Among the latest releases in LifeColor's large range of acrylic paints is a very useful boxed set of Regia Aeronautica WW2 colours.
This is clearly intended to be just the beginning of an Italian series and Set #1 is described as "Fighters", although that seems something of a misnomer as, according to the references which I've consulted, most of the colours included have far wider applications and are equally appropriate for bombers and other types of aircraft.
The paints are in 22ml plastic bottles with quite a wide brim and screw lid. They arrive in an attractive flip-top cardboard box that could serve as permanent storage to keep the colours grouped together. The following colours are included:
UA 525 - Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1
UA 526 - Nocciola 4
UA 527 - Verde Oliva Scuro 2
UA 525 - Giallo Mimetico 16
UA 525 - Noccolola Chiaro 4 (variant)
UA 525 - Verde Scuro Mimetico 39
Straight from the bottle the paints are quite thin with fine pigments that show little tendency to settle out. The consistency was excellent for brush painting and, although they could just about be airbrushed without thinning, it's recommended to add a little LifeColor thinner. Windsor & Newton's Acrylic Flow Improver also worked very well and reduced any tendency for head-clogging during extended spraying. The opacity of the colours varied and when when brush painting the paint tests shown at the right I found several coats necessary to ensure full colour-depth. Clean-up is very easy with Isopropyl Alchohol or Medea Cleaner and water.
To judge the basic accuracy of the colours, I checked where possible with David Klaus's IPMS Cross-Reference guide for FS equivalents. David doesn't include all the colours here, and cautions in any case against trusting some of the quoted matches that have been published over the years, but the test was encouraging nevertheless. I also consulted the list of paints and camouflage schemes by aircraft type in Chris Dunning's excellent "Courage Alone - The Italian Air Force 1940-1943". The latter states, that based on research in 1941, the Regia Aeronautica standardized on 4 basic topside colours (green, brown, yellow and hazel), but :
"Italian paints varied in their pigment, and different factories produced different shades of the same colour. Thus there was a great variety, and due to to poor supplies the units often had aircraft with different finishes in the same flights... The number next to the colours indicate the factory variants of each shade."
So, what I've done is compared as best as I can brush painted swatches (3 coats in each case) with my FS 595B paint chips for you to judge against against your own references:
UA 525 - Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 - between FS 36307 & 36463
UA 526 - Nocciola 4 - very close to FS 30145
UA 527 - Verde Oliva Scuro 2 - slightly lighter and greener than FS 34052
UA 525 - Giallo Mimetico 16 - slightly lighter than FS 30257
UA 525 - Noccolola Chiaro 4 (variant) - very close to FS 30318
UA 525 - Verde Scuro Mimetico 39 - close but lighter than FS 34094
The only rather odd point about the Lifecolor boxed sets is that they cost more than the equivalent price of the six paints bought individually, whereas one might expect the opposite. Nevertheless, LifeColor's Regia Aeronatica Paint Set #1 will be very useful and includes the basic colours for most common "fighter" schemes, although to be honest, I don't think it's possible to break the colours used down into strictly "fighters" and "bombers" - there was just so much intermixing. It's to be hoped that follow-up sets will be released soon with additional colours from LifeColor's range for the myriad of wonderful Italian schemes that make for such an interesting modelling challenge.
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Highs: Excellent acrylic paints for both brushing and airbrushing.Lows: Colours are cheaper purchased individually.Verdict: LifeColor's Regia Aeronautica Set #1 is a good starter for painting Italian WW2
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...