Category Archives: Mixing Colors

Colors & materials for Apollo 11 CM, SM & LM. What the hardware looked like. For the Dragon kit.


Thanks to my beloved wife Jean, I got a Dragon Apollo 11 on the Moon kit, for Christmas! 1/72 scale, new tooling (same as their die-cast metal collectable?)

The short form on real, as-flown-in-1969, surfaces and finishes:

Command Module.

The actual Apollo Command module was covered with strips of mirror finish aluminized plastic micrometeoroid shield and thermal insulation, on the visible surfaces. The ablative heat shield, not visible until the CM and SM are separated, is said to have been painted a light gray color. During re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, the mylar was mostly burned off and a light-gray painted structure under it became visible. Below that paint appears to have been a composite honeycomb material. I think it is unlikely that the actual pressure vessel that the crew lived in touched the outside surface except at the hatch edges.

In pictures of the remaining, unused, Apollo CSM (the emergency rescue vehicle for Skylab), you can see the stripe pattern of the plastic tape on the CM exterior, but in contemporary photographs, it looks like one piece of mirror polished aluminum. Like an American Airline’s jet airliner.

The fold-flat handles on the outside of the CSM, for astronaut Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) were painted a glossy yellow, like the similar hand-rails on the the Hubble Space Telescope.

The docking capture and latch mechanism mounted on the outside of the tunnel, above the front hatch of the CM, is primarily titanium-looking metal, with a chromed, presumably retractable or spring loaded or damped, shaft.  There are darkened metal handles in the mechanism, probably painted or anodized a dark blue dark gray or black.

The inside of the tunnel itself, behind the docking capture mechanism, is light gray with 12 blue-anodized cylinder-topped arms at the top, some black and some other colors of boxes, and wires,

Service module:

The Service module exterior was  painted with an aluminum paint, except for radiator areas fore and aft which were white, two “ram’s horn” antennas that were white or light gray, and 24 narrow stripes (about 25%) on panels under the RCS thrusters. The area under “United States” may or may not have been light gray, and many labels on the exterior appear to be black text on light gray background.

The main engine exhaust bell is complex, but a bluish gray for the biggest, lower, part, outside, and reddish gray for the upper part, outside, is a good start. The top of the bell joins the reddish part at a flange, with bright bare metal fasteners by the dozen. The top of the bell, the last part visible beyond (below) the Inconel heat shield, is wrapped in the mylar and-or “H-film” ( aka “Kapton”) insulation and micrometeoroid shield. The back of the CM is mostly covered by 4 stamped quadrants what looks like thin Inconel nickel-copper high temp metal. The furthest outer edge of the end of the Service Module is painted with aluminum paint just like the sides.

Lunar Module:

The Lunar Module has two very different areas of finish: The descent (lower) stage is primarily wrapped in thermal insulation / micromedeoroid protection, a multilayer collection of  Kapton (“H film”) and Mylar, and other, exotic, things, with metal evaporated/ plated on them for protection. A lot of what looks ‘black’ is actually a black-finished foil or mylar.

The descent engine has a medium gray exterior and nestles in an Inconel-lined cavity in the descent stage.

The ascent (upper) stage of the Lunar Module is about half black-finished and half anodized Aluminum. Yes, the Aluminum looks like its dark, like Titanium, or has a distinct gray-beige-green tone. All true, many have remarked on the hard-to-describe colors. Grumman’s construction documents for the whole thing, facet by facet, are on line, and they specify Phosphoric acid and Sulfuric Acid anodizing of the various aluminum alloy pieces.  Some Mylar or “H film” wrapping is on the the outside of the ascent module. The ascent engine has a semi-gloss white exterior, with a textile-like “wrapped” texture. This may be thermal insulation, similar to the thick batts of insulation wrapped around the F1 engines of the Saturn V first stage.

There are two dish antennae on the ascent stage, Both have white-painted dishes and are generally black otherwise. The antenna directly above the lunar egress hatch and the front windows has black foil everywhere except the inside of the dish. The signal radiator in the center of the dish is white.

The antenna off on the starboard side of the ascent stage has a semi-gloss black mechanism and flat black on the back on the dish. Black, also, on the 4 legs and the forward reflector in front of the dish.

In more detail:

Command Module.

The Reaction Control System (RCS) engine nozzles on the CM have an oxidized copper color in their throats, and a slightly corrugated texture. Photos of post-re-entry CMs show a ring of the same oxidized copper color outside the nozzles, but the aluminized mylar covers these rings up to the edges of the RCS engine bells.

The forward and side windows for the two outside crew stations have black anti-glare finish around the windows, and red-orange silicone seals at every layer of the windows.

