Monday 5 January 2015

John Haas' Mauve Rufe

To kick off 2015, John Haas very kindly sent me these images of his 1/48th scale Tamiya Nakajima A6M2-N in 'Purple Rufe' guise.

The model is over forty years old as John had bought and built the kit when Tamiya first released it, circa 1973.  After reading a few references on this blog to the infamous 'Purple Rufe' John was curious to find out what condition the model was in after all those years and found it surprisingly good ! 

John brush painted it with Humbrol Authentic HJ4 N.9 Mauve on the upper surfaces. The undersite is in a normal light grey. On removing the coating of dust, John found the paint still in excellent condition. After cleaning and a little makeover he took these photographs to see how it looked. John still likes this model which he built straight from the box, considering that Tamiya made very good kits even then. 

Humbrol's Japanese Mauve (which incidentally is almost a perfect match for the wartime RAF's rare  PRU Mauve colour) had its origin in the 1964 IPMS Colour Guide for Japanese Aircraft 1941-45 described in the article linked above. The colour was based on written descriptions in Koku-Fan magazine and other Japanese sources referring to it as 'Wisteria'. Was it real? Probably not and more likely just the fleeting visual effect of a very heavily oxidised and worn amber-grey topcoat over the red oxide primer colour. But it is undoubtedly a classic in the pantheon of Zero mythology and no less justifiable as a modelling subject than all those 'white' Zeros still being churned out. If ever the imperative for a model is the opportunity to paint it a beautiful colour then the Purple Rufe must lead the field. A more challenging prospect might be to reproduce a similar effect by weathering the original colours.

Methuen describes Mauve as the colour of an organic dye produced by Perkin in 1868, of a pale purple hue and considerably bluer than Mallow (Purple), as named after the Mallow plant (Lavatera arborea) a herbaceous plant of the Hibiscus family. Methuen put Mauve at 15 B 5 and Purple at 15 A 8 but acknowledge that the latter name covers a range of strong colours between purplish red and reddish violet. Violet is considered to be in a range of strong colours in transition between red and blue, pinned at 17 A 8 but covering 17 A-C 6-8. Wisteria is typically a pale shade of Lavender Blue which Methuen place at 18 B 3. Anyone viewing those colours in reference to a Purple Rufe or searching under the generic colour names online is likely to be misled by their brightness and strong saturation. Humbrol's Mauve is a subtle, duller and more greyish colour than its closest FS595 comparison 27160 for example, and a little paler than RAL 4011 Perlviolett which is inconveniently pearlescent. Unfortunately it is no longer in the Humbrol range but can be mixed from the ratio 7 x 94 Matt Brown Yellow, 7 x 34 Matt White, 6 x 25 Matt Blue and 3 x 60 Matt Scarlet. I haven't tried it . . . 

Humbrol HJ4 N9 Mauve vs FS 27160

The Mallow flower (Purple)

The 2006 'Aleutian Islands' release of the 1/48th scale Hasegawa A6M2-N suggested a colour scheme of 90% IJN Grey and 10% Purple for Rufe '01-105' of the Toko Ku as featured on the box art (below). The 2011 'Combo' release of their 1/72nd scale kit in the same markings repeated this suggestion.

Did such colours exist within IJN paint standards? Well, sort of. E3 in the Kariki 117 Ao iro (青色 - blue colour) set has been conflictingly compared to both Munsell 2.5 PB 5/6 and 10 B 5/2 whilst G1 Sumire iro (菫色 - violet colour) has been compared to Munsell 7.5 PB 3/4. The uses for which those colours were intended is unknown. None of them really match Wisteria but if you squint and think of the red primer . . . (only joking).

E3 - Munsell 2.5 PB 5/6 vs 10 B 5/2

G1 - Munsell 7.5 PB 3/4 vs FS 35056

With thanks to John for kindly contributing the photographs.

Image credits: All model photos © 2015 John Haas; Mallow photo via Wiki; Colour chips © 2015 Aviation of Japan


WD said...

Interestingly, on my monitor his finish comes out looking like a dark gray with a reddish tint or hue to it. Hmmmm.
Your conclusion that the original was probably a heavily oxidized amber-grey topcoat with the primer underneath sounds most likely, and very interesting.
I'm still trying to figure out how to "weather" the amber-grey for to kits I want to build that represent the Tainan AG on NG.


Bob Alford said...

A lovely model John and in the words of Sir Humphrey, "a courageous decision" to finish it in mauve...

A similar blog here on 28 October 2010 went into discussin among other things, a mauve Zeke - m/n 5349, which force landed following the Darwin raid of 19 February 1942.

That blog featured a photo of a model of that Zeke in a 'mauve' finish, the result of weathering in the tropics. Owen Veal made the model and the paint chips he provided me with were:
Humbrol HJ-4 Mauve N-9 whilst the much faded grey visible on the wing was Humbrol HJ2 Grey A/N2.

In certain lighting conditions the red primer visible on the fuselage now seems to be mauve but closer examinaton reveals its true colour.

But, to the Rufe - were there any mauve Rufes? Who knows for sure, but Nick seems to have partly provided the answer here in suggesting the Humbrol mauve has shades of grey.

Perhaps it was the light, perhaps the weathering in a salt enriched atmosphere.'Tis indeed a puzzlement.

Cheers, and thanks John and Nick.

Bob Alford in cold northern Thailand

Mark Smith said...

I'm mauve with envy! Another great model, John.

It does look a quite reasonable color for something flying and floating in that wild part of the world...

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,

Do you know which Kokutai John's model belongs to? According to my notes on tail codes it could be the 752nd or 552nd.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

452nd Ku I should think, which flew Rufe in the Aleutians. The tail code changed from 'R' to '52' in October 1944 so the earlier code is probably more appropriate for a purple Rufe.

752nd Ku more associated with G4M Betty and 552nd is missing from my radar I'm afraid!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Nick,

I copied a table from Wikipedia of IJNAF tail codes. Here is what it says for the 752, 552, and 452:

752nd Ku 第七五二海軍航空隊 formed 01-Nov-42 disbanded postwar.
Tail codes:
Z (Nov 1942)
W2 (May 1943)
52 (1944)
752 (Summer 1944)

552nd Ku 第五五二海軍航空隊 formed 01-Dec-42 Disbanded 04-Mar-44
Tail Codes:
W3 (Dec 1942)
Y3 (July 1943)
52 (1944)

452nd Ku 第四五二海軍航空隊 formed 01-Nov-42 Disbanded 01-Jan-45
Tail Codes:
R (Nov 1942)
M1 (1943)
VII (July 1943)
52 or 452 (Late 1943)

Of course this is Wikipedia so I can't assume it's 100% correct. But IJNAF tail codes can be confusing as paint colors!

According to some other info I found on the web, one source says the 552nd Ku operated the B6N2 Tenzan from land bases while another says it was equipped with D3A2's at Rabaul.


Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks. The Kagero Rufe book profiles one with 'M1-112' as the 452nd Ku for early 1943 and that is also one of the options in the Hasegawa 1/48th kit.

The revised version of Japanese Naval Aces includes the 452nd Ku but only shows the tail code as '52'. On the other hand the original Tamiya kit itself includes the tail code Y2-102 for the 452nd whilst the Hasegawa kit has R-106 for the 5th Ku!


I seem to recall a thread on this at and Jim Lansdale can probably unravel it.