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World War Two Paint: Shades of Green
World War Two paint - shades of green

If you are looking for the "correct" color of lustreless (also spelled lusterless), olive drab paint then you need not look any further than TM9 Ordnance Products, LLC.  The owner has done considerable research into the color.  He has observed that there were several variations of lustreless, olive drab.  It's not that he is saying there were multiple versions of lustreless, olive drab but rather the resultant finish has been observed with differences.  On his site he has a picture of two Dodge ambulances photographed during WW2.  They are obviously two different hues of OD.


Why are there different hues of Lustreless, Olive Drab when there was only ONE paint? Variation of hue has often been a cantankerous problem but it is fully explained away but WW2 manuals!


An explanation for the color variance in parts or vehicles was found in FM 5-20H, July 1944, entitled,"Camouflage Materials and Manufacturing Techniques". Originals were printed with color charts and photos. The example found was sadly a black and white copy.


From the above referenced manual, Section 1. Paragraph 5, PAINTS. (e). ..."In spite of color standardization, there is considerable variation in hue between lots and between the products of different manufacturers." So there you go. A sane and written (in the period under discussion) explanation of why we find different "hues" of lustreless olive drab.


The paint is very high quality and expensive when compared to lesser products.  Roughly $85/gal vs. $30/gal...and you will need to add in the cost of the catalyst.  That's right this paint requires a catalyst to set up.


At this point, you have to wonder if you will be "over restoring" your vehicle if you use this paint.  The original paint had a rough texture and was expected to last only a year before repainting was needed.  The TM9 Ordnance paint offered today is vastly superior and is a urethane based paint.  The paint might last longer than the restorer.


So you have a choice of buying paint sold by most military vehicle parts sellers that isn't close to original colors but the formula paints like those in the 1940s.  Read that as simple enough for Bubba to use.  Or you can go with the correct color but in a modern based paint that can be difficult for the novice to use.  Once you add the catalyst you have no more than 30-60 minutes to use the paint. Of course, you will only mix what you need--but as a novice are you going to know?


There's been another paint added to the US market (by Paolo of Italy thru Pete DeBella) and I hope to find out more about it soon.  Price of this paint is a more reasonable $35/gal and it uses the 1940s technology (no catalyst required).

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