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224 Peter

RAF Dark Green 1942

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What is the true colour of Dark Green as applied to UK manufactured aircraft during WWII?

 

For many years I've used Humbrol 30 and it is very close to US FS 595A Ref 34096. I got a copy of the Federal Standard paint chips back in the 1970s and it is kept in the dark. 

RAF Dark Green is a bluish green with no hint of brown. 

Recent tins of 30 are, when dry, almost exactly the same as 30 painted on to models back in the 1970s. 

 

Exploring airbrushing and acrylics purchased a number of Vallejo paints, covering WWII RAF colours. I was given a basic set of LifeColour paints.

This week I tried both Life Colour 538 and Vallejo 71.016. Both claim to be RAF Dark Green, but once painted and dry are VERY different. 

The Vallejo seems to be more like 34096, a dark olive green colour with no blue hue at all and the Lifecolour is worse, a light earthy colour, more like 34027. 

 

What is the general experience of the colour accuracy of acrylic paints form the various makers? 

At the moment, based on one trial I'm very suspicious of all these acrylic paints..based on these two the temptation is to bin the lot!

 

 

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Hu 30 is generally taken to be a poor match for MAP Dark Green which was an olive green shade, Hu 116 or 163 are good matches to recognised colour standards for the MAP colour.

Steve.

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Relying upon the US Federal Standards to match British colours is not a particularly good idea.  They are specifically produced for US use, and are rarely an exact match for any other nation's colours.  Any equivalence is only approximate - i.e. the nearest one available.  If you wish to obtain a better guide, search for British Aviation Colours of WW2, published by Arms and Armour Press with the co-operation of the RAF Museum, which contains colour chips for 29 of the important Ministry of Aircraft production paints.

 

I've also used H30 since the late 1950s, but became aware of its shortcomings when Humbrol first produced their Authentic colour range, in sets of six, and like you I was surprised by the dark olive green appearance,   H30 is a better match for Dark Sea Green, which contains a similar blue component.  However, like all the other low numbers, it was not produced specifically to match MAP paints so any similarity is largely chance and the common use of colour pigments.

 

It's fair to add that there was some variation in the wartime colour, particularly once weathered.  Sometimes it would go to a much browner shade, which will be common to anyone visiting open-air UK museums in the 80s and 90s, if not now.  At other times it would appear much more of a grassy green, presumably dependent upon the manufacturer and the wartime supply of pigment.  However the appropriate pigment producing the green colour was restricted to the RAF after the first couple of years, with the disappearance of green on Army vehicles and warships.

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49 minutes ago, 224 Peter said:

RAF Dark Green is a bluish green with no hint of brown. 

Recent tins of 30 are, when dry, almost exactly the same as 30 painted on to models back in the 1970s. 

 

No, as Steve says it's an olive green,  Humbrol 30  has been a blue-green since the 70's,  I remember it being the 'equivalent' of Airfix M3 back then,  and it being obviously different even when I was 9.....

Also,  FS595 is paint approved for US government use,  widely referenced, useful as widely available,  but not to taken as EXACT matches, in this case you  need to the British standards,

 

this is a scan of the PAINT chips (not printed)  chart that came with an RAF musuem book

(EDIT this is the chart referred to by Graham above BTW)

bstablegb_1.JPG

H30 is maybe closest to Extra Dark Sea  Green.

 

for Acrylic  matches, Xtracrylix are rated, 

 

I brushed out some Vallejo I have ,  and found a near exact match for RAF Dark Green is 70.893 US Dark Green (says FS 34079 on label,  but I don't have an FS 595 to compare)

 

 

 

 

 

have a read here

and here

for previous discussion on Hum 30

note,  it was suggested back in 1979 to add some red to the Authentic colour Dark  Green to kill off the blue tint.

 

 

See also

2 hours ago, Cookenbacher said:

@Greenshirt has done a nice RAF Dark green comparison on his site. He states that Vallejo Model Color 893 and Humbrol acrylic 116 both matched his color chips. Based on his write up, I've used Vallejo 893 often (it's unfortunately labeled "FS 34079 US Dark Green" which it does not match), but have now switched to Colourcoats. I can say that I cannot tell Vallejo 893 and Colurcoats RAF Dark green apart - which makes sense as they both match the official color chip.

 

 

 

 

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The original Humbrol 30 was *very* olive:

 

Hum302_zpsd5t1ondm.jpg

 

Hu301_zpswfgiq1gz.jpg

 

The most recent formulation has been moved closer to RAF Dark Green. I don't have a pot immediately to hand but I do remember saying I'd be happy to use it.

