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GWH 1/48 P-61B Black Widow
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:18 am    Post subject: GWH 1/48 P-61B Black Widow Reply with quote

Build log for the 1/48 GWH (Great Wall Hobby) WWII USAAF Northrop P-61B 'Black Widow' Last Shoot Down 1945 kit S4802 in combination with Eduard Brassin set 648057 and PE sets 49703 and FE704 to dress up the interior with.

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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 3:35 pm    Post subject: WIP 08-07-16 Reply with quote

Finally managed to get around to starting this one although not a huge amount of progress to report. I removed the main crew pod halves from the sprue and cleaned them up. The interior areas have several raised ejector marks that need to be dealt with but that's the price to pay for the excellent level of detail on the exterior, so I'm not complaining. I used a micro-chisel to deal with most of them and GWH did a good job in their size and placement so that they didn't overlap onto any of the other molded on details. Since I'm going to be using the Eduard details as well as the kit's PE details in various places, it's important to have the two halves clean and ready so I can work on getting the components for the interior assembled as much as possible before the first round of paintwork with the Interior Green. Small steps are necessary on a long journey like this, but at least it's started! Smile



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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:07 pm    Post subject: WIP 08-08-16 Reply with quote

I started work on the PE details that go in the radar observer's area in the rear of the fuselage. Eduard has the sets for the Black Widow broken up by area/section and the rear area has a lot of PE to it aimed mostly at replacing the bulkhead and instrument cluster for the RO, but after consulting the references in the Squadron/Signal P-61 Black Widow book, the Eduard layout/configuration is radically different from that in the kit and what the book shows. No idea why that is, but there's still enough of the set that's usable in various spots to still make it useful.

The fuselages get an insert that covers the area where the flaps attach from the wings but there's an inevitable join line in that space that can't be dealt with easily. The Eduard set provides PE panels that literally paper over this and restore the look of things. I also added the PE electronics and wiring that I could fit along with the kit's bulkhead part to increase the level of detail.



One side down, one to go!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 5:05 pm    Post subject: WIP 11-12-16 Reply with quote

I certainly did not expect to step away from this build for quite this long, but sometimes that's just the way it goes! Had a chance to get back to the bench for the first time since August and made some more progress. I finished up the PE work on the other side of the rear fuselage courtesy of the Eduard PE detail set. I was selective in what I used, making sure at each step along the way that what I added wouldn't interfere with the bulkhead and seat arrangement for the radar operator's station.



The steps in the instruction booklet aren't numbered, but I suppose the block that deals with the 20mm guns could be called #4. Wink The guns required some slight clean-up and the barrels were drilled out better with a finger drill to enhance their detail. I don't intend to display the gun bays exposed, so there was no need to paint them prior to installing into position. The mount holes for the locking brackets at the gun breeches are a little loose, so I had to be patient and use finger pressure to hold them down until the glue had grabbed enough to secure the guns in place.



It felt good to get back to work a little on this project, hopefully with the holidays approaching I can get in a little more time on a somewhat more regular schedule as well.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:51 pm    Post subject: WIP 11-25-16 Reply with quote

Taking full advantage of the extended Thanksgiving Day holidays, I made some more progress on the Widow. The fundamental challenge at this stage of the build is deciding what to paint first given all the exposed areas in the crew areas, so I focused on getting as much together as possible in the areas that were going to need the interior green/zinc chromate treatment first.

Returning to the radar operator's area, I added the Eduard PE parts for the top step on the access ladder and the rest of the ladder to the access hatch using the GWH supplied PE and some 0.6mm styrene rod. I'll be posing the hatch in the closed position but it's a prominent detail still visible through all the greenhouse windows.



Since I'm using the Eduard detail set for the front of the cabin as well, I had to decide how much stuff to install first vs. keeping separate to make it possible to add the pre-painted detail stuff easily. I installed most of the detail parts to the cabin sides where appropriate that needed to be zinc chromate and will add the rest of the details after the airbrush work is done. There were some raised ejector marks where the cabin bulkhead mated up with the fuselage, so a micro chisel was put to use to remove those and avoid fit problems later on.



The real exercise in patience in this area has to be the crew seats. GWH decided to have all the supports and armrests as separate pieces to increase their detail level but that comes with the tradeoff of having to deal with tiny fragile pieces that all need to mate up with each other properly to create the three seats. The pilot's seat was the hardest to get to line up because the supports are spindly and have to support not only the seat pan but also the seat back. For the gunner and radar operator seats, I found it best to attach the seat backs to their supports first and let that set up solid first before attempting to attach them to the seat bottoms. Definitely an area you want to go slow in to get it all together! All of the seats, including the pilot's, are removable at this point to allow for easier painting and detailing.

