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Downen Scaled Replicas

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  1. Thank you. I appreciate that. Last night I installed the latest OS "Catalina" on my Mac and inadvertently rendered all of my Adobe software inoperative. Catalina does not support the last non-subscription based version of Photoshop and Illustrator, so before I can post anymore update photos here I have to figure out if I'm willing to shell out nearly $60 per month for a version of the Adobe products that works with Catalina (I am not) or if after 25 years I switch to something else. Ugh. Meanwhile, I'm actually working on the Skyraider cockpit... Visualize it in your mind. Lots of levers and switches. Lots of dark gray shades and black switch panels. Dials on the instrument panel. Seat belts... LOL This really stinks...
  2. I am indebted to 82Whitey51 for saving me from a significant and very embarrassing error that would have had me sanding and re-painting tail codes very late in the game. Yuck! I see my error: I’ve been using Ginter’s “Douglas AD/A-1 Skyraider Pt 2” exclusively as reference for the Air Wing Six tail codes. On pp 13-14 it states “A ship and tail code change occurred in late 1962 when VA-65 was assigned to the nuclear powered Enterprise. CVG-6’s new tail code became “AE”. Four A-1H deployments were made aboard CVN-65. They were from: 3 August to 11 October 1962, 19 October to 6 December 1962… [snip] … The second cruise was the emergency deployment due to the Cuban Missile Crisis where they participated in the blockade of Cuba.” This led me to believe that the tail code change occurred at reassignment to Enterprise and was in effect during all four cruises in 1962. I recommend the short but excellent article in the February 1993 issue of Finescale Modeler where Paul Boyer reviews Air Wing Six’s markings during that second October cruise. He states on p. 40 “In 1962, the code for Air Wing Six was AF, a carry-over from the Wing’s previous carrier, USS Intrepid. Early in 1963, Air Wing Six’s tail code was changed to AE.” Indeed, several photos in the 1962 Enterprise cruise book confirm the “AF” tail code applied to Air Wing Six during her cruises that year. My mistake entirely in relying too heavily on the Ginter book and not cross-checking with other sources. Whew…
  3. Hmmm... I'm glad that you pointed that out. I saw "AF" from the photo above of the S/N I'm modeling when embarked in 1963 on Intrepid, but thought that "AE" was correct for the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis onboard Enterprise. I'll dig deeper so that I get the correct markings. Thanks!!
  4. Phantom, I didn't think to mention, but I did gloss coat the doors with Alclad Aqua Gloss, which is acrylic. No problem with the red color bleeding or running. The Copic markers use an alcohol-based ink which also permits rough edges to be cleaned up by rubbing with a cotton swab (Q-Tip) wetted with Windex (which also has some alcohol in it). I really do like the effect. Steve, I see that you're using a marker intended for Gundam kits. The Copic markers are also Japanese and originally developed for Manga artwork. I'm guessing that the Gundam marker uses a similar ink (?) Interesting how the Japanese come up with such useful tools for this hobby! They take this market seriously, and boy am I glad that they do!!