 

John

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So what could Extra Dark Sea Green be used on? I take it it's a Coastal command colour...

 

John.

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8 minutes ago, johnd said:

So what could Extra Dark Sea Green be used on? I take it it's a Coastal command colour...

 

John.

the fabled PRU  scheme of Extra Dark Sea Green, Extra Dark Sea Grey and PRU Mauve  is one of the few uses I know of....

 

 

 

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RAF Dark Green is quite literally the opposite of a blue green using industry standard CIELAB colourspace. On the contrary it is a slightly greenish dark yellow - or olive. L = lightness from 0 to 100 with 0 being theoretical black and 100 being...

 

A and B are two axes of a cartesian coordinate. 0,0 values are completely colourless such that L=40, a=0, b=0 is a completely neutral grey.

 

Negative a is green, positive a is red. Negative b is blue and positive b is yellow.

 

http://www.e-paint.co.uk/Lab_values.asp?cRange=BS 381C&cRef=BS381 241&cDescription=Dark green

 

The published Lab values for current BS381C-241 Dark Green which for the purposes of this discussion is close enough to prove the point are:

 

L=36.26 a=-1.64 b=6.51

 

The b value would need to be fairly significantly shifted to make it a blue-green (and the a value more strongly negative or else it would just be a slightly greenish grey).

 

Vallejo got a paint right for RAF Dark Green by accident when getting FS34079 wrong, and Lifecolor make the nearest FS595 colours.

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I've always thought that EDSGreen is the intended colour on the Martlet Mk.1 seen in the US pre-delivery.  I believe it was also intended for the new Tropical Sea Scheme which was  tested prewar but never adopted.

 

John: that photo of an early H30, appearing yellow, is certainly not the green I used to use.  As Peter said at the start of the thread, the old H30 was much the same as the current one.  I bought a number of tins a couple of years back, around the time it was claimed that a new formulation had been carried out and hoping to strike lucky.  Although the lid certainly appeared more olive the paint inside didn't.

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What a can of worms! 

 

With all the answers, comments and information in this and in Ianpollinar's thread I'm convinced that Humbrol 30 is not now the best match for RAF Dark green, but it probably was once! 

It is also clear that RAF Dark Green weathers and fades and becomes more "olivy" with time, so a new aircraft and an old one are different.

 

Another interesting point is that WWII RAF Dark Green and modern RAF Dark Green are supposed to be the same colour, but since the 1970s Humbrol offered 2 different colours, good old 30 for WWII and HX1 = 163 for the modern colour. They are very different, HX1 is darker, and more olivy. 

 

The big Revell Mosquito, painted in 1973 using HB 2 is a much less blue/green colour than the Typhoon, painted recently using a can of 30 from the 1990s. It is closer in hue to the HX 1 on the 1/24 Harrier, but lighter in tone, but this could be the difference between matt and semi gloss. 

I'll get a new tin of 116 and 163 and compare before making a decision about the paint to use on the Beaufighter. But it is clear that I'll not be using 30 again! 

 

 

 

 

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So, paint your model with whatever you've got and call it good. Most people I know wouldn't know a Tigermoth from a Lancaster, let alone what shade of green was appropriate. Even if you post pictures here, the difference between whatever camera you use and whatever computer monitor, laptop, IPad or cellphone the viewer uses will make that green paint look different. Remember to old saying: close enough for government work.

 

 

Chris

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8 minutes ago, dogsbody said:

So, paint your model with whatever you've got and call it good. Most people I know wouldn't know a Tigermoth from a Lancaster, let alone what shade of green was appropriate. Even if you post pictures here, the difference between whatever camera you use and whatever computer monitor, laptop, IPad or cellphone the viewer uses will make that green paint look different. Remember to old saying: close enough for government work.

 

 

Chris

Chris, 

 

a good, sensible call, but my OCD tends to take over when trying to get the correct answer to a question.

 

So I should write out 100 times.....

I must not be so OCD about colour,

 

 

Peter

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It's not really a can of worms at all.

 

The colour the Ministry of Aircraft Production specified is known. For most people, the set of chips published in British Aviation Colours of World War Two https://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Aviation-Colours-World-War/dp/0853682712 are accepted as the best reference point.

 

The shade of BS381C-241 Dark Green is also known.

 

Both of the colour shift with age, as all paints are prone to - but that is a red herring as far as model paint matching goes.

 

A model paint either matches the RAF Museum approved chips, or BS381C-241, or it doesn't.

