As soon as I had main fuselage assembled and primed I started to plan how to tackle camouflage painting as this is definitely the most complex painting procedure so far (more on that in the next blog entry though). What is important is that this takes time and as I am moving through next stages of the process I had enough time to create landing gear.
Description below includes process of assembling, painting and weathering of landing gear covers, struts and wheels except for the attachment of it to the fuselage which will be done at the end of the build.
First I cut out all needed parts from the sprues and cleaned them up as usual by using 240, 400, 800 and 1200 sandy sticks. For undercarriage legs I used Eduard bronze counterparts (Eduard 648521 P-38F/G) - main reason for that is that I wanted to be sure that the struts will be able to hold all additional weight of resin cockpit, gun bay, flaps and metal barrels and aside of that they are nicely detailed. For the legs I started with attaching small resin part to the front strut and then sprayed metal primer straight from the can.
Next all parts with metallic finish were airbrushed with layer of Mr.Hobby 1500 Gray primer, then Mr.Hobby GX-2 Black as a glossy base for the next layer of AK-Interactive XTREME METAL POLISHED ALUMINIUM. A few of the smaller parts were left at this stage for later - they will be taken care of at the end of the build while mounting the undercarriage to the fuselage.
For the wheels I used aftermarket resin counterparts from RES/KIT (P-38 Lightning Type 2) as those are of great quality - much better than original moldings from Tamiya and additionally each tire is a one part element so no need to glue left and right sides together, sanding and re-scribing the tread.
After removal from casting blocks I sanded the connection points and then flattened the tires a bit to better show the weight of the aircraft. Similarly for rims I sanded the connection surfaces and then I had to thicken them so that they could fit properly inside the tires. For all of that I used wet sanding technique and used a reusable mask as resin dust is definitely not healthy thing to breath in. Next I did small holes on the flattened surface of the tires and put them on to the toothpicks, rims were attached with pattafix to the sticks and both elements were ready for painting.
For the tires I airbrushed Mr.Hobby Mr. Surfacer 1200, as soon as it was dry Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black Matt followed. Next I secured the work with semi gloss layer of Mr.Hobby H-102. As the next step I mixed A.MIG 403 EARTH and A.MIG 1604 PLW Pacific Dust and then airbrushed it over the tread area of the tires. After a few minutes I removed excess with the swab. As soon as it was dry I dry brushed a tread pattern with A.MIG 033 RUBBER and TIRES and then added AK 2031 Landing Gear Dust Effect on the sides. As a next coat I airbrushed layer of mat clear coat Mr.Hobby H-103.
First layer for the rims was exactly the same as for the tires - Mr.Hobby Mr. Surfacer 1200. Then internal rims (the ones with the insert for the struts) received Mr.Hobby GX-2 Black and on top of that AK477 XTREME METAL CHROME for the metallic finish. External ones were painted with camouflage color AK-Interactive RC261 Neutral Grey and then when it was dry I applied pre-cut masks from New Ware AM0661 set and painted the outer ring of the rim with AK477 XTREME METAL CHROME. Next I painted small details with Vallejo 70915 Deep Yellow and Vallejo Model Color 70.883 SILVER GREY. Weathering commenced with application of black wash (A.MIG 1611 PLW Black Night), next I secured it with layer of Mr.Hobby H-102. To imitate small paint chips and scuffs I used grey weathering pencil from AK-Interactive 10047 set and on top of that I sponge chipped Hataka Hobby HTK-B265 Neutral Grey.
Now it was time to glue tires and rims together. I was very careful doing it and still managed to push external rims to much creating shift between the rim surface and the edge of the tire. Fortunately there was easy fix for that - I used for that an opening for the strut which I had to deepen nevertheless so that strut end could be inserted properly. To deepen the slot I had to drill through the central surface of the tire which gave me access to the back of the external rim and then I simply punched it out carefully to level it out with the tire.
Having rims and tires mated together, it was time for final weathering steps. First I applied pigments around connection between rim and the tire (A.MIG 3011 AIRFIELD DUST) and A.MIG 3002 LIGHT DUST over the tire labels to make them more pronounced. Next instead of using pigment fixer I tapped the pigments with the brush loaded with A.MIG 403 EARTH. Lastly same product was used to imitate small splashes of mud by dabbing stiff brush in it and then pulling the bristles back with the toothpick.
Bronze counterparts are really nice and detailed but main landing gear legs are missing one thing - bottom separation between the shock absorber and the leg itself. Wanting to paint the oleo strut with different color that oversight would cause some problems so first thing to do was to create somehow this missing separator. I used for that 1mm tape (Tamiya 87206 Masking Tape) which I wrapped around couple of times over the bottom of the oleo strut creating missing divider and then sprayed it with AK-Interactive XTREME METAL POLISHED ALUMINIUM. Next I applied liquid chrome (Molotow Ink 30ml) with brush over the separated shock absorber. Next I did sponge chipping with A.MIG GUN METAL paint to introduce wear and tear of the legs. When that was dry I applied AK 2029 Landing Gear and AK 2032 Wash for Shafts and Bearings over the whole struts to imitate dirt and usage and to pronounce it even more in certain places I added AK 2033 Aircraft Engine Wash and Turbines on top of that. Next I secured the work with layer of mat clear coat Mr.Hobby H-103.
