Category Archives: Model Cars

Blog Post: List, description of Marc Donaldson’s photos of 911 (993) GT1 104, the street registered racing car.

Mr Donaldson’s business is selling very nice cars:

To navigate this car, I divide it lengthwise into thirds: Fore: ahead of the driver/passenger compartment; Mid: Driver/passenger compartment, accessed via left and right doors. Aft: Behind the firewall at the back of the driver/passenger compartment.

Two routinely removed body parts cover the Fore area, a “front trunk” lid, like any 911, and combined fender tops and nose, “U” shaped, from windshield to radiator air intake. The original cars had 2 short, back ends of the front fenders that followed the flared fender line until ending abruptly at the door opening. Not unlike a 935. The “Evo” version cut away the lower edge of the back of the front fenders, in line with the door exteriors.

One routinely removed body part covers the Aft area. Its an engine cover, rear fenders and the back end of the car. The front edges of the rear fenders, with brake air ducts and the external oil filler cap, are separately attached.

Mid: Interior / Cockpit / driver and passenger space. 993 floor pan, dashboard, tunnel.

7C5A6848 – 08_00 Mid thru driver’s door full width from just at seat backs

7C5A6852 – 07_15 Mid thru driver door, X frame to X frame, back wall to gear shift,

into footwells.

7C5A6856 – 06_00 Mid Driver foot well, pedals, aluminum floor and pedal mechanism

cover, floor to underdash, behind console

7C5A6857 – 07_00 Mid brake pedal to shift, at Fire button level.

7C5A6862 – 07_ Mid Steering wheel to pass door X frame looking down from steering wheel

7C5A6866 – 11_00 Mid S/N 104 plate Orange and Green Le Mans 1997 stickers,

7C5A6875 – 10_00 Mid back wall Orange and Green Le Mans 1997 stickers, S/N 104 plate

7C5A6878 – 09_00 Mid from open driver’s door X frame to x frame

7C5A6884 – 03-30 Mid from above/behind pass door Parking brake inside driver’s side X


7C5A6888 – 05_30 Mid open pass door from behind

Aft: behind cockpit. Engine, transmission, rear suspension

7C5A6892 – 07_45 Aft Engine, firewall to tailpipes Red springs metalic gray shock and


7C5A6896 – Aft Under engine s/n G96/80-104

Fore: Ahead of cockpit. Front 993 sheetmetal clip

7C5A6910 – 01_30 Fore Fuel cell, from fuel filter array to radiator fans.

7C5A6914 – 0_0 Fore Windscreen & wipers to front of steel clip, wheel to wheel, brake

fluid and clutch bottles, fuel filters, gray metalic shock reservior. Black front brake

ducts, nose undertray, radiator exhaust duct, front antiroll bar adjuster

7C5A6900 – 07_00 Aft port drive shaft, suspension, springs, shocks & reserviors,

connector clip plates at outside top of intake, transmission oil lines, filter, hoses

cables, rear parking brake back edge Port FI rail.

7C5A6902 – 08:30 Fore tight front, rear view mirror looking forward.fuel cell to

windshield, front shock/strut & reservior, refueling point, cast? shock mount

7C5A6920 ?? Chassis serial number, P0ZZZ99ZVS396103 with dark bracket bolted above it.

7C5A6924 – 00_45 Fore bare clear resin CF forward undertray, wire screen for radiator

air, in-hex bolt washer bracket

7C5A6930 – 01_00 Fore whole front, windshield fwd: red springs, black (blow molded?)

front brake ducts. Attachment tabs

7C5A6942 – 06_00 Aft Open engine coveer, firewall to tail pipes, +12 & “start” to

solenoid, adjustable antiroll bar, rear brake cooling ducts, cables & hoses, vent hoses

and catch tank, fuel pressure regulator, cold air to restrictor.

7C5A6946 – 04_00 Aft stbd turbines oil lines O2 sensor rear brake duct heat reflector

above undertray, support structure, compressor-alu tube joint, air mass sensor and

protective wrap.

7C5A6952 03_00 Aft stbd engine firewall to almost tailpipes, FI rail, cables and hoses,

vent hose collecter tank, adjustable antiroll complete, tab on antiroll tube, FI rail,

connector clip plate, cold air to restrictor.
7C5A6955 Aft Straight down from stbd rear suspension, adj. antiroll, accelerator cable

end, clip plates. 2/3 FI rail, fuel filter, hoses & cabled tie-wrapped to structure.

Intake log, intercooler, transmission case.

7C5A6958 – 08:30 Aft looking straight into right rear wheel from inside. Parking brake,

cooling air duct, suspension with gussets on upper “N” frame, inside of outer CV, wheel

speed sensor pattern, scratched paint and surface rust, moving suspension parts and

adjustable antiroll tube.

7C5A6972 8:30 Aft Porsche sticker on CF airbox above intercooler

7C5A6975 02_30 Aft SECAN intercooler id plate, stbd side

7C5A6980 ?? Curved CF surface, with “Kunststofftechnik von NITEC Engineering GmBH

(Zakspeed-Gruppe)” sticker. Where in car??

Other websites using Marc Donaldson’s 993 GT1 photos: has Marc Donaldson’s
ap3t5286. ap3t5355. ap3t5330. 7c5a6875. 7c5a6848. 7c5a6914.


Front and rear body work removed.


Masking Tape, over a glossy finish, a sticky question.

My experience has been fairly good, using old-school beige masking tape, Scotch “Magic” (flat) transparent tape, 3M blue tape, or the light green 3M high stick tape. I prefer the 3M blue product. Scotch “Magic” tape can do really sharp lines on flat, smooth, surfaces, but it has no ‘stretch’. It won’t go around complex curves, stretch to fill engraved lines, etc. It can be hard to remove too, if you don’t leave an edge up somewhere.

First you need the base glossy paint to be well attached. Clean all the parts on their trees with Luke warm water and dish detergent, hand soap, light scrubbing with a green dish scrubber, light sanding with 600 or finer wet-dry sand paper, your choice. Do what’s worked for you in the past. Lay the paint down lightly and evenly. Keep the model parts warm enough before and after applying paint. Keep the paint warm too.

Having a gloss finish doesn’t require glossy paint. Future floor wax, gloss finish lacquers, gloss acrylic, gloss enamel, what ever’s right, after all the paint colors are in place, gives the thinnest finish.

If you’ve already got the glossy paint down and you’re wondering how to mask over it, there’s still plenty of little details to attend to.

Roughing the area the second color will go on doesn’t hurt- my problem masking is as much about the second coat not sticking on up to the masking line as it is about the first coat pulling off or separating.

Having a clean, fresh, edge with effective adhesive is VERY important. You can get along with the edges of the roll of tape as it comes from the maker IF its fresh and you just unwrapped or opened it. If the roll is a long term resident on your workbench, or the sides/edges are scruffy, its not going to make a clean, tight, line.

I keep my masking tape in a small zip-log bag now, stand it on its ‘tread’ instead of laying it on its ‘sidewall’, in or out of the bag. When I want a really crisp edge, I take a nice length of tape and my sharpest Fiskar scissors and cut the tape, straight, down the middle- this gives two, straight, sharp, edges. If I need a line longer than the length the Fiskar’s blades, I piece it from several pieces of tape, to make the edge, and fill with a second layer. I don’t overlap the joints, I trim the edges to slightly less than 90 degrees and lay the pieces down point-to-point, starting like:

1st color layer…
area for 2nd color.

Smallish filler pieces to cover the little triangular gaps are good. In general I find that small, narrow, pieces of tape are easier to use over curves (or to make curves!) than wide tape. I usually buy 1″ (25mm) and often cut it in half or thirds or quarters before I apply it. Getting a crisp edge is NOT the same as covering a large area- mark out the edges with narrow strips, then use full-width strips (or paper or plastic) to cover bulk areas. Yes, its hard to get long, straight, lines with narrower strips. Its hard to get long straight lines with big, wide, pieces too. Once its stretched out of shape, you’re better off throwing it away, or cutting it to the straight edge you need. Piecing out a long line in scissors-length pieces against a metal straight edge is possibly easier than applying a 2 foot (60cm) piece of tape…

Once the tape is down, burnish the edge, and any seams. Something smooth. slightly soft and gently curved like a Bic pen cap, orangewood stick, etc, is good. Fingertips work.

If you’re worried about stuff running under the tape (via deeply engraved panel lines, rough surface, whatever) dust a light coat of the base color or a clear to seal the edge of the tape. EASY does it, no blobs. Just enough to seal.

Now lay the second color down, in light, thin coats. More tape and a third color, etc, can follow. Using flat paint and not having to sand-down gloss finish for subsequent coats to stick to is clearly an advantage….

Some people like to lay a thick, wet, coat down and then lift off the masking as soon as the second color will stay in place… Ummm, that isn’t easy to do in thin, light, coats… Slicing along the tape edge with a brand-new knife blade is good, if you’re making a ‘straight’ line, a straight edge to slice along may help. Slice LIGHTLY, don’t go through the 1st color, or down into the base material of the model.

