A tale of three Shturmoviks

built: 2008 to 2012

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THREE 1/48th Scale Accurate Miniatures Il-2 Shturmoviks, Sturmovik, Stormovik -

and a venture into Photography

NOTE: this project is now finished (October 2012). You can find the pictures of the completed kits in our Gallery section here (for Il-2 single seater), here (for Il-2m3) and here (for single seater with skis).

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1) December 2008. With the final completion of a model-maker's bench (that I made myself) the model-maker's Study is complete after a 3 year hiatus. Back in 2006 I packed all my hobby equipment away with the birth of our baby. The kits went into the attic and the baby took the Hobby Room as a Nursery. Three years later and we have moved house, the baby has her own room and the Study returns! It took seven months, after we moved in, to get to this stage. A lot of hard work.

2) Work starts on three Accurate Miniatures 1/48th scale Il-2 Shturmoviks/Sturmovik/Stormovik. One is the Accurate Miniatures two seat Il-2M3 whilst the other two are the Accurate Miniatures single seaters. One of the Accurate Miniatures single seaters has skis. If you trip over to the Project Pages here, here and here then you can see what we are dealing with. First I started with the Accurate Miniatures Il-2M3 as the most complicated kit. It would be the "model" for the other two builds. The test case. Why? Because they would be crammed with a lot of resin and metal so mistakes might get made.

3) First I built up both the CMK resin cockpit and the model's own. This was because I needed the help of the kit cockpit to see how to position the CMK resin one. The CMK superdetail set is great but the modeller is left clueless as to how to position the cockpit inside the fuselage halves. Their instructions are just too vague.

4) I also used the CMK Il-2 weapons set that included the wing weapon bays. This is quite chunky resin and needed quite a lot of careful thinning down in order to fit inside the wing.

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5) Here we are experimenting with the positioning of the CMK resin cockpit and CMK resin weapon bays. To cut a long story short - you will struggle to use both as they leave very little room for the fuselage sides to slide down between the resin items. Note the change in coloured background for this shot. I will be developing my model photography techniques during this build. I have a great Olympus E-410 DSLR but will be buying some lights and a fill-in flash to improve the photo's of this build.

6) With the new photography lights setup the quality of the photo's come on in leaps and bounds. Still not perfect but I am sure some experimentation with positioning the lights, and maybe a fill-in flash, might polish the result. This photo shows the left cockpit side after complete assembly. Of note here is the internal ribbing and wiring that had to be added. Although the Il-2 didn't change a lot internally through the war the two seaters preserved in museums do show a few differences arising from their preservation. Many pictures are contradictory so it was sometimes better to look at the wartime photo's if you have them. Note here the difference between left and right hand sides where I have hacked away at the bottom of the wing root segment to get the fuselage side to fit between the resin cockpit and weapons bays. This produces a distinct downward pointing "L" shape sticking out to the front. The bottom of the "L" is required to align the fuselage to the wing underside.

7) Similar view of the other side. There is a lot more detail here with my own added extras. The CMK set here is most infuriating as it matches no photo I have ever found. I know that in Ricardo Rodriguez's build (Airmodeller - issue 21 - Dec '08) he actually decided to not use these resin sections, choosing instead to cut out the useful bits and scratch build the rest. This is the best approach and I will use this on the single-seaters. Cut the useful parts out of the CMK resin and combine with the Eduard parts with a bit of scratch building.

8) The rear gun represented its own challenges. The Accurate Miniatures version is actually quite good but the CMK resin item is modelled after the museum versions from the late/post war. These all appear to be different as they have a third (shorter) 'barrel' on top and no cocking arm. I guess this was a pneumatic cocking mechanism that was seldom seen during the war. It can be deleted from the CMK item with a sharp knife. The second problem is that the CMK resin gun seems a little short and its photo etch trigger guard does not resemble the real thing at all. I elected to remove the handle section from the AM plastic part and grafted that on instead. I removed the gun barrel itself and drilled into the resin with a 0.8mm drill bit from the front. This allowed me to install a brass tube that look about right in width and length (ie, longer than the resin barrel). Next I added some prominent mounting detail, obvious in all photo's, to the right-hand side of the gun, plus the cocking handle on top.

 

Build Notes: I am combining the CMK resin Interior Set (No 4004), the CMK resin Armament set (No 4015) and the Eduard Il-2 photoetch set  (48 255). As you try to combine these you find that you have to quickly jump to AM's Step 4 "Lower Wing Center Section" on the Accurate Miniatures Instruction sheet. This is because the cockpit bath rests on top of this floor hence you need to complete this assembly to position the resin cockpit. When this is done then you can position all the other resin and photoetch items.

 

  • Contrary to the CMK instructions you do need to fit the Accurate Miniatures item numbered 24 "oil cooler duct top". I fitted the Eduard photoetch items 63, 64 and 43 to the kit part 24 as they are a good reproduction of this area. However I did not use Eduard's part 65 as it is too short and narrow. I replaced it with plastic card. You will need to thin down the radiator bath on AM's part number 22. I also discarded the CMK resin item "PUR 2" as this bares no relationship to the radiator tunnel on an Il-2. I cut the holes for the weapons bay in the lower wing and thinned the plastic in this area. However, this proved unnecessary as CMK actually made the resin weapons bays to fit inside un-thinned surfaces. I realised this too late. I had to thin down the sides of the resin cockpit plug, the weapons bay walls, the fuselage sides and the CMK cockpit side panel inserts all to get a reasonable cockpit fit. It is all hard work and a very tight fit. You are probably better off using the Eduard Photoetch weapons bay rather than the CMK resin one.