 

I don't see the relevence of new or old Humbrol colours to be honest. They're just model paints and they have zero bearing on what colour RAF Dark Green actually was. I accept that decades of prescribing the wholly unsuitable Humbrol 30 for RAF Dark Green on Airfix model kit instructions has probably caused some deep-rooted misconceptipns in some modellers, but the subject of what colour RAF Dark Green was is fairly cut and dry.

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23 minutes ago, dogsbody said:

. Remember to old saying: close enough for government work.

 

I've never been convinced by that saying, as it seems to bear no relation to my experience of working in factories devoted to military.government work.   It seems like a lazy excuse for shoddy work, that somehow would slip through the inspection procedures.  Wishful thinking.  Although I wasn't around at the time, it seems especially unlikely when applied to the regulation-ridden, closely inspected work done in aircraft factories during wartime.  That doesn't mean that shortcuts weren't taken at times, with some recorded lapses in build standards.  As for paints, shortages in key ingredients could affect the colours provided, and certainly the same colour of paint supplied from different factories might well differ somewhat, and certainly could and would fade differently.

 

I entirely agree that your modelling should be done to meet your own standards and willingness to make an effort in any particular area, but I've never seen that as being the same thing as avoiding all care and attention to the original, where the information does exist..

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Posted (edited)

There has been quit a bit of very interesting discussion about the actual colour of MAP Dark Green and the accuracy of various model paints in representing that colour. 

 

This photo of my vintage Revell Hurricane has the Dark Green painted using two different paints. 

 

Hurricane-Dark-Green_s.jpg

 

From the fuselage roundel aft it is new Hu 163, the rest is 1972 vintage Hu 30, sprayed with a coat of Kleer. 

 

The photo was taken outside in diffuse sunlight, and using a Canon EOS M5 Digital Camera with a Sigma 17 to 70mm zoom lens: film speed was 400 ASA, 1/320 second at F8 and is a 6000 x 4000 pixel resolution. So I think the photo is about as good a rendition of the colour on the model as it is possible to have. 

 

So, why did I repaint the rear part? I had to touch up some of the Dark Green and used new Hu30 and it looked terrible, an almost pea green colour. There are other areas of touch up on the wing and cowl, so it looks like I'll have to repaint the lot. 

 

Conclusion: Hu 163 is a good match for Hu 30 from the 1960s and 70s, pre-fire. It also looks reasonably close to the FS Paint chips that I have. So it is close enough the MAP Dark Green, for me. 

 

 

Edited by 224 Peter
Further Comment on colour!

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19 hours ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

I would have said the green on the tail was quite distinctly different to the green forward personally;

the green aft appearing slightly duller in tone and less bluish.

Proof positive that time takes it's toll! If you read all that Peter wrote, the original paint is 45+ years old.............

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3 minutes ago, PhoenixII said:

Proof positive that time takes it's toll! If you read all that Peter wrote, the original paint is 45+ years old.............

 

It most certainly does. I was in Portsmouth 1 month ago to view some 1943 vintage samples of oil paints.

 

The pigments are known:

Lead White - 40lbs

Zinc White - 47lbs

Blue-Back (approx. 2:1 ultramarine to black) - 2lbs

Brunswick Green - 2oz (0.125lbs)

 

What does it look like now? It's green...

32ca8c5b-988f-461f-a23e-f35547ae1b41.png

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20 hours ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

I would have said the green on the tail was quite distinctly different to the green forward personally; the green aft appearing slightly duller in tone and less bluish.

Agreed, but also look carefully at the green on the wing tip nearest you, that is modern HU30 and is much more "blue/green" than the old 30.

So on the old Hurricane we have three renditions of Dark Green...

1. 48 year old HU30

2. Modern HU30

3 Modern HU163. 

 

I now have an urge to get some of your Dark Green and try it on the same aircraft... to see how it looks. 

 

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On 21/02/2018 at 18:36, 224 Peter said:

What is the true colour of Dark Green as applied to UK manufactured aircraft during WWII?

 

For many years I've used Humbrol 30 and it is very close to US FS 595A Ref 34096. I got a copy of the Federal Standard paint chips back in the 1970s and it is kept in the dark. 

RAF Dark Green is a bluish green with no hint of brown. 

Recent tins of 30 are, when dry, almost exactly the same as 30 painted on to models back in the 1970s. 

 

Exploring airbrushing and acrylics purchased a number of Vallejo paints, covering WWII RAF colours. I was given a basic set of LifeColour paints.

This week I tried both Life Colour 538 and Vallejo 71.016. Both claim to be RAF Dark Green, but once painted and dry are VERY different. 

