Airwaves 1/48 scale "USN/USMC Pilot, Standing"

Photos and Text by: Ned Ricks IPMS #36013

US Naval aviators of World War II were the victors of the Battle of Midway, The Battle of the Coral Sea, The "Mariana’s Turkey Shoot", the Battle of the Philippine Sea and many more engagements. These men were pre-war aviators at first, and then the product of the country’s all-out training efforts. Their aircraft were called Wildcat, Dauntless, Devastator Hellcat and Avenger. They flew off of, and landed on, carriers sailing on large seas. They flew from airstrips hacked out of coral on remote atolls or thick jungle on tropical islands. There was no Nomex fire retardant clothing, just uniform khakis or a cotton flight suit and a leather fight jacket. Their helmet was not the hard-shell protection of today, but a canvas and leather means of holding their earphones close to their heads. Still they defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy at something the INJ excelled at – carrier-based warfare.


The folks at Airwave have put together a series of 1/48th scale aviation related figures, of which this is the first I have reviewed. For me there was good news - there is nothing to assemble. The white metal figure is already complete and awaiting a bit of clean up and the touch of your paintbrush

The mold lines were prominent down both sides of the head and body. But, as marked as they were, they were also easy to deal with. I fastened the feet to a square of styrene with two drops of CN as a makeshift base for painting until I could figure out what to do with him when done. (I have a favorite Tamiya F4F Wildcat that may get a pilot at last!)

After preliminary cleaning up, it was time for the first quick coat of primer, in this case Model Master gray. I let that set for 24 hours before proceeding. To bring out the fine detail and give me an idea of the lines I would be working with, I next applied a thin wash to bring out the sculpting. This was like having each part outlined for future painting, and it picked up any unseen mold lines that still wanted fixing.

As usual, I started with the flesh parts of face and hands with Humbrol #61. Let that sit for several hours and then give it a second coat to cover the primer well. The second coat should dry thoroughly for some hours, like over night. Then I applied a thin wash of Model Master Burnt Umber to the face and hands to bring out the details and give a little color. Blot with a wiped brush until it looks OK to you. There should be lines around the edge of the flight helmet, lines marking the recesses of the mouth and nose and eye sockets. Let that dry (that’ s the hard part for me, because I want to press on when I am working on a figure I like). The next steps are still on the flesh parts: a blush of dry brushed Model Master Rust for the cheekbones and nose and bit of highlight for the hands, then use a toothpick sharpened to a point to put a very small touch of Humbrol #147 light gray to represent the whites in each eye.

The leather fight jacket was done in Model Master Military Brown and later shaded and highlighted with mixtures of Mil Brown and Burnt Umber oils. The Mae West life jacket was painted with Humbrol #74 and, after that dried well, a wash of #74 plus Model Master Burnt Umber to bring out the details of the folds and creases. The figure’s flying helmet was painted a base of Humbrol #26 and washed with Burnt Umber. The lenses of the goggles were made clear and lens-like with a drop of white glue in each. Shoes and pistol holster were painted Humbrol #186. The butt of the service pistol was done in Model Master Euro-gray. The khaki uniform trousers looked good in Humbrol #187 and a wash of Model Master Burnt Umber. But, this did not give me the highlights I wanted, where the knees press against the material, as an example. So, I mixed a little Yellow Ochre oil with #187 and lightly applied and blended on the tops of the ridges of cloth. I hadn’t tried that before on a khaki color, but I liked the result. The maps stuck into the trouser pocket were done in very light gray Humbrol #196 and washed with a slightly darker gray to show the folds.

I haven’t decided how I will finally display my F4F and the really neat Airwaves pilot figure. Perhaps I will have to create a flight deck scene or a "Cactus Air Force" of Guadalcanal airstrip. Either way, this flyer is a great addition to the aircraft display and I recommend it.