Monthly Archives: February 2008

Surface Tension, paint codes, yellow zinc chromate using Tamiya paints, RAAF, Bell, thinning Vallejo & MM Acryl paints

Incidentally, if you enjoy or disagree with or otherwise respond to what I write about I’d love to know it- please feel free to comment, replay, email, post satirical videos on YouTube, etc.

A new week brings a new list of search tags:

Surface Tension & effect on waterbased

Water is a ‘polar’ molecule- that is, the distibution of electrons on the surface of a water molecule is uneven.

The single electron that notionally belongs to each of the two hydrogens spends more time over with the one oxygen and less time with the hydrogen nucleus. Result is that the hydrogen nucleus, positive charged, is *somewhat* exposed, and the oxygen atom, having all eight of its outer valence electron spots filled, is *somewhat* negatively charged by the extra time the extra electrons stay there. The contrast with hydrocarbons is marked- hydrocarbons have their carbon atoms surrounded by hydrogens evenly and often symetricly (methane, ethane, benzene, longer, fully saturated ‘enes’.) The result is that the film strength of water next to air is high, while the strength of hydrocarbon surface films is much less. Detergent molecules have a polar end and a non-polar end- they’re long, skinny, things, and one end is very happy in water, the other in hydrocarbons. In plain water, or water based paint, the polar ends co-mingle with the water molecules and the non-polar ends co-mingle with each other… producing a fraction of non-polar behavior- lower surface tension.

The downside of mixing detergent with your water based paint is that detergent dries very slowly, and when dry, can be reconsituted by adding water. So your paint job will be more or less water sensitive, unless you top-coat it.

This surface tension issue is why its even more important with water based paints to emphasise smooth and even coats and not get wound up about covering with one coat. The surface tension is trying to pull the paint you smoothed down into small droplets with the least possible surface area for their volume.

Grey paint, color correcting (“Gray”… … I do the same thing)
Was this about tinting or toning? White and a color is a ‘tint”, black and a color is a “tone”. Adding a gray to a color must have a name, but I can’t think what it is. Mixing colors into gray is as much fun, or not, as mixing any other colors…

WWII Paint Codes


USA: There were a number of paint code and standard systems. For example, the official Olive Drab, for the upper surfaces of US Army Air Corps/Air Force airplanes, was Olive Drab No. 9 before the war, Dark Olive Drab 41 for a time and then Olive Drab ANA 613. Each of these is a different actual color, and the war-time formulations of 613 (and possibly 41) faded quickly, to more than one, distinctive, color.

There is a whole history of what colors were specified before and then by Army/Navy/Air Corps (ANA) numbers and how the standard changed over the years, but the basics are:

Army (Air Corps/Air Force) warplanes were
Olive Drab (No. 9, 41 later, perhaps, ANA 613) over
Neutral Gray. (43, later, perhaps ANA 603 Sea Gray)

Two other colors,Medium Green (42) and
Sand (?, later ANA 616)
were authorized for areas where Olive Drab didn’t do the job.

Azure Blue, ANA 609, was authorized for undersides in the North African theatre.

Medium Green was also used to make splotches on the leading and trailing edges of Olive Drab airplanes, applied to the wings, vertical and horizontal stabalizers and control surfaces, to break up the outline.

Later in the war, no camouflage was required, and natural metal, aluminum dope on fabric surfaces and aluminum laquer in the case of the ultra-smooth P-51 “Laminar” wings, were the standards. Flat black and olive drab were used for anti-glare panels ahead of pilot’s windscreens or in other places the pilot could see their own airplane.

Bronze Green and Dull Dark Green were codified in the middle of the war, 1942-43, for interiors, in addition to the ANA 611 color created as a target for zinc chromate primer to be tinted to with black (and possibly aluminum paste) for UV resistance. A/N 611 paint wasn’t made, as such, primer was tinted by the airframe builders to match the standard to a greater or lesser degree.

Bell Aircraft used a Bronze Green of their own specification throughout the war. Grumman used a light gray of their own specification, similarly.

The US Navy used
USN Blue-Gray, M-485 over
USN Light Gray, M-455, until the end of 1942.

