The Thunderbolt project is coming along. In this segment, I want to deal with finishing.
I think most modelers avoid metallic finishes because they are so hard to apply and present so many problems. (I admit I avoid them. This Thunderbolt almost joined the RAF in India where they painted the airframes camouflage!)
Masking can be a nightmare as the metal finish comes right off with masking tape, even Tamiya tape with its minimal - but sufficient - grip. Metallic finishes show every little flaw in the model’s surface. And, they are very hard to apply so that they appear scale.
I have tried one product that seems to work okay, but it has some issues. That product is the Vallejo Metal Color Airbrush Colors. They airbrush easily and they stay put when masked over with Tamiya tape.
What’s not to love? Well, the primer for one. The gloss black primer sold with this line of paints is as hard to work with as the other Vallejo surface primers. These primers are an acrylic-polyurethane product. The stuff clings to the inside of my Grex airbrush, and after each use a thorough cleaning is necessary with airbrush cleaner followed by lacquer thinner.
Recently, I have been using Stynylrez surface primer. It is a product of Badger Airbrush Co. and I highly recommend it.
Stynylrez is also an acrylic-polyurethane product. However, it cleans up with airbrush cleaner followed by some lacquer thinner. This primer has more of a satin finish than the Vallejo above which is gloss. Frankly, I think Stynylrez would work with these metal paints. I bought my Stynylrez on eBay in a three 2 oz. bottle pack of white, grey and black primer. It provides an excellent paint base and you can use masking to your heart’s content.
After the metal color is applied, you should add a coat of gloss or satin varnish to protect the metal color while applying decals or using panel line paint or other weathering material.
These Vallejo Metal Color paints are a little expensive (aren’t they all?) but they get the job done. I get mine at Spruebrothers.com.
Here I am using Tamiya masking tape and Post-It notes to mask a few panels on the Thunderbolt’s wings:
|I outlined the area with thin strips of tape first, then finished with pieces of Post-It.|
|Picking out panels is fairly easy with these paints.|
It is so handy to be able to make thin strips of masking. You can outline the area to be masked so much more easily with thin tape, and then you use wider tape to complete the masking with wider tape. This is much easier than trying to use wide strips to start.
You will see brown area on the Infini on the photo below. That is a piece of 3M Micropore bandaging tape. I painted it khaki, and I cut 1.0 mm strips from it to make seatbelts for 1/72 scale airplanes.
Infini also makes at least two other Easycutting tools with circles and other shapes.