stay tuned for Part 3.

Kitty Hawk T-6, Pt. 1 – Initial Impressions

The Kitty Hawk T-6 Texan…

Where to begin with this thing?  It’s been out for a while now, releasing in 2014.  And it’s been reviewed all over the internet, with mixed reactions.

Opening the box it looks pretty nice.  The plastic looks nicely detailed and there’s no flash to be seen.  But the sprue gates, my god are they huge.  Not quite as big on smaller pieces, but bigger than what I know they could, and should, be.

The decals are nice and bright and should really pop once they’re on the kit.  There are some really interesting schemes that offer a nice variety of countries.  It looks like there may be some odd assemblies but we’ll see how they go when we get there.  Also, there is only one canopy style given that limits which of the schemes you can accurately build.

Let’s get started and see where it goes.

As with most aircraft kits, I’m starting on the cockpit.  The first thing I notice is that the plastic is extremely soft.  My Xacto knife digs right into the plastic so that’s something that I’ll have to be careful with going forward.  Thin pieces bend very easily while trying to cut them off with sprue cutters.  I’ve already had to resort to using a razor saw for a lot of the cockpit pieces.

Two of those pieces are the framework for the sides of the cockpit.  This part makes perfect sense.  The backside of the pieces, that you won’t see, are perfectly smooth.  The front side however, (you know, the side that you do see) is full of ejector pin marks.

What the fuck, Kitty Hawk?

You seriously couldn’t reverse this?  It’s honestly absurd and pretty infuriating.  These are the kinds of things that should be caught on test builds and not get through quality control.

We’ll see how these sidewalls, as well as the rest of the cockpit goes together in part two.  Stay tuned!

Hobby Boss F/A-18D “Shit Hot Sharpshooters”

Build Information

  • Manufacturer – Hobby Boss
  • Scale – 1:48
  • Vehicle – McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Hornet
  • Markings – VMFAT-101 Sharpshooters
  • Paint – Gunze Mr. Color, Mr. Paint
  • Aftermarket – Afterburner Decals, Wolfpack ejection seats

Quick Review

The Hobby Boss F/A-18D has been around for a while now, it came out in 2007, but still competes with the older Hasegawa kit (1991).  And anyone that has build the old Hasegawa kit knows its flaws, myself included.  I built their D variant last year.

The HB kit, for the most part, is a copy of the Hasegawa with some upgrades.  The detail is a bit better in the new kit though the sprues are rougher and have some flash scattered throughout.  The fit, though, is where the the HB kit pulls away.  It’s still not perfect, but it fits.  And it fits well enough that I didn’t have to spend days filling and sanding.  The intake area was my main concern after building the older kit.

As good as the fit of the intake area is, the cockpit doesn’t locate well in the fuselage.  The only place it attaches securely is at the front while the rest of the cockpit sorta flops around inside.  The cockpit itself is decent.  It’s definitely an improvement from the Hasegawa and the rear cockpit is more accurate for a D model.  The kit seats are as generic as they can possibly get and were improved with the Wolfpack resin seats.

A few things did bother me with this kit.  Hobby Boss doesn’t give the option to drop the flaps and slats, even though they are molded separately.  All it would have taken were a set of actuators molded in the correct position.  I had to cut the tiny actuators and glue them at equal angles to pose them dropped.  The rudders were also molded in place, but they’re not as big of a deal for me.  The kit does not give the option to close the boarding ladder, though it would not have been too difficult to make the provided piece work.

Painting went along without a hitch.  I primed in my go-to Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black and followed with marble coats of Mr. Color Light Ghost Gray on the undersides and Dark Ghost Gray on the top.  Thin layers of the final colors finished up the painting.  On top of that, the Afterburner decals went down beautifully.  Even the massive decals on the vertical stabilizers went down perfectly.

Weathering was done with Ammo products and oils.

Pros: good fit, good surface detail, easy assembly

Cons: non-positionable moving surfaces, missing minor pieces, rough plastic finish

This kit, even with its flaws, beats the old Hasegawa kit.  It would be perfect though if we could take parts from both kits and combine them.  I recommend it if you’re looking for a legacy Hornet, at least until Kinetic gets the rest of their late model lineup out.


More photos with better resolution at SmugMug

A-1J “Sock it to ‘Em”

Build Information

  • Manufacturer – Tamiya
  • Scale – 1:48
  • Vehicle – Douglas A-1J Skyraider
  • Markings – 56th Special Operations Wing, 602nd SOS
  • Paint – Gunze Mr. Color, Mr. Paint
  • Aftermarket – Quickboost resin

Quick Review

I’ve always had a love affair with the A-1 Skyraider, and on a bigger scale, attack aircraft in general.  The ‘Sandy’, as they were affectionately known during the Vietnam War, was a god-send to the boots on the ground.  They could get into an area low and slow and stay there for a long time.  Being one of my favorite planes, I had to build it.

Now there aren’t a lot of options for the A-1 when it comes to kits.  In 48th scale Tamiya has released the J and H and Zoukei Mura and Trumpeter own the market in 32nd scale.  There is also the old Monogram quarterscale kit, but it’s so old that I don’t even really consider it.  I went with the Tamiya offering here.

Getting into it, it’s a pretty simple kit, like most of the other Tamiya 48th scale kits.  Cockpit detail is sparce, but most of it isn’t real visible anyway.  The seat, on the other hand, is the most prominent part and can really use some extra detailing.  I added belts and some details, just to give it some life.  One complaint about the kit is the lack of the boot for the rocket ejection apparatus.  The boot was on most late Skyraiders but not included with either the ‘H’ or ‘J’ model releases.  So the Quickboost aftermarket piece was needed.

The build itself was pretty unremarkable.  It has the typical good fit that we all expect from Tamiya plastic and just a little bit of filler was needed at the wing roots.  Even the decals settled pretty well into the surface detail, which we all know is rare with their kit decals. I did add an extra antenna that was on some 56th SOW Skyraiders as well as the main antenna going from the fuselage to the tail with some stretched sprue.

In the end, I was really pleased with the build.  I’ve wanted to build the Skyraider for a while and I feel like I did the old girl justice with the finished product.


More photos with better resolution at SmugMug

Battling the Summer Slump

Ah…it’s that time of year again. Kids play in the street, birds shit on your cars, and temperatures climb. It’s a great time of year if you like being outside and doing things that involve sweating profusely.


I personally like sitting in my basement where the temperature doesn’t usually go above 75, unless the clothes dryer is running. My little “man cave”, as my fiancé puts it, though it’s more like my home inside my home. It’s my happy place. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and my children more than anything.  But there are times when I, like everyone else, need to get away from the noise and hubbub that comes with a house full of people and animals. My bench is where I retreat to.

But now that the dog days of summer have arrived, time for my craft usually begins to dwindle. My oldest started softball this year so she has to be at practice three days a week, plus games on the weekend. Work has picked up so I’ve been there 6 days a week. Time at the bench takes away from time that could be spent doing the work that needs done around the house.

What do you do to make time for the bench? I guess some of us don’t. Some people sacrifice their bench time to get the other things done that need done. I tend to go to the bench between my other chores. While I’m doing laundry I’ll get some work done between loads. Or while my youngest daughter naps, I’ll bring her sister to the bench and she works on something there with me. I do everything I can to make my way to the workbench.

So what do you think? What sacrifices do you make to get to the bench during the hectic summer months? Or do you sacrifice your modeling time to meet your other summer demands?