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85sqn

Light Blue #23 on PT-17 Stearman

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Hi folks I am about to build a Stearman using this decal sheet: 

it calls for FS15193 as a match for blue #23. Typing this into google reveals that PRU blue could be a good match for this: http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/colorcharts/stuff_eng_colorcharts_sweden.htm

 

Does that seem reasonable or are there any dedicated paints for this colour?

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PRU Blue is much too dark and grey to be a match for the blue used on US trainers, imo, unless your chosen scheme is unusual.

 

I used True Blue, as produced by Hannants in their xtra colour range and it is as close as anything I've come across.

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Dana Bell's "U.S. Air Force Colours 1926-1942" says this about the correspondance between Light Blue 23 and the FS: "35109, poor match, #23 is stronger, a little greener, a little lighter, glossy"

The same author later commented that the US Army had introduced a new series of enamel colours in 1934 where #23 had changed to a darker, purpler and stronger blue while retaining the same name.

Using True Blue may be a good idea as this was the colour accepted later (from 1939/40) as replacement under ANA standards.. meaning that at a certain point aircrafts would have been painted using True Blue and not the previous Light Blue #23 in its darker shade (that had superceded the lighter one).

Edited by Giorgio N

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Thanks for the replies, just to add to the mix here is a link to a photo of the aircraft could it be colourised?

 

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1 hour ago, Giorgio N said:

Dana Bell's "U.S. Air Force Colours 1926-1942" says this about the correspondance between Light Blue 23 and the FS: "35109, poor match, #23 is stronger, a little greener, a little lighter, glossy"

The same author later commented that the US Army had introduced a new series of enamel colours in 1934 where #23 had changed to a darker, purpler and stronger blue while retaining the same name.

Using True Blue may be a good idea as this was the colour accepted later (from 1939/40) as replacement under ANA standards.. meaning that at a certain point aircrafts would have been painted using True Blue and not the previous Light Blue #23 in its darker shade (that had superceded the lighter one).

 

Light Blue 23 was replaced by True Blue in the AN (joint Army-Navy) porcelain plates issued to paint manufacturers in June 1938 together with a note to that effect. True Blue was in turn replaced by ANA 501 Light Blue in ANA Bulletin 166 of 4 Dec 1943. ANA 501is even annotated in that document as "formerly called True Blue". In March 1959 ANA 501 was in turn superceded by FS 15102. 

 

The closest FS value to Blue 23 is 15193 at 4.36 where < 2.0 = a close match. It has slightly less green and is lighter but would probably look acceptable on a model. 

 

Blue 23 to 15109 is at 13.2 and nothing like PRU Blue. FS 15193 is better for visualising and matching the colour of 23 in the absence of anything else.

 

Nick

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I don't know how much this will help, but these photos may clarify things a bit... especially for those who are unfamiliar with the two blues being discussed here. First is a scan of part of the Monogram colour chip book showing the early Blue 23 and the later darker blue, often called "True Blue". Nit-pickers please note that these were scanned from chips that had been mixed to match originals, and not original chips. Also while these look OK on my monitor, appearance may vary slightly on yours.

blues.jpg

 

Next is an old photo of aircraft BP-30. The photo is old and faded, and the colour has shifted a bit. Undoubtedly the aircraft itself has faded and weathered in the Arizona sun as well.

blue 23.jpg

 

And finally here's an official Boeing (Stearman) photo showing a line-up of multi-national aircraft, some of which use the later darker (True) blue finish.

Boeing later blue.jpg

 

What would I use for Blue 23? Well, I would first find the best representation of the colour, be it an FS 595 chart or a commercial colour chart. Then I would go to a dealer in automotive paints that can match the colour with a small quantity of paint or a spray can. In fact, that's exactly what I did.

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Thanks for the insight guys, I realise that True Blue is quite different from #23 so I'll have to mix it up or get it mixed.

