Up on the Rufe

Now, you know where I’m going with this, so if you’re offended by my making various “experts” look like horses’ asses, then switch off now.


I just got this kit in the mail:

…and you are (no doubt) familiar with the epic hilarity which ensued as a result of the rumor, advanced among certain parties in ancient times (1973) that certain Japanese seaplanes were painted PURPLE!

Oh, this is too droll.

Oh, the hilarity.

Oh, somebody stop me before I tear out some stitching or other…

So, my goal here is to paint that Rufe as purple as a honeymooner’s cadillac, just to annoy certain experts and others of limited imagination. But it won’t annoy them enough unless I have a CAST IRON ARGUMENT that makes the “purple” Rufe not only feasible, but likely.

So here’s where the fun begins.

I wondering how, in fact, a Rufe could end up purple? Here are the facts of the case, as understood by primitive hippies in the year of our lord 1975, before the invention of time–

It seems that some Rufes were “reported” to be painted “mauve” or some shade of “lavender” or something. This happened in the Aleutian Islands, where men are men, sled dogs are scared, and the climate is lovable. Many and varied suggestions were put forth to ‘splain this peculiar color on His Imperial Majesty’s aeroplanes.

  1. They just painted ’em purple. Shut up.
  2. They were primed with a “purple” primer, and when the outside paint wore off, due to the well-known fact that the Japanese, being a primitive form of human, painted their aircraft with poster paints and one good Aleutian typhoon would blow that crap right off of them, exposing purple “primer” below. This is not an asinine theory because everyone knows that primers come in all colors because chemistry.
  3. The gray paint on the Rufe’s LOOKED purple due to the sunset, as well as the Northern Lights and the Purple Mountains Majesty of the U.S. of A. islands of ALASKA (which is the U.S. of A.) reflecting off the low clouds.
  4. They were not painted purple. At all. This is a myth, disproven numerous times by many experts and stop asking questions you are beneath me.

Yeah. So I put on my thinking cap and imagined what may have happened up there in the frozen north, as some poor Japanese naval officer tried to keep his command from being wiped out. Hmmmm. HMMMMMMM! <sound of thinking…

“What if,” says I, “they had taken the two colors they had plenty of– Zero gray and dark brown– and mixed them together to create a darker color in a desperate attempt to avoid being destroyed by vastly superior American might? What if they did that?”

“Now, whoa, cowboy!” says I to myself, “Surely the very-smart experts would have thought of THAT? Anyway, what are the odds that if you mix the two colors they had in large quantities, YOU’D GET PURPLE?? I mean, c’mon man– use your head!”

So I got some colors out of the paint drawer and started to mix, just to see how much of a jackass I am.

Here are two colors. One is a “Zero color” mixed to match the color Tamiya sells as “IJN Grey” which is (according to many experts) the correct shade. The other color is a dark, dark brown that you get by mixing RED and BLACK. Look at a Zero-sen for five seconds and tell me if the Imperial Japanese Navy had red and black paint. Go ahead. Times up.

I mean, that’s pretty random, right? Brown and weird gray?? Isn’t that pretty random??? I think so.

So I mixed one part gray and two parts brown, and brushed it out on some white cardboard, because I’m not really working hard at this. I’m doing this as lazily as I can. It’s not a big deal.

Damn. Let’s see that again under different lighting…

The one on the left (the PURPLE) was made exactly as I described. No tricks. The one on the right was a mix of similar Tamiya paints that I mixed straight from the bottles.

Well… well… well.

Yeah. Let’s see if I can find my old copy of “Scale Muddler” and see what my Rufe should look like…

Gee, I wonder how “impossible” it would be for some troops out in the far corner of the empire to grab two buckets of paint and mix them together to make a “darker” color to help hide their planes from American marauders? Well?

Sometimes I even impress my own damn self. Experts, kiss my ass.

4 Replies to “Up on the Rufe”

  1. The Japanese were rarely stupid, so yeah. Great detective work Dan.
    I would in support of your findings say that the Dark color you created is not far off from the mystery shade of blue/ black the Zeroes had on the engine cowling. Was that anti glare?, or ? I’ve never read, or even thought about the reason why. Enlightenment please.

    1. The dark color is dark brown. If you mix red and black you get brown. Brown was used for propellers, but if you mix hinomaru red and cowling black you get dark chocolate brown. I have no idea why the cowling was bluish black. No idea why it wasn’t just painted like USN cowlings. Was it like the Germans and their infernal black stripes– to cover dirt/exhaust/oil leaks? Dunno.

  2. I went looking for Zero colors on the webs, came across another light purple/lavender Rufe at Azizbis site.

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