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Gene describes how he built his Hasegawa 737 in US Air markings.
Author: Eugene Jacobi
Submitted by: gjake   Date: 05-22-2005
Comments: (5)  

Hasegawa 1:200 737-200
Detailing with Paint and Decals


This model is based on the Hasegawa 1:200 scale kit of the 737-200 advanced. This is, in my opinion, the finest of all the available 737 kits. The only correction required was to fill in the lower rudder hinge leaving the upper two as appropriate for the advanced 737-200.

Before assembly; panel lines for the main wing spar, emergency exit wing walks, spoilers, wing tip lights, and horizontal stabilizer leading edges were recessed for better definition and ease of painting. After the fuselage and engines were assembled, the nose and tail cones, as well as the engine intake lips received the same treatment. Prior to adding the one piece wing/underbelly, the fuselage mid section was spread open by gluing in a piece of sprue (test fit for proper length). This minimizes the gap to be filled at the wing/fuselage joint. Fuselage seams and windows were filled with gap-filling super glue. The remaining seams at the wingroot/under-belly, cockpit windscreen, and lower rudder hinge were filled with 3M ACRYL BLUE putty. The wingroot seam and the lower forward edge of the cockpit were smoothed with a piece of t-shirt dampened with denatured alcohol to keep from destroying the kit shape in these areas. Kit antennas were removed and replace- ments were made from .010" plastic. Small discs of .010" plastic, punched with WALDRON punches, were glued on the fuselage center line. Holes were drilled in the center of these discs with a # 70 drill bit and these became the base plates for the upper and lower anti-collision beacons. Small holes were also drilled in the fuselage to represent wing inspection lights.

Bare-Metal Finish

As you have read many-times, a bare metal finish requires flawless surface preparation. My approach to this is a little different. Instead of trying to polish the bare plastic to perfection, I treat the model as if I were going to paint it as usual. After filling and sanding, I apply Testors Model Master Gray Primer (from their automotive line) thinned 50/50 with Model Master Airbrush Thinner. When the primer dries, I wet sand with 400, 600, and 1200 grit paper. I repeat the filling, priming, and sanding until I?m completely satisfied with the condition of the model. The model is then washed with a detergent solu- tion and a soft toothbrush and allowed to dry. When the model has thoroughly dried the areas that will be bare metal are given two thin coats of Future Floor Wax applied with a cotton swab. When the Future is dry, these areas are again wet sanded with 600 and 1200 grit paper. Now we?re ready. This was my first Bare Metal model since trying SNJ about a year ago. In the past 15 to 20 years I?ve tried every type of alumi- num paint and/or metalizer I could find. SNJ is by far THE BEST. It?s easy to apply, produces several variations of bare alumi- num, and can be masked over with drafting tape, Post-It tape, 3M low tack tape (blue box), and ParaFilm. (The March ?94 issue of FineScale Modeler has an excellent article on the basic application of SNJ). Following the SNJ instructions, I ap- plied three misty coats of SNJ spray metal and allowed it to dry for about 1 hour. After drying, I polished the spray metal with a piece of soft terrycloth. Then came the SNJ Polishing Powder. (A word to the wise here, SNJ?s Polishing Powder is EXTREMELY FINE and can easily get all over everything.) Wear a mask and use it sparingly. The best method I?ve found is to dip the end of a cotton swab into the powder then tap the swab on the edge of the bottle cap allowing the powder to fall into the cap. With another swab, pick up small amounts of this "fallout" and apply it to the model surface. Polish with a soft cloth. I applied four coats of powder to the aircraft fuselage and one coat to the horizontal stabilizer leading edges. I left the vertical fin as it was. TIP: If you polish through the base coat or get some other blemish in your finish, you can re-spray and re-polish right over your previous finish. This yields variations in the shading and sheen which actually give a more realistic look to the natural aluminum.


