Make Your Own Insignia Stencils - Anders Quigg

Anders Quigg took an innovative approach to marking his Hurricane. It's not for everyone; but if you want realistic insignia on your model, you just might want to give this a try.


Scanning Your Decals
I've scanned the decals to use as a template, as well as a Montex masking set. The vinyl masks they provide don't conform well to curved surfaces, so I'm going to recreate some of them out of tape.


Rendering The Stencil Art
Using a vector illustration program (Inkscape in this case), I've traced out the desired patterns. I already have a set of pre-cut roundel masks from a while back, so I'll be using those for the roundels + insignias, but the principle is the same.


Here are the resized shapes loaded into the Cricut software. I have masks for the squadron codes, wing walkways, and some canopy sections.


After loading a sheet of Tamiya tape onto the cutting mat, a press of a button gives me crisp masks.*


The downside to this approach is that it can be difficult to properly position all of the elements; they aren't like decals that you can move around and position just right. I find it easiest to use the negative masks to lay out where the letters and symbols will be before applying the true masks over them.


Also, beware of overspray. Red and white paint have a habit of somehow getting everywhere no matter how careful you are.


White paint provides a foundation over the two-tone camouflage. Then, I start applying colors, going from lightest to darkest.


Once the yellow dries, I add the next ring of the roundel mask over it, and repeat until all of the colors are applied.


The End Result

With the markings represented by paint, you can mask over them, post-shade them, chip them, and other things that are difficult to accomplish using decals. In addition, as it's paint and not an adhesive layer, the underlying surface detail shows through perfectly, without the need for a few dozen coats of decal softener to get a reasonable compromise.


Cricut Explore One cutter, description and link:


Cricut Explore One. This item works with standard Cricut cartridges. It's a simple way to create DIY projects and crafts, such as iron-on decals, handmade greeting cards, scrapbook embellishments and much more. This electronic cutting machine offers amazing precision, cutting a wide variety of materials from paper to iron-on to adhesive vinyl. It can even go through thick materials like leather and burlap for expert-style multi-media effects. Design on your computer or iPad using free, cloud-based software. Say goodbye to complicated material settings. You'll get the cut you want when you select the material with a turn of the Smart Set dial, and Cut Smart technology delivers the most precise cuts. The German carbide premium blade provides excellent sharpness, and a 12" x 12" StandardGrip Cutting Mat helps to protect your work surfaces. Integrated compartments offer easy-to-access storage for cartridges and other accessories.

Here is a link to Walmart's webstore:


Masking Sticker Sheet (5pcs) - 1mm Grid Type

Item # 87129
This masking sticker product is ideal for various tasks such as masking off areas on R/C models, static models, and craft creations for painting.
Approx price: $5.00 - $9.00


M1A1 Abrams Track Assembly - Jim McClaim

We are lucky to live in an era of modeling when molding technology allows perfect injection molded track components. The fine folks at Panda provide several examples of individual track links that build into outstandingly accurate representations of the real think. Unfortunately, assembling track pads, links and guide horns so all the pieces stay together until the model is fully painted and built up poses a challenge. Cements don’t allow enough time to build an entire length of track. I think I’ve hit on a technique that provides the time needed to assemble lengths of track. Better still, since many tracks are directional, this technique is reversible- you can take the assemblies apart and rebuild them, if necessary. I discovered this technique while building Panda’s M1A1 Abrams.

First, the parts have to be cut from spurs, cleaned up and grouped in logical order. Once that’s done, we’re off to the races. I separated only those needed to complete one track length. That way, I don’t over produce them. Next, I work on a segment of 5 links at a time, making sure that if the trackpads are directional, all face the same direction. Next, if needed, I attach the linking track guides using a pair of hemostats for positive grip. Then, using a latex masking agent (I’m using Mr. Hobby Mr. Masking Sol Neo) I dab a minimal amount of masking goo on the track pins. You don’t want to get too much on the pins, but if you do, no sweat- you just use your fingers to rub the stuff off and start again. The goal is to get the links to stick. Once I’ve got a segment done, I put it aside and start the next. Once dry, you can link those segments together and let them dry. When the length is complete you’ve got a track run that will be flexible enough to bend around the sprocket and tensioner, while also allowing you to paint the entire run. I hope this works for you.

The first picture shows individual track pads, track guides and track links awaiting cleanup


The second and third pictures shows the track pins dabbed with just enough latex masking agent to bond with the track links, but so much that it will ooze out.


The fourth picture shows a latex connected track segment bent around a sprocket. Note I’ve failed to get them all going in the same direction. No worries- once dry, the latex rolls off with a pinch of your fingers. I’d never be able to fix a faux pas like this with cement. 

