Friday, January 23, 2015

A forced hiatus


I'm packing up my UK stash and moving back to the US.

Until my tools, paints and references get across the Atlantic, I'll have to satisfy myself with writing about modeling related topics, instead of actual modeling.

Over the last few weeks I've gone quiet simply because I was traveling quite a bit and negotiating for my new assignment.  Very exciting things to look forward to and I'll be working from my home office!  The lower commute time means more time for modeling...

I hope to get more involved with my local club when I return, and to start attending more IPMS conventions in the US.  Having seen what the British do with their conventions, seeing more plastic in painted and glued form is important to me.

I am going to fit a kit or two into my luggage, the LHS here just called to tell me my Airfix Defiant has arrived, so I'll pack that and the Blenheim IVF.  Of course, I do have some kits in my stash back in the US, so it'll be like Christmas morning opening the storage and reminding myself what I have.  I'm sure I'll want to start diving into a kit or two.

Thanks for looking...


Monday, January 5, 2015

RAF Ocean Grey: a good hobby paint match?


May 2013

One thing I've noticed is that my two most popular posts are about paint color.  I've recently been asked about Ocean Grey, so I've decided to provide my assessment of those paints as well.

I switched to acrylics a few years back and this analysis was done to find the right matches to the chips in British Aviation Colours of World War Two, Crown Copyright 1976.

I checked my paint samples against a similar white background.  The paints I looked at were:
  • Humbrol 106 "flip top"
  • Humbrol 106 in the newer screw top tins
  • Tamiya XF-53 Neutral Grey
  • Tamiya XF-54 Dark Sea Grey
  • Tamiya XF-82 Ocean Gray 2 (RAF)
  • Vallejo 896 Basalt Grey
First, a little historical background to Ocean Grey.  This is a compilation of various sources, both on the net and my references.

During 1941 the Air Ministry began looking at more appropriate colors for fighters that were going ever higher in altitude and extending the offensive across the Channel to Northern Europe.  The brown and green camouflage appropriate for ground concealment in the UK was no longer appropriate for Northwest Europe.

During the Summer, two Spitfire I aircraft were allocated for testing.  One was painted to mimic the Luftwaffe 'mottle' scheme using Olive Grey mottled over Sky Grey with Sky Blue undersurfaces; and the other simply had it's undersurfaces repainted in a color between Sky and Sky Blue.  Olive Grey was described as halfway between Dark Sea Grey and Light Slate Grey.  Hmm, that latter color may be hard to find...Dark Sea Grey is very gray and Light Slate Grey is very green!

Later the same two Spitfires were repainted.  One in Medium Sea Grey and Olive Grey over Sky Blue in a standard disruptive scheme.  The other was Medium Sea Grey and Dark Sea Grey over Sky Grey undersurfaces; again in the standard disruptive scheme.

Following this initial test, No 56 Squadron sported their Hurricane IIb aircraft using the Medium Sea Gray and Olive Grey over Sky blue scheme.  These quickly gave way to darker colors on the top as well as the undersides.  By August, the Air Ministry issued a directive to repaint aircraft in a dark green and grey upper surfaces, with sea grey medium undersurfaces.  Clarity came soon with the specific guidance to replace the Dark Earth areas with a dark grey color achieved by mixing 7 parts Medium Sea Grey with 1 part Night, and the undersurfaces with Medium Sea Grey.

On 21 August the new dark grey color was formally named Ocean Grey.

It is important to know the background of Ocean Grey because if one can achieve the color by mixing Medium Sea Grey (a light bluish gray) and Night (a very dark blue-black) then you would expect the resulting color to have a blue tint to it.  Those of us who have looked at period photos, know that Ocean Grey, as applied to aircraft, definitely had a blue tint.

Here is where things start to get difficult.  When Ocean Grey is painted next to Dark Green, the Ocean Grey takes on a more blue hue than if painted by itself.  (This is called metamerism.)  The color chip in the reference is very gray, but with a slight hint of blue.  When applied to my models, all the above colors take on a stronger blue tone.

The point is, if the Ocean Grey hobby paint starts out bluish, it will appear more blue once applied with Dark Green.

So what were my results?

Hu106 is spot on with the chip and looks right when applied with Dark Green.  It is my first choice for fresh Ocean Grey.

Tamiya XF82 is very blue in the tin, and looks like photos of applied paint, not the chip.  When applied it takes on an even stronger blue, to the point that it appears more of a USN Ocean Gray, which is a very blue gray.  I would never use this as an RAF Ocean Grey.

Tamiya XF54, as well as XF53, are very near to Hu106.  They are just different enough to warrant being used as a 'mixed grey' (achieved by mixing 7 parts Medium Sea Grey and 1 part Night).  XF53 is slightly lighter and could be used as a faded mixed grey.

Vallejo's 896 is a very dark gray.  The only good use would be as a variation on mixed grey where the photo indicates almost no contrast with the Dark Green, indicating a dark mixing of the two paints.

Thanks for looking...