Repairing, Cleaning, and Polishing Clear Parts

Repairing, Cleaning, and polishing clear parts and canopies.

by Dave Kopielski

I have had a few requests on how I get my canopies so clear looking. Many times the clear parts in kits can get scuffed in shipping if they are not protected or come loose. Also some jet canopies or bubble top aircraft can have a seam from the injection molding process that runs down the centerline of the canopy.

Some folks like to dip the canopies and clear parts in Pledge Future. I prefer to polish them and feel they look better and much clearer.  To start with, many vehicles today have a clear plastic cover over the headlights. Over time and driving in the elements the plastic gets foggy and starts to yellow. There are many products on the market to clean them up. These products also help us modelers as well. I have tried many products and found and that works very well on the clear styrene plastic used on the models we build. The product I use is made by Meguire’s, a company that makes many products to keep your vehicle clean, shiny and protected. The product they make is called PlastX. It is a cleaner and polish for plastic parts.

So the first part I have a clear nose for a 1/48 Monogram B-17G. The kit was bought at a goodwill store and has all the sprues loose in the box. This has caused some scuffs on the nose. The first step is to take a small dish and put a couple of drops of the PlastX on it. Then using a cotton swab I dip in the PlastX and in a circular motion I scrub and polish the affected areas then I polish the rest of the nose inside and out. After a few moments I let it dry a few minutes then use a microfiber cloth and polish and wipe clean the part.  Here are the photos of before and after.

Before polishing

Before polishing

After polishing

After polishing

For removing the seams on canopies the first step is sanding down the seam with 600 grit sandpaper. Only sand a small strip where the seam is. Once the seam is gone, the next step is to use 1000 grit sandpaper and sand in a slightly wider area than you did in the previous step. Then the next step is to wet sand with 2000 grit sandpaper in a wider section. The reason is this prevents any distortion where you removed the seam. Then as similar to removing scuffs, the PlastX is applied with a cotton swab.

The area that was sanded is cleaned and polished for a minute or two and then a quick polish of the inside and out of the canopy is done. Let dry a few minutes then polish with a microfiber cloth.

While it is difficult to see in the photos, the canopy looks clearer and has more shine to it. I typically run a quick polish over clear parts even if there is no visible scuffs as once polished they much are clearer and shine better. 

Canopy seam

Canopy seam

Seam removed

Seam removed

Polished canopy

Polished canopy

Polished canopy

Finally, once the canopy is masked and ready for paint you will need to take a cotton swap dipped in thinner or rubbing alcohol and go over the areas you will be painting. This will clean off and residue that may have built up on the frame details on the canopy. Otherwise the paint may not adhere very well.

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Invasion Stripes

Invasion Stripes

How to paint D-Day markings on your Thunderbolt

by Ed Mate

The first step is to determine where the stripes go. There is an “official” placement, but if you can check photos, you may find your subject has some differences from the official guide.

The photo of Silver Lady shows standard fuselage stripes and the wing stripes appear to be 20 inches wide, but the wing stripes are outboard of the official placement. Moving the inboard stripe to the outside and adjusting the black & white pattern to maintain two black stripes in the middle appears about correct. Note the black stripe spanning across the aileron and flap just like the outboard white stripe should.

I started with some tape strips cut to a scale 20″ wide and placed the first piece where the black stripe straddles the aileron & flap. More strips of tape placed side by side lays out the stripes on the top of the wing. Scrap tape is placed outside the five 20″ tape strips and then the 20″ tape strips are removed. Repeat on each wing on top and bottom.

The fuselage is a little trickier. It turns out that starting the rear stripe just ahead of the tail wheel well has the forward edge of the white stripe on a vertical panel line. (Thank you for little miracles.) I used some short pieces of tape cut to a scale 18″ wide to help locate the rearmost vertical line. Place the front edge of the 18″ tape pieces on the panel line in several places around the fuselage. A narrow piece of tape cut on a curve (about 200 mm radius) is placed abutting the rear edges of the 18″ strips of tape. The curvature of the narrow tape will appear vertical on the fuselage due to the tapering of the shape towards the rear. By keeping the tape narrow, some flexibility is available so the curvature doesn’t have to be perfect. With the rear most vertical edge established, I measured a scale 90″ inches (5 x 18″) forward and marked several spots with short pieces of tape. Another narrow curved piece of tape is wrapped around the fuselage abutting the short pieces to establish the forward vertical edge of the stripes. Add wider pieces of tape to prevent overspray on to the other parts of the model. Also, determine if the landing gear doors were painted and prepare them to be painted if needed. Also take a close look at the intercooler doors on the fuselage to see how they were painted – they often do not match the stripes well. Notice Silver Lady’s intercooler bay is painted black, but the bottom of the door is not completely painted black.