In 1943, the standard for USN airplanes was changed to a 3 color system:
Sea Blue (ANA 606, Semi-gloss, top of flying surfaces, ANA 607, non-specular, top of fuselage)
Intermediate Blue (ANA 608) for the sides,
Flat Insignia White,(ANA 601) for underside of airplane

OR Dark Gull Grey (ANA 621 ) over glossy and flat whites for anti-submarine patrol planes, primarily in the Atlantic.

Late in the war, Navy fighters were specified to be painted overall glossy Sea Blue, and this was extended to ALL USN war planes during the post-war period.

ANA 611 was created as a target for zinc chromate primer to be tinted to with black (and possibly aluminum paste) for UV resistance. ANA 611 paint wasn’t made, as such, primer was tinted to match this.

A terrific discussion can be found at the International Plastic Modelers, Stockholm, site:

Published references listed by IPMS Stockholm include

  • Dana Bell – World War II US Aircraft Interior Colors, Fine Scale Modeler October 1997
  • Dana Bell – Air Force Colors, vol. 1-3
  • Robert D. Archer – The Official Monogram US Army Air Service & Air Corps Aircraft Color Guide
  • John M. Elliot – The Official Monogram US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide
  • Doll, Jackson, Riley – Navy Air Colors, Vol. 1, 1919-1945.
  • Dave Klaus – Color Cross-Reference Guide
  • Bert Kinzey – In Detail and Scale
  • Dana Bell, Lee Kolosna, William Reece, Larry Webster – various postings and articles

I own all of the above except Klaus’ book and can recomend them. Dana Bell’s USAAC books and the Doll, Jackson and Riley US Navy books are the most cost-effective, Jack Elliot’s four part USN and Marines reference is clearly a labor of love and manages to tell the official story without losing track of what was happening out in the real world. Archer and Archer are exhaustive but focus on the official version, not what was actually happening. . Kinsey gets in a few words about Bronze Green in his P-39 book.

Dana Bell has a terrific picture in one book showing 6 USAAC B-25s, each carrying a unique combination of camouflage, US national markings, RAF red-white-blue fin flashes and yellow or white aircraft numbers. Perhaps one of them matched the official orders du-jur, but paraphrasing him, “No two USAAC aircraft ever looked exactly the same”. A well considered opinion, well supported.

RAF WWII Paint Codes.

According to the Camouflage and Markings pamphlets from the 1960s, the WarPaint books and SAMI guides, the RAF used named paints in WWII. Common colors were:

Interior Gray Green. More ‘institutional’ than US Interior Green, it was a fuel proof-er for non-metalic structure.

Insignia White, Blue, Yellow, Gray. All about what you’d expect.

British Insignia Red, also called Brick Red. A dark red that didn’t compromise camouflage as much as the real thing.

British “Temperate Land Scheme” was:

Dark Earth & Dark Green upper surfaces
Aluminum paint, Aluminum with one wing Black and one White, Sky, Sky with one black wing, for undersurfaces

North African airplanes replaced Dark Green with “Mid Stone”, a yellow-beige, and used an Azure Blue underside, some versions darker and richer than others.

From late 1941, as air combat moved to higher altitudes, the Temperate scheme we re-worked to a Day Fighter Scheme, with the Dark Brown replaced by Ocean Gray or Mixed Gray, while the underside was done in Sea Gray, Medium.

Propeller tips and the wing leading edge outboard of the gun(s) were warning yellow.
RAAF Camouflage

There were three RAAF colors, similar but not exactly like the pre-war British Temperate scheme- a light blue for underside, a dark brown and a dark green (“Foliage Green”) for disruptive upper patterns. Polly Scale make them pre-mixed and ready to use. RAAF airplanes in WWII didn’y carry any red, including red ‘roos or red circles in roundels, etc, during the war. The result was roundels, fin-flashes, etc, in two tone blue – a pretty light blue in place of the white, and the blue carreid forward from RAAF.

Bell Aircraft Paint Specs + WW2

Bert Kinsey’s P-39 Aircobra In Detail and Scale has a discussion of Bell’s in-house Bronze Green, with an FS 595 number recomendation. I’ll try to remember to post it.

