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paul teixeira
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Update WIP 3: 1/32 Trumpeter SBD-3 Midway Variant…need to resolve a decal issue.

July 1, 2018 · in Aviation · · 24 · 3.1K
This article is part of a series:
  1. Work-In-Progress: 1/32 Trumpeter SBD
  2. WIP 2nd Update: 1/32 Trumpeter SBD (Color Challenge Resolved)
  3. Update WIP 3: 1/32 Trumpeter SBD-3 Midway Variant…need to resolve a decal issue.
  4. Update WIP 4: 1/32 Trumpeter SBD-3 Midway Variant
  5. WIP: 5th Update for 1/32 Trumpeter SBD-3 Midway Variant
  6. WIP: 6th and Final Update: Trumpeter 1/32 SBD-3 “Midway Variant”
  7. 1/32 Trumpeter SBD-3: Battle of Midway

OK here is my 3rd Installment of the -3 Build. I completed the primary camo paint job over the intricate, patchwork, pre-shading. (see 2nd build post: Bottom color is Vallejo Model Air USAF Light-Gray, Top Camo color is a mix of several Vallejo Model Air Colors such as: Pru Blue, Grey Blue, Light Gray, and white.

I let the paint cure for 24 plus hours. I then decided to discard the included black walkway decals and paint my own using some light-grey preshading then Vallejo Black as a top color. Prior to sealing with an Acrylic Gloss resin I began the weathering process with more acrylic paints and a silver Primacolor pencil.

I found several photo-references of real SBDs, as well as, collected some of the better SBD models photos available on the internet, including this site. I used these photo-references to help me with the chipping aspect of the weathering process. I used Vallejo Yellow/Green Model Color Paint and a fine paint brush to paint the chips were only the primer is showing through. To give the edges a more random, and sharp look I then used the sponge method and lightly tapped the edges of the painted chips with the sponge after dabbing sponge in the primer colored paint. I focused most of this in areas that would of been walked on and rubbed often, as also indicated on the photographic reference material.

Finally I went back over some of the chipping with the silver Primacolor pencil and penciled in some heavy wear marks were the aluminium would of shown through both the primer coat and the base paint. Most of this extra chipping was applied randomly over the yellow-green primer. The leading edges of the wings were also hit hard with weathering work and more chipping.

Next steps will be to buff all the surface work lightly to take off some of the chipping paint build-up, and this helps to blend in all the chipping and paint so it does not look like an "add-on" step. This really blends it all a little better and the chipping does not stand out so brightly. When I use a wash in the final stages this will also tone things down a bit and blend it even more. I will not do that until a gloss coat is applied to seal everything and the decals are applied.

Finally before adding any gloss coats I will continue to weather the panel lines and other targeted areas with some pastel powders and oil paints adding to the worn, beat, patchy, and weathered paint job. Then this will finally be sealed with Future Floor Wax sprayed neat from the airbrush. This will prep the model for decal application, and for more final weathering such as a fine panel/rivet line wash and some filtering with oils/enamels.

I am in need of some help. I am at a stand-still because the decals supplied with the kit have a "faded red-dot" in the middle of all the National insignia. If you know the history related to the SBDs used during the you may know that the red-dots previously present on all SBD insignia were painted over with white, hence no red-dot. This was done to reduce identification problems with the previous red looking like Japanese insignia. They also painted over the red and white stripes on the fins for the same reason. In theory this may have left some of the red bleeding through the hastily painted white cover-up paint. So I assume this is why Trumpeter printed their decals with the faded looking red dot (looks like pink). May have been good thinking on Trumpeter's part but I could not find a single shred of evidence in any color photographs taken of SBDs during that time frame. A friend and I spent multiple hours over several days looking, but could not find anything. We also looked at all the SBD models published on-line to see if another modeler replicated this faded-red-dot. Nothing. I have also heard through several reviews that the Trumpeter decals are "rubbish" as they contain the faded red-dots, some color issues, and size issues. So, what do I do? I am actively looking for some good feedback on these issues related to the red-dot insignia, as well as, the quality of the Trumpeter decals in general. Hate to ruin a nice model with crappy decals. This is a commissioned build for an avid Naval Aviation historian and it needs to look "right". I have consulted with him also and he is as confused as I am. Hate to purchase new decals due to the additional cost, and the delays due to ordering/shipping to USA.

