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BikKit

SR-71 Blackbird, Blue ?

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Hi 

Next up for me is a 1/72  SR-71A Blackbird my problem (among many ) is finding a colour to finish it in I have read it was painted a very dark blue but when I search for pictures depending on light and angles etc it can look anything from Matt black to almost silver I was thinking of using Tamiya rubber black XF-85 but might be to dark ?  Any thoughts or (polite) suggestions welcome 

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I've seen the one at Duxford many times, and it has always appeared as a dirty black shade of grey.  If I get round to doing mine one day, I'll probably just add some white, and maybe even a bit of blue to black, or even start with a very dark grey and accent some panels to fit.  Sometimes pictures end up with a different cast due to processing, printing, scanning in, or even the light on the day they were taken.  In the US Hangar it looks filthy black and various shades of dust :)

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http://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?115541-The-reason-why-SR-71s-were-painted-black

 

it's special 'ironball' paint 

http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/us/100years/stories/blackbird.html

(LA to DC in 67 minutes!) 

 

blue-blacks have been discussed here,  RAF Night and Japanese cowling  colour both have Ultramarine pigment. 

 

How much this would show upon a model is moot, and opinion is that black models are hard to do, ...

 

bit more googling

http://hyperscale.com/2009/features/sr71df_5.htm

Don Fogal built an entire family of them.... so

Quote

Now, I know that it’s argued that the Blackbird is not Black. Even the Air Force manuals say it is ‘Indigo Blue’ by F.S. Number, but any one looking at would say it is as Black as any Black they know. So just to keep all the rivet counters, and armchair modelers at bay, I mixed up a batch of what I call… you guessed it, ‘Blackbird Black’. I simply mixed in some Dark Sea Blue, to my Gloss black. Now, only under the right lighting conditions can you see just a hint of the Blue in the finish, very much like the real thing. I believe that even the exact color of the SR-71 is ‘classified’.

The extremes of high altitude, and Mach three flight wreak havoc on the aircrafts skin, and paint. All the constant heating and cooling tend to change the color of the aircraft depending on the material underneath, and the different temperatures reached. So, I painted a few panels straight Gloss Black, and a couple more Flat Black, and some more with a very Dark Gray, to break up the monotone look that an all Black aircraft has.

The particular aircraft I picked was during the aircraft’s twilight years. At the time the new lo-vis Red markings were being used.

After the decals were added, I sprayed the whole plane down with Testors Dullcote Lacquer. Now all the different panels look like they should, with just slight variations in the paint. A little weathering was done using pastels, and powdered graphite, and the main building was complete. I was really striving for “subtlety’ in the over all weathered look of the plane.

 

Some of the other modifications I made to the kit were to the nose landing gear wheels. They look way to large, so, I sanded them down in thickness, and used a file to make them smaller in diameter.
            
As for the main landing gear tires, I really didn’t like the way they looked painted aluminum. (As per the instructions) The tires on real Blackbirds are impregnated with aluminum dust to dissipate heat better. So, I painted them light gray, and dry brushed a little aluminum on them. I think the scale effect is much better looking. 

 

 

HTH

T

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I read that the paint on the AC is "high emissivity blue" which is indistinguishable by the human eye, from black.

Either Tamiya's NATO black or rubber black are good. I used rubber black on my 1:72nd kit.

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54 minutes ago, hairystick said:

I read that the paint on the AC is "high emissivity blue" which is indistinguishable by the human eye, from black.

 

 

So, if it's indistinguishable, how do they know it's blue then? :hmmm:

 

:lol:

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20 hours ago, Tony C said:

 

So, if it's indistinguishable, how do they know it's blue then? :hmmm:

 

:lol:

They use a machine, instead of the human eye?

 

Probably nip down to the local  hardware shop where they have one of those fancy "paint scanner" thingys!:D

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4 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

Don Fogal built an entire family of them.... so

Quote

As for the main landing gear tires, I really didn’t like the way they looked painted aluminum. (As per the instructions) The tires on real Blackbirds are impregnated with aluminum dust to dissipate heat better. So, I painted them light gray, and dry brushed a little aluminum on them.

 

Having spent time being "up close and personal"  with several SRs when I was stationed at Beale, I would just go ahead and paint the main gear tires aluminum and be done with it.  They really do look that way.  Some of the guys in my shop who had gone on airshow TDYs with them reported being asked why the tires were made from concrete!  There were also questions asking if they could go supersonic under water.  About the second or third time I was in the rear cockpit I had to remind myself that this was the rear cockpit of an SR-71 and what a thrill it was to be in one.

