1:24 Scale Airfix Hawker Typhoon
Start Small
Choosing a simple modelling project
Airfix Hawker Typhoon in 1:24 Scale
July to November, 2018

My never-ending Wa locomotive project was in the dog box. I was ready to melt it down for scrap. I was going to put it in a blender. I dreamed of pounding it very, very flat with a very large hammer. Best take a break, but what to do?

In general, I knew that I avoided model painting like the plague. Words like under-shading, dry brushing, oil pin washes and chipping were a foreign language. Painting was where I always fell over and since it was the last and most significant step towards building a realistic model, it was a real stumbling block.
Idiots rush in...
“I've always been retrospectively amused by my naive optimism."
I figured a plastic kitset would be a low-impact way to learn. The construction itself would be easy enough so I could focus on painting techniques and materials.

My dust-gathering kitset collection included some lovely 1:32 scale aircraft kits by Tamiya, but I was too chicken to start with them.

I'd found stunning examples of the 1:24 Airfix Typhoon online and was amazed what some modellers had done. The larger scale would be easy enough so I could learn painting techniques, freshen up on general plastic modelling skills and maybe try weathering too.

I've always been retrospectively amused by my naive optimism.

It ended up being so much fun! I didn't add any after-market detail sets, but I did modify things a bit. A lot of great detail is covered up and I spent time cleaning and painting parts that are hidden forever. A bit of a waste, in my opinion. To enjoy the full potential, some of the fuselage and wing panels need to be removed. I decided to cut away panels as though it were stripped for maintenance. Any exposed panel edges were thinned to better simulate the alloy skin.

I cut the top skin away from one wing, slicing between the stringers. I then added styrene flanges to dress it up. My frame isn't prototypical but I have a (probably quite sacrilegious) approach that detail is about adding texture. I'm not that concerned with how many rivets there are, as long as they give a good overall impression of how the aircraft was.

Having said that, I have a pathological hatred of over-scale rivets.
I spent freaking hours and hours cleaning up the parts. On the cockpit frame, for example, all of the spaceframe rivets are there, but sit directly on the part lines. So you have to clean around 'em and they're not large.

I found out the hard way that cleaning up using a file isn't the best. The file marks stick out like dogs' balls after painting.

So much of the build ended up hidden. Much of the cockpit framing got covered up.
I'd recommend that anyone building this kit, to plan what's going to be seen and what isn't, and clean up the parts accordingly. It will save a lot of time. The cockpit itself is incredible and, like a lot of it, is almost hidden when complete unless additional cutting-away is done.

Oil Wash
I started experimenting with oil wash on the frame, where it wouldn’t be so obvious if I messed it up
I used the frame to experiment with oil wash and it's become my favourite technique for weathering and bringing out details. It's so easy: take artist oils and odourless thinners and go for gold. There is a bit of dry-brushing in there too. Dry brush and paint chipping is easy to overdo. My enthusiasm got away on me in places.

Youtube was my main source of learning, and my mate P the main source of encouragement.
The real showpiece in the Typhoon is that huge, 2000 Hp engine. The potential for extra detail work is crazy.

I wanted to find images of the prototype to get a good enough reference, but couldn't find much and I wasn't skilled or patient enough anyway.

After it was finished and we were back in New Zealand, I visited my good friend Mike at Cartel Works in Nelson. It's filled with all things mechanical and beautiful and, standing in the entranceway, was a real-life Napier-Sabre engine. The irony.

The Real Thing
This was the only reference I could find online for the engine
I had a bit of bother with the gun bays. I'd primed the frames in black but then had to paint them yellow. The number of coats needed, left them heavy with build-up. I should have stripped everything back and repainted with white primer, but didn't.

Same went with the gun bay covers, except this time I re-did them. After laying the paint on too thick, I stripped them back and repainted everything properly.

There was also a bit of confusion with what colour the gun baby covers should be inside and there's even a blog forum on it. The kit says brown, perhaps to simulate leather or compressed board, but it seems that only the area directly above the ammo boxes would need it. The board/leather was apparently used to protect the wing skin from clattering ammo belts in an inverted dive. I was able to find prototype images that show the front of the cover primer yellow and only the rear of the hatch in brown.

The guns themselves have a part-line in an annoying place and my attempts to patch them up weren't the best. I later found Hannants site in the UK, complete with some lovely resin cannon, that I almost bought, but didn't. Same goes for the rockets...
The Real thing
“I wasn't expecting to actually see a Typhoon, but there it was, in real life. Such a lovely, convincingly powerful machine."
I only made one mistake I'm not happy with, and it's a big one. I used Vallejo paints, and tried to mix them to match the Humbrol colours as shown on the internet. But my computer screen wasn't colour-calibrated. I should have bought the Humbrol paints and either used them directly, or matched the Vallejo colours properly. As a result, the camouflage green isn't correct and the underside grey is not that good either.

The only medium I struggled with was the clear coat. I tried thinning it differently on a scrap piece, but wasn't that happy with any of it. Of course, over-thinning gloss coat makes it no longer gloss. Clear coat seemed to spray on quite thick and if I thinned too much it behaved badly, with either orange-peel finish or chalking. I now think my pressure of 15psi pressure was too high. The clear coat seems a lot faster-drying than colours and a higher pressure might force-dry it before it gets to the surface?
I dunno, but it’s something to play around with next time.
Side note on my airbrushing kit:

I’ve had an old Passche single-action, that's being going strong for thirty years. It's easy to use, but a real pain to clean. The colour cup has to be taken out every time, using an allen key. Quite a lot of paint gets wasted changing between coats inside the cup and needle. It’s also more clunky to use.

Last year, I treated myself to an upgrade with a dual-action Iwata Eclipse. It's lovely to use, and super-fast to clean. A quick spray of thinners and I'm on to the next coat. The whole experience of painting has changed since then. In a good way.

For an air supply, I use a dive cylinder. If noise is an issue where you live, this will solve all your problems. The air from it is dry and clean, and it's totally silent. I use a compact 5 litre steel tank and a second-hand first stage with the demand pressure adjusted down to about 150psi. It doesn't need to be new and high-tech, I'm not trusting my life to it. An adjustable in-line air regulator drops the pressure from there, down to whatever I want.
After clear-coating I added the decals, using Humbrol decal solution. Everything settled down over the rivet detail perfectly. I only made a mess of a couple of them. I wish Airfix had included decals for the rocket noses. I was having a bad hand-painting day, that day.

But then, it was all done and packed away for our move home. On our way from Norway to New Zealand we had a few days in London and I went to the Air Force museum. I wasn't expecting to actually see a Typhoon, but there it was, in real life. Such a lovely, convincingly powerful machine.

The kit took me five months to finish and I love it. It's turned painting models from a thing of fear to one of enjoyment, and has whetted my appetite for those other kits!
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