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Weathering USN Gloss Sea Blue


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I am considering building a WWII F4U-1D but to my dismay, it appears they were all painted with Gloss Sea Blue, a color that I have a serious disdain for. It's dark, ugly and I've not seen a model painted this color weathered convincingly.

Any tips on weathering this color?
Any good photos of actual war-weary GSB Corsairs?

Thank you!

Edited by Archer Fine Transfers
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The contemporary photo in your post appear to be F4U-1A's and painted in non-specular sea blue (three or four tone scheme from what I can tell) which weathered poorly as you can see.  The NASM aircraft is painted in the tri-color scheme but is an F4U-1D; I've seen that one in person and it's an F4U-1D. 

 

Corsairs (and Hellcats) Gloss Sea Blue (GSB) weather by first turning flat (matte).  From what I can see, the GSB didn't fade like the non-specular sea blue - remaining rather dark but it was subject to wear and tear just as any combat aircraft would be.  The photos below are of VMF-312 and show some weathering on the airframes, exhaust staining, and paint chipping/wear.  These photos were taken on their deployment to Okinawa early after their indoc with the F4U-1D's (they subsequently removed the tail checkerboards and trimmed the cowl checkerboards to not include the cowl flaps).  As you can see, they're already somewhat weathered.  Note the main landing gear struts are NOT GSB, they're most likely medium grey.

 

 

 

rjPDwOy.jpg

 

2evcSiI.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Juggernut
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Classic "It depends" answer.  I say that because at the end of the war, the supply chain was such that new aircraft were being flown in on a regular basis as replacements. They'd be ferried to the Marianas and then flown forward to the Task Force.  If a plane was damaged during a mission or even a poor landing, they'd just be pushed over the side (and depending on how quickly they needed to clear the deck, things may or may not have been salvaged--it was just easier to get a brand new replacement).  My honest answer is that you'll see very little weathering outside of exhaust staining and bare metal on the fasteners.

 

Best case for a USN bird is to pick a carrier whose markings you're interested in and start researching.This site has most of the cruise books digitized--a tremendous resource! US Navy Cruise Books - The largest online collection of freely accessible US Navy Cruise Books (navysite.de) 

I'd also look up "Critical Past" on Youtube: Carrier Group CVG-82 operations aboard the USS Bennington (CV-20) during World Wa...HD Stock Footage - YouTube  They have a bunch of color movies from the fleet carriers--great footage for you to pore over. 

 

 

Of course my above answer doesn't take into account USMC birds that Juggernut describes.  Land ops from austere fields generally wreaked havoc on the paint...

 

Hope it helps.  I love all the geometric markings of the era, but am hesitant to throw out suggestions w/o knowing what you're leaning towards.

Edited by easixpedro
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Goodyear-FG-1-D-Corsair-White-2-color-ph

 

F4-U-4-VF-871-Korea-web.jpg

 

16.webp

 

Vought-F4-U-4-B-Corsair-VMA-323-White-WS

 

Yes, those are F4U-4 pics, but the paint is the same as that found on a -1D in late WW2.

 

Color photography was mostly the province of LIFE Magazine, in 1945, so a lot of the color pics we have of actual combat aircraft come from the Korean War.

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21 minutes ago, Archer Fine Transfers said:

 

Is the camo scheme correct? 

 

Actually, according to Aircraft Pictorial No. 8, F4U-1 Corsair Volume 2.  by Dana Bell, it is accurate.  The NASM Corsair is an F4U-1D that appears to have BuNo 50375 which was prior to the adoption of the overall Gloss Sea Blue paint (Bell, p. 6).

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Hey, Woody

 

GSB is my favorite color.

 

Said no one ever.

 

But the BuAer saw fit to have the most beautiful of planes painted in this most uninspiring of hues, so here we are, wanting to build models that have personal significance and no choice but to use ye olde Gloss Sea-Blue. Despair not, however, because as the others have mentioned above, although GSB didn't chip or fade as readily as the four-color scheme (yep, there were definitely 4 separate paints used in that scheme), it got roached out just as much as any other paint on an operational military aircraft. There are plenty of photos of pristine, glossy -1D's, but just as many of totally gross, heavily weathered birds with plenty of character in GSB. Here's some examples:

 

dj5IGp5.jpg

Chipped leading edges, plenty of fluid/fuel leaks and stains, generalized filth on the inner wing sections. And this is a carrier-based bird, where salt water corrosion will eat thru exposed aluminum in a heartbeat.

