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Adding Scale Realism To Your Favorite Warbird/Jet/Airplane

Posted by Motion RC on

There are many ways to enhance the beauty of your favorite warbird or scale RC airplane/jet.  

This is to demonstrate some quick and easy ways to take your RC model and make it look more scale and attractive. Although we are using the now discontinued FMS 1450mm P-38 Lightning as the sample, these easy tips and tricks can apply to many scale models.

This isn't meant as a comprehensive, detailed breakdown, but a couple quick and easy things you can do to really bring added realism to your model.  For further information, search the web for "How to add scale realism to your RC airplane/warbird" or similar search parameters. There are truly some amazing tips and tricks out there to maximize the scale realism of your favorite RC aircraft.

So let's get started with a few easy tips and tricks.

Painting External Features Their Proper Colors

The FMS P-38 Lightning has a lot of plastic parts with nice scale details that really separates it from other foam P-38's on the market. The turbochargers are especially nice and detailed. However, they come in black. The real turbochargers on the P-38 were more of a rust color. One technique you can do is to take Testor's Gold Metallic and Testor's Flat Black (rattle cans you can get at any Local Hobby Store), spray both in a plastic bowl and mix the colors together with a paint brush until the desired color tone is achieved.

There's no perfect blend, it's whatever looks good to your eye based on photos from the full scale version. Once we painted the turbochargers with the new color, it just blew our minds how much more it made the entire model look realistic.

Find photos of your plane in the full scale versions and note the colors that exist on the external parts. It's amazing how small added paint touches can really add realism to your warbird.

Spit Shine Them Wheels!

A lot of stock wheels come in that standard off-white plastic color. It looks cheap and help makes your model look more like a toy and less like a beautiful full scale simply shrunk down. For the P-38, we chose Testor's Chrome. Like the turbos, it really adds a nice sense of realism. Again, check photos of the full scale version in the livery you have to match the proper color.

It's In The Details...

For the FMS 1700mm F4U-4 Corsair, we chose a livery that had great contrast. The dark blue navy base color with the chrome details and rivets just makes the whole plane "pop" and we've had several people assume it was a composite until they were just inches away.

We painted the heat panels behind the cowl flaps and the rivets using Testor's Chrome. This alone took the model to another stratosphere in scale looks and detail with minimal work.

You might consider masking off the yellow tips of the stock props and paint them using Testor's Yellow. The stock yellow is often too light with a touch of green to it. Testor's Yellow is a great match with the full scale yellow tips which have a more yellow-orange color. Again, it's the little things that add up!

Another great touch is to paint your gear door wells Zinc Chromate. Many warbirds had the internal parts painted in this protective coating. With it's green tone, it really adds a striking sense of realism when contrasted against the livery's base color. The FMS 1700mm P-51D Mustang looks fantastic with this added detail that took all of 15 minutes to apply!

So there you have it. Again, these are just some simple, quick tips to help bring your RC warbird (or any aircraft) to life with added realism with minimal effort. Of course, there's never enough detailing in our world so you could always add cockpit kits, airbrushing for weathering and other great techniques to really make your planes the envy of your flying field.

Happy Painting and Safe Landings!

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