Wednesday, February 6, 2008

John Ratzenberger's PanAm Clipper

This is the Airfix 1/144 scale Pan Am Clipper, kit #4172, of 1964 vintage.

I decided to build it for the Un-official Airfix Forum / Classic British Kits SIG "BlitzBau", which is a challenge to build a kit in 24 consecutive hours. There was, fortunately, an option to break the build in two parts just in case there was a need to accommodate real life. I chose to take that option, calling it the "senior citizen option", because I knew I'd never make 24 straight hours and in fact might even reach a point where I no longer remembered what I was doing ...

I've never built this kit before and never built a model in a day.

I opened the box, found the '64 copyright in the wing, and everything seems OK except I only have 3 and 2/3 props -- the 2/3 prop is in 2 pieces and two of the others are a bit mutated. Well, I have about 24 hours from start time to solve that problem. In case you are wondering, I have no problem building a classic kit.

I officially started at 0918 EST (9:18am civilian time), 26 January 2008 and officially finished at 1839 (6:39pm) 27 January. I went 14 hours, 12 minutes the first day, took a break and came back to do 9 hours, 39 minutes the 2nd day, for a total working time of 23 hours and 51 minutes -- cutting it a bit close.

You can read the gory details on the build thread.

For the record: Airfix Craft Master 1/144 Pan Am Clipper, OOB. Tamiya cement mostly, CA to mount the wings to the fuselage. Main paint was all Tamiya rattle-can (TS-29 Semi-Gloss Black, AS-12 Bare Metal Silver, TS-49 Bright Red) and Model Master 1961 Gloss Lacquer. Miscellaneous bottle paints used for engine, props, etc. Tamiya "Kabuki tape" and Glad Press n' Seal for masking.

Post-build, I did not take the opportunity to go fix a few flaws, maybe another day -- although I did remove the masking tape from the upper windows behind the cockpit that you can see in these photos. I did take it outside in the sunlight to get some better shots. Despite my workmanship, it is quite an impressive model -- it just looks really good, as an airplane, at certain angles and I've tried to capture that with these photos.

I'm impressed with the kit itself, a 1964 release I think -- looks good for 40-ish !!! The rivet and panel line detail is really nice. Yes, they are raised, but it is so subtle and so well done !!! Also, if you check the head-on and nose close-ups, you'll see fins on the cylinder heads, pushrods on the front row, and a decent looking prop hub. Window pieces aren't up to current standards, but do fit cleanly into the hull. A great kit from Airfix.

This was my first "BlitzBau" format model build, and it'll be a while until I do another -- it simply does not match my building skills or style. I said before I'm slow -- some of that is (lack of) skill, some of it is that I like to spend my time on things -- witness wandering off for 3 hours to work on the engines & props, when they could have, and should have, waited until later -- ie. while paint is drying. Same with the ending -- I usually take a week to do paint, decals, etc -- a day at a time ... Not that I actually produce contest quality stuff, but I have a little pride ...

Anyway, glad I could participate and hope I contributed to what appears to be a very successful group build -- I certainly commend all participants for their enthusiasm and skill.

John Ratzenberger