Japanese drop tank question - yellow versus silver

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Japanese drop tank question - yellow versus silver

Joined: March 1st, 2005, 4:39 pm

October 20th, 2012, 6:56 pm #1

Is there any rhyme nor reason why the drop tanks would be yellow versus silver? I'm building a Ki-44 and I've seen example where they are yellow and others that are silver. Any ideas?

Thanks,

Terry
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Joined: March 7th, 2005, 6:33 pm

Yellow is a myth

October 20th, 2012, 7:52 pm #2

surviving and going strong though.
Standard was either medium bluish gray or "yellow green nr.7" (ohryoku nana go shoku) color close to US Olive drab, median value around FS34088.


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Joined: February 8th, 2006, 8:16 am

Some pix of a Ki.44 drop tank on eBay now

October 20th, 2012, 8:05 pm #3

Is there any rhyme nor reason why the drop tanks would be yellow versus silver? I'm building a Ki-44 and I've seen example where they are yellow and others that are silver. Any ideas?

Thanks,

Terry
Hello Terry,

I can't answer your question, but suspect Mario is correct about the yellow color often reported in the past. See attached pix of one up for auction on eBay now.

HTH,
Ken Glass







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Joined: July 8th, 2008, 10:57 am

Thanks, Mario!

October 20th, 2012, 11:45 pm #4

surviving and going strong though.
Standard was either medium bluish gray or "yellow green nr.7" (ohryoku nana go shoku) color close to US Olive drab, median value around FS34088.

This came just in time to repaint (hmm, or leave off?) the tanks I painted orange-yellow for my Tony.

Stuart
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Joined: March 7th, 2005, 6:33 pm

No problem. And the origin of the myth...

October 21st, 2012, 12:45 am #5

is probably in some verbal reports and/or photographs of the US personnel from Japanese a/c graveyards quite a while after hostilities stopped i.e. we are
dealing with HEAVILY weathered artifacts. "Yellow green nr.7" being an olive drab naturally contained a lot of yellow pigment that could have become prominent after severe weathering. There was another IJAAF standard "yellow green" which was lighter and more yellowish, khaki-like (continuosly being confused with RLM79 especially for Ki-61 interiors this one being BROWN paint not green!) and this paint could have been used instead of nr.7 due to misinterpretation of instructions.
IJAAF "khaki" heavily weathered could have looked quite yellow to a casual observer.
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Joined: May 19th, 2007, 12:13 pm

Terry - maybe it was used

October 21st, 2012, 1:26 am #6

Is there any rhyme nor reason why the drop tanks would be yellow versus silver? I'm building a Ki-44 and I've seen example where they are yellow and others that are silver. Any ideas?

Thanks,

Terry
This is always a question that I also have and never resolved. It appears yellow orange tanks are seen in many Japanese language publications color profiles. I assume these "authoritative magazines and books" from Japan were read by WWII era knowledgeable persons, pilots and ground crews like our own WWII veteran pilots so .... I would not dismiss it as a myth. I know the first time I used this color in the 1980s on a 1/32nd Revell Ki-61 it seemed odd. I do think the grey green would be better camouflage and more appropriate on the drop tanks but it sounds like certain aircraft or units definitely used orange-yellow. Personally I don't like it and reluctantly use it because:

1. Japanese manufacturers like Hasegawa, which have Japanese staff, put it in the instructions. They do their homework. If it were wrong then years ago they would have corrected the "myth" and you would have had it discredited and no longer used. I have a stack of Japanese language modeling magazines and books and the yellow-orange drop tanks are there all the time on certain aircraft. On certain other types it is always NMF Aluminum or gray-green.

2. It does seem strange and I cringe every time I paint a Ki-61 tank yellow orange but ... maybe it is the same color they used on the IFF wing edges. It could be used to find them when they are or were dropped because the color became used a lot in the home islands where they could expect to have them drop and since aluminum was a scarce strategic metal. Maybe the bright color was to assist in finding and recovery valuable aluminum drop tanks? Even if damaged when dropped, they were precious metals the last two years of WWII in Japan. I would agree making them easy to find or return to the military because of the bright color was a purposeful effort.

