Saturday, February 18, 2012

Painting started on the Tamiya 1/32 Spitfire IX

Hello model Spitfire enthusiasts,

Right about now you are saying to yourself – “What, Marty Sanford builds models?” The blockages to forward progress on this project, much like writers block, have been abundant in both quantity and variety.  I could write an equally long passage about what I have been doing instead of building over the last several months, but I suggest we skip that and get on with the description of work performed so far. 

I was at the stage of airbrushing primer when I checked in with you last.  I will confide that my least favorite part of model building is in sanding seams, finding and fixing flaws, re-priming, detecting more seams that I had previously missed and then repeating the process over again.  I used super glue and accelerator to fill the hairline cracks, followed up with working them over with sanding sticks of ever decreasing grit, and wet-sanding & smoothing out with film and sanding pads all the way down to 4000 grit.  The first two pictures in this series are the payoff for all that drudgery though.  Clean, clear primer with all those dreaded seams gone, no more to be seen showing through the paint work.  I celebrated with a bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager. Or maybe two.  It's easy to loose count...

If seams are my least favorite thing, then airbrushing has to be one of my favorite modeling skills. All paints are Tamiya acrylics, mixed to match the shade I was after.  I always spray a coat of flat white underneath anytime I spray yellow.  I chose to airbrush the Yellow wing leading edge stripes and the “Sky” fuselage band (same color as the spinner) before masking them off, instead of using the kit supplied decals for these markings. Take a look at these in the third photo, because they won’t be seen again until the masks come off!  Once these had cured for a day, I used Tamiya tape to mask these areas.  I also wrapped the engine area with a paper towel and taped it in place.

RAF Temperate camouflage in Northern Europe called for the undersides of Fighter aircraft to be painted in Medium Sea Grey by this stage of the Second World War.  I started with airbrushing the undersurfaces of my Spitfire, spraying a base coat of Tamiya XF-83 Medium Sea Grey, thinned with isopropyl alcohol.  I also added just a few drops of Gunze Sangyo “Mr. Color Thinner”, a Japanese-produced lacquer thinner that smoothes the flow out and results in a slightly semi-gloss sheen.  The following image illustrates this step. I am still undecided if I like the Tamiya rendering of RAF MSG here or not.  The color looks “warmer” than what I am used to, but I will think this over again before I move in the paint work too far.  Ever notice how the Brits spell Grey with an “e”, while Americans nearly always spell it Gray with an “a”?  I tend to use official color names as much as possible, so if I refer to a specific British MAP color (colour) name, I use their spelling, and vice-versa for US colors.  Thank you, Noah Webster.

With the airbrush cup still loaded with Medium Sea Grey, I added several drops of XF-69 “NATO Black”, and sprayed this color along all the panel lines and natural creases & folds on the underside of the airframe.  I started over with a clean color cup with XF-83 again, but added a splash or two of XF-2 Flat What, with just a few more drops of Mr. Color Thinner.  This thinned mixture isn’t meant to hide everything underneath, just to add a final transparent layering of uniform sheen, paying particular attention to the highlighted areas while intentionally not concentrating paint build up on the panel lines and shadow areas.  The object is to build the paint work in semi-transparent layers, giving an illusion of grime accumulation and oxidation.  There will be more filth to come, as in-service military aircraft always display their share of stains and oil smears on their bellies. 

Next: Masking the separation line, and on to the first of the upper surface camouflage colors, RAF Ocean Grey! 


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