And the usual raft of thinning/airbrushing Testors Model Master Acryl/Vallejo paints, Bay Area hobby shops, train & RC specialists, etc. One about DuPont paints and WWII- at least I’ve already put up a link to all that I know about that subject!

british interiour wwii color silver

Any chance they got, from 1919 up to the later 1950s, the RAF would paint their airplanes with Aluminum paint. It wasn’t that they liked the ‘faux bare-metal’ look, it was the guaranteed opacity of the aluminum pigment- paint something Aluminum and ZERO U.V. light is going to get through and degrade it. And the Aluminum, while essentially gray in visible light, is lighter than most RAF Camouflage colors and thus reduced airframe temperature on sunny days. Thus, Aluminum was the default color for RAF airplane exteriors, and was used inside landing gear wells and doors, along with wheels, struts, etc. All painted with Aluminum paint, lacquer or dope depending on the underlying material. In the fullness of time, landing gear doors and wells usually became the color of the underside of the airplane, easier and neater that way, but gear legs stayed Aluminum until the Vulcan’s glossy black and the light grays/whites of the later 1960s. I’d expect Hunters and Lightnings would have Aluminum gear wells and door interiors, but that F-4K and Ms would have the same glossy white the USN, USMC and USAF got.

Of course, any USN planes operated by RAF or RN would likely keep their USN colors- overall Glossy Sea Blue for the P2V Neptunes, AEW TBMs and A1D Skyraiders in the 1950s, light gray, “interior green’ tinted zinc chromate primer, Bronze Green for WWII aircraft. (Its true Vought used zinc chromate primer with *indian red* pigment as an in-house spec… it was an odd, sorta-salmon, color… but RN mostly got Brewster-built F?B-1s which most people think are F4U-1s

how to paint models with washing
thinning water base paint

roots hobby hut oakland ca

bell p-39 raf modes

green zinc chromate

japanese navy colors

raf camoflage colors ww2

different names black paint

Revell 1/144 F-14 Daco Design

Tamiya Yellow Zinc Chromate mix

Deeply nerdy WWII RAF/USAAF/RAAF/Flying Tigers camouflage stuff: Flat Dark Earth Federal Standard.

A question that brought someone to this blog was “Flat Dark Earth Federal Standard”. I dunno if they got what they wanted, but its a deep, complex and somewhere between clear-eyed historical inquiry and a just plain nerdy subject.

“Dark Earth” is the name of an official British color during the 1930s and beyond. Federal Standard sounds like something reaching for US Federal Standard 595, a or b, the post 1950 standard for US government purchases, including airplanes for the military. Truth is, there isn’t a precise match between UK “Dark Earth” and either 1930s/40s A/N colors OR common FS 595 colors.

I’ve got a pointer to a nice site about FS 595 colors in another posting; here’s a great discussion of the relation between British paint (names and colors), what US manufacturers used to fulfill cash purchase and, later, Lend Lease, orders, US Army/Navy (A/N) colors compared to British colors, how airplanes made for foreign delivery were taken over by US forces or transferred from one foreign outfit to some other- French orders to the UK, UK orders to China, UK orders to USAAF.

To answer the question quickly, the best source of “Dark Earth” I know is Polly Scale Dark Earth. Testor’s Model Master Dark Earth would be my second choice. I’m sure Gunze-Sangyo offer a Dark Earth and also Tamiya, though the Tamiya won’t be called “Dark Earth” and of course, Humbroil, Xtracolor and probably Revell Germany have one too.

None are matched to a “Federal Standard” number. There is a British Standard (there’s a “BS” and Lucas joke there…) that specifies colors for Her Majesty’s Government purchases, similar to US FS 595, and no doubt there’s a Dark Earth in the standard. But 95%, or more, of “Dark Earth” references will be to 1930s-1940s RAF colors or what US aircraft built for the UK used, and the various books I look through all specify the color by name, not by some BSC531c reference number. This doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, just that I don’t know it off the top of my head.

I’ve read that Bell Aircraft had a paint supplier who’s best attempt at “Dark Earth” was redder than the British version, and that this was the color that wound up on the early model P-39s, built to British standards, that were diverted to Guadalcanal and Australia, and designated “P-400” to differentiate them from US-spec P-39s. The link above suggests that Curtis had a good match, from Du Pont’s paint division, and that P-40s with Dark Earth looked very much like UK-built planes with Dark Earth.

How well Lockheed, North American, Boeing, and others, matched to British specs would be interesting to know.

Gotta go to work, happy modelling!

