Hinomaru Red
"Official" Hinomaru Red
Posted By: James F. Lansdale <LRAJIM@aol.com>
Date: Tuesday, 24 October 2000, at 5:17 p.m.
There is little point in spinning our wheels over the exact color of the hinomaru. Undoubtedly all manner of circumstances would have resulted in different shades of red appearing on individual examples. However, the Official Japanese Aircraft Color Standards of 5 February 1945 called for the hinomaru to be painted red in a color most like FS-x1136 (Munsell 7.5 R 4.5/10) as reported by Katsushi OWAKI.
The hinomaru was the most frequently souvenired item of Japanese aircraft skin. As such, there are countless pieces of same in collections throughout the US. Of over fifty samples I have examined or own, the most frequent color found on these pieces collected within days or weeks of being captured is a close match for FS-x1136 (usually in a somewhat glossy state). Perhaps there has been a color shift in these samples, but I strongly doubt it was significant on so many unweathered samples collected from 7 December 1941 until well into 1945.
Jim Lansdale
Posted By: Bill Turner <wturner@rclco.com>
Date: Sunday, 15 October 2000, at 3:22 p.m.
I have seen references to two FS reds as the correct color for the Hinomaru: FS 31136 and FS 31302. The Hinomaru decals in the new Hasegawa George are similar to FS 31136, as are the various Aeromaster decal sheets. I've seen other decal sheets with Hinomarus similar to FS31302 - e.g., Tamiya's 1/48 N1KI George. Any opinions as to the "correct" red?
Posted By: Mark J. <johnson53@llnl.gov>
Date: Tuesday, 17 October 2000, at 4:53 p.m.
In Response To: Hinomaru Red (Bill Turner)
Actually, there is no "correct" red. When an aircraft was first painted, the hinomaru was a bright red (reddish-orange); after exposure to the elements, this color faded to a darker red (a kind of red brown.) Thus, while there may be a correct color for a brand new aircraft, once that aircraft became operational, a range of colors would be possible. Also, one should remember that not every facility painting even brand new aircraft would necessarily use the same red color paint. Availability of stock, interpretation of specifications, etc. all played a part in determining the final result.
Posted By: Rob Graham <reishikisenguy@aol.com>
Date: Thursday, 19 October 2000, at 8:40 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Mark J.)
Really? A lot of the camouflage colors (emphasize: camo) we've seen in the relics seem to show some pretty close standardization with little variation in the airframe colors, though I am not aware of much research on the Hinos.
I have alternately read that the reddish-brown was deemed not accurate, then read it was gospel. Go figure. What source are you using for the reddish-brown color?
Do you have any FS or Munsell examples of the color ranges? If you have the Munsell lightest and darkest matches, I'll approximate and post some chips. If you have FS colors, many of us have fan decks and can reference off of that.
Thanks in advance!
Posted By: Mark J. <johnson53@llnl.gov>
Date: Friday, 20 October 2000, at 8:37 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Rob Graham)
My only sources have been what I've read. I'll try to get some of the titles and specifics for you. One article in particular that fascinated me quoted an official USN directive that advised pilots to look for enemy aircraft with "bright red" hinomarus because such aircraft were new and most likely to be flown by inexperienced pilots. I will probably not be able to get back to you for a few days, but I will send you something later.
Posted By: Mark J. <johnson53@llnl.gov>
Date: Tuesday, 24 October 2000, at 8:54 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Rob Graham)
Rob and Bill,
Unfortunately, my recollection was more specific than my source. Here are the two references regarding hinomaru color. The first is from Japanese Army Air Force Camouflage and Markings by Donald W.Thorpe published in 1968 (page 63):
“There had been much conjecture concerning the color red which was used for the Hinomaru, some sources stating it was a deep rust-red, others a dark blood-red, and still others bright red. We have found, after considerable research and examination of these samples, that in a sense all these conjectures are correct, as the paint had a strange characteristic in that after much weathering, it would appear to have a rust color when, as factory-applied, it was indeed bright red.
Also, one must remember that the basis for the most commonly (although erroneously) recognized Hinomaru color today is chips taken from aircraft painted over twenty years ago.
To further support this, allied fighter pilots of that period were instructed to be especially watchful for aircraft with bright appearing Hinomarus; thus denoting either a new replacement aircraft, or "green" pilot.”
