I left you last time when I had applied the primer coat successfully. Next, I sprayed on the Temperate Land Scheme colours, using LifeColor paints. First, I applied Medium Sea Grey to the under surfaces, then masked that area off, applied Dark Earth to the upper surfaces, and then masked that off for a layer of Dark Green. The RAF had two standard patterns for fighter camouflage, factory applied—the A and B schemes, one the mirror image of the other. This plane, being an odd-numbered Hurricane, needed the A pattern.
Unmasking at this stage is always slightly anxiety-provoking, but on this occasion I managed to carry the whole thing off with only a couple of tiny, trivial leaks under the masking, easily fixed.
Then a coat of gloss varnish, to prep the surface for decals.
That red propeller spinner you can see above is something of a vexed issue. There’s evidence that coloured spinners were discouraged in the South East Asian Command theatre, but it’s also reported that 135 Sqn. RAF (which used the aircraft I’m modelling here) was using red airscrew bosses for A flight and blue bosses for B flight when they were issued with Thunderbolts just a little later in 1944. (I got this information from Geoff Thomas’s Royal Air Force Thunderbolts.) And I have a black-and-white photo (in Bryan Philpott’s RAF Combat Units: SEAC 1941-45) of a 135 Sqn. Hurricane from earlier in the war that seems to have a spinner that is neither black nor white nor metallic. On the strength of that, I gave this model a red spinner.
I used some of the original Hasegawa decals for detailing, but needed to add SEAC roundels and tailflashes, and the specific lettering for my aircraft, from other sources. I bought a very elderly sheet of SEAC markings by Almark Decals online, but struggled with them. They had developed a mottled appearance with age, and seemed to leak something white and slightly corrosive when treated with Microsol setting solution—this left me with a vague waterstained appearance on my varnish here and there, which has dogged me right through to the final model, although I could probably have sold it to you as deliberately simulated weathering. The lettering I sourced from the wide range at Fantasy Printshop.
The Rotol prop blades had their logotype labels added using Kora Decals.
Another coat of gloss to seal the decals, and it was time to pick out the panel lines. For this I used LifeColor’s Liquid Pigment, which was a great success—a gentle stroke of the brush along a panel line, and the pigment settles into it neatly, leaving almost no residue on the panels. Any pigment in the wrong place can be taken off using the removal solution, which works even after the pigment is dry. The only downside is that the Liquid Pigment separates and settles quickly—without regular stirring, I found my black panel liner turning blue and pale after just a couple of brushfuls.
The underside also got a little preliminary staining behind the radiator, so that I could glue the radiator cowling in place over the top of it.
More varnish to seal the panel lines, and it was time for some weathering. I used silver paint to add the appearance of fine chipping to the paintwork on the wing roots behind the propeller, to the access panels of the engine cowling and gun mounts, and to the areas that saw foot traffic as the pilot got in and out of the aircraft. Engine oil used to leak out of the underside of the engine compartment, and then blow back in the airflow, producing characteristic stains on the Vokes filter, and then in a fan across the undercarriage covers and the central wing section. And there was an exhaust plume down either side of the aircraft that was deflected downwards in the airflow over the wings. To these specific forms of weathering, I added a little grubbiness in areas where hands or feet would most commonly touch the aircraft, and some earth staining to the underside of the tail and the landing gear.
Then it was all over in a rush. Matt varnish over all, and I could finally put the undercarriage in place—I’d been holding off on that so I could airbrush even coats of varnish over the undercarriage covers and drop tanks, which sit quite close to each other in the assembled model. With the varnish on, I could also unmask the landing and navigation lights. The cockpit canopy was dropped into place, and the last job was to rig the radio antenna between the mast and the tail. There are various ways of doing this, but I chose to use stretched sprue*, cut to length and held in place with tiny droplets of Micro Kirstal Klear. You can find various instructional videos on-line, explaining how to stretch sprue—they show everything from people performing delicate manoeuvres over candles, to guys apparently trying to set fire to themselves and their workbenches. I use a tea-light candle, hold the sprue a few millimetres above the flame until it starts to go glossy and sag, and then pull firmly while lifting the plastic away from the flame and rotating it so that I’m stretching it vertically—that way I get long straight sections when it hardens.
There’s always a little sagging when you rig a long section of this stuff, so the final act is to tighten it up. I light a match, blow it out, and run the still-hot matchhead along the centre length of the stretched sprue, just a millimetre or so below it. Sometimes I need to repeat the process several times, but eventually the sprue gives a tiny quiver, as if alive, and pulls itself tight between its two anchor points. It’s one of the oddest and most satisfying moments in model-making. (Some people achieve the same effect with soldering irons or heated screwdriver blades, but I flinch at the thought of brandishing large hot metal objects near my delicate plastic model.)
So here’s the finished product:
Next up, another Hurricane, even more obscure than this one—a Mark IIB attached to Operational Training Unit 71 at Ismailia, Egypt, in early 1944. After that I’ll go back to my Saturn V, I think.
* Sprue is that framework of plastic to which the kit parts are attached, which normally gets thrown away after the model has been built. It’s there because it fills the channels through which the molten plastic runs when it’s injected into the mould. No-one knows where the word comes from, but it appears to be unrelated to the tropical disease of the same name.