Here is my model (Tamiya kit) with the fields for the invasion stripes exposed and the edges masked to prevent overspray on the areas outside of the fields. You might also notice the small piece of tape covering the spot inside the field on the left wing. That is where the bar for the national insignia ends up. There is a similar piece on the bottom of the right wing. Be sure to mask for the insignias so that there will only be one color under the decal – otherwise it is likely the line of color change will be seen.

Paint the exposed fields white. I used some dark grey preshading on the panel lines to help break up the stark solid white. You might also note that I painted the stripes before painting the rest of the model. That is a modeler’s choice – the technique works either way. I prefer to limit the amount of masking I do over natural metal silver finishes so I painted the stripes first.

Mask the white stripes. Relocate the strips of tape that were cut 20″ wide and place them back on the model. The outboard and inboard white stripes are masked by placing the strips against the edges of the tape that determines the field. Another 20″ strip placed against the edges of those stripes should generate an open spot in the middle that is filled with the last 20″ strip of tape. Lift the two strips of tape where the black will be painted. Repeat for other wing and the bottoms. Again, the fuselage is a little trickier. The 18″ short bits of tape are used to find the edges of the stripes just like the rear edge of the field was found. Narrow curved pieces of tape are placed on the model along the edges of the pieces. Once the edges of the white stripes are masked, the centers are filled in with scraps of tape.

Don’t forget to mask for the national insignia! I create the tape mask for the insignia by photo copying the decals to be used on the model. I place the photo copy over a piece of tape and cut through both just inside the outside edges of the insignia.

When you layout the fuselage stripes, you’re going to find out that Tamiya placed the right fuselage side intercooler bay about 0.015″ forward of the one on the left side. The good news is that the insignia breaks up the edge of the black stripe passing by so it will be hard to notice unless you’re looking for it.

Paint the black stripes. I used black ever so slightly lightened with grey and then post shaded the panel lines with pure black to help break up the stark black much like the preshade was used for the white.

Don’t forget to paint the gear doors at the same time.

Now mask the black stripes and remove the tape outside of the edges of the field so that the rest of the model can be painted using your usual techniques.

I find painting basic shapes like stripes much easier than applying very large decals that can wrinkle, silver, blister, etc. Invasion stripes are not really that difficult, but some patience is needed – it might take two hours to get the tape in the correct location, then just 10 minutes to spray the paint.

Final results on the completed model.


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Superdetail Conversion – Trumpeter 1/350 Nimitz to Carl Vinson

Superdetailing the Carl Vinson in 1/350 scale

by Dave Kopielski

I started with the Nimitz model and converted it to the USS Carl Vinson CVN-70 as she was at the start of the 1983 world cruise (her maiden deployment).  All differences as well as the hangar bay details were scratch built. I purchased extra aircraft sets to fill ship with all 86 aircraft. The decals for the hangar bay and aircraft were made by me. The ship is also illuminated with over 500 feet of fiber optic lines and 40 LED’s.  Photoetch sets were used on the ship and for all the aircraft. The ship is also accented with resin CIWS and deck tractors, 3-D printed hangar doorways and Tilly Crash tractor.

A total of 777 hours were spent building.

Additional pictures can be found at the following locations.

On the IPMS-USA website –

On Facebook (build pics, no login required) –

On Flickr (high resolution images) –

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by Ed Mate

The 108 gal. paper tanks in the Tamiya 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt kits are decent, but the modeler is challenged with cleaning up the seams on the nose and tail without destroying the fine raised detail. On many of my kits that last “rib” of fine detail is detached due to the difficulty of removing the parts from the mold. This is the reason I looked into the Eduard Brassin product.