I had considered posing the front access hatch with the ladder extended but that idea died quickly when I tried to remove the ladder parts from the sprue. They have several large attachment points and they are fragile to begin with and, as luck would have it, it was the last point that caused the bottom part of the latter to break right at the attachment points needed to extend the ladder properly. So, closed up instead! Smile For good measure, I cleaned up the remote controls for the quad .50 turret but left them off for now to make it easier to add the crew harness belts after painting.



Next step will be to sling some Interior Green!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:47 pm    Post subject: WIP 11-26-15 Reply with quote

More progress today after I convinced the airbrush that it really did need to get back to work after a longer than planned hiatus! I airbrushed some Flat Black as a primer and then applied MM enamel Interior green over that for the crew areas and various details.



Time to tackle those cockpit details, so I began with the instrument panel. The GWH kit's IP has a lot of nicely molded detail but it all had to go to be able to use the Eduard detail set. That was a little trickier than I thought it would be as the rudder pedals are a little fragile, so it didn't leave a lot of places to hang onto it while removing all that detail. I did manage to slice up my thumb nicely though, so the model gods were appeased with an appropriate dose of blood sacrifice along the way! It's worth noting that the kit also had a PE (unpainted) upgrade for the IP that involved the same amount of surgery but would've achieved its detail for the instrument faces through individual decals for each one, so the Eduard approach was a big time-saver in that area for sure. I'll be adding the clear part gunsight after the cockpit is installed and the IP secured in place as the fit tolerances are pretty tight and it needs to line up just right to work properly.



I'm building this kit for my dad and he decided he wanted the canopies all closed on the finished build, so that's influencing some of my decisions on the interior detailing. With that in mind, I did add the cockpit side details courtesy of the Eduard PE set as well and installed the cluster on the right side after I'd attached the self-adhesive PE parts with it separate from the fuselage wall.





I still need to do some detailing on the crew seats including the harness belts, so that will probably be the next item on the to-do list.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:10 pm    Post subject: WIP 11-27-16 Reply with quote

Last round of the Turkey Day efforts today! Managed to get the rest of the details done on the front and rear crew areas. I had picked up the Eduard rear interior detail set not realizing that it was designed to totally replace the bulkhead and equipment racks with different stuff but it wasn't a total loss...I used several pieces of the pre-painted instrument faces in different spots with some modifications to help dress up the RO's panel. Some of the unused decals intended for the pilot's instrument panel also got drafted to fill in some of the molded-on gauge faces. The Eduard set provided the harnesses for the seat and then the remote control sight was added to the seat to complete its assembly before it was installed in place.



For the front area, I added the Eduard PE harnesses to the gunner and pilot seats before they were installed in place in the pit floor. The control yoke was added as well along with the oxygen cylinder and fire extinguisher.



Just to make sure everything is continuing to play nice, I did a test fit of the front and rear elements into the fuselage. So far, so good! I've deliberately left off the two instrument panel parts as they fit a little loose will get permanently installed only when I'm ready to join up the fuselage halves.



I still need to do some work with the nose wheel gear bay before the interior will be all set for the halves to come together but that won't take long. Almost there!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:34 pm    Post subject: 12-23-16 Reply with quote

Holiday break started this past week so that meant I could get some time in on the Black Widow project again. Since I need to airbrush Yellow Chromate for the landing gear bays, I decided to get the wings together and prep the twin booms for that.

The wings go together fairly smoothly but since they trap the flaps and ailerons in a design to keep them movable, it makes getting it all together a little tricky. I used a combination of regular glue on the inside contact surfaces followed by liquid glue on the external edges and clamps to hold it all together while the glue set.



Some light sanding cleaned up the seam edges and I added the oil cooler inserts and the PE air brake flaps in the closed position since these would only be open while in the air. The PE parts have angled supports that have to be removed to install them in the closed position, easily done by using the etched bend line and bending them more than once until the ends come free. I also assembled the rear elevator section and the two small flap portions that install between the crew pod and the tail booms.



Speaking of the booms, I cleaned up the halves for each boom and assembled the main landing gear bays that go with them. After some test fits, I decided to install the bays in the boom half opposite the narrow section that the gear strut installs into so I could still access everything for painting and also be able to install the strut later on without interference. There were some tricky ejector marks that had to be removed with a round needle file to allow the bay bulkheads to install correctly and also remove some marks that will still be visible with the gear doors open.



Last, but not least, I cleaned up all the gear bay doors for the main gear and nose gear so they could get their dose of Yellow Chromate as well.