 

  • The rest of the cockpit can now be assembled as per CMK's instructions. Note that you will have to cut off the bottle attached to the side of the tank between front and rear cabins otherwise this middle section will not fit between the fuselage sides. CMK's part "PUR 6" the rear bulkhead is also a very tight fit so measure twice and secure with BluTak before committing the superglue. Thin down the Accurate Miniatures bulkhead part 62 to get a scale appearance. You will need to fill the upper of the two push rod slots on CMK's part "PUR 5" as it is too high. Cut a similar slot 2mm further down. CMK recommends fitting the Accurate Miniatures push rod part number 84 however this is hopelessly over scale. I replaced it with stretched sprue and actually glued it to the fuselage wall from the rear so it threaded through the holes supplied in "PUR 6", 62 and "PUR 5". I used a cut down yoke from the Accurate Miniatures part 84 and superglued this to "PUR 4". With careful dry fitting the push rod will meet the end of the yoke and can be joined up after painting and final assembly of the cockpit. The "push rod guard" Accurate Miniatures part number 112 can then be fitted. Quite how the model maker is suppose the slide the push rod through its guard using either AM's or CMK's construction sequence is not clear. The likelihood is that the modeller will have snapped off the push rod in the attempt.

 

  • You will need to make CMK's cockpit wall inserts "PUR 1" and "PUR 3" as thin as you can. As mentioned earlier, the fit is very tight. After all this work is done you can fit the delicate photoetch items dry assembling as you go along to ensure nothing gets snapped off in later assembly.

 

One of the references I used was Ricardo Rodriguez's build of the Accurate Miniatures 1/48th Il-2M Type 3 as featured on pages 16 thru 26 of Airmodeller (issue 21 December 2008). I was interesting to compare his work to mine because he appears to have assembled and painted the CMK Cockpit without dry fitting it to the Accurate Miniatures fuselage sides. It remains unclear how he then assembled it as he wasn't saying! Although not mentioned in his text it is clear that he filled the push-rod slot in the CMK resin part "PUR 5" to reposition the slot further down. This does suggest that he had performed some of the exercise I completed. He may have found some other way of forcing "PUR 5" in with that small bottle attached.

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9) Pictured in early March. Build process is very slow as I get about two hours per week on this (between caring for my two-year-old and work). Here I am assembling the undercarriage bay interior from the Eduard photo-etch. Eduard do not indicate which photo-etch part is which for the bay roof and they are handed. You have a 50/50 chance of getting it wrong and I did. Look closely at the photo's in your references carefully so you can avoid my mistake. This photo shows one of these roofs taped in place allowing me to run superglue around the joints.

10) Underside view at this stage.

11) At this stage I selected the subject for this build from the Aeromaster set. I dug through my references for photo's and found one in "War in the Air". However it mentioned that some thought this photo was not of an actual scheme and that the White Arrow (containing the word "Avenger") was added by a photo-retoucher. I put this to the online Soviet Warplanes forum at http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=705.0 and had some response that pointed me at some new photo's online. Although one did show the same photo without the markings it looked clear that this photo had been retouched to remove the markings. I then found a second photo of the same plane with markings intact so it did look as if this matter may have been settled for certain. The photo I show here is a well known and high quality propaganda photo that is a likely montage with the bottom of the photo (showing Berlin) added later.

12) These photo's show the different retouched versions side-by-side. I have marked the areas showing evidence of having been retouched in the lower set.

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13) Two different photo's of the same plane strongly suggesting that the aircraft and its paint scheme were real.

 

October 2009 - work starts again with the assembly of the engine area and undercarriage bays. You can follow the Accurate Miniatures written instructions here. I had actually followed the guidance in the online article by Steven Budd but it turns out that his advice is identical to that on the AM instructions. However he was building the single-seater so checked to see if earlier releases of this kit had different advice. They don't. Maybe Mr Budd never read the instructions?! There is other online advice that says join the sides of the engine compartment to the sides of the fuselage first. This may give a better fit but you will have more of a challenge fitting the air ducting section. See photo 17 below for the assembled engine section.

 

14) By early November 2009 I was working on the undercarriage main bays. Here you see the plug moulds for the main gear bay doors. They are slightly larger than the photo-etch insets shown alongside. I had a rummage in a kitchen drawer and found a small metal tea strainer with a loop handle. I used bulldog clips to attach small squares of the plasticard to this metal handle before heating the plastic over a burning candle. As soon as it started to melt I simply plunge it over the male-mould. The mould is simply the gear bay door that has been cut from the gondola. It is glued to a strut of sprue. The doors are already quite thin. When in contact with hot plastic they will also melt and bend. You obviously do not want this so you need to support it at the extremities and supply plenty of thermal mass to wick away the heat. I used plasticine and BluTak - whatever I have to hand. Plasticine is better.

 

15) Here we see the gondola, main gear legs and main wing centre section. Gear bays have now been fully boxed in. Small missing struts and some photo-etch has been added to the gear bay.

 

16) The main gear all wired up. I have also attached the hydraulic ram that is missing from the kit. To help hold this in place I actually super-glue it to the thin fuse wire representing the hydraulic piping. When firmly in place I can drop the legs into the gear bay and get everything positioned before securing the hydraulic ram to the gear leg with a drop of super-glue. Note in this photo the actuating yoke at the bottom of the other strut. This is simply a triangle of plastic cut from leftover bomb-bay doors left lying around the bench from earlier surgery. These gear legs are not finished as further pipework and cabling has to be added later.

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17) The assembled engine section with (real) metal exhausts from the sadly-missed Moskit.

 

Since photo 6 we are working with two very large and powerful photographer's lamps for these photo's. I have ones with large CFL bulbs so they don't get very hot. They can be positioned quite close to the subject & I have mine sitting on the bench top. This does produce a bright patch either side of the subject so they could do with being moved slightly further away. Apart from this the light is good as the lamps came with their own white-clothe diffusers that slip over the front of the lamp. The photo's are brighter and with better white-balance as the bulbs are daylight balanced.

 

The next photographic problem to solve is focus. It is difficult to get close enough to the subject without everything being out of focus. This can be a little offset by using aperture priority and setting a high F-stop. However, I chose to splash out on a macro-lens for my Olympus - a Zuiko 50mm. To counteract the 'halo's' I need a fill in flash. Having spent over 170 on the Macro lens I baulked at the cost of an Olympus Flash (near enough 200 - I am not made of money). So I found a much cheaper Metz 36 AF-4 Flashgun for 70. Then it was onto EBay to find a Flash Hot Shoe extension cable for the Olympus. I found a Chinese supplier of cheap rip-off Olympus extension cables. Olympus peddle their version for over 40 but mine cost 18. When this kit comes together I hope to seat the Flash Gun away from the camera firing upwards into a reflector to bounce in fill-in light.

