Most modellers in the hobby today have moved on from the hairy stick to an airbrush; that is not to say that the hairy stick does not still have a place in the hobby. The airbrush pretty much reigns supreme when it comes to getting an even coat of paint over a model when it comes to undercoats, and camouflage schemes with the minute details being the role of the hairy stick. Up until recently choosing an airbrush was a hit and miss affair with some being given advice by community modellers and others relying on reading data from various sources; this approach is not a bad one to follow but it has to be remembered that every modeller has their own preferred manufacturer and airbrush which may not be right for you. Iwata has taken the step to grade their airbrushes from one to five and on some products across the one to five scale.
Iwata has taken the step of grading their airbrushes from one to five, this approach is intended to make selection of an Iwata airbrush an easy task for all who have a good idea of what they want an airbrush to do for them. The grades are laid out as below:
Grade One – Absolute Precision
Grade Two – Total Control
Grade Three – All Star Versatility
Grade Four – Effortless Coverage
Grade Five – Full Finish
The airbrushes from Iwata fall into one of the above categories or across a couple of them and to put this grading to the test Airbrushes.com has provided a couple of airbrushes to take for a spin to put the grading system to the test. The Iwata HP-C Plus is one of the crossover airbrushes covering grade two and three; so this should offer total control and all star versatility in a single package. Now I have to be realistic here in that a brush falling between two categories is not going to be the best when it comes to total control and may struggle when it comes to versatility but will it?
The HP-C Plus Airbrush
This arrives in a cardboard tray with high density foam protecting the contents and a separate card lid with the extra addition of a sleeve that slide off. Inside the box along with the airbrush you will find a nice sticker for your compressor or application of choice and some paperwork including a guarantee. Provided with the airbrush is a pressed spanner to assist with taking the fluid nozzle on and off the airbrush. In addition Iwata has provided a small tube of needle lube, I am aware that most needle lube is basically the same but I have started using the recommended lubricants for airbrushes.
The airbrush has the same basic breakdown of airbrushes the world over which is as follows:
Needle cap - is hand tight
Nozzle cap – is hand tight
Fluid Nozzle – The spanner supplied for removing this could damage the fluid nozzle if over tightened so take care when removing and replacing the fluid nozzle.
The needle – this is possibly the easiest part of an airbrush to damage be it by bending the shaft or tip or damaging the sharp tip from something as simple as dropping it.
The chuck is in the open area in the rear of the airbrush and is used for securing the needle in the airbrush (When placing the needle in the airbrush be gentle to avoid damage to the needle tip and do not force the needle into the fluid nozzle which will potentially damage both parts).
At the rear of the airbrush there is a pre-setting screw – This enables the user to set the travel distance of the needle and so the width/amount of paint sprayed is set at a constant rate until adjusted again. This is excellent for the user with limited experience of airbrushes and those that want a constant spray from the airbrush within its range.
The cup on top of the airbrush holds 0.24oz or 7ml of paint and so far more than a modeller would ever likely need in a session. The vented lid on the cup is an extremely tight fit on this sample and so I would spray with the lid off in this case. I did try to ease its removal by applying some needle lube knowing it would not affect the paint used, but it is still very tight.
The valve can be stripped down if desired but I would not recommend it and if broken I would just change the valve in its entirety.
So this is an easy airbrush to disassemble and reassemble providing reasonable care is taken and nothing is forced into place. It should be said that this is true for most airbrushes with the major differences being tolerances and overall quality of parts and materials used. It is a top feed (Gravity) airbrush and so works well at lower pressures than bottom fed (Suction) airbrushes.
Airbrush in Use
When you use an airbrush for the first time it is advised that you do some practice on scrap plastic or even paper, this will help you to decide the air pressure required for the airbrush to work faultlessly and also if the paint used is the correct viscosity for spraying. To put this airbrush to work I chose one of the paints from the latest Lifecolor offering in the form of primers. I chose Lifecolor paint because it was to hand and it can be a problematic paint to use for the first time. This is listed as a new formula paint suitable for brush and airbrush and as we all know something that works with a brush is usually two thick for an airbrush.
I decided to give the paint the benefit of the doubt and use it neat; the brush did manage to spray the paint at 10 psi but was spotty at best and so I thinned it 50/50 with Lifecolor thinner and it spayed very easily at 10psi and if I am honest I think I could have lowered it to 5psi without issue. I used the preset on the airbrush and started fully open which flooded the paper at 10psi and so I closed it to half of its travels and was getting a constant and reasonable coverage; you can see on the lines that I got an initial spurt of paint and that is why you should start spraying off of the piece being painted. The preset did as intended and gave me good and constant results with complete ease. I have provided the data from Airbrushes.com on this airbrush and I direct you to note the difference in psi listed from what I used.
Spray Performance Category: Total Control
Series: High Performance
Spray Scale: Fine to Medium - Hair line to 1" (0.3mm to 25mm)
Optimal Working Pressure: 15 - 25 psi psi (0.10 - 0.17 Mpa)
Head System: H3 - Needle, Nozzle, Nozzle Cap
Nozzle Type: Screw-On
Needle Packing: PTFE needle packing and solvent-resistant in all paint-bearing areas
Feed Style: Gravity-feed
Paint Capacity: 0.06oz (1.8ml)
Mix Type: Internal-mix
Handle Type: Pre-set handle
Warranty: 10 Years
Net Weight (lbs): 0.24
Net Weight (kg): 0.11
Assembled Dimensions (in): 1.10 x 6.10 x 2.68
Assembled Dimensions (mm): 28 x 155 x 68
After spraying and the cup empty I wiped the cup with some kitchen towel and then sprayed some Medea airbrush cleaner (recommended by Iwata) through the airbrush with a clean paintbrush used to get at the channel of the airbrush the result was a very clean airbrush in the visible areas. I then examined the needle cap where I found a lot of paint present. I brushed in a little Medea airbrush cleaner to loosen everything and then wiped with a cotton bud which cleaned everything a treat.
The Iwata HP-C Plus is classed as a cross over airbrush covering grade two and three and so this should offer total control and all star versatility. Well I was pleased with the airbrush's performance, especially considering this was my first use of it. The preset is easily set and with practice will give the user easily repeated paint widths and results. The airbrush has smooth control of the activating piston that again with practice will make consistent spraying widths while also increasing and decreasing width from free hand use. I could not get the paint line down to the width indicated but that may come with practice; that said I did find it easy to control the paint and it felt comfortable in my hand. Clean up was pain free with perhaps the addition of a crown cap making clean up easier at the nozzle and so less of an issue. After using this airbrush just once I do feel that this is an intermediate high level airbrush as assessed by Iwata, and so I think that the grading system introduced by Iwata is reliable system for anyone looking for an airbrush for specific needs.
Darren Baker takes the Iwata HP-C Plus High Performance Plus Airbrush for a spin to see if the grading system holds up thanks to Airbrushes.com
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...