Below or behind the port side windows and the crossed RCS nozzles are a pair of drain valves, white 5/8 spheres with gold-toned dots at the outside. A very similar purge valve is installed on the starboard side of the side hatch.

On both sides, below windows, RCS nozzles, etc and the edge of the ablative re-entry shield, there are translucent white dots. Under the Mylar there are black partial circles around these two translucent circles,. On the Service Module, there are matching white partial circles painted on the fairing at the top edge of the SM

A minor (very minor) mystery is what kind of plastic the reflective stuff on the CM is. The expected temperature range in the space environment was wider than NASA was comfortable using Mylar, generally, uncovered, in the thermal insulation blankets covering the LM Descent Stage. Therefore, the outer layer of those blankets is always Kapton (“H film”), which is usable over the expected temperature range.  Of course, a blanket of up to 25 layers of plastic, using microthicknesses of vacuum deposited metal for insulation, is fundamentally different from a pressurized honeycomb structure wrapped with a layer of glued-on plastic tape. Maybe the thermal mass and inertia of the CM (and the slow-rolling passive thermal control regime) kept conditions on the outside of the CM suitable for Mylar, Maybe the CM plastic has the metal side “out”, unlike the majority of LM applications which are generally plastic side out (hence the gold-amber color: its not gold foil, its aluminized Kapton with the metal in and the plastic out.

Service module:

Inside the main engine exhaust bell is complex. At the bottom, inside the bluish gray outside, are 16 dark metal petals with strong textures. Inside the reddish-gray part of the bell are a set of 6 petals and then a solid ring- all a glossy dark color.  Above the dark, solid, ring, is a white metal ring, something like aluminum colored. Above that is an orangey brown and then at the peak of the engine is a light, metallic-finished plate with 5 stamped spokes and a central cap.

Lunar Module:

How I plan to reproduce these colors:

Command Module:

The glued-flat aluminized mylar on the real thing doesn’t look like any paint, even mirror polished aluminum. It looks like mylar, darker than polished aluminum. I have seen photos on-line of Apollo CMs finished in Bare Metal Foil, in the correct striped pattern. But I don’t see the stripes unless I look very closely in the 1960s photos- they’re easy to see in flash photos taken today, on the leftover CSM lifeboat for Skylab that never flew. But not in pictures of Apollo 11, or 15, or any of the other hardware that was flown.

Sooooo: Bare Metal Foil remains possible, or very thin aluminum foil, polished and clear-coated. “Chrome” spray paint would not be a bad choice. Having the kit part polished and then vacuum coated with aluminum would be very close to the real thing. Brush-painting Testor’s Chrome Silver oil-based paint or another similar non-water-based product is also a thought – the occasional brushmark could be said to represent the stripes of the Mylar…

“Chrome” spray paint or Metalizer Buffable Aluminum rattle can are the top two contenders at the moment. I’m going to do a study with each and see which I like more  watch this space.

Service Module:

Polly-scale Reefer White (that’s as in Refrigerator White, the rail-road color) is my call for the white paint on the lower and upper ring radiators, the two ‘tabs’ containing the ram’s horn antennas, and the white areas near the RCS boxes. My own mix for Boeing Aircraft Company #707 Gray is my first choice for the Light Gray RCS boxes, unless they’re white too, have to check again before I commit myself. The Inconel heat shield could be Polly Scale Stainless Steel, maybe with a bit of yellow added to bring out the nickel ‘color’… Inconel is a copper-nickel alloy and its attraction is that it holds its strength at high temperatures, not that its intrinsically tough stuff like titanium. It actually cuts and polishes pretty readily, but the important thing is that its clearly NOT aluminum. Completely different color. Not unlike stainless steel, which is, itself, not like steel OR aluminum.

Lunar Module:

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What the People want:


So, for example, here’s what brought people to my blog yesterday:
More editing tomorrow.

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Project status Italeri 1/72 F-104G/S Starfighter


Italeri F104 G ‘S’Here’s the latest- I took this and the Revell TF 104G on vacation with me. I’d made a drawing that cartooned the instrument panel, based on the Verlinden Lock On book primarily. With that sketch in hand, I painted both kit’s cockpits and fiddly bits, and started gluing, I’ve got this 104’s major fuselage assembled, with cockpit and intakes. Needs wings, aft fuselage attached, so forth. Paint too. Here’s the latest photo of it: Italeri F-104G/S its not actually an S, just a G, no Sparrow or Aspide missile, though there is a pylon for it at least. Interior parts cruder than Revell/Monogram/Revell Germany kit, I’ve painted in parallel. Going to build it as an S and to heck with getting the aft fuselage and intake trunk bulky-ness correct. With an AIM-7-ish missile on the pylon and pretty Italian markings it will look great. Big issue is getting something like but not TOO like British Ocean Gray/Mixed Gray and Dark Green for topside- each nation in NATO has its own paint scheme and the fact that they often resemble the Dark Green, Ocean Gray/Medium Sea Gray Day Fighter scheme from WWII European theater doesn’t mean that exact color matches are in stock.