 

18) The next set of pictures were taken in mid January 2010. Now I have the new flash gun and the Macro Lens and the results are obvious. Good crisp close-up pictures. 18 shows the plug-moulding of the new undercarriage covers - this time for the second Il-2 under construction - the first of the single seaters. On the first Il-2M3 2 seater I originally only made up two male moulds in the belief that they were symmetrical each side. But they were not so I constructed another two. This picture shows the plastic sheet after being plunged over the male mould. The undercarriage doors has been cut out.

 

19) Here are the undercarriage door moulds with the newly formed doors plunged down on top. The plastic is heated with a candle until it become pliable before it is plunged over the mould and allowed to cool.

 

20) Two new undercarriage legs complete with new struts and wiring. These two were simply copied from the original two done for the two seater.

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21) Undercarriage legs old and new. Building fiddly parts like this becomes much easier after you have sweated blood making the original masters. I think the trick is to leave an adequate amount of time between build to relieve the boredom!

22) February 2010 - Work done on the centre section of the 2nd Il-2 (a single seater). This time I used the superior Eduard photoetch for the weapons bays. Note also that I have cut away the bottom of the radiator trough and replaced it with thin plasticard after fabricating the insides from more plasticard. The radiator trough sides were thinned down to match. It is much easier to do this after the trough bottom has been removed.

23) The undercarriage sponsons form the 2nd Il-2 after clean-up. Much superglue poured into the interior over the seams added strength and covered over joints it would otherwise be difficult to remove. A motorised router really helped out here.

24) The finished undercarriage doors from the second machine. I made up two more male plug moulds for these after I realised that all four would be unique as they are handed left and right. I use one set for the first Il-2M3 but corrected the mistake on the second machine. (The third machine has skis and no doors.)

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25) The completed cockpit from the second Il-2. Although I used the same CMK resin for the main part I reverted largely to Eduard photoetch for the side panels as they are more accurate than CMK's resin. The black shading is permanent marker I used to mark off the limit of reach of the consoles and bulk heads. I didn't want to detail beyond these marks as the detail wouldn't be seen and it might interfere with the fit of the cockpit.

26) Comparison of the first and second machines. The upper fuselage side is from the single seater assembled second in sequence. Instead of resin it has plasticard faired in with putty on the fuselage wall interiors. This better resembles the actual photos of the armour plating in this area. It is totally smooth without the 'step' modelled by AM.

27) Similar view of the opposite cockpit wall showing the different layout. The machine built second (at the top) better resembles the photos whilst the Il-2M3 at the bottom was built up from the CMK resin parts that don't match any photo's I have.

28) Close-up of the second machine. This is the starboard cockpit wall interior. Note that I took some parts off the CMK resin cockpit wall as is clear in this photo. Fuse wire provides all wiring. Note that this area of the fuselage has been thinned quite a bit to allow the CMK resin cockpit plug to fit better.

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29) Pictured in May 2010 - the centre section of the third and final Il-2 - the single seater with skis. This has been adapted to take the KMC Resin Wings using a couple of aluminium tubes to act as spars. The wings are just the unswept kit wings with the panel lines removed and rescribed to make them represent those of the older wooden wing version. KMC rescribed some panel lines in a new position and corrected the position of the landing light in the leading edge. The resulting resin is heavy hence the new metal spars. The KMC instructions contain an obvious contradiction as you are told to both cut away the plastic kit spars and cut away resin to accept the kit wing spars. You can't do both. I suggest you leave the kit spars and cut slots into the resin to accept them. Hopefully our new spars will take the strain as I had cut away the kit spars.

30) The finished cockpit from the ski version. This used mostly parts left-over from the Eduard resin set.

31) The Tarmac horse, sledge & oil barrel combination. A neat little resin kit that requires quite a bit of cleaning up but is a real gem. Perfect for that snowy diorama from the Great Patriotic War.

32) Those Russian/German horses must have been very small - or this horse should be a donkey!

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33) November 2010 - The Tarmac horse and sleigh was finished at this point with the addition of the reins and the fuel decanting pipe details.

34) Back to May 2010 - The inside of the top of the wing-halves. There is no spare Eduard photoetch to box-in the undercarriage bay so I just photocopy-enlarged the Eduard Instruction sheet up to the right scale. Then I used this as a template to recreate their photoetch in plasticard and stretched-sprue. The top of the undercarriage bay is recreated directly onto the inside of the wing surface. The wings are a bit short as they have been cut down to take the KMC resin wings.

35) As there is no third CMK resin cockpit plug, the final cockpit was created using the AM parts with Eduard photoetch. Extra wiring has been added to recreate items found on the CMK cockpits.

36) The final set of undercarriage legs differ slightly from the other two sets as these are for the skis.

 

Interior Colours: Accurate Miniatures' Instruction sheet does says "Interior Grey-Green" translating as FS34226 or Humbrol 92. This seems to go for everything from cockpit to undercarriage. White Ensign Models have three colours on offer "IMUP Blue-Grey Metal Primer", "ALG-5 Grey Metal Primer" and "WUP Grey Interior Primer". The first two are a very similar light bluish-grey and the latter quite a dark grey with no other hue. The Airmodeller 21 issue shows the modelmaker using some WEM paint such as IMUP on undercarriage legs but inexplicably Ricardo seemed to mix his own "ALG-5" for all other interior surfaces that is a vibrant olive green bearing no resemblance to the WEM version. Ricardo's choice of olive green is actually a close match for the bomb bay colours of preserved Il-2's in Russia and Serbia (for example the one in "War in the Air") so he may have a point. However no examples show this sort of colour used anywhere else. Judging from Ricardo's words he may not have been trying to exactly reproduce the colours of a version in the field so his ALG-5 colour can be ignored for interiors other than bomb bay and possibly the main wheel hubs.