Answers to the questions that brought people to my blog…

Hmm, wordpress saves what the search key was that brought people to my stuff, and there were a bunch of questions in the last two days that I do have an answer for, but its not written down here. So here’s a grab bag of answers to questions people were asking when they found this blog, and perhaps the people who were looking will come back some time and find them… or someone else will profit from it.

Mixing Olive Drab ?

After ‘open the window!’, ‘keep the lid on the glue’ and ‘clean the paint brush while the paint is still wet’, my introduction to the secret knowlege of model building came in my early teen age years. I mentioned wishing there was an olive drab paint, as all I had were the glossy primary colors, and my father told me it was just yellow mixed with black. And indeed it is, which is why its so often seen in nature. Yellow and black are common enough colors among plants. Mix some for youself today, and give a thought to how much has changed since I learned this, in 1969.

Color Code Gull Grey?

The US Navy uses a color called “Light Gull Gray”, 595a # 36440 for flat, 26440 semi gloss, 16440 gloss. In the 1950s and 60s this was the standard color for the upper surface of USN and USMC military planes, with shiny white on the underneath. The white was removed from fighters in the 1970s when it was realized that the different top and bottom colors would give-away the way the plane was facing in a dog-fight. So the white/gull gray scheme was replaced with overall 36440.

I really like 36440, because it seems to precisely capture the color of clouds in sunshine- there’s a definate warmth to it. Surprisingly poetic, but if you want to blend into clouds, you need to be cloud colored. (Unless you choose the green balloon and want to look like part of the tree- appologies to A. A. Milne, Christopher Robin, Pooh and the bees…)

Prior to 1942, the US Navy used a light gray overall or for the UNDERSIDE of airplanes- the SBD, TBD, F4F-3, F2B-3, etc. There’s an Army/Navy (A/N) number for the USN Light Gray, but the AN USN LIght Gray and 36440 are indistinguishable by me. The formula may be different, or the same, certainly the purpose was the same.

Lots of airline model instructions call out “(Light) Gull Gray” or “36440” for the light gray frequently found on wings and horizontal stabilizers, on the wing/fuselage fairing, jet engine fan cowlings, and composite (fiberglass or carbon fiber) pieces. I find *6440 too dense and too warm. Boeing do offer more than a dozen colors for gray and another more than a dozen for white, to their customers, but there is a definate, ‘typical’, gray that’s about the same tonal value as bare aluminum that Boeing, McDonnel Douglas, Lockheed, Airbus, etc all use or used by default. At Boeing it’s called “Boeing Aircraft Company Gray” and has the stock number “707”. Sometimes this is rendered “BAC 707 Gray” but it’s not “707” gray- the number is coincidence. Or so I’m told.

Xtracolor make pre-mixed BAC 707 Gray, which is a spot-on match. Hannant’s in the UK own Xtracolor, and stock the paint. Airline Hobby Supply carry it in the USA, and perhaps others do too.

I recently decided to try mixing something similar using Testor’s Acryl, and found 3 parts 36495 Light Gray (I’ll look up the Testor’s part number and post it here) and 8 parts white were pretty good. Its far, far, from 36440 or Light Gull Gray, but its a pretty good match to what you see on the wings of DC-9s, 737s, A-320s, etc. Your milage may vary, of course.

There’s also a “Dark Gull Gray”, a darker color (FS595 36231), used in airplane cockpits and perhaps in more modern US Navy camoflague schemes.
Check out:

Its a complete list of 595 color names with samples for your screen- not definative but a great place to start.

Thining Vallejo paints for airbrush?

Al at D&J Hobbies in Campbell always advised thinning to the consistancy of fresh, whole, milk, for airbrush use. That’s what I’d try first. Thin with whatever Vallejo recommend- water, water + alcohol. Some sporty airbrushers thin their acrylic paint with laquer thinner- boy I bet that dries fast, but you’d have to be used to laquer thinner to bother.

Used Radio Control Cars?

The RC Car-oriented shops, Sheldon’s or NorCal for example, often have a spot for people to post their stuff for sale. Not unlike the similar spots at PartsHeaven or other foriegn/speciality car parts places. And there’s always Craigslist.

San Francisco Bay Area Slot Cars?

