Saturday, September 28, 2013

RAF Dark Earth: A good hobby paint match?

13 October, 2013

As promised below, I've added a photo comparing the appearance of Vallejo 921 to Humbrol 29.  The Dark Green is both cases is Vallejo 893.  All paint was air brushed.  Both models have a coat of Future/Klear as a varnish to ensure the sheen is the same.


As I mentioned below, Vallejo 921 (on the right) is darker than Humbrol 29, and when brush painted the Vallejo was greener, but not noticeably redder, as is evident in the photo.  It is also redder in real life.

So how does it stack up?  Well, Vallejo 921 matches the paint chip from the RAF Museum.  It looks the part, in my mind's eye, better than does Humbrol 29.  I am however trained to consider Humbrol 29 as the "correct" shade of Dark Earth.

28 September, 2013

A recent thread on BritModeler offered the possibility that my favorite Dark Earth, Humbrol's 29, has drifted away from the correct shade of dark earth. So, armed with all my favorite acrylics and a couple of mixing jars, I decided to do a comparison.

My color standard is a chip from the RAF Museum's book, "British Aviation Colurs of World War Two". First published in 1976 it's possible to get a second hand copy, as I did, from online auctions. It's a treasure if as a modeler you want to have colors that match.

My method of comparison is using my eyeball under both artificial and natural light. I brush the paint onto a sheet of card and simply lay the card on the color chip.

The paints I use/have at hand are:
  • Humbrol 29
  • Vallejo 921
  • PollyScale 505252
  • Model Master 4846
  • Gunze H72
  • Tamiya mix of XF52 and XF64 (equal parts)

Hu29 has been my standard for Dark Earth for over a decade.  Prior to that I used Gunze's H72 for the handful of RAF types on my shelf.  Once I started paying attention to color accuracy, I realized Hu29 would look better, and it WAS different than H72, being darker and richer.

Hu29 is generally accepted as the standard paint, but against the RAF Museum (the Standard), Hu29 is grayer and browner. It's almost a chocolat color when overlaid on the chip. Unlike the Standard, there does not seem to be a hint of green to Hu29.

Valejo 921 is a near perfect match. Next to the other dark earth paints, Valejo 921 looks greener. Which may be why during the war there was some indication that Olive Drab would be an acceptable substitute for Dark Earth.  I've never used Valejo 921 other than with a brush on details requiring some shade of dark brown.

PS 505252 is darker than the standard, just a bit browner albeit with a hint of green.  I've used it for variation, many years ago, on an AVG P-40C.

MM 4846 is labeled ANA 617 Dark Earth. It is identical in every respect to PS 505252 being just a bit browner with a hint of green.  I've never used it, but purchased it when trying to find the "right" Dark Earth around 2002.

H72 is lighter and browner than the Standard, it's not close to any of the other paints. At best I'd call it a light earth color.  I'd been using this jar of paint since the early '90s.

Finally, I used the formula for mixing Tamiya (my preferred paint) that Tamiya recommends. The resulting color is a very red brown, not much different than XF64.  So I don't consider this a very good match to anything other than a red brown.

Since I like Tamiya paints, I did try adding more XF52 (8 parts total), but that was marginally better as the color was still a red brown. I then added 1 part XF19 (Sky Grey) which was also only a marginal improvement. Finally, I decided to add 5.5 parts XF81 (Dark Green) which only got the color to approximately where both PS 505252 and MM 4846 are. I believe some yellow would get it there, but the jar is full and I don't have any Tamiya yellow handy...

Other than a few minor applications I've never used Valejo. I will try it soon on a Spitfire to see how the scheme looks with a proper Dark Earth shade and I'll update this posting with side by side photos of a Spitfire with Humbrol 29.

Thanks for looking...