Started: Feb 2015
Finished: Oct 2015
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The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft with a two-man crew that served during and after the Second World War. It was one of few operational front-line aircraft of the era constructed almost entirely of wood and was nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder". The Mosquito was also known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews. Originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber, the Mosquito was adapted to roles including low to medium-altitude daytime tactical bomber, high-altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike aircraft, and fast photo-reconnaissance aircraft. It was also used by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) as a fast transport to carry small high-value cargoes to, and from, neutral countries, through enemy-controlled airspace. A single passenger could be carried in the aircraft's bomb bay, which was adapted for the purpose.
When production of the Mosquito began in 1941, it was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world. Entering widespread service in 1942, the Mosquito was a high-speed, high-altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft, continuing in this role throughout the war. From mid-1942 to mid-1943, Mosquito bombers flew high-speed, medium or low-altitude missions against factories, railways and other pinpoint targets in Germany and German-occupied Europe. From late 1943, Mosquito bombers were formed into the Light Night Strike Force and used as pathfinders for RAF Bomber Command's heavy-bomber raids. They were also used as "nuisance" bombers, often dropping Blockbuster bombs - 4,000 lb (1,812 kg) "cookies" - in high-altitude, high-speed raids that German night fighters were almost powerless to intercept.
The Mosquito B Mk.IV
On 21 June 1941 the Air Ministry ordered that the last 10 Mosquitoes, ordered as photo-reconnaissance aircraft, should be converted to bombers. These 10 aircraft were part of the original 1 March 1940 production order and became the B Mk IV Series 1. W4052 was to be the prototype and flew for the first time on 8 September 1941.
The bomber prototype led to the B Mk IV, of which 273 were built: apart from the 10 Series 1s, all of the rest were built as Series 2s with extended nacelles, revised exhaust manifolds, with integrated flame dampers, and larger tailplanes. Series 2 bombers also differed from the Series 1 in having a larger bomb bay to increase the payload to four 500 lb (230 kg) bombs, instead of the four 250 pounds (110 kg) bombs of Series 1. This was made possible by shortening the tail of the 500 pounds (230kg) bomb so that these four larger weapons could be carried (or a 2,000 lb (920;kg) total load). The B Mk IV entered service in May 1942 with 105 Squadron.
In April 1943 it was decided to convert a B Mk IV to carry a 4,000 lb (1,812 kg), thin-cased high explosive bomb (nicknamed "Cookie"). The conversion, including modified bomb bay suspension arrangements, bulged bomb bay doors and fairings, was relatively straightforward, and 54 B.IVs were subsequently modified and distributed to squadrons of RAF Bomber Command's Light Night Striking Force. 27 B Mk IVs were later converted for special operations with the Highball anti-shipping weapon, and were used by 618 Squadron, formed in April 1943 specifically to use this weapon. The B Mk IV had a maximum speed of 380 mph (610 km/h), a cruising speed of 265 mph (426 km/h), ceiling of 34,000 ft (10,000 m), a range of 2,040 nmi (3,780 km), and a climb rate of 2,500 ft per minute
In mid February 2015 I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-release "test shot" of the then upcoming Hong Kong Models (HKM) 1:32 Mosquito B Mk.IV via my friend Adam @ themodellingnews.com
The "test shot" as supplied came with the Series II nacelles and single stage merlin engines. HKM have said repeatedly on their Facebook page that they are working on parts for the two stage merlin and I'd expect those to be provided in a future boxing. I have not specifically seen any mention of a FB version but that seems logical also.
I'd like to start off by saying I am not a Mosquito expert. Like most of you I get what reference material I can from the internet and books/magazine I have on hand. I usually don't go too overboard when it comes to detailing my 1:48 scale kits but I feel that 1:32 lends itself to (almost demands) an extra level of detail which can be appreciated with the naked eye in the larger size this scale affords.
The only part of the kit that I felt needed some serious attention was the cockpit and nose interior. I was underwhelmed by the level of detail provided by HKM in the box and so took some fairly extreme steps to add detail. Most folk won't go this effort but I enjoyed the challenge and I felt the end result was worth the extra time it took.
Like most of you, I too have read much about the new molding technologies that HKM are using to greatly simplify the fuselage and wing into single piece molds and having now seen and worked with them firsthand they certainly offer many benefits (and perhaps some drawbacks, but more on that later in the build).
This kit has unfortunately been overshadowed in many peoples mind by the Tamiya release. Having now built it I can say it is certainly worthy of your consideration. I know that many will buy the Tamiya kit just "because it's a Tamiya" and then leave it in the cupboard too intimidated at its complexity. The HKM kit by comparison is extremely buildable and for the most part it just clicks together. included)
As you would expect construction starts with the interior. Because HKM have molded the nose in a single piece they have needed to devise a way to assemble the interior as a standalone module which can then be inserted, when complete, into the single piece nose section. Here we see the interior "module" dry fitted with tape. Note the alignment channels on the side walls that ensure you will not have any fitment issues when mating this with the nose section. The cushions on the seats also jumped out at me as needing enhancing and ultimately I cut them off and replaced with Magic Sculpt.
At this point I had not consulted any photos of the real aircraft but was already feeling that the interior detail looked a bit sparse for 1:32, and that it would therefore benefit from some additions. I want to point at that I've yet to find any detail that I would consider inaccurate (ie needed correcting).
The floor of the cockpit forms the roof of the bomb bay, much like the real aircraft. Comparing the detail in the bomb bay to photos I felt that HKM did a good enough job and once painted up would be more than adequate. Over the years I have become less and less picky about wheel wells and bomb bays as often they are packed full of things that obscure the detail anyway.
As I was in a dry fitting mood I continued on and assembled the cockpit into the forward fuselage and mated the one piece wing. I was very impressed with the fit of the canopy framing and the click fit of the clear parts on the fuselage and framing. I was also curiuos about just much of the cockpit interior would be seen through the canopy with all that framing.
