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  1. And heeeeeeeere’s the lineup! The basecoat is Model Car World (MCW) 2119 Dark Gull Gray FS36231. Bottom of the aircraft: MCW 2119 Insignia White FS17875 Top of the aircraft: MCW 2120 Gull Gray FS36440 Details: Tamiya TS-12 Orange (decanted for airbrush), MCW 2148 USAF Thunderbirds White (rudder stars), and MCW 2000 Gloss Black (nose anti-glare panel). A1H Build 21 - Paint A by Troy Downen, on Flickr The entire lineup is lacquer which produces a fast-drying and rock-hard finish capable of taking some rough handling and masking, and also capable of withstanding a moderate sanding between coats using 1200 and 3000 grit sandpaper (1200 to knock down raised paint demarcation lines between colors which are due to the masking tape, and 3000 grit to smooth out any rough spots between coats). I’m using a black-basing technique with this build to give the final paint finish a worn, but well-kept appearance. The first step is to put down a dark base coat. This would normally be black, but since the bottom topcoat will be insignia white, I start with Dark Gull Gray FS36231 instead of black. A1H Build 21 - Paint B by Troy Downen, on Flickr The ailerons will also be insignia white so those are base coated too. I’m not showing the horizontal tail in these photos, but it receives the same treatment. A1H Build 21 - Paint C by Troy Downen, on Flickr Before going further with the topcoats, I decide to take care of that colorful rudder. You can see in the photo above that I’ve put down a coat of MCW 2148 USAF Thunderbirds White. I created artwork for the stars on my computer and used a Silhouette Cameo to cut vinyl masks in OraCal OraMask 810. This is GREAT stuff; it adheres to the model surface, conforms to moderate curves, and pulls up easily without removing underlying paint. But note that I am using lacquer paints here and gave the model a good primer coat too. OraMask will work well over acrylics (I have not tried it with enamels) but remember that proper preparation of the plastic surface with plastic prep and primer is advised! A1H Build 21 - Paint D by Troy Downen, on Flickr I guess that I failed to get a photo of the rudder with the masks applied prior to painting orange. But here you can see the end result after removal of the star masks. AWESOME! This always feels so good… because it can also feel so bad if things go wrong! You know what I mean! A1H Build 21 - Paint E by Troy Downen, on Flickr Back to the fuselage. The bottom is base coated with Dark Gull Gray. Time to start putting down light coats of Insignia White, starting with random squiggles and spots of the paint. It really looks scary as the process begins… WHAT HAVE I DONE!? A1H Build 21 - Paint F by Troy Downen, on Flickr At this stage I begin to thin the paint, starting with a 50/50 blend. I put down a light overall coat of the thinned paint (no more creating squiggles; these are just uniform coats of thinned paint at this point). Then more thinner and another overall coat of the paint. And more thinner and more uniform coats of paint until I’m about 1 part paint to 3 parts thinner. Gradually those scary looking patches begin to fade and you get a more uniform, yet nuanced topcoat. A1H Build 21 - Paint G by Troy Downen, on Flickr See the slight tonal variations throughout the paint job? It is random and looks a bit worn – certainly not brand new – but yet it’s not IN YOUR FACE weather beaten. A1H Build 21 - Paint H by Troy Downen, on Flickr Pin washes in the panel lines will help to pop those lines out later, and an overall wash will contribute a bit more dirt and wear. But I feel that this black base technique gives me a good basis for starting those other weathering techniques later. A1H Build 21 - Paint I by Troy Downen, on Flickr Hey, but there’s one more thing to do before decals and weathering: those orange thunderbolts on the fuselage need to be masked and painted. Again, I created artwork in Illustrator, cut the vinyl decals, and went at it with the decanted orange paint. A1H Build 21 - Paint J by Troy Downen, on Flickr A couple of things to confess: you can see the raised paint line around the edges of the thunderbolt created by the vinyl mask. I will use 1200 to 3000 grit sanding sponges to gently work down that paint ridge. Also, toward the aft end of the thunderbolt (top of the photo) you can see that I let the mask lift up just a bit as I painted, resulting in a bit of orange spray under the mask. Now, we are WAY zoomed in here in this photo and I’ll confess that this is not too apparent on the actual model unless you’ve got your nose right up next to the fuselage. BUT, since this is a client build I do want to address this. Fortunately, I don’t need to do any tricky airbrush touch-ups with gray in this case because the thunderbolt has a black outline. Based on the same artwork I created for cutting the mask, I printed a black outline decal for the thunderbolt on clear decal paper using a laserjet printer. That black outline will effectively hide the slight orange underspray. Whew! Decals are next.
