Tag Archives: water based paint

Humbrol paint references for Airfix 1/72 McDonnell-Douglas / BAe Harrier GR7A-GR9A, kit A04050


Humbrol paint references for Airfix 1/72 McDonnell-Douglas / BAe Harrier GR7A-GR9A, kit  A04050
Humbrol paint numbers; paint names; steps,

11; Metallic Silver; 31, 37, 38,
53; Metallic Gunmetal; 6, 9, 11, 13, 14,
56; Metallic Aluminum; 10, 12,

14; Gloss French Blue; 3

24; Matt Trainer Yellow; 1
30; Matt Dark Green;  2
33; Matt Black; 2, 3, 6, 31, 35, 37
61; Matt Flesh; 2
155; Matt Olive Drab; 1
156; Matt Dark Camouflage Gray; 45
159; Matt Khaki Drab; 2

85; Satin Coal Black; 1
130; Satin White; 4, 7, 8, 23, 24, 25, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38,
165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 2, 3, 4

– – – – – – – – – -========== * # * ===========- – – – – – – – – –

The Airfix instructions provide only Humbrol paint numbers for suggested colors. So I looked up the names and made a table of paints called out in the instructions, indexed by instruction page, construction step and color number. Its below, along with part numbers of what’s painted.

I’ve added some areas *to* color (ejection seat head box, breaking the seat cushion down into three different areas of color, for example) that seem non-controversial. They’re marked by a “- wba”. Airfix is not responsible for my contributions but I felt it was unfriendly to say nothing.

I don’t typically use Humbrol colors, so my next step will be cross-reference to the Polly Scale & Testors Model Master Acryl (II) acrylic colors. And Tamiya and Gunze Sangyo acrylics when they’re the better match.
Then I’ll add my own interpretation what additional areas should get attention. For example, ’24; Trainer Yellow;’ is called out for the parachute webbing/harness on the ejection seat head box. The actual color is a warm golden brown with a slightly metallic sheen- “Bronze” is one description. “Golden brown Martin Baker parachute webbing” would be my choice to name it.

Matt Black and Satin White are far to stark, in my opinion, so something lighter, and distinct, for black plastic, black painted metal, and tires, will be required, as will something duller for landing gear parts and bays, and the engine intake ducting. Stay tuned!

– – – – – – – – – -========== * # * ===========- – – – – – – – – –

Airfix 1/72 McDonnell-Douglas / BAe Harrier GR7A-GR9A
Page;  Step;  Paint;  Name;  Part no.;  Part name

3; 1; 85; Satin Coal Black; 20B 21B; ejection seat sides
3; 1; 85?; Satin Coal Black ;9B; ejection seat head box – wba
3; 1; ?; ;9B; ejection seat head box cushion – wba
3; 1; 24; Matt Trainer Yellow; 9B; ejection seat head box webbing
3; 1; 155; Matt Olive Drab; 9B; ejection seat back cushion
3; 1; 155?; Matt Olive Drab; 9B; ejection seat bottom cushion
3; 1; 155?; Matt Olive Drab; 9B; ejection seat calf cushion

3; 2; 30; Matt Dark Green; 14B; Pilot Helmet, lower garment
3; 2; 159; Matt Khaki Drab ; 14B; Pilot upper garment
3; 2; 33; Matt Black; 14B, 10C; Cockpit side consoles, Pilot Boot
3; 2; 61; Matt Flesh; 14B; Pilot face
3; 2; 165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 10C; Cockpit bucket walls, floor

3; 3; 33; Matt Black; 3A, 27C; joystick grip, upper and lower instrument areas, left and right.
3; 3; 165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 3A, 27C; joystick shaft, instrument panel blank faces
3; 3; 14; Gloss French Blue; 27C; CRT faces, left and right.

