Kitty Hawk T-6, Pt. 5 – Paint, Decals, and Weathering

This is where everything comes together.  And, even better, it’s my absolute favorite part of this hobby.  After all the work involved with cutting and sanding and test fitting and gluing, the time arrives where a build comes to life.  The time for paint, markings, and weathering.

Looking back at what it took to get to this point, the kit had its flaws, but they weren’t really anything that brought the build to a halt.  I think the biggest struggle was getting the panel behind the cockpit to fit right.  But with some careful cutting the problem was very manageable.

So how did I paint this girl?

As I do on 90% of my builds, I primed with Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black.  On the areas where it would remain bare metal, I polished the Mr. Surfacer with Novus #2, their fine scratch remover.  Polishing gave the surface a nice, smooth finish that would allow the Alclad Aluminum to perform at its best.

I used Alclad for the bulk of the work simply because that’s what I had on hand.  Though it looked fine once it was down, it didn’t spray very well.  This is a problem I’ve been having with my stash of Alclad.  I don’t know if it’s because the bottles are older, but I’ve just had a hard time getting a smooth spray with it.

If I had a bigger selection of it, I would have gone totally with Mr. Paint for the metallics.  I did use it for areas of the build, namely the landing gear, engine, and sliding sections of the canopy.  I would have preferred to use it for the aluminum on the main fuselage and wings.

But back to what I did use…

After putting down the Alclad Aluminum, I masked and prepped the tail.  To get the faded look, I tried a few things on my paint mule.

First, I tried putting the Krylon down directly on the Mr. Surfacer.  It was too dark.  You can see that on the tip of the port wing in the photo above.  I then tried some MRP Marking Yellow on the Mr. Surfacer, followed by the Krylon (the tip of the starboard wing).  It gave me a color that I was happy with for the day-glo.  The Marking Yellow also gave a great look for the faded areas of the day-glo, which you can see in areas B and E.

I applied what I had learned to the tail section, putting down a layer of Marking Yellow followed by a controlled addition of Krylon, trying to match the weathered paint in my reference photos.

Happy with my results there, I moved on to the wings.  There, I decided to put the dark gray, that covers the anti-glare panel and tops of the wings, on first.  Since I had the color already in my airbrush, I painted the anti-glare panel at this point as well.  I then masked off the gray and added the day-glo to the wings following the same process as used on the tail.

The wingtips and area around the landing lights didn’t have the same faded look as the rest of the wing, so I applied the Krylon with a bit more opacity to give the correct look. The bottoms of the wings were also painted in the day-glo pattern applied to the topside.  Though I didn’t fade the bottoms as they wouldn’t take the same amount of sunlight and weather.

Typically, I would add a clear coat of Tamiya X-22 thinned with MLT at this point.  But since I went with the natural metal finish, I couldn’t add a clear coat without messing up the sheen of the metallics.  So decals were going straight down on the paint.

I started with the Castle of Good Hope and Springbok roundels, as well as the large numbers that adorned the sides of the fuselage.

Taking a closer look at the decals, they are a bit of an enigma.  They look really thick on the paper and even the ink looks a little splotchy in places.  But once they’re on the model, they settle down really well and the carrier film all but disappears.  I was really concerned about the large black and yellow identification numbers, but they settled nicely over all of the raised surface detail.

I liberally applied Solvaset to it, and worked it with a cotton swab while it was settling, but it was perfect once it was dry.

Getting these down allayed my fears, so I moved onto the rest of the decals.

One thing to keep in mind, and maybe it was just because of my process, but once the decals were off the backing paper and on the model, they were very hard to move around.  Almost impossible.  This caused me some problems with the large number decals that go under the wings.  In that case, I decided to just use some vinyl and cut my own masks for the numbers.  I think it ending up giving a better look than the decal would have otherwise.

Weathering-wise, there really wasn’t a lot to do.  The plane was pretty clean in my reference photos, so I kept my build that way.  I added a few stains around the access ports on the belly, as well as some stains coming from the cowl and on the flap ribbing.  I also gave the whole plane a light panel line wash with Ammo of Mig washes.

So that about wraps it up.  I appreciate everyone who took the time to follow along with me and give their comments and feedback.  I’ll be posting the wrap-up in the next few days for anyone who hasn’t cared to read through the whole build log.

This was really my first attempt to do a full build log as I went, so thank you for bearing with me while I figured out the best way for me to do these posts.  If you haven’t seen the finished build on the internet yet, I’ll leave you with a little teaser until the wrap-up is available.

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