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Official color of AGM-86 ALCM


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I'm trying to determine the official color of the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) carried by the B-52 but can't seem to find anything on the interweb.   Photos on-line appear to be lighter in color that the BUFF is painted.   Anyone know what the official F.S. number is?   Dark Ghost maybe??

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13 hours ago, Drifterdon said:

I'm trying to determine the official color of the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) carried by the B-52 but can't seem to find anything on the interweb.   Photos on-line appear to be lighter in color that the BUFF is painted.   Anyone know what the official F.S. number is?   Dark Ghost maybe??

 

I assume you're after the color of the operational missile, not the prototypes? If yes, I think there are two colors. These two articles show a dark version, slightly lighter than the B-52 in single-color camouflage:

 

https://defence-blog.com/news/u-s-air-force-awards-contract-to-boeing-for-integrating-new-lrso-cruise-missile-on-b-52h-bomber.html

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/07/no-first-use-good-idea-delayed-trump/130204/

 

These three photos show a much lighter missile:

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AGM-86_toward_the_bomb_bay_of_a_B-52H_Stratofortress,_RAF_Fairford,_March_25,_1999.jpg

http://www.combatindex.com/hardware/detail/mis/pic02/agm-86_01.html

https://picryl.com/media/members-of-the-97th-munitions-maintenance-squadron-use-a-specially-designed-8ae41d

 

I hope someone else knows more!

 

Rob

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Paraphrasing information from Wolfpak Decals' Sheet 72-123 (dedicated markings for AGM-86, AGM-129, and test AGM-109s), there have been three color schemes for AGM-86s:

- Initial captive carry & flight test: gloss white FS17875, with semigloss black radomes

- EMD flight test: Overall Dark Gull Gray FS36231

- Live missiles (AGM-86B and C): FS36270 Neutral Gray with tan radomes (close to FS37880)

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I was a staff officer at the 416th BW at Griffiss AFB, NY in late 1981 when the missiles became operational, the unit was the first to become operational with the AGM-86B. 

 

The airframes were light gray as seen in the photo above.

The Public Affairs office had photos of prototype and test missiles which were painted differently as mentioned above.

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5 hours ago, JohnEB said:

I was a staff officer at the 416th BW at Griffiss AFB, NY in late 1981 when the missiles became operational, the unit was the first to become operational with the AGM-86B. 

 

The airframes were light gray as seen in the photo above.

The Public Affairs office had photos of prototype and test missiles which were painted differently as mentioned above.

 

I have great memories of Griffiss. I grew up in Syracuse and my dad was a high school guidance counselor. They invited him up for a visit to help with recruiting and he took me along as a 12 year old. I got to go up in the tower and watch Sixes from the 49th FIS land and -52's take off. I talked with a -106 pilot and toured the hangars. If only I had a good camera!  A few years later, as a member of a Boy Scout Explorer post, we got a ride in a KC-135 out of Griffiss and refueled B-52's. It was a thrill of a lifetime for a teenager. Thanks for the bringing back those memories. It was a sad day when Griffiss shut down flight operations.

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On 9/19/2020 at 5:37 AM, Darren Roberts said:

 

I have great memories of Griffiss. I grew up in Syracuse and my dad was a high school guidance counselor. They invited him up for a visit to help with recruiting and he took me along as a 12 year old. I got to go up in the tower and watch Sixes from the 49th FIS land and -52's take off. I talked with a -106 pilot and toured the hangars. If only I had a good camera!  A few years later, as a member of a Boy Scout Explorer post, we got a ride in a KC-135 out of Griffiss and refueled B-52's. It was a thrill of a lifetime for a teenager. Thanks for the bringing back those memories. It was a sad day when Griffiss shut down flight operations.

I'm waiting for Kursad over at Caracal to print his SAC B-52G/H decals in 1/144.   My plan is to build "SAC Time" 0164 which was based out of Griffiss.

https://www.dstorm.eu/pictures/nose-arts/b-52/sac_time_1.jpg

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Here are two more photos. The top is clearly from the development fase, and that could be FS36231 like Wolfpak says. However the color of the missile in the second photo is a big guess.. Later missiles were painted in a darker color I believe, that is a bit lighter than the 36118 of the B-52H.

 

agm86-09.jpg

 

agm86-10.jpg

 

Rob

 

 

 

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On ‎9‎/‎18‎/‎2020 at 4:03 PM, Quixote74 said:

Paraphrasing information from Wolfpak Decals' Sheet 72-123 (dedicated markings for AGM-86, AGM-129, and test AGM-109s), there have been three color schemes for AGM-86s:

- Initial captive carry & flight test: gloss white FS17875, with semigloss black radomes

- EMD flight test: Overall Dark Gull Gray FS36231

- Live missiles (AGM-86B and C): FS36270 Neutral Gray with tan radomes (close to FS37880)

So isn't neutral grey, ADC grey and aircraft grey all very similar?  Not sure what shade of grey your bottom pic is Rob but it seems to be consistent with contemporary AGM-86's that you see used operationally here of late.

