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RAF Camouflage Masks


Mark
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Hi all,

 

I'm sorry about the continuous questions coming from me at the moment but you're all such wonderfully knowledgeable people!

 

Thank you to everyone who has replied to my questions regarding the Spitfire mk.Va and the best replacement Sutton harness for the WWII era Spitfires.

 

Hopefully my final question is regarding the use of camouflage masks. I'll be building a few Spitfires over the next few months and have seen the masks for sale at the big 'H' but there seems to be a huge difference in prices. AML masks are around £2.75 but the Topnotch masks are nearly three times the price at £7.50 with Eduard's set retailing at £9.16.

 

So I was obviously wondering why the huge difference and if any of these masks are reusable?

 

Thanks in advance! 

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I doubt any of these masks will be reusable unless you spray very carefully and avoid too much paint being splashed about. There are many home made techniques available that can save you money, however be prepared to invest lots of time as a consequence. So essentially, If you’re lucky enough to have an endless stream of modelling funds… go with the masks. If your a frugal modeller like I am, get yourself a roll of tape, sharp scissors and a cuppa patience and make them up yourself. 
 

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I believe both AML and Topnotch are vinyl masks where as the Eduard ones are Kabuki tape which tends to be more expensive. I don't know why there is so much difference between the two vinyl ones though and I haven't used either but vinyl masks are usually harder to keep them stuck down around tight curves.

 

Personally I wouldn't pay the higher prices for a simple camo mask and would rather make my own, but it's best to look at references for what finish you want to achieve. While some early Spitfire's show a hard edge to the camo most have a softer edge which can vary from tight to more feathered, so a hard mask might not be appropriate. I normally use Blu tak worms or spray it freehand.

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I have used the AML masks on my last few builds and have just used the Mk.V masks that I used on the previous build on my Mk.IX with some Tamiya tape additions because of the longer nose.

I still have the AML masks for the Hurricane and Tempest that I built and they are also capable of being used again

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

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I've used TopNotch and Eduard Masks, and I'll take Kabuki tape every time.  The TopNotch masks just lifted away near the leading edges, as they didn't have enough adhesion, and too much rigidity :shrug:

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Since the plan is for multiple builds, you could combine the above suggestions.    Buy one set of masks, and use that to trace out onto tape or paper, which then will be used as the actual mask.

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Some great ideas here and thank you all! Plenty of Kabuki tape in the drawer, so I’m going with home-made :)

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Paper is a good option for the wings. Draw an outline of the wing and the camo lines on that. Cut out with scissors and stick down with tiny bits of blu-tac. Even cheaper than masking tape and I think quicker for large areas.

 

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I traditionally use paper masks, but one of the idea's above has really caught my eye. Lay a sheet of glass over the printed out pattern, apply a layer of 'Frog ' tape (or any very low adhesive tape) and cut out your own masks! Brilliant!

I'll be trying this on my next build.

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Many years ago, a friend was on a bit of a Spitfire kick.  He figured otherwise innocuous variations in pattern between models on a shelf would be annoyingly obvious.  So he bought some household rubber gloves, spatchcocked them, drew out the pattern in ballpoint pen and cut them out with kitchen scissors.  I forget what he used to stick 'em down but he was able to re-use them time and again.  The hardest part must have been transferring the pattern to the rubber and I wondered later if he'd used a paper pattern and a photocopier.

 

Cheap, easy and re-usable.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RJP said:

Many years ago, a friend was on a bit of a Spitfire kick.  He figured otherwise innocuous variations in pattern between models on a shelf would be annoyingly obvious.  So he bought some household rubber gloves, spatchcocked them, drew out the pattern in ballpoint pen and cut them out with kitchen scissors.  I forget what he used to stick 'em down but he was able to re-use them time and again.  The hardest part must have been transferring the pattern to the rubber and I wondered later if he'd used a paper pattern and a photocopier.

 

Cheap, easy and re-usable.

 

 

 

Interesting. I have noticed subtle variation from one airframe to another, despite the assertions that rubber mats were always used. That’s why I do each aircraft with Blu Tac sausages, so I can get as close to these subtle differences as possible. 

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7 hours ago, Tail-Dragon said:

I traditionally use paper masks, but one of the idea's above has really caught my eye. Lay a sheet of glass over the printed out pattern, apply a layer of 'Frog ' tape (or any very low adhesive tape) and cut out your own masks! Brilliant!

I'll be trying this on my next build.

 

I should have also mentioned that I have applied the tape over some thick clear plastic (projector paper or A4 sheet protectors). This makes it so much easier to cut the curved shapes with sharp scissors. It’s time consuming, but works a treat. 

Cheers.. Dave 

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9 hours ago, lasermonkey said:

Interesting. I have noticed subtle variation from one airframe to another, despite the assertions that rubber mats were always used. That’s why I do each aircraft with Blu Tac sausages, so I can get as close to these subtle differences as possible. 

