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1/32 Scratchbuilt B-17 Fortress - update 27th July - painting

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Hi guys


my name's Rich, I'm 35 and live in the grim North of the UK

I've been making models for over 30 years on and off.  My old man has been making them for 60 years (ish) and was a founding member of the IPMS back in 1963 (he's also current UK Magazine editor) so I blame him for my fetish.  Whilst he concentrates on fiddly little toys in 1/72, I stick with the true scales of 1/32 and larger


Anyway, I am scratchbuilding a B-17 based on the Combat Models vacform shell - just a fuselage though, on a trailer (also scratchbuilt) , being pulled by a wrecker.  This will be a diorama of a (fictional) aircraft of the 8th AF being towed away to be a 'hangar queen' or to be scrapped, with an interested crowd of personnel, pilots and civilians looking on...


I'm skinning the entire thing in pewter sheet, and getting decals and masks custom made.  My little sister designed the pin up nose art for me.


I'm around 16 months in and approaching the painting stage for the Fortress - I've got a couple of build threads going on other forums, but there are hundreds of pics so I'll cherry pick a few for you - you can see the entire thread here:




I will post more in this thread with my next update, but for now, here's some images:





















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Fantastic! English is not enough to characterize your work (no offense to the British)


Это великолепие просто невозможно, божественно, шедеврально! Черт возьми, что бы мне так научится делать!!!

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Hi Rich,


Welcome to LSM, for starters!


And second: What a great job you're doing on that Fort! The scratchbuilding looks really delicate, and the painting too! I'm afraid I would lose all courage for such a project the moment I'd lay eyes on the basic vac-form sheets... Please keep us updated!




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Greetings Rich;




..... Very nice indeed........ doggyh10.gif



I have dabbled a little with scratch building, but, never to the point you seem to be confinable at ............ mike10.gif



Looking good ............. popcor10.gif ,





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Jeeez!! My jwa keepps htiting the kyebaodr :) I thought building the HK Models B-17 would be a challenge, but looking at your work and attention to detail makes it look like a walk in the park. I'll be using your work for reference!

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*update 27/7*


Hi guys - time for a quick update.  I've managed to get some paint on the Fort.  I got some custom masks & decals made to my specifications for a fictional machine of the 359th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, 1st Air Division - 41st Combat Wing, Molesworth, England in late 1944 / early 1945.  The decals and masks were made by a fella named Steve Croasdale (who posts on the large scale planes.com forums as krow113)


First of all, I tackled the tail area - as I posted in my last update, I cut out large sections of the tail fin so that I could show the skin panels full of little holes - the most realistic way to do it was to have a void behind the panels.  The 303rd had a distinctive tail marking, a white triangle inside a red one with the group insignia 'C'.  Here are the panels painted up using the masks - as I was going to weather them by sanding, there was no need for them to be pristine.  I actually managed to do all the painting in one sitting, waiting around 5 minutes for each different colour to dry.  After drying, I lightly sanded the painted markings with fine grade sandpaper - here's a photo.  On the left, the sanded / weathered panels for the left side.  On the right, the just painted, unsanded panels for the right.




I then replicated the 'shrapnel peppered' effect by punching hundreds of tiny holes through the metal, using a variety of tools.  The damage on the tail goes from the left to the right - therefore panels were punched in on the left, and blown outward on the right.














I then realised that I had forgotten to add the mounting pegs for the tailplane - here are the real ones seen on the 'Mary Alice' at Duxford:




I used some square brass tube from the Albion Alloys range to replicate the pegs:






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This is obviously the natural metal half of the plane - but I may add some yellow primer to this area as per the real thing.  I'm not sure they would even have bothered priming at this stage of the war though.


Now we move on to other markings and paint - the forward half of the aircraft is older than the rear - and finished in Olive Drab.  I carefully studied colour photos of the real aircraft - the finish varied widely in hue, from faded yellow to green to brown - even purple.  I mixed Humbrol 155 (Olive drab) with yellow and a touch of green, and highlighted with lighter shades of the base colour. Prior to this I had undercoated the entire front end with automotive silver paint, over an undercoat of automotive grey.  I then pre-shaded the panel lines with black.  This was the first time I've attempted to do this properly, and I was happy with the result.  I added some blotches in plain olive drab to depict flak patches & touched up areas, and also painted the left cheek gun in OD to give the effect of a replaced part.  The underneath was finished in a shade of grey that looked right. The wing joins were finished in Yellow primer.  I then applied the 'sanding as weathering' technique again on the front section - here are some pics.  There's no other weathering here except pre-shading and sanding.  Once I've applied the noseart decals and sealed them in, I'll probably weather it some more using conventional washes & drybrushing:










Finally for this update, here's the national markings and the radio call letter "C' (in honour of my sister Catherine who designed the nose art) - here's the right side, with the same sanding as weathering technique.




and the left side - there's only 1 more panel to attach.  I need to fit the waist guns and windows before I can do that:




And an overview (the top turret is obviously still masked off here) - distorted perspective at work...the fuselage is 2 feet long!




That's it for now - I estimate I'm a couple of weeks away from finishing the Fortress.  My custom base and case have arrived, so next up I hope to be able to show the completed model, and to have made a start on the groundwork for the diorama.  Once I've bought some suitable figures we're in business!


Feedback welcomed as always,



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