Model Air Colour sets from Vallejo

Model Air colour sets:
RLM Colours (I)
RLM Colours (II) #71166
Metallic Colours #71176
Acrylicos Vallejo

Available from every good hobby shop



I never had the opportunity to do a review on modelling paints so I gladly accepted Jim Hatch´s offer to do this with no less than three full sets all at once. Having used some sole colours from Vallejo here and there when doing delicate paint jobs as painting some details in a cockpit I was curious how these Model Air paints would perform being airbrushed on larger areas.



So, these are the individual colour sets we got from Vallejo:

  • RLM Colours (I), order no. 71165:
    RLM 02, RLM 65, RLM 70, RLM 71, RLM 79, RLM 80, Matt Varnish, Thinner Medium
  • RLM Colours (II), order No. 71166:
    RLM 74, RLM 75, RLM 76, RLM 78, RLM 81, RLM 82, Matt Varnish, Thinner Medium
  • Metallic Colours, order no. 71176:
    Silver, Steel, Gold, Bright Brass, Copper, Arctic Blue, Gun, Gun Metal Metalizer

Each set includes 8 bottles of 17ml. What I like on Vallejo´s bottles is the “eyedropper”, making it very easy to measure your individual paint to thinner ratio for the thinner, too, is in a bottle with this “eyedropper”! Very clever and comfortable!

Included in both of the RLM colour sets is an identical and very informative leaflet explaining what “RLM” stands for (Reichsluftfahrtministerium = Reich´s administration of aviation) followed by a survey of each RLM colour from RLM 00 to RLM 99(!) in Spanish, English and German. To each RLM colour we are given sometimes very detailed information about how this colour is called, what purpose it has been used for and in which combination with other colours, and where different shades have been noticed. The author of this survey I surely will keep with my other references is Rafael Navarro Mármol. This leaflet can be downloaded from Vallejo´s website here.


My first thought has been how on earth to do such a review on modelling paints? What I knew for sure was that I would have to spray each colour on a piece of white plastic sheet for three reasons:

  • to see how they would behave when airbrushed
  • to be able to judge their colour and levelling quality
  • to be able to compare them to my references

Now, after having bought a sufficiently big piece of white plastic sheet I drew a square for each colour on it, with each colour set I got to review in one row. I even drew a square for the Matt Varnish and the Thinner Medium, but needless to say I did not spray a sample of these transparent colours...

I spend a very lot of my Tamiya masking tape to mask each square, thus preventing overspray from the adjoining squares. This one is an expensive review...

I did the first two rows with RLM colours with my old but trusty Harder & Steenbeck Evolution fitted with the 0.2mm nozzle. As Vallejo recommends this on their website I decided to add two drops of Thinner Medium to 10 drops of colour, stirring this with a soft brush directly in the cup of my airbrush. Fire up the air compressor!

Pressure set to about 20psi I started to fill in each square carefully with light coats of paint. As usual when doing large areas I moved my airbrush from left to right then followed this application moving it from top to bottom.

Doing so it really started to annoy me that I had to clean my airbrush´s needle from paint accumulation after about 15 seconds, having just sprayed the horizontal direction! Same procedure after having done the vertical move! Now, I am used to clean my airbrush´s tip once in a while when spraying Gunze or Tamiya acrylic paints, but here I had to clean my airbrush´s tip at least 6 times to finish the single square for one colour. Not the most motivating experience to start with...

I leave it to you how frequently I had to clean the tip to get all 20 squares done. Oh well...

I thoroughly cleaned my airbrush when changing to the next colour with Vallejo´s Airbrush Cleaner. I made use of this great stuff in the past when using Gunze and Tamiya acrylics. This cleaner works like a breeze, effortlessly cleaning even colour that has dried in the cup while I sprayed the samples.


Switching over to the metallic paints I switched the airbrush, too. I always keep my Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes clean from any metallic paints because it is not too easy to get these colours completely out from the airbrush. So, for spraying metallic paints as Alclad or Testor´s Metalizer I once bought an Aero Pro 301, which performed flawlessly in the past.

Doing the first colour, Vallejo´s Silver, worked fine, irrespective of repeatedly cleaning the tip on this airbrush, too. Then, after having cleaned the airbrush to continue with the next colour I experienced more and more trouble not only by paint accumulation on the tip but by the paint starting to splatter and sometimes clogging the nozzle. So I stopped spraying and decided to re-clean the airbrush only to find small particles of agglutinated paint in the cup. This happened with most of the following metallic paints to follow.

