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Sea grey and light grey, their possible equivalents.


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Hello,

I am about to start my Wildcat VI and have bought colors that are hopefully the proper ones for the task. I will be painting an Eastern Aircraft factory color scheme of OD 41, sea grey, and light grey. The OD is pretty simple, but for the light grey I have two possible colors, aircraft grey FS16473 and light gull grey FS 36440. And for sea grey I have gunship grey and dark gull grey. Any suggestions? The color thing is a bit confusing at times, thusly the numerous color posts by me. After reading numerous threads I have found that all of these colors have been used by different modelers for their Corsair kits. It seems that the gunship grey is closest to sea grey, the dark gull grey seems a tad too light. But, there is more confusion regarding bottom colors. some suggest light gull grey which would easily have been used since it was common on U.S. naval aircraft through 1942-43, but some have suggested that aircraft grey was actually the color, and others suggest light gull grey with a touch of blue or green? Without beating a dead horse into glue, and believe me, I don't want to start a mile long thread on the same topic again, I would just like input on the colors I have chosen to make sure they are as accurate as possible. Thanks for your patience.

Cheers

Edited by Spitfires Forever
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Your post touches on one of the main problems with the proposition that a light gray was used instead of the colour required by the FAA Temperate Sea Scheme which was Sky - promulgated as an ANA standard paint colour which was 610 (Sky).

That is that the light gray supposedly used was another ANA standard paint colour 602 'Light Gray'.

602 supposedly became obsolete per recommendation by the Technical Sub-Committee on Camouflage of the Joint Aircraft Committee (JAC) 28 July 1942 to be replaced by Navy Gull Gray Dark - ANA 621. Now the evolution of these paint colour standards is as follows:-

602 (Munsell 2.4 GY 6.51/0.5) was not carried over to FS 595 because it was supposedly combined with ANA 620 Gull Gray Light (despite the JAC recommendation).

620 (Munsell 4.5 GY 7.08/0.27) was replaced post-war by FS 36440 (Munsell 4.2 GY 7.1/0.3)

621 (Munsell 7.3 B 5.36//6.35) was replaced post-war by FS 36231 (Munsell 9.9 BG 5.3/0.4)

The Munsell values I have included here were measured from the original paint colour standard plates by Munsell themselves and show that the colours ANA vs FS were actually different. Therefore in terms of evolution what was applied to the Wildcat, if it wasn't Sky, theoretically encompasses both 602 and 620 - but 620 is not FS 36440, even though 36440 might be the closest 595b colour to it (I haven't checked).

FS 16473 (Munsell 8.8 BG 6.9/0.6) was the replacement standard for ANA 512 Aircraft Gray (Munsell 2.4 B 6.68/0.8) - a gloss paint colour standard - which is sometimes cited as an unauthorised substitute for Sky on the undersurfaces of aircraft like the RAF-procured P-40 Tomahawk (as well as several other different grays) based it seems wholly on the interpretation of colour photographs.

As I understand it the evidence for paint matched to 602 being applied instead of paint matched to 610 to the undersides of these FAA aircraft (Wildcat and Corsair) is (approximately) as follows:-

1. the interpretation of colour photographs;

2. the anecdotal evidence of paint sprayers who removed bits from the aircraft they were spraying to prove later that the paint used was 602 and not Sky; and

3. the existence of paint supply contract documents recovered from a dumpster which reveal ANA 602 was procured but not ANA 610 (or presumably ANA 620).

With regard to # 2 I'm not sure how the pieces were matched specifically to aircraft destined for the FAA, how large they were or whether the date of theft and aircraft taken from were recorded. Now # 3 is especially interesting because I would expect commercial paint supply contracts to refer to the paint manufacturers designations - catalogue numbers and names (such as Dupont 71-021) rather than just to the ANA paint colour standard designations - or both e.g. "Dupont 71-021 equivalent paint to ANA 610 paint colour standard". The use of different names does not always mean different paint colours as post-war Dupont referred commercially to 71-021 as "Azores Green" and whereas ANA 610 was called Sky, Dupont 71-021 as supplied to the MAP standard was called "Sky Type S Grey" and Fuller Enamel TL-8715 was called "Blue (Duck egg)".

