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Current Thinking on Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab for US M4 1944-45 ETO


Ray_W
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Just about to start spraying Tamiya XF-62 (relatively new bottle) on my current M4 Sherman build. I have seen the comments around 2009 on formula change and more greenish appearance. I am interested in current thinking in terms of the Tamiya XF-62 colour accuracy or mixes to correct. For example, adding some dark yellow (XF-60) as previously used by Steve Zaloga for lightening. Maybe the latter mix is now too greenish.

 

I would like to stick with Tamiya as (1) I have it and (2) I have my hairspray technique well established with Tamiya. The hairspray will be between the Olive Drab base and lightened Olive Drab in the wear areas. The primer is Mahogany Mr Surfacer; I am not expecting to show much of this unless I get a little too vigorous. It will be two tone camouflage with black. Plan is to use NATO Black.

 

Any thoughts welcome.

 

Ray

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Hi,

I'm no expert on colour accuracy but as you say XF-62 does seem a little too green (I've been looking into this as part of my current build).

 

Panzermeister uses the mix you suggest (XF-62 + dark yellow) for the initial basecoat, hairspray applied then he uses XF62 + wooden deck tan XF-78 for the lighter topcoat. Seems to look quite good in the video. I guess you can control the amount of dark yellow/wooden deck tan to alter the darkness/lightness as you see fit.

 

 

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47 minutes ago, StuartH said:

Panzermeister uses the mix you suggest

 

Thanks for the link. I'll take a look.

 

Ray

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Ray,

"Olive Drab" seems to me such a terribly depressing name for a paint shade! The Army's marketing department must have been taking the day off. I think it should be renamed "Verdant Rainbow". You mention the great Steve Zaloga: in a "Military Modelling" special issue (sometime in the 2000s) featuring his model of a U.S. M5 tank, he implied that painters of WWII US models were quite restricted in their colour palette, mainly OD, and so he mixed in some yellow. I got the impression that his adding yellow lightened up the OD Tamiya shade,  adding interest to the model's finish. Accuracy and attractiveness are bedfellows in modelling, methinks.

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Right.  So we've opened this can of wriggly worms, have we?  It's a subject that comes up regularly here and on other forums and for which there never seems to be an accepted universal answer.  I don't claim to be any sort of expert here but here are my collected musings on the subject including information from a number of sources.

 

"Olive Drab" is an entirely meaningless colour description as there are soooo many different "olive drabs" across nations and time.  There needs to be a further descriptor such as whose it is, when it is and any codification such as RAL or FS etc.  Tamiya's colours are by and large not matched to anything specific - yes I know that a minority do claim to be so - and their OD XF-62 is one of these unmatched colours.  So it is unlikely to be a match for any particular OD.

 

The first thing to say here on the specific subject of US WW2 Olive Drab No9 is that IT WAS NOT A GREEN!!!!  So any green US WW2 vehicle is inherently wrong.  OD No9 was pigmented with Yellow Ochre and Lamp Black.  And nothing else.  The WW1 - 1920's OD was made of ochre and white.  Even before WW2 the US was avoiding the use of chromium pigments for strong greens, a supply problem that caused the UK to switch from Khaki Green 3 to SCC2 Brown in 1942.  We all know from our school art lessons that yellow and black do not make green.  They make brown. 

 

Yes, Olive Drab No9 was a BROWN......... Shock, horror, hold the front page!!  Jaws on the floor everywhere.  But it did have a greenish tinge.  The dividing line between OD No9 and Khaki Green 3 is perhaps quite narrow.  OD No9 is a greenish brown whereas KG3 is a described elsewhere as distinctly brownish green and not a green in the true sense.  However, the shade did change in 1944 - of which more below.

