Thanks Xavier - yes you are right experimentation is a great teacher. The planes look awesome now - much better with more muted colours!
Metallic colours will always be hard - its a pity we are still with DirectX7 and 3Ds files - the results I see some people get from Blender these days are almost better than photographs! Anyways that is a different animal entirely.
I recently made a hangar using photographic textures of corrugated metal roofing - it has a nice effect especially when adding some shininess and a little help from the emmission - that last line again. Now later in the day it has a nice sheen coming of the roof - looks very real - at least as far as Condor goes that is
-Maybe using a photograph of aluminium for the areas of the plane that are plain aluminium would help?? -Not sure if it fits with your 'liet motif' of making synthetic sceneries?
It still puzzles me how some of my textures look amazing and some not good at all. I suppose it just takes more practice and learning - Ive been reading and studying as much as I can - keen to learn more about all this.
BTW Manifold Lab Wings is great for modelling - get if you dont have it already - it just doesnt make 3ds so keep an older copy of Wings for that.