 

b6JK3KV.jpg

Another dirty carrier-based birdie, note the overspray on the geometric squadron markings on the rudder, and the mismatched ammo boxes on the port wing. This is a recurring feature on pretty much every operational F4U-1D, Jennings @ Fundekals even does a decal set so you can replicate this effect on your model. There's also a great explanation for this phenomenon on the Fundekals site.

 

ofNyvq6.jpg

Land-based this time, and even grubbier, coral sand plays havoc with paint, even super durable GSB.

 

eHSGDdg.jpg

Land-based again, pretty heavily chipped wing roots. This photo seems to have been taken after some sort of taxiing/landing mishap, judging by the bent flaps and chainlink fence wrapped around the tail wheel.

 

clFoJOF.jpg

Here's a glorious period color photo that really showcases the green undertones of GSB, not to mention how filthy and grubby and stained this paint really got on operational planes. Look at all those blue-gray ammo boxes carried over from the early schemes on the port wing!

 

Gxz7hWS.jpg

More period color, not much chipping (the fuselage kickstep notwithstanding) but plenty of fading and sand/dirt on this one. Also shows off the difference in tones between Insignia Blue and the much greener GSB.

 

mXLqwFS.jpg

Same bird, different light, plenty of fading. Also note the hand grip, totally worn down to aluminum, and the worn YZC patch just below and to its left, which is made by the pilot's thumb as he pivots into the cockpit.

 

7vTroiS.jpg

More original color, not much weathering on this one but it serves again to show what GSB looked like in the field.

 

8DHkYeX.jpg

Back to B&W, heavy chipping on the left-hand bird, lots of grime and fading visible on both.

 

Ey8pYVn.jpg

Overspray, crooked numbers, chipped wing roots, stains and leaks galore, and the ubiquitous ammo box salad. Note how this plane even has blue-gray ammo boxes still in use from the earliest Birdcage blue-gray liveries.

 

SjsvtRA.jpg

Grubby, chipped star-and-bars, overspray, ammo box salad, there's lots going on even with these monotone schemes.

 

GStAp5A.jpg

Note how each plane has a different ammo box arrangement, it's one of those "can't unsee it" things once you notice it.

 

ouuxVhG.jpg

More of the same, really.

 

tMmWKQr.jpg

This livery schematic is really interesting, showing how there was actually an anti-glare panel of non-specular sea-blue (matte finish) on kites in GSB.

 

As for the four-color scheme, albeit not germane to this discussion per se, here's another period color shot that clearly shows all 4 hues on this Helldiver:

cx7zOvh.jpg

Note the difference between gloss sea-blue on the wings and non-specular sea-blue on the upper fuselage.

 

And finally, how to recreate this on a model? Well, here's a quick video tutorial with Matt McDougal from Doogs Models that shows how he uses the black basing technique with a slew of other colors underneath the final GSB coat to give it some depth and variation:

 

Matt did an outstanding job with his Tamiya 1/32 FG-1D in gloss sea-blue, probably the most realistic GSB finish I've seen on a model to date. Here's an overview of his finished build:

urZDqgE.jpg

 

And a close-up of the wing roots, Matt's weathering is ON POINT.

gVengBN.jpg

 

Whew, that was a lot of work, hope it helps...

 

Looking forward to seeing your magnum opus come together, Woody.

 

Cheers,

- Thomaz

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13 hours ago, TAG said:

Whew, that was a lot of work, hope it helps...

 

IT SURE DOES!

I've bookmarked your comment for future reference and thank you for all your effort, it's greatly appreciated.

 

Matt McDougal's Corsair is certainly an achievement, but an achievement that can only come from a lot of experience and an artist's understanding of color, neither of which I possess so I just putter along doing what I can with limited skills. The fuel spillage is worthy of praise alone.

Next on the agenda: I've heard all about the "four color camo" and seen it referenced by trusted researchers, but I have yet to see evidence of it on any photo of an F4U-1A - my current build. Perhaps I've not seen enough photos, but even photos that claim to be four color don't show any visual evidence of tonal or specular difference. The most definitive description is that it was applied to the "spine" (which I assume would be the topmost area of the fuselage from the canopy back to the vertical stabilizer) and the leading edges of the wings. Pardon me for being skeptical but.... (Insert Missouri reference here.)

And then we come to Insignia White which suddenly has become the "correct" color for the undersides of the Corsair fuselage and inner wings. Ever since the days that dinosaurs roamed the earth it was just "white". Granted, unless you place the two colors right next to each other no one is going to be able to tell the difference. 

