Of all major powers of the 2nd world war, Japan is probably the nation least documented. Outside of the general information, few details have been preserved, indexed and published.

This also is the case with the painting systems used by the Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces. While systems such as the RLM have been heavily researched and documented, a lot of information about Japanese systems is still undiscovered, and what is known is often purely empirical, based on old photographs and painting chips. The information that has been discovered is often not widely known and published on the internet. A lack in the subject perhaps? Nevertheless I’ve tried to create a comprehensive list of all the Japanese paints. Nothing here is primary research. Merely snippets of information I’ve locate on the abandoned corners of the web and scruffy books.

As with all pages of this type, the colours shown are an approximation. Monitors can change the colour displayed and don’t account for shading and glossiness. In reality these colours would also fade over time, and different batches had different tones.

(IJNAF/IJAAF) Thorpe system

In the 1960’s, researcher Donald Thorpe tried to index the colours used by Japanese aircraft. His system was the first comprehensive system.
The system is created purely by examining old photographs, paint chips and other surviving artefacts and it’s naming is purely arbitrary as a result. Nonetheless it gives a clear overview of the paints often used on Japanese Aircraft.
Army colours were denoted with an A and navy colours with an N. Some colours overlapped, but for readability I put them in both tables.

Army

Code Colour FS equivalent Gunze Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
A1 Dark Green FS-34094 H302
C302
XF-67 70.612 *152   AK11873
RC230
 
Single overall colour
Upper surface camouflage
Sometimes as anti-glare
A2 Olive Green FS-34088             MIG 507
Single overall colour
Upper Surface camouflage
Possibly #7; Ohryoku Nana Go Shoku
A3 Medium Green FS-34108              
Unit Markings colours
Upper Surface camouflage
Possibly IJA #39 Kusa Iro
A4 Light green FS-25352 H-062 XF-14          
Upper and Lower Surface camouflage
Possible the same colour as A5, #1 Hai Ryoku Shoku
A5 Light gray Green FS-25414   XF-12          
Control surfaces of all metal aircraft
Upper and Lower Surface camouflage
Single overall colour
Possible the same colour as A4, #1 Hai Ryoku Shoku
A6 Dark Gray FS-26132              
Single overall colour
Upper Surface Camouflage
A7 Medium Gray FS-36300              
Single overall colour
Upper and Lower Surface camouflage
A8 Medium Blue Gray FS-35177              
Single overall colour
Upper and Lower Surface camouflage
A9 Light Gray FS-36650              
Single overall colour
Upper and Lower Surface camouflage
Landing gear assemblies
A10 Light Blue Gray FS-35550              
Lower Surface Camouflage
A11 Dark Brown FS-20059 C-131            
Upper Surface Camouflage
Spinners and Propellers
Unit Markings
A12 Medium brown FS-10075   XF-64          
Upper Surface Camouflage
Sometimes used as a primer
A13
(N12)
Dull brown FS-20061              
Primer
Spinners and Propellers
A14 light earth FS-30475              
Upper Surface Camouflage
Might be the same colour as A15
A15 Ivory yellow FS-20260              
Upper Surface Camouflage
Might be the same colour as A14
A16
(N13)
Yellow FS-13655   XF-3          
Wing leading edge
Unit Markings colours
Single overall colour of training aircraft
Possibly a variation of #14 黄色
A17
(N14)
Deep yellow FS-23538
#14 黄色
             
Wing leading edge
Unit Markings colours
Possibly a variation of #14 黄色
A18
(N16)
translucent blue
Aotake
FS-15125   any%X-25 any%X-23
over bare metal coat
         
