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Marcus Jellyman's Scratch Building Part 1
Over the last few months i have received a few messages regarding the scratch built area's on my models and how i go about building them. So this will be the first of a mini series of how i add extra detail to my builds, starting off with planning the build, cutting out and building replacement panels. Week two will be spent adding the details and painting them, and in week three i will move on to cockpits.

After about twenty years out of the hobby. and like many of us, i made the return around five years ago. I hadn't picked up an airbrush and had never heard of weathering! But as i read about, and picked up new skills and techniques, my builds began to improve.

For a few years all of my models were built out of the box, i then found the world of resin. To start with i would only use resin seats and the occasional cockpit, as the thought of chopping up a perfectly good kit scarred the life out of me! As my confidence grew, and with a few old 'cheap' kit in the stash it was time to try out some plastic surgery. The kit was Italeri's 1:48 Tornado IDS, and i had purchased Paragon's flap & slat set for it. The set required a fair bit of surgery and filler (all my own fault!) to get them looking good, but once the model was complete i was hooked and had to have this level of detail on all my builds.

At the time i was already a member of a couple of well known modelling forum but would rarely show my builds, conscious that they were not up to standard. Then last year i joined Promodeller and entered my first group build with my A-6 Intruder and S-3 Viking. These two builds would begin my love of scratch building, the A-6 had a small avionics bay that would be added but it was the S-3 that really got me started.

I am by no means an expert at scratching but i hope some of you will find these run throughs of some interest and give you the impetus to have a go yourselves.

Ok, before starting any project i will spend plenty of time looking for reference material. Whether it be in books, or on the internet i will probably spend more time gathering images and info than building the thing!. Websites like have a vast library of images from aircraft through to Armour, and also have many images with panels open exposing internal parts. I normally will then make a new folder on the PC for each new build, this will contain any info i come across whilst trawling the net. There is nothing worse than finding a good piece of info, before moving onto something else, only to spend hours trying to find it again further down the line!.

Below are the main tools & materials i use. Most of these will be common in all your collections. I for one am a bit of a tool junkie, and spend far too much time and money searching for new bits and pieces for my collection, when i should be building!

1:- Open & Closed Tweezers - Vital for all holding those fine details to be added later

2:- Riveting Tool - This example is from the excellent RB Productions range.

3:- Pin Vice - Used for many jobs from opening up panels to the final wiring/cabling details.

4:- Curved Scissors - My favorite and most used tool, these give you so much more control when trimming plasticard than using a hobby knife.

5:- File Set - Handy for getting nice square corners in the panel openings

6:- Scalpels - Have a few to hand with various shaped blades.

7:- Olfa-p Cutter & Razor Saw - Main job for the Olfa-p cutter is to re scribe any lost panel lines but can also be used along side the razor saw in removing plastic (see later).

8:- Scribing Templates - Can't have too many of these.

Next up are the materials i use in building the replacement panels. As we all know, our hobby is becoming more and more expensive and with most kits alone being around the £50 mark, and with a couple of resin additions can push the cost up considerably. Most of the bits and pieces i use below are relatively inexpensive and will last you many years of building. Companies like Evergreen and Slaters produce a vast array of plasticard and strip that will cover all your building needs. These are only a couple of pounds per packet and again will last you years of building. Over here in the UK we have seen lots of large craft stores opening recently, and these are a mecca for small detailing parts.

1:- Detailing Wire - The three spools at the rear are necklace beading wire, the good thing with these is they come in a range of colours. The others are bell wire and motor winding wire.

2:- Micro Masking Tape - For adding cable bindings and pipe work couplings.

3:- Glues - The usual Tamiya thick/thin glues for the plasticard work, and Cyno with accelerator for the detailed work.

4:- Lead Wire - Again for fine detailing but far more easier to work.

5:- Ribbon Cable - Salvaged out of an old PC, i mainly use this for cabling cockpits.

6:- Dymo Tape - Used as a guide when cutting and scribing panel lines.

Before choosing the area to be worked make sure nothing will be hindered when the rest of the model is built. The last thing you want to happen is for the fuse halves not closing up because your hard work is in the way!. Once all the references have been gathered and i have decided on what i want to do it's time to get cutting.

First mark the area to be removed with a permanent marker.

There are a couple of ways to remove the unwanted plastic, if you have a steady hand you can use the Olfa-p cutter with a guide. Try to make the cuts a couple of millimeters in from the edges of the panel, the rest will be removed with a file. If your not too confident with the cutter, use a pin vice to chain drill around the inside of the panel. Once you are nearly through use a razor saw to finish the job. It may look a bit rough at the moment but don't worry, a quick pass with a file will have it looking nice and neat.

The Olfa-p cutter method.

Chain Drilling with a Pin Vice.

Almost through with the cutter.

Final cutting with the Razor Saw.

Now some plastic has been removed we can get a file into the gap to tidy up the edges. If your careful you can always use a scalpel, just take it easy though!

This is the point to start adding some detail, first up is the framing around the bay opening. For this i use thin plastic strip. There are two ways of tackling this stage, the first is a little more tricky but the results are far better. Because of the thickness of the models plastic, scaled up it would mean the aircraft's skin being around 6 inch's thick!. Measure the dimensions of the opening and cut strips to length. Then apply some Tamiya extra thin cement to the model. Now place the plastic strip into the recess up on it's edge (as below). The Tamiya cement will help as it takes to the thin plastic strip quite fast, allowing you time to get in in place.

The strip on it's edge.

The other, and easier method is to just lay a wider piece of strip on the inside of the fuse. This however will show up the thick plastic as shown below.

Once the cement has cured, measure out where the fastening holes need to be, and using a pin vice carefully drill them out.

Now to build the internal structure. The following shots are from my current Tomcat build. For this particular build i needed to follow the contour of the aircraft's spine. For this i used Blu-Tac 'pushed' into the area, this was then transferred onto some 15 thou plasticard and cut to size.

These pieces were then cemented together to form a small open box. I also added various shapes and sizes of plastic strip to simulate the strengthening ribs.

The completed section can now be offered up to the model to see if the fit is good.

Next week we will move on to adding all the details and paint that will bring it to life.

Many Thanks