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RAF Night Black/Lamp Black

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  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Tucson
RAF Night Black/Lamp Black
Posted by cardshark_14 on Friday, January 9, 2009 9:58 PM
I've been doing a bit of experimenting for my RAAF Catalina...How do you guys replicate WWII RAF Night Black?  I've tried a bunch of different things, from Flat Black, to an odd mix of Gunmetal, a few dark grays, plus flat black, all covered in Tamiya Flat, but I can't get it sooty looking enough. Anyone have a good method?  I typically work with Model Master Enamels, but if you know of something different, I'm game to try it.  Thanks!

Cheers,
Alex
Never trust anyone who refuses to drink domestic beer, laugh at the Three Stooges, or crank Back In Black.
  • Member since
    June 2008
  • From: Iowa
Posted by Hans von Hammer on Friday, January 9, 2009 10:10 PM
Flat Black has always been close enough for me... Frankly, I don't think there's is a "Night Black" color, it's just an RAF thing, like "Middlestone" or "Sky"...

  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Tucson
Posted by cardshark_14 on Friday, January 9, 2009 10:33 PM

Hey Hans,

Actually its a real color, separate from any other.  It has special visual and tactile characteristics because it is made from large pigments of carbon.  It is very sooty, almost dusty, and as rough as sandpaper.  

If you want to read something interesting, look up the history of NIVO and Night Black.

Cheers,
Alex

Never trust anyone who refuses to drink domestic beer, laugh at the Three Stooges, or crank Back In Black.
  • Member since
    June 2008
  • From: Iowa
Posted by Hans von Hammer on Friday, January 9, 2009 10:41 PM

I believe ya... I just don't think its texture is gonna be all that noticable scaled down, is it?  But, if it's it's soot your lookin' for, check the model railroad colors.. They've got every shade of black you can imagine...

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: UK
Posted by gregers on Friday, January 9, 2009 10:44 PM

The later night black was a gloss colour. it's available in Xtracrylic if you can get hold of it where you are. For the early matt black finish I have used matt black primer auto paint rattlecans with good results, this has the scale rough finish and accepts weathering very well. Hope this helps.

All the best.

Greg

Why torture yourself when life will do it for you?
  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Tucson
Posted by cardshark_14 on Friday, January 9, 2009 10:58 PM
Hans, 
Thanks for the model RR tip...I hadn't considered that option...I'll have to check out my LHS tomorrow.  

Greg, 
I can't get Xtracrylic colors without mail ordering it.  The timeframe I'm doing 'The Dabster' from is 1944.  I didn't realize there was a different night black other than the sooty stuff.  I like the idea about auto primer, too.  That's about what I thought I was shooting for.Confused [%-)] Do you have any recommendations for a glossy Night Black that's been beat all to hell?  

Thanks for the help, guys! Thumbs Up [tup]

Cheers,
Alex
Never trust anyone who refuses to drink domestic beer, laugh at the Three Stooges, or crank Back In Black.
  • Member since
    February 2004
  • From: Weymouth, Dorset, UK
Posted by chris hall on Friday, January 9, 2009 11:38 PM
 gregers wrote:

The later night black was a gloss colour. it's available in Xtracrylic if you can get hold of it where you are. For the early matt black finish I have used matt black primer auto paint rattlecans with good results, this has the scale rough finish and accepts weathering very well. Hope this helps.

All the best.

Greg

What Greg said. However, the black used on RAAF Catalinas was a semigloss shade, so any sort of satin black would do. In any event. won't you be starting with a  glosy finish, because of the three coats of Future (Pledge one Go or whatever) that you applied to your model in preparation for the decals, and the fourth coat which you applied to seal them in?  In 1/72 or 1/48, I achieve this degree of satin-ness by spraying two light coats of matt varnish over the Futured model, which sufficiently takes the edge off the glossiness.

There were two versions of RAF Night Black. One, introduced from January 1940, and referred to as RMD 2A Special Night, was a very rough, matt colour, with a high lamp black content. Some reports have it as more of a very, very, dark grey than a black.

However, when applied to nightfighters, the results were unimpressive. Trials showed that, compared to standard matt black paint, it slowed down a Mosquito nightfighter by as much as 26mph, or, for an early Mossie nightfighter, more than 7% of its max. speed. Not good. With bombers, the effect would be not so much on max speed, but on fuel consumption to maintain cruising speed.

Therefore, by the time that the RAF's night bombing campaign had really got underway, and certainly by the time that Lancasters were available in quantity, the black undersurfacs were just standard matt black, referred to in terchnical orders as Smooth Night. There's therefore no need to over-do the mattness. This is all the more so, when you consider that you're working in 1/48 or 1/72.

