Paints / Colours

Paint colours are a vexed question, particularly for anyone restoring or upgrading a model, and becomes more difficult when "converting" between the colours offered by the various model paint manufacturers. To assist you with this we have provided links to information proved by the paint manufacturers and websites which provide conversion tables.

The "correct" colour to use is the subject of, at times intense, debate on various message boards and adjusting paint colours for a phenomena known as "Scale Effect" is another subject of some contention for which we have provided some references and links to various articles.

At the end of the day the appropriate paint colours and finishes are subjective and all that matters is that you are happy with the result - "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" as they say.

US Navy Colours:

The US Navy and Military Sealift Command (MSC) have standing instructions for the painting of vessels under their command which among other things specify the colours and types of paints to be used on particular surfaces and equipment by reference to FED-STD-595C.

The US Navy instructions are contained in NTSM 631 Vol 3 "Preservation of Ships in Service- Surface Ship / Submarine Application" which is not publicly available.

The Military Sealift Command instructions are contained in COMSC Instruction 4750.2C "Preservation Instructions for MSC Ships" which can be downloaded as a PDF file from the MSC website.

Surface Colour Notes
Boottopping Black Portion of the hull 6 inches below the Light Load Line to 6 inches above the Deep Load Line
Hull FS 26270
Haze Gray,
Freeboard hull from 6 inches above the Deep Load Line to the railings including bulwarks
Topsides, Superstructure & Deckhouses FS 26270
Haze Gray,
General Topsides include all weather-exposed vertical surfaces, such as superstructure and deckhouses, deck lockers, masthouses, railings, ladders, hatches and hatchcoaming, ventilation plenums; but excluding stack, masts, cargo gear, lifeboats and davits, decks, deck machinery and deck piping
Decks FS 26081
Dark Grey,
Exterior decks include all weather-exposed horizontal surfaces, excepting helo/hangar decks and specific non-skid areas

All decks and horizontal surfaces visible to surface or air detection shall be Dark Gray
Flight Decks FS 26081
Dark Grey,
All helo, VERTREP, and hangar decks certified by the Naval Air Engineering Center (NAEC) shall only be coated with a Class I Grade B rollable epoxy non-skid approved per QPL DOD-C-24667 applied over the manufacturer’s designated primer

No colour is specified in the MSC instructions but from photographs flight decks appear to be a similar colour to other deck surfaces except on US Navy Carriers and LHA's
Masts, Booms & Kingposts FS 26270
Haze Gray,
All masts, booms, kingposts, etc., shall be painted with Haze Gray (MSC #45 or Fed Std Color 26270) except that the outboard six feet of all boom tips forward of the stack shall be White (MSC #33 or Fed Std Color 27886), and the outboard six feet of all boom tips aft of the stack shall be Black (MSC #48 or Fed Std Color 27038)
STREAM, UNREP & FAS Equipment FS 26081
Dark Grey,
All machinery shall be Dark Gray (MSC #35 or Fed Std Color 26081), marked white in accordance with the latest revision of NAVSEA Manual NWP-14
Stacks (Funnels)   All MSC ships, regardless of type or hull color, shall have their stacks painted with the distinctive color bands described below -
  1. Top band: Black for a width of two-fifteenths of “H”
  2. 2nd band: Haze Gray (FS 26270) for one-fifteenth of “H”
  3. 3rd band: Blue (FS 15123) for one-fifteenth of “H”
  4. 4th band: Yellow (FS 13538) for of one-fifteenth of “H”

    "H" is the overall height of the stack (funnel)
The remainder of the stack (below the yellow band) shall be painted the same color as the surrounding deckhouse
Lifeboats   Lifeboat hull color shall match surrounding superstructure color

The interior of open lifeboats shall be given two topcoats of International Orange (FS 12197) - the canopies of encapsulated lifeboats shall be International Orange (FS 12197)

Government & Commercial Colour Standards
British Standard 381C British Standard BS 381C is the official colour guide for the British Government & Military.

An official version of BS 381C does not appear to be available over the Internet but a colour chart can be viewed on the Technical Paint Services website or the HMG Paints website which also has a PDF file for download.
Federal Standard 595C Federal Standard 595C is the official colour guide for the US Government & US Military which can be downloaded as a PDF file from a link on this page.
Pantone Colour System The "Pantone Matching System" is a proprietary colour space which is used extensively in the printing industry - we use the Pantone system to specify most of our paint colours.

