Friday, August 26

Construction Review Pt II: Hawker Tempest Mk.II (Late) from Eduard in 1/48th scale...

In the second part of his detailed build guide, Gary Wickham shows us just how he prepped, masked & painted Eduard's recent Tempest II (late) in 48th scale to such a good standard. See just how he does it in Part II.

Hawker Tempest Mk.II (Late)
From Eduard Model Accessories
Kit No #82125
1/48th scale
Kit Includes: 
Coloured photo-etched parts
Painting masks
Decals for six versions in the box
Price: $60 USD from the Eduard Website
Today: Construction Review Pt I: Hawker Tempest Mk.II (Late) from Eduard in 1/48th scale - prepping, masking & painting the kit.
Of the six marking options provided in this kit, the one that jumped off the page for me personally was the attractive Pakistani Air Force markings. The desert scheme combined with the white chevrons and green/yellow colours of the RPAF national insignia combined with the obvious potential for heavy weathering made this a no-brainer for me. As I happened to have two of the Eduard Tempest Mk.II kits, I decided to also build the second one in Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) colours as a interesting contrast (and stable pal) to the Pakistani bird.
The details surrounding the operation of the Hawker Tempest by the Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) is one of the least known topics in the history of the aircraft. The tale begins with the Royal Indian Air Force, which, following partition and establishment of the RPAF, had to be shared between the two countries. Following lengthy negotiations, it was agreed that Pakistan will take over 35 Tempest Mk.IIs out of the Royal Indian Air Force’s inventory inherited from the RAF. Tempests were selected by the RPAF, because they were considered more suitable for harsh and hot weather conditions than liquid cooled Spitfire VIIIs & XIVs, also operated by the RIAF. Spitfires were well known for tendency to overheating in hot weather areas, even in tropicalised variants.
Painting commenced with an overall coat of Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 Black. As I am not a fan of panel line pre-shading, I find the overall black gives me the best undercoat when using lighter top coats. To help avoid a monotone finish, I like to use some of the various pre-cut airbrush masks to quickly give a random mottling to the various paint layers. In this case, as I knew my top coat was to be Azure Blue, so I used two mottle layers, one a light grey and the second a dark blue. I was hoping these would end up being slightly visible (but not overpowering) under a thin coat of the Azure Blue by MRP.
MRP is my main go to paint these days. The paint is an acrylic lacquer and comes pre-thinned in the bottle for airbrushing only. This is easily the best paint I have ever airbrushed and the coverage you get is amazing. One thing I have learnt over the years when it comes to painting models is that "less is more" so now each layer I apply is done sparingly and then slowly built up as needed. In this picture you can just see some of the underlying mottling plus the darker areas because of the black undercoat. There is no super airbrush skills needed to achieve this effect, anyone who can load an airbrush can do it. Speaking of airbrushes, for this overall type of painting I use my trusty Iwata Revolution HP-CR Gravity Feed Dual Action which has a 0.5mm needle.
Over top of the base Azure Blue layer, I next applied random patches of a lightened (with White) mix. I typically focus on the centre of panels, small access hatches to achieve what I hope is a finish with more visual depth. Basically, I am trying to avoid a monotone finish. Bearing in mind that we are really only still at the start of what the finished model will look like after our panel line washes, weathering, decalling and flat coat etc, which are all still to come.
Satisfied with the paint on the underside, more masking is now needed to prepare for the top colours. One fortunate thing about RAF WW2 paint schemes is that most (if not all) of the demarcation lines are hard. This means we can accurately rely on masking tape for the edges. To make life much easier when laying out the actual edge itself, I once again turn to the thinnest tape I can find, which, in this case is Tamiya 1mm. Using such a thin tape works best because you have far better control where it sits on the model surface, which in this case is the thin wing leading edge and around the cowling curves. As I've done, once you have your edge sorted, you can then use larger pieces of tape to back fill to protect from over-spray.
The masking for the rear fuselage is pretty straightforward until you get to the very rear, just in front of the rudder. Based on the painting instructions the mask needs to curve around pretty tightly and its probably going to be hard to do with even the thinnest Kabuki tape. It's at times like these I reach for my Tamiya Masking Tape for Curves. Made from vinyl, it's ideal for those tricky and difficult curves we sometimes run into. I also chose to use some Mr. Masking Sol liquid mask to better mask off the rounded section behind the tailwheel.
The first color down is Middle Stone, one of the standard RAF WW2 desert scheme colours. A guide I've always liked to follow is to start painting with the lightest shade, working to the darkest as this helps with coverage challenges. These days, this is not so necessary because of the superior covering abilities of acrylic lacquer paints like MRP and similar brands. You can get excellent coverage with only a couple of light coats of paint, even with troublesome colours like yellow and red.
Acrylic lacquer paints, such as MRP, cover extremely well even using a super thin coat. The surface detail on Eduard kits is beautifully delicate and can therefore be all to easily covered over if too much paint is applied, so light coats are essential. For the first color of any multi-color camouflage scheme, I apply it using the painting pattern as a guide and include a little overlap.
When it comes to the demarcation for the second (or third) color, I use different methods depending on whether the transition is hard or soft or somewhere in between. Pretty much all WW2 RAF paint schemes use a hard mask and I like to use rolled sausages of Blu Tack laid onto the model surface. Depending on how sharp you need the transition to be, you can vary the size of the rolled Blu Tack with thicker rolls generating softer (less sharp) edges.
The Blu Tack takes care of the edge of the pattern but unless you are the worlds finest airbrusher, you will want to use some tape to backfill against over-spray. I like to cut Tamiya tape into smaller squares and work along the Blu Tack rolls, being sure to overlap and cover up any spots where over spray could get through. With this (somewhat lengthy) task complete, it's time to load up the second colour, RAF Dark Earth.
