My first airbrush

For my first kit I used mainly paint brushes and small roller for the bigger parts. The thought of buying my own airbrush had ofcourse crossed my mind. I guess I was scared though! Airbrushing as a kid was something my dad had to do for me and my brother and he ofcourse didn’t want to do this 3 times a week. Having to wait and plan your airbrush jobs made it a bigger deal I guess!

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The finished cockpit for my first Spitfire Mk. IXc kit.

After the wingtip disaster on my first kit I order the FW190 A8/N11 I am currently working on. I went to Hobbycar the next day to pick it up and since there was another customer in the shop I went around to look at some of the airbrushes. When the storeowner had showed me the kit and all the stuff I had ordered along with it I asked him if he could tell me what a good starter kit would be.

He showed me a couple of sets, both with compressor and with airbrush propellant. I had absolutely no idea what was what, but when he showed me a 55,- euro kit which basically had everything I needed with a compressor I decided to just go for it.

Ofcourse my first experiences weren’t too great. There were a lot of splatters as the mixture was way too thin.. besides that I had already used the small roller to apply the aluminium paint on the body. The parts that didn’t look good after that I removed with Paint Remover, but since the roller and the paint brush left quite a different thickness things didn’t look good. This model already felt more and more like a write off but I atleast wanted to try the camo on the top of the hood.

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Where to start.. sloppy masking, inconsistent coverage and probably the big thing I want to differently for my next camo is to ambitiously try to do it without masking the other camo parts!

I live near the militairy base of Gilze-Rijen, and ofcourse I can often see the helicopters and trucks up close. The camo on the trucks for instance isn’t neatly lined out like I did in this model and seems to be applied from freehand as well. Ofcourse when painting models there is a camo you are trying to recreate but still it doesn’t make sense to use masking tape.. I guess that’s something you can have a discussion about.

With the FW190 I have been able to build up some confidence with my airbrushing techniques. A bit of reading up and watching a couple of YT channels showed me the error of my ways.. too thin a mixture but applied too thickly leaving a nice layer of splattered water. So my mixture is a bit thicker, and I apply in a couple of layers. I like some of the results I got so far..

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I am still having some problems with the longer airbrushing sessions, but that’s for another blog.

4 comments

  1. Looks like you’re figuring things out pretty quick!
    One thing to keep in mind, there are no absolute rules on how airplanes were painted. The Luftwaffe most often had factory finishes modified at depots before deployment, and the depot often used a sprayer with no masking. So patterns would be unique and a little sloppy. The RAF by comparison had carefully defined patterns usually masked in a more controlled setting.
    Which just means look at some photos of what you’re building to figure out where to mask and what to freehand. I often find masking to be the single longest step of the entire build.
    I’m sure you’ve seen on You Tube the various ways of masking and adjusting the coverage of your airbrush. There is a dizzying number of ways of doing things. Trail and error is the only absolute rule.

    1. That is an interesting thought to keep in mind! I have to admit I am a bit of a tight ass when it comes to straying from the manual. If I see a livery on a FW190 A3 I wouldn’t just apply that to an A8 because that would possibly not be realistic you know? While that ofcourse is pretty misguided, because how am I or anyone seeing the model to know what is or what is not realistic?

      For example with the silver/alu 601 squadron Spitfire you see in this blog I found some discussion on the internet: there is only one picture of the MJ250 body during takeoff, and it is a bad quality picture where the area in front of the cockpit is just a dark smear. Some people would say it was probably just dirt to keep the sunlight from reflecting and blinding the pilot. While that is possibly a more likely story than just the front area of the plane having a camo I decided to just follow the instructions and go for the camo..

      1. Yeah colors and markings are an area of endless debate. Even photos are often argued over for the exact what, where and when of it. A photo can also be too light, too dark, out of focus or poorly reproduced. There is also often a difference between what written orders say and what was happening in the real world.
        Usually what I do is compare the markings guide for whatever subject I’m building and compare it to whatever photos I can find… then make my best guess!
        Admittedly I’ve occasionally made less likely choices just because I wanted to see the look.

        Even when you visit an air museum there’s a lot of 1/1 scale modeling going on. The restorers and museum staff do their research and make their best guesses. I was at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo a couple years ago and watched them working on an FM-2 Wildcat. I was asking them about some of the interior details and they showed me their primary reference guide; it was for the F4F-4 NOT an FM-2. I’m not sure they even realized that General Motors made a few changes from how Grumman did things. I don’t even know for sure, it might have been fine for what they were using it for. Maybe someone higher up the food chain knew exactly why they had chosen that reference. But it left me with quite a few questions!

        In the end there’s only a few of us nerds who are even really aware of the debate. I’m just tickled pink if my wife looks at it and says “Wildcat”.

      2. Haha, so true. The small anachronistic mistakes really grind my gears while the next guy or girl doesn’t even know. But at the same time it’s part of why the subject is so intriguing isn’t it? Pragmatic choices probably reigned in a time where things like camo were likely easier shifted to the second plan as long as it wouldn’t make you stand out like a Christmas tree or be shot down by friendly fire! It is hard to expect the exact details to be right while those details were presumably not always followed to the last smear!

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