 

Of the three preserved examples in Russia, Serbia and Prague they all show various shades of grey on interiors. The Russian example in "War in the Air" has the vibrant olive green wheel hubs and main undercarriage legs. This is not reflected in the Serbian and Prague examples. From the photos it looks generally as if the main gear bays are a dark grey like WUP. All undercart legs and other interior surfaces are either ALG-5 or IMUP. Instrument panels are either black or light grey. Period photo's suggest that wartime versions made in Russia were light grey same as the cockpit. The inside of the main gear bay doors are either the very dark grey (WUP) of the rest of the bay or painted the same blue as the underside of the airframe. To be honest there is no way of knowing if these preserved examples in any way reflect wartime examples nor can we tell anything from monochrome photos taken during the war. At this point we have to turn again to Erik Pilawskii's "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945" We assume that "Bomber & Attack Aircraft Colours" may follow one day? The book is vast but doesn't cover Il-2 directly although Erik has covered this ground online at Hobbyvista.com. The exact interior colours would vary from factory to factory and from period to period. Unless you have exact colour photos of the airframe you are modelling then everything else is an educated guess. Erik suggests that Il-cockpits would be IMUP whilst the undercarriage bay & legs may have been AII "Blue" ("as underside"). This suggests the museum airframes have post-war finishes to interior items. The dark green seen on some interiors (ie, Ricardo's laughable "ALG-5") may actually be a dark green A-7 primer or 4BO. Thankfully both IMUP and 4BO are in the WEM paint range then we'll use that in combination with the underside colour AII "Blue".

 

Exterior Colours: The advice available on the paint colours for Russian combat aircraft in the Great Patriotic War is quite bewildering. However I, like so many others, have chosen to consolidate on the advice of Erik Pilawskii. Not everyone agrees with him but it is the best we have to go on for now. I am using the AML decal sheet 48-026 for the single seaters and Aeromaster 48-349. Combining this with the advice from the Hobbyvista.com web site (by Erik Pilawskii)) we can dispense with the spurious colour advice on the decal sheet and AM instructions. Judging from some of the online Il-2's models I have seen there are some model makers who believe that the three upper-shade colours of Shturmoviks was similar to the three-colours used on Vietnam-era US combat aircraft. This appears wrong as the "Tan" colour from the 1960's is nothing like the mahogany dark brown some model makers have tried to make it represent. It looks as if the true three colours used on Il-2M3's was AII "Brown"/"Green"/"Blue" all of which can be sourced from White Ensign Models. The single seaters can use the WEM AII "Black"/"Green"/"Blue". That is what we will use. Jiri Hornat & Bob Migliardi's 2006 work "Colours of the Falcons" only deals with the AMT colour range and has only limited advice on interior colours. AII are the pre-war lacquers whilst the AMT colours were a later development although the "AMT" designation appears to be a post-war invention. AII colours were still being applied right up until the end of the war. Newer "AMT" colours wee more or less the same colours as the AII versions they replaced but had a common satin finish and improved chemical properties. Thus you might replace AII "Blue" with AMT-7 "Blue", or AII "Green" with AMT-4 "Olive Green" with little noticeable difference. All of these are available from WEM although there appears to be no AMT equivalent of AII "Brown" suggesting that colour was phased out. Hence AII colours would not have been used in combination with AMT colours. Either way the WEM colours will suffice for this project. Within this orthodoxy one is able to take liberties as the colours all faded rapidly in use and were subject to a certain amount of other weathering.

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37, 38 & 39) November 2010 - after having described the evolving and improving photography process with this project I thought it would be worth actually showing what I was talking about. So I took a few photos with my daughter's camera of the rig. In the centre, on the tripod, is my trusty E-410 Olympus DSLR. It is pointing down at the workbench and has the Macro lens fitted. From the hotshoe via extension chord is the flash unit mounted separately and pointing upwards into the large reflector sitting above the rig. This is actually just wedged into a pre-existing book shelf - quite serendipitous! Either wide of the camera are the two photography lamps which are floor-mounted on their own tripods. This all works really well but space is cramped making it difficult to position models in front of the camera. I tend to tilt the lamps vertically to make some space.

40) November 2010 - I made a resin copy of the larger AM Tail wheel used by the two-seater. The photo shows the mould (top-left, the blue rubber item) with the kit original, the resulting wheel copy, the kit original tail strut from one of the single-seaters (note the tail wheel is a different size), and the rebuilt tail strut. The strut from the single seater was used as a model to rebuild the two-seater strut using stretched sprue. I hope it is strong enough. The Airmodeller builder actually soldered his tail wheel strut together using copper struts! That would be strong but probably over-kill? We'll see. Photo 41 below makes this process a bit clearer.

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41) Hopefully this view of the kit original (top) and my rebuilt copy (bottom) should explain this process better. Luckily I had multiple versions of the AM kit so it could copy the tail wheel strut structure with reference to a complete kit tail wheel strut and to photos of the real thing. Note the resin wheel.

42) This photo shows how the new two-seater tail wheel and strut were broken down, copied and re-assembled with new stretched-sprue sections. You can see how black superglue has been used to join them to the kit original strut and fuselage frame.

43) The Tarmac Russian Jeep pictured in November 2010 showing the completed sub-assemblies that I had actually built up earlier in the year. I had this in my collection a long time before Tamiya bought out their new injection-moulded 1/48th scale version which makes this old resin version redundant.

44) The Tarmac resin kit may be obsolete but it is fun and a relatively simple build. It will inevitably be cruder than the Tamiya version but what-the-heck!

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45) 20th Dec 2010 - picture of the complete weapons complement for the three kits The FAB-250 and FAB-1000 bombs are CMK resin items but my examples were in poor condition. The fins were made of resin and most were broken. It would have made more sense to make them from photoetch.

46) A first for my workbench! I will try using the legendary "Klear" product for the first time. Just before Christmas 2010 I had airbrushed the primary colours for the cockpits and would use the Klear to seal in the enamel used (from White Ensign Models WEMCC ACS06 WW2 Soviet VVS "IMUP Blue-Grey Metal Primer") before applying a black oil paint wash. If I didn't use a water-based gloss the wash would dissolve the under-lying paint.

47) 3rd January 2011 and he New Year sees cockpit interiors getting airbrushed en masse. The sheet of paper is A4 sized (that is a little smaller than Letter for the American folks). It is divided into three to ensure we don't get the matching sets muddled up.

