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.
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?
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.
If you want to read the technique, here you go.
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.
After the preshading, the Italian Blue Gray went on with a light hand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A few bits to go, and then it’s on to markings and weathering!