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Tamiya's 1/48 scale
Gloster Meteor F.Mk.3

by Wolf Buddee

 

Gloster Meteor F.Mk.3

 


Tamiya's 1/48 scale Meteor F.Mk.3 is available online from Squadron

 

Introduction

 

Tamiya's 1/ 1/48 Gloster Meteor F.3 kit was built using Hi-Tech's resin detail set and Eduard's photo-etch set designed for Tamiya's Meteor F.1 kit.

Fellow Hyperscalers Derek Pennington and Steve Long graciously provided me with reference drawings and photos and I would like to acknowledge and thank both these gentlemen for their kind assistance.

My Meteor is finished as EE246/YQ-A, a No.616 Squadron F Mk 3 Meteor based in Lubeck Germany, 1945.

 

 

Construction


 

Assembly started with elongating the troughs behind the open gun ports inside the fuselage halves and gluing in small lengths of Minimecca metal tubing to represent the gun blast tubes.

The interior nose sections of the fuselage were then sprayed with MM British Interior Green and the fuselage halves were glued together. I then added the wing root pieces to the fuselage. I had read that getting a good fit between the wing roots and the upper wing sections was tricky so I took extra care here by dry-fitting everything repeatedly before committing the parts to glue. I now added the upper wing halves to the one piece lower wing and epoxyed the kit supplied ballast ( which prevents the model from becoming a tail sitter) in place on the lower wing. The wing assembly was now glued to the fuselage. The extra work done in dry-fitting the assemblies paid off with an almost perfect fit. The only area that required any real filler was at the rear section of the lower wing to fuselage join which I filled with CA and sanded smooth.

 

 

The front engine nacelles were then added to the wings and any small gaps were filled with Mr. Surfacer 500. Excess Mr Surfacer was removed with a Q-Tip soaked in Isopropyl alcohol. The horizontal tailplanes were glued in place, the ventral drop tank added, and Eduard's photo-etch parts for the wheel wells were glued on to the otherwise featureless walls. This more or less completed the fuselage.

A final note here: I was to learn later that the droptank was never fitted to a Mk 3 Meteor. It was not used until the introduction of the Mk 4.

It was while checking over the completed fuselage assembly that I dropped the model. Inspection revealed that the rear extreme of the bullet fairing on the tail had squashed flat. I repaired it by trimming off the damaged section of the fairing and gluing on a small piece of clear sprue which I sanded and polished to form the taillight.

I also cut out the wingtip lights and fashioned new ones from a set of CMK clear green and red resin lights. These were glued in to place, sanded, polished, and then removed for installation after painting. Before final installation I gave them a brushed on coat of future for a high gloss finish.

A final note here: I was to learn later that the droptank was never fitted to a Mk 3 Meteor. It was not used until the introduction of the Mk 4.



Cockpit

The kit cockpit is oversimplified in my opinion and adding the beautiful Hi-Tech resin set made a huge improvement. It appears very accurate when compared to photos in the Meteor Pilot's Handbook.

I began by cleaning up all the resin cockpit parts and removing the necessary details from the kit cockpit. Looking at the pics in the instructions, I guessed that the "Q" style seat harness fitted through the rear cockpit bulkhead and extended back in much the same way as in a Spitfire. I drilled out a slot within the molded detail on the rear bulkhead to accommodate Eduards prepainted photoetched seat harness. I also noticed from pictures that the control column spade grip was the wrong shape so the grip portion of the column was removed. I drilled a hole through the top of the column and fashioned a new grip from copper wire and added a brake control lever and gun firing button from plastic.

 



It was at this point that I realized, to do the cockpit justice, I needed more info. After a lot of fruitless internet surfing I broke down and bought the Modelers Datafile book on building the Meteor. This is a excellent book and I would highly recommend it to anyone building a Meteor. It revealed that the hole I had drilled in the rear bulkhead for the seat harness wasn't supposed to be there. The shoulder belts draped over a small round bar on the rear bulkhead and were secured somewhere behind the seat. I filled the hole in the bulkhead from behind, removed the molded on bar and added a new bar from fine stiff wire. Hi-Tech's resin seat was used with Eduard's photo-etched mount. I painted the main cockpit with Aeromaster's RLM 66 Blackgrey darkened with a little flat black. Details were then painted according to the color drawings and pics in the Datafile book. When I went to paint the port cockpit sidewall, I noticed that the throttle detail had somehow broken off. Hi-Tech's resin was very hard and brittle and some of the pieces were too small to glue back together. I wound up rebuilding the throttle assembly with bits of plastic, a piece of brass from a photoetch fret, lots of CA, filing, sanding, and rescribing. The rudder pedals were removed from the resin foot troughs and replaced with Eduard's photo-etched pedals. I also added a missing hydraulic pump handle to the floor.

