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Recommendations for WWII USN colors

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  • Member since
    January 2014
Recommendations for WWII USN colors
Posted by boatdetective on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 7:07 PM

Hey folks-  I'm on a kick building Tamiya 1/72 warbirds collection. Lovely molding and really well engineered at this scale! Anyway, I picked up an F-4U. I use Tamiya acrylics. Do you have any suggestions for the USN intermediate blue and USN dark blue (upper fuselage)?  The kit calls out the colors in the AS line- but I'd rather mix my own. I don't know anything about Mr. Hobby paints, but am open to suggestions.



  • Member since
    November 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Sunday, June 2, 2019 4:29 AM

Very rarely do I use Tamiya paints. Only for Japanese Aotake and clear colours for lights. I don't like the paint texture or smell and I have to really mess about to get the stuff through an airbrush. When using these paints I always use a throw away cheap paintbrush.

If you do use an airbrush then for USN/Marines warbirds then you should look at the Vallejo Model Air paint set for those subjects. The colours are accurate and go through an airbrush from the bottle and are acrylic paint.

don't nail yourself to just one manufacturer. Be prepared to go with the best colours for your subject. My main source is Vallejo model air because it has a good strong pigment goes down well and the colours are always chipset accurate and is a quality paint. I also use both Vallejo metal color and AK Xtreme metal paints, AK paint range, dip into Mig Ammo and MRP paints.

Take a look at my current Shinden build to see Vallejo and AK used together.

  • Member since
    January 2014
Posted by boatdetective on Sunday, June 2, 2019 5:23 AM

Thanks much. I'll check out Vallejo. I've been working with Tamiya because it seems that's what people seem to use. I understand your point, though.


I'll check on the Shinden progress. In the world of wacky aircraft, the Shinden has always commanded air superiority! The ZM kit looks great. 

  • Member since
    November 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Sunday, June 2, 2019 3:36 PM

It is ZM's first kit and not for a noviceas it does bite back a bit, but if you have some large scale experience and are used to some fit issues then it does build up to be a good looker, but it takes work!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: NC
Posted by out04 on Sunday, June 2, 2019 9:19 PM

Having to mix Tamiya is a hassle, but I love how their paint lays down.  Here is link on mixes to get you started.

  • Member since
    June 2019
Posted by Neuman on Monday, June 3, 2019 1:26 PM

I just did a 1/72 F4f-3 (yellow wing) and used Hataka's Early USN/USMC set and was pleased with the result/ease of use. I also like Vallejo air

  • Member since
    June 2019
Posted by Neuman on Monday, June 3, 2019 2:56 PM

I just finished a 1/72 scale F4f-3 yellows wings. I used the Hataka Early USN/USMC set and was happy with the results.I will also add a 'second that' to Vallejo air.


  • Member since
    January 2015
  • From: Tumwater, WA.
Posted by M. Brindos on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 6:39 PM

I'm also going to toss in my vote for Vallejo Air paints.

Tamiya paints can be tricky.

- Mike Brindos

Figure Painting Moderator -- Genessis-Models

  • Member since
    March 2003
Posted by rangerj on Thursday, June 6, 2019 7:53 PM

Check with the U.S. Government Printing Office and see if they still make available a fan fold of FS (Federal Standard) colors and their associated FS Numbers. It is a great reference for model builders

  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by ZAT on Friday, June 7, 2019 3:51 PM
I wish I’d kept my color list handy as I just wrapped up Hellcat in USN colors. No affiliation, but I use an app called iModelKit that has a pretty decent cross reference for colors between makers and product lines. It’s not 100% accurate, but should get you into the ball park. I’ve used it quite a bit when cross referencing AS to X/XF paints. My only forray into mr. color was abandoned due to the smell. They do make good colors, but their surfacer stunk up my garage pretty bad, so I haven’t returned. Vallejo offers a quadrillion colors it seems, so it’s definitely worth a try. I’ve had mixed experience with them. Just have issues running it through fine needles. .2 or below is frustrating. .35 and .4 run ok. Haven’t really tried thinning further than out of bottle yet, so that may help. AK real colors also offers a decent supply of colors. They also sell “kits” that are pretty low investments $15 or so. As stated try a few makers and see what you like and works for you.
  • Member since
    November 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Friday, June 7, 2019 4:13 PM

  • Member since
    January 2014
Posted by boatdetective on Friday, June 7, 2019 7:17 PM

Perfect! The convenience of these sets looks great. On thing about Vallejo, though, it seems that the quantity of paint is pretty miniscule- especially if it is already thinned.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, June 7, 2019 9:49 PM

Personally, I’d suggest Humbrol, Model Master, or Gunze for proper USN/USMC WWII colors. I’ve used all three brands and been happy with the results.


F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton



  • Member since
    November 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Saturday, June 8, 2019 4:22 AM

Vallejo model air has a very strong pigment base and you get Lots of coverage from 1 17ml bottle.

I usually reckon on getting at least 3 1/32 aircraft exteriors from one bottle of paint and you should watch and join in with my build of HK's new 1/32 Lancaster. This is a huge kit size wise and also surface wise. This will give you a good impression of just how far a bottle of Vallejo goes.

I would advise you to get a bottle and some white plastic spoons and try yourself.

Model air goes through my airbrush (H&S Evolution Silverline) at 18psi (+\-) with either 0.2 and 0.4mm nozzles direct from the bottle with no added thinning. You will get quite a few 1/72 models out of Vallejo bottles.

Weather permitting today, I will be posting finished photos of the J7W1 Shinden which, with a couple of exceptions, has been done with Vallejo Model air.... And there is still plenty in the bottles!

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • From: Hatboro, PA
Posted by Justinryan215 on Saturday, June 8, 2019 7:03 PM

I second the Vallejo line!  I like that for about 25 bucks, you can get a set of colors depending on your Subject!


I painted this in all vallejo, only using tamiya smoke for the exhaust staining:


"...failure to do anything because someone else can do better makes us rather dull and lazy..."

Mortal as I am,I know that I am born for a day.  But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the Earth...


  • Member since
    January 2014
Posted by boatdetective on Saturday, June 8, 2019 9:04 PM
Thank you all for the input! I will give the Vallejo line a try. The convenience of a complete set is fabulous.
  • Member since
    November 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Sunday, June 9, 2019 4:00 AM

Outstanding choice!!! I look forwards to seeing your builds.

remember to give the bottles a really good shake. I usually put in a steel shaker ball from AK!


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