Sincerely, Jim McClain, Havre de Grace, MD, USA

Walthers DC-3 - Richard Banko

Build Diary:
The Walthers DC-3 is a simple kit in HO scale.


A Note on Windows

The kit provides clear windows for passenger and cockpit locations.  The passenger windows suffer from sever shrinkage and did not look good.  The cockpit window is very clear.  Micro Kristal Klear was used to simulate the passenger windows mitigating the issues with the kit provided windows.  Kristal Klear was also used to simulate the cockpit window.  Cockpit window frames were scratch built with 0.020 x 0.020 styrene strips.

Assembly and Painting

Sub-assemblies were built first.  Fuselage and wings were glued together.  Seams were filled and sanded with Squadron Products White Putty.  And filled and sanded.  And filled and sanded…  Silver paint was used to check seams.  Some re-scribing of panel lines was necessary.  Once done, parts with cleaned with Isopropyl Alcohol to remove dust and grease in preparation for painting.

As this was to be a quick build, spray can paints were used.  Also my paint booth is still under construction.  The upper fuselage was painted with Model Master Bright White.  A light coat was applied.  Adding a second coat did not take very well and major orange peel was present.  Light sanding was used but this did not provide the desired result.  Testor’s Airbrush thinner was used to remove the paint.  Fuselage was then successfully re-painted.

The leading edge of the wing was painted with a flat black to simulate the anti-icing boots.  Wings were then masked with 3-M painter’s masking tape and the center section was painted Blue Angle Blue, along with engine cowls.   Removal of the masking tape stripped some of the flat black off the wing.  Touch up painting was required.

I was on vacation for about 2 weeks, and then it snowed upon return.  So the fuselage white paint set up for about 3 weeks.  I masked around the pilot cockpit area and sprayed Blue Angle Blue.  The objective was to cover areas that the decals would not get to.  With the extended white paint setting time, there were no issues with masking and paint pulling off.

I decided to try Bare-Metal foil for the natural metal finish.  Chrome was used on metal areas and matte aluminum was used on control surfaces to simulate fabric areas.  After fuselage painted white, the Bare-Metal was applied to lower window areas.  Decals were then applied to fuselage and engine cowls.  Decals were stiff and brittle.  Lots of Micro-Sol was used to get decal as flat as possible.  Some touch up painting was done around vertical fin to complete leading edge and area around rudder control surface recess where the decals cracked.  Nose of aircraft got a lot of attention.  Red stripe decals were used to complete red highlight line above the cockpit and additional blue paint to fill areas not covered by decals.

The Bare-Metal product worked well.  I used Q-Tips to burnish the product onto the model.  Surface details came through very well.  Multi-curve surfaces lead to creases in the Bare-Metal foil.  I had to remove those sections and piece smaller sections of the foil into place.  Using a sharp X-Acto #11 blade, it was very easy to create “panels” with the foil.  Almost like building a real airplane.

The propellers were painted with ALCLAD II Chrome.  The under coat is gloss black from a Testor’s spray can.  Hubs were hand painted with silver.

Decals did continue to give me problems.  First issue was with the vertical stabilizer.  I tried to mask to paint the anti-icing stripe on the vertical stabilizer.  Even after “sealing” the decal with a clear coat, the decal still partially pulled off.  I hand painted the removed section.  Result was marginal.  The de-icing stripe was finally applied by spray painting decal film flat black and applying it.  This worked well.  I’ll have to keep that one in my bag of tricks.  On the left side of the aircraft, while applying the metal foil, part of the foil stuck the rear of the window stripe and partially removed it.  Fortunately the upper red stripe remained.  I hand painted white portion of the window stripe, used decal film painted blue for the center section and finally added a red stripe decal for the bottom boarder.  Result is not too bad.  Lesson learned – scan decals before use.  You never know when you have to re-create a section.

The final touch was to add the antenna wire.  Stretched sprue was used for this final detail.

Kit Manufacture:
Kit Type:
Kit Number:
Start Date:
End Date:
Approximate Build Time:

Douglas Aircraft Company  DC-3
Delta Airlines
Walthers, Cornerstone Series
December 2013
50 Hours
Spray Enamel, Bottle Enamel, Bottle Acrylic, ALCAD II, Mr.Surfacer, MR Surfacer 1000, Vallejo, Bare-Metal Foil, Chrome and matte Aluninum

Build Diary: Albatros D.V. - Richard Banko

The Charlottesville Model Club decided to build models to commemorate anniversary the World War I armistice.  Models were to be selected from that period.  I selected the Albatros D.V.  Selection was made because of shape of the aircraft being somewhat streamlined and secondly German aircraft of the period could be very colorful.  After doing a little research, there were two attributes I wanted to model; a lozenge camouflage pattern and a colorful Bavarian blue and white checkerboard pattern.  I decided to build a kit for each.

