So you want to build that perfect Zero. You've collected all the books (there are a hundred or so of them, in case you didn't realize that). You are now ready to sit down and decide on that next great modeling project. You are ready to choose the next victim from the shelf of doom. Will it be a Model 21 or 22? Will it be a 52 with those cool exhaust stacks? Will it be the clipped wing 32. Yeah, that's the one!!!
As you start to sift through all your materials you start to see a pattern. In one book the profiles of the Zero are gray. In another they look tanish brown. In a third they are a very light green. What the heck is going on here? They all have the same tail markings, the same white band around the fuselage, but they are different colors. Books don't lie, do they??
Well, no of course they don't, at least not on purpose. Books are inherently flawed however, much like computers, when they are done being assembled, they are out of date.
Ok, so the book thing after several hundred dollars just didn't work out for you. I know, you can go to the internet!! Yeah, that's it. There are any number of experts there that are more than willing to force ¼ errr ¼ offer their opinions and belittle you for being so naive.
So I go to J-aircraft (they are after all the Japanese “experts”) and ask the question, what color should the Zero be? I get an answer of Amerio and of something called Hairyokushoku. I get a private e-mail from a guy who claims that they are indeed gray and that the J-aircraft guys are smoking something.
I'm now more confused than ever. I kind of feel like Charlie Brown on the Charlie Brown Christmas Special asking “Can someone tell me what Christmas is really about?” Instead my question is a simple “what color is the right one for a Zero”.
Well, my last resort is to go and do an internet search. I find several articles about the topic. Most all are convincing, but nothing jumps out until the final one I search. It's by a guy that has a Japanese name and appears to live somewhere in Japan. Now, there's someone that I'm sure knows what he's talking about, after all he is in the home country of the aircraft that I'm researching!!!
Come close now boys and girls and uncle Dave will tell you a little secret about this topic. Closer. Closer ¼ No matter what color you paint that Zero, YOU WILL BE WRONG!!! Well, at least in someone's eyes.
It would seem that as modelers we tend to over complicate things, it helps to keep our secrets safe I guess. Giving someone a big complicated color name who is simply looking for a Testors color match is quite cruel. I don't think it's intentionally that way. Maybe we all assume that everyone is as “into” the subject as we are when really they just want to finish that stupid Zero and get on to something else.
When you get asked the Zero color question, what's wrong with answering “Floquil Railroad Concrete”. It's a simple straight out of the bottle solution to your Zero colors needs. Do we really need to make things any more complicated?
There is a formula on J-aircraft somewhere that gives you a drop by drop mixture which will, when you are done playing mad scientist, give you an exact match to one of the Zeros at Pearl Harbor. One of the fellows there worked very long and hard on that mixture and it indeed impressive on a model. However, that answer is not for everyone.
So, what's my point? I would like to answer that with my best Linus impression.
The point Charlie Brown is that you should build stuff and not get so bent around the axle about some of the little things. It's not possible to build the perfect model. Color is different to different people. My eye interprets things different than your eye and visa-versa. The color of an aircraft will change in different lights and with different levels of wear and tear. Basically, it's a moving target, so pick a target and pull the trigger!
So is there a definitive answer to all the questions of modeling? Indeed wee one, the answer is SHUT UP AND BUILD!! At least if you are wrong in what you do, you have something to show for it. If anyone questions you simply ask “where's yours?” and the conversation will end quite quickly.
Oh and one last point about the guy in Japan knowing more about the Zero because he's in Japan. I must confess, I still have no idea what color the cockpit of the P-61 is and I'm an American who has an interested in WWII American Army aircraft. I can however give you an answer to that question about the Zero. Hmmm. There must be a lesson in there somewhere.