Aurora Nieuport 11 ‘Classic Build’ With Rockets For An Attitude!

by Eric Freese.

There are plenty of WW I planes in my collection and plenty more to add as well.  I’ve always been amazed at the guts it took to get in a fabric and cloth covered kite and hit the throttle.  But to go into aerial COMBAT?  The flight environment was brutal enough!  Some planes were pushing miles high and hypoxia always a threat.  Temperatures were brutally cold at minus 20 or 30 degrees.  Observers sat or stood at a gunners platform in the onslaught of frigid air and faced oncoming fighters from behind a single defensive gun.


WW1 Nieuport 16 fighter with air to air rockets for attack on balloons. The pilot is Charles Chouteau Johnson (photo courtesy of  Wikipedia)

Years ago I had the rare opportunity to actually see WW I fighters “dogfighting” in the air.  Northern Virginia was, and still is, home to the Bealeton Flying Circus.  It is the last continually running, barnstorming, grass field, flying circus… apart from Cole Palen’s Old Rhinebeck in N.Y..   Among the beautiful restorations and exact replicas was a Nieuport 17.  I was in love with the beauty of this bird!  Alas, the WW I aircraft went away, replaced with Stearmans, Fleets, Wacos, Ryans and J-3 Cubs.  Years later little did I know that I would be getting my flight training in a 1929 Fleet model 9 from this same field.  I even wound working with the Flying Circus for a few years!

Just for grins, the little Aurora Nieuport 11 leapt out at me one day, with all 8 red rockets hanging from the wing struts.  I did some on-line research and was amazed at the LePrieur balloon busting

Continue reading “Aurora Nieuport 11 ‘Classic Build’ With Rockets For An Attitude!”


By Frank Leimbek


Two locomotives met at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, signaling the completion of the transcontinental railroad.  This is now the Golden Spike National Historic Site located in Utah north of the Great Salt Lake.  Replicas of the two engines meet there again during reenactments.  The wide open spaces and the gently rolling hills make it a beautifully poignant location.


The completed models 

When I saw a model of the General offered for sale on the Internet, I thought it might make a very cool model of the Golden Spike meeting.  Of course I would need two models.  I have a garden railroad in 1/29 scale and my father and grandfather worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad.  I have specialized in 1/32 scale aircraft for many years.  In other words, I like modeling and railroading so this was a great project.

Continue reading “CONSTRUCTION OF THE JUPITER & NO 119 LOCOMOTIVES From MPC’s The General”

Restoration of an Aurora 1/48 Zero

By Eric Freese 

Box photographs courtesy of


Virtually anyone I meet at an air show, museum, or the local hobby shop has a list of their favorite planes, ships or cars.  Personally, I can’t get enough of the Zero.  I put it among my top ten favorite designs because it is pure fighter, perfectly proportioned in line and form. 

The ‘classic’ Zero is the Aurora 1/48 kit in yellow plastic.  Once common in the 1950s and early 60s, it has become a rare collector’s item today.

aurora-1st-88-59-japz-exc.JPG  aurora-2nd-al-ffoan-jap-zero-carrier-box.JPG  aurora-4th-88a-69-zero.JPG  aurora-88-79-zero.JPG  aurora-88-150-zerosldii.JPG

Various issues of the Aurora Zero (click any to enlarge)

 I enjoy ‘classic builds’ and restoring older kits, but the Aurora Zero has been conspicuously absent from my collection.  Recently I wrangled a deal to buy a pre-built version.  There was no box, just the model, but I was thrilled at the prospect of finally getting one!

Continue reading “Restoration of an Aurora 1/48 Zero”

Mustang Madness!!! An Aurora P-51 “Classic Build”

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By Eric Freese

 After posting Eric’s article on how to do a Classic Build (using a Monogram P-40), I asked if he could make an Aurora kit look that good.  Well, he did.  I was blown away by the results.  And better yet, all of this without excess effort – a true build-up for pleasure and decompression only! I hope you enjoy this build as much as I do. – AB

Aurora models never cease to amaze me.  Perhaps I took them for granted as a kid in my early teens.  But they got into subjects that nobody else would tackle, especially the Sci-Fi and movie figures.  They were also putting forth a wide array of WW I and WW II kits as well.  Several Aurora WW I planes sit proudly beside newer kits on my shelves.  I make no apologies.  Various friends and guests have commented they LIKED the old kits displayed in the cases.