The kit selected was Edward’s 1:48 Profipack Albatros D.V (kit 8112).  The kits are very nice and include lots of photo etch parts.  The prototypes modeled were Albatrosses flown by Otto Kissenberth’s and Lt.d R. Wolf.  Kissenberth’s D.V was basically a black fuselage with lozenge camouflage on the wings.  Wolf’s D.V was very colorful with the blue/white checkerboard pattern on the fuselage.  (Photos and graphics from WingNuts and Lifelike Decals)

Building the kits started with interior details.  Engines were assembled and spray painted flat black.  Silver and brass parts were hand painted.  The engine cylinders were “colored” with No. 2 pencil lead wiped with a soft cloth to remove pencil dust.  This left a very attractive burnt metal effect with just the right amount of sheen.  The engine was then given a wash to bring out the highlights.  The pilot seat was painted with Model Masters leather.  Result was rather brown and flat.  As the instructions called for a “red leather” color, I decided to use Cordovan shoe polish paste to help provide some color, low luster, and interest.  Interiors and propellers have a wood grain finish.  The process started with a simple gloss white undercoat.  A combination of Cadmium Yellow Ochre, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna artist oil paints were wiped on the surfaces to provide the wood grain look.  Other interior details were hand painted.  Pre-painted photo etch parts provided lots of nice detail.

Interior components were installed and fuselage halves closed up.  Fit of the seat assemble was a little difficult to square up and center in fuselage.  The tail surfaces and lower wings were attached.  I decided to have the tail plane control surface droop as seen in many period photographs.  This called for separating the control surface and simulating the hinges with stock styrene.  The scoring and separating process did not take that long and the result adds interest to the completed model.

At this point, the two models started to take different paths...

Starting with Kissenberth’s black Albatros, the fuselage received a gloss black painting.  Easy enough.  Gloss paint used in preparation for decals.  A dull coat after decal application evened things out.

Wings took a little more attention.  On prototype aircraft with lozenge pattern camouflage, the re-enforcing stripes are visible on wing edges and over wing ribs.  To simulate stripes along wing edges the wings were first painted with a light blue.  MicroSculpt manufactures four and five color lozenge pattern decals for both upper and lower wing surfaces.  I selected the five color pattern.  After painting the wings, lozenge pattern decals were applied.  Decals come in long strips and will cover from wing tip to wing tip.  With decals partially set on the wing, a sharp hobby knife was used to trim the decals leaving enough of the blue showing to simulate the wing’s leading and trailing edge re-enforcing fabric.  On the upper wing, the decal does not fully cover the entire wing surface from front to back.  Some fudging was required.  Separate pieces of the lozenge decals were used to fill in the upper wing control surfaces.  This seemed to work and be prototypical.   To complete the effect of the re-enforcing fabric, a blank white decal sheet was painted with same blue paint used on the wings’ edges.  Two #11 X-Acto blades were super glued together.   A narrow gap between the blade points naturally occurred.    Using a straight edge, the dual blade assembly was used to cut strips from the painted decal sheet.  These strips were then applied to the wing ribs simulating the balance of the re-enforcing fabric.  Very tedious, but looked great when done.

A couple issues encountered while decaling the wings.  MicroSclupt also manufactures a fabric pattern decal which is to be applies over the lozenge pattern decal.  I tried a sample on a simple piece of styrene.  The effect looks good, but even on a flat piece of styrene, some silvering was visible.  I leave up to your skill level as if this extra step is to be taken.  There were also some issues with the wing rib reinforcing stripes.  On some strips, the paint came off the decal backing while applying the decal.  I used acrylic paint over the decal sheet.  In the future I might try lightly rubbing the blank decal sheet with fine sand paper to provide a rougher surface for the paint to grab.  Enamel paint may adhere differently.

Most markings for the completed model came from the base kit.  While the flower on the fuselage is not exactly as seen on the prototype, it was close enough for me.  The identification number on the tail fin was a home-made decal.  Using Power Point, a graphic of the plane was used as a background image.  The tail number was enlarged.  Power Point’s line and curve draw tools were used to create various segments of the numbers over the background image.  With the identification numbers compete, the background was removed and colors changed to white numbers on a black background.  The graphic was then reduced in size.  The advantage of working with an oversize graphic and then reducing was shrinking any graphic misalignment errors, basically eliminating them.  Several test prints on plain paper were done to size the identification number.  Once the MK-1 eyeball test was satisfied, the graphics were printed on a blank white decal sheet using an ink jet printer.  Given the overall black color of the fuselage, the approach worked well.  If HP would produce a white ink printer cartridge, maybe clear decal film can be used adding the flexibility of this approach on non-black schemes.  Someday HP, we can only hope.

