Colour Matching

Whilst we don’t advocate that choosing exactly the right shade of green is essential, we are aware that, through experience, some modellers know what colours work best for tyres, or South East Asia campaign camouflage. This section is intended to provide some guidance on what may work. However, be aware that even aircraft fresh out of the factory may appear with different shades of the one colour. Paint qualities differed, especially under wartime conditions. Once an aircraft left the factory, it became exposed to weather, dust, grime and weapons fire. Repairs and patch-ups occurred in the field and, again, these used materials that were not always standard. Generally, you have a lot of leeway in choosing your colours and shades.

On-line colour comparison and matching sites

Mixing colours

Specific colours

On-line colour comparison and matching sites


On the internet are a couple, (at least), of well respected Colour matching works. These attempt to find an officially recognised colour and then list the appropriate paints to use to achieve this colour. For example, modern Tornado F3’s are painted with a grey, which corresponds to BS626. This is now called Camouflage Grey. It used to be known as Barley Grey. This British Standard paint matches the Federal Standard FS: 36314. Humbrol H167, Tamiya X:X17 and Gunze Sangyo GS:H334 are all good matches for this particular shade of grey. For more information, check out;


Urban Fredriksson’ s Colour Reference Charts

The Ultimate Model Paint Conversion Chart

Back to top

Mixing Colours


There comes a time when you might need to mix colours. Always be aware that you’ll need to mix enough for the job in hand, with spare for later. When mixing, it is better to have a quantity of the pale colour and to carefully add, a drop at a time, the darker colour.
Back to top

Specific Colours


For ease of typing, I will refer to the Humbrol range whenever possible.
If you want to find a suitable match, using other paint, then the Paint Conversion Charts mentioned should help you out.

BOAC Blue: H104 Oxford Blue.

British Racing Green: Humbrol H3 Brunswick Green is a near-perfect match.

Cockpit or Interior Green: Humbrol H78 is a favourite for this.

Collector Ring Colours: The collector ring is that band of metal running around the cowling of many piston-engined aircraft.
Traditionally, paint instructions tell you to paint this H12 Copper, or H55 Bronze. H171 Antique Bronze is a favoured colour, but looking at real life examples, you will see a variety of metallic shades.
One recommendation is to use silver, washed with black and dry-brushed with copper or bronze. Gunze Sangyo produce a very useful range of metallic paints and their Burnt Steel or Burnt Iron is to be recommended.

Duck Egg Blue: Often suggested as an ‘alternative’ to Sky, although both colours were called Sky. Humbrol’s Duck Egg Blue is H23 and, if in need of an early wartime sky-colour, it’ll be close enough.

FAA Biplane colours: Upper surface and topsides Dark Slate Grey H224 and Extra Dark Sea Grey H123. Upper surface lower wing. Light Slate Grey H31 and Dark Sea Grey H164. Underside Sky H90. All Matt.

French Air Force Blue-Grey: H145 Medium Grey, Lifecolor UA145 French Blue-Grey

Imperial Japanese Navy Green: There were, essentially, two sorts of IJN Green; N1 Black Green and N2 Dark Green. After some on-line discussion, H149 was felt ‘close enough’ to N1 and H75 to N2.

Imperial Japanese navy Grey: A pale grey is suggested, using H64 Light Grey, through to H147 Light Grey. H90 Beige Green has also been used to good effect. Tamiya XF-12 J.N Grey and XF-76 Gray Green (IJN) are excellent matches.

Japanese Interior Metallic Blue (Aotake): WWII Japanese aircraft were coated on the insides with a protective blue/green lacquer. It is safe to say that there was little consistency in the exact shades used. Shades also varied between manufacturing plants, so Kawasaki was more ‘green’ than Mitsubishi. A mixture of Humbrol’s H51 Green Mist, mixed with H52 Baltic Blue works well. An alternative is H65 Aircraft Blue, overpainted with H1325 Clear Green works well. Some companies produce exactly the right shade of green. For example, WEM Colourcoats AJ C15, Xtracolour X355 Interior Metallic Blue, Lifecolor UA136 and Gunze Sangyo H63.

Luftwaffe Bf.109 G6 Colours: RLM 74 = 32, RLM 75 = 140 and RLM 76 = H175. Interior of RLM 66 = H184 or H67. Prop blades RLM 70 = H91

Luftwaffe He.177:
Undersides and weapons - Light Blue (Hu 65) Sides of fuselage - Light Grey (Hu 64) with Dark Green (Hu30) mottling
(apply this with a strip of sponge or with a brush chopped down to about 2mm of bristle length)
Top surfaces - Black Green (Hu91) over Dark Green (Hu30) to give splinter effect
Spinners and bombs if used - Black Green (Hu91)
Propellor blades, machine guns, fuselage interior * - Tank Grey (Hu67) Undercarriage legs and wheel hubs - Gunmetal (Hu53)
Tyres * - Dark Grey (Hu27) Rudder - Red (Hu174)

Modern Soviet Interiors:
As for Japanese Interior Blue. For Soviet aircraft interiors, WEM Colourcoats MiG Cockpit Interior Turquoise AC SM07 or Xtracolor as X629 Soviet Interior Blue/Green.