Interior Primer
A19
(N18)
Red Orange FS-21400              
Single overall colour of training and experimental aircraft
A20
(N19)
Himomaru red weathered FS-21136              
Hinomaru weathered
A21
(N20)
Hinomaru red fresh FS-31350   XF-7     MRP-411    
Hinomaru fresh
Airframe waring stencils
Unit Markings colours
A22 dark blue FS-35048              
Anti glare
A23
(N21)
medium blue FS-35183              
Unit Markings colours
Spinners
A24
(N22)
blue-black FS17038 50% H-055
50% H-002
X-18     MRP-432    
Anti glare
Numerals and stencils
overall surfaces for night aircraft
  Natural metal   H-008 XF-16          
Unpainted surfaces

Navy

Code Colour FS equivalent Mr. Color
Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
N1 Black Green FS-14056              
Single Overall Camouflage
Upper Surface Camouflage
Cowlings
N2 Dark Green FS-34058 H-059 XF-11          
Upper Surface Camouflage
N3 Dark Gray Green FS-34094              
Upper Surface Camouflage
N4 Light Gray Green FS-24226              
Cockpit, Interior
N5 Light Olive Green FS-34151              
Mitsubishi Cockpit colour
N6 Buff Green FS-14255              
Rear Spars, Wheel wells, ect
N7 Black Gray FS-27040              
Single Overall Camouflage
Cowlings
N8 Dark Gray FS-36081              
Single Overall Camouflage
Upper Surface camouflage
N9 Medium Gray FS-34201              
Single Overall Camouflage
Undersurface
N10 Light Gray FS-26493   XF-12
XF-76
71312        
Single Overall Camouflage
Undersurface Camouflage
Unit Markings
N11 Medium Brown FS-26493   XF-10          
Upper Surface Camouflage
N12 Red Brown No close approximation              
Exterior Primer
N13
(A16)
Medium Yellow FS-20061   XF-3          
Single Overall Camouflage of trainer aircraft
N14
(A17)
Deep Yellow FS-13655              
Wing ID Markings, Unit Markings, Stencils
N15 Yellow Ochre FS-23538 10%H-003
90%H-014
           
Wing ID markings, Experimental Aircraft
N16
(A18)
Translucent Blue
Aotake
FS-15125   any%X-25 any%X-23
over bare metal coat
         
Bare Metal Prime Coat
N17 Translucent Green
Aotake
No close approximation   any%X-25 any%X-23
over bare metal coat
71419        
Bare Metal Prime Coat
N18
(A19)
Red Orange FS-21400              
Training, Experimental
Rare Hinomaru
N19
(A20)
Deep Red FS-21136              
Hinomaru
Unit Markings
N20
(A21)
Medium Red FS-31350   XF-7          
Hinomaru
Unit Markings
N21
(A23)
Medium Blue FS-35183              
Unit Markings
N22
(A24)
Black FS-17038              
Unit Markings, Anti-Glare, Overall, Stencils
  Natural metal                
Single Overall Camouflage
  White                
Single Overall Camouflage

(IJAAF) Kō-kaku 39 / 航格39

The kokaku 39, (陸軍航空機材料規格 航格第39) was a standard for paints used by the IJAAF.

Code Colour Equivalent Mr. Color Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
#1
灰緑色
Hairyokushoku
Gray Green
ash green
FS-25622
Thorpe A4
C-128 XF-12 71326   MRP-415
MRP-416
AK11899
RC328
AK2261
MIG 258
Standard overall colour of aircraft from 1936-1945
Underside colour on some late war aircraft
Control surfaces on bare metal aircraft
The precise appearance is still argued about.
Aviation of Japan – Army Hairyokushoku Part 1
#2
黄橙色
Tohohshoku
Yellow Orange
               
Overall trainer Colour
#3
灰藍色
Hairanshoku
Ash Indigo
FS-25053 ?         MRP-417 AK11900
RC329
AK2262
 
