Elite markings and the final assembly


I thought I'd do the red stripes low-tech, as in cutting a few stripes of masking tape and set them up nicely. There were no clear uniform ways to do this so I did what looked good to me.

Because I've never (because of my own stupidity, methinks) bought the VMA red, I used what I had: the basic red (VMC 70926 Red).  Of course I could've thinned it down enough to get it through my airbrush, but I just didn't feel like it. Instead I dabbed the parts with a sponge quite roughly with the full knowledge that I'd have to fix something later on. [115]

While I was cleaning up my own mess I remembered my previous mumblings regarding the main viewport. I decided that these frames should be the same colour with the rest of the pod, so I carefully painted them with the same paint (VMA 71120 USAF Medium Grey). It ended up looking good to me. [118]

Setting up the package

To finish that session up I glued the wings on at long last and while I was at it I also tore off the last strips of the masking tape from the ingress/egress hatch. None of them had leaked so that half-worry was proved pointless. [120]

The space weather

Because my collection of washes contained the grey one (VMW 76516 Grey), I used it on all the grey parts. Most of my attention was concentrated on the pod and the center parts of the wings, as they had the most visible greebles. [130]

I thought it looked a bit different from the previous step's model. If nothing else, the panel lines and such were darker than before. At least I felt the whole model had some more depth in it, but I could be slightly partial and saw what I wanted to.

Then I drybrushed (VMA 71121 USAF Light Grey) the Interceptor quickly and somewhat roughly. Again I concentrated mostly on the pod's highlights and the edges of the wings. I guess you could see something even in these photos, seen live the effect was noticeable. The main thing was that it didn't jump out annoyingly. [140]

Solar collector panels

The original factory-painted solar panels were matt black. To  me they didn't look right that way, so I finished mine up with a layer of Vallejo's gloss varnish. I was slightly concerned about the results, thanks to the odd look one of the previous project's steps, where the plane looked wet. My fear was unfounded, as these ones looked just the way they should be, seen live and after they had got cured. [145]

The coin is there to provide some recognizable scale


Rapid painting


Again I spent a few moments pondering on which of the different greys I would be using this time. I believe that any of them would've worked, but I was a bit boring and airbrushed the pod and the outer wing surfaces with USAF Medium Grey (VMA 71120). Maybe I'd drybrush them  with a bit lighter grey before washing anything, but that'd be decided on later.

At this point the model looked like someone's half-excited reversely preshaded panel-work. The next afternoon I painted the other halves and left them drying for a good while until I could sit down and work on the masking. At this point you could already tell that no, you couldn't really see into the cockpit.

Half an hour later

One Wednesday I finally sat down with a roll of Tamiya masking tape. In advance I had thought that "this'll be done in the blink of an eye" and as usual, I had been wrong. What slowed me down then? Well, the areas to be protected were considerably narrower than the tape so I had to to quite a bit of slicing and fitting. [105]

I was pretty confident in that I had been careful (and paranoid) enough and that nothing would leak through. Even though it was getting a bit late after all this work on the masks, I estimated that the painting itself would only take a few minutes. Why postpone something that quick to the next day?

Airbrushing the solar collector panels black (VMA 71057) took three minutes, tops [108]. But as everyone knows, waiting sucks...

Early next morning

Like a kid celebrating a birthday, I tore off the taping before leaving to work the next morning, because I just had to see how I had succeeded. To me it looked pretty great.

Wonderful, wonderful! Next I'd get on to the bloodstripes that are the main decoration of this model. After that I think I should finally paint the main viewport's frame and then apply a wash over everything grey. Then to top that I'd drybrush the greyness and finish up with the varnishing and we'd be finished.


Constructing the egg shell

The workspace

Now that I had finished with the Pilot, I assembled the cockpit. The silly fork-control pad setup went in to the seat and the seat on the floor piece. Before I did anything more dramatic than this I went through the remaining pieces and painted some random components red (VMC 70926 Red) both on the walls and the control panel pane.

