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Painting technique experimentation - Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1A Corsair paint mule

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I'm in an experimentation / development sort of mood at the moment rather than an "out-perform-myself" sort of mood. So, following on from my recent F-86D Sabre Dog completion which was to try to figure out a way to get a natural metal finish I liked (I'm not done with that yet, btw) I thought I would try something that relates directly to our own paint and what can be done with it (and what cannot). I have read about "hairspray chipping" numerous times but had never tried it nor understood how to do it. A casual attempt without knowing anything else was a total failure. I kept reading that it could only be done with acrylic paints but this included everything from water based vinyl types to acrylic lacquers, so I knew that this apparent requirement had to be based on nothing more than the popular position of acrylic=good, enamel=bad despite acrylic meaning anything under the sun really.


Thus, I decided that this old piece of Corsair which featured on the F-86D thread could lend its services again:



You find with stuff like hairspray chipping that "everyone" just knows how to do it, but nobody has written down how to do it. Eventually I learned that what is required is water for the scratching-off phase at the end. Armed with this little nugget, I sprayed some hairspray straight from the aerosol can (that part is to be refined in the forthcoming) onto the piece shown above - 4 coats, actually, and whilst that dried I thinned down some Colourcoats enamel - which happened to be a matt dark olive shade I had on the bench next to the airbrush - but it could have been hot pink for all I cared here.


Anyway, it works.

Hairspray chipping works with a Colourcoats topcoat (the chipping coat) at least over an Alclad base. In the forthcoming I shall establish how (not if) to chip between layers of enamel.





Also, there's the more subtle task of actually getting good at it! The test there is, admittedly, a mess, however it served a valuable purpose. Under water, I was able to remove Colourcoats enamel with a cut-down paint brush (but it had some paint dried in it - that's where the scratches came from), and I also tried a kitchen scouring pad which was responsible for most of the exposed silver there.


Using a kit from the stash that doesn't need much effort, is quite cheap and as common as dirt (so I don't care if I mess this up), I now aim to incorporate this into a model and, specifically, use the hairspray chipping method exposing bare metal and yellow zinc chromate primer in different areas. If anyone wishes to follow, comment, criticise, suggest better ways, educate, point, laugh, whatever, please join in :)


The victim - a nice enough kit. I have always struggled to get the wing join such that I'm happy with it but overall if it goes well I will enjoy having it and if it's a disaster then no real harm done!



I'm not investing much in this, but probably will stretch to seatbelts just incase it ends up looking ok in the end. I'm not spending money on them though - instead I'll use these ones from an Eduard SBD Dauntless fret. I don't like the pre-painted ones Eduard make now - the paint self-strips when the belts are bent to suit, and I don't like the superfabric ones either. I need to find a new source of belts or at least belt buckles - but that's another matter



I started by spraying most of the parts with Alclad Duralumin whilst still on the runners. After assembly the wing leading edges etc will probably need another blow over


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It was a similar holding me back from a few aspirational projects!


Since my last post, I have been able to confirm that the hairspray can be decanted from its aerosol can into my airbrush (a Badger Renegade Krome with 0.2mm needle/nozzle) and airbrushed neat with far better control than by aerosol. That is now drying.


This is the hairspray I am using:





Well it worked again - perhaps a little bit too well! Mistakes and non-ideal outcomes are ok though - that's what this build is all about.


I shall experiment with different film thicknesses of hairspray applied. I'm not sure if it's too much hairspray or letting it soak too ling in water that caused this. I think less hairspray will be what I try next though.




It takes a bit of rubbing to get the enamel surface to break then it comes away easily.




These are the scratching tools I used - the brush is one of those double ended things which come in Airfix starter kits - they're useless for brush painting but the stiff bristles work well for this.




I began scratching off the paint as soon as I had cleaned the airbrush, and it was done under cold running water (but I gather any water is fine). The principle is that the paint sits just fine on dry hairspray, but exposure of the hairspray to water dissolves it and it lifts away taking paint above with it.

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Watching Jamie I tried it with my frank and salt chipping and hated it l. I tried it with hair spray and could not get the paint to budge 

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Looks interesting, thanks for the guide. It will also make a difference with the thickness of paint(to be chipped off) applied as well as time after application. Heavier and glossier coats will not give as gradual/small chips. I could not say how long you should leave enamel based paints before trying this but, certainly less than recoat times. Some modellers have used white glue as a chipping medium, might be worth a try.



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Interesting subject. I don't see any reason why this technique shouldn't work with enamels but have only ever tried it with acrylics thus far. I have never used hairspray as such but have used fluids sold as being for creating chipping effects. 

For multiple layers you will have to seal the previous work in with a clear coat before moving to the next colour.

Duncan B

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