Instructions on painting camouflage on a WWII scale model aircraft

Updated July 20, 2017

With the wide variety of model kits depicting World War II aircraft, there are literally hundreds of camouflage options. Some of the factors affecting your choice will be nationality, climate, weather and the period during the war your warbird flew. However, the process of camouflaging is fairly consistent from plane to plane. With a little practice and some basic airbrushing techniques, you can create a convincing camouflage job for any type of model plane you have.

Cover areas of the plane that will not receive camouflaging such as cockpits, wheel wells, machine guns and the like. Use painter's tape to mask these areas.

Spray on a coat of primer at a distance of 8 to 10 inches using a fluid, sweeping horizontal motion across the kit.

Allow to dry and then repeat priming if necessary to get the best coverage.

Spray on your lightest colour as the base coat with your airbrush. Set the pressure on the compressor or air source between 8 to 12 psi to begin and adjust as necessary.

Draw in your camouflage pattern with a thin mechanical pencil as lightly as possible.

Paint in the additional layers of camouflage with your airbrush with the nozzle constriction set to the finest possible line and outline the camouflage pattern.

Fill in the remaining area of the pattern with the airbrush after the lines are completed, adjusting your nozzle as necessary.

Apply a coat of flat acrylic sealant to preserve the paint job when completed.


Research your subject before you begin. There are many books and online sources for information on WWII camouflage and colours and basic schemes are well documented. You may want to use an airbrush primer rather than a spray can to get more control. Keep pieces of cardboard or old model parts around to test your airbrush's nozzle control before applying it to the plane.


Always paint in a well ventilated area. Aerosol spray paint should be applied outside if possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Painter's tape
  • Gray spray primer
  • Thin lead mechanical pencil
  • Airbrush
  • Compressor or compressed air
  • Airbrush paints
  • Flat acrylic sealer
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About the Author

Sean Kotz has been writing professionally since 1988 and is a regular columnist for the Roanoke Times. He has also written for the Blue Ridge Business Journal, The Roanoker, 50 Plus, and Prehistoric Times, among others. He holds a Master of Arts in literature from Virginia Tech.