Further it is a pity that the dates of the documents appear to be unknown as that could then be tallied with production serials, batches and dates. Lastly there is the question of the evidence for the documents being inclusive, e.g. evidence that there were not in existence (although not in the dumpster) other documents - not recovered - which included contracts for MAP standard paints.

Edited by Nick Millman
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Hi Nick, It seems that I will have to give it an approximation short of actually having a paint chip to match. So, in your opinion what would be the closest approximates i.e. which colors would you choose the most closely resembles what the factory painted? I respect your judgement on this so any advice will be welcome. Remember, I am just looking for approximates it does not (nor can it ever really be) exact colors/shades. If I am close it should be fine, I just know that this model should notbe sprayed in typical British TSS. as for the Corsair I felt that the gunship grey and OD with light gull grey looked the closest to the color pictures I have seen. Whether the shade are exact or not is of no major consequence.

It would seem to me that the same shades of paint would be used by American manufacturers, especially if supplied by DuPont for the purpose of matching MAP standard colors. It really is confusing, and if I were looking for a subject for a doctoral thesis the subject of aircraft colors would be a good choice!

Cheers

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Well, if you must go with light grey (!) the M-495 non-specular light gray, ANA 602, Gull Gray Light, FS 36440 evolution is probably the more likely. The difference of 36440 to the Light Gray is 3.44 where <2.0 = a close match so for modelling purposes well within the parameters of paint batch variation and scale. The typical variance I have seen in wartime paints is anything up to 5.0 and sometimes beyond.

Probably far more information than you need but constituent pigments for M-495 as advised to agencies in the UK were titanium dioxide (Pigment White 6), brown iron oxide and carbon black (Pigment Black 6). This data originates in BuAer Scheme Specifications SR-2A of 30 December 1940 so is primary source. One respected reference described the brown pigment as 'Burnt Sienna'. The colour description Burnt Sienna is one of many variant colour names for Pigment Brown 6 (iron oxide hydroxide brown - natural and/or synthetic ferric oxide and ferroso-ferric hydroxide) but is also a variant name of Pigment Brown 7 (brown iron oxide - iron oxide and/or calcined iron oxide usually with varying amounts of hydrated iron oxide along with manganese oxide and other natural minerals depending on mine site). Generally Pigment Brown 6 varies from a brown to dull red whereas Pigment Brown 7 ranges from a yellow brown through brown to dull red. Bearing in mind the pigment identification and the appearance of the grey I think Pigment Brown 7 is the most likely contender. Carbon black is not always a pure black as is often believed but can have either a distinctive brown or blue undertone and is usually referred to as carbon black (blue shade), carbon black (brown shade) or carbon black (neutral). The absence of specification about this black suggests that the paint was intended to be neutral, would be subject to visual matching to standard only and therefore in reality might have appeared both slightly cooler (more blueish) or slightly warmer (more brownish) in paint batch variance.

The addition of Pigment Brown even in small quantity shifts the grey from neutral to a warm, slightly yellowish or brownish grey. Because of the variance inherent with pigment browns I can only imagine that control methods intended the matching of the supplied paint to the master swatch regardless of the precise colour variant of brown iron oxide pigment used but I would be very surprised if the batches were consistent in appearance across aircraft and paint manufacturers. Because of the high content of anatase titanium dioxide the resultant paint surface would tend to chalking in all cases, making the appearance lighter and more blue-grey.

On the other hand (modern) pigments for 36440 are rutile titanium dioxide (chalking resistant type), phthalocyanine blue (green shade), carbazole violet and natural raw umber. What this means in colour terms is that the wartime paint colour was more basic - even crude - in its composition and less of a subtle blue-green-purple than 36440.