I’ve used and recomend “Homeroom Racing Cafe” on Webster on Alameda Island. Slot Car Magic and Hobby in (San Lorenzo? Between Hayward and Oakland) have a great track and I hope to try it one day. Both are multi-lane layouts made from Scalectric Sport track. There’s an old 1960s commercial track with about 8 lanes and the big banked turn at the RC and slot-car place on Camden Avenue at Union Ave in San Jose. Others?

Bare Steel Colored Paint?

If you can take the time, smooth and polish the plastic to a shine, just like a molded part, and shoot rattle-can Testor’s Metalizer Stainless Steel on it. Then buff with a soft, clean, cloth, or paper, never touching it with your bare fingers, changing cloths frequently, until you get what you want, and seal it with their clear laquer sealer or Future floor wax- one coat, no more. Polly Scale make a “Steel” color, in their Railroad line, which is ok. Tamiya make a “Metalic Gray” (XF-56) which is also ok, though a bit more work to get looking good. For both acrylics, the key is to brush it out THIN and use more than one coat for coverage. The acrylic metalics seem to get thick and gloppy even more than regular color acrylics. Frankly, oil/solvent based paints make better or at least easier to use, metalics. So the Testor’s Model Master or 1/4 oz little bottles of “Steel” would seem like good things to try. Or Humbroil or Revell Germany or solvent based Mr. Color (Gunze-Sanyo) if you can get them.

Can Tamiya Paint Be Thinned With Water?

Yes. Absolutely. I’ve done it myself with great success. They sell an acrylic paint thinner, and its NOT water, but if you want to make Tamiya paint brush nicer, or make a wash of it, or spray it from a Badger 250 paint sprayer, water will work just fine. As will water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. I have never sprayed Tamiya acrylic paint through an airbrush, so I’m speculating when I say it’ll probably work fine thinned with water, but I think it will. Paint some test object first to be sure, of course. When I was a kid, the ‘test object” was always the inside of the lid of the box the kit came in. A ‘spare’ kit or the parts of a spare kit make superior test objects. You can paint different colors on the two sides (inside and outside, top and bottom) of each part- that’s a lot of test subjects! Make sure you keep track of what each test consisted of, you’ll forget in a year or two…

I have every confidence the Tamiya Acrylic Thinner will work as well- in fact, if you plan to airbrush a lot of Tamiya, you’d be well served by doing some experiements with different thinners and find what works for you.

Remember, thin to the consistancy of fresh, whole, milk. The stuff you put on your cornflakes, or did, when you were a kid.

Paint color call-outs in kit instructions, believe ’em? Mfg’s own paint #s…

“Propwash” over on the site asked the following, excellent, question, and I put together a pretty good reply, I thought:

Q: “I have 2 Academy P-51s, a ‘C’ and ‘D’ type, however, there do not appear to be any colour codes on one, and the other has 3 numbers (3,9,10) in triangles, but no hint of the paint manufacturer they refer to.Is this normal for Academy? I can work out the colours of course, but it would have been nice to have a chart to look at……..”

A: You’re asking some terrific questions, but the answers aren’t short!

1) Different kit-makers use different ways of identifying what color you should paint what on a kit.

1.1) Probably the most important thing to remember is that the kit maker’s instructions MAY NOT BE CORRECT! Its your model, you can accept what they say, or what someone posts on the internet, or what’s in a hobby magazine or book, or what’s on the specimen at the local museum, or what reasoned argument with your pals tells you.

1.2) Second most important is that any given kit maker will use either their own brand of paint, a brand they are ‘friendly’ with, or perhaps a range of particular pre-mixed paints. So even if they know the correct color, and even if they mean to tell you the correct color, if they’re Dragon/DML or Hasegawa they’ll likely indicate whichever Gunze-Sanyo color they think is the best match. If Gunze-Sanyo doesn’t offer a very good match to the actual color… the results are not going to be very good.