Interior Primer from 1936-1943, replacement of Aotake of army air craft. In practice this only happened for crew areas and Aotake kept being used as primer for other internal areas.
Known aircraft with this paint are the Type 91, Ki-21, Ki-27, Ki-36, Ki-43, Ki-44 and Ki-48
Different Sources often depict this colour as a lot less blue. As I personally have the most faith in this post from straggler in Aviation of Japan, I’ve choosen to depict it as such.
#4
赤褐色
Seki-Kashoku                
Propeller and Spinner Colour
#5 Gin-Iro
Silver
  C-008 XF-16 71062 HTK-*078 MRP-009 AK11207
RC020
AK479
 
bare metal
#7
黄緑七号色
Ohryoku Nana Go Shoku
Olive Brown
FS-33070 C-304 XF-58 71286 HTK-*018 MRP-418 AK11901
RC330
AK2263
MIG 926
On the 14th of June 1944 a revisited ‘Rikugun kokuki tosou kitei’, Army Aircraft Painting Regulation was distributed. The new regulations weren’t applied immediately, with new aircraft only appearing from August onward, the Hayate even waiting to October.
Exterior colour from June 1944 onwards
Interior colour from June 1944 onwards
Aviation of Japan – Useful colours ~ Army interiors part 2
AviationOfJapan – More about JAAF # 7
#9
赤色
Aka-iro                
Insignia’s
#10
赤色
Awai aka iro           MRP-411    
Hinomaru’s
#11
黒色
Kuro iro
black
  C-33 XF-1 71057 HTK-*041 MRP-005 RC001 MIG 046
Anti-Glare paint
#12
白色
Shiro iro
White
  C047            
 
#13
青色
Ao iro
blue colour
               
Potentially used in cockpits as alternative to #3 Hairanshoku
http://www.aviationofjapan.com/2009/08/useful-colours-army-interiors-part-one.html
#14
黄色
Ki iro
FS-33538 C-4 XF-3 71002 HTK-*066 MRP-419 RC008 MIG 048
Identification markings
overall colour of training aircraft
overall colour of experimental aircraft
#17
淡青色
Tan Sei Shoku
FS-25352              
http://www.aviationofjapan.com/2009/02/ki-43-iii-ko-colours-part-3.html
#21
緑色
Midori iro
Green
IJA Green
FS-34108 C-129 XF-13 71285 HTK-*242 MRP-420 AK11902
RC331
AK2264
MIG 264
Standard camouflage green of the Imperial Japanese Army aircraft, originally intended to be used with #27 Ao Midori Iro (Blue Green) in Luftwaffe style, later solid or mottle; in use in 1941-1945.
#22
濃緑色
Noh Ryoku Shoku
Deep green
               
 
#26 An Ryoku Shoku                
 
#27
青緑色
Ao Midori Iro
Blue Green
FS-34036
Navy D2
        MRP-421 AK11903
RC332
AK2265
 
Standard camouflage green of the Imperial Japanese Army aircraft, originally intended to be used with #21 Midori Iro (Green) in Luftwaffe style, later solid or mottle; in use in 1941-1945.
#29
黄緑色
Ki Midori Iro
Yellow Green
FS-34259
FS-34151
          AK11904
RC333
AK2266
 
Aircraft interior colour used by the Imperial Japanese Army from circa 1943
Drop tanks
#30
枯草色
Karekusa Iro
Dry Grass Colour
        HTK-*243 MRP-422 AK11905
RC334
AK2267
 
Standard camouflage color of the Imperial Japanese Army aircraft, used together with green colours in the 1937-1945 period
#31
茶褐色
Cha Kasshoku
Tea Colour
        HTK-*241 MRP-423 AK11906
RC335
AK2268
 
Standard camouflage colour of the Imperial Japanese Army aircraft, used together with greens in the 1937-1945 period.
#32
黒藍色
Koku Ran Shoku
black indigo colour
               
A very dark, blackish blue colour with slight purple undertones, Like an Eggplant.
Anti glare panels and cowlings.
Nicholas Millman, Ki-61 and Ki-100 Aces (2015) Osprey Publishing
#33
柿色
カーキ色
kaaki iro
Khaki
               
