Warbirds in my Workshop

David Glen BSc (Hons) MSc, Model Maker, Journalist and Author

Formerly Spitfire in my Workshop

Metallic tinting technique for litho-plate

Thursday, 21st May, 2015

Anyone who has looked reasonably closely at a P-51D Mustang will have noticed that the bare metal cowling panels immediately adjacent to the exhaust stack have a hue to them that is distinctly different from the sheet duralium with the rest of the airframe is clad.  From the airframes and many photographs I have inspected the exact colour tends to vary, but in the main it can be fairly described as having a distinct bronzy tint.


While there are various thin films in many metallic hues available from graphic arts suppliers and the like, there is nothing that I know of for the model maker in the form of thin 10-11 thou soft metal sheet that fits the bill (please correct me if I am wrong). So I was left with no option but to try to create the colour over the standard aluminium litho-plate that I use to clad my airframes.  The photographs show the result, which was achieved as follows:


  1. Clean the litho-plate of any chemical coating and polish the surface as normal. Degrease with a metal cleaner.


  1. Spray the working surface with a coat of clear metal lacquer


  1. Allow the lacquer to become very nearly dry (just tacky to the touch), then take a little bronze buffing powder on a soft cloth and rub it evenly over the metal surface. The aim is to use as little powder as possible.


  1. Spray the tinted surface with another coat of lacquer to fix the powder, and then repeat the process until the required density of colour has been built up.


  1. Give the job a final spray coat and allow it to dry hard.


I found the result both realistic and durable. Presumably it would work just as well for all those other metallic shades in which buffing powder can be obtained.

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Mustang in my Workshop

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