How I mask/paint nose checkerboards and spinners

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Airman 1st Class
Mar 10, 2011
Hopefully a fairly self explanatory method. This is how I mask and airbrush the nose checkerboard pattern and 2 color spinners for P-51's of the 357th Fighter Group. Obviously this method could be used for any 8th AF FG nose/spinner color combination. I simply got tired of the kit/aftermarket provided decals for the checkerboard never 100% matching the color(s) I'd use to airbrush the spinner.

First off, our nekkid spinners and noses:

I then cut very thin strips of Tamiya tape (about 1mm wide) and create the outline for the nose(s). Using a very thin strip makes the tape conform much better to curves, etc.

I then simply take wider pieces of tape to mask the front fuselage.

Once that's done, I airbrush a coat of white to give my final colors a uniform and true presence. Note I do the same to the spinners.

I then airbrush a custom mix of yellow (Tamiya mix).

For 1/48 scale, I use either kit or aftermarket decal checkerboard patterns to get an approximate size, which in this scale are roughly 3-3.5mm square. I measure and cut pieces of Tamiya tape and start masking!

Yes, I'm also doing my first "Egg Plane". Here are the finished masks for the checkerboard, ready to get airbrushed using again, a custom mix of Tamiya acrylics for my desired shade of red.

Here we are after airbrushing the red and starting to remove the masks.

I should note that I also use the same process to mask the spinners.......thin strip followed by filling in the area I want left yellow. Here's the finished product(s) after a coat of Future/Pledge clear acrylic to seal/protect for weathering.

Yes, the masking can be tedious, especially when I'm building three models at the same time. Doing one wouldn't take long at all and I feel the end result is quite worth the hassle.
I hope this helps!
Thanks for the kind words, everyone. It IS easy. Just requires some patience, which I know is sometimes hard to come by! When these beasts are finished, I'll take pics and post to the finished models sub-forum.
Also, thanks to the moderator/admin for moving this thread to the appropriate area (painting). My bad.

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