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Ye Olde Zero

In an all out super human effort, I’ve decided to build a couple of models that have been waiting for quite sometime in my stash of unbuilt kits. The first being this Hasegawa A6M2 to be followed by an Airfix P-40B, at least that’s my hope. Both kits have decals for aircraft that were at Pearl Harbor on that Day of Infamy so long ago.

It’s my understanding that there were two different interior colors.

From looking at the attached photos, it looks like Olive Drab and a US interior green would be pretty close ? Close enough? The instructions say to use blue-green, did some earlier aircraft have the cockpit in that color instead of the other two OD/ green colors? Japanese and Russian aircraft from ww2 seem to be more mysterious as far as paint colors go. Tamiya has a IJN gray paint I thought I’d use for the airframe.

Any advice or encouragement from the peanut gallery would be welcomed.

5 additional images. Click to enlarge.

15 responses to Ye Olde Zero

  1. I’d suggest going here to do a little research,

    I’m sure that a few others can offer suggestions from different brands. I have yet to build an IJN/IJA aircraft yet.

  2. Those two cockpits are the Nakajima (left) and Mitsubishi (right), the two manufacturers of the Zero. The Nakajima cockpit is very close to US Interior Green, NOT olive drab (the lighting of that shot is confusing), while the Mitsubishi cockpit is a light grey-green. Tamiya makes this exact color, known as “Cockpit Color.”

    For a Pearl Harbor airplane, a Mitsubishi-built airplane is more likely. For this, the wheel well interiors and the inside of the gear doors are the same color as the overall surface. Also, these were low-time, well-maintained airplanes, and the exterior was painted gloss. Tamiya also makes this color (in flat) – it’s called “IJN Grey 2”.


  3. I have a FS color book and can post up a few pictures showing the equivalent “closest” colors to the Nakajima and Mitsubishi planes. I have read over at J-aircraft .com where they have picked out these using the closest color representation from the Federal Standards book.

    Nakajima used one color for the cockpit and Mitsubishi used another.

    Tom is correct about the Mitsubishi built planes. They were the primary source for Zeros in the early part of the War.

    There is also a reference to the early Zero overall color mentioned. I have this information for you too. Model Master made a very close approximation to this color until just recently when it was discontinued. It was called “SAC Bomber Tan”.

    The most visible exterior difference between the Nakajima and Mitsubishi built Zeros that were factory camouflaged is the demarcation lines between the upper and lower colors along the sides of the fuselage.

    I have also read that one company painted the interior of the wheel wells in the same color as the exterior, while the other used the “Aotake” Blue metallic.

    As soon as we get finished with eating dinner, I’ll go dig this stuff up for you and post it ………….

    Meanwhile, dinner is waiting…………. a man’s gotta eat. 🙂

    Here’s a link to my “Koga Zero” that I built a little over a year ago. I based the colors I used during construction using information That I gathered on the website. It’s as authentic as I could have made it using the information available at that time as far as color choices go.

    This might help to answer some questions for you too, as it has a link to the build log and some of the colors I used during construction.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Thank you for your help, James , Tom, and Louis….
    I will do further research and also find some of those paints you mentioned. I’m surprised the finish was gloss. I’m looking forward to getting started on this project.

  5. Tom and Louis are pretty much lesser deities on this stuff. Sheesh…

  6. OK here we go:

    Please keep in mind that these pictures were taken inside (at night time) using an light that is called an “Ott” light. It’s supposed to give a fairly accurate color presentation, but nothing beats actual sunlight to get a good true impression of the colors.

    I have found out the hard way, just how much different a color will look when compared under different light sources.

    Nakajima planes were reportedly built with the cockpits painted in a color that is very similar to how the cockpit picture on the left looks. (the one with the blue handle). However the research I found over at has a totally different color posted.

    Please keep in mind this could be a typo error and a number could have been transposed.

    Nakajima used a color similar to FS 34373 This is the color chip from my FS book. This does not appear to be correct, at least to my eye…………. but it could very well be the lighting too.

    I wasn’t there building these planes at the time………………. 🙂 This color looks more like the RAF interior green to me.

    While Mitsubishi planes used a color similar to FS 34096. For me this color sample looks too dark.

    or FS 34098, which looks more like the color to me.

    Typically later in the War US manufacturers used a color similar to FS 34151. Here again there were differences found depending on what company built the aircraft…………

    The overall “Ame-Iro” color found on early War Zero’s was listed as a very close match being FS 16350.
    This was a gloss finish.

    I have used this color as it too is very close and was listed as a decent match.
    FS 24201 which is a semi gloss finish.

    Please keep in mind that these colors will look different in full sunlight.

    Tom was correct about the Misubishi Zeros having the wheel wells colored the same color as the exterior. The Nakajima planes used the “Aotake” blue finish. I have had good luck replicating this look by first spraying on a silver metallic color. Then I follow up with a light coat of Tamiya Clear blue. To add a little “greenish” tint, I spray on a little Tamiya clear yellow in spots, but not the whole area.

    “Aotake” was a translucent coating and it would appear darker in areas where it was applied in a heavier coating. Some claim that it would occasionally take on a very sight greenish colored tint in some spots. Sometimes I go back and add a little more Clear Blue in areas that need it. The key is to make it look more randomly applied and not an even coating.

    My disclaimer is this: The FS standard of colors was not around during the time the Japanese were building Zeros. The FS system was used by others to get an “approximate” match. Since lighting and other variables come into play, it is not to be considered as a “definite” claim to color matching.

    Instead, this should be used to give you an idea as to how the colors “could” have looked…………….

    Hope this helps……………….. 🙂

  7. Was the japanese not using some sort of anodizing for primer? I believe I saw an article on a restoration way back that described the colour as such a process? – I have to confess I know nothing about japanese colours, so this was just off my memory.

  8. Jay, you can probably find some inspiration and ides among the previously published A6M models at iModeler. There are 60+ of these in our Zero channel, so plenty to look at.

  9. The ‘peanut gallery’ – I’m going to have to use that one. The great thing about iModeler is that you’ll get a load of suggestions, and no-one will criticise you for being a mili-shade out. Seems Tom C. and Louis Gardner knocked it out the park in terms of suggestions.

    Great thread.

  10. It’s taken a long time , but I finally over came inertia and built the Zero that had for so long resided in my closet. I tried to use the info I learned here at imodeler to paint and finish this airplane. is my go to resource for modeling info, it’s like having hundreds of experts on call to help me.

    3 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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