Weather that paint job

Many folks like to build their models looking factory fresh, while others want that weathered look. A good, realistic weathering finish really gives a model it’s own life. I’m currently working on 21st Century Toys 1/32 F4U-1A Corsair, which is a great bargain. It will be in the marking’s of Ike Kepford’s White 29 of VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” fame.

In researching Corsairs that served in the Solomon’s in ’43 and ’44, I saw that the Corsair’s finish really took a beating. Paint fading on nearly every part, resulting in a mottled patchwork of blues. I’ve not done a lot of weathering and shading with my airbrush, so I wasn’t quite sure how to approach this build. And with the tri-color camo scheme the Navy used during that time, I needed to find a method for mottling and fading different colors.

I’ve never had much luck with pre-shading, the technique where you airbrush in the panel lines with black, then “fill-in” the base color. What I have had success in doing is post-shading, darkening the panel lines after the base coat is down. However, I needed a faded appearance too, with multiple shades of blues.

I realized part of my problem in pre-shading was not always fully filling in the panels, or over-spraying too much, and covering up the pre-shade. Figuring I better play to my strengths, I thought that maybe putting down a full base coat of the darkest color could serve as both base and pre-shade, then succeeding coats of a lightened base coat would not only provide mottling, but also make the panel lines stand out some.

I started by applying the base coat of PollyScale USN Intermediate Blue to the sides of the fuselage and the vertical stabilizer. (I’d already painted and shaded the undersides.) I then added a few drops of white into the color cup of my Aztek 470, and applied the lightened shade inside the panels. As I wasn’t having to cover up the stark black normally associated with pre-shading, I didn’t have to be as precise. Once I applied that coat, I added a few more drops of white, and began to apply spots and patches here and there. I finished it off with one more pass of a fourth lighter shade.

I then switched to PollyScale’s US Sea Blue, and repeated the process.

I certainly wouldn’t hold this out as a perfect example- it’s my first attempt at something like this. What I did learn is that when you’re modeling, trying some creative approaches can not only a lot of fun, but can also stretch your modeling skills.

Next time you’re needing a weathered, mottled finish, give this technique a shot.