Construction proper started with the pilot seat. I've never really liked molded on seat cushions as it seems virtually impossible for any manufacturer to reproduce the look of the cloth/leather realistically. Removing the seat pan cushion was a achieved by discarding part T37 and building the seat pan frame using some plasticard. The seat back cushion was a bit more of a challenge as it is hollow and this results in a large cutout on the back of the seat. This needs to be dealt with as it will be very visible on the finished model
The single piece molding for the seat back and cushion means you need to either fill the hole on the rear like I have done or cover it over. I think it would have been better if HKM had molded the seat and cushion in two separate parts rather than one in this case.
During my initial dry fitting I also noticed a number of other things I added to my fix list. I noticed that the sidewalls of the interior module did not extend all the way to the front of the nose and the rear of the cockpit. This results in a noticeable step where the module parts end and also means that any attempt to run wiring or cabling along the sidewalls would be a challenge (if not impossible). I needed to find a way to solve this so I put my thinking cap on.
Much like the cushion on the pilots seat, the navigator's seat is molded in the same way, as a single piece. This time both the seat and backrest cushion are affected. The seat cushion has been molded onto the shelf on which it sits. The underside of this part forms the top of the bomb bay. As a result, the cutout left by the cushion results in a large visible hole that has to be dealt with in the bomb bay roof.
Here we can see the partially assembled cockpit as seen from below. The cushion cutout is very noticeable on the horizontal part. Also notice the small square cutout on the vertical wall caused by another molded on part in the cockpit. As before with the pilot seat, perhaps a better option for HKM was to mold the seat cushion(s) separately so they did not compromise the parts they attach to
My solution was to fill the hole with plasticard and replace the missing detail on the bomb bay roof. It's possible that this will be addressed on the final release kit.
One last example of how the one piece seat cushions are not ideal is found on the navigator's backrest
Here I have added a back plate to both the radio transmitter/receiver components and discarded the navigator's armored backrest in favor of some 20 thou card. I have also removed the seat cushion and repaired the hole with card. The R1155 radio receiver module has been raised up on a scratchbuilt rack as this better matched photos and drawings I was able to find of the normal configuration in wartime Mosquitos.
The instrument panel is quite nicely done when viewed from the front. I would assume that HKM will provide us with some decals for the instrument dial faces however for my pre-release test shot I had to dig into the spares box for some Airscale dials. From the rear the IP lacks any instrument body detail or cabling and so I added a few short lengths of plastic rod and some wiring from 0.3mm lead solder. The rudder pedals are also molded in one piece with the bottom of the instrument panel. Not ideal for 1:32 but given it will be well buried in the cockpit I decided not to spend time over detailing this area.
At this point I needed to figure out what I was going to do about the sidewalls. My first idea was to use plasticard to extend the sidewalls (parts M20 and M21) and you can see here I started down that path by laminating some 20 thou card on the back of the right sidewall. This bit was easy enough but the curves of the nose gave me a moment of pause and I wondered if there was perhaps a better solution.
Decision time: After much thought and consideration I concluded that the easiest way for me to get proper access to the full length of the cockpit interior sidewalls, so I could detail them, was to cut open that wonderful single piece nose. It seemed like a shame and some people would never dream of doing this to a kit, but I decided that it was not that big of a job when you consider it's only four cuts (and then the subsequent seams to re-join). The Mosquito has virtually no panel lines to be lost by cutting and so my mind was made up. I measured carefully (and then measured again) and used a 10 thou PE saw blade to cut along the centreline. Pactra vinyl tape was used as a guide to ensure no slipups
With the nose now separated, detailing the cockpit could continue much more like a normal model. I realise it may seem odd to essentially un-assemble something the kit maker has so carefully engineered, but to me this hobby is about problem solving and the way the nose was moulded was not working for me. Others may think I am crazy and perhaps there is a better way, but for me this was the best solution.
The first task in improving the sidewalls was to remove the step between the module sidewall and the fuselage. For this I tried something new for me, Tamiya Epoxy Putty. This worked much as I expected and I finished off the blending with plain old Tamiya Basic Putty. Using several sources of reference I set about adding bits and
The final result ended up with considerably more detailing than I have originally planned. I was enjoying the detailing work so much that I just kept adding things. There is always more you can do but once I got to this point I decided enough was enough.
The port sidewall took a little less time than the starboard but essentially I just looked at pictures and drawings and manufactured each part I needed from copper wire, lead solder, some brass rod and lots of plasticard. I also decided I wanted to move the instrument panel rearwards (closer to the pilot) by about 10mm which meant the compass also needed to be relocated.
With the sidewalls detailed up I returned my attention to the floor and rear shelf. Magic-sculpt was used to create new cushions for the navigators seat and backrest and detailing was added to the R1154/T1155 radio components mostly using my punch sets (round and hexagonal)
Wiring looms were added to give some visual detail to the rear cockpit bench. Several sizes of lead solder was used to give some variety. A new scatchbuilt rear was constructed for the radio transmitter. HKM did add a new part to the final release kit to correct this oversight.
A final view of the detailing work of the rear cockpit area. The radio receiver unit has been mounted on a scratchbuilt rack and its wiring looms added.
With the rear cockpit complete I decided to add some small details in and around the pilots station. The kit is missing the control rods that connect the yoke to the chain pulley and it is also missing the parking brake lever which is quite prominent on the front of the yoke.
A quick test fit of the side wall up against the floor to ensure everything plays nicely together. Much of this will be hidden by the seat but I still get a sense of satisfaction from this kind of work.
With most of the detailing now complete I was naturally curious to see what it looked like when assembled. It's the age old modeller's dilemma, why put effort into something you won't really see on the finished model? My take on this is that whilst you may not be able to see the specific detail of everything that's been added, it's the cumulative effect that having all of it "being there" that adds a "busy/realistic" feel to the cockpit and hence life to the model, at least I think so. I also believe that if something is enjoyable in our hobby then why stop doing it just because it won't be seen by others ?