48) Close up on the two single seaters. The one with skis on the left uses the original AM cockpit whilst the one on the right is the CMK resin item. At this point I have applied an airbrushed undercoat of Humbrol 67 Matt Tank Grey as a "scale black" then applied the IMUP holding the airbrush at an angle to represent the direction from which the light would flood the cockpit from the top. This makes natural shadows on raised objects that you then subtly adjust by dusting over more IMUP. The fuel tank is also scale black.

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49) Close-up of the two-seater. At this stage I have also applied some basic detail painting but it all looks a bit toy-like as no washes or dry-brushing has been done. I will also do a little bit of shadowing with dusted pastels applied by brush just to make it extra grimy on the cockpit floor. It is funny to think just how a few simple techniques can take this cockpit from "toy" to "miniature". You seldom see the depressing half-way stage in the model mags do you? Note the clear labelling applied to the sheet of paper to ensure I don't mix the parts up! The smaller parts have all been mounted on wooden sticks for painting. This is done with blue-tack or a drop of PVA glue. The 'handles' are either cocktail sticks or the shafts to some extra long laboratory cotton-bud 'swabs' I found one day at work (in the bin!).

50) 24th January 2011 - the two seater et al are finally ready for major assembly. All internal detail painting has been done with pin washes and dry brushing complete.

51) 0.7mm dia copper tubing make up the larger wing cannons.

52) The finished cockpit side-walls of the Il-2M3.

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53) The cockpit bath of the Il-2M3.

54) Instrument panel for the Il-2M3.

55) Sponsons treated with pastel dust.

56) Undercarriage for the two seater.

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57) The weapons bay and undercarriage bay of the two-seater.

58) The rear gun ammunition box.

59) Tailwheel is painted and trapped between the fuselage sides. This photo taken one day later on the 25th January after the fuselage was assembled.

60) The smaller wing guns made from 0.5mm dia copper tube.

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61) The smaller wing gun as seen mounted from on top.

62) The assembled fuselage on the Il-2M3.

63 & 64) The yet-to-be-assembled single-seater without skis. Note here the reinforcing behind the propeller mount inside the nose area. The mount here is ridiculously flimsy and I was afraid that it would simply snap off if I held onto it during painting or pushed the spinner onto it in final assembly.

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65) Inside of the wing.

66) The large cannons mounted for the single-seater as per photo 51 above.

67) Cockpit tub and instrument panel for the single seater.

68) Single seater instrument panel in detail.

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69) Undercarriage sponsons for the single seater with regular wheel undercarriage. These are the same as for the two seater above.

70) Tail wheel unit pre-painted prior to assembly. This unit is actually slightly smaller for a smaller wheel on the single-seater. Very late in final construction this tail wheel strut snapped off. It will not take much load if you build it the way I did. It is not for no reason that Ricardo in Airmodeller 21 actually created his tail wheel strut from soldered copper pipe! It seemed like overkill to us at the time but the point is well taken - make it strong! The reason is that the top of the strut is NOT connected to the fuselage. It is connected only laterally via the horizontal struts. Hence they endure a lot of bending force and will easily snap as we found. The best solution is to do as we did but, later in the build, secure the top of the strut to the fuselage interior with some superglue.

71) Undercarriage legs for the single seater - same as for the two seater above.

72) Undercarriage bays and weapons bays for the single seater.

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73) The single seater with skis awaits fuselage assembly. Note how with all three kits the wings have been mounted on the fuselage side prior to fuselage assembly. This is per guidance I found from two builds on the internet. They also advised joining the sides of the nose section to the fuselage prior to joining up the fuselage. I took this advice on both the single seaters but followed the AM Instructions for the two seater.

74) The single seater with skis stands apart as apparently having had its wings chopped off. This surgery is required ready to accept the new resin wings. This third kit also suffers from less resin and photoetch than its two siblings hence I took a different path on the undercarriage bays. For this model I emulated the photoetch directly onto the inside of the kit wing before painting, dusting with pastels and dry brushing. This gives a nice effect and the open undercarriage bays are easier to paint than those enclosed in the photoetch. If you wish to build this kit consider this approach!

76) Close up showing reinforcement behind the propeller shaft mount assembly. This is required to beef it up. This procedure was performed on all three kits.

77 78 79 80
77 & 78) Cockpit sides of the single seater with skis.

79 & 80) Cockpit tub on the single seater with skis. This is based upon the kit parts with some photoetch. It looks as good as the resin equivalent! Note that in all these photos the armoured glass behind the pilot's head has been filled in with acetate sheet (although on the standard AM component this section is moulded in clear plastic anyway!)

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81& 82) A couple more views of the cockpit tub for the version with skis.

83) Undercarriage sponsons differ from the other two kits as this version is fitted for skis - hence the different shape.

84) Instrument panel for the single seater with skis.

85 86 87 88
85, 86, 87 & 88) Undercarriage bays inside and out for this single seater with skis. This section is common to all kits but note that the weapons bay is closed on this kit so it will take a large external payload.

89 90 91 92
89) The undercarriage for the ski version differs from the wheeled versions only in the ski-mounting rod across the axle when the wheel would be mounted. This is moulded on all the kits but is cut off the versions with wheels.

90) A brief glance at the model-makers workbench shows the mini-Il-2 production line. Here we see the single seater all pegged up as the glue sets on the fuselage assembly. Meanwhile, on the right, the vertical Il-2 is the two-seater having its nose glued on. Gravity holds everything in place.

91) Pictured late January 2011 we see all three Il-2's having their wings fitted into place.

92) Close up of the single-seater with skis having its resin KMC outer-wings grafted on. This was complicated as I had to carefully drill out holes in the resin plug to accept metal spars I had earlier fixed to the centre-section. This done I used two-part epoxy to fix the resin parts in place. You only get a few minutes to get positioning correct before it hardens (guess that is why it is called "five-minute epoxy" then?) so I dry fitted everything with a Lego jig before committing to glue. I think I got it spot on.