Project status Minicraft 1/144 American Airlines MD-82 (?)


Wow, thanks for the vote based on not much!
here’s the state of play- needs antennae, bits and pieces markings:

Minicraft 1/144 MD-80, F-104J/G, Spitfire

Minicraft American Airlines MD-82
Minicraft 1/144 American Airlines McDonnell-Douglas MD-80
I’ve got a pile of home-made detail decals to put on the AA MD-82, and it needs antennae and lights

Building Airfix’s 1/72 Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander: Interior references.


Lets say you’ve got one of Airfix’s BN-2 Islander kits, recently re-released by Hornby in a nice gray plastic instead of the yellow of the original, and you’d like to build it. Its got an interior, what color are you going to paint it? Here are some good photos and links to some great photos which are reserved and thus not visible here. I think these are some VERY high quality Islander and Trislander color photos, and I’m using them off the screen, no paper, as I build my kit Many, many, thanks to the photographers who kindly post their work, even if I can’t save a copy for myself. Seriously. I depend on you!

Here’s probably the most flattering photo of my model:

Pilot's seats are different shape than passenger seats

and the pieces before assembly:

Islander interior done, ready to assemble

Here’s the best photo of an Islander interior I’ve found, so far. Click through. It’s not shared, but its worth your time:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/_salvation/2638326095

Same sidewalls and headliner as the photo below, with bright yellow piping and Oxford Blue semi-matte rubbing surfaces inside the piping. Black seat belts with bare metal buckles.
The second row of seats has a lighter ‘medium blue” more like a KLM light blue. Just an indifferent match when they were reupholstered?

Here’s the second best Islander/Trislander interior that I’ve found, and it is shared. This is looking aft from the front rows: “Tim luxuriating” by tsallam, from Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/annevoi/3244042691/

Headliner and down to the windows are very light gray, off-white, tweed? rubbing strip, a light beige, "cappuccino" below the window line. Flat Medium Blue seats,
LIfe raft and safety stuff behind the webbing in the back?

Islander/Trislander looking forward from the middle to back rows:
fms (4)

Same off white up high, medium blue gray rubbing strip and walls below that. Blue-gray seat covers. Instrument pannel is all black, some are gray

Blue Islands Trislander G-BEDP On Route To Bournemouth (EGHH
Blue Islands Trislander G-BEDP On Route To Bournemouth (EGHH)

Another off white up above, and a glorious blue ground with metalic gold on the passenger seats. Pretty!

Open doors:
DSCN0576_v

BN-2 Trislander OF Aurigny, G-FTSE , at Alderney, May 09 – by calflier001
GFTSE TRISLANDER OF AURIGNY AT AT ALDERNEY MAY09

Winair BN2A Islander PJ-BIW at St Barths Lesser Antilles Dutch west Indies – by calflier001
Winair BN2A Islander PJ-BIW at  St Barths Lesser Antilles Dutch west Indies

Cockpit, front seat row:
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Britten-Norman-BN-2-Islander/1427666/L/

Main Landing Gear, from inside the cabin, in flight:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/_salvation/2717326370/

Main Landing Gear, from inside the cabin, in flight:

Main Landing Gear, from inside the cabin, in flight:

Attractive Islander/Trislander gallery:
A Benyhone Tartain Islander:

Interior Colors for BN-2 Islander- Air Jamaica/Rockhopper, Augerny, others.


From bits and pieces of interior pictures of Islanders, this was my first take on interior colors:

-Headliner: White

-Glareshield above instruments: Black

Framing betwen two front windshield halves: Black or white

-Notably asymmetric instrument panel: all black or possibly gray in the middle with black on the outside thirds, where the actual flight instruments are.
There are at least three different instrument configurations- what I take to be the original, with the old RAF “Basic Six” IFR instruments in two rows of three, with two columns of piston engine instruments on the centerline and to the right of the centerline in the panel. Radios to the right of that, a black stripe going all the way down the pannel past the throttle/prop pitch quadrant in the middle.
A second configuration still had a basic six, sort of, in the center, sort of, but they were scattered about, not in neat files. Panels could be overall black or gray. What I take to be the newest panels have LED/LCD graphic displays on them for navigation and the later, messier, panel layout.

-The radio gear mounted to the right of center is black, but the panel is gray on some airplanes.

