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ipms logo Founded 1964 amps logo Founded 1993
Last Update: 9 Mar 2008

Airfix 1/144 Boeing B-314 Clipper
Built in 24 hours for a 'BlitzBau'
by
John Ratzenberger


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This is the Airfix 1/144 scale Pan Am Clipper, kit #4172, of 1964 vintage.

I decided to build it for the Un-official Airfix Forum / Classic British Kits SIG "BlitzBau", which is a challenge to build a kit in 24 consecutive hours. There was, fortunately, an option to break the build in two parts just in case there was a need to accommodate real life. I chose to take that option, calling it the "senior citizen option", because I knew I'd never make 24 straight hours and in fact might even reach a point where I no longer remembered what I was doing ...

I've never built this kit before and never built a model in a day.

In case you are wondering, I have no problem building a classic kit.

I officially started at 0918 EST (9:18am civilian time), 26 January 2008 and officially finished at 1839 (6:39pm) 27 January. I went 14 hours, 12 minutes the first day, took a break and came back to do 9 hours, 39 minutes the 2nd day, for a total working time of 23 hours and 51 minutes -- cutting it a bit close.

You can read the gory details following.

0918, 26 Jan. [article image]

Well, as I said, Paul, around 9 EST ... (Note, I had said I'd start at 9:00 & my bud, Paul Bradley, was ragging on me at 9:05) ...

Had to get my supplies organized ...

Anyway here's the kit spread out. This is actually a Craft Master boxing, but note the highlighted manufacturers mark in the wing. I should note that I got this in a bag -- that's why no box top and why many of the parts are off sprue. I opened the bag, found the '64 copyright in the wing, and everything seems OK except I only have 3 and 2/3 props -- the 2/3 prop is in 2 pieces and two of the others are a bit mutated. Well, I have about 24 hours to solve that problem.

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Oh, well, I have a build plan -- so another trip to fill my coffee cup and I'm off ...

1030, 26 Jan -- 1:12 elapsed. [article image]

About right ... I sprayed dark gray inside fuselage and masked all the glass with kabuki tape ...

The admin of this thing is a killer -- photos, editing, ftping, posting ... didn't plan on that ...

Next step is to install glass & close fuselage ...

I should note I have all my bluegrass, folks, oldies, and cajun music cranked up ... for our Canadian members, I should note that includes a lot of Natalie MacMasters ...

1130, 26 Jan -- 2:12 elapsed. [article image]

Darn, 3 sink marks on fuselage, two of which can't be ignored ... one right in rivet detail ...

Glass took a bit longer -- under different circumstances I might have used Kristal Kleer for all of it instead, but that just adds lots of drying time ... If there are any problems with these, I'm going to paint 'em over and assume the shades are drawn ...

Any suggestions for the stand color ?

I'll move to something else for a while so putty can dry ...

1300-ish, 26 Jan -- about 3:45 elapsed. [article image]

Did I mention how impressed I am with the rivet & panel lines on this -- very nicely done !!!

Kit error -- the stub wing part numbers are reversed in the instruction ...

Did I mention how thin the stabilizer trailing edges are -- again very nice !!

Did I mention the 4 injector marks on the inside of each rudder? Aaarrgghh ... Trailing edges aren't that thin either ... Some fine detail will get lost fixing this -- I've masked to protect as much as I can ...

So, I'm cleaning joints, etc ...

Brews, good thought on light blue stand .... (Note, a side bar discussion on painting the stand.)

1500-ish, 26 Jan -- about 5:45 elapsed. [article image]

Hard to keep a posting schedule when you get wrapped up in work ...

Wings, stab, stub wings, and even the rudders are all cleaned & ready to put on the fuselage. It, as you can see, is in glue stage, so all I should have is minor cleanup. Also shown are engines & cowl in the work/paint stage. The cowls were inconsistently molded so I had to do some work on them. I intend to finish these as "power eggs" so I just stick the engine/cowl assemblies on at the end ...

I think I forgot to eat anything today ....

1800-ish, 26 Jan -- about 8:45 elapsed. [article image]

9 hours down, I think I lost a couple somewhere ...

Anyway, while waiting for the fuselage to set, I got distracted by the props. One was good, one had a minor prop blade bend, one had a major bend in a blade and one was in pieces. I fixed the two bent ones by warming a hobby knife and then working the prop blade between the knife & my thumb. I have two good props & a slightly singed thumb .... I fashioned a blade from Evergreen stock, actually, I went thru a couple before one that I liked, then glued that plus the other broken blade.

You'll see the engines in their cowls, the prop blades awaiting yellow tips -- all stuff I should have been doing with a good coat of paint on the airplane !!! Way to loose the bubble John ...

Anyway, still trying to get fuselage top seam to stay glued and get seam sanded down ...

Also I found a rattle can of Metallic Black that might make the stand pretty ...

Onward ....

2330-ish, 26 Jan -- about 14:15 elapsed. [article image]

Guess you thought I quit -- no, just been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest -- make that an OLD one-legged man ...

It was in the plan to paint the black belly and anti-glare before the silver. But that choice caused me a lot of downtime waiting for it to dry, etc. Then I had problems with the assembly -- there will be some ugly seams I am sure -- I've worked on some, but unsure how much I can work on tomorrow & still get it painted.

I am behind schedule ... I started at 0918, it is 2330 -- that's 14+ hours and I'm fried, going 24 straight isn't gonna happen ....

I'll be back about 0930 or 1000 EST in the morning and try to finish up in 10 hours ...

The only good news is I got some work done on my entries for the Hurricane GB ...

See you tomorrow (27th) ...

0900, 27 Jan - starting back at 14:15 elapsed.

