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Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale
GAF Canberra Mk.20

Part Two - Painting, Markings & Finishing Touches

by Brett Green


GAF Canberra Mk.20


Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Canberra will be available online from Squadron


Preparing for Paint


For a detailed examination of the contents of Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Canberra, see the in-box review elsewhere on HyperScale.

Continued from Part One

With the basic construction completed, I turned my attention to some of the details required before painting.

Clear parts for the wing navigation lights were not available when my sample sprues were delivered, so I decided to add these from Cutting Edge translucent coloured stock. I cut a small block of red for the port side light, and green for starboard. Each of these blocks was drilled out, and a short length of steel rod was inserted. This rod served two purposes - it reinforced the join of the navigation lights with the wing tips, and it also served as a lamp, visible through the clear coloured plastic.

The blocks were secured to the wings using super glue, then carved and sanded to shape. Once the approximately correct shape had been obtained, the lights were sanded with Tamiya abrasive paper and finally polished to a high lustre.



Avionics fit varied widely on Australian Canberras. After consulting several references, it was hard to find two aircraft with exactly the same configuration of aerials, antennas and probes.

I eventually settled on a configuration of two aerial wires mounted on posts behind each side of the cockpit, three blade antennas (one on top of the fuselage and two below), "disco lights" on the top and bottom of the rear fuselage, dump tube next to the tail skid, plus antenna and pitot tube underneath the forward fuselage.

Locating holes for the aerial masts, dump tube, disco lights and blade antennae were drilled out. The aerial mounts and the dump tube were formed from flattened brass tube with a base of scrap styrene (although the brass masts passed through the mounts to ensure a strong bond with the fuselage). Blade antennae were cut from flat brass strip. These were glued in place prior to painting.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

I masked the canopy and the nose window using Tamiya tape prior to gluing these to the fuselage. I started masking by punching a small circle of tape using my Waldron Punch and Die set. This was used to cover the clear-vision window on the port side of the canopy. A larger circle was cut using a photo-etched stencil to complete this finicky masking job. The remainder of the canopy was masked around this clear-vision window.

The canopy fitted very well, but I noticed that the clear nose cap was slightly larger in diameter than the front of the fuselage. Next time I will slightly sand back the grey plastic nose to avoid this small overlap.

I somehow managed to lose the resin tail skid, so I carved a replacement out of styrene block. Naturally, no sooner had I glued this part in place than the original item magically reappeared on the modelling desk!

Only minimal filler was required. I used Milliput to smooth a slight step between the nose and the main fuselage on the lower port side. A combination of Liquid Paper and Gunze Mr Surfacer was employed for some narrow gaps underneath the tail and the lower join between the wing and the fuselage. Once all these were sanded smooth, panel lines were rescribed as required and the model was ready for paint.


Painting and Markings



The broad wings of the Canberra need a lot of paint, so I decided to save myself some time and apply a base coat direct from a Tamiya Spray Can. The base camouflage colour, Extra Dark Sea Grey, on these Vietnam-era Canberras is indeed quite dark. Perusing the range, the closest colour I could find was actually Tamiya's interpretation of RLM 75 Grey Violet. To my eye this looks too dark for its assigned Luftwaffe colour, but it would do quite nicely for my purposes.

I applied the first coat, holding one wing, tilting the model at different angles and spraying in smooth, wide overlapping lines. Ten minutes to dry, then the next coat, this time holding the other wing. In less than a half hour, my Canberra

Next I sprayed a random pattern of short stripes and squiggles in a slightly paler shade of grey, followed by a slightly darker shade of grey, using Tamiya acrylics in my Aztek A470 airbrush. The purpose of this stage was to obtain a slightly irregular finish to the paint job on this large canvas.

The second camouflage colour was represented by Gunze RLM 80 Olive Green. This colour was weathered with Tamiya Olive Drab, which was also sprayed along demarcation lines. These greens were applied freehand (ie without the aid of masks).


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:



The model was prepared for decals with a two coats of Future floor polish thinned with Alcohol. I used to have occasional problems with Future running on the surface of a model, but thinning with Future seems to have eliminated that issue altogether.