PEEL the tape, gently, slowly, pull AWAY from the masked edge. Peeling off the tape is a big part of getting a good masked edge. But like all human activities, it isn’t really true that there’s one and only chance, or that it can’t be fixed if there are problems. Personally, if I think any of the paint might still be wet (uncured) I shelve it and come back in a day or two.

But don’t heat something with masking tape on it, or leave it on the dashboard of the car on a summer day… Overheated tape stickum is a complete BEAR to remove. Ask me how I know…. After a year or two, the old, beige tape, stickum would vulcanize or cure or whatever you call it- become stiff and hard and require sandpaper to remove. The new, gentler, “blue” tapes are far more forgiving.

After the tape is off, there may be a ridge where a taped line was. Fine or extra fine fingernail sanding sticks, wet, are good for working down the ridge without losing the sharp edge. The stiff sanding stick is easier to control than a floppy sheet of sandpaper, and you only want to affect the stuff that’s sticking up.

Another reason to paint flat paint and gloss it later.

For natural metal finish with solid colors as well, I cover everything that will be bare metal and do the paint first, completely, including masking-ridge-sanding and the gloss coat, then tape off ALL the paint and spray Testor’s Metalizer (from rattle cans) over the bare plastic. So everything gets masked once, at least. (The airbrush-able Metalizer works just as well, and you can mix it and tint it, but I choose to use my time on other things.)

NEVER try to save materials when masking. Use fresh tape, use more tape, remove the tape and start over if you don’t like what you see. The tape is cheap, your time is expensive.

That said, don’t make your life harder than it needs to be. If you’re painting the tips of wings and rudder, mask the EDGES of the tips off, then cut some slits in a paper bag, and use the bag to cover all the model, except for the little bits you want to paint. Its not saving stuff, just making your life easier. Wrapping something completely in tape isn’t much fun, and risks overspray on gaps that require a lot of inspection to check.

Well, that went on too long, but you’ll have a good time doing multicolor paint and paint + natural metal. You can do the gray wings with polished leading edges, flat aluminum panels, satin finish engine intakes and maybe a titanium bit on the engine pylon.

Take a shot, take some pictures, let us know how it goes for you!

Monogram Fiero chassis, engine, suspension

Jean got me this Fiero kit as my Christmas model kit. Pretty cool. GM could never decide if this was the parts-bin special that had been sold to upper management or the sporty sports car it might have been. It did accomplish one major thing for the American automotive industry- the funny reaction-injection-molded plastic body panels never matched painted steel in quality of appearance, and the steel manufactuerers went to GM and said, how come you did that, and GM said, “You never talk to us about what we want”. And a dialog began.

Now here you can see what I was trying to accomplish: I used 4 or 5 different dark, dark, grays, mostly Polly S black with a touch of Polly S white. The shiny one is Testor’s Acryl “Semi gloss” black mixed 5:50 with Testor’s Acryl flat black, and the results lightened slightly with Testors Acryl Flat White. The basic chassis is the lightest tone I used. My theory is that the “flat black” used on an industrial scale for things like chassis is seldom dead flat OR a deep black.. Its dark enough you’d call it “black” but its not loaded with black pigment like a high quality black artist’s oil paint.

I took the liberty of painting the engine in my own ideas of good colors. I find the metallic silver-blue-green that Pontiac actually used as a corporate paint for engine blocks particularly uninspired. Sorry, Pontiac fans.

Building Plastic Models. How-to, tools to use.

This article presents a “short form” and then repeats the short form with a longer discussion of each point. The goal is to put the basic information needed to build a plastic model into your hands as quickly and easily as I can. Please let me know if you used this guide, what you liked, what could be improved, what you didn’t like. And don’t forget to mention how your model building went!

Minimum Tools:
1) Diagonal cutters or fingernail clippers or kitchen scissors or small pruning clippers…

2) Masking tape, the blue, long-use type…

3) Non-toxic plastic model glue (Testor’s blue label). Like the toxic stuff, it dissolves the plastic to form joints. Very strong when dry.

4) At least a coarse fingernail sanding stick, a piece of sandpaper or an emery board… Coarse

5) A paint stirrer, if you’re using paint.

Optional: 6) A really sharp knife for trimming parts…

7) Some “Future” brand floor wax if you’re using clear parts or decals…

8) A container for water to rinse your brushes, if you’re using paint…

9) A small, fine, flat file and rat-tail round file. The file on a nail clipper will work.

What to do:

1) Wash all the plastic parts in warm water with a little bit of dish detergent. Dry gently.

2) Read the instructions all the way through.

3) Brush 2-3 coats of Future over all clear parts

3.1) If you’re going to use paint, you can put the first, second, etc. coat of paint on the parts while they’re still on the trees. Parts that are glued together will need paint removed where the glue should go, and touch-ups along the seams where trimming, sanding, etc, has removed the paint.

4) Start at the beginning of the instructions, build a subassembly, put it aside for the glue to dry, start the next.

4.1) Fit the parts together dry, without glue. Use tape to hold them in place.

4.2) Use the clippers, knife, sanding stick and file to get each part to fit

4.3) Apply glue lightly, where the parts will touch, back from the edge. Big joints benefit from glue on both pieces.

4.4) Fit the parts together, with many small pieces of tape right across the joints.

4.5) Let the glue dry at least a day. If you can smell glue solvent, its not dry yet.

4.6) After the glue is dry, sand, scrape, file, trim, etc before you continue with the subassembly or before paint.

5) To glue the clear parts, sand or scrape off the Future from where the glue should dissolve the plastic, put the pieces together, tape them in place, ‘wick’ the glue between the parts. Easy does it. You can always make a second pass.

6) Do the final painting of parts when a given subassembly of a given color is together. Not before or after assembly, but during assembly.

7) Most of the work in painting is preparation.

8) Get the piece or subassembly as nice as you can before you start painting.

9) Stir the paint until you are sure it’s completely blended. Then stir one more minute.

10) Don’t expect good paint coverage in 1 coat, use many THIN coats. Sand or scrape off unwanted paint, don’t paint over it.

11) You can mix a lot of colors from red, yellow, blue, black, white and flat aluminum.

12) If the paint seems to dry TOO fast, makes lumps, brush marks, or pull off when you add another coat, add a few DROPS of water, or water mixed with rubbing alcohol, and stir thoroughly.

12.1 ALWAYS clean and dry the top of paint jars, so the lid seals neatly and can be opened easilyl.

13) Future floor wax and the water-based paint don’t react to the non-toxic glue. So you can blot-up extra, especially on the outside.

14) Just let the bare plastic be the basic color when you start with painting. Paint the little bits that should be silver, or black, or other colors that stand out. Paint the interior but not the exterior. Paint the engine but not the body, the wheels and tires (on airplanes) but not the wings.

15) If you really must paint the whole thing, use many thin color coats. If you want shiny paint, you can paint with a flat paint that’s easy to use, followed by several coats of Future to make it shiny. Expect it to take a week. Or more.

16) I use and recomend Polly Scale acrylic paint for models. Also Testor’s Model Master Acryl (water based) and Tamiya water/alcohol based paint. Tamiya’s spray paints are pretty neat too, but they’re NOT water based or non-toxic. I leave anything I spray outdoors or at least in the garage for 24 hours.

17) Check your public and school library for “Fine Scale Modeler” (USA) or your local model builder’s magazine. FSM, and the others, also have web-sites. You can find reviews and advice on how to build, paint, and improve many models onine.

18) Internet Modeler and Hyperscale are other general-modeling sites. Modelling Madness tends more toward military airplanes, Airline Modelers Digest (AMD) and Airliner Cafe are specificly for commercial, passenger, aircraft.

19) In the southern San Francisco Bay Area, The Silicon Valley Scale Modelers club meets every 3rd Friday-of-the-month in the Milpitas Library meeting room. 7:00 to 10:30 pm. The Fremont Hornets meet at 7:30pm, Wally Pond Irvington Community Center, 41885 Blacow Road, Fremont, CA, similar hours. New modelers are always welcome at both clubs.

Look online or ask at your local hobby shop for the club in your neighborhood.

———-========== Long Form ==========———-

1) Diagonal cutters or fingernail clippers or kitchen scissors or small pruning clippers or some other small tool for neatly cutting the parts off the trees. Put the flat (bottom) side of cutters against the part, the stuff you want, and let the connection to the tree get mushed by the diagonal part of the cutters. You can use a sharp knife for this but clippers are easier. If you use a knife, cut against a plastic or wood cutting board or the back of an old phone book or something like that- thick, smooth, something the knife can’t either hurt or cut all the way through.

2) At least a coarse fingernail sanding stick to smooth the clipped edges and any ‘flash’ or wrong-shaped areas on the parts. A medium and a fine stick would be good too- start with the coarse, then the medium, then finish with the fine. The colored ones with white foam inside them are waterproof and you can get better results by using them ‘wet’ with a little water from the sink. Experiment on the part trees to see what you can do with them. A piece of sandpaper- 100 to 300 grit, would work if you can’t get fingernail sanders. “Emery boards”, with beige stuff on wooden or cardboard sticks, are NOT waterproof and will fall apart if you wet them, but they work too. Medium Fine

3) Masking tape to hold the parts in place while the glue dries. I prefer the long-life stuff that’s colored blue- you can leave it on for weeks and it doesn’t get ‘funny’, the way the old beige style does. One roll will last for years. A given model needs maybe a foot, or less. Use lots of little pieces right at the seams to hold parts.