Somehow I managed to finish doing the samples, but it was no real joyful experience due to permanently cleaning the tip and the problems I encountered.

Now, let´s have a look how at the sheet. I printed the respective colours name and number on paper and glued it to the sheet for you to identify the colours we have got:




Clicking on the picture above gets you to a bigger image to better see the samples. You can download a much bigger file (TIF, 2501x1144 pixels, about 8MB) here.

All the colours look very rich and adhere very well to the bare plastic. Applying them in thin layers allows them to dry in seconds enabling you to add the next layer until the area you want to spray is covered. This is one of the points I like.

All of the colours level off very smooth, except the last three, Arctic Blue, Gun and Gun Metal Metalizer, which´s surface feels a little bit grainy. I really like the individual colour´s power, covering very well and even, drying to a nice semi-matte finish except for the metallic colours, of course, which dry to a more shiny finish.

I wanted to compare the RLM colours of our samples to some references I have, but after thinking about the feasibility I recognized that this would only work for me, having the real colour samples here on my table in front of me, but not for you, our valued readers, who only have your computer screens with all kinds of colour matching and calibrations (or not) in front of you. So, I want to show you instead what references I use to compare the samples to:




  • Both editions of “Luftwaffe Camouflage And Markings 1933-1945” from K.A. Merrick (with Jürgen Kiroff), 2004 and 2005
  • My good old example of the long out of print “The Official Monogram Painting Guide To German Aircraft 1935-1945”, from K.A. Merrick and Thomas H. Hitchcock, 1980

Having all these in front of me I will get you my impressions on the individual RLM colours from Vallejo, comparing them to the paint samples in the books above.




I would like to emphasize that what follows now are my impressions, having the colour samples from Vallejo sprayed on white plastic sheet, compared to paint chips matched to 1980s technology in “The Official Monogram Painting Guide To German Aircraft 1935-1945”, and the colour chips made from original paint formulas in the more modern “Luftwaffe Camouflage And Markings 1933-1945” books, looking at them under today’s daylight conditions (bright but cloudy sky).

So this is not authoritative for your individual sense of colour, just what I can see today. Let´s start:


Monogram Painting Guide 1980

Official Monogram Painting Guide 2004 & 2005

RLM 02

close, a little bit too warm (red) and dark

close, a little bit too warm (red) and dark

RLM 65

close, a little bit too bright and too blue

way too green, nowhere near the bright blue sample from the paint chip

RLM 70

close, a little bit too green

very close, if a tiny bit too bright

RLM 71

close, a little bit too warm (red)

too warm (red, yellow) and bright

RLM 79

close, a little bit too warm (red)

way too dark (red, blue)

RLM 80

close, a little bit too bright

close, a little bit too bright and green

RLM 74

too much red and blue, too dark

close, a little bit too dark and blue

RLM 75

close, a little bit too dark

good shade, only too dark

RLM 76

too neutral grey, blue shade missing

too neutral grey, blue shade missing

RLM 78

too neutral, missing a blue shade

way too neutral and bright. Blue shade missing.

RLM 81

good and close match to the brown version of this colour

no match due to sample chip being of the dark brown variation of this colour

RLM 82

good and close match to the dark green version of this colour

close, a little bit too blue and too dark


These are my impressions regarding different paint samples being applied on different substrates. This is not really academic for there are so many influencing factors coming along with any research on these RLM colours since 1945. In my opinion there never will be the last word on the subject of RLM colours, so I can live with what we have today.

With only a few exceptions I would not hesitate to get these colours of my models of German aircraft from WWII. Vallejo´s colours are close to what I think should match my references. The visual impression will be another one when getting these (and other!) colours on a model kit with all its shapes, nooks and crannies


So what do we think?
Vallejo has an impressive range of colours on offer for the modeller today. They adhere very well on bare plastic without the need to apply a primer before. They are tough and hard to damage once dry, and I surely will get them another try later, maybe with an airbrush of another design on needle and nozzle (my friend Jürgen told me about promising results with his Iwata airbrush).

I had some struggle when I switched from enamel based colours to acrylics some time ago, so maybe my problems spraying these samples is only for my inexperience with the behaviour of these Vallejo colours.

Overall: 5/10

Thanks to Acrylicos Vallejo for the review samples!

Thomas Mayer