I used High Planes' recently relased sheet number 4806 - RAAF Canberra Mk.20. I particularly wanted to finish my Canberra as a Vietnam War bomber in service with the RAAF, and this sheet offered that exact option.

National markings, serial numbers, the Aussie flag, red fuel filler position stencils and bomb log were used from this sheet. A few of the larger markings with a lot of clear film had a tendency to silvering when first applied, but this was quickly eliminated by lightly slicing the film and applying MicroSol decal solution.


A number of other stencils were sourced from the Classic Airframes kit decal sheet. These performed flawlessly.



Finishing Touches


Following the application of decals, the model was readied for final detail painting and assembly.

I masked a rectangular patch behind the cockpit and painted it Tamiya Buff. I imagine this must be some sort of dielectric panel. The two rectangles immediately behind the cockpit are actually windows, but glossy black paint did a fair job at representing these.

At this stage the canopy, nose cone and wing tip navigation lights were masked again and the aircraft was sprayed with two thin coats of Polly Scale Flat. This gave exactly the finish I was looking for - almost dead flat, with just a hint of sheen.



Small details were added now.

The "disco lights" were cut from lengths of Cutting Edge orange translucent stock. These short rods were sanded and polished to the right shape. The finished lights were glued to the top and the bottom of the fuselage.

A white datum line was painted on each side of the top blade antenna.



I managed to smudge the port-side navigator's window early in construction, so I decided to replace this with Krystal Kleer. When the painting was complete, I dipped a medium sized brush in my bottle of Krystal Kleer and ran the laden brush around the inside rim of the window. The brush was slowly and carefully drawn toward the centre of the square window, joining the four sides in a single membrane of Krystal Kleer. I slowly pulled the brush away from the window, leaving a solid white square.

After being left to dry overnight, the result was a nice glossy window .

E-Z Line was used for the two aerial wires. This elastic material is ideal for aerial wires, as it can stretch to many times its relaxed length, and will bend, not break, when touched on a completed model. First, I glued to lengths of E-Z line together and inserted them in the pre-drilled hole in the leading edge of the fin. This was secured with super glue. A spot of super glue was applied to the top of the left aerial mast and one of the pieces of E-Z lines was stretched so that it touched the wet glue. I touched this area with a toothpick that I had dipped in CA Accelerator. This created an immediate bond between the mast and the line. The remaining overhang was stretched and cut off with a sharp hobby blade.

The process was repeated fort he right side.



The pitot tube on RAAF Canberras was mounted below the nose, not in the centre of the nose cone like other Canberra variants. I borrowed a pitot tube from an Italeri Spitfire for this purpose.

The lower nose antenna was painted in a barber-pole finish of red and white.

The intake bullets supplied in the kit are perfectly appropriate and accurate for Canberra B.2s fitted with the Avon Mk.I engine, but the majority of  RAAF Canberras were fitted with an intake bullet of a different shape and size. I cut off the intake bullets and replaced them with modified bombs from a 1/72 scale model.





Classic Airframes' brand new 1/48 scale Canberra kit has been a genuinely fun project.

Detail is very good, and I was very impressed with the speed of construction. In fact, I did rush this one a bit. Next time I will spend a little more time and do a few things differently. In particular, I will:

  1. join the nose and main fuselage sections of each half before installing the cockpit and bringing the fuselage halves together,

  2. sand the front of the nose where it faces the clear nose cap to ensure a step-free join,

  3. put more weight over the forward gear bay before closing the fuselage halves



There have been a great many interesting schemes applied to the Canberra in its six decades of service, from overall Aluminium in the 1950s to Barley Grey in more recent years. There can be few other aircraft that have seen such long service with such a wide range of Air Forces worldwide. It would be great to see more Canberra variants, and we will hopefully also see more after-market options for decals (although both Model Alliance and High Planes have decal offerings available today.

Thanks to Classic Airframes for the sample.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images: 

Model, Images & Text Copyright 2006 by Brett Green
Page Created 27 April, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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