Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

To celebrate the Centenary of the Royal Air Force, welcome to our first year-long Group Build. With the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service on 1 April 1918, the RAF is the oldest air force on the planet, so there is plenty of scope in the Build. Anything RAF-related goes … aircraft, vehicles, boats, personnel, you name it.
Runs from 1 January to 31 December 2018 … no extensions!

Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby smeg1959 » Thu May 17, 2018 5:45

Anyone who knows me (yes, even SWMBO) would tell you that one thing I do aspire to is to finish what I started, even if that takes a little longer than the average bear, Boo Boo. For reasons occasionally outside my control, I am not achieving this on the modelling front, case in point being the ever-growing number of Smeg1959 entries on the KG144 Shelf of Shame. With the sweeping changes to my personal circumstances in 2018, the fact that I now live on my Todd Malone should have cleared the decks and made it easier to complete models without incurring the ire of certain individuals. I said “should have”.

Fat chance. On weekends, I’m still doing tasks for You Know Who - concreting, shed construction, tree-lopping, you name it. And work has upped the ante during the Monday to Friday shift. So why then have I got four separate builds (Hurricane I, Spitfire IXc, Fw190A-3 and Vickers 432) on the go for this current GB? Optimism or insanity? Take your pick.
Hang on, did I say four? Sorry, I meant five. :shock:

The latest commencement is one of the F-Toys’ yellow JASDF Texans which is getting a little backdating to become a Harvard Mk II. Outwardly, many variants of the Texan were very similar in appearance, with little things like arrestor hooks for the SNJ series or added appendages housing various avionics bits and bobs. The Harvard Mk II and IIA were essentially identical to the BC-1A and AT-6C Texans, minus a rear-facing gun. F-Toys’ pairing represents the postwar T-6F and T-6G, neither which was armed anyway. The T-6F was essentially any AT-6F built 1948 or later. The T-6G was again an AT-6 knockoff, with better cockpit layout, increased fuel capacity, a steerable tailwheel and an uprated engine. The only overtly difference externally on the T-6G was simplified framing on the canopy. Having both in the stash, I went with the T-6F as the canopy is identical to the type used on wartime Harvards.

Having decided to add a Harvard to my GB8 RAF collection, the next question was which one? During WW2, most Harvards were finished – predictably – Trainer Yellow overall. True, F-Toys’ choice of yellow for the JASDF examples seems more like the Chrome Yellow 47 used by the US, so I could have justified a respray with Tamiya XF-3 like on the undersides of the Fw190 and 432. But I then remembered that three Harvards were despatched to the Western Desert as a part of 239 Wing for training up Hurricane pilots (amongst other duties), and they got the Dark Earth/Middle Stone/Azure Blue treatment. I’ve already said I have a soft spot for this combo, and seeing one of the latest entries for GB8, F_IV’s bewdiful Hurricane II, I know I’ve made the right choice.

The serials of the three Harvards in question were AJ839, AJ844 and AJ845. Some references have AJ944 as one of the three, I suspect due to a misreading of the code on a wartime photograph. This aircraft was, in fact, “a few mile down the road” in Saskatchewan from December 1941 onwards. For reasons best known to the owner, a restored Harvard (private rego VH-TXN) that regularly performs at airshows in Australia has been variously finished as both AJ844 and AJ845. This video link shows it as the latter in 2014 and, having been at several airshows where it has “strutted its stuff” (my photo from Tyabb 2016, below), all the more reason to go with AJ845.

Tyabb Air Show 2016 (165).jpg

Oddly enough, a privately owned Harvard in the UK (G-BJST) has been refinished as AJ841 in Desert Air Force camo. The restoration website includes the quote …

AJ 841 does have a connection with Duxford as she saw service with 154 Squadron. Originally 154 Squadron were based just to the West of RAF Duxford at RAF Fowlmere before they were deployed to the Middle East in 1942. Record cards for 154 Squadron show the squadron Harvard being flown by flying officer D C Dunn from Minnigh (Syria) to Ramat David (Palestine) on the 12th February 1944.

Now I’m totally confused because AJ841 isn’t on the official list. Could there be an error somewhere? Did four Harvards get Western Desert sand in their carburettors, not three? Never mind. Notwithstanding that the AJ841 restoration site includes a fictitious Bugs Bunny emblem (and the site states just that), it is an excellent resource for the camo pattern used on AJ845, and that’s the one I’ll stick with because (i) there are wartime photos of it (and both AJ839 and AJ844, for that matter) and (ii) I’ve drooled over it at airshows. Or, more correctly, under it. Metaphorically speaking.
OTB ...
Group Build 8 - Hawker Tempest Mk V (Roland Beamont, 150 Wing)
Other - Junkers Ju87B-2 (102/2 Zuhanobombazo Osztaly, Hungarian AF)
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby smeg1959 » Thu May 17, 2018 6:28

Enough historical background and personal justification. Onto the build. If you hadn’t seen an F-Toys’ Texan in the flesh, this is what’s in the box.

