Glenn Bartolotti has created a small publishing juggernaut of electronic booklets of “Step-by-Step Finishing Armor” aimed at helping armor modelers improve their game (see samples here and here). The booklets are cheap, detailed and call out the exact products and techniques used. While many of those techniques could be easily-adapted to almost any model, now Glenn has released his first Step-by-Step booklet for us propeller heads: “Step-by-Step Finishing Aircraft: P-38 Captured, 2.Staffel of Versuchaverband, Oberbefehlshaber der Luffwaffe, late 1943.”
P-38 Lightning fans like me will be thrilled to see another version of this iconic aircraft that was first intended as a long-range escort for Allied daylight bombing. In terms of range, it was an improvement over the Spitfire, but still fell short of the long runs to Berlin and targets in central Germany and beyond. The plane also tended to perform poorly in cold weather at high altitudes due to early problems with its turbocharging system, yet it was respected by the Luftwaffe, whose pilots were said to have nicknamed it Der Gabelschwanzteufel (“the fork-tailed devil”). Some now insist the name was made up by the Stars & Stripes soldier newspaper, but an AAF Manual (#51-127-1, "Pilot Training Manual for the P-38 Lightning") published in August 1945 is said to confirm the nickname.
While the Lightning found its real calling as a long-range attack fighter in the Pacific, it also did extensive duty in the ETO as a photo reconnaissance camera platform.
The interesting thing is this is a GERMAN captured P-38. The Nazis recovered a number of planes during the war when pilots were forced down, including at least two P-38 reconnaissance craft. The aircraft portrayed in this booklet was captured in Italy after its pilot "inadvertantly defected".
what you get
The 15-page booklet comes as a PDF file downloadable after paying $1.95 through Paypal.
The utter brilliance of the “Step-by-Step” series is the combination of explicit instructions, good visuals and a real model. Master modelers will often show completed works, but not always share how they arrived at their creations. Glenn Bartolotti shows you the exact finished kit, then paints and weathers it to the very end.
This includes valuable techniques that beginners should study and emulate, including shading and masking. Not one to overcomplicate or make readers buy a lot of expensive paraphernalia, Glenn maks the panels for color modulation with ordinary “Post It” notes. I like that a lot when someone can show me how to use ordinary materials easily picked up at local stores, rather than having to send away for expensive and hard-to-find specialized ones. Color modulation is extremely important for painting models to look like the real McCoy. Nothing screams “toy!” in a model more than uniform coloration.
That’s because the complexity of light and the uneven fading of paints results in a truly complex visual palette that is even more difficult to get right in quarter scale than in the real thing. How many times have you watched a film about World War Two and thought how fake the vehicles and aircraft looked with their perfect, undifferentiated paintjobs?
After painting, we learn about pin washes, and again, the advantage here is that Glenn shows us the exact materials he uses, in this case, oil paint thinned with turpentine.
For Two Bucks, you simply can’t go wrong. And if you follow the steps enough, you’ll be able to adapt these techniques to other builds on your own.
Highs: Detailed, good photos, names all the products used.Lows: Could have a few more steps shown.Verdict: For just under two bucks, it's hard to find any fault with it.