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Crane

Hellcat machine guns - what color?

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I'm building an F6F 5 and need help with machine gun color.

I've seen some black, a few silver and one Hellcat with the machine guns painted the same colors as the upper/lower surfaces of the wing.

Which is correct?

 

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The barrels should be black ,including the cooling jacket for air cooled versions, with the tip of the business end bare metal. Unless they have flash suppressors , then all black. Fairings should be aircraft color. Since the guns were removed for maintenance they would not be painted. ( though someone is sure to post a picture proving me wrong )  I suppose if they had blast tubes, which are not part of the gun barrel ( see P-47 for blast tubes ) they could be silver.

 

 

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Depends if the aircraft you want to build had the early machine guns arrangement or the later one...

In the earlier configuration the machine gun barrels protruded directly from the wing, so these were in the barrel colour. I can't remember what process was used for these machine guns, in any case you can go with a very dark grey, almost black finish.

The later configuration had the barrels enclosed in blast tubes. These could be of the colour of the aircraft but I've seen a couple in a light color, could have been natural metal.

One thing to keep in mind: some wartime pictures show the tips in a light colour, this was not silver but most likely white and were fabric patches used to close the barrel before the start of a mission, similar to the better known red patches used on British aircraft.

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25 minutes ago, Giorgio N said:

"...I can't remember what process was used for these machine guns, in any case you can go with a very dark grey, almost black finish. ..."

I think you are thinking of "Parkerized" otherwise known as phosphate coating.

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18 minutes ago, aircooled said:

I think you are thinking of "Parkerized" otherwise known as phosphate coating.

 

I considered Parkerization as this was indeed the most commonly used surface treatment on US WW2 light weapons, but I just can't remember if these machine guns were also parkerized or were subject to different treatments. I know for sure that the "land" version of the M2 was generally finished in this way during WW2 and after, so parkerization is likely a safe bet for the aircraft variant too at this stage of the war.

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A parkerized finish is usually a dark gray and flat, although the shade of gray can vary. "Bluing" which is the alternate finish will be black with a little sheen.

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27 minutes ago, hsr said:

"Bluing" which is the alternate finish will be black with a little sheen.

a  way to replicate this is using Tamiya XF-85 Tyre Black (a very dark grey blue) and then rub over with a soft pencil for the metallic sheen.

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5 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

One thing to keep in mind: some wartime pictures show the tips in a light colour, this was not silver but most likely white and were fabric patches used to close the barrel before the start of a mission, similar to the better known red patches used on British aircraft.

I agree about the tape, red or white, however this is what I was referring to.

 

latest?cb=20130408200613

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As aircooled and Giorgio have stated, the Browning machine guns used in aircraft were Parkerized, which was a phosphate coating that gave the weapons a very dark grey cast with a greenish tint. The coating did weather over time, in which case  you would see a shiny metallic sheen underneath, but it was a very durable coating. I have used a mix of steel, dark grey, and dark green to come up with a shade that looks very close to the original. They were not black! Be careful when looking at color photos of restored weapons, as some of them have been blued or painted with high-heat engine enamels for appearance, I would suggest you do a search for Browning .50cal machine gun images, and you can find numerous color photos that will give you a pretty good idea of  what they looked like. The part of the barrel that extended past the cooling jacket was almost always in a dull silver color. Off topic, to be sure, but pretty neat, nonetheless, is this video of a restored P-51D that has original Brownings fitted and fired. You can see the recoil effect as well as the spent cases and links falling out of the chutes. At about USD $3.50 per .50cal round, that was a pretty expensive demonstration! Can you imagine the millions of spent shell casings and links  that fell all over Europe as a result of air combat during the war?

Mike

 

https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/this-p-51-mustang-restoration-includes-operational-50c-1647964258

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Mike current prices for .50 cal. last time i looked was $21.00 a round ? Maybe its just because im in Illinois ? 

Edited by Corsairfoxfouruncle

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Fired my mates .455 Webley revolver once.  Rounds for that were pretty expensive, but not as much as the medical care for the nearly broken wrist.... #bigrecoil

Edited by Grey Beema

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4 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Mike current prices for .50 cal. last time i looked was $21.00 a round ? Maybe its just because im in Illinois ? 

Wow! That was the last time I looked- about five years ago- guess they have gone up a bit since then, huh?

Mike

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50 minutes ago, 72modeler said:

Wow! That was the last time I looked- about five years ago- guess they have gone up a bit since then, huh?

Mike

 

Could just be illinois too they like to add sin taxes on ammo. I looked a couple of years ago and a box of 5 .50 BMG was $106.00

Edited by Corsairfoxfouruncle

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19 hours ago, Nachtwulf said:

I agree about the tape, red or white, however this is what I was referring to.

 

latest?cb=20130408200613

 

I rechecked my info and realised that I had forgotten an important part of the aircraft-mounted M2: that part at the end of the barrel is not parkerized because it is meant to slide in the bushing on the perforated jacket. The bushing is the part that can be seen inside the jacket with a dark brownish metal colour. Even if the part around the barrel was parkerized, the finish would have worn away quickly through contact with the bushing. So yes, I was wrong in not considering the presence of a part with a lighter colour. My mistake !

Small explanation of why there's a bushing: the M2 (as many other machine guns) operates following the short recoil principle, therefore when firing the barrel slides back but the jacket is fixed so  the bushing supports the barrel at the front while allowing the barrel to slide correctly. In the M2 the barrel moves little more than 1 inch.

Personally I wouldn't use silver as it's IMHO too bright, a steel colour would be more realistic, but sure it's lighter than the rest of the gun

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I do appreciate all the info.   👍

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