Archive for December, 2020

Merry Christmas everyone. An unusual year. And I’ve been up to something unusual (for this blog, anyway) over the evenings leading up to the 25th – but which I thought you might enjoy.

My friend’s daughter recently lost her grandfather, who had been an enthusiastic warplane buff and modeller, though latterly affected by old age. She was able to retrieve some of his models which she wanted to keep for sentimental reasons – the only problem being that they were broken (so she wasn’t sure what to do with them). A job for Uncle Phil, then … and I determined to get them ready by Christmas (so, a gift of time and attention for her, rather than something off Amazon!)

The box contained a couple of WW2 biplanes and a more recent helicopter. In varying states of repair (but all had had their wheels broken off, and not all the wheels were in the box). The Kaman Seasprite looked the bigger challenge as I was going to have to find or fabricate one of the main rotor blades and the entire rear rotor. As it happened, that significantly underestimated the problems I would have with the Stranraer’s upper wing.

Anyway, despite a very long night or two, I got them done, and I think they ended up looking very tidy. Pretty much back to their former best, so the (surprise) box opening on Christmas Day was a magical moment (a wave of emotion that easily justified the time that had been taken).


This was the easiest of the three. Other than fixing some loose wing parts and struts, all I had to do was fabricate a missing wheel and fix both wheels on. Miliput to the rescue. I was intending to make a press mould but the wheels on the Stringbag are so basic I was able to make one freehand.

Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber

The refurbished Swordfish model.

A favourite of mine. Hero of the attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto, Swordfish attacks also helped cripple the Bismarck in the struggle for the North Atlantic shipping lanes.


Look at the rigging on that! Unfortunately the broken off top wing and struts had warped, and the tangle of attached rigging prevented an ‘in one’ reassembly (I had to work my way out from the centre, section by section with elastic bands to give the glue a chance to hold the wing in line). This one also had a missing wheel and a broken propeller.

This model also had snapped machinegun barrels, so I had to drill them out and replace them with brass wire.

The floats proved particularly tricky, as the plastic was aged and brittle. It didn’t want to be glued, and the compression necessary to achieve the bond snapped the struts.

Although I do frequently use plastic kits for vehicles, I have long advocated the ‘metal parts for guns and fittings approach’ and shake my head at the current fashion for hard plastic figures. So it was ironic for me to be dealing with precisely the issues I have warned others about with ageing hard plastics. Ah well. I got there in the end.

I have to say that, although the crews apparently disliked it, as a plane of its era, the Stranraer is a very cool machine.

Supermarine Stranraer


The big problem with the Seasprite was the missing rotor blades. In the end, I cut the missing main rotor blade from a scrap plastic takeaway box. It took 2 layers to get the thickness, but I wanted that soft plastic to match the droopiness of the other blades (which were themselves made of a softer plastic than the rest of the model).

I know that it is a bit ‘rough and ready’ (it’s not an easy material for fine modelling) but you have to get quite close up to see that one of the four blades is a hand cut replacement rather than a moulded component from the kit.

So, all in all, a different project for Christmas and, it turned out, a job well done.

By my standards, these were quite big models to work on, and made out of my least favourite material. They look great, but it reminds me that I do need to get back to the (mostly metal, 1/100) German and Russian horsedrawn project. And some wargaming.

2021 beckons.

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