 

Don

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On 9/20/2020 at 7:43 PM, Drifterdon said:

I'm waiting for Kursad over at Caracal to print his SAC B-52G/H decals in 1/144.   My plan is to build "SAC Time" 0164 which was based out of Griffiss.

https://www.dstorm.eu/pictures/nose-arts/b-52/sac_time_1.jpg

NOICE!!!!!!!!!!

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13 hours ago, Drifterdon said:

So isn't neutral grey, ADC grey and aircraft grey all very similar?  Not sure what shade of grey your bottom pic is Rob but it seems to be consistent with contemporary AGM-86's that you see used operationally here of late.

 

Don

 

To my non-calibrated male eyes, 36231 and 36270 are very, very close, but 36473 is a lot lighter and more blue.

 

Again to my eye, the missile on the rotary launcher is definitely not 36473, there's not nearly enough blue in the color. It would be nice I we would know the color of the B-52 bomb bay, for comparison.

 

Rob

 

 

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1 hour ago, Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy said:

I must say, the in-flight one does appear very Neutral Gray-ish to me....for whatever it's worth....

 

Wow.. that one is brownish to my eye! I copied the color of the side of the missile to another picture, and put three FS colors next to it, 36270, 20318 (the best match by eye that I could find in my fan deck) and 30219 (to see whether it really was brownish). I used this site to find RGB matches for FS colors, but I don't know accurate it is:

 

https://www.e-paint.co.uk/Lab_values.asp

 

Color matching straight from a photo probably violates all kinds of rules, but's it's the best I can do now.

 

My conclusion: I still have no idea what color this missile was! But 36270 seems a bad match to me.


Rob

 

agm86-10.jpg

 

agm86-11.jpg

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I did find this link on the interweb but it still doesn't say what the FS number is.   Looks like a pretty decent representation of current missiles.    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/XZr3a

 

In other pics, it's almost looking like the same shade as Aggressor Grey (36251).    The paint color paint used on current F-15C's.

Airmen assigned to the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load AGM-86/B air-launched cruise missiles onto the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., on Nov. 3, 2015.
Edited by Drifterdon
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15 hours ago, Rob de Bie said:

 

To my non-calibrated male eyes, 36231 and 36270 are very, very close, but 36473 is a lot lighter and more blue.

 

Again to my eye, the missile on the rotary launcher is definitely not 36473, there's not nearly enough blue in the color. It would be nice I we would know the color of the B-52 bomb bay, for comparison.

 

Rob

 

 

There isn't much need for calibration when comparing two FS595 colors as to which is lighter or darker (not in quotes as these are not subjective terms but rather objective, quantifiable, parameters). 

 

As most modelers may be aware the first digit indicates finish (1= gloss, 2= semigloss/fluorescent, 3= matte) and the second digit the color family (1= reds, 2= oranges, 3= yellows, etc). The remaining three digits are a measure of reflectance (amount of light reflected vs absorbed by the specified finish).  The higher the number the greater the reflectance, ergo the lighter the color.

 

So taking the above information in mind, FS 36231 is relatively close to FS 36270, somewhat darker (xx231 vs xx270).  FS 36473 is significantly lighter by comparison. 

 

Because the reflectance numbers don't account for subtle variations in hue (e.g. "warm" vs "cool" gray), there may still be significant color differences between FS numbers that are close or even directly adjacent in sequence (e.g. FS 34086 vs FS 34087) but you can always determine which is lighter or darker based on the higher/lower reflectance numbers.

 

That said, the *relative* "lightness" or "darkness" of the same actual color can appear markedly different based on contrast with adjacent colors/surroundings.

 

See below:

800px-Checker_shadow_illusion.svg.png

 

Squares "A" and "B" are the exact same shade of gray.  Don't believe it? Check the "Verification" section here:

Checker Shadow Illusion

 

11 hours ago, Rob de Bie said:

 

Wow.. that one is brownish to my eye! I copied the color of the side of the missile to another picture, and put three FS colors next to it, 36270, 20318 (the best match by eye that I could find in my fan deck) and 30219 (to see whether it really was brownish). I used this site to find RGB matches for FS colors, but I don't know accurate it is:

 

https://www.e-paint.co.uk/Lab_values.asp

 

Color matching straight from a photo probably violates all kinds of rules, but's it's the best I can do now.

 

My conclusion: I still have no idea what color this missile was! But 36270 seems a bad match to me.


Rob

 

agm86-10.jpg

 

agm86-11.jpg

 

You're trying to use a single photo to find a definitive color match without accounting for lighting, color fidelity of the original image, and/or issues with processing and display of the digital version (amongst many other factors).

 

As a "neutral" color, gray often takes on much more of the appearance of ambient lighting conditions (overcast vs blue sky, "cool" vs "warm" sunlight, etc). Between the landcape and the shadows in this photo I'm confident that what you're calling a tan AGM-86 is in fact painted FS 36270 and seen during "golden hour," hence some color distortion (most likely exacerbated in one or more steps of image processing between the original photo and what you see on your screen).

