RAF Bc Black

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Staff Sergeant
Dec 10, 2011
Hello all,

Search function not working so need to post what must be a very common question.

By name which black should be used for the undersides of RAF bombers?
I'm guessing Matt finish anyway.
For info I will be building a Halifax, Stirling, Whitley and Wellington over the coming months, so which ever is suitable.
Will be used from airbrush and will probably need to be Tamiya or Vallejo due to LMS stocks.

Cheers Chris
Black is black I would say.... :lol:

The paint was called the Night Black R.D.M.2 ( FS37038 ) - Humbrol 33, Gunze H2, Testors/ModelMaster 1749, Vallejo Model Color 70950, Tamiya XF1.

When I paint the black undersides of aircraft I invariably actually apply a dark grey. Black on a scale model tends to make it look toy like and unrealistic. This of course is art not science. I add red or white to a suitable black (as Wurger says, to the eye, black is black).

A 1/48 scale Lancaster


And not Bomber Command but a 1/72 He 177



Thanks guy's, big help. I guess the scale effect explains why Vallejo sell Green/Black and Red/Black.
I'll get looking.

Cheers Chris
I don't think so. Just these colours mentioned above were used either for uniforms or a camo of other equipment. I agree with Stona that the basic black paint can look quite unnaturally when applied on models. But the main factor for its looking is a chemical composition of the colour. During the WW2 one of the main components of the black paint was the smoke-black. The soot and its vulnerability to the weather conditions, especially to the dampness , made it looking very dark grey for instance. Also the paint was very matt what caused it looking dark grey-blue or of frosty shade. Just in the same way the Vallejo Matt varnish did to your Bucker Bü181.
I agree with Steve.
However, it depends on the period being depicted, as there were basically THREE forms of 'black' used on Bomber Command aircraft at different periods during the war. although, to an extent, this does not always affect the finish on a model.
The early paint finish was a very matt black, (called 'Night', replacing the earlier 'NIVO') with a powdery, sooty finish, often called 'Lamp Black, and can be seen to good effect on, for example, early Halifaxes. On Wellingtons, for example, the 'sooty' appearance wasn't as noticeable, as it was painted mainly on fabric surfaces.
The 'middle' colour tried to improve the 'sooty' finish, which tended to weather and flake easily, and this was 'Smooth Night', a matt black paint with a very slight sheen.
The final colour, used on new aircraft at the very end of the war, had a distinct sheen to it, almost gloss, and could be seen on the BBMF Lancaster a year or two ago.
So, to paint a model, it's better to use a very dark grey, almost black. If it's early war, then a very matt finish is required, which can be done by extra coats of clear matt varnish. If it's. say, post 1942, then a matt black, again a very, very dark grey, with a little more sheen. If late war (early 1945, new aircraft), then a deeper back, possibly 'from the tin', with a semi-gloss sheen, which, in 1/72nd scale, would be better with a semi - matt sheen.
Hope this makes sense?!!!
Spot on! Basically I have relics from ac that cover only two years at the minute from that period.

Whitley crashed in 1943
Wellington crashed in 1943
Halifax crashed in 1944
Stirling crashed in 1944

So as long as I have "a" black and a dark grey at my disposal I can mix as per Terry's guide.
I have a citadel black from my GW days so may just mix that in with my Vallejo US Dark Grey and see what happens. The rest can be dealt with by applying the various finishes etc.

Cheers Chris
When I have made a few personal skins/paint schemes for IL21946, that are for night aircraft, I too make them not pure black or pure monochromatic black, I tend to leave the value at 85% - so panel lines, shadings, rivets and details can just about be seen through/against the dark colour.

Granted PC modelling isn't the same as Plastic modelling (certainly if there's some innuendo humour too..) the blackest modelling black should not be 100% black as then you can loose tonal and 3d shape variations in colour that we see with our eyes or in cameras photos.
If the black being used upon a model is the darkest shade upon that same model, you can get away with it being a fractionally lighter, and it still looking dark enough - hence why some black paints have subtler shades of colourings to recreate this optical effect.

Also the lighting strength, method of illumination and even the time of day/year at the time of painting the model/black is also important, particularly when mixing up the colours to make the black you wish for that envisaged model.
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