Prep and Priming
With main assembly wrapped up, the Jugs moved right into painting prep. Since both kits went together quite well, they didn’t require much in the way of seam-filling. Just some Mr. Surfacer 500 applied and sanded smooth, and some 3M acryl putty in a few targeted areas. After that, cockpits and gear bays were masked off.
One headache with the P-47 (or any radial piston engine with a gaping maw of a cowl) is masking the painted interior of the cowl. For some reason, my attempts to run tape around the inner lip always fail. But I discovered another, easier way when I was working on Tamiya’s P-47 bubbletop last year.
First, put the cowl face-down on a piece of sturdy paper or light cardboard. An index card or even a scrap from the kit’s box will work. Grab a pencil and trace the cowl opening from the inside. Now, grab your preferred cutting implement and cut out the mask, staying slightly outside the tracing line. Insert the mask into the cowl from the inside, trim it up if the fit’s iffy, then tape it down. And just like that, instant cowl mask.
After the masking and small-piece prep work, I primed both P-47s with Mr. Surfacer 1200 thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner. Mr. Surfacer is one of my two favorite primers (the other being Model Master gray enamel primer), and was the go-to in this case, since I’ll be using some hotter paints.
Where I’m planning to use proven methods with the Tamiya kit, I’m planning on trying some new techniques with the Revellogram Razorback, including a loose take on this amazing pre-shading technique I saw over at Large Scale Planes (images pop in a lightbox, but please check out the forum post…credit where credit’s due!).
First…Tamiya XF-1 flat black streaking on the wings while waiting for the stabilizer ID bands to dry…
Once the ID bands were cured and masked, I streaked the rest of the aircraft with thinned XF-1, moving with the direction of airflow on the horizontal surfaces, and vertically on the fuselage sides. The fine needle on my new Harder & Steenbeck Infinity airbrush came in extremely handy for this operation!
After the black streaking, I pulled back and applied a patchy overcoat of thinned black.
Natural Metal Finish
Here’s where “Magic Carpet” and “The Bug” diverge. “The Bug” wears the standard Olive Drab/Neutral Gray camo scheme, but “Magic Carpet” blings it up with several elements left in natural metal, including the wings, canopy frame, cowl flaps and forward cowl ring.
To prep the areas for natural metal finish, I sprayed them with Tamiya X-1 gloss black, mixed with X-22 Clear and thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner.
After a gentle polish with a 3200-grit micromesh cloth, I fired up the Alclad II Airframe Aluminum.
Airframe Aluminum is one of Alclad’s “high-shine” finishes, and by itself, is far too shiny for a war-weary P-47. But its properties make it an ideal undercoat for other Alclad finishes. Specifically, it’s semi-translucent nature, which lets some hint of the black undercoat through, and makes the shade darker than Alclad’s regular finishes.
On past builds, I’ve used Airframe Aluminum almost as pre-shading, but the one reference photo I have of “Magic Carpet” shows a pretty uniform look to the wing surface, so I decided to be a bit more assertive with the Aluminum and Duraluminum. These went down on top of the Airframe Aluminum in a patchwork fashion, first streaking in the direction of airflow, then building up in certain panels, and then in a misting overspray. The Duraluminum was used on the gun bay access doors to give them a slight visual difference.
While I was at it, I also masked and painted the Tamiya’s canopy.
With the Alclad out of the way, I masked off the ID bands, cowl rings, and on “Magic Carpet”, the wings, then got to work on the underside color, Neutral Gray (called as such for straddling the line separating red-toned “warm” grays and blue-toned “cool” grays).
On “Magic Carpet” I followed my usual process of base color, lightened coat, and blending coat. Without the wings, there’s really not much surface area covered by the Neutral Gray, so I decided to keep it simple.
On “The Bug”, I’ve been testing a new pre-shading technique, and the Neutral Gray marked the first “proof of concept”. I went with Tamiya XF-63 Neutral Gray, thinned around 2:1 with Gunze Mr. Leveling Thinner. I hit the undersides in a patchy, random pattern, specifically not trying for uniform coverage. At first it looked rather hideous.
But as I kept at it, going back over certain areas, hitting everything with a light misting coat, and touching up trouble spots where the shading was still far too obvious, it started to really come together.
So far…I’m impressed with the technique. And I can see how bringing other colors into the mix could really yield some depth and variation in a paint scheme, so I’ll be incorporating a few shades into the upper shading before the Olive Drab goes on. What’s more, I’m impressed enough by this technique that I’ll be applying it to “Magic Carpet” as well.
After masking off the natural metal elements and the ID stripes, I set about recreating the streak-shading I used on “The Bug”. For “Magic Carpet”, I started with streaks and a misted coat of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black, supplemented by XF-69 NATO Black and XF-61 Dark Green. Since the reference photo I have shows some paint wear near the cockpit with some chromate undercoating peeking through, I sprayed a touch of XF-4 Yellow Green beneath the cockpit sills.
Following the pre-shade, I mixed up a custom olive drab with XF-62 Olive Drab and XF-51 Khaki Drab in a 5:3 ratio. Loading up the H&S Infinity – which is quickly becoming my favorite airbrush – I hit the upper surfaces with a tight, random spray pattern. Sadly…I don’t know if the pre-shading was too stark in places or if the bare metal wings maybe trick the eyes, but I think I overdid the olive drab, since much of the pre-shading was lost. Still…a very striking livery however you cut it.
Moving on to “The Bug”, I decided to pull out my bottle of Gunze-Sangyo’s Mr. Color Olive Drab. I kicked things off by spraying the soft demarkation lines between the drab and neutral gray, using some foam paper I picked up at Hobby Lobby as a soft mask. The stuff is great, and I will be using it for this purpose extensively in the future.
On the upper surfaces proper, I followed the same process as before. Tight, random spraying, streaking in the direction of airflow, and backing off to do some overall misting to tie things together. The result? Simply fabulous. The Gunze paint sprayed like a dream, went down very smooth, allowed hints of shading to show through, and to my eye nailed the color tones of olive drab better than my Tamiya mix, which looks too “green” even after the addition of the khaki drab.
In fact, I’m so impressed by the Gunze Olive Drab that it’s become my go-to for all future OD schemes. The stuff is simply marvelous. And yes, I’m kind of kicking myself for not using it on “Magic Carpet” now.
Stay tuned for Part 4 – markings, weathering, and final assembly!