Military and private aircraft seeking a temporary new look may find help in a new “peelable” coating just developed by UK-based Indestructible Paint Ltd.
The manufacturer of high-performance aircraft and aviation coatings devised the product in response to a museum’s request.
The coating project began when the Fleet Air Arm Museum said it wanted to temporarily re-paint an Agusta 109 helicopter in Argentine military colors. The 846 Naval Air Squadron had captured the helicopter during the Falklands War of 1982, repainted it in a little-known Naval livery, and used it in service.
Indestructible Paint Ltd.
|The Agusta 109 helicopter sports Argentine military colors, but underneath lays the livery of Britain’s Naval Air Squadron, which captured the helicopter during the Falklands War. After the helicopter is displayed for a war exhibit, the interlayer and topcoat will be peeled off.|
Curators wanted to display the craft in its original colors for a 30th anniversary exhibit, but did not want to disturb the original paint.
Conventional strippable spray booth coatings, first tested for the application, were found to be unsuitable, Indestructible said. So the company’s technicians, after extensive laboratory and trial work, developed an alternative.
The new interlayer coating, IP-40027, was applied over the helicopter’s Special Forces livery. The helicopter was then topcoated in the original Argentine military colors with a two-pack polyurethane also made by Indestructible.
After the exhibit, the IP-40027 interlayer will be peeled off, taking the topcoat with it. That will leave the underlying Naval Air Squadron colors intact, officials said.
Brian Norton, of Indestructible, said the helicopter paint normally “would have been stripped and repainted in another livery,” but that as camouflage schemes change, “it will be more interesting to see the Helo as it was correctly painted when in service with the UK forces.”
‘Pretty’ but Preserved
In another project, Norton said, a rare World War 1 seaplane lighter was recovered from the water where it had sunk, but the paint work was faded and damaged.
When viewing a museum display, said Norton, the public prefers a newly painted model. Historians, however, want the old paint scheme preserved. So museum officials decided to leave the lighter’s old paint work intact, but overcoat it with the peelable interlayer and a “pretty new paint scheme” on top, said Norton.
Museum curator David Morris said his organization had “pioneered a number of paint conservation and paint restoration techniques in recent years. The adoption of Indestructible’s IP-40027 is the latest of the museum’s moves to preserve originality, whilst responding to the immediacy of some exhibition requirements.”
Indestructible and the museum are currently partnering on a water-based formulation that can be used on a wider range of original finishes.
The paint, which can last up to 10 years, has not yet been evaluated for use in service; that may come later, Norton said. Indestructible says it foresees a wide range of possibilities for many other semi-permanent top-coat applications in aerospace and industrial markets.