Republic Gunship Commission
Modifications and Repainting a Titanium Ultra Republic Gunship
So, I was approached by a fan of the site asking for a Republic Gunship commission for his son. After slaving over those Frigate models, I really didn't want to do commission work. HOWEVER, I haven't finished a model in over a year now, so maybe having a deadline will help.
For this commission piece, I'm using the Titanium Ultra Republic Gunship. It's the cheapest and most available Gunship model available that ALSO has the beam turrets mounted on the sides. It is a respectable 18.3 cm wide (or a little over 7 inches). And, despite being mostly metal, the detail is pretty good. The side-doors do not slide out like the Action Fleet version, but it's actually more accurate in other ways. So, all in all, this is the best option for a custom Republic Gunship at this time. Hopefully, we'll get a nicer model in the future.
I'll be adding in figures and decals to represent the Separatist Nightmare version. However, I won't be painting the canopy green. It will still be red in the standard colors, but with cool weathering.
Here you can see the size different between Micro Machines and the 3D prints from Lycan Miniatures. The 3D prints are a tad taller, but not by much. They won't be perfectly in scale with the Gunship, but they will be close enough and still look great.
So, disassembling the Titanium Ultra was a little tedious. Apart from all of the screws, the plastic parts were VERY brittle. Basically, all of the yellowed plastic, the green/grey parts, and the black exhaust parts cracked or broke in one or more places trying to remove them. The clear parts and rubbery gun turrets are fine. Fortunately, I was able to use Tamiya Extra Thin to cement those broken pieces back together. If you are looking for one of these, expect the plastic to be brittle, especially if you see that it has yellowed.
Using ApoxieSculpt, I puttied the many screw holes in the Gunship. I had to add putty several times to cover the openings fully. Luckily, ApoxieSculpt doesn't shrink and hardens really well.
And here is the end result. I sanded all of the ApoxieSculpt down, even re-scribed the panel lines in a few places. You can barely see where the screw holes used to be. Also, I removed the bulky Titanium logo from the the bottom hull, which prevent the gunship from sitting flat. Lastly, I removed the molded-on rockets, as I intend to rebuild these. Check out the non-yellowed plastic where the rockets were.
Up next was creating grab handles on the hull. Now, drilling plastic is pretty easy, but drilling die-cast metal is a pain. I broke 2 drill bits doing this. But, I was able to drill enough holes to mount 2 grab handles per side. I used .6mm nickel-silver rods, bending them using my trusty Grab-handler. While I had never used nickel-silver rods before, they behaved just like brass, just a little more durable it seems.
To attach the grab handles, I used JB Weld. I didn't want to risk them breaking. After the JB Weld dried, I could snip off excess wire and cleanup the excess JB weld.
For those of you who don't know, the Republic Gunship actually carries 8 air-to-air rockets under its wings. The Titanium Ultra and Action Fleet version only have 3 molded into the wings, and they look terrible. So, I had to replace those with something that looked cooler. These are resin Eduard FFAR rockets in 1/72 scale. There's 8 to a pack, so perfect for me.
Here, I am adding plates to the underside of the wings using wide styrene strips. You can see my awesome Chopper in the background. Then, I mixed some styrene strips and channels to create mounts for the rockets. I won't be gluing the rockets on until I paint them later, but they fit perfectly.
FYI: painting rubber/vinyl is really hard. The paint often flakes off. So, I decided to create new barrels for the 3 blaster turrets. I pulled out my tackle box of gun barrels and found some replacements. For the front turrets, I'll actually be trimming down some rockets into blaster likenesses. These will take paint much better, not to mention looking 1000 times better than the rubbery parts.
I found some 1/72 Pz IV hubcaps that looked like they would be good details for the Composite Beam Turrets. Each wing technically has 2 focusing beams, one above and one below the wing. Luckily, I have a whole set of these hubcaps. Adding them really enhances the Beam Turrets because there was nothing there previously. This should also make painting easier.
In the process of redoing the wing Composite Beam Turrets, I kept referring to the manned turrets on the hull. After looking at them over and over, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to redo them. The detail is just bad. So, I had some random tank parts and tank muzzle break that was curved like a dish. So, after A LOT of dremeling, I was able to get them to fit. I had to drill out the molded-on turret, which left a lot of debris in the clear turret itself. TIP: use your airbrush to blast out debris you can't get to.