  2. Thanks SakisG! I've not known much about Skyraiders prior to doing the research for this build. Turns out, they're great airplanes! While that primer is setting up, a quick look at the helmet. Recall that I 3D printed an APH-6 helmet because the client wanted the helmet displayed in or around the cockpit, but did not want a pilot displayed with the airplane. There is a pilot figure included with the Tamiya kit, but the helmet on the figure did not have much detail. So even though I considered cutting off the little guy’s head and drilling out the face (yuck), instead I went the way of a quick design in CAD and a 3D print using my FormLabs SLA printer. A coat of white primer prepped the surface for a glossy coat of Tamiya TS-26 Pure White. The actual helmets were orange with what appeared to be white lighting bolts and stars. Just recently I’ve learned that those two details were actually decals made of reflective material and placed on the helmets to aid in search & rescue efforts if the pilot had to bail out over water. A1H Build 08 - Helmet Thunderbolt by Troy Downen, on Flickr I determined that the orange was likely FS32246 Navy Torpedo Orange, and also that – lucky for me! – Tamiya TS-12 Orange is a dead-on match to my Federal Standard paint chip. I prefer to airbrush details because it gives me better control over where the paint goes and how much goes onto the surface. So, I decanted TS-12 into an empty Tamiya paint jar. A1H Build 20 - Paint Decant A by Troy Downen, on Flickr The essential components are the jar with a cover over the opening and two holes cut into the cover (which is tape). One hole will be for the straw spraying the paint, and the second hole will be to allow gasses to escape from the jar during the decanting process. I take the spray head off the can of paint and dig out the little nozzle, replacing it with a coffee stir straw that I superglue into the hole in the spray head. Note that this will destroy the nozzle, and the spray head will be disposed of after the paint is decanted. Should you wish to not decant the entire spray can, you’ll want to keep old spray heads from empty cans to use for this purpose in the future. A1H Build 20 - Paint Decant B by Troy Downen, on Flickr Point the straw into the jar and spray away! Then set the jar aside without a lid (just keep the tape in place) and let the decanted paint outgas for a good 24 hours. There will be a LOT of gas compressed into the liquid which needs to vacate the premises before you attempt to airbrush the paint. But once it’s ready to go, you’ll have paint which needs no thinning and is perfectly airbrush-ready. I designed and cut some custom vinyl thunderbolt decals for the helmet to preserve the white area, and airbrushed the orange. Below you can see two efforts with the thunderbolt masks placed differently. I did the helmet on the right first and realized that I had the thunderbolt tips pointed inward. The left helmet is my second try with the thunderbolts correctly placed. A1H Build 19 - Helmet A by Troy Downen, on Flickr I experimented with ways to represent the stars on the side of the helmet, but the detail was just WAY too tiny for paint masks, and the best I could do with white decals were white circles; not very convincing. So, I just ignored the stars… LOL I did just a bit more work brush painting some details in black, and you can see the final result below. I was experimenting with placing a pair of gloves next to the helmet but decided against it after consulting with the client. A1H Build 19 - Helmet B by Troy Downen, on Flickr Okay, next time we starting painting the airplane itself!
