Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Flyer Industries

(that's a Winnipeg inside joke)

Anyway, if you've been following the blog (and let's face it, who hasn't?) you'll have seen my latest foray into sci-fi with Pig Iron's excellent Kolony Militia I decided to do mine in a future-Soviet theme which I think fit the miniatures perfectly. Originally the plan was to do Pig Iron infantry to match up with Rackham vehicles for AT-43 but as these things often do, it's spiralled a bit out of control...
So far I have 22 Pig Iron models finished, plus their supporting SU-300 as well as a BTR-60 carrier and what I call the T340-32-2, a 1/43 T34 model that's been hacked around with twin 32mm cannons in the turret and a hull-mounted laser cannon (!). It's on the table in the basement about to be primed.

So with some vehicles done, and a few more (10) Kolony Militia on the way from Brandon at Rattlehead Games, it occurred to me that a neat project for the interim would be a ground-attack aircraft ("flyer" in sci-fi parlance). I wanted something that suited the future-retro theme of the force, plus had a Soviet flavour, if possible. It had to be compact, mean looking, and able to be loaded down with an unfeasible array of weaponry.

Enter the Polikarpov I-16 "Rata" in 1/48 scale...

I-16 from Hobbycraft... note the "Warning" on box cover from Pete. When I bought it, we checked the parts and they were complete. However he warned me that "we don't guarantee that a Hobbycraft kit won't be crap..." thanks Pete ;-)

I always have liked the look of this aircraft. It has the look of the pre-war GeeBee racer, all nose with the cockpit crammed up against the tail. I wanted something that looked like it was basically all-engine, and the I-16 fills the bill nicely. However, piston engines and propeller drive would hardly fit the futuristic theme of the rest of the force, so some conversion was in order...

I happened to have a few brass plumbing bits left over from doing the conversion on the SU-300. I had bought a few different pieces to try out for the main gun of the vehicle. They were cheap so I figured I might as well buy a few rather than have to go back to Rona later. One of the pieces looked like it would make a nifty jet engine. I hacked into the fuselage to make room for it, and started cutting up the front end to make a giant intake where the piston engine and propeller live.

Point of no return...
Of course, where I positioned the engine happened to foul the floor of the cockpit ever so slightly. I was able to modify the latter with a few (dozen) swipes of a half-round file and it fit nicely.

Half-round file comes in handy!

I continued with assembly of the rest of the plane after that. A surplus GW Imperial Guard autocannon fit underneath the nose, HS-129 style, while the rocket pods from a Whirlwind launcher were cut apart and positioned under the wings on pylon-mountings.

Please ignore the superglue residue that's everywhere... arrgh

I also found some bits in the bits box to detail the new jet engine.

Who doesn't love "bits"... sorry "bitZ"

There was a bit of an issue caused by my ham-handed hackery on the fuselage to fit the new jet engine. I cut some strips of card to hide the worst of it and greenstuff and more detail bits would be applied to conceal the rest... I hope!

Superglue residue... now with added bloodstains!

I would have preferred a closed cockpit model but the one available at my local hobby shop was an open cockpit variant. So rather than screw around with more plasticard and greenstuff I decided to add a pilot. Fortunately I had purchased a pack of Copplestone's "Pilots" from his Back of Beyond range. The pack included a few half-figures so one of these was decapitated and slotted into the cockpit.


(Don't worry, he'll have a head swapped on from the Pig Iron standard bearer. This model had an odd head that I thought never really suited an infantry model, but which I think looks great on a pilot)

The last thing to do was to detail the front intake. I had another brass plumbing bit to use bit it was kind of plain and stuck out from the nose quite a bit; I wasn't sure of the aesthetic (not that this would have bothered the Future Commies, but whatever...)

I hit the Home Depot this afternoon and found a suitable bit there, again in the plumbing section... it's called a "flare nut" and I think it makes a relatively convincing jet intake...

Flare nuts ahoy!
Of course no description of the project would be complete without mentioning the assistance I got along the way... Gillespie was a big help in keeping the model box from going anywhere ;-)

Looks comfy, eh?

Seriously, I gotta say a big thank you to Conscript Greg B for the GW Imperial Guard sprues I've used on these sci-fi conversion projects, they are a real life-saver! Anyway, here are some pics of the finished model:

I'll add the clear windshield after painting.

Some statistics on the project:

  • Cost of materials: kit $15 (secondhand from Sparetime Hobbies), flare nut $2.19, other brass bit $2?
  • Time investment: maybe 6 hours? (I bought the model yesterday afternoon and finished the project before supper tonight)
  • Injuries incurred: cut thumb from new Xacto blade (I literally poured my blood into this model; that's the red stuff you see in some of the photos)
  • Stuff I screwed up: as usual, lots of cyano-acrylate glue residue and smears. I've been using thin dollar-store glue and it runs everywhere. Thankfully primer and paint covers that up pretty well.

Thanks for reading this, and if there's interest, I'll post an entry on painting the beast!


Greg B said...

Dallas - that is awesome!

I've started on the "Opfor"..stay tuned for postings on the progress of a Panther MK MVMVXVII....

ed said...

Lovely pice of work

Insane, I mean how does the pilot see to land, but truly lovely

well done and thanks for sharing. I love hacking about cheap kits myself and this was inspirational

Dallas said...

Thanks guys! To your comment, Ed, I'd actually considered mounting a heavy bolter on top of the fuselage in front of the pilot... just to ensure zero forward visibility! Decided against it tho'.

DaveV said...

Great conversion, Dallas.