Even modern FS595b is governed by the following caveats:-

" . . the Government makes no representation, either explicit or implied that these pigments must be used in the products to be provided. Neither does the provision of this list imply that the standard color chip can be matched using any source of the listed pigments and any vehicle, that a proposed match using these pigments will be accepted, or that a proposed color match using different pigments will be rejected" . . .

and

"Materials furnished under contracts referencing a FED-STD-595 color must conform to all of the requirements of the product specification. Any conflict between contract requirements and this pigment listing are to be resolved in favor of the contract requirements. Proposed color matches will be accepted or rejected based solely on the color matching criteria stated in the contract referencing the FED-STD-595 color number."

and

"The method by which the color is to be matched; either:

1. ASTM D 1729 -- Visual Evaluation of Color Differences of Opaque Materials -- state whether critical or general match; or,

2. ASTM D 2244 -- Calculation of Color Differences from instrumentally measured color coordinates. -- State for CIELAB color space the maximum color difference and the maximum hue difference tolerated. Name and address of organization supplying paint chip."

I suspect, although I don't know for sure, that the wartime colour matching was probably almost always 1. visual and non-critical general match which is where the variance comes in.

For all these complex reasons don't sweat it!

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If you are doing a Wildcat VI (FM-2) you may want to revisit the bottom color. According to info from old FAA-SIG (US)/Paul Fontenoy, Eastern used ANA equivalent colors for TSS including Sky undersides.

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Well gentlemen, I just got a really nice reply from Bruce Archer regarding the particular bottom color we are discussing. He said that according to the former painter for Eastern Aircraft which he was so fortunate to interview, they used light gull grey. This backs up my contention that they used a paint/color that was currently in production. No doubt Eastern was not going to go to the extremes that Grumman did to match as closely as possible the official MAP TSS colors. Now whether this is the exact same shade as is in the paint bottle...well, Nick gave us a very concise technical assessment of that color v.s. today's version, which if I am not mistaken was formulated to match the same gull grey first used by the USN in between 1955/6 and the 1980's. As Nick suggested, don't sweat the small stuff, so the exact shade is not essential. I now have a solid battle plan and are ready to press on. Wish me luck boys, I'm goin' in!

Cheers

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If you are doing a Wildcat VI (FM-2) you may want to revisit the bottom color. According to info from old FAA-SIG (US)/Paul Fontenoy, Eastern used ANA equivalent colors for TSS including Sky undersides.

The "light grey" comes from the Bruce Archer Hyperscale article of long standing which suggests that information from the FAA-SIG(US) and (UK) was drawn on.

"The Wildcat VI was painted in two differing schemes. The first was in the US ANA Substitute Scheme of Olive Drab, Sea Grey and Light Grey. The Interior and primed areas of the aircraft were as above. The second scheme was overall Glossy Sea Blue, with a Non-Specular Sea Blue anti-glare panel. An Eastern Aircraft painter (reference 12) interviewed by me stated that the Non-Specular Sea Blue was used initially because Eastern had quite a bit of this color in stock. When stocks of the Non-Specular Sea Blue were exhausted, a flat varnish was used to paint the anti-glare panel. The cockpit and interior were like the late Wildcat Vs."

(12 = Conversation with Dale Peters, painter with Eastern Aircraft, Linden Plant 1943-1945)

As stated above the USN "light grey" evolution was M-495, ANA 602, Gull Gray Light and FS 36440 - all different colours but probably academic in this context.

The "US ANA Substitute Scheme of Olive Drab, Sea Grey and Light Grey" was intended for the RAF Day Fighter scheme and personally I remain sceptical that it was ever an authorised or accepted "substitute" scheme for the FAA Temperate Sea Scheme, particularly as the required equivalent colour ANA 610 Sky was maintained in the ANA standards until the end of the war and by then was not required for any other purpose. In fact I think the origin of this belief probably lies more in a failure to appreciate the difference between the two schemes when the assertion was first articulated, compounded by the interpretation of one well-known colour photographic image of a Corsair.