One thing's for sure, this Widow is going to be on the heavy side once it's all put together! Smile
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:07 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-25-16 Reply with quote

Merry Christmas everyone!

I decided to hold off on the airbrush work just a bit since there are some other parts that can benefit from a session and I'm always a believer in maximizing the paint time for obvious reasons. To that end, I spent some effort on getting the engines together and cleaning up the cowls and flaps. I decided to go with the open cowl flap option since the kit gives you the choice of different separate flap parts for either open or closed. The engine crankcases were also assembled and cleaned up and the one-piece propeller/spinner combinations were also dealt with. Can't say I'm 100% thrilled with GWH's choice to go that route with the props, but it is what it is. There was a slight mold seam/shift between the prop blades where they meet the spinner due to the pitch on the blades that had to be carefully sanded down while preserving the curve on the spinner that was a little tricky. Sanding twigs to the rescue!



The engines possess a pretty nice level of detail in the molded parts but virtually all of it gets hidden away inside the cowls once it's all put together and in place on the mount booms. A test fit with the exhaust pipes also shows that their fit is pretty tight and I'll have to slightly sand down/trim the pipes to be able to slide in place properly. Either that or just cut down the longer pipes since they will be totally invisible once installed, have to decide which way I want to go.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:00 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-26-16 Reply with quote

Made the most of the airbrush session today, laying down a primer coat of MM enamel Flat Black to all the areas that needed Yellow Chromate plus the props and engine cowl flaps that will get a dose of Red later on. For the Yellow Chromate, I used the standard Testors enamel color in the little square bottle properly thinned and sprayed through the airbrush over the Flat Black in thin coats to allow the Flat Black to work as a pre-shade as well.





With that out of the way, I added the cockpit instrument panels that I'd left off previously and permanently installed all of the interior components into the fuselage pod on the right side. The fit of all the modules is pretty tight together as all three interact with each other to varying degrees in their placement. The only wobbly component is the turret cylinder, so I had to fit it carefully to make sure it lined up properly with the opening in the roof. I also added the clear windows to the radar operators pod at the rear since they have to go in now before the halves can be joined.



With all of the interior stuff in place, I painted up the nose gear strut since it has to sandwich in the bay between the fuselage halves and fitted it in place. Then the real fun of getting the fuselage halves together began. The mount pin holes weren't quite large enough for the pins to fit flush, so I used a micro drill bit to enlarge them enough to remove that obstacle. Starting at the nose, I added liquid glue to the seams and used a combination of rubber bands, clamps, and finger pressure to get it all together.



The two halves lined up pretty well with just a couple of small spots around the 20mm gun bays on the underside that will need some putty attention to completely fill. That will come tomorrow!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:28 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-27-16 Reply with quote

More progress today, I started in with the fuselage pod clean-up after it had a chance to set up overnight. I used Squadron white putty to fill a couple of gaps in different spots and also to help remove a slight step that occurred on the top near the cockpit edge. That step was a by-product of the locator pin that originally was there getting broken off back at the very beginning when I did the first dry-fits. I had used a small copper clip to try to minimize that and it was partly successful with the putty taking care of the rest.

I also noticed that the egg-shaped antenna that goes on the pod underside relies on a cutout to fit...but the instructions never tell you to open up the spot required on the pod halves. I removed the little mount tab so it would sit flush and added it (the instructions also erroneously label it as part F55, there are two different ones on the F sprue to choose from, F60 or 61) flush to the underside halfway between the little smaller antenna and the radar operator's access hatch. Speaking of that hatch, it was also installed along with the ammo access doors for the 20mm gun bay.



EDIT: I was flipping through reference photos in the Squadron In Action book for something else on this build and it suddenly jumped out at me that the little egg-shaped antenna wasn't present on the underside of any of the P-61 variants pictured and the photos of one of Lady in the Dark's squadron mates, The Spook, clearly shows a 'clean' profile on the pod behind the hatch. So that got me wondering, and I found this photo of Lady in the Dark captioned as being on Ie Shima in 1945.



It shows an egg-shaped antenna, but on the boom, not the pod! That would explain, I guess, why there are 2 in the kit but they are never mentioned in the instructions. I'm guessing they took the place of the blade antennas at some point that are on each boom, but not 100% sure as the reference book never shows them or mentions them. So with that now known, I removed it from the pod and sanded it back clean.





Next major item on the list is the twin tail booms. I used liquid glue to join the boom halves together starting at the front and working my way back using finger pressure along the way to get a solid join. I did a quick check with the main landing gear and it's just possible to slide the gear in and out of the pin slots, so that will make life a lot easier from a painting/finishing standpoint. Rudders were assembled around the hinge points on each boom and I also added the PE intake screens to the undersides of each boom. Light sanding on the join seams was all that was needed to clean them up.



