Weathering USN Aircraft

Tools 'n' Tips Article by Kaan Gök in 2004

 

 

Here is how I weather US. NAVY aircraft-step by step

1)  I Paint the basic colors, light ghost grey and dark ghost grey in this case.

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2)  I start weathering by applying pastel dust on the model and wiping the dust with a paper towel in the flight direction to simulate general wear and dirt.

 

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3)  On areas which leak engine oil, etc, I apply more dust, and wipe the dust with a damp brush in the flight direction to simulate this effect.

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4)  The builder should be careful when handling the model, because pastel dust easily gets fingerprints. I prefer holding the model with paper towels, but cotton gloves will work, too.
5)  Most of the pastel job is completed here. It's useful to have some reference pictures at the desk, to accurately replicate dirt patterns on the aircraft. Do not try to put pastel dust everywhere, some areas on the aircraft are weathered more than other areas. And 99% the dirt streaks are in the flight direction.
6)  Now comes the fun part, take your airbrush, fill it with the basic color (or one shade lighter) and begin to touch up small spots on the model. Just like it's done on the real one. Do not try to finish that in a small timeframe, it really pays to keep attention. Again having some reference photos is handy.
7)  Do not forget the underside. At this point I touch up almost every area on the model. I'll concentrate later on the more visible touchups. This is a job done primarily to break the monotone appearance of the model.
8)  After I'm finished with touchups, I apply the basic colors (very thinned) on the model again to blend everything together. Thin your paint more than usual to have control over the process.
9)  After the blending is done, I concentrate on the more visible touchups, the one you see immediately when you look at the aircraft. I first paint these areas using some lightened black.
10)  And fill in these black spots using the original greys. (I sometimes paint the areas on the light grey side with dark grey and vice versa, just like it's done in the real world.). Do not try to cover all the black, some of it should be visible. Did I say that having reference pictures at your desk is handy ?
11)  Now the visible touchups are done, I apply some oil wash to key areas to simulate leakages. (Again, the ones you did are blended now with the grey paint.). Flap and slat actuators, landing gear doors, and engine areas are good candidates for this kind of work.
12)  Applying washes to the underside. Note the dirt streaks on the wingfold joints and pylons. You can use a watercolor wash here, too. I prefer oil washes, but basically any wash should do the trick.
13)  Time to put a glosscoat on the model to make it ready for decal application.
14)  After the decals are applied, I use my airbrush again to simulate wear on the decalled areas, and blend everything some more. Most of the markings on the military aircraft are gloss, and they do not weather much like the airframe. The walkway areas particularly need a good post-shade with thinned grey, they weather completely to the point of vanishing sometimes. I occasionally paint over the markings with grey paint, but try to keep that at a minimum.
 
15)  At the last stage comes a matte coat, and our weathering is finished !

Kaan Gök

Photos and text © by Kaan Gök