Camofalcon 2: the return of the pattern's revenge

Additional colour 1

Last Wednesday I finally got to sit down next to my model and I happily airbrushed a couple of wide brown (VMA 71125 USAF Brown) bands across the plane. I had not planned on the pattern in advance, as usual. This time I felt that the form-breaking worked much better than in my unpublished test version titled "let's just see how the colours play together".


Additional colour 2

My original plan was to use just a little green (VMA 71124 USAF Green) and even then on a limited amount of surface coverage. Somehow it looked odd with those small patches. The final result can be seen below. Of course the masking tape obscures everything a bit, I just didn't bother tearing them off for just one photo.



The radar (and whatever else) protecting nose cone needed to be painted with dark grey or even soviet green. After a quick search I found a pic of an Aggressor (a F-15 if my memory serves), that had a light grey nose cone and a very similar-looking pattern. With that I decided that I'd do that myself.

First of all I masked the nose cone and I also protected the nose wheel, as the front landing gear bay door had got a bit of overspray and needed to be touched up. I'd just take care of the last paintjob during one quick session.

The result looked good to me. Next I'd need to either wash the model or apply a clearcoat before proceeding to decals and other nonsense.


Back from the vacation

Good news

The summer part of my vacation came and went and the R-003 I was missing got available just when I was leaving. In other words: I got the sms just when I was turning my phone off at the airport :p I went and picked it up first thing on this week's Monday after work and I guess I'll get to use it one day this week. That of course depends on when we get the last delayed suitcase delivered.


I happened to spend a couple of hours in Oviedo's Parque Principado, most of that time in a shop called FNAC. And I didn't leave empty-handed. Their curious stuff -shelves were digged through very thoroughly and I picked up two new Metal Earth Models packets, thanks to my good experiences with their AT-AT model.

Firstly I'll introduce the second-best looking fighter of the Galactic Empire, the TIE/ln (naturally the best-looking one is TIE/I, but sadly they don't make those (yet)). Personally I like this one quite a lot more than the TIE Advanced x1 prototype (also known as Darth Vader's TIE), but as usual, it's a matter of taste. In addition to the Interceptor I'd love to see a rarely seen TIE/B in this product line. Then maybe a Lambda-class shuttle, which is simply a magnificent vehicle.

As the second model I took the absolutely necessary Imperial-class Star Destroyer. One just can't fail with Star Destroyers! And as I was writing up a wishlist in the fighter-sized category, I'll do to it with the motherships too. The Nebulon-B Frigate would be awesome and the COC Corvette would be another nice support craft for the ISD - not to mention the not-yet-seen-in-the-movies Interdictors (also known as the Immobilizer Cruiser). Those I'd buy more than happily.

For a passing minute I considered buing a third one, a Klingon Bird of Prey. Then I thought that I'll be fine with these two for a good while already. Maybe some other time.


Detail work

Hand-painting the details

As I had pondered earlier, I picked up a paintbrush and painted the landing gear bays the old-fashioned way. The white I have been using (VMA 71001 White) is clearly in the end of its lifecycle and usefulness, but it's been there for a good bunch of years already. I wouldn't consider letting that in my airbrush anymore, but this method was still ok. Besides, slightly uneven and "used" result kinda worked here pretty well.

I had already painted the wheel hubs white, so I just glued the missing main wheels on at this point. After that I proceeded to the metallic areas (VMA 71065 Steel). From a certain point of view some of these should've been painted before the assembly, but it worked this way too. I didn't start adding special weathering or chippings, as my idea was to go for a plane that could maybe be just out of full maintenance.

The engine exhaust nozzle I painted white on the inside, just the way my sources claimed it would be until its first flight. For some reason the tube wouldn't stay white for long, while operational. I didn't get to wash the business end of the engine yet, as the steel paint was still wet.

To wrap up my session I painted the wheels themselves black-grey, as my basic approach has been. This time I didn't file or sand the bottom arcs of the wheels flatter, just to do things differently. Maybe this was a horrible idea and my model would end up shaking like a see-saw, but that'd be a consideration for another day.




