Those who know me, as well as those who read what's written here in addition to looking at the pictures, know that I spend a fair amount of time looking at the various internet modeling sites. It's good therapy if nothing else, and you learn from the experience most of the time. It's something to be recommended.
Of late, however, I think I've noticed a trend in paint jobs on some of those models, and it's probably not what you'd call a Good Thing. To wit; I've been seeing otherwise nicely-done models with paintwork that's been flawed by what Oldtimers would probably call orange peel. We've all done that sort of thing at one time or another---each and every one of us has---so those of you who might be laughing at the misfortune of others need to wipe that holier-than-thou smirk off your face and talk about helping to fix the problem. (I'll get off that soapbox now...)
There are lots of reasons for orange peel, air pressure being a prime culprit, but the Biggest Single Reason, and the reason that we're going to discuss today, is simple failure to thin the paint adequately before airbrushing. Don't believe me? OK, then, let's try a little experiment. Go grab a bottle of whatever you prefer to paint your models with, and make sure it's a new bottle that's never been opened or used. (Tester ModelMaster enamel in any flavor would be an excellent choice for the purpose of this discussion.) Shake or stir said bottle until everything is properly mixed, then take your pipette, or eye dropper, or whatever you use to feed paint to your airbrush, and---what else?---feed your airbrush straight from that bottle, with no thinning allowed! Now go paint something, and do it with all the techniques you would normally employ when painting a model. Try to cut in some fine lines. Cover some broad areas. Feather some edges. And maybe, or maybe even probably, look at that pebbling effect that will be exhibited by at least some of the paint. That's what's called orange peel, and you just made some! (Stop smiling; it's not a Good Thing!)
OK, now clean your airbrush, and thin the paint with the appropriate thinner or reducer, trying for an approximate 30% reduction. Make sure it's thoroughly mixed like you did before, and perform the same painting experiment. Most of that granulation is gone now, isn't it? And, as an added bonus, you're probably able to cut a finer line and better control your feathering too. Holy Cow---it's magic!
Or maybe not. The simple truth of the matter is that most paints have to be reduced in order to be used for air painting. They'll never work at their best potential if sprayed straight out of the bottle, period. And, just to complicate things a little bit, that 30% we told you to use as a reduction factor is really just a starting point until you figure out what works best for you. A lot of the stuff I paint with is thinned anywhere from 50 to 60%. Yes, I do second, and sometimes even third coats, but the stuff is really thin so it doesn't build up. Yes, it'll run if you don't know what you're doing; the answer to that particular problem is to practice until you've figured out your technique so it doesn't do that. And finally, yes; some colors work better with extra reduction---it may be my own personal Waterloo but greens can sometimes be a challenge, a problem easily fixed by fooling around with the reduction ratio some more.
There are a whole bunch of other things that will have an impact on your airbrushing as well, such as the distance of the tip from the workpiece, but they're topics for another day. For now, go out and mess with some paint and thinner if you aren't already aware of the magic of that relationship. The results just may astound you!
Bet You Thought We Were Talking About That Other Intruder, Huh?
Say the word Intruder around any gathering of aviation buffs and they're going to know beyond any doubt that you're talking about a member of Grumman's legendary A-6 family unless, of course, you happen to be discussing Martin's take on a certain English Electric product instead. Here are some examples of that to whet your apetite...
55-4292 was an EB-57E. Initially built as a straight B-57E, she was subsequently converted to RB-57E, then EB-57E standard, in which guise she was photographed in Germany on 20 May, 1977 while serving with the 17th DSES out of Malmstrom. R. Rhys
So you got to see some B-57s today, but we'll bet you're wondering where the black ones were? Are we right? If that's true, and if you'd really like to see a couple of black B-57s, drop us a quick note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. (Or do essentially the same thing and forward some of your own B-57 shots if you'd like. We'd love to see them!)
A Tough Way to Make a Living
Our ongoing coverage of the air war in the Pacific has included both fighter and bomber aircraft, but up to this point we've neglected some of the unsung heros of that war; the photo-recon guys. Today we're going to put that right, and show you a few Lockheed F-4s from the 8th PRS while flying out of Port Moresby during late 1942 and 1943.
Brothers in Arms Out Playing At the Goose
We get so much seriously neat material from contributor Doug Barbier that it's sometimes difficult to decide which images to run, and today's photos are no exception. Doug shot them at Goose Bay while flying F-4s, and had this to say about them: (Here are) A few RAF Tornado's at Goose. They thought they were safe at 500' and Mach 0.9. We were at 100' and Mach 1.2. They weren't safe. Drove up the middle of their 4-ship rocking our wings. Not sure they ever knew we were there until we pulled up in front of them. After they were dead, of course. To be fair, it was a lovely sunny day. They'd have owned the sky at night or in the clag!
