I finally got around squirting paint in my Iwata. There is always a decent dose of anxiety into the blend when airbrushing a model. At least for me that is. After all the work you put into a project, a botched paintjob can ruin your day pretty bad. So to avoid descending into a state of utter despair where you will end up kicking the dog, it’s worth to step back and do a final check.
Do you have all the parts cleaned and lined up? Do you have enough time, calculating the period between mixing your paint and when the love of your life will call you for supper? Do you have enough paint, thinner, mixing cups, paper towel etc.?
Nothing is worse when paint is running out of the top feed of your airbrush, down your forearm, forming a drop at your elbow and you have nothing to wipe with!
If you have everything in queue, take a deep breath and press the button! It only hurts a few seconds and then there is no way back.
If you’ve read my previous chapter, I decided to go for the NATO colors of the 60’s. The underside of a Belgian F-84F had an azure bluish/grey finish. There is no immediate correct reference but to me, that mix looked about right according to time period photographs and from what I remember.
I applied a very light base coat and afterwards, I mixed a very tiny bit of light grey into the equation to break the monotony and “misted” another, contained light layer only in certain spots like the middle of the wings. It’s just to get some effect and it will help when weathering. But be careful and don’t overdo it. You want to keep the base coat prominent.
I let everything dry for at least 6 hours. The paint dries almost immediately but you want to play safe and let it harden a few hours before masking. On many occasions, I let impatience get the best of me but it backfired when I removed the tape and blotches of paint came off! Son of a b***h!
Anyway, I think most of you, if not all, know the drill and had similar warm and fuzzy experiences.
When dry, I aligned the tape with center of the wings and this in a straight line all the way to the back of the fuselage. The separation between upper camouflage and the underside has a hard edge.
The drop tanks however, have a soft edge. To get that effect without free-styling is to place a small length of tape on your cutting mat and with a sharp new scalpel blade make a cut while basically vibrating your hand when moving across the tape.
Since the tape is sticky and you do not want to have it stuck tightly, I usually stick and pull it off my jeans a few times until most of the tackiness is gone.
Then I apply it on the model, making sure that the edges sort of peel off. That way, when you airbrush in an angle, some of the mist will get underneath, creating a soft but controlled effect. The result is quite rewarding.
The first color I applied on the topside of the plane was a dark medium grey. I used Vallejo VJ71123 USAF Dark Grey (3 parts), VJ71120 USAF Med. Grey (3 parts) and 2 parts of VJ72723 Electric Blue (2 parts), the latter just to give the grey a tint of blue. Again this was all done by comparing photos and trying to match the colors.
I contemplated how to apply the green camo. Free hand would be the preferred way to go but you have to have a steady hand to do so and it takes a little more concentration. This time however, I decided to do the soft edge mask as described earlier. I never tried it before for actual camouflage and I have to admit, I never was a big fan of cutting out templates and airbrush camouflage that way. But I would give it a shot.
I placed a few pieces of tape on my cutting mat and outlined the pattern. Then with a scalped I cut out the shape, making sure I had smooth and flowing curves. I laid them on top of the wing, keeping the edges from sticking and airbrushed in an angle so some of the fine spray of the paint would find its way underneath.
Keep your needle at a small setting so it doesn’t get out of hand. When I pulled the tape off, I was pleasantly surprised with the result. It looked just the way I pictured it and more important, very realistic.
In next chapter and hopefully the final one, I will tackle the decals and weathering. So far it has been a pleasure to work on. I know that the kit has some minor issues with paneling and nose shape but that can be fixed with some putty, elbow grease and patience. All in all it is the best Thunderstreak on today’s market.
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