Towards the end of the war, many squadrons had taken to polishing the undersides of their bombers, since it was thought that a semigloss or gloss surface was better for reflecting searchlights. Indeed, there was a post-war RAF colour called Anti-searchlight Gloss Black. This was used on some aircraft, mostly tactical transports, well into the 1970s.

For weathering the late-war colour on aircraft exposed to salt water, I suggest streaks of very, very, dark blue or green. Think black with just enough dark blue or green added to be able to motice the difference. Certainly darker than 'standard' very dark blues or greens, such as USN Glossy Sea Blue or Luftwaffe RLM70. Avoid dark grey, since it can give your model a zebra effect. You can, however, use very light grey, or even white, for exhaust staining.

Cheers,

Chris.

Cute and cuddly, boys, cute and cuddly!
  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Tucson
Posted by cardshark_14 on Friday, January 9, 2009 11:58 PM
Hey Chris, 

Thanks for the info, my friend!  I guess I'll stop worrying about getting a sooty look for my Catalina.  I was thrown off because I have seen pictures of RAAF Catalinas where the hull was flat black, but the fuselage and undersides of the wings were night black.  There was a fairly discernible difference, so I assumed it was a slightly different hue.  As for a satin black, that's easy to do...I don't use decals, so I don't have multiple layers of Future to combat with a flat coat.  Sounds like a job for Tamiya Flat base and Future!  I like your weathering ideas too!  I guess I'll be jumping on the filters bandwagon for this build.  Thanks again for your help!  Bow [bow]

Cheers,
Alex
Never trust anyone who refuses to drink domestic beer, laugh at the Three Stooges, or crank Back In Black.
  • Member since
    February 2004
  • From: Weymouth, Dorset, UK
Posted by chris hall on Saturday, January 10, 2009 12:29 AM

Alex - the contrast between the lower hull and the rest of the airframe on a RAAF Catalina is because the lower hull is in contact with salt water pretty much all of the time, while the rest of the airframe isn't. You can see this in piccies of many WW2-era flying boats, except if they're just off the production line or out of the paint shop.

Not so much modern flying boats, because we've got better paints, the aircraft get better maintenance, and anyway, they're mostly amphibians, so are thus normally parked out of the water. Check out the floats on bush aircraft floatplanes, such as DHC Beavers in the Canadian lakes, though, and you can still see this effect.

Cheers,

Chris.

Cute and cuddly, boys, cute and cuddly!
  • Member since
    October 2005
  • From: UK
Posted by antoni on Saturday, January 10, 2009 8:18 AM

Night was first developed in 1937 as a countermeasure to searchlights and for which it was effective. The existing Black paint in use had only Carbon Black pigment and consequently was very soft, polishing easily and becoming shiny. Night was produced to DTD 308 standard, and was a Type S paint meaning smooth. It contained Carbon Black and Ultramarine pigments. It was therefore not a true black but a dark grey or gunmetal colour. The Ultramarine was added to harden the paint, not to alter the colour. Because it was more durable than the black paint that had been in use up until then, it was deemed suitable for other purposes, e.g., propellers, serial numbers.

 

At the start of WW II trials were being carried out at the AAEE and 85 Squadron to develop a new matt black camouflage paint that would have a non-reflective surface. This was developed into RMD 2A Special Night which was promulgated as the finish for the under surfaces of night bombers from January 1940.RMD 2A Special Night contained only Carbon Black pigment but of a larger size than used in DTD 308 Night. This gave it a very sooty black appearance sometimes described as lamp black and was very rough to the touch like sandpaper. RMD 2A was chemically different to DTD 308 and faulty application led to both poor adhesion and a characteristic white staining. Because of shortages of RMD 2A Special Night, the Air Ministry issued instructions that DTD 308 Night be used as for the first coat, i.e., DTD 308 Night be used as an undercoat. Coupled with the adhesion problems aircraft took on a very patchy appearance.

On 30th Oct 1940 a meeting was held at the Air Ministry at which the subject of night fighter camouflage was discussed. The outcome was an agreement that night fighters be painted Matt Black overall. On 24th March 1941 DTD Circular no 144 was issued that explained that night fighter finish was to be RMD 2A Special Night.

Comparative trials of two Mosquitoes fitted with different exhaust shrouds resulted in a speed difference of 26 mph. This was found to be due mainly to the slower aircraft being painted with RMD 2A Special Night while the other was painted with DTD 308 Night. This reached the attention of the CinC Fighter Command who, in Memo CS 11061, 5th Feb 1942, urged all production Mosquito night fighters to be finished with DTD 308 Night and all aircraft in service be returned to ASUs for repainting. The adverse affect that RMD 2A Special Night had on performance resulted in its withdrawal from use and replacement with its predecessor DTD 308 Night.  There was some confusion between RDM 2A Special Night and DTD 308 Night so in an order dated 11th Oct 1942 DTD 308 Night was renamed DTD 308 Smooth Night.
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