However, working with the Brassin parts a number of other modeling challenges appear. The parts don’t attach to the model the same way so a mounting system must be created, multi-media – the straps and some details are made of metal and must be bonded to the resin, but by far the worst on this Brassin set is dealing with removal of the pour stub and clean up of the resulting mess.

Additionally, Eduard did not provide the “strap” at the transition from the cylinder to the nose and tail parts so an additional set of straps must be fabricated. I find it easier to work in plastic than in metal so I fixed up a tank using 0.005″ plastic strips:

The challenge with this approach is keeping the center straps parallel with each other and the front and rear strips while using near-instant drying super glue to bond the mixed media (plastic to resin).

Looking for a solution to these issues led me to my current approach – the Frankentanken. This Frankenstein approach uses the kit parts for the cylinder and straps and the Brassin nose and tail parts with their nicely done rib detail.

The first step is to assemble the Tamiya kit parts paying close attention to the center cylinder to get the seam as good as possible with the straps aligned. No need to worry about closing the gaps at the nose and tail.

The next step is to clean up the seams like any seam work done on a plastic model. I like to use a Flexi-file with a sanding strip that has been thinned to easily fit between the closest straps near the tail. Then I polish out any scratches with fine grit sanding pads.

Now, cut off the nose and the tail. I use a razor saw and leave a little “waste” for final clean up ahead and behind the front and rear straps.

Now carefully trim the waste away and clean up the ends so they are nice and square. I use my lathe for this step but it can be done with a flat file – choose one that is wide enough to cover the full diameter. Also, I found that removing the alignment pin protrusions on the inside helps avoid any interference with the resin parts.

Now this is a very important step – do not neglect it! Drill a small diameter hole through the cylinder from outside to inside. I locate the hole in the mounting tab so it won’t be seen and won’t need clean up later. I discovered this the hard way. Epoxy cures with a thermal reaction that heats up the air trapped inside the cylinder. The expanding air ejects the part being bonded. So if you don’t want to hold the parts together for a seeming eternity, drill the hole to give the heated air a route to escape.

Next, attach the resin nose and tail with 5-minute epoxy. I do this in two sessions gluing first the tail then the nose. This approach takes the pressure off (no pun intended) in getting the parts aligned properly both axially and rotationally so the filler spots show up in the correct location relative to the mounting tab. I like 5-minute epoxy for this because it gives some time to align things and it will fill the small gap at the seam between the resin and plastic.

I’ve used the Brassin set photo etch filler cap and feed tube cover and I’ve salvaged the filler cap from the Tamiya part. Once those are in place, paint and attach to the model as you would have with the kit parts.

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Marine Models USS Philadelphia 32 pounder Carronade

Marine Models USS Philadelphia 32 pounder Carronade

by Glenn Estry

Marine Models USS Philadelphia 32 pounder Carronade. I won this kit (sight unseen) in an auction with a high bid of $20. The kit is from 1947, a 70 year old unassembled wood and cast metal kit. The base was a piece of plywood that the instructions said to draw lines to simulate deck planks. The bulwarks were were three pieces of mahogany which also were to have pencil lines to portray individual planks. Knowing that this would not produce a quality representation of a deck section, I raided my scrap wood collection and found 5/32″ x 1/32″ basswood and some 3/8″ x 1/16″ mahogany and scratch built the deck and bulwarks. Two of the 8 cast metal pieces used for hanging the tools were broken, so I made a RTV silicone mold of two intact pieces and made cast resin duplicates with dye added to the resin to make them match the others. The cannon and its platform were epoxied together and painted with Tamiya gunmetal from a rattle can. All other metal parts were painted flat black. The inside bulwarks were painted a dark red custom mix of Testor Acryl paints and the deck and bulwarks were stained using Minwax Golden Oak & Red Mahogany. The scale ropes are from Syren Ship Model Company. The handrail has no finish other than being sanded down with progressively finer sandpaper from 1,500 to 12,000 grit, giving it a nicely polished look and feel.

If you’d like, here is a brief history of what happened to the 2nd ship named USS Philadelphia (1799-1804).

