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Paint It Black


Martian

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This might sound a really stupid question from one who has been modelling for over forty years, but, having just got the new Airfix Defiant with the intention of doing it as a night fighter, I realise that I don't know how to make an overall black finish look interesting. Presumably some variation on pre-shading and washes? I would greatly appreciate any pointers in this direction as the last time I did an overall black aircraft was the old Airfix Defiant when I was about six!

Thanks in advance

Martin

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Hi Martin. If using black on 1/72 I tend to mix a small amount of white into it, nothing scientific just an unspecified amount that looks okay to me.

I've also read that 50/50 ratio of black and red brown can be used but I've never tried that. I'm not really sure the best idea for pre-shading and washes though but I would say using 100% black to give definition to panel lines, control surfaces would work.

Hope this is of some help

cheers

Aaron

*Edit* Regards adding white; I've only done this where black is part of a camouflage scheme. In small areas, broken up by another colour, it maybe works okay. However, a full aircraft in black might not be the same.

Edited by milktrip
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Here is a superb 'black' BF110E, albeit in a larger scale.

http://forum.largescaleplanes.com/index.php?showtopic=42574&page=1

and a recent discussion on the night bombers black.

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234974795-colour-for-bottom-half-of-lancaster/

and here is a nice use of a subtle wash.

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234951912-avro-lancaster-exhaust-stains-done/?p=1636801

Edited by hovering
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HI Martin, another way of varying the look on an overall black model is to use matt black as base, picking out highlights in satin and streaks/weathering use a combination of satin and matt clear cote brushed over the model.

It worked for me on my Alberich coated VIIC for the d day GB, the only bummer is trying to photograph the result, looks great to the human eye but try catch it on camera, I failed.

All the best Chris

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Dave H, who posts on here, is a fine modeller and is a regular winner (or top 3 placed) of competitions at shows (inc Telford) suggested to me, that to paint Black, don't paint Black. Paint it a very dark Grey. So on that advice I painted a Black base coat and then went over the panels with a very dark Grey, just enough to give some contrast and prevent it from being too Black. I also use a Brown colour for the panel lines, again fairly dark so they don't stand out too much.

thanks

Mike

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Did they actually paint black straight over the camouflage, or did they give it another colour before they painted the black on, or was the camo scheme completely stripped off, then the black camo applied on BP Defiants ?

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I am planning to undercoat Matt Black then use Tamiya NATO Black (which is a very very dark grey in reality) on panels.

However I do like the idea of using Brown for panel lines as well.

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On my Blenheim I'm experimenting with dark grey base covered with very thin layer of black artist oils. After some days i remove parts of black with ear-bud. Looks good.

Panel lines IMO on dark finishes should be lighter not darker than base.

Remember that Defiant had Special Night Finish, different (more black and soothy) that "normal" night.

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This might sound a really stupid question from one who has been modelling for over forty years, but, having just got the new Airfix Defiant with the intention of doing it as a night fighter, I realise that I don't know how to make an overall black finish look interesting. Presumably some variation on pre-shading and washes? I would greatly appreciate any pointers in this direction as the last time I did an overall black aircraft was the old Airfix Defiant when I was about six!

Thanks in advance

Martin

The Defiant wasn't painted black, it was painted "Night" which is actually an incredibly (almost black) dark blue.

Selwyn

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I was wondering how much weathering to do on my defiant. I've made my mind up I think I'm going to do a heavily weathered scheme like that one. Is the night finish different to lamp black finish that had a really matt finish? If night finish is a very dark blue I'll lighten black with some blue on mine and try and shade some panels.

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'Special Night' was a purer black than Night and was made as an ethyl cellulose dope pigmented with a special black dye on a metallic oxide base, also I believe in a distemper form. It started out very matt, like poster paint, but according to inspectors at the time who examined Wellingtons and Stirlings at Marham and Honington it tended to wear glossy and greyish if not properly maintained. There was a black rubbing compound, like a paste, devised to repair wear.

Night was a blue-black consisting of carbon black or black dye and ultramarine (blue) in the approximate ratio 4:1. Ultramarine in pure form is a strongly saturated and intense blue pigment - the colour used for RAF insignia. Anyone who thinks that combination results in a grey colour should probably try it. In practice the appearance of the colour possibly varied slightly because there were three main forms of carbon black - blue, brown and neutral shades - which were not specified. From the documents it appears the Air Ministry, MAP and the RAF assumed blue shade. The RAE described the colour as a "serviceable blue black" and the Ministry of Supply commented that the blue undertone was "particularly valuable" but without stating why.

The two paint colours had different reflectivity too. Special Night was 0.75% and Night was 3.5%, e.g. Special Night was 'blacker' in its original, non-degraded form.

The Luftwaffe used a different special black paint based on the pigment caput mortuum, a deep purplish-brown made from iron oxide and magnesium oxide, which was combined with zinc yellow and (cold) black oxide to produce what they termed 'dead black' but which had a purplish-brown undertone. It was supplied by Dr Kurt Herberts & Co in a formula that combined a clear lacquer with the pigmented lacquer at 1:1. There was a difference of opinion at the German Air Ministry as to its effectiveness but it was generally concluded that it produced too much drag.

