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Mitsubishi Zero A6M2a Type 11


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Well... here are my thoughts.

The thing is that when we look at B&W photos, for a trained eye, we can tell (but not %100) the color by the "warmth" of shades of grey.

I believe that today I can do this with Luftwaffe ACs, however with this specific color I find it rather hard.

The reason is that it looks allmost white in B&W photos, so I don't see how a mid to rather dark tan color (hemp) could turn into a light allmost white in a B&W color. (or so I thought... read further)

I do think it's much more possible it would be a light color, perhaps even with a slight shade (or hue) of tan.

The samples shown on J-Aircraft show a mid to dark tan color. Now, I know that colors tend to lighten as the years go by, but I never heard about a case of a paint getting darker. So, I really don't know if those pieces of sheet airframe metals, painted with a dark tan, belong to a Zero...

But I do know this:

This is another case to of an Israeli AC that I would like to bring up the possibilities when we "Read" B&W photos with.

This is the story of the Avia S-199 (called Sakin - knife) that sits (growing rust) in the Israeli Airforce Museaum in Hatzerim.

This is a picture of it when it was taken in 1995:

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Israel---Ai...yword_(/'+/

And this one on 2008:

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Israel---Ai...yword_(/'+/

In these photos you can see that the tail number is different (D112 and D120), but there is only one airplane left if I'm not mistaken, so it's the same AC.

As you can see, there is is a huge difference between the two colors. The first is painted in some light grey color because it seemed light grey in the photos.

Then after a long research (not by me) it was found that the actual color was some darker grey green. I was told that the pilots who flew the AC said it was grey and smoe said it was grey green, even Ezer Weizman said it was grey green but none of them could tell which one.

Then I was told a mechanic found an old fuel cap, and based upon it they repainted the whole aircraft. But even now people differ with this conclusion, none the less it serves my point.

When I took the photo, with the darker shade of grey green and played with it a bit with Picasa 3 (I'm not a photoshop expert), adding more fill light changing the color temperature, then turning the photo into B&W, I guess can say I reached a somewhat light grey color that could suggest a missleading result, and if I hadn't known what the color was to begin with I would think it was light grey. Though something is off. It doesn't have the "white" color of a Zero.

Unfortunatly I don't think there is a colored picture of an early Zero otherwise we wouldn't have this goig on. But trying to deduct what color from what we have is something we are allowed to. When I see the allmost white Zero photos, I think I can detect some greenish tint and maybe even some tan-ish tint as well. Something you can detect with the S-199 B&W photo, or is it my mind playing tricks on me.... :thumbsup:

Anyway, I guess I would have to put this to the test. Perhaps I will start with Tmiya's old IJN grey (which hasd allready a green tint to it) add some (just a tiny bit) tan to it, paint a scrap plastic, take some photos (turn them B&W) and compare it with photos of the Zero, and compare it with the same color without the tan.

I guess there's nothing scintific here but if this is the best I can do...

S.

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The color of the S-199 is actually probably very similar to the color of the Zero. People have argued over the S-199 color for decades (even grabbing at the straws of "leftover pre-war RLM 63" for crying out loud).

When in Prague last year and visiting the museum at Kbely, I was amazed at the very dark olive green shade that their Me262 (Czech version) was painted. Even in the photos I took with my own camera, it looks *MUCH* lighter than it actually was to my eyeball.

J

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But what about all the talk about the "Aotoke" (misspelled i'm sure) paint color? Some of the new references popping up say some of the squadrons on the Pearl Harbor Strike had their planes painted this color, ie... Zeros, Kates, and Vals. Is this a correct assumption?

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But what about all the talk about the "Aotoke" (misspelled i'm sure) paint color? Some of the new references popping up say some of the squadrons on the Pearl Harbor Strike had their planes painted this color, ie... Zeros, Kates, and Vals. Is this a correct assumption?

Aotake was the blue-green protective coat applied over natural metal surfaces (much as zinc chromate was applied in U.S. aircraft). I think you're confusing it with ameiro.

Regards,

Murph

Edited by Murph
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but I never heard about a case of a paint getting darker.

Just on that note, WW2, some US Olive Drab aircraft paint was notorious for turning dark purple over time, so it does happen depending on how the pigment reacts to Ultraviolet light and ozone

Edited by ron
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I'm also fond of Floquil's Railroad *Acrylic* "Concrete. (*Not* PollyScale, *not* enamel, *not* "Aged" Concrete)

I have never heard of a Floquil acrylic paint that was not Polly Scale. Is there a number on the bottle?

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Zeros *were* a rather deep, rich shade of what's been described as "pistachio green". Apparently this paint had a tendency to chalk up when exposed to UV light (as in the Solomons), giving rise to the myth of light grey Zeros. In b&w photos it is *impossible* to say exactly what color anything is, so that's right out as a 'reference' on Zero colors.

J

Hi all

Does this mean i can have a 'weathered and used' zero in grey? and perhaps leave the bottom half of the aircraft (not exposed to sun as much) a pistachio green?

thx

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Alright fellers, I'm gonna throw a curve ball at ya....