NIVO: Night Invisible Varnish Orfordness.
This was a coloured dope for night flying aircraft. Found on early night fighters and the likes of the Heyford, the Vimy bomber and others of the 1920’s and 30’s. Humbrol H75 Bronze Green is an acceptable match. Hannants produce a NIVO colour of paint; X020.

Olive Drab:
This is one of those colours that few people agree on. In the Humbrol range, there is H155 Olive Drab or H66 Olive Drab. The former is a paler, browner colour, the latter a darker, greener colour. Olive drab used to be made by mixing yellow with black. Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab is very dark, Lifecolor offer a boxed set of six different shades of Olive Drab.

RAF Avro Vulcan Black Buck Mission:
Dark Green H163/Medium Sea Grey upper H156, Dark Sea Grey H106 lower. RAF Blue-Grey (BS633): WEM Colourcoats AC RN19

RAF Brown & Green Camouflage:
Humbrol H29 Dark Earth is good for the brown. Many Airfix instructions insist on H30 Dark Green for the green, but this is generally felt to be too light a shade. H163 Dark Green, or H116 US Dark Green are favoured.

RAF Ocean Grey/ Dark Green/ Medium Sea Grey Day Fighter Camouflage:
Tamiya Introduced three new acrylic colours to coincide with the launch of their 1/32 Spitfires which are excellent; XF-81 Dark Green 2 (RAF), XF-82 Ocean Grey 2 (RAF) and XF-83 Medium Sea Grey 2 (RAF).

RAF Day-Glo:
Revell do a very good Luminous Orange 32125 and Humbrols H209 Fluorescent Fire Orange is gaining in popularity. Lifecolor LC-23 Matt Fluo Orange is a very good, and quick drying, alternative. To get the best result, an undercoat of white is best and, as the paint is prone to picking up dirt after application, a coat of varnish, or Klear, is advisable.

RAF Grey Phantoms:
BS627 Light aircraft grey (Humbrol 166 Light Aircraft Grey) for the bottom. BS4800 Barley Grey (Humbrol 167 Barley Grey) for the fuselage and outer wings. BS637 Medium sea grey (Humbrol165 Medium Sea Grey) for upper wings areas

RAF Operation: Granby:
Humbrol produced a paint specifically for the aircraft that served in that conflict. H250 Desert Sand. Lifecolor UA-089 is a slightly "pinker" variation. Looking at real life examples, much dirt can also be applied!

RCAF Canadian Mobile Command (1970) colours:
H105 Marine Green, H27 Sea Grey and H64 Light Grey undersides. RLM Colours: RLM 81 = H170 or H155, RLM82 = H116, RLM 83 = H105

RNZAF (1970) colours:
H116 Marine Green, H75 Bronze Green and H29 Dark Earth.

Russian Navy Aircraft, Su-33 Flanker D:
Xtracolour X601 Medium Blue = Hu 89 Middle Blue, Xtracolour X602 Light Blue = Hu 65 Aircraft Blue, Xtracolour X603 Blue/Grey = Hu 79 Blue Grey (more blue than grey), or 87 Steel Grey (more grey than blue).

Spanish Republican Brown:
H142, as used within the VVS.

Special Night Black:
This is a very flat black used on RAF nightfighters. It was soot mixed with washing up liquid, painted over Night, which was black with a smooth, satin finish, so wasn’t very hardy. Some modellers add blues or dark greys to their black, in order to try and replicate an uneven finish. Prime with a very dark grey and, after the black coat has been applied, to gently rub patches with very fine sandpaper. If you do this, you'll see that you get some variation in your black finish, with it becoming ever-so slightly lighter where you've rubbed. Once you've done this, an application of mattcote, or similar, will even things out a tad, leaving a more subtle difference in shades. Another tip is to dry-brush with dark blue and dark grey pastels. Another is to add a drop or two of dark grey to some well thinned Mattcote and to spray this onto your model, using uneven strokes.

Tyres:
Tyres are never black, not even in a car showroom. They tend to be shades of dark grey. H32 Dark Grey and H67 Tank Grey are close matches to start with. Some paint their tyres H33 Black and then dry-brush shades of dark grey over this. Another method is to consider the colour of the terrain the model will have been rolling over and to paint your tyres in this colour and then to dry-brush your dark greys over this. Revell 9 Anthracite is a popular colour for tyres.
Tamiya XF-69 Nato Black is also good but absolutely must be airbrushed.

USMC 3-colour land scheme:
FS34097 Marine Field Green H105, FS36495 Grayish Blue H147, FS37038 Black H33/H85. Tamiya XF-66 Light Grey (which is not in the slightest bit light), XF-67 NATO Green and XF-69 NATO Black also work very well.

USN Greys:
USN F-18E/Fs are painted:- Upper: FS 36320 Dark Compass Gray Humbrol H128 Xtracolor 135 Gunze Mr Color (lacquer) 307 Lower: FS 36375 Light Compass Gray Humbrol Hu127 Xtracolor 136 Gunze Mr Color (lacquer) 308 US Pre-War Blue and Yellow: H48 Mediterranean Blue and H154 Insignia Yellow.

US South East Asia Camouflage:
Traditionally, H116 US Dark Green, H117 US Light Green and H118 US Tan. Note that overall finish should tend towards the matt, or possibly matt-satin. That said, many feel that there is not enough contrast between the two greens. H117 with H91 and H225 for the tan is one favoured combination. Alternatively, H116 and H75, with H118 seems to work for some.

Back to top