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I don't think there has been any suggestion that the original colour looked dark grey. The comment has been that models look better if a very dark grey is used rather than a pure black, and that this would certainly help to make a black finish look more interesting.

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I would agree with Graham's comment above.

I have taken to using Brett Green's suggestion of using "German Grey" (Tamiya XF-61) when large quantities of "Black" are called out in instructions. Cockpits for example or, perhaps, even in this case, the entire aircraft. (of course, weathering etc. still would need to be done).

Cheers,
Dave

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The Defiant wasn't painted black, it was painted "Night" which is actually an incredibly (almost black) dark blue.

Selwyn

Thanks for that pointer, being colour blind I would never have picked up on it. The great response to this thread has given me some good idea as to how I want to proceed with the model.

Martin

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The AK interactive book Nightfighters has a nice article on painting black.

Although all the builds are German subjects their is a nice black 109 painted using Gunze,Tamiya mixtures.

Oils are then used for shading effects.

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Contemporary observers talk of black rather than any kind of dark blue: I don't believe that the blue was readily distinguishable to the naked eye.

It might look black to many but in colour terms it isn't. It is a very dark blue - a blue-black. The difference can be visually discerned if it is compared with a pure black and there are comparison chips at my blog. In fact it was difficult to achieve a pure black paint at the time, with both the RAF and Luftwaffe going to considerable lengths to achieve that.

Also BS381C still includes Night as # 642 and the approximate Munsell reference given is 8.9 B 2.1 0.2 which is a Blue. The chip appears black but is on the greys page! A pure black, without colour tone, would be Munsell N 1.0/0.0 and Night is not that - ever. But on its own, or in juxtaposition with other colours Night would look like black to many observers.

But Bowyer records the Defiant in RDM2 Special Night which was black and sooty, describing it as having "super-matt quality giving it the texture of suede". Whether night fighter Defiants were subsequently painted in the (smooth) blue-black Night I'd have to check.

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The overall scruffy appearance of the one in the photos above do recall the comments on the low durability of Special Night. However, Bowyer places the introduction of Special Night in December 1940, when several Defiant squadrons were already deployed on night duties. I suggest they were previously painted in Night.

The constituent parts of Night have been made clear, but I think we would wish to avoid the sight of Defiants painted in a midnight blue based on knowledge of a blue pigment in the mix. Of course everyone is free to paint their model however they wish... but if they are trying to "get it right" they should be helped by as full a description as possible.

Edited by Graham Boak
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According to the Ducimus monograph, the supposed undercoat was Night, with RDM2, which was noted for it's poor adhesion. Similar problems were found on other aircraft painted RDM2, Beaufighter, Mosquito, and this is mentioned in the Ducimus monographs on those types.

All of these can be found as PDF's online with a little searching

EDIT Defiant monograph PDF here - http://en.bookfi.org/book/765286

Here's the relevant part from Ducimus Defiant monograph

DefiantRDM2A.jpg

Tatty looking black Defiants are weathered RDM2 finishes.

as an aside, later in the war is was discovered that the best black finish was high gloss 'Jet' black, as in searchlights Smooth Night showed up grey, while gloss black reflected away the light, providing better concealment.

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The constituent parts of Night have been made clear, but I think we would wish to avoid the sight of Defiants painted in a midnight blue based on knowledge of a blue pigment in the mix. Of course everyone is free to paint their model however they wish... but if they are trying to "get it right" they should be helped by as full a description as possible.

This is where the perception and descriptive communication of colour gets interesting because Methuen, for example, distinguishes between blueish black and midnight blue. They position midnight blue as blacker than 19 F 2 which is in a category of blueish grey. Blueish black is off their scale at 21 H 8 and described as 'black with a tinge of blue' which is exactly correct for Night. It is darker than midnight blue.

So I agree that "we" (whoever "we" is) might want to avoid midnight blue but the fact remains that Night is what it is. The MAP standard at least being measurable and definable as a specific colour which is not pure black, or a dark grey, but 'black with a tinge of blue'. Exactly similar as it happens to WEM's IJN cowling blue-black as the IJN used the same pigments in ratio.

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Hi Martin and all,

From my own experience in modeling, I find starting with an off-black or very dark gray is the best choice for painting; armed with Nick's knowledge of the paints, I'd also add enough blue to see a slight change in the tone. This will allow you to use straight black as a wash in the panel lines, especially in "major" recesses such as around engine cowlings and control surfaces. If you look at photos of dark airplanes you will see that those major lines around the flight controls and removeable panels show up as being darker than the painted colors. Somewhat lighter shades of dark brown/gray can be used in the "minor" panel lines to show the crud that accumulates there.

I also have one caution; many modelers follow other modelers in using very light shades of grey for those minor panel lines in order to accentuate and "break up" the dark gray surfaces. In my view this ruins the effect just as much as using straight black panel lines on light colored surfaces. It's like a negative image, so to speak. You can certainly add some slightly lighter gray streaking, and even heavier weathering to reflect these pictures of the Defiants. But remember, when weathering if you think it could use a bit more; it's usually time to stop! That "I'll just add a little more" usually puts us back in Toyland instead of staying in Reality-land.

My two quatloos, Jim

Edited by Jim Kiker
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Thanks Jim, I think this is the way I am going to go as I want to keep the effect subtle. Gill will help me with mixing the blue into the very dark grey.

Martin

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