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A6M2b Zero - shades of grey

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After 10 or so cm of snow on Wednesday the weather has cleared and I could do another colour comparison in direct sunlight. The rear tail cone I used for the 2019 comparison has since been returned, so I used a small paint sample from A6M3 22 c/n 3753 (manufactured early June 1943). In direct sunlight the closest match is Model Air Beige 023 Hemp. Be careful as Model Air has a almost similar named paint which is way too dark. And although it says FS 34201 on the bottle it is not a good match for that shade either.




100 Mitsubishi Match

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Posted (edited)
On 3/1/2020 at 10:45 PM, Archer Fine Transfers said:


Well I'm glad I'm not the only one. Wouldn't it be nice if someone came out with a set of punches with crosshairs etched on the bottom of the clear punch guide plate? Draw crosshairs on the card stock and line it up with the ones on the punch and the failure rate would drop dramatically. I even tried making an acetate one with crosshairs and attached it to the bottom of the punch guide but it didn't work well. The tolerances are beyond what I can achieve.


It's all about scale isn't it Woody? Like trying to punch out 1:48 instrument decals... :blink:


Thanks to Ryan's paint input, I got down to finding what worked for me in Tamiya "acrylic" paint, since it is tough and readily available over here. I liked the idea of using XF-76 Grey Green (IJN) as a base since it is after all what Tamiya's researchers thought was the right colour. It isn't, but with a bit of help comes quite close. Ryan tried a mix with XF-49 Khaki, and I took a look at that - too brown to my eye. Then I looked at other options for a mix, and liked the warm tone of XF-60 Dark Yellow. At a mix of 2 parts 76 to 1 part 60 and half a part of white I found what I was looking for. Simple. The grey for the fabric covered surfaces is 1 part 76 to one part white - even more simple. Here with tungsten and natural light for comparison... 






Normally I would do the wheel wells first, but this seemed a better solution for the zero.




This is the colour of the aircraft primer, which I only used on the spinner hoping to do some light chipping. Doesn't seem to work with Alclad by the way!




And this is what the greys look like more or less - difficult to capture the real colours on camera. Looking at the second picture, a question for the experts: Would the electrical cables and pitot air lines in the wheel well be overpainted in Aotake? If not, what colours would they be?






I was also wondering about the red paint. Would it be painted straight onto the grey, or under-painted to make the red brighter?






Finally got down to the Hōkoku, and realised that Ryan had provided the perfect picture to make a tracing from!




In doing the tracing, I discovered an interesting thing about the lettering. It would appear that it is painted on by brush, and therefore by hand - like a signwriter would do! I had pictured stencils and spray paint, but the way it has faded shows the brushstrokes as well as what I think were taped lines to get the edges straight. The characters are not totally uniform or symmetrical either. I have tried to straighten it all up a bit to make it easier to cut a stencil and or produce a decal. Methinks it is going to be rather tricky to do!





Edited by Madmax
repetition and spelling - the usual

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Sean, thanks for your Tamiya paint mix. I'm going to mix some up and add it to my list of suggested paints.


My understanding is that the red hinomaru was painted directly onto the underlying olive gray paint. Bear in mind that as paint deteriorates an overcoating of one layer will protect the layer beneath, leaving a “shadow” of the first layer as the single layered paint erodes away. Look at A on the image below. The red hinomaru has disappeared but the underlying olive-gray paint, now oxidized to white, has remained protected. But the adjacent unprotected olive-gray paint has largely disappeared, revealing the red primer underneath. Photos B and C shows a similar erosion of the red hinomaru paint, but here the white surround, seemingly brush painted, has largely remained in place.


