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US Special Forces Hi-Lux

I recently had the opportunity to paint a civilian Hi-Lux in use with the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. This project required a number of techniques that I have never attempted before. I have discovered that projects such as this are great because they help you to learn new techniques broadening your skills and improving your self-confidence as a modeller.

Since this piece is not an armour model, we military modellers need to change our style of thinking a bit when undertaking a project such as this. Because of the smooth glossy metallic finish, we will not want to rely on the traditional techniques such as washes, filters and various amounts of dust to enhance the seams and other details on this model. Let me explain a few of the different techniques I used to finish this Hi-Lux.

Painting Hi-Lux 1
The first step was to get a smooth glossy coat of paint onto the model. All of the windows needed to be covered with paper and masking tape. The model was them primed with Tamiya primer and polished using an old shirt. The paint used was a red Tamiya metallic paint that comes in a spray bottle. The paint was carefully sprayed into an airbrush for better control when applying it to the model.

All of the chrome pieces were airbrushed with satin black enamel paint prior to spraying the Alclad paint. I have been told that gloss enamel paint will also give great results. It is most important to keep the glossy finish of the vehicle clean without fingerprints. Always use latex gloves when handling a model such as this after you have applied the metallic finish.

Again, It is most important to keep the glossy finish of the vehicle clean maintaining a civilian appearance. This means that washes and filters needed to be avoided on this model. Instead of washes, I simply painted all of the panel lines by brush using black acrylic paints as seen in the photo. The underside of the chassis was also painted black.

Having an extremely glossy surface means that the earth coloured pigments are going to have trouble adhering. To help reduce this problem I airbrushed a very faint coat of matt Tamiya Buff onto the lower parts of the model. The matt surface created by the buff will give the pigments something to grab onto. More Tamiya Buff and plaster was mixed with the pigments to get the thicker dried mud as seen in photo 3.

The cargo in the flat bed is one drop-in piece. The flag needed to be painted by hand. I would like to thank Mig Jimenez for his assistance in painting this piece.

I also applied some damp earth coloured paints to make the overall finish more interesting. This time I used a brown Humbrol enamel mixed with pigments and satin varnish thinned with turpentine. You will note how I kept both the windshield and upper parts of the model clean to help maintain the overall civilian appearance.

These are some of the methods used to finish this Hi-Lux. I strongly recommend that you always ask for the recommendations and assistance of others whose skills and talents are in different areas then yours when undertaking new and unique projects. You will have more fun and be able to learn new techniques that you can also apply to your more normal subjects when you return to them.

I would like to thank Andres Montiel and Mig Jimenez for their help and advice on this project.

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About the Author

About Adam N P Wilder (ANPW)


