by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
It's been a good time recently for enthusiasts of French WW2 aircraft, with some exciting semi short-run kits appearing and even HobbyBoss taking the refreshing decision to include the MS.406 and D.520 among the Easy Build range.
While it's great to see such subjects appearing, it's equally important to have some accurate modelling paints available to go with them, so it's very welcome to see that White Ensign Models have included a specialist set of French paints among their impressive range of Colourcoats enamels.
Colourcoats are sold in 14ml tinlets. The paint is produced with a particularly fine pigment, and they show less sign of settling-out when left standing and, generally, require a little less thinning for airbrushing than some comparable enamels. The paints are semi-gloss (except where noted below) and the shine increases with the number of coats. Once dry, they are extremely robust and can be polished to a high gloss. As with all gloss enamels, drying time is longer than with matte paints. Using cellulose thinners speeds things up for airbrushing (it's unsafe for brush painting on styrene), but for the quickest results a drop of Rustin's Driers accelerates the drying time drastically with no apparent ill-effects on the paints.
I've found Colourcoats produce excellent results when airbrushed, flowing beautifully and with little tendency to cause head clogging (even with Driers added). While I generally use them with an airbrush, I've found them equally suitable detail brush painting.
The Colourcoats French Range comprises:
AC F 01 Vert Moyen - Medium green.
AC F 02 Vert Fonce - Ivy green.
AC F 03 Terre D'Ombe Nat - Raw earth.
AC F 04 Chocolat - Burnt sienna.
AC F 05 Gris Fonce -Dark grey-blue.
AC F 06 Ombre Calcinee - Dark earth.
AC F 07 Kaki - Dark olive drab.
AC F 08 Vert - Green.
AC F 09 Gris Bleu Clair Sky Grey. (Supplied in matt finish)
AC F 10 Gris Bleu Ciel - Sky Blue.
AC F 11 Chamois - Interior protective coating (undercarriages etc.). Supplied in matt finish.
AC F 12 Bleu Fonce - Cockpit interior dark blue.
The range covers all the major colours needed - but a couple of additions which I'd like to see are Rouge and Azur Cocardes - particularly the latter, to make life easier when painting rudder stripes.
The price is £1.32 per pot, or the paints are available as a set of 12 for £14.25, which marks a saving of over 10%. (Prices are exclusive of VAT.)
AccuracyAccurate Armée de L'Air paints have been among the most elusive colours for modellers. In what has almost come to be regarded as something of a modellers' "bible" - the "IPMS Color Cross-Reference" - David H. Klaus bemoaned the chaotic state of French references.
With French references in the UK about as rare as hens' teeth, I was quick to snap up a little paint chart that I spotted selling for a giveaway price when Foyles cleared out and re-stocked their aviation department some years ago. The chart contains 36 paint chips and was produced by Vitochart, titled "Armée de L'Air Aéronavale, Nuancier des Coluleurs de L'Aviation Francaise 1900-1945". Written all in French, it's proved very handy over the years and has long been out of print, apparently being quite rare these days - so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the primary source for WEM's set of French Colourcoats!
Comparing WEM's paints against the chart is very encouraging, with most of the colours matching very closely. WEM's Gris Bleu Clair is a tad more saturated than the paint chip in my Vitocharts set, while Vert Moyen is rather darker. The one real difference concerns Vert - WEM's paint is a rich dark green that matches what I've seen in published artwork well. On the chart, Vert is a brilliant light green and, although it's described as a camouflage colour that appeared in September 1938, Vitochart's version seems almost too vivid to be credible. Perhaps WEM's colour guru John Snyder can shed some light on this apparent mystery.
Vert aside, the comparison not only shows how well the Colourcoats match up, but also proves just how distinctive the Armée de L'Air colours were. The Vitochart gives nearest F.S. equivalents and, in most cases, the "match" is very poor - and in the case of Kaki, the authors are reduced to suggesting no less than 6 FS colours - most of which aren't within a million miles of their paint chip! The value of WEM's Colourcoats being taken directly from the French source is very clear.
ConclusionWe're probably yet to hear the last word on the elusive colours in which the Armée de L'Air went to war, but with the growing number of French aircraft kits appearing, WEM's Colourcoats are highly recommended as among the most accurate modelling paints available. I've got several French builds on the modelling bench at the moment, so I'll add pics of the results with these Colourcoats soon.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Verdict: Excellent quality equality paints, matched to one of the few available recognised modelling references.
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Copyright ©2020 text by Rowan Baylis [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.
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