Vietnam Colors: Modelmaster is Way Off

I worked as an USAF mechanic around F-4E's at Clark AB in the early eighties. Prior to that I saw PLENTY of the Vietnam type 4-color
schemes at Hill AFB. I hadn't built a model with this scheme in years, but I just assumed that I could go to the hobby shop and get the MM paints and they would match. I mean, if they can get RLM 83 right--what's so tough about the most publicized paint job in history??
Apparently A LOT! The colors are way off! Way too light and not red enough. I mixed some "home brew" versions that more-or-less match what I remember (I have a good eye for color, even if I do say so myself!).
So what's going on? Is some other type of paint a better match? Has the US DOD changed the specs and thrown us all a curve-ball? I'm very puzzled. I did some Google-ing and sure-enough, a lot of the Vietnam era models I found on-line were painted in the wrong shades. Too light. Not red enough.
Very odd. Does anybody recommend a brand that is a better match? Can anybody explain the disparity (my vocabulary word today)?
Or is my memory shot and I'm living in Cloud Coo-Coo Land? By the say, does anybody have a source for a profile (3-view's better) of a Cloud Coo-Coo Land AF Hawker Hunter circa 1967?
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dancho wrote:

Have you checked you memory (and the paints) against a Fed Std color Fan Deck?
Could also be that the jets you worked on were painted other than "spec".
--
- Rufus

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don't forget the sun. the rain... just how long did the paint keep its color out of the can color before it started to fade? lots and lots of earlier threads about how there is no real accurate OD because of the weather, etc....
Craig
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

I forgot to mention that these are the Acryl paints, not the enamels.
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on 10/3/2007 10:59 PM dancho said the following:

The only way to check the accuracy of the colors is to compare the military color to the model paint using the Pantone matching system. The military uses the Pantone system for their FS colors so that all their paint suppliers produce the exact same colors. Whether or not the model paint companies use the Pantone system is another question.
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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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willshak wrote:

Dunno if that's true or not...most likely not. The Pantone color system is prevalent for presswork, but I know that we paint our jets in accordance with FS595 and spec those colors for production.
What happens at Depot or in the Fleet is another matter.
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in article N6-dnb4kLYGdypnanZ2dnUVZ snipped-for-privacy@comcast.com, dancho at snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote on 10/3/07 10:59 PM:

Simon: I think you may well have a point (not to mention that having been there yourself, your memories of the colors carry just as much weight as anybody else's opinions). I think MM's acrylics tend to be lighter on the whole than their enamels. The MM enamels for the SEA colors match up pretty well against FS 595.
Pip Moss
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dancho wrote:

I've always used Humbrols for this scheme myself. I have no idea if theirs are the more accurate tones.
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
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In my experience the 1:1 stuff is not a good source for accurate colors or markings,
Jack G.
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Jack G wrote:

...accurate SPEC colors and markings - the 1:1 stuff is ALWAYS right.
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When I was in the Navy the Haze Grey we used to get never seemed to be the same shade from five gallon can to five gallon can even with the same FS number & even the same lot number. When we had to repaint a large area we used to have to mix several cans to be sure of having a uniform color... Add to that the gunner's mates and torpedomen's tendency to add a quart of varnish to a five gallon can to paint the gun mounts and Mk 32 tubes; made the paint job last longer and the effect was a gloss, you can see there was quite a variation of shades. Memory can play tricks on you after thirty years but the potential for slightly different shades is there.
Good luck
Bob
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"There are no great men.
There are only great challenges
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Bob B wrote:

...all you need do is look at a Navy jet that has been corrosion controlled to know the tradition continues.
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I worked as an USAF mechanic around F-4E's at Clark AB in the early seventies, about the time they started switching to the black codes and numbers. I can't speak for the acrylics but the enamels aren't bad. In fact, the most recent issue of Aerospace Modeler, Vol. 7, Summer 2007, has an F-4C article with corrections to the enamels line. Curiously, they are generally given as too dark. I think the problem may be that the enamels match the actual paints too close and do not take scale effect into account. Maybe they went overboard correcting the acrylics. My current favorite acrylics are either Polly Scale or Tamiya.
I learned about scale effect while at Clark. I was building a 1/32 F-4E but there were no hobby shops and of course this was looong before the internet. So I figured I'd just beg some real paint off the paint shop. They gave me a small bottle of each of the four Vietnam colors. When I sprayed them on they were much too dark, too intense. But they couldn't get more accurate than that, right? The problem was scale effect. If I had toned them down they probably would have worked just fine.
Curt
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Having spent many months in SEA, I can tell you that the tan began fading almost immediately and the greens were only marginally better. After sitting out and absorbing all that UV radiation in the lower latitudes, none of the upper surfaces were close to spec after a couple of months. I'd just "guestimate" the fading. The longer the airplane was in theater, the more the fading. If you're building one fresh from a repaint in a depot, you can probably get by with Aeromaster or Model Master, etc. and match it against the paint chips.
You can't even count on color photographs as a reference. Most of the guys I knew over there who used color film shot Ektachrome slides which is known to be inaccurate on color renditions and the pigment faded quickly on the film. A few shot Kodachrome which had (has?) the best color rendition and resistance to fading over time. The water used to process the film could also affect the color. On top of that, if the photos were shot air-to-air (plane-to-plane?) there was a color shift toward the blue end no matter which film was used but Kodachorme was more resistant, I think.
Bottom line: Go with what looks right to you. Some people will like it and some won't. Nit pickers abound.
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I'm seeing a number of problems in some of the answers to this question. The color standards relevent to Vietnam War aircraft colors are FS595, FS595A, & ANA Bulletins. None of these are available now, and there is a good chance that the colors in question are no longer the same in FS595B. And the system used in accordance with these standards was the Munsell system (& CIE), not Pantone. Pantone is now (for some colors-ground installations I think), Munsell was then.
If someone has some FS numbers that they want me to compare between the standards, please feel free to email me.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

