This method is perfect for World War II “birdcage” style canopies. The decal film may be cut in curves to do curved frames, but it works much better when used for short segments of straight frames.
For this example, we will use my Curtiss XP-55 Ascender kit from MPM which has been sitting unfinished ever since the kit was new. The large greenhouse canopy is perfect for this method, because almost every one of its frames is a straight line; there are few awkward curves to bend the decal film around.
tools and materials required
- 1. Straightedge
- 2. Modelling knife
- 3. Dividers
- 4. Clear Decal Film
- 5. Paint
- 6. Decal Setting Solution
The first step is to assemble all your materials. Picture 1 shows the brand new clear decal sheet. Picture 3 shows the model awaiting its frames. Cut a piece of the trim film sheet to a manageable size and paint it with the interior colour matching the cockpit paint already in the model. In this case that's US Interior Green. I brush painted this, and didn't worry too much about brush marks. See picture 4.
Once the interior colour is dry, paint the colour of the outside frames. For the Ascender that's US Olive drab. I sprayed this coat, covering up the brush marks which were visible in the interior colour. See picture 5.
Using a sharp knife and a straightedge, cut the decal film into thin strips the width of the frames. See picture 6
Measure the length of the frame required on your model. See picture 7
Cut each strip to the length desired for the frame segment you're doing. Soak and apply the decal as you would any other decal. Picture 8 shows the vertical frames in place.
Brush on some setting solution to help the frame settle into place. Larger areas such as the rear of the canopy between the side windows may be cut out and applied as one piece. Picture 9 shows all frames in position and softening under the influence of the setting solution. The model may now be left overnight for the decals to set.
Canopy frames done using this technique are much sharper than freehand brush painting, and a great deal less frustrating than fussing with microscopic bits of masking tape.