 

I've posted this picture a number of times as I believe it is - to my eyes at least - a good representation of the first pre-1944 shade of WW2 US OD No9, despite being a recent modern repaint.  Whether you call it a greenish brown or a brownish green is perhaps a question of personal taste.  But the pigmentation says it is a greenish brown.  While this may be unfashionable, Humbrol's good old 155 Light Olive is not a bad match IMO.

spacer.png

 

However, the shade did change in 1944 and became noticeably greener.  The explanation for this given elsewhere is that the pigmentation remained unchanged - adequate quantities of chromium pigments were still not available - but the chemical composition of the paint base changed and a satin finish was adopted instead of a flat matt.  This changed the reflectance of the surface and gave a greener effect.  Which is of course what we're after on our models: the visible effect.  The "how to weather" model posted previously is IMO both far too pale and much too green for OD No9.  It also ignores the fact that worn-through paint to bare metal would be dark brown and that US tanks were primed with red oxide.  But that is an entirely other debate.

 

As for mixing paints, I'm not a fan.  Repeatability and consistency being my main objections.  There are so many olive drabs out there from assorted brands that something out of the pot will work.  And I personally hate Tamiya's acrylic paints for any means of application and they are very much my paint of last resort.  I have not tried their lacquers although I do have some.  If Tamiya XF-62 is your thing then yellowing it a bit is probably not a bad idea.

 

I recently wrestled with this OD question myself for the M3/M4 group build as my entry is a 1945 M4A3 which would be the 1944 shade of OD.  This was the result before washing etc.  The white stars have been overpainted here with the earlier shade and the disc wheels are also in that colour.

spacer.png

 

This is the result after washing, drybrushing etc.  The contrast between the earlier and later shades is now more subtle.  Which shows how base colours might need to be adjusted to take account of finishing processes in order that effects are not lost.

spacer.png

 

As I couldn't be bothered to get the airbrush out I chose to use a rattle can here for the base colour.  That was Tamiya's AS-6 USAF OD.  After application that turned out to be almost indistinguishable from Hataka's A018 US OD (Late), which I used for touch-up.  The earlier colour here is AK Interactive's RC023 Olive Drab No9, which to my eye looks "about right".  I would use these colours again.

 

On a slight tangent, Canada adopted US OD in early 1944 instead of UK SCC15.

 

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8 hours ago, Peter2 said:

"Olive Drab

 

1 hour ago, Das Abteilung said:

"Olive Drab" is an entirely meaningless colour description as there are soooo many different "olive drabs" across nations and time.

 

Thanks for the detailed responses. I wish I did not have to use the term Olive Drab, realising the confusion that surrounds this common name for a suite of different colours, mixes, finishes and environments. In this case I am focussed on a late war US Sherman version - M4A3E8 April 1945. So, I am in the same boat wrestling with the later war colour. The latest Tamiya XF-62 does appear too green for the earlier brownish shade although I now wonder if this is the case for the late war colour. It may, in fact, be correct. Thanks for the Tamiya AS, Hataka and Real Color suggestions. I will check them out. I use Hataka and Real Color already. In this case,  just trying to use my Tamiya if I can.

 

Ray

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Aaaaaaah.
Olive Drab.

Das Abteilung is as always mostly completely in line with what I was about to say on this one.
Olive Drab is as much a specific colour as "green" or "brown" is, which is ... not at all.

Once you go specific though, guidelines are to be found.
I have different swatches of US ww2 OD, be it 22, 9 or 319. All are very similar apart from gloss level.
They will always look very green compared to brown or red and look very brown compared to green.

I still have my doubts though about the swap to semi flat in 1944. Afaik this might have happened later in 1945. And we must not forget in practice staff cars usually were glossier than tactical ones.
I'm leaning towards one army shade here in theory with several gloss levels once applied. Factory applied, field applied, thinners, .... these affect gloss.
Air corps, USAAF, .... is another story. This has a variation from glossy OD 22 to flat dark OD 31 and 41, with an ending here and there in ANA613.

About Tamiya. Once again, Abteilung is correct: tamiya is not a great source for "match" paints. It is a brand for the mixers.
XF-62 used to be very useful with some XF-60 and came very close to swatches. The later XF-62 are indeed greenish.

An excellent mix for scale models when it comes to US ww2 OD is 1 on 1 mix of Vallejo 70.887 + 71.016.

