Colourcoats Paints by White Ensign Models

Reviewed by: John Sheridan

 


In the shipmodeling hobby, there have been numerous advances in materials, prototypes, and methods. One of the things that has been missing is a line of accurate paints that modelers could use. Floquil had a line of Marine paints that were close, but not quite accurate. Floquil discontinued this line of paints a few years ago when they moved away from solvent-based paints. Pollyscale has a line of water-based paints but these are mostly for aircraft with a few ship colors added for US Naval ships. When Snyder & Short released their line of accurate paint chips for various navies, the groundwork was laid for someone to create a line of accurate paints based on the S&S paint chips.

Enter White Ensign Models.

John Snyder, half the team of Snyder & Short, moved to England and went to work with the gang at White Ensign Models. It was here that he convinced Caroline Carter that they could market a line of paints that would be accurate and ship modelers would flock to use.

White Ensign Models worked with a local paint manufacturer to create the line of  paints. These paints would be solvent-based enamels and packaged in Humbrol-type tins that most modelers are familiar with.  The colors are based on the Synder & Short paint chips in terms of color, shade, and reflectivity. The line started with USN and RN WWII colors. If the paints were a success, the line would grow to include other navies.

 The initial sales proved very successful and White Ensign could not keep up with orders. There was a brief delay in production while White Ensign worked-out the delays with the paints. The initial production problems were solved and the paints put into full production. The line soon expanded to include other navies such as IJN, Kriegsmarine, Regina Marina, Modern Navies, etc.. The line has become so successful, that it it is expanding into aircraft colors and some of the more obscure colors used by Naval ships.

 


Ship Colors currently in production:

 USN WWII (26 colors)
 

US 01 Prewar #5 STANDARD NAVY GRAY US 14 NORFOLK 65A ANTI-FOULING RED 
US 02 Prewar #20 STANDARD DECK GRAY US 15 Mahogany Flight Deck Stain
US 03 Early 1941 5-L LIGHT GRAY US 16 20-G Deck Green
US 04 Early 1941 5-D DARK GRAY  US 17 5-HG Haze Green Revised
US 05 Late 1941 5-H HAZE GRAY  US 18 5-LG Light Green Revised
US 06 Late 1941 5-O OCEAN GRAY US 19 5-OG Ocean Green Revised
US 07 5-S SEA BLUE  US 20 5-NG Navy Green Revised
US 08 5-N NAVY BLUE  US 21 5-PG Pale Green Revised
US 09 5-B THAYER BLUE US22 #1 Green
US 10 1942 REVISED DECK BLUE 20-B US 23 #2 Green
US 11 FLIGHT DECK STAIN 21 US 24 #3 Green
US 12 5-P PALE GRAY US 25 #4 Green
US 13 1943 5-L LIGHT GRAY US 26 MBT Green

 
Royal Navy WWII (20 colors)
 

RN 01 AP 507A DARK GREY RN 11 B6 BLUE
RN 02 AP 507B MEDIUM GREY RN 12 MS4 
RN 03 AP 507C LIGHT GREY RN 13 MS4A
RN 04 MS1  RN 14 G45
RN 05 MS2 RN 15 B15
RN 06 MS3  RN 16 B20
RN 07 B5 DARK BLUE-GREY RN 17 B55
RN 08 WESTERN APPROACHES BLUE RN 18 MOUNTBATTEN PINK (LIGHT)
RN 09 WESTERN APPROACHES GREEN RN 19 RN ANTI-FOULING RED
RN 10 ROYAL NAVY WHITE  RN 20 B55 LATE WAR  LIGHT KHAKI


 Imperial Japanese Navy WWII (10 colors)
 

IJN 01 SASEBO GRAY IJN 06 TYPE 2 CAMOUFLAGE
IJN 02 KURE GRAY IJN 07 TYPE 21 CAMOUFLAGE
IJN 03 MAIZURU GRAY IJN 08 TYPE 22 CAMOUFLAGE 
IJN 04 YOKOSUKA GRAY IJN 09 IJN DECK TAN 
IJN 05 TYPE 1 CAMOUFLAGE IJN 10 LINOLEUM 

 
German Kriegsmarine WWII (12 colors)
 

KM 01 HELLGRAU 50 (Light Grey) 
also High Seas Fleet WWI
KM 07 (Norwegian) BLAUGRAU Dunkel
(Dark Blue-Grey)
KM 02

DUNKELGRAU 51 (Dark Grey)
also High Seas Fleet WWI  

KM 08 (Norwegian) BLAUGRAU Mittel
(Medium Blue-Grey)
KM 03 DUNKELBLAUGRAU (Dark Blue-Grey) 
[Underwater Hull & alternate Boot-topping] 
also High Seas Fleet WWI 
KM 09 (Norwegian) BLAUGRAU Hell
(Light Blue-Grey)
KM 04