Pantone does not provide a colour chart that is available through the Internet.
RAL The Classic RAL System is used to define standard colors for paint and coatings and is the most popular Central European Color Standard used today.

According to the Revell (Germany) website the RAL colour numbers reference the official German Military Color System.

An official colour chart does not seem to be available for download but the colours are all displayed on this page.

Paint Charts / Conversion Tables
Humbrol Colour Chart Humbrol provide a wall chart with all of the current colours and a conversion table which can be downloaded as a PDF file from a link on this page
Humbrol Conversion Tables On this page Humbrol provide a conversion table for Revell / RAL / Gunze Sangyo / Testor / Lifecolor / Games Workshop / Tamiya / FS (Federal Standard) colourss
Mr Hobby / Mr Color Colour Chart

(Gunze Sangyo)
The Mr Hobby colour chart which can be downloaded as a PDF file from the company website is only available in Japanese - an English version can be downloaded as a JPG file from the Kalfakis Model Hobbies website.
Mr Hobby / Mr Color Conversion Table The Planete-Auto website provides conversion tables for Gunze (Mr Hobby / Mr Color) / Humbrol / Italeri / Revell / Tamiya / Testors - just select the required brand from the menu on the left.
Testors Paints Testors does not appear to provide downloadable colour charts for any of their paint ranges although you can see all of the colours on their website.

You can download PDF files of the Model Master charts from the links on this page.
Revell (Germany) Colour Chart This link will open a PDF file of the Revell (Germany) Colour Chart - as Revell paints are not sold in the USA Revell provides a conversion table for US modellers which can be accessed from the next link in the table
Revell Paint Match Guide For US modellers Revell provides a downloadable PDF cross reference to convert Revell (Germany) paint colours into RAL or Testors colours
Tamiya Colour Charts Tamiya provide downloadable PDF colour charts for all of their different types of paintt
Vallejo Colour Charts Vallejo provide downloadable PDF colour charts for all of their different types of paint
Urban's Color Reference Charts - Part 1 Colour Reference Charts created by Urban Fredriksson hosted by IPMS (International Plastic Modeler's Society) Stockholm - Part 1 focuses on authentic military colours organised by country and time period
Urban's Color Reference Charts - Part 2 Colour Reference Charts created by Urban Fredriksson hosted by IPMS (International Plastic Modeler's Society) Stockholm - Part 2 deals with model paints and colour conversion between different paint manufacturers
ScaleModelDb's Colour Chart Tool This page allows you to select and display colour charts for Federal Standards / Humbrol / Model Master / Pantone / RAL / Revell / Tamiya / Testors / Vallejo

Select the required colour chart(s), paint types, & finishes using the check boxes at the right hand side of the table and then click the button marked "Show Paint Charts" at the bottom.

To find equivalents for a particular colour -
  1. Select the appropriate colour chart from the menu on the left - eg Federal Standards

  2. Scroll down the colour chart to find the colour and then click on the colour box

  3. In the following screen click on the button marked "Search Simular Colors" to display a list of comparable model paint colours with their colour "chips"

Scale Effect
Articles / Discussions
Color Scale Effects in Modeling An article on the Cybermodeler Website by Michael Benolkin discussing the use of paint colours adjusted for scale effect and suggesting that it might be appropriate for smaller scale models such as 1:1200 / 1:1250 scale model ships
Scale Colour?? RUBBISH!!!!! A contrary view suggesting that there are too many variables to make adjusting paint colours for scale effect worthwhile and concluding with the observation -

"If you think it looks right, if you're happy with the way it turned out, then that's really all that matters!"
Painting Your Model For The Greatest Realism An article on the Titanic Research & Modeling Association Website by Art Braunschweiger discussing the use of airbrushes, gloss / flat finishes, and the adjustment of paint colour for scale effect
The IPMS Color Cross-Reference Guide Author(s):
David H Klaus
Paperback / Soft Cover
Meteor Productions Inc
0962914606 / 978-0962914607
Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935 - 1945 Author(s):
Kenneth Merrick & Thomas Hitchcock
Ring Bound "book"
Monogram Aviation Publications
0914144294 / 978-0914144298