A safe choice for the bottom

I started the actual painting on the belly of the plane, as I hadn't been able to decide what the pattern should be. My fingers kept itching so I did something at least. I did my work on the belly, racks/pylons and the unattached drop tanks with light grey (VMA 71121 USAF Light Grey). Somehow a light underside sounded like a safe option, no matter what the rest would end up like.

The landing gear bays and the landing gears themselves I left intentionally untouched and most likely, for a bit of manual painting. Of course I could spend a good while applying a "sick paranoia"-level of masking and paint these few parts white with a couple of quick puffs from the airbrush, but I think it'd be quite a silly way to utilize my limited time resources.

The actual camo pattern

After a horrible amount of headscratching and pondering I found out that if I wanted to avoid a boring greyscale setup, the only actual, factual apple-pie flavoured options were the salad-y European I or the much less restrictive Aggressor team pattern. Of course they all were camo-painted all around, unlike what I had done.

Not that redoing some painting would be a bother, but as always, the point is what I want to do. The mess of greens didn't look nice, something more desert-like sounded much more interesting. After a bit of googling and whatnot a "red team" or the opposing force part of a wargame had used some of these desert patterns.


64th Aggressor Squadron

Wonderfully these folks use the Soviet/Russian patterns and those, those did include what I was looking for. The most important thing in my dislike for greyscale is that it's not fun or interesting. So, a couple of browns and some green added in for good measure - that's much more exciting in my opinion. Oh, and the planes of the our eastern neighbour had lighter coloured undersides (I didn't start mixing up a Kolkhoz Blue anyway) so this'd work just fine.

First step first: I toned down a sand paint (VMC 70819 Iraquian Sand) and sprayed a few form-breaking bands around the plane. These were done pretty widely and without too much worrying, as the other two colours would be controlling the area more. I just wanted to avoid a "paint by numbers" approach with bothersome gaps in the pattern.

Then I accidentally did something stupid and had to take four weeks off. Sigh.
Whenever I get to paint again, I'll be using brown (VMA 71125 USAF Brown) and green (VMA 71124 USAF Green), a setup I felt being pretty close to what this thing is supposed to look like.

[edit]  There had been a mixup with my spare part order, and I didn't get what I needed. We pondered about all this and we assumed, that the R-004 Fine Tip that they did have, could fit in the airbrush and might only affect the spray pattern somewhat. I decided to take the risk and I invested in one of those. Later that evening I tried it out and it wasn't too good. First the air didn't move one bit, but by loosening the spray regulator (the piece in the tip with a ] -shape) air started moving by the press of the trigger. I knew I'd have to repaint everything but I wanted to see how the colours worked out. The result was looking fine, if you forgot the splotchyness.


The same evening I emailed my royal supplier and ordered the specific part I needed (R-003 Ultra Fine Tip). Now we'll just have to wait and see when they get those in stock. If I'm very lucky, it happens before I leave for my vacation but most likely it takes another four weeks (for some reason they don't deliver stuff every day :) ), but I've got my vacation and I can tinker on other things meanwhile.



Painting confined spaces

Painting tightly

I approached the cockpit cautiosly, to say the least. After a bit of thinking I decided to paint all the interior spaces with the trusty black-grey, completely ignoring the instructed light grey. Why? Because there won't be much to be seen from the window and what can be seen was going to be very dark anyway. So: irrelevant. I did paint the ejection seat's padding olive green, as suggested.


Cockpit decals were the best-working ones in the previous plane, so I decided that if nothing else, I'll use those. The armrests got a decal each and the instrument panel got a small one. The rightmost decal I had to cut a bit because the joystick was a bit on the way.

All three went on nicely and effortlessly. After I was done with the decals I white glued the targeting glass piece while I remembered its existence. That's all the interior work I did and left the cockpit as is.

The canopy

Thanks to the shape of the transparent pieces I followed my gut feeling when I masked them. I left an open strip in the front of the rear piece, as it felt like the best place for the canopy seam. Maybe I did it wrong, but it's way too late to worry about it now.

After the masking was done I painted the insides of the non-masked areas with black grey, just like I did with the N/AW project. The next day I white glued these pieces onto each other and the plane, sealing the fate of my Falcon's cockpit. All the blackish lines you can see in the photo are on the inside, as I didn't think it made any sense to start spraying the primer on top of the curing pieces yet.