101 Hinomaru

The lines in the wheel well were left unpainted but were also colour coded with bands of paints to indicate their usage. Air lines, such as those leading to the pitot tube, were banded with blue. Oil lines were indicated with yellow and gas lines were colour coded with red. Electrical lines in exposed locations such as the wheel well were enclosed in aluminum tubing or woven aluminum conduits. However, the bare aluminum lines could subsequently be partially over-sprayed with aotake. In the image below it can be seen that from the “top” side the lines are bare aluminum. However, the “bottom” side of the lines have some aotake present. Note too the rubber flex pipe on part of the brake line.


102 Lines

The answer probably is that aotake was repeatedly applied during the course of construction. A good example of this is visible on this inner wheel well cover that I also posted earlier. As component parts were added it has been given addition layers of aotake. For the modeler then, any painting of aotake should probably vary in its density and darkness.    


103 Inner Wheel Well Doors



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On 3/16/2020 at 11:03 PM, Hans said:

This tread should be turned into a booklet; "How to paint your Zero"..


That is pretty much how it has turned out Hans!


It has also been a journey of discovery for me, as I had very little idea about the Japanese story in the Second World War. I have even taken to watching anime movies from Hayao Miyazaki, such as "The Wind Rises" that is essentially a tribute to Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the A6M. It would appear that Miyazaki did his research well - look at the shade of grey he used on the Zero's in the movie...



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Posted (edited)

It is day one of our Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, so a chance to update you on what has been happening with this build.


Decals are one of my model building achilles heels. I really don't like them. The Zero has very few secondary markings, and I decided to mask and spray as much as possible.








Masking has some risks though, and lifting paint is the worst of these for me. It leaves edges that have to be sanded smooth, complicated re-masking and the difficulty of matching the original colour. I really should have been more careful to take some of the stickiness off of the vinyl mask! Darn. Thanks for the extra masks Nick, I needed all of them. ;)




Now for a real gem of a discovery - HGW wet transfers! Against all odds, our postal service actually got these to my mailbox, and am I ever grateful. Having watched Brett M's experience with them on his stunning birdcage Corsair, I had some idea what to look out for. Instead of Mr. Mark Softer or Setter, I used only Microscale's Micro Set as the decal adhesive, since it is reportedly chemically "softer" and less likely to affect the paint. Worked like a charm. You can see the transfer film in the first photo, and the final product in the last two. A gentle wipe with a moist cotton bud later, and no trace of any film, just the ink of the lettering...








The HGW A6M2 set doesn't include a Nakajima style Hōkoku number :rolleyes:, so this poses a real challenge. For those of you who have seen some of my previous builds, you will know how shamelessly I abuse the privilege of knowing Nick (Cheetah 11)! He once again took out the Silhouette cutter and set about a near impossible task with great enthusiasm. After correcting my measurements, he produced this three part mask. It measures only 28mm from side to side of the top lettering.




Unfortunately, the fidelity of the writing just can't be cut at this size, and it looks as if a decal will be required.




I have some sheets of Bare-Metal Foil's decal paper, and went to work on the tracing to get the artwork done. That pen works like a square paintbrush by the way - very handy.




Using the recommended Liquid Decal Film from Microscale gave me the decal on top, which is quite matt and prone to silvering. I tried Krylon Crystal Clear on the lower decal which is better, but very thick. I will experiment a bit more with this decal and then decide whether the Hōkoku is viable or not. Maybe I'll get it professionally done when the world returns to some semblance of normality. Still some work to be done in the meanwhile though.




Liquid Decal Film needs to be thinned with Isopropyl Alcohol by the way. Do you think I could find any in the last week?





Edited by Madmax

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Extraordinary creativity Sean! I will have to keep HGW in mind when I get to that stage of my build. You really are bringing this aircraft to life, and I will be looking for that Hayao Miyazaki movie.


Cheers,  Tom

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I have to admit that I sort of like the way the stenciled one looks over the sharp perfection of the decals. As talented as you are, it seems like you could touch up the sprayed symbols with a small brush and have a much more authentic look than the decals. More like the original hand painted feel. Just my opinion, though. This is amazing work!!



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