3; 4; 130; Satin White; 23A, 24; stbd & port forward fuselage nose gear well, Forward fuselage inner intake bulkhead
3; 4; 165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 23A, 24; stbd & port forward fuselage cockpit sidewall

3; 6; 33; Matt Black; 28B; Engine intake behind fan…
3; 6; ?; ?; 28B; Inside of fan shroud – wba
3; 6; 53; Metallic Gunmetal; 29B; Engine fan – wba – titanium

3; 7; 130; Satin White; 51A, 52A; intake outer liners

3; 8; 130; Satin White; 15B, 3B; Main Gear well

4; 9; 53; Metallic Gunmetal; 23C,  25C; Port, Aft, hot, exhaust ducts

4; 10; 56; Metallic Aluminum; 19C, 21C; Port, Forward, cold, exhaust ducts

4; 11 53; Metallic Gunmetal; 24C, 26C; Starboard, Aft, hot, exhaust ducts

4; 12; 56; Metallic Aluminum; 20C, 22C; Starboard, Forward, cold, exhaust ducts

4; 13; 53; Metallic Gunmetal; 6A; Port, Hot exhaust shield

4; 14; 53; Metallic Gunmetal; 7A; Starboard, Hot exhaust shield

5; 23; 130; Satin White; (Step 5 output); Inner intake duct wall, starter/generator fairing

5; 24; 130; Satin White; 26A; inside of starboard outer intake duct;

5; 25; 130; Satin White; 25A; inside of port outer intake duct;

7; 31; 130; Satin White; 6B, 5B, 25B; Nose gear leg l&r, Nose wheel
7; 31; 33; Flat Black; 25B;  Nose tire
7; 31; 11; Metallic Silver; 6B, 5B; Nose gear leg l&r;

7; 33; 130; Satin White; 10B; Main gear forward door;

7; 34; 130; Satin White; 9C; Main gear leg;

7; 35; 130; Satin White; 26B, 27B; Main gear port & starboard wheel
7; 35; 33; Flat Black; 26B, 27B; Main gear port & starboard tire

7; 36; 130; Satin White; 43A, 44A, 41A, 42A; Nose gear bay port & starboard doors, Main gear port & starboard bay doors;

7; 37; 11; Metallic Silver; 31B, 30B; Outrigger gear oleo struts, port & starboard;
7; 37; 33; Flat Black; 31B, 30B; Outrigger gear tires;
7; 37; 130; Satin White; 31B, 30B; Outrigger gear legs, port & starboard;

8; 38; 11; Metallic Silver; 37A or 38A; Air Brake Hydraulic Cylinder
8; 38; 130; Satin White; 5A inside, 37A or 38A;  ; Airbrake, Air Brake Hydraulic Cylinder;

8; 45; 156; Matt Dark Camouflage Gray ; 23B, 24B; front of fired CRV-7 Rocket Pod.

– – – – – – – – – -========== * # * ===========- – – – – – – – – –

Humbrol paint numbers; steps:

24; Matt Trainer Yellow; 1
85; Satin Coal Black; 1
155; Matt Olive Drab; 1

30; Matt Dark Green;  2
33; Matt Black; 2
61; Matt Flesh; 2
159; Matt Khaki Drab; 2
165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 2

14; Gloss French Blue; 3
33; Matt Black; 3
165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 3

130; Satin White; 4
165; Satin Medium Sea Gray; 4

33; Matt Black; 6
53; Metallic Gunmetal; 6

130; Satin White; 7

130; Satin White; 8

53; Metallic Gunmetal; 9
56; Metallic Aluminum; 10
53; Metallic Gunmetal; 11
56; Metallic Aluminum; 12
53; Metallic Gunmetal; 13
53; Metallic Gunmetal; 14

130; Satin White; 23
130; Satin White; 24
130; Satin White; 25

130; Satin White; 31
33; Matt Black; 31
11; Metallic Silver; 31
130; Satin White; 33
130; Satin White; 34
130; Satin White; 35
33; Matt Black; 35
130; Satin White; 36
11; Matt Black; 37
33; Metallic Silver; 37
130; Satin White; 37

11; Metallic Silver; 38
130; Satin White; 38
156; Matt Dark Camouflage Gray; 45

– 30 –

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:

my F-104 review/build published!


