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Building a desert diorama with a US Air Bae146
Author: Andy White
Submitted by: Andy White   Date: 12-14-2003
Comments: (1)  

Somehow when modelling Airliners, the idea of some kind of Diorama doesn't seem to match, except for standing them on a runway or at the gate. The idea for this model came from browsing the internet. I had bought a second hand Revell Avro RJ85 from underneath a club stand at the excellent Model Show at Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum. The kit cost 1 Pound and basically had the wings built and a bit of primer painted. For those not familiar with this kit, I bought the earlier release with the too small engines and slightly poor fitting wings.
It had been my intention to replace the engines with newer retooled ones from Revell which I had heard were possible to get from Revell. That was the hard part. I had 3 old Revell RJ kits and e-mailed Revell requesting new engines for these kits and offering to pay any costs incurred. To cut a long story short Revell weren't really too aware about the retooled engines and in the end I got just one set of new engines. To ask for more was just too much like hard work.
So, with some Avro RJ kits without the better engines I wondered what to do.Then I came across the picture of the U.S Air Bae146-200 parked in the Desert all sealed up and for sale. It immediately struck me as a novel way to display a not so cherished kit. Photos showed both the older different shades of red pinstripe scheme and also the newer blue tail with red and blue pinstripe. I knew this latter scheme was available as a Decal. I always liked this scheme and it would give me the chance to try out some natural metal finishes

Getting Started As the completed model was going to be displayed with a lot of areas covered up I had to approach building it in a slightly different way. Firstly, when it comes to the windows the pictures appear to show the windows covered up with tape. So there is no need to fill the windows for any future decal, though I did line the inside windows with plastic card to cover all eventualities.
Secondly, as the engines are covered up at both ends there is no need to include the fan discs or paint the exhaust tail cones. Whilst studying the photos of the 146 I noticed the tailplane flaps were drooping. Looking at other photos of the 146 parked or taxying, this seemed to be a common feature. However with the model representing one in mothballs' it seemed even more appropriate. So using the saw piece on my Scale Aircraft Modelling combined scale rule saw, I cut off the flaps. I also noticed a trim tab on each flap was also hanging, so I cut out one on each flap and repositioned them. I also repositioned the tailplane flaps pointing slightly upwards and made a new outer hinge out of platic card.
Iglued the fuselage together and added the completed wings. The few final touches on the fuselage involved filling in the baggage doors as they are too small and cutting off the kit tail skid and replacing it with a better shaped one from plastic card. I added the kit cockpit windscreen, it fitted ok but didn't bother too much with getting an exact fit as it would be later covered up. I also noticed that this aircraft has only one D/F loop (represented by a lump) instead of 2 forward of the wing on top of the fuselage. This stood out as it was painted light greyagainst the natural metal. Also the VHF ariel (kit part 47) which normally sits above the wings is actually forward of the D/F loop and above the front fuselage door. It appears that this is common on early Bae 146s. U.SAir inherited its 146s from PSA , the latter having had them delivered in 1984. So I sanded down flat the rear most D/F loop.
Then I noticed the starboard wing was hanging down too much. I had noticed this too late on a previous 146(Article in S.I.G newsletter June 2002) so I slipped a small piece of plastic card between the wing root and the wing and this cured the problem. Everything looked ready for primimg so I then sprayed the entire kit with Halfords white auto plastic primer which showed up areas that needed resanding etc. Later when making the undercarriage I was surprised at the poor fit of the landing gear support (parts 8 and 12) to the door. Further examination when compared to the parts on a newer Bae 146 show that Revell has improved these parts too. Firstly, on the old kit, the horizontal strut that joins to the doors is too short. Secondly the groove in the doors where the strut fits is too high. The strut on the new kit is now long enough and the groove is lower and in the right place. For my old kit I cut the old strut away and replaced it with plactic card.

I decided to paint the grey areas using Xtracolour Boeing grey. Having masked off the relevent areas, this always seems to take ages, I sprayed the model. Two points at this stage. Firstly the Boeing grey didn't look light enough compared to photos, and secondly there was still an area on the wing joint where dark filler showed through. No problem, I thought, just spray grey again where it's needed. So I did and the result was a big darker grey patch in the centre of the upper wing! Decision time. Do I think, Oh what the heck and carry on, or am I going to have to strip the paint and at least remask and respray. The latter was the chosen option and with Aeromaster paint and decal remover I set about the task. I was very careful to apply it only to the grey paint but unfortunately in some places it took off the primer. So back to stage one, reprime it.

In the meantime I set about making the engines. Having built them without fandiscs I sprayed them with Halfords gloss black car paint. Then I sprayed them with Alcad 2 highly polished Aluminium. It was my first attempt at Alcad and following the instructions of two light coats, the results were very pleasing. Now I set about making the engine covers. Using a circle template in the Scale Aircraft Modelling ruler/saw combination, I cut out 4 circles. Then I cut small strips of plastic card and glued these round the edges of the circle using superglue. In order to make the covers fit into the engines, I had to sand down the insides of the cowlings. The covers were all then painted a bright yellow, Humbrol 99.

