Scratch building a Nieuport 17
So, there's a new competition - What to do?
I prefer the 17 to the 23, I think (mostly a charm thing). Enough time allowed for procuring a third party model or official mini to work with - But as my scratch build went over quite well last time, so I think I'll give that a go this time as well. Ok, so far so good…
Having seen Sram/Michal's amazing 1/144 builds complete with rigging - I knew had to at least try to have some rigging on my entry as well, even though I've never tried i before (in any scale).
I looked assorted builds on the web from what I could figure, most rigging techniques involves adding the rigging at the end. I didn't think that would work for me though, mostly because of how I usually need to file the plane into its final shape (not just snap parts together), but also because I couldn't figure out how I'd be able to drill holes and thread wires that late in the process without ugly marks. Still, I wanted the look of unpainted wire and I wanted it threaded through the sides of the plane.
After some thinking, I came up with a plan.
I figured that some of the wires had to be threaded during assembly - In a way so that I could pull them out after painting, to expose an unpainted length. The plan was to thread them through the cockpit, from where I could also put tension on them and fasten them when the time came. Only six wires needed this treatment. For the other ones, I wouldn't need to fasten or stretch them from the inside - So I only needed to drill and keep the holes open until after painting and the add the wires afterwards. It sounded good in theory…
Here I've put together a skeleton for the fuselage. You can see the holes where I plan to thread the wire forwards into the cockpit - I've tried to place these so that I wouldn't accidentally glue the wires in place when I eventually sealed them inside. In the lower from corner of the cockpit, you can also see how I thinned out he profile a bit to allow for the wire coming in over the lower wing.
Note that in the from I've used a bit of tubing - This both helps with achieving a rounded shape and will make it easier to get a good fi for the cowling later (using the same type of tube for that piece).
The bottomed added to the fuselage. The wing runs all the way through. It would be easier to add it as two parts later, but I need it to be sturdy - It's after all supposed to be a gaming piece, not merely a decoration.
I've made an indentation to take a ball bearing. Inside that, (though you can't see it in this picture) I've also drilled a hole to take a pin for the painting process later.
Here I've added the first side panel. My technique is that I glue a rough cut piece of card to the side, use a knife to pair it almost to its final shape and then sandpaper to file the joins so that they look like one single piece. This works since the glue fuses the styrene together, so the piece more or less become one piece - If they don't, its usually possible to fix that simply by adding moor glue afterwards.
In this case, because of the more complex shape in the front, I've only glued the side up to the level of the cockpit at this stage.
In this pic, you can see how I've shaped the bottom aft part of the side.
I'm not going to shape the top part until I've threaded the wires and added the top.
The first three wires threaded. I've colour coded them - seemed like a good idea, but wasn't much use in the end.
Both sides glued, except front. All six pre painting threaded wires added. Rear top piece ready to be added. This is one piece with a hole for the cockpit and slightly rounded - The hump was pre shaped then glued on.
Top piece added, sides trimmed and shaped and wires threaded through cockpit.
Front top added. It's just a thin piece of card glued on and then shaped with sandpaper. It was glued on in three stages: First middle, then back, then sides. Although it didn't really show in the last pic, the from edge of the cockpit piece was taken done a bit so that the front piece could be reduced until flush.
One of the worst fast forwards.
Tail pieces added on. Rudder and elevators (with wire mounts), tail plane, tail supports. Holes in tailplane made by drilling two holes and then trimming between the with a knife.
Top view of tail. Wire mounts in elevators made by drilling a hole and then inserting a (very) small piece - those pieces were longer at first, then shortened with a bonsai branch cutter (very sharp thing those).
A small piece of card glued on and drastically filed down poses as a maintenance hatch. A piece of rod is the exhaust (?) pipe.
Half a top wing strut and hint of a wind screen added. All fuselage holes drilled. Wing ribs drawn on in pencil - The'll be made three dimensional through painting a couple of layers on these lines.
Remaining top wing struts added.
Wheels are made as tires (cut from a piece of pipe, then rounded) and a piece of card (rounded and shaped slightly convex).
Undercarriage added. Upright wheel struts are of one piece that is bent.
I make the wings by glueing (with paper glue) a template on a piece of card and then cutting and filing around it. I then remove the paper and then sandpaper the wing into an aerosol shape. I usually also bend them slightly lengthwise, by pressing over a rod shape (such as an Xacto knife). After the shaping is finished, I cut away the ailerons - and file the edges down somewhat before reattaching them.
Bent copper wire becomes (are those aileron controls?). The third piece of copper wire is just to show the shape.
Cowling made with a piece of pipe and a bit of card glued together and then shaped eight sandpaper. Strengthening welds painted on later.
