Obviously, I have talked at length about painting these guys so I'll mainly be focusing on the finishing weathering and detail stages and waxing rhapsodic about how lovely these sculpts are. Seriously, I defy anyone to hold one of these in their hands for more than a minute without making it "fly" and murmering "braaaauuuuu dakkkakakka" under their breath. That is the mark of a cool aircraft, vroom noises. Fact. But anyway! Weathering on aircraft is all about restraint, there really won't be a lot of chips and dings that aren't battle damage. Frankly, if an aircraft is flying into something hard enough to chip the paint then that is a sad, sad, crashing plane. So keep the normal chipping to an absolute minimum. Instead, streaks of muck, soot, dust, whatever the plane might have flown through are the best option. Note that while the jets are heat-discoloured, the rear "jet" isn't. That's because I figure the rear nozzle is the rocket motor that Thunderbolts have to break atmosphere (completely wrote "break atmo" in a Firefly reference but figured clear communication over nerd points) and these haven't been fired yet.
On the wings you can see the streaks of dirt, on the dark surfaces it was mostly Ammo Rain Marks streaked on and stumped with odourless thinner. The undersides were more muddy coloured to stand out. I realised I hadn't talked about the decals much as to my decision making process for where they should go. Some were obvious, the numeral and weird sine wave thing were in the classic place that the JG-52 markings were found. The rest needed to have some thought put in. Most of the "label" style decals were scattered around areas that need to be "soldier proof", bomb mountings, ammo storage etc. Things like the little white triangles I figured would work nicely as a targeting point for machine spirits to lock on to the plane when recovering to a carrier. There are a bunch of little steel discs that initially looked like fuel ports but there were way too many. I figured instead they were magnetic cradle clamping points. The triangles allow the cradle machine spirit to target the attachment points.
The business end of the Thunderbolt! Beware all ye that this is pointed at.
And that same business end with the torpedo of significant Jeff-obsession clamped on. The yellow cradle blends so nicely with the nose cone that it could have been designed to go there. Really happy with how that went down. You can see the muddy-toned streaks on the wings and some of the labelling decals if you zoom in on this view.
There have been better shots of the pilots but this final round-up didn't feel right without showing off at least one of them.
And finally, the prodigious collection of ordnance and an example of the basing. The rubble was my normal mix for urban basing, sand, cork granules and Secret Weapon bricks all welded down with thinned PVA. The ordnance was orginally all white (so it would not show up against the pale underside of the aircraft. The red, white and yellow elements would pick up the spot colours on the plane. The bombs though, just looked like toys in white. Did not work. So instead, I pulled the mid grey colour from the fuselage and used that as the ordnance colour. The torpedo got a dark sea blue tone. Torpedoes want to be camouflaged against the dark ocean once fired so a darker tone is appropriate. The ordnance seems small compared to the aircraft (which are huge) but each was like painting a normal 28mm fig (but simpler paint scheme).
And we're done! It's been quite the long haul but I hope you've enjoyed the journey. These now need to be shipped off to the client and long years of happy air-to-mud exploding action.