While many of us don’t have time to scale a cockpit interior or lay down rivets, we would like to do a little extra to make our model more personalized. Award winning scale rc modeler, Lyle Vasser, lets us in on the secrets to simple and easy weathering techniques that can make your aircraft come to life.

Working with the panel lines

The fiberglass on this model has great detail molded in so we want to take full advantage of that. Unfortunately a model fuselage can’t have very deep panel lines like the full size aircraft, so to make them look deeper we darken them up a bit. I’ve read other modelers use a wash technique whereas they wash a thinned down mixture of black and then wipe it off leaving it in the cracks.

I don’t know what I do wrong, but my wash doesn’t stay in the cracks which defeats the purpose. For me, I use a very thin brush and paint a grimy black mixture of paint (Model Masters Black, Leather, Blue and Dark Umber all mixed together. I almost never use black.) into the panel lines and any that runs out of the line, I wipe off. I’ve got a pretty steady hand so this goes fairly quick.

As you can see the type of brush that I used is called a “liner” brush. Go figure. The panel line coming out of the Star is partially completed. See the difference?

Here is the right fuse before painting in panel lines. I also paint a thin line under hatches and anything that breaks the surface of the fuse. This gives the hatch or panel an exaggerated shadow. The reason we exaggerate shadows is to make up for the fact that this airplane is not full size. The full size aircraft would have a darker shadow under hatches and the like, but the small size model can’t have that dark of shadows because of everything is smaller and doesn’t produce as dark a shadow as its full scale counterpart.

This is the left fuse after panel lines and shadows are painted in. The shadowing and painted lines gives it a little more punch.

More detail of the fuse side. What the heck is the red rectangle?! That was a fire extinguisher hatch. Definitely adds color to the model and it is accurate. I wonder how handy that fire extinguisher really was on the actual aircraft when it was needed??

All insignia are on, all major markings are on the plane. Now I’m going to make it look like it has been used a lot by cadets getting ready for war. First place to start is the wing walk areas. These were coated with a non-slip coating, pretty much like sandpaper to keep the skyward bound aviator from slipping and falling down the wing in a very un-heroic fashion!

Wing Walks

I found a photo of a Texan that I thought would be very interesting to duplicate its worn wing walk areas. Note how the non-slip has peeled off from use. I’ve never see that effect duplicated, so with an okay from Dave, I set out to replicate this effect. After masking off the basic rectangle shape of the wing walk area, I tore little bits of masking tape and placed them in similar fashion to the wear patterns from my source.

Now to paint the non-slip material on the model. I created my own recipe for 1/5 scale non-slip coating. A lot of modelers use sandpaper or actual non-slip coating that comes in a spray can. I think the graininess is way too coarse for this scale. I use Liquitex Acrylic paint mixed with Micro-balloons. The Liquitex is fairly thick and the micro-balloons give the paint a grainy texture that looks just right. Put enough micro-balloons in with the Liquatex so that the paint is saturated with them. I then just painted the mixture on with a brush.

Weathering the wing walks

Of course we can’t just paint it a deep rich black and leave it that way. Doesn’t look real! So now to weather it down. First I airbrushed a light grey wash over the black. After that dried, I wet the surface down and applied a good dose of Model Masters Acrylic “Leather”, then rubbed that back and forth to spread the color.

While the paint was still wet, I daubed at it with a paper towel very lightly to break up the streaking and to give a kind of “pitter-patter” effect to the surface. This subtle mottling of the Leather really replicates what happens to the actual wing walk. Mud, grime collects on the surface, it then gets ground in by people walking on the surface. Then with rain and airstream, it dissolves and flows back and against the fuselage. The effect is subtle, but very effective.

When I pulled away the tape I was extremely pleased at how realistic the wing walk looked! The last photo really shows the grain and peeled effect very well. The blue paint under the non-slip coating will eventually look like it has worn down to the aluminum, but that will come later.

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