If you are looking for some unique paints that are solvent based for your latest U.S. Air Force F-22 or F-35, Tru Color Paints has released some Modern Radar Dispersers to help you. The paints have a metallic flake added that only appears once brushed or airbrushed onto the model. The paint is advertised as being able to be airbrushed out of the bottle at 28 to 35 psig, but I added about 30% of their thinner (product TCP-015) in order to airbrush at 18 psig, which is where I usually work, even at this pressure, the metal flakes seem to go everywhere.
My paints arrived in a set titled “Modern Radar Dispersers” which consists of TCP 1205 (F-35 Radar Dispersion Gray, #1), TCP 1214 (F-22 Radar Dispersion Light Compass Ghost Gray), TCP 1215 (F-22 Radar Dispersion Dark Compass Ghost Gray), TCP 1220 (F-35 Radar Dispersion Gray, #2), TCP 1226 (Titanium), and TCP 005 (White). I pulled the Academy 1/72 scale F-22 Raptor (kit 12423) from my stash for this review, and painted the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. Included in the set was a piece of the masking tape made by Tru Color that I would try out for masking the edges of the stabilizers.
Well, I will just own up to making a huge mistake in my painting as I reversed the grays used for the base and camouflage colors, but as I am reviewing the paints, I will correct this later when I build the kit. Current photos of the F-22 appear to have three shades of gray, the lightest on the leading edges of all surfaces, the mid-tone covering all of the topside and underside, and a darker gray for the camouflage splotches on the top side. As the set only contained two F-22 colors, I used the F-35 Radar Dispersion Gray #1 to freehand the edges, which I later masked with the Tru Color tape. Things then went sideways as it turns out that Dark Compass Ghost Gray is lighter than Light Compass Ghost Gray. Adding to my confusion, the bottles themselves are titled “F-22 Radar Dispersion 1” and “F-22 Radar Dispersion 2”, so I applied them in numerical order. Neither the bottles nor the boxing mention any FS numbers, which might have helped me out. In short, always test your colors to determine what they will look like when dry before applying them to your model, and the lesson learned is entirely on me, not a fault of Tru Color Paints.
My plusses start with the fact that the paint does look nice on the parts and went on without issue for me with some thinner added (again, this was mostly due to my comfort with working around 20 psig). The colors look close to what I am seeing in magazines such as “Combat Aircraft”, and the paints dried quickly once applied, even though Tru Color Paints recommends waiting 24 hours for full curing of the paint. There was a company offering metal flakes to add to enamel paints for your F-22 a few years ago, but I only saw this product offered once at a local show, so this is the only paint I am aware of currently to offer this finish.
As far as minuses, the colors shown on the packaging do not match up to the paints very well, and I really would like to see a Federal Standard number added to the bottles, but this is a personal preference only. In regard to their masking tape, I used a scalpel blade to slice appropriate edge width pieces and still had an issue with getting clean edges consistently. Of the four parts that I painted, the tape worked great on three, but on the fourth, I pulled paint on both sides of the part. Everything was treated the same when masking, and the paint had dried in excess of 24 hours prior to my placing the tape on the parts.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend these paints to anyone building an F-22 or F-35 (all variants use the same paints from what I can tell). The masking tape is similar to Scotch Blue masking tape in regard to “stickiness”, and was easy enough to trim to the width I wanted, so I would recommend it as well. The paints are acetone based, so I did need to pick up some acetone nail polish remover to clean my airbrush at the end of the painting sessions. This was my first experience with acetone-based paints, and I would call it a positive one overall.
I would like to thank the folks at Tru Color Paint for being gracious enough to provide these paints to the IPMS-USA for review! I also like to thank John Noack and Phil Peterson for their time and efforts in running the Review Corps as well as allowing me to perform this assessment. I also appreciate the folks behind the scenes in the Review Corps who keep the review machine running so well, and finally my most sincere appreciation to all who take the time to read this.