It’s been a while, dear reader, so let me apologize. Not only have I been getting ready for the new college semester, but I’ve also been having a lot of fun building tiny models of Panavia / BAe Systems Tornadoes in 1:144 scale (more of that anon, maybe) and very soon I’m going to build a couple of examples of the Eurofighter EF-2000 (Typhoon in RAF naming).
In this endeavour, one question has frequently arisen in my mind. It appears there is no completely satisfactory answer, depending on your degree of geekiness or need to adhere to exact specification. The question is this: Just how many pots of grey paint does one person need?
I started off with my fairly big F/A-18 and so had a good stock of American Federal Standard grays available. Tonight I was reading up on the colours necessary for my RAF Typhoons (which is apparently BS381c/626 Barley or Camouflage Grey – not that Barley is grey, the colour was apparently invented by Mr. Barley.) The questions came to me again. Have I got the right paint? How many pots of grey paint do I need? A more dangerous question flitted across my mind. Does Barley Gray or Camouflage Grey really look like FS36314? How about Light Aircraft Grey or Medium Sea Grey? (Hint: there are usually two answers to all of these questions which are diametrically opposed.)
I have already dipped my toes into the murky waters of equivalency when painting a couple of the Tornadoes. The Tornado F3 started its RAF life in two shades of grey, and then changed to a different shade of grey. The Tornado Special Interest Group of the International Plastic Modellers’ Society says:
Upper surface: Barley Grey (BS4800.18B.21) now known as Camouflage Grey (BSC381C:626) (satin) Undersides: Light Grey (BSC381C:627) (satin) Radome: Medium Grey (matt) In the mid 2000’s F.3’s were repainted in overall Medium Sea Grey with a slight variation in the radome colour.https://www.tornadosig.com/raf-camouflage-schemes.html
So that’s easy enough then, right?
There are two broad schools of thought on the topic of equivalency. One school will not compromise and insists on the exact standard colour for the subject. The other school looks to see if certain American colors match certain British colours (see what I did there?) in the sure and certain hope that you can get something that looks about right, without having to own more than the legendary 50 shades of grey. Some of the modelling purists appear to despise the compromisers to the extent that I have seen the acronym TLAR (That Looks About Right) used in somewhat disparaging terms in Internet discussions. “There is no way a British manufacturer would use or specify a Federal Standard colour for their products!”
Maybe not, but how close is it? Coming from the world of Hex colours on the Interwebs I suppose that it might be the way of establishing whether or not there is commonality.
Ugh. So I’m no closer tonight although I have a few more ideas. I still have two Tornado GR.4 models (which are probably BS381c/629 Dark Camouflage Grey but see above) and then onto the Typhoons. Or the other way round.
Heaven help me when I get to the Dassault Rafales. 🙂
As a footnote. I was cruising around the Web, and came across an explanation of how FS 595 numbers actually work. I had no idea there was such an explanation, and I’m happy to present it here just in case anyone else wonders.
The colors in the Federal Standard set have no official names, just five-digit numbers.
The first digit indicates the level of sheen:
1 = gloss
2 = semi gloss
3 = matt
The second digit indicates a general color classification group:
0 = Brown
1 = Red
2 = Orange
3 = Yellow
4 = Green
5 = Blue
6 = Grey
7 = Other (white, black, violet, metallic)
8 = Fluorescent
The remaining digits indicate the intensity. Lower values indicate a darker color and vice versa.