 
#37
暗褐色
An Kasshoku
               
Propeller colour
#38
濃暗褐色
Noh An Kasshoku                
 
#39
草色
Kusa iro
               
 
#43 Tochi Iro
Soil colour
               
The exact purpose and usage of this colour remain unknown, however it must have hold some significance, as it was included in 航格8609 as 2~2.
Aviation of Japan – Kawasaki Ki-100 Fighter Colours
黒褐色 Kuro Kasshoku
black brown
               
Overall colour of some Ki-100’s. Possibly a very dark variant of #7. The name is sometimes mistranslated to English as ‘charcoal’, resulting in planes depicted as black instead of very dark brown.
Aviation of Japan – Kawasaki Ki-100 Fighter Colours
Nicholas Millman, Ki-61 and Ki-100 Aces (2015) Osprey Publishing

Late war propeller color

Starting mid 1944 propellers on some aircraft were painted green. Confirmed aircraft are Ki-43-III, Ki-84, Ki-87, Ki-94, Ki-100, Ki-102 and Ki-106. This colour has no know standard attached. There are multiple variations of this shade known.
http://www.aviationofjapan.com/2019/12/army-prop-and-spinner-colours.html

Code Colour FS equivalent Mr. Color
Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
Propeller Green Green Grey FS 14159   XF 22 70830     RC211 MIG 240
Later war propeller colour

(IJNAF) 仮規117 / Kari Kikaku 117

The 海軍航空機用塗料識別標準 假規117 別冊, Kaigun kōkūki-yō toryō shikibetsu hyōjun 假規 117 Bessatsu or “Color identification Standard for Naval air plane –Temporary Specification No.117 Additional Volume”, often shorted to Kari Kikaku 117, Kariki 117 or “Temporary Specification No.117”.

The Kariki 117 is a IJNAF specification which describes the colours used for painting aircraft from November 26 1938 onward. It contains 54 colours, divided in 17 series ranging from A to Q. It was published November 24 1938.

Usage of this system was, as far as known, rather limited. The most famous use was in the 空技報0266 (Yokosuka Kaigun Kokutai Report No.0266), or Kugiho 0266, a report by the Navy about future camouflages for the A6M from March 1942.

Swatch Code Name Translation Swatch Code Name Translation Swatch Code Name Translation
A 褐色
Kasshoku
Brown B 赤色
Aka Iro
Red C 黄色
Ki iro
Yellow
D 緑色
Midori Iro
Green E 青色
Ao Iro
Blue F 藍色
Ai Iro
Indigo
G 菫色
Sumire Iro
Violet H 茶色
Cha Iro
Tea I 土色
Tsuchi Iro
Soil
J 灰色
Hai Iro
Ash K 灰青色 Gray Blue L 鼠色
Nezumi Iro
Gray Rat colour
M 灰緑色
Hai Midori Iro
Gray Green N 小豆色
Azuki Iro
Adzuki Bean colour

N/A O 白色
Shiro Iro
White  
N/A P 銀色
Gin Iro
Silver N/A Q 黒色
Kuro Iro
Black        
swatch Code Colour equivalent Gunze Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
A1
褐色
Kasshoku
brown
               
 
A2
褐色
Kasshoku
brown
               
 
A3
褐色
brown                
Primer
propeller blades and spinners
A4
褐色
brown                
 
B1
赤色
red                
 
B2
赤色
red                
Markings
B3
赤色
red           MRP-411    
Hinomaru’s
B4
赤色
red                
 
C1
黄色
Yellow FS-22544              
Warning colour, Propeller tip colour
C2
黄色
Yellow                
trainer and experimental aircraft colour
C3
黄色
Yellow                
 
