Authentic Paint for WWII Mustangs / Restorations / Replicas

Discussion in 'Warbirds / Warbird Replicas' started by TXFlyGuy, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. Nov 10, 2018 #1

    TXFlyGuy

    TXFlyGuy

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    Maybe this should be in the paint and finishing thread? But it applies only to WWII aircraft, and restorations/replicas, so I'll put it here.

    Called Pacific Fighters yesterday, in Idaho Falls. They do more P-51 restorations than almost anyone else.

    Asked them about paint...and was told to use flat paint, not metallic. Every P-51 that rolled off the assembly line had flat paint, either gray/OD, or plain aluminum (fuselage).

    They recently restored Berlin Express, all original and authentic with flat paint. It is gorgeous! I don't care for the ultra shiny, polished examples that you sometimes see, because they did not look like that in 1942-1945.

    In the field, anything and everything was done.

    It's a highly personal thing. Some like shiny, some don't.

    They recommended for base color (wings/fuselage) the color Krylon Dull Aluminum (flat). It comes in a spray can, and the idea is to match it.

    Berlin Express.jpg
     
  2. Nov 10, 2018 #2

    plncraze

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    When Moon Spillers took his Mustang to OSH the veterans were drawn to it because it was closest to how the planes really were. It looked it had just enough gloss to be cleaned easily
     
  3. Nov 10, 2018 #3

    Kyle Boatright

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    Flat paints get dirtier faster, are very hard to clean, and wear faster than shiney paints.

    That's why so many warbirds are painted in semi-gloss or gloss paint. Most owners don't want to spend $$$$ on a paint job that doesn't hold up well.

    There are folks who go for the authentic look. They probably understand the downsides to the flat paints.
     
  4. Nov 10, 2018 #4

    Chilton

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    When Dad rebuilt our Tiger originally back in 78 he wanted the level of finish he remembered when they were working planes just after the war, the standard for the fabric then was a "finish dope" which is a semi gloss, and while not flat it is far less glossy than modern paints. After 30 years of looking after it I would certainly not call it difficult to clean or that it did not hold up.

    I believe from the older mechanics that it is about the same level of finish which was used on the RAF fighters of the war.

    To me that certainly looks far better than the current fashion of plastic looking paint jobs.
     
  5. Nov 10, 2018 #5

    TXFlyGuy

    TXFlyGuy

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    Pacific Fighters recommended two automotive paints...Dupont RM, and Northstar. They said these paints were of ultra high quality, were very tolerant of temp extremes remaining flexible so not to crack/chip, and are reasonably priced as opposed to pure aviation paint.

    Here is a Titan Mustang that I think looks pretty nice. Bare aluminum, satin paint:
    IMG_0535.jpg IMG_0533.jpg
     
  6. Nov 10, 2018 #6

    pictsidhe

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    There were no shiny planes in WWII. From what i understand, the US P-51s were painted with flat aluminium paint and a lot of care was put into giving them a smooth surface to help with drag. No wartime P-51s were bare aluminium. The RAF ones were camo.
     
  7. Nov 10, 2018 #7

    Tiger Tim

    Tiger Tim

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    My understanding has always been that the wings were puttied (for less drag) and painted (because the putty was pink) but everything else was bare aluminum, at least after they stopped producing them in olive drab.
     
  8. Nov 10, 2018 #8

    TXFlyGuy

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    There were changes in paint. Note Berlin Express, the whole Aircraft was painted. Flat.
     
  9. Nov 10, 2018 #9

    TFF

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    The wing's seams were filled and painted. Most of the Ds were aluminum on the fuselages. Once the war had turned, they gave away the weight of paint and actually wanted bright planes to taunt the enemy. Those wings were painted with silver to match. Some of the OD planes were stripped by ground crews to match the newer planes, hence sometimes seeing OD wings on al fuses. Last year, a C and the few before a D were at Oshkosh with period correct restorations. The were awesome. Only flaw was it was perfect like they had never been flown. Where the rivets were supposed to be buffed down they were with accompanied marks, blue head QC rivets, welds on the wing tips not ground flat. Interesting note, trim tabs have button head rivets, not flush
     
  10. Nov 10, 2018 #10

    Deuelly

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    I run a restoration shop and have done a lot of research into the color and markings of warbirds. Berlin Express was dark olive drab and neutral gray. They were both flat colors. The natural finish on mustang's was bare aluminum. It was shiny as a new sheet of aluminum out of the factory but dulled quickly in the field. The wings were filled and then painted with aluminum powder mixed in lacquer.
     
  11. Nov 10, 2018 #11

    TXFlyGuy

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    So, what do you think of Pacific Fighters recommendation of the color Krylon Dull Aluminum for an authentic 1940’s color?
     
  12. Nov 11, 2018 #12

    TXFlyGuy

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    Here is a short blurb from a company that won Grand Champion at Oshkosh for their P-51 restoration:

    Some of today’s warbirds tend to be polished and overly-restored, not very accurate to the original details.

    But not those handled by Midwest Aero.


    For example, the aluminum on the outside isn’t highly polished; it’s dull, like it would have been during wartime.

    The lacquer covering the markings on the exterior is a dull yellow, like it would have been after hours in the sun.
     
  13. Nov 11, 2018 #13

    Deuelly

    Deuelly

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    It may look like the original aluminum paint but I would never use a rattle can to paint a plane. Just mix aluminum powder or paste in a high quality clear coat.
     
  14. Nov 11, 2018 #14

    bmcj

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    A few points....

    As mentioned, glossy on today’s restorations is easier to keep clean (and pleases the non-flying public at air shows).

    Due to efforts to get planes to the battlefront, rapid manufacture and deployment often didn’t leave time for paint.

    Flat paint in the battlefield helped with camouflage efforts (avoiding bright glints of reflected sunlight).

    Flat painted wings (upper surface) were almost a necessity to avoid blinding or baking the pilot under his big bubble canopy.
     
  15. Nov 11, 2018 #15

    TXFlyGuy

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    Guess I did not make myself clear. Pacific Fighters never said to use a rattle can for painting an aircraft. They did say that Krylon Dull Aluminum (non-metallic) was the correct color for a P-51. And to try to match this color when selecting a quality paint.
     
  16. Nov 11, 2018 #16

    pictsidhe

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    There's a trick to that. You need the right aluminium in the right lacquer... Someone who mixes paint for a living should be able to get pretty close, though. I'll want some WWII 'aluminium paint' for small bits at some point, so keep us posted with successful mixes. Those rattle cans will be tempting, though...
     
  17. Nov 11, 2018 #17

    TXFlyGuy

    TXFlyGuy

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    Forgot to mention, Pacific Fighters told me the actual paint used during 1942-1945 is no longer available.
    No surprise here.
     
  18. May 15, 2019 at 9:15 PM #18

    TXFlyGuy

    TXFlyGuy

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    After some experimentation, and spraying the Krylon Dull Aluminum onto a flat surface, it is a dead ringer for the aluminum paint finish on my friend's Mustang, Buzzin' Cuzzin'.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. May 16, 2019 at 6:45 AM #19

    mcrae0104

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    Of course it isn't period-correct, but I like polished, no markings. Simple and beautiful.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  20. May 16, 2019 at 12:55 PM #20

    TXFlyGuy

    TXFlyGuy

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    That is a Stewart Mustang. A very nice replica. In fact, the S-51 is the aircraft that got me interested back in 1994-95. That is the nice thing about doing your own plane. Just do whatever makes you happy. Paint, no paint, polish, period correct...it is all up to you.
     

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