I have been looking for a hobby paint that is a close match for the green used on the tails of 457th FS Mustangs. From my research, it appears that the 457th used Willow Green (FS14187/ANA 503), or something very close to Willow Green. Willow Green was originally used by the U.S. Navy in some of their colorful pre-war paint schemes. I was pleased to find out that both Hataka Hobby and MRP Mr. Paint manufacture a Willow Green lacquer based paint.
I enjoy using lacquers because of their quick drying times and durability. When laid down with an airbrush, they “bite” into the plastic, and therefore, tend to adhere well. The downside to lacquers is that their composition uses chemicals that are dangerous to humans. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause serious health problems, so painting in a well ventilated area is recommended. Those who take the label warnings seriously usually attempt to mitigate these effects by using a paint booth with an exhaust fan that vents the paint fumes to the outside, or a ventilation mask. In addition to the chemicals and the associated strong smell, airbrush clean-up is a little more difficult and time consuming as compared to water based acrylics, and the range of paints in the past have been limited as far as colors.
Both Hataka Hobby and MRP have been around for several years, but their paints have not been readily available in the United States until the last few years. Fortunately now, several U.S. on-line retailers carry both brands, and their wide range of colors are welcomed by modelers who enjoy using lacquer based paints. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to use either paint.
Hataka Hobby Orange Line – Based in Poland, Hataka Hobby produces both water based acrylic paints (Blue Line optimized for brushing, and Red Line optimized for airbrushing) and lacquer paints (Orange Line). Their Orange Line of lacquer paints has a total of 282 colors for both aircraft and military vehicles, and you can purchase them individually or in convenient sets of 4 to 8 colors. Hataka Hobby also provides a proprietary lacquer thinner to thin their paints.
Their paints come in 17 ml plastic bottles with dropper tips and include a stainless steel ball bearing to aid mixing the pigments into suspension. These are similar to the type of bottles used by AK Interactive, Ammo of Mig Jimenez, and Vallejo use for their water based acrylic paints, and the dropper tips make dispensing paint from the bottle incredibly easy. Kudos to Hataka Hobby for using these bottles for their lacquer paints. These paints are not airbrush ready out the bottle, and Hataka Hobby recommends thinning with a 40/60 to 60/40 thinner to paint ratio. Hataka Hobby also recommends spraying them between 10 and 20 psi.
Using my Badger 100GF dual action airbrush, I thinned the paint to a 50/50 paint to thinner ratio, and sprayed it at 15 psi. The paint laid down beautifully, covered well, and dried quickly to a nice matte to semi-matte sheen. There is not a overly strong odor to these paints, and clean-up was not difficult.
MRP Mr. Paint – MRP Mr. Paint is based in Slovakia, and first introduced their line of acrylic lacquer paints (86 colors at last count) for both aircraft and military vehicles. It has now released two lines of water based acrylic paints; one for figure painting and one for airbrushing.
Their acrylic lacquer paints come in either 30ml glass bottles or 30ml plastic bottles with a flip top dropper cap. It appears that MRP is going away from the glass bottles to the plastic bottles (more on the plastic bottles below). They are airbrush ready out of the bottle; no thinning necessary. Because they are pre-thinned, no agitator is necessary as they mix quickly with very little effort. I really like the convenience of not having to thin the paint. Kudos to MRP.
The on-line reviews I have read and listened to, modelers have raved about how good these paints are and their ease of application. I would have to concur wholeheartedly. I sprayed it at 15 psi, and the paint laid down beautifully, covered well, and dried quickly to a nice satin sheen. Again, there is not an overly strong odor to these paints, and clean-up was not difficult.
My only complaint about MRP’s acrylic lacquers is not about the paint itself, but about the 30 ml plastic bottles with the flip top dropper cap. Do not hold the bottle at an angle when attempting to transfer paint from the plastic bottle to a paint cup as it will just run onto the cap and not into the airbrush’s paint cup. The best way to transfer paint from the plastic bottle to an airbrush paint cup is to turn the plastic bottle completely upside down and apply pressure to the sides of the bottle. The plastic bottle is fairly stiff, so it really does not lend itself to squeezing. I found it awkward, and like the bottle used by Hataka Hobby much better.
MRP Mr. Paint’s Willow Green is almost an exact match to the color chip for ANA 503 found in The Official Monogram U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Volume 2: 1940-1949. Hataka Hobby’s Willow Green is slightly lighter, and looks as if it has been lightened to take into account the scale effect of color. I am not sure if that is intentional on Hataka Hobby’s part as I could not find anything on their website to suggest that they formulated their paint colors in this way. Either paint will work nicely for a 457th FS Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.
I would highly recommend either paint to modelers. The colors appear to be accurate, and both lay down beautifully, cover well, dry quickly, and are very durable. Kudos to both companies.