  5. Thank you for all of the feedback. I really appreciate it. I'll return to the helmet when I'm ready to spray the orange colors on the airframe. Paints for the cockpit have not yet arrived so I’m breaking tradition and keeping myself busy by starting on something other than the cockpit! Ordnance… Twelve (12) 250 lb bombs under the wings, two drop tanks and a 500 lb bomb on the center pylon. I forgot that the kit does NOT include the 500 lb bomb, but fortunately I had a resin set from True Details in my spares box. I’m sure that a coat of primer will reveal a number of areas that need more attention, so there’s probably still work to be done here. I used the Aires landing gear bay set which required that the upper wing skin be thinned A LOT to fit in the gear bay. Even still, I had to carefully work the wing leading and trailing edges to get them to close around the gear bays. It’s a tight fit, but the detail offered by the Aires set is fantastic. I also worked on the gear doors. Painting the red trim around the door edges has always been the bane of my existence. I even skip it occasionally if I know that I’ll only ever display the model on my shelf and no one else will ever see it! But here I need to do it, and I tried a new method using a Copic marker. If you’re not familiar with these markers, they’re high-end art markers that have a brush-like tip and use a fairly opaque ink. Working carefully around the gear bay doors, I managed a passable red line. Just stand back a couple of feet – don’t look too closely! LOL And finally, I did some work on the propeller as well. I made a simple jig from a piece of scrape insulation foam and masked off the propeller tips to paint the white and red bands. I prefer to paint the bands since I typically have trouble getting decals to wrap around the edge of the prop to give a convincing appearance. The end result still needs some work at the edge of the black; tomorrow I’ll sand that edge and touch it up to give a smooth, uniform appearance. Then some metal chips at the leading edges and decals…
  6. I've had feedback offline that seems to indicate that if the cowl flaps are open, the nose flaps will also be open, exposing the engine. In my last photo posted above, the cowl flaps to appear to be open. So I'll proceed with having the nose flaps open AND the cowl flaps open, and with the plane sitting on the deck being prepped for takeoff.
  7. This is a build of the 1/48 Tamiya A-1H Skyraider for a client specifying the airplane flown by his father while embarked on the USS Enterprise with the VA-65 Tigers during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1/72 scale Hasegawa has a kit that would have fit the bill perfectly (save for the BuNo and cowl number)… … but 1/48 scale was strongly desired, which points squarely to the Tamiya kit. So, there will be some custom artwork required to replicate BuNo 35322 and other VA-65 specific markings. This is the only photo of that specific aircraft that I have been able to find, although it is from a slightly later date while the Tigers were embarked on the USS Intrepid. The artwork has been roughed out in Adobe Illustrator and will be printed on a laser printer a bit later. The fuselage thunderbolts will be airbrushed with the use of custom-cut stencils (more on that later). One thing that I needed to address early was the client’s desire to have a helmet sitting in the cockpit, waiting for the pilot to arrive. The kit includes a seated pilot (seemingly rare nowadays) but the helmet details are indistinct and won’t really impress if displayed separate from the pilot. (Besides, the pilot’s head would have to be drilled out of the helmet… yeck!). To get an acceptable helmet I designed a rough APH-6 helmet in CAD and printed it on an SLA printer (FormLabs Form 2). Although it’s hard to photograph (it’s so TINY), the details look great and really pop with white primer and a gloss white base coat. There are white thunderbolts on each side of the helmet, so the plan is to cut stencils to mask the white before painting the helmet an overall coat of FS32246 Navy Torpedo Orange. The white stars will be applied via decals. I’ll return to the helmet later… One question for the hive mind here: The AD-6 / A-1H had nose flaps that could be closed to isolate the engine in cold weather conditions and permit a faster warmup when the engine was first started. In this photo the nose flaps are closed: But this next photo is the actual configuration that I am recreating albeit with the client’s custom markings. It appears to me that the nose flaps are open in this photo, and I see that the cowl flaps are also open which – I believe – would require that the nose flaps be open. This question of nose flaps open / closed is important because it significantly alters the appearance of the aircraft (the engine cannot be seen when the nose flaps are closed). Would anyone here know if the nose flaps were REQUIRED to be closed while aircraft were parked & chocked as shown in the photo? Or was it possible that the nose flaps and cowl flaps could both be open while parked at rest, as the photo seems to indicate?
  8. The panel line wash worked well to highlight the control surfaces and the panel lines on the top and bottom of the fuselage. As I mentioned, I scrounged through my leftovers and found a set of USAF markings that I thought would work well for what a Darkstar might have looked like if it had been placed into service. Overall I’m very happy with the look of the completed model. If you look down the inlet and exhaust nozzle you can just see the engine fan and mixer peeking out! I’ve built two prototypes as I worked through tweaks to improve the build. The first build was painted with a white top / black bottom to resemble the test articles that I’ve seen in museums. When completed, the model is 17.5 inches wingtip to wingtip! And displayed next to my 1/48 scale Global Hawk from Skunk Models. I’ve designed new wings for the Global Hawk, which you view on the website (and also purchase Darkstar kits): https://downenscaledreplicas.com Thanks for tuning in. This has been a fun and rewarding build. I wish that I would have done this years ago!
