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|
|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|
|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|
|KM 01|| HELLGRAU 50
also High Seas Fleet WWI
|KM 07|| (Norwegian) BLAUGRAU Dunkel
DUNKELGRAU 51 (Dark Grey)
|KM 08|| (Norwegian) BLAUGRAU Mittel
|KM 03|| DUNKELBLAUGRAU (Dark Blue-Grey)
[Underwater Hull & alternate Boot-topping]
also High Seas Fleet WWI
|KM 09|| (Norwegian) BLAUGRAU Hell
SCHIFFSBODENFARBE III ROT 5
|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)|
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)|
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)|
|C 01||TEAK||C 03||MATT WHITE|
|C 02||MATT BLACK|
|VG||GLOSS FINISH||VM||MATT 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|
|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|
|ACJ 01||IJN AIRCRAFT GREEN||ACJ 02||IJN AIRCRAFT GREY|
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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:
Solvent based paints.
Unexpected results if you use
cheap solvents. If you change solvents, test first!