Time for the big plunge, adding the booms to the wings. It's important to keep the booms straight so that they attach to the correct wing so I had marked the tops of the gear bays so I could double-check that with the instructions before committing to the glue. Regular glue was applied to the engine nacelles so I could adjust the fit with the wing and then liquid glue was applied around the exterior of the seam to get it all solid. After holding it together with finger pressure so the glue could grab, I added a rubber band to the rear of the wing where it meets the boom for some extra help. There's a small gap on each wing in that area that will need some putty attention to fill but nothing too serious.




The P61 is a big bird, once the pod is added it's going to be fun handling it for both painting and photos!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-28-16 Reply with quote

One of the things I really like about this kit is that it includes an excellent solution to the tail-sitting problem by way of a very large and appropriate nose counterweight. The counterweight is a hefty chunk of cast white metal that is shaped to fit inside the radome nose perfectly in place of the radar gear. To secure it in place, I used CA gel around the weight at roughly its midpoint and slid it into the clear radome nose. This was followed by some 2-part Aves EpoxySculpt to ensure it wouldn't come loose and rattle around in the future and also would add a little more weight to fill up the nose proper. Once that had started to cure, I added the nose bulkhead to the pod and then installed the nose permanently in place with liquid glue so I could make sure it all lined up properly. Due to the heavy weight, I braced it up vertically inside the kit box and let gravity help out for an hour or so while the glue firmly set.



I had debated whether or not to fit the pod to the wings before working on all the canopy glass or after, so I did some test fits to see how it would all play together to help make up my mind. The fit is good but not perfect, so that made the decision for me as handling is much simpler with the pod separate, especially since there are multiple parts needed to get the cockpit and radar operator areas' glazing done. The kit has the option to pose portions of both the forward and rear areas open but these will be closed up for my build. To facilitate that, I installed the large portions in place first with a combination of liquid glue and careful finger pressure to get it all to fit properly. I used latex gloves to prevent leaving any prints on the clear parts during their clean up and installation during this process, just had to be careful not to get any glue on the latex.



Some careful sanding and putty work was necessary in a couple of spots. I also painted up the small reinforcing strip for the clear tail cone and installed it in place as the last piece of the canopy work. To protect the clear parts and remove any imperfections created during the install and sanding clean up, I brushed on a coat of Future to all the exterior clear surfaces. I'll let that cure up overnight before I add the kit-suppled pre-cut masks over the glass areas.



Last, but not least, I masked off the propeller blades with thin strips of masking tape to go around the compound curves and airbrushed some MM enamel Insignia Red for the hubs and cowl flaps. MM enamel Gelb was airbrushed for the tip markers as well.



Tomorrow should see the whole thing come together in anticipation of throwing some Gloss Black at this baby.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:04 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-29-16 Reply with quote

Today's effort focused exclusively on getting all the clear parts masked off in preparation for joining the pod and booms together and ultimately leading to the main paint work for the body. Little did I know just how long that was going to take. I knew it wasn't going to be quick, after all there are 44 different panels/areas that need to be masked off on this baby. The kit supplies self-adhesive pre-cut masks that are made out of a soft flexible vinyl material and they help considerably with the masking effort, but they don't quite make it effortless. Some of the masks fit better than others and virtually all of them required some kind of trimming or adjustment to get them into the correct shape.

Each mask was burnished down with a wooden toothpick and I used an Optivisor and a sharp #11 blade to carefully trim away the extra material where needed. It was a slow process, taking about 4 hours in total to get it all done. Oddly enough, the masks don't address the four small windows just forward of the tail cone, so I used some of the extra material on the masking sheet and made my own for them. The little bits of blue tape are regular painter's tape that helped supplement in a couple of spots where either the mask wasn't quite the right shape or I needed to add just a little more to get it right. I did end up removing the three small nuts on each of the triangular ports on the forward windscreen as they were making it impossible to mask off those areas effectively.



I've attached both wings and they are going to dry overnight before I fit the rear stabilizer since the booms have to be put under a little bit of tension to close up properly and I don't want to run the risk of warping out one of the wings in the process of doing that.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:51 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-30-16 Reply with quote

Big push today towards the finish line as a follow-on to yesterday's work. I added the wings to the fuselage pod and let them set up overnight since the rear stabilizer needed the booms to be put under some slight tension to match up properly. A pair of rubber bands, liquid glue, and a little hand-holding later and it was all in place.