The other source I have is from Emblems of the Rising Sun by Peter Scot, published in 1999 (page 7):
“Over time, the red pigment of the upper surface hinomarus generally oxidized into what has been termed a blood-red color, which has been replicated in some of the following side profiles. Nevertheless, the hinomarus of a few machines clearly faded to an orange or pink shade. Obviously, the lower surface hinomarus were not exposed to sunlight to the same degree. On wartime wrecks still extant in New Guinea, some underside hinomarus have remained bright red.”
So, as far as an aircraft exposed to the elements, it seeems that a "correctly" painted aircraft might have bright red hinomarus on the underside of the wings, hinomarus faded to a pinkish or orange-red on the upper wings and some intermediate color on the fuselage.
As for my understanding of the possibility of a red-brown hinomaru, that was simply my misunderstanding of "rust-red."
Without Munsell or FS references verbal descriptions become somewhat ambiguous.
Posted By: Bill Turner <wturner@rclco.com>
Date: Friday, 20 October 2000, at 2:47 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Mark J.)
Hi Mark and Rob,
Regarding red fading with age: I don't believe that red would turn darker with age; rather, it would fade to a lighter red tone. Peter Fearis discusses this at length in his book on IJA color schemes and markings. He also states that: 1) FS 31302 is the correct match for Hinomaru red (bright red); 2) that the Japanese had a very specific formula for Hinomaru red, and 3) the red brown was proven wrong years ago. (The red brown that Microscale used in the late-60s and 70s). In this website under Color Research and Mixes, Peter James shows that Hinomaru red is FS 31136, which the darker red (but not a red brown).
Seems that even the Hinomaru red is not exempt from controversy.
Posted By: Mark J. <johnson53@llnl.gov>
Date: Friday, 20 October 2000, at 4:18 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Bill Turner)
I'm sure that you are more knowledgeable about this subject than I am; I think your references are more current and better researched. I'm curious about the source you mentioned; what's the title of the book by Peter Fearis? But back to your original point, it seems that there are still at least two possible "correct" reds - that which is newly painted and that which has faded. I may be wrong about the uniformity of the newly painted color, but it seems to me that a fading paint will demonstrate a range of colors as it ages. If I find anything interesting (beyond mere speculation) I'll get back to you. (In considering your points however, I think you're right about the red-brown. Every old red car I've seen that has been exposed to years of sunlight becomes more of a pink than a dark red color.
Posted By: Bill Turner <wturner@rclco.com>
Date: Friday, 20 October 2000, at 11:37 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Mark J.)
Fearis' book is "The Samurai's Wings (Army)" published in 1998. It has an entire chapter on the Hinomaru.
Could be some red primer showing through. However, I have seen photos of faded Hinomarus, and they look to be a very flat and lifeless (but distinct) red. The Aero Detail no. 24 on the Ki-84 Frank has a terrific color photo (taken after the surrender) that shows a line up of Franks and Oscars, with their Hinomarus faded in this way.
Posted By: Grant Goodale <grant.goodale@sympatico.ca>
Date: Friday, 20 October 2000, at 4:09 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Bill Turner)
To stick my foot in this debate -
Is it possible that, as the red faded (also wore off), the red-brown primer would show through more? Dave Aiken has sent me some colour shots of relics and it was not easy to see where the primer stopped and the hinomaru started.
- Grant
Posted By: Rob Graham <reishikisenguy@aol.com>
Date: Saturday, 21 October 2000, at 8:35 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Grant Goodale)
I have seen David Aiken's pictures and really doubt it in most cases, though I'm no expert. David Aiken also once pointed out that the red primer was RED and speculated that the hinos may have been masked and the camo painted around the masked primer. I doubt that as well.
The Hinos were painted over the camouflage and oxidized to reveal camo underneath. Jim Lansdale's "Green Hinomaru" post eons ago (over on the Navy page, IIRC) was a perfect case in point, and I think he had the picture up there as well. Do you recall the green fuselage with the nice, neat white circle on it?
Also, the Hayabusa at the Texas Airplane Factory has red Hinos, and fading is slight. These hinos are nearly gone, but the red is quite vivid, and there were (IIRC) darker portions, probably due to dirt.
So, as far as I can tell, the jury is still out. I am always willing to tweak my knowledge, but I am skeptical of the primer theory.
Take care,
Posted By: James F. Lansdale <LRAJIM@aol.com>
Date: Saturday, 21 October 2000, at 11:17 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Hinomaru Red (Rob Graham)
Hi Rob
Below is John STERLING's Nakajima built A6M2 model 21 hulk showing great weathering!
Primer at top; hinomaru red gone; white outline still present because it had been overpainted dark green or black; dark green camo on top of weathered hairyokushoku under-surfaces.
Jim Lan
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