Camouflage patterns

Choosing the colour scheme

The Flanker was going to be a blueish one, as I had already done something else with the MiG-29 (green-yellow).

Belly up

Before I started painting I taped the engine exhaust nozzles off to be safe. At this point that was all the covering up I needed, for the more essential stuff was going to happen on the other side, where the potential to ruin other things was much considerable.

On the belly side the only colour was going to be a blueish one. I had excitedly gone to my loyal provider to get a couple of airbrusheable paints for this project alone, now I was going to get to try the first one out. Each of the three bottles had markings (AMT, AN etc) before their names that were totally unknown to me and outside my limited area of expertise in aviation. After a quick search I found out that these were what the Soviets used when the Germans had their RLM codes.

Back to business. I was starting painting the bottom of the plane and everything attached to it. I chose a grey-blue paint for the job (VMA 71318 AMT-7 Greyish Blue).

The painting process was pleasant, quick and easy. I didn't notice shooting paint onto the plane at too short a distance, so I believed I managed to avoid the puddling that's been plaguing my projects on occasion. In the nature, with my plain and awful eyes the blue was of a much nicer shade than what my old phone camera captured, under the led lights.

A reference for the camo pattern

Before getting any further with anything I did a load of image searches for blue camouflage paintjobs on Flankers. Surprisingly many of the results depicted digicamo that could've worked in the context and I know I'd had fun doing that, but I just wanted to freehand it now. The pic below showed a bit of inspiration, not an example I'd slavishly follow. I doubt anyone who's ever made the mistake of reading 'Mumblings got surprised or shocked about this decision.


Basecoating the topside

I had really liked the bottom's blue-grey coating, so I decided to use it as the basecoat for the camouflage on the top half of the plane. The other two paints I was going to use as the actual pattern of the camouflage. Again I protected the engine bits with masking tape before blasting the hell out of my plane.

Interestingly these photos, especially the first one, showed the shade of the paint much more accurately than the earlier photos. Now my Flanker was completely sky-blue - for a fleeting moment.

The second colour of the camouflage

To brake the shapes/form a bit I blasted some shapes with another version of blue-grey (VMA 71319 A-28M Greyish Blue). There wasn't a huge contrast between these two paints but they did have some difference at least. This second colour was a bit greener than the first one. Maybe that could've worked as a decent November-ish basecoat.

In general I hadn't and wasn't planning the pattern specifically. I wanted to break the form of the plane a bit, which in turn meant that wherever there was a longer part, I added stripe-like areas across it - when there was a longer straight bit, I added some irregular shapes along and over the edges. Now these two greyish blues didn't really give me powerful tools against the form of the vehicle, but not all camo jobs were of the high-contrast type.

The highlight colour

As mentioned, to complement the two main colours (that were to cover most of the surface) were brothers at least, a more standing-out colour was more than welcome to bring some life to the whole show. This task was delegated to a light blue (VMA 71317 All Sv. Gol Light Blue) paint.

I didn't want to do large volumes of this bright colour, I attempted instead to attack corners and longer edges that were contrary to the nature itself. Again I went without a deliberate plan, progressing with my gut feeling.


Canopy bits and priming

The endless pain of transparent pieces

Being of an excited mind I didn't remember what I had said the last time about the sharpness of a hobby knife. Luckily these pieces didn't have overcomplicated shapes on them.

At least I had the decency to check the instructions, just in case, before taking the glue out. My transparent sprue had four pieces: two canopy pieces, a bit for the targeting reticle and something that looked like a part of a landing gear light, but that didn't seem to have a place in the instructions.

I glued the targeting thing onto the dashboard. Maybe it got installed correctly, I hoped it did.

As usual I applied white glue on all the edges of the canopy pieces to glue them tightly both to the airframe and especially each other. I had this silly idea in my head that if I filled all the gaps with this goo they'd get airtight enough to keep my painstakingly handpainted cockpit details safe from the upcoming airbrush attack.

Priming I

The Flanker's priming was started from the upper half of the plane for I thought it might be the more complicated half, due to the limited amount of  handholds on the bottom. I was beginning to wonder if my primer had seen too many cycles around Sol already as it has been a bit more flakey during painting in the few last projects. I guess I also got too close to the target areas while painting as there was some puddling on one of the tail wings. That was something I could maybe sand and repaint later on.

Priming II

Spoiler: when priming the bottom of the plane I got somewhat enthusiastic and started painting the engine exhaust nozzles metallic (VMA 71065 Steel). I had no idea how but apparently I managed to knock the other nozzle clean off at some point. Damn.


