Painting the MSD Vulcan

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I posted photos of the Vulcan bomber I painted a couple of days ago.  I’ve probably painted upward of 500 1/300 scale planes and the Vulcan was the most interesting and challenging of the lot.

Just some quick background, the Avro Vulcan bomber was a massive Cold War era strategic bomber, designed to deliver nuclear weapons against Soviet-era targets.  Introduced in 1956, it served as the RAF’s strategic air deterrent until its retirement in 1984. Perhaps most famously, the plane starred in the James Bond movie, Thunderball in 1965, hijacked for its two nuclear bombs as a Villiers Vindicator.  Two Vulcans got to play Vindicator roles, though neither eclipsed Sean Connery’s typically wonderful performance as 007.

Thunderball Vulcans

Photo of the Bond “Vindicators.”

I bought a Vulcan to fill in as one of the bombers assigned to the Black Buck raids on the Falklands against Argentine ground targets. The raids were largely ineffective, but c’mon, if there’s a Vulcan out there and doing the Falklands, you gotta have it.  Don’t get me started on why I need a Nimrod.

There are two 1/300 Vulcans available. One is from Ros/Heroics, formerly a Skytrex miniature, acquired a few years ago when the latter company slimmed down its ranges. The other is from MSD.  I was a little leary of the Skytrex model.  Plus at 14 pounds plus 40% to ship to the states, I thought I’d pass. I could get the MSD kit from I-94 Enterprises near Chicago, so I went there instead.

The first thing to notice when popping the plane out of the box is its sheer size.  It is unquestionably the largest plane I own, which includes all the WWII strategic bombers.  Because of its delta wing design it is also quite heavy, which posed some additional problems during painting.

Because I choose to use flight stands demanding a “pinned” bomber, it meant finding a center of gravity and drilling in a piece of brass wire. Once drilled in, I primed the large model.  I used a spray primer, but due to the size of the plane I might have brush primed it to get more even coverage.

The paint scheme is relatively easy.  I basecoated the entire upper surface with Ceramcoat Rain Grey, before adding the Vallejo Olive Green camouflage pattern.  It’s important to be patient and use multiple coats.  The surface area is too large to likely get it right in one swipe.  The lower surface is the somewhat darker Vallejo Neutral Gray.  The metal bits are painted with Testors Aluminum. All the scribing is painted with Ceramcoat Charcoal. This, or a reasonable facsimile of this is what the Black Buck Vulcans wore in 1982.  Earlier versions of the plane were a bit different with lighter rather than darker undersides.

Handling the plane during painting is really challenging.  And what do you do with it between painting sessions?  I found myself constantly painting over surfaces, even though I sprayed them with Dullcoat in between sessions.

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MSD Vulcan alongside a Raiden Sea Harrier.

The model itself is quite clean.  It is well formed and accurately scaled.  The huge tail comes separate and probably should be puttied in place, but as with most such tasks I am too lazy.  The detailing is quite clear, but I do have a significant beef that if the upper and lower surfaces of the plane are to be so well detailed, wouldn’t it be nice to have detail on both sides of the tail?

All in all, it was a fun painting task.  Probably a needless addition to the Falklands pile o’planes, but I’d hate to say the project was finished, and not have a Vulcan in the mix.

One comment on “Painting the MSD Vulcan

  1. Dean says:

    Impressive work on these, Kevin. Yes, I do recall that cool Vulcan intentionally “crashed” into the sea. Love the old Bond flicks – just the right combination of violence and camp. 🙂

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