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1/48 Monogram Hawker  Hurricane  


by Alexander L. Aydlett


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A few weeks ago, I had the insane idea of creating my own decals, just to see if I could do it at home. I thought for a few minutes to conjure up a suitable subject for a first attempt, and then it hit me: a Carolina Hurricanes Hurricane!

Carolina is in the Stanley Cup Finals this year, playing against the Edmonton Oilers. While the 'Canes were working their way thought the playoffs, I was working my way through a 1996 reissue of the old Monogram Hawker Hurricane kit from the 1960's. I found the kit on eBay, got a great deal on it, and it's perfect for experimentation. Yes, it has the old style raised detailing and rivets out the wazoo, but it's fast and easy to build - practically shake-and-bake!

The cockpit was sparse, consisting of only a seat and a decal instrument panel. I added tape seatbelts and tossed the pilot, since the canopy that was included is closed and I'm too cheap to get an aftermarket replacement, but I did add my own hand-carved control column. Although this kit offered the option of retractable landing gear, I opted to fix it in place with the struts, which are sturdy and decently detailed. Painted it as a "night fighter" using my Badger and Testor's gloss black. I chose to do this one without any armament; this particular kit allowed you to choose from a whole lot of options and Marks.

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I went with the Mk. IIc because it has the cleanest profile for what I wanted to do. I also have a ton of well-molded spares to use on future kits, thanks to all the options included in the kit. Also, of all the aircraft I've put together, this particular one, for all its age and perceived flaws, has the best wing join of any kit I've put together yet. This really was a beauty to put together. Unlike my Seafang, this one required no Scotch. At least until the decal part...

To find a good deal on decal paper, I went to a couple of websites to see what deals were available. Unfortunately, the low cost of the paper was completely offset by the totally ridiculous shipping costs! So, I headed back to good ol' eBay and found a seller - in Hawaii of all places! - that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for shipping and also sells by the sheet. Anyone who wants a recommendation, I'll gladly send the link.

So, decal paper in hand, I head off to the computer to size up the logos to print out. I found good examples of the artwork online already made, so I just pasted them multiple times into a Word document and printed test jobs for sizing. Also, the alternate logo that is on the vertical stabilizer was reversed so that it is uniform on both sides - also looks really cool with the Beaufort flags appearing to fly in the breeze. So once I got the sizing right, I printed them on my Inkjet printer onto the decal paper.

Hoo boy. Now's where I needed the Scotch. The first printing went fine until I went to seal the paper. My first attempt was with Future thinned with Isopropyl Alcohol and even though I let the ink dry for a day or two, it still bled like a stuck hog. Back to the drawing board. I kept the decals to practice transferring them to other surfaces just to see if there would be any other surprises. Glad I did because I also found out that the water on the backing paper seeps through and causes more bleeding through the back if you're not careful. Best solution is to place water a drop at a time on the back of the backing paper and not to drop the decal into the water.

Decal printout Mark II went better. I sealed the surfaces with an oil-based varnish that gave them a really nice satin finish. I went a little too crazy on the sealant so they ended up being really thick, but servicable, so on they went. A little decal solvent, an lot of finger pressing, and another Scotch, and voila! In the end, I still ended up with a little bleedout, but it's not too bad for a first attempt. Sealed the entire surface with Future and touched up a few errors with a black permanent marker, and it now sits proudly in my office. Hope you like it!

Lessons learned:

1. Experimentation can be a load of fun, especially if you start off on a kit you don't mind potentially destroying. I got mine cheap and lo and behold it actually turned out to be a really nice kit, despite its age. I might even attempt a kitbash with another one into a Sea Hurricane or a Hurricat one day.

2. Inkjets are not the best printing medium, as the soy/water-based ink bleeds too easily, even though initially the edges were well defined and the detailing was crisp. Next time, I'll find a color laser somewhere.

3. Sealing the surface with an oil-based sealant is the way to go, but don't go crazy. I sprayed at least three thick coats, overcompensating for my earlier failure with the future. A simple error solved with DDT - Don't Do That.

Hope you enjoy the end results as much as I enjoyed making it.

Go 'Canes!!!


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Photos and text by Alexander L. Aydlett

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