This post has a few parts to it so ifI get off track, i'll pick it back up at one point or another.

The original question was about A6M2a, aka A6M2 model 11. All these airframes were built by Mitsubishi as Nakajima started building the A6M with the model 21, aka A6M2b. Therefore, all A6M2 model 11's would be painted according to Mitsubishi specs. Meaning, the overall airframe MINUS the control surfaces would be an olive-grey color. Ameiro is incorrect for any zero, as is RLM 02 and Floquil concrete and SAC bomber tan, et al. Greg Springer has several A6M2 pieces that he's thoroughly examined and has derived formulas for mixing the correct color for a Mitsubish built A6M2. The newer color from Tamiya that they specifically made for the A6M2 release is wrong for a Mitsubishi built A6M2. It is appropriate for a Nakajima built airframe, but since we're talking Model 11, and we know that Nakajima did not build Model 11's, the color of the Tamiya paint is a moot discussion. All is not lost however; you don't have to go mixing colors unless you want a spot on replica. A very close match to the Mitsubishi olive-grey color is available from White Ensign Models Colourcoats line. I do not know exactly what the color/number is but I'm sure someone will look it up. It's not perfect but it is very close.

You'll note in the previous paragraph I said "...MINUS the control surfaces". Mitsubishi painted the control surfaces a different shade of grey than the airframe. While this does not stand out in photographs whatsoever, the extant relic evidence confirms this to be true. Again, Greg Springer has pieces of Aida's, Mitsubishi built A6M2 Model 21 that crashed at Kaneohe (spelling) during the Pearl Harbor operation and has developed a formula for mixing the correct shade for the control surfaces. Even Nakajima built early A6M2's had different color grey control surfaces.

With respect to the overall grey A6M2 Model 21's, it's easy to tell a Nakajima built A6M2 Model 21 from a Mitsubishi built A6M2 Model 21; just look for a white surround to the fuselage Hinomaru and that will tell you it's a Nakajima built machine. Unless the aircraft has been field painted green, the white surround is a ded give-away. If it's been painted over, the only other way to tell is look at the gear doors/wheel wells and see if they're grey or blue.... An extremely tough call for anyone to determine.

Don't forget at frame 7, there is a floatation bag that hides everything behind it. It is present in model 21's but I don't think it was there on model 11's. I am not sure on that point. Frame 7 is the main fuselage split immediately forward of the fuselage Hinomaru. Fuselage structure behind the cockpit will be Aotake (bamboo).

Lastly, the interior of the wheel wells and gear doors for ALL Mitsubishi built A6M's will be the color of the underside of the aircraft, not Aotake as is commonly, but wrongly used. Only Nakajima built A6M's used Aotake in the wheel well areas and on the insides of gear doors. Also, the interior of the cockpits will be different shades of green depending on who made the zero. Since we're talking mainly about the Model 11, the cockpit will be a shade of green similiar to FS34102. Again, White Ensign Makes a nice shade of interior green (often referred to as "Mitsubishi interior green", but again, this is an incorrect identification).

All this information I've gathered over the years from the experts at J-aircraft.com including Greg Springer, Ryan Toews, Jim Landsdale, David Aiken and many others. None of it is my own. I am simply disseminating that information which I've absorbed from those who have done the actual research. In addtion, the Aero Detail book on the zero is an excellent source and has valid information in it that hasn't yet been superceeded by current research.

I used much of this information during my build of the excellent Tamiya 1/32 A6M2 Model 21 Zero. I wish I could post a shot or two here but restrictions won't allow it. If you'd like to see some pix, send me and email and I'll send them your way.

Enjoy!

Tim

Edited by timc
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Aotake was the blue-green protective coat applied over natural metal surfaces (much as zinc chromate was applied in U.S. aircraft). I think you're confusing it with ameiro.

Regards,

Murph

Ya that one. :thumbsup: I'm doing a 3 plane set from Pearl harbor off one of the carriers, Shuku or soemthing like that, (i'm near my hobby room so i can't remeber which one) that is being painted in that color.

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Very informative, thanks. I hear WEM paints are some of the best for WWII warbirds. Do they have a distributor in the US?

I don't believe there is any longer. Meteor Productions, IIRC, was a distributor for the line but they are no more. I've ordered from the UK before with no trouble at all. WEM is a reputable entity.

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Great work Tim and Kudos to the guys who painstakingly researched this at Jaircraft. That being said, Guys, I wouldn't get all hot and bothered and strip your aircraft of paint. What you have previously done you should leave alone. Why? For years folks have been painting their planes with the colors that were at that time, correct. Now that new colors are produced, and are more accurate, paint your new models with them. This kind of thing has gone on with Luftwaffe aircraft as well for decaces. Also, for U.S. a/c as well as British a/c. Don't get so wrapped up around the axle with this.