The front pane wasn't anything special. All in all setting this up was a bit bothersome, thanks to the immensely wobbly side pieces, which were swinging like drunkards on a Friday night's disco. Only attaching them both to the front and rear units got them settled.

Lastly I glued this setup on the lower hull part. I did try before the gluing, if the front viewport was insertable even with the cockpit unit installed. I just wanted to leave it off to make masking that much easier.

Hadn't I been building this OOP, I'd built some sort of a controller for the Pilot to hold on to. Right now the figure's pose looked ridiculous, at least before I sealed him/her inside, and you could see the silliness easily.


Transparisteel viewports

On first glance the masking looked like it went just wonderfully. But then I found out that the main viewport's outer ring's panes didn't want to obey me and the masking attempt failed on them.

At least the ingress/egress hatch worked acceptably, so this wasn't that much of a disaster. If someone's now wondering why didn't I apply the famous bits and pieces approach on the main viewport, my reply is: that never works for me at all.

Sealing it

As always with the transparent pieces I whiteglued the main viewport on the lower hull and then glued the upper hull half on its place. When that gluing had had some time to cure I whiteglued the top hatch on, even though it too was supposed to stay well put with the flimsy hooks. For some reason I didn't trust those bits for anything.

I had decided that I'd paint the main window's frames by hand when everything else was done. That wasn't going to be a mentionable problem and the result would be less risky than the time consuming "kazillion flecks of tape"-mask.

Ultimately I finished up the wings, known as gluing the last three tiny bits on. I didn't attach them to the hull because I felt this'd make painting quite a lot easier and that it would guarantee a better-looking result. [75]

My educated guess regarding the continuation was that the main paintjob would be done over three sessions. First one half of the wings and most of the hull. In the second session I'd do the second halves and the remaining hull part(s). And in the third I'd do the solar collector panels all in one go and then I'd glue the wings on the hull. That way I'd get the model to stand on its already dry edges while the black areas were drying.

Everything else, like the bloodstripes and touching up would be done later. I guess I'll use a few sessions with them, the clear/dullcoats and whatnot. All this would maybe consume little real time, but easily a full work-week on the calendar.


Crew issues

An example character

Well planned is half done, some say. I am not going to deny the main idea, even though I'd end up arguing about the amount of promised benefits. If nothing else, thinking ahead helps avoiding some of the mistakes.

Because nowadays I do my modeling on the kitchen's table without having my computer's screen, a tablet or my phone always on next to me, I've been caught running back and forth checking a reference photo for some more or less obscure detail. My memory in these cases is awful, so the "take a look and work on that" approach has never helped me much.

I googled up a handy photo from a huge mass of results. My main problem now was that there were so many approved variants, so I had to choose myself, which one was achievable. The one I had chosen I iconoclastified on a post-it note.

Not all of the versions had a huge amount of light grey straps, so I decided to save myself from that show and went for overalls without them. The most noticeable differences from the normal Pilot were those red stripes in the arms and legs.

The starting point

Below are two photos of the Pilot figure from two directions. A hawk-eyed reader may see how the plates looked like behind the modeled tubes. From afar and straight ahead everything looked great, but if you moved a single angular mil, it looked wrong. Of course I was completely aware of the fact that no one would ever see anything I did when the model was sealed and had no impact at all on how the finished model would look like. But to make myself at peace with the knowledge of "at least I did it right!", I fixed them somewhat.


My Citadel drill was gigantic in scale, I think I should've had a drill bit half the size of this one for optimal results. Now I just drilled a single opening from the bending point of the tube towards the sternum of the figure. My original idea of drilling ~three holes and carving the rest clean wasn't doable, thanks to the smallness of the figure.

I used my xacto knife to clean the openings up a bit both from the outside and the chestbox side. The effect wasn't huge but you could tell that something had been done. Being plastic-grey the intermediate result looked pretty weird.

