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1/48 Tamiya Brewster Buffalo
by Lee Rouse

 

I originally purchased this kit when it was re-released in 1991. About that time I also purchased the Eduard photoetch set, which provides enhancement for cockpit and flaps. I worked diligently on the project for a couple of weeks, and then put it aside. And there it sat on my shelf in the box for 12 years.

The project was finished over a period of about 4 weeks during the months of July and August 2003. I used Tamiya paints. I first applied the base colors. Painting the camouflage was done using Poster Putty and plastic wrap. For details on how I did this read my How To article in last month's newsletter. Weathering was done by lightening each color and airbrushing the highly diluted lightened mix in the interior of each panel line. I then went back along the panel lines with a very slightly darker (again highly diluted) version of the original color. I also used a silver Prismacolor pencil to simulate paint chipping. I also applied a burnt umber oil wash to some of the panel lines. I also spattered the underside with mud behind the wheel wells by making a sludge wash with black pastel powder mixed with liquid dishwashing detergent and water. I then collected some on a old brush, and flicked it onto the underside of the wing.

The project turned out fine but was definitely touch and go at times. My biggest error was applying a base coat of Krylon chrome to the fuselage, thinking I would later chip paint back to the "metal", and then foolishly applying Tamiya paint on top. Anyone who's ever done this will know that the acrylic will not adhere well to a lacquer based paint. Indeed, when I tried to mask underside Sky color prior to airbrushing the black underside, the Sky came off in sheets. So, it was steel wool the paint as far as possible back to the plastic, and reapply the camo colors. This time I used Testors Model Master Sky for the undersides. This adhered much better. I was able to get most of the chrome off the upper surfaces, which allowed me to use the Tamiya paints as originally planned.

And then there was the problem with the kit canopy. After giving it some thought, I decided to use the kit part, rather than doing the old "heat and smash" technique to make a new one. The canopy was polished out (inside and out) using Blue Magic and then securely glued into place using Fallers nonmarring glue. Eduard Easy Masks were then used to mask off the many windows. Unfortunately, I had done such a good job of polishing out the canopy that I managed to polish away a number of the framing lines, making it difficult to determine exactly how some of my masks should line up. The short of it is that I placed and removed the masks so many times that the adhesive began to wear off, preventing a good paint seal for several of the masks. I finally used the Easy Masks frames to pattern replacement masks made from Tamiya masking tape.

I had been trying to decide how to paint the belly bomb window. This clear piece has many finely raised panel lines which would be very difficult to mask. I tried Tamiya masking tape, Bare Metal Foil, Parafilm - none of them were really suitable for the job. I finally ended up airbrushing clear decal film the appropriate color (either Sky or Black), cut into narrow strips and applied over the framing. Not perfect, but I was satisfied with the results.

The final challenge was the kit decals. I decided early on that I would tempt fate and use them. Keep in mind that these were Tamiya decals that were at least 12 years old. But they hadn't yellowed or cracked. I tested one from the alternate scheme on a scrap model. It worked OK. I applied the wing roundels - a little thick - even by today's Tamiya standards, but with several applications of Solvaset they laid down OK. The fuselage roundels were unfortunately, out of register, something I hadn't noticed until they were on the model. Fortunately I had a couple in the spares box - actually a freebie sheet I had picked at a previous IMPS Nats which was actually for 1/72 Lancasters. But I managed to find a perfect match for my Buffalo, and they went on without a hitch.

One of the final steps was adding wingtip navigation lights. I had originally intended to use clear sprue to simulate the lights, but about that time I read issue #99 of Tamiya Modelling Magazine which had a really neat suggestion about using the small fiberglass beads which you will find inside any water filter. Lucky for me, my wife had just changed the filter in our Brita carafe. I sliced open the old filter, and amidst the many tiny flakes of charcoal, there were countless tiny fiberglass beads of varying sizes. I picked up a couple about the right size with a pair of tweezers, superglued them in place on the wingtip and painted them with Tamiya clear red or clear green. Pretty neat idea! By the way, a good Optivisor is a must for such detail work.

So there you have it. 13 years from start to finish. I think that sets a record for me for time to finish a kit!