 

My friend's concern was with variations on his models.  There will always be some eagle-eye with an opinion.  This way he avoided that using only a minimum of care.

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I use a combination.  

Make up a paper template master (see Rabbit Leaders process).  

Copy it a few times (file the Master)

Chop up one of the copies for the constituent parts.  

Fasten to the model with white tac sausages.  

Spray.  

Throw away the paper, keep the white tac.

 

Next model, take one of the copies and off you go..  

 

One off models just get white tac sausages infilled with cling film.

 

You actually build up quite a collection of masks in time...

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Similar to what others do here, with the difference that I'm now using more and more often a masking material named Oracal 810. This is clear and is sold in sheets or rolls and being vinyl or similar can be somewhat "stretched" to fit even quite difficult curves. Cost is reasonable, coming in my part of the world and around € 1 per an A4 sheet.

Generally I apply this onto the model directly, then draw the pattern, remove the material from the model and put it back on its backing sheet. At that point I can cut and reapply the various masks on the model. Makes drawing even complex patterns on small 1/72 parts relatively easy. Here's the material on a 1/72 Hurricane

 

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Is this better than paper ? Well, has some advantages. As said before it can be stretched a bit more to follow the shapes of the model. Being clear gives perfect visibility of the model panel lines and other features, making drawing the pattern easier. Sticks well but does not remove paint since it's specifically made for masking. I was surprised by how this material managed to stick well and cause no seepage even on a rivet covered surface like that on the Revell Hurricane...

It can actually be reused a couple of times, that always helps. At the same time there are some drawbacks, for example not all pens can write on it (I use a Gundam marker). It is slightly thicker than the best kabuki paper but really not that much and with a minimum of care it's easy to avoid ridges.

 

I still use kabuki paper but generally only with my Silhouette Portrait cutter, that is the other tool I use to make masks. I rarely use this for a single models but for subjects of which I have a number (Eduard's Spitfire IXs for example) I've prepared a number of files with the general camouflage pattern. If needed I can modify the pattern for the specific aircraft I want to reproduce, then I put a sheet of paper or Oracal in the cutter and I end up with a new set of masks.

To make the files I use a combination of drawings from instructions sheets and patterns drawn on Oracal directly on the model. Sounds time consuming but really it does not take that long, it's probably comparable to the time it takes me to draw and cut a single pattern by hand.

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2 hours ago, RJP said:

 

My friend's concern was with variations on his models.  There will always be some eagle-eye with an opinion.  This way he avoided that using only a minimum of care.

I mentioned this to the late Spitfire expert Edgar Brooks when I noticed a pattern change in Spitfire marks, he replied that there could be differences from factory to factory, different marks and different production dates.

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

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1 hour ago, RidgeRunner said:

Giorgio @Giorgio N, does it allow for blurred edges? 

 

You would have to keep the edges of the mask slightly lifted for a feathered effect, that with an adhesive mask is not that easy since it will tend to stick down. It is possible but need care

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This is my favourite masking method using paper masks and Blu Tac sausages, pure laziness lead me to use "shop bought" masks.

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Masking in progress you can see the Blu Tac sausage on the right,

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You can just make out the gap on the edges.

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Some clean up necessary.

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Removing Blu Tac with Blu Tac, you can judge the gap from this

Some over spray could occur with this method I removed any of this with a cotton bud with just a whiff of white spirit on the end and only a whiff.

Full info here, gosh it was a while ago

 

Cheers

 

Dennis.

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I use the blutack sausage method, infilled with tape or copydex (rubber cement) as the mood strikes.

There are these templates you can cut out or use to trace.  I haven’t done so to date but I will probably try them out on one of my builds!

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I use paper masks taped down tightly, giving a sharp edge, and for a feathered edge, I go over the edge with a very fine spray at low pressure with heavily thinned paint.

I have tried the blue tack worms in the past, standing off the mask slightly, but have never been able to get a consistent feather in all the wing roots and nooks and crannies.

By feathering afterwards, I can get consistency, and control the width of the feather.

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I'm doing a lot of Spitfires and have scanned a pattern to be able to cut my own masks using Tamiya sheets in my Silhouette cutter.

 

You would think that it only applies to multiple builds of the same basic type. (Spitfire scheme did not change from Mk I to Mk very late), but recently I did two Typhoons and I made masks for both with very little fuss.

 

/Finn

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On 8/8/2022 at 11:50 AM, Rabbit Leader said:

doubt any of these masks will be reusable unless you spray very carefully and avoid too much paint being splashed about.

I can get 3-4 sessions out of a (vinyl) AML set. Not flooding paint on helps.

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Hi Mark

 

I like AML masks and have found they can be re-used with care, but for this Tempest I've got on the go I've switched to white tac worms and Tamiya tape. 

 

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