Sunday, January 25, 2015

Black 13 – That was to be expected! | Part Five

25 The 2nd layer of mud stains was applied
with a thicker and slightly darker paint
than the 1
st layer. I applied this heavier
stain by loading up a brush with paint
and splashing the stain onto the model
using the airbrush.

26 The mud stains were also applied over the
exhaust stains and the canopy using the
authentic photos as a reference.

27 The leading edges of the wings and horizontal
stabilizers also received mud stains sprinkled on
by airbrush at a low pressure setting.
Scuff markings caused by ground personnel
working on the crash site were added
with a wooden chisel.

28 The leading edges of the wings were hit
by mud lumps thrown up by the propeller blades
digging into the ground. These marks were
added with a wooden toothpick and mud paste.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Black 13 – That was to be expected! | Part Four

18 Oil streaks were added using a
brush and
MODELMATES oil brown
weathering fluid, followed
by a layer of sprinkled on
dark mud color.
19 Pigments and a fresh mud color
were slightly mixed and brushed
onto the lower center section
of the fuselage and wings.
20 I dropped lumps of differently colored pigments
onto the lower surfaces.

21 Next I sprinkled some airbrush cleaner over the pigments
to achieve the effect of defrosted mud lumps.
22 The darker and »wetter« mud stains were framed by a
light colored, »dry« mud color (Kursk Earth). For this,
I soaked a brush with paint and used the airbrush to splash
the stains onto the model.

23 I used a hair dryer to achieve a crackled effect on
the larger dried mud lumps.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Black 13 – That was to be expected! | Part Three

The main emphasis of black 13´s finish is, of course, the dirt and mud stains. Black 13 slithered over the frozen ground so I decided to add mud stains to the lower engine cowling, center fuselage, and lower wing surfaces with successively less mud staining towards the wing tips and rear fuselage.
Photos of bent propeller blades revealed that the paintwork on the concave inner side of the bending chips due to the compression of the paintwork. On the convex outside of the bending, the paintwork remains almost undamaged due to its ductility.
13 Brass barrels for the MG131.

14 Heavily weathered and cracked insignias achieved by
brushing on solvents, carefully ...!

15 All three propeller blades show mud stains
as the engine was still running on impact
with the ground. To create the mud stains
and scuff markings, I placed a few drops
AK interactive dark mud color on a plastic card.
I added some pigments of different shades
and slightly (!) mixed them to get a paste of
paint and pigments.

16 The mud paste was applied to the blades
using a spatula and striking longitudinally along
the propeller blades. I left this to dry
for around 30 minutes and then removed
some of the semi-dry paste with the
backside of a scalpel, again striking
longitudinally along the blade to create the
scuff markings on the propeller blades.
The paste was also splashed onto the spinner
using an old brush.

17 Spinner, propeller blades and the upper
forward area of the engine cowling
show traces of spilled oil.
I used
MODELMATES oil brown weathering
fluid for this purpose. I sprinkled
it on using an old brush and let it
dry for a few minutes. I repeated
the process a few times to build up
the stain in several layers. Finally, I added
the oil runs with a fine brush.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Black 13 – That was to be expected! | Part Two

Camouflage and markings

Black 13 wore field-applied white winter camouflage over a supposedly factory standard day fighter camouflage of RLM 74 graugrün (gray-green), RLM 75 grauviolett (gray-violet) and RLM 76 lichtblau (light blue). The spinner was RLM 04 gelb (yellow) with a freehand painted dark gray spiral. The Ostfront (eastern front) recognition markings consisted of RLM 04 colored fuselage band, rudder, lower wingtips and lower engine cowling.

The Balkenkreuze (national insignias) were masked off rather crudely prior to the application of the white camouflage, partially cutting off the black outline of the Balkenkreuze on the fuselage leaving only very thin outlines visible. The Hakenkreuz (swastika) on both sides of the vertical fin seems to be a solid black with no outlines. Both fuel filling ports display a yellow triangle stencil; all other stencils seem to have been erased by the field-applied white camouflage or mud stains. The tactical code »black 13« was applied over the white camouflage and interestingly used two different fonts on each side.
06 The first step in the weathering process was to apply an oil wash of
ivory black and raw umber heavily diluted with white spirit. I applied a
heavier wash on the engine cowling and the wing roots where more grime
would have accumulated and a successively lighter wash towards the
wingtips and rear fuselage.

