On the Bench and Beyond!

With Tom Grossman

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"Lone Star"

Southwest Airlines B737-300


JET Decal 737-300 "Texas"

Iwata Eclipse HP-B Airbrush


First installment: September 26, 2000
Second Installment: January 9, 2001

I built two planes for the MiA Colorful Aircraft Challenge; the WestPac "Colorado Springs" logo jet and a P-38. My Father-in-Law, Bill, got the Lightning for Father's Day. He was admiring my CS logojet and told me about "the Flagship of Texas", a Southwest Airlines 737. He described it as having the state flag draped over the plane. I got the feeling that he would like to have one so I decided to look into it.


   Thanks to my friend Bob Combs in New Mexico, I was able to get the decals by mail order from Canada. The set is made by JETDecals of Poland. They also have the SW Airlines "Arizona". The "Texas" set was not as detailed as the Skyline set for the "Colorado Springs" jet. Instead of adding several layers of decal to build the design, I will have to paint the major areas. There are also fewer of the access panel markings and lights.

    I decided to use the Minicraft kit that I had sitting on the shelf. Why would I go to the trouble of cutting up a 737-400 kit to make a 300 when there are kits available? Being in touch with my true modeling spirit... and the limits of time... I had taken the kit to the last club meeting to get started on. I was going to use some extra windows I had to modify the decals. But, later that night, as I sat looking at the assembled fuselage and wings, I knew I was going to cut it up. "Lone Star" is a 300, after all. ...and the added challenge of getting that fuselage just right would sharpen my skills. Besides, I'd rather spend the time working on the kit than looking for the right plane.
   I used my CS logo jet as the master and measured sections fore and aft of the wings to be removed. A few minutes with the saw and the tube was cut up like holiday sugar cookies. I glued sheets of styrene in place to help align the nose and tail sections. Since my cuts weren't the most accurate, some filling would be necessary.


Part 2

So, I set about filling the chop marks and other surface flaws with Testors Red Putty. I thin the Red Putty with Testors Liquid Cement and apply it with a paint brush.
    The kit was much better than the Skyline kit I used for the Colorado Springs Logo Jet. I liked the way the windshield was set on this one, too.

   Since 733-300's only have single exits over the wings, I used Apoxie Sculpt from Aves Studios to fill the second emergency exits. This is actually a better product for the job. It may take a bit longer to cure but it doesn't shrink. With patience and practice, you can also get it smoothed out quite well before it cures. If you do really well, you won't have to sand.

   Once all the flaws were filled in to my satisfaction, I set about painting the plane for real. The grey primer on the fuselage covered easily with a white basecoat. I thought this would be a good starting place. I would mask off the white regions and the other colors could be applied over that. I also thought it best to provide a white background for the stars to go over. Those would be cut from frisket paper to match the decals.
   I penciled in the boundries of the colors not only for reference but to give myself a peak at the finished kit... sort of.
   My first attempt was to use Parafilm as the masking agent. I had gotten good results with it before while painting the hull lines on the U.S.S. Seawolf. Strecth the film once, lay it along the line and use Clay Shapers to set the film and clean up the lines.
    Once the paint is dry, its a good idea to separate the mask from what you want to stay put. I used a wooden cuticle tool for this.
    Well, I must not have had the touch that night because it turned out choppy and not along the reference lines I had drawn. The boundary for the blue worked out well enough. If you look closely, you can see some little red triangles left from where I didn't cover completely with the Parafilm. Time for a little sanding and a new plan.
    Remembering a trick I learned from my Pal Sean Sides of Denver, I reached for my roll of Post-It Note tape. First, I made a plain paper template for the red/white boundary line by trial and error. This would be even better because I could turn the template over to get the line for the other side!! ("We are smart!" said the Paklets.) Once the template was finished, I laid it over a strip of tape I had placed on a piece of paper and traced the line. Turning it over, I traced the other side and marked them.
    I put the templates in place and used Parafilm again to mask the blue boundary. I applied just enough red paint to cover the lines. After an hour or so, I removed the mask. Voila!!

As expected, the Post-It tape did the trick!! Great stuff!! Since it is low tack, I have never had it lift paint from surfaces it was covering. The tape makes doing long lines a snap, too!
The stars were easy enough. I cut them out of frisket, being careful to mark left, right and the leading point of each. These were put in place on the fuselage and painted over with dark blue. Parafilm was used again to mask off the rest of the plane. When the paint had dried, the frisket lifted off easily revealing one nice, clean star on each side. The stars were so good that I opted to leave the decals stars off.
For the tail, I masked the fuselage with Parafilm, painted the leading half yellow with a hint of violet in it and the trailing half orange.
    Oh boy!! The wings were painted with Boeing Grey that I made from silver with a touch of duck egg blue. The engine intakes were rimmed with Model Master Acryl aluminum.
   For the SouthWest logo on the tail, the white went on first with the red stripe over it. I decided to use the higher quality Skyline decals that came with the other 737 I had built for the doors windows and all those little things on the skin of the plane. I did have to juggle some windows as I had filled the wrong over-wing emergency exits. I even tried the leading edge decals. Be sure you trim those to fit before applying them. The engines were glued on and the hole drilled in the aft vent for attaching the plane to the stand.
   For the stand, I used some oak and made a little Texas out of layered sheet styrene.
    This kit was SO much fun to build. Maybe someone will order one and I can do it again!!

Merry Christmas, Bill!

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Updated 4-13-2011
Updated by: Gary Grossman - Webmaster