I hope isn’t too unseemly to mention this, Scott Van Akin at Modelling Madness . com accepted my 1/144 F-104J/G review and built and its up!


http://www.modelingmadness.com/review/viet/us/abbott104.htm

Modelling Madness is truly the premier review site on the web and it feels good to give something back after years of reading it for pleasure and reference.

And the next one will be better.

Bill

Glossy and flat paints and finishes


Two great questions brought people to my blog yesterday

1) How do you make a gloss paint have a matte (or matt or flat) finish?

a) You can top-coat it with a dulling finish- Testor’s DullCote laquer is the classic modeler’s tool, it is more or less clear but dries to a flat finish, with a microscopicly rough surface.  It comes in spray cans.  Some people spray it into a jar and then apply it with their airbrush for better control.

b) You can mix the Matte finish from the paint manufacturer into the paint before you apply it, or top-coat the paint with it (experiment with something not so important…

c) Krylon artist’s spray products or brushable matte finish for furnature.  One very good modeler I know uses water-based polyurathane matte and eggshell furnature finishes over everything.

If you use DullCote or Krylon, as always,  with any spray,  EASY DOES IT! Use light coats, don’t slather it on.  Since its a laquer, its very ‘hot’- the solvent will eat into anything and if applied too thickly over an enamel will probably wrinkle the enamel or worse. Not what you want. So build up light coats.

I can report two problems I’ve had and how I got around one of them, but I keep typing it in and it disappears, so not tonight.

Favorite model building tools: Stainless Steel micro-spatula


Here is one of the things I’d take to a desert island, or on any trip where I could reasonably expect to spend some time building models in the hotel/motel room, or the coffee shop, a local park bench, etc:

Stainless steel micro-spatula for stirring paint:

Number 11165 at
Catalog item 11165

I got mine by losing two of ’em while in Organic Chemistry lab, UC Santa Cruz, 1976-1977 year,, and so I paid for them to get replacements, and when they turned-up later, I kept ’em and put them to use. They weren’t cheap, and aren’t now- the picture shows pretty much exactly what I have and they want $18 for 3 of ’em… sounds expensive until you try to flatten out your own piece of stainless steel rod…. Anyway, there’s nothing better for mixing paint in little jars, and pulling out a drop or two for tiny mixing job, Works FAR better than the 12D nails and pieces of 10 AWG solid copper wire I used to use. In a pinch, a cheap screw driver or a small butter knife would do the trick.

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:

http://www.fed-std-595.com/FS-595-Paint-Spec.html

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.

“Water” based model paints. Testor’s Acryl, Polly-Scale, Tamiya, Gunze-Sanyo and now Vallejo


I build (or at least start) a fair number of plastic models, particularly airplanes and cars, but also the occasional ‘other’ – a ship, figure, military vehicle, space-craft, etc. Polly-Scale is my #1 choice for model paint and and Testor’s Model Master Acryl is #2. They are what I buy if I give a model and brushing paint as a present.

Polly-Scale has the finest-ground pigments, and I’m used to working with it, so I find it easier to use, in terms of brushing cover, ease in avoiding brush marks or drips and lumps, drying time, etc. Each of the major brands of ‘water based’ paints have distinct and unique solvent and drying systems and for flat paint I find Polly-Scale‘s system the best- it goes on thinnest and covers in the least number of coats.

Testor’s Model Master Acryl is my second favorite. It has a range of gloss-finish paints, unknown in Polly Scale, color matches to a wide variety of original standard military AND automotive colors., and straight-forward primary colors for doing one’s one mixing. It is widely available, slightly more so than Polly Scale, and it costs $2.99 a bottle versus $3.99 for Polly Scale. So the same $12 + tax gets you 4 bottles of Acryl, or 3 bottles of Polly Scale, at most stores. You can still get Polly Scale for $2.99 a bottle at some places, though….

