OK, when we left off, we had the cockpit portion of the fuselage structure assembled, but nothing installed in it yet.


Now we have some stuff installed, and some stuff ready to install.


Ran into a bit of a glitch yesterday when I was trying to remove some excess CA from the stainless steel of the structure with an X-acto knife and manage to break the glue joints along most of the left side, so I put it in the repair bay and it has been “curing” overnight before I resume work:




Along the way to the repair, I managed to get the machine gun ammo bin and guns installed as well as the completed Instrument panel:




Left Cockpit Side turned out well:




And the right side, too, I think.






Cockpit Floor is complete and ready to install:






Seat is complete as well:






Seatbelts, by the way, are sourced from HGW.  It’s a really excellent product; laser cut and takes a wash well for a stain.




That’s all for this report. 


Next time we should have all of the sub assemblies prepared for final assembly and we will be on the home stretch (finally!)

Bad news, I’m afraid.  I had a bit of a disaster after my last update.

While trial fitting the cockpit floor, I lost my coordination and dropped the whole cockpit fuselage section about 3 ft onto a hardwood floor.

I will refrain from using any expletives to describe this experience.

One thing about this section of the fuselage is that it is VERY heavy with white metal, and very light on PE framework.  Accordingly, all of the PE bulkheads shattered away from their mountings on the side walls, the instrument panel, ammunition/machine gun mounts, and port side panel broke loose.  Here are a few photos of the aftermath:




And, I got to thinking, “I know it was a long fall onto a hard surface, but should those glue joints all really be that fragile?”.  So, I did a small test with my CA and accelerator to test for strength and ended up feeling pretty disgusted.  I have heard for years that CA and accelerator have shelf life limitations, but, I’ve never had any problems so I really never gave it any thought.  Well, I should have, because that seems to have been part of the problem here.

Today, I replaced all of my CA and accelerator with what I might expect to use in a year and labeled the bottles with the month and year.  From now on, I will take note of those dates and rotate in new stock accordingly.

So, putting it all back together involved removing any CA residue from everything, and cleaning the parts thoroughly to get a good join free of paint, and debonder.  It’s easier to do that job with everything apart than it is halfway glued together, so I just went ahead and broke down the whole thing into assemblies and spent the day today cleaning up CA, removing debonder, and washing the residue off with warm soapy water.  Tomorrow I can begin putting it back together again largely from sub-assemblies except for the PE which will be individual parts as you can see below:


To get the best joints possible, I completely removed any paint or glue that might be showing through the framework to the outside of the fuselage.  That’s great, but some of those pieces should be black or IJN cockpit green on the outside, so I’m going to have to come up with a clever way to mask it so I can paint those areas after it’s re-assembled.  I’m leaving the bulkheads in their natural stainless steel color to try to get some extra strength, because there is enough painted equipment in that part of the fuselage to meet the object of having the interior items “pop” when the build is complete.

As a side note, if you are not already aware of it, Acetone is a really excellent debonder for CA.  Since I am working with all metal to metal joints here, I used the commercial grade stuff when I cleaned up and debonded these parts.  The commercial stuff is very, very “hot” and will remove the CA very rapidly.  I think I will look into diluting it (as in: what to use) and testing it on styrene and resin if I need to do some debunking in the future.  It’s orders of magnitude less expensive when purchased in a liter can, than in those little bottles of debonder at the hobby store, and even diluted, I think would be much faster, as long as it can be done with harming the plastic or resin.  I’ll report more on this in the Hints area of the forum when I learn more about it.

OK, that’s it for now.  Should have another report pretty soon as things get put back together and we get the cockpit floor and seat mounted.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you are enjoying it (except for this disaster report, of course)

We’re on the home stretch now!!

Repairs to the fuselage section are complete, everything is installed, and, except for top wing skins, the subassemblies are all complete.

The rebuild process after the breakage was tedious, but not too difficult.  The really difficult parts of this build are mounting the seats on those odd struts that Zeros use because it’s very difficult to see what you are doing.  Same was true for stuff in the equipment bay aft of the cockpit.

Here are some photos of the rebuild process:




And, after installing the seat, the cockpit floor, and the equipment in the spaces aft of the cockpit, this section of the fuselage is complete.  I did some minor weathering on it just to give it a “used” look, but nothing too heavy.

Painting the outside of the cockpit equipment on the walls of the fuselage frame, i.e. the part that shows through to the outside was a bit of a dilemma.  I considered masking and airbrushing, but there were too many open spaces that wouldn’t fill well, and at this point, I didn’t want to have overspray all over this effort.  Hand painting scared me because I was afraid my hands weren’t steady enough to avoid slopping paint all over the frames.

The, inspiration came.  I didn’t have to worry about getting a little paint on the fuselage frames because CA debonder does an excellent job of removing paint from metal.  So, a little debonder on a micro brush and all of those paint errors were fixed.  Some light weathering and this section of the fuselage was complete.  Here are some photos:



Also note that the machine gun barrels which were treated with Blacken-It are now installed.



Next up for assembly was the propeller assembly.  This part was actually better detailed than the Tamiya kit prop, although you will never see things like the speed governors, forever hidden under the spinner.

I also chose to polish the prop blades and spinner to help make it a focal point of the model. The sequence was pretty easy.  Sand with 220 grit; sand with 600 grit; and use a polishing stick to bring out that high shine.  Very easy and very fast.

Here is the prop under construction:


And, here, all of that beautiful detail is covered up with the spinner installed and the prop complete:


And, now, all of the subassemblies are complete.  All that remains is to install the wing top skins and pitot tube.  After that, we can put all of these assemblies together and make an aircraft!!

Here is a view of all the work done to date:


The next update will have the final assembly and then the final reveal.

Thanks for reading and I hope you are enjoying this.