Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb Airfix Sea Rescue "Start to Finish"

Over the last month and a bit, it has been very busy with the setting up of a new model club with three other modellers local to myself. During this period, we took a trip over to the Bolton show where I caught up with a friend. We chatted about the recent release of new paints and Alclad's Mil-Spec came up in the conversation. Over the next couple of days, I got thinking about our chat and thought about seeing how the paint is to use. I already had the RAF late WWII set and interior green that I purchased at Telford last year. So using this as an excuse for a break from the Lightning, I went through the easy accessible stash for a kit to use for trying the paint out on. So out from the pile came one of my Airfix Club Specialist Spitfires for the project. Unfortunately, with the setting up of the club and quick progress of the model, I have not got any WIP posts done so the whole project from start to finish is covered in one post. 

First stage of construction was the cockpit interior to ready it for painting. Once the main sections were built, I gave them a coat of primer before painting them with the Mil-Spec British interior green. The sections were finished with some wear and tear before adding some Eduard super fabric seat belts. 

 Once the cockpit unit was finished, assembly of the fuselage and wing started at a steady pace up to the point of fitting the front cockpit section of the fuselage. This was when I noticed the step between the engine cover and the cockpit section, which was not a good thing to have on the model. So, I masked off the raised detail to prevent any damage to it and spread some white putty on top of the engine cover. Once this was dry, I sanded the putty until the new profile matched the higher area of the cockpit section. The panel line between these two sections was re-scribed before work continued with assembly.

Construction continued to get the Spitfire up to the stage for primer and pre-shading without any further issues. This version has the clipped wings, which Airfix supply two end sections to fit on the tips after the elliptic tip were cut away from the upper wing surfaces.One set is in the same colour plastic as the kit, but the others are in clear plastic, which the instructions said to use. To save me from masking the clear tips up, I cut off the navigation light sections away from the coloured plastic tips and glued them onto the wings instead of the clear ones. Then at the end of the build, cut the light sections off from the clear plastic tips and glue them into position on the wings. 

Painting started on the camouflage with the Mil-Spec paint with the RAF Ocean Grey areas. First I drew out a faint shape of the scheme with pencil and then freehand the grey over these areas. With this being the first time I have used this paint, I noticed that the needle kept clogging up after a period of painting. I messaged my friend Mark Davey for his advice and he told me that he sprayed the paint with his air pressure set at 12psi or below. I did this and the clogging problem ceased.

Once the grey had dried, I masked the edges with blutac worms and masking tape, then sprayed the RAF Dark Green. The grey and green was touched up by freehand with the air pressure turned down below 10psi and paint flow reduced to. The top half was masked again to allow the underside to be sprayed with RAF Medium Sea Grey followed by the Sky band around the fuselage and yellow strips along the main wing leading edges. The propeller was given a coat of Sky the same time when I did the band around the fuselage, followed by the yellow tips on the blades and the remainder in black. Once all of this paint was dry, the model received a couple of coats of gloss clear.

The exhausts were quick and simple to paint. First, I gave them a coat of Alclad's Steel followed by Alclad's Exhaust Manifold to tone them down. Next I dry brushed them first with Dark Rust and then Light Rust from Vallejo. Simple but effective.

The decals were now added to the Spitfire fuselage and propeller then sealed with another coat of gloss clear. Not too many on these period aircraft compared to some of the more modern examples.

Weathering started by first adding the smoke staining from the guns, shell ejection holes and exhaust areas. Next the exhausts themselves received some staining before being glued in place on the nose. For the smoke staining I use soot coloured paint via the airbrush. Grime streaks were added using AK Interactive's Grime Streaks and three brown shades in oil paints. The next stage was to add the chipped and worn paint to areas on the wing walkways, gun/cannon hatches, wing leading edges, nose section, cockpit opening and propeller tip and blades. Now the model was given a coat of flat clear to protect the weathering. 

 Once the main weathering was completed, final assembly and detail painting was carried out up to the stage of where only the canopy sections and navigation lights needed painting and fitting to the model.

The Spitfire is now basically finished, except for a little blow over with some dirt/grime coloured paint through the airbrush once the navigation light have dried in place. The finishing touches of the weathering was some fuel stains around the filler cap in front of the cockpit and little oil leaks from various panels under the engine area. These are the little touches that add life to a model which would be otherwise be plan and boring. Plus these were only clean and pristine when manufactured or after a major overhaul.

Conclusion, with the Mil-Spec paints, I was quite impressed with them. Evan thought they are enamel paints, you use them straight from the bottle into the airbrush without thinning. There is not the usual smell that we use to get from spraying enamel paints form the past, and they dry very quickly to which is an extra bonus. At first I was not sure about the shade of the Dark green, thinking that it was too brown in its shade. But after seeing a paint chip in a book then comparing the model to it, I was happier. Will I buy any more colours from the Mil-Spec range? Yes I will.

Below I have placed my FR. Mk.XIVe along side the Mk.Vb to compare the paint shades. The Mk.XVI was painted using Xtracrylix paints and you can see how much greener it is against the green of the Mil-Spec painted Mk.Vb. Now that this project is finished, it is back to the Lightning.


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