The sails of the Los Angeles boats are covered in access panels. The patterns changed as the design evolved, so check references for particular boats. I decided to use paint to represent the panels, this is the masking job.
Two more variations of “scale black” were misted over the upper surfaces. When the masks are removed the darker panels become visible.
An overall shot shows how the different tones of black add complexity. If you look at any large monochrome object, the first impression is that it is all one color. When you study it in detail, you find that the colors actually vary in tone and intensity across the surfaces. If you use only one mix of color the model will appear unreal and toy-like, but if you vary the shades a bit it adds complexity and appears more realistic.
The only permanent markings carried by most U.S. submarines are draft markings. Here dry transfer numbers from Model Graphics are being applied to the rudder, the style is called “45 degree”. The strip of masking tape is marked to help with spacing and alignment.
There are another set of draft marks on the bow. This set is a little trickier to apply as you have to account for the hull curvature which affects the spacing. The numbers are a little further apart as you go up the hull. After the numbers were applied the entire model was sealed with Testors Glosscoat, and after that dried the model got a coat of Future.
The gloss coats are important to prepare for what comes next – toning with oils. This looks like a huge mistake when you’re doing it, but it adds some nice subtle complexity to the finish when you’re done. The gloss coats are vital, particularly the acrylic coat, as otherwise the oils will strip through the underlying paint layers. When using oils, think “wax on, wax off”. Most of the oil will be removed, leaving only slight discoloration to the surfaces.
Here is the model after weathering with oils. The overall impression is slightly darker and more uniform, but subtle color variation is visible up close. The hull red on the underside got a similar treatment using reds, yellows, orange and browns.
Submarines in port build up a “slime line” of marine growth along the waterline. To represent this I used a mix of Dark Ghost Gray and RLM 02, airbrushed in thin layers over a masked waterline. After the masking tape was removed I went along the line with a stiff brush and thinner and roughed up the hard masked edge. This broke up the hard edge and varied the density of the color at the transition for a more realistic effect.
The various masts and sensors changed over time. The snorkel to the left was built up from Evergreen, but most of these are made from aluminum airfoil stock and 1/8″ tube from the hobby store.
Here the masts are painted and in place. The tubes run through the airfoil sections and are pinned into the sail. This gives the assemblies strength and makes them a bit easier to align.
The model was given a coat of Testors Dullcoat and mounted to an Oak base. Four strips of Zinc blocks are used as sacrificial anodes on the real submarines, these were made from 0.015″ x 0.060″ strip and mounted at the stern. This is the finished model posed with the Mobeus Skipjack.
Completed pictures here: