The stand

The long-ignored stand had to be painted at some point. I had primed it at the same time with the u-boat itself, so all I had to do was to choose the paint. Another grey would fit in the theme and a darker shade of it would also not steal the attention from the model itself. Wheter or not that's a good thing will be left for the observer to decide.

From my happily-coloured collection I chose German Grey (VMA 71052) and applied it on the frame. After the paint had dried, I whiteglued the photoetch piece in its slot. Quick and easy, as they say.



Deceiving looks

I had assumed that setting up the cables would be a quick, easy thing. The thread provided by the kit looked sturdy, even though the white colour confused me a bit, but I thought I'd stick to the OOB plan.

How wrong I was. The damn thread started undoing itself as soon as I touched it! First I thought that I had done something stupid myself and cut off the disintegrating end with a small safety margin and hoped that the thread wasn't measured for the kit millimeter-accurately. Nope, it wasn't my mistake, as the self-destruction kept going on just about immediately.

Despite all the traditional "get that thread through the needle's opening" tricks the thread didn't pass through the plastic poles. So I drilled them more open with the tip of my xacto knife. After that the thread went nicely through, finally. Then I repeated the process twice more with some swearing, as the thread kept getting worse and worse. I just didn't feel like cutting off more would do me much good.


Utilizing the power of tweezers and even more swearing I got the end of the thread knotted onto the bottom-most rung of the conning tower. Because I couldn't trust in the thread's cooperation, I applied some superglue to bind it shut. Then I twisted the thread around the cylinders in the other end of the setup, tied it up and superglued the bugger.

Quickly I measured if the thread would be enough to set up the second cable. It was going to be just fine, so I didn't have to start digging for a different piece of thread for this. I tied up the thread to the topmost rung this time, superglued it and pulled the end to the loop in the front of the boat.

I left a tail hanging, in case I felt like faking a better tying setup or something sailorlike. Or, as it most likely will be, I'll do nothing of the sort.



Tiny things

At this point I was pretty content with how the hull was painted, so I got to proceed with the rest of the painting. The propeller unit I painted over a couple of times, as my old gold (VMC 70878) didn't cover well enough with a single pass.

As I had finished painting the conning tower I finally remembered that I had left the transparent cylinders from the D sprue for later. It was later. Luckily I even had a couple of washes available (some positively ancient Citadel Blue Glaze and Yellow Glaze, that I had bought before 1998) in more or less appropriate colours. I painted the pieces in their sprue, let them dry and then whiteglued them into their places. Immediately afterwards I did the same for the cover-windows so that I wouldn't forget them.

The periscope, RDF antenna and the snorkel I painted as directed: main areas with steel (VMA 71065) and the top parts black, though I deviated a bit and used grey-black (VMA 71056) just because I think it looks a bit more natural than pitch-black. The "glass" of the 'scope I painted with steel as well. For a moment I thought if I should wash it blue (or green), but I didn't think it was necessary.


Then I also realized that I had left the binocular-like part of the UZO off. I glued the transparent piece into its place and after it had cured I painted that with the same grey-black. I thought I could give it a black drybrush, whenever I have the time. The lens-ends I left clear, of course, in hopes of that being noticeable from a certain point of view.


Once again, if I had thought of my work order, especially considering the ease of painting, I'd done several things differently. But then again, what would I write about week after week, if everything went perfectly every time?

It was clear: the walking planks had to be painted, they could not be left grey. The exact shade was a bigger question. After a bit of digging around I found some lightish brown (VMC 873 "US Field Drab") that I then proceeded to apply all over the wooden-to-be pieces.

Come next evening I applied an already thickening Citadel's Devlan Mud. I had thought of using a black wash instead, but that sounded a bit too dark in my mind. Most likely it would've worked just fine in the end, but this is what I went with.

You can see the results in the photos. I think it looks really good, or at least to me they look like wood. As usual, they look much better live than in the photos.


Redo, partially

Yeah. I tore off the masking setup with great excitement. It was generally ok, with some "patch this" areas around the waterline, but not much more. Then I took a look at it from a bit further away.

Do it yourself and save money

In a few places the thing that was supposed to be the waterline looked as if a drunkard had been freehanding with broad strokes. There was just one thing to do: redo. My in-common-law asked why didn't I use a piece of cardstock with a pencil to draw the waterline quickly and handily, that's what he does with his scratchbuilt ships. I hadn't even think of it, I'm not a boatbuilder...

A cereal box worked just fine

I took a cereal box, cut the openings for a pencil and functioned just fine, as far as I could tell. Then I masked the boat following the newly drawn line. Just like the last time I believed it was ok, but I hoped that my eyes didn't deceive me this time.
Quickly I painted the light areas and took these following pics. Those lonely flappy bits were protecting the tower's white lines from overspray, just in case.


The end results of this attempt were much better. Next I'll get to work on the details, like the propeller, antennae, the periscope and the snorkel that's awaiting getting glued on again. At this rate this boat's going to be finished this year!


Transitioning to the painting phase

A session-long mishap

As expected, I started priming the diver-dinghy one Thursday afternoon with my trusty airbrush. I spent a good half an hour covering almost half of the model. The more I thought about it the stupider it felt, especially in this scale, with the coverage of the device. I had this brewing in my mind at work for almost five minutes and then I left for home, taking a short detour to Hobby Point and a rattle canful of Tamiya's white primer on my person.

Yes, I decided to pay for the convenience of priming the massive model quicker and with less stressing about the result. Who cares that the propellant smells unpleasant and that I'd have to be spraying in the chilly balkony.

The photo should show that the surface isn't perfect, but I didn't see it as a problem, as most of the model was already primed before the white layers. The target pattern is, according to the box art, a dark gray bottom and a lighter top part, without any shape-breaking patterns or anything fancy. Of course I've heard the suggestion "paint it yellow" more than a couple of times and I am the first to admit that a Dunkelgelb sub could be a hilarious idea. I believe I'm going to put that idea on the shelf and be boring and keep the gray wolf of the seas -theme.

Tape on, tape off

I spent a good amount of time applying tape masks on the boat. Luckily I had managed to set up my schedules so that I had about 40 minutes one afternoon. Applying the tapes (and all associated subtasks) took half an hour and I was left with 10 mins to paint a layer of grey (VMA 71050 Light Grey) and to clean things up. Rushing kills you and so on.

The result was pretty decent, I'd say. Of course I was left with some underpainted spots for a new session, but that happens. It could've been worse.

I had a bit less of time the following day and I could only prepare things for the next afternoon: I applied a good pile of cheap sticky notes (awful PostIt-note copies) to protect the upper hull and the conning tower from overspray. Maybe this would work.

The best of the dark waters

Out of two paint options at hand I chose Dark Sea Grey (VMA 71048). During my first painting session I started with the extreme ends, so that they'd be cured when I attacked the middle and especially the mid-bottom of the model. As said, I started from the nose all around, then did the tail end likewise and then proceeded to cover the center while leaving the lowest parts of the center area untouched so I could leave the model lying on its display stand.

For some reason the paint seemed to cover much better while it was wet. After a couple of hours I took a new look at my doings and saw that especially the center sides were much spottier than the ends. No matter, I was going to paint more in any case. The most important thing in my mental plan was to have the ends dry so that I could easily leave the center parts hanging in the air.

Perhaps I was too cautious but the second session ate an incredible amount of time, but I did think that the fine-looking result justified the extra time. Especially as I later compared this newly painted side to the unfixed flipside.

After the third darker painting round this section was finally done for the time being. Genially I had taken all the dark grey pics from the same side of the model. We (software) engineers are so very smart!


Tower action II

Railings for the crew

To keep my boat's crew from falling into the sea too easily, the vessel required some railings. One set was installed to the base of the conning tower, while another was installed to the top.

While I was working on these, I noticed that the tower's connection to the hull on the left side of the U-Boat wasn't as pretty as they were on the right side. Therefore I slapped unhealthy amounts of (Tamiya) putty to hopefully remedy the situation. The next afternoon I filed/sanded the excesses off with some success, I would like to believe. Maybe I have to return to some sections, if they didn't end up as fine as the engineers demanded.

A scale demo

My photos may not deliver the immense size of the U-Boat, not even with the help of an earlier comparison shot. So I hired Hans from the Deutsche Afrika Korps to pose a bit.

That may not be enough. So I decided to offer a helping hand for those interested:

Back to the business as usual

I wasn't missing much anymore so I proceeded on to the missing parts of the conning tower. With their support blocks I installed four antennae, one of which I actually lost for a few hours but found later before I got to make a new one out of streched sprue. After this I drilled three holes into the planks and attached the rope-holding rods into them.

