AFV Club U-2 Progressive Build: Part 2

AFV Club “Dragon Lady” Progressive Build: Part 2

Note: Scroll down for Part 1

Welcome to the progressive build of the new AFV Club 1/48 U-2A “Dragon Lady” sprue test shots. A review of the kit can be found here.

The build will be presented as expanded bullet points with accompanying pictures. I’ll be using Mission Models primers and paints throughout and will be providing dilution and spraying details in the Technical Notes section at the end of the article.

U-2 Part Two

With the 3-piece instrument panel, and the cockpit primed and painted, I set about adding some details. First in sequence were various knobs, levers, and switches  that were picked out using sharpened toothpicks dipped in Mission Models White, Yellow, or Red.


To accentuate the raised details on the main and side panels, I dry-brushed each with a microbrush slightly moist with silver ink from a colored ink pad. These ink pads can be found in office supply and book making stores and are mighty handy for a quick dry-brush.




“Picked out” knobs and switches (yellow arrow) and details highlighted with silver dry-brushing (blue arrow) can be seen at right.




With the painting and dry-brushing done, multiple aftermarket decal sheets were used for the instrument faces and the various placards commonly found in cockpits of the U-2’s vintage.

Here’s a list of the sheets used:

Mike Grant Decals CKP-072 and CKJ-048

-Airscale Cockpit Placards #AS48-PLA

The instrument faces (Mike Grant) were carefully removed from the decal sheet with a punch. The value of having a quality punch for work like this can’t be over emphasized. Punches such as the one pictured can be obtained from UMM-USA.





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After immersion in warm water, the punched decals were placed on the main panel and settled in with Micro-Set and -Sol and a little  pressure with a moist Q-tip.





The dial faces were easily replicated using Bondic glue. Bondic has the consistency of gap-filling CA glue that turns rock-hard when exposed to ultra-violet (UV) light.

A focused, UV light source is provided on the front of the Bondic stick. The other end has a needle-like applicator that provides precise placement of the glue when the center of the stick is squeezed.



I prefer to squeeze out a small amount of the Bondic glue and use a sharpened toothpick to place small blobs onto the decal instrument faces. Once placed, the blob levels into the recess producing a nice “glass” effect that is made permanent by a quick (4 second) exposure to the UV light.

This a really nice addition to ye olde work bench. I got mine at Skyway Models, Renton Washington but Bondic is available at most large hardware sores and multiple on-line sites.


With the main panel done, I set up for detailing the cockpit tub. To make the job easier, I place the tub on a working block so there’s less “hunching over” during painting.

I also have multiple bright light sources, an assortment of  small detail brushes, and an ever increasing collection of magnifying glasses to assist my ageing eyesight.




Brush Painting with Mission Models Paints:

The real strength of Mission paints is how forgiving the paint is. That being the case, multiple (endless) strategies for diluting Mission Paints for either a hairy stick or an airbrush will provide good results.

I prefer to prepare a premixed 10% solution of the Polyurethane mix additive (Polymix) and Mission Thinner. I refer to this as Thinner-10 (10% Poly in Thinner: see below for more details on preparing Thinner-10).

For detail painting with a brush I put a blob of Mission paint roughly the size of a nickle in one well of a porcelain palette. I put 10-15 drops of Thinner-10 in the center well and use this to dilute the paint by transferring small amounts with my detail brush. In this way the dilution and “feel” of the paint can be adjusted for application with a brush. With a little practice Mission paints can be diluted and brushed to give beautiful,  streak-free finishes.

The panels on the cockpit side consoles were painted with Mission British Slate Grey diluted and applied as described above.

Note that the edges of each panel were NOT painted. Due to propensity for paint to wick along raised panels such as this, painting them with a detail brush can often result in muddy edges. I prefer to leave these areas unpainted and cover them later with a panel wash: much easier and quicker.



The knobs and switches on each panel were picked out with White, Yellow, and Red, applied with sharpened toothpicks.


Note the scratches and wear on the cockpit floor replicated with “Chipping” decals. Adding some wear and dirt to the floor adds a real sense of realism to the finished cockpit.





This handy sheet from Gekko Graphics is great for replicating wear in any scale as the “chips” can be easily cut into pieces that are scale-appropriate.






With the chipping decals in place the cockpit floor was further weathered with pastel chalks applied with a microbrush and blended with a polyester swab.





As a final step, a pin-wash of Tamiya enamel Dark Brown Panel Liner, was applied and cleaned up with Q-tips and Kimwipes moist with Mona Lisa Odorless Thinner.












Thanks for reading along!

This kit is a blast to build and comes together with little-to-no effort. Stay tuned for detailing the ejection seat, building the cameras and wheel wells, and assembling the fuselage in Part 3.

If you have any questions on the build, drop me a line at [email protected].

Now I’ve gotta go paint some more U-2 parts!

AFV Club U-2 Part 1:







Prior to starting any build I wash all the sprues and parts in a bath of Windex and Denatured Alcohol (DA) combined at a ratio of 50:50. Denatured alcohol can be found at most hardware and/or paint stores. After a 10-15 minute bath, the parts are dried first with a paper towel and then set out to dry completely.



Parts were removed from the sprues with a pair of GodHand cutters (awesome tool) and cleaned up with a new X-Acto blade and soft files. Parts were assembled using Tamiya Extra-Thin Cement.