4) Non-toxic plastic model glue. Testor’s make a liquid and a gel ‘glue’ that are flamiable, but not toxic… neat trick that. The tubes and bottles have blue labels, to be different from the red-orange label on their toxic, flamable, glue… I’ve been using the non-toxic for years, it works great. It really melts the plastic, but doesn’t give you a headache. Work in good ventilation anyway- open the window, sit outside, leave parts that are drying somewhere that the fumes can escape easily (garage, on the porch, etc.)

5) A paint stirrer. A piece of solid copper wire, a large, long, shiny nail, a small, clean, screwdriver. Something metal that you can put into the paint, stir with (like a wooden stirring stick for house paint) and rinse off in hot water and/or with a scrubber to get ALL the paint off it.

6) A really sharp knife for trimming parts. You can get along with just clippers and sanding sticks, but a knife will make short work of small trimming jobs. It can also be used to carve away extra glue or melted plastic at joints, or scrape adjacent surfaces to a common plane (or curve). A sharply pointed knife can do many jobs you might expect to require a drill- making holes enlarging holes or openings in parts. A kitchen pairing knife that’s been sharpened will do, as will any other small pocket knife that is sharp, or a box cutter, X-acto knife, scalpel, etc. Single-edge razor blades are more trouble than they are worth for plastic models. A small Xacto knife handle and small package of #11 pointed blades is a part of many modeler’s tool kits.

7) Some “Future” brand floor wax- if you don’t use it in your house, maybe one of your friends or neighbors does. Its like magic, two or three coats over ‘flat’ paint and it looks like the part was dipped in glass. SO shiny! It completely protects clear parts from damage by solvent glue, both non-toxic and toxic kinds. And it cleans up with water. Its also a good undercoat for decals, which work best on a glossy surface, and a top coat to seal them. If you want a dull, flat, finish, a barrier coat of Future followed by Testor’s Dullcote from a rattle can will do the trick.

8) A container for water to rinse your brushes in as soon as you finish using them. A plastic deli container, plastic drink container, etc, anything you can rinse out with HOT water and scrub off extra paint will work. Empty jars are good, coffee cups with broken handles, salsa containers from a resturant. A damp paper towel works almost as well.

9) One or more small, fine, files, 4 to 8 inches long. The most useful are a flat one and a round, tapered, rat-tail. The file from a nail-clipper is a start, a but you’ll soon want more than you can do with it. An inexpensive file assortment will last a lifetime. Use a wire brush to clean the faces if they get clogged with plastic.

What to do:

1) Wash all the plastic parts in warm (not hot, like bath water when you’re done) water with a little bit of dish detergent. Use your fingertips to rub soapy water all over all the parts- they’re cleaner and softer than any sponge or brush. Rinse well, pat dry with a towel and then let the parts air dry completely. This will remove any oil or ‘mold release’ that might be on the plastic and allow paint and glue to work best.

2) Read the instructions all the way through, find all the parts, figure out how they fit together. NEVER apply cement unless you’ve put the parts together FIRST and confirmed that you’ve got the right ones and you know the way to assemble them. Ask me how I know this…. For complex stuff, assemble the parts and tape them together. When you’re ready to glue, take off all the tape, stick it on the edge of something, stick it back on as you glue things together.

3) For the clear parts, you don’t have to wait for the parts to dry- Use the wide, flat brush to paint Future floor wax, maybe with a little tap water on the brush to start, lightly and smoothly over all the clear parts. Don’t make big puddles, just a little, light coat, everywhere. When the parts are covered, prop them up somewhere where any excess can drip off and no dust will fall on them. Alone, inside the box the kit came in, is good. When the first coat is dry, 20-60 minutes, put another light coat on. You want complete coverage. When its time to glue on the clear parts, scrape or sand off the Future where you want the glue to work. The Future will serve as a barrier and keep the rest of the clear parts from being damaged by glue. No finger prints, no white clouds, just shiny, clear, parts.

4) Start at the beginning of the instructions and build sub-assemblies. If you’re painting, stop when you get all of a given color together- for example, the cockpit of an airplane or engine block of a car. Put it aside for the glue to dry, and go back and build more. Cut out, trim, fit, glue, tape, let it sit, repeat. Test-fit and Clean-up the sub-assemblies before assembling them further.

4.1) Fit all the major parts together dry, without glue, before you apply glue. Use tape to hold the parts in place, see how it all fits, and where adjustments may be needed. This is when you check that all the tires of a vehicle will touch the ground at the same time, that you’ve got enough wieght in the nose of an airplane, etc.

4.2) Use the clippers, knife, sanding stick and file to get each part to fit, and look right. Remove material slowly, its much harder to add! If you think you need to use the knife, try the file first. If you think you need the file, try the sanding stick. Everything should fit with no effort needed to hold it in place, but only just.

4.3) Apply glue lightly, where the parts will touch, some distance back from the edge if you can. Big joints like body or fuselage or wings benefit from light glue on both pieces. Most small parts are fine with glue on just one before joining. I prefer liquid glue because I can apply less of it, but small amounts are still very sticky, as they disolve the plastic.

4.4) Fit the parts together, with many small pieces of tape right across the joints. If parts fit perfectly, you can tape them tightly in place FIRST and then apply the glue, wicking it along the seam, or apply it from the inside or back-side. Many small parts will stay put without tape or other clamping. It may help to prop the sub-assembly against or on top of the kit box, on paint jars, etc. Long, thin, parts, like landing gear, gear shift levers, etc., dry well while hanging straight down. This may be easier to arrange than taping them firmly in place AND correctly aligned.

4.5) Let the glue dry at least a day. If you can smell the glue solvent, its not dry yet. You CAN check alignment and gently manipulate parts that aren’t right- SMALL adjustments of a few degrees are ok, larges ones may need re-gluing. To hold airplane models in place while horizontal stabilizers, rudders, engine pods, antennae and so forth are drying, I slide one wing between a tight bunch of books on a bookshelf. putting the plane vertical. You can check of alignment of parts that should be 90 degrees apart by holding them directly above a CD case or a book or some other stiff, right-angled, object. Sight along the center lines of the parts- surface to surface angles are affected by any taper in the form of the part, so the correct 90 degrees at the center of two surfaces might be 95 degrees from the surface of one to the surface of the other

4.6) After the glue is dry, sand, scrape, file, trim, etc before you continue with the subassembly or before paint.

5) To glue the clear parts, sand or scrape off the Future from where the glue should dissolve the plastic, put the pieces together, tape them in place, ‘wick’ the glue between the parts. Easy does it. You can always make a second pass.

6) Do the final painting of parts when a given subassembly of a given color is together. Not before or after assembly, but during assembly. You can start painting the parts while on the trees, and do most of it there, but not all. Other than Future on the clear parts, the final paint needs to happen when all the stuff that is going to be one color or related colors put together. So, for example, you can start painting the seats, or the engine block or transmission, on the trees, but then assemble and let the glue dry, THEN do the finaly paint. Paint will prevent the glue from melting the plastic, so you need to remove it from the gluing surface but you don’t want to glue things together that will be different colors if you can paint them separately. If you get paint on the parts that the glue should be on, just wipe it off with a paper towel, and when it dries, scrape it off with the edge of a knife blade or sand it gently with the coarse sanding stick. (or fine, etc.) So paint the steering wheel, gear shift, parking brake, etc, now.

7) Stir the paint until you are sure it’s completely blended. EVERY time. Then stir for at least one more minute. This allows you to build up thin coats, all the same color. If you don’t stir completely, they won’t be the same color.

8) DON’T try to paint anything with one coat. For a good gloss, you’ll need at least 2-3 coats of Future. For a good black over white plastic, 2-4 coats, letting them dry in between. FOr a good white over black, it might take 5-7 coats. For red or yellow, put a coat or two of white under it unless you’re painting over clean, white, plastic. If you get a splotch of paint where you don’t want it, don’t try to hide it with another color. Clean it up NOW, using warm-hot water and a paper towel. If something goes really wrong you can always dunk the model pieces under running, hot water and the old finish will disappear. You can scrub with fingers and a dish scrubber, and detergent. If it dries, you can gently sand (with running water and fine sanding stick) or scrape with a knife.

9) You can mix almost any color from red, yellow, blue, white and black and flat aluminum. Mix small amounts on a plastic container lid, wash the stirrer in the sink with warm water and a scrubber between colors, don’t contaminate one jar with paint from onother. Start with equal (one drop) amounts, use simple formulas you can remember and re-create: 1 drop red, 10 drops white for a pink, for example. Put the drops next to each other rather than on top of each other, and use your big brush to pull in the color you want to get the shade you need. Write down the recipe you like on the plans of the model, right next to the assembly you are painting. Orange = Red and Yellow, Purple = Red and Blue, Green = Blue and Yellow. Olive green = Yellow and Black. Brown = equal parts of Red, Yellow, Blues. Metalic gray is a little black and a little flat aluminum. Lighten to taste with white. Transparent red for tail lights is a little red and a little Future floor wax Transparent orange for turn signals and front markers is a little red, a little yellow, a little Future floor wax. Do your mixing in a disposable pastic container, a deli pint or coffee can lid, ice-tray you bought at the junk store, etc. If the paint dries, you can throw it away. Color and black is a “Tone”. Color and white is a “Tint”. Color with black and white is a colored gray.

