“Bare-Metal Foil” 1/32 Kitty hawk SNJ/Texan Project: A 1st Attempt
I am a private pilot an a huge WW2 Naval Aviation Buff. Much of this is due to my Dad being a Navy Aviation Crewman during the war. He spent a lot of time in the Navy Aviation Training Command logging a lot of hours in the back seat of the Navy version of the famed AT-6 Texan advanced trainer, the SNJ. So a few years ago my family brought me the best Birthday present. It was 2 hrs of flight time flying a fully restored USMC marked SNJ. What a day that was and I could not wait to share this adventure with my dad, who at that time, was in his mid 80’s. Comparing flying notes with my dad was a memory I will never forget.
So eventually Kittyhawk released a 1/32 version of the this famed trainer aircraft with marking for both the AT-6 and SNJ variants. To my surprise one of the schemes provided on the decal sheet was makings for an exact copy of the exact SNJ I flew. It was a bare-metal variant with USMC marking and Green wing and fuselage strips. WOW, I needed to build this using those markings.
Because this aircraft had special meaning to me I needed to turn it into a real project, super detailing the heck out of it, and trying something very different for the final finish. I did not purchase any after-market accessories b/c there were none available when the kit 1st came out. So I scratch built everything that I wanted to include that was not included as part of the base kit.
I had seen a few articles in which the model builder finished an entire model using “Bare Metal Foil” brand adhesive aluminium foil. I thought this was the perfect project to duplicate that process. Bare in mind (no pun intended) I had no experience using this product in the past. So I went for it! I covered this entire aircraft in this foil using multiple metal tones. I won’t lie, it was tough and I questioned my choice of technique many times. I finally finished the project and it was far from perfect. It has many errors and blemishes in the final finish but I was happy I tried and learned a lot about this process during the attempt. It was also an expensive project b/c in addition to the cost of the kit I cannot tell you how many packages of this foil I went through before I got it right.
Besides the imperfect finish I made another significant error. A dirty finger with wet glue on it smeared the side of the canopy. I tried to fix it but my clear plastic repair skills were not up to the task and I feared I made it worst. My goal was to ask KittyHawk for a replacement Canopy but I think I was a bit cooked on this project and never followed-up.
Recently I pulled her out of storage and decided to take some pictures. I felt, despite its flaws, it was still worth sharing the pictures with other modelers. So I decided to do this article and post the pictures. Overall I am about 85% satisfied with the outcome and really want to do another one someday soon. I am not sure I would do it again in Bare-Metal Foil. Maybe I would do a partial foil job mixed with some metallic paints, especially my favorite Dull-Aluminium Metallic Paint produced by Vallejo. That color would capture the look of the aircraft I flew perfectly. A lot of different techniques and strategies were used in this build. I could fill a few pages with the details but I will leave it up to the readers to ask questions if anyone is interested in more detail about this build. In conclusion I do feel that covering an entire aircraft in metal foil is “do-able”, and can be worth the effort. But I think getting some practice 1st on a small scale would insure better success then I had. Comments are welcomed.
31 additional images. Click to enlarge.