Returning to work after my Easter and Anzac break has slowed down this build somewhat but yesterday I got back into it. I have par-drilled the underside of the top wing as you can see above. This is very much a 'by-touch' exercise and I use a small craft hand drill and feel for penetration on the other side of the wing with my finger tips, ensuring not to break through. The purpose is simply to provide something of a recess to take my struts when glued.
And with no further ado, it's onto the strut-gluing. I have to admit to not being as precise as I might have been at this stage. Between the two models there is variance in the central strut location. Anyway, I commenced with the central four struts, fixed to the fuselage and supported with Humbrol paint tins during the setting process. They are not perfectly aligned as you can see but there is flexibility in the joins, the PVA glue taking a longtime to set hard but binding perfectly well in the meantime once clear - a handy attribute. The struts align when the top wing is in place provided I don't leave it indefinitely - which I didn't.
Having finished the crew painting, now seemed the best time to fix them into position. I should have painted the struts previously and had every intention of doing so but it slipped my mind over the break. As predicted, the crew look smaller somehow once painted and I'm happy with the fit.
All that is except my observer 'gunner' who we will just have to imagine is standing up to turn to his rear, which makes absolute sense. The choice and posing of crew is clearly important in painting a picture of what's going on - beware of the goon on your tail chaps!
Gluing the top wing, I fixed it to the central struts first before proceeding with the others. I have to ensure they were level and of course they are shorter than the outer struts. From there I fixed each wing in turn, allowing them to set before switching to the other wing. When fixing these struts I used PVA again and simply sandwiched them using paint tins to press them together.
What's interesting is how the wing assemblies have aligned themselves. Given that the measurements are correct, the strain is taken up across the whole model and it has set squarer than it ever looked like it was going to. All but two struts were the length I needed, the other two requiring a bit of a pinch to set them into the drilled recesses. We'll see how they stand up to the rigging - I'm not confident and anticipate having to craft their replacements.
Having forced myself to undercoat the wire parts and engine block and bay late last night, they are now prepped for painting. Over time, the balsa body work appears to me to be well matched with the natural doping of the printed card sections (wings and tail). I am now just going to lacquer the balsa, leaving the struts and metal work only to paint. I had previously painted the cockpits but given how much room my crew figures took up, I needn't have bothered.
I will proceed with the metal painting before constructing the undercarriage for ease of access. My spinning propellers have been cut and etched from .0075 Butryrate sheet which will be fixed with a cut down dress making pin, the receiving ports for which have been drilled into the front of the engine blocks.