I decided to use the kit instrument panel with a few modifications. I removed most of the raised detail on the left side of the panel and replaced the flaps indicator with a photo-etched item from an Airwaves set. A new DR compass indicator was made using a Re-Heat instrument decal and a Waldron instrument bezel. The undercarriage lever was scratchbuilt and added. On the right side of the instrument panel, the fuel gauges were added, again using Re-Heat instrument decals and Waldron bezels. The oxygen regulator panel was added by cutting it from Eduard's photo-etched instrument panel and detailing it with an instrument decal and a small photo-etched knob. The yellow hood jettison handle was added above the fuel contents gauges.The main instrument panel was finished using the kit supplied instrument decals.These were punched out individually with my Waldron punch and die set. Each instrument was finished off with a small drop of Future floor polish to replicate the glass faces.

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


I should mention, that the instrument panel, is still missing 3 instruments. Eduard does a Mk 3 photo-etch set which includes the correct instrument panel. I found this out later but I probably wouldn't have purchased another photo-etce set just for the panel.

The gunsight supplied in the kit is awful so I ordered a replacement from Cutting Edge and installed their Mk-9 Acemaker gunsight. While not completely accurate for this application it is a close representation of the gunsight used on the Meteor Mk 3. Only a crashpad and the glass reflector were added to the sight.

 

 

With the painting completed, the cockpit was assembled with Ca and test fitted in to the fuselage. The fit was perfect. The cockpit was placed within the fuselage without glue and the upper fuselage section was glued on securing the cockpit firmly in place. The reason for not gluing the cockpit assembly was that the nose wheel doors glued in to holes formed by the bottom of the cockpit tub. Having a little play here assured I wouldn't have any alignment problems with the holes when fitting the doors later. Finally a small coaming was made and glued in place to close off the area between the instrument panel and canopy windscreen.



The Engines

The engines were built straight out of the box. The tailpipes were sprayed Testors Metalizer Burnt Metal and the very front part of the engine painted a dark metallic gray from Humbrol Metalcote. The rest was painted according to Tamiya's instructions. Washes were applied using thinned Liquitex Paynes Grey acrylic paint and all parts were drybrushed with a slightly lighter shade of the base color.

The front air intakes have a molded in screen detail which is represented by fine recessed lines and I gave this a sludge wash made of a mixture of light grey pastel chalk, dish soap and water. Once dry, any excess sludge was cleaned up using a slightly dampened paper towel. The recesses are shallow so I had to repeat the procedure a number of times before I was completely satisfied.

 



Tamiya provides the parts to build the engines with the extended exhaust representative of the first 15 Mk 3 aircraft powered by the Welland 1 W2B/23C engines. What is not mentioned anywhere in the instructions is that parts are also included to build a Derwent 1 powered aircraft with the short exhausts and the additional scoops for the engine covers as found on the 16th and on production Mk 3's. You will have to come up with your own markings though as I have yet to find a single aftermarket decal sheet for a Mk 3 Meteor in  1/48 scale.



Landing Gear

The landing gear was built with very little modification. The kit supplied wheels were replaced with ones from the Hi-Tech set which were flattened on the bottom, had very finely engraved tread detail, and over-emphasized wheel bulges. The bulges were sanded down substantially to keep the tires from looking grossly underinflated. I added fastener details to the landing gear struts and retraction arms using my Waldron punch and die set. Eduard also supply a couple of detail pieces to add to the struts.The strut assemblies were painted with Testors Metallic Silver decanted from a spray can and shot through the airbrush. The wheels were then slipped in to the strut assemblies without glue to finish off the landing gear.



Canopies

The canopy sections were carefully removed from their sprues and when cleaned up were dipped in Future. When dry, the fixed sections were masked both inside and out using Tamiya's masking tape and the inside framework sprayed with the same RLM 66/flat black mixture I had used for the cockpit. The canopy sections were then glued to the fuselage using Mirco Kristal Kleer.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

For some reason Murphy's Law would plague me throughout this part of the build and a couple of times, due to sheer frustration, the model came very close to becoming a wallflower.