 

cheers

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Nick, is your comparison with the FS made for Light Blue #23 as it appeared in the Quartermaster Corps Spec. 3.1 of 1919 ? Have you ever come in touch with a series of Army Air Corps sets of porcelain plates dating around 1934 ? From what I've read, in these the colour was shown to be darker than the plates in Spec. 3-1 and in fact when comparing #23 with USN True Blue, Dana Bell mentions True Blue as being "lighter, much stronger and slightly purpler than the Air Corps color". The Spec. 3-1 colour sure wasn't darker than True Blue

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19 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

Nick, is your comparison with the FS made for Light Blue #23 as it appeared in the Quartermaster Corps Spec. 3.1 of 1919 ? Have you ever come in touch with a series of Army Air Corps sets of porcelain plates dating around 1934 ? From what I've read, in these the colour was shown to be darker than the plates in Spec. 3-1 and in fact when comparing #23 with USN True Blue, Dana Bell mentions True Blue as being "lighter, much stronger and slightly purpler than the Air Corps color". The Spec. 3-1 colour sure wasn't darker than True Blue

 

Hi Giorgio

 

I'm not really sure what you are getting at here. True Blue had its origin as a Navy colour whilst Light Blue 23 was an Army Air Corps colour until the A-N colour standards were introduced. The exact date of introduction of Light Blue 23 seems uncertain as the first official mention of it in March 1930 suggests that it was already being specified for some aircraft. It was not included in the A-N 'wet' standards of September 1930 with a note that it was still considered to be an experimental finish and a previous sample provided by the Air Corps, undated, was to be referenced. It was included in the A-N colour cards issued from August 1931 but it is apparent there were issues with the colour and with the first set of porcelain plates (issued to manufacturers for comment circa 1932-33) where in one case it was described as "a trifle darker and yellower" than the A-N cards and in another as "darker and grayer". Nevertheless it was officially promulgated as a standard fuselage colour in May 1934 but replaced by the Navy True Blue in September 1938.  

 

The two colours are essentially different hues as shown in bobmig's post above so comparing them one to the other is not very helpful in visualising either. True Blue is a true blue (!) and Light Blue 23 is more towards a turquoise, like some other light and sky blues of the 1930s.

 

Nick

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On 11/18/2016 at 2:35 AM, 85sqn said:

Hi folks I am about to build a Stearman using this decal sheet: 

it calls for FS15193 as a match for blue #23. Typing this into google reveals that PRU blue could be a good match for this: http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/colorcharts/stuff_eng_colorcharts_sweden.htm

 

Does that seem reasonable or are there any dedicated paints for this colour?

I'd be interested to know how Iliad can be so sure that Light Blue #23 is the correct shade for planes from well into the 1940s.

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1 hour ago, Seawinder said:

I'd be interested to know how Iliad can be so sure that Light Blue #23 is the correct shade for planes from well into the 1940s.

Sure... BP-30 is based on the colour photo shown above - and here again. The darker ANA colour was adopted in 1939, but stocks of the old colours were to be used up first... and the trainers were'nt repainted just because a new standard was adopted, so Light Blue 23 aircraft would have soldiered on until they needed refinishing.

blue 23.jpg

In another thread someone asked if it might be colourized. I don't believe so. The photo is credited as a City of Mesa, Arizona photo, and I can't see them colourizing images from their official archive. I'm sure it's just an old photo that has faded and shifted over the years. The Arizona climate probably wasn't kind to the actual aircraft finishes either!

 

Now for the US Navy N2S-4. That aircraft was built for the USAAF, complete with USAAF colours, but then delivered to the Navy to fulfil its contract. Here's a photo of it after it pranged compared with an official Boeing (Stearman) photo of an aircraft in the obviously darker blue.

Bob

blue comp.jpg

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Hi Nick

I was curious about the mention of the darker porcelain plates I had read in the Bell book. Your post is very informative and useful, I guess that the porcelain plates that were found darker than the A-N plates are the ones Bell was referring to. This would solve my doubts about the existance of a "darker interpretation" of #23, doubts that came from reading the page on colours from the book mentioned above.

 

Not that I cared too much when I built my 1/48 P-26, as for this I ended using Vallejo's 840 Light Turquoise, a paint that is maybe just a touch lighter than the sample shown above and a bit less grey

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Hi Gents,

 

I have been hoping to have time to write a proper explanation of the Army's interwar colors, but work have kept me out of the house and away from my documents.  If you'll excuse the off-the-cuff explanation, here's what I can offer.

 

The original Light Blue 23 came from Corps of Engineers Spec 3-1, but in 1934 that began to change.  The CE spec included thumbnail sized chips glued to paper folders - not the best ref for color matching.  By the end of the year, the Air Corps introduced a totally new set of aircraft color standards, 150 sets of which were produced, all of them porcelain enamel on large metal plates, stored in metal boxes.  Using the same color names (and often the same numbers, though the numbers were some times not mentioned), the new chips looked nothing like the CE chips.  There was confusion with manufacturers and depots, and both color standards could be found on aircraft up until the US entered the war.