Please feel free to comment and/or provide feedback.

Reader reactions:
5  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

24 responses

  1. Paul, I don't know about the decals' quality in this kit, but just like you I was not able to find any evidence of the red dot shining through the white overpaint. If it did happen at all, I cannot imagine it to be uniform across all insignia, so I would definitely discard these decals.
    With insignia this size, I would honestly consider painting them on using masks. This will make weathering much easier, and will spare you the pain of getting the panel lines and riveting to show through.
    Whatever route you decide to take, here are the official sizes (in inches) to be used on SBDs during your time frame - you might find these helpful to decide if the Trupeter decals are of any use to you:

    Upper wing: 72" (distance between tip of the wing and center of the star: 52")
    Lower wing: 71" (distance between tip of the wing and center of the star: 51")
    Fuselage: 50" (distance from trailing edge of horiz. stabilizer: 119")

    However, with multiple and contradictory directives being issued during these hectic times, rules weren't always followed to the letter, as can be seen in the attached image...

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • I actually found a B&W picture of a Midway SBD-3. If you zoom in and look very close you can see the faint outline of the red-dot. looked at this picture many times before someone pointed it out to me.

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • I actually do have all the masks for the roundels. Was just trying to save some effort on this build, already put so much into it, and the painting for me will be so much more time consuming. Also never did that before and dont want to test my skill on this build b/c It is a commissioned build.

      Thanx so much for all your info. Really will help!

      • Paul, i agree with Boris on this, that painting the insignia on might be better than decal in this scale. However, i recommend laying down white in the areas where the stars will go, and then laying down the star shaped masks, and then reconstruct the blue gray around them. Then, when the time comes to spray the insignia blue, you're applying a darker colour over a lighter colour and you won't have any coverage/ opacity issues. If you spray the whole disk white, and then mask and spray the blue disc over the existing white disk, when you remove the mask you will see a very thin white edge going all the way around the insignia...what i call the "Oreo Cookie Problem". Just a thought.

  2. Like Boris, I'd be tempted to say make your own masks and paint the insignia as you have with the walkway tracks. Given your skills, I'd say it'd look much better with more realism, better weathering, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

    The Dauntless is looking first rate with beautiful paintwork.

  3. Well, I can't help with an "evidence" but looking at the picture Boris posted, I see several different sizes of the stars and even one that appears (without blowing it up) to only have the star on the left wing. (It's the 1st SBD on the T side, right behind the F4Fs.)

    All those stars seem to have very faded centers. Perhaps they are "pink" due to having been over-sprayed with white, then flown enough that they are showing through. Or, it's the red as on a B&W photo - but I think red would show through a bit darker. But I'm no expert nor do I portray one on TV.

    • I dont think the pictures you mention are the bleed thru red-dots, but they are very faded along with rest of the paint. There was a lot of inconsistency that is for sure and that is b/c they made up some squadrons following Coral Sea battle loss with remnants of other squadron aircraft that survived that battle. They need 19 planes and pulled them from carrier and land based units to re-make one unit on carrier then hastily painted over old markings while painting new ones with simple numbers.

  4. Still unsure as to just what "look" you're trying to achieve, but the first thing that came to MY mind would be to go ahead and paint on the insignia (rather than using the decals) and THEN apply the 'red dot' and spray over THAT with white until you get the desired result(s). Just a thought.

    • I guess the look would be what was an accurate and historically correct appearance for a plane from the squadron which used "S-9" as identification.

  5. Chris Buckholtz once wrote about his build that the Navy had the same problem that model builders had...which was that white didn't cover over an insignia red meatball very well. He believes that on close inspection some trace of the red center should be visible under the white paint.

