When Easy is Fun: Tamiya 1/48 Bf-109-3 WIP Update
The past year has been a very productive and challenging year regarding model builds. During this challenging year I have pushed myself outside of my comfort level regarding the use of advanced modeling techniques. I have spent many hours researching subject matter to insure accuracy, as well as, watched and read hundreds of tutorials in order to advance my techniques. I have taken basic models and applied scratch-build details, and after-market accessories. Each model I made I challenged myself to out-do the preceding project never just settling for my usual average results. I can look back at this year and confidently report that I have accomplished all my model making goals for that time period. Despite this I still have higher standards I want to achieve and this next year will be no exception regarding trying to out-do myself. But at the same time I have felt pressure on myself and have given myself a headache. I have spent my down time still thinking about how to produce a certain result or look that I found in someone else's build. I asked myself "Is this really fun"? When is enough a enough. My answer is yes, I still had fun, but a different kind of fun. The sort of fun and feeling of accomplishment you get when you attempt and then succeed at some great personal challenge. But at the same time what happened to those days that you just relax, don't push your-self, don't need to achieve and produce museum quality models every-time you sit down to build. Well, I needed a relaxing, non-threatening, oh-what-the-heck kind of build were you revisit how fun model making use to be for me. So I went to my local hobby shop with a $20 limit. This $20 needed to include all supplies, and paints/ My goal was to buy a basic, inexpensive model that was high-quality, but simple and minimal assembly challenge. Yes, I still wanted to try something a little different, but allow it to be more of a fun experiment. will little invested in time and money. So i found this great 1/48 Tamiya model kit of a Bf-109 E-3 for $16.00 bucks including tax. Yes, I knew this was one of Tamiya's older 1/48 kits but it was still a Tamiya. This fact insured simplicity, lower parts-count, and great fit. It would guarantee a fun, short-term successful build that is truly fun with minimal pressure to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. If I screwed it up, so what! It was just an under $20.00 kit. I would still be trying something a little new, and actually get to experiment with some painting techniques that I have not tried. This is because I don't recall building a Bf-109 of any kind since I was a young child, and with this being said, I don't ever recall attempting an early war German aircraft camo job with mottled camo effect. So there was my small challenge. I could not wait to start but before I did I had little knowledge about color choices used by the Luftwaffe so I still had to do a little research, but I stopped myself when I found some colors that appeared just "good enough" to accomplish the build. The instructions only mention Tamiya brand paints with primary paints referencing their spray-can colors. This would not do for me because A: wanted to use my airbrush, and B: Wanted to use paints I already had.
So I finally got started and opened the box. Great, only 2 parts-trees, and 1-clear sprue. Yea-Haaa! The molding looked simple but all the basics were present including some nice surface detail, basic cockpit details, crystal clear canopies, and really nice decals. Upon dry-fitting I knew this kit would fit perfectly and just fall together. So this is what $16.00 bucks can still get you. Not bad, I was a happy camper. Being easy was good because it meant I could get to my favorite part of the build which is painting and finishing. This would be fun to finish because I could finally try one of these crazy Luftwaffe mottled camo jobs. I also like to beat my airplanes up like they belong to some rag-tag broken down air-force, which for the early Luftwaffe, was not the case for their pristine aircraft. So I would be taking some artistic license.
Upon starting I wanted to keep it simple but the cockpit was just a little to bare. That just would not do. I did not want to do tons of research on the cockpit so I went for just making it look busy adding what i learned to add to accomplish this goal following years of model making. I cut up a few pieces and bits of plastic to add to the side walls, installed some decal seat-belts (easy!), and threw in a few tubes and wires. It got the job done. I painted all the details, weathered the cockpit a bit and closed the fuselage halves around the cockpit assembly. It fit like a glove, no seams, no filler, way to go! The rest of the build went along very smooth and had the whole plane assembled, except for parts left off to ease painting, within a few hours. There was no other internal details or engine to assemble. She was ready to paint.
It was time for painting. I got a little bit carried away with the preliminary paint work such as pre-shading, and color layering, but it was not difficult for me because this is my standard practice these days, and I do love to paint. But the most difficult part of the painting at this stage was the masking. I would love to figure out a way to never mask again because I hate masking, always have, always will...LOL! This paint scheme needed some masking but not to bad b/c I strategically left certain parts separate to make this dreaded process easy. In no time I had complete 90% of the painting and I thought the colors looked good (I really fudged in this area), but I still needed to mottle the sides of the fuselage. It looked so good that I pondered on the idea of leaving it as is. After all, my research indicated that many of the early, Pre-Battle-of-Britain German Bf-109s did not have the mottling effect applied to the then basic Luftwaffe camo scheme. But then I re-called my purpose for selecting this subject. I wanted to try a mottled camo effect with my airbrush. So I set up my pressures, and limited my paint flow, and went to work. As I was doing it I found it fun, but it didn't look right. I reminded myself to just keep it simple and have fun. So I made some minor adjustments and finished up. I was not happy with the results of the mottling and actually got bummed out a bit so I took the night off. I looked at some Bf-109 paint jobs and examined all the different mottling patterns. The next day I looked at my Bf-109 again and thought ,"Oh, it actually does not look as bad as I thought". If I was to do it again the only change I would make is to mottle a little on the lighter side. Sort of a more transparent look using a thinner mixture of paint. But it looked OK for my 1st try.
So it was time to have some real fun and beat her up with some dirt, scratches, chips, dis-coloration and fading. As always I had some fun doing this. One thing I like to replicated in a chipped paint job is the effect of primer showing through on less severe chips, and scratches. After some more research I found some examples were it appeared that a brownish-red primer was used. So I added some primer color using hull-red to the usual aluminium chip marks. Most of the chipping was applied using a pointy brush and a sponge to vary the effect. I then used my trusty Tamiya brown panel liner wash to add a pin wash to all the recessed lines. I applied some dry-brushing using a lighter version of the primary colors and hit the raised areas of the wings and body. The last thing I did up to this point was get out my oil paints and create various shading effects, spills, and stains.
I really had some fun up to this point with minimal stress, frustration, and worry. I was again engaged in a project that was pure fun, with a model only made for me, in the way I wanted to do it. I need to take another break for dinner, but can't wait to finish it. I took a few pictures throughout the WIP and have posted them here for your enjoyment. As soon as I complete this simple project I will post the finalized pictures. Hope you enjoy and comments are always welcomed.
24 additional images. Click to enlarge.