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swimmer25k

Shuttle External Tank Colors

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I’m looking to start my 1/144 Revell Shuttle with the New Ware add-on parts and Warbird decals. 
 

Does anyone have a simple explanation/instruction for the colors of the tank?  There’s a lot going on there and I could use the help. 
 

thanks,

Chris 

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Posted (edited)

Tank color is a function of age / UV exposure, they darken over time. 
 

When you see lighter spots those are usually patches / repairs. 
 

There is a paper modeling site that has color profiles of each ET & shuttle for each mission. Sorry I don’t have the link at the moment. 
 

edit:   https://axmpaperspacescalemodels.com/index.php/shuttle-models/
 

Edited by habu2

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You can also take some time to read through Manfred's (Spaceman) Shuttle build. He's working on it for some years now and he's working at an insane level of detail. He also has found a good way to make the external tank like it is in real life with the foam coating. Look at page 84 for the trials and results. His attention to detail is awesome. I'm going to build the same Shuttle stack, so I'm watching and learning.

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Thanks Mike for your nice compliments and stay tuned. :worship:

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ET coloring starts out off white when the foam is first applied. Then it rather quickly darkens to a pancake batter colored tan. Over time it goes more yellow, then burnt orange and finally more of a brown shade.

 

No two ETs were quite the same shade as the color can vary depending on how long the stack was on the pad. Some flights looked more orange while a couple missions that had an abort requiring SSME replacements ended up with a tank that looked chocolate brown at the end of a couple months. Lighter colored areas are either later applications of foam or the surface rind was sanded, exposing fresh foam to UV light and the darkening process would start all over again. The ribbed intertank region was sanded, so it is usually a lighter shade than the rest of the tank.

 

As for the colors I have used, they were typically railroad colors, usually Floquil brand. But Floquil is no more. Thankfully companies like Scalecoat have issued many of the same RR colors in their line.

 

For yellow areas, UP (Union Pacific) Armor Yellow is a good shade. For the brown/orange shades I would typically mix freight car brown with either UP Orange or SP (Southern Pacific) Daylight orange. I hate what I call "witches brew" paint formulas that use three or more colors because they are hard to duplicate if you run out. So I would just mix the brown with an orange color until I got a shade I liked working from imagery of the specific mission I was making. Keep it simple.

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To make it worse...we look at photographs for reference. The photographer can influence the color by playing with the exposure settings (and maybe even a wrong whitebalance setting), and post-processing (either in-camera or with photoshop). When you fiddle around with saturation, contrast etc, you get a slightly different shade. Weather conditions too can make the color look different.

 

So...don't try to get it 100% right. My guess is that if you make it orangie-brownish you're ok. You can vary it from top to bottom and add some off color areas (slightly darker/lighter), as it seems that way in photo's. Most important in my opinion is to try to give it some texture. That really makes it 'real'. 

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Posted (edited)

For a tank that is in the orange stage of aging, I used a color from Citadel that used to be called Vomit Brown. It was in my eyes a pretty dead on match for the orange colored time. I believe they've renamed their line so I'm not sure what it's currently called but i've been told they do still make the same shade. I like it because there is no mixing to get it the same.

Edited by niart17

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Posted (edited)
On 4/1/2020 at 4:54 PM, niart17 said:

For a tank that is in the orange stage of aging, I used a color from Citadel that used to be called Vomit Brown. It was in my eyes a pretty dead on match for the orange colored time. I believe they've renamed their line so I'm not sure what it's currently called but i've been told they do still make the same shade. I like it because there is no mixing to get it the same.

 

Hi Bill, can you show us a photo of your ET painted with this orange color? default_377.gif

 

Edited by spaceman

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, spaceman said:

 

Hi Bill, can you show us a photo of your ET painted with this orange color? default_377.gif

 

flatto-bye.gif&key=3e1952ac0b42f2d94e06c

 

I believe all the pics I currently have are on photobucket so no longer show up. I will try to get a shot of it this evening when I get home. 

 

Edit, I found an old one on my phone. It's in the background but you can see the tank on the left of the desk. This is vomit brown. I'll have to see if I can find out what the new name of it is.

1560463231_ETtank.jpg.4825a14e3defae433b0f4ee1c65897ee.jpg

Edited by niart17

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1 hour ago, niart17 said:

I believe all the pics I currently have are on photobucket so no longer show up. I will try to get a shot of it this evening when I get home. 

 

Edit, I found an old one on my phone. It's in the background but you can see the tank on the left of the desk. This is vomit brown. I'll have to see if I can find out what the new name of it is.

1560463231_ETtank.jpg.4825a14e3defae433b0f4ee1c65897ee.jpg

 

Thanks Bill. default_377.gif

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I painted this one with Yellow Ochre acrylic.  I managed to snag a few bottles just after Testors discontinued the color.  

 

ZV4Cs5.jpg

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