Part I | Part II| Part III | Part IV
With my messed up, false-start-happy modelling year, it feels like it’s been months since I’ve thrown real paint at anything. And it kind of has – the last subject to run full-bore through the paint shop was my Pz.38(t) back in early June. So it’s been two and a half months since I’ve done more with the airbrush than bomb cockpits in RLM 66.
Time to change that.
In Part I, I took the G-4 through the main build phase. Fortunately, cleanup in the form of filling and sanding was relatively minor this time around, and I was mainly slowed down by shifting gears to get Revell’s new 109G-6 to the same point. Since both ships are primarily decked in the standard Luftwaffe RLM 74/75/76 camoflage, I figured it made sense to knock out two birds with one stone.
I can’t praise Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1500 enough. It sprays on smoother than 1200, and it’s black, which fits nicely with my practice of using black as a base for subsequent layers of paint.
Why use black as a base? Simple. It makes it easier to build depth and tonal variation into the paint job. When you’re painting over gray primer, you have to cover all of the gray, or its obvious. When you’re covering pre-shading, you have a very, very fine line between the pre-shading looking obvious, or getting covered completely. With black, insufficient coverage basically just becomes shading…and it’s far more controllable since you’re not trying to cover-but-not the contrast of pre-shaded panel lines.
After the primer went down, I realized that I’d left a seam on the cowl that shouldn’t be there. Damnit!
It should be noted that this seam is an issue on all Hasegawa F/G/K 109s…and on Revell’s new 109G-6 as well. The kit that gets it right? Trumpeter’s 109. I haven’t built one yet, but after my experiences with the Hasegawa and Revell kits, I’ve decided I need to. Probably I’ll find out that the ideal 109 is one that basically combines the good elements of the three kits!
After a quick pause to fix the seams, I resprayed the cowl, then went ahead and painted the 109’s white wingtips, spinner and fuselage band with Gunze C69 Offwhite.
This 109, like most Gustavs, wears a standard dayfighter camoflage of RLM 74/75/76. It is, quite possibly, the most common aircraft scheme of all time. So it’s kind of shocking how poorly the paint brands do at replicating it.
Among the brands that I will put through the airbrush – especially for something requiring mottling:
- Gunze-Sangyo – Gunze manages a pretty damn good RLM 75 Grauviolet (gray-violet). Perhaps a tad dark, but tonally it looks right. Their RLM 76 Lichtblau seems too dark and too vibrant, almost more RLM 65-ish. And their RLM 74 Graugrun (gray-green) is just a mess. I tried to use it, and found I could not distinguish it from the RLM 75 on the aircraft.
- Tamiya – In Tamiya’s typical fashion, they don’t bother to offer any of the major RLM colors.
- Model Master – Testors pulls off what is in my opinion the best RLM 76 of the bunch, and a passable RLM 75 (lighter than the Gunze). But their RLM 74 basically just seems like a darker RLM 75, with none of the green tones.
Now, I’m not a paint absolutist by any means, but I have eyes, and I know how a 109 should look. So…I had to resort to mixing my colors.
For RLM 76, I took Gunze RLM 76 and cut it with some white and some light gray. Per my usual practice, I thinned it way down, then started spraying over the black Mr. Surfacer. I start off with light coats, covering only portions of the surface, then go back more broadly and fill things in.
Ultimately, I ended up with this:
Strangely, I had a problem with the 76 dusting on the surface, something I’ve never experience with Gunze paints. But a quick visit by some 1200-grit micromesh got that squared away right quick.
Next up…RLM 75. Since I decided to freehand this mother, I switched out to my trusty Iwata HP-C+. Of all the airbrushes I’ve used, none of them does fine freehand work better.
My first stab at the RLM 74 went poorly. As I’ve mentioned up above, I found the Gunze 74 tonally indistinguishable from the 75. So I switched things up and made my own RLM 74 out of Tamiya XF-27 Black Green, XF-24 Dark Gray and XF-69 NATO Black. This had that hint-of-green that I was after and was freehanded onto the wings and upper fuselage.
The mottling on the fuselage sides was done with RLM 74 and 75, both the individual mottles and a more general filtering spray to tone down the contrast between the mottles and the RLM 76.
Grigio Azzurro Chiaro and Verde Olivio Scuro
When Italy’s Regia Aeronautica received Bf 109s to bolster its fighter fleet, it had a small problem. It wasn’t the Luftwaffe, so it had no use for the German insignia crosses or the swaztikas on the tails. As the USAAF did with their British-loaned Spitfires, the Regia Aeronautica did the logical thing and painted over the German markings. But they didn’t always have access to German colors, and so used their own, mainly grigio azzurro chiaro, their take on underside blue-gray. The specific G-4 I’m building went a step further, mottling the overpainting with verde olivio scuro – dark olive green.
Matching these is a giant pain unless you want to go with White Ensign or Lifecolor. To get to grigio azzurro chiaro, I used Tamiya XF-19 Sky Grey cut with just a bit of XF-23 Light Blue. The verde olivio scuro was straight XF-27 Black Green.
The ultimate effect is one of a 109 that’s slightly “off” from the usual…
Overall, I’m quite pleased with how the G-4 is turning out. Next up…a few housecleaning items like the RLM 02 in the exposed leading edges beneath the slats and the attachment of the radiator flaps, then it’s on the decals and weathering. Stay tuned!