07 The dark exhaust stains are a prominent feature of the finish
of black 13. I airbrushed a first layer of exhaust stains using acrylic
flat black and red brown (both
Tamiya) heavily diluted with
denatured alcohol. Using my
Iwata Custom Micron SB airbrush at
a low air pressure setting, I successively built up the exhaust stains in
vertical streaks followed by a light mottling of stains towards the
rear end where the exhaust stains vanished on the fuselage sides.
A few strokes in the direction of the air flow completed the
first layer of exhaust stains.

08 I partially removed the stains by polishing the wing root area
with a brush and tooth paste. I then added some scratches and
scuff markings to the stains with a scalpel and a wooden
toothpick. This was followed by a second layer of exhaust stains,
scratches and scuff markings.

09 All 3 canopy parts were masked on both the inner and
outer sides using
Kabuki tape. The framework was then
airbrushed RLM 66
schwarzgrau (black grey) and finally
white on the outer sides. Weathering was done using
an oil wash of raw umber.

10 The hatch of the storage compartment as well as the
detail on the rear deck was scratch built using copper wire,
styrene sheet and profiles. The piano hinge was recreated
by twisting two thin copper wires to form a spiral.
11 The inside of the hatch was finish in RLM 02,
the outside in RLM 66 black grey.
Chipping was done with a fine brush
and aluminum paint followed by
an oil wash of raw umber and ivory black.
12 The Eduard fabric seat belts were built according 
to the instructions. A light wash finished their construction.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Black 13 – That was to be expected! | Part One

After a break of almost 5 years from plastic scale modeling, I came across the Hasegawa 1/32nd scale kit of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 (Gustav) in my stash of unbuilt kits. Going through the Kagero #22 book on the Bf109G, I found two black and white photographs of a crash landed Gustav coded black 13 wearing white winter camouflage.
Two photographs of the authentic situation depict the following setting: Black 13 of 9./JG 51 crash landed in January 1944 either due to a mechanical problem or enemy gun fire (although no signs of this are recognizable in the photographs) on an initially snow-covered and harvested cornfield. Black 13 remained in this situation for some time before being finally recovered. Most of the snow had melted away in the meantime leaving only some residues of snow and slush underneath the right wing. The ground was frozen at the time of the crash landing as the aircraft did not dig in very deep into the frozen ground. Damage to the aircraft seemed to be limited; the rearward bent propeller blades indicate that the engine was running at the time of impact with the ground and the oil spill on the spinner, upper propeller blade and on the engine cowling seemed to originate from the ruptured oil tank directly behind the spinner. The left landing gear dropped out of its bay due to a loss of hydraulic pressure.
The aircraft in white winter camouflage with lightish dried mud stains on the dark, wet cornfield presents an attractive contrast and setting for a diorama.
Construction of the kit was straightforward. The kit has no fit issues and represents a fairly accurate reproduction of the famous Bf109 fighter. Nonetheless, I decided to use a resin cockpit set from Aires as I will leave the canopy open which allows a good view into the pilot´s compartment. On the authentic photographs, one can see the storage compartment hatch open, too.
The Hasegawa kit is lacking in rivet detail and I opted to use a stone beading tool to emboss the countersunk-head rivets using the Kagero drawings and photographs as a reference.
 Some snap shots:
01 Internal detail of the storage compartment
consists of a horizontal floor and a vertical
bulkhead at the rear end of the compartment. These
parts were made of sheet styrene. The longitudinal
stringers were made of u-shaped brass profiles.
The compartment was painted with
Tamiya AS-12,
followed by a coat of hairspray. The compartment
was then airbrushed RLM 02
grau (grey). The
weathering consists of chipping, scuffs and
scratches and a final oil wash of raw umber.

02 I embossed the rivets along panel lines freehand
with a stone beading tool and used strips of thick
tape as a guide when embossing rivet lines
across panels.

03 The fuselage and all lower surfaces were
airbrushed in RLM 76 and all upper surfaces in
RLM 75. Since the white winter camouflage was
quite dense on black 13, I just airbrushed one
upper surface color.

04 With the camouflage colors dry, I airbrushed
the white winter camouflage in three layers:
(i) vertical streaks on the fuselage and streaks
parallel to the airflow on all horizontal surfaces,
(ii) a cloudy mottling on all surfaces and finally
(iii) a layer of heavily thinned white lacquer to
blend all layers together.

