Friday 13 November 2009

More About Gekko Greens

Following on from the Irving colours article, master modeler Mark Smith has very kindly contributed these images of his superb Tamiya 1/48th kit build, finished as '02-03' - one of the aircraft featured in the Shigeo Koike paintings - and using the kit decals (click on the images for larger views). Mark comments that he painted the model with the original version of Tamiya's IJN Dark Green with the addition of some dark blue. He also opened the rearmost section of the canopy housing the oblique guns, involving some surgery to the kit parts but nothing radical. Way back when he was a teenager he thought the Irving looked cool with all those canopies opened, so it had to be done! The results are stunning.

Dan Salamone has also been experimenting with paint mixes to replicate that "bright green" Gekko recorded at Atsugi by James P Gallagher and has very kindly shared them for the delectation of any readers wishing to add a model of this exotic bird to their collection. All paints are GSI Mr. Color lacquers thinned 50/50 with Mr. Color thinner to the paint ratios shown below.

30 drops #66 Bright Green
3 drops #7 Brown
11 drops #65 Bright Blue
24 drops #1 White
5 drops #4 Yellow

(This color is slightly deeper and less grey than the chip)

30 drops #66 Bright Green
3 drops #7 Brown
9 drops #65 Bright Blue
14 drops #1 White
5 drops #4 Yellow

(This color is slightly deeper and less yellow than the chip)

30 drops #319 Light Green
4 drops #7 Brown
6 drops #4 Yellow
7 drops #65 Bright Blue
8 drops #1 White

(This color is a near perfect match for the chip)

Dan further comments that 24108, even though a much "safer" choice when compared side by side with more standard IJN dark greens, looks very unique. 14110 is a very deep green, near what he would call a kelly green but with less yellow. 14115 is the closest to the dollar bill seal color that he has - and he thinks that a mix falling between this color and 24108 is where he would find the perfect color.

Gentlemen thank you both for adding such value to the subject.

Image credit: Model photographs ©2009 Mark Smith


Ken Glass said...

Hello Mark,

You did a fantastic job on the J1N1 build, as always. Nice 'depth of field' in those kit photos too. I like the way you pose your shots, going for viewing angles yielding 'dramatic' images. The 2nd 3rd and 4th images make it seem like you are standing on the flight line in front of the plane. A great build and equally well done presentation workmanship.

Ken Glass

Ken Glass said...

Hello Dan,

I just pulled two 'ones' out of my wallet to check their green seal color against my old copy of FS 595B. The best match I see is 14120 to both bills, each printed in 2006.

If memory serves, Mr. Gallagher qualified his color match statement saying, the topside color of J1N1 YoD-172 was a match to the seal color on the dollar bills at that time, the mid 1940s. The size of US dollar bills has been reduced since then and I would guess there have been other detail changes over time as well.

Have you heard of anyone researching dollar bills of the late 1930s through say 1945 for a seal color match? I have not heard of it being done, for the purpose of nailing down the color of YoD-172 as reported by Mr. Gallagher. I don't know any 'coin' collectors myself. I would be interested in hearing the result of such a check. Perhaps someone reading this knows somebody with the data to hand needed for this exercise.

Ken Glass

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,
Thanks for the input- as a matter of cat when I lived in Colorado there was a coin museum nearby and I inquired on this exact topic. I was told that the color of the seal had not changed appreciably since WWII (I asked in 2005 if memory serves right).

I have also shared with Nick that of the various $1 bills I have examined of late, there is a slight variation in brightness so IMHO all the color call outs that we have both listed are valid and a good starting point for the possible color of this Gekko.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Hi Ken

The dollar bill was the point of common reference that James P Gallagher was using to communicate the unusual appearance of the green - probably in juxtaposition to the many aircraft around in darker, duller greens like N1 and N2.

Correlating this information to the actual Kariki 117 standard we see colours there (D3-D5) that might be reasonably considered to be similar, if not exactly similar, to what he saw. In other words the official colour standards are not devoid of colours that Mr Gallagher could have perceived in situ and on an aircraft as being like the bright green of the seal on the dollar bill. Further, this tends to make his observation more credible, e.g there were indeed colours in the Japanese Navy standard that could have been applied to an aircraft and could be seen to have the same characteristics as the green in the bill. I hope my schematic illustrates this.

Turn the chain of evidence around. If you look at the Kariki 117 'D' series standard and ask yourself which colour(s) most resemble the seal on the dollar bill - in other words which colour if seen in situ and on an aircraft with no other point of reference or means of measurement could be likened to the green on the bill? This is a slightly different and perhaps more subtle proposition than trying to match the bill colour and one which draws the eye naturally and inevitably to D3, D4 and D5 in the standards.

So, allowing for the inevitable variation from standard to paint colour it is perhaps not the green in the dollar bill we should be matching but the closest green to that which is visible in Kariki 117.

What we don't know is how these various colours were intended to be used or why, as Dan comments, YoD-172 was painted in this different colour - whether it was just a random anomaly or by design.

Kind regards

Ken Glass said...

Hello Dan & Nick,

I was not proposing a dissenting argument for that green of the seal of dollar bills. I was curious, having never performed the comparison exercise myself before. I am satisfied with Dan's explanation and the results he reported from having performed that comparison.

Given the reported variability in the appearance of the seal's green ink on dollar bills, we do need to move from that to something else to serve as a color guide. I have no issue with Nick's proposed use of some of the D series colors from Kariki 117.

Regards and thanks for the replies,
Ken Glass

Mark Smith said...


I am glad to see someone taking Mr. Gallagher's comment seriously enough to attempt a color match. I know from speaking with him that it irked him a bit (no, a lot) when he would see his "Hershey-bar brown" Tony 'revised' to a muddy green by artists / color polizei who thought they knew better. With that in mind I've always thought that the bright-green Gekko would make a striking model. In fact when I built mine in 1/48 I bought three different shades of paint to use as a starting point and had planned to build that particular bird, but...I lost my nerve. I hope you go for it, Dan. It would be fun to see how many dollar bills come out when you took that one to a show!

And Ken, thanks for the kind comments on the model.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Incidentally folks, as an exercise in colour perception and the dangers of colour photographs (of real aircraft), imagine the six Irving pics are of a real aircraft and then try matching the green seen in each photo. Which one best represents the green on the actual model? (Rhetorical question).

If there were only one colour photo of the Irving model available instead of six would the colour in that photograph be a true representation of the original? We might think it so simply because there is no other point of reference.

Do you get this?

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
Ken, I love the fact that you asked the question- it was something that struck me soon after first reading the book.
Mark, I am heavily leaning toward doing this Gekko next- I have a Tamiya A6M5 and Hasegawa Hien near completion and want to finish at least one of those before starting a new project. I think seeing it sit next to the "usual" much darker IJN fighters in my case it would be unique to say the least.
Nick- thanks for presenting all of us such a great basis to start this discussion off from!