Flanker main assembly 3/3

Not much was missing

Thanks to my timings the third and last proper building session was left with a couple of silly pieces left to install. First of them was the second main landing gear bay door, that didn't want to settle in as nicely as its friend on the other side, even with some gentle violence.

To the both lower outer corners of the engine air intakes I installed strakes that had somehow escaped my eyes in all the photos and 3d models I've ever encountered. Not that I had known to pay attention to such details, which seems to have emerged as the carrying theme of this project.

Thanks to the closed hatches all that remained was the installation of the pylons for the missiles. Of those I got six to glue on, with an interesting layout: two in a column into the middle of the belly of the plane, two under the engines themselves and a final pair under the wings.

Wikipedia was talking about ten hardpoints / pylons, from this model either the inner or outer underwing pylons were missing, but I really couldn't say, which ones. Both wingtips were supposed to be of the  missile-carrying variety, so from my point of view I was missing only two separately installable pieces but as I only had no missiles to put on those even if I had them, it  mattered little.

To my amateur eyes all six pylons looked identical, even though they should be, technically, somewhat different. That's because the typical armament of the plane consisted of R-27 and R-73 missiles, which were mounted on AKU-470 / APU-470 and APU-73 pylons respectively - but as a quick glance at the kit's sprues told me quickly, all the missiles were the same model but with different tips. So that didn't matter much, either. More about this stuff next time.


Flanker main assembly 2/2

Changes of mind on the assembly line

The most significant remaining pieces that affected the look and character of the plane were the tail wings (for the more aviation-minded people, vertical stabilizers) and I believe I got them installed pretty much straight. If I didn't, my eyes had been off again.

To the other side of the plane, fascinatingly onto the outer sides of the engines, I installed a couple of strakes (yes, I found their name from wikipedia's F-16 article), just like the vanes in the bottom of the F-16 a few years ago. The engines were impressive indeed.

As I've been talking about I had spent an amount of time planning how to step by step at this point. All that was thrown straight into /dev/null as I sliced the excess plastic bits off the landing gear bay doors and glued both the nose and right side doors permanently shut.

Of course I had pre-fitted them before cutting off the first fragment of plastic, no worries! The left side door I left for the next session as I didn't want to start rushing and ruining things.

On the top side I did little after the double tail wings, besides installing the air brake in place, in the closed mode. I guess I could've done it all open or partly open, but those ideas have always felt a bit goofy to me with a pilotless plane - but this has been, as always, my own mental problem.

A couple of pitot-tubes or somethings like them were added behind the pilot's place on to the sides. Maybe this time they'd also stay in place while painting.

This was, by the way, one of the main reasons I don't enjoy building these fantastic flying machines that much, not nearly as much as tanks: I'm not into them enough to bother to learn all the fine details, all the weird little bits and pieces that these contain, or whatever the hell this funky little knob is this time. I mean, in my ignorance I might leave off a vital piece of equipment :D


Flanker main assembly 1/2

Searching for the shape

Now that the cockpit was in a condition that I could live with I could get back to the business of building. As is known, the general sleek, smooth and kind of perfect shape of airplanes has been bothering me since the dawn of time itself, I haven't enjoyed the pressure these requirements put on me. That in mind I prepared for this stage with tape and pegs.

Half + half

Thanks to the cockpit tub being glued in place ages ago one of the key problems was out of my way - or made worse if it was misaligned, making fixing it even more annoying than normally. The die had been cast, onwards to glory!

Surprisingly the airframe halves settled together pretty nicely and without many hiccups. A couple of uglily grinning lengths I pressed together tightly and taped them shut for a while so I could do something a bit more motivating meanwhile.

Intake scoops

The intake vents, those funky lengthwise-running squarish tubes, didn't act up when I was assembling them. There was some sort of a miniramp that was added inside and while looking at them they looked like they didn't cover as much as I think they should, but what did I know about jet engines, anyway? After all, they were cleanly glued in, looked fine and that was just good enough for me.

I was somehow amused by the fact that the intake things weren't glued flush against the underbelly of the Flanker but they lied on top of some small riser bits (re: photo above, left edge, arrowhead-like protrusion). My very vague memory from the MiG-29 project said that its engine air intakes were different, but it really wouldn't be the first time my memories had gotten corrupted over mere seconds, not to mention years.

Saturn AL-31F

Next up I was going for the output ends of the engines. These were built out of three parts: on the bottom there was this afterburner disc and the nozzle setup that came in two cylindrical bits.

Good thing I had the patience to dry-fit the discs always before bringing out the glue, because the airframe wasn't as clean as I thought it was. The first disc fit like a glove, the second one tried to get jammed pointing a handful of degrees off. A few slashes with the x-acto knife solved that issue handily.