I realise that most modelers will not want go this far with their build. That is fine as there are many schools of thought, and opening it up this way will not be for everyone. I like to challenge myself on each new build and in this case I saw a good chance to learn some new scratchbuilding techniques. It's a bit old school I guess using just plasticard, putty and wire with a little bit of elbow grease, but it is rewarding and I get a real sense of achievement, more so than using resin that someone else has created.
Even with the seat in place and the IP yet to be installed the detailing work is fairly easily appreciated from this top down angle.
I have taken quite a liking lately to the Tamiya rattle can Grey Primer. I don't like to use spray cans direct and so will decant the contents into a smaller jar to allow them to be used in my airbrush. I believe the Tamiya primer is lacquer based and it sprays to a very smooth silky finish. It's a touch lighter than neutral grey and is an ideal base cost over which to start applying color coats of any type (enamel, acrylic or lacquer)
The primer coat allows us to see any blemishes or mistakes allowing for corrections before we commit to final painting. I was very pleased with my detailing work and saw nothing that I felt needed attention at this stage.
The instrument panel is loosely held in place here. I had pre-painted the rudder pedals and the interior of the foot cavity and this is what the small strips of Tamiya tape you can see are covering.
First coat of color on the interior is RAF BS283 Aircraft Gray Green. The Gunze Sangyo (GSI Creos) Mr Colour range of lacquer paints provides this as part of their Aircraft Interior Color Set. The bottle number is C364 and as far as I know is only available from this set and not separately. You can also see I have started to pick out the details by hand using Vallejo 862 Black Grey. I very rarely use pure black as I prefer the less stark effect provided by a muted black. When spraying black I will normally use Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black or XF-69 Nato Black.
The main instrument panel gets a coat of Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black then a gloss coat of Future and finally I used some Airscale Instrument decals for the dial faces. Remember I was working with a pre-release test shot of the kit and had no HKM supplied decals. Eventually the assorted dial bezels, levers etc will be hand painted as well.
Building up paint on the layers of detail in the cockpit is how I approach this phase. I work on the lower (closer to the base) layers (like cabling etc) first and then progressively paint the top layers. It takes time with so many little parts but as they say "the devil is in the details". All hand painting here is done with the Vallejo acrylic range as I like the longer working time and smooth (brush stroke free) finish when dry of these paints. The exception to using Vallejo paints for all hand painting is for metallic parts. For this I prefer the Citadel metalic paints as they look more realistic to me.
Here we see the mostly completed cockpit floor section. After the hand painting of each item I use a series of washes and dry brushing to give the parts some depth. I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most steady hand painter in the world and rely on washes and dry brushing to cover up little slips and wobbly hands.
This photo shows quite well the results you can get with the use of dark washes on cabling to bring out the detail and add depth to the finish. These days you have a huge choice of pre-made washes from the likes of AK Interactive and MiG Ammo but you can also just make up your own using enamel paint and thinners (I like white spirit).
Mating the floor to the starbooard sidewall and I was starting to feel the extra detailing work was well worth it now. The plywood floor section for the pilots feet and the leather cover at the bottom of the control yoke were achieved by applying a suitable base color and then coats of artist oil paint. I did quite a bit of experimenting with achieving a decent plywood finish on my B-17G interior and it's paid off here. Basically a base coat of Tamiya XF-78 Wooden Deck Tan has been covered with a brushed coat of Raw Sienna oil paint. The oil paint has not been thinned and is therefore fairly thick which results in visible stroke marks of differing shades just like real wood.
Seen from a slightly different angle we can see a little more of the detail added to the forward nose section. The bomb sight has yet to be added to the very front of the floor. For hand painting of metallic parts I use the Games Workshop Citadel paints as I find they brush really well and look convincing as a metal finish.
The completed port sidewall. Notice the use of a few generic placard decals on the sidewall. These were again taken from assorted Airscale sheets. A light dry brush of Model Master Chrome Silver has been added to the edges of most metal parts (need to be careful in a Mosquito cockpit because many parts are wood remember) to give a worn look.
A final view of the cockpit interior. I wanted to make sure I photographed the detail included here before I added the pilot seat and then ultimately closed up the fuselage. One thing is for sure, if I had not taken the step to cut and open the fuselage earlier, a lot of this would have been possible. This photo gives us a sense of just how cramped the Mosquito office really was, especially when you consider two men sat in here
As I was working with a pre-release version of the kit I had no access to the PE seat harnesses that HKM eventually supplied with the kit. To be honest even if I had the PE belts I would not have used them as there are just so many better alternatives now days. I have been looking for a reason to try out the RB Productions range of paper belts and this build provided the perfect opportunity. I purchased two sets of the RB-P32016 1/32 Sutton QK harness off eBay and set to work.
The RB set comes with individual textured paper for the harness straps. PE brass is used for the buckles, clips and grommets. If you use this set be sure to read the provided notes before starting as you need to be careful on the type of glue used (no CA) and how you weather the paper without destroying it. As you can imagine assembling a full Sutton harness in 1/32 scale is fiddly, time consuming work. You will need to be patient and have a magnifying glass handy.
I used Elmers Glue-All (PVA) to assemble the belts and a heavily watered down Vallejo Brown wash to dirty them up once complete.
I really like the final result you can get with these belts as they have a realistic scale cloth texture to them and sit quite naturally when added to the seat. All in all a much better result than I have ever achieved with PE belts.
At this point the cockpit was complete and I just wanted to snap a set of final photos before I sealed it all up. I hope that even if you don't want go this far with your Mossie that this helps some folks to take the first step into scratchbuilding.
It remains to be seen how much of my detailing work will be seen with the canopy in place but for right now I'm very happy with how its looking. These photos show the cockpit from various angles to allow us to assess the final result.