Adam, One again you have done amazing work in weathering and a unique subject! I am rather amazed that the Army doesn't spray these trucks olive drab or desert camo, but that is another topic... lol. On the flag issue. While it's laying down on the cargo in the photos, doesn't the way it's fastened to the roll bar give the impression it's suppose to fly in the breeze once the truck is at cruising speed? Just my impression. Thanks, Jim
DEC 12, 2006 - 12:01 AM
50 stars, actually. Four rows of five and five rows of six. This was adopted in 1959 after Hawaii and Alaska became states. Prior to that, the 48 star flag was used, six parallel rows of eight stars.
DEC 12, 2006 - 02:17 AM
why does the SF use the Toy anyways? Is there an advantage over the Hummer?
DEC 12, 2006 - 06:12 AM
To "blend in" with the militias. Since the Humvee isn't exported except to Goverment militaries, the militias use civilian vehicles for troop transport. The Land Rover and Toyota pickups remain the forefront vehicles for these "Technicals" because they're reliable compared to American pickups. I also heard that Japanese vehicles use two coats of primer, three coats of paint, and two-three clear coats compared to only two coats of paint and one clear coat on American vehicles, hence why American cars have a tendency to rust easier. People can see a Humvee coming towards them, but in a Toyota, the sight may confuse the enemy long enough to make him pause and see if the Toyota is really a friend or a foe. The Toyota pickup in ODA use is a cheap and simple form of camouflage, so to speak, at the price of armor protection, firepower, and hauling capability. (Well, it probably gets better gas mileage than the Humvee though). Also, the Toyotas are more comfortable than GMVs, not to mention being fully enclosed since most GMVs have their doors off. In truth, the U.S. Special Forces in Toyotas were envious of those ODAs equipped with the GMW Humvee due to its heavier firepower, better communications, and load-carrying capability, so says a Sergeant in an ODA who wrote the book, "ROUGHNECK ONE-NINE."
DEC 12, 2006 - 06:47 AM
Hmm. I can see that working both ways though. I wonder if the incidence of fratricide is higher in Toyota or Hummer crews? Wouldn't the large US Flag would counteract any camouflage effect? :-) Ahh, I reckon most SF types are not going to put comfort ahead of protection. Then again, there is the LCF of the Toy. What's an "ODA"? Were there not enough SF pattern Hummers to go around?
DEC 12, 2006 - 11:53 AM
ODA = "Operational Detachment A-Team"---the official Army term of a 12-man "Special Operations Force" better known by the nickname "Green Berets." I don't know about fratricide, but the Afghanistan incidences of this were caused to GMV Humvees and errant and faulty AC-130 equipment as stated in the book, "Not a Good Day to Die." The SF Humvees are in fact kind of unknown in how they're made since SF is a separate branch from the Army with its own command structure and logistics. This much is known though. AM General doesn't make Spec Ops Humvees per se, and if it does, the U.S. never bought them. Military Special Group (MSG) buys the extended capability M1113 Humvees and converts them into the ones you see on AM General's website, the ones with rollbars (kind of like the ROC Taiwan one Hobby Fan/AFV Club made). But I think MSG is a private venture and does this on their own...I don't know. , The U.S. Army Special Forces (actually SOCOM) takes delivery of the MSG SF Humvees and then converts them again to the Ground Mobility Vehicle version at the Army depots (the one Pro Art Models sells). If you compare the Hobby Fan ROC Humvee to the Pro Art one, you can see the differences. The Army GMV has a roof, side bed slats, no interior lockers, Humvee doors, etc. That's how it WAS done. Nowadays, who knows...perhaps the M1113 goes straight from AM General to the Army Depots for conversion into a GMV. So just to get a GMV takes a long time since they're converted. Now as TRAKZ stated, the Special Forces do use MSG vehicles "As is," but the details are classified. Expect to see 1/35 MSG Humvee kits early next year from TRAKZ, The MSG Humvee looks like the Pro Art one, but has more doodads and features than the GMV. The TRAKZ/MSG one will in fact look like a Pro Art GMV and a Hobby Fan ROC SF Humvee combined from the 3D computer photos TRAKZ posted a couple of months ago. I believe TRAKZ since TRAKZ visited MSG to get references for these upcoming SF Humvee kits. And being Spec Ops, of course all this info is kept tightly sealed. But if TRAKZ was at MSG, then TRAKZ knows its stuff. Leave it at that. Take the above with a grain of salt... . I just cobbled the info from various public sources I read years ago. I don't know what's happening now.
DEC 12, 2006 - 11:32 PM
So where can I get one of these kits? The New Zealand troops in Bamiyan use the hilux, this looks pretty close to the ones they are using and I'd love to make this up as a kiwi vehicle.
DEC 19, 2006 - 01:12 PM
Phil, just wait a few minutes - i'm posting the News story with all the new Mig rekleases at the moment
DEC 19, 2006 - 01:19 PM
Still can't find anyone listing this kit, anyone know where to get it?
JAN 11, 2007 - 04:09 AM
Blast Models has it listed. Erik
JAN 11, 2007 - 04:34 AM