C4
黄色
Yellow                
 
D0
緑色
Green                
 
D1
緑色
Green     XF-11 71325     AK11893
RC304
AK2063
 
upper side camouflage.
Experimentally used as an upper surface camouflage on A6M2 “ヨ-109” as mono, and with D1 on “ヨ-107”. The experiment with mono D1 was accepted for standard use.
cockpit panel colour of at least the Kyūshū Q1W Tokai.
D2
緑色
Green       71322   MRP-425 AK11894
RC305
AK2064
 
Camouflage paint
D3
緑色
Green                
 
D4
緑色
Green                
 
D5
緑色
Green                
 
E1
青色
Blue                
 
E2
青色
Blue                
 
E3
青色
Blue                
 
E4
青色
Blue                
 
F1
藍色
Indigo                
 
F2
藍色
Indigo                
 
F3
藍色
Indigo                
 
G1
菫色
Violet                
 
H1
茶色
Tea                
 
H2
茶色
Tea           MRP-426    
Top side camouflage of early aircraft, such as G3M and G4M.
H3
茶色
Tea                
 
H4
茶色
Tea                
 
I1
土色
Soil                
 
I2
土色
Soil                
 
I3
土色
Soil                
 
J1
灰色
Mei kaishoku
Gray
               
 
J2
灰色
Gray                
Experimentally used as an upper surface camouflage on A6M2 “ヨ-113
J3
灰色
Gray       71312   MRP-427 AK11891
RC302
AK2061
 
Sometimes said to be the famous early A6M overall camouflage, however this is unlikely as kugisho 0266 indicates this to be a distinct shade.
Experimentally used as an upper surface camouflage on A6M2 “ヨ-105” as mono, and with D1 on “ヨ-107”
K1
灰青色
Gray Green                
 
K2
灰青色
Gray Green                
 
K3
灰青色
Gray Green                
 
K4
灰青色
Gray Green                
 
L1
鼠色
Rat gray                
 
L2
鼠色
Rat gray                
 
L3
鼠色
Rat gray                
 
M0
灰緑色
Gray Green     XF-71     MRP-430
MRP-413
   
Official IJN cockpit interior colour
M1
灰緑色
Gray Green     XF-71     MRP-413 AK11897
RC307
AK2068
 
Official IJN cockpit interior colour
Experimentally used as an upper surface camouflage on A6M2 “ヨ-151”
M2
灰緑色
Gray Green               MIG 270
Mitsubishi Interior Colour
M3
灰緑色
Gray Green   C-127         RC306
RC307
MIG 269
Nakajima Interior Colour
N0
小豆色
Adzuki Bean
  C-131 XF-64 71271 HTK-*130 MRP-431 RC067 MIG 913
Propeller colour
N1
小豆色
Adzuki Bean                
 
N2
小豆色
Adzuki Bean                
 
N3
小豆色
Adzuki Bean                
 
  O1
白色
White                
Markings
  P1
銀色
Silver                
Undersurface colour, alternative for J3
  Q1
黒色
Blue Black FS-25042     71091 HTK-*001 MRP-432 AK11895
AK2066
MIG 227
The colour is almost black, but with a blueish tint
Markings, Engine cowlings, Cockpit decking.

空技報0266 / Kugisho 0266

The Yokosuka Kaigun Kokutai Report No.0266 is a report from the Yokusuka Naval Arsenal, published in March 1942. It details a study about a future camouflage for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Five A6M2 planes were painted with various camouflage schemes on their upper surface, their lower surface remained Ameiro, the name of the amber-grey colour as used in this document.

Four more aircraft ( ヨー102, ヨー108, ヨー110 and ヨー112 (ヨ is the katakana character for “yo”)) also took part in the trials, but weren’t repainted and kept in their Ameiro colour, likely as a control group.

ヨ-105 – J3 Upper side camouflage
ヨ-107 – Two tone splinter scheme consisting of D1 and J3.
ヨ-109 – D1 upper side camouflage
ヨ-113 – J2 upper side camouflage
ヨ-151 – M1 upper side camouflage

This experiment ultimately resulted in the D1 green upper side camouflage.