With the cockpit done and dusted its time to follow the assembly instructions sequence which continues with the tailplane section. Much has been said about the use of single piece molding by HKM for the larger parts like the fuselage and wings but they have also used this technique for many of the smaller parts as well. The horizontal tail, as well as all the control surfaces, have been molded top and bottom as a single piece. This means that as a modeler we do not have to worry about joining these and addressing the leading edge seam
Here we see the fixed tail and elevator. The single piece fixed tail is hollow with a cutout on the trailing edge. The elevator is also a single piece mold and the rounded leading edge is provided to be glued on. When the elevator is fitted to the fixed tail it is fully workable and sits snugly into the recess and looks very realistic.
The tailwheel and bay is well detailed with the mud guard and interior bracing being provided. This photo shows the painted bay and tailwheel with the external cover removed. The fit of these parts is close to perfect with very tight tolerances being achieved by HK
The internet is a wonderful resource for modelers. This photo shows a lot of detail on the Mosquito tailwheel undergoing restoration.
Construction now turns to the main undercarriage and nacelle/wheel wells. The main gear on the Mosquito is quite interesting as deHavilland used many alternate techniques to try and once again reduce the need for metal. The main struts do not use the common hydraulic oleo strut shock absorber system but rather they are simply filled with rubber rings that when compressed (on landing) perform the shock absorbing function. The undercarriage door closing mechanism is likewise ingeniously simple and consists of a series of cables that literally pull the doors closed as the gear retracts
This photo shows a useful overall view of the externally visible parts of the Mosquito main undercarriage. Note the complex looking piping framework attached to both struts. This looks complicated but in reality its whole purpose is to manually push the gear bay doors open as the gear rotates down. To close the doors during gear retraction a length of wire cabling (which snaked around the main struts on a roller) was used to pull them as the gear went up. Simple but effective.
Both left and right main undercarriage assemblies are reproduced accurately by HKM and hence consist of many parts. Normally I like to leave attaching the wheel to the very end of a build but in this case the wheel needs to sandwiched between both struts and so some painting needs to be completed prior to assembly.
A simple enhancement was made to the axle clamp by trimming the kit part (shown on the right) and adding some bolt heads from punched discs.
The only extra detail that I felt needed adding to the struts was the single brake line that runs down the outside of the each strut. Note that each tire already has a flat spot to give the impression of weight and you need to be mindful where this is located on the tire when you attach the wheel to the strut
A good photo of the rear of the main wheel well showing the gear door retraction springs (no hi tech hydraulic retraction here). The gear bay is quite sparse compared to other aircraft largely in part I suspect because being a twin configuration the engines are stuck out on the wing by themselves so there is little need for the wheel bays to be filled with cabling and fluid lines snaking their way to other parts of the rear fuselage, like many other aircraft
Something about the cleverness of using plain old springs appealed to me and I decided to reproduce them on my model. The best way to do this is to wrap some copper wire around a suitably sized drill bit or other circular rod. When you have wrapped enough to match the length required just slide the "spring" off the drill bit and straighten out the ends. I added some white plasticard mounts with small drilled holes onto the bulkheads. The copper springs were then attached and glued. Simple but effective.
The nacelles house the wheel wells and forward of the wing, the engines. Some piping detail is molded on the roof of the kit wheel well and this could be enhanced if you so desire. The sidewalls have ribbing and the inevitable ejection pin marks that need to be removed
Once again the fit of the HKM parts is very good and the three parts that form the nacelle almost snap together.
The main oil tank for the Merlin engine is mounted in each Mosquito main wheel well with tubes and pipes running into and out of it thru the forward bulkhead. Assorted sizes of lead wire have been used to simulate this piping
Here we see the main parts of the undercarriage and nacelle loosely assembled. The forward bulkhead is a critical part as it is what the main gear is anchored to as well as providing the weight bearing attachment point for the engine (note the U shaped protrusion which slides inside the main engine block.) I've said it before but the fit of all these parts really is very good which definitely enhances the enjoyment factor of the build
With the nacelle and main gear assembly done its time to turn my attention to the engines. HKM provide two full engines, including the mounting struts. I don't plan to display the model with the cowlings off so won't be adding extra details like piping and electrical cabling that would be the icing on the cake for this part of the model
The Mosquito Mk IV was fitted with single stage Merlin 21 engines. The layout and mounting of the engines were fairly straightforward on the Mosquito and HKM have done a reasonable job in capturing the general shape of the iconic V12 engine.
The completed engines look pretty good and would form a solid base for any super detailing efforts. HKM have gone down the path of providing molded on cabling/piping details which is not optimal for 1:32 and I would have preferred to see them make several of these parts separately so when glued they stand proud of the engine block
The early Mosquito engines (as found on the Mk IV) had 5 exhaust stubs for each bank of 6 cylinders, the last two cylinders sharing one exhaust tube. You can see here that the end of each stub is lightly hollowed out and with careful painting will be enough to give the impression of a hollow tube. I'd expect that the likes of Quickboost will jump on this and give us resin replacements soon enough. Bear in mind that if you plan to leave the cowlings on then none of the engine (or exhaust) will be seen as the Mk IV was originally fitted with integrated flame damper coverings which completely covered the exhaust stubs.
Step 24 in the assembly leads us onto that impressive one piece wing. The wing is not literally molded as a single solid piece of plastic, it is in fact hollow and the best way to imagine what it looks like is if someone took the models wings, both top and bottom, and they glued the leading edge for you and handed it back. The trailing edge is open and as per the instructions we need to glue in place parts K13,14,17 and 18 which form the gloves into which the flaps and ailerons will sit
Like the larger wings piece, each control surface is also molded as a single piece (well top and bottom and sides anyway). You need to glue onto the flaps (and ailerons and elevators) their leading edge. The fit here was pretty good but I chose to fill and sand the seam and then re-scribe as needed.
The flap and aileron pairing for each wing come together quickly and are designed to be workable when fitted to the wing (they literally snap fit into mounting hinges on the wing rear). Be prepared for some minor filling and sanding on the front joins if you desire that perfect finish (and don't we all desire that ?)
The kit comes with a choice of weapons loadout. You can fit the impressive 4,000lb "Cookie" bomb or as I have chosen to do the more common loadout of 4 x 500lb bombs. From what I have read the RAF had to modify the tails of the standard 500lb bombs to fit 4 of them into the Mosquito, hence the stubby tail fins you see here. In front of the bombs and rack is the fuselage fuel cells assembly consisting of two fuel bladders that sit in the top of the bomb bay.
