Airwaves 1/48 scale WWII USN Pilot carrying Lifejacket

Photos and Text by: Ned Ricks IPMS #36013

The US Navy of WWII flew off many aircraft that have become famous victors of that conflict. Their aircraft called Vindicator, Dauntless, Devastator, Catalina and Avenger. The aviators who flew them have been replicated well by some figure manufacturers. Less well represented are the enlisted aircrew who manned the machine guns, radios and binoculars of these multi-person aircraft.

The folks at Airwave have put together a series of 1/48th scale aviation related figures, of which this is the second I have reviewed. Once again, there was good news - there is nothing to assemble. This is a bare headed crewman holding his life vest and flying helmet in his right hand while his left is resting on his pistol holster. 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 resin carrier deck that may be the eventual display, although I haven't completed a good example of an aircraft to go with him and his Airwaves pilot.

Following my usual steps, I gave the figure some preliminary cleaning up and a 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, of which there were several that I have lost in the details of the clothing and equipment.

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 thoroughly. The second coat should dry 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. Any excess can be taken off with a dry brush tip applied where you want to wick up the unwanted wash. Let that dry (that' s the hard part for me). 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 or #196 light gray to represent the whites in each eye. By positioning where the white is applied, you can actually let him look to either side. This is a bit easier to achieve a more believable appearance than straight-ahead, especially in this scale.

The denim work shirt was done in Humbrol #96 blue and later shaded and highlighted with mixtures of #96 and white oils. The trousers are Humbrol #104 dark blue with shadows from a wash of #104 plus #33 Flat Black made into a thin wash to find the crevasses and folds. The highlights were #104 mixed with white 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 as were the gloves. The lenses of the goggles were made clear and lens-like with a drop of white glue in each. Shoes for enlisted personnel were black, so I painted them Flat Black #33 and highlighted with a very dark gray made from #33 and #32. His pistol holster was painted Humbrol #186 and the web belt and attached canteen are a Model Master Olive Drab color. Since he was wearing the holster reversed and on his left hip, I am only guessing that he is left-handed. The figure is cast with a cigar or cigarette in his mouth. This I painted #147 light gray all over. My opinion was that he wouldn't light it in the vicinity of his aircraft for fire safety reasons.

Once I complete a worthy aircraft, perhaps a Dauntless or a Devastator, I already have the crew ready and waiting.

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I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.