10) If the paint seems to dry TOO fast, makes lumps or big brush marks, or applying the second coat seems to pull off the first coat, add a few DROPS of water or water mixed with rubbing alcohol, stir thoroughly, try again. NEVER more than 5 drops at a time. Once you put in too much water, its REALLY hard to get it out! (But you can, if you let the paint settle so the color is at the bottom, then take off a few DROPS of the clear liquid using a brush…)

11) To glue on the clear parts, sand or scrape off the Future floor wax from where the glue should disolve the plastic, put the pieces together, tape them in place, then gently apply the glue and let capilary action ‘wick’ the glue into the spaces between the parts. You can use this same technique for any big seam, but it works best when there’s an ‘inside’ or ‘underside’ (that nobody will see) that you can work from. Some of the glue will stay on the surface of the seam. To make your seams more invisible, apply the glue at the back edge of the parts and let it get squeezed out to the front.

12) Because the Future floor wax (and the water-based paint) don’t react to the glue, you can use a piece of power towel or tissue paper to blot-up extra glue, especially from external parts like door mirrors and other things on the outside of the body.

13) Let the bare plastic color be the body color when you start with paint your kits, don’t try to paint everything to start with. Painting is a lot of work and can be very frustrating. Let yourself enjoy building the kit and get it done. Paint some things with solid colors, enjoy the effect. If you really must paint the body, use many thin brush coats, after thoroughly stirring the paint, followed by several coats of Future, or many, thin, spray can coats… followed by Future. Expect it to take a week to get done.

14) Check your public and school library for “Fine Scale MOdeller” magazine. They also have a web-site and there are hundreds of modelers out on the web. You can probably find reviews of this kit and advice on how to build it. You can certainly find advice on paint.

15) Check your public and school library for “Fine Scale Modeler”, “Model Builder International”, “Modelist Konstructor”, etc, magazines. Many of these also have a web-site. ( Web membership is free, and you don’t have to subscribe to the magazine. You can find reviews and advice on how to build, paint, and improve many models in their forums.

16) Internet Modeler ( and Hyperscale are other general-modeling sites. Modelling Madness ( tends more toward military airplanes, Airline Modelers Digest ( ) and Airliner Cafe ( specificly for commercial, passenger, aircraft. is a page full of links to automotive-related modeling sites. Steel Navy ( is for ship modellers, mostly military ships. focuses on the Imperial Navy of Japan, ending in 1945.

The Silicon Valley Scale Modelers club meets every 3rd Friday in the Milpitas, CA. Library meeting room. The Fremont Hornets meet at 7:30pm, Wally Pond Irvington Community Center, 41885 Blacow Road, Fremont, CA You can find help and advice at either club, and ask questions of other modelers, or just sit and watch. Both are chartered by the IPMS/USA, the International Plastic Modeler’s Society, which formed in the 1960s in the UK. Most of every meeting is “Model Talk”, where each person talks about the model they are working on, or the one they just finished. Its free, and its fun. There are door prizes for those who bring a model to share, done or not. New modelers, their parents and friends are aways welcome at both clubs.

Families of references for the model builder

I’ve started working on my index of Air International again, but on reflection it occurs to me that a simple list of all the potential reference sources and how to start reeling them in on the internet would be of value, so here’s a beginning,  and yes, I’ll list more of Volume 18 of Air Internatonal!

Which Dewey Decimal and/or Library of Congress filing sections this stuff goes in is a separate matter, and there’s also on-line stuff but here’s a start on books, maybe magazines after this: I’ll put in examples after I get the listings going.

ARCO- ARCO did several different series:

ArcoAircam small, paper-bound volumes of color and black-and-white profiles by artists like Richard Ward

– larger, soft and hard-bound books on a single subject, mostly pix and text – Boeing 707, Lockheed Constellation, P-51, B-58, etc.

Aero series A numbered series of soft-bound books on particular subjects

Colors and Markings – Squadron or Kinzey started this series, they’re a bit too exhaustive for me. One I remember specifically was the volume for F-106s. I like F-106s, and I’d be interested in what I construe their “Colors and Markings” to be. In actual fact, the book contained a clear, black and white, photograph of the squadron markings (and variations) for every squadron that operated the F-106, with some of the test, NASA, etc airframes thrown in too. No color at all, just the names of the colors. (Well, F-106 were almost always Air Defense Command glossy gray…) Still, I was hoping for something like the Arco-Aircam profile books, lots of color illustrations, and sadly disappointed. On the other hand, if you have a squadron number and want to see the markings they used on a particular kind of airplane, this would be golden.

Aerofax -A magazine that morphed into paperback books and now covers a wide range. Very scholarly, dry, text, lots of official technical manual drawings and photos. Mostly black and white, a page or four of color and a color cover. Very reliable, thorough, but a little bloodless.

Aero Detail – Japanese productions with photographs of museum examples, contemporary technical drawings, color profies. Some English text, some in Japanese, photo captions are in both. Scott Hards of Hobby Link Japan serves as translator for this range and does a good job. Pictures are from a variety of airframes if there ARE a variety available. These books are the beyond-the-ropes tour you wish you could get….

Aircraft in Profile, Armor in Profile, AFV in Profile, Classic Cars in Profile, Cars in Profile, Warships in Profile, Locomotives in Profile, Small Arms in Profile. – the melting pot of British amateur enthusiasts. Texts can be quite good to pretty poor- I don’t really believe that the P-51 (aka A-36) made no progress in the USA until a bribe was paid by North American to someone, but the photos and color art are always fun. The sun WAS setting on the British Empire while these were being written and the result is a lot more pre-1939 British content than any objective analysis would warrant, but what of that? So there are more between-wars RAF bi-planes than total USSR subjects… even with 260 titles published this was a work of love and devotion, not really a scholarly enterprise. Its all from the heart, and they DO have some airliners and the odd civil subject.

The automotive series are even more oddly focused, or un-focused, but there are some interesting topics, even if the mix is strange. The Ferrari 330 P3/P4 and Porsche 917 are well served, in the more modern series, and a lot of the “Classic” cars at Pebble Beach and so forth can be found.

The Armor series seems to have been aimed at classic WWII subjects, the AFV series was a re-take with something improved, but I’m not clear what. Photos tend to be the official record photo from the proving grounds, the text is too short for all of a general overview, operational history and placing the design and use in context. I never found the text particularly usable, or the range of markings in art and photo worth keeping for reference.

In Detail & Scale – Bert Kinzey’s very impressive if slightly stiff series of books on US subjects (Note ampersand in title). The model kit reviews are sometimes singularly humorless, but the quality of the photographs Mr. Kinzey and his authors turn up is VERY good.

Naval Fighters – Steve Ginter’s slightly less formal take on US Navy subjects, with more photos but messier layouts, plenty of manual pages reproduced, lots of informal photos.

Air Force Legends – Ginter Books stretched out to cover USAF subjects, particularly the unusual and underserverd B-51s and F 103s, etc.

Aeroguide With large, clear, black and white photos of modern RAF/RN subjects, this can be thought of as a condensed version of Detail and Scale without the extensive internal detail or text. One or two pages of black and white profile drawings, a good photo or two of the ejection seat, the rest is a walk around.

Aeroguide Classics

Aerofax Extra

Aerofax Minigraph

Air Age Publishing

Aircraft Monograph

Arco Aircam


Airliner Tech

Warbird Tech

Air Racer Tech

A J Press

Apogee Books

Windsock International

Aircraft Archive

Ballentine History Of A Violent Century – WWI and WWII battles, armies, weapons, commanders. Very high contrast photo reproduction mixed in the text, generally good text, no color. Trade-paper size, inexpensive, mass-market books from specialist authors.

Berliner, Don

Gunston, Bill

Braybrook, Roy,

Chant, Chris

Ellis, Chris,

Zaloniga, Steve

Green, William, Swanborough, Gordon

Presidio Press



Crowood Press

Squadron/Signal In Action

Camouflage and Markings – Dulcimus Press


Famous Aircraft Of The World (FAOW)



Concord Publications

Schiffer Books

Doubleday Books

Hanover House


Maru Mechanic

Macmillian Publishing

Monogram Books


Munson, Kennith

Ward, Richard

Wanatabe, Ruyuku

Naval Institute Press

Cross and Cockade

SAM Publications


Tanks In Detail




More later!