Setting the cables is going to wreck my poor nerves

The photoetch subset

Apparently my sprues were missing the torpedo hulls, so I didn't get / have to work on the tiny propeller blades. One of those other pieces was to be bent a bit and glued to the rear of the ship. Another one had to be bent into an U-shape and glued onto the snorkel device. There was supposed to be another pe-setup, a cylinder wrapped around a plastic cylinder - but for some reason my kit missed the whole D sprue and therefore the aforementioned cylinder as well. I'll survive.

Waiting for the painting to begin

As I'm writing this the sub is waiting for me to start priming. My assumption is that in the best case that will be done in two sessions and hopefully no more than that. But that depends on if I have ample time and if I notice any missing spots while I'm working or not.

The real paintjob is going to take many more sessions, especially as the lower hull alone will require two, the upper hull may go in one, and the conning tower needs the white stripes as the first layer before the first light gray layer. And following the noblest of Project Mumblings traditions I'm not going to use those decal stripes provided by the kit.

I guess that the safest assumption is that getting the actual paintjob done is going to take a good work-weekful of hobby time. Maybe even more, but that depends on how much time I have available, as setting up the airbrush, painting even a tiny bit and then cleaning up is a much slower process than it sounds like.


Enjoying the profile

There was absolutely nothing special about setting up the conning tower. While I was at it, I prepared and glued on the front and rear planes that I had skipped before. Yes, it'll be a proper-looking u-boat one of these days.

Later on I took a couple of photos to see it from various angles, of which only one makes sense in the scope of this blog post. Sadly, it didn't occur to me earlier that I could've had Das Boot running on the background. Maybe I'll remember that idea when I'm finally taking the wrapping up photos?


Tower action

Important subassemblies

I glued the tower halves together and stepped out of the suggested construction order. My reason for this deviation was that as a couple of (very much) protruding pieces were to be glued into the sides, they would only be badly on the way while I would be twisting, rolling and turning this chunk around. They would also be in a grave danger of being knocked off or even broken, so I thought it'd be much better if I just glued them on a few iterations later.

Being a semi-obedient builder, I attached the UZO device supports to the inside front of the tower, but left the clear plastic binoculars off. That was to keep them both out of the way and protected during the airbrushing stage. Then I glued in the direction finder antenna loop and snorkel parts, on two different afternoons, so these mostly unsupported pieces would not interfere with each other while their gluings were being cured.


As the last thing you can see in this set of photos I glued on the rungs of the ladders as well as the handle and the hinges of the hatch in the front. While they were curing I grabbed a good hold of the rest of the hull and filed/sanded the putty mess and the ugliest seams away.

My next step shall be to glue the tower onto the hull and whenever that has been set I guess I'll finish up with the antennae and last details of the conning tower. After that I'll resign myself to fighting the photoetch pieces, hoping I don't end up swearing like a drunken pirate.


Up scope!

Small updates

For some reason I've really been low on hobby time lately. Therefore my advances haven't been mentionable, but I did get something done despite the challenges. Of course it's a bit amusing to see that the twenty-minute stint I did only resulted in a periscope and a couple of other tubes attached together.

I don't think anyone'll ever see this piece, either.
I really, really have to remember to clean up my puttyings before I go and slam the conning tower onto the hull. If I try to file & sand the seams afterwards, the result will be much more suboptimal and that's not beneficial to anyone.

The invisible interior space

For some curious reason the instructions suggested that I glue the transparent cylinders into the whateverboxes of the upper tower, but becaues the appendix said that they should be painted transparently (I assume that in the real world they're some sort of lights), I'm not going to glue them in to be only on the way of painting and making things more bothersome than things need to be.

Of course the fine details of the periscope and other such things will be somewhat pointless, as the sub can't be left open-hatched with this lack of interior detailing. Nonetheless I'll set up everything, such as the ladders and whatnot, because they do belong inside that tube inside the tower. I think I'm going to skip the "unnecessary" painting, though.

This week and maybe the next one are going to be more productive, I believe, as I think I can do (really) short stints in the afternoons after work. That's what I guess, at least. But as usual, we'll see what happens and how, as the calendar rolls on.