Fiat G.55 Centauro Build Log, Pt. 3 – Painting

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2PART 3

The adventure that has been the Pacific Coast Models Fiat G.55 Centauro finally moves into the paint stage. In addition to the crazy splinter scheme, I’ve decided to use this build to really mess with some new preshading techniques.


First step – priming. I typically seesaw between primers – either Model Master’s grey enamel primer, or Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1200. Priming went off without a hitch, though I did have to attend to some stubborn gaps in the leading edges of the wings near the wing roots.

”G55 Primed

A few areas on the lower wings and along the fuselage went a bit “dusty”, but the beauty of Mr. Surfacer is its “knockdownability” – a few quick swipes of an 8000-grit micromesh cloth turned it glass smooth.


Before work could begin on the main camo scheme, a few bits – the fuselage band, yellow lower cowl, white spinner quarter, etc – had to be painted and masked. And they were. Exciting, no?

”G55 PreScheme

Actually, this build allowed me to test a new method of masking fuselage bands with only one do-over and a 75% reduction in expletives.

”G55 Fuseband

If you want to read the technique, here you go.

The Underside

Earlier this year, I encountered a very involved pre-shading technique over on Large Scale Planes. It involved random streaking in various colors, combined with a further buildup of even more various colors before the final top coats were applied. I tried a simplified version on my build of Revell’s P-47 Razorback and came away pretty satisfied.

With the Fiat, it’s my intent to take it a lot further.

For the underside, though, I opted for subdued, for a few reasons. First, the underside wouldn’t have seen a fraction of the wear imparted to the upper surfaces by the Mediterranean sun. Second, it’s not as easy to mess with colors when you’re using a light gray top coat. Third, I elected to use Model Master’s Italian Blue-Gray for the underside, and Model Master paints don’t reduce quite so beautifully as Tamiya, rendering them less ideal for such a subtle build-up of color.

To add some depth all the same, I used Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black and XF-63 German Gray, both following the typical preshade approach of hitting the panel lines and streaking in the direction of airflow.

”G55 Undershade

After the preshading, the Italian Blue Gray went on with a light hand.

”G55 Underside

I still think I probably went a bit too heavy, but again, the underside is going to be less weather-beaten than the upper surfaces, so no big deal.

Masking Time

Before moving on to the upper surfaces and crazy-fun splinter time, I had to mask off the lower surfaces. Usually, this is no big deal. Tape and post-its all over the place, soft demarkation along the fuselage, done. But the Fiat, typical of Italian fighters, sported a sort of “wrap-under” approach, where the upper surface colors carry over to the leading edges on the underside of the wings and stabilizers. These are fairly nightmarish to post, at least out near the tips, where they go all curved.

To deal with the somewhat complicated masking situation, I fell back on a technique I used last summer when masking the blue nose on a Tamiya P-51, albeit slightly refined. The process isn’t difficult, just tedious.

Scan the aircraft profile from the instructions/decal sheet/what-have-you. Resize the scanned profile to the appropriate  scale (if you have Photoshop, it has a handy ruler tool that makes this stupid-easy).

Print said profile. Or if it’s going to be larger than your standard 8.5 x 11 page, slice and dice and rearrange.

”G55 Print

Place tape (I’m using 40mm Tamiya tape) on stencil paper. Cut out and place profile bits on top. Secure with a few pieces of tape.

”G55 Template

Cut where you need to cut. I guess you could use a knife, but I prefer a nice, sharp pair of Fiskars scissors.

Peel and apply tape. Probably a good idea to stick it to your hand a few times to kill off the worst of the tack.

Cover up the rest. You don’t want overspray causing headaches.

”G55 Mask

While I was at it, I also sprayed a white backing for the ANR fasces insignia on the wings. These are on a white background, so a white backing will ensure a uniform appearance.

”G55 Mask

Upper Scheme Part 1 – Giallo Mimetico

With this build – and this scheme – the underside was the easy part. An upper camoflage consisting of a three-color splinter pattern? Masking for miles.

Fortunately, the first color required no masking, so I dove straight into the preshade. Since Giallo Mimetico is a yellow sand shade, I wanted to really boost the “yellowness”, and opted to preshade with brown and yellow.

G55 Preshade Brown

G55 Preshade Yellow

On top of this, I used Tamiya Dark Yellow. I was…less than satisfied. The Dark Yellow was both far too dark and far too brown. So I went back with Tamiya Flat Yellow and Flat White, adding both until I reached a shade I was happy with. It may not represent absolute fidelity to the color chips, but with modeling I see every build being a struggle between accuracy on the one side, and awesomeness on the other. So I opted for awesomeness.

G55 DkYellow

G55 BtrYellow

Upper Scheme Part 2 – Green

The green used on Captain Drago’s Fiat wasn’t the rich, supple Verde Olivia Scuro (Dark Olive Green) found on other late-war Italian schemes, but more of a medium green. My first color mix – Tamiya Deep Green and Olive Green – looked promising until I sprayed it. Way dark.

G55 Green1

While considering how to proceed, I decided to jump over and get a start on Hasegawa’s 1/48 N1K1-Ja Shiden, which has an interior color similar to a more olive Dull Dark Green. I tried a mix of Tamiya Flat Green and Olive Green, but it was still far too dark for my tastes, so I began adding Cockpit Green. Viola! Not only a perfect shade for the Shiden, but a perfect shade for the green on the Fiat. Spray away!

G55 Green2

Upper Scheme Part 3 – Red-Brown

After masking off the green, I found that the exposed surfaces were covered in a mishmash of green and sand yellow and primer. To get a uniform surface, I sprayed everything a 50:50 mix of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black and XF- Flat Brown. A 50:50 of XF- Flat Brown and XF- Red Brown went on top, and then, with bated breath, I started to unmask.

The resulting paint job is striking. No other way to describe it. The pre-shading work on all four colors came out beautifully, too, despite the revised mixes. Overall, I don’t think I could be happier with the way it’s come out.

G55 Paint1

G55 Paint2

G55 Paint3

G55 Paint4

A few bits to go, and then it’s on to markings and weathering!

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2PART 3

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