OK, back, more or less refreshed. I quit at 14 hours, 10 to go, so I have to be finished by 1900 EST = 2400 GMT.

No pix right now -- my immediate tasks are to mask the black anti-glare & belly and get a coat of silver on her to see if I can live with the seams, flaws, etc ...

I see a tactical error in that I should have put a coat on top of the stub wings before assembling them.

1100, 27 Jan -- 16:15 elapsed. [article image]

Drat, all along I've avoided one thing -- the carpet monster -- but the slippery little glass dome atop the fuselage launched itself off the bench and consumed 30 minutes of searching before I found it. Then I spent another 15 trying to get it carefully sanded to fit without it falling into the fuselage.

OK, I've decided -- it goes as is -- maybe another coat of paint & then the red marking will make the seam look less bad. I don't have enough time to work this out.

I've noted there are no wing walks, etc, on the decal sheet ... more time & some research I would have done my own ...

16 down, 8 to go, John, just a bit frustrated ...

1300, 27 Jan -- 18:15 elapsed. [article image]

First thing I should note is that putting my cell in spray booth was hazardous, but I got it out of there safely.

OK, I made a small stab at some of the wing-fuselage gaps ... and mounted the aerials ...

And that's it for the silver paint ... good enough ...

When you see this next, it'll have the red wing markings ... I hope bright red is good enough, I've seen colors that look orange(-ish) also ...

18 down, 6 to go ...

1545, 27 Jan -- 21:00 elapsed. [article image]

Red is on; the camel snuck it's red nose under the masking tent & you might see a few places where I tried drybrushing it out -- fortunately just whisps & no big red smears. BTW, I'm really pushing drying time -- hopefully I rubbed the fingerprint out of the red ...

Decals are on, but because of time, I didn't do my usual Micro-Set/Sol routine. They don't look real bad, amazing for several decades old decals..

Right now they'll sit for a while then I'm going to blast this with gloss-coat, then I can pull off the masking.

Note the stand -- Metallic Black with a gloss coat ... looks OK

Next post may be the final ...

21 down, 3 to go ...

1839, 27 Jan -- 23 hours, 51 minutes - done !!! [article image]

There she be !!! Heck, with 9 minutes leftover, I should'a built two !!!

Oh, yes, just to make things exciting, I almost forgot the landing lights and one of the engines came loose in the cowl as I was putting the props in !!! And of course I was afraid the stand would topple over ...

[article image] The decals settled down under Model Master Gloss-Coat, eliminating one of my worries. My big problem was setting a drying time then walking away so I didn't get the urge to move faster. Even then, I was borderline. Waiting to start pulling the masking, especially with all the little windows was the worse ...

Normally I would go back and try to fix some of the spray leakage, but it's not that bad -- I may do it later, also do the cockpit and observation bubble frames ... or not ...

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Pictures are for "time record" ... tomorrow when I have some sunlight, I'll take some formal portraits for the gallery ... and maybe do a little after action report.

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Just for perspective, that's a part-built 1/144 Hurricane (Sweet kit) sitting there. Should have used it as a time filler ... Hah !!!

Meanwhile, tonight's beers will be consumed without worry of finding a stray part in the bottom of the glass ...

John, the Weary


The morning after ...

Well, I have a completed kit, in the time allowed, with senior citizen option for a mid-session break.

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For the record: Airfix Craft Master 1/144 Pan Am Clipper, OOB. Tamiya cement mostly, CA to mount the wings to the fuselage. Main paint was all Tamiya rattle-can (TS-29 Semi-Gloss Black, AS-12 Bare Metal Silver, TS-49 Bright Red) and Model Master 1961 Gloss Lacquer. Miscellaneous bottle paints used for engine, props, etc. Tamiya "Kabuki tape" and Glad Press n' Seal for masking.

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Post-build, I did not take the opportunity to go fix a few flaws, maybe another day -- although I did remove the masking tape from the upper windows behind the cockpit that you can see in these photos. I did take it outside in the sunlight to get some better shots. Despite my workmanship, it is quite an impressive model -- it just looks really good, as an airplane, at certain angles and I've tried to capture that with these photos.

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I'm impressed with the kit itself, a 1964 release I think -- looks good for 40-ish !!! I had already mentioned the really nice rivet and panel lines. Yes, they are raised, but it is so subtle and so well done !!! Also, if you check the head-on and nose close-ups, you'll see fins on the cylinder heads, pushrods on the front row, and a decent looking prop hub. Window pieces aren't up to current standards, but do fit cleanly into the hull. A great kit from Airfix.

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This was my first "BlitzBau" format model build, and it'll be a while until I do another -- it simply does not match my building skills or style. I said before I'm slow -- some of that is (lack of) skill, some of it is that I like to spend my time on things -- witness wandering off for 3 hours to work on the engines & props, when they could have, and should have, waited until later -- ie. while paint is drying. Same with the ending -- I usually take a week to do paint, decals, etc -- a day at a time ... Not that I actually produce contest quality stuff, but I have a little pride ...

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Anyway, glad I could participate and hope I contributed to what appears to be a very successful group build -- I certainly commend all participants for their enthusiasm and skill.



Way post-build, I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Flight in Seattle and study some general arrangement blueprints of the 314 series, specifically showing factory finish. The bright red should have been International Orange, there should have been wing-walks, but not as shown on the box art. Also the black underhull should have come up the sides just a bit and not run up the rear fuselage. I also saw some Clippers with black under the sponson and US Flags painted there. There are alternate flag locations and designs, such as rippling. I got a nifty book on these birds and may use that to do another.

And one final word -- if you get into one of these things, study the kit and have a detailed build plan and timeline -- then follow it !!!!

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