Another is Revell 86 (ral7008) + some black to taste according to shade effect.
279621759_490878716161332_47724211872185

 

Here you have vallejo mix next to Archer's A-N olive drab.
279577825_490880839494453_21726209311154

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38 minutes ago, Steben said:

About Tamiya. Once again, Abteilung is correct: tamiya is not a great source for "match" paints. It is a brand for the mixers.
XF-62 used to be very useful with some XF-60 and came very close to swatches. The later XF-62 are indeed greenish.

 

Thanks Steben for the response.

 

Mixing Tamiya is not a big deal for me and hence why I was wondering about current discussion on the subject. Strangely it seemed to go quiet after 2009 with many still referring to the older Steve Zaloga research and the accuracy of the older XF-62 mix, possibly lightened with Dark Yellow. My XF-62 is definitely greenish.  

 

As I was ordering some AK Real Colors for an SEA aircraft finish, I decided to add a pot of their RC023. I'll be very interested to see what it's like.

 

Ray

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Don't forget that olive drab fades, scuffs, and changes color a lot, due to weather and sun bleaching, fading, dust impregnation etc. 

 

Just look at some of the photos of B17's that have taken on a grey hue, or even blue and purple. 

 

I just mix my own, from Vallejo paints. 

 

wFGplRV.jpg

 

ua8Lfq1.jpg

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Longbow said:

Don't forget that olive drab fades, scuffs, and changes color a lot, due to weather and sun bleaching, fading, dust impregnation etc. 

 

Just look at some of the photos of B17's that have taken on a grey hue, or even blue and purple. 

 

I just mix my own, from Vallejo paints. 

 

 

 

Yes, but without specifying a certain age every paint can turn to whatever. ;) 
OD9 / 319 is known to have had recipes based on both "yellow oxide, chrome yellow and lamp black" as "chrome oxide green, yellow oxide and red oxide".
Both will age differently and especially on very old artefacts.
69850760_1333320303483799_50975215778057

Edited by Steben
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 5/23/2022 at 11:54 PM, Das Abteilung said:

The first thing to say here on the specific subject of US WW2 Olive Drab No9 is that IT WAS NOT A GREEN!!!!  So any green US WW2 vehicle is inherently wrong.  OD No9 was pigmented with Yellow Ochre and Lamp Black.  And nothing else.  The WW1 - 1920's OD was made of ochre and white.  Even before WW2 the US was avoiding the use of chromium pigments for strong greens, a supply problem that caused the UK to switch from Khaki Green 3 to SCC2 Brown in 1942.  We all know from our school art lessons that yellow and black do not make green.  They make brown. 

Black and real yellow make olive green.

 

There is a limit of how green it can be without adding green pigment but most of war 'greens' go well into that range.

 

Here is an example from my paints characterization - those are just various combination of various yellows, bone black and titanium white.

 

p?i=a3437e0b99fefdf39984d03169c9563c

 

If you want a technical explanation I can give one, but the end result of varying yellows + blacks when mixed will be a similar class of reflectance curves to the above with a more or less noticeable peak in greens range.

 

But we are talking about mixtures of black/yellow ochre and this color vary a lot. So the range of resulting shades can go from greenish to browns (the name greenish brown does come to mind :)).

 

Without knowing which exact ochre was used - it is better to refer to real samples. Or get an artist in you, get Tamiya XF4 or XF88 (similar to some ochres) and add a very little XF1 (lamp black) and see if you can get the color close to what you you pointed out in your photo.

 

And for completness, here is an real FS34088 sample I have and its spectrophotometer readout.

p?i=6ffee63ba2ced7ee117ad1c7d8d3d725

This color shows that it is most likely a mix of ochre and black.

 

I've made a swatch of my XF62 and will compare it when it dries.