The multi-part seat went together flawlessly. The detail here is quite nice. I’ll be adding an after-market harness because, well, you know how it is 🙂













The instrument panel is comprised of a cleanly molded, clear center section. Left and right side panels as well as the prominent drift sight are provided in grey styrene. The end of the drift sight was hollowed out with a small drill bit.




The single piece cockpit tub features very nicely molded side panels and integral rudder pedals. A detailed throttle is the only addition from the kit. I’ll be adding to the detail here in the next update 🙂 Likewise, the yoke and column are nicely detailed including various switches and levers that will look great after paint.








The prepped parts were then affixed to a painting board with wads of putty in preparation for priming.


The insides of the fuselage halves and the prepped parts were then sprayed with Mission Black Primer diluted 1:1 with Mission Thinner. This was shot at ~12psi with an Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip.  The primed parts were allowed to dry for ~20 minutes before being handled.



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From books and on-line sources the overall cockpit and seat appear to be Aircraft Gloss Grey. I used black primer as a base in order to obtain depth to the finish and to mimic shadows in the nooks and crannies of the more detailed cockpit parts and seat.

To ensure I could access the parts while spraying, they were arranged on the edge of the painting board. The upper portion of the instrument panel was masked so the lower section could be painted grey.


The parts were then sprayed Mission Aircraft Gloss Grey diluted 60:40 with Mission Thinner that had Polymix added to 10% (Thinner-10: See Technical Notes below). This was shot at ~12psi with an Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip.









Shoot 1 mm Lines  and  Primers—–All With One Brush: The Infinity

For Tips on Fine-Line Airbrushing and Configuring the Harder-Steenbeck Infinity for Super Fine-Line Work and for Spraying Primers and Clear Coats, Check This Out⇒









The primed wheel wells (nose and tail) were sprayed Mission White Aluminum diluted 70:30 with Thinner-10 (see Technical Notes below). This was shot at ~10psi with an Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip.




The nicely molded engine front complete with blades and hub, will be visible through the intakes. That being the case, the part was primed, masked, and sprayed Mission White Aluminum along with the wheel wells.









Okay, that was fun. Extra time invested in removing parts from the sprues as carefully as possible was well spent as the prepped parts fit together effortlessly. Now that the fuselage and components of the pilot’s office are primed and painted, I’ll be moving on to detailing the seat with a PE harness and putting some instrument faces into the main instrument panel. Then it’ll be time to get ‘er zipped up so stay tuned for the next update!

If you have any questions about the build or painting techniques used, drop me a line or post a comment. I’ll get back to you.

Now I’ve gotta get back to painting U-2 parts!


Technical Notes

Diluting and Spraying Mission Primers:

I dilute Mission Primers 1:1 or 50:50 with Mission Thinner. No Polymix should be added. If it’s a dry or hot day, I’ll add a few drops of Liquitex Flow Aid to lessen tip dry. I usually spray diluted primer at 12-15psi. The size of the model determines the airbrush tip size used but usually between 0.20 to 0.40mm for 1/72, 1/48, and 1/35. I apply the primer first as a dry or tacky coat followed by a wet fill coat.

Diluting and Spraying Mission Paints:

To spray Mission paints I first prepare a solution of Mission Model Thinner to which Missions Polyurethane Mix Additive (Polymix: a flow and leveling agent) has been added to ~10%. I then dilute Mission Models Paints directly into this solution for spraying. Using a pre-mixed solution of Polymix and Thinner allows you to prepare paint dilutions in a much more reproducible way thereby ensuring the resulting mixes will spray in a predictable manner.

If counting drops is how you roll, no worries. Thinner-10 is roughly 1 drop of Polymix to ~10 drops of Thinner. If you prefer to work in ratios Thinner-10 equates to a ratio of Polymix to Thinner of 1:10. I prepare a large volume of Thinner-10 (40ml) and store this in an appropriate bottle for use when painting. Properly stored, Thinner-10 lasts for many months with no issues.

I then dilute Mission Paints with Thinner-10 using the following guidelines:

General Spraying

Dilute 60:40 with Thinner-10. That’s 6 parts Paint to 4 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi.

Fine-Line Spraying

Dilute 50:50 with Thinner-10. That’s 1 part Paint to 1 part Thinner-10. Spray at ~10psi or less.

Modulation (spraying over pre-shading)

Dilute 50:50 to 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 1 part Paint to 1 part Thinner-10 and 4 parts to 6 parts Thinner-10, respectively. Spray at ~10-12 psi.

Spraying Mission Metallics:

I dilute Mission metallics 70:30 with Thinner-10. That’s 7 parts metallic paint to 3 parts Thinner-10. I apply diluted metallics as light, over-lapping dry coats. I let the preceding coat coat dry (sometimes aided by a hair dryer) before spraying the next coat. The metallic sheen will develop with successive coats.

Spraying Mission Clear Coats:

Mission Gloss Coat:

Dilute 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 4 parts Gloss to 6 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi. I like to build Mission Gloss up slowly using light over-lapping dry coats. Avoid getting too much gloss on the model as puddling and runs can occur.

Mission Flat Coat:

Dilute 25:75 with Thinner. That’s 1 part Flat to 3 parts Thinner. Spray at ~12-15psi and apply as over-lapping, light, dry coats.