Online Build of the Tamiya 1/350 Bismarck
Including Photo-Etched details from Gold Medal Models

Model, Text and Photos by: John Higgins

Part 3


With the bulk of the painting done, Iím now turning my attention to installing the photo-etched railings and details such as stairs, ladders and radars. Before I begin Iíd like to mention a few things about installing photo etch. It is important for me to do this when I am relaxed and in a good mood. I realize this may sound a little Zen like but the brass PE parts are very delicate and can be deformed easily. If Iím tense (too much coffee) or grumpy I donít have the patience to work slowly and deliberately and the usual result is frustration. So Iíve found it best to wait until Iím ďreadyĒ.

Cutting the photo etch on a hard surface.

Trimming the photo etch with snips.

Using the Smallshops tool.

 I have found it best to paint the PE with an airbrush. This prevents the small spaces from becoming clogged and the relief etched detail from becoming obscured. I paint the PE while it is still on the fret. Post-it notes make good masks to cover areas I donít wish to paint. The low tack makes removing the mask without deforming the masked areas easy. I cut the item I plan to use from the fret with an #11 exacto blade. Placing the fret on a glass plate helps make the cutting easier. The placement of the stairs and ladders is first; this will determine the length of the railing sections to be installed later. ďSmallshopsĒ makes a very handy tool for bending the stair railings and any other small items with intricate or boxy folding. If you donít have one of these, two razor blades will work fine to bend the stair rails.

Bending the railing.
More bending the railing.
Even more bending the railing.

Diluted white glue is what I prefer to use for attaching stairs, ladders and railings. It dries slow enough to allow adjustment of the parts and is surprisingly strong. I dilute the glue with water, about 75% glue to 25% water.  Begin at the inside or center of the model and work outboard. This keeps me from accidentally knocking off details I have installed already. The Bismarck has more then itsí share of curved rail sections and this can be extra challenging. I keep all kinds of cylindrical shaped stuff to use in shaping railings, such as cigar tubes, scraps of tubing and rod etc. Use an object that is slightly smaller then the curve you intend to make. The railings tend to spring back a little and a smaller bend compensates for this.
Roll Models has determined smoking to be detrimental to your health. These containers make nifty tools though.
A little modeling clay makes picking up these fiddly parts a breeze.


With the large subassemblies installed and the PE going on, the model is beginning to show a hint of how good it will look when finished.

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