05 I designed both styles of the »13« on the
computer and made some test printings on paper
to finally adjust the design. Next, I cut masks
from Kabuki tape of both »13« and attached
them to the fuselage and applied a
thin coat of black lacquer by airbrush.
Once the paint was dry I removed the masks.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Principles of Concealing coloration of military aircraft – Chapter One, Part 1


I have an interest for concealing coloration and camouflage since I built all those planes and tanks with stripes and mottlings in my childhood. I have a special interest in German WWII aircraft, as well as in ships, tanks and art that uses and plays with the principles of concealing and camouflage.
Over the years I did notice that all books that I have on camouflage, especially on military aircrafts, are of a descriptive and narrative nature on all the various colors, paints, schemes and markings. But none of these books explain any principles on how and why a camouflage works – or didn´t work.
A further impetus to think about the mechanisms of concealing and camouflage of military aircrafts was a conversation with Jürgen Kiroff, a chemist and maker of historic lacquers and paints, on why some Luftwaffe colors were newly introduced, others replaced and some maintained over the course of the Second World War. Was it because of a shortage of raw materials? Was it because of a different need for concealing and camouflage?

I do not pretend to know and understand any aspect of concealing and camouflage of military aircraft – actually I am far from it – but I try to expand my understanding and I hope to have some fruitful conversations with the readers of my articles. I will publish articles in loose order when I have enough content to share, this will sure take months or even a year or so. Please feel free to use the commentary function below each article for a public discussion for the benefit for all interested in this topic.

Chapter One: Spatial perception

A »spatial perception« is a creation and the result of complex and integrative processes in the human brain.
Spatial perception is based on several different spatial features in the visual field of the observer. Depending on the actual scenery in the visual field of the observer these spatial features have a varying strength and influence on the spatial perception of the observer. Spatial perception is the result of a combination and interaction of several different visual and spatial features.

Part 1: Contrast and Resolution

Part 1 of Chapter One deals with the spatial perception of humans, focusing on those aspects that are important to understand the concealing and camouflage of military aircraft operating in daylight.

The most important spatial information is a difference in color and brightness of adjacent spatial points (contrast) which are within the human visual discrimination (resolution). Differences in brightness and color can be caused through illumination as well as through different properties of spatial points like color, transmission, absorption and reflection.
In a scenery where all spatial points have the same brightness and color and under an ideal and even illumination (no shadows, no gradation in brightness and color) the observer within this setting would be unable of a spatial perception. Spatial elements, i.e. objects, would be invisible.
In a realistic and natural scenery with enough light to enable human vision such a scenario is unrealistic, however. Furthermore differences in brightness are wavelength dependent and would result in differences in color, too.
Conclusion: Differences in color and brightness are the foundation for any spatial perception of human beings. Adjacent spatial points with the same color and brightness are  indistinguishable for the human brain.

Objection – One mosaic piece of concealing: Countershading

When differences in color and brightness of adjacent spatial points allow for a spatial perception, then equality of adjacent spatial points in brightness and color will inhibit a spatial perception in the observer´s brain. This leads us directly to Thayer´s law. US-Naturalist Abott H. Thayer first described the natural law of countershading in 1896.

An object illuminated by direct sunlight reflects light from its upper portion creating the impression of a bright upper side whereas its lower portion receives no direct sunlight resulting in the impression of a dark bottom side. This results in a gradation of brightness and color over the object and thus enables a spatial perception in the observer´s brain.

Countershading of a monochrome cube according to Abott H. Thayer
A: Natural illumination of a monochrome cube by the sun
B: Opposed coloration of the cube
C: Superposition of A and B results in a »flattened« object.

To counteract this spatial perception many animals show an opposed gradation in color and brightness to counteract the effects of a natural illumination. The result is a »flattened« object that has the same color and brightness in every spatial point.

Part 2 of Chapter One will bring us more information on spatial perception of humans, focusing on those aspects that are important to understand the concealing and camouflage of military aircraft operating in daylight. Please check my blog for publication of Part 2 in the comming weeks. Thanks!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bf109E-1 | Part 10 – Decals & Weathering

I applied the decals from EagleCals using using Mr.MARK SETTER and Mr.MARK SOFTER. The first stage of weathering includes paint chipping, a thin pin wash with artist´s oils (umbra and black) and exhaust stains. For the exhaust stains I used Tamiya Nato Black and Red Brown heavily thinned with denatured alcohol.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Bf109E-1 | Part 9 – PIP

Farbton 70 Schwarzgrün (black green)

Next color is Farbton 70 Schwarzgrün. All its segments were airbrush freehand.