Buying a plastic model kit for a kid

Wow, this is a really loaded issue. What’s a sensible “first model” for a kid who starts at age 4, like I did, or age 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14… Get it wrong and your gift will be uninteresting because its too simple, or uninteresting because too daunting (or requiring too many skills). Revell, Revell Germany and Testors in the USA are all promoting “easy” kits for beginners. Hasegawa once had a line of small, cheap, easy kits, and Heller had a separate “Cadet” range to this very end. With minor exceptions, the entire Matchbox model kit product line that was created in the 1970s and 80s was aimed at beginners.

Here are some postulates I think cover the decision space:

The younger the child-

the fewer pieces needed;

the lower likelihood of paint being needed;

the GREATER the need for good kit engineering and easy fitting of parts;

the GREATER the likelihood that the existence of the object depicted will be a surprise!

the GREATER importance of “play value”- moving pieces, tough construction that doesn’t break. lack of thin bits that might injure or break

So you want a high quality kit that makes a good toy when completed. The old Monogram 1/48 (aka ‘ 1/4″ scale ‘ – ie 1/4″ = 1’) airplanes; Car kits with hoods that open and engines inside, ships and boats that float (!!!). In the old days, smaller model tanks with molded rubber tracks and motors inside had pretty good play value. Lack of ‘drivability’ limits the play value of today’s scale model military vehicles.

The younger child will view building anything as aspirational, and will have all their attention consumed by cutting a dozen or two dozen pieces off the runners, matching them to the instructions, trimming and generally getting the pieces to fit, gluing it together and applying the decals with a glass of water and their fingers. They will need a Helper for the first 1-5-10 kits they build.

Tool kit:
Parent, grandparent, qualified sibling or friend, or other helper. REQUIRED.
Fingernail clippers will do for cutters and a file.
Moderate-tack/long release masking tape to hold the pieces together while the glue dries. 3M’s line of blue masking tapes are perfect.
Future floor wax. (aka Johnson’s Kleer)

Clip out the parts as needed, not all at once. The nail clipper and file is fine get the parts ready to assemble.
Fingernail sanding sticks are a nice luxury, as are diagonal cutters and a real file or two, but the whole job can be done with clippers.
Coat the clear parts with Future floor wax inside and out and non-toxic tube glue or the liquid equivalent (Testor’s blue label) can be used to firmly attach the clear stuff without messing it up. Liquid non-toxic cement is flammable but not poisonous… that’s a neat trick!

The older the child:

The more they’ll enjoy assembling larger numbers of parts.

The more likely they’ll want to paint some or all of the pieces; (HOWEVER, for a first model, not having to paint the whole things is real advantage, at any age)

The more likely they’ll have aethestic and or knowledge-based opinions about what kit to build.

50 to 100 pieces are fine for a first model for a teenager; (13 and above)

Buy a car kit molded in more than one color- white body, black and silver engine and fiddly stuff. Vinyl tires are supplied black and don’t need to be painted. In airplanes and ships, pick something appropriate to the gray or white the kit will be molded in. In the old days, kits came in white, silver, olive drab, light blue, red, yellow, orange, black, etc . Monogram and Airfix were particularly adept at this, and the late, lamented, Aurora. Lots of US car kits were molded in white because the builder would have the least trouble paint it any color they liked

Some prefer the good guys, some prefer the bad guys. Pointy planes or biplanes with the pilot sitting out in the breeze. Some kits will be an education, something they’d never seen before, but in the area they care about, they’ll know what they want.

So, OK, what do I recommend??

If you really want moving features, go for Legos. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Technic’s, Mars Mission, Underwater, sports, cars, trucks, airplanes, real Mars Rovers, Space Shuttles, cars and motorcycles, whatever. I find there is less play value in the Bionicles because mostly what they do is pose and shoot something and the relatively large pieces limit possiblities. Consider them as aimed at the under 8 crowd. Anything with hinges and the like make good basis for toys.

If you want models to play with, Revell’s tugboat is pacific in nature, floats well in a bathtub, can be painted in bright colors or left plain. The PT boat and flat-bottomed ships all float pretty well. The round-bottom Essex-class (or “Battle Of Midway”) aircraft carriers need to be carefully balasted. Lindberg or someone has a fishing boat which might once have been Aurora’s Soviet Spy Trawler…. Some big cargo vessels are out there too.

Any smaller airplane can be a fun toy in the bathtub or pool, if balanced more or less correctly (1/3 back from the leading edge of the wing). But ships are better.

Probably my fondest memories of moving parts models are

1) Revell’s 1/72 F-111A/B. Swing wings that move in and out. VERY fiddly landing gear that fold up and retract OR come out and and support the model. Crew escape capsule that can be removed from the model. Radome comes off and a somewhat generic radar dish is inside on the front of the fuselage.

Monogram (now Revell-Monogram)’s 1/48 scale
TBM Avenger,
SBD Dauntless,

Both have folding landing gear and a deploy-able tail-hook. Both have a pilot in the front and a gunner in the back, with a gun that moves. Both originally dropped their main weapons- the TBM dropped a torpedo when you flicked open the bomb-bay doors. The SBD dropped a bomb with the little displacing gear to keep it away from the propeller, operated by a tab that stuck out the bottom of the fuselage.
In the 1970s or 80s the bomb in the SBD was changed so it didn’t come off anymore. Since the torpedo just fell out when you open the doors, it may still work.

If you prefer a more peaceful working feature, paint your TBM in bright colors- white or silver with yellow, red trim,, with a big number on the tail, the wing tips and the engine cowling. Wad up a piece of very thin silk, red or pink, about the size and shape of a old school basketball player’s sock, and let it represent the “water” dropped by air-tankers fighting a forest fire.

The big differences between the kits are that the TBM has wings which might fold if you’re pretty good and follow instructions closely, and the SBD has 5 dive brake panels which opperate simultaniously. Sweet!

Tamiya’s early 1/12 cars- with a motor in the motor and a gearbox in the gear box and a suspension that works. I built the Matra MS-80 and it had two AA cells where the driver’s legs should have been. The steering wheel turned the front wheels, the suspension went up and down, the motor drove the back wheels through driveshafts with real universal joints… and the tires were hollow and smelled like real tires. AND the compltete engine and transmission could be removed from the rolling chassis.

Monogram’s (Now Revell-Monogram’s) other US Navy and other WWII planes with moving parts are: (all 1/48) F4F Wildcat,
F6F Hellcat,
F4U Corsair,
SB2C Helldiver,
Messerschmidt 109,
Mitsubishi Zero,
P-51 Mustang,
Supermarine Spitfire
Hawker Hurricane.

All but the Wildcat have landing gear that fold up, most of the Navy subjects have folding wings. The TBM and SB2C have opening weapons bay doors, the SBD, SB2C and TBM all dropped weapons originally, but that feature was disabled in the 1970s or 80s. (boo!) The SBD has opening dive flaps that all work together (5 panels) and are way cool. Later 1/48 models, the de Havilland Mosquito, TBD Devastator, bombers and jets had more details and less moving parts. An age had ended.

Lindberg’s Me-262 WWII German jet had folding landing gear and opening hatches over the cannons in the nose. They had a number of less detailed 1/48 jets with moving parts, along with a B-17, He-111, Mitsubishi BETTY and B-58 Hustler in somewhat odd scales with moving landing gear, etc. The B-58’s folding mechanism is fun to play with and you can detach the underslug bomb and fuel tank, and open the hatches for the 3 cockpits. But WWIII atom bombs have less play value that you might have expected. Monogram made a near-1/72 B-66 with a single bomb, no doubt nuclear, and it suffered in comparison to the 1/48 Navy planes.

Monogram’s 1/32 P-51D Mustang, available in colored plastic or as the Visible Mustang with a clear skin, went two better with retracting landing gear where turning a wheel made all threee legs and wheels move, and the doors open and shut. There was also a fiddly deal to hang a bomb under each wing and release them separately. The canopy also slid back, and in the ‘visible’ version, besides a motor to drive the landing gear (in the base) there was a motor in the plastic engine to turn the propeller. How cool is that?? But its hard to build, hard to make work and harder to keep working. Legos are more fun. Sigh.

Revell’s B-24 Liberator, 1/72 scale, had movable flaps and retractable landing gear, along with the usual moving turrets. Airfix’s B-17 main gear could fold-up. Revell’s 1/72 B-17 had bomb-bay doors that opened.

Tamiya made a small number of 1/25 tank kits (Tiger, T-34, others?) that had operating suspensions and separate track links- super cool to drive around on wrinkled bed covers, but very complicated and expensive

Any car kit with rolling wheels has good play value- the Revell Snap Together kits in 1/24th scale are very nicely detailed and roll well when completed. The recent Hasegawa and Tamiya car kits have soft plastic retainers that trap a pin (The pin is on the wheel for Tamiya, on the hub for Hasegawa) so they can theoretically roll, but in practice, are simply movable. They can be removed to admire all the fiddly brake and suspension bits though…

For older kids, detail and scale accuracy are more important that moving parts. Seeing how its built is as interesting as Brrrrrraaaaaawwwwww play. Here’s where Tamiya’s Formula 1 and Sports Car models really shine- the ones with opening engine covers and so forth are just packed with bits and pieces, and they tend to come in a tree of body color parts, a tree of silver parts and a tree of black parts, along with rubber-like tires. No paint required!