A wartime photo (what better reference can you find) shows the very distinct color difference between the bomb bodies and tail fins. I also like the dog riding on the bomb trolley. Notice the patchy weathered finish on the bomb warheads. These were often stored outside (sometime covered by tarps) and so even when being loaded for delivery they looked pretty ratty.
The flaps and ailerons are a click fit into the rear of the wings. Some work to the flap hinges will be needed as I want to display them in the down position.
HKM provides two options for the wingtips navigation light layout. Both the earlier two light and later single light configurations are provided in the kit. 50 gallon wing slipper tanks are also provided although interestingly no corresponding mounting holes on the wing are present ?? (well none that I could find anyway)
Here we see the port outer wing section with both the early wing tip and aileron fitted. No filler was needed here as I used MEK liquid glue
I was not sure if I would end up using the wing slipper tanks on my build but decided to prepare them together just in case. I'm glad I did as they eventually made it onto the finished model.
Once the nacelles are glued in place you can choose to cover up the engine detail (as I will be doing) with the array of covers. As with the rest of the model the general fit of the nacelles and corresponding covers was very good.
Shown here are the top and side cowling covers along with the exhaust flame damper covers. Surface detail here is nice with the characteristic cover clips being reproduced by HKM around the edges. One thing worth mentioning was that I chose to ignore the assembly sequence set by HKM for the top part of the cowling. I did not glue this to the wing until after I secures the nacelles first. I'm not sure if this helped or hindered my build but either way I think you will need some clamps and tape to make all the part play well together while the glue dries.
HKM provides both style of propeller blades used on the Mosquito. The standard blade as shown here and the later paddle blades are provided. The spinners are a single piece molding with some subtle surface riveting.
As mentioned above HKM provides all the parts to enable you to model a modified Mosquito with the bulged bomb bay used to carry the 4000lb Cookie bomb. I do find it a bit odd that HKM asks us to fit the bomb bay sidewalls after we install the bomb itself. I don't plan to use this sequence of assembly myself nor do I intend to model a bulge bay Mosquito.
It has been calculated that a Mosquito could be loaded with a 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) "cookie" bomb, fly to Germany, drop the bomb, return, bomb up and refuel, fly back, drop a second bomb, and return, and still land before a Stirling (the slowest of Bomber Command's four-engined bombers) could strike Germany with a full bomb load.
Like most water cooled engines, the Merlin requires an external radiator to fulfil its significant cooling needs. On the Mosquito the designers cleverly installed the radiators into the wing leading edge between the engine nacelle and fuselage. A radiator flap was fitted and adjusted from the cockpit to allow the pilot to control the amount of air flowing thru the radiator as needed
The radiator is supplied by HKM with nice detail on the front and rear face. The radiator door is separate and can be mounted in any position desired by the modeller
The undercarriage doors and non-bulged bomb bay doors are provided with solid mounting points for the hinge assemblies. I decided to add some panel detail to the inside of the bomb bay doors as these look a bit plain as supplied by HKM
One of the main references I used during my build was the Aero Detail book. As I was studying the line drawings of the Mosquito one thing that jumped out at me was the panel line and rivet detail present on the metal parts. I think it stands out in drawings because the Mosquito being made almost entirely from wood means that the few metal areas with rivet detail are quite noticeable. HKM has unfortunately not provided any of the surface rivet details on the nacelles so I figured this was a good chance to get out my riveting tool (Rosie the Riveter) before I started to assemble the parts. Here is the starting canvas with no rivet runs.
The first step in riveting is to layout on the model surface just where the rivets will go. I find that using a strip of Tamiya tape to mark out the spacing works well, especially on curved surfaces where you can measure off the spacing on the tape and then wrap it onto the model.
Once you have the spacing marked out, use some type of vinyl tape (like Dymo) to act as a guide for the riveting wheel. I'd suggest you practice on a part of the model (the inside of a wing or fuselage half) to best determine the pressure needed to achieve good rivet depth with a single pass.
While consulting the Aero Detail drawings I also noticed that more rivet detail could be added to the nacelle upper surface. I felt that this could help break up the very "flat" surface of the Mosquito.
Using the Aero Detail drawings (and a quick visual check of the Tamiya 1/48 kit) led me to remove and replace several of the panel lines in this area as well. I'm now not 100% confident the drawings are accurate but I decided this after I had done the modifications and didn't want to second guess myself too much. My advice is to double check the location of the panel lines yourself before you follow in my footsteps.
The side and lower cowlings also had what looked to me like panel lines in the wrong place. I filled these with super glue and scribed new ones in the right place (based on photos and drawings).
The side cowlings had a few missing panels and rivet details when compared to the drawings and aircraft photos so I used my trusty Pactra tape and Tamiya scriber to add them back in.
With all the surface detailing completed it was time to break out the paint. First up was the interior of the main wheel wells. A primer coat of Flat Black was followed by a light coat of Mr Color H364 BS283 Aircraft Gray Green. Detail painting of the molded in wiring and cables would follow and finally an enamel wash.
The Mosquito undercarriage is a fairly complicated mechanism and so the model parts likewise are broken down into many pieces. Take care and test fit at this stage to make sure everything lines up correctly before you commit glue. For fiddly asemblies like this that are also load bearing I prefer to use two part epoxy glue rather than CA. I saw one Mosquito photo with the engine oil tank painted in the same primer red color found on the fuselage fuel cells. This was a recreated using a custom blended paint I made up from Tamiya acrylics. The metal parts of the undercarriage are "silver paint" on the Mossie and I have simulated this using Alclad Aluminium coated with Tamiya Flat Clear which takes off the Alclad metal sheen and makes it looks more like paint.
Here are both nacelles now assembled with the engines painted in black. The general fit in this area is very good with almost no adjustments needed. I could have left the engine unpainted but experience has taught me to never assume that interior sections of a model will be hidden. Painting it black means that I better protect myself in this event.
