particular text would not be public at first, since it just
summarizes my personal analysis on which color brand to use on a couple
of my latest modeling projects. I wondered, however, that it may be
useful to someone facing similar needs. So here it is, a simple
analysis on three modeling paint brands for five Luftwaffe late war
colors: RLM 74, 75, 81, 82 and 83.
Those were the colors I
needed, and not being an expert on the subject (far from that), I
didn't want to mix my own colors (although I probably will fade/post
shade them on my models). I'be been using a lot of lacquers lately to
speed up the painting process on my projects. I know I could use
acrylics, but I don't like acrylics to airbrush mottling and such.
Neither I like to use different types of paint in the same project,
unless absolutely necessary. If possible, I use only lacquers or only
enamels or only acrylics. And besides, I had to restrain myself to what
I had in my paint stash: sometimes I had one or two colors from
one brand but not the others. In summary, I analyzed the following
brands here: GSI Creos (Gunze) lacquers (except for one color),
Testors Model Master enamels, and Aerotech (a Brazilian modeling brand)
Besides the reasons listed above, I particularly like these brands in view of a few other aspects:
So Mr.Color and Aerotech share basically the same properties, but you
must pay attention to the thinning ratio, as some colors may be tricky
to paint mottling effects. Larger areas can be airbrushed with more
tolerant thinning ratios. However, Model Master paints are enamels, and
therefore they take longer to dry. I for one have been finding
difficulties to spray mottling with these paints sometimes,
particularly the flat ones (not the case here, though). Model Master
is also one of the weakest hobby paints in my opinion, and
from my experience they don't hold well if your model will be handled
too much (several of my models painted with them had to be retouched on
the trailing edges of the wings due to my insistence to hold the models
by one wing).
- GSI Creos Mr.Color:
- Lacquer based paints, so they dry fast and allow oil paint dot filtering and washes without a protective clear coat.
- Spray very well.
- The wanted colors are semi-gloss, so again I don't need a gloss coat in preparation for the decals.
- Durable, standing well under a lot of model handling.
- Testors Model Master:
- Easy to use.
- Spray well.
- Very opaque.
- Lacquer paints, they dry even faster than Mr.Color and allow oil paint dot filtering and washes without a protective clear coat.
- Spray very well, once you find the proper thinning ratio.
- The wanted colors are gloss, so I can apply the decals directly over them.
- Durable (these are actually automotive paints).
But how about the accuracy of these paints? That's the question I want to answer here.
colors used in my tests are the following, all thinned with their
recommended thinners (SG stands for semi-gloss sheen and G for gloss):
|RLM 74||#36 (SG)||#2084 Graungrun (SG)||RLM74 (G)|
|RLM 75||H69 (SG)*||#2085 Grauviolett (G)||RLM75 (G)|
|RLM 81||#121 (SG)||#2090 Braunviolett (SG)||RLM81 (G)|
|RLM 82||#122 (SG)||#2091 Dulkelgrun (G)||RLM82 (G)|
|RLM 83||#123 (SG)||#2092 Lichtgrun (G)||RLM83 (G)|
* Due to shortage of this lacquer color in my stash, I used the H69 from their acrylic line (Hobby Color) instead.
not used any scale effect, and keep in mind that fading, washes,
post-shading and other techniques can change considerably the final
aspect of them on your model. I airbrushed these colors on squared
pieces of plastic to compare with my references.
about references, it is virtually impossible to select a definitive
pattern for such a controversial subject. References  to  are
among the most reliable sources on the subject, and even them do not
match so well to each other. Michael Benolkin made a credible job in
crossing many popular hobby paints with these references here and here, but unfortunately he didn't include Mr.Color paints. I still rely on Ref. as my primary source:
painting my chips, I ended up with a nice comparison chart. Please note
that these are actual photos of the chips, cropped for a better
The first thing
you note is that Model Master seemed to have switched the colors RLM 82
for 83. I recall reading something about that on the internet, claiming
mislabeling or wrong references. On the other hand, the same mistake
can be seen on the charts of ref., apparently corrected on refs.
and , which are actually a revised work on ref.. It is well
possible that Testors have used ref. in their RLM 82 and 83
formulas. Who knows? Anyway, I would just switch the labels of these
two particular bottles since, as you will see, it makes more sense and
the hues are usable.
I overlaid each paint chip with the ones from ref. to compare them. I also added a RGB interpretation from Mr.Benolkin's digital charts
just out of curiosity. Photographed paint chips overlaid with digital
tones are almost useless for modeling purposes, but they allow one to
check how off the photos could possibly be and adjust the light. I
don't need to stress that it is much better to perform such analysis in
real life, under natural light. My intention in taking photos instead
of scanning the chips was to be closer to how the paint would look like
in a (photographed) model. I used the following convention in the
Let's start by the RLM 74:
This color has
some greenish hue that seems to be absent in Aerotech paints, which is
basically a dark grey color. Testors is too light, but may be used on a
model accounting for the scale effect. In a direct comparison with
ref., my opinion is that Mr.Color is the most accurate.
Next, the RLM 75:
The RLM 75
Grauvilott has a purple hue virtually absent in Aerotech
interpretation, way off on the blue side. Both Mr.Color and Model
Master versions are good, with the later a tad too dark. Again, I would
go with Mr.Color (recalling that I have used Mr.Hobby paints instead of
Mr.Color here, but the differences are minimal).
Now the RLM 81:
This was a tough
one. On a first look, I'd say that Model Master and Aerotech are better
than Mr.Color, but both lacks the olive hue captured by the later. I
reasoned that Mr.Color, which seems too greenish,
would be on-spot if it was a bit lighter. Aerotech is too brownish,
while Model Master seems too light. Honestly, I could use any of the
analyzed brands here, but it seems a good idea to lighten Mr.Color and
Aerotech a tad for modeling purposes.
easier of the colors analyzed, Mr.Color looked the best of the batch.
If you switch Model Master's RLM 82 for 83, you will have a pretty
decent RLM 82, too. Aerotech is too dark, but even it can be used by
adding a touch of yellow.
And finally, the RLM 83:
Here my vote
goes to Aerotech, which is almost dead-on spot with Eagle Editions.
Mr.Color is too greenish, and even if you switch Model Master's RLM 82
for 83, their 83 is also too green.
My humble veridict is the following:
- If you don't mind mixing paint brands:
- RLM 74: Mr.Color
- RLM 75: Mr.Color
- RLM 81: Any of the three analyzed
- RLM 82: Mr.Color
- RLM 83: Aerotech
However, only a couple of the interpretations above were
really off. All brands analyzed here could be used with small
corrections or even straight from the bottle, if you are going to add
weathering effects. But remember to switch Model Master RML 82 for
83... otherwise they are quite wrong.
- If you want to use a single paint brand, that would be Mr.Color.
If you have an idea to improve this article, please tell me. Just don't come with that spectrometer talking...
I hope you
article useful in your next project.
 - Merrick, K.A., and Hitchcock, T.H., The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German
Aircraft 1935-1945, Monogram Aviation Publications, 1980. - Merrick, K.A., and Kiroff, J., Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1933-1945
Volume 1, Classic Publications, 2004. - Merrick, K.A., and Kiroff, J., Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1933-1945
Volume 2, Classic Publications, 2005. - Ullmann, M., Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945, Hikoki Publications,
2008. - Luftwaffe Color Chart. Eagle Editions, 1998.