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Extreme Weathering
(of a George by George)

Late in WWII Japanese aircraft paint was of very poor quality. With the heat of the Pacific area, plus sea air, monsoon rain, coral dust, etc. the unprimed surface soon wore off, leaving bare metal showing through in a very patchy way.

This was the effect I wanted to recreate when painting a 1/48th scale Hasegawa Kawanishi Shiden 'George'.  

A well known model magazine recently had an article on weathering using wet salt as a mask, which after applying in patches and allowing to dry before painting, allowed silver to show through the top surface after it was rubbed off. Using a spare wing, I had a go at this method and was unsuccessful and I didn't like the lack of control with this method. (It just shows that what works for one person may not be universally applicable to everyone).


The method I will describe here is that which I demonstrated at the IPMS Scale Model World show at Telford in November 2003. I will skip building the kit, which goes together beautifully without any problems.


Leave off the the canopy, undercart, props, guns, etc. until after the weathering is completed.

  1. Mask off the cockpit and engine. Spray Halfords acrylic grey primer over all surfaces of the airframe and prop.
  2. When dry, spray the above with VW Silver Grey and leave for 48hrs to harden.
  3. Paint over all surfaces to be weathered (not the fabric areas) with Johnsons Klear (Future). 2 coats are best.
  4. I use enamels for this method and paint the prop and all surfaces the correct colours. Leave until safe to handle.

Now the fun starts, because of the barrier of Klear the paint will chip off easily with a blunt blade, leaving the silver showing through. If possible, copy photos of the real aircraft to see where the wear was. Work slowly and carefully. If you accidentally over do it you can repaint and area and start again.


I found that because I wanted to remove large areas, a mix of Ajax (sink & tile cleaner) mixed with thinner applied with a cotton bud removed large areas of paint quickly and feathered the edges. You must keep washing off the sludge with soapy water as you go along to you can see the effect your are creating.


The prop and spinner were done the same way. I found that using wet and dry does not look very realistic. The only problem is knowing when to stop. 

I wish I had painted the 'meat balls' and not used the decals as it was very difficult to get the effect through a decal. I will know better next time.

Go on, have some fun, I did and it was a great talking point at the next club meeting.

George Coote

Last updated 20 January 2008

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July 2009, Milton Keynes Scale Model Club