Tamiya and Gunze-Sanyo are tied for third in my world- they use a water and alcohol solvent, not just water; they have a lot of gloss colors which are perhaps more demanding than Testor’s Acryl to apply well, they can become thicker on your parts than you’d really wanted, and they don’t seem to dry as innert as Polly-Scale or Acryl. Gunze-Sanyo gloss colors, in particular, don’t ever seem to dry. A topcoat is needed. Tamiya gloss feels firm and strong but wears very easily. Luckily, all of these paints react well to Future Floor Wax, so bringing up a gloss is no problem.
All four of theses paints require thorough stirring. Just like house paint. I use a little stainless steel paddle I got in Chemistry class many decades ago, but a nice piece of 12 AWG solid copper wire, or stainless steel or aluminum wire works nearly as well. Stirr the paint until you’re absolutely convinced it is completely mixed. Then stir it for 1 minute more. Remember to raise the stirrer from time to time to mix between the top and bottom of the bottle.

Vallejo, from Spain, are the newest kids on the block. They’re water based acrylics with a stunning selection, and all packed in 17ml squeeze bottles. I get a sense they started out aiming especially for the figure market- little metal or plastic warriors, fantasy figures or dinosaurs, although there are some airplane-oriented colors in their range. They sort chromatically, rather than by nation and branch of military service, or rail-line…. The paint itself is about right for brushing, maybe even a little thick. It sticks well, color is dense and the bronze green and dayglo orange I’ve used look good and stay in place months later. I’ll have to try spraying it or applying it over a large area some time…

Some historical notes:

It was a very long time ago that I first saw Polly-Scale, then called “Polly-S“, acrylic paint for model builders. Back in the 1970s. I’d used artist’s acrylics for various purposes and both enjoyed them and recognized their differences from oil based paints. Back in those days, there were two US model paint suppliers available widely, Pactra and Testor’s, and it was pretty easy to find Humbroil from the UK, in the little tins like miniature housepaint cans. There were lots of other model paints- seemingly every model company had its own brand of paint and glue during the 1960s, and there was at least one model paint company founded on providing exact matches for ‘official’ military colors.

Oil paints were very democratic. You could mix any with any other, thin them all with paint thinner from the hardware store, and they all had similar working characteristics. Testors and Humbroil seemed to have the finest ground pigments, and Humbroil had a seemingly vast range of flat/matt/matte finishes, which were a real step forward from glossy primary and secondary colors from the 9 bottle ‘paint set’- black white, red, blue, yellow, orange, green, purple and thinner. Actually, purple was so loaded with cultural meaning it was probably not sold in the sets- maybe you got gray or “flesh” (peachy caucasian skin tone, sorta) instead, or maybe the basic assortment was 8 bottles… Oil paints disolved in model glue too- so you didn’t have to be that scrupulous about scraping paint off surfaces to be joined, the glue would get through ‘some’ paint. Best of all, because of the vanishingly low surface tension of the hydrocarbon base, you could do a reasonable job of painting most colors onto your model with just one coat, and if you were reasonably careful, not many brush-marks. (yes, several, thinner, coats would have made for a better finish. But we’re talking 8-12 year olds here…)

Polly S was different. First and foremost, it was water based, Second, it was VERY flat and VERY thin- one coat wouldn’t cover much, unless you were painting a flat color over a plastic that was basicly the same color. So you had to apply multiple coats, and it would leave brush marks if you weren’t good at brushing it out thin.

On the other hand, you could work with it all day indoors without stinking up your room, or the basement/garage. And when it dried it was VERY inert- oil based enamels do undergo a chemical change as they dry, and simply applying thinner will not soften them and return them to the pre-dried state, but thinner and some friction WILL remove them. Not so Polly S. Once it was dry, you could sand it off, and that was about it. Ask me how I know… And it dried quickly too!