Thanks again for all your expertise.

 

Woody

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I built the Tamiya -1D a few years back.  The build is here on LSP if you are interested.  Highly recommend Colorcoates GSB.   Per the “experts”, it’s supposed to be the closest match to the early shade, used in WW2.    
 

Also highly recommend Barracuda’s cockpit decal set and resin wheels.   They are amazing (and cheap)!   

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57 minutes ago, Archer Fine Transfers said:

 

IT SURE DOES!

I've bookmarked your comment for future reference and thank you for all your effort, it's greatly appreciated.

 

Matt McDougal's Corsair is certainly an achievement, but an achievement that can only come from a lot of experience and an artist's understanding of color, neither of which I possess so I just putter along doing what I can with limited skills. The fuel spillage is worthy of praise alone.

Next on the agenda: I've heard all about the "four color camo" and seen it referenced by trusted researchers, but I have yet to see evidence of it on any photo of an F4U-1A - my current build. Perhaps I've not seen enough photos, but even photos that claim to be four color don't show any visual evidence of tonal or specular difference. The most definitive description is that it was applied to the "spine" (which I assume would be the topmost area of the fuselage from the canopy back to the vertical stabilizer) and the leading edges of the wings. Pardon me for being skeptical but.... (Insert Missouri reference here.)

And then we come to Insignia White which suddenly has become the "correct" color for the undersides of the Corsair fuselage and inner wings. Ever since the days that dinosaurs roamed the earth it was just "white". Granted, unless you place the two colors right next to each other no one is going to be able to tell the difference. 

Thanks again for all your expertise.

 

Woody

Hi, Woody

 

My pleasure, F4U's are a long-time favorite of mine so I'm happy to share, glad I can help you in your current build. Speaking of which, I was under the assumption you were building a -1D (hence all the refs) but apparently not, good on ya, -1A's have the best liveries and weathering anyway.

 

Re: the four-color scheme, here is the original T.O. with the specs for painting F4U-1A's. As you can see, there are four colors employed in this scheme:

- Non-specular (aka matte) white for under surfaces

- Non-specular sea-blue for fuselage upper surfaces and wing leading edges

- Semigloss sea-blue for wing and stabilizer upper surfaces

- Intermediate blue for fuselage side surfaces and outer wing under surfaces

F3ZhlZj.jpg

The T.O. also designates Insignia white for the national insignia, so clearly it was just plain old matte white being used on the undersides, you were right all along. I guess the white wouldn't stay pristine for long and quickly faded to an off-white, hence today's new "paradigm"? Anyhow, the Technical Order also very helpfully includes the options for painting undercarriage and wheel wells, as well as the cowling and cowl flap interiors, so it pretty much covers everything you need for the plane's exterior.

 

As for photos clearly illustrating the 4-color scheme on an F4U, they are few and far between. Mainly, I believe, because these paints chalked and faded so quickly, but also because there were a lot of repaints and touch-ups in the field that rendered the original camo scheme into something less defined and more amorphous. Still, they can be found if you look close enough, even in some of the most famous Corsair photos like this one:

ymT50Ug.jpg

Most people's eyes are immediately drawn to Ike Kepford's legendary 29, and there have been so many touch-ups and repaints in the field that this plane's original camo has blended into something barely recognizable as a 4-color scheme. But if you zoom in on his wingman in the 8 plane behind, or even the number 3 plane, we start noticing some starker differences between colors.

qsGgt0m.jpg

Here you can see not only the different levels of reflectivity between the semigloss sea-blue and non-spec sea-blue, but also how the semigloss sea-blue was actually a darker, more pigmented hue than the non-spec sea-blue. The number 8 plane has semigloss sea-blue on the wing and elevator uppers, as well as the fuselage section from the edge of the windscreen to the cowl flaps, which has been repainted in the field. Then there's non-specular sea-blue on the rest of the fuselage and cowling uppers, with intermediate blue on fuselage and cowling sides as well as the rudder, and of course matte white below.

 

Here's another example of the 4-color scheme on F4U-1A's, these birds belong to a Stateside training squadron.

NnHpDGS.jpg

 

FgLRtyZ.jpg

Factory-fresh Goodyear FG-1's, you can see three distinct hues of blue (two on the fuselage/cowling/rudder and one on the wings and stabilizers) with the white undersides.

 

MiAP9dG.jpg

Here's a messy VMF-124 bird, you can clearly tell three distinct tones of blue and the white underneath.

