Purchase these Items

Products mentioned in this Article



Painting The A-1H Skyraider
with Evan Allen

When I started sculpting this aircraft the first thing I did was to have a look at images of the real thing online and in books. They looked so cool that I decided once there was an actual resin model I’d really like to paint one, but couldn’t decide which colour scheme I liked best. The only real option was to paint two of them, one in US Navy and Marine colours and one in US Air Force colours!

Learn more about the A-1H Skyraider in Tour Of Duty here...

Navy Colours
The US Navy (USN) and Marines used a pretty basic colour scheme. Not to be confused with the navy blue scheme used in Korea, by the time of Vietnam, the USN used a light grey scheme.

In terms of paint colours, my Navy Skyraider was quite easy to work out. The scheme uses Aircraft White and Light Gull Grey.

The USN used a full gloss finish instead of the usual matt finish. A gloss finish is a lot easier to keep them clean and free from saltwater corrosion on carrier operations.

USAF Colours
The US Air Force (USAF) Skyraider was just as easy as I was already familiar with the SE Asia camouflage scheme. I even remember the Federal Standard colour numbers from memory, having applied them to real aircraft in the distant past!

The US Air Force used Light Gull Grey, Tan, Green, and Dark Green. Unlike the Navy and Marines, the USAF used a matt finish.
Decoding Paint Colours
The US military used a Federal Standard colour scheme for all of its vehicles. There is a small trick with decoding federal standard colour numbers. The first digit in the code tells you what kind of finish it is, 3 is matt, 2 is semi gloss and 1 is full gloss.

If there are two numbers the same except for the first digit then they are the same colour, they may look slightly different because of the type of finish but they are the same colour.

Colour FS Number
FWP Equivalent
Light Gull Grey
Whitewash (FWP307)
Aircraft White
FS17875 White (FWP301)
FS30219 Battlefield brown (FWP324)
FS34102 Army Green (FWP342)
Dark Green
Tankovy Green (FWP341)
Painting The Skyraider
I started both aircraft at the same time. After a light sand with 600 grit paper, cleaning up the castings and gluing on the noses, I primed both with Vallejo Polyurethane Light Grey primer using an airbrush. At this point, I decided that the primer would also make a good match for the Light Gull Grey so I masked it out before the application of the other colours. I used a good quality hobby tape around the edges to get nice fine edging.

US Navy
Gloss Finish
The US Navy used a full gloss finish on their planes to help with maintainence.

High Visibility
US Navy markings were large to help identify the aircraft against the sea and sky.
Painting The A-1H Skyraider
USN Plane
Next, I applied Tamiya matt white to the bottom of the aircraft with the airbrush. The masking tape was removed carefully as soon as the white was finished. I then did some panel shading on the grey by adding a little white Tamiya acrylic paint to the Vallejo grey primer, it worked a treat.

USAF Plane
I used a set of colours from Lifecolor series of paints for the USAF aircraft. Lifecolor paints use the FS codes, so that is an easy translation. Alternatively, you can use the Vallejo equivalents seen in the table above.

I started with an overall coat of Battlefield brown (FWP324). Then, after it dried thoroughly, I used Blu-Tac as a mask to create the camouflage pattern for the second colour: Army Green (FWP342). Again once it was thoroughly dry, I added more Blu-Tac over the Green and applied Tankovy Green (FWP341) to the last areas left.

The camouflage pattern on aircraft was based on an online image that showed me the complete aircraft from several angles and I used that as a guide.

I carefully removed the Blu-Tac, bit by bit. A small tip is to pull it off almost parallel with the surface – almost as if your pulling it back on itself. It will reduce any paint from peeling off with it. Once it was all off I added some slight panel shading again with the airbrush on each colour.

USN Plane
Next I added the black anti-glare panel to the USN Skyraider by airbrush and masking. Both aircraft were left to dry for a couple of days then a coat of Tamiya gloss varnish overall was applied.

US Air Force
Low Visibility
US Air Force markings were small so as to not clash with the aircraft’s camouflage.

Matt Finish
Unlike the Navy, the US Air Force used a matt finish on its aircraft.
Painting The A-1H Skyraider
The decals were added, the USN decals come with the kit but for the USAF one I used some decals from the WWII range with the smallest US insignia I could find. I did need to add the red centre bar on these though. I also used a tail Sqadron code letter set from the WWII decals but these were black and I needed white. I simply painted over the black decals with white paint.

Once the decals were dry I added more gloss over the USN bird and matt over the USAF bird.

Next step was to paint the cockpits and other details. I use a graduated blue colour for the cockpit canopy going from dark to light by just using more white added to the same blue each time.

Another important feature was adding the large reddish-black exhaust stains these aircraft all have from the massive Wright Radial engine, these stains should follow the curve of the wing and I add them by mixing a bit of Devil Red (FWP381) with Black (FWP300).

Almost at the end is adding the weapons. Again, perusing online photos of the aircraft will give you representative load-outs and the colours you need. As a general rule, live weapons are usually green or black in colour with yellow markings. If you see blue weapons you can safely assume they’re practise weapons and not live ordnance. You don’t want those as you’re sure to throw lots of ones on the dice! I used a little bit of Blu-Tac to hold the weapons in place while the glue set.
Painting The A-1H Skyraider
You can add a coat of matt varnish over the weapons but you’ll probably need to do this with a brush so you don’t take away the gloss finish of the USN Skyraider.

Ready For Action
Lastly the magnet goes in the hole and you’re ready to take to the skies in Vietnam!

~ Evan.
Painting The A-1H Skyraider

Last Updated On Monday, June 29, 2015