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  • Nieuport 17, Flying Fish of Cpt. Harry S. Gwinne

    At the start of the Nieuport 17 Challenge, I had narrowed my selection down to two fairly simple paint schemes. One was an Italian mount and the other was a Belgium bird. Just before I started to paint these two up (I was planning on entering the best looking of the pair), i had a change of heart and thought it was a perfect time to try the Fly Fish of Cpt. Harry S. Gwinne.

    I knew that this was going to be a real challenge as I did not have any decals at all to help out with this plane. I would have to custom make any that I would need.

    As the main part of this paint job is the scales along the fueslage, I begain my work there. I knew that I could not hand paint the scales to my satisfaction, so I'd have to make a decal for them. This meant wrapping the entire fuselage in a single decal. In order to get the correct size and shape for the decal wrap, I took a small piece of paper and wrapped it around the the bare fuselage (the plane was completely taken apart and stripped down to bare metal). I used my fingers to gently shape and conform the paper to the shape of the fuselage. I was then able to use a pencil to draw the outline of the decals final shape. Once I had done this, I use the template to cut out several more and test fitted the paper decal again, making adjustments to the template each time. Once I was finally happy with the way it fit over the fuselage, I scanned it into my computer.

    I imported the scan in to my graphics program (Adobe Illustrator) and made a digital version of the template. I then used AI to draw in the scales. I decided to print the decal so that the outline of the scales was a very light grey (since I could not print them white or silver). Now that I was happy with the final mock up of the fuselage, it was time to prep the fuselage for the decal.



    As you can see, I airbrushed the whole fuselage silve and then masked off the area that needed to be painted blue. After shooting the blue, I hand painted the details on the rudder. At this point I applied the scale decal and found that the light grey outlines showed up way to dark on the blue background (since the decal behind the outlines was clear, there as no white to help make them lighter as they appeared on the white paper). At this point I had to change my approach to the entire fuselage.

    I decided to re-spray the fuselage silver and reverse my scale decals... this time leaving the scale outlines clear and making the actual scales the blue color that I wanted. After repainting the fuselage and applying the new style decal, I hand painted the fins on each side and along the top of the fuselage. I also had to re-mask the whole plane and spray the front half silver again because my home made scale decals did not end in the correct spots or correct angles at the cockpit.

    I was running out of time at this point for getting it done for the contest, so I don't have photos of it.

    The next big challenge was going to be the wings. Once again I knew I as not going to be happy with hand painting all those black rib lines. But, I also did not want this repaint to turn into an all decal job either. So, I decided to airbrush them on! Masking off the lines and spraying them would give me a much cleaner appearance then brush painting them, but it would not be using a decal, so the perfect solution.



    I pushed the wing and it's struts though a Post-it-note to make it easier to hold. I then started counting the number of ribs and measuring the distance between each. I came up with a .5mm line with 2mm between each line. I plugged all this in to AI again and went about making a template to help me mask all those line an equal distance apart.



    Again I pushed the wing struts through some paper, making sure to line up my template with the ribs on the top of the wings. Pushing the wing through the paper holds it in place from the bottom, so I did not have to use any tape which would have gotten in the way of my masking and painting. Also, I made two indentations in a large block of balsa wood that matched the wing struts. I then pushed the wing and template paper into the wood block. This gave me a firm surface to work with and hold everything by.

    At this point, I started to apply my 2mm Jammy Dog masking tape that I bought through Scale Finishes here in the US (very fast shipping I might add!).



    Then it was just a matter of spraying them black and removing the masking.







    The lines came out pretty good, but not perfect. The tips of the wings were not even, so I had to mask them again and respray it along with masking a wider stripe across the front.



    Historically this plane did not have a wing mounted Lewis gun (that we know of), but I left the opening there in case I wanted to add it back on for gaming purposes. The lines of the bottom wings were don the same way as the top.

    Since I did not have any of the US roundels with the stars on them, I had to again print some decals. Once again not being able to print white led to some problems. This time around I used my wife's scrapbooking Silhouette cutting machine to cut out some correctly sized circle masks out of vinyl. I stuck those down in the correct locations and masked off the rest of the wings and sprayed them white.





    A coat of gloss made them read for me to apply the red and blue portion of the star decals I printed.

    The finial few painting steps were to hand paint the fin details on the upper tail surfaces and hand paint the open mouth full of teeth. Again I used placed them on paper and stuck them to the balsa block.





    With all of the painting finally done, I reassembled the whole plane and applied the rigging. The rigging method I used was first posted here on the site by Zoe Brain. I simply plucked several bristles from a house painting brush and colored them with a black permeate marker (I actually do a whole bag of these in one sitting for use as I need them). I then take a small ruler and measure as best I can the length that I need for each of the rigging wires. I use the same ruler and cut each one to length. I take a toothpick (shaped if needed) to place a small drop of white glue (PVA) at one mounting point on the model for the rigging wire I am working on. I use tweezers to dip the opposite end of the "wire" into the glue and then I carefully thread the rigging wire in place. Once the rigging wire is one the model as close to were it needs to be as I can get it with the tweezers, I use another toothpick to push it into the final location. I do this same thing for each rigging wire.