 

Still not sure? It's a pretty well-documented fact that the current standard scheme for USAF F-16s uses FS 36270 as the overall color with FS 36118 on the upper fuselage (aft of the cockpit). I'm certain with a minimum of googling you can find images of F-16s in that 2-color scheme where the portions known to be FS 36270 appear to be anything from tan to white to blue, depending on the various factors desccribed above.

 

Fortunately this isn't another Lou IV or Japanese Zero question, we have clear documentation of the actual color used and just need to trust that and understand that photos can often be misleading.

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8 hours ago, Quixote74 said:

You're trying to use a single photo to find a definitive color match without accounting for lighting, color fidelity of the original image, and/or issues with processing and display of the digital version (amongst many other factors).

 

As a "neutral" color, gray often takes on much more of the appearance of ambient lighting conditions (overcast vs blue sky, "cool" vs "warm" sunlight, etc). Between the landcape and the shadows in this photo I'm confident that what you're calling a tan AGM-86 is in fact painted FS 36270 and seen during "golden hour," hence some color distortion (most likely exacerbated in one or more steps of image processing between the original photo and what you see on your screen).

 

Still not sure? It's a pretty well-documented fact that the current standard scheme for USAF F-16s uses FS 36270 as the overall color with FS 36118 on the upper fuselage (aft of the cockpit). I'm certain with a minimum of googling you can find images of F-16s in that 2-color scheme where the portions known to be FS 36270 appear to be anything from tan to white to blue, depending on the various factors desccribed above.

 

Fortunately this isn't another Lou IV or Japanese Zero question, we have clear documentation of the actual color used and just need to trust that and understand that photos can often be misleading.

 

You seriously misunderstood what I was trying to do here! I was surprised that 'Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy' saw FS36270 Neutral Gray in that photo, whereas I saw a brownish color. That's why I took a color sample from the photo, and compared it to some FS colors. For me it showed that it was a brownish gray indeed. I was NOT trying to establish the color of all AGM-86s.

 

Having said that, your suggestion that it was a photo made during very late in the day is a very good one. The background indeed shows long shadows. Maybe there's a technique in Photoshop to correct for the light source temperature, but I don't know it.

 

You mention 'clear documentation of the actual color', what do you mean? So far everyone in this thread has been guessing at the color. I don't count Wolfpak as a definitive source. Plus, photos suggest that two colors have been used, a lighter color for the 1999 photos and a darker color for the 2015 photos. I've been looking for official documentation of the AGM-86 color(s) ever since I found a 1/32 AGM-86 model by Atomic Models in 2008 (link), and never found the smallest piece of information.

 

Rob

Edited by Rob de Bie
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20 hours ago, Rob de Bie said:

 

agm86-10.jpg

 

 

The problem with this photo is that the white balance is off.  I am assuming the label belwo the air intake should be white (don't see a reason why it would be a pale cream colour), and I just used the auto colour correct in Photoshop Elements 10, and this was the result.  I don't claim it is completely accurate as the light at the time of day and the film type may have an influence, but at least it shows a much less warm tone of grey.

agm86-10 - auto color correct.jpg

Edited by jenshb
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4 hours ago, Rob de Bie said:

 

You seriously misunderstood what I was trying to do here! I was surprised that 'Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy' saw FS36270 Neutral Gray in that photo, whereas I saw a brownish color.

 

Well, I'm😁 definitely not perfect.... 

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2 hours ago, Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy said:

 

Well, I'm😁 definitely not perfect.... 

 

Neither am I ! I'm especially caerful with colors, because I'm not sure that I see all colors correctly. I'm not colorblind or anything, but I once did a 'color sorting' test and didn't score well..Plus the male eyes vs female eyes difference - it all made me rather careful with color 'opinions'.

 

Rob

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17 hours ago, Rob de Bie said:

 

You seriously misunderstood what I was trying to do here!

 

No, I didn't. You're looking for zebras when the horse has already been pointed out to you.

 

I'm sorry the late Mr. Wolfpak didn't quote chapter and verse of a T.O. but I have confidence in his research and the color schemes he describes are thoroughly consistent with the mockup I recall seeing at the USAF Armament Museum and every photo I have ever seen of the missiles (accounting for all the explanations I gave above for "but it looks browner/lighter/whatever in this picture!").

 

By all means, feel free to continue to stretch this thread another 3 pages with more circular discussion. But since the answer to the OP's question has already been provided, I'm done.

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11 hours ago, Rob de Bie said:

 

Neither am I ! I'm especially caerful with colors, because I'm not sure that I see all colors correctly. I'm not colorblind or anything, but I once did a 'color sorting' test and didn't score well..Plus the male eyes vs female eyes difference - it all made me rather careful with color 'opinions'.

 

Rob

Colorblindness is not a binary condition. If you performed poorly on a color test, you are, in fact, colorblind. It's just a matter of degree.

 

(This is not a personal attack, I'm simply trying to separate fact from opinion. And I myself am colorblind).

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