Thursday, June 7

Build guide Pt I: Andy builds & paints MiniArt's 35th scale Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri

Today Andy Moore starts building & painting Miniart's new 35th scale version of the Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri ("Hummingbird")  in 35th scale in his build guide. See his process and thinking of the build and the paint and how both are intertwined in today's Part I of the story...

Build guide Pt I: Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri 
From MiniArt Models
1/35th Scale
Kit No# 41001
Injection Moulded Kit
Series: Aircraft Miniatures
Box size: 345 x 240 x 60мм
Parts QTY: 185
Price -  ¥4,800/ US$47/ £32/ €38 from Hobbylink Japan

In-Boxed: MiniArt's  35th scale Kolibri
Build guide Pt II: Andy paints & finishes MiniArt's 35th scale Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri 

Today:  Build guide Pt I: Andy builds & paints MiniArt's 35th scale Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri 
The Kolibri was an unusual choice for Miniart's first aircraft model, but certainly a fascinating subject. The in-box review showed a well-moulded kit with good detailing, but fortunately, without the huge parts count that we often see from Mini art releases. Everything pointed to a good build experience, so let's see if that turns out to be the case. 
Construction begins with the two main fuselage sides which also incorporate the side sections of the framework around the engine compartment. The frame sections had some very fine mould lines that needed gently scraping away, but otherwise, the parts were very cleanly moulded. There are a couple of bulkheads to fit between the fuselage sections which help to keep everything aligned correctly. There are a few ejector pin marks on the inner sides of the fuselage sections, but they're completely hidden so no need to spend time cleaning these up. 
Once the side sections are together, the top and bottom panels are added to complete the boxy rear fuselage. The fit here was reasonable, although both panels needed some filler to blend them in with the sides. The bottom is then finished off with a keel piece that needs to slide between the frame sections at the front. 
The next job is to start building up the support frames for the engine, and these are quite fiddly to get together. They also need to be precisely aligned to be able to connect to the engine later in the build. At this stage they're only fixed at one end, making it hard to set the correct angle. To remedy this, I temporarily sat the engine mounting plate in place on the frames while the glue securing them dried. This is an aspect that crops up quite a lot in this kit, where parts need to be added at a specific angle or orientation so they'll meet up with other parts or assemblies later in the build, but there's very little to help you get these parts in the correct position as the locating pins are often small and don't always set the part at the correct angle. 
Another framework piece is added to the top of the engine section, and this does help to firm everything up, as it connects the left and right sides of the frame and creates a rigid box section. A couple of connecting rods need to be threaded through the framework, with the ends of the rods dropping into a hole in the top of the rear fuselage. I needed to slightly enlarge that hole at the front edge, as the rods were very slightly too short to drop into place. 
Before going any further with the fuselage, I needed to get the engine together as this will need to be fully painted and weathered before it's installed. Once it's nestled inside the framework it would be impossible to access it for painting later. The engine builds up very easily and makes a nice replica of the Siemens-Halske Sh 14 radial engine. It's best to keep the main block, the mounting plates and the exhaust separate for now, as that will make detail painting much easier. 
You could certainly add extra detail to the engine if you wished, although I think that Miniart got the level of detailing just about perfect given that the engine will be partly hidden inside the framework. I used a combination of the colour references in the instructions and online photos of real engines to pick out the different components. Some very light wear and tear was added in the form of oil washes and a few scratches with silver paint. 
The instructions recommend brown for the exhaust pipe, presumably to represent rust. Considering that the Kolibri was a prototype undergoing trials, I thought a subtler, less weathered finish would be more appropriate. I gave the pipe a base coat of Alclad aluminium then followed this with glazes of Citadel washes, built up slowly to leave a discoloured, heat-stained appearance. Before painting the pipe, I'd also drilled out the end as Miniart had moulded this solid. 
Once the painting was done, the separate parts could be built up into the finished engine. The last step was to add a couple of hose lines to the back. I'd left these parts off until now as they'd probably have ended up getting knocked off during the assembly and painting stages of the engine. These were touched in by brush, then the engine was ready to install in the fuselage. 
