Natural Metal Finish and Control Surfaces
Posted By: Grant Goodale <>
Date: Saturday, 28 October 2000, at 7:34 a.m.
Hello world -
During the China incident and later in the war, Japanese a/c frequently sported a lot of NMF. Some sources indicate that the fabric-covered control surfaces were painted in silver or aluminum dope but other sources indicate that they were painted light gray. Was there a change in procedure or was the choice dictated by other factors?
Posted By: François P. WEILL <>
Date: Monday, 30 October 2000, at 1:05 a.m.
In Response To: NMF and control surfaces (Grant Goodale)
Hi Grant,
As far as my studies on the subject lead me, at this time (China incident) painting the fabric covered surfaces in aluminum paint was Navy practice and painting them gray-green was Army practice (notice that in fact Army planes were OVERALL factory painted in gray green during the "China incident", with additional camouflage eventually applied at unit level on the upper surfaces).
For the Navy, the real difficulty to determine what was in fact the practice pertains to a much later period, when Most (but not all) Navy planes went back to NMF on the undersurfaces for the sake of raw material and manpower economy. And it was late in the war. For example, it is known that during the production of Kawanishi N1K1-J Ko this switch took place. Some publications considered that the fabric covered surfaces on the undersurfaces kept the Hairyokushoku (late war variant) on the fabric; others consider that aluminum paint was used instead.
My personal guess is that for a time already painted fabric were used on otherwise NMF undersurfaces, then aluminum paint was used for sake of uniformity (as demonstrated by the surviving Shiden-Kais...).
For Army planes things are a bit more complicated. From the production of Type 1 fighters (Hayabusa) the use of the Gray-Green was discontinued on metallic parts, which were to remain NMF on all single engine fighters (camouflage was to be added as required without primer at unit level) but other types still left the factories in gray-green. At this time, all single engine fighters had their fabric-covered surfaces still painted gray-green and it remained so until a "standard" factory applied camouflage pattern appeared during the late part of the war (the now well known khaki drill - around FS 36118 - over slightly tan colored light gray). Few bigger planes left the factories in NMF. To quote but an example, Nakajima Ki 49 bombers were delivered NMF and field camouflaged if required. It seems that the gray-green was used on fabric surfaces for those planes too.
Hope it helps
Posted By: Grant Goodale <>
Date: Monday, 30 October 2000, at 8:20 a.m.
In Response To: Re: NMF and control surfaces (François P. WEILL)
Thanks for the info. I was looking for a general answer to the topic and you supplied it. I am also thinking of building a China Incident B5N1 with NMF and red tail. From what you have said, the fabric-covered control surfaces would be painted in aluminum dope.
Again, merci
Return to Workbench Message Board