With painting complete, it’s time to give the George an identity and beat it up as only the salt air of the Pacific can.
Rather than use the kit decals for the hinomarus (the big red meatballs the Japanese used as a national insignia), I elected to mask and paint them. While I hate the fussiness of the circle cutter, it did it’s job well enough. The masked circles were first painted white, then the panel lines pre-shaded with yellow. Sadly, most of it seems to have vanished under the red. Oh well…still better than decals. The fuselage hinomarus were masked a second time, covering the red, and the white border was painted over in black-green, just as the crews did in the field to knock down visibility (because a giant red circle doesn’t stand out…).
After the hinomarus were painted on, the aircraft was glossed with Future cut with some Windex. I’ve never had good luck with Future before, but cutting with Windex gave the solution really great spray characteristics and produced a nice, clean glossy finish.
The decals went down next. There weren’t many, but I was hesitant all the same since the sheet didn’t look all that hot. There was some silvering at first, but it vanished as the Micro-Sol did it’s thing, then vanished more under a sealing coat of Future.
Here in Texas, the intense sun and brutal heat of the summers destroys things in a hurry. Patio chairs disintegrate, umbrellas get battered and ripped to pieces. Car paint takes a beating – especially older cars with less durable paints and clear coats. Multiply that by eleventy million, and you’ve got the Pacific during World War II. You have the intense sun and the brutal heat, plus frequent rains followed by suffocating humidity. You have the salt air corroding everything, and for aircraft, the stresses of operating at hundreds of miles per hour and basing out of very primitive facilities that usually provided absolutely zero protection from the elements.
Add all that together, mix in some crappy late-war Japanese paint, and you have a recipe for some gloriously weatherbeaten aircraft.
To recreate some of this wear, I decided to try another new technique on this build – salt weathering. The process goes something like this:
Gather your materials. You’ll need a spray bottle full of warm water, salt (a salt grinder is great because you can control the fineness of the grind, and it creates randomly-shaped crystals), and a hair dryer. I stole the wife’s.
Protect your paint! The tutorial I followed advised on a clear coat of Future. I went this route and found it okay, till the end. I’m curious if a gloss lacquer wouldn’t be the better call going forward.
Spray model with warm water until thoroughly soaked.
Apply salt all the hell over it. As it starts to dry, hit it with the hair dryer to evaporate the water. Keep the heat and speed on low, though!
Once the salt’s dried in place, head to the bench. Mix up a solution of light gray (or grayish tan) paint and mostly thinner. The tutorial recommended enamels here, and that’s what I used. I typically prefer Tamiya for these ultra-thin solutions, but it doesn’t react all that well with salt, so no dice. I used Model Master Camoflage Gray. With a light touch, mist this onto the model.
Next, remove the salt crystals. The tutorial called for an alternative, lazy approach (which I of course used) of just spraying the model with warm water again and letting the salt crystals drift. I wouldn’t do this again, since I think it’s not random enough of a distribution. Whatever. Shift or reapply salt as before.
When the salt is dry a second time, spray a dark, grimy solution. I used a mix of Model Master Burnt Umber and Flat Black. Let dry and remove the salt.
Doublecheck to make sure you removed ALL of the salt. I had some that proved a bit stubborn, and they came back to bite me when I sealed everything up with Future, by leaking this awful milky haze. Fortunately the final clear coat removed it, which leads me to believe a solvent-based clear coat is probably a better course of action under the salt as well.
If things are too stark, go back over with another mist coat, unsalted, to blend things back together a bit.
Overall, I think I was probably too heavy handed with the salt weathering. In that, my solutions weren’t thin enough. I don’t think the lazy “spray the salt and let it rearrange” method worked very well, either, and removing and reapplying the salt would probably be a bit better, effect-wise. I’m also curious about trying to remove the salt without having to put the kit under the faucet. It’s one thing with a small single-engine fighter like the George, but I can’t very well squeeze a multi-engine under the sink.
After the salt, it was time for the wash. I’ve been having issues with my Flory Dark Dirt wash, so I ordered a new bottle from Sprue Brothers. What a difference. The stuff went on well, wiped off well, and dirtied up the panel lines and surface just enough. After it dried sufficiently, I introduced the George to Alclad Light Sheen, which went further toward tying everything together, and banished the white salt-haze that was plaguing the Future.
Last up…pigments. Since this George would’ve been operating off of crushed coral and sand and dirt surfaces in its defense of the Philippines in 1944, it’s tires would be understandably filthy and chalked up. I used a few different pigments to wear the tires down, namely Beach Sand, Europe Dust, and Concrete.
For the exhaust stains, I started with a base of MIG Concrete, which (duh) is a lightish gray color. Over that, Russian Earth, which is a fantastic dirty brown-gray. A touch of Blue Burnt Metal went down over this, especially right by the exhausts, to represent, well, burnt metal. Then some Black Smoke on top of that. The effect is a pretty well-blended exhaust staining that’s more complicated than the usual black smudge running back from the cowling.
From there it was all finishing work. The aerial wire – made of stretched sprue – was run from the tail to the aerial mast and painted a dark metallic gray. The clear wingtip lights were glued in place and painted with Tamiya clears. The canopy and Quickboost 20mm blast tubes were installed. All the usual fun.
And with that, the build comes to its end.
Overall, this one was a really fun kit – Hasegawa showed some rather excellent fit and detail and I got to stretch my legs a bit in terms of techniques and subject matter. I look forward to refining the salt weathering especially on future builds, and look forward to taking on more Japanese aircraft soon!