 

Also in 1934, the first ANA color agreements were reached, with the Army agreeing to use the Navy's True Blue instead of Light Blue 23.  Despite the joint agreement, the Army continued to order its own colors when stocking paints or ordering new aircraft.  The first mention of the ANA colors didn't really surface until 1939, and even then the Army colors remained in use.

 

Additional confusion came in 1941, when the Navy renamed True Blue "Light Blue" - giving us three different colors with the same name.  The same problem could be found with ALL of the Army's interwar non-camouflage colors.

 

I've only seem three sets of the Army's 1934 color standards - one is at the USAF Museum, another at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and the last is a partial set in my own collection.  I'd love to know where the other 147 chip sets went, and I'd really like to get my hands on a complete set for my own collection!

 

Cheers,

 

 

Dana

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5 hours ago, Dana Bell said:

 

Also in 1934, the first ANA color agreements were reached, with the Army agreeing to use the Navy's True Blue instead of Light Blue 23.  

Dana

 

That's interesting if correct, but throws up some anomalies. Where is that agreement documented and what does it actually say because on 16 February 1934 Lt Col J E Pickel, Acting Executive of the Air Corps, approved an earlier recommendation to standardise on Light Blue fuselages and the subsequent Spec. 98-24 113 'Color for Army Air Corps Aeroplanes'  issued on 23 May 1934 cites Light Blue 23 throughout with no mention of True Blue. I know that in 1933 Titanine Inc had suggested that the Army and Navy should agree to a common set of colours and that Sherwin Williams Co had compared the sample porcelain plate for Light Blue 23 to the previous A-N True Blue standard in the 1932 colour card set noting only a slight difference, which is mysterious since the two colours were supposedly completely different at that time. So do you mean that the Army Air Corps had changed the colour of Light Blue 23 to match True Blue whilst retaining the original name?

 

The Air Corps Engineering Section letter to manufacturers accompanying the A-N porcelain plates sent to paint manufacturers in June 1938 suggests not as it stated:-

 

"With the exception of the Light Blue shade now represented by the True Blue plate, the colors are in quite close agreement with the former Standards and will require only slight pigment modifications to effect the change."

 

That suggests that the Army only began to use True Blue instead of Light Blue 23 from about 1938 and not 1934 as you have asserted here. And that paint manufacturers were still producing paint to match Light Blue 23 at that time.  If the Air Corps had begun using True Blue from 1934 the window for the use of Light Blue 23 would have been quite brief, circa 1930-34. 

 

Nick

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Hi Nick,

 

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough - we are talking about three totally different colors here: the original 3-1 Light Blue 23, the Air Corps porcelain enamel plate also called Light Blue (often Light Blue 23), and the ANA Light Blue, which was nothing more than the Navy's True Blue marking color.

 

The 1934 agreement to switch to the Navy's True Blue can be found in the records of the Joint Aircraft Committee.  Note that the agreement, which predated the release of the ANA porcelain enamel chips by several years, was ignored by Wright Field, which continued to call for Light Blue 23 fuselages.  The problem for manufacturers was that the Army now had two completely different colors with the same name and number.  Few modelers or model paint manufacturers are aware of the second Army Light Blue because it is rarely mentioned in secondary sources and there are very few surviving samples.

 

There was actually a fourth, unofficial version of Light Blue.  B-10Bs at March Field, California, were delivered in the 3-1 version of Light Blue 23.  That pale, turquoise blue faded dramatically in the sun, and the unit there was gigged at its annual inspection for the unattractive appearance of its aircraft.  The group then mixed its 3-1 Light Blue 23 with Insignia Blue to create a darker, more stable shade.  In the 1934 inspection, the group was gigged for using an unofficial color.  I've always expected that the appearance of the porcelain plate later in 1934 might have been effected by the failure of the 3-1 color to stand up to exposure.

 

What this means for modelers is that there have been three choices for the blue fuselage color on interwar Army aircraft - four choices if you're modeling an aircraft from March Field!  At the same time the Army was introducing Light Blue as the fuselage color for combat aircraft, there were two colors with the same name available, and confusion meant that both were used.  In the late '30s the Navy color also was approved, though the earlier two colors were still used on some aircraft.  