Later,

Dave

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I sprayed mine gloss black, added decals and then a flat coat of Citadel Purity Seal (Not too heavy). Looks bang on. I have done both 1/72 and 1/48. The big one is going for a refurb since I got an Afterburner sheet for it. The kit decals were rubbish.

I would also recommend laying  the decals with Klear, as they tend to silver, even on a gloss finish.

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I'd finish it in Matt Black, if you add a little blue for the sake of accuracy or realism it'll just look weird? I've seen the real thing at Duxford and Mildenhall way back when, they really do appear matt black?

But, that's just me, you must let your conscience be your guide?? and risk being forever known as the guy with blue Blackbird??Ha! (just kidding?)

 

 

 . . . Kes (who has plans for 'what if?'ing my Blackbird as an RAE meteorological research aircraft in white!!)

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I think the blue-black think is a a bit of an urban-myth. I'm modelling the Cyberhobbies (Dragon) 1/144 kit and have been pouring over my Speciality Press Blackbird book, my conclusions are:

  1. Freshly painted/cleaned they are matt black - you make want to lighten it for "scale effect"
  2. They weathered quite heavily, grey distress patterns all over, also they look frankly dusty and thin coat of sand/d,earh wouldn't be far off.
  3. With this build I've decided to lighten the black with buff and earth colours (esp the undercarriage) to get away from a monochrome/greyscale finished. You could also use light blue if you wish.

Basically just look at a good selection of photos and decide where you want to take it.

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I'll take my guidance from the SR-71's designer.  In his (assisted) autobiography "Kelly - More than my share of it all" at page 144, Kelly Johnson states" The Blackbirds thake their name from the dark blue-black paint...Actually the color of the Blackbird becomes blue as temperatures increase at high speed and altitude." 

 

Based on this and seeing both operational SR-71s at Mildenhall and museum variants, I'd go for slightly faded black, but would not use brown and would be very sparing oin the blue.  Of course, if you want to do an in-flight version with the nacelles in high speed configuration, then dark blue might be better!

 

Regards

Tim

 

 

 

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I have met and attended talks with Col Richard Graham, former C/O  of 9th RW at Beale, including his 'walkaround' of the example at DX. Never any mention of Blue or 'official FS colours'  e8n2 will know far more than me if he was assigned to the aircraft, and if 'Kelly' says it was blue/black, it was blue/black.

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Come the day I will be picking up Halfords version of Ford Ink Spot Blue.  I had a C-Max that colour, and day in day out it was black, but at the right moment it was a lovely deep dark Navy Blue.

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Also bear in mind that in photos where there's a lot of blue sky present, the paint will be reflecting that sufficiently to give a blue cast. Here's a good example:

 

SR-71-Blackbirds.jpeg

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I remember seeing a pic of one at a museum in the States that looked a metallic looking very dark blue but the only one I saw in the flesh (64-1780) was at 1986's Farnbourgh show and it looked matt black. Agree with John Laidlaw above that it seems to depend on weather conditions.

 

Paul Harrison

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Having seen one in person, I did not get any blue impression. Given Kelly's description of the paint going blue at a high speed/temp would indicate an in flight model would be a better candidate for a bluish scheme, vs. a black scheme on the ground. I can see some arguing that it would still be hot after a flight on the ground, so take some creative license.

 

I do remember reading about the U-2 being painted a very dark blue, with photo evidence. 

 

2 hours ago, PLC1966 said:

Come the day I will be picking up Halfords version of Ford Ink Spot Blue.  I had a C-Max that colour, and day in day out it was black, but at the right moment it was a lovely deep dark Navy Blue.

Funny, I have a RAM in "maximum steel" which has got to be the worst name for the best colour available. It goes black, grey, blue and purple depending on who is looking at it in what light. The Ministry of Transportation says it's blue, and that is how I see it too! :)

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On 11/4/2016 at 2:10 PM, JamesP said:
  1. They weathered quite heavily, grey distress patterns all over, also they look frankly dusty...

They most certainly have that appearance to them.

I fully intend to replicate this by putting my model on top of the display case and allow this to happen naturally...;)

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6 hours ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

I have met and attended talks with Col Richard Graham, former C/O  of 9th RW at Beale, including his 'walkaround' of the example at DX. Never any mention of Blue or 'official FS colours'  e8n2 will know far more than me if he was assigned to the aircraft, and if 'Kelly' says it was blue/black, it was blue/black.