I started by preshading the panel lines with flat black. Next I sprayed the fuselage tail band with MM Sky, and when dry the band was masked and the underside was painted MM Medium Sea Grey straight from the bottle. Next, the bottom was masked off and I started painting the topside with MM Ocean Grey. Not having this color in my collection of model paints, I bought a new bottle of MM Ocean Grey and as I began spraying, I couldn't help but notice that the paint had a decidedly green cast to it. I was convinced that Ocean Grey should have a bluish tint so I sought advise from fellow Hyperscalers. After various different suggestions I decided to buy another bottle in hope that maybe I had gotten either a bad mix or a mislabeled bottle. No such luck. In the end I made my own Ocean Grey by mixing MM German Uniform Feldgrau and MM Medium Sea Grey. The resulting color came very close to my references. I honestly couldn't tell you what percentage of each color I used but it looked much better. After spraying the Ocean Grey I made masks from regular lined paper using the camouflage pattern provided by Tamiya as a guide. These paper masks were attached to the model with small rolls of masking tape positioned just inside the edge of the mask. I used MM RAF Dark Green and carefully sprayed the green pattern. For the most part this worked very well and I had a nice tight feathered edge between the two camouflage colors. In a few places I had a bit too much overspray and I had to touch things up a bit.

 

 

Finally it was time to unmask the bottom. In the process I managed to pull off a few small patches of paint. This was easy to fix but to my surprise, I found that there wasn't enough contrast between the Medium Sea Grey and my mix of Ocean Grey. The Medium Sea Grey straight from the bottle now appeared too dark. Photos showed a definite contrast between the 2 colors so I lightened up the Medium Sea Grey with some white, masked off the top and resprayed the bottom again. This time it looked much better but now pulling off the masks removed some of the paint from the leading edges of both the wings. AAARGGGHH! After more masking and repainting both topside colors along the damaged leading edges, everything looked good.

I clear coated the entire model with Testor's Metalizer Sealer which dries quite quickly and hard as a rock. To my dismay it dried, yellowing in patches. I had used this sealer many times before and had never run in to this problem so I assumed it was my doing. After further masking and repainting of certain areas of both greys, (the green looked unaffected), I carefully resprayed the sealer, and it happened again. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I again repainted the affected areas but this time I tried Polly S Clear Gloss. It was the first time I had used this brand of acrylic paint but I was very happy with the results. I could finally get on with my favorite part of the build, the Decaling and weathering.

I started by applying the upper wing roundels from Aeromaster. I used my usual Miro-Set/Sol method of applying the decals.The upper roundels were two part decals, the red center being separate. When I applied the red center, it looked almost orange on the model. So much so that I removed it and placed it back on the wet backing paper. Comparing the color of the dull red center with a half dozen other decal sheets I had, I reapplied the red center and decided to just let it dry and see how it looked. In the end it looked fine and I carried on.The tail fin flash applied with no problems and I moved on to the fuselage roundels and codes.

I applied the first part of the right fuselage roundel which included the yellow outer ring and the white center. While this dried I added the code letters which came from Xtra-decal and these laid down beautifully. Next I added the blue portion of the roundel after the first part had fully dried and then quickly added the red center and left them to dry. I wasn't at all surprised to see them wrinkle up but I was very surprised to see them bubble up badly and no amount of coaxing, prodding, setting solution, or just leaving them alone would get them to settle down. I had never experienced this before with Aeromaster decals. When dry it looked so horrible, I decided to remove the decal and try again, but the damaged decal wouldn't budge. Not even pulling on it with masking tape! I wound up using a 3200 grit polishing cloth and I literally sanded and polished the blue and red decal off. I reapplied the blue section of the roundel using one from another sheet and the same thing happened. I was beginning to think I was being cursed by some nasty modeling deity. Off it came again, using the 3200 grit polishing cloth. This time, thinking I had nothing to loose, I used a roundel from a Watermark decal sheet and to my surprise, with a little persuasion, the decal laid down beautifully. Initially the decal looked thick but once on the model and dry, it looked great. When adding the fuselage roundel to the left side I experienced the same horrible wrinkling and while trying to persuade the decal to lay flat, I smudged it beyond repair. Out came the polishing cloth again. Giving the Aeromaster roundels one more try, the next decal worked perfectly. I still haven't figured out why I had so many problems, none of which I'd experienced before.

