Airfix 1/48 P-40B: Who Was That Masking Man?

I just realized I have not posted any of my progress on Airfix’s new 1/48 P-40B!

To catch up on things so far- the cockpit is nicely detailed, and goes together with only the slightest bit of fiddliness when the instrument panel is installed. I replaced the seat with an Ultracast seat. Assembly of the fuselage is drama free. Good fit all around, with some Mr. Surfacer being used only to minimize seam lines.

After painting the undersides, I decided to try more “Spanish School” techniques on the upper camouflage. After priming, I followed this order of operations (all Tamiya paints):

  • A coat of XF-72 JGSDF Brown was applied. I’ve found this color to be a reasonable out-of-the-bottle equivalent for Dark Earth.
  • A highly thinned shade of XF-72 and XF2 White was applied in a very random pattern. I use 91% alcohol as the thinner, as I like how quickly it dries. The ratio is roughly 90% alcohol to 10% paint. Two drops of white, one drop Brown.
  • A highly thinned tint of XF-69 NATO Black and XF-72 was applied to the panel lines. Again, the alcohol/paint mix was used in the same ratios mentioned above.
  • Next, I gave it a gloss coat. While the paint/alcohol mix goes down incredibly well, it has very low adhesion. Because I was planning to mask this camouflage, I wanted to make sure that the post-shading work would not lift off.
  • The camouflage pattern was masked, using about 9 miles of various masking tapes.
  • Tamiya XF-81 RAF Dark Green 2 was applied.
  • A shade of XF-3 Yellow and XF-81 was applied, again using the ratios/methods described above.
  • The panel line tinting was accomplished with an XF-17 Sea Blue and XF-81 mixture.

After that, the masking was removed.

I’m reasonably happy with the results. I’d actually wanted it to come out a bit more exaggerated, to be honest. In Daniel Zamarbide’s book “Aircraft Scale Modeling FAQ”, he’d done the shading and fading after painting the basic camo scheme, and using straight white and yellow for fading. I’d hoped my modification would work nicely, but without the precision required to achieve the results on an unmasked airframe. I realize now I should have stuck to his colors, just with the masking. I’ll go back and add a bit more drama to the colors. But this technique shows how the use of shades & tints of your base colors can be nicely combined with masking to get a more dramatic effect.


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