AFAIK, the Pantone system is not used in US government procurement. US government spec is FS595B. I'm sure problems arise when non-government contracted commercial suppliers attempt to print or mix colors using Pantone matches for FS colors.
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Rufus, they are probably talking about this:
http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/Pantone.aspx?pg 905&ca4
it's not really the Pantone color system (for inks), it's from their paint collection (not really a system, but it does have nice colors!)
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Now that's interesting...I know that we still deliver aircraft spec'd to FS595B. And if you look at US military aircraft (fixed wing in particular) there's usually a stencil on them that delineates the FS colors used in the paint work somewhere on the jet.
Interesting to see yet another compartmental deviation from "standard" in gov specs. More fun for modelers...
--
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Found this regarding Pantone & FS959b:
contractmagazine.com January 7, 2005 The U.S. Army Adopts PANTONE Color Language for its Facilities Worldwide SOURCE: Online SECTION: INDUSTRY BRIEFS LENGTH: 461 words HIGHLIGHT: The decision will promote aesthetic consistency as well as competitive bidding on Army contracts Pantone, Inc., the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards, and ManTech Environmental Corporation (MEC), currently responsible for the Army Installation Design Standards (IDS), today announced that the U.S. Army has adopted a palette drawn from the PANTONE for architecture and interiors color system as a standard for exterior paint colors for all Army facilities worldwide. Developed as a comprehensive color solution for the contract and hospitality segments of the interior design industry, PANTONE for architecture and interiors enables designers to match and coordinate different categories within the industry, including paint, flooring, leather, fabrics, carpet, fiber, furniture and laminates. The System consists of over 1,900 colors in cotton, paper and digital formats. PANTONE for architecture and interiors overcomes the traditional, time-intensive and stressful task of specifying, matching and agreeing on colors. "Until recently, the Army used Federal Color Numbers' as a standard for accurately communicating color, but this system has been discontinued due to quality control problems," explains L. Baxter Lawrence, AIA, architect, MEC. "This presented a problem in establishing a non-proprietary color standard for the 19 Army exterior colors which were to be included in the new Army Installation Design Standards," adds Gary Burns, PMP, management director of MEC, who has personally guided the IDS development since its inception over two years ago. Larry Black, AIA, ICMA, program manager/general engineer for Assistant Chief of Staff Installation Management (ACSIM), who is the government lead on the IDS program, felt that it was important to codify the 19 exterior colors and suggested that MEC explore the possibility of using PANTONE, whose international standing would ensure that the exterior paint colors for U.S. Army installations around the world would be consistent. It would also promote competitive bidding on Army contracts while helping to guarantee quality execution. "We are pleased that the U.S. Army has taken this significant step to speak the language of color," says Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of Pantone Fashion and Interiors. "It joins many top design firms and manufacturers in using PANTONE for architecture and interiors to instantly and accurately communicate color around the world." A color board appears in Appendix L: Exterior Color Charts of the Army Installation Design Standards, which provides the mandatory common facility and infrastructure standards for all Army installations. Color options are given for exterior finishes for each of eight U.S. regions plus Europe and the Far East. It is viewable online at www.mantech-mec.com/army_ids/ LOAD-DATE: January 7, 2005 LANGUAGE: ENGLISH Copyright 2005 VNU Business Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Page 2 The U.S. Army Adopts PANTONE Color Language for its Facilities Worldwide contractmagazine.com January 7, 2005
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in article snipped-for-privacy@57g2000hsv.googlegroups.com, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com at snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote on 10/6/07 5:52 PM:

I have color books (with small paint chips -- not fans) for both FS 595A and 595B. I see no apparent difference between the two standards for any of the four SEA colors (30219, 34079, 34102, 36622). Pip Moss
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