The Great Red Spot

The Great Red Spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm, the largest in the Solar System, 22 degrees south of the planet’s equator. It has been continuously observed since 1830. Wikipedia

The beauty of plastic model kits is that you can always shift lanes, gears or underwear without having to stop the car entirely. You can shift on over to Japan if you get fed up with British crap and you can’t take another 1940’s bobby-soxer smart-ass slogan on the side of an American warplane.

Yes, there is a Maine.

With apologies to Jean Shepherd.

…and there is a Japan.

Japan is the land of not-of-this-earth. If you’re feeling alienated from your homeland, you can always go to Japan in your mind and be re-acquainted with what it means to grow up in a small town and eat chili-dogs. Even that one kid who lived in West Texas and hated football will feel like a Yankee Doodle Dandy after a brief sojourn to mental Japan.

Japan is that weird.

So, if I want to splash some water on my face to help me clear my mind from roundels and colors named “sky”– I can throw a cup of water in my face and read up on the Germans. And when I’m fed up with sauerkraut I can turn on the hose, spray myself in the face and shift on over to the exotic and secretive Russians and try to imagine what it’s like to have to invent your own way of being in the military. “Yes, comrade, I’m a seer-giant. Pay attention and write For Mom and Daddy-Man Stalin on my MiG.”

But when I’m really, really fed up with Europeans, at long last, I can jump into the pool and go to JAPAN.

The red spot on Jupiter is shrinking…
I’m not sure how fast it’s shrinking…
…but it is.

The red sun disk was originally a deep, dark brown color. I don’t mean that it was a deep brown color in 1940 or 1919 when the Japanese Army bought SPAD XIII’s from France. I mean “originally” from about 1960. This was when the “experts” declared that the sun disk (“hinomaru” in pidgin Japanese) was brown, not red.

Every kit, in those days, came with insignia that were “too bright” and the model kit magazines said that you should buy decals to get the correct “dark brown” color.


Then, in the nineties, things changed. All kinds of weird things happened. The hinomaru became bright, fluorescent red that glowed in the dark. It was pretty interesting, because it proved, beyond any doubt, that the experts weren’t experts at all.

They were The Wizard of Oz. Phony as f*ck.

Here are some choices I had when I tried to choose a red hinomaru for this Airfix Zero (a very strange little kit with a cockpit that’s extra wide for American passengers I guess).

Old fashioned brown vs. new-fangled red.

The AeroMaster decals just GLOW with naked red-ness. The old Microscale decals (the brown ones) just look like shit.

I’m sorry, I mean feces.

This is my new theory on Japanese colors. When they ran out of paint…if you know what I’m sayin’.

Some fairly respectable references state that the Empire of Japan painted red markings on their aircraft that resemble USAF “insignia red” and this color is reflected best by an old Stoppel sheet.

Stoppel is on the right.

But a new sheet from Techmod is in the middle. It’s just a bit too bright. The old sheet from Authenticals is on the left. Too dark.

I got out some paint and experimented with color.

Lot’s of different shades here. I or is it “tints?”

I usually put on my shades when I’m lookin’ at tints.

Maybe it’s hues.

Anyway, we compare to the insignia on that wacky Airfix Zero.

Signal 30.

It seems to match Polly Scale “Signal Red” from the railroad colors (all these are discontinued now, so… sad face).

So where did I get that red dot on my Zero?

It came with the Airfix kit. That decal was a washed-out looking, almost pink color on the Airfix sheet, but here it is looking like “blood red” from the sword of a Samurai.

No other decal I own is that color. Strangely, the Airfix decal was unique. A pale, watery color that photographs as a blood red when it’s applied to a “pearl gray” Zero-sen.

God I love this hobby!

3 Replies to “The Great Red Spot”

  1. So are there any photos out there in the Ether webs of the Zero that was restored in Japan for museum display? I will do a Diogenal search.

  2. Have looked with lantern held high. Found some images in museums. Then it occurred to me that current JSDF aircraft might use same color as W2 honorable ancestors. I will search again and post some images.

  3. Alright already I didna realize cannot post images. Anyhow why in the name of Hirihito would you want to have brown suns?? well ya would nay. US hastily got rid of red center stars to keep idiots from shooting at each other. Who the frock were the geniuses that thot they were ever brown?? And why would any maker of decals?? Did they hope everyone would run out and buy brown suns to stick over their red ones?? J.H. Keerist! Fun it, just fukit. Don’t vorry be hapski. Sorry bad case of Covidtrumpis burned brain.

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