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Some of Eric’s Classic Builds alongside newer kits (click either thumbnail to enlarge)

When Alan Bussie asked me to put forth a simple “decompression” kit, I couldn’t resist the Aurora 1/48 scale P-51H.  The last time I built one, I was about 13 years old.  My dad and I were sitting on the couch watching the television series “12 O’clock High.”  I was escorting B-17’s to Berlin, in hot pursuit of the 109’s, etc…and I built the fighter straight from the box in one hour.  The challenge (and pure joy) of recreating that all over again was too tempting to pass up.  This time I would add a little bit of painting detail.  I would create my own markings from existing supplies and I would NOT use putty or aftermarket parts.  What you see is what you get!


Aurora’s 1/48 scale P-51 Mustang 

Continue reading “Mustang Madness!!! An Aurora P-51 “Classic Build””

How to build Resin Model Airplane Kits-Resin 101

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Article and Photography by Ken Friend

Editors Note: It is my pleasure to bring you another article on modeling by Ken. Since Ken would never brag on himself, I must point out that his work has been featured in in FSM (Fine Scale Modeler) and he has won numerous awards in IPMS Competition. I know that I have learned an immeasurable amount from him and I hope you can too-Alan Bussie.

Some time ago I was asked to build a few models for display at the 2008 IPMS Nationals. The first of those was an Anigrand Mirage 4000, and while building the kit I thought back to the time when I built my first resin kit and of the changes in modeling techniques I had to adopt and/or develop. Other modelers I talk with are sometimes reluctant to build a resin kit, simply because they “don’t know what they don’t know” about building kits made of this different kind of plastic. I realized the Mirage would be a great beginner’s kit that could help new resin modelers get over their resin anxiety and open their collections to rare, one-of-a-kind, and unusual aircraft. First, a little history of just what the Mirage 4000 is all about:


The Mirage 4000 was a French prototype jet fighter aircraft developed by Dassault-Breguet from their Mirage 2000. The new aircraft was noticeably bigger and heavier, being fitted with two (SNECMA M53-2) turbofans, rather than the single engine found on the Mirage 2000. It also featured small canards above the engine air intakes. Despite the changes the two aircraft remain similar, sharing the delta wing design, semi-circular air intakes and general configuration.

The plane first flew in 1979. It was financed as a private venture by Dassault, possibly with Saudi Arabian money. The Continue reading “How to build Resin Model Airplane Kits-Resin 101”

How to Repair Clear Parts on Plastic Model Kits

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By Mace R. Abrams

Editors Note: I first saw Mace’s work through photographs but quickly realized that I seen it before – in big screen movies. Mace is a professional model builder/supervisor/rigger at Stageco and has honed his techniques in the high pressure field of motion picture development. His technique for cleaning up clear injection molded parts work great, and he was kind enough to write and article and take sample pictures. I have found it very useful and I hope that you do too – Alan Bussie

As your skill in model building grows, you begin to choose more advanced model kits. In these advanced subjects you will frequently encounter additional clear plastic pieces such as fuselage, cowls and walls or hulls. For example, there are several kits of military submarines that have clear sections of hull so you can see the interior compartments and deck levels. There is also the famous Monogram Visible B-17 and the LS Ki-109 with all clear fuselage and cowls.

No matter how careful you are in your construction, accidents do happen. Suddenly the transparent hull pieces or windows get clouded or scared from glue on your fingers or by a masked area lifting up while airbrushing. In fact, I made the “boo-boo of all time” by thinking that I could clear a transparent hull section as I clear coated the entire model. Now what do I do? The entire submarine interior that I worked so carefully to detail was now obscured by a fogged opaque hull half!


Sample Damaged Clear Part

After thinking about the problem, Continue reading “How to Repair Clear Parts on Plastic Model Kits”

How To Build Vacuform Model Kits

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Many customers have written emails asking how to build vacuform kits. My skills in this area are lacking – which is a nice way of saying that I have ruined most of the vac kits that I have started. But I noticed several customers – like David Miller – who purchased vacuforms repeatedly. I asked, and he sent me photos of his completed models. They are incredible! He was kind enough to write this article. I hope you find it as educational and enjoyable as I do. Alan Bussie

By Dave Miller

“Significant modeling skill is required to build vacuform kit. Not recommended for beginners.”

