So, much masking later, I got the black, silver and red detailing done on the body of the helicopter. Gad, that’s hard work on something with so much rivet detail—very difficult to mask effectively without one pesky rivet being right on the edge of the masked region, allowing a tiny leak of paint. I was a little busy with a scalpel blade and a toothpick tidying up edges, but I’ve drawn a veil over that part of the proceedings.
Here are the major components, sprayed up with gloss and ready for the application of decals:
You can see I managed to get a consistent curve on the main rotor blades.
The “Old 66” decal set is very nice: a lot of detail for the Apollo 13 recovery, and a lot of spare bits and pieces from which you could turn out an Apollo 12 recovery version of the same aircraft. It’s an oddity of the Apollo 13 livery that the port and starboard sides of this aircraft are slightly different—the starboard side seems to have been repainted and then remarked with slightly different stencils, while the port side kept the original Apollo-12-vintage markings.
The decals themselves are quite thick, which is good news for those as hamfisted as me—I managed not to tear any of them! But it also makes them a little difficult to bed down. They also seem to be oddly water-repellent, so that they kept fixing in place just before I had them where I wanted them. Easily enough fixed, however, with another brushload of Micro Set for the final tweak, and then a little bit of kitchen towel to soak away the excess. At this point those damn rivets created more problems—the thick decals were a little reluctant to drape over them, and I got little silver patches of trapped air along the rivet lines. So lots of work with a fine needle, a little cautious thumb pressure to milk out the air, and several applications of Micro Sol. But at the end of the day the decals turned out really well, and I’d certainly rather have a bit of extra work with robust decals than have the things fall apart in my hands during application.
A quick rinse to get ride of the residue of all that Micro Sol, and then another couple of coats of airbrush varnish to seal the decals. This time, I added a little matt to my gloss varnish, to give me a silk finish.
Then the horror of removing the masking from the transparencies. It’s so much easier when you can mask and paint them separately, but it wasn’t really an option with this model. So the masks were thickened up with layers of paint and varnish, and there was a lot of scalpel work to get them off with minimal damage to the thin lines of the painted canopy.
So here she is, awaiting her rotors:
She’s sitting a little nose down, which is irritating me slightly. The problem is the tail wheel, which in the real machine has a scissoring compression structure that partially collapses on the ground and dangles in flight. Airfix have tried for a one-size-fits-all approach, so the tail wheel assembly provided is neither collapsed enough for the ground nor extended enough for flight. I’m going to just look at it for a while, because I suspect I could do a fair bit of damage and come up with an even more unsatisfactory appearance if I try to fix this.
The canopy is going to take a fair bit of tidying up. The paint’s a little uneven, and there are slightly scadded patches on some of the transparencies that I can probably improve with another application of Quick Shine.
I confess I find canopy painting at this scale a little demoralizing—there’s always something not right!