  3. At last I’ve solved (temporarily, at least) my issues with having photo editing software. So onward with the build documentation!! How about we wrap up those landing gear first, since the gear bays are painted? The gear were entirely straightforward; I used SAC’s metal replacements since I wanted to ensure that the struts would be robust in case they got knocked around a bit by the client. I used some 26 gauge copper wire for hydraulic brake lines and, if you can see it in the photo, a Molotow “liquid metal” marker to paint the shiny metal oleos. (Those markers are awesome! Get one!) While I was in the neighborhood of the gear bays, I went ahead and tacked the gear doors in open position using some poster putty (not visible in the photo) and glued the delicate resin door hinges from the Aires set to the doors (you can see the yellow resin hinges in the photo). I removed the doors from the wing, went back with the airbrush to carefully paint the hinges white, and then set the doors aside. The entire time I was wondering how long it would take me to knock those hinges off the doors and lose them to the Carpet Monster! Now it’s time to turn to the cockpit. Although the Tamiya kit overall is beautiful, the cockpit could use a bit of improvement so I picked up the Aires resin set. I’ve never had an aftermarket cockpit set behave as a “drop-in” replacement for the kit parts, and this set is no different. I thinned the interior of the kit’s fuselage in the cockpit area to the point where light could be seen through the plastic (!!!) yet the fuselage halves still only barely close around the resin cockpit tub (which was also trimmed on both sides). Oh well, it looks great once installed. I was a fool and forgot to take photos before I installed the tub. Here I try to make up for that by taking awkward photos of the installed cockpit tub: See that putty on the nose? That’s 100% due to the Aires tub not permitting the fuselage halves to join at the nose. Well, trust me that it was worth the investment. But be prepared to chisel, file and sand plastic and resin to tissue-paper thinness to get it to fit. The engine… where would we be without an engine? (On the ground!). I confirmed that the nose flaps were often open on the ground even if the airplane was not prepped for immediate flight. So I got out the 26 gauge copper wire again and started to add ignition wires to the kit’s plastic engine. This is the BEFORE photo… And here is the plumbed engine as I set it aside to wait until it would be installed as one of the very last steps of the build. Closing up the fuselage halves and mating the wing was virtually a non-event. This Tamiya kit fits together like a… Tamiya kit! LOL Fitting the Aires cockpit tub in the fuselage caused the only fit problems, but if you work it carefully you can prevent the fit problems from cascading elsewhere, like causing problems with the fit of the cowl to the nose. I like to use Tamiya Gray Fine Surface Primer in the spray can. No problems revealed… Next up: Painting & Weathering.
  4. Drifterdon - thank you so much for the offer. I have pushed on ahead with my own decals and masks at this point, but you're extremely kind for making the offer.
  5. Thank you. I appreciate that. Last night I installed the latest OS "Catalina" on my Mac and inadvertently rendered all of my Adobe software inoperative. Catalina does not support the last non-subscription based version of Photoshop and Illustrator, so before I can post anymore update photos here I have to figure out if I'm willing to shell out nearly $60 per month for a version of the Adobe products that works with Catalina (I am not) or if after 25 years I switch to something else. Ugh. Meanwhile, I'm actually working on the Skyraider cockpit... Visualize it in your mind. Lots of levers and switches. Lots of dark gray shades and black switch panels. Dials on the instrument panel. Seat belts... LOL This really stinks...