  9. I’m going to do a hypothetical operational scheme on this model using Light Ghost Grey, similar to what would be seen on a Predator or Reaper UAV. I’m using Model Car World’s military line of lacquer paints for the first time. I really like the way they airbrush easily and dry quickly. A bit later I’ll use a light gray enamel panel line wash from AMMO MiG. I’ve used a black-basing technique for the paint scheme. I painted the entire model a dark gray (but oftentimes black will be used) and then gone back over the dark color with the top coat color (Light Ghost Gray) using a random squiggle movement to leave a patchy finish of lighter and darker areas all over the model. A final overall coat of thinned Light Ghost Gray helps to blend the patchy paint job. It helps to break up an otherwise monotone paint scheme with a bit of variety and interest. I also gave the model a really good coat of Alclad Gloss Kote in preparation for decals. I dug through my decal bin for spare markings that might work well for an operational scheme. Between a leftover 1/72 scale Predator sheet and a set of stars-and-bars from SuperScale, I think I can put something together.
  10. Ernie, the printer is a FormLabs Form 2. It's stereolithography (SLA) which uses a laser to solidify a liquid resin polymer. I did a lot of research before purchasing the printer and so far I'm really happy with the results. --Troy
  11. I gave Blender a shot but turned to Fusion360 after reading a number of positive reviews of the software package. It's free - for those who don't know - and I must say that I'm really happy that I decided to go with Fusion. My recommendation to everyone starting out with CAD: start with something easy to model so that you can learn the basics. I started with JATO bottles. Then go for something a bit more challenging: a wing, perhaps. I appreciate the compliment, Major Walt.
  12. Major, I can say that I did this with a lot of difficulty and trial and error. LOL Mostly lofts that follow rails. Clearly the wings are easiest: two airfoils (splines) that are lofted following leading edge and trailing edge rails. The fuselage is composed of four lofts (and I only draw the left hand side of the UAV - mirror to the right): upper front, upper aft, lower front and lower aft. All follow rails that define the upper and lower surface centerline contours (it's important to have side views of the UAV to follow) as well as a second rail that follows the plan view (top view) of the fuselage curve. Believe me, I spent HOURS experimenting until I found (stumbled across?) combinations that worked. But it really is just a series of lofts w/ rails...
  13. There are a number of UAVs that are not available as commercial kits that I would really like to build. The Lockheed RQ-3 Darkstar is among them. The Lockheed RQ-3 Darkstar was developed as part of DARPA’s High-Altitude Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HAE UAV) program in the 1990s. This Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) program was intended as a means for the rapid, cost-effective demonstration of new capabilities and systems for the military services. Two air vehicles were developed for HAE UAV: a conventional configuration (Tier II+) designed by Northrop Grumman (RQ-4 Global Hawk) and a low-observables configuration (Tier III-) designed by Lockheed which was designated as the RQ-3 Darkstar. The RQ-3 incorporated stealth aircraft technology to make it difficult to detect, which allowed it to operate within heavily defended airspace, unlike the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which is unable to operate except under conditions of air supremacy. The Darkstar was fully autonomous: it could take off, fly to its target, operate its sensors, transmit information, return and land without human intervention. Darkstar system development efforts began in 1994 with first prototype flight in 1996. Four units were built prior to program termination in January 1999. The first prototype crashed on its second flight in 1996; the remaining three airframes are displayed in museums in the United States. Enough background: let’s build! I designed my own Darkstar using the Fusion360 CAD program and printed it in 1/48 scale on a stereolithography printer. The resin material is firm but easy to work with (cut, sand, etc.) and requires the use of CA (“super”) glue or epoxy glue. The vehicle is printed in the following seven parts: Fuselage upper and lower halves with complete inlet duct (no nasty seams to clean up) and mounting hole designed into the lower fuselage to accept a 5/32 inch diameter rod. A separate exhaust nozzle duct; the seam will be difficult to see and the separate part makes painting the inside of the duct easier The Williams FJ44 engine is represented with a fan (correct number