For the serial numbers I cut apart the kit decals until I had the numbers I needed and I applied these using Mr Mark Softer decal solution. It was the first time I had used this solution and the Tamiya decals reacted very well to it. The same went for the data stencils. The large wingwalk decals proved another challenge but again Mr Mark Softer came to the rescue. My suggestion when using Mr Mark Softer is to apply the solution only to the top of the decal and avoid getting it on the paintwork. If not washed off relatively quick, it seemed to waterstain the paint. This staining disappeared with a gloss coat and was totally invisible after the dullcoat.

 

 

I used the Watermark decals for the under wing roundels and they preformed wonderfully again with Microset and a little prodding with the sharp end of a round toothpick to get them into the panel lines. I would recommend though, trimming off as much as possible of the clear carrier film.

The letter "A" on the nosewheel door was made by cutting up the kit supplied letter "H" decal and carefully applying the individual elements. I finished off by applying the wing leading edge decals and a custom printed 616 Squadron emblem on the tail.

To seal the decals, a final gloss clearcoat was applied but even though I had wiped the entire model down first, the clearcoat fish eyed over the large wingwalk decal on the left wing. When dry, the area was polished out and the gloss coat reapplied with no further problems.

I now mixed a very thin wash of Liquitex acrylic paint using a 50/50 mix of Paynes Grey and Burnt Umber with distilled water and a good dollop of dishwashing liquid. This mixture was carefully painted in to select panel lines to indicate some grime but I was very careful to not overdo it as these planes were kept up with a good measure of "spit and polish".

Finally, the model was sprayed with Polly S Flat Coat and left to dry.



Finishing Touches

The still unpainted wheel wells were now masked off and sprayed aluminum. I had left this so late in the build as I was using the wells as a finger hold to handle the model. The wells were given a wash of the same mixture used for the panel lines and finally MIG Pigments European Dust powder was applied to dirty things up a bit.The powder was also applied to the tires and sealed with dullcoat. The landing gear assemblies and doors were finally glued in place.

With all the paintwork done, the masks were removed from the canopy sections and the sliding canopy section was removed. It had been tacked in place with Kristal Kleer to aid in masking off the cockpit and now thin strips of Aeromaster RLM 66 decal material were added along the front and bottom inside edges to represent the inner canopy framing. This was easier than trying to mask and spray it. The two lights under the fuselage had their lenses added after using Bare-Metal Foil for the reflectors. The lenses were secured in place using Polly Scale Clear Gloss paint. The same was done for the underwing landing light.

Murphy's Law was not finished and I had to endure one final disaster. I was getting used to things going a bit sideways but I was unprepared for what happened next. I was gluing the engines in to their nacelles and I opted to use Ca glue. I have a very thick Ca and a water thin Ca and to get something in between I mix both together. I placed a small amount of the thin Ca in to a plastic lid and was adding the thick stuff when the thick Ca sort of farted out of the bottle. I saw some of the thin Ca splash out of the lid but thought nothing of it. After gluing in the first engine, and making sure everything was aligned properly, I noticed a small wet spot on one of the wings. When I tried to wipe off the wet spot, I realized it was solid and I soon discovered that the model was covered in Ca glue splashes. I wanted to swear but I couldn't. In fact I was speechless. It had sprayed everywhere including underneath. Thankfully the canopy remained untouched. After the reality set in I glued in the second engine and then started to scrape, sand, pick off and polish off the spots of Ca. In some areas I wound up removing paint and these areas were resprayed, and carefully sanded to level off the paint work. Gloss coats were reapplied in these areas and then dullcoated again. I also had to reapply the panel line washes in the areas that were repainted.

With repairs complete, I reinstalled the antenna mast I had snapped off earlier and added the IFF antenna which I made from stretched sprue sanded to a flat airfoil profile.

After all the trials and tribulations I could hardly believe it was finally finished. I'm glad I persevered because I now have a beautiful Meteor to add to my collection as a reward.


 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Images and Text Copyright 2005 by Wolf Buddee
Page Created 09 February, 2005
Last Updated 09 February, 2005

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