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It's a pity Paul Fontenoy seems to no longer have an interest in this - as I recall, he claimed to have seen Eastern documentation relating to the use of Olive Drab, Sea Grey and 'Sky Type S Gray' - which would be the Du Pont name for Sky of course.

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Paul's statement regarding the use of Sky by Eastern Aircraft dates back to perhaps 2000, with more comments by Bruce Archer using Paul's info in 2003. This was several years before Bruce Archer's Hyperscale article. The particular file has been moved from computer to computer over the years so I dont have an original date from when I was able to copy it, presumably either from rms or (more likely) Hyperscale. I agree with Dave completely that is too bad Paul Fontenoy has apparently dropped out since having his sources would be quite useful.

In any case as of 2000 Paul was quite sure Eastern used the ANA equivalent for Sky on undersides finished to TSS requirements.

Paul Fontenoy

FAA Avenger interior colors

Sat Jul 8 14:40:26 2000

The interiors of all US aircraft supplied to the FAA matched US production. In the case of Avengers, the Avenger I was built by Grumman and had Bronze Green cockpit areas with Interior Green elsewhere except for the engine bay area which was Light Gray (as in the Accurate Miniatures instructions). Wheel bays were Sky to match the undersurface paint. Avenger II and III were built by Eastern and used Interior Green throughout, with the wheelbays again in Sky to match the undersurfaces. You should note that the Sky paint used by Grumman exactly matched British specs, whereas Sky paint used by Eastern was to ANA specs and rather “grayer” than the British shade (although by the time the airframes had seen much service weathering probably made this moot!).

Source – extant maintenance manuals at FAA Museum and also constructor’s records.

Paul Fontenoy

Bruce,

Here's the data I have on this topic.

Vought--Olive Drab ANA 613 (FS 34130), Sea Gray ANA 603 (FS 36173), Sky Type S Gray (FS 36373).

Grumman--Dark Slate Grey (FS 34096), Extra Dark Sea Grey (FS 36118), Sky (FS 34583).

Eastern--Olive Drab, Sea Gray, Sky (FS 34504).

In other words, Grumman used MAP colors, Eastern used ANA equivalents, and Vought had its own idea of the proper undersurface shade.

PS: As far as I can tell virtually all Curtiss aircraft used "Curtiss Cockpit Green" which was made for the firm by Berry Brothers and was actually ANA 611 Interior Green. This is most likely true of the Seamew, too.

Paul Fontenoy

Not sure what caused Bruce to change over to Light Grey for undersides beyond a painter thinking thats what color he used. Not to say the painter is (was?) wrong, but presumably Paul also had a good reason for suggesting Sky.

Edited by Chuck1945
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OK, now I am confused again. I looked up the color swatches on "Color Server".com and found the Eastern underside color to be a bluer green than sky type S. I can't find a model paint manufacturer that produces some of these colors, so after color matching my dinged surfboards I have developed a pretty good eye for matching colors. Thanks for the FS numbers, that gave me a good start.

Cheers

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It would be good to know what those FS values were based on. 34583 and 34504 could be like Sky - or Duck Egg Blue - variants but 36373 is not like Dupont Sky Grey. It is, however, almost identical to MAP Sky Grey (@ 1.23) which makes me suspicious that at that time (2000) a presumption might have been made about the Dupont paint name.

36440 is actually closer in appearance to the Dupont Sky Grey than 36373 - 8.97 vs 12.5

36440 vs 36373 is @ 6.22 but both are consistent with the concept of a "light grey" under surface, the one being a warm, slightly yellowish grey the other a cooler, more blueish grey.

Because of their characteristics paint colours like the original ANA 602, its successor 620 or 36440 would IMHO be more obvious and likely expedient substitutes for 610 Sky or Dupont Sky Grey than 36373 should those paint colours, for whatever reason, be unobtainable.

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