One last look at the nacelle assembly as seen from the top. As you can see no filler has been needed and the parts have been glued with thin liquid cement with no need for clamps or force fitting.
Because we needed to put the undercarriage in place before main painting I needed to find a easy way to mask this complex (and delicate) shape carefully. Everyday household aluminium foil was ideal as it was able to wrap around the whole wheel assembly and then be secured using Tamiya tapes strips. It was also a good opportunity for me to try out some Vallejo Masking Fluid which performed well much like Humbrol Maskol or Gunze Mr Masking Sol
On the bottom of each Mosquito engine cowling is a small oval shaped air intake covered by a protective mesh screen. As I had no PE fret supplied with my test shot kit I had to improvise and find some spare brass mesh that could be used to replicate the screen. The frame itself is supplied by HKM in plastic so all I had to do was cut the mesh to size and round off each end, it then dropped into place and was glued with CA from behind.
Here is what the mesh screen looked like when glued to the intake.
Next up I was ready to glue the canopy onto the forward fuselage. I however needed to firstly finish off the interior canopy framing. Some reading on the Mk IV Mosquito showed that many were fitted with a DF loop (Direction Finding) antenna inside the canopy frame. I fabricated this from a small strip of copper sheeting and used lead wire to simulate the cabling. This was then hand painted with Vallejo acrylics.
Being the bomber variant the HKM Mossie has the characteristic clear blister on the nose. The nose (like most bombers) has an optically flat panel thru which the bomber sight can get a clear (ie not distorted) image of the target. This blister is quite a complex part to mask due to the curves. I have found that you can mask just about anything if you cut your tape into thin enough strips. For very small diameter curves, where you just can't make tape lay flat when curved, you need to resort to creating circular discs and for that I normally turn to a punch set
The nose was now complete with the clear windows and nose blister attached to the fuselage. The main canopy was yet to be masked and I remember being most impressed with the canopy itself as even though it consisted of 5 parts, each one literally clicked into place and was held down by a few small drops of CA with no visible gaps.
A final dry fit of the major sub-assemblies is always a good idea prior to gluing. I'm happy to report no major fit challenges here. I have painted the very tip of the spinners with silver to allow me to apply chipping on this area after the main color paint is applied.
Here is a good view of the glued on canopy sections. As mentioned previously there are five separate clear parts that make up the canopy for this model. Each one attaches to the framing and to slots in the fuselage. As you tell the fit is extremely good
First task in masking aircraft canopies is to use thin strips of tape to outline the framing. This is plain old Tamiya tape cut into strips 1mm wide. Its takes some practice but once you get the hang of it you can mask up even a complex canopy like this fairly quickly
Last step is to fill in the center of the outlines with small sections of tape or liquid mask film where the shape is too complex for flat tape. A good example shown here is the blisters on each side of the canopy which I have covered with green Vallejo liquid mask
I wanted to display the flaps in the down position but was finding that something was interfering with the lowered flaps whenever I had the engine nacelles installed. I tried trimming the nacelle cutouts and in the end when nothing else seemed to work I just off the connecting rod between the inboard and outboard flap. This meant I had to come up with a new way to secure the flap ends which butted against the nacelle and a couple of blocks of plasticard did the job.
The port flaps, seen from the top, are now positioned at the correct angle. Also note the nacelle rivet detail now visible under a coat of Tamiya Primer.
Attaching the nacelles to the wing required a bit of effort to tidy up the seams. The main join that needed considerable time (on both sides) was the top cowling to wing join. I chose to leave this part off the wing until the main nacelle was glued to the lower wing. This was contrary to the HKM instructions and it did occur to me that perhaps I created my own mess in this case. I ended up with a nasty gap and step that needed to be dealt with. What you see here is after all the correctional work under a coat of primer.
The same nacelle seen from underneath. Again the wing to nacelle fit needed some force to sit flush and before priming I use Milliput to hide some gasp that remained.
With the nacelles now glued to the wings, it was now time to attach the forward fuselage to the wings. This was a pretty good fit and I used a clamp to keep everything lined up as the glue dried.
A view underneath shows the as-yet incomplete bomb bay. I have pre-painted the fuel cells and will mask them before assembling the bomb bay sidewalls. Also note that I have now mated the front and rear fuselage sections
One tip I picked up a long time ago is to apply a coat of the cockpit interior color to the clear canopy framing before you paint the exterior color. By doing this anyone looking thru the clear parts will see the correct interior color on the inside framing, rather than the exterior color.
At this point the main assembly was done. A small amount of Milliput was used to blend any gaps present between the fuselage and wing. The model was now becoming quite a challenge to handle due to its impressive size. My modelling desk is not large and I needed to regularly clear room so that I did not knock things over as I was working on it !!
The very last item to be masked was the tailwheel. I tried to figure out a way to paint the strut and then attach the wheel/tire but it was just not going to work that way. In the end I did the best I could to mask closely to the strut say as to avoid overspray on the tire and hub.
As a rule I don't always apply primer to the whole model but in this case I wanted to ensure the top color coats adhered well to the model. Tamiya spray can primer is very tough and grips the plastic excellently
A quick scan for last minute fixups revealed nothing of concern, the bombbay side walls were attached and the fuel cell masking completed.
It's interesting to see what varied and different material people use for paint masking. One tip I picked up was to use soft packaging foam for masking awkward areas like wheel well, intakes and in this case radiator intakes. Its quick and easy and does the job.
Here is a shot of the forward end of the bomb bay, the rear of the wing radiator bays (complete with foam masks). I had to modify the bomb bay hinges which were meant for the bukged doors to fit the normal doors I was using because my test shot kit did not have those parts (they were the only thing missing).
All primed up and ready for the paint shop. She was finally starting to look like a Mossie.
