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.

Kitty Hawk T-6, Pt. 4 – Assembly

A smooth surface on a model that will have a natural metal finish is crucial and Kitty Hawk doesn’t make this easy with this kit.  The deficiencies here become pretty apparent rather quickly.

In this section of the build review, we’re going to take a look at the main assembly of the kit, including the fuselage, wings, and moving surfaces.

The fuselage halves themselves went together easily enough. On the top side, the seams lined up well and disappeared with TET. On the belly, however, the halves didn’t line up properly, leaving a step between them. This wouldn’t be a huge deal, but there are some raised details on the bottom that will be sanded away.

After the halves are together, there are two panels that need to be installed, piece numbers D5 and D6.  They were both a struggle.

Starting with the panel behind the cockpit, it simply didn’t fit.  It was too long to fit in its spot and too narrow to reach both sides of the fuselage.


Out came my handy-dandy razor saw.

I cut that bitch in half and filled the gap with CA and Bondo.  This was no small gap.  The panel was almost a full millimeter short of spanning the distance it needed to.  Cutting it in half did cause a minor issue with the locating holes for the antenna, but they were easily fixed once said antenna was installed.

I did end up with a gap on the aft end of the panel, but it was my fault. I didn’t sand it square.  This wasn’t as big of a problem as the canyon dividing the panel.

Once that headache was mitigated, I moved to the cowl panel between the engine and cockpit.

The kit allows for two versions of this panel, for two variants of the T-6, and the plane I’m building required me to cut out a square and add the replacement section, piece number D4.  To no one’s surprise, the guides for cutting out the square on the panel are not sized properly for the replacement area.

Again, I was left with another gap of about a millimeter.

This one proved to be very difficult to get at with normal sanding tools. I added some CA to the bottom of the gap to act as a stop and filled it with layers of Perfect Plastic Putty. Once it was built up enough that it was raised out of the gap, I shaved the surface with my knife and carefully sanded with some 1500 grit sandpaper to removed the knife marks.

The corrected panel was then installed onto the fuselage halves.  On the starboard side, the fit was great.  The port side, however, had (can you guess?) another big gap.  This problem came from inside the cockpit.  The front instrument panel sits too high.

(I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but the fit really isn’t one of the strong suits of this kit.)

I shaved off some of the IP, but I couldn’t go too far before I started cutting into the actual instruments.  I even brought out my Dremel and thinned the panel as far as I could before breaking through.  That still wasn’t enough to get the damn thing to sit flat.

It was time to bring out the big guns.

Now, normally I don’t like to use such drastic measures to hold my builds together, but in this case, it was necessary.  Using a combination of TET and MEK, there was still so much resistance that it wouldn’t stay together unless I physically held it together in my hands.  I tried holding it for a few minutes to no avail, thus my turning to Mr. Quick Grip and a steel block.

Even after my intensive efforts to keep the panel down, the fit still wasn’t perfect on the port side.  Thankfully, it’s a separate panel on the real-life aircraft so it didn’t need to be super smooth.

I was really beginning to have enough of this kit.

I moved on to the wings and horizontal stabilizers.  I was delighted to find that they both went together without much of an issue.  Of course, there was still a small seam at the joints, but they were taken care of, again, with Perfect Plastic Putty.

I did remove the formation lights from the wingtips as South African Harvards didn’t have them there.  They were situated on the top and bottom of the wings on the real aircraft.  I’ll add them back to the aircraft after paint.

At this point, there wasn’t much left to the assembly phase of the T-6.  I attached the front and rear sections of the canopy while I waited for my corrected glass from Alley Cat Models.  They were glued in place with TET and gaps filled with Perfect Plastic Putty once again.

As noted in a lot of other places, and I believe in part one of my review, Kitty Hawk only provides the canopy for late model T-6s – those without the extra framework.  That just didn’t cut it for me, which is why I went with the aftermarket replacement from Alley Cat.

I’m a little bit worried about the putty showing under the windscreen since there wasn’t any paint to cover it, but we’ll see what happens when I pull the masks off.

And I’m finally onto my favorite part of modeling, paint and weathering.  This phase of the build really tested my patience and I feel like a lot of the problems were unnecessary.  In this day and age, things should fit properly and there is really no excuse for piss-poor engineering and quality control.  I shouldn’t have to cut a panel in half because it’s a millimeter too narrow for its hole, nor should I have to cut into one of most interesting areas of an aircraft to get a panel to sit flush.

That said, it looks like a T-6 and I think I’ll have a pretty good representation once she’s painted.  You can look forward to paint and weathering in the next installment of my review.