It is really a great feeling to finish a model airplane you’ve built with your own two hands. An added benefit is that your model will be completely unique and won’t look like every other plane on the flightline. Yes it takes a little more effort, but the end result truly reflects your own tastes. To make a plane look really neat and tight, you should limit the amount of colors you use to cover it with and if it is a first attempt, limit yourself to a base color and up to two trim colors. For my Florio Flyer 60, I wanted a retro 70s style and I wanted it to be easy to see what the plane is doing from far away.
Video showing how to apply the basic colors before adding trim
As can be seen, the top of the wing and the front of the plane is white. This keeps the plane bright and easy to see at altitude. Now since things on the underside of a plane are in shadow, I used a dark color for under the wing and stab. Dark Blue works great.
The dark color is also ideal for the checker board trim treatment of the rudder and the wing tips. To tie the entire scheme together, the medium color is used for the aft fuselage and the top of the stabilizer. A Band of dark blue is also used to seperate the white and medium teal color. But where to start?
A fun way to develop any scheme is to use some sheets of paper and doodle a bit with a pen to work out a guide. Check the web for photos of real planes too to get an idea. Straight lines are a lot easier to trim that curvy sweeping lines, so for your first try, keep it simple. I wanted the checker boards because they were very popular in the 70s and, when I was in the USAF, I was stationed at Grissom AFB in Indiana and all the planes based there had checker boards on their tails! It’s a salute to my military past memories! See, I told you, you can have unique schemes that reflect your own tastes!
To make the trim easier to cut, I simply used the width of my steel ruler straightedge as a guide. Here the checkerboards are square and equal and the strip of trim teal is twice the width of the ruler. To apply the trim, I used the end rib as a stright edge guide, and the first checker is applied even to the edge of the leading edge sheeting. Then the checkers are used to space the placement of the others.
A good way to minimize bubbles under the trim pieces, is to use MonoKote Trim Solvent to “float” the markings into place and let them set overnight before heat sealing them into place. I used Acetone solvent to clean the wing and I applied it to the underside of the markings so slightly soften the adhesive.
I then carefully ironed each piece into place, starting at one edge and working with a light touch to the opposite edge so not to trap any air under the piece. If you do get some bubbles, simple poke the bubble with a sharp hobby knife and iron the trim down with the covering iron. Since the rudder is the widest control surface, it shows bubbles and misalignments the most. So take your time and keep everything straight and bubble-free.
Proper Tools are always important. Sharp Sissors and hobby knife blades, and a good iron and heat gun make the job go smoothly.
So here you can see the finished scheme, the checker boards on the tail and the wing tips compliment each other and help bring the whole scheme together. I like it as it has that 1970s retro look. What do you think?
When it comes to decals and graphics, be sure to carry your theme colors through so everthing works together. My Flip Flop Fun Fly scheme was a natural so I had these vinyl decals made by my buddies at Red5 Designs. (red5designs.com) They do excellent work and matched my covering colors perfectly!