WW2 US Navy & USMC Late Aircraft Colors

Published: May 1st, 2019     
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Reviewed by: 
Rob Benson, IPMS# 44038
Company: AK Interactive
Price: $11.00
Product / Stock #: RCS025

Thank you to AK-Interactive for providing a U.S. Navy and Marine Corps World War 2 era paint set in their Real Color line. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out some of this new paint line. My review focuses on product application and ease of use. Anyone who builds USN and USMC aircraft and similar subjects from 1943 to the mid 1950's will appreciate this set.

The 4-bottle paint set arrived in a small box with an attractive weathered motif. The glass bottles each contain 10 ml (1/3 fl oz) of paint, and the caps and bottles are well labeled with background colors matching the paint. The bottles are also low profile making them stable on the bench during use. Read this as "more difficult for me to make a mess!"

AK-Interactivedescribes this product line as acrylic lacquer. What this means for the modeler is that the same safety precautions required for enamels and others must be used with these paints. There are no specific written cautions on the box, but the international symbol red-outline squares with exclamation points and flames get the message across. The AK-Interactive website has a chart of color equivalencies comparing the Real Color line to colors produced by other manufactures (http://www.ak-masters.com/app/pdf/RCEquivalenceDIG.pdf).

I used an airbrush pressure of 10 psi when I tested all four colors. I used a Grex Tritium with a 0.3 tip at an airbrush hood temperature of 65deg and relative humidity at ~45%. This is not a controlled environment, just what it was on test day. I used the paint straight from the bottle, after placing the glass bottles in a paint shaker for 5 minutes. The paints dried to the touch quite quickly. The airbrush cleaned up nicely with acetone followed by lacquer thinner. After 24 hours, I could not budge the paint from the test sheet using standard masking materials. The opacity is excellent and the finish dries very flat. I could only slightly feel the painted areas versus bare areas with my fingertip, suggesting a very fine pigment and density to these colors. I painted color test stripes in a similar fashion to the product's web page on a white plastic background. The airbrush was held at a 90deg angle to the surface and at a distance of 6 inches during spraying. Hand brushing worked very well, and the colors smoothed out straight from the bottle with standard techniques, like wet edge, and so on.

I did not receive any thinner specific to the Real Color formula with my review set. The website description of the paint indicates, "They may be diluted with AK-Interactive's specific thinner, or thinners from other manufacturers that are intended for acrylic lacquer paints (non-vinyl). They may also be easily mixed with other acrylic lacquer paints." The acrylic lacquer (non-vinyl) character was interesting to me. I have a lot of acrylic paint with associated thinners, and needed more data. I did not receive replies to two emails asking for more information about the paint line, including a request for a material safety data sheet (MSDS) or equivalent. I hoped that an MSDS would give me some ideas for airbrush cleaning without using hazardous cleaners such as acetone or lacquer thinner.

I chose to experiment with the Real Color paints on a plastic sheet by mixing small drops with Tamiya, Vallejo, and Testors acrylic thinners. This test quickly confirmed that these thinners are not compatible, when a stringy immiscible paint goo appeared while mixing. I tried both 73% and 91% isopropyl alcohol and got the best results thinning with straight 91%. I did not attempt to airbrush using Real Color thinned with acetone or lacquer thinner for safety reasons, for the paint subject and me. My conclusion from all this experimentation is to follow conventional wisdom, plan ahead, and use the recommended thinners-cleaners. Do not assume that acrylic is that same as acrylic lacquer.

The paints I tested are as follows, including the best match I found with my FS 595b fan deck and Ministry of Small Aircraft Productions (MSAP) paint chips in US-2 (Camouflage Colour chart for U. S. Navy WW II Carrier-based Aircraft).

  • RC222 Insignia White: slight greenish hue compared to FS 37855 and MSAP
  • RC235 Intermediate Blue: nearly indistinguishable from FS 35164 and MSAP
  • R257 and RC282 are visibly different from each other only when adjacent, and both are slightly lighter than FS 35042, FS35045 and MSAP

The takeaway here is that the colors are well within scale ranges and are well suited for the intended subjects. I use scale ranges here in reference to the practice of lightening colors slightly in smaller scales.

I highly recommend this series of paints. While I was unable to test thinned examples effectively, the most critical finding is to understand the difference between acrylic and acrylic lacquer. The paint results are excellent! Make sure you get the thinner when you buy this set.

Thanks again to AK-Interactive for providing these samples! As always, thank you to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen, it is an honor to be part of the team.

  • In the box on arrival
    In the box on arrival
  • Paint bottles reviewed, note great cap and bottle color labeling
    Paint bottles reviewed, note great cap and bottle color labeling
  • Airbrushed color stripes on white plastic, suns and spatters due to operator error at 90 degrees and 6 inches distance
    Airbrushed color stripes on white plastic, suns and spatters due to operator error at 90 degrees and 6 inches distance

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