with surfaces covered with cloth and fabric. An interesting aspect
of the MiG- 3 is that only a portion of its fuselage has metal skin.
The areas behind the cockpit and the outer wing panels were
covered with laminated wood. These wood areas on the full-size
plane were barren of surface detail—no rivets and panel lines for
grime to collect on—so this is an important part of getting the
model to look right.
Be sure to take into account exactly how and where the full-size plane was flown, beaten, and abused. A Pacific Theater fighter,
like a Corsair or Hellcat that operated from an aircraft carrier and
was subjected to the salt air, will weather much differently than
a P- 47 Thunderbolt operating from the English countryside amid
a lot of mud and dirt. An interesting element that I learned during
my research was that most Japanese aircraft were finished with
horrible paint, and thus, after only a few flights, the paint would
start to peel and flake off. This left bare metal exposed with jagged
shards of paint missing. Once you understand the background of
your subject aircraft, you can start adding the appropriate type of
weathering and detailing.
One of the best ways to add surface detail is to add panel lines.
There are several ways to do this. If you have a model that is
covered in a film and do not wish to cover it in fiberglass cloth,
simply tape off different areas along obvious panel-line areas,
then airbrush a light shading against the tape; a light coat will do.
Using a paint heavily diluted with black, followed by a rust color,
creates a good effect. When you pull off the tape, the separation
line between the base color and the shading does a nice job
Panel lines and rivets are a great way to add surface detail to your model.
For flush rivets, prime your model first and then use a soldering iron with a small
brass tube inserted into the end. You can then burn the round rings into the primer
to represent the heads of the rivets.
Raised, or “brazier-head,” rivets were used on early aircraft, and
to reduce air drag, they were replaced with flush rivets. I’ve found
that the best application to make raised rivets is to use a syringe
(available from any drugstore) filled with Zap Formula 560 Canopy.
Simply apply the rivets with the syringe one dot of glue at a time.
Use some inexpensive masking tape, and draw lines to evenly
space the rivets; apply the drops of glue using the tape markings
as a guide. It doesn’t take much time to perfect the method. And
because the glue is water-based, you can use a sponge and some
water to wipe it away if you mess up here or there.
Here, you can see
some fresh raised
rivets applied using
Zap Formula 560
Canopy Glue. Once
the glue has dried,
the surface can
After sanding lightly, the
tape is removed to leave
the thin panel-line detail.
Here, you can see thin
chart tape applied to
where the panel lines
will be. They have been
sprayed over with a few
coats of primer to build
up the surface.