The Vallejo seems to be more like 34096, a dark olive green colour with no blue hue at all and the Lifecolour is worse, a light earthy colour, more like 34027. 

 

What is the general experience of the colour accuracy of acrylic paints form the various makers? 

At the moment, based on one trial I'm very suspicious of all these acrylic paints..based on these two the temptation is to bin the lot!

 

 

 

That is because there is great variance in the colour of Raf Dark Green and the war time colour is much different to the post war colour. Best matches are the MR Colour ones they do both. It should have a brown cast for the modern colour and sometimes the war time colour. but that said it depended on manufacutre, temperature applied, Wear of the paint, Fading, ETC ETC. I just paint with what looks good and dont worry about it too much. Plenty of photos of many of the same aircraft type or raf types next too each other will show clearly they all could have their own character or be in the same ball park.

 

As for model paints they are all a little different but I welcome the variety and see it all as guidelines since modelling is a representation anyways.

But If you want a really reliable paint shade Gunze Mr Colour or Mr Hobby are great paints to go for. :)

 

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27 minutes ago, robvulcan said:

 

That is because there is great variance in the colour of Raf Dark Green and the war time colour is much different to the post war colour.

 

No, it isn't and wasn't.  The postwar colour was the wartime colour adopted into British Standard Colours.  If Mr Colour label their paints that way they are wrong.  There has been some variation in the colour applied to RAF aircraft in recent years, but I have yet to see a proper explanation of these differences (other perhaps than the use of NATO Green).   However, none of this has much to do with Humbrol 30.  Humbrol was a range of enamel paints already available when plastic modelling began, and modellers chose to use their dark green as the RAF colour, as the nearest available.  There was no pretension from Humbrol that it was intended to match the RAF colour.  When Humbrol produced their range of Authentic colours, their RAF Dark Green was a very different colour to H30, being much more olive and a better match to the MAP standards.  As discussed above and at many other times, really.  

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18 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

 

No, it isn't and wasn't.  The postwar colour was the wartime colour adopted into British Standard Colours.  If Mr Colour label their paints that way they are wrong.  There has been some variation in the colour applied to RAF aircraft in recent years, but I have yet to see a proper explanation of these differences (other perhaps than the use of NATO Green).   However, none of this has much to do with Humbrol 30.  Humbrol was a range of enamel paints already available when plastic modelling began, and modellers chose to use their dark green as the RAF colour, as the nearest available.  There was no pretension from Humbrol that it was intended to match the RAF colour.  When Humbrol produced their range of Authentic colours, their RAF Dark Green was a very different colour to H30, being much more olive and a better match to the MAP standards.  As discussed above and at many other times, really.  

 

I just go by what I see and I have seen photos of in service then modern Raf camo aircraft alongside hurricanes and Spits with totally different shades of green. Not saying your wrong as I'm aware of the documentation of this but for whatever reason there are lots of colour variances. 

As for actual wartime that's a different discussion entirely but of the colour footage I've seen of lancasters they certainly look a much lighter green than that of the 60s onwards. 

Ive spoke to some people who painted aircraft in the RAF and they told me "we just used what we had or mixed up our own as long as it was close enough it would do" 

after that I just thought If it looks right then that will do me.

 

as for gunze H73 is their ww2 raf green and h330 the more familiar shade that most other companies follow like hu163 etc worth a look as they really look bang on when applied to a model. Good to have the choice anyways.

 

cheers Rob :)

 

 

 

 

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I'm aware of the Lancaster film you mention, but (after perhaps some allowance for film reproduction) consider this as a result of weathering.  Much as the upper wing roundel often appears in a light blue. There does seem to have been some wartime variation in the paints used (presumably from different suppliers?) as some fade to this lighter green and others to more of a chocolate brown.  However that doesn't mean that they came out of the tins significantly different when new.

 

There's a long time between "postwar" and "modern" - even as modern as Dark Green gets in its "recent" use.  The colours standardised in the late 1940s were the same as their wartime colours, despite claims being made otherwise for Sky and PRU Blue, to my knowledge.  Wandering around open-air museums such as Newark in the early 80s, where 50s and 60s jets existed still in their well-faded original colours, it was the chocolate shade that was (apparently) universal, whereas since then aircraft that have been repainted with modern paints seem to weather to a much brighter green.  You can often see different faded colours on the same airframe.  This brighter green doesn't look anything like the appearance of service aircraft of earlier days.