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93 94 95 96
93) Another view of that Lego jig holding everything in place. The tower of varnish pots was to just get it absolutley perfect on one side. It worked out well but after I released everything from the jig I found that the resin plugs are too small for their mating parts. There was a pronounced step on the upper and lower wing surface which required plastic sheet shims and a lot of super-glue to fix.
94, 95 & 96) Progress at the end of January 2011 as pictured in August 2011. Three views of the Il-2 single seater with wheels. Note resin horizontal tail surfaces and the vertical tail rudder has been removed to be replaced later with a resin part.

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97 98 99 100
97, 98, 99 & 100) Il-2 single seater with wheels showing cockpit, guns and underside. Note that the cocktails stick mounted on the oil radiator bath is there to protect the undercarriage leg stumps where a fragile piece of wire is in place to represent the over-wing gear-down indicator actuator.

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101 102 103 104
101) Il-2 single seater with wheels. Another view of the underside.
102, 103 & 104) Il-2 single seater with skis. In these views you can see the resin wings with the white plastic-card shims. Picture 104 shows the shim sanded-down. Vertical and horizontal control surfaces have the moving parts removed for later replacement with resin parts.

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105 106 107 108
105, 106, 107 & 108) Further views of the single seater with wheels. 105 shows the opposite upper wing surface that has not been sanded down. 106, 107 & 108 show the underside shims that have not yet been sanded down. A lot of work ahead!

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109 110 111 112
109, 110, 111 & 112) Upper-side views of the Il-2M3. Note cut out wing control surfaces and resin horizontal tail sections. The rudder has also been removed for later replacement by a resin part.

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113 114 115 116
113, 114, 115 & 116) Further views of the two-seater. 116 shows the end of a toothpick protecting the fragile tail wheel leg.

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117 118 119 120
117, 118, 119 & 120) 18th July 2012 - the single seater with skis undergoing scratch elimination. This has the new wings with the poor fit so took a lot of sanding down. When the result looks reasonable: brush on matt black enamel paint for a reasonably smooth finish around areas where there might be scratches. The paint will fill the smaller scratches. Then take to the airframe with various grades of wet and dry to smooth off the paint. Any remaining imperfections can be then covered with My Surfacer before being rubbed down again. This is normally enough but in photo 118 we see the poor finish on the right wing top where a second layer of My Surfacer was required. The problem in this area was caused by the air bubbles in the super-glue used. Sanding down kept revealing new bubbles! You get into an endless loop of sanding and filling - each sanding down reveals a new hole!

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121 122 123 124
121, 122, 123 & 124) This time the single-seater in July 2012. This was also undergoing scratch reduction but had less problems than the version with skis. Both pictures 119 and 122 show the new resin tail control surfaces after being fitted. Photo 123 shows the flap bays detailed with stringers, actuating rod and internal structure.

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125 126 127 128
125, 126, 127 & 129) Now the two-seater seen in July 2012. This required slightly more work as it has more resin control surfaces than the single-seater. Once again we see scratch reduction underway here. Photo 128 shows the resin aerilons.

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129 130 130a 130b
129) Wing tip navigation lights in place. This is the Il-2M3 but all three airframes have the same fitting.
130) A slot has been cut in the wing-top for the wheels-down indicator. The original hole has to be filled as it is too large. A small hole has been drilled so the indicator can be threaded through to the undercarriage underneath - just like the real thing. We used a bristle from a tooth-brush to simulate this - it is hard to break! In front of the indicator photos show a small vertical fin that seems to be there to protect the fragile indicator from being broken whilst on the ground. This was added to all three kits with small section of photoetch frame.
130a & 130b) 2nd August 2012. In the home straight now. Masking of the canopies starts so we can paint the interior frames. Everything from here on is largely to do with final painting and assembly.

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131 132 133 134
131, 132, 133) 2nd August 2012 - Forgive the repeated photo number set! These photos show the masking of the canopies in early August 2012 in order to paint the interior frames. We know a lot of modellers just paint the outside but we like to be thorough. Note the small grab handle on picture 131; this was a problem if you mount it as directed because the canopy cannot then be pushed fully back. Best not to mount it at all we reckon.
134) 4th August 2012 - This is the view after the interior frames have been airbrushed. Here we are carefully removing the masking and replacing it back on its backing sheet in case we need to use it again later. We did not.

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135 136 137 138

135, 136 & 137) 4th August 2012 - More views of the canopy after painting the inside and masking is removed.

138) 22nd August 2012 - This shows the bomb-bay doors mounted ready for painting the outside. Note how the bungee cords, that pull the doors shut, have been mounted. The mount brackets are supplied on one of the photoetch frets. The cord itself is just wire from a sandwich bag wire-twist-seal.

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139 140 141 142

139 & 140) 22nd August 2012 - The mounting of the flaps and undercarriage bay doors ready for painting. Note how the only way to hold the bay doors was with double-sided sticky tape at either end. These are mounted in a window cut from cardboard.

141) 22nd August 2012 - Canopies mounted and labelled up so we don't get them muddled up later.

142) 22nd August 2012 - Wheels and skis mounted for painting and labelled up. There was not much danger of confusing the items however the tail-wheel is different between the IL-2M3 and the single seater. Everything is mounted on toothpicks and the toothpicks shoved into an expanded polystyrene block.

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143 144 145  146

143) 22nd August 2012 - The props are mounted on long wooden sticks and pegs. Although we believe them to be identical we still labelled them just in case.

144 & 145) 22nd August 2012 - The single seater with skis with the canopy mounted and the toothpick undercarriage.

146) 22nd August 2012 - Single seater with the canopy mounted and the toothpick undercarriage.

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147 148 149 150

147) 22nd August 2012 - Single seater with the canopy mounted and the toothpick undercarriage. Note how now the pitot tubes, mass balances, aerials and rocket rails are now all mounted.

148 & 149) 22nd August 2012 - Two seater with the canopy mounted and the toothpick undercarriage. Note the the toothpick nose prop which allows the aircraft to be put upside down for painting without harming the aerial. It also minimises contact with the work-surface so that paint doesn't pick up dirt whilst drying.

150) 22nd August 2012 - The Tarmac GAZ 67 jeep components mounted for painting.

