Rebuild Progress December 2019

Paint AnalysisSomething that makes RB396 very rare (apart from a genuine combat veteran of course) is that she still retains her original 2nd Tactical Air Force paint scheme and coding. Shortly after the strip down began Chris at Airframe Assemblies got in touch to ask ‘what colour do you want the frames to be painted’? A good question, what was the original colour code?

This of course wasn’t entirely clear. The frames had received several layers but one of the plates from Frame A showed a complete example of the factory finish. It seemed at first glance to be a colour that had not been used in recent rebuilds, so to be accurate it would have to be tested.

Step forward our lead researcher, Andrew Boakes, who got in touch with Ian and Michael from Crick-Smith. They are leading the field in Conservation, Restoration and Research in the heritage field, specialising Architectural paint research ( They were involved in a project on the Isle of Wight and very generously offered to divert to Airframe Assemblies to analyse and colour match the strap from Frame A. In addition they also offered to analyse all the colours on the skins.

The Task…
Analysing the primer
The system used for this analysis is known as NCS (Natural Colour System) which is a highly accurate and internationally recognised method of defining the precise colour and shade of any given paint finish. The first colour to be sampled was the internal green primer as applied at the time of manufacture.

The area chosen was an internal strap plate from fuselage Frame A that been enclosed/untouched and not exposed to daylight since the day of manufacture. The sample was scanned using a small hand held scanner that reads the colour in ‘digital form’ and then displays a reference number. This can then be crossed checked against the NCS sample book that contains 1950 individual colour chips.

Analysing the primer
Similar digital sampling of the original external fuselage camouflage and roundel colours also took place, along with rather more traditional ‘forensic’ style sampling of small paint flakes taken of the various different colours. These will have additional analysis back at the ‘lab’, to determine such things as the depth of the various layers etc.

Analysing the skins
Once the colour reference numbers are finally confirmed, any given paint supply armed with the number can then mix the exact original colour. A huge thank you to Ian and Michael from Crick-Smith for their efforts which will ensure that RB has exact wartime colours. There are lots of references on the internet regarding NCS, further reading is certainly on the agenda for the holidays.


This update highlights just one of the many tasks required to rebuild just a single section of RB, we really do need the support of everyone to get RB396 back where she belongs. Just £2 (the average price of half a pint in your local) from each of our followers on Social Media would see the rebuild of the rear fuselage completed. We need help from everyone to remember and honour all the Typhoon crews so please do visit the donation page or our webshop. A huge thank you to all those who have contributed to the project so far and thank you in advance to everyone who reads this and visits our donation page or webshop.

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