Copyright © 2011 by Marc R. Beauvais
· All Rights reserved ·
(Aug 6, 2010)
It isn't easy to decide which paint scheme you wish to retain as your favorite one. Once again, the WEB provided me tons of ideas however, I had to "brain storm" a bit on what personality I really want my T-51 to look like.
Surprisingly, I've found a lot of information and details from the "modelists" community !!! I don't know where they get that from but every time, they got the color codes right and authentic aircraft marking features at the right place. I suppose that some of those guys out there have a bookshelf filed with reference books that they took the time to outsource and procure (which I didn't do so far).
To start with, let say that the T-51 is a 3/4 scale P-51 that "imitate" the original but doesn't necessarily share the same aircraft design components. Yes it has retractable gear but there's no gear doors. The main wings have a totally different airfoil design. The front of the airframe structure (the structure itself) is totally different. However, you still can manage to transpose most, if not all, of the original paint schemes you can find. You just need to be imaginative and adapt to your aircraft design features. Moreover, I haven't seen many airplane kits that imitate so well an original than this one. Most of the others are "pale imitations" that quickly shows up when you start paying attention to the details. It doesn't mean that those kit planes aren't good ones, on the contrary. I've been tempted by several models proposed by other manufacturers that have quite a large fleet of reliable and appreciated flying kits.
I've read somewhere that the best paint scheme is "bare bone aluminum"... Doesn't cost much except for some paint on the wing tips, rudder or else. And don't think of using paints in spray cans found at a retail store. Aircraft grade paints cost a fortune because they are dedicated for this unique application. In addition, those paints are apparently highly toxic in their liquid or fume form so you must have your plane painted out by a professional painter. "Oh dear... it's gonna cost a bundle. Again"... And think of a "one coat" application. Why? think for a moment that a gallon of paint weights about 10 to 12 pounds. I estimate that about 3 to 4 gallon will be required to cover, just one coat, the entire aircraft. There, you've just added close to 50 pounds of weight. Remember, paint is not water so it doesn't "evaporates" (thus loosing weight) but "cures". Primers? You won't need if you go for the real thing.
The 3 paint schemes you see on the right are "originally" bare skin aluminum. However, I intend to have mine all painted out because bare AL tends to oxidize (the dusty white stuff that covers aluminum is corrosion) quite easily and requires a lot of maintenance. If you have the chance to have your pet project sleeping in a hangar, that will help for sure but sooner or later, you'll have to pull out again that wonderful Christmas gift of yours and polish down all the surfaces. Yeah... that just reminds me that I have to redo once more all the wood stain on the cottage exterior... and the balcony...
I've searched for hours the font to recreate the "City of Winnipeg Sqdn" emblem. No luck. What I've done is digitize the emblem from high resolution pictures (more or less). I think it is quite close to the original markings but before painting it down for real, I'll have to source it out from somewhere. Running out of ideas.
I've picked up and collected quite a lot of high res pictures of markings, mostly from Wikipedia, like roundels, squadron emblems, etc. It took a bit of time to find the right proportion and the proper location where to put down the markings on the airplane but that is fairly easy to find out.
I don't intend to put any "stickers" on the exterior skins. Everything will be painted out. What ever label that is small enough to be handled by my laser printer will be produced using the "dry-transfer" technique (read about it here). If you intend to replicate as close as possible an original paint scheme, you'll realize that there are quite a lot of labels to think of.