During the First Barbary War Philadelphia cruised off Tripoli until October 31, 1803, while giving chase and firing upon a pirate ship she ran aground on an uncharted reef two miles off Tripoli Harbor. The Captain, William Bainbridge, tried to refloat her, first laying the sails back, and casting off three bow anchors and shifting the guns rear-ward. But a strong wind and rising waves drove her further aground. Next they dumped many of her cannons, barrels of water, and other heavy articles overboard in order to make her lighter but this too failed. They then sawed off the foremast in one last desperate attempt to lighten her. All of these attempts failed and Bainbridge, in order not to resupply the pirates, ordered holes drilled in the ship’s bottom, gunpowder dampened, sheets set afire and all other weapons thrown overboard before surrendering. Her officers and men were made slaves of the Pasha (or Bashaw).[6]

Philadelphia, which had been refloated by her captors, was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in the hands of the Tripolitanians, so a decision was made to recapture or destroy her. The U.S. had captured the Tripolitanian ketch Mastico, renamed her Intrepid, and re-rigged the ship with short masts and triangular sails to look like a local ship.

On February 16, 1804, under the cover of night and in the guise of a ship in distress that had lost all anchors in a storm and needed a place to tie up, Intrepid was sailed by a volunteer assaulting party of officers and men under Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. next to Philadelphia. The assault party boarded Philadelphia, and after making sure that she was not seaworthy, burned the ship where she lay in Tripoli Harbor. Lord Horatio Nelson, known as a man of action and bravery, is said to have called this “the most bold and daring act of the Age.”[7][8]

Her anchor was returned to the United States on April 7, 1871, when the Bashaw presented it to the captain of the visiting Guerriere.

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Meng P-51D Mustang in 1/48th Scale

Meng P-51D Mustang in 1/48th Scale

by Mike Hanlon

Since released in 1995, the Tamiya P-51D Mustang has been benchmark for 1/48 Mustangs kits.  A simple and rewarding kit, it is not without its flaws and before talking about Meng’s effort I would like to revisit the Tamiya kit.

Tamiya’s Mustang has been released in five different boxes and has had one update to correct a flaw in the kit.  In the original release, Tamiya molded the sprue gates directly to the clear parts, the result being that clear could not be removed from the sprue without being marred. The subsequent revision moved the gate to the edge of the windscreen and the canopy but care must still be taken when removing the part that can be easily damaged.  The main canopy is molded separately form the canopy frame and leaves a nasty seam if care is not taken in assembly.

The kit has some minor deficiencies; the interior is basic and not up to current day standards.  The propeller consists of four separate blades and a two-piece spinner that does not go together easily and is best replaced with a resin propeller from Ultracast.  The wheel wells are inaccurate as the main wing spar forms the rear of the well on the actual aircraft. The kit well has a rear wall that follows the curve of the well.   The remaining issue is that seam on the underside of the fuselage is difficult to clean up as it runs through the supercharger exhaust and some raised detail.  The wings are scribed and have reinforcing rivets over the wheel wells.  Mustang purists may want to sand and fill the scribed panels

None of these problems is insurmountable and the kit remains a pleasure to build. Since released I have built five.

Meng’s kit is billed as being “Fast Cement-Free Assembly”.  It contains well over a hundred parts as compared to the fifty plus parts in the Tamiya kit.  I had read Brett Green’s review on Hyperscale as well as his build in Military Illustrated Modeler.  Several of his concerns in building his model carried over to my build and may have added unneeded complication to my build.

First things first, you cannot build the model without glue, some parts would simply fall off and others would have unnecessarily large gaps.  Green indicates in his build that the tail wheel must be added before the fuselage is assembled, subsequent reviews from other magazines do not mention this.  He also states that if you modify the landing gear struts they can be installed after the wing has been assembled.  On my model I followed Green’s example and found the exposed tail wheel could be easily damaged.  I also assembled the wing with the landing gear installed and this complicated my build.  Subsequent reviews I have read do not mention adding the landing gear before assembling or there being any problem with adding them afterwards.  Inserts are provided for the machine guns in the leading edge of the wings.  They do not fit well and require filling.