The last remaining structural detail was the quad-50 turret for the fuselage top, so that was taken care of as well. The assembly is a little tricky in terms of getting the guns lined up at the right elevation, each one has a little wiggle room in their mount so some patience is necessary to get all 4 sitting like they should. The instructions indicate that it should be able to rotate freely on top of the cylinder but mine sits very loose and will be glued down later after painting and detailing.



Speaking of paint, it was time to get the airbrush busy on the main paint work. I used MM enamel Flat Black as the overall basecoat color and built it up slowly using multiple thin passes.



The Pacific environment wasn't kind to the gloss black finish on the P-61s and I wanted to produce a faded look, so I added a few drops of MM enamel Light Gray to the Flat Black to create a faded lighter shading coat. This was applied close-up, working a section at a time, and using the straight Flat Black as a pre-shade layer as well.



Takes a while, but it produces a nice result I think. It's subtle but what I was aiming for in the first place. Rather than try to do it with enamel Gloss Black, I will apply a Gloss varnish layer later on after the decals are in place to create the gloss finish to go with the faded look.



While I was at it, I also did the same work on the still separate pieces for the turret, gear doors, and engine cowls.



All that's left now is getting the landing gear together and detailing the engines, so moving right along!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1772

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 8:25 pm    Post subject: WIP 12-31-16 Reply with quote

Today's update is reflective of the amount of progress reached, so apologies for the semi-epic nature! A good way to cap off 2016 though as the Black Widow is very close now to the finish line.

First order of business, the engines! I got the detail paint work done using non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal for the cylinder heads and added the kit-supplied PE ignition wires and harness ring. The crankshaft case was detailed with Gunship Gray and the whole thing carefully assembled along with the cowl flap base.



I modified the exhaust pipes by cutting down the long pipes that were meant to connect up to the front bank of cylinders as 1) they wouldn't fit otherwise due to the space constraints and 2) those pipes aren't visible anyway once it's all mounted. I applied a wash of MM enamel Leather over the Gunmetal to provide some burnt rust/oxidation to the exhausts themselves.



A quick test fit with the cowls showed everything was playing nice even if it all but disappears inside, we know it's there!



The cowls don't have any locating guides so I decided to fit the engines to the booms first so I could place the cowls in the correct alignment afterwards. Regular glue was used to help give it a little extra grab due to the relatively small contact surfaces involved. I also picked out the oil cooler intakes with some of the non-buffing Gunmetal while I was at it.



Once the engines had set solid, I added the cowls to both booms. I also picked out the .50-cals on the turret and the 20mm belly guns with the non-buffing Gunmetal and installed the turret permanently in place on top of the fuselage.



That left one very important area to deal with, the landing gear! The kit's tires are split half affairs for all three wheels, so I opted to replace them with some Eduard Brassin tires. The resin tires are one piece with separate hubs, so they were all cleaned up and the hubs handpainted separately with MM non-buffing Metalizer Steel. Eduard conveniently includes masks with the tires for two options, one where the hubs are in place and one not (very convenient!), and I used the separate mask option and airbrushed the tires with MM enamel Gunmetal.



As with any aftermarket replacement, there's usually some degree of modification/work needed to make it play nice. For the wheel hubs, I had to open up their openings slightly with a drill bit/needle file combo before the kit strut axles would fit correctly. Not a big deal, just a lot of careful back and forth until the fit worked out. I fitted the gear first and did some test fits to make sure the flattened bottoms of the tires sat correctly in relation to each other. Once that was set, I added the opposite hub halves and then mounted all the gear doors. The doors were a bit of an exercise in patience as their contact points inside the bays aren't very big and some of the notches didn't quite fit properly, so careful trimming and gluing plus some strategic bracing and waiting for glue to set was called for to get all the doors in place. I also picked out the wing landing lights with some enamel Silver and will add the lenses in later as a final detail along with the wing tip lights when the time comes.

Technically the doors aren't 100% accurate for the B since they were redesigned as cyclic doors to close up and only expose the strut post to prevent dirt/rocks/mud from getting slung up into the bay on rougher forward strips. GWH didn't completely redesign them though for the B in terms of allowing the longer side to clear the angled portion of the strut and close properly, so I ended up posing them all full open. Not a huge deal for me as it has the added benefit of showing off the detail work I did on the bays to begin with! Wink



She's now up on her own two feet. I've left the props off, for now, to make it easier to handle her while adding the markings and also to give a little more room to work on removing the masks.



I've applied a coat of Future in anticipation of the decal work to come for tomorrow, going to be another busy round with lots of little tiny red stencils to add all over the place.
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