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Operation Tractable

Painting and Finish on the Firefly
Before painting, I gave all the sub assemblies a good wash in warm soapy water, gently scrubbing with a soft water color brush. I rinsed these under warm running water (with a plug in the sink for the inevitable loose parts). I spread the parts out on paper towels and allowed them to air dry completely. As you can see from the photo, I start painting with numerous sub-assemblies and parts, doing much of the final assembly as I progress through the finishing steps.

An exception to this washing are the Panda tracks which are simply too fragile to take the handling. These were pinned to a piece of foam-core board for painting.

The tracks got an airbrushed coat of Floquil model railroad colors "Rail Brown." After this dried, I airbrushed metallic Citadel Miniatures acrylics. I started with "Bolt Gun Metal" and followed this with "Chain Mail Silver." These metallic colors were sprayed on the wear surfaces on the inside and outsides while avoiding the outsides of the end connectors. I applied Rub-n-Buff "Silver" to the centers of the insides of the tracks using a piece of make-up sponge. Finally, several different colors of pigments were applied as heavy washes and fixed with Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement.

Painting the tank started with Tamiya White where the unit serials would be and an "insignia yellow" color sprayed where the squadron markings would be. The white strips for the serials and the triangles for the squadron signs were then "reverse" masked and red was sprayed on for the unit serial squares. After the red dried, these areas were also reverse masked with blue painter's tape.

Initial earth textures were added on the lower hull and suspension with "stucco textured" artist acrylic modeling paste. This was sparingly applied using a large round brush being careful that dried paste would not interfere with final assembly.

The lower hull and bottom of the tank got airbrushed with a mix of Tamiya Flat Earth and Khaki. The tank then got its OD (SCC 15) mixed from Tamiya OD and Dark Yellow. This mix was post-shaded by lightening the color in successive applications with more and more Dark Yellow sprayed into the centers of larger panels and upper surfaces and in vertical streaks on the sides.

The base OD was then followed up with a lighter layer of earth colors on the lower hull and suspension. These lighter colors were mixed up from Tamiya Flat Earth, Khaki, and Buff and were sprayed on the higher points of the suspension bogies, etc. Again, a sort of post-shading effect was used.

After allowing these base colors to dry, I then sprayed the aerial recognition star on the upper rear hull deck. A painter's tape mask was cut for this using a Stencil-it PE set. Tamiya Flat White was used. I intentionally pulled up the edges of the tape mask to allow a small bit of "over spray" on the edges of the star and its surround.

Water slide decals were a mix of kit decals, Ultracast 2CAB unit flashes, and Bronco 25 pdr ammo box markings. These were applied over a gloss coat of Tamiya Clear. The unit serials (52 on painted red boxes with white stripes) were Woodland Scenics Dry Transfer numbers. I used two different styles of numbers. One represents the initial markings, and the second (on the front final drive bulge) represents a "field applied" number (since the initial marking was covered by the spare-track armor). After the decals were dry, they were over coated with more Tamiya Clear, followed by Testor's Dull Coat.

I added some light "chipping" using Vallejo and Citadel paints. This was followed by "oil dot" "color modulation" using blue, ochre, raw sienna, and white oil paints. Next up were washes mixed with oil paints and mineral spirits. I used both general washes (on the lower hull and suspension) and pin washes.

I added the tools and their straps after the washes, but before the final weathering. This way I could get the chipping and pin washes under the tool locations. This also allowed me to paint the tools separately. The wooden parts were airbrushed with Tamiya Desert Yellow, and metal parts were brush painted with Poly Scale Engine Black. The metallic wear was done using Citadel TinBitz and Bolt Gun Metal followed by Citadel Brown Ink wash. Once the acrylics had dried, I added the wood grain by brushing on umber and sienna oil pints.

I painted the rubber on the road wheels, the bare metal on the return rollers and idlers and sprocket teeth before the next step. I over-sprayed the model with a glaze mixed up from a few drops of Tamiya Buff and Clear thinned with X-20 airbrush thinner. The glaze is mixed at about a ratio of 5:10:85, colored paint, clear, and thinners. Because so little colored paint is used, the clear is needed in the mix to act as a binder.

Pigments are mostly from either artist soft pastel sticks or dry artist pigments (Gamblin brand). I did use a bit of Mig Dry Mud and European Dust. I use several methods of application for the pigments. Most were applied as washes mixed with ordinary water and then fixed after drying with Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement. The heavier, textured applications were "sprinkled" on as dry powder onto areas wetted with the Scenic Cement. These were built up in layers using different colors. The "mud" and "earth" spatters on the rear were pigments mixed to the consistency of milk or cream with water and "flicked" on using a stiff bristle paint brush and a piece of cardboard. I used dry pigments mixed to a "dirty rubber" color on the faces of the road wheels. Other dry pigments were used for light dust on the sides of the tank.

Some of the silver, bare metal wear (like the outer edges of the road wheels) was replicated using a silver colored pencil.

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