My biggest concern going into the painting phase was how to break up all that empty expanse of wing and fuselage. Normally we can rely on panel lines and rivets to help us generate some visual interest on the models surface. Unfortunately that trick does not work with a wooden aircraft like the Mossie. No metal, no panel lines, no rivets !! What to do ? I'm not (nor have ever been) a big fan of pre-shading (panel lines in particular). However always open to try new things I went searching on the web. I remember seeing an Arado 196 built by fellow Aussie modeler Ralph Riese where he used an interesting technique to break up the surface texture before painting. Ralph made it look easy and the result was fantastic. I wondered if his idea might be applicable to my Mossie. The basic idea was to cover the surface of the model with areas of light and dark. I did not want to use black (too stark) so I mixed up a random mixture of red brown and black
The "pre-shading" mix was sprayed over the whole airframe, top and bottom. Heavier coverage was made in corners and crevices where the top paint color should look darker (like say a shadow). There was no formula here, I just followed my nose
Once the pre-shade was dry I loaded up a fairly thin mixture of Tamiya XF83 Medium Sea Gray. I applied this over the lower surfaces in several light coats, building it up in a random fashion. I was not trying to get a uniform coverage, in fact quite the opposite. Once this had dried I added some white to the base color and again randomly went over the surface to make it look "splotchy".
If I'm honest, at this point I was convinced that the patchy effect I had arrived at was overdone. What I've done in the past is talk myself into "toning it down". This results in the finish looking better at this point but once I add more weathering, washes etc the overall effect becomes completely lost and I'm back to square one. This time I ignored the voices in my head and left it alone, hopeful that further down the track that it would all be well (fingers crossed).
Once the Medium Sea Gray was dry I started masking up. The Mosquito (like many RAF WWII aircraft) had hard line demaractions between upper and lower camo. Tamiya tape was used as I trust this tape above all others I have tried.
Much as I had done for the lower surface I now started with the first upper camo color of Tamiya XF82 Ocean Gray. Again the coats were applied lightly and built up with a final random application of a lightened mix.
My favourite soft masking material is Blu Tack. I use this flexible putty like material for all sorts of masking. Here I have rolled the Blu Tack into thin sausages and them applied them to the model surface. Blu Tack adheres well to the surface but don't leave it on for too long as it contains oils that can leach out over time and mark the model surface.
Now Blu Tack is great for the actual demarcartion line but you'll want to backfill with normal tape to prevent overspray (unless you are a really skilled with an airbrush in which case you probably don't need the Blu Tack in the first place). I normally use Tamiya tape for this job but took the opportunity to test a low tack 3M tape I found at the local hardware shop. Note how I have cut the tape into small sections to allow me to accurately position it along the curved length of the Blu Tack.
Masking is time consuming, don't try to short cut it, it's best to be slow and steady. Work your way around the model and backfill all the areas to avoid overspray. Once you've done it a few times you can get it done pretty quickly. Once you have completed the masking, go over the whole model with a careful eye and make sure there are no small gaps or bits you have missed. This will take you 30 secs and can save you much time in fixing mistakes later.
By this stage in the build I had decided on the markings I was going to use. One of the things that appealed to me about this particular scheme was that the invasion stripes did not extend onto the upper wing control surfaces (flaps, ailerons etc) and this looked quite distinctive. The other thing that drew me initially to this scheme was that it was available in decal form as part of the recent Revell Mosquito reboxing. I planned to acquire that kit and use the decals. In the end I did not need to follow thru on this plan but no spoilers now, keep reading to find out why.
Once the second camo color of Tamiya XF81 Dark Green was applied and all the masking removed it was time to mask off and paint the stripes on the wings and rear fuselage. Each stripe on the real aircraft was 2 ft wide. I calculated the scaled down width and measured this out on the wing and rear fuselage.
White was applied first (always paint lighter colors first if you can). The best white I have found is Tamiya White Primer (again decanted from the rattle can). Being a primer it covers excellently and therefore needs only one or two light coats to give excellent coverage, even over black. I was quite paranoid about white overspray and used section of kitchen paper towel to cover up every visible part of the fuselage. Probably overkill but I can assure you I got no overspray :) Notice how the white has been applied to appear patchy. Nothing looks more unrealistic to me than models painted with perfectly even, consistent coats of paint.
In many cases during the war, the invasion stripes were not carefully applied and it was not uncommon for them to be painted by hand. We really don't want the white to look too perfect. Patchy is good.
Next step is to measure and mask off the white stripes so we can paint the black ones. The black stripes here are painted with Tamiya XF69 NATO Black and then randomly varied with heavily thinned XF63 German Grey to give some variation (black fades very quickly in real life)
The bomb bay was next on the painting list and this was masked off to avoid overspray.
A quick base coat of Tamiya X18 Semi Gloss Black is applied to allow me to vary the shading on the interior green coat.
The final result (with the masking removed) after application of the interior green with some touch up repairs of Zinc Chromate Yellow to make it look a bit more interesting.
I recently purchased a computerised mask cutter, the Silhouette Portrait. It's a bit like a USB printer but instead of having a print nozzle it has a cutting blade. I saw this Mossie project as a great opportunity to try it out, especially given that I have no decals. The roundels and fuselage lettering were quite easy to design using the Silhouette Studio software shown here. I purchased some A4 sheets of Tamiya Kabuki tape from Alek at Maketar Masks and fed this into the cutter and out popped (after some experimentation with paper) a set of masking templates.
I decided to start with the easiest shaped mask which was the roundel on the upper wing. The mask was peeled from the backing paper and applied just like normal Tamiya masking tape to the model surface. So far so good.
I mixed up a blended batch of Roundel Blue and Roundel Red using suggestions found on the LSM forum
The fin flash was also masked (this was easy as its all straight edges).
The fuselage code letters were the trickiest masks to apply as I needed to ensure they all aligned correctly with the fuselage and with each other. The large circular mask you see here in the middle was not actually a mask but a placeholder for the roundel decal so I could use it to accurately position the letters nearby.
With the Roundel Blue paint dry the second round of masks are laid down. Notice on the far wing the smaller circular mask has been applied in preparation for the Roundel Red paint. Likewise the fin flash has the blue masked and is awaiting the red.