Switching back to the fuselage, the rear fin was added. This is made up from two halves which fit very well, only needing a slight scrape with a knife blade to clean up the resulting seam. The single-part rudder was then added, and the whole assembly attached to the rear body. The fit was good, only requiring a smear of filler to blend it in with the top of the fuselage. The instructions recommend adding the two horizontal stabilisers at this time too. I decided to leave them off to be painted separately, as doing so would reduce the amount of masking I'd need to do during the painting stages. 
There are a couple of support struts to attach to the fin, one of which came broken on the sprue in my copy of the kit. I got the two broken halves lined up on the fin and cemented the broken ends together. After a little clean-up, the repair was hardly noticeable. Miniart styrene is very soft and, although that can sometimes be problematic when trimming parts, it does make repairs like this very easy as the plastic will melt and bond together very well. 
At this point, I decided to fully paint and decal the rear fuselage section before installing the engine. The framework around the engine compartment needs painting first anyway, and finishing the whole assembly at this point removes the need to mask off the engine area later on. I decided to go with the dark green scheme for this build (the other three options being in a pale grey). The instructions call out RLM 71 for green, with blue RLM 65 undersides. Although I'd got the RLM 65 in stock, I didn't have a suitable green, not being a regular German aircraft modeller. The instructions give paint codes for various brands, but rather than order a single pot of paint, I decided to mix the green instead. This was done with a combination of various Tamiya and AMMO greens, mixed by eye until they looked vaguely like the RLM references I was using. 
When I'm building an AFV, I'll often add various mottling and fading effects to the paint, and I thought about trying something similar here. In the end, I decided against it, as this was a prototype aircraft that would have had relatively little flying time and would have been well maintained, so an overly weathered finish would have looked wrong. I settled for accentuating the framework texture on the covered areas of the fuselage with a lighter green, although I felt even this was a little too strong. 
In the end, I decided to tone down the fading effect with a misted over-spray with a slightly lightened mix of the base colour. This also lightened the overall tone, as I felt I'd made the original base green a bit too dark. In truth, I think I probably over thought the whole painting stage, and still ended up with something that looked quite plain despite the number of different paint mixes that went into it. Next time I'll stick to that old acronym KISS (keep it simple, stupid). 
With the painting done, I gloss coated the fuselage ready for the decals, a process which further lessened any variation in the paint finish. The decals themselves went on very well for the most part, although they were very slightly out of register which left a thin white edge on the crosses, something I really should have fixed by trimming then before application, but as you can see I missed that. The swastika needs to be made up of two separate decals, but they line up perfectly and look like one piece once dry. 
The only area where I did have an issue was with the cross on the right-hand side, where part of the decal cracked and broke up. In fairness, this was probably down to me spending too much time pulling and pushing the decal to get it correctly lined up, although the decals did have a tendency to stick where they were first placed, and not want to slide too much. A heavier application of decal fluid would probably have prevented this. Not a huge problem though, as the missing area can be touched in with paint later on. 
With the decaling done, I matted down the finish again, which didn't do much to bring back the too-subtle fading I'd added earlier. I still wasn't really happy with the paint finish, but at least the decals had brought a little life to the build. I did add a very limited pin wash around the few panel lines and rivets on the back, but I didn't go any further with weathering at this stage. I could now add the engine, which was a little bit of a squeeze, requiring the framework to be splayed out slightly to allow the engine to drop into place. 
Once the engine's installed though, the rear fuselage is effectively finished (apart from the wheels and stabilisers), and that's where we'll be finishing off the first part of this build review. In the next part, we'll be finishing the build with the forward fuselage, cockpit and rotors, and making a small display base. That'll be coming very soon, here on TMN. 
 Andy Moore

Many thanks to the guys at MiniArt in Ukraine for sending Andy the kit. Stay tuned for the second part of the painting and weathering here at TMN.