    The paint brush bristles work very well as they are straight and you can bend them to get them in place, but they will snap back to straight... always making your rigging look tight! The use of white glue means you don't have to worry about messing up your paint job since it dries clear.









    This article was originally published in forum thread: Nieuport 17, Flying Fish of Cpt. Harry S. Gwinne started by Oberst Hajj View original post
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Mveeder's Avatar
      Mveeder -
      I love this model!!!! Thank you for the step by step. I'm currently working on decal design. I think the explanation of your approach is extreamly helpful for us newbies. I really wanted to do a U.S. N17 but I couldn't find any in U.S. colors. I love the roundel with the star!
    1. Marechallannes's Avatar
      Marechallannes -
      Incredible work, Herr Oberst!

      This was my first choice in the contest.

      Think you have to take a photo with a measuring tape to proof that this model is a 1/144 and not 1/35.

    1. The Cowman's Avatar
      The Cowman -
      Absolutely Poitiviely Freaking Outstanding Keith!!!!
    1. Oberst Hajj's Avatar
      Oberst Hajj -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marechallannes View Post
      Incredible work, Herr Oberst!

      This was my first choice in the contest.

      Think you have to take a photo with a measuring tape to proof that this model is a 1/144 and not 1/35.

      Damn, I'm caught! I especially made a 1/35 scale flight stand, gimbals and pegs! I was hoping no one would notice!


      Quote Originally Posted by Mveeder View Post
      I love this model!!!! Thank you for the step by step. I'm currently working on decal design. I think the explanation of your approach is extreamly helpful for us newbies. I really wanted to do a U.S. N17 but I couldn't find any in U.S. colors. I love the roundel with the star!
      Are you going to be doing this plane?
    1. Blackronin's Avatar
      Blackronin -
      Beautiful model and very deserving!
    1. gully_raker's Avatar
      gully_raker -
      Yes fantastic work, Keith. This was my first choice as well. You certainly earned the top spot with all the work & planning put into the finished job.
      do you intend to use it on the Table?
    1. Oberst Hajj's Avatar
      Oberst Hajj -
      All my minis are gaming pieces. In fact, I'm sure it will get flown by a lot of new gamers at Origins in a couple of weeks!
    1. Mveeder's Avatar
      Mveeder -
      Are you going to be doing this plane?[/QUOTE]

      Actually, I would love to. I started to research it as soon as I saw your entry.
    1. Guntruck's Avatar
      Guntruck -
      Blimey, that was above and beyond the call of duty! Excellent work and a worthy winner
    1. Niclas's Avatar
      Niclas -
      As always, I'm astounded by the crispness of the paint job and vibrancy of your colours. This is a fantastic plane!
      This post also provides an inspiring insight into your process - Thanks for sharing!

      The bit about the rigging almost sounded as if you apply rigging to all your planes these days, is that the case?
      If so I have to admire your patience. Having tried it myself, albeit with a slightly different method, I know how crazily fiddly that work is.

      /Niclas
    1. grumpybear's Avatar
      grumpybear -
      Well done, my vote number one
    1. Nightbomber's Avatar
      Nightbomber -
      Impressive quality and workload. The final effect is gorgeous. Well deserved win
    1. Oberst Hajj's Avatar
      Oberst Hajj -
      Quote Originally Posted by Niclas View Post

      The bit about the rigging almost sounded as if you apply rigging to all your planes these days, is that the case?
      If so I have to admire your patience. Having tried it myself, albeit with a slightly different method, I know how crazily fiddly that work is.

      /Niclas
      I've been adding the rigging to all of the repaints I've done over the last couple of months. That only amounts to about 4-5 planes though! lol Using the Zoe method I talked about above is really pretty fast. I think the rigging on this Nieuport took me about 15 minutes to do maybe. For a gaming only piece, I would most likely only do the rigging between the main wings. The tail rigging will most likely come off during the first couple of games and the rigging around the landing gear is not that noticeable for the amount of work it took to get into those tight places.

      If you just do the main wings, you are looking at about 5 minutes per plane. Maybe I should do a photo How To on rigging?
    1. pbhawkin's Avatar
      pbhawkin -
      wow great lateral thinking and perfect application of idea!
      AND it looks great too.

      Would you consider making the fish decal pattern available as a gif, jpg or tif file for others to try to make the same plane?
    1. Jager's Avatar
      Jager -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oberst Hajj View Post
      Maybe I should do a photo How To on rigging?
      Yes, please.
      Karl
    1. Wombat's Avatar
      Wombat -
      Really impressive! A worthy winner!

      /Jörgen
    1. somaliavet's Avatar
      somaliavet -
      Awesome job, Herr Oberst! It truly is a beautiful bird...err...fish.
    1. Oberst Hajj's Avatar
      Oberst Hajj -
      I just put a spare one of these up for sale.
    1. Niclas's Avatar
      Niclas -
      Ouch! That's just too tempting...Sure is one seriously good looking plane.
      Wonder if I'll manage not to bid on it (really don't need any mare Nieuports right now).

      /Niclas
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