Sunday 8 June 2008

The Vexed Question of IJN Browns ~ Part 1

A query from a correspondent recently set me thinking about the vexed question of IJN Browns.  Kariki 117 (Kaigunkôkûkiyo Toryô Shikibetsu Hyôjun, Kariki 117 Bessatsu - Paint Identification Standard for Navy Aircraft, Supplement to Provisional Regulation 117) contains no less than 4 distinct "brown" groupings:-

A Kasshoku ~ Browns; these are four reddish or sienna type browns (see plates)
H Cha iro ~ More browns; these are four medium to earth browns
I Tsuchi iro ~ Earth or clay browns; these are slightly greenish olive ochres
N Azuki iro ~ Yet more browns; "Azuki Bean" colours, four more browns that range from a dark chocolate to yellowish, sandy earth

As far as I know the reason for so many browns and their intended use has not yet been revealed, nor have the many anomalies in the descriptions and comparisons (variously published) been reconciled. One copy of Kariki 117 is noted as a revision dated 10th April, 1942, but it is not clear when the original regulation came into force and what bearing, if any, it may have had on the camouflage colours applied to Navy aircraft in China before the outbreak of the Pacific war.   

When modellers and artists depict the IJN browns on, say, the Type 96 Carrier Fighter ('Claude') or Type 96 Attack Bomber ('Nell'), they seem almost equally divided in selecting either a yellowish earth colour or a darker, more reddish brown. The profiles in FAOW 91 on the Type 96 Attack Bomber depict both the yellowish earth and the reddish brown. The yellow earth colour is similar to H3, or perhaps I1, whilst the reddish brown is somewhere between A1 and A2.

Don Thorpe ('Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage And Markings World War II', Aero Publishers, California, 1977) identified the brown in the Type 96 Attack Bomber 'kumogata' (clouds pattern) camouflage as N11 'Medium Brown', which was measured as Munsell 5 YR 3/4. The closest FS 595b colour is 20122 @ 3.71 (2.0 or less = a close match), so it is not a particularly useful comparison. This colour does not appear to easily align with any of the matches cited for the Kariki 117 colours, although perhaps fitting somewhere between the appearance of the facsimile chips for H1 and H2.

At this point it is worth mentioning that the variously published matches to FS595b and JPMA (Japanese Paint Manufacturers Association) chips (the latter aligned to Munsell values) are not consistently in agreement and in one or two cases widely divergent. It is presumed that the matches have been made visually, and therefore subjectively, which may account for the differences. In a recently published article Ryôichi Watanabe makes the point that he has noticed differences between the colours included in Kugihô 0266 (Kugihô 0266 Reishikikansen Meisai ni kan suru Kenkyû - Air Technical Report 0266, Research into Type Zero Carrier Fighter Camouflage) and Kariki 117, although the colours bear the same letter/number identification.

"Seeing these colo(u)rs, grave doubts remain as the differences are so great, even taking into account colour shift and fading." (Ryôichi Watanabe, 'True Colours: Kariki 117', Arawasi International, Apr-Jun 2008, Issue 9).

Even Watanabe-san finds it puzzling why N3 should be so  similar to H4. Wakarimasen (I don't know).

The colour information provided in the old LS kit of the 'Nell' (circa 1960) was also contradictory. The description given was "yellowish brown", suggesting perhaps the H or I colours, but the profiles depicted a reddish brown colour, more like the A series.

I looked at the more recent Hasegawa kit and the colour is described as "dark brown", to be obtained by a mixture of 40% Brown + 30% Yellow + 30% Green, using primary colours in the Gunze Sangyo (now GSI Creos) Aqueous or Mr Color ranges. I have now tried this mix and it results in a strong reddish medium brown, somewhere between Munsell 5 YR 3/3 and 5 YR 4/4.  The colour is closest to the Type 1 Rikko K-913/K-393 colour (see Part 6) and Thorpe's Medium Brown N11 but has a stronger chroma.

To be continued . . . 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Nick,

The following is only a speculation on my part. But perhaps the similarity of some of the colors in the four IJN brown series has to do with the type of surfaces they were intended for. Perhaps the similar appearing H and N series of browns were for metal and fabric and/or wood surfaces. If so, which was for which?

Ken Glass