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Masking and Painting Aircraft Canopies?

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  • Member since
    November 2005
Masking and Painting Aircraft Canopies?
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 7:44 AM
I'm just getting back into modelling, and one thing I have always managed to screw up is painting aircraft canopies.

I'm working on a Revell 1/32 Scale Stuka right now, and it has a nice, big, 4 piece canopy. I'm wondering what are some of the techniques that you folks use to mask and paint the canopy.

I will be using an airbrush.

What masking material do you use? I have some testors "stretchy" masking material I was going to try to mask off the areas, then use an X-Acto to cut as needed.

Should I glue the canopy down first?

Whats the best cleaner to use if I get paint or glue on the clear areas?

Any tips much appreciated.



  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 10:38 AM
I use Tamiya masking tape for masking off canopys. It is low tack enough not to leave residue, but can be stuck and removed several times without losing its' tack. On windows with several panes, such as Luftwaffe or Japanese aircraft I have worked out a technique for masking that works very well for me. I place a piece of tape on the window and lightly bunish it with a toothpick or burnishing tool. I then lightly and quickly run a pencil tip over the tape, run the pencil perpindicular to the canopy panes. This will leave a light outline of the particular window on the piece of tape. Then remove the tape and place it on a hard, smooth surface; I use a piece of glass from Home Depot which cost about $2. Cut around the line with a sharp no. 11 blade and you have a mask cut perfectly for your window. Repeat the process until you have masks for all the panes of the canopy.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 10:52 AM
Some things that I've done with mixed results:
- use decal film that is painted the color of the frames. You can cut the decal film in strips and apply it to the frame sections.
- use BMF to mask off the windows. It will burnish down and give you a dead clean line. Be careful when cutting the BMF though because you don't want to cut into the canopy.
- liquid mask
- Never done this one, but I've seen a conopy that had all of the frames sanded off of the canopy so it was smooth and then polished. Frames were then added with strip styrene that were pre-painted and formed to fit. Builder said it was ALOT of work and wouldn't do it again...

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 11:16 AM
Another way to the one mentioned above is cutting masking tape stripes with the appropriate width, paint them according to the suggested colors and stick them following the frame pattern. This is an excellent alternative for complex frames. It looks nice and you won't notice the difference.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 7:48 PM
I use clear scotch tape. First I cover the canopy with it. Then burnish it down with the back of a paintbrush that has been sharpened to a dull point. Next I take a fresh razor blade and trace around the canopy frames. Finally I pull the tape off the frame portions to expose them. The first color I spray is the interior color, then move on to the exterior color. This is how I paint any and all canopies with good results.

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: USA
Posted by weebles on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:58 PM
See my post over in the aircraft section.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 11:06 AM
ive had good sucess with paul boyers method of first coating the canopy with future letting it dry then using bare metal foil to completly cover the canopy,then using a toothpick or paintbrush handle burnish foil around the ribs.then use a NEW #11 blade to trim foil. again burnish foil ,paint and remove foil.if any resude remains just rub with finger or q-tip in alchol to clean up.good luck
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, February 27, 2003 5:21 AM
Well well! My technique is to mask off all of the canopy with a water based masking liquid. I´m not really sure about the name of this product but I know that originally is been used by the sign-making and graffic factories. Then with an X-acto razor, VERY carefully and only when I´m really concetrated I´m starting cutting off. I usually don´t finish the job at one time. When I´m just a little bit tired, I stop and I start again ONLY when I feel sure enough. After masking I airbrush the interior colour first, chip off a little bit, then paint alu colour and finally the exterior one. If ther´s any overspray, I remove the excess with a match or toothpick. Does´t leave a mark!!!!
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Central Ohio
Posted by Ashley on Thursday, March 6, 2003 2:23 PM
On an airplane with prominent frame lines, I use painted household foil for the frames. If you clean and scuff the foil with a ScotchBrite pad, then prime it with zinc chromate (which you can now get in spray cans at hardware stores, sold as zinc yellow or self-etching primer), you can mix up interior and exterior color with oils, thin with lacquer thinner and spray onto the foil. It takes a while to dry, but remains flexible. Then cut out strips with a straightedge and NEW blade, and attach them with Micro Metal Foil Adhesive

Have you flown a Ford lately?

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, March 6, 2003 4:30 PM
I use Parafilm M to mask the canopy. It´s a masking tape on parafin base used in laboratories, very stretchable and thin so you can easily cut out the frames with a sharp X-Acto blade. It leaves no remains on the canopy, even you get it off three weeks later. Best Stuff I ever worked with.

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