First Pilot Painting and Weathering

Once you’ve constructed your model to your satisfaction, you’ll probably want to paint it, since the stock kit wouldn’t look too great without those detail colors!

The base color of the Enterprise has been a topic of great debate for many years. Due to varying film stocks, optical composites, and TV reception/video transfers, the ship has looked gray, white, silver, blue, and green over the years.

After much research, the color of the original 11-foot miniature was pretty much pinned down several years ago–it was a gray-green-ish color.

Of course, feel free to paint your model any color you wish! But, for those seeking accuracy to the original, there are a number of choices. Since my 1/1000 scale kit would require a lighter color than the original used for the 11-footer (due to the smaller scale, the “real” color would look too dark), I chose Testors Flat Gull Gray (# 1730).

This is my preferred color for the 1/1000 scale model, since it has a nice light green-gray look, but also appears to be different shades of gray under different lighting conditions.

I used rattlecans for my models–although an airbrush would be preferable–with the details masked and hand-painted.

So, this would be the base color–apply to to the entire model (after primering), except for the clear upper and lower saucers domes and the rear secondary hull beacon–the one above the hangar deck(unless you want them to be opaque). For my model, I left the domes clear, and inserted an aftermarket bridge decal underneath the bridge dome as an homage to the opening shot of “The Cage”.

Here are the additional detail paint colors:

* The kit instructions call for two colors (Testors Dark Ghost Gray # 1741 and Gunship Gray # 1723) to be used for the highlights on the nacelles. My research indicates that only one shade of medium gray was used on the original model for the first pilot.

To that end, I used Dark Ghost Gray for all of the following areas:

* The two corrugated, rectangular vents on either side of the rear of each nacelle. These were actually hull-colored on the original model (with darker gray paint in the recesses), but painting them helps with the scale effect.

* The inboard nacelle “channels”. Recently, it was discovered that only the center section of the channel (and not the sloped top and bottom sections) were painted a darker color than the main hull.

* The two intercoolers on the rear of each nacelle and on the inner trench should be two-toned–hull color for the main body (to the edges of the raised ribs), and a very light, almost-white gray from the curved front/rear ends.

* The T-shaped panels on the underside of each nacelle.

* The louvered rings just aft of the front nacelle domes. These were actually hull-colored on the original model (with weathering), but painting them helps with the scale effect By simulating shadows in the recesses.

As for the nacelle domes themselves, they were opaque in the first pilot, and painted with a reddish color. The antenna spikes are painted gold.

I’ve found that a good color for the domes is a 70-30 or so mix of Testors Dark Red # 1204 and Rust # 1185.

Be sure to leave the domes glossy, as well, if you’re planning on sealing the decals with dullcote at the end of the build.

Also, the rear nacelle endcaps were the base/hull color in the first pilot.

* In the first pilot, the main sensor/deflector dish–and the rings behind it, at the forward end of the secondary hull–were painted a deep copper-rust color. My preferred choice for this area is a 60-40 mix of Testors Copper # 1151 and Rust # 1185. The antenna spike should be painted silver or chrome.

* The entire connecting dorsal and the “linear accelerator” on the upper saucer (part # 42 on the kit) were painted a metallic blue-ish color for the first pilot, and the dorsal seems to have had a glossy look to it. The impulse engine housing (kit part 3) was a very light gray–almost white.

For my build, I mixed some Light Blue (# 1208) with the base color (Flat Gull Gray).

While some may prefer a clean Enterprise, the first pilot model featured some heavy weathering. References materials are somewhat scarce. The best source of visual info for the weathering on the upper saucer is the famous opening zoom-in shot of the first pilot. The deflector dish and nacelle domes were also weathered with blotches of gray/black/rust, and there are some distinctive streaks in various spots (such as a rust-colored streak underneath the pennant on the starboard secondary hull, which appears on all three versions of the model).

The original model was subtly discolored with patches and streaks of green, rusty brown, and gray/black. The weathering on my model was done with ground-up pastel chalks–green, rusty brown, gray, and black. It was built up layer by layer, with subtle blending and streaking of the pastel powders, and a slight misting of the base color over the model to make the weathering more subtle.

The trick to the weathering is to take it slow–study your reference material, add in the most obvious streaks and color blotches, then just eyeball the rest (without overdoing it). Feel free to use the photos of my models that I’ll be posting as a guide for your own weathering!

After painting and weathering, apply a gloss coat to seal everything down and prepare for decaling.


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