IJN gray

Code Colour Equivalent Gunze Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
Ameiro
(Mitsubishi)
Olive gray
Amber gray
    XF-76 71311   MRP-428 AK11892
RC303
AK2062
 
Factory applied to A6M’s produced in Mitsubishi factories.
Mitsubishi made Zero’s used a hinomaru without border.
Ameiro
(Nakajima)
Olive gray
Amber gray
    XF-76 71311   MRP-429 AK11892
RC303
AK2062
 
Factory applied to A6M’s produced in Nakajima factories.
Nakajima made Zero’s used a white bordered hinomaru.
#J3   FS-36307     714312   MRP-427 AK11891
RC302
AK2061
 
Possibly applied during field repairs / repaints.

(IJAAF/IJNAS) Standard 8609 / 航格第8609

Near the end of the war shortages were more and more common. As a result there was a push to standardize the paints between the army and navy air forces. As a result on February 5 1945 the “Japan Aircraft Standards No. 8606 Aircraft Paint color standard” was distributed ( 日本航空機規格規 第8606 航空機用塗料色別標準 ). Not all colours in it were used. Very limited information of the application of this system is available as far as I’ve found.
Simular to Kari Kikaru 117, the colors are grouped by shade. As far as I’m aware no official names for the colours exists.

http://www.j-aircraft.com/a6mresearch/accolors.htm
https://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/satsukiyamazakur/diary/200807150000/
https://ndlonline.ndl.go.jp/#!/detail/R300000001-I000007460147-00

Code Colour Equivalent Gunze Tamiya Vallejo Hataka MRP AK Ammo MIG
1~1 Dark Olive FS-33070              
Replaced Army #7 after February 1945
1~2                  
Replaces Navy D2, similar to Army #27
1~3                  
Replaces Army #39, similar to Navy M1
1~4                  
Replaces Navy M1, similar to Army #39
1~5

                 
Replaces Navy D4, similar to Army #21
2~1                  
replaces Army #3
2~2                  
replaces Army #43
2~3                  
replaces Navy J1
2~4                  
replaces Navy L3
2~5                  
Replaces Navy K3, similar to Army #17
2~6                  
Replaces Navy J3, similar to Army #1
2~7                  
Similar to Army #42
3~1                  
replaces Navy N0
3~2                  
Replaces Navy A3, Similar to Army #4
3~3                  
replaces Navy I3
4~1                  
replaces Navy C1
4~2                  
replaces Army #14
replaces Navy C3
4~3                  
replaces Army #2
replaces Navy H4
5~1                  
replaces Army #9
replaces Navy #B2
5~2                  
replaces Army #10
replaces Navy B3
6~1                  
replaces Army #32
6~2                  
replaces Army #13
6~3                  
replaces Army #17
7~1                  
replaces Army #11
replaces Navy Q1
8~1                  
replaces Army #12
replaces Navy O1
9~1                  
replaces Navy #P1, Similar to Army #5

青竹, Aotake

When discussing Japanese paints, Aotake will inevitably come up. So what is Aotake? Aotake was a translucent blueish green coating used for interior surfaces on both army and navy aircraft.

Aotake finds it’s roots in urushi varnishes, lacquers made from the sap of the Toxicodendron vernicifluum, the Chinese lacquer tree. These forms of Aotake would be used for the protection of armour. ‘Modern’ Aotake was developed early 1930’s. For the army it was officially introduced on the 3rd of March 1932.

Similar in usage to the American zinc chromate, this Japanese enamel coating was of superior quality. It however remains a mysterious paints. Virtually forgotten after the war until the ’80, few intact samples remain after more than 75 years. Most salvaged aircraft were stripped of their original paints, and/or repainted.