I started my build with the interior and it is a marked improvement over the Tamiya kit’s interior.  The only issue is the instrument panel decal that is rather crude.  The instrument panel itself has only the outlines of the dials but no additional detail. One saving grace is that the panel is so deeply inset that it cannot easily be seen.  This is also true of the Tamiya kit.

Assembling the fuselage is quick with huge connectors but some force (I used pliers twice) is necessary to get the parts closed and in some areas the gaps required an application of Mister Surfacer.  The vertical stabilizer must be glued together and clamped or it also has a considerable gap. The curved upper fuselage piece requires that the antenna be added before it attached to the rest of the fuselage.  I stole an antenna from a junked Tamiya P-51 that I added after painting.

The flaps and ailerons are designed to be trapped between the upper and lower wings.  I cut off the forward part of the connectors so that I could install them after painting.  I did this because I was painting stripes on the wings which passed through both the flaps and the ailerons and I thought this was make painting them easier.  It did, but attaching them afterward was not as
simple as I had hoped, the remaining pins were fragile and easily broken.  I also question the angle of the dropped flaps as it is much steeper that the Tamiya kit.  As mentioned earlier the machine gun inserts are an extremely poor fit and require careful filling.  Like the Tamiya kit the wing panels are scribed and Meng adds counter-sunk rivet detail.

The kit does have some positive aspects; the drop tanks are designed so no sprue marks are visible and glue actually isn’t required for a good fit.  Meng offers cuffed Hamilton Standard and an uncuffed Aeroproduct’s propeller.  These were easily assembled after painting and a vast improvement over Tamiya’s props.

Both the original and the Dallas main canopies are included and require that the center-molding seam be sanded and polished out.  As of this writing there are no canopy masks for the Meng kit, but I found that Eduard’s mask for the Tamiya P-51D can used with a slight modification.  The windscreen required minor trimming to fit properly.

The kit provides a choice of two aircraft; a Fifteenth Air Force plane flown by Captain John Voll and a 9th Air Force bird flown by Captain Richard Turner.  I elected to use Aeromaster sheet 48226 Ninth and Fifteenth Air Force Fighter Aces.  Captain Freddie Ohr, the only Korean American ace in World War II, flew the plane.  The model was undercoated with Tamiya Gloss Black and painted with Alclad Aluminum and White Aluminum Lacquers.  The yellow tail and stripes were Tamiya Flat Yellow and Tamiya Flat Red was used for the spinner and nose.  I gave the finished model a wash with Flory water-soluble clay washes.

The finished model looks very nice and I am still unclear as to whether the problems I had were self-inflicted rather than the kit’s fault.  That being said, much of the engineering that went into making the kit “cement free” was wasted and a simple and more efficient build would have been possible if Meng had designed this as a conventional kit.

In summary, the Meng kit does have some advantages and I have a second kit that I will be building soon.  On the other hand, I’m not getting rid of my remaining Tamiya kits and of course Airfix and Eduard have new kits on the horizon.

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Zveda 787-8 Dreamliner in 1/144th Scale

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in 1/144th Scale

Zveda No. 7008
by Paul Gasiorowski

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an American long-haul, mid-size, wide body, twin engine jet airliner made by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Its variants seat 242 to 335 passengers in typical three-class seating configurations. It is Boeing’s most fuel efficient airliner and is a pioneering airliner with the use of composite materials as the primary material in the construction of its airframe. The 787 was designed to be 20% more fuel efficient than the Boeing 767, which it was intended to replace. The 787 Dreamliner’s distinguishing features include mostly electrical flight systems, raked wingtips, and noise reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles. It shares a common type rating with the larger Boeing 777 to allow qualified pilots to operate both models, A total of 500 airplanes have been delivered, 324 -8’s and 176 -9’s to date.

The kit was well packaged, one sprue of parts, 2  pieces for the fuselage, 2 pieces for the wings, a sprue of clear parts that contained the windows and the cockpit window. The first thing I did was wash the parts in a warm soapy water solution using a soft toothbrush gently as not to break off any of the small parts. The decal sheet that was included was for the Boeing Dreamliner initial rollout. They weren’t very colorful so I searched the internet for some other options. I found a decal sheet at F-DCAL in France for United and Continental markings. They included decals for the windows. Information on the decals and their placement will be made later in the review.