SCHIFFSBODENFARBE III  ROT 5
[Underwater Hull Red] 
also High Seas Fleet WWI

KM 10 SCHNELLBOOTWEISS (S-Boat White) 
KM 05 SCHIFFSBODENFARBE III GRAU I [Dark Grey Boot-topping] KM 11 SCHLICKGRAU 58 (U-boat) 
KM 06 DUNKELGRAU 2 (Dark Grey #2)
[Baltic stripes, early dark camo
colour for U-boats & surface ships]
KM 12 BLAUGRAU 58.1 (Blue-Grey)  (U-boat)


 Modern Naval Colours (16 colors)
 

M 01

ROYAL NAVY GREY  

M 09 GERMAN NAVY GREY 
M 02 ROYAL NAVY DECK GREY (90's+) M 10 GERMAN NAVY DECK GREY
M 03 U.S. NAVY HAZE GRAY M 11 RUSSIAN NORTHERN FLEET GREY
M 04 U.S. NAVY DECK GRAY M 12 RUSSIAN DECK GREEN
M 05 U.S. NAVY FLIGHT DECK GRAY M 13 RUSSIAN DECK RED
M 06 U.S. NAVY ANTI-FOULING RED M 14 JMSDF GREY
M 07 FRENCH NAVY GREY M 15 JMSDF DECK GREY
M 08 FRENCH NAVY DECK GREY M 16 RN LIGHT DECK GRAY (80's and 90's)

 
Italian Regina Marina WWII (8 colors)
 

RM 01

Grigio Scuro (Dark Gray)

RM 05 Verde Chiaro (Light Green)
RM 02 Grigio Chiaro (Light Gray) RM 06 Giallo Verde (Light Yellow-Green)
RM 03 Blu Scuro (Dark Blue) RM 07 Bianco Sporco Opaco (Matt Foul White)
RM 04 Azzuro (Light Blue) RM 08 Rosso (Red)

 
Miscellaneous (3 colors)
 

C 01 TEAK C 03 MATT WHITE
C 02 MATT BLACK    

 
Varnishes (3 colors)
 

VG GLOSS FINISH VM MATT FINISH
VS SATIN FINISH    

 USN #2 WWII (11 colors)
 

US 15 Mahogany Flight Deck Stain US 21 5-PG Pale Green Revised
US 16 20-G Deck Green US22 #1 Green
US 17 5-HG Haze Green Revised US 23 #2 Green
US 18 5-LG Light Green Revised US 24 #3 Green
US 19 5-OG Ocean Green Revised US 25 #4 Green
US 20 5-NG Navy Green Revised US 26 MBT Green

Aircraft Colors currently in production:

 US Aircraft Colors (10 colors)
 

ACUS 1 Light Gull Gray ACUS 6 WW2 USN Blue-Gray
ACUS 2 Dark Gull Gray ACUS 7 WW2 USN Sea Blue
ACUS 3 Light Compass Gray ACUS 8 WW2 USN Intermediate Blue
ACUS 4 Dark Compass Gray ACUS 9 WW2 USN/USAAF Interior Green
ACUS 5 WW2 USN Light Gray ACUS 10 Non-Specular White


 FLEET AIR ARM/COASTAL COMMAND (10 colors)
 

ACRN 01 SKY "S" TYPE ACRN 04 MEDIUM SEA GREY
ACRN 02 EXTRA DARK SEA GREY ACRN 05 LIGHT SLATE GREY
ACRN 03 DARK SEA GREY ACRN 06 DARK SLATE GREY


 Imperial Japanese Navy  (2 colors)
 

ACJ 01 IJN AIRCRAFT GREEN ACJ 02 IJN AIRCRAFT GREY


The Paints

The WEM paints are enamel based and come in small ¼ oz tins which are the same size and shape as Humbrol paint tins.  Color of the paint is indicated on the lid with the name on the label.  This work very well for me since I keep all my paints in Tupperware containers. I can glance down and find the color with ease by just glancing at the lid.

Before you use any of paints, be sure to thoroughly mix them by shaking the paint in the tin thoroughly. After shaking, remove the lid and stir the paint. If you do not thoroughly mix the paint, it will come out uneven and with a gloss surface. I found this out when I tested the paint for the first time. I only shook the tin for a little bit, and then applied the paint without stirring it first. Suffice to say, the paint did not perform as expected. This is what I get for using water-based paints for too long! I found that if I took my time and thoroughly mixed the paint, I achieved much better results and the paint worked beautifully.