Wolf’s D.V took a less creative approach thanks to Lifelike Decals.  Lifelike Decals product 48-039 provided all the necessary markings for Wolf’s D.V.  However there were some lessons learned.  I started by giving the fuselage an overall white base coat.  This turned out to be very fortuitous.  The decals for the white/blue diamond checkerboard pattern is really clear and blue.  So the white undercoat is a must.  My hat is off to Lifelike.  The alignment of the checkerboard pattern decal is amazing.  Given the complex compound curves of the Albatros D.V and the complexity of the checkerboard pattern, the fit and alignment of the pattern is remarkable.  The grey mid-fuselage band was not quite as nice.  The band is slightly wider than the gap left by the checkerboard decals.  Also the grey is semitransparent thus allowing for ghost image of the checkboard pattern showing though.  A white background band decal is provided by Lifelike to hide this effect.  I used the white band with the grey band decal over it.  The color graphics of the lions in the band are provided as separate decals.  A matching white background is also provided, but was not used as the grey band is clear (thus white showing through) where the graphics were applied.

If I were to do this scheme again, I would take a slightly different approach.  I would pre-paint the grey band, install the checkerboard pattern decals, trim the decals as needed, use the graphics’ white background decal over the grey, and top with the graphic decals.  The boarding yellow stripes edging the grey band could be cut from the grey band decal or painted on.  Also a red band decal is provide for just behind the propeller spinner.  I would paint this to ensure a good color match between the band and the spinner.

With fuselages and wings painted and decaled, it was time for final assembly of both models.  I decided to use a pin drill to re-drill and clean out assembly holes for the various struts.  This was a major assist in fitting alignment pins and having a solid plastic-to-plastic bond.

One advantage to doing two kits, was that I could figure out how NOT to assemble on the first one and have a much easier time with the second.  This worked well for attaching the upper wings.  Best approach was to install the outer wing struts on the underside of the upper wing.  Making sure struts are perpendicular to the wing.   Let the glue set up a little.  Then install the fuselage-to-wing struts on the fuselage.  Now quickly flip the upper wing over and align all remaining points.  This worked pretty well.  The undercarriage was another story.  Never did figure out an easy way to assembly those.

Other odds and ends.  The radiators and radiator plumbing was painted using Alclad II brass.  Edwards does provide paint masks for several areas.  The masks for the radiators worked well.  There are also masks for the wheels.  I could not make these fit properly, so the wheels were hand painted.

In general, when painting a model, one of my first concerns is to how to physical hold the model.  For this project the solution was found in a local hardware store.  I used removable picture hanging hooks.  These devices have a tape on one side and a hook on the other.  When attached, then removed from a wall no tape residue is left.  I found that they attached very nicely to the front of the aircraft (before propellers attached), were secure, provided a nice holding and hanging attachment point, and when carefully removed left no residue.  Another tool in my bag of tricks.

Final lesson learned on this kit.  With all the detail photo etch and at my age, Opti-Visors are a must!

Better Figures Through Trial and Error

Painting figures can be tedious and requires a lot of practice to get it right. I figure I am at the 60% mark right now. I use acrylics, oils, pencils and pastels to achieve a more lifelike rendition of a human bean. It requires patience and a good set of enlarging glasses!

This figure is 1/20 scale. I decided I was going to have fun learning this figure painting thing... therefore the babe.

Learning new weathering skills with old models

I took this Humber Pig off the shelf where it was moldering away to try and learn some new weathering techniques. It seemed like the perfect use of an old model. I looked at some pictures of Pigs in various states of decommission. I did not want to go totally derelict! Tried filters, mixed spot and complete washes, rust, grime, rain streaks and others. It did not, by any means, come out perfectly; but I got to make mistakes on the old Pig and learn how to handle these effects better so I could apply some of them to my current builds.

I thought you all would like to see a way you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear and learn something along the way - use those old builds to learn something new - armour recycling!!!

RAIL TALES Builds Dioramas for the Museum of the American Revolution

Thomas Allan of Charlottesville, Virginia, funded the three dioramas depicted in this book. He
also arranged for their donation to the Museum of the American Revolution, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tom has been a lifelong collector of Revolutionary War miniatures and donated all the figures for the three dioramas.
Bret Jones, owner of Rail Tales Hobby Shop, in Charlottesville, Virginia, oversaw and participated in the production of the dioramas. Bret did all the necessary research to guarantee the historical accuracy of the pieces. Some geographic compression was required in order to incorporate key historical events and provide visual focus.