The first thing I did was glue in all the clear windows in both sides of the fuselages. I then applied a coat of Tamiya gray primer to all the parts.  This was a big model I added some lead to nose of the plane after I had glued the nose wheel box in place. The windows protruded somewhat from the fuselage, since there were decals for the windows, I sanded them smooth with the fuselage. After this was done, the halves were glued together and set aside to dry. The fuselage was then given another coat of gray primer.

I then proceeded to paint and assemble the engines. They were quite detailed, included double fan blades and a detailed exhaust nozzle. These assemblies were then put aside to be added later in the build.

The wings were then assembled; the lower wing was one piece and two pieces for the upper wing. After the wing dried, I did a dry fit with fuselage and it looked like I wouldn’t have to glue them together. That eliminated any filling and sanding going forward. The paint scheme was Gloss White on the upper fuselage and Light Ghost Grey (MM Acryl FS36375) on the lower body. The wings and fuselage were painted separately. The fuselage for the United Airline scheme had a wavy scheme from front to back. So I made copies of the decals and cut out the gold scheme decals and used them as a template for painting the lower fuselage. I cut out the copies and laid them on some Tamiya 18mm tape and traced them out. I trimmed them out with a brand new No. 11 blade. These pieces were placed just below were the gold decal stripes would be as the curvature is the same. I then added a little more tape and proceeded to paint the lower fuselage Light Grey (MM Acryl). I gave it two/three coats to make sure I had good coverage.

I them made more copies of the wavy scheme and applied them to the lower fuselage just lining them up with the grey that was just painted. Next was to apply several coats of Gloss White (MM Acryl FS17875). This process was done over several days. After applying the last coat of Gloss White, I removed all the Tamiya tape and misc. paper coverage from the lower fuselage.

The next thing I did was to paint the wings. I started with the Gloss White and applied several coats to insure good coverage. The lower part of the wing was painted Light Ghost Grey with several coats. After looking on the internet at many pictures of the Dreamliner, there was no definitive scheme for the leading edges of the wings. Some pictures showed an aluminum/silver leading edge, other were just white. Even in pictures of the liveries of different airlines, there was no consistence in the color of the leading edges.

The next step was to add the decals that I purchased from F-DCAL. I started with the door decals as the gold stripe decals would be going over some of the doors in the process. I added the decals and let them sit for a couple of hours before proceeding to add the window decals. These decals were added in segments since it would be easier to position smaller pieces, rather than use a long strip of windows. I let the plane sit for a day before adding the gold stripe along each side of the fuselage. These were also cut into manageable strips to aid in the positioning of the decals. The next day I added the United decals and any smaller decals, like aircraft number, the name Dreamliner, and any other small details. The decals came off the backing if you just looked at them; it took no more than about 20 seconds for them to come loose. The only decals that seemed out of the ordinary were the ones for the cargo doors on the right side and one decal on the left side. After applying them they were very glossy. The engines by themselves took a long time to apply as there were about 12 pieces for each engine. There was also one spinner decal for the inside of each engine. The cockpit window decal was one piece and it lay down very nicely.

For the landing gear I opted to use metal parts from Scale Aircraft Conversion which I ordered from Sprue Brothers. The cast metal parts are very delicate and are prone to be bent easily. Replacing the plastic landing gears was an easy decision based on the size of the model.

The cast metal parts took a little bit of cleaning up with some small files. Once the parts were cleaned up I did a dry fit to make sure that I had all the glue points determined. I used super glue for these parts. The main landing gear was glued in first and then followed with the 2 smaller parts for each. The four wheel bogies were assembled individually and applied to the main gear assemblies. This process almost insures that they all sit squarely on the ground. The front wheels were then added next.  I then attached the wing assembly and it fir great without any glue.

This was an enjoyable build, the Zveda kit was great as all the parts fit well. My next build will probably be a United 727, 720 or 747.  The problem is trying to find the decals for these particular planes. I plan to use the United Airline aircraft at the next club exhibit at the Butch O’Hare show next November.

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