This is the High Planes Models Canberra T.4 in 1/72 scale wearing the yellow and black stripes of the Suez Canal Crisis. This T.4 is part of a group build coordinated by the NorthWest Scale Modelers (NWSM) club based out of Seattle’s Museum of Flight. This internationally renowned museum is located on Boeing Field in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. The NWSM club maintains a themed display of mostly scale aircraft models located at the entrance to the “Wings Café”: the museums glass-walled restaurant that affords diners a great view of the airports active runway.
The theme of the current display is aircraft (and some armor) that participated in the Suez Canal Crisis of October 29 to November 7th, 1956. This short conflict entailed the use of a broad range of aircraft that included RAF Hunters, and Canberra’s, Egyptian Mig-17’s and Meteor’s, French Corsairs and F-84’s, and Israeli B-17’s and P-51’s. Use of the Canberra was most notable during Operation Musketeer: an attack on several Egyptian airfields conducted on the night of October 31st.
To assemble a sufficient show of force for Operation Musketeer, front-line Canberra squadrons were augmented with T.4 trainers. Since the T.4 has a solid nose, easy options in 1/72 scale are to modify the Airfix kit or build the High Planes Canberra. I opted for the High Planes kit as boxing #KO72090 provides markings for Canberra WT479, a T.4 that participated in Musketeer.
If you’re not accustomed to High Planes models what greets you upon opening the box can be a bit surprising. I’m referring, to the very blue colored plastic High Planes kits are composed of. This plastic is also a bit translucent and it is this aspect of the material that, for me, made it a bit trying to work with: especially when scribing (more later).
This is a limited production kit and as such a lot of time was spent prepping the individual parts prior to assembly. There is a fair amount of flash on all parts and the sprue gates are quite large. The resin parts are roughly cast and many were distorted in my example. The decal sheet provides markings for three aircraft however, the surface of most of the roundels on my sheet were slightly damaged. Two nicely formed vacuum form canopies are supplied so at least you get one to learn on.
The instructions are minimal and comprised of a single, 2-sided sheet. One very helpful note provided therein is to use one of the prepared vac canopies to determine the appropriate width of the fuselage—really.
And on that note, I dove in, dust mask on, Dremel tool whirring.
The fuselage halves were thinned by rubbing them in an alternating circular motion on a sheet of sand paper taped to a piece of glass. Using the canopy as a guide, the halves were thinned until, when assembled, the canopy rested into the intended recesses on each fuselage halve.The cockpit was then painted by brush with Mission Models NATO Black (#035) and glued together using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement. A decided warp one in of the halves necessitated the use of a couple of clamps: just a couple.
After the fuselage had set, the nose section was removed with a razor saw and the resin nose was glued in place with CA glue (Bob Smith Industries). The seam around the new nose and some of the main fuselage seam were filled with Mr. Hobby Mr. Surfacer 1,000 and when dry, sanded smooth using a Flexi-File contour sander. This was the perfect tool for this job as any flattening of the main seam on the upper portion of the fuselage would be noticeable after painting with RAF Speed Silver.
To complete the fuselage, the horizontal stabilizers were prepped, assembled, and attached with CA glue. The horizontals had no tabs just a butt-join so plastic dowels were installed to strengthen the structure. The canopy was glued in place using Super-Gold CA (Bob Smith) after being dipped in Future and allowed to dry for 24 hours. This was then masked with small strips Tamiya tape and Mr. Hobby Mr. Masking Sol R.
With the fuselage complete I started on the wings. Unfortunately, the resin intakes and exhausts for each nacelle were misshaped and had to be built up with CA glue-Talc and then re-shaped with a file before use. There’s more on the CA-Talc trick below. Before the resin pieces could be used however, the wing halves had to be thinned so the trailing edges weren’t a scaled ~8ft thick: back to the dust mask and sand paper.
The thinned wing halves were joined with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement and the resin intakes/exhausts were affixed with CA glue. After the leading edges of the wings and the seam around each nacelle were filled with Mr. Hobby Mr. Surfacer 1,000, they were blended-in using a Flexi-File contour sander. The completed wings were then test fitted to the fuselage and that’s when I realized my work had just begun.
The Wing to Fuselage Challenge:
To begin with, the wings didn’t fit: not even close. The wing-shaped receptacles on each side of the fuselage were simply too short cord-wise by 1-2mm. Out came the ole’ Dremel tool and after an additional millimeter or so of plastic was removed from the trailing portion of each receptacle, the wings begrudgingly fit. They were glued in place with copious amounts of CA glue and the slight dihedral of the wings was set by eye. Now, how to deal with the 1mm gap around the perimeter of each wing? Baby powder, what else?