One of the fine details on the bronze legs from Eduard is a thin hydraulic line on each of the main struts, tough looking at the photos of the real thing it seems that there is more than one, so I decided to add it. To replicate this I used three different types of wire. For the bottom part of the hydraulic line which is connected to the rim and ends at the torque arm I used 0.4mm black wire, next part of the line (the short one) was created with 0.3mm silver braided wire and last with the black 0.3mm. For the segments connectors I used Albion Alloys 0.5mm aluminum tubes and CA glue. Having hydraulic lines assembled I airbrushed them with mat clear coat of Mr.Hobby H-103 to make them look more like a rubber (except for the silver segment of course). Next I attached the lines to the struts with the CA glue. For the final stages of weathering I used A.MIG 1251 COLD DIRTY GREY streaking brusher in places like torque arm or side strut connection and then next layer of mat clear coat, but this time Tamiya XF-86. Then I used same product and technique to add small splashes of mud as was used with wheels and lastly I repeated application of liquid chrome to oleo struts to make them stand out more.
Landing Gear Covers
Painting of the camouflage color of the landing gear covers seems to be as simple as applying one color which is Neutral Grey, but that is not the case here. When P-38 where send overseas to New Caledenia certain panel lines where sealed with a tape and I definitely wanted to replicated the effect it had on the camouflage as it created certain pattern around those panel lines after the tape was removed. I will definitely get back to the subject in the blog entry about camouflage painting. The covers are a bit like guinea pig for the painting process of the fuselage.
Having the base of AK-Interactive XTREME METAL POLISHED ALUMINIUM ready I started with application of chipping fluid (A.MIG 2010 SCRATCHES EFFECTS) and as soon as it was dry I pre-shaded panel lines with A.MIG 033 RUBBER and TIRES and A.MIG 050 MATT WHITE around the edges of the covers. Next I airbrushed AK-Interactive RC261 Neutral Grey over the panel lines
with a drop of white (AK-Interactive RC004 Flat White) to imitate areas which had been covered with sealing tape. As soon as it was dry I masked the area with elastic 3mm tape and airbrushed thin layers of AK-Interactive RC261 Neutral Grey. As it turned out a moment after removing masking tape, pre-shading panel lines with black was a mistake - heaving black base caused my lighter shade of Neutral Grey to be still darker (instead of lighter) than the camouflage color itself, so to have a proper effect I had to redo it. I masked covers around area to be fixed and airbrushed with lighter grey color than previously. As soon as it was dry I removed the masks around and masked the are itself and then carefully airbrushed thin lines of dirt around it with Neutral grey mixed with black using my Mr.Hobby PS-770 Mr.Airbrush Supreme. In the end I achieved the effect I wanted and was able to secure the work with clear gloss coat of Mr.Hobby GX-112 GX112.
Weathering started with chipping, first with brush and using sponge chipping technique. I used here Hataka HTK-C265 Neutral Grey with a bit of white, and HTK-A041 Night Black with a bit of white as well. Next I applied A.MIG 1603 PLW Dark Sea Blue wash over whole covers and after 10 - 15 minutes I removed excess with the swabs. I secured this stage with Mr.Hobby H-102 semi gloss layer.
Next stage of weathering was to reproduce worn and faded paint. For that I used so called Mottled Spot technique which basically consists of dabbing the wash on to the surface to produce irregular dots and then blend in some of them with a brush. As I was doing it on the semi gloss surface I did not have to wait at all between applications of different color washes. I used here A.MIG 1613 PLW Blue Grey and A.MIG 1616 PLW Orange Brown concentrating the second one on the bottom edges of the covers. To emphasize dirt and wear of the bottom edges I applied there layer of A.MIG 1611 PLW Black Night and then A.MIG 403 EARTH finishing this stage with application of mat clear coat Mr.Hobby H-103.
Having a flat coat it was time to use weathering pencils from AK-Interactive 10047 set. I used Dust/Rainmarks and Dark Grey to create additional scratches and paint chips. Next I experimented with the new product - shaders from Mig Jemenez. I airbrushed A.MIG 0855 STARSHIP FILTH to create shadows in certain areas - the result is quite nice though I will definitely have to experiment more with applying this product with an airbrush especially to such small areas. This is very thin acrylic based paint an as such clogs airbrush fast when low pressure is applied. Last step before final coat of flat clear layer of Tamiya XF-86 was application of A.MIG 3513 OILBRUSHERS STARSHIP FILTH to the area which imitated to be sealed by tape before - I did it to introduce some dirt and wear to it as well.
For the insides of the covers weathering process was very similar to what was done with the wheel wells. I started with (A.MIG 1611 PLW Black Night as a pin wash and when dry followed with streaking brushers - first Cold Dirty Grey, then Medium Brown and lastly Streaking Dust. Next I applied AK 2029 Landing Gear over the hinges and secured everything with semi gloss layer of Mr.Hobby H-102. Next I applied A.MIG 403 EARTH product on the bottom edges of the covers to enhance the dirty look and finally protected everything with the layer of semi gloss clear Tamiya x35 X-35.
Now as I am looking at it it looks like I put in a lot of time into it and it was quite an effort to create landing gear for this model, but you know what? It was definitely worth it! I really like how it turned out and I was able to achieve intended effects.
Regarding the painting process - currently I am in the midst of it. I takes hell of the time and effort but the effect starts to show up. Hopefully will be able to finish it in the next 2 weeks, so next blog entry will be concentrated focused on that. Till then!
If you have question to ask, or feedback to share please leave the comment below. Thanks!