Tamiya and Revell Germany give mixing instructions (using their own paint #s) for colors not available out-of-the-bottle, but don’t necessarily give a *name* for the resulting color, just names for the elements used in the mix. When the results are normal colors which are standard and available premixed in other brands, the results make commercial sense, but aren’t a great help to the gentle modeler. (Cite examples from Revell Hurricane IIB, Tamiya Mustang GT and an airplane kit)

1.3) While kit instructions are written for each kit by each manufacturer, the real things were subject to both reality (materials such as bare aluminum, stainless steel, rubber tires, etc have the own colors) and applicable standards. For military airplanes,
United States Army/Navy (WWII US) “A/N612 Interior Green…”
Modern US: Federal Standard 595a & b “FS 36440 Flat Light Gull Gray”
US Navy, WWII (Measure 05 light gray)
British WWI (name?) “Green Drab PC10”
RAF/RN (WWII) “Sky” “Night”, “Dark Earth”, “Extra Dark Sea Gray”, etc.
German WWII: what are called “RLM” but are mostly Luftwaffe: RLM 02 Gray (this IS an RLM color), “65 Light Blue”, “66 Black”, etc.
Contemporary German – RAL #s
Japanese WWII: Named colors for Imperial Japanese Army, Imperial Japanese Navy, and specific depots and manufacturers.
Italian WWII – named colors
Russian WWII – named colors with USSR number system defining the names

Regardless of what the kit instructions say, the typical 1940s USAAF airplane either had Neutral Gray underside and Olive Drab topside, possibly with Dark Green mottle on the leading and trailing edges of the airfoils, or were Natural Metal, on the outside. US Navy aircraft from the 1950s to the 1980s were FS595a 36440 Flat Gull Grey or 26440 semi-gloss Gull Gray or 16440 Glossy Gull Gray over 17xxx Glossy White. Early WWII RAF airplanes in the UK were Dark Earth and Dark Brown upper side, with Aluminum, Aluminum, White and Black, Sky, or Sky and Black undersurfaces/.

(Descriptions and examples will be provided for the list below:)
Academy put letters (A-Z) on the plan which are defined in a simple table: A = Dark Blue, B = White, C = Steel, etc. The letters don’t corespond to any particular brand of paint.

>Airfix gave names in the old days, then switched to providing the paint numbers for Airfix brand paint. (I’ll check recent Airfix instructions and report what I find)

Bilek, a Czech outfit who re-issue Airfix and Heller molds, give …
Kiel Kraft
Minicraft (recent)
Monogram were providing Federal Standard #s, very nice for US subjects, somewhat problematic for others.
Revell Germany put letters on the plan which are defined at a table at the beginning. The table uses Revell Germany paint #s, both for out-of-the-bottle (“A 111 Light Gray”) and for specified mixes “Z Blue-green: 20% 333 + 80% 222”.
HOWEVER, they also provide color names in a large number of languages for each of their numbered colors.

Tamiya use their paint numbers in the plan, X-1, XF-16, TS-26, for glossy black, flat aluminum and glossy white spray, respectivly. A table at the beginning of the plan gives names in several languages, Japanese, German, English.

2) Sooooo: if your Academy kit calls for /A and /B and /C colors and then defines them as Silver, Black, Interior Green (for example) you need to stand back and filter that:
2.1) Probably Testor’s oil-based Chrome Silver, glossy Black and Nakajima, Mitsubishi or RAF Interior Green are NOT what you wanted for a P-38 or a P-51.

2.2) Lesson one. Natural Metal Finish, aka NMF, or Bare Metal Finish, BMF, is REALLY hard to model correctliy. While there are many paths to a pleasing effect, no kit instruction I have seen in 45 years of building kits has captured what I believe it takes to make a reasonable model airplane or car model with large areas of bare metal. Its specialized knowlege and a constant source of curiosity and experiment, kinda like the guitar players “quest for tone”… ie, never ending.

2.3) For example, on a P-38, you’ll have
bare aluminum areas,
two mirror-polished aluminum areas on the inner engine nacelle that allow the pilot to see if the landing gear is down or up,
turbo-supercharger exhaust (steel/??? that’s been well heated),
I believe some fabric covered control surfaces painted with ‘aluminum’ dope
Possibly some stainless steel skinning near the turbo-supercharger
Gun barrels and air-cooling shrouds
Pitot tube
Reflectors in the landing lights
Landing gear oleo legs, which really ARE chromed
Landing gear wheels and legs which may appear to be bare metal but may be painted ‘aluminum’ or ‘steel’.

