1/48 Monogram P-61 Black Widow

by Joe McFeely

Here are some finished photos of my latest concoction, 1/48th scale Monogram P-61B Black Widow.  It was modeled after "The Spook" out of the 548th Fighter squadron based in Iwo Jima 1945.  The plane was destroyed in a landing accident with another 548th Widow, "Midnight Madness" in April of 1945.  I chose "The Spook" because it was different than the usual "Hustling Hussy" and the nose art (eyes) seemed menacing to me (In a clown sort of way). 
The construction of this aircraft was out of the box except for masking tape seat belts, fuse wire for brake lines and of course "True Detail" wheels.  The decals are Aeromaster #48-628, "Black Widow Best Sellers".  The fit was overall satisfactory but required a lot of filler where the booms meet the wings.  Also, I had trouble installing the rear (small) windows, therefore, I left them out for now.  Probably should have cut them down and glued them in prior to joining the fuselage halves (Next time, live and learn).  Lets just pretend the glass is really, really clear or their out being cleaned.
This paint job really "broke me in" on my new Omni 4000 airbrush.  After primer to check seams, the Widow was first sprayed with Tamiya Gloss black.  Then the decals were put down.  Once dry, I began the weathering which some panels were painted different sheens  of black (flat, semi-gloss).  This gave a nice "non-uniform" look to the top of the wings.  I wanted to depict the Spook early in her service career so I kept weathering to a minimum.  I've seen to many nicely built Widows that seem overdone on the paint chips.  I opted to chip it around the engine cowlings and leading edge of the wings.  Thats about it.  The Widow was then shaded in some spots, such as the fabric control surfaces and high wear areas with MM burnt umber and gray.  The tires were then dry brushed with the same.  The engine exhaust was sprayed different shades of gray, white, and burnt Iron. I was pleased with the way it turned out.   The antenna wire is invisible thread. 
Once complete, I experimented with my first model tarmac base.  I took a one foot square ceramic tile and attached a notebook "back" with Ballast from a hobby store.  It was secured with Elmer's spray glue.  After cutting grooves with a pen, I then airbrushed flat black to simulate separation lines on the tarmac.  Said was then shaded with gray, and burnt umber to simulate wear.  The ballast was also shaded with dark earth, sand, and burnt umber.  Once finished, I put down thinned black paint randomly with an eyedropper on the tarmac to simulate old oil stains.  I was pleased with the results.  The plane was then attached to the base with epoxy.  This was necessary since the Widow is a notorious "Tail sitter".  I tried everything trick in the book but could not get it to sit on its front wheel properly.   
The Spook took about 1 and a half months to complete and was an enjoyable build.  Its hard to believe this kit came out in 1974. 
Enjoy the photos,