After I was done with my mengelifyings I painted the sprue attachment areas, the drilled and carved parts black (VMA 71057 Black). The result looked pretty clean. [40]

181st Imperial Fighter Wing

The bloodstripes

I started from the easiest details, the red ace markings. According to Wookieepedia the 181st traditions dictated at some point that after ten destroyed terrorists a pilot got red bloodstripes painted on their fighter. Based on the photos all the pilots had the same overalls, though the helmets were varied. I decided to let the helmet remain black and keep the pilot as a pretty calm variant.

With my thinnest brush I painted as thin red (VMC 70926) stripes on the sleeves of the overalls, ending them at the edges of the gloves and the boots. The bloodstripes are on the overalls, they don't flow through the whole character. Likewise I painted small stripes on the lower sides of the chestbox, these were very important details.

Navy grey

Next I painted small twin grey (VGC 72049 Stonewall Grey) dots on the helmet and slightly larger ones on the upper arms. I could've done this in white and silver accordingly, but I thought that it'd look better if I did them in one colour.

With a norml Imperial Pilot I'd been ready for a long time, but the 181st works differently, as we already stated. The upper torso's light greys I painted so that there was some of it visible both below and above the chestbox. I also painted that on the backside. For a short moment I returned to the topic of the straps, if I should paint them on after all, but thinking of the very limited space I decided that it'd just get me in more problems. I stuck to me original plan.

I prepared the chestbox's buttons and other things already for a later highlighting. The figure was finished with dark smudges in the middle of the roundels. They weren't perfect, but the best I could do with my smallest paintbrush, without going mad and using super thin metal wire...

A proper Pilot

On the chestbox I painted a couple of blue (VGC 72021 Magical Blue) dots to represent buttons. The amount of different chestbox variants was noticeable, each with a different button / other piece layout. With this one I just obeyed the shapes it had and that one luckily was pretty compatible with my example pic.



Re-do everything

First of all I cut the extra sprue remains off the wings and then I reprimed the whole set (not the window parts). The wings had to be primed over two sessions, because of the drying issue.


My work order in theory

I decided that I'd work thusly: first I'd paint the cockpit completely, assuming a couple of sessions. One thing that I was really interested in was to see if I could replicate the TIE Fighter's (one of the best games ever made by LucasArts) cockpit view, I'd be a *happy* *camper*. Potentially customizing the Pilot figure was included in this step.

After the inner painting got done I'd build the model completely. Then I could easily find out any gaps and physical issues and get them fixed before doing the real painting. At that point I'd mask the transparent parts for the painting.

After that I'd prime any newly opened bare-plastic areas, if any. Then I'd paint the whole frame with some sort of darkish grey, trying to steer clear of the solar collector panels. The panels would then be carefully masked and simply painted flat black. As a nice detail I'd then add red stripes on the outside upper and lower inward-bent parts of the wings.

Because I've now started fooling around with the laquers, as a new convert (not really), I guess I'd apply a clearcoat on the panels and a dullcoat on everything else. Nothing more would be needed, as there were no decals or anything else.

That's what I've been planning on doing. For a refreshing change I'm pretty confident in my ideas being good ones.

And in practice

As planned, I started by airbrushing all the cockpit's parts with grey black (VMA 71056). The result looked as if I had actually done nothing since I opened the package. But who cares?


The next afternoon/evening I drybrushed these pieces with a semi-obscure grey (VGC 72050 Cold Grey), not too carefully. My aim was to bring up the surfaces, but trying not to overdo it. I concentrated on the parts that one could actually see when the model was finished.

Finally I drybrushed all of them with a noticeably lighter touch, using a lighter grey (VGC 72049 Stonewall Grey). I was only working on to save my own sanity, but maybe you could see something through the windows, maybe.


There was no way to get this one movie accurate - not with my customizing skills at least. The MFD or radar displays I talked about earlier were looking like a very unlikely prospect, the cockpit was so very ascetic. For some reason no one has ever used the Star Wars games as a source for these...