The engines were treated a little differently. They had been prepared for finishing as I described above but I later discovered that SNJ Polishing Powder works better when it has a little "tooth" to hold on to. With this in mind, I dusted a few light coats of Model Master Primer then one slightly wet coat. After about four hours I rubbed three to four coats of Polishing Powder directly into the primer. This yields a slightly darker and somewhat shinier aluminum. SNJ neither suggests nor recommends a clear coat for their product. Clear coating usually dulls bare metal finishes because the clear coat fills in the microscopic spaces between the metallic particles and interferes with the reflectivity of the finish. Here?s what I do. I use a mix of two parts Future to one part denatured alcohol. I set my airbrush for the finest possible spray and dust on three to four coats of the Future/alcohol mixture. This seals the finish without the buildup and dries instantly. I now increase the flow from the airbrush and apply the Future/alcohol in slightly wet coats until I?m happy with the shine. The Future dries in about an hour and gives a hard acrylic coating over a shiny aluminum finish.


I masked the fuselage and vertical fin using thin strips of drafting tape and ParaFilm; leaving the nose and tail cones, nose gear doors, wings, and wingroot fairings exposed. These were airbrushed with Gunze H338 Light Gray thinned 50/50 with denatured alcohol. The horizontal stabiliz- ers and landing gear were also painted at this time. (I have a sample of the Boeing Gray epoxy paint used by USAir and the Gunze Light Gray is a nearly perfect match). This was allowed to dry for several days then the wings were masked leaving the spars exposed. These were painted Gunze H337 Grayish Blue and again allowed to dry for several days. Now masking left the leading edges exposed, and these were brush painted with Humbrol Metalcote Polished Aluminum. After about 30 minutes this was buffed with a soft cloth and polished with SNJ powder. The leading edges also got the Future/alcohol treatment. Later on, the small leading edge segments above the engine pylons were brush painted with Polly S Metalline Bright Silver. Wheels were airbrushed with Metalizer Titanium, then tires were brush painted with Gunze Extra Dark Sea Gray. Engine intake lips were painted Model Master Steel and the APU exhaust area Polly S Oxidized Aluminum.


The basic USAir color scheme came from the decal sheet by Flight Design. Cockpit and cabin windows by ATP; door and emergency exit frames from Superscale. I began by applying the cockpit windscreen then moved to the tail to apply the blue background decals. These required some trimming, some patching, and lots of Micro-Sol on the top and trailing edge. Early in the planning stages I wondered if the red fuselage stripes would be opaque enough to adequately cover the bare metal and purchased a second decal sheet. I anticipated correctly, and the red stripes on the fuselage and tail were all double decaled. Lots of Micro-Sol was also needed around the nose. Once the red stripes were secure, I added the blue stripes to the fuselage. At this point the white USAir titles were applied to the tail and were doubled to increase opacity. Next came the door frames. I didn?t like the white scuff plates on the Flight Design door decals so I opted to use those on the Superscale sheet. These were again doubled to get the proper opacity.

ATP windows and portholes were added followed by emergency exits which were also doubled. The white door handle backgrounds were cut from the flight Design decals and applied followed by ATP door handles. Placards on the cabin doors and emergency exits were made from small pieces of ScaleMaster white stripes overlaid with small stencilling from a 1:144 scale F15 decal sheet. The registration numbers, American flags, and USAir fuselage titles were now applied. Some extras which were not an the flight Design sheet included tow limit stripes on the nose gear doors, fleet numbers taken from the ATP 1:200 scale sheet for the PSA DC9, thin white stripes in the red below the cockpit, and wingroot landing lights which are the larger size windows from an old Microscale 1:200 scale window sheet. Most of my reference photos showed baggage compartment doors to be light gray as was the lavatory service panel on the right forward fuselage. These were all represented by thin raised lines on the kit and had been sanded away with all the other raised detail. I experimented with various templates and freehand drawings until I got the shapes down in 1:144 scale. I reduced these drawings to 1:200 scale and transfered the shapes to .010" plastic using carbon paper. I then drilled and filed the panels open to create a template of .010" plastic. This template was taped as tightly as possible to ATP decal film then the panels were airbrushed with Gunze Light Gray. (Antennas, beacon light mounting plates, and engine pylons were also painted at this time). The Gray panels were applied to the model and door handles from the ATP sheet were added to the baggage doors. The small square on the lav service panel was lightly drawn with pencil on decal film using a 1:72 scale aircraft panel template. This was applied over the gray panel then small stencilling was added from a 1:72 scale aircraft data sheet. NOTE: Before drawing on decal film you must apply a flat or semi-gloss clear so the pencil will have a texture to hold on to.

