If It Ain't One Thing It's Another
Or, How 'Bout That Lozenge? It's a simple truth, one to be encountered by a large percentage of modelers sooner or later. Great War German lozenge camouflage is a royal Pain in the Patootie to duplicate on a model and, since it's a camouflage found on most late-War aircraft from the Kaiser's air service, and since it's on some of the most colorful aircraft of that era, you need to learn how to do it if you want to build certain models. In point of fact that whole lozenge thing is quite an interesting topic and can be a challenge but, quite frankly, it's not what we're going to talk about today, at least not specifically.
Nope! Today's topic is rib tape, that nasty stuff that went over the lozenge at all the ribs on the wings and empennage. Pretty much every German airplane that flew in the last year or so of the First World War, or at least the ones that were built in that time period, had a better than average chance of leaving the factory with pre-printed lozenge fabric applied to some, if not all, of the airframe. Said fabric was stretched and doped into place, but just skinning a wing or fuselage wouldn't make for a particularly airworthy flying machine. Nope, that fabric had to be secured into place, a task accomplished by running thin fabric strips along the tops and bottoms of the wing's ribs. The resulting rib tape can be found on pretty much every fabric-covered wing of the period, but it was generally finished at the same time the wings received their color coat of dope, which means they weren't very noticeable except under close scrutiny since they blended in with everything else around them.
That uniformity of color didn't work with the pre-printed lozenged fabric, though; not unless the pilot of said aircraft had the wings, or portions thereof, overpainted with some sort of marking, in which case the rib tape once again became the same color as the fabric it was applied on. That's not what we're looking at today, though. Nope, today's topic is rib tape over lozenge, and we're going to give you an easy and relatively foolproof way to simulate it.
Historically speaking, there are a couple of ways we can reproduce that lozenge fabric that we're not going to be talking about today; you can draw the pattern on your airplane and paint it on, either by hand or by airbrush, or you can get some of those really spiffy paint masks that Montex makes and mask and paint your pattern, or you can do what most modelers opt for and use decals, either kit or aftermarket. Whichever path you choose still doesn't matter, because you're going to have to deal with rib tape no matter how you do that fabric. Therein lies The Rub.
Most kits that offer lozenge also offer decals for the rib tape. It's not a bad idea on the face of things, but it does have a few drawbacks---you have to be really careful when you apply the "tape" so everything's straight and parallel, and you have to be equally careful that those "tapes" end up where you want them to be. The problem with using decals for rib tape isn't one of application, though, but rather one of appearance. The darned things are just too wide to be scale, no matter how carefully you put them on!
You could paint them on, of course, by carefully masking the tapes and airbrushing them to the correct width, but that's extremely time-consuming and won't work over decal, because almost anything you mask those tapes with will pull up some, if not all, of the lozenge decal underneath when you remove it. We need to think outside the box on this one!
Through thinking yet? Me too, and here's what I came up with:
You can vary the width of your tape by controlling the width of your pencil point; sharper means a finer line, while less sharp means wider. You get the point, right? (A poor pun, but the best we've got for today!).
It's best to drag the point of the pencil across the surface of the wing using a fairly light touch. If you don't do this you run considerable risk of tearing your lozenge decals, thereby uttering those words that will cause your Significant Other to dislike your apparent complete and utter lack of civilized expression. Don't push that pencil point! This technique is really effective but the surface you're using it on is fragile! A delicate touch is your friend on this one!
You'll probably have to use Dull-Cote or similar to put some "tooth" to the lozenge decals so the pencil will stick. We only used one type of pencil, the aforementioned Eagle Prismacolor, so we're not in a position to make a blanket one-size-fits-all statement, but we're pretty sure you can't just go and do this over a gloss finish with any pencil, no matter what brand. It has to be matte and it has to be something besides the decal itself.
Once the pencil lines are on the Dull-Cote they are well and truly On The Dull-Cote, so you should do your best to get it right the first time. If you look carefully at our Albatros you'll see a couple of mistakes; this isn't a contest model so we aren't especially excited about that, but you'll get your best results if you're really careful with this process. (We don't do Paying Attention very well at all, in case you were wondering about that...)
Finally, you can apply any sort of finish you might want to use over the pencilled-on rib tapes, and them apply the national insignia decals, etc., just the way you normally would. It's almost too simple, isn't it?
One more thing while we're at it: We stumbled on this technique while trying to reduce the frustration of putting rib tapes on one of our own models but you can use it for other things too, like maybe nose art. The brand of pencil we used is pretty opaque and would work well to do a name with, and wouldn't build up the way paint can. We haven't tried that yet but we're going to---we think it just may end up being the solution to a number of problems! Time will tell, of course, but in the meantime you've just acquired another trick to use on those pesky Imperial Air Service Fokkers and Albatri. Up and at 'em!
We Sure Do Like the Fury
The North American FJ series of Furies, that is; the Sabres from Columbus. They are, somewhat arguably, among the prettiest of American fighters from the 50s (and we say that with apologies to Dave and Marty!), and we honestly can't get enough of them. What follows is a collection of FJ Dogs and Cats, thanks to Doug Siegfried over at the Tailhook Association. Those of you who insist on stealing our stuff and publishing it without any sort of credit line might want to remember that...
firstname.lastname@example.org .) Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried
And that's it for the Fury today but we've still got a few images you haven't seen yet, so be sure to watch this space!
It's Been a While
Yep, it's been a while since we've run anything from the Rocker Collection! Here are a couple of images to put things right in that regard; today's subject being the 36th FS/8th FG:
email@example.com . Rocker Collection
Gotta Be Real Careful When I Paint That Model!
Or maybe not. Check out this pre-War image to see what we mean:
Under the Radar
Today's entry in the unofficial Replica in Scale You Really Need to Have This category is a book we're betting most of you missed when it was new.
A few years back, or maybe slightly more than a few, a young Mark Morgan was heavily engaged in learning how to become a B/N with the NAV. We're please to report that he often had his camera with him back then, resulting in this gorgeous image.
The Relief Tube
All of our mail lately, and we mean all of it, has concerned the guys with the Yahoo group who keep stealing our photography and running it on their site without provenance. You'll get to truly appreciate them as we go along since they've forced us to begin visibly watermarking our photography (you will, unfortunately, begin to see that next issue). Their actions, and those of a couple of others, are going to cause us to somewhat diminish the quality of images we bring to you in upcoming editions, and for that we extend the most profound of apologies to our readership. On the other hand, to those who just can't seem to credit the photography they "borrow" we offer an up-lifted middle digit, raised with considerable enthusiasm. Salud!
In the meantime, let's play a game! Go back to our past couple of issues and look at the photography. See if you can find the "xxx via RIS" that's imprinted in very tiny letters somewhere on the image, maybe somewhere near the airplane or maybe, just maybe, hidden somewhere in the shadows of the airplane itself. Then go find that same image on somebody else's site, maybe in a user group or in one of those photo storage sites that are so popular these days. Then look for provenance for that photo. If you can't find any, well, that pretty much tells the story, doesn't it?
On the other hand, if you want to collect our images for your own personal use, please go right on ahead. Right-click and save your heart out! You can even publish them as long as you give credit to the folks who took them, or at least to RIS. It's ok with us as long as you're honest about it. And if you know any of those folks who're so shamelessly using and abusing our photos, please tell them we said to cut it out!
Be good to your neighbor until we meet again,