 

Edited by Casey
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There is indeed no exact international treshold by which an olive drab is called green or brown. It is very subjective. OD is literally a dark yellow in colour theory, what the German dunkelgelb is not. The more lemon the yellow is instead if orange, the more greenish the OD is instead of brown. Ww1 od colours tend to be dark oranges while ww2 od colours are dark yellow. Dark Green is in fact a dark lemon yellow and therefor quite greenish.

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Posted (edited)

Ok here is XF62

 

p?i=5efc611accfb941aa8dbcb01b81136ac

 

It is pretty good match match to FS34064. Which is called Olive Drab.

 

Yes I am aware of a whole rabbit hole of FS34088...

Edited by Casey
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Posted (edited)

Sorry for the spam but I've just tried one more thing:


I have an

 

* Olive Drab (A-N) sample from US Army Air Service and Air Corps Colors 1908-1941 (Monogram)

* Olive Drab (613) US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide vol 2 1940-1949 (Monogram)

 

Here is how they compare to FS34088 and XF62.

 

p?i=79b4a826cdbcf3a5e639e0e1b7945d59

Edited by Casey
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Posted (edited)

Stunning work.

Mind you, as Nick Millman told me in private emailing, there were two ANA613 swatches / standards. Pre and post WW2. The second swatch - late 40ties/50ties - as much greyer and very close to RAL7013.
You could check RAL7013 but it is probably very close to your ANA613.
ANA613 ww2 time should be in theory the same as OD319, which is same as OD9 etc etc. The Olive Drab AN in the 08-41 guide matches all OD's I experimented with, including a OD319 paint sample. And it is a flat version of the OD22 swatch in the same swatch card.
I'm just guessing here, but according to the RGB numbers here I'ld say that XF62 with some dark yellow is quite close to Olive Drab AN.
FS34088 is indeed quite light, Vietnam chopper colour.

Edited by Steben
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Posted (edited)

@Steben Here are ones I have. Am I missing anything there? I've marked the one I would personally use for the time period that @Ray_W is talking about.

 

p?i=fee41b4e712f88fa7620eb4dd6812ca0

 

Edited by Casey
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By the way @Steben and @Casey I have continued to read with interest your discussion on this subject. Thank you for going into such depth.

 

Ray

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Ray_W said:

By the way @Steben and @Casey I have continued to read with interest your discussion on this subject. Thank you for going into such depth.

 

Ray

Thanks, it seems we both like to go into rabbit holes of producing paint samples (and then compare them under sodium lamp like real pros!)

 

 

Edited by Casey
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5 hours ago, Steben said:

The Olive Drab AN in the 08-41 guide matches all OD's I experimented with, including a OD319 paint sample. And it is a flat version of the OD22 swatch in the same swatch card.

They are not exact match but an metameric one - according to my spectrophotometer when excluding the gloss difference. The DE00 between them is around 1.52, and the measured metamerism is 1.50.

 

The metameric match happens when spectral curves of similarly looking paints cross each other at least 3 times - see https://www.xrite.com/blog/what-is-metamerism

 

p?i=d04077686098152e970dc025ef3c3b65

 

This is apparent only if you use either spectrophotometer and look at the spectra or under a light booth.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Casey said:

They are not exact match but an metameric one - according to my spectrophotometer when excluding the gloss difference. The DE00 between them is around 1.52, and the measured metamerism is 1.50.

 

The metameric match happens when spectral curves of similarly looking paints cross each other at least 3 times - see https://www.xrite.com/blog/what-is-metamerism

 

p?i=d04077686098152e970dc025ef3c3b65

 

This is apparent only if you use either spectrophotometer and look at the spectra or under a light booth.

 

Well, they definitely look different by gloss level alone. If you place some water on the A-N it looks almost exactly the same ;)

What I do know is that 1908-1941 Olive Drab (A-N) (dead flat) and the TM9 OD319 paint card (which is not dead flat) I have look at least as similar.
DE00 < 2.00 is called reasonable. But I find gloss to be drastic although that does not "shine through" (pun intended) in the measurement. It is very prominent in PC10 discussions: gloss makes for a lot of the "green" effect on a rather brownish base hue.

Edited by Steben
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