Once the second colour is dry (pretty quick with lacquers) the Blu Tack rolls and tape is removed and my Tempest is starting to come to life. If you look closely at the edges of the Dark Earth, you can see it's hard but not as sharp as using tape. I use this method a lot, even for soft camo, as my freehand airbrushing is not that good.
Next up are the double white chevrons on each wing (top and bottom) and rear fuselage. Eduard provides decals for these but whenever possible I prefer to mask and paint any kind of markings on the model as you have a lot more control over the coverage and it ensures all that lovely rivet detail is preserved. Decals (especially white) tend to be thick and end up being unreliable in how well they will sink down into the recessed details, often leaving you with a patchy result. Initially, I intended to mask the chevrons by hand and had there only been one band I would have done that. Two bands introduce additional spacing complexity and I therefore decided to make my own masks using the decals as a template. Using the free Silhouette Studio software, I import a scan of the decal sheet and traced the chevron decals. This was then sent to the Silhouette Portrait cutter, which cut the masks from a sheet of Oramask 810 vinyl stencil film. This probably sound complicated but the whole process took about 15mins from start to finish.
My plan with the vinyl masks was to use them as a template as to where the chevrons needed to be. The undersides were going to me the more complicated, so I started there. To ensure the masking all lined up across the undercarriage doors and landing flaps I loosely tacked these in place and then laid my vinyl masks over the top. The vinyl was then cut along the edges between the flaps and gear doors so that when these were taken off the location of the chevron was preserved.
The fuselage chevron Oramask 810 bands were likewise placed on the model and I then used them as a guide to apply thin 1mm strips of Tamiya tape along the outside edges. When I was happy with the edges, the vinyl mask template was removed and discarded. As it turned out the tail band was the trickiest of all to get everything lined up and ensure the bands did not look wonky from the top, bottom or either side. Trying to mask these without the help of the vinyl templates would have been a dogs breakfast.
With the edges masked off, the vinyl template is removed and the masking completed by backfilling to protect from over-spray. Certainly more work than just slapping the decals on but I was confident the end result would be superior.
The underside took more work as those chevrons went across not only the wing but the flaps and gear doors. I consider masking to one of the core skills every modeller should master. I see too many folks becoming reliant on pre-cut masks for canopies and camouflage schemes and when they need to tackle something that is not "out of the box" they struggle. Keep those skills fresh by challenging yourself to tackle modelling problems the old fashioned way, now and then.
I tend to be a bit paranoid when it comes to over-spray. Not that I am heavy handed with the airbrush but I have found that when you are so focused on laying paint down on one part of the model you tend to forget what's behind it (and therefore in the airflow firing line). To me it makes sense to spend one minute more adding some extra tape rather than ending up with over-spray and having to fix it (which is always more work).
Most white paints tend to require several coats to achieve an opaque cover. Whilst this is also true of the newer lacquer paints the thickness of each layer tend to be much less than traditional acrylic or enamel paints. What this means is that you don't run the risk of excessive build up (and hence an edge). MRP-135 Insignia White was used, and I applied 2-3 light coats to achieve the coverage you see here.
As I mentioned earlier, the main benefit I like about painted on markings is that it preserves the surface detail far better than any decal could. This photo reinforces that even the finest surface rivets (raised and recessed) are still very visible even under three (primer, color and chevron) coats of paint.
It continues to surprise me just how effective the packing foam is as a paint mask. It looks like paint from the airbrush would get through, but it doesn't, which is ideal as foam is cheap and reusable.
With the chevrons sorted its time to move onto the last few bits of painting. One additional benefit of painting over decalling for such markings is that you can far more realistically weather (chip, distress, sand etc) paint compared to a decal.
Have you ever wondered why some RAF aircraft have a yellow strip on the wing leading edge? Apparently it was introduced in 1941, along with the switch to Dark Green/Ocean Grey/Medium Sea Grey camouflage. It was intended to assist RAF fighter pilots to distinguish friend from foe immediately in the difficult head-on position of battle. As no similar markings was ever carried be the Luftwaffe's aircraft, it is probable that they found it equally useful. The strip was only 4 inches in width, so don't get carried away with how much you mask on the top and bottom.
As I had my MRP paints out, I decided to use MRP-051 RLM 04 as it was not a bright yellow. I wanted the yellow to be visible but not distracting. The MRP allowed me to apply the yellow directly over the camouflage colours without the need for a white undercoat first.
The last painting task was to deal with the interior of the open landing flaps. I could have painted and masked these earlier, but to be honest I forgot and it's just as easy to do it last, anyway. First step was to clean off all the over-spray and for this I used a pointed cotton bud (the cosmetic style) dipped in some All Purpose Thinners. This stuff is pretty strong, so I had to be careful not to spill any on the lower wing. As you can see, it did a fantastic job of cleaning the brass.
Once again, I turned to Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 for the primer coat for two reasons. First, I wanted that black base coat for visual contrast and second I needed a purpose built primer paint that could reliably grip the metal parts (and not flake off later).
The flap interior on Tempests was painted the same grey-green as the cockpit and wheel wells. AK Real Color is another favourite I seem to be using more of lately as I find the aircraft range to be wide and the paint covers and airbrushes beautifully.
With all the tape removed, we can finally see the end result of all that painting. So far so good, everything seems to falling into place.
The model is now ready for decalling. I'm from the camp that likes to clear gloss before I decal. In this case the MRP paint has a semi-gloss finish so I may be able to get away with no gloss, but I really need those decals to pull down tightly onto the model surface as I plan to give the Eduard "peelable" decals a proper workout. Stay tuned for the third and final chapter of my Tempest Mk.II build.
Gary Wickham

Check out the Eduard Website for more information on all of their releases...
You can see more of Gary's model making on his website