Having primed the fuselage again and doing quite alot of sanding to give a smooth finish I was ready to paint again. This time I chose Revell paint SM 371, a light grey. This sprayed very nicely and the resulting colour was a much better match to photos. Having enjoyed using Alcad already, I thought I'd try it on the upper fuselage. The engines are very shiney compared to the fuselage so I needed a lighter metallic finish. Looking a photos I thought white Aluminium would be a good fit. Also with this colour, unlike the very shiney finishes, it is not necessary to have a gloss black undercoat and I sprayed it over the white car primer. Again the results were very good and now I decided to experiment. I masked off various panels on the fuselage and rubbed in SNJ metal powder or dark grey pastel dust or pencil lead dust. This worked well and provided some subtle changes in shade. The various powders were sealed with Johnsons; Klear' floor wax.

The Decals I used was the Flightpath sheet FP44-64.The sheet comes with basic instructions and refering you to a not very fantastic black & white photograph underneath. The painting instructions are really too basic compared to what can be seen in a photo. The blue tail decal is one big piece and the red tail stripes are seperate. There are two long red fuselage lines with the upper blue stripe a seperate piece. There are 4 basic grey door outlines, a selection of numbers for different registrations and USAir titles. Oh, and 2 U.S flags in 3 different pieces. I didn't need to use the doors but I think the grey on them is too dark compared to photos. I did the tail decals first and as the blue extends to the top of the fin it was necessary to cut the decal first. Also there is a small strip of grey at the front of the tail between the blue and natural metal. The decal is designed to fit the whole fin so some at the back needed to be trimmed. The decal went on very well and so did the white US Air titles that went over the blue. The red stripes were cut out seperately and laid in the gaps provided. However when it came to the fuselage stripe I found that the red was not opaque. Looking closely the boarder between grey and metal can be seen underneath. The blue of the fuselage stripe comes as a seperate piece. Both were hard to put on. After I had completed the first red stripe I realised that it was dropping down too early at the end of the fuselage.. Adding the blue stripe later has levelled it off a bit but with more concentration paid to photos it might not have happened. If one was to build a US Air 146 ?properly' then I would highly recommend using the Skyline Bae 146 detail decal as well.

Finishing Touches After painting and decalling it was time to cover it up! Firstly, and rather reluctantly, I hand painted the US Air logo on the tail using an old Airfix blue, G13. I painted directly over the letters. Then I masked off 2 areas on the front fuselage where the USAir titles were and painted a box shape using Humbrol Metal Cote. In order to represent the the silver sheeting used to cover up the aircraft I painted a piece of thin clear plastic bag with Humbrol Metal Cote 27002. The bag is the type you get for vegetables in supermarkets. I then cut bits off and glued them on with white glue. I used this method for the windows and the back of the engines.Some times the paint cracks off but it can be retouched later. I used small pieces of shiney silver plastic cut into strips for the door seals and other areas where I wanted a brighter contrast. This particular plastic was retrieved from the floor at a concert after hundreds of small squares had been thrown in the air as part of the performance! This whole procedure took far longer than initially thought as there was so many areas that were coverd up for storage. The final part was glueing the engines on and adding the various Ariels. I weathered the upperwings and fuselage with thinned oil paints or dry brushing with enamels.

The Base
Thebase was bought from from Just Bases, 19cm x 23cm.
I scored the base with a knife and then painted diluted white glue on it. This was done in order to make the surface better for the filler to stick to. I mixed Polyfilla with light brown water colours and laid it on with a scrapper. The area represented by vehicles passing in front was pressed down with a ruler to make it flatter than the area where the Plane stands. Then using the edge of the ruler I made the tyre marks in the sand. Then I sprinked thin sand carefully over the still wet filler and pressed it down where necessary. This is now it remained until after the Telford show. Then I applied an orange/brown colour wash over the sand using a pippet to drop the paint onto the base. When it was dry it looked too dark, so then I airbrushed several coats of very light brown water colours over the surface which gave the whole base a more dry appearance. Then with white glue I stuck on small pieces of green sponge grass, bought from a Model Railway shop. However they were far too green so later I brushed some green/white Acrylic colour over the top of the grass. Finally the tyre marks where highlighted with a darker brown to give a sense of depth.

Conclusion A fun modelling project which got a little bit tedious at the end with so much to cover up. However it was a good introduction to using Alcad 2 and I am pleased with the finished model.

Andy White

Photos:Uwe Damaschek

Flying Colours, J.K Morton, Airlife
Departure Gate 2000, Freddy Bullock, Airlife
Jetliners U.S.A, Wagner & Campbell, Osprey Aviation

by Andy White

Member Comments :

 comment by: 727Fan posted on 10-11-2009, comment #8700

Very impressive project! I only saw grounded USAIR Bae146´s on photos but they looked just like your one. Regards, René