Translation

The controversy of Aotake starts with the name. If you were to pull the word through google translate, the individual kanji would translate as “blue” (青, ao) and “bamboo” (竹, take). If both were to be translated together they however would result in “Green bamboo”.

So what causes this discrepancy? This is because colours are a spectrum, like the rainbow. Where the lines between colours are placed, where a colour ends and where a new one starts, sometimes differs from language to language. For example Russian sees light and dark blue as two distinct colours; Голубой (Goluboj, sky blue) and Синий (Sinij, darker blue).

In ancient time, Japanese didn’t have a distinction between blue and green, and both were called 青, ao. Later on, during the Heian period (794-1185) a distinct word for green was developed; 緑, midori. This however was still seen as a shade of aoi, 青, with the latter encompassing colours. Simular to how in English crimson and maroon would still be seen as a shades of red.

The split to two separate colours didn’t happen until after the second world war (maybe due to globalization?) meaning WWII era ao, 青 would encompass the part of the colour spectrum that in English is referred as either blue or green. Even to this day certain green objects are still referred to as ao, 青 in modern Japanese, such as plants and and traffic lights. This is also the reason for the earlier mentioned translation difference. This means there is no correct translation of aotake, 青竹, as the english lexicon doesn’t have a word for a colour that encompasses the full range of WWII ao, 青.

In some original Japanese documents the colour is also referred to as 青竹色, or aotakeshoku, where shoku, 色 means “colour”; blue green bamboo colour. It’s sometimes also written as 淡青色透明, thin translucent blue colour.

Aotake Variations. Note the bottom piece with the black coating.

Colour

As with most wartime primers and coating during the war, the exact shade wasn’t really important and as a result, different variations of aotake shade existed, ranging from the famous teal colour, to green and even brown.
Aotake in as of itself is colourless, with pigments added to aid in creating an even, thick enough coating. It’s metallic sheen comes comes from the aluminium underneath.

The colour difference is sometimes suggested to be the result of the paint fading, as this was quite common among other paints. There is however very little concrete evidence to support this. On the contrary, samples show that exposed areas showed very little fading when compared to covered areas when examining surviving wrecks. That is not to say they would look exactly the same. Because new coatings of Aotake would be applied throughout the manufacturing process, even after assembly, the covered parts wouldn’t necessary look the same as the uncovered parts.

Application and Usage

The way Aotake was is different then usual. Where the Americans for example applied their Zinc Chromate primer after assembly, the Japanese applied a layer Aotake after every step of the manufacturing process. When A part would be manufactured, it would receive a coat, and after assembly, it would for example receive a new coat. At the end there would be no metal visible

Photo by Ron Cole, used with permission.
http://colesaircraft.blogspot.com

At the end of the manufacturing process, the plane would sometimes receive a matte black coating. The reason for this is unknown, it might have been further protection, or to reduce de glare of the Aotake.

Photo by Ron Cole, used with permission.
http://colesaircraft.blogspot.com

The Japanese aircraft industry was quite decentralized, especially in the later stages of the war to try to evade allied bombing. This sometimes resulted in different parts being produced at different locations by different subcontractors. These often had different batches of Aotake they used on their parts after their assembly. This resulted in aircraft often having a variety of different shades of Aotake. Below an example of two different shades of Aotake encountered on the main wing spar of a Zero.

As far as I’m aware, neither of these differences are accounted for with restored aircraft, which are painted with the ‘regular’ style of primer application; only after assembly. This results in a even, mono-colour Aotake layer, where in reality different parts would have different colours, with different amount of application.

Reproduction

When painting Aotake as a modeller, there is no definitive Aotake colour, so don’t sweat about it. Use an Aluminium base and spray this over with translucent blue, green or a mix of the two and the result will most likely be correct. Personally I use Tamiya X-25 and X-23.

Much more important for the modeller with an eye for perfection is to use multiple shades of Aotake. make the landing legs more greenish while making the wheel bays bluer for example.

Sources & further reading

Leave a Reply