Here are a pair of the old Revell 1/72 scale Hawker Hurricanes, the second or third kit I built as a kid, that I experimentally put together with just touches of paint here and there, and decals (the black one) ; and one with NO paint (the light gray one). I put decals on the light gray one but they all fell off!, so I used some white glue on the decals for the black one…

A pair of 1960s Revell Hawker Hurricanes

If you click here you can see the kit parts and a couple of steps during construction, including when everything is taped together and glue is drying.
More later, happy modeling!

Remove Future Floor Wax from clear model parts with Windex…

I goofed up my second coat of Future on the clear windows part of a Heller/Airfix 1/43 Mitsubishi WRC racer… So I popped it into a deli half-pint container with warm water and a little dish soap and a week later the formerly clear Future (Johnson’s “Kleer” in some places) had turned a milky white but was still firmly attached. I poured out the water onto the front lawn (we’re rationing water now…) and poured some Windex brand glass cleaner with ammonia into the deli dish… by the time I had finished putting the cap on the Windex bottle, the milky stuff was completely gone and the clear part looked new. A quick rinse in luke-warm water and a polish with a soft dish towel and I oculd try again. I put down one coat of straight Future using my 1/2″ (13mm) laquer brush and 5 minutes later it looked great.

With luck I can paint the black surrounds on it tonight and then glue the body, clear parts and chassis all together.

The really, really, neat thing about using Future on clear parts of plastic models is that it forms an innert barrier to any and all kinds of glue. You have to sand through it to use plastic glule to attach the clear part to something else. But glue fumes and ‘wicking’ aren’t an issue- you can glue the clear part in place using liquid or tube non-toxic glue, I’d expect the orange-red package toxic version of Testor’s glue would work just fine too.

Discoveries in the land o’ compulsive research…

So I brought two wrapped presents within the cost and content guidelines to my local ( IPMS chapter, the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers, for the Christmas Gift Exchange. When all the shouting and after-game trading were done, I went home with a Tamiya 1994 Ford Mustang GT Convertible able and the Minicraft boxing of the Hasegawa 1/72 Grumman F11F-1 Tiger. Nice. My son Benjamin encouraged me on the Mustang, and I might not have chosen a curb-side Mustang kit, but one car and one airplane was just about right. I also had a challenge- at the end of the exchange someone proposed a “90 day wonder” contest for the kits acquired that day, at the March meeting. 90 days to build ’em, or not. Put up or shut up. Sounded good to me.

Seems to me that there are at least two kinds of model builders- those who dig the thing and want something the right shape, but aren’t as much into into making replicas of a particular, real, item at a particular point in time, and those who want to make a replica of a particular example of the general item, perhaps down to an exact date and time of day. Very often the obsessive particularist will get the whole story on the item they are modeling- where the real one was made, how it got where it went to, who used it and what happened to them. Photographs and memoirs are poured over to identify fiddly bits which might be one way or might be another. People building replicas of things they or their friends owned, used or served on or with are usually in this camp, but not always.

Whereas, the item-but-not-a-specific-replica modeler might immerse themselves in the whys and wherefores and the whole story (Dearborn and San Jose both build Mustangs in the 1960s, and each used their own series of-/family of- colors for body primers…) but instead of building the image of <whatever> at 10:30am, the second Monday in July, 1971, they build the one they want, (a metallic purple Mustang with a green interior) or something generally representative, “this is yellow because I found a can of yellow paint under the sink…”

As a gross (!) generalization, ship and airplane modelers tend to build replicas of specific, real, prototypes (as do many model railroaders, from whom we get the adjective, “Prototypical”), captured at a specific place and time. Many ship modelers can tell you not only how the specific ship in the class they modeled differs from others, but also which re-fits the model is between or after (This is how the Cutty Sark appeared on her fifth voyage, returning from Asia, after rounding Cape Horn… this is how the Tyrrell P-34 six wheeler appeared at Monaco in 1976… this is how the 617 squadron Lancasters appeared in March, 1944… etc.)

Car, military figure and vehicle fans and flying model airplane builders tend to build precise and accurate models in terms of shape but are somewhat more expressive in how they present them- custom paint jobs, their own version of camouflage schemes, a vehicle from the years x-y but painted and marked as if it were from another era. A model hot rod will faithfully replicate a Ford flat head with Holly carburetors and aftermarket heads, and the firewall of the model will be enhanced to look just like the real thing, with a pearlescent blue lacquer finash that represents the builder’s idea of the perfect color… or a flying A-10A Warthog (used in both US-Iraq wars) will fly in a green and tan over light-blue scheme somewhat akin to USAAF and RAF western desert markings from 1942, or a BMW coupe will be converted into a pickup-style two seater, like an El Camino or a Subaru Brat.

Both approaches are scholarly, both require the same craft and skill, but the points are different. Kinda like fiction and non-fiction writing: The products are different even though each can look like the other and both are more similar than different.

So in this case, I came down firmly in both camps. My F11F-1 (long nose) was build in the form the Blue Angels flew them, and my Mustang was build using the colors the factory used for body and interior, but I put saddle brown front and back seats and center console into an otherwise black interior, and used the rest-of-world side-marker lights behind the front wheels AND amber colored turn signals in back, instead of red.

I reproduced the color of the baked epoxy primer on the underside of the Mustang, but I also painted the brake calipers a bright blue to match the more-oir-less correct factory-ish metalis blue I panted on the body.

By contrast, the Tiger wound up with blue wheels and main gear legs. and blue landing gear doors, inside and out, but white in the gear wells because that’s my best reading of the available photos, and a new source, my third F11F book and (sixth reference for this project) agrees. Unfortunately, it also shows that that Martin Baker Mk 5 rocket ejection seat I put together seems never to have been deployed foir any F11… All that lovely detailing and  aren’t applicable. I’m not sure if I’m going to leave it or make another seat for it.

Surface Tension, paint codes, yellow zinc chromate using Tamiya paints, RAAF, Bell, thinning Vallejo & MM Acryl paints

Incidentally, if you enjoy or disagree with or otherwise respond to what I write about I’d love to know it- please feel free to comment, replay, email, post satirical videos on YouTube, etc.

A new week brings a new list of search tags:

Surface Tension & effect on waterbased

Water is a ‘polar’ molecule- that is, the distibution of electrons on the surface of a water molecule is uneven.

The single electron that notionally belongs to each of the two hydrogens spends more time over with the one oxygen and less time with the hydrogen nucleus. Result is that the hydrogen nucleus, positive charged, is *somewhat* exposed, and the oxygen atom, having all eight of its outer valence electron spots filled, is *somewhat* negatively charged by the extra time the extra electrons stay there. The contrast with hydrocarbons is marked- hydrocarbons have their carbon atoms surrounded by hydrogens evenly and often symetricly (methane, ethane, benzene, longer, fully saturated ‘enes’.) The result is that the film strength of water next to air is high, while the strength of hydrocarbon surface films is much less. Detergent molecules have a polar end and a non-polar end- they’re long, skinny, things, and one end is very happy in water, the other in hydrocarbons. In plain water, or water based paint, the polar ends co-mingle with the water molecules and the non-polar ends co-mingle with each other… producing a fraction of non-polar behavior- lower surface tension.

The downside of mixing detergent with your water based paint is that detergent dries very slowly, and when dry, can be reconsituted by adding water. So your paint job will be more or less water sensitive, unless you top-coat it.

This surface tension issue is why its even more important with water based paints to emphasise smooth and even coats and not get wound up about covering with one coat. The surface tension is trying to pull the paint you smoothed down into small droplets with the least possible surface area for their volume.

Grey paint, color correcting (“Gray”… … I do the same thing)
Was this about tinting or toning? White and a color is a ‘tint”, black and a color is a “tone”. Adding a gray to a color must have a name, but I can’t think what it is. Mixing colors into gray is as much fun, or not, as mixing any other colors…

WWII Paint Codes


USA: There were a number of paint code and standard systems. For example, the official Olive Drab, for the upper surfaces of US Army Air Corps/Air Force airplanes, was Olive Drab No. 9 before the war, Dark Olive Drab 41 for a time and then Olive Drab ANA 613. Each of these is a different actual color, and the war-time formulations of 613 (and possibly 41) faded quickly, to more than one, distinctive, color.

There is a whole history of what colors were specified before and then by Army/Navy/Air Corps (ANA) numbers and how the standard changed over the years, but the basics are:

Army (Air Corps/Air Force) warplanes were
Olive Drab (No. 9, 41 later, perhaps, ANA 613) over
Neutral Gray. (43, later, perhaps ANA 603 Sea Gray)

Two other colors,Medium Green (42) and
Sand (?, later ANA 616)
were authorized for areas where Olive Drab didn’t do the job.

Azure Blue, ANA 609, was authorized for undersides in the North African theatre.

Medium Green was also used to make splotches on the leading and trailing edges of Olive Drab airplanes, applied to the wings, vertical and horizontal stabalizers and control surfaces, to break up the outline.

Later in the war, no camouflage was required, and natural metal, aluminum dope on fabric surfaces and aluminum laquer in the case of the ultra-smooth P-51 “Laminar” wings, were the standards. Flat black and olive drab were used for anti-glare panels ahead of pilot’s windscreens or in other places the pilot could see their own airplane.