 

And another, apologies for the tiny photo:

qmVIExL.jpg

 

For some reason, there's lots of Helldiver refs where the 4-tone camo is more distinctly apparent. Compare the leading edge of the wing to the rest of its surface, notice how different semigloss sea-blue and non-specular sea-blue really are, not only in reflectivity but actual hue.

Hj4quev.jpg

rXZtmE5.jpg

A2B5Cf1.jpg

Again, look at the difference between the leading edges of the wings and fuselage/cowling uppers versus the wing tops.

 

Hopefully the grand poobah of all things F4U @Dana Bell will see this thread and chime in at some point, it was Dana who first pointed out to modern modelers that the scheme was actually four colors and not three.

 

Lemme know if you need any more refs, Woody, like I said, happy to help!

 

Cheers,

- Thomaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thomaz,

Yea, sorry for the confusion regarding GSB and my -1A build. I’m building a tribute Corsair based on entries in a log book. His entries only indicate F4U-1 and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the -1A wasn’t used during the war. I didn’t want to build a birdcage so I went through his entries and found a F4U-1D which led to my asking for tips weathering GSB. Then I went through the serial numbers for the F4U-1 entries I discovered several -1A’s which took me down this 3/4-color rabbit hole.

LINK to pilot’s log.

LINK to my build.

 

Regardless, thank you so much for the TO! However, as is often the case answers raise more questions.

 

Before we go any further you should know that I was an Airframe Repairman in the USAF from ’66-’70 so you can use real aircraft terms with me. I also earned my living as a commercial artist so I know a little about color.

 

The station 52 cross section indicates “Non-specular Sea Blue” at the top, then blending into “Sea Blue” (which I’m left to assume is the semi-gloss Sea Blue”) which blends into Intermediate Sea Blue, which blends into White.

 

Moving on to the side view, the “Key to Color Scheme” indicates that the area usually seen painted Intermediate Blue is called out as a “Graded Tone”… what? If my shop chief handed me the paint and this drawing and told me to paint a Corsair I’d paint white up to the non-specular Sea Blue demarcation and then fade N-SSB down to the white because that’s what the drawing calls for - a Graded Tone. How else would you interpret that? Reminds me of “The right way, the wrong way and the military way” joke.

 

Now I shall commit heresy.

It’s a three-color camo scheme - period. Hear me out.

Red is a color, green is a color and blue is a color for instance. Red can be cherry red, green can be grass green and blue can be sky blue or whatever some paint company wants to call it. Those are all distinct colors visually different from each other. In our case we have Semi-Gloss and Non-Specular Sea Blue - same color, different sheen. Three colors, one of which in two sheens. Sheen does not change a color, only its reflective properties. I’m not trying to be difficult but unless these two Sea Blues are two distinct COLORS they will appear to be the same. The only difference is that one is shinier than the other.

 

To further complicate things, once you dial in the conditions these paints are exposed to, all bets are off. Since we’re dealing with aircraft sitting on a coral rock surface in the boiling sun, tropical rain storms, clouds of coral dust and fluid/exhaust staining none of the paint on these aircraft is going to conform to factory specifications. True, the Semi Gloss will appear darker but only because a semi-gloss paint will repel dust contaminants better than a non-specular (flat if you will) sheen. That’s why so many restorations are painted gloss - it’s easier to keep clean. Okay, so it may add another 2mph to top speed but you get my point.

 

Again, the ONLY reason I’m engaged in this discussion is to learn so if I’m wrong I’m happy to be corrected, so beat me like a red-headed step child if I need it.

 

 

Edited by Archer Fine Transfers
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Posted (edited)

This photograph, which appears to be of a factory fresh aircraft, presents a compelling argument that the "Sea Blue" is indeed two different colors. However this stands in contrast to the actual colors per "official" designation.

 

The "Sea Blue" used here is the same color - note that the only difference in the FS number is the first digit, 2 indicating semi-gloss and 3 indicating non-specular. However the non-specular version in this photo is much lighter than the official color.
Semi-Gloss Sea Blue, ANA 606, FS 25042

Non-Specular Sea Blue, ANA 607, FS 35042

A2B5Cf1.jpg

 

So, in closing I'm calling this a wrap because when photographic evidence conflicts with academic evidence, other than to say this has been interesting, I'm done. 

SOURCES:
https://www.cybermodeler.com/color/ana_table.shtml
https://www.e-paint.co.uk/colour-alternatives.asp?cRange=AMS+Standard+595A&cRef=35042&cDescription=Sea+blue+/+ANA+607

Edited by Archer Fine Transfers
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