Jump to content

Surface of a/c: Flat, Gloss or What?


Recommended Posts

The surface of aircraft

Flat, gloss or something in between

Fundamental question: what kind of surface do we have on today's jets? We have to differentiate from certain areas, such as hot areas or antennas.

I am very unsure of this subject. I am dependent on your help or experience.

My only knowledge of operational aircraft is limited to the IAF, the Sufa, the Raam and helicopters. All hot surfaces are flat. Antennas usually gloss (at least today). Overall surface hardly gloss, mostly semi-gloss, or flat.

When we look at jets in a museum, we have to take into account that, despite good maintenance and conservation, they can hardly or very rarely reflect the operational status.

It has been going on for hundreds of years. I would also ask you to pay particular attention to the fabric-covered aircraft which are coated with dope (tension varnish). This lacquer gives a very smooth surface. On the other hand, planes from WWII. The sheets used were smooth. Also the color after the painting process. What the weathering has made of it and also the flight itself, that's the thing!

In my opinion, we should often search our consciences before we start. And to look for good evidence to come to the right conclusion.

Now I ask you for your opinion or your approach.

Another important topic:

 

 

Enjoy your work

Link to post
Share on other sites

The finish of every aircraft will be dictated by whatever the user requests and will be affected by the type of paint used and its reaction to the elements.

Today most combat aircraft feature flat finishes however at the same time they are also generally smooth and the result is that yes, they are flat but not as flat as could be had with a coarser finish. Among the exceptions are some F-16s that wear a very coarse paint finish with radar wave absorbing properties. And then there are those stealth types with finishes showing a metallic-like effect.

In the past however there have been different finishes, ranging from very flat to quite glossy, depending on the requirements. Generally this information can be found digging through the relevant documentation as the same specifications stating the colour schemes often include the kind of finish requested.

The effects of wear and tear on the other hand can only be understood by looking at as many pictures as possible.

 

Then there's another problem, that is how to best represent the real finish on a model. This is a totally different story and while it is relatively easy to find the proper finish applied to a real aircraft, the reproduction of this on a model depends on things like personal taste, so becoming a potential endless discussion...

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

Then there's another problem, that is how to best represent the real finish on a model. This is a totally different story and while it is relatively easy to find the proper finish applied to a real aircraft, the reproduction of this on a model depends on things like personal taste, so becoming a potential endless discussion...

 

So thinking about this from a physics point of view, a surface looks flat due to its roughness. But in scale, that roughness would be so microscopic that even the grainiest flat surface on the real thing should be mirror smooth gloss on a model. Just playing devil's advocate here. But my own observation is that aircarft reflect and "glint" at a distance, even if nominally flat coated. So if you want to talk scale effects and how a real aircraft looks at the distances simulated by looking at a small model, in my opinion full matt coats, that everyone serious in modelling accepts as de facto, don't capture it.

Edited by Vlad
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Vlad said:

full matt coats, that everyone serious in modelling accepts as de facto, don't capture it.

I'm inclined to agree in general, though I do think full matt has a place if you are trying to emphasis a contrast  or represent  a material (e.g. some textiles). By the same token I don't think hi-gloss representations of gloss subjects look right - on models they look too glossy. I suspect has something to do with the small size and reflections, but whatever the reason I like to tone down my gloss finishes with a drop of flat base.

 

Cheers

 

Colin

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with both posts above, IMHO really matt and really gloss finishes do not look right on a scale model. I'm sure that this could be explained in terms of physics, considering the light reflection, the relative roughness of the paints  and so on, but simply from observation I've long come to the conclusion that even a flat finish on a real aircraft is best represented with a final coat of a varnish that still shows a hint of a glint. In the same way, I never use pure gloss coats as final finishes on my models, I always prepare a mix, more or less gloss depending on the finish. I also agree on the fact that the use of different level of "mattness" is a useful tool to differentiate materials.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to look at an operational aircraft these shots of a Tornado in Afghanistan are good. Not gloss, but not flat either, even when you look past the grime, soot and various fluid streaks.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hallo

Yes, to create the model surface that way, that it represents the reality in the outmost, this is the goal. As I noticed, the scale is here an important factor. My modelling field is in a/c modelling the 32 and 48 scale. Whatever looks good at scale 32, does not fit my desire at 48.

Actually I work with Gunze GX.

112 Super Clear III UV Cut Gloss

113 Super Clear III UV Cut Flat

114 Super Smooth Clear Flat

This paints work very well, care has to be taken that they do not harm decals when using it as a topcoat. The 114 is good for 32 and 48. A very thin paint is best. The 113 is a strong flat one. The grain of the flat paints is the finest of all paints I know.

Actually I work very often that way, so certain areas are semi-gloss and some gloss. Walkways, exhaust areas may also be flat, maintenance panels and so on. This gives a good touch.

You may have some other ideas.

 

The photos from Panavia Tornado GR4 ZD843 Operational, Kandahar, Afghanistan are marvelous. To get such a finish! Does anybody have an idea?

 

Happy modelling

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 16/10/2020 at 11:21, Giorgio N said:

The finish of every aircraft will be dictated by whatever the user requests and will be affected by the type of paint used and its reaction to the elements.

Today most combat aircraft feature flat finishes however at the same time they are also generally smooth and the result is that yes, they are flat but not as flat as could be had with a coarser finish. Among the exceptions are some F-16s that wear a very coarse paint finish with radar wave absorbing properties. And then there are those stealth types with finishes showing a metallic-like effect.

In the past however there have been different finishes, ranging from very flat to quite glossy, depending on the requirements. Generally this information can be found digging through the relevant documentation as the same specifications stating the colour schemes often include the kind of finish requested.

The effects of wear and tear on the other hand can only be understood by looking at as many pictures as possible.

 

Then there's another problem, that is how to best represent the real finish on a model. This is a totally different story and while it is relatively easy to find the proper finish applied to a real aircraft, the reproduction of this on a model depends on things like personal taste, so becoming a potential endless discussion...

Yes, how to represent it? Often I got a good result after a gloss varnish just by a little overspray with highly diluted color or shade. More likly to the real surface! Any semi or real flat varnish is too strong. My opinion.

Happy modelling

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see at US modeling contests (or saw, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down) too many models with a uniformly dead flat finish. Nothing looks more unrealistic, in my opinion. As pointed out, real aircraft display a mix of reflective finishes.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Space Ranger said:

I see at US modeling contests (or saw, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down) too many models with a uniformly dead flat finish. Nothing looks more unrealistic, in my opinion. As pointed out, real aircraft display a mix of reflective finishes.

I think you have a  point. Anytime I've been up and close to military aircraft. The paint is, depending on aircraft, very flat. Particularly the USN.

 

Recently I  had a close up view of a military helicopter. Up close the paint surface was very matt. But when you step back there were reflections. Not gloss or shiny but not matt  either. So yes I think if you  take into account scale viewing distance. A totally matt model  looks wrong. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...