Bronze Green and Dull Dark Green were codified in the middle of the war, 1942-43, for interiors, in addition to the ANA 611 color created as a target for zinc chromate primer to be tinted to with black (and possibly aluminum paste) for UV resistance. A/N 611 paint wasn’t made, as such, primer was tinted by the airframe builders to match the standard to a greater or lesser degree.

Bell Aircraft used a Bronze Green of their own specification throughout the war. Grumman used a light gray of their own specification, similarly.

The US Navy used
USN Blue-Gray, M-485 over
USN Light Gray, M-455, until the end of 1942.

In 1943, the standard for USN airplanes was changed to a 3 color system:
Sea Blue (ANA 606, Semi-gloss, top of flying surfaces, ANA 607, non-specular, top of fuselage)
Intermediate Blue (ANA 608) for the sides,
Flat Insignia White,(ANA 601) for underside of airplane

OR Dark Gull Grey (ANA 621 ) over glossy and flat whites for anti-submarine patrol planes, primarily in the Atlantic.

Late in the war, Navy fighters were specified to be painted overall glossy Sea Blue, and this was extended to ALL USN war planes during the post-war period.

ANA 611 was created as a target for zinc chromate primer to be tinted to with black (and possibly aluminum paste) for UV resistance. ANA 611 paint wasn’t made, as such, primer was tinted to match this.

A terrific discussion can be found at the International Plastic Modelers, Stockholm, site:

Published references listed by IPMS Stockholm include

  • Dana Bell – World War II US Aircraft Interior Colors, Fine Scale Modeler October 1997
  • Dana Bell – Air Force Colors, vol. 1-3
  • Robert D. Archer – The Official Monogram US Army Air Service & Air Corps Aircraft Color Guide
  • John M. Elliot – The Official Monogram US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide
  • Doll, Jackson, Riley – Navy Air Colors, Vol. 1, 1919-1945.
  • Dave Klaus – Color Cross-Reference Guide
  • Bert Kinzey – In Detail and Scale
  • Dana Bell, Lee Kolosna, William Reece, Larry Webster – various postings and articles

I own all of the above except Klaus’ book and can recomend them. Dana Bell’s USAAC books and the Doll, Jackson and Riley US Navy books are the most cost-effective, Jack Elliot’s four part USN and Marines reference is clearly a labor of love and manages to tell the official story without losing track of what was happening out in the real world. Archer and Archer are exhaustive but focus on the official version, not what was actually happening. . Kinsey gets in a few words about Bronze Green in his P-39 book.

Dana Bell has a terrific picture in one book showing 6 USAAC B-25s, each carrying a unique combination of camouflage, US national markings, RAF red-white-blue fin flashes and yellow or white aircraft numbers. Perhaps one of them matched the official orders du-jur, but paraphrasing him, “No two USAAC aircraft ever looked exactly the same”. A well considered opinion, well supported.

RAF WWII Paint Codes.

According to the Camouflage and Markings pamphlets from the 1960s, the WarPaint books and SAMI guides, the RAF used named paints in WWII. Common colors were:

Interior Gray Green. More ‘institutional’ than US Interior Green, it was a fuel proof-er for non-metalic structure.

Insignia White, Blue, Yellow, Gray. All about what you’d expect.

British Insignia Red, also called Brick Red. A dark red that didn’t compromise camouflage as much as the real thing.

British “Temperate Land Scheme” was:

Dark Earth & Dark Green upper surfaces
Aluminum paint, Aluminum with one wing Black and one White, Sky, Sky with one black wing, for undersurfaces

North African airplanes replaced Dark Green with “Mid Stone”, a yellow-beige, and used an Azure Blue underside, some versions darker and richer than others.

From late 1941, as air combat moved to higher altitudes, the Temperate scheme we re-worked to a Day Fighter Scheme, with the Dark Brown replaced by Ocean Gray or Mixed Gray, while the underside was done in Sea Gray, Medium.

Propeller tips and the wing leading edge outboard of the gun(s) were warning yellow.
RAAF Camouflage

There were three RAAF colors, similar but not exactly like the pre-war British Temperate scheme- a light blue for underside, a dark brown and a dark green (“Foliage Green”) for disruptive upper patterns. Polly Scale make them pre-mixed and ready to use. RAAF airplanes in WWII didn’y carry any red, including red ‘roos or red circles in roundels, etc, during the war. The result was roundels, fin-flashes, etc, in two tone blue – a pretty light blue in place of the white, and the blue carreid forward from RAAF.

Bell Aircraft Paint Specs + WW2

Bert Kinsey’s P-39 Aircobra In Detail and Scale has a discussion of Bell’s in-house Bronze Green, with an FS 595 number recomendation. I’ll try to remember to post it.

And the usual raft of thinning/airbrushing Testors Model Master Acryl/Vallejo paints, Bay Area hobby shops, train & RC specialists, etc. One about DuPont paints and WWII- at least I’ve already put up a link to all that I know about that subject!

british interiour wwii color silver

Any chance they got, from 1919 up to the later 1950s, the RAF would paint their airplanes with Aluminum paint. It wasn’t that they liked the ‘faux bare-metal’ look, it was the guaranteed opacity of the aluminum pigment- paint something Aluminum and ZERO U.V. light is going to get through and degrade it. And the Aluminum, while essentially gray in visible light, is lighter than most RAF Camouflage colors and thus reduced airframe temperature on sunny days. Thus, Aluminum was the default color for RAF airplane exteriors, and was used inside landing gear wells and doors, along with wheels, struts, etc. All painted with Aluminum paint, lacquer or dope depending on the underlying material. In the fullness of time, landing gear doors and wells usually became the color of the underside of the airplane, easier and neater that way, but gear legs stayed Aluminum until the Vulcan’s glossy black and the light grays/whites of the later 1960s. I’d expect Hunters and Lightnings would have Aluminum gear wells and door interiors, but that F-4K and Ms would have the same glossy white the USN, USMC and USAF got.

Of course, any USN planes operated by RAF or RN would likely keep their USN colors- overall Glossy Sea Blue for the P2V Neptunes, AEW TBMs and A1D Skyraiders in the 1950s, light gray, “interior green’ tinted zinc chromate primer, Bronze Green for WWII aircraft. (Its true Vought used zinc chromate primer with *indian red* pigment as an in-house spec… it was an odd, sorta-salmon, color… but RN mostly got Brewster-built F?B-1s which most people think are F4U-1s

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raf camoflage colors ww2

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Revell 1/144 F-14 Daco Design

Tamiya Yellow Zinc Chromate mix

Paint color call-outs in kit instructions, believe ’em? Mfg’s own paint #s…

“Propwash” over on the site asked the following, excellent, question, and I put together a pretty good reply, I thought:

Q: “I have 2 Academy P-51s, a ‘C’ and ‘D’ type, however, there do not appear to be any colour codes on one, and the other has 3 numbers (3,9,10) in triangles, but no hint of the paint manufacturer they refer to.Is this normal for Academy? I can work out the colours of course, but it would have been nice to have a chart to look at……..”

A: You’re asking some terrific questions, but the answers aren’t short!

1) Different kit-makers use different ways of identifying what color you should paint what on a kit.

1.1) Probably the most important thing to remember is that the kit maker’s instructions MAY NOT BE CORRECT! Its your model, you can accept what they say, or what someone posts on the internet, or what’s in a hobby magazine or book, or what’s on the specimen at the local museum, or what reasoned argument with your pals tells you.

1.2) Second most important is that any given kit maker will use either their own brand of paint, a brand they are ‘friendly’ with, or perhaps a range of particular pre-mixed paints. So even if they know the correct color, and even if they mean to tell you the correct color, if they’re Dragon/DML or Hasegawa they’ll likely indicate whichever Gunze-Sanyo color they think is the best match. If Gunze-Sanyo doesn’t offer a very good match to the actual color… the results are not going to be very good.

Tamiya and Revell Germany give mixing instructions (using their own paint #s) for colors not available out-of-the-bottle, but don’t necessarily give a *name* for the resulting color, just names for the elements used in the mix. When the results are normal colors which are standard and available premixed in other brands, the results make commercial sense, but aren’t a great help to the gentle modeler. (Cite examples from Revell Hurricane IIB, Tamiya Mustang GT and an airplane kit)

1.3) While kit instructions are written for each kit by each manufacturer, the real things were subject to both reality (materials such as bare aluminum, stainless steel, rubber tires, etc have the own colors) and applicable standards. For military airplanes,
United States Army/Navy (WWII US) “A/N612 Interior Green…”
Modern US: Federal Standard 595a & b “FS 36440 Flat Light Gull Gray”
US Navy, WWII (Measure 05 light gray)
British WWI (name?) “Green Drab PC10”
RAF/RN (WWII) “Sky” “Night”, “Dark Earth”, “Extra Dark Sea Gray”, etc.
German WWII: what are called “RLM” but are mostly Luftwaffe: RLM 02 Gray (this IS an RLM color), “65 Light Blue”, “66 Black”, etc.
Contemporary German – RAL #s
Japanese WWII: Named colors for Imperial Japanese Army, Imperial Japanese Navy, and specific depots and manufacturers.
Italian WWII – named colors
Russian WWII – named colors with USSR number system defining the names

Regardless of what the kit instructions say, the typical 1940s USAAF airplane either had Neutral Gray underside and Olive Drab topside, possibly with Dark Green mottle on the leading and trailing edges of the airfoils, or were Natural Metal, on the outside. US Navy aircraft from the 1950s to the 1980s were FS595a 36440 Flat Gull Grey or 26440 semi-gloss Gull Gray or 16440 Glossy Gull Gray over 17xxx Glossy White. Early WWII RAF airplanes in the UK were Dark Earth and Dark Brown upper side, with Aluminum, Aluminum, White and Black, Sky, or Sky and Black undersurfaces/.

