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Derek Bowen
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ICM 1/48 P-51 Mustang: Nightmare NMF Project

March 21, 2023 · in Aviation · · 34 · 0.8K

This project took the joy out of model building which isn't good for my 6th build. The kit was subpar by every standard. The instructions didn't include the paint scheme or decal layout for the box art version which is what I built. It only included the directions for an alternate version. And the ICM website doesn't have it either. It includes parts for a detailed cockpit but the instructions don't show you how to install them. The sprues themselves don't even have numbers for the parts. Many of the parts do not have alignment pins or tabs to correctly position the part before gluing. The wheel struts don't fit, the actuator arm for the wheel well door is too long, the wing pylons don't fit the drop tanks, etc. In sum, I wouldn't buy this kit again. This is my first ICM kit so I'm definitely leery about doing another ICM project. The initial reason I bought this kit was I loved the box art of the bright blue paint scheme. After researching this aircraft, I learned there is big controversy about the paint scheme that the 375th FS used in England. The consensus appears to be a dark green finish with an olive drab coat applied on top of the invasion stripes afterwards. Thus, the box art paint scheme is wrong, lol. I used this 2-tone green paint scheme but the olive drab on my model is too close in hue to the dark green I used. You can barely tell the difference in the photos I uploaded. I should have used a lighter olive drab to have a bigger contrast between the two paint colors. I also used this project to practice some scratch-building such as the fuel lines for the drop tanks, hydraulic brake lines, and cables on the radio box.

Now here's my problem. This was my first NMF project. I studied NMF techniques thoroughly before starting but it was a total disaster. After removing the masking tape for the invasion stripes, the tape literally peeled off the NMF paint from the body. I had to fix all the damaged paint areas and try again but the tape peeled the paint off again. It was too ugly to fix so I stripped down the entire body (my first time and not enjoyable), and applied a flat black primer thinking this would give the NMF more "teeth" to grip the primer and not peel off with the tape. That didn't help either. The result was the same- the NMF paint peeled off with the tape. I used Mr. Hobby Mr. Color products for this project. The NMF was Mr. Color #8 Silver.

I then tried applying the decals but the silvering of the ICM decals was absolutely horrible against the NMF paint and I couldn't figure out how to make them look presentable on the NMF finish even with trimming them. Thus, I bought some decal masks thinking this would solve the problem but the decal masks also peeled the NMF paint off the model. In the end, I had to hand paint the roundels, squadron markings, and invasion stripes on both sides of the fuselage. There was no other way to keep the NMF paint intact. It was not a fun experience.

My question to the group is how do you keep the NMF paint from peeling off a model when removing tape and decal masks? I tried both gloss and flat primers, Tamiya and Kabuki tape, clear coated the NMF finish before painting the invasion stripes and didn't clear coat the NMF but both methods failed. I definitely want to try a NMF build again but I need to understand how to protect the NMF from being damaged by tape and masks.

Reader reactions:
5  Awesome

8 additional images. Click to enlarge.

34 responses

  1. Superb result, Derek!

  2. Derek. Sorry to hear about your woes with the build. Trust me, we've all been there...stick to it. Given all that, your build still looks good. Well done!

  3. Hey Derek- despite all the difficulties you really produced a great result on this Mustang. You took on a complex scheme with stripes, yellow accents, drab, + NMF and produced a really eye catching result! Weathering is very well done and there is ALOT to be proud of. Thanks for sharing this! Here are a couple of thoughts that I thought I would share concerning what you posted

    1. I've learned to always protect the NMF by wearing gloves when I handle the model- this keeps the oils from my hands from wearing off the paint especially around the edges

    2. For me I use Future floor polish to seal my work before moving on to stripes, decals, etc. Like you I have had bad problems with tape ripping up chunks of my NMF. I know you tried sealing your work too, maybe try allowing more time for the sealer to fully dry and harden before applying tape.

    3. I often will try to make my tape a little less sticky by lightly tapping the sticky side on a cotton t-shirt or something similar. This makes it less likely that the tape will rip off your paint when you pull it up- careful not to over do it or the tape will fall right off and have no stickiness at all!

    4. Finally- quality of kit matters. The ICM kit is notoriously tricky and it looks like you ran right into the buzz saw of it's quirks and difficulties. For a smooth building experience + high quality decals right out of the box I would recommend Airfix's 1/48 P-51 Mustang series. For a few dollars more your going to get a vastly improved experience. With that being said you emerged from the buzz saw a built a really top notch Mustang and I really enjoyed looking at your pictures!

