Snap Refit: RAAF BEAUFIGHTER
Posted by Matty on January 21, 2010, 11:10:47, in reply to "PAIRED TWINS: twin-engined WWII naval-related aircraft series build"
Abandoned last week by ModelFleet's Loyal Lurkers - who must've all been out demonstrating against the Banks RipOff, the Insurance RipOff and the latest, the Haiti Invasion "Katrinazation", the lowest form of US Government exploitation yet - I cast about searching for any build which I could finish off quickly, and was able to grab my RAAF Beaufighter. |
Already in process of conversion from a Mark X to a -VI - the latest Mark which Aussie 22 Squadron actually had by the time of the Bismarck Sea attack, and anyway with the earlier Beaufighter look I really preferred - all this build needed (structurally) was removal of the dorsal spine and restoration of the original, earlier Beaufighter "hog-back":
Click on Image to Enlarge At left, the spine was lopped off opening a long triangular gap which was then filled with a wedge of plasticard (white), its seams simultaneously filled via liberal use of superglue-putty. Note the observer/radioman's dome had been removed (and decals carefully shielded under aluminum tape, not shown) for protection from harm during the entire process. At right, after smoothing/finishing the filled seams, a triangular chunk of the ex-spine served perfectly to restore the bottom leading corner of the rudder, similarly attached/puttied in one step, using CA putty. Again, while smoothing/surfacing the rudder all surrounding areas were protected, then masked and the entire strip of repairs painted a uniform green (see below), simulating field panel-replacement (i.e., due to operational damage).
But the reason this refit had been sitting, waiting until now, had been my search for a good copper spraypaint, to address the Hercules engine-cowlings, which I had mistakenly painted rust-colored, misinterpreting the box (and other) art of this aircraft. I since learned the cowling leading edges - clearly integrated parts of the exhaust manifolds - were made not of steel but of copper (no doubt some strengthened alloy, which would make it a type of bronze), as clearly also depicted on many models seen more recently:
Click on Image to Enlarge This built example of a late-Mark Halifax being a typical example.
And occasionally a picture of the real thing will also show the cowling rims very bright - in presumably a bare-copper finish:
Such as here on an actual 22 Squadron Beaufighter, possibly Australian-built, from later in WWII (and, ironically, probably a Mark X).
However the vast majority of both actual photography as well as artwork show a much darker/duller finish:
Click on Image to Enlarge Both the depiction of the Beaufort bomber at left, and at right a 22 Squadron Beaufighter - this one, photographed 9/19/43, and very likely an actual participant at Bismarck Sea - are far more typical in their depictions of these engine cowlings: perhaps vaguely metallic, especially on the leading rims, but otherwise dark - more so, often, than even the darkest camouflage color. Only when I discovered these were copper (alloy) did it "click" - per an early childhood recollection of copper pot-bottoms in my mother's kitchen - that the artwork which had misled me had been struggling to depict the look of burnt copper. Which is indeed a very dark, much less reddish, and with varying degrees of copper sheen coming through it: clearly, a painting job for a wash(es) over base coat of (preferrably Tamiya) copper.
Accordingly, for months I kept my eyes open in my local shops for a Tamiya copper (or bronze) spray paint(s), however none (one of which since went out of business) ever carried it - if it exists. What I did find, only last week, was this:
Click on Image to Enlarge Pactra Fiery Orange (RC302), at left, though having a rather metal-flake finish, still provided a good start on a (heavily) burnt copper finish, as attempted at right, with a wash mixture of Testors Gloss Brown (1240), Testors ModelMaster Dark Green (FS 34079) and Testors Flat Black (1249), in high-quality mineral spirits. These pics make it all look so easy - in fact the masking of everything, particularly inside the engine nacelles and around the props (done with extensive use of latex maskoid) was a bear. But even more challenging was, once again, the difficulty of projecting the final appearance of the still-wet wash (note the tilt, to direct its flow), shown at right, which got me only close to the desired result (see below). In retrospect, I think optimal results would have derived from simply leaving out the gloss brown entirely.
Perhaps I should have left all the masking on and just re-done/tweaked the engines, but instead I put the model up to ponder its appearance and decide what more, if anything, I should do to it:
Note at top the new, "hog-back" clearly does its job to restore the "early Beaufighter" look - I am well satisfied with that. And the engine colwings show just a hint of metallic copper shining through, particularly around the leading rims - exactly as desired. However the overwash is considerably redder and glossier than intended - again, both accruing to the Testors Gloss Brown, which could simply be left out of the above mixture (in favor of simply more flat Dark Green and Flat Black.
What do any of y'all out there think? Should I re-do these engines as well as I (know I) can, or just call her "finished", take a bunch of pics as-is and update her gallery entry with them?