Author Topic: The First 'Vark  (Read 1940 times)

Offline Acree

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The First 'Vark
« on: June 18, 2014, 09:39:31 AM »
Most aviation historians would be quick to assert that no other aircraft has been called an “Aardvark” other than the F-111.  As is so often the case, though, the ‘Vark was nothing new under the sun.  In fact, the name was carried by another bomber more than 35 years earlier. 

In the last days of the Leticia conflict, the Colombian army air arm (Aviacion Militar) was energetically purchasing combat aircraft from the United States and elsewhere, but the conflict ended up being fought mostly with what aircraft were already on hand.  Among those was the real “first ‘Vark.”
A single Ford 4-AT-B was transferred from SCADTA to the Aviacion Militar.  Originally intended as a transport, it was soon realized that transport aircraft in the Leticia needed to be able to land on the river, so either seaplanes or flying boats were necessary.  Thus the Ford was taken into the AM shops to be converted into a bomber.  When she emerged, she had been re-engined with two 550 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340AN-2 wing engines in place of the previous three 220 hp Wright J-5 Whirlwinds (giving a 67% increase in total horsepower).  The center engine was replaced by a long nose with a bomb-aimer’s position and a gun position.  A second gun position was mounted in the dorsal position at mid-fuselage; each gun position carried a single .30 caliber machine gun.  The new bomber carried its offensive load under the center fuselage - the forward rack carrying up to two 500 pound bombs, whilst the rear rack could carry six 50 pound anti-personnel bombs.  Capitan Jose Alberto Ruiz Cazador gave the aircraft its new nickname before its first test flight when he remarked that it looked like the aardvarks he had seen while on safari in Africa.  The name stuck and the plane was christened “El Cerdo Formiguero.”  Because it lacked sufficient range, El Cerdo Formiguero only flew a few combat missions before the end of the conflict, but survived in Colombian service long enough to be used for anti-submarine patrol during the early days of the Second World War.

This model started out as the ancient Revell Ford Trimotor in 1/77 scale.  The nose, gun bins and bomb racks were all scratch built from sheet styrene, spare parts and pen barrels.  The engines are resin R-1340s from Radial Engines & Wheels 72, and the props and guns are white metal from Aeroclub.  The decals were home-made – I am close to abandoning the idea of making my own decals because I cannot get them to stick to the models – they curl and will not adhere.  I am using Testor’s paper and decal bonder – if anyone has any idea what I am doing wrong, I would appreciate the help. 

Hope you enjoyed it!

Offline Alvis 3.1

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 09:59:58 AM »
Nice build! I never knew there was an earlier "Aardvark".
Are you using the white decal paper? I found it always tends to curl and fold onto itself. I found that if i used the Microscale Decal Film, it stiffened the paper a bit over the Testors decal bonder. Problem is if you apply with a brush, you run the risk of smearing the ink, so I tried doing one coat of decal bonder, and then one or two of the Decal film.
HTH
Alvis 3.1

Offline Frank3k

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 10:48:33 AM »
That is such an incredibly ugly airplane, it's beautiful! It looks like it escaped from a 1930s French airplane design bureau.  I love it! The moiré pattern caused by the plane's corrugated skin and your camera's sensor looks really interesting, too. It may be worth replicating that as a decal...

I think the problem with your decals may be that you're using an inkjet printer. While some people can produce adequate decals on inkjets, the decal paper is thicker and rubbery compared to regular decal paper.

Color laser (or LED) toner based printers are more expensive than inkjets ($200 vs $100) and the initial outlay for toner seems to be more expensive ($200-$300 to replace all the cartridges once the initial cartridges run out) but you get 2000 - 3000 pages, easily. That's a LOT cheaper than inkjet cartridges. Plus you can use real decal paper and produce better decals (except white) with a lot less frustration.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 10:50:28 AM by Frank3k »

Offline FAAMAN

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 01:35:20 PM »
Absolutely superb build Acree, very well thought out love the long nose!!  :-* :P

Alvis 3.1 I use standard HP (for A4) or Brother (A3) ink jet printer decal paper with no issues. I learnt from rubber powered stick and tissue model aeroplane builders how to use it, the main things were to ensure you were printing in the highest quality, that you sealed the decals after printing and drying with several coats of a really good rattle can gloss clear varnish like Krylon, works very well no matter the scale, hope this helps mate!   ;)
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2014, 03:06:29 AM »
 :)
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline buzzbomb

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2014, 06:34:06 AM »
Delightfully ugly.

nice build

Offline Acree

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2014, 04:00:40 AM »
thanks guys!

I did use an inkjet printer, and some decals were on clear paper (the nose art, e.g.), and some were on white (the national insignia).  Curling and thickness were definitely problems, but the biggest problem seemed to be a total lack of adhesive on the decal - I ended up using CA to stick the curling decals back down (not very satisfactory).  I think perhaps I will try again with a different brand of decal paper, and then, if that doesn't improve things, I will wait until I can get a color laser printer. 

Chuck

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2014, 10:31:21 PM »
That's one of the best Ford Trimotor conversions I've ever seen!

Swapping out the front engine for a nose gun position was truly inspired!

Those Colombian markings and color scheme really look great with the seamless mods!

Brian da Basher

Offline Frank3k

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2014, 02:23:55 AM »
I did use an inkjet printer, and some decals were on clear paper (the nose art, e.g.), and some were on white (the national insignia).  Curling and thickness were definitely problems, but the biggest problem seemed to be a total lack of adhesive on the decal - I ended up using CA to stick the curling decals back down (not very satisfactory).

Here's a trick I use on thick, old decals that just won't stick: I paint on some Future floor polish (I think it's called "Pledge with Future" now - a bottle will last you many years) where the decal will go (and just outside the area, to catch the edges), then place the decal in the Future. I'll paint some Future on top, as well.

I think I used a similar inkjet decal once - test this trick on an old model first, in case the decal shrivels.

As it dries, the Future will act as an adhesive and will suck the decal material down into the details of the plastic. The Future on top also acts as protection.  You can then paint the model in flat or satin to get rid of the gloss.

Future also works great on ancient decals that you just know will break up in water (I'll test the lettering on the sheet first). Just brush Future on the decal sheet, let it dry, then cut out the decals and use as normal.

Offline taiidantomcat

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 09:37:55 AM »
Wonderful job and I love the colorful markings! They were worth it!
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Offline Camthalion

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Re: The First 'Vark
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2014, 06:40:50 PM »
Nice work