of blades for those blade-counters among us) and exhaust mixer Right- and left-hand side wings Straight out of the printer, this is what the parts look like with supports still attached: The wing design correctly represents the wing dihedral as well as the 2-degree wing incidence and resulting trailing edge “joggle” at the wing root. The unusual symmetric wing airfoil and wing tip blend are also represented and are accurately designed based on publicly-available technical information. Access panels and gear bay doors are represented with finely engraved lines. No landing gear have been designed and I have not designed decals since photos indicate few markings (a few photos show “USAF” on the upper fuselage which most of us will have in our spares box). I’ll make copies of the unbuilt kit available to anyone who may have an interest (www.DownenScaledReplicas.com). I don’t expect everyone to clean up all of those supports on the raw parts straight out of the printer, so I’ll do a rough trim first and the parts will look like this when made available: There are a number of support stubs remaining on the parts. The resin material is very easy to work with and those stubs can be cleaned up with sprue cutters, a hobby knife and/or sandpaper. I would recommend 400 grit sandpaper or finer since this resin is easily removed and you may find yourself removing more material than intended if you use rougher grits. Most supports have been placed in areas where they won’t be seen or where they can easily be removed with a sanding stick. Probably one of the trickier spots is inside the exhaust duct, but a smaller sanding stick can get those stubs without too much trouble. In about 30 minutes I have a set of parts that are ready for assembly. Note that not all support stubs need to be cleaned up since some are hidden inside the assembly. Part of the aft nozzle exhaust duct is separate, so I painted the inside black and then installed it in the upper fuselage half with some thin CA (“super”) glue. Note the “DOWN” text on the part which should still be visible when installed. I do suggest painting the engine fan and mixer (aluminum or such), inlet duct (white or whatever your base color will be) and the exhaust nozzle (black, per photos) before you install them in the upper fuselage half. The engine mixer inserts into the exhaust duct snugly. The engine fan face is next. Just a few drops of thin CA glue fix those parts in place. Here you see the lower fuselage half, which sits inside a recess in the upper fuselage. I’m not holding the parts together in this photo so the fit appears poor, but a gentle press will get the upper and lower halves fitting together well. Again, thin CA glue run around the perimeter will fix those parts together in no time. You can clearly see the 5/32-inch hole in the lower fuselage for mounting the UAV in-flight. My next step will be to put some filler along the perimeter joint to help disguise it. Again, I’m using 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to clean up joints; I might use 320 grit in just a few stubborn spots, but use it gently! A bit of filler on the lower fuselage joint with the upper, and things are starting to look good… The wings are joined, everything is primed, and finally it’s starting to look like a Darkstar! Adding some color (such as it is) will be the next step…
  14. Wings and fuselage are both decaled and ready for flight! The decals perform okay overall. They’re thick enough to withstand some rough handling during application, but not so thick that they don’t settle down well around details and in panel lines. My process includes using Micro Sol and Set, plus Solvaset in stubborn areas. This kit is such a monster (33 inches from wingtip to wingtip!) that it was best for me to pose it in flight. I did not plan to design and print new wings, but it quickly became obvious that the kit wings with their built-in droop just would not work for me. So, I really like the effect given by the new in-flight wings which are now available for other modelers who might like to pose their Global Hawk in flight as well: www.DownenScaledReplicas.com A complete video of this build is also available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/_apXWqjZIeg The 1/48 Global Hawk posed next to my 1/48 scale Lockheed RQ-3 Darkstar. This is an original design and is currently also available at the website: www.DownenScaledReplicas.com The Global Hawk kit is not a bad build. Overall the fit is good (be prepared to work on those seams, though) and the decal performance is average. I probably spent about 30 hours on the build itself, plus the time it took to design and build prototypes of the new wings which I had not originally planned to do. Happy modeling everyone.
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