I bought this Rotary Tool Bit holder on Amazon a year ago, and it is AMAZING. My review is still the main one on there. It is perfect for Dremel bits of most sizes. Also, being made of wood, it will absorb any moisture and keep your bits from rusting. There's plenty of room, and even I haven't filled it up yet.
Finally, I started the painting process. I realized that there will be several stages to this, as I have to paint the interior, then assemble, then mask, then paint, etc. I sprayed the interior using Tamiya's Deck Tan. Then I hit it with a custom grey/brown shade to add a little weathered look. I will hit it more with weathering fluids when I start that process.
A big issue I found is the giant gap between the 2 halves of the hull. Even after gluing the hulls together using clamps, the gap was still apparent. So, I used more Apoxie Sculpt to hide it. You can also see the cockpit has a basecoat of paint on it.
So, there's no easy way to mask the spherical shapes with masking tape. You can mask simple curves, but compound curves don't work well with flat masking tape. So, I tried something new. I have a product called Liquid Frisket. It smells like death, but I was able to add it to the clear areas of the wing turrets. The stuff takes a little patience and skill to get right, but it seems to work. Now, I just hope it peels off neatly after I paint.
I decided to skip the usual primer coat and go straight to the base coat. Using MRP Insignia White, I sprayed several light coats over the whole model. Even with all the coats, you can still see the underlying paint color. However, that works in my favor as it creates the different grey shades without them being too harsh. And because MRP is lacquer, it will act as a good primer for other colors.
This is just another shot of the base-coated model. I already did a little sanding to some areas.
There are some bare metal areas on the main guns that have a unique look to them, like metal on jet thrusters that are heated over and over. To recreate this, I first sprayed some Vallejo Metal Color Exhaust. Then I mixed a brown/black shade and misted it over the area. I use the same brown/black color on the rear vents.
For the rest of the paintwork, I created some custom Tamiya colors. Right now, it's hard to see if the colors will work, as the bottle caps change the hue of the colors. Once I spray a little, I'll know if the color works. Luckily, it's not that hard to modify colors by adding a few drops of whatever color is next to it on the color wheel. For instance, if the red is too close to orange, add a little purple.
I started by masking and painting the areas that have the yellow green color. However, there are 2 stripes on each wing that I had to reproduce. These are curved lines, which are impossible to mask free-hand. Enter the Infini Easy Cutting mat. I have 2 of these, but they make 4. They are plastic mats that have recessed channels. You lay masking tape over the area and drag your blade along the black channels.
When you remove the tape from the Easy Cutting mat, you get perfectly cut masks. It was a little hard to line these up, but I think I got it alright. Also, notice I have removed the Liquid Frisket from the ball turrets. The paint isn't perfect, but I can fix that later. All in all, it worked pretty well, especially considering masking those turrets would have been nearly impossible.
And here are the results. The stripes aren't perfectly lined up, but they are very close. Once I weather them, they will look much better. It's little details like this that really add a lot of visual interest to the model, and it just looks cool.
So here's where I am after several days of painting. I used liquid mask/liquid frisket mottled on the surface to create the paint chipping. For something I had never tried, I think it turned out well. There was a lot of masking involved, and some overspray I'll have to deal with later.
I plan on painting the missiles a little more, but I wanted to get some layers down beforehand.
The green was really hard to mask here, but it came through ok. I weathered it with a soft sanding stick, but I'll go back in later to add some larger chips.
I'm very proud of how the wings turned out. The detail is awesome, and I think my masking job was spot on.
Here's a giant ball of tape, which represents everything I was using to mask off all those tiny yellow markings around the cockpit. I reused the tape quite a bit, but the results came out good.
Here is one of masks in place. I used the same mask for each side. However, they loose adhesion quickly, so you only get a few uses out of them.
And here's the result. This to me looks much better than a decal, especially because I can weather it. The only downside is trying to line them up on each side correctly.
A good buddy of mine of Other World Models made me these custom "Separatist Nightmare" decals. I had to split the decal because this is a different style of Gunship than the enclosed version which featured this nose art. However, I think it works well with the helmet down at the bottom and the text under the canopy.
So, do make quick weathering streaks, I added some tape and airbrushed a black/brown shade across the edge. I then went back in and added some blast marks. These are quick and easy, but most of all, they look convincing.
Not much to say here other than GET A WET PALETTE. The Everlasting Palette by Red Grass Games is amazing. It makes your paints work so much better.
Final look at the figures.
Final look of everything before I airbrush a clear coat.