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;
|Materials used in this post
Creating the Access PanelsUsing 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
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.
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
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
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.