I can direct you to this page at Cybermodeler of the tail art that the SRs had for awhile:

 

http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/sr-71/sr-71_artgallery.shtml

 

Sitting on the ground they certainly were a flat black, and maybe a little dusty (Beale AFB is sort of out in the boonies which is why they chose it as a home station.  Lots of dust around too!).  As far as official colors, if there was an official paint scheme for it, it definitely WAS NOT in T.O. 1-1-4.  What was surprising to me the first time I got my own personal copy of 1-1-4 was there was nothing for the F-16 in it except for the sizes of the tail codes and serial number.  It also had a lot of aircraft still in it that were no longer in USAF service.  I put in a change request to delete the out of date pages, but it was turned down because foreign air forces were still using things like C-123s and C-47s and they were using 1-1-4 for paint schemes for those aircraft.  Any official paint scheme would have been in a SR specific T.O. and I never saw the one for that (I was in avionics and had no need to use a crew chief or corrosion control T.O.

Later,

Dave

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Back at the RIAT (I think it was still IAT at that time) in 1983 there was an SR-71 and U-2. For me they were the true stars of the show! They were still operational at the time and as real as you can get it. Both of them were as black as it could be! Dusty, very matt black on top surface and glossy black on the bottom from the fuel leaking from the airframe.  Still shades of grey could be distinguished on the top surface making individual panels identifiable.

 

 

On the kit one is trying to replicate somehow the real thing or to be more precise what you see of it. On the real aircraft standing on the ground even with the famous British weather at the RIAT there was a bit of blue reflecting from the sky. On my kit I did add a little bit of blue to the different shades of grey which were going from anything mid grey to completely black on the airframe.

 

SR-714_zps4b720b24.jpg

 

SR-712_zps3c609cfc.jpg

 

SR-718_zpsb44c7b76.jpg

 

SR-715_zpsfb375bca.jpg

 

SR-713_zps9ddd54d2.jpg

 

Sorry for the "real" dust on the airframe but it has been in "longterm" storage next to the Su-25 in a custom made wooden box. 

 

Best regards

Gabor

Edited by ya-gabor

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The manual actually calls out three types of black - "Emissivity Black" for everything aft of FS 715 (manufacturing joint where the wing leading edges meet the fuselage chines), "Non-conductive Black" for everything forward of FS 715 and the spikes and yet another Black to cover thermal blanket areas.

I guess that Emissivity Black was the one that had ferrous particles in it, while the Non-conductive one had not so that it doesn't interfere with sensors....

Whether or not any of these had a blue tint is not specified, all are called Black.

It is stated though that overspray or blending of those paints can cause a difference in colour. It is also stated that these paints are a performance requirement, not cosmetic. This paint is in no way similar to the paint on early U-2's for instance.

 

Jeffrey

 

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I acquired a couple of bits - a titanium inner chine support and an inspection panel - of SR-71 when the last one left RAF Mildenhall. The exterior part was painted....

 

....Black. No ifs, buts, or maybes.

 

 

Edited by andyf117

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On 11/5/2016 at 0:52 AM, ya-gabor said:

Back at the RIAT (I think it was still IAT at that time) in 1983 there was an SR-71 and U-2. For me they were the true stars of the show! They were still operational at the time and as real as you can get it. Both of them were as black as it could be! Dusty, very matt black on top surface and glossy black on the bottom from the fuel leaking from the airframe.  Still shades of grey could be distinguished on the top surface making individual panels identifiable.

 

 

On the kit one is trying to replicate somehow the real thing or to be more precise what you see of it. On the real aircraft standing on the ground even with the famous British weather at the RIAT there was a bit of blue reflecting from the sky. On my kit I did add a little bit of blue to the different shades of grey which were going from anything mid grey to completely black on the airframe.

 

SR-714_zps4b720b24.jpg

 

SR-712_zps3c609cfc.jpg

 

SR-718_zpsb44c7b76.jpg

 

SR-715_zpsfb375bca.jpg

 

SR-713_zps9ddd54d2.jpg

 

Sorry for the "real" dust on the airframe but it has been in "longterm" storage next to the Su-25 in a custom made wooden box. 

 

Best regards

Gabor

Whose kit is that of the SR?  It has been decades since I modified the Italeri YF-12A and SR-71 to make the one and only SR-71C.  On the last picture I can hardly tell if the immediate area around the circular window for the ANS star tracker is flattened or not.  It is on the real aircraft.  Based on the panel line engraved into the top of the fuselage, the ANS hatch is much too big, being only about half as long as on the kit.  On the Hasegawa 72nd scale kit the window seems to me to be too far to the rear from where it really is.  The same seems to be true on this model.  For the most part, unless you have really been around this area of the aircraft, you wouldn't know one way or the other.  As an aside, the open barrel like structures in the main gear wells, which I believe were made of titanium, was to contain any pieces of tire or wheel that might go tearing through the structure if the tires happened to burst.

Later,

Dave

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According with YA-GABOR : mee to at IAT 1983 and 1985 (at that time it was not Royal....).

 The SR-71 was black withouth doubts; the paint was very stained and faded but black !

 

r.

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