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151 152 153 154

151) 22nd August 2012 - A set of oil-drums mounted for painting. These have been assembled from a bag of bits I bought off EBay several years ago. Their origin is unknown but I suspect they are from old Frog/Novo kits.

152) 22nd August 2012 - The Tarmac horse and sledge (kit 48019) parts mounted ready for painting. Note that small pins have been mounted through the horse's hooves to allow fixing later to the base. We had fun painting the horse! We used the same Conker-coloured dark brown used for the upper camouflage on the two seater Il-2M3. It is a good match for a chestnut coloured horse. The rest of the details were subtley added with an airbrush.

153) 22nd August 2012 - A bunch of wooden boxes mounted for painting. This is for the base dioramas. Many pictures of Shturmoviks on the front line showed a lot of wooden crates piled up around the aircraft. These items are from the same source as the barrels although the metals ones are from another EBay purchase (SMA we think?).

154) Fast forward now to the 16th September 2012 and the painting has begun. The undercoat has been done as has the underside blue. Here we see the underside masked off on the single-seater ready for top-side colours.

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155 156 157 158

155) 16th Sept 2012 - the underside of the single seater masked off for top-side painting. Note the use of foam rubber to fill the undercarriage bays and bomb-bays. The black pen mark up shows vulnerable areas such as rocket rails and mass balances. These could get broken off by careless handling if we forget they are there.

156, 157, 158) 16th Sept 2012 - the two seater with top-side masking for the coat of green. The brown colour has already been painted. I elected to airbrush only the sections where brown appeared but, in hindsight, I will not do this again. It is easier to paint the whole surface to avoid any missing bits. You have the problem that the overlap between the two coloured paints will be a different colour from the overlap with the undercoat. Hence you will need an excessively thick top coat to hide the difference. I also had continued problems with gritty-beading resulting during airbrushing. This would gather in nooks and crannies (like the wing roots) and appears to result from overspray. After each coat I had to rub down the paintwork with wet and dry to smooth it prior to the next coat otherwise the problem propogated to anything covering it. This was a lot of hard work and caused over-handling of the kits and breakage. The only way to overcome the gritty-beading is to over-thin the paint, reduce the air-pressure, paint very small areas at a time, paint lots of thin coats and allow a long time between coats. All of this is equally as time consuming. Next time I will try Acyclics again to see if they overcome this issue? Note in these photos of the Il-2M3 that the red nose cone and white tail have already been painted and masked off. I forgot to paint the white onto the tail of the single seater at this stage.

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159 160 161 162

159) 16th Sept 2012 - The single seater with skis masked ready for the pre-shading.

160) 16th Sept 2012 - flaps and undercarriage bay doors are all now painted.

161) 16th Sept 2012 - bomb-bay doors all now painted.

162) 17th Sept 2012 - The single seater with skis with some pre-shading done (unorthodoxly) in camo-green. The reason for this was that the white-painted versions had a temporary white-wash applied over top of the normal camo colours. Hence the original colours showed through. At least that was the idea. It is actually hard to tell with the ski-equipped versions why they wouldn't have been painted white in the factory. However the pictures of this specific aircraft show it to be very dirty with the same appearence of other white-washed aircraft, ie, dark colours showing through where white-wash has chipped off.

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163 164 165 166

163) 17th Sept 2012 - not another picture of the ski-version! This is actually the single seater. I based the pre-shade of the ski version on the actual camo pattern and colours of the single seater. Note the masking on the tail. I had noticed (a little late!) a white stripe on the vertical fin of my chosen design. Normally I would have airbrushed this white then masked it off. However I had already done a chunk of white airbrushing and had another chunk to come. So I cut a corner and just masked off the undercoat grey figuring it would be easier to spray the white colour over this later. It was!

164) 17th Sept 2012 - the two seater after the green paint is applied. This colour green (White Ensign) is effectively common to all three kits. Note how the aerial wire became slack ofter mounting. I fixed this at the end of the build. It is a common problem. If you cannot get the fishing line very tight during mounting this happens. Elastic thread is better but slightly out of scale (too thick).

165) 17th Sept 2012 - This shows the sliding canopy sections mounted for painting with interiour and exteriour masking.

166) 17th Sept 2012 - Masking the top side camo pattern on the single seater.

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167 168 169 170

167 & 168) 17th Sept 2012 - the two seater with main camo painting complete. Masking has been removed from the nose red and undercarriage sponson front cones. The masking was all wrong for those sponsons and dirty black overspray marks were left over.

169 & 170) 17th Sept 2012 - underside of the two seater at this same stage.

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171 172 173 174

171) 17th Sept 2012 - the single seater masked up and ready to go.

172) 17th Sept 2012 - the two seater with some masking added BACK in order to fix a couple of issues: firstly there was no brown camo on the right-hand side of the vertical fin. I had no reference for this side but figured it MUST have been brown. Secondly we had a few spray-edge problems that I wanted to tidy up.

173) 19th Sept 2012 - just a handy reminder of the fact that we are building THREE models at the same time! Here we see the single seater with skis in the foreground showing off its pre-shading now in both green and black. In the background the single seater with its black camo colour applied.

174) 19th Sept 2012 - same again but this time the two seater is in the foreground. At this point the corrections to the brown camo pattern have been made. Note that I made a mistake in that I should have painted brown over green not vice versa. I underestimated how dark the brown was and how light the green was!

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175 176 177 178

175 & 176) 19th Sept 2012 - the two seater.

177 & 178) 19th Sept 2012 - the single seater.

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179 180 181 182

179) 20th Sept 2012 - (foreground) single seater with skis and (background) the single seater. See how the pre-shading on the ski-version matches the camo pattern and colour on the single seater.

180) 20th Sept 2012 - the single seater with masking removed. Note the grey stripe on the tail that is now exposed undercoat. I will airbrush that white at a later stage.

181) 20th Sept 2012 - single seater underside.

182) 20th Sept 2012 - 2 seater now showing off the white markings on the tail. The masking has been removed from this area now to expose the white I airbrushed on earlier.