  6. I am indebted to 82Whitey51 for saving me from a significant and very embarrassing error that would have had me sanding and re-painting tail codes very late in the game. Yuck! I see my error: I’ve been using Ginter’s “Douglas AD/A-1 Skyraider Pt 2” exclusively as reference for the Air Wing Six tail codes. On pp 13-14 it states “A ship and tail code change occurred in late 1962 when VA-65 was assigned to the nuclear powered Enterprise. CVG-6’s new tail code became “AE”. Four A-1H deployments were made aboard CVN-65. They were from: 3 August to 11 October 1962, 19 October to 6 December 1962… [snip] … The second cruise was the emergency deployment due to the Cuban Missile Crisis where they participated in the blockade of Cuba.” This led me to believe that the tail code change occurred at reassignment to Enterprise and was in effect during all four cruises in 1962. I recommend the short but excellent article in the February 1993 issue of Finescale Modeler where Paul Boyer reviews Air Wing Six’s markings during that second October cruise. He states on p. 40 “In 1962, the code for Air Wing Six was AF, a carry-over from the Wing’s previous carrier, USS Intrepid. Early in 1963, Air Wing Six’s tail code was changed to AE.” Indeed, several photos in the 1962 Enterprise cruise book confirm the “AF” tail code applied to Air Wing Six during her cruises that year. My mistake entirely in relying too heavily on the Ginter book and not cross-checking with other sources. Whew…
  7. Hmmm... I'm glad that you pointed that out. I saw "AF" from the photo above of the S/N I'm modeling when embarked in 1963 on Intrepid, but thought that "AE" was correct for the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis onboard Enterprise. I'll dig deeper so that I get the correct markings. Thanks!!
  8. Phantom, I didn't think to mention, but I did gloss coat the doors with Alclad Aqua Gloss, which is acrylic. No problem with the red color bleeding or running. The Copic markers use an alcohol-based ink which also permits rough edges to be cleaned up by rubbing with a cotton swab (Q-Tip) wetted with Windex (which also has some alcohol in it). I really do like the effect. Steve, I see that you're using a marker intended for Gundam kits. The Copic markers are also Japanese and originally developed for Manga artwork. I'm guessing that the Gundam marker uses a similar ink (?) Interesting how the Japanese come up with such useful tools for this hobby! They take this market seriously, and boy am I glad that they do!!
  9. Thank you for all of the feedback. I really appreciate it. I'll return to the helmet when I'm ready to spray the orange colors on the airframe. Paints for the cockpit have not yet arrived so I’m breaking tradition and keeping myself busy by starting on something other than the cockpit! Ordnance… Twelve (12) 250 lb bombs under the wings, two drop tanks and a 500 lb bomb on the center pylon. I forgot that the kit does NOT include the 500 lb bomb, but fortunately I had a resin set from True Details in my spares box. I’m sure that a coat of primer will reveal a number of areas that need more attention, so there’s probably still work to be done here. I used the Aires landing gear bay set which required that the upper wing skin be thinned A LOT to fit in the gear bay. Even still, I had to carefully work the wing leading and trailing edges to get them to close around the gear bays. It’s a tight fit, but the detail offered by the Aires set is fantastic. I also worked on the gear doors. Painting the red trim around the door edges has always been the bane of my existence. I even skip it occasionally if I know that I’ll only ever display the model on my shelf and no one else will ever see it! But here I need to do it, and I tried a new method using a Copic marker. If you’re not familiar with these markers, they’re high-end art markers that have a brush-like tip and use a fairly opaque ink. Working carefully around the gear bay doors, I managed a passable red line. Just stand back a couple of feet – don’t look too closely! LOL And finally, I did some work on the propeller as well. I made a simple jig from a piece of scrape insulation foam and masked off the propeller tips to paint the white and red bands. I prefer to paint the bands since I typically have trouble getting decals to wrap around the edge of the prop to give a convincing appearance. The end result still needs some work at the edge of the black; tomorrow I’ll sand that edge and touch it up to give a smooth, uniform appearance. Then some metal chips at the leading edges and decals…
  10. I've had feedback offline that seems to indicate that if the cowl flaps are open, the nose flaps will also be open, exposing the engine. In my last photo posted above, the cowl flaps to appear to be open. So I'll proceed with having the nose flaps open AND the cowl flaps open, and with the plane sitting on the deck being prepped for takeoff.