    • Thanks David. I actually sealed the NMF finish with Tamiya clear coat but the tape pulled the clear coat off in large chunks. The NMF paint was usually attached to the clear coat when it debonded from the primer. I'll definitely wait a few days for the clear coat to fully cure. Good suggestion about making the tape less sticky.

  4. Hello! I think Your Mustang looks pritty good! Try Mr Surfacer 1500, and next Super Fine Silver or Super Chrome Silver MR Color. I made that My P-51 in NMF with Black Pacific Recon Stripes.

  5. Turned out looking great! That's an eye-catching scheme (one that I want to do as well on a 1/72 pony). Well done.

  6. My technique is to clean the whole model surface with isopropyl alcohol prior to applying a couple of coats of Tamiya gloss black lacquer paint (I use the 10 ml jars as I prefer to use my airbrush.) This produces a beautifully glossy, very durable base. Then I apply Alclad II metallic lacquers. I've also had good results with Mr. Color Super Metallics. When masking I use Tamiya tapes, either the orange rice paper tape, or the white plastic tape for curves. Before applying the tape, I stick it to the heel of my (clean) hand. This helps reduce the adhesive strength and makes it less likely to lift anything. I very rarely have any of the Alclad II lift, and if it does, it's almost always a tiny little bit. One of the best things about Alclad is that if you do have to do a touch-up, just a quick spray of the same color over the spot will typically fix it with no evidence that there was ever a problem.

    • Steven,

      I did the IPA cleaning and Tamiya gloss black lacquer coat. That worked fine. The metallic paint didn't adhere to gloss black primer and subsequent flat black primer. It literally debonded from the primer in large paint chip chunks. Good idea about making the tape less sticky and using the plastic tape. I'll try both methods next time. Unfortunately, Alclad is not available where I live. Tamiya, Mr. Color, Vallejo acrylic, and Citadel acrylic are my only options.

      • Hi,
        First of all I must say you built a superb kit! Well done @mrocs2000

        About the NMF paint, I had the same outcome every time I used Mr Color metals, no matter how I tried to make it stick. As a result, I dumped it and tried Citadel and I must say it is heaps better and easier to use. I’ve heard Vallejo metals are nice either, but never tried them before.

        As for the kit, I’ve heard a rumour, that it is the Tamiya kit, with some changes, like removing the pins and holes. I don’t know it is true or not.

  7. A pity to hear that your NMF experience is not that great yet, Derek @mrocs2000
    NMF is definitely not the easiest paint work to do, I'm also not confident in getting it done nicely.
    In the end the Mustang looks great to me.

  8. From your description it sounds like you got one of ICM's older (much older!) Mustang kits that, if memory serves me correctly, had the same problem their Spitfires, Yak-7 and Yak-9 kits had: namely they were coated in this disgusting cosmoline-type mold release agent that made the paint slough off. I won't suggest that you try this kit again, but a good habit to develop is washing your parts trees in soapy water to get off any residual mold release agent. With that in mind, soap wouldn't have helped much with the goop ICM used to slop into their molds, I wound up using simplegreen and a toothbrush and not even that worked. Newer ICM kits don't exhibit this flaw, mind you.

    • Wes,

      It wasn't a cosmoline-coating issue on the plastic. The prime coat stayed completely intact on the model. The metallic paint completely debonded from the prime coat in large paint chips when I removed the tape from the metallic surfaces. It was like the metallic paint didn't even adhere to the prime coat. As stated in my original post, I tried both a gloss black and flat black prime coat with the same result in both scenarios.

  9. Derek, first off your model turned out great, and sorry for your struggles. As for NMF schemes. I've tried many types of paints and finally a few years ago a friend turned me onto Alclad lacquer. I use "Duraluminum (ALC 102) and regular Aluminum (for a contrasting shade) and have had great results. The stuff is tuff and will not come off with tape. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the results can be great. With that said, I'm looking into some of the Mr color silver colors, a friend of mine is getting some great looking results with it. It too is tuff and is very resistant to lifting off with tape. I do have some of my results posted here on imodeler you can check out. I hope this helps you out some.

    • Thanks Terry. Alclad, unfortunately, is not available where I live. I guess I'll have to experiment on my paint mule with the different metallic paints to figure out how to make this work next time.

