B-24 Model Project
B-24 Liberator Model Project
This page describes a model project that is nearly finished.  The model is a Franklin Mint diecast model of an historic B-24 Liberator called the Queen Mae.  The model, which I purchased on eBay, has a 27 1/2 inch wingspan. My goal is to transform the model from the Queen Mae paint schematic into a Liberator that was flown in the 15th Army Air Force, 460th Bomb Group, 763rd Bomb Squad. 

The idea to include this as part of my web page did not come to me until I had already started the project, consequently true "before" pictures are no longer available.  However, below left is a stock photo of the same model prior to any modification.  Note the red, white, and blue graphic on the right rudder.  This same graphic appears on the left rudder as well.  Also note the nose art on the front of the model.  This artwork also appears on the left side of the model.  The other picture, below right, is an actual photo of the original nose art from the aircraft the unaltered model commemorates, the Queen Mae of the 90th Bomb Group, 319th Bomb Squadron.  She looks like quite the woman!  Very regal.  While this paint schematic is fine, it has no significance for me.  So, I will transform it into an aircraft my father had flown in during his tenure in World War II.
B24 Before Modifications       Queen Mae Nose Art

The next photos were taken after I had removed the rudder and nose art graphics and had already painted the outside faces of the rudders gloss black.  The old graphics came off amazingly easy with some light scraping with only my fingernail.  I was prepared to use a solvent or stripper, but noticed entirely by accident that some tape I had applied pulled off flakes from the edge of the graphic when removed, leaving the base coat of silver pristine.  The blue tape is painter’s tape and is designed to pull away easily, leaving clean lines between painted and unpainted borders while leaving no tape residue behind.  Theoretically, this tape would also prevent paint from bleeding under masked surfaces.  That’s the theory anyhow.

I have placed a narrow band of tape horizontally across the rudders with the bottom edge of the tape representing the mid-line of the rudder, effectively splitting the rudder in half.  This tape line then helped me to accurately place tape that will mask out areas of the black paint I did not wish to paint over.  The rudders will be painted with a graphic to designate the correct bomb group, in this case I will paint a yellow and black graphic to designate the 460th Bomb Group.  You can see that I have also masked off the front of the engine cowls.  During the war, the fronts of the cowls of aircraft in the 460th Bomb Group were painted a color to designate the bomb squadron to which the aircraft belonged.  For the 460th Bomb Group, those colors would be red, white, blue, or yellow.  The fronts of these cowls will be painted yellow to designate the 763rd Bomb Squadron.

Taped Rudder       Entire Aircraft Taped

Here is another view of the engine cowls taken from the front of the model.

Front Showing Engine Cowls

Below I am beginning to set masking tape shaped in the form of the desired graphics to mask out areas I do not wish to receive yellow paint.  Actually, after having created all the graphic shapes I decided I did not like their scale, so I redid them all in a slightly smaller version.  I’ve marked this tape disk as “Place” simply to remind me that it is only to be used temporarily to optimize placement, as the disk is actually the negative of the actual tape I need.  Once placed properly, I then placed the portion of the tape the disk had been cut from over the disk and then removed the disk, leaving tape with a circular hole on the bottom half of the rudder.  Into the center of this hole a smaller disk was then placed using a similar procedure to accurately locate it.  Onto the top half of the rudder a square portion of masking tape was also placed.  The dimensions of the square were equal to the diameter of the large circle.

Using an Exacto knife to place decals, small pieces of tape, etc. makes placement much more easy and accurate.  That is a trick I learned from a drafter I had worked with long ago.
Xacto Kinfe to Place Tape

To create the taped graphic masking shapes, I had experimented with a few methods to cut them out accurately.  Small circular shapes do not lend themselves to being cut with scissors in a precise manner, and even an Exacto knife has its limitations on such shapes even when using a template.  I found that if I used my drafting dividers, or what is commonly called a compass, and inserted another needle point end into the side where lead would normally go, I could scribe out very precise circular shapes of any desired diameter and that I could also achieve precise concentric circles.  Using a metal straight edge along with the divider, I could also scribe straight pairs of parallel lines that enabled me to create perfect squares of exactly the same dimension as the circles, regardless of size.

To scribe the shapes in tape, I found that the best approach is first to lay down a length of masking tape on a cutting surface (I used the back of a spiral bound notebook).  I then placed a second layer of the same tape on top of the first layer.  Using the dividers, I would scribe through the first layer (even the second layer, that did not matter).  Using two layers of tape then allows the top layer, in the shape of the desired graphic, to be pulled easily from the bottom layer while retaining all of its adhesive qualities.  Here are pictures of some tape graphics after they had been scribed out.
Scribed Masking Tape      View of Scribed Graphics

As an aside, below is a view of the work area.  As you can see orderly arrangement of tools is crucial!  This photo was not posed.  OCD can be fun, productive, and very orderly!?!
Paint & Tools

The rudders having been masked, it was time for some gloss yellow paint.  I used spray paint and was sure to cover the entire aircraft to avoid unwanted overspray.  The photo below shows the right rudder after it had been masked and spray painted yellow.  If you look closely, you can see the square masked area on the top half of the rudder and a circular cutout with a smaller concentric circular masked area on the bottom half of the rudder.
Rudder Painted Yellow

In the photo above, note the finely pointed brushes.  These are used for touch-up that always seems to be necessary even when using high quality masking tape and paints.

Here is the end product as far as the rudder goes.  The other side is identical.  Note that the leading edge of the rudder is matte black from about the six o'clock to the twelve o'clock position.  This represents the rubber boot on the aircraft that was used for de-icing those edges during flight.  If you look closely at some of the other pictures, you will see the the leading edges of the wings and the rear stabilizer (the horizontal section to which the rudders are attached) also have the same black matte paint applied representing the rubber boot material.
Finished Rudder

Here, on the left, is a picture of the cowls after receiving one coat of paint.  The cowls required three coats of paint to achieve an even, consistent coverage, as shown on the right.

Cowls after one coat                        Final Cowls

The aircraft is not done yet.  I still need to paint the olive drab area in front of the cockpit a matte black, add a letter in yellow paint at both sides of the rear of the aircraft (I need to research letter styles and size), and add the Black Panther, the insignia of the 460th Bomb Group, to both sides of the nose of the aircraft.