Matching Federal Standard Colours to Hobby Paints

While taking a break from figuring out how to document my build on the Italeri 1:48 P40M-N: Kittyhawk Mk4 I’ll be building next, I realized I had two 1/72 scale kits of the North American Harvard to build. One by Airfix and the other by Academy.

I liked one of the colour schemes from the Academy kit and adapted it to the Airfix one. Now since the scheme  is not world war two related I decided not to document the build but rather to talk about colour matching hobby paints to Federal Standard Colours.

There are two Federal Standards (FS): 595a and 595b. The Academy kit has colour call outs in FS colours so I started with the FS numbers and tried to match them to my existing paint stocks. I didn’t have any matches in my acrylic paints so discarded the idea of airbrushing the camouflage and went to my Humbrol enamel stocks.

I found matches for three of the colours according to available data and I took the colour I had that most matched the colour sample I had for the colour I was missing. My paint scheme was sorted and ready to apply so I decided at that point I would hand paint the colour scheme by brush. Painting a model by hand with a paint brush is something I have done for years. I and wont go into the finer points of it here but look for a ‘how to… article’  soon.

airfix-harvardThe above process of colour matching may sound simple enough but I had to find the information to do it first and here-in lies my tale. Knowing what Federal Standard colours you need is indeed half the battle. Some research on your subject is required if the kit doesn’t supply the required FS colours.

Having found the correct Federal Standard colours required it was off to Google and searching for the matching hobby paints.Search Engines are wonderful things, but the first thing you learn is that you have to know how to ask the questions to get the answer you want! So away I went on a Google hunt…

Helpful Websites for Matching Federal Standard Colours

Federal Standard 595b ColorsI have listed below the websites I found that helped me, so that you can use them too and hopefully make it easier on you.

Here they are in no particular order:-

  • IPMS Stockholm Federal Standard Colour Charts contain the federal standards and the equivalent hobby paint matches.
  • Cybermodeler Online not only has colour chips and equivalent matches for Federal Standard Colours but also Bare Metal, British, French, German, Italian and Soviet standard colours.
  • has a handy search feature to find Standard Federal Colour chips. There is also a forum so you can get any questions answered.
  • sells Federal Standard Colour fans of the federal standard 595
  • will give you virtual colour swatches of the 595B Federal Standard Colours although it wont let you print them out.

Milspray was important for this project because it gave me an opportunity to see what colour I was trying to match, and subsequently I managed to find a colour that closely resembled the one I was looking for and I proceeded to paint the assembled model using the paint equivalents for the following FS colours

Federal Standard Colour Humbrol Enamel Equivalent Colour Name/Description
FS 36440 Humbrol 129 Gull Gray
FS30400 Humbrol 93 Sand
FS34097 Humbrol 105 Dark Green
FS34227 Humbrol 120 Medium Green

One thing you learn is the the colour name and the Federal Standard for the same colour do not necessarily make it easy to find the match in the hobby paints range, hence why I rely on some one more skilled than myself to match the paints for me. I have found the IPMS Stockholm website to be a true font of knowledge I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Okay that’s the journey so far! Happy modeling till next time!




Avid WW2 aviation enthusiast and modeller. Been making model kits since age nine and I now model mostly ww2 model airplanes. (my wife is an understanding one!)

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