Thinning:

These paints can be thinned with regular paint thinner, Mineral Spirits, or Lacquer Thinner. When I first tested these paints, I thinned the paint with an inexpensive paint thinner purchased at Loews (a hardware chain) with poor results. After a month in tightly closed paint jars, the paint separated and a skin formed on the surface. I tried to add more thinner to make it go back into solution and only ended-up with a pile of goop.

I spoke with John Snyder at WEM about what happened to the paint. He suggested Lacquer Thinner or paint thinner and make sure it is a good quality product; no “generics”.  I picked Lacquer Thinner since my previous encounter with Paint Thinner was unpleasant. This time I achieved much better results with the paint remaining in suspension much longer and no skin formed on the paint while in storage. A quick



shake n’ stir restored the paint back to operating condition.

Application:


All of the WEM paints and can be hand brushed or sprayed with an airbrush.  I found that the paint thinned 50% with lacquer thinner and sprayed at 30psi achieved the best airbrushed results.  Coverage was good using my Badger 200 Single Action Airbrush. I found that several light coats worked the best instead of attempting a single heavy coat.

The one thing I found very nice about these paints is that they clog the airbrush much less than Water-based paints. As long as you thin the paints properly and keep a clean brush, you will have no problems with the paintbrush tip clogging.

Test #1 Airbrushing

For the airbrush test, I used Deck Blue, Ocean Gray, and Light Gray on my test model, the Classic Warships USS Guam. When I tested these paints on this model, WEM did not yet produce a Black or Anti-Fouling Red so I substituted Pollyscale Black for the upper hull and Pollyscale Boxcar Red for the lower hull. I applied the WEM paints over the Pollyscale paints without any reaction or paint-peel. (When applying paints of different types, allow sufficient time for the paint to thoroughly cure before applying the next type paint.)


I use 3M automotive masking tape for covering painted areas. Guam carried a complex camouflage pattern and lots of masking is required. None of the WEM paint lifted when I pulled the masking tape. I did have trouble with the Pollyscale paint lifting off with the tape however even though I applied the Pollyscale paint first!

Test #2 Combination Airbrush and Hand Brush.

My second test was to Airbrush the light color (Haze Gray) over a handbrushed Color (Navy Blue). I picked a smaller model to test on since I do not like to handbrush large areas. I picked a Commanders Series PC and SC Class Subchasers. I sprayed the upper hull and superstructure USN Haze Gray 5-H. After I let it dry overnight, I handbrushed Navy Blue on the hull and Deck Blue on the deck. This is where I ran into the problem with improperly mixed paint described above. Once I figured out why the paint was coming out streaked and glossy, I reapplied the paint after sanding the old paint off the hull. I found that the paint works best if you thin it about 25% with Lacquer Thinner. I do not recommend applying the paint over large surfaces full strength. The paint dries quickly and will build-up quickly if you try applying it without first thinning. After painting the hull, I allowed it to cure for a day. The next day, I went back and used full strength Haze Gray to clean-up spots I covered accidentally with the Navy Blue.  Full Strength paint works best for touch-up with excellent coverage even when applying lighter paint over darker paints.

Cleanup:


After using my airbrush, I sprayed Lacquer thinner through the brush to clean it. After this, I disassemble the brush and clean off the remaining paint. The cleaner you keep your airbrush the less chance of clogging the tip. 

For paint brushes, after I use a brush to paint, I drop it in a container of Lacquer thinner and let it sit for a few minutes. I then swish it around to remove any remaining paint then dry it on a paper towel. I store my brushes in an old cup with the bristles pointing upwards. This allows any remaining solvent to drain away from the bristles.

Storage:

I found out the hard way, once you pour the paint out of that little tin, it is very difficult to get it back in without making a mess. Since I mix my airbrush paints 50-50 with Lacquer thinner, I find it difficult to keep them in the paint tins. Once I mix a paint, I store it in a standard ¾ ounce paint jar. I paint the top of the lid the color of the paint and apply a label on the side. I store my mixed paints upside-down to keep unwanted air out of the jar. I have never had one leak on me when using this method. I have also used Randy Short’s “Never Dry” paint jars for storage of mixed paint. I keep these stored upright because the key to keeping an airtight seal on these jars is to keep the lid seal clean of any paint or solvent.

Conclusions about WEM Colourcoats:

Plusses

Solvent based paints.
Colors are very accurate according to Snyder & Short.
You can handbrush and airbrush paints and achieve good results.
 Lid Color matches the paint color inside.
 They provide good coverage with minimal coats.
 Excellent selection of colors.
 WEM listens to its customers and responds quickly.
 Customer service is very good.
 Direct shipping of paints from WEM took less than a week to arrive.

Minuses:

    Unexpected results if you use cheap solvents. If you change solvents, test first!
    You need to thoroughly shake and stir the paint before using.
    Paint only comes in 1/2oz size instead of larger sizes
    No Spray cans are planned at this time