Friday, August 17, 2012

Colours of the Navy in World War II

     As a painter of wargaming miniatures and the occasional scale model, references for colour and scheme are invaluable. Proper colours for uniforms and accouterments is something that can only be left to the eye of the beholder. The human eye and personal interpretation must make decisions of hue, value, and chroma as we chose paint to represent varied material compositions and the dyes that colour them. With painted wood and steel objects, the process of comparison is much easier for the substrate is constant.

     Enough with the colour choice theory, and on to the meat of this post! A number of years back I had purchased a number of GHQ brand 1/2400 scale World War II naval miniatures for the pure joy of ownership, and perhaps their eventual use in an engagement or two! There seemed to be two options for painting; one easy, one not so easy. White Ensign Models, under their Colourcoats line of enamel paints, has purposely formulated colours for finishing naval models which would have been the quick solution. The problem for me was the medium; enamel. I am neither fond of the smell nor the clean-up required when using such paints. My next, and more obvious choice, was to stick with my tried and true Vallejo brand acrylics. Vallejo offers three lines of acrylic paints from which to choose to accomplish brush painting; Model Color, Game Color, and Panzer Aces.

     Vallejo, like every other brand is not all sunshine and rainbows. Different colours within the ranges provide stronger or weaker levels of performance. Regardless of this issue, Vallejo is the product line I decided on a long time ago for all of my hobby usage. My next requirement was for accurate original paint colour. Ink printed images and artwork simply would not do, so I went to the best source for the naval modeler; Snyder and Short Enterprises. Their series of paint chips is an unbeatable means of validating colour match, and while expensive, their purchase was well justified.

     I proceeded to make my own Vallejo paint chip sets by first spray painting with flat black a series of ice lolly sticks. This step was important as it gave me an equal starting colour as my models would have. Once the paints were applied in numerical order, I followed up with a coat of Testors aerosol Dullcote. This again was to ensure a quality comparison as Dullcote will darken the covered paint. Now that both sets of paint chips were on hand, the final determinations could be made.

     This is still not the end to the project. As of recently, I have come across an unattributed .pdf file on the Internet in connection with the International Plastic Modelers Society/South West Area Modelers of Plastic's. A fellow hobby enthusiast had conducted the very same project with obviously the same goals of creating a sound cross reference. I have tried to find the gentleman's name, but have had no successes. I would like to provide him credit as is due. His published conclusions provided me an opportunity to compare notes, and see just how calibrated my eyes might be.

     To be honest we had plenty of agreed matches, which was great news. There were a few I disagreed with, and a few I found to be corrections to my own thinking. Below is the current record of findings as I believe them to be. It is not complete for there are still a few colours that would require an unknown mix to duplicate. Do not fear, for these are little used colours (if ever), and will not inhibit the wargamer/modeler from reproducing excellently finished models. If at a later time I can conclude the formulas to these informational blanks, I will be sure to edit this post.

How to read the listing:
Royal Navy paint code: product line* Vallejo product position code; (mix ratio)

* VGC - Vallejo Game Color; VMC - Vallejo Model Color; VPA - Vallejo Panzer Aces

MS 1: VMC 48
MS 2: VMC 162
MS 3: VPA 338
MS 4: VPA 345
MS 4a: VPA 329 + VPA 330; (2:1)
507 A: VMC 105
507 B: VMC 59
507 C: VMC 154
B5: VMC 60
B6: VMC 153 + VMC 63; (1:1)
PB 10: VMC 51
Western Approaches Blue: VMC 108 + VMC 2; (2:1)
Western Approaches Green: VGC 205 + VMC 2; (2:1)
Mountbatten Pink, Light: VMC 60 + VMC 33; (1:1)
Mountbatten Pink, Dark: VMC 59 + VMC 35; (1:1)
G5: VMC 168
G10: VMC 166
G20: VPA 326 + VMC 2; (3:1)
G45: VPA 345
B15: VMC 58
B20: VMC 157
B30: VPA 338
B55: VPA 324
Black: VMC 169
White: VMC 5
Corticene: VMC 138
Semtex (early war): VMC 5 + VPA 344; (1:1)
Semtex (late war): VMC 83
Pink: VMC 38 + VMC 4; (1:1)
Dark Brown: VMC 148
Stone: VMC 134
Berwick Blue: no known match
Dark Blue: no known match
Buff: no known match
Light Green: no known match

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