This statement is contained in the description of many vacuform models offered through Old Model Kits ( It is intended to inform potential buyers that a vacuform kit is substantially different from the injection-molded kits offered by major brands such as Airfix, Revell, Tamiya, Hasegawa and Monogram. Generally, major brand injection molded kits have detailed instructions, painting guides, good to excellent part fit, and require minimal preparation prior to painting. Vacuform kits may also share some of these characteristics, but generally do pose their own unique challenges. Having said this, however, building a vacuform kit gives one an opportunity to develop some new modeling skills. If you’ve built several injection-molded kits, then you may already have experience with filling seams, re-scribing panel lines and adding aftermarket or scratch-built details to models. These same skills are needed when building a vacuform model. Most importantly, with some care, a beautiful and unique model can be built from a vacuform kit.


1/72 B-32 Dominator
(Click photo to enlarge)

Probably the chief reason that builders contemplate the purchase of a vacuform model is that the subject is not available in Continue reading “How To Build Vacuform Model Kits”

More on Using or Restoring Old Decals

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by Alan Bussie Google+ profile

  • Introduction
  • How are decals made?
  • How can old decals fail?
  • Common problems and solutions
  • Making new decals

With fewer molds being run by fewer manufactures, many modelers are turning to the older kits to find desirable subject matter. The plastic usually ages well, but the decals can become troublesome. Most decals were not designed to last and time and environment can take their toll. Luckily, many highly experienced builders and collectors have been willing to share their hard-earned knowledge on saving old decals. I would specifically like to thank Jim Allen, Ken Friend and Larry Johnson for their contributions.

How are decals made?
Decal paper then and now is composed of a thin, strong paper with a thin clear film and water-release adhesive. The vast majority of decals from time immemorial were silk-screened. Silk-screening utilizes different screens for each color starting with the lightest and finishing with the black. The major reason for misalignment was always the backing paper which would begin to expand with each color. The rapid improvement of screening materials, backing papers and inks bring us the great decals we enjoy today which are still silk-screened.

Commercial Silk Screen Printing Press

Commercial Silk-Screen Printing Press

The wax-based toner printer ALPS is used by some specialty decal providers but the technology has been discontinued by Continue reading “More on Using or Restoring Old Decals”

Foiling Plastic and Resin Model Kits for Realism by Ken Friend

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There have been several really good modeling articles written about using aluminum foil and hobby foil to generate the natural metal finish (NMF) of unpainted aircraft. The photographs of the finished product(s) show exquisite detail and realism that can’t be matched by any other method. While these articles focus on the technique of applying foil, there are some details I think could be added to create even more realism. This article will focus on “paneling” and effects that can be used prior to applying foil to a model. Most of the topics presented are the result of much trial and error and are conveyed to simply add to the information that others have already provided.

I’ve had many jobs over the years that required working with aluminum castings and aluminum sheet. One of those jobs was as an Aviation Metalsmith in an A-4 squadron in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. As an avid, casual modeler, I have always wanted to recreate some of the unpainted planes of the same era. Until about five years ago I used buffing and non-buffing metalizers with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. One day I opened a Nestlé’s Crunch bar and suddenly realized that I had a better solution right there in my hands. I found some foil glue at Wal-Mart, an Italeri F-104, and some available time. I was very pleased with the outcome and hopelessly hooked….


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Save Those Old or Yellowing Plastic Model Decals

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by Ken Friend

Nothing is more discouraging than watching decals yellow with time after they have been applied to one of your favorite models. Well, maybe there is something more discouraging; spending your valuable allowance on an older model kit only to find the decals are almost useless from discoloration. The following article might help. Discolored decals can be used to generate new decals that stand a much better chance of maintaining their true colors and clarity.

The example below shows the original decal sheet from an AMT XB-70 kit released in 1995. The clear film between colored segments is discolored. Obviously, this will show dramatically Continue reading “Save Those Old or Yellowing Plastic Model Decals”