I really didn't count how many times I double checked that the nozzle parts were both in the correct order and set facing the right way, hopefully. At least both sets would be wrong the same way, as I really didn't know any better than to go with my "looks ok to me".


Again I got taken by surprise, in a positive way, by the kit. The main wings got installed without a hitch and they were, generally speaking, on their best behaviour. That tailplane was funny, with the extra edge piece was installed to fill the rear edge next to the exhaust bits. I dared to assume it had some important functions to take care of in the real world.

Well, that was already looking like a flier, even with half of the wings missing. After installing the other half, I got to ponder what to do in which order for the painting to go as smoothly as possible. While typing this post up I was thinking along the lines of leaving the landing gear and the landing gear bay doors uninstalled so that I could paint the bays and the landing gear setup easily, avoiding my typical "how the **** am I supposed to paint this part decently anymore when it's **** full of **** already?" rants.


Soviet cockpit II

Brushing on some paint

My first idea was to paint the subassembly I finished the last time and the inner parts of the upper airframe half with Jade Green and then work on that base depending on how it ended up looking. This was a very fine idea but it got foiled by the paint that had dried inside the bottle after all these years. I then tried a slightly greener paint (Goblin Green) but that was more like a wash than anything else due to some ancient mistreatment of mine. Graaaaah. I shouldn't have applied it anywhere, but I tried and it failed.

The pilot's dashboard's cover I painted light grey (VMA 71276 USAF Light Grey) at this point. I had a suspicion I might attack it somehow later on.

Base mixture

Before any further attempts I glued the workstation onto the lower airframe piece. I thought that this way I could maybe paint it a bit more easily and cleanly.

For the new improved cockpit interior I mixed some blue (VMA 71111 UK Mediterranean Blue) with a bit of green (VMA 71017 Russian Green 4BO) and repainted all the fugly bits. The ejection seat I left pretty much untouched for now.


After a chat with a colleague who has painted Warhammer pieces just for the fun of it I knew that the nearest GW shop was practically next door from my workplace. I remembered that at some point Citadel had had a colour called something like Hawk Turquoise and it sounded like something I should consider for this case.

Of course they had changed their paint lines, names and everything again since the last time I had perused their wares. I bought two paints that I thought sounded and looked like something useful. Then I painted over the mix of mine with a different blue (Citadel "Layer" Ahriman Blue).

To give the IP some life I took a couple of surfaces under my aim and painted those with a lighter blue (Citadel "Layer" Temple Guard Blue) to represent a case of "here's a new module and it was only painted with a different mix, so stop whining, comrade". This was all a bit more blue than I had intended and I thought if I should wash them with green but I realized that it wouldn't most likely work at all as I wanted to. I let them be to avoid ruining anything.

The IP and controls

This Su-27 was clearly modeled after a source older than myself, a thing which I assumed true based on the amount of round dials and nothing else on the instrument panel. All the modern humbug like MFDs and large panels were not there. Not that any of the planes on this scale had ever jumped at me in a good or bad way with their panels (for some reason I had this feeling that the IP bits were always the same, no matter which plane you were building).

All I wanted for it was that it was good enough, meaning something I'd believe at a glance. If one could see anything through the canopy later on.


I spent a while in the image search world for relevant sources. Of the things I found I copied a few locally as backups and added an URL to the one I had taken, as the caption. Maybe they'd be enough for this project.






Imitating life

Detailing began with the most obvious thing: I painted a vertical white (VMA 71279 Insignia White) line through the center of the panel and a pair of horizontal smaller lines to divide the dialspace somehow. Those extra lines wouldn't be noticeable at all later on. As far as I had understood the point of the center-axis line was to help the pilot whenever the plane ended up in a difficult spin, stall or whatnot. I could not even imagine the methods the instructors used to use to get the "align the stick with that white band" to become a no thought -operation in certain circumstances.

After that I painted all the lumps and protrusions on the IP and the armrests with black (VGC 72051 Black). In addition I also did the base and the grip part of the joystick black and added a couple of small dots onto the joystick's tip as hat switches and such. The ejection seat I also painted black in the end even though I had entertained the thought of doing that with Russian Green instead. As usual, the seat was ascetic, so I didn't go and paint any harnesses, straps or anything that one could see in the reference images above.

Finally I decorated a couple of the dials and some buttons with red (VMA 71085 Ferrari Red) and added a dot to the joystick's end to function as some sort of a trigger. Again, I doubted anyone'd ever notice them, but they were there anyway. The funny thing I've also noticed on these 1:72 planes is that the ejection seat triggering handles or loops have never been modeled in the kit, which is funny because I've always thought that'd be a good, visible detail.