    • I agree with your reply and being a painter I know this would be the case especially following some wear and tear. I think it would be inconsistent across aircraft and squadrons so did the plane "S-9" show evidence of this and I cannot find it.

  6. Paul,

    I tried to think how I did mine, and I definitely used the decals but you can see (I think) the faint red in the centre but I can’t recall if I treated the decals a certain way or they came that way. A few sample images attached; maybe you can see what I mean?

    I would add that although you can of course use masks there will be the issue of surface rivets to allow for, so the edges of the masks have to be pristine before airbrushing.

    Just my tuppence worth of advice...

    3 attached images. Click to enlarge.

    • I like what it looks like. The red dot looks good b/c it is really faded on your example. I guess my concern was the decals just would not look good but yours look fine. The whole model is great. I may be going with the Trumpeter decals as a 1st attempt. If it looks like c**p I can always remove and paint them.

      • The Trumpeter decals were no problem as far as I can recall. I DID use Daco Strong decal solution on them but there are plenty of alternatives on the market now. If using strong setting solution be careful not to allow it to pool at any one spot too long as it will ‘burn’ the decal if left. I usually leave it a few minutes and then use a brush and clean water to calm the decal, just by brushing the damp brush across the area. Let it settle overnight and then check to see if some/all need another touch.

        As you can see from the number of responses you’ve had to this, for every example found, there’s another one that’s different.

        You’re definitely on the right track with the faded look and the kit markings should be fine.

  7. For what it’s worth, the restored Pearl Harbor, Midway veteran on display at Pensacola only has the red showing through on the rudder stripes. I’ve looked at that plane time and time again, and wondered the exact same thing. In fact, I was just there last week. Perhaps the paint faded off of the fabric covered rudder easier then the metal wings/fuselage? I know we need to be skeptical about restorations, but the research and care put into the aircraft at the museum are top notch. I would trust the Naval Aviation Museum’s call on this one.

  8. Have a look at this site:

    Not sure if it will help or add more confusion. Whether the Red Dot was painted over while at sea or if the plane was delivered after the change is really the key.

  9. Coming along nicely! Much as already been said on the "red dot" issue so I won't try to contribute to that conversation...

  10. Yellow Wings Decals has a couple of interesting SBDs in 1/32. They also have the relevant blue/white national insignia in 1/32. However, beware than only VB-6 had all-new airplanes at the battle. The other squadrons would have had some new replacements, but the overwhelming number of them would have just had rushed repaints after they got back from the Doolittle Raid and Coral Sea.

    If you are doing an SBD-2 (they're really only distinguishable by serial numbers) then you can have the faded dot since VMSB-241 overpainted the insignias on their airplanes "in the field" on Midway, and also painted over the rudder stripes. That was what I did with my SBD-2 - I'm attaching a couple of photos here.

    These SBD-2s all came from VB-6 after the Doolittle Raid. The oversized wing insignias were overpainted and then new blue/white markings painted, while the fuselage insignia was left alone other than to overpaint the red center.

    As regards the USN squadrons aboard the carriers, only VB-6 had new airplanes, replacements for their SBD-2s. The other squadrons would have had hurried repaints of the insignias to cover the red dots and so the kit decals work fine for a plane from VS-6 on Enterprise or any of the other carriers. And those airplanes would all have been faded since they had seen lots of service around the equator in the tropics over the months since Pearl Harbor.

    3 attached images. Click to enlarge.

    • Really nice Tom. Love your SBD. I think we need to do something else b/c finding other problems with the Trumpeter decals. Size off, color off, red dot to small, points of star dont touch edge of blue. may need to do aftermarket.

  11. I see this has been a lively debate thus far. If it were me (and I have no patience when I want to make progress on a build), I'd paint them on. My P-40 Tiger mouth went through many layers of Frisket film working through all colors but it was worth it. You can even mix a pink/gray white wash to paint the faded dots if you want. With your talent Paul, I know you can pull it off.

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