Next my attention turned to the engine safety markings. Each side of each engine is made up of ten small pieces of decal. The white backgrounds are pieces of white decal stripe. The red stripes are individually cut from an ATP flag sheet. The red half circles representing "Stand Clear" were made by punching (with a Waldron punch) a red dot from decal stripe and cutting it in half. A small black stripe represents the engine. The open red circles came from a 1:72 scale F15 sheet as did small distorted arrows which substitute for the "stick figure" inside the circle. The red "Warning" and small stencil- ling below also came from the F15 sheet. I sure wish decal makers would start including this stuff. (After I suggested this to Jennings, they began showing up on most of the newly released decal sheets) The wing escape walkways on the original Hasegawa decal sheet were an off white / yellow color. I carefully cut them from the decal sheet and used the open spaces as a template to cut new ones from white decal film. These were applied to the wings and I used the lines I had recessed before construc- tion to trim away any excess. This was followed by application of arrows from the Superscale door sheet. The decals were allowed to dry and any remaining decal residue was cleaned up with a cotton swab and warm water.

Finishing Up

Wingtip lights were painted silver, and when dry, overpainted with Tamiya clear red and green. All recessed lines were highlighted using neutral gray ink in a 6x0 Rapid-O-Graph pen. Deeper lines i.e., flaps, ailerons, and rudder hinge line were then gone over with a sharpened pencil for greater emphasis. I now airbrushed everything with several misty coats of the Future / alcohol mixture which sealed the decals, ink and pencil lines, and gave everything a semi-gloss finish. After waiting about an hour, I applied straight Future with a cotton swab to everything except the wing spar, leaving it semi-gloss. Landing gear and antennas were attached and Krystal-Kleer was placed in the holes drilled for wing inspection lights. The final touch was the addition of the upper and lower anti-collision beacons. These are made by Premiere-Plus from England. The package contains two different size teardrop and one small size dome shaped lights molded in red, green, and clear plastic. Each light has a 1/8" shaft that fits into the # 70 holes which I had drilled early in the construction. I used the small clear dome shapes painted with Tamiya clear red. The finished model was mounted to a base made from 1/8" foam plastic, which was obtained scrap from an advertising display firm.

I hope that I've given you some useful new ideas and tips to make your modeling more enjoyable.

by Eugene Jacobi

Member Comments :

 comment by: MASP posted on 05-23-2005, comment #639

Congratulations, very nice model! I built an American MD82 (pic. on Gallery) and used ModelMaster Chrome Silver and like it very much. Regards! Marcelo.

 comment by: Mark Krumrey posted on 06-21-2005, comment #661

Cudo's Gene: Looks good, and a great article.
Mark Krumrey

 comment by: Ted Johnston posted on 08-24-2005, comment #979

Nice job!

 comment by: big baby posted on 04-01-2006, comment #1932

Gene, I met you and a few others at the Atlanta Nationals. Aren't you the guy who sent me some AA-737 Decals and gave me advice (at Atlanta) on clear coating decals??? Either way, I know we met. Oh yeah, the build look GREAT. What did you do on the wings. I can't tell but it looks like you scored the lines to make the flaps look like they can move or you cut them out and glued them back in for realism?????

 comment by: gjake posted on 07-08-2007, comment #3992

big baby,

Thanks for the comments. I didn't cut anything loose, just highlighted with ink and pencil.