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1/72 MPM PT-19A
by Lee Rouse

 

On initial inspection, this kit presents as a fairly typical limited run offering. It consists of 21 injection molded parts, a pair of vacuformed windscreens, and a small photoetch sheet containing shoulder harnesses, lap belts, side consoles boxes, rudder pedals, etc. Decals for two aircraft are offered: one a Norwegian, and the other American. The engraved detail on the fuselage and wings is quite nice, with appropriately scaled recessed panel lines and subtle fabric effect on the fuselage. Unfortunately, it is easily obliterated with any needed sanding and a couple of coats of paint. There is also some lightly molded ribbing in the fuselage sidewalls. The sprue attachments are rather large and there is quite a bit of excess flash which must be cleaned up, particularly on the smaller pieces.

The instruction sheet effectively uses drawings to walk you through the building process. There are also color callouts using Humbrol paints. In some cases color names and FS numbers are provided as well.

Construction began with the cockpit. Although there are relative few pieces, care must be taken to position the seats properly on the floorboard, so that the seats will be directly beneath the cockpit openings when piece #7, the upper fuselage decking, is cemented onto the fuselage (there are no clear attachment points for the seats). There were fit problems that had to be overcome. The bulkhead immediately behind the rear seat did not fit properly, leaving a large gap at the top where it was supposed to meet the spine of the fuselage. This piece was discarded and a replacement made from styrene sheet. The instrument panels did not fit, being too wide, and were trimmed down to the correct size on each side. Little detail is lost in this process, since there is very little detail to begin with! The cockpit was enclosed in the fuselage halves, and the fuselage upper decking was cemented into place.

The next task was to cement the wings. Each wing is a single piece- no wing halves to glue together. The wings butt join against the fuselage. I had hoped to be able to paint wings and fuselage separately and then glue them together, since they are different colors. However, the fit was too poor to allow that. I found that despite my attempts to shape the pieces so that they went together well, the fuselage wing joint left a gaping crevice along the top. After joining each wing to the fuselage with slow setting superglue gel and setting what appeared to be the correct dihedral, I filled these gaps with thick liquid superglue, followed by a coat of Tamiya putty, followed by several coats of White Out, allowing for drying and sanding time at each stage. Unfortunately, all the necessary sanding obliterated most of the engraved panel lines on the underside of the fuselage. These lines were rescribed using the drawing on the instruction sheet as a guide. A further complication is that the underside wing-fuselage join is not along an actual panel line, and needed to be hidden. Multiple applications of Mr. Surfacer 500 followed by sanding were needed to even this up. The result was presentable but not perfect. The nosepiece which fits over the engine was attached. It fit well and no sanding was needed. The molded in "engine" is devoid of any detail, but fortunately it is mostly hidden once the nosepiece is fitted into place.

A primer coat of Mr. Gunze 1000 thinned with lacquer thinner was airbrushed on the model. The airbrushed Mr. Thinner left very fine web-like strands deposited on the edges of the aircraft and on everything else in my spray booth- sort of a cotton candy effect. In retrospect, I think that I had not thinned the Mr. Surfacer down enough. Thinning it 50% with lacquer thinner and airbrushing mutiple light coats at 12-15 psi seemed to do the trick. After the Mr. Surfacer was dry, I sanded the model with wet 2000 grit paper. Next Tamiya Lemon yellow was mixed with a very small amount of Tamiya red to create what looked like a pretty good representation of chrome yellow. As anyone who has ever airbrushed yellow will tell you, this color covers very poorly, especially if the underlying surface is not perfectly uniform in color. I found this to be a problem when I airbrushed over areas of the wings where I had previously sanded through the primer, leaving the much darker gray color of the plastic exposed. These areas required MANY coats of yellow to eventually present an evenly covered appearance. Before painting the tail yellow, I re-airbrushed this with Mr. Surfacer, leaving a uniform gray color. This was much easier to cover when it was time to apply the chrome yellow (I have found that an undercoat of silver gives the best base for yellow). The wings and tail surface were masked with a combination of Parafilm and Tamiya masking tape and a custom mix of blue (Tamiya X4 blue, lighted with Tamiya gloss white) was airbrushed on. To my eye, this appeared close enough to the blue color in the boxart. The horizontal stabilizers were painted separately (yellow) to make masking the tail easier. Once the masking was removed, lines for the control surfaces were accented with a wash of artist's watercolor thinner with Windex. This was allowed to dry and then wiped off with a slightly moistened fingertip!

Having chosen the American scheme, decals were applied next. The decals, made for MPM by Propagteam, were in register and showed good strong colors. I did notice that the red/white horizontal stripes decal for the tail was really alternating red and clear, necessitation that the underlying area on the tail receive an airbrushed coat of white. The decals responded well to a coat of Microsol to settle them down. I elected not to use Solvaset, as the decals are quite thin and I was concerned about their possible reaction to this strong decal solvent. The only negative about these decals is that once they are in place they tend to stick and are difficult to reposition. I found the best way to reposition them was to wet a small flat bristle brush down good with water and then gently work it around the edge of the decal until I could slide it underneath.

Vacuformed windscreens were cut from their sheet with a new #11 blade, trimmed up, masked with Parafilm and airbrushed blue. They were then attached initially with small drops of thick superglue. After this was dry, gaps were filled in using Kristal Kleer diluted with with water and carefully placed with a small brush. Once this was dry, excess was wiped away with a moistened Q-tip.

The instructions indicated that the propeller should be "wood" color, so I airbrushed a coat of Tamiya "flat earth" (XF52), let this dry, and then very lightly streaked on a little artist's oil "mars brown" and black. I then took my fingertip and gently drug it along the length of the propeller, to blend the different colors a little more. This done, the propeller was put in my food dehydrator and heated on low for a couple of hours. The oil paints were absolutely dry, and I would recommend this device to any modeler who deals with slow drying paints.

Wheels and struts were painted. The wheels were first painted blue to match the fuselage. Once this was dry, I used my Waldron punch set to punch out circular masks from Tamiya masking tape. These were placed over the wheel hubs, and the tires then airbrushed PollyScale Grimy Black (I've found this color to be a good shade for slightly weathered tires). After attaching wheels to their struts, these were then attached in locator holes in the bottom of the wing. I highly recommend checking the fit of parts on this and any limited run kit before painting. In this case, considerable enlargement of the holes in the bottom of the wings was needed to accept the pegs on the landing gear struts. That was pretty much the end of the construction process. The result was no prize winner (hey, I built it for fun, not for competition), but it is a colorful addition to my models collection. I would recommend it to anyone who finds the subject interesting and has experience with limited run kits.