Olive Drab - A Thesis!

Being new to painting US tanks, I set out on a quest to find the Holy Grail, Olive Drab 9 in a bottle. I did search on various forums to see what people were using for OD, but they usually cite Steve Zaloga's Tamiya OD choice. Well, I'm an enamel kind of guy!

My two primary references were Steve Zaloga, in Military Modelling,

2002, #3, & Robert Archer's article on USAAF colors which appeared in Modeling the Second World War (Fine Scale Modeler).

In these two articles, I gathered the following: USAAF OD41 Was a shade darker than AGF OD9 (OD9=OD319=OD22, QM 3-1). Mr. Archer stated that Tamiya OD was an near exact match for OD41, & Mr. Zaloga liked it for OD9, lightened with a little ochre. So far, so good, as OD41 is supposed to be darker than OD9.

Never having seen before a real color chip of OD9, I was intrigued by this Color. The best I could do to get an appreciation for OD9 was to take Tamiya OD (XF-62) & lighten it as directed with dark yellow (XF-60). I did this in various concentrations to get a feel for this beast. To my delight, I found out that lightened Tamiya closely resembled an enamel! Testors Green Drab (1787).

As a double check, I lightened the Testors with Humbrol Ochre (83), and as I hoped, this matched Steve's second choice, Polly Scale OD (505370). Steve said that this Polly Scale was like a lightened shade of OD, & would serve well for Scaling the color down to suit your model.

But for you acrylic guys, you might like to know this: Polly Scale actually has a better choice than the one Steve tested in his article. Try USAAF OD (505224) If you like a slightly darker version of

505370. I believe had Steve tested this one, it would have been a closer 2nd choice than the Polly Scale he chose.

So, in summary, from darkest to lighter, it's

Tamiya > MM Green Drab > PS 505224 > PS505370

These colors when lighted with Ochre, are all on the same linear color line.

I hope that someone who has an actual WW2 color chip can test my theory that OD9 in a bottle just might be Testors 1787.

Lastly, the color chip in Mr. Zaloga's Stuart model book (Osprey) is very wrong. The printing was screwed up.

Reply to
Fred Fark
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If you are modeling something that is freshly painted, then the exact color might be important. If you are modeling something that has been out in the weather for any length of time, then just about any shade of OD works fine. Different manufacturers formulas faded differently and stuff that was repainted in the field suffered even further as the OD would either get thinned too much (or not enough), which effected how the paint would fade, or it got repainted using the field-mixture of black and yellow at 1:1 ratio. This technique came about when one of the manufacturers let it slip that their OD was simply their black and yellow and since they were shipping 55 gallon drums of black, yellow, red, blue, white and OD, the army decided to stop shipping the OD to save space.

Then there is the question of direct matching of a color chip or using a lighter shade, which goes to suggest scale. My rule of thumb is to pick the shade of OD I like best and use it. If you're modeling WWII, you can almost never be wrong.

Scott snipped-for-privacy@AOL.com

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I've got a couple of samples of WW2 OD. Trouble is, they don't even come close to matching each other. One is a radio parts box, and the color is a very dark OD, almost like Luftwaffe Black Green. The other is a footlocker, and is finished in a warm olive green. Both have original stenciling including date of manufacture. Based on other samples and Steve Zaloga's article, I suspect the standard was somewhere in between these two colors. Point is, there was a lot of variation, and once you start weathering, the original finish is almost irrelevent, unless it is parade vehicle. Gerald Owens

Reply to

"Lafimprov" wrote

In your case Gerald, the issue is probably one of the different reflectivity, vehicles, and aging characteristics of two paints, one made for metal (I presume) and the other for wood. Additionally, the radio parts box was undoubtedly a Signal Corps cognizant item while the footlocker was procured by the Quartermaster Corps. I have not seen any indication in the records that these two technical services used the same OD color standard, let alone the same standard as the Ordnance Department. If you don't think that's possible, consider that to this day these now-unified technical branches haven't even standardized on a model designation system. . .

The problem I have with the "anything goes" school is that anything goes. Things may change under various conditions but I think the starting point CAN be pinned down pretty well.


Reply to
Kurt Laughlin

I gotta try that, thanks!

The Keeper (of too much crap)

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In article , Keeper writes

Do we know what shade the yellow was?


Reply to

The pigment was supposed to be yellow ochre, a common artists' color and universal pigment.

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The paint chips are still only going to be suited to near new factory machinery as once it went to the units it's paintwork was touched up by the poor souls who got caught for various little things like having a bit of brasso residue on your parade belt buckle.

I have had the joy (?) of painting several army vehicles in my time in the service of Australia.......... and I can assure you that the paints I used were mixed so no two vehicles out of the twenty we had in our unit would look the same........ but they all had the wheelnuts taken off, the old paint stripped off with a benchmounted wire brush and repainted black. All because I made some silly comment that the Duty Officer overheard! ;

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