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Weathering a Spitfire!


Before decaling, I applied two coats of Testors Glosscote. The kit decals were used with no real trouble, Micro Set and Micro Sol being used to settle them into the panel lines. The upper and lower wing roundels are located on gun access panels and gun bay vents, so I used extra applications of Micro Sol and Solvaset decal solvents to make them conform. Even so, I had to prick air bubbles with a knife blade and apply more Solvaset over two days to make the decals lie tight on the surface.

After a day for the decals to set. I wiped excess solvent residue from the model with water and a rag before misting two coats of Testors Flatcote to seal everything.

My basic approach to weathering is, when it looks like it's not quite enough it's time to stop. This Spitfire was UK-based, most likely at a developed grass field, and groundcrew were probably spending a great deal of time wiping off exhaust and gun blast stains and leaks and repainting damaged or worn airframe areas. You're not going to see the same sort of sun-bleaching that you'd see in North Africa or Burma -- paint on a European-based Spitfire generally faded in a more subtle, water and wind-worn manner.

Again, consult photos from a particular time period and theater of operations to guide your weathering.

I first mixed a dark gray wash from Apple Barrel acrylic craft paints and dish soap, applying the wash with a fine brush in panel lines and control surface hinge lines. After that dried, the dish soap made it easy to clean up excess wash with a damp cotton swab.

Adding a touch of brown to the wash, I then streaked it on the lower fuselage from the undernose oil tank area to simulate prop-blown leakage (Fig. 4). Oil leaking along panel lines often seeps into the paint, so allow washes to flow slightly outside the panel lines in such cases.

I then took a Prismacolor silver pencil and applied a few chips, mainly in areas where skin panels would rub and in walkway areas along the wing root and leading edge (Fig. 5) The Prismacolor pencils can be blended by rubbing with a cloth or paper towel, so I used it to scuff up the wing root areas where the pilot would be boarding and the ground crew climbing to fuel and rearm the plane. I also used a microbrush to dab almost-dry Testors Silver paint on the walkways to better simulate a scuffed rather than chipped effect (Fig. 6).

Weathering the spinner and propeller is an opportunity to make a highlight of any model stand out (Fig. 7). The basis for this model swung a Rotol propeller with wood/composite Jablo blades, which makes weathering even more interesting. I lightly drybrushed the blades from leading to trailing edges with three shades of increasingly lighter gray paint, and chipped the leading edges with Testors Brass. The real Jablo blades had brass cap strips on the leading edges, and that applies to blades on Mk. IX Spits as well -- try that on contest judges and your friends!

I also scuffed the inboard wing leading edges with silver paint (Fig. 8), because groundcrew often hung over that area to slide off or to work on the upper areas of the engine.

I also used an O brush and Testors silver to lightly chip at the dzus fasteners along the engine cowling panels, screw holes on various access panels on the wings and fuselage, and to apply minimal chipping along the canopy frames and cockpit access door (top figure).

Copyright 2002 - Text and Photos by Mike Still (modelcitizen62). All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

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