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183 184 185 186

183 & 184) 20th Sept 2012 - the two seater showing off its new markings. As mentioned the white bits are not as good as they could be so will be subject to some correction later.

185 & 186) 21st Sept 2012 - after some more white airbrushing - two seater and single seater side-by-side showing off their improved (!) white markings. At this point we have removed the masking from the tail of the single seater as well as corrected the problems with the white markings on the two seater. They should all now be perfect.

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187 188 189 190

187) 21st Sept 2012 - the blinding white on the ski version compared to the two seater camo.

188) 21st Sept 2012 - comparing the ski version to the single seater.

189) 21st Sept 2012 - the ski version with skis and prop. At this stage I noted an oddity on the picture reference of THIS airframe: the underside of the skis were painted underside blue. I later masked and airbrushed this on.

190) 21st Sept 2012 - the two seater now showing off its prop and wheels. I had a couple of goes at getting the red and white spinner to look right. Got there in the end. Had to remask & spray the white twice.

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191 192 193 194

191) 21st Sept 2012 - the single seater shows off its prop and wheels.

192) 21st Sept 2012 - the GAZ Jeep and all its parts. The weathering has started here with artists pastels.

193 & 194) 28th Sept 2012 - we fast forward ahead again now by a few days to find the weathering has been done with artists pastels and paint chips on this the ski version. The weathering has been sealed in with Future and the (very few!) decals applied.

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195 196 197 198

195 & 196) 28th Sept 2012 - the ski version also has its undercarriage added at this point.

197 & 198) 28th Sept 2012 - the ski version underside showing the weathering effect of using artists pastels which have been then rubbed in with a cloth soaked in white spirit. This not only post-shades the panel lines it also fills the panels lines as a wash killing two birds with one stone. Neat huh?

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199 200 201 202

199 & 200) 28th Sept 2012 - more shots of the underside of the ski version.

201 & 202) 28th Sept 2012 - the single seater with weathering, Future gloss overcoat and decals. I would normally weather over top of the decals but on this occasion I was weathering with pastels that require a matt paint coat. This was sealed in with Future as a gloss coat which allowed decals to be applied. I re-drew panel lines in over top of decals with a fine pencil.

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203 204 205 206

203 & 204) 28th Sept 2012 - the single seater showing off its gloss coat and decals. I find that three coats of Future are good enough. Everything was rubbed down with wet'n'dry prior to the weathering and gloss coat. After the gloss is applied over top of the decal a very light buff with Micromesh was done just to give it a final polish before the final Satin coat is applied.

205 & 206) 28th Sept 2012 - single seater underside with decals and weathering.

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207 208 209 210

207 & 208) 28th Sept 2012 - underside of the single seater.

209 & 210) 28th Sept 2012 - topside of the two seater. That big "Avenger" decal was a bitch to apply!

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211 212 213 214

211 & 212) 28th Sept 2012 - the two seater.

213 & 214) 28th Sept 2012 - underside of the two seater.

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215 216 217 218

215 & 216) 28th Sept 2012 - underside of the two seater.

217) 28th Sept 2012 - the GAZ Jeep (the Tarmac resin model 48020) with pastel weathering sealed in with Future. Then I applied a pin wash of black oil paint thinned with white spirit. Some dry-brushing was added later.

218) 28th Sept 2012 - as an experiment I dabbled with the Flory Models Weathering Wash. Hannants had sold out of all the dark colours but it is relatively easy to mix the wash with a water colour. Apply liberally over a glossy surface and leave for a few minutes. Then wipe away the excess. Unlike other washes I have tried this is water based and never really dries. If you don't like it then apply some water to a cloth and wipe it away. No need for harsh chemicals near your model or any hard rubbing. It really is excellent.

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219 220 221 222

219) 28th Sept 2012 - the bomb-bay doors after a wash of Flory Models weathering wash.

220, 221 & 222) 7th October 2012 - ta da! Voila, the finished result. A few days passed during which we applied the final Satin finish (Humbrol) and removed all the masking. All the bits and bobs were added such as wheels, rockets, bombs, undercarriage bay doors, bomb-bay doors, etc. The sag in the aerial was fixed and the exhaust plume airbushed on. The delay before completion was because of the rear gun on this the two seater. I airbrushed all the gun-meal fixtures right at the end using the Humbrol metaliser paint and then had to paint the leather grips. Then I waited until I got all the weathering kit out again in order to weather the leather grips at the same time as all those oil-drums and crates! So a few days passed. I was not idle in this time as I was working on all those barrels and wooden crates you saw earlier.

Note that this subject is the "Avenger" option from the Aeromaster Decals sheet 48-349 ("Shturmoviks part 3).

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223 224 225 226
223, 224, 225, 226) 7th October 2012 - underside shots of the complete two seater.

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227 228 229 230

227 & 228) 7th October 2012 - the completed two seater - underside details shots showing bombs in the bomb bays.

229 & 230) 7th October 2012 - the complete "GAZ 67" (to give its correct designation).

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231 232 233 234

231 & 232) 7th October 2012 - the complete GAZ "jeep".

213 & 234) 7th October 2012 - underside shots of the complete ski version.

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235 236 237 238

235 & 236) 7th October 2012 - underside of the ski version.

237 & 238) 7th October 2012 - upper views of the completed ski version. This is 'black 6' (winter 1942 - 1942) from the AML decal sheet 48 026 "Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik single-seater".

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239 240 241 242

239, 240 & 241) 7th October 2012 - the complete single seater with skis.

242) 7th October 2012 - the complete single seater: number 82 with the inscription "Valeriy Tshkalov" is a machine belived to have fought in Estonia in 1944. The scheme is from the AML decal sheet 48 026 "Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik single-seater".

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243 244 245 246

243, 244 and 245) 7th October 2012 - the complete single seater.

246) 7th October 2012 - underside of the complete single seater.

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247 248 249 250
247, 248, 249 & 250) 7th October 2012 - underside of the completed single seater. Not shown in this photo set is the tail wheel of the single seater which I managed to snap off very late in assembly. My earlier attempts to make it more realistic had made it weak. I fixed it with some superglue gel in the undercarriage bay zapped with accelerator. That made it good and strong and few will ever notice it!

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