 

Cheers,

 

 

Dana

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Ok thanks - that's clear now. My only issue is your use of the term 'ANA' for the porcelain plates, which as far as I know derives from the Army Navy Aeronautical Bulletin of 1943 and refers to the subsequent ANA colours. Prior to this the term A-N seems to be used for the Army-Navy colour standards, at least by Archer and other writers, perhaps just to avoid confusion rather than an official term.  

 

Do you have proper colour values for those other light blues? 

 

Nick

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Hi Nick,

 

Yes, there were several terms used to describe the Army-Navy agreements.  The issued joint specifications generally began with "AN," and the later camouflage specs were often called ANB, but the ANA term was used to distinguish between aircraft colors and colors used for other vehicles and equipment.  The Army continued to use 3-1 Light Blue 23 for a variety of applications, without ever switching to the Air Corps' colors.  (Even the 1943 3-1 kept some of the old Army colors that were not covered by the ANA agreements.)

 

Sorry, no color values, though somewhere I have the proportions of Flag Blue to Light Blue briefly used at March Field.

 

Cheers,

 

 

Dana

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If you were to re-create the blue and yellow paint scheme on, say, a flyable trainer, what federal standard 595 color would you use for the fuselage? The light blue no.23 seems a bit odd. The true blue makes sense, but paintings and photos show a lighter blue that I prefer. Just trying to stay accurate to the 1930s color scheme and make a striking, pleasant look.

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On 11/05/2019 at 23:24, SWAT12 said:

If you were to re-create the blue and yellow paint scheme on, say, a flyable trainer, what federal standard 595 color would you use for the fuselage? The light blue no.23 seems a bit odd. The true blue makes sense, but paintings and photos show a lighter blue that I prefer. Just trying to stay accurate to the 1930s color scheme and make a striking, pleasant look.

Any plane from the PT-13/17 family should absolutely have the ANA 'True Blue' fuselage.  But a Consolidated PT-3 from the late 1920s-early 30s would have the slightly-turquoise Lt. Blue 23 colour.  Pretty straightforward in practical terms, despite the complicated explanations above. 

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Here's an interesting photo, albeit not a PT-17. It does, however, show the two blues together. It's a PT-26 of Little Norway in Toronto, and you can see there are what I assume to be replacement panels atop and below the nose in the older blue variant, while the rest of the fuselage is overall "True blue". Their PT-19s/26s were originally in the lighter colour, so I assume these were taken from an old airframe being used for parts.

Bob

blueblue.jpg

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On 13/05/2019 at 16:46, bobmig said:

Here's an interesting photo, albeit not a PT-17. It does, however, show the two blues together. It's a PT-26 of Little Norway in Toronto, and you can see there are what I assume to be replacement panels atop and below the nose in the older blue variant, while the rest of the fuselage is overall "True blue". Their PT-19s/26s were originally in the lighter colour, so I assume these were taken from an old airframe being used for parts.

Bob

 

Not too sure what to make of that photo.  The first PT-19s were delivered in 1940, well after the switch over to the 'True Blue' shade occurred, so that's the colour they should have used on all of them.  That is visible on the fabric portion of the fuselage at the right hand edge of the photo. To me, the upper and lower cowl panels seem to have been slightly crudely repainted in situ, as the drain pipe sticking through the lower panel has also been painted when it should have been either masked off, or the cowl panels painted while off the aircraft. The most likely scenario is that the light blue panels were replacements in primer and they have been painted on the aircraft in some mixed blue shade because they didn't have any of the correct colour.

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You may well be correct, Roger... it's one of things that we can never know with certainty. Here's another photo to ponder: It would seem to indicate that the lighter blue was the original colour. Note how the rudder markings are applied leaving the airframe blue to show through for the stripe, but on the wing, which is yellow, a blue stripe had to be applied... in a much darker colour. What might this mean? I would speculate that if darker blue paints (True Blue, roundel blue, or something similar) were available, touch-ups would not be done with the lighter colour on a darker aircraft. Again... we'll never know for sure, but it's fun to speculate. In any event, we're drifting from the original subject, which was Stearman BP-30, and which was light blue #23, a most difficult colour to match.

Bob

153.jpeg

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What year was that photograph taken? That rudder fabric would originally be Grade A Cotton and there is no way it remained serviceable more than a decade, so if that photo was taken in say 1955 or later then it's not the original fabric

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