A Different Breed of Cat
A while back, more than a few issues ago, we ran a pictorial on the Grumman F6F Hellcat. One of the images used in that piece showed an F6F-3 launching off the side of the boat, straight out of the hangar deck. Long-time reader Pat Donahue went into his collection and found a couple of supplemental images for us. Let's see what he's discovered:
Things Were Different Back Then
We haven't heard from Mark Morgan for a while, but he's made up for his prolonged absence with a unit patch that's just the least bit out of the ordinary. Let's take a look at what he's discovered:
Today's Happy Snap comes from Mark Williams and dates back to his days in the KC-135. We'll let him explain the shot:
Tennessee ANG, then went to the Ohio ANG on R-models, then on active duty on the R-model and the occasional T-model (former Q-model originally built for refueling the SR-71) from March, 2000 to March, 2007 when I became a C-130E/H Flight Engineer. In fact I just retired as a Master Sergeant on September 1, 2011. One thing I missed about flying on the KC-135 was the opportunity to take photos like this one. About the only thing I got to photograph from the Herk was other Herks, and interesting things on the ground! This photo was taken by me when I was stationed out of Grand Forks AFB, ND as a KC-135R Flying Crew Chief. This particular group of Hornets was taken in March, 2006. We picked them up in Japan, flew down to Guam, then to Hawaii where we promptly broke our boom fuel return manifold! A KC-10 took these Bugs back to the states, and my crew got a free week at Hickam! Well, the aircrew did, I had to help fix the plane when we got the parts in! Enjoy! Mark Williams
The Relief Tube
Let's start today's relief tube with a comment from Mark Williams regarding that F-106B air-to-air from Marty Isham that we ran a week or so ago: Hi Phil. I saw the question in this week's Relief Tube about that F-106B photo from Marty regarding the aircraft he took it from. It's a KC-135, and I ought to know. I worked on them long enough! As a matter of fact if I had a nickel for everyone of my photos with that same wingtip in the lower left corner of the frame, well, I'd have a bunch of nickels! Mark
And from Marty himself: G'day...Waited a while to see what might show up about your/my pic. The 119th FIS F-106B was shot from the starboard porthole from the back of a KC-135E of the 150th AREFS on the way to the Six Out at Atlantic City. "Gordie" Cooper was the GIB. I was one of the guest speakers; boy, were my knees shaking! Date of the pic was 9 June 88. Cheers, Marty
Mark Morgan has some more information for us regarding that Jet Mentor from our last issue:
Phil - Concerning the 2 Oct 11 blog, the Kansas Aviation Museum on the west side of McConnell, north of the Boeing and Spirit plants, has B73 Jet Mentor N134B on display, only one I'd ever seen and I fully expect the only surviving example. The museum's in the original Wichita Muni terminal, brick and sandstone complete with tower, and is an outstanding work in progress, well worth a visit for anyone who's in the vicinity. The collection also includes one of the few remaining Beech Starships, N199FE. MK Thanks, Mark---sounds like a road trip may be in order!
And now for a couple of comments on one of those GAF "Zippers", plus a correction on the "Guppy" supplement. First, we'll hear from Rick Morgan: Phil: Fascinating shots of the USAF/German F-104Gs; I don’t recall ever seeing any with color on them. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the yellow/red/black colors are from the German flag. I flew a TA-4J into Luke in very early 1980 out of Alameda. The ramp was full of 104s; both of us marveled at how lovely they looked and how much fun they must’ve been to fly. The Seafire shot is tremendous- can’t say how many color shots of that aircraft I’ve ever seen! Small point- the T-2C F305 is from Pensacola’s VT-4 vice 9 (Meridian). Rick
OK, then---you're now to the point where you're probably wondering what happened to the rest of the comments that were here yesterday (presuming, of course, that you were here yesterday!). The answer's simple; we normally splice a lot of stuff from a lot of different formats into The Relief Tube, and yesterday's blog took things A Format Too Far, or so it would seem. There were problems with font size, the font itself, and some other oddball stuff that, quite frankly, drove us absolutely nuts! That's why you're now missing comments from Hubert Pietzmeir, Dave Menard, and Jean Barbaud. We took them out to try to fix things, but tonight's not the night we're going to do put them back in. Watch this space next week for an attempt at a re-run. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.