9 different parts. Mostly glued on to big and then cut an filed down. Things like this one sometimes make me doubt my own sanity…
Here are all the parts. The six pre attached wires are threaded into a piece of pipe to keep the from being spray painted. To keep the holes open for the wires to be added after painted, I've threaded pieces of copper wire. The prop is just a piece of styrene sanded into shape.
Ok, so there's still a bit left to do: Paint job, rigging and attaching the last little bits and pieces.
At this stage, I was running seriously short on time. So there was little or no opportunity to fix any mistakes - A very interesting situation to handle...
Since the timeframe was kind of tight, the pictorial is a bit sparse.
(All paints are Vallejo)
Base coat (Vallejo White Primer) applied. Underside (sort of clear dope) and light green camouflage colour (Pale Blue, with a hint of Luftwaffe Cam. Green)airbrushed on.
After this I want to use masking tape, but I usually don't dare to do that before applying a layer of varnish (Testors Gloss). The risk I run without this is of course that previous layers of paint will come off - This risk is also to the detailing that is merely painted on (like ribs on wing surfaces).
The tape I use is a household one intended for marking foodstuffs stored in a freezer. It has a suitable pliability and its adhesive is easy to reduce evenly to an almost no tack level. I remove adhesive by repeatedly attaching the tape to a piece of wood. When the tack is to my liking, I attache the tape to the wood one last tim and the cut out the shapes I want.
Here I've masked before adding the brown cammo (Burnt Umber) layer.
In this pic, you can traces of a mistake on the right wing - There's a line where a wire got caught by the green paint. The troublesome line has been taped in front to prevent further troubles.
Brown cammo added. Only surfaces reachable from above have been airbrushed - Other stuff, like the under carriage was hand painted later. Small masking miss on the tailplane visible - Fixed freehand later.
painting almost finished. Only some detailing left. Unattached pieces has been painted separately at this stage.
No separate pic of this, but decals come on here. I add at least one gloss layer before applying decals and at least node after. Decals are by Dom's Decals, as always.
Here we've come to the greatest sacrifice I made to finish in time - There should have been three little white stars added, making the pilot Pierre Pendaries, but as it's now a bit past 1 AM I was simply too tired to start working on making those decals - So I had to settle for an unnamed pilot instead. Fortunately, the scheme was (from what I could gather) a factory standard, so it's highly plausible that there were a number of craft looking like this.
Paint job finished off with one coat of Testors Matt.
Here elevator and rudder wires attached. If you try your hand at rigging, forget about the rudder wires - They're hopelessly fiddly and no one will ever see them, I never even managed to catch them with the camera (they're under the tailplane in this pic). I was pleased that I managed to thread the top control wires trough the tail plane and attach them so that they look straight and unimpeded.
Another time constrain casualty visible here on the rudder, where the serial no decal has become crooked but not fixed straight.
All wires threaded before painting attached in this pic. You can note that the cockpit is still unpainted - The plan was to glue the six pre threaded wires within the cockpit, paint it black and then drop in a preprinted pilot so that the wires wouldn't show. I got as far as making the pilot (out of evil Green Stuff), but never around to painting him so had to sit this one out. As it turns out, the wires don't really show inside anyway.
All of the rigging attached.
Stress and exhaustion didn't help much but my angelic wife did, immensely. At 2 AM she provided invaluable help with applying glue as I ran out of hand putting tension on the wires.
Build is finished by adding the top wing, then gun, then cowling and lastly the prop.
As luck would have it, after I'd added the gun the top wing came of the rear mid strut - and with the gun there, I couldn't push it down to reattach it. You could see that on one of the pics I posted for the competition, but more clearly in this one
Another mishap was that I'd miscalculated slightly on the outer wing struts, so that they're actually attached to the ailerons, which may have to be considered something of a design flaw.
I leave you with one last pic. Hope you've enjoyed my first attempt at a tutorial.
Last edited by Oberst Hajj; 05-13-2012 at 02:30.
You are now a demi-god for me.
Some very amazing work!! Thanks for the write up on how you did it all.
That is truly amazing! The amount of detail, and the skill you have! Helt otroligt (as we say in Sweden)!
In the competition, I was impressed by knowing that you had scratchbuilt this plane. Know that I've seen how you've done it, I am simply awed by your ability! WOW!
Phenomenal work. That's amazing. I wish I had your skill and patience.
WOW. I am speachless.
That's great stuff. Truly impressive. My compliments.
Some work went into this, so it's really great to know that some of you actually read an appreciated the post.
...and Michal - As I said in the post, your work was what inspired me to try a plane with rigging. Having tried it, my respect for your skills have increased exponentially.
Thank you for the tutorial Niclas, I hope to use some of those techniques when I am brave enough to try it for myself