It has been way too long since I posted an update on this project. I picked the kit back up again a week ago and started back in on it after a very hectic month or two in the real world. I managed to get a good amount of work done in a rather small amount of time. Below you can see the upper hull paint job is complete with the spatter pass as well as some minor adjustments to the engine deck weathering (airbrushed neutral grey around the rear section of the turret sidewall and around the engine grills and streaks).
The side walls are also complete now. I started at the outside of one of the mandibles as worked my way across the back and around to the front again. This process was rather painless and quite enjoyable seeing as it consisted of fairly low detail distressing. Seems like the ILM folks took it easy on this part of the ship.
From the rear right of the ship you can see how deceivingly simple the weathering job is. It's really several passes (as with the rest of the ship). I start by darkening the dirty, blackened/brown areas. Next, I go through and add in subtle orange, yellow, red, and light brown accents. With a wet brush loaded lightly with pastels, I add in rust marks, streaks, etc. And then hit it once more with a thinned out black to get some dark lines, runs, and smudges. A very gentle pass with the airbrush and neutral gray ties the weathering together. Top it all off with a super thinned out spatter that is almost invisible.
I'll be getting to the interior surfaces of the mandibles/jaw box next to complete all but the lower hull. This should go quickly but requires separating the hull in half again to really get in there. I'm glad it isn't screwed together just yet and that I opted to do all the extra work in the beginning to magnetize this model so that taking it apart is an easy task. It's paying off already. I'm very satisfied with how the paint job has turned out. There are a few more parts to customize before all painting is wrapped (cockpit and radar dish), but the bulk of the work is nearly behind me.