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The large gap around each wing was filled with a mixture of CA glue (Bob Smith) and baby powder or bathroom talcum powder. This is one of my favorite filler materials. By varying the ratio of CA to talc you can obtain filler that, when dry, is softer (more talc) or harder (more CA) as is required for the job at hand. A good starting mix is ~40% CA to ~60% talc by volume. When mixed, the resulting paste can be easily maneuvered into seams and cracks with a toothpick or similar tool. Excess filler can be scraped off or removed with an X-Acto blade. Apply a little CA accelerant like Zip-Kicker (Bob Smith) and in a few moments the filled area is dry and ready for sanding: neat trick.
In preparation for filling, the fuselage area running along the length of the gap was covered with white Nitto Tape: a plastic tape that easily conforms to shapes and curves. The wing area adjacent to the gap was covered with Tamiya tape. A filler of CA/talc (made as described above) was pressed into the gap and excess removed by scraping with a toothpick. After a drop or two of Kicker, the tapes were removed and the fill was smoothed with sanding needles followed by 600 then 1,000-grit Alpha Abrasive sheets. One draw back to using CA/talc is the visible porosity of the filler when dried. This was easily dealt with by applying a coat of Mr. Hobby Mr. Surfacer 1,000 to the filler. When this was dry, the area was blended by wet sanding with Alpha Abrasives 1,000 grit sanding film and a final buff with a 4,000-grit Micromesh pad.
With the model assembled, it was time to deal with some of the inscribed detail issues so I pulled out my standard assortment of scribing tools and magnifying glasses and got to work. However, after only an hour or so of scribing time, I needed as aspirin. I had a headache, but why?
Scribing-Induced Eye Strain? Well, not quite:
Having built my fair share of limited production kits, I’m well accustomed to fill it, file it, and scribe it: repeat. For many hours I’ve indulged in this activity with only a backache to show for it. That said, after a few hours of this routine on the Canberra, I had a headache. Now, this was a first for me as I’m fortunate to not deal with this affliction very often. Nonetheless, it occurred again the next night after a few hours of Canberra scribing time. Hmmmmmmm……
Just as I was about to make an aluminum foil hat and schedule a CAT Scan, I realized what the issue was: eye strain caused by trying to focus on the translucent High Planes plastic. I was unconsciously working very hard to keep the surface I was scribing in focus since the material is partly see-through. Had I realized this sooner, I would have shot the kit with a quick coat of primer: something in a nice and opaque gray. Oh well, live and learn.
Through perseverance and half a bottle of aspirin, all the major panel lines were re-scribed and many of the smaller details that were either soft or incomplete were refreshed or sharpened with a micro-file and a scriber.
Since the surfaces of all the major parts were rather rough I opted to prime the model in Alclad Black Primer and Micro-filler (#ALC-309). Prior to spraying primer the model was wiped down with a Kim-Wipe saturated in denatured alcohol: my favorite de-greaser. The Alclad primer was then sprayed directly from the bottle at ~15psi using a Harder&Steenbeck Evolution fitted with a 0.4mm tip. The 0.4mm tip is great for getting a nice even coat when shooting primers and clear coats on models of this general size.
When dry, the canopy to fuselage join was smoothed with a Micromesh 3600 pad and the entire model was wet buffed with a sheet of Micromesh 4,000. Micromesh 3,600 and 4,000 (pads or sheets) are great for wet buffing primer coats. As an aside, for wet buffing I prefer to use cold water with a drop of liquid dish washing detergent.
Prior to spraying the model silver, the re-worked area around the canopy was touched up with Alclad Black Primer and Micro-filler shot at 12psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip. In addition, the nacelle intakes were shot with AK Aluminum (AK-479) and the exhausts sprayed with AK Steel ((AK-476). Both the AK colors were shot straight from the bottle at ~12psi using an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip. When dry, the intakes and exhausts were masked with Tamiya tape and the model prepped for high-speed silver.
The model was sprayed with Alclad RAF High Speed Silver (ALC-125) shot straight from the bottle at ~15psi using an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.4mm tip. This paint is best applied first as a light dry coat followed by a wet coat. In addition, the paint in the airbrush cup was periodically stirred with a pipette while spraying to prevent settled pigment from altering the way the paint sprayed.
After a 3 hour drying time, the model was sprayed with Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear (ALC-600) shot at ~15psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.4mm tip. This is my go-to clear coat: great stuff. The model was then set aside to dry for 24 hours.
In preparation for painting, the striped areas on the wings and fuselage were masked off with Tamiya tape. Once in place, the edges of each piece of tape were burnished down to ensure a nice clean line would result. Other areas of the model were covered with Parafilm to be sure there would be no silly mistakes and ensuing profanity. The striped areas were then shot with Mission Models Yellow (#007) to which Mission White (#001) was added to ~10% to confer a slight “cream” hue to the final mix. This was then sprayed using my procedure for shooting Mission Model paints described in detail below:
Spraying Mission Model Paints:
To spray Mission paints I first prepare a solution of Mission Model Thinner to which Missions Polyurethane Mix Additive (Polymix: a flow and leveling agent) has been added to ~10%. I then dilute Mission Models Paints directly into this solution for spraying.
