Grand Messerschmitt project: Cockpit detailing, part 2

Today I want to describe my experience in finishing the five cockpits and thus readying the models to be airbrushed. Basically all the cockpits were done, internally, so the main thing missing was the canopy on each aircraft. In the Bf 109, the pilot’s headrest/armor is attached to the canopy. G-2 and E-7 have solid armor plate headrests, but the G-6 has an armored glass window built in for better visibility. The FineMolds’ G-6 kit comes with a clear part for the headrest, so all you need to do is to mask the window and paint the part. The problem is that the window is roughly 2 mm by 3 mm is size. I solved the masking problem by first scanning the part (using a flatbed scanner), then used the scanned image to prepare a graphic (in Adobe Illustrator). I used the graphic to cut exact masks from Tamiya masking tape, using my Cricut Maker computer-controlled cutter. I placed the masks on both sides of the part, and airbrushed it with RLM 74.

Results out of the Cricut cutter. On the right is the tape, pulled aside, leaving the actual masks on the sheet.
Masked head armor from the FineMolds’ kit.
Finished armored headrests.

The trick with the cutter is not to place the tape directly on the tacky backing sheet, but to take a piece of 20 thou styrene, tape it onto backing sheet, and place the masking tape on that. This lets you remove the tape easier once cutting is done. The overall results of this process were very good, and all I needed to do was to glue the headrests into the canopies. Before that, however, I dipped the clear parts in Future floor wax. This protects the parts, and also makes them clearer and appear thinner.

Canopies drying after a dip in Future floor wax.

Most of the canopies were easy to seat. On the E-7 (Airfix) and G-6 (Premium Hobbies – with the Erla hood) I will leave the canopies open, so all I had to do was to glue in the windshield and (on the E-7) the glazed part behind the pilot. I had some trouble with the FineMolds’ G-2, and ended up having to do a little bit of filling and sanding. When dealing with canopies, I like to first mask and leave only the “gap” visible, the one I am trying to fill. That way I will not end up with lots of putty that then eventually gets sanded away anyway. The Premium Hobbies’ kit also had a small gap in front of the windshield, and I filled that as well (see the picture below).

Using Squadron Green Putty to fill a gap in front of the windshield.

The airframes are now ready for airbrushing. That will be the topic of a future blog post.

Previous: Reference material | Next: Camouflage

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