(Descriptions and examples will be provided for the list below:)
Academy put letters (A-Z) on the plan which are defined in a simple table: A = Dark Blue, B = White, C = Steel, etc. The letters don’t corespond to any particular brand of paint.

>Airfix gave names in the old days, then switched to providing the paint numbers for Airfix brand paint. (I’ll check recent Airfix instructions and report what I find)

Bilek, a Czech outfit who re-issue Airfix and Heller molds, give …
Kiel Kraft
Minicraft (recent)
Monogram were providing Federal Standard #s, very nice for US subjects, somewhat problematic for others.
Revell Germany put letters on the plan which are defined at a table at the beginning. The table uses Revell Germany paint #s, both for out-of-the-bottle (“A 111 Light Gray”) and for specified mixes “Z Blue-green: 20% 333 + 80% 222”.
HOWEVER, they also provide color names in a large number of languages for each of their numbered colors.

Tamiya use their paint numbers in the plan, X-1, XF-16, TS-26, for glossy black, flat aluminum and glossy white spray, respectivly. A table at the beginning of the plan gives names in several languages, Japanese, German, English.

2) Sooooo: if your Academy kit calls for /A and /B and /C colors and then defines them as Silver, Black, Interior Green (for example) you need to stand back and filter that:
2.1) Probably Testor’s oil-based Chrome Silver, glossy Black and Nakajima, Mitsubishi or RAF Interior Green are NOT what you wanted for a P-38 or a P-51.

2.2) Lesson one. Natural Metal Finish, aka NMF, or Bare Metal Finish, BMF, is REALLY hard to model correctliy. While there are many paths to a pleasing effect, no kit instruction I have seen in 45 years of building kits has captured what I believe it takes to make a reasonable model airplane or car model with large areas of bare metal. Its specialized knowlege and a constant source of curiosity and experiment, kinda like the guitar players “quest for tone”… ie, never ending.

2.3) For example, on a P-38, you’ll have
bare aluminum areas,
two mirror-polished aluminum areas on the inner engine nacelle that allow the pilot to see if the landing gear is down or up,
turbo-supercharger exhaust (steel/??? that’s been well heated),
I believe some fabric covered control surfaces painted with ‘aluminum’ dope
Possibly some stainless steel skinning near the turbo-supercharger
Gun barrels and air-cooling shrouds
Pitot tube
Reflectors in the landing lights
Landing gear oleo legs, which really ARE chromed
Landing gear wheels and legs which may appear to be bare metal but may be painted ‘aluminum’ or ‘steel’.

There’s nothing wrong with painting the whole business from one tin/jar of ‘Silver’ or ‘Aluminum’ or what have you. From the distance you’d have to stand back from a real airplane to see it as you see a 1/72 model at a ‘normal’ viewing angle, there probably aren’t more than 2 or 3 distinguishable colors/tints/tones to the natural metal area, and the play of light and shadow completely overwhem the small variations in ‘absolute’ color. Maybe 3 or 4 tones are possible for a 1/48 or 1/32 kit. This includes using a piece of shiny side metal foil for the landing light reflector…

If you put a dark wash over the guns and turbosupercharger, a flat or Dulcote on the fabric covered surfaces, polish or use Chrome Silver on the oleo legs, I think anyone who faulted your choices would be hard pressed to explain why. IPMS/USA rules certainly don’t speak to color ‘accuracy’ at this level because its just too subjective. They judge negatively and on craft- symmetry of shape, color, decals, square or correct alignments, kit seams and tooling marks made invisible, lack of glue globs, nothing out-of-scale visible, no tooling marks, no brush marks, no wrinkled decals, no airbubbles under decals, no dust, hair or orange-peel effect marring the paint… This knocks out about 95% of all entries, long before anything more than ‘silver’ paint is needed, in competition.

For your own satisfaction, do what makes you feel good. I built a 1/400 Dragon airliner kit, same size as a die-cast. I used one tone of flat aluminum for the jet engine intake lips, a shinier polished aluminum tone for the leading edges (possibly accurate for the vertical fin but maybe not the wings, on an A-320), a burned metal color for the engine ‘hot sections’, very shiny ‘silver’ for the gear leg oleos. Had it been a 737 I’d have painted the front landing gear wheels an ‘aluminum paint’ color- flatter-than-flat aluminum, maybe washed with flat or thinned white…Later I built a 1/400 widebody and used ‘flat aluminum’ everywhere. Looks pretty good too!

Back to your P-38, you’ll need to consult photos of (ideally) the plane you are modeling at the time you are modeling it. Next best is planes from the same unit at the same time, then other units at the same time or same unit different time, etc, etc. Just like one of those forensic shows on TV.

More fun comes for landing gear door interiors, gear wells, cockpits and the inside of scoops leading to radiators, intercoolers, air intakes and the like.

Some gear doors are natural metal everywhere, some painted inside with primer (yellow or green Zinc chromate) some with “interior green” which is zinc chromate tinted with black and possibly aluminum paste. Vought used “Indian Red”, as in the sub continent India, to tint zinc chromate primer on the SECOND coat inside gear wells and inside gear doors- the product was a sorta salmon color (remember, they were tinting yellow-green zinc chromate, not a darker green zinc-chromate + black). Check your photos, they’re mostly black and white so guess, ask your significant other, read online, read books and magazines. Isn’t this fun?

“interior green” is a USA Army/Navy shade numbered 612, but actually no paint of this shade was made. The 612 color was what the manufacturer was supposed to tint their zinc chromate primer to… using black and possibly aluminum paste. The reason for the tint is 1) neutral color easy on aircrew eyes 2) tinted primer makes it apparent whether the first primer coat, not tinted, has been covered completely by the second coat.
So if you’d like to get REALLY into it, get some zinc chromate Testor’s Acryl and black Acryl and tint the zinc chromate as close to ‘interior green’ as you can get. Maybe add some aluminum if you think its called for.

British interor green WAS a particular color, a paint, which had fuel-proof qualities. Every inch of the wooden structure of a de Havilland Mosquito which wasn’t camoflagued was painted with the fuel-proof interior green.
Hawker Hurricanes were *largely* painted this color but some photos clearly show the steel and aluminum tubes and brackets of the structure were painted silver (there can be NO question of bare metal on in-service WWII Hawker airframes…) Interiors of wheel wells and the like were often painted ‘aluminum’ on UK airplanes, because aluminumized laquer was great at protecting cloth airplanes and the requirements dated back to the cloth and wood era… and there were more important things and updating such. And underside colors quickly got into gear wells on single engined fighters since underside colors on fighters could be ‘silver’ (ie aluminum), white, black, ‘sky’, ‘sea gray medium’ or ‘special night’, a very, very, flat black. Specifications changed during the first 3 years of WWII and many aircraft undersides were repainted in the field- some planes may have carried all of the colors listed above.

Some of us thought, from recovered relics, that in the 1930s and 40s Mitsubishi had used a translucent blue for interior color, but it now appears that they used a grayish green, and Nakajima used a grayish green, but they were different grayish greens. The Soviets used a greenish gray, but worked under tremendous strain and so a wide range of colors could be ‘correct’. The German standard was RLM 02, a brownish-gray but they quickly added flat black above a certain waterline, as did the UK later in the war. No doubt the Italians, French, Belgians, Poles, etc, etc, etc. all had their own standards for building and for maintenance too.

And in the USA, Bell used a “bronze green” of their own devising, and Boeing and North American proposed a slightly different “bronze green” for cockpits and othe inhabited spaces.

By the way, on the P-51, the laminar flow wing that was thought to be so special was puttied and sanded and painted, even if the fuselage was bare metal, so your P-51 in bare metal has bare metal, aluminum laquer on the wings and aluminum dope on the fabric covered control surfaces.

I’ll let you or someone else discuss black, flat black, glossy black, wrinke-finish black, black tires, etc etc. Just to keep it interesting, remember that early WWII USAAF airplane propellers were ordered to be painted with a mix of glossy or semi-glossy black paint and gasoline (!) to produce a flat black finish over the previous shiny polished metal…. So black on a tire and black on a control box in the cockpit and black on a propeller blade and black anti-slip strips on the wing and black stripes or other markings are, or could be, wait for it, different colors…

Is this fun, or what?

Bill Abbott