There’s nothing wrong with painting the whole business from one tin/jar of ‘Silver’ or ‘Aluminum’ or what have you. From the distance you’d have to stand back from a real airplane to see it as you see a 1/72 model at a ‘normal’ viewing angle, there probably aren’t more than 2 or 3 distinguishable colors/tints/tones to the natural metal area, and the play of light and shadow completely overwhem the small variations in ‘absolute’ color. Maybe 3 or 4 tones are possible for a 1/48 or 1/32 kit. This includes using a piece of shiny side metal foil for the landing light reflector…

If you put a dark wash over the guns and turbosupercharger, a flat or Dulcote on the fabric covered surfaces, polish or use Chrome Silver on the oleo legs, I think anyone who faulted your choices would be hard pressed to explain why. IPMS/USA rules certainly don’t speak to color ‘accuracy’ at this level because its just too subjective. They judge negatively and on craft- symmetry of shape, color, decals, square or correct alignments, kit seams and tooling marks made invisible, lack of glue globs, nothing out-of-scale visible, no tooling marks, no brush marks, no wrinkled decals, no airbubbles under decals, no dust, hair or orange-peel effect marring the paint… This knocks out about 95% of all entries, long before anything more than ‘silver’ paint is needed, in competition.

For your own satisfaction, do what makes you feel good. I built a 1/400 Dragon airliner kit, same size as a die-cast. I used one tone of flat aluminum for the jet engine intake lips, a shinier polished aluminum tone for the leading edges (possibly accurate for the vertical fin but maybe not the wings, on an A-320), a burned metal color for the engine ‘hot sections’, very shiny ‘silver’ for the gear leg oleos. Had it been a 737 I’d have painted the front landing gear wheels an ‘aluminum paint’ color- flatter-than-flat aluminum, maybe washed with flat or thinned white…Later I built a 1/400 widebody and used ‘flat aluminum’ everywhere. Looks pretty good too!

Back to your P-38, you’ll need to consult photos of (ideally) the plane you are modeling at the time you are modeling it. Next best is planes from the same unit at the same time, then other units at the same time or same unit different time, etc, etc. Just like one of those forensic shows on TV.

More fun comes for landing gear door interiors, gear wells, cockpits and the inside of scoops leading to radiators, intercoolers, air intakes and the like.

Some gear doors are natural metal everywhere, some painted inside with primer (yellow or green Zinc chromate) some with “interior green” which is zinc chromate tinted with black and possibly aluminum paste. Vought used “Indian Red”, as in the sub continent India, to tint zinc chromate primer on the SECOND coat inside gear wells and inside gear doors- the product was a sorta salmon color (remember, they were tinting yellow-green zinc chromate, not a darker green zinc-chromate + black). Check your photos, they’re mostly black and white so guess, ask your significant other, read online, read books and magazines. Isn’t this fun?

“interior green” is a USA Army/Navy shade numbered 612, but actually no paint of this shade was made. The 612 color was what the manufacturer was supposed to tint their zinc chromate primer to… using black and possibly aluminum paste. The reason for the tint is 1) neutral color easy on aircrew eyes 2) tinted primer makes it apparent whether the first primer coat, not tinted, has been covered completely by the second coat.
So if you’d like to get REALLY into it, get some zinc chromate Testor’s Acryl and black Acryl and tint the zinc chromate as close to ‘interior green’ as you can get. Maybe add some aluminum if you think its called for.

British interor green WAS a particular color, a paint, which had fuel-proof qualities. Every inch of the wooden structure of a de Havilland Mosquito which wasn’t camoflagued was painted with the fuel-proof interior green.
Hawker Hurricanes were *largely* painted this color but some photos clearly show the steel and aluminum tubes and brackets of the structure were painted silver (there can be NO question of bare metal on in-service WWII Hawker airframes…) Interiors of wheel wells and the like were often painted ‘aluminum’ on UK airplanes, because aluminumized laquer was great at protecting cloth airplanes and the requirements dated back to the cloth and wood era… and there were more important things and updating such. And underside colors quickly got into gear wells on single engined fighters since underside colors on fighters could be ‘silver’ (ie aluminum), white, black, ‘sky’, ‘sea gray medium’ or ‘special night’, a very, very, flat black. Specifications changed during the first 3 years of WWII and many aircraft undersides were repainted in the field- some planes may have carried all of the colors listed above.