Using a pre-mixed solution of Polymix and Thinner allows you to prepare paint dilutions in a much more reproducible way thereby ensuring that the resulting mixes will spray in a predictable manner. In short, why re-invent the “the paint wheel” every time you mix up a batch of paint? Diluting all your paints with Thinner-10 simply decreases batch-to-batch variability.
If counting drops is how you roll, no worries. Thinner-10 is roughly 1 drop of Polymix to ~10 drops of Thinner. If you prefer to work in ratios Thinner-10 equates to a ratio of Polymix to Thinner of 1:10. I prepare a large volume (40ml) at a time and store this in an appropriate bottle for use when painting. Properly stored, Thinner-10 lasts for many months (forever?) with no issues.
Preparing Mission Models “Thinner-10”
2) Add Mission Models Thinner up to the 40ml mark on the beaker.
For general spraying, I dilute Mission Model paints directly into Thinner-10 at a ratio of 60% paint to 40% Thinner-10. That’s 6 drops of paint to 4 drops of Thinner-10 and that’s exactly how I diluted my Mission Yellow prior to spraying at ~12psi. This was shot with an H&S Infinity fitted with a small 0.15mm tip to lessen overspray.
Paint of any brand with a predominantly yellow hue is usually difficult to spray with respect to coverage. Not so with Mission Models Yellow which provided very good coverage over the high-speed silver base coat. When the yellow was dry, additional strips of Tamiya tape were applied over the yellow areas in preparation for shooting the black stripes which were shot with Mission Models NATO black (#035) to which a few drops of Mission Black (#047) had been added. I try to never use pure black in any scale but especially small scales like 1/72. Straight black is too dark due to both scale effect and because it leaves no tonal room for subsequent weathering steps. Okay, enough of that artsy stuff. The black strips were sprayed with the previously described mix diluted to 60% paint: 40% Thinner-10 and shot at ~12psi using an H&S Infinity fitted with a small 0.15mm tip to lessen overspray.
The grey panel on the vertical stabilizer was then masked off with strips of Tamiya tape and shot with Mission Models British Slate Grey spayed at ~12psi with H&S Infinity fitted with a small 0.15mm tip. When this was dry, all Tamiya tape and Parafilm were removed and the model was given another coat of Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear (ALC-600) sprayed at ~15psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.4mm tip.
Twenty-four hours later, the kit decals were applied using conventional methods and Micro-Set and –Sol. Obstinate decals were dealt with accordingly: AK Decal Adaptor Solution (AK582). This is great stuff but use with caution because if left on too long it will soon begin to affect Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear. It’s best used sparingly and quickly.
After the decals had dried overnight, the model was given a final coat of Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear shot at ~15psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.4mm tip. The model was then set aside to dry while I dealt with some final fiddly bits.
The main landing gear/gear door assemblies were chiseled carefully removed from their sprues, and brush painted Mission Models White (#001). The nose gear assembly, provided in resin, was removed from its pouring block, cleaned up with micro-files, and painted white. Likewise, the resin wheels were cleaned up and the hubs brush painted Mission white. When dry, round masks of Tamiya tape were cut using a PE stencil and used to cover the hubs while the tires were shot with Mission Models Tire Black (# 040) sprayed at 12psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip.
The nose gear, main gear, and all gear doors were affixed with thick CA glue (Bob Smith) and the model was given a final coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish (70.522) diluted to ~20% with Vallejo Thinner (71.161). This was applied with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip. For finer control when shooting the satin coat I opted to use a smaller 0.2 mm tip and applied the satin using multiple light dry coats. In this way I lessen the chance of over shooting and getting a finish that is too flat.
When this was dry, the canopy masks were carefully removed and any excess paint was gently scraped away from the clear areas using the tip of an X-Acto blade. The navigation lights in each wing tip were then masked off with thin strips of Tamiya tape and shot with Tamiya Clear Red (X-27) or Clear Green (X-25) accordingly. These were diluted to ~20% paint in Gunze Mr. Color Leveling thinner and sprayed at ~10psi with an H&S Infinity fitted with a 0.15mm tip. When dry, the tapes were removed and this modeler did an awkward victory dance: one Canberra T.4 completed!!!!
Whew! What a kit! That really was a lot of fun. No, it wasn’t a walk in the “modeling park” by any stretch but it forced me to dust off a few old tricks and come up with a few new ones and, for me, that’s what it’s all about. I enjoyed that. I don’t think I’d build another: one is sufficient, thank you. I do recommend it to anyone with some experience building short run kits who wants a bit of a challenge. Between the high-speed silver finish and the red/black stripes, the result is an eye-catching model to say the least. Most importantly, this kit, along with all the other models built by members of the NothWest Scale Modelers club will serve to educate the public as to aircraft that participated in the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956.
Thanks for reading along. If you have any questions or want additional information just drop me a line at [email protected]
Now go paint something 🙂