Sunday 16 August 2015

Macchi C.205 'Veltro' - (1:48 Tauro Model) Part 4

Detailing the Gun Bay Access Panels

In this post I will be describing the techniques I used to scratch-build the Macchi's nose-gun bay access panels.

Some might ask why I would go through all the trouble and not use the kit parts in the first place.  There are primarily two reasons for this: firstly the detail on the kit parts could do with some improvement; secondly and more importantly,  I will be displaying the model with the gun bays open.  Using the kit parts would mean that the thickness of the plastic would appear over-scale and even though I could easily sand these down I would still be left with the first problem, i.e. the poor detail.

I also think that scratch-building is one of the most enjoyable (and challenging) aspects of scale modelling, and I like a challenge :)

Tools and Materials Used

  • Thin aluminium sheet;
  • Soft aluminium from an old cream tube;
  • Assorted needle files;
  • Pin vise with .25mm drill bit;
  • Metal block;
  • Scalpels with  No 11 and No 10 blades;
  • Assorted sculpting tools;
  • Curved tweezers;
  • Superglue 

Materials used in this post
Let's get started...

Creating the Access Panels

Using the kit parts as a template I cut out the new panels from the aluminium sheet and using a ruler and pencil, mark out where the rivets should go.

Marking out the rivet lines

Using the original part as a guide, rivet holes are drilled through the panel using a 0.25mm twist drill bit.
Adding rivet holes
Finally, I smooth the panel down and round off its corners using a flat needle file. The entire process was repeated for the second panel.

Adding the air scoops and vents

Now for the challenging bit.  The port access panel features a forward facing air scoop and two rear facing vents, whilst the starboard panel features four rear-facing vents,

I start off with the larger air scoop for the port panel, and wrap the original kit part in a strip of soft aluminium from an old cream tube to use it as a template.

Creating the air scoop
Wrapping the kit part this way will ensure that the aluminium doesn't move whilst I'm shaping it.  Also, the softer material from the tube is more suited for these 'larger' or 'sharper' curves and will conform to the contours much easier than the stiffer aluminium sheet.

Using the point of a sharp No 11 blade I cut a small slit where the front of the scoop will be and using a sculpting tool and the curved tweezers I start bending the aluminium to shape.

Here's the result

The finished air-scoop
The excess material you can see at the base of the scoop in the image above helps the scoop adhere better to the panel and was eventually be sanded down.

Here it is mated to the panel:

The air-scoop is added to the panel

Next up the more fiddly air vents.  These are less prominent than the air scoop but are still raised enough to show a gap in this scale.

Unfortunately this time I could not use the kit parts as a template because the vents are not as well defined as the air scoop.  Instead, I decided to use the point of a half-round needle file as a template.

Testing the technique on a piece of  aluminium
 At first I was going to use the same soft aluminium used for the air scoop however I soon found out that this was too brittle in this particular case.  I then tried a bit of thicker aluminium sheet (see image above) and found that I could better bend these to the required shape   The fact that the vents have a much shallower curvature than the air scoop meant that I could in fact use the thicker material and still get a smooth curve.

I fashioned around ten of these vents and selected the best six, two for the port-side access panel and four for the starboard-side and fixed them to the panels using super glue.

I'm pretty happy with the end result:

Vents added to the port-side panel

Finally, once the glue was fully cured, I sanded down the edges using a flat needle file and bent the panels along their narrow edge over the handle of a craft knife.

I then checked the curvature of each panel against the fuselage.

Test fitting to the model to verify the curvature - port...

... and starboard

That concludes this post.  All in all it was a challenging, but highly enjoyable task and I'm quite happy with the end result.  The edges around the vents still show somewhat, but nothing a bit of sanding and putty will not fix.

Stay tuned for more.

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