Painting With Spray Cans

These days painting models can get expensive, and every dollar spent on painting is a dollar that won’t be spent on tanks. So what can you do to reduce painting costs and still maintain a nicely painted army?

One of the first things I did was gradually switch over from the exclusive use of expensive spray paints designed specifically for models to less expensive spray paints designed for more general use. Now, I still use model spray paints by Tamiya, and Testors, I will never give up the old Testors Olive Drab. It used to be stock number 1911 but with the purchase of Testors by Rust-Oleum it’s now Testors Spray Enamel Olive Drab, stock number 1265T but the color and quality are exactly the same.

What I gave up are other colors. For example Rust-Oleum makes a Flat Gray 2X spray paint and primer that is perfect for priming models, particularly resin models or models that are molded in more than one color of plastic. The coverage is very good, the cans are quite large, 12 ounces compared to 3 ounces for a can of Testors or Tamiya spray paint. The other nice thing about this paint is it’s sold everywhere hardware is sold. I buy it at Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, and many other places, and it runs about $6 for a big can.

Rust-Oleum and Krylon both make a line of camouflage spray paints; many of the colors are perfect for a base coat for military vehicles. They are readily available and I use them a lot. I use the Rust-Oleum Army Green, stock number 279176 for vehicles from the Soviet Union. I have seen real Soviet vehicles that were exactly that color.

And I use Rust-Oleum Deep Forest Green for Post-WWII US Army vehicles, stock number 279175. The Cold War US Army Olive Drab always seemed to have a bit of gray in the mix and this seems to capture that color just right for my taste.

Here’s a tip about the spray can tip. When you finish a can of spray paint, always save the nozzle. I keep a small container full of old spray paint can nozzles. That way if I have a nozzle clog up on me when I am painting, I go to that container and replace the clogged nozzle with a used one that works. It’s a quick fix that saves having to mess with cleaning a clogged nozzle or waiting to finish a project until you can go buy a new can of paint.

The other advantage to using Rust-Oleum or Krylon is the warranty. On the rare occasion I have had a problem with a can, I take it back to Wal-Mart and they exchange it for a new one, with no hassle. While I take the receipt, I have never had to show it, just take in the non-functioning can for the exchange.

These Roco T-34/76 tanks show how closely the paint color matches the can lid cover. Remember what the manual says and what the paint chips show you and what the vehicles actually look like in the real world in the field may vary, a lot.

Lee tank with Testors 1911 Olive Drab, now 1265T. So I paint vehicles the colors that look right to me, not necessarily what the regulations’ require. While I have an airbrush, I don’t use it much except to paint camouflage schemes.

US M60S tank conversion using Roco and Boley tank parts, painted with Rust-Oleum Deep Forest Green 279175. So the rattle can works well for my wargame army. The paints are easy to find at hardware and big box stores. Painting models does not have to be expensive!

Mike Bunkermeister Creek


Bunkermeiser Blog