Airlinercafe Home Page

How to weather an all white Sabena A330
Author: Andy White
Submitted by: Andy White   Date: 08-08-2004
Comments: (4)  

Like the women in my life, I like my models dirty. Only one is easier to have than the other!
The aim of this article is to show that with a bit of trial & error and having the nerve to have a go, something a little bit different can be acheived. However I must say, that I entirely understand if somebody didn't want to try weathering, having already taken a lot of effort painting & decaling, ready to display. So why mess it up now?
Fortunately, I had previously been a military aircraft modeller and in that world, factory fresh aircraft just don't seem to fit in, so I've had a few years of practice.


The Model

The model I made is the Revell Airbus A330-300. I find this a very detailled kit with few apparent faults. I found in the instructions that part 89, the APU outlet is shown as being the wrong way up. My model has CFM engines so I drilled out the end of each exhaust cone which improves the look. I found that the angle of the engine pylon going from the back of the wing to the exhaust cone was too steep and not long enough. This was corrected by a little sanding.
My kit had a warped fuselage on the top ( see Air Lingus A330 modelling forum) so I glued it part by part with superglue starting from the front and working to the rear. After this there was filling sanding and rescribing of panel lines. I made wing tip lights out of perspex and scratched built the satelite antenna at the front on top of the fuselage out of plastic card and perspex. I used the kit antennae, but sanded them smaller as I found they looked far too big. The instructions show antennae, part 86 at the front underneath. In no photos have I seen these rather prominet features. After I fitted the main gear doors I found that they looked rather funny although the pins matched the locating holes. If you have an original A330 kit with Airbus house decals, then there are some very useful photos on the side of the box, one shows the main gear and that the top of the door should lie flush with the surface of the underside of the wing. I'll know for next time.

The Decals
The model is a Sabena Airbus in the 90s billboard scheme and white all over. Daco in their Skyline range produce sheet SKD14-022 for a Sabena A340-200. I had previously seen a completed A340 at the Telford show and liked it very much. Having bought the decal sheet I noticed in the instructions that the decals fit an A340-300 and that Sabena had just ordered A330s. It also explained that the decal sheet would fit an A330 too. Having seen a rather dirty A330 at Brussels some years back I decided to go for this aircraft. The decals are excellent, but I noticed that there were no black line decals for the wing to fuselage seal and this stood out quite alot on an all-white aircraft. So I used the wing walk lines for the fuselage seal and the Revell kit wing walk decals, which although go on well, are too thick. The Sabena billboard decal is one piece and although it went on beautifully needed cutting on both sides where the letters meet the wing. I cut with a new blade as accurately as possibly on the wing root line and stored the cut off decal bits in a jar of water. I later used some bits to patch the bottom of the letters where they meet the wing root. I used some of the Revell stencil decals for underneath the fuselage.

I would describe weathering as making the subject have a used appearance. The methods I use are 1) DRY BRUSHING 2) PASTEL POWDER BRUSHING 3) THINNED OIL PAINTS.
Dry brushing is having a very small amount of paint on the end of the brush and building up a faint layer of paint by continuing to rub the brush in the same direction many times. This requires practice to look good, the idea is to replicated what a stain would look like after prolonged exposure on a surface.
Pastel powder brushing is similar to dry brushing but is not so easy for some very fine detail and the powder can be rubbed off. This off course is helpful if mistakes are made. In some cases it is advisable to seal the powder with Klear.
Using thinned oil paints is a useful way to highlighting cracks and gaps. Oil thins better than enamel paints. Once suitably thinned, it should be a very runny mixture, simply with a brush drop the mixture into the cracks and watch it run along the lines. Any overspill can be wiped away. Once dried, a residue of paint is left.

Weathering the A330
Using 2 photos I had taken and photos from the Internet, I started to get an idea of where the dirty parts were. Firstly using thinned oils I highlighted the flaps and ailerons on the top of the wings. Then I moved to the tail highlighting the rudder join. In fact thinned oils were used on all control surfaces where there were engraved lines and also all air intakes where a feeling of depth was needed.
Next I moved on to dry brushing. I used a grey mix and before applying the brush to the model, I wiped off most of the paint on a piece of kitchen paper, again using the stroke method until little paint could be seen on the paper. I then dry brushed rain streaks coming down from all windows and from the gutters above the doors. The area where the airbridge meets the doors is often left dirty in a distinctive square shape. I dry brushed this effect using masking tape as a guide. Tip. Use the tape only when most of the stickiness has gone. It will save your decals! Dry brushing will do your brush no good, so pick an old one or be prepaired for a ruined one at the end.
I used pastel powder for the first time on an airliner on this model. I felt oils were too thick and complicated to apply for the fuselage panel lines, so after a suggestion from a fellow modeller I tried pastel dust. Simply sand a pastel stick and use the resulting powder. I applied the powder using a brush and then wiped the excess away with cotton Q-tips or small cottonwool balls. The effect worked and gave the panel lines a slight shadow.
Oils and dry brushing were finally used on the engines, undercarriage bays and wheelhubs.
The work to the fuselage and wings was done with out the tailplane, engines or undercarriage in place. This made the job alot easier.

So in the end an all white model is brought a little bit more to life using the above methods.
My thanks to my Berlin modelling friends, Michael & Uwe for their advise and fun modelling days together.

Andy White

[u]References[/u] Sabena Pictures (Links) Airbus Wide-bodied Jetliners. Robbie Shaw, Osprey Aviation Airbus. Norris & Wagner, MBI publishing Giant Jetliners. Norris & Wagner Motorbooks International publishing Airliner World issue January 2002 Airline Modeller Vol 5 No 2 (Close up of A330/340)

Some Related Books...

by Andy White

Member Comments :

 comment by: boeing767mech posted on 08-12-2004, comment #101

FINALLY SOMEONE GETS IT RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In my 14 years working for commerical airlines I have never seen a clean airplane, even the ones freash from the factory or dirty. It's nice to see that someone else notices that and made a acticle about weathering airliners.


 comment by: aro757 posted on 08-12-2004, comment #102

Great job Andy! It looks great and the weathering makes it look much more realistic.



 comment by: selier posted on 08-15-2004, comment #103

That really looks like the real thing. I agree with David, but you put down a superb job, Airliners buffs worthy.

regards Bert

 comment by: skippiebg posted on 03-31-2005, comment #556

Ever since the 70s I have weathered my airliners. Not a fave with judges (but who cares, and what do they know!) Mind you, I normally mess it up and mine end up looking like decomissioned bombers...

Anyway, I'll second your sentiments on women