I am always grateful for the research folks put in and the paint companies who usually respond with the new adjusted colors. Don't tear your work up, just do the new builds with the new paint. My goodness, look at all the fuss over metal shades! We all want to be accurate, and for the most part we are! Plus, with the effects of weathering, I would say a lot of these aircraft colors could be interpretated by all these differing greys. Who's to say what is spot on, other than a factory fresh job! As noted above, japanese paints weren't the greatest and peeled off rather badly. The effects of sun, saltwater, sand, differing colors of dirt on the islands, etc., all played a part in weathering differenecs.

I have the Aero Detail book on the Zero, and they show pictures of light grey Zeros! Yes, they do have color chips also. All I'm saying is, there are many Zero colors out there by the different manufacturers for the early Zero's, and I'm sure you could use any one of them and still be okay in contests etc. Unless of course you painted them magenta!

I will also adjust my painting of these beautiful planes, but only the new ones.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Tommy

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A very close match to the Mitsubishi olive-grey color is available from White Ensign Models Colourcoats line. I do not know exactly what the color/number is but I'm sure someone will look it up. It's not perfect but it is very close.

White Ensign Japanese colors.

You'll note in the previous paragraph I said "...MINUS the control surfaces". Mitsubishi painted the control surfaces a different shade of grey than the airframe. While this does not stand out in photographs whatsoever, the extant relic evidence confirms this to be true. Again, Greg Springer has pieces of Aida's, Mitsubishi built A6M2 Model 21 that crashed at Kaneohe (spelling) during the Pearl Harbor operation and has developed a formula for mixing the correct shade for the control surfaces. Even Nakajima built early A6M2's had different color grey control surfaces.

Tim,

Any idea on these mixes? And I assume that if these were fabric colored control surfaces they discounted that material having any effect on fading over the years producing a different color?

Regards,

Murph

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White Ensign Japanese colors.

Tim,

Any idea on these mixes? And I assume that if these were fabric colored control surfaces they discounted that material having any effect on fading over the years producing a different color?

Regards,

Murph

Are you looking for colors and ratios? If so, I have Greg Springer's ratio's for Tamiya colors available but he has other paint manufacturer's mixes available. You can do a search at j-aircraft.com and it should yield his mixes for the paints. I'm a little confused by the next sentence.... All zero control surfaces were fabric covered but who "they" are and discounting fading over time leaves me scratching my dome. FWIW, most of the early A6M photo's I've seen are of relatively newer machines and others with minor wear and tear.

If you're referring to the WEM paint line, they do not produce a color specifically for the control surfaces.

Please advise,

Tim

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Are you looking for colors and ratios? If so, I have Greg Springer's ratio's for Tamiya colors available but he has other paint manufacturer's mixes available. You can do a search at j-aircraft.com and it should yield his mixes for the paints.

Tamiya mixes would be great, I'll take a look back at j-aircraft.com and see what I can find. Just off the top of your head, was the control surface color significantly different from the rest of the airframe (I'm thinking 1/72 scale effects here)?

I'm a little confused by the next sentence.... All zero control surfaces were fabric covered but who "they" are and discounting fading over time leaves me scratching my dome. FWIW, most of the early A6M photo's I've seen are of relatively newer machines and others with minor wear and tear.

Tim,

Sorry to be less than clear in what I was asking. All of the colors you have mentioned have been based on first hand descriptions of relics, and you mention that the control surface's different color didn't show up in photos, so I assume it wasn't a big difference to begin with. Presumably painted metal and painted fabric will fade/age differently over time; I'm sure this has occurred to everybody involved when they looked at the artifacts, I'm just curious what discussion took place concerning that possible difference in aging, when they made the call it was actually a seperate color on the control surfaces. Again, thanks for the info.

Regards,

Murph

Edited by Murph
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Tamiya mixes would be great, I'll take a look back at j-aircraft.com and see what I can find. Just off the top of your head, was the control surface color significantly different from the rest of the airframe (I'm thinking 1/72 scale effects here)?

Tim,

Sorry to be less than clear in what I was asking. All of the colors you have mentioned have been based on first hand descriptions of relics, and you mention that the control surface's different color didn't show up in photos, so I assume it wasn't a big difference to begin with. Presumably painted metal and painted fabric will fade/age differently over time; I'm sure this has occurred to everybody involved when they looked at the artifacts, I'm just curious what discussion took place concerning that possible difference in aging, when they made the call it was actually a seperate color on the control surfaces. Again, thanks for the info.

Regards,

Murph

The grey on the control surfaces is noticably different from the airframe. the control surface grey is similiar to a barley grey on a British jet. Not exactly but I think you get the general idea. I'll have to look around for my mix ratios tomorrow after work. I'm upstairs tonight and don't have my 3-ring binders in front of me.

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This is what my Tamiya 1/32 A6M2b looks like. Keep in mind that the plane I built has been in the pacific sun for a while. I started with Tamiya's 76 in the jar and mixed different colours to it to get to this shade. I wanted a faded war weary look to it:

Sakai-Tamiya.jpg

HTH

Brad

Edited by Brad-M
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