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Skinning 1/32 models in metal... a tutorial

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Hi folks


I have been skinning a 1/24 scratchbuilt F7F Tigercat in metal and have been asked a few questions about how to do it and any things to watch for so I thought a little tutorial might get it all into one place...





First a bit about the material – it is 0.06mm aluminium sheet called ‘Litho Plate' in the UK – I searched for it on ebay and found a seller doing 10 A4 sheets for £12 GBP. It will take one dimensional curves so is good for flat (ish) surfaces like wings & fuselages. If you skin panel by panel (or in groups of panels across one curve) there are only a few fillets etc on most aircraft you would need to use something more malleable like Pewter (will cover that in part 2 once I have mastered it!)

So, Litho is used by printers to make printing plates and looks like this...  one side is bare metal..




..and the other side has the printers image..




..the adhesive I use is Evo Stick Contact Adhesive available in the UK in hardware stores – I got this lot in Homebase for £18GBP although the Aerosol glue turned out to be no good for this kind of work.. note also the Cleaner – this is needed too..




..for this tutorial I am going to use this 1/48 SBD as a ‘mule' to demonstrate with – we will do the wing panel with the two hatches in it..




..first we need a good scribed outline to trace out the panel shape – i went over the kit lines to accentuate them – I slipped on one line, but it doesn't matter as all this would be covered J




..cover the panel with a bit of household masking tape and burnish down with a cocktail stick – you can see the darker colour where it is properly burnished and tight to the surface..




..run around the panel lines with a rounded pin held in a pin vise... note the hatches are also done too..




..repeat with a sharp pencil so you can see what is what..






Edited by airscale
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..peel the tape off and stick on a bit of litho plate – choose the grain of the metal so you can contrast adjacent panels...




..start the detailing with the hatches etc – here I have taped down a template and scribing through the tape with a sharp pin..




..adding fasteners with a jewellers punch..




..adding recessed rivets to the face of the panel with Radu's amazing rivet wheel – you can draw out lines from references / plans  and follow them..




..then cut out the panel by scoring the outline with a sharp blade – if it is a curved line then just use scissors, the metal cuts like card...




..break off the waste by bending the waste part up and down until it snaps – whenever I can, I hold the panel part in a tool so any kinks etc only happen to the waste metal..




..and the panel is ready for the next stage..




..for dome rivets just rivet from the back – here I am adding a couple of lines for where the panel meets the strengthening cap on the mainplane..





..next the panel is burnished flat on a clean unmarked cutting mat with the smooth round handle of a tool – this flattens the panel out but leaves the detail..




..then the back of the panel is given a quick go with a sanding stick to remove burrs and ridges and get a nice flat surface to stick to the airframe..





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..peel off the tape template..





..and just de-burr the upper edges – don't sand the surface..





..if the panel needs to curve at all it is best to ‘anneal' it – simple, just hold it over a gas flame for 3-4 seconds and plunge in water (it should hiss so you know it's hot)..





..burnish again to impart the curve if needed..





..that is the panel finished and ready to stick to the airframe..


..I like to mask everything so I don't get glue where I don't want it, and I hold the panel with a loop of tape so I don't get glue on me either...





..I have a pot of cleaner (in an airtight jar as it evaporates really quickly) and get the brush softened up before gluing – it's just an old make up brush (don't tell Mrs airscale...)..




..paint the glue on as evenly as possible – avoid big blobs, lumps or any debris getting on the glue as this will be seen or make the panel uneven..






..wait about a minute for the contact adhesive to start to go off and then carefully position the panel..




..I made up another panel in the same way so you can see how they butt together – you will also see there is glue where we don't want it...






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..thats ok, just wipe off with a towel and some cleaner – the cleaner is an aggressive solvent so I like to protect the area around the panels so as not to damage the surface. In reality you can leave this until much later and a lot more panels as the cleaner will clean off dry glue that is months old..




..and the cleaned panels...








..and thats it – I know it looks like an awful lot of effort (and it is), but there is nothing that looks more like metal than metal and for me is worth the time invested as the result can be spectacular..




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Could n't agree more Peter. This is very inspirational.


It has long been a dream of mine to skin a whole aircraft but I've never had the impetus to actually do it.

With this tutorial I feel I'm a step closer to attempting my ultimate goal.


Many thanks for taking the time to share the does and don'ts of this technique. Much appreciated.



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IMPRESSIVE tutorial Peter..


its bookmarked for future perusal ...


{ there is NO chance ..not in this millennium that I could ever

achieve or build anything as this SPECTACULAR but it is quite a pleasure

to watch your skills at work}.


Thank you very much for sharing and posting your techniques. .KUDOS :bow:








Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2.

Edited by MARU5137
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