Airbrush Painting for H.M.S. Fly

Firstly, it must be stressed that there is a wealth of information available on the internet regarding airbrush painting; many books are also available on this subject and everyone should at least attempt to see what is available. Having done this, the following notes could be considered, but it must be stressed that they are only this authors initial 'unexpert' conclusions.

SAFETY: - Ensure that a good quality face mask is worn to prevent the inhaliation of paint fumes. Ensure that the area in which the spray painting is to be done is well ventillated; portable modelling spray booths can also be both purchased or made.

To obtain an overview of airbrushing visit 'How to airbrush for beginners' at This video has had over a million views since Oct 2012

A website titled 'Basics of Airbrushing' is informative and is found at

For the modeller who wishes to understand all the different airbrushes available this site was discovered at

As has been stated, there is a wealth of information and videos available however, this author just wanted to know what would be suitable for use with the Fly, and with no previous experience it was difficult to know which would be most suitable at the most economical price.

Esentially there are two types of airbrush, a single action and double action. With a single action the airpressure is constant and the amout of paint released can be controlled. With a double action both the air and the paint can be controlled. There are syphon brushes which can hold a larger quantity of paint, or top gravity fed brushes which hold a lesser quantity of paint.

It will be seen that good quality airbrushes are quite expensive, and the air compressors which are brought seperately are also expensive. On Amazon cheap Chinese airbrush kits can be brought very competively, and through reading the reviews there were many satisifed users, however the Chinese quality is not consistent, so whilst there are many good reviews there is also a minority of poor reviews highlighting the inconsisent quality. It has been suggested that the purchase of a Chinese kit is worthwhile just for the compressor, and a more expensive airbrush can be purchased later. This author did read in some of the reviews that Chineses compressors also have the capacity to overheat.

Alternatively compressed air can be purchased in a pressiurised can. If this option is chosen reviews do suggest the the air released can contain ice particles which could affect the paint surface finish. It was advised that this could be overcome by immersing the cans in warm water whilst being used.

This author has chosen a single action airbrush but one that comes as a kit with its own small tabletop compressor. This allows one of three levels of airpressure to be chosen, so whilst it is a single action airbrush allowing only the paint to be controlled; one of three levels of airpressure can also be selected.

Accessories that were noted as essentials were an airbrush cleaning jar, airbrush cleaner, a thinner for the paint and small dropper bottles from which the thinned paint can be used with top gravity fed airbrushes. Experience has shown that the airbrush cleaning jar need not be bought, as initially this author found holding a kitchen tissue in front of the nozzle when cleaning was adequate. This is mentioned as they are quite expensive for what they are.

Enamel paint will require a special thinner, and water based paints will require a few drops of water, although there are water based thinners available. The consistency of the paint for use with an airbrush should be like 'whole milk'.

Modelling airbrush paints are normally used at room temperature, which is 66 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius). If the spray painting is to be carried out a garage and the temperature is cooler, a room heater and digital thermometer could be used to raise that area of the garage to the required temperature.

After much deliberation this author has purchased a 'SprayCraft SP30KC Kit'

First use of the airbrush

First read the instructions and ensure that the componet parts are recognised. SprayCraft suggest it is first with water just to get a feel of how it will work. This author placed a little food dye in it so it was easy to see the spray coverage.

To become familar with the component parts, the airbrush was cleaned according to the instructions. Great care must be taken to ensure that the needle is not damaged, so handle this with great care and follow the method suggested for cleaning.

After having reassembled the airbrush its first use was with enamel paint and this experience will be shared. The enamel was well mixed with thinner, however the airbrush did not work the first time used! It was discovered that the 'chuck nut' for the needle was not screwed firmly back into position after the initial cleaning, so consequently when the paint lever was pulled the needle stayed closed. This was easily rectified by tightening  the chuck nut onto the needle; this was a rather foolish mistake to make!

Using the SprayCraft SP30KC airbrush the enamel was thinned to a consistency of whole milk; medium pressure was used and a satisfactory result was obtained on the carriages, and this is explained in the guidance notes - 'Painting the Cast Cannons & Fitting Preparations'. As to whether there are better or worse airbrushes no comment could be made as the SprayCraft was the first to be used by this author.

Lloyd Matthews – November 2016 ©

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