3. There are a few aircraft Ki-61/Ki-100s, in Japanese museums with drop tanks in this color that appear in the web and in reference books from time to time. Why would you think a museum with its resources, curators and staff would not confirm and make for a definitive reproduction and its display have a fact based color? So I vote for the orange yellow.

4. I did see the Ki-44 drop tank for sale on eBay and stared at the color wondering what is the correct color if this is a representative color sample. Mind you this happened when I was building a Hasegawa 1/48th Ki-44. Just like our own P-51s you will find them in NMF or shades of gray and I think I have even seen them in green and olive drabs.

My take is to use it, orange yellow, if the instructions from a Japanese manufacturer indicate orange yellow. If not I prefer and use NMF Aluminum or underside matching gray shade.
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Joined: August 16th, 2009, 12:16 pm

Re: Yellow is a myth

October 21st, 2012, 5:04 am #7

surviving and going strong though.
Standard was either medium bluish gray or "yellow green nr.7" (ohryoku nana go shoku) color close to US Olive drab, median value around FS34088.

Okay Mario.
I think we would all benefit if you could state your source(s) for the quite absolute sounding statement "Yellow is a myth" and "Standard was..."?.
TIA.

http://www.arawasi.jp
http://arawasi-wildeagles.blogspot.com/
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Joined: March 7th, 2005, 6:33 pm

My primary source is aviationofjapan.com blog

October 21st, 2012, 6:03 am #8

i.e. Nicholas "Straggler" Millman research, j-aircraft.com and private correspondence.
Japanese a/c painting information have been presented to "western modelers" almost exclusively through works of Nohara Shigeru, including yellow drop tanks. As you know, and so should everybody else, Nohara-san is not a researcher. It took him 10+ years to accept existence of "ohryoku nana go shoku". Proof that drop tanks were painted in orange/bright yellow needs yet to surface. On the other hand the practice painting them medium gray and "nr.7" was confirmed. Therefore I have no problem with my statement sounding rather categorical. Unless you can present some new information. I'll be happy to correct myself.
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Joined: August 16th, 2009, 12:16 pm

very good...

October 21st, 2012, 9:15 am #9

...but allow me to say that these sources are not primary but secondary at best. What are THEIR sources?
How about Model Art #428 (on the Hien,) which has the manual for drop tanks (a primary source) and says that the top color of the wooden and bamboo drop tanks is "ki-midori No.7", as you mentioned yourself.
(Please point to the manual for metal drop tanks of the IJAAF if possible.)

Also, how about this: some say that the drop tanks were painted yellow or red so that they could be easily spotted and recovered. Metal for the drop tanks was not exactly abundant in Japan in those days. But that would not make sense for units operating over the sea, escorting Taiatari a/c to Okinawa for example. How about home defense units like the 244 Sentai flying over Tokyo? Could they have their drop tanks painted yellow or red for the above mentioned reason?

As you can see I'm not trying to prove you or any of the sources you mention wrong. Also, personally, I'm not that categorical and I'm not fond of the word "myth" but that's your choice of wording and it's not necessary to agree. There were cases in the past where "myths" have been confirmed. But although I do agree with you that the color was standard I'm not excluding the possibility that out of the thousands of drop tanks some were painted yellow or red.

http://www.arawasi.jp/index.html
http://arawasi-wildeagles.blogspot.com/
Last edited by Arawasi on October 21st, 2012, 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: March 5th, 2005, 5:40 am

This isn't an aluminum tank

October 21st, 2012, 5:38 pm #10

Hello Terry,

I can't answer your question, but suspect Mario is correct about the yellow color often reported in the past. See attached pix of one up for auction on eBay now.

HTH,
Ken Glass







The Kanji written on the tank indicate that it was manufactured from wood (mokusei). Perhaps, as some have speculated, aluminum tanks were painted in bright yellow to assist in their recovery, while the less valuable wooden tanks were camouflaged. Also, these tanks may have been manufactered in right and left handed versions, as indicated by the kanji "right" (migi) which is also painted on it.
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