Tamiya Mosquito FB.VI
Although the classic Airfix kit has offered a fairly accurate portrayal of the fighter Mossie for many years, we have recently been blessed by a spate of state of the art kits from Japan. In my mind, the pick of the crop is Tamiya's new FB.VI, clearly based on their excellent 48th scale kit. The kit features crisp recessed panel lines (where appropriate), a well-detailed cockpit with sidewall detailed molded into the nose halves, optional exposed five stack exhausts or covers, narrow or paddle blade props, bombs, rocket projectiles or slipper tanks for the wings, two styles of wheel hubs (spoked and plain) and parts to build an NF.II, including a radar scope for the cockpit. The canopy is well-molded and crystal clear, with a separate side panel offering plain or slightly bulged styles. Relevant canopy frames are molded on the inside only, and are included as small strips of interior green colour on the decal sheet. Parts breakdown is typical, with a break in the fuselage just forward of the wing to offer a separate nose. The wing is flush mounted to the fuselage, with a pair of short spars to mount to. The nacelles feature rib and stringer detail in the wheel wells.
Decals are included for a pair of FB.VIs and an NF.II. Carpena provide markings for a sharkmouthed FB.VI of GC Corse on their Indochina Ier Partie sheet (72.04).
Major parts go together very well. The fuselage seam becomes almost invisible with a little light clean up. I applied a touch of CA to a few areas on the underside seam as well. The bombay doors (molded shut) stand slightly proud of the fuselage, but I thought that this looked acceptable. About the worst fitting part on the fuselage was the insert with the 20 mm cannon muzzles (beautifully molded, though). The nose cap fit perfectly, though I have my doubts about the safety of the protruding barrels. All 8 barrels benefit from a quick boring with a sharp knife or drill. I also bored out all 20 exhaust stacks (thankfully it was only a single stage Merlin), which was quite tedious and fiddly. The holes in the stacks are elliptical in shape, which makes the job that much harder. Wing and nacelle assembly went generally very well, with a problem area at the rear of each nacelle, where the top surface of the wing joins the nacelle halves, leaving a noticeable step. This is actually evident on the boxtop model! I also had a bit of a gap at the front of one of the undercarriage bays. The carburetor intakes are molded solid, so I drilled these out as well.
The canopy as mentioned is beautifully clear. The separate side panel fits perfectly. I secured it with a bit of PVA, then dipped the works into Klear. Once this had set, I started applying the internal canopy frames. These gave me a bit of a problem- firstly, if you apply them like a conventional decal, you won't get a nice interior green strip visiblet through the canopy, you'll get a narrow white strip, bordered by interior green. This is due to the underprinting of white on the decals- to fix it, you'll need to apply the decals upside down. I also had to trim the clear film from the strips, making them rather fragile. Still, I managed to get them all laid down in the appropriate spots without too much hassle. I used Klear to help settle the decals down. I then went for another complete canopy dip into the Klear, which unfotunately sent half the framing floating off! Quickly recovering from disaster, I fixed what I could, and replaced the rest with framing made from green sprayed clear decal film, overcoated with Micro Decal Film. By this time the Klear build-up was getting a little thick, causing some distortion. At this point I was tired of this whole framing deal, so I got out the PVA and plopped the canopy on down, with an excellent fit to the fuselage.
After a coat of primer and some preshading in black, I applied a light coat of medium sea grey overall. I decided to experiment a bit with the camouflage- I can paper masks for the grey areas and held them down with rolled-up masking tape. This held the masks off the surface slightly to give a small amount of overspray. Photos of the actual a/c show a soft demarcation between the green and the grey on the nose.
While studying my references, I hit a bit of a problem. Now I'm hardly a member of the colour police, and I'm unlikely to tell anyone that their camouflage scheme doesn't match the tech order, but I do strive for accuracy where I can. All my photos of RF 876 (the shark-mouthed a/c) show the port side of the forward fuselage. The photo in Squadron-Signal's VNAF shows the same side, but the picture is reversed. From this picture, it appears the entire nose is green, as is the inboard side of the starboard nacelle. Checking with established schemes, this doesn't match either the standard scheme (green nose, grey inboard to starboard nacelle) or the reversed scheme (grey nose, green inboard to starboard nacelle). I realise these schemes were not set in stone, but looking at other Mosquito photos, it appears the scheme were fairly closely adhered to. I ended up going for a standard scheme, with the green continued over the entire starboard nacelle.
With the paint touched up, I applied a coat of Humbrol Gloss Clear in preparation for the markings. Based on previous experience, I also coated the Carpena decals I intended to use with gloss clear to prevent break up. For the most part the decals went on well. I recommend cutting the underwing serials into individual letters- this will certainly help them get around the bomb pylons. I left the sharkmouth to last. My poor expectations of this were realised. The decal doesn't flex well, so you'll need a lot of cuts to get it around the compound curve of the nose. The shape also seems a bit off- the mouth doesn't come far enough up the sides of the nose. I cut mine in half in the middle, placed the sides at the appropriate height, and later painted in the teeth in the centre to connect the two halves. After the decals had been left to set for a week or so (actually I was busy doing other things), I found a few spots of milky white had appeared in the finish. All was not lost, however, as these disappeared under an application of Klear.
Next I applied a wash of black and burnt sienna watercolours. As the wash dried I wiped most of it off. Given the small amount of recessed detail present on the actual aircraft, I kept the wash to a minimum. I then painted on some chipped metal around the cowl panels and props. Next I overcoated the aircraft and various bits (gear doors, props, etc.) with Humbrol clear flat. After leaving this to dry for a day, I unmasked the canopy and the landing lights (which I had masked with blobs of PVA glue). As usual, I managed to bugger up the canopy masking. The tape had lifted slightly off the tightly curved areas at the top of the side panels, leaving slight overspray. I also managed to forget to mask one of the eyebrow windows completely! Careful scraping removed the paint in the offending areas, but further clean up was required.
At this point the kit was starting to look a lot like an aeroplane. With a very dark brown paint I added exhaust stains and weathered the exhausts, which I had left unattached until this point. I then added the exhaust, the landing gear and doors, the props and the pitot head on the tail. After cleaning up the wingtip light lens, I drilled a 0.5 mm hole in the back of each to represent the bulb, which I then touched in with a toothpick and a dob of red and green paint. I attached these with PVA glue. I didn't encounter the fit problems that some reviewers came across with the lenses on this kit's larger brother. Finally, a spot of touch-up, some drybrushed mud on the tyres and mudguards, on with the props, and the kit was done. I was pretty happy with the end result, but then again, when you start with a kit of this quality, you have to work to bugger it up!
In addition to the VNAF book, I also used the old Aircam Mosquito monograph for reference.
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Last updated 21 July 2000