Over the past decade or so, I've
had the opportunity to try out a lot of different modeling
paints. I have used Floquil Railroad Colors (lacquer based),
Testors Enamels, Humbrol, the truly awful Testors original
acrylic paints, Testors Acryl, Polly Scale acrylics, Gunze
acrylics, and Tamiya acrylics. For a while I went back and forth
between enamels and acrylics. I was looking for that perfect
paint- great application characteristics and easy, nontoxic
cleanup. For about the past year, I have used Tamiya paints for
about 90% of the time. I've really gotten to like them.
I shied away from
Tamiya acrylics for a long time because of their limited range
of colors which frequently necessitates mixing paints to get the
desired color. For example, RLM 02, 74, 75 and 76 must all be
mixed from two different paints. Some of the French or Japanese
WWII colors require three different paints. Well, eventually
curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give them a try. I
was very pleased with the result. I'll have to say that Tamiya
paints are among the best I've used, comparing favorably not
only with other acrylics, but enamel based paints as well. Gunze
acrylics are excellent paints, but are not available locally. In
addition, they can require an extraordinary amount of time to
require, sometimes days to a week or more.
So, if you've been
thinking about giving Tamiya paints a try, go ahead. I don't
think you'll be disappointed. Here are some hints that may be of
For most jobs I thin Tamiya paints with 91% isopropyl alcohol.
This is much cheaper than Tamiya thinner is and available at
your local WalMart. I've found that it works just as well as
Tamiya thinner for most jobs. Thin to the consistency of skim
milk (around 3:1 paint/thinner) and set your compressor air
pressure for 15 to 20 psi. With my Iwata HPb, I can airbrush
very narrow camo lines repeatedly with NO build up of paint on
the needle tip.
· Thinning Part
that I said isopropyl alcohol works well for most jobs. One
situation that I use Tamiya thinner in is when I am airbrushing
their gloss paints. For some reason, alcohol flattens the
finish, while Tamiya thinner keeps the finish very glossy.
· Coverage and Drying
paints cover quite well, and dry quickly. Even the gloss paints
are dry and ready to sand or apply decals to within 20 minutes.
The gloss paints lay down beautifully.
These paints can be masked with just about any tape, and will
not lift off, as long as the surface they are sprayed on is
clean. (I always rub down the part to be painted with a little
isopropyl alcohol just before painting). One note, do not use
any liquid masking agent that has ammonia as an ingredient. It
will react with the paint and cause the paint to dissolve.
Like most acrylics,
I would not airbrush these paints directly over an underlying
lacquer-based paint. If you need to do this, brush on a
"barrier" coat of Future first and let it dry
thoroughly (a couple of hours). You can then airbrush the Tamiya
paint without any problems.
· Tamiya Chrome
and Aluminum Colors Take my advice, stay away
from these. While they airbrush just fine, the pigment particles
in them are too large and produce a rather grainy looking
metallic finish. In my opinion, nothing beats a lacquer based
paint like Alcad II or an enamel like SNJ for a truly fine
natural metal finish.
· Tamiya Smoke
This "paint" is more a clear gloss that's slightly
tinted with a little gray-brown color. It can be applied with a
brush over metallic colored parts such as aircraft wheels or
aluminum colored cockpits or wheel wells to give a very nice
weathering effect. Thinned slightly and run through the
airbrush, it can be used to "post shade" panel
demarcation lines. It can also be used to airbrush exhaust