Tru Color Naval Paints Review 

by Devin Poore 
The review samples:
When asked if Iíd like to review these paints, I said definitely, and expected a half-dozen bottles to sample. Imagine my surprise when I received a box with 32 bottles of paint and 1 of thinner! Hereís what was in that box: 

What they are:
Tru-Color paints are a somewhat solvent based acrylic. They remind me a lot of Tamiya paints, but instead of being alcohol based, the solvent is in the realm of acetone. The proprietary thinner smells exactly like nail polish remover.

Navy Brown 1A
Navy Brown 2A
Navy Brown 4A
#4 Brown 1944
Navy Brown 3A, 1942
Ocean Gray 5-O Late 1941
Haze Gray 5-H
Boot Black
Cavite Blue
Navy Blue 5-N
Polished Bronze
White 5-U
Deck Blue 20B
#2 Green 1944
Modern Haze Gray
Sea Blue 5-S Version C
Light Gray 5-L, 1943+
Light Gray 5-L, 1941-1943
Navy Gray #5
5-HG Haze Green, Early 1943
Deck Blue 20B, 1942+
5-OG Ocean Green, 1943 Rev. 
5-HG Haze Green, 1043 Rev.
Mount-Batten Pink (Dark)
5-B Thayer Blue
5-D Dark Gray
Norfolk 65-A Anti-Fouling Red
Dull Black #82
Pale Gray 5-P, 1943+
Flight Deck Stain 21
5-O Ocean Gray, Early 1941

How they perform:
For my test, I sprayed several samples with a Grex airbrush, shooting around 30psi. One sample sheet was on unprimed white styrene, for the other set I used styrene primed with Badgerís Stynylrez acrylic primer.

The manufacturer states these can be sprayed straight out of the bottle with no thinning. While thatís true, and the coverage is excellent with that method, I did have an issue with in-air drying and the resulting rough/pebbly texture that produces. Thinning slightly with the included thinner, though, resolved that problem nicely, and gave a little translucence to the paint. Iíd personally rather have my paint a little translucent, to allow for better control of pre-shading and other weathering techniques.

One other test I did was to thin the Mahogany paint with Mr. Colorís Self Leveling thinner, a lacquer thinner with drying retarder. This worked a little too well. The paint went on extremely thin and smooth, but it took a good 15 minutes for it to dry, as opposed to a minute or two with the proprietary thinner. Not sure Iíd recommend using that for every paint job, but if youíre going to use a small airbrush to paint a 1/200 scale hull and want to up the dry time to minimize dry-edge banding, itís something to keep in mind.

Brush painting works, but itís much like brush painting Tamiya paints. They go on thin and skin very fast, so coverage must be accomplished in layers. Put down a layer, wait a few minutes, put down the next. Full coverage is achieved in 3 layers.

The manufacturer recommends cleaning your airbrush with straight acetone, which I tested and it worked just fine. I, however, have an adverse reaction to most concentrations of acetone Ė it gives me extremely dry skin -- and Iíd much rather use lacquer thinner. I tested with generic lacquer thinner from the hardware store and clean-up was quite easy.

How they match:

NOTE: These are photos youíre looking at on a computer screen. They are not going to look like what you get on a model. I have a color corrected setup that I work with, and theyíre still not exactly right. With the samples you see on the thin strips of styrene (5-H, 5-O, 5-P) I did those by dipping the styrene into the paint, resulting in a slightly glossy, and thus darker, example. The matches are much closer than youíre seeing in the photos. Like I said, photos are tricky.
TrueColor-03 TrueColor-04 TrueColor-05 TrueColor-06
TrueColor-07 TrueColor-08 TrueColor-09 TrueColor-10

I tested eight different Snyder and Short color chips against their corresponding paints, five of them airbrushed on both unprimed white and primed gray sheets; the other three samples were dipped in the paint bottles just to quickly confirm they match the S&S samples. Overall the colors are either spot-on, or close enough that youíll never tell the difference unless you have the S&S color chip right next to an unweathered model. Colors and hues match really well, and spraying them thinned, you can really vary the coverage and allow the base colors to show through. The sprayed white styrene samples came through a bit light, the gray a bit dark. The Badger gray primer is a dark gray, so if you use something like Mr. Surfacerís gray primer, or any other primer thatís close to the same shade as  #5 Navy Gray, as most primers are, youíll get a perfect, or nearly so, match on most of the S&S paint chips. The 5-O for early 1941 is a little light, and the 5-H Haze Gray is missing just a little bit of purple, but those are minor quibbles. The only color that is off to any significant degree is the Flight Deck Stain 21. The S&S sample has a definite blue hue that the paint lacks; the paint is actually closer to the Norfolk 250N on the S&S sample sheet, but is still too much in the dead-black range and lacking the minimal blue that 250N shows.

Very nice paints. I have to admit Iím an acrylic guy, but these paints are very persuading. Itís great to see companies like ColourCoats and now Tru-Color doing such well-matched and extensive lines of US Navy paints. The learning curve on the Tru-Color line is slight, they spray nicely and clean up easily. Brush painting left a little to be desired, much like Tamiya paints, but hopefully a bit of drying retarder would resolve that issue.

Updated 9/28/2017