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"Natural metal finish B-17 questions" Topic

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Windward23 Feb 2020 4:30 a.m. PST

I'm painting up some B-17s in natural metal,

Any suggestions for rattle can paint?

Second in reality was the finish gloss or semi-gloss? In museums you can see yourself reflected in the polished surface, bit on the line sitting out in rain and snow were they really that shiny?

Fish23 Feb 2020 7:45 a.m. PST

Do check actual photographs from the war and also notice that the panels were not necessarily the exact same color. So the model will look more convincing if you use at least a few different shades.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2020 8:14 a.m. PST

I have used a few different colors by Tamiya and Testors, but I think there are standard Rustoleum and Krylon colors that would work too.

The finish really could be that shiny:

Not that this isn't "gloss" or "semi-gloss", it's polished. The best way to achieve this look on a model is to either leave the metallic paint unvarnished, the second best is to clearcoat it glossy. A metallic paint with a dull/matt clearcoat looks odd, like a speckled gray, because the metal flakes are no longer reflecting light properly. A metallic paint under a gloss clearcoat still looks a bit "off" under close inspection, but just fine when wargaming with small scale planes. I gloss coat all of my silver planes, because it's more important to protect the paint and decals from handling than to look perfect.

Note that nearly all WWII planes left in natural metal finish had areas painted in dull colors, to stop reflected light from blinding the pilot(s). On B-17s this was the area on the nose in front of the cockpit, and the top inward quarter circumference of the forward part of each engine nacelle, usually in ubiquitous US Army flat olive drab. These areas should obviously be in a flat finish that was the whole point. I achieve this by brushing a dullcoat over these areas after I gloss-coat the entire plane.

- Ix

PS: I expect the insignia and IDs were also matt or maybe semi-gloss however the paint looked when it dried. AFAIK the USAAF was not clear-coating its insignia and serial numbers. However, I doubt anyone will notice if you fail to brushcoat the insignia, lettering and numbering on your planes with matt varnish. grin

Thresher0123 Feb 2020 9:34 a.m. PST

You could also just use fine steel wool, or 600 – 1200 grit sandpaper and polish the natural metal of the minis, then seal over that with a glossy or satin finish.

That's the most convincing "metal" finish for me.

Works great!

Timmo uk23 Feb 2020 11:10 a.m. PST

Ditto what Thresher writes. Polish the casting a fibre-glass pencil is great for this. I then use a gloss acrylic varnish. That gives you your blank canvas for decals and painting anti-glare panels etc.

It saves and awful lot of work and does look really good. You can always paint in some sections in olive drab. Older airframe pieces were used for running repairs to later planes.

Windward01 Mar 2020 9:06 p.m. PST


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