-Control yokes, black or gray. “Cafe racer” style, bare metal with black hand grips.

-Engine controls black quadrant box with black plain bare metal handles sticking out and a pair of shiny black knobs on the left, thebright blue pair in the middle and the bright red pair to the right.: Not unlike the 1968-1979 VW Transporter’s vents and heater control :^) One pair of knobs is more or less centered, the other pair is on the right hand side.

-Important-looking stuff fixed to the roof above the instruments- black or gray panel, one red and one green (or was that blue?) knob to the left and right of center. Function?… The Trislander has 3 of these knobs and they’re all green. Fire extinguishers?

-Fixed interior walls. White or very light gray

-Door interior faces: White, light beige. In some cases there’s a rubbing strip below the windows- Herringbone Tweed in one photo I saw.

-Seats. Medium blue cloth, or KLM-like light blue, with an Oxford (dark, maybe not quite “Navy” blue) leather or vinyl high wear protector, 1 piece, a semi-gloss rectangle on the flat medium Blue color seat. Bright yellow piping around wear guard

Dark blue with gold/beige/dark-yellow piping
OR Dark blue with a broad gold element woven into the fabric. Gold rectangles maybe 5mm X 15mm (.2″ X .6″) spaced 30 or so mm apart, edge to edge (so 45mm center to center), perhaps a bit closer to each other up and down. Something like:

__________#####__________#####__________#####__________#####
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
_____#####__________#####__________#####__________#####_____
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
#####__________#####__________#####__________#####__________

Does anyone have a concrete suggestion for what the interior colors of the Air Jamaica Isladers were, or what they were when the same aircraft were flying for Rockhopper?

If nobody has a suggestion, I’m going to go with blue upholstery, gray and black in the cockpit and light gray side walls and doors. White headliner, dark gray floor.

My conclusion is that the beige door interior would necessarily go with a beige/gold/darker brown upholstery, not the spiffy blue. Since the Jamaica Air planes start as basic white before the hot colors go on, and the Rockhoppers are overall blue, I figure a blue/gray/white interior can’t be too far wrong… unless Air Jamaica got the interior fabric to match their hot exterior colors! That would be something, yes 🙂

(T)F-104G paint colors:


http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/lofiversion/index.php?t157600.html is a great discussion about Luftwaffe (post 1956…) (T)F-104G (and other air-to-mud strike aircraft) colors.

I was privileged to see and photograph the Marineflieger F-104 flight demo team in the 1980s, at Moffett Field, and there is no question in my mind that the underside color on their F-104s was a metallic tinged light gray. NOT bare metal, NOT aluminum lacquer, mostly light gray, but unmistakably containing aluminum powder too. This was when they had uniform dark gray on top, and the customary day-glo bands on the wingtip tanks.
I ought to scan those pix…

A nice guy named “Peepeing Bear” and a Jennings (OUR Jennings H from various airliner groups? Probably.) have a discussion at the arcforums site, and here’s what I take-away:

(T)F-104G, Luftwaffe:
Underside:
pre “Norm ’72” RAL 7001 Silbergrau (a light gray paint)
“Norm ’72” RAL 9006, a metalic + white + gray mix. Revell Germany give a formula of 10% Aluminum, 40% White and 50% light gray, in their 1/72 TF-104G kit.
RAL 9006 Weißaluminium (white aluminium) paint.

Later, “Norm ’83”. a green / green /grey wrap-around scheme replaced Norm ’72

The polygonal camouflage (RAL 6014/7012/9006) was only used for Marineflieger F-104s for a short time.

If you desire a rara avis. German Starfighter memorial photo website is a good place to look for specific photos.

A good and well-informed source on (Bundesluftwaffe) camouflage colours is the website of JPS Modell “Don Color”

A terrific place to compare RAL and BSC381C colors, on line:
http://www.e-paint.co.uk/RAL_Colourchart.asp?pType=&pFinish=
Standard disclaimers apply- its on line, not printed, so your monitory and ambient conditions will affect what you see, etc etc.

For Canadian colors (for Canadian F-104s… aka CF-104…), try:
http://hedgehoghollow.com/buzz/Colour_Guide/aircraft_clr.html

which seems to cover all Canadian military, before unification and after.
Looking at my FS 595A, I can take 26152 for 7012 and 24064 for 6014. I have some thoughts on which bluish gray off the shelf best matches 26152, and I’ll post results when I have them.

Jennings sez:
RAL 7012 Basaltgrau (FS 26152), RAL 6014 Gelbolive (FS 24064), RAL 7001 Silbergrau (FS 26320), and RAL 2005 Leuchtorange (FS 38903).