  11. This is a build of the 1/48 Tamiya A-1H Skyraider for a client specifying the airplane flown by his father while embarked on the USS Enterprise with the VA-65 Tigers during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1/72 scale Hasegawa has a kit that would have fit the bill perfectly (save for the BuNo and cowl number)… … but 1/48 scale was strongly desired, which points squarely to the Tamiya kit. So, there will be some custom artwork required to replicate BuNo 35322 and other VA-65 specific markings. This is the only photo of that specific aircraft that I have been able to find, although it is from a slightly later date while the Tigers were embarked on the USS Intrepid. The artwork has been roughed out in Adobe Illustrator and will be printed on a laser printer a bit later. The fuselage thunderbolts will be airbrushed with the use of custom-cut stencils (more on that later). One thing that I needed to address early was the client’s desire to have a helmet sitting in the cockpit, waiting for the pilot to arrive. The kit includes a seated pilot (seemingly rare nowadays) but the helmet details are indistinct and won’t really impress if displayed separate from the pilot. (Besides, the pilot’s head would have to be drilled out of the helmet… yeck!). To get an acceptable helmet I designed a rough APH-6 helmet in CAD and printed it on an SLA printer (FormLabs Form 2). Although it’s hard to photograph (it’s so TINY), the details look great and really pop with white primer and a gloss white base coat. There are white thunderbolts on each side of the helmet, so the plan is to cut stencils to mask the white before painting the helmet an overall coat of FS32246 Navy Torpedo Orange. The white stars will be applied via decals. I’ll return to the helmet later… One question for the hive mind here: The AD-6 / A-1H had nose flaps that could be closed to isolate the engine in cold weather conditions and permit a faster warmup when the engine was first started. In this photo the nose flaps are closed: But this next photo is the actual configuration that I am recreating albeit with the client’s custom markings. It appears to me that the nose flaps are open in this photo, and I see that the cowl flaps are also open which – I believe – would require that the nose flaps be open. This question of nose flaps open / closed is important because it significantly alters the appearance of the aircraft (the engine cannot be seen when the nose flaps are closed). Would anyone here know if the nose flaps were REQUIRED to be closed while aircraft were parked & chocked as shown in the photo? Or was it possible that the nose flaps and cowl flaps could both be open while parked at rest, as the photo seems to indicate?
  12. The panel line wash worked well to highlight the control surfaces and the panel lines on the top and bottom of the fuselage. As I mentioned, I scrounged through my leftovers and found a set of USAF markings that I thought would work well for what a Darkstar might have looked like if it had been placed into service. Overall I’m very happy with the look of the completed model. If you look down the inlet and exhaust nozzle you can just see the engine fan and mixer peeking out! I’ve built two prototypes as I worked through tweaks to improve the build. The first build was painted with a white top / black bottom to resemble the test articles that I’ve seen in museums. When completed, the model is 17.5 inches wingtip to wingtip! And displayed next to my 1/48 scale Global Hawk from Skunk Models. I’ve designed new wings for the Global Hawk, which you view on the website (and also purchase Darkstar kits): https://downenscaledreplicas.com Thanks for tuning in. This has been a fun and rewarding build. I wish that I would have done this years ago!
  13. I’m going to do a hypothetical operational scheme on this model using Light Ghost Grey, similar to what would be seen on a Predator or Reaper UAV. I’m using Model Car World’s military line of lacquer paints for the first time. I really like the way they airbrush easily and dry quickly. A bit later I’ll use a light gray enamel panel line wash from AMMO MiG. I’ve used a black-basing technique for the paint scheme. I painted the entire model a dark gray (but oftentimes black will be used) and then gone back over the dark color with the top coat color (Light Ghost Gray) using a random squiggle movement to leave a patchy finish of lighter and darker areas all over the model. A final overall coat of thinned Light Ghost Gray helps to blend the patchy paint job. It helps to break up an otherwise monotone paint scheme with a bit of variety and interest. I also gave the model a really good coat of Alclad Gloss Kote in preparation for decals. I dug through my decal bin for spare markings that might work well for an operational scheme. Between a leftover 1/72 scale Predator sheet and a set of stars-and-bars from SuperScale, I think I can put something together.
  14. Ernie, the printer is a FormLabs Form 2. It's stereolithography (SLA) which uses a laser to solidify a liquid resin polymer. I did a lot of research before purchasing the printer and so far I'm really happy with the results. --Troy
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