 

As for any change in the official specification, In my direct experience Jaguars were painted in a very dark green colour (possibly even darker than the classic shade - maybe) whereas Tornados (except for P03, which was the first in RAF camouflage and retained Jaguar colours) appeared in a somewhat lighter greener shade.  Perhaps this was the then-current NATO Green, but I can't confirm that. I don't know whether this colour continued through Tornado production and service life, but certainly it was lighter than the colour I'd seen in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Since then there have been a number of different greens used on RAF aircraft which may be confusing matters - Lichen Green comes to mind - and there may well have been some changes as a result of infra-red reflective paints.  However if there has been any thorough study of the changes to the specifications of RAF paints in the last 30 or so years, I haven't seen it.  AFAIK the current Dark Green is still identical to the original, but then I don't model modern types any more so others could be more helpful here.

 

Incidentally, memory tells me that the green Lightnings from RAF Germany also looked lighter and greener than the Jaguars, at least the one I saw did, but that could have been fading...I suppose.

 

As for the bar stories of ground crew: remember that, other than for touch-ups, nowadays aircraft are not painted in squadron use, and in times of standardised colour schemes weren't in earlier days.  The camouflage colours come in appropriate tins which wouldn't require mixing - they might require stirring!   So you may well get a patchy appearance where wear or local damage occurs, but you won't get any aircraft painted overall in an approximate mix.  Given the very limited number of paints available on stations, I rather wonder just what colours they would have been mixing to get even an approximate match, but then some people have an artistic touch and others don't.

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On 10/03/2018 at 11:21, Graham Boak said:

I'm aware of the Lancaster film you mention, but (after perhaps some allowance for film reproduction) consider this as a result of weathering.  Much as the upper wing roundel often appears in a light blue. There does seem to have been some wartime variation in the paints used (presumably from different suppliers?) as some fade to this lighter green and others to more of a chocolate brown.  However that doesn't mean that they came out of the tins significantly different when new.

 

There's a long time between "postwar" and "modern" - even as modern as Dark Green gets in its "recent" use.  The colours standardised in the late 1940s were the same as their wartime colours, despite claims being made otherwise for Sky and PRU Blue, to my knowledge.  Wandering around open-air museums such as Newark in the early 80s, where 50s and 60s jets existed still in their well-faded original colours, it was the chocolate shade that was (apparently) universal, whereas since then aircraft that have been repainted with modern paints seem to weather to a much brighter green.  You can often see different faded colours on the same airframe.  This brighter green doesn't look anything like the appearance of service aircraft of earlier days.

 

As for any change in the official specification, In my direct experience Jaguars were painted in a very dark green colour (possibly even darker than the classic shade - maybe) whereas Tornados (except for P03, which was the first in RAF camouflage and retained Jaguar colours) appeared in a somewhat lighter greener shade.  Perhaps this was the then-current NATO Green, but I can't confirm that. I don't know whether this colour continued through Tornado production and service life, but certainly it was lighter than the colour I'd seen in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Since then there have been a number of different greens used on RAF aircraft which may be confusing matters - Lichen Green comes to mind - and there may well have been some changes as a result of infra-red reflective paints.  However if there has been any thorough study of the changes to the specifications of RAF paints in the last 30 or so years, I haven't seen it.  AFAIK the current Dark Green is still identical to the original, but then I don't model modern types any more so others could be more helpful here.

 

Incidentally, memory tells me that the green Lightnings from RAF Germany also looked lighter and greener than the Jaguars, at least the one I saw did, but that could have been fading...I suppose.

 

As for the bar stories of ground crew: remember that, other than for touch-ups, nowadays aircraft are not painted in squadron use, and in times of standardised colour schemes weren't in earlier days.  The camouflage colours come in appropriate tins which wouldn't require mixing - they might require stirring!   So you may well get a patchy appearance where wear or local damage occurs, but you won't get any aircraft painted overall in an approximate mix.  Given the very limited number of paints available on stations, I rather wonder just what colours they would have been mixing to get even an approximate match, but then some people have an artistic touch and others don't.

 

Very interesting and I agree with all that. As you say they shift colour wildy in service for all sorts of reasons that why I say its good to have all the choice and work from there. I mostly use the  colours thats in the pot that I like for a subject usually of the correct call out. But I often get inspired from photos or memories and want to get it close as I can try to. So say for one model I might prefer what is in a humrol Raf green than a Gunze or other etc.

But sometimes I mix my own colour or use another that looks ok to me.

 

I found this site which seems interesting for military colours expensive but I would be curious to try these at some point and perhaps decant it for the AB.

 

https://militaryvehiclepaint.co.uk/index.php

 

I am tempted to paint my car this this it needs some attention haha.

 

Rob :)

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