  10. Aooow, what a beautiful battle stallion that is! Apart from the issues you had, you really pulled off a neat trick making it looking very busy and interesting although with a simple scheme. I always liked this combination of OD and NMF. The subtle, and not so subtle, invasion stripes adds heaps of eye candy.

    Now, the fail proof (?) recipe from my humble self is:
    Clean the model before starting painting. I´m more worried of dust and other particles creating a grainy surface than grease. Prime the model, this will provide grip for coming layers and also take care of any MINOR grease issues. I use Tamiya fine grey primer for this. Use a fine rag or something similar to buff and prep surface for a shinier result.

    For the NMF I use Vallejo metal series. Simple to use and no fumes. The metal series can be mixed with white or grey to make it go more oxidized or any other tone you may want to replicate. The Vallejo paints are usually very stable if used with a primer and will not show any fingerprints but use gloves if you got them.

    The final coat before decalling is a secret (not any more) mix of floor polish and Tamiya X-20 thinner, ca 70/30, in thin coats, let them half dry a few seconds before going over for next layers. The polish may rest and dry totally for a day before decals and any decal solvent goes on. Finish with a thin layer of more polish mixture before the final weathering oils etc goes on.

    Good luck!

  11. For a first attempt at NMF, it turned out fine. I wouldn't get too worked up over issues. Each model is going to be a learning experience (good or bad) just keep in mind what you learned from this one and go to the next one.

    NMF is never easy. It takes a lot of practice and involves a lot of frustration.

    The first thing is you need to prime the model. Whether you like Mr Surfacer (lacquer), Tamiya spraycan primer or Stylnylrez (acrylic) is up to you. Priming any NMF is almost a necessity. Most metallic paints are pretty fragile without a primer for it to cling to.

    Also helps is micromesh sanding/polishing pads or cloths to smooth out the various coats after you let it dry.

    NMF models will take longer than a "normal" model so it requires a certain amount of patience.

    Also find a NMF that is sort of forgiving. I prefer Vallejo Metal Color Paints with Stynylrez primer.

    There's a lot more but that's a start.

    • Thanks Dan. My prime coat stayed fully intact. I had no problems with it. The problem I had was the metallic paint completed debonded from the prime coat in large paint chips as I removed the tape. It was as if the metallic paint never adhered to the prime coat. I tried both a gloss and flat prime coat but the result was the same. I'll definitely try the Vallejo metal color paints. Others recommended those paints too.

  12. Great looking 'Stang after all!

  13. Great work on your fine kit. And, good research.

    If I have to paint a stripe on a wing over a silver or chrome surface, for example, I cut a tape mask of the same size and dimension as the stripe. I lay the tape in place over the silver paint. I then apply Fasmask along the edges of the mask. Four to five applications of Fasmask will provide enough to grab for easy removal later. When the Fasmask dry, cut along the edge of the mask and remove the tape mask. Yes, the silver paint under the mask is discolored but we are going to paint over it anyway. Paint the stripe and when dry, pull the Fasmask away. I have used this simple technique many times with no discoloration of the silver paint.

  14. Your Mustang turned out great in the end, Derek. To my mind mixing paints etc from different manufacturers is always a risk, so I generally stick to one, usually Tamiya.

  15. Model looks great. Sucks about the paint lifting. As always, when seeking advice, you get 100 different ideas from 100 modellers.This is not a bad thing as it gives you lots of options to try. I'll be 101. I never clean my models before paint and rarely use a primer. When I do prime, I use Vallejo White primer when I need to spray red, yellow or one of those other colours that need to pop out. For NMF I use Vallejo Metallics. People either love or hate Vallejo. I always wait at least 24 hours before masking Vallejo paints and de-tack the bejaysus out of Tamiya tape. I spray with light coats and remove the masks immediately. I rarely have paint lift or bleed under

  16. Derek,
    I’m kinda late the party on this one, but you’re not the first & not the last to fight acrylic NMF woes. Here’s what’s worked for me of late. Use Stynylrez primer. As much as I like Valejo paints, their primers are not worth beans. Either they don’t stick or the paint doesn’t stick to them. Stynylrez is hard as a rock and semi-self leveling. You have to blast it on at 25-30 psi. Then the valejo metallics stick. Clear between coats and “de-tack” your masking tape. So far it’s worked for me.


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