Some of us thought, from recovered relics, that in the 1930s and 40s Mitsubishi had used a translucent blue for interior color, but it now appears that they used a grayish green, and Nakajima used a grayish green, but they were different grayish greens. The Soviets used a greenish gray, but worked under tremendous strain and so a wide range of colors could be ‘correct’. The German standard was RLM 02, a brownish-gray but they quickly added flat black above a certain waterline, as did the UK later in the war. No doubt the Italians, French, Belgians, Poles, etc, etc, etc. all had their own standards for building and for maintenance too.

And in the USA, Bell used a “bronze green” of their own devising, and Boeing and North American proposed a slightly different “bronze green” for cockpits and othe inhabited spaces.

By the way, on the P-51, the laminar flow wing that was thought to be so special was puttied and sanded and painted, even if the fuselage was bare metal, so your P-51 in bare metal has bare metal, aluminum laquer on the wings and aluminum dope on the fabric covered control surfaces.

I’ll let you or someone else discuss black, flat black, glossy black, wrinke-finish black, black tires, etc etc. Just to keep it interesting, remember that early WWII USAAF airplane propellers were ordered to be painted with a mix of glossy or semi-glossy black paint and gasoline (!) to produce a flat black finish over the previous shiny polished metal…. So black on a tire and black on a control box in the cockpit and black on a propeller blade and black anti-slip strips on the wing and black stripes or other markings are, or could be, wait for it, different colors…

Is this fun, or what?

Bill Abbott

Anyone out there have 1/20 Chevy small block V8 engines or 1/20 kit parts? A drawing? 1/25 or other size model parts?

So I discovered there was a Bandai McLaren Mk6B kit, and the McLaren Mk6 is one of my very favorite racing cars- yeah, looks a little narrow and slab sided, but there’s *something* about its shape, still a whiff of romance, that the Mk8 seems too efficient to capture. And now I’ve got one of the Bandai kits, or most of one… its a real relic of the 1960s- the body looks more or less right, the chassis guts are simplified to toy proportions, the steering has big, beefy, parts that allow you to set it to go straight or curveed, and the model’s engine conceals a Mabuchi electric motor that drives a gearbox (in the gearbox!), which drives the rear axles and thus the rear wheels.

I can certainly manufacture my own replacement pieces for what’s missing- some of the rear suspension bulkhead, some suspension arms, the one-ball Hooke joints for the rear axles. But so little of it is ‘scale-like’ that I’m more tempted to try to turn what I’ve got into a scale model. One of the MPC McLaren Mk8D kits could be a donor for much of this- the 6 had two more structural bulkheads- one aft of the engine block and connected to the chassis tub, for rear suspension loads, the other at the front edge of the front suspension. These complemented the two bulkheads that both designs have, the firewall/central bulkhead between the engine and the driver’s seat, and the forward bulkhead that caps the tub at the rear edge of the front suspension.

But the suspension geometry, arms, hubs/uprights, gearbox, axles, brakes and wheels all translate directly, and a hybrid tub using parts from both *and* scratch built parts for a Mk6 would go a good distance to supporting the body of the Bandai car.

However, the Mk6, in McLaren Car’s team use, carried a Chevy small block V8, not the big block moster (540 cu. in.) that the Mk8 used both for power and as a loaded memeber to carry rear suspension loads to the tub. So I need a 1/20 scale Chevy small block V8. None of the 1/20 scale Corvette or Camaro models seem to have a small block engine (duh). I found a couple of Chevy kits with 1/25 or 1/24 motors that I think are small blocks:

Revell 1969 Z-28 RS kit, with 302 cu. in. V8 <- this has gotta be one…

<AMT?> 1969 Camaro SS, with 396 cu. in. V8. Big block destroked? small block bored and stroked up?

<someone> 1966 Chevy Nova – seems like it should be a 350 and not a 427/454.

I’ve got profile/outline views of the Mk6a, and a number of picture books, including the recent, “Bruce McLaren, Racing Car Constructor”, (Thanks, honey!) that I can mine for useful photos to draw up a plan. There’s no way I’ll get this done this year, so looking for the parts I need seems to make sense. Soooo, if you have 1/20 parts for a Chevy small block V8, please drop me a line. If you’ve got a good set of drawings or photos of a Chevy short block V8, and can share them, also please get in touch.

Thank you!