The Roundel Red mix has now been applied and the code letter masking is waiting to be removed. The aircraft serial number mask (DZ353) has been laid down and will be painted in black next. Notice again the completed wing roundel with all its masking removed.
The final masking result on the fuselage. The serial number has been painted, the fin flash completed with the white stripe in the middle. I was very happy with the results of my first run with the Silhouette Portrait cutter. The cutter can handle quite intricate patterns as seen here with the DZ353 serial mask which is only 6mm high in 1:32 scale
With the painting complete it was time to gloss up (Future in my case) and apply decals. By the time I got to this stage the HKM Mosquito kit had been released (yes I'm slow) and Adam had received as full set of decals from HKM. I used these to apply the fuselage roundels and assorted stenciling to the model. The decals behaved perfectly.
She was starting to now look like a real Mossie. Very clean at this stage as no panel wash or weathering had been applied.
It was about now that I started to put the wheels in motion for the display base. This is a big model and I did not want a huge base, just something that it could sit on with some figures to add character. At this point I did not have the resin figures that HKM so generously added to the release kit (my test shot was too early to include these). I started instead to work on the Masterbox 1:32 RAF pilot set. The base was cut from a sheet of MDF using my friends jigsaw (thanks Tony).
Here is a closeup of the Masterbox figures. These are nicely detailed and I quite like the natural poses and facial expressions (and the dog adds a little bit of extra character as well). I've added some straps from lead foil but other than that what you see is what Masterbox provides
Following decaling I decided to try out some of the new MiG Ammo panel line washes. As the Mosquito has so few panel lines this was not much of a workout for the MiG product but I liked how quick and easy it was to use being pre-mixed and with such a large range of colors to choose from. After the panel wash everything was sealed under a coat of Polly Scale Acrylic Flat Clear.
I was now happy that I had correctly decided earlier to not tone down the paint patchiness. With the panel line wash I could already see how this complemented the paint work. I planned to do more oil and enamel filters and washing on the model surface which would further tone down the paint finish.
I was happy how the model was looking but I knew I wanted a bit more grime on the high traffic areas to represent a war weary aircraft. Before tackling this step it was time to remove the remaining masks.
Here we see the model with most everything (except the bomb bay and wheel well doors) attached. The invasion stripes at this point are still too clean as are the upper wings (particularly near the fuel filler caps)
The patchiness of the paint work was working well as I did not want it to be too overdone that its distracting but I also did not want it so subtle as to be irrelevant.
In the end you can actually see quite a bit of the cockpit interior thru the canopy. Was all the detailing worth the effort in the end ? If you assess the result based on purely what can be seen then probably not but as I've mentioned before I gauge it more on the sense of satisfaction and just plain old enjoyment you get from doing the work, so for me the answer is yes, it was worth the effort. I guess for me modelling is more about the journey and less about the end result.
A couple of things worthy of note in this photo. First is the paint chipping on the front of the spinners and the propellors. This effect was achieved using the hairspray method. Secondly the large red warning stencil decal (above the wing radiators) had a lot of clear carrier film inside. I removed all the clear film with a sharp knife and this meant the interior "keep off" lettering became separate decals as did the angled red lines. Doing this means you are much less likely to get silvering but it's not for the faint hearted as it also means the decal is much harder to get into position on the model without it distorting or breaking.
To close out this build the following photos are of the finished model, figures and display base. Selected parts of the models upper surface have received washes. I once again experimented with several pre-mixed filters and washes from MiG Ammo and AK Interactive. Some of these I was not happy with and being enamel I could easily remove them (even upto 24hrs later) with a cotton cloth dipped in white spirit.
To me, weathering with washes is still a bit of a lottery. Sometimes you put them on and they look perfect (not very often), other times you put them on and they just refuse to co-operate. You clean them off and try again and eventually you arrive at something close to what you are after. It's a part of the hobby that I continue to learn about and strive to master.
I was quite happy with how the washes ended up on the starbooard wing, in particular how it toned down and complimented the invasion stripes. Spot washes (like the one on the tip of the starboard wing) are also a good technique for making the model looked grimey without overdoing it. The antenna wire has been added fromEZ Line
Weathering on the underside of aircraft is usually quite heavy with a focus on fluid leaks and dirt accumulation. On this model I also used some tips from the excellent Aircraft Scale Modelling F.A.Q. book by Daniel Zamarbide. In particular the steps Daniel uses for weathering bombs was very useful and I used these for the 500lb bombs.
The completed rear fuselage now has the ground identification lights installed. These were painted with Mr Color transparent colors. This photo also provides us a good view of the HKM stencil decals as well as the masked and painted on code/serial lettering.
The main wheels received a light dusting of MiG Ammo European Dust pigment applied with a dry brush and wiped off with a cotton bud. This method allows the dust to settle in the tire tread and looks quite realistic. The exhaust staining consists of 3 separate layers of airbrushed paint ranging from dark red-brown thru to light grey for the center. This was quite a challenge to get the airbrush close to the model at the right angle. This picture also shows to good effect the riveting work I did on the nacelles and main gear doors and finally the panel lines I added to the main bomb bay door interiors are quite visible from this angle.
As I was in the final throws of finishing the model I also received a set of the limited resin pilot figures supplied by HKM in the released boxing (thanks Bruce). I painted them up (as best I could) and displayed them next to one of the Masterbox chaps (and his dog) I had started earlier.
So that brings us to the end of my HKM Mosquito B Mk.IV test shot build. This kit has unfortunately been overshadowed in many peoples mind by the Tamiya release. Having now built it I can say it is certainly worthy of your consideration. I know that many will buy the Tamiya kit just "because it's a Tamiya" and then leave it in the cupboard too intimidated at its complexity. The HKM kit by comparison is extremely buildable and for the most part it just clicks together.
This build has been a bit of an epic, probably my largest review to date with over 170 photos so I hope if you made it this far that you found some information that was useful.