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (01).jpg

Close-up, the prefinish is less than perfect.

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (02).jpg

Methinks someone got a bit carried away with the coating process. After all, the kit is moulded in yellow plastic so doesn’t need twenty coats to cover it. First step was to sand down any of the areas where this “orange peel” effect was apparent, then dismantle the thing and add some seatbelts and control columns to the cockpit. As the prefinished cockpit floor and seat assembly was a tad darker than my interpretation of Interior Green, these got repainted with Lifecolour UA004 as did the interior of the model (F-Toys had left this the bare plastic colour). Once completed, the seating unit was refitted and the basic fuselage/wings/tailplanes assembly finalised.

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (03).jpg

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (04).jpg

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (05).jpg

Note that I’ll add decals as instrument panels later in the build.

Next step was to plug the cockpit up and spray on a goodly coating of Mr Surfacer 1200. As you can see from this first photo, priming was a wise investment as even Mr S, which sticks like you-know-what to a blanket, pooled on the surface initially. I hate to imagine what would happen if you tried to apply acrylics directly to the yellow.

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (06).jpg

Anyway, a couple of little overcoats later and we’re ready for the Emperor’s New Clothes ...

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (07).jpg

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (08).jpg

… starting with lubberly Azure Blue courtesy of Lifecolor UA518.

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (09).jpg

Unlike the Vallejo Model Air, one airbrushed coat and we were done.

Next step will be the standard Tamiya tape masking of the underside and application of Middle Stone. In this, I have two options, Lifecolor UA097, which I’ve used before on “Killer” Caldwell’s desert P-40C Tomahawk II, and Vallejo’s Model Air 71.031, which I bought three years ago to do some desert AFVs but never opened the bottle. I suspect I’ll go with the former unless I’ve got several hours free to apply six coats. :roll:

Then, my Cunning Plan. Mask the Hurricane and Harvard, airbrush Dark Earth. Mask the 432 and 190, airbrush Ocean Grey. Well, that’s the plan anyway. :idea:
OTB ...
Group Build 8 - Hawker Tempest Mk V (Roland Beamont, 150 Wing)
Other - Junkers Ju87B-2 (102/2 Zuhanobombazo Osztaly, Hungarian AF)
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby ajmm » Thu May 17, 2018 6:58

Great choice Smeg and looking good already. I’ve seen the U.K. one many times at Duxford and very handsome it is too in that middle stone and dark earth scheme. I’ve also found that surface a bit like Teflon on the two I’ve repainted. May try stripping my next ones completely. I’d recommend that for the canopy anyway (IPA should work) otherwise you get yellow bits peeking round the frames. F-Toys were a bit messy when they applied the framing on the two I’ve played with. But looking great - looking forward to seeing this painted up!
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby BigReg » Thu May 17, 2018 7:10

A good start, I can almost hear that Harvard prop sound.
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby F_IV » Thu May 17, 2018 7:44

Nice choice! I always thought the aircraft looked it’s best with roundels on. :)

I always look at F-Toys paint jobs as nothing more than primer, and it’s the first casualty when I start putting one of their kits together. I usually sand it back to help reduce the panel lines before I start putting my own coats on top. I notice that the yellow dissolves readily with Tamiya lacquer thinners though. Which can be quite handy sometimes.

You’re definitely making progress with the Henry Ford method of production. Looking forward to the eventual avalanche of completed builds! :D
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby cowleyi » Thu May 17, 2018 9:05

That is definitely looking the goods. The Blue looks great.

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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby smeg1959 » Mon May 28, 2018 2:41

Little progress on anything much at the moment thanks to factors beyond my control. Just Lifecolor UA097 on the upper surfaces ...

North American NA-66 Harvard II - RAF AJ845 (10).jpg

Unlike Vallejo, only one application was required. Pity I can't get Lifecolor here anymore. :cry:

F_IV wrote:You’re definitely making progress with the Henry Ford method of production. Looking forward to the eventual avalanche of completed builds! :D

Along with the Kingcobra from GB7 in their temporary homes (Ferrero Rocher cases), awaiting masking ...

Group Build 9 - In Progress Collection 2018-05-17.jpg
OTB ...
Group Build 8 - Hawker Tempest Mk V (Roland Beamont, 150 Wing)
Other - Junkers Ju87B-2 (102/2 Zuhanobombazo Osztaly, Hungarian AF)
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby cowleyi » Mon May 28, 2018 10:51

Good to see progress. Like the use of the Ferrero Rochere tins as build storage - that is such a good idea!

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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby F_IV » Mon May 28, 2018 12:12

Nice! Mine are full of Humbrol paints. :)
Love how the Harvard is coming along. Almost time for those Swann Morton 10a’s to strut their stuff :D
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Re: Smeg’s North American Harvard II (F-Toys Refinish)

Postby BigReg » Wed May 30, 2018 7:52

Nice boxes, shame about the sweets. I'm a dark chocolate person.
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