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Thread: Black airplane?

  1. #1

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    Black airplane?

    I have been trying to find information about the pros and cons of painting a Supercub all black (or mostly black), and I did not find almost anything. Is there any significant disadvantage over the other colors? (beside the difficulty of finding it in case of an accident) like the longevity of the paint and the fabric, if it requires more maintenance, stretching of the fabric, fading of the paint, etc.
    The place where the airplane will be located has an average anual temperature of 58F with moderately (and short) hot summers with clear skies (in summer during the day is around 75F/80F and very occasionally -and for one day- could reach 95F). It's gonna be kept in a hangar. We are using PolyFiber to cover it.
    About the paint: Matte or gloss? All painted with Ranthane (polyurethane) or Ranthane for the top coat and Poly-Tone for the belly and wings like the CubCrafters?.
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    DWM

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    I’ve seen tapes shrink on dark colors leaving cracks that show. Upper surfaces.
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    Willie's Avatar
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    Steve Williams at Acme Cub Training - https://acmecubtraining.com/ - built the raffle Cub in black, but I believe that was a special fabric not requiring paint.
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    Sunlight is the biggest issue, if stored outdoors simply covering it will do to reduce solar gain.
    Today's coverings are bonded on, granted their activation temps are technically above most environmental sunlight conditions I would not want to learn the true limits on my own plane, which like my previous ones will be outdoors all it's life.
    Regards, Charlie
    Super Coupe E-AB build in process
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Steve Williams at Acme Cub Training - https://acmecubtraining.com/ - built the raffle Cub in black, but I believe that was a special fabric not requiring paint.
    Thatís correct. They used black Oratex.


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  6. #6
    Marty57's Avatar
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    Black will get very hot in the sun; that is a given. The tapes can have an issue on black surfaces. With Stewart Systems, like most systems, the tapes on the ribs and other long, streight are not shrunk when applied. Black aircraft can get so hot that regular finishing tapes can shrink in the sun, causing them to pull away from the surface if not bonded well. To avoid that issue on a black plane, use preshrunk tapes on the surfaces that will receive the most heat exposure along the top of the wing and the fuselage.
    Marty57
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  7. #7

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    I HATE BLACK AIRCRAFT!

    Sorry for shouting. We have a fleet of black Cessnas and Cherokees, and three or four black helicopters based at MYF. When you are above them they disappear. I mean, you cannot see them!

    Ditto with olive drab. I am helping recover a Taylorcraft L-2, and the condition attached to my help is the aircraft remain Cub Yellow until I croak or am no longer flying.

    I followed a 172 in two weeks ago. Tower said spacing was good, but I lost sight of her when she was on short final. Spacing worked, but it closed up pretty fast. Glad I had the tower helping.

    Did I say I hate black aircraft?
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty57 View Post
    Black will get very hot in the sun; that is a given. The tapes can have an issue on black surfaces. With Stewart Systems, like most systems, the tapes on the ribs and other long, streight are not shrunk when applied. Black aircraft can get so hot that regular finishing tapes can shrink in the sun, causing them to pull away from the surface if not bonded well. To avoid that issue on a black plane, use preshrunk tapes on the surfaces that will receive the most heat exposure along the top of the wing and the fuselage.
    Marty57
    The pre-shrunk tapes are the same Polyfiber tapes but pre heated before applying them or are different tapes? If are the same, how do you pre-shrink them (at which temperature)?


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    Quote Originally Posted by dwm View Post
    I have been trying to find information about the pros and cons of painting a Supercub all black (or mostly black)
    DWM;

    My experience has been different than others who've replied here. Every black airplane I've ever seen in flight has been super easy to see - much more so than white airplanes. (note I dislike white airplanes because they seem to disappear - in my experience)

    Airplane color is one of my pet peeves so please forgive me, but we all paint aircraft to be pleasing to look at, rather than easy to see. I'd much rather fly an ugly airplane that can be seen easily than a pretty one in which I'm going to get run over because it blends in. I've read articles claiming that the easiest colors to see in the sky are International Safety Orange and International Safety Yellow.

    That being said, black on a fabric airplane is a bold choice because of the challenges presented by the color to the underlying fabric. I wouldn't not try it, but I would monitor the end result carefully.
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  10. #10
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    I HATE BLACK AIRCRAFT!

    Sorry for shouting. We have a fleet of black Cessnas and Cherokees, and three or four black helicopters based at MYF. When you are above them they disappear. I mean, you cannot see them!

    Ditto with olive drab. I am helping recover a Taylorcraft L-2, and the condition attached to my help is the aircraft remain Cub Yellow until I croak or am no longer flying.

    I followed a 172 in two weeks ago. Tower said spacing was good, but I lost sight of her when she was on short final. Spacing worked, but it closed up pretty fast. Glad I had the tower helping.

    Did I say I hate black aircraft?
    I have the same problem with dark colors and losing the planes against ground clutter. My brother's Taylorcraft is the worst I've flown with so far as it's a very dark navy blue on the wings and tail and the fuselage is white. Shouldn't be hard to spot right? WRONG. The blue blends in with the spruce trees and ground clutter as well as water extremely well and the fuselage just looks like a white dot which up here could be a patch of snow on a hillside. Hardest damn plane to follow ever (especially since he's a few MPH faster than my J3 in cruise).

    Black is pretty bad for spotting. I prefer a brighter plane in case something goes wrong and search and rescue is ever trying to find my plane from the air.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    I HATE BLACK AIRCRAFT!

    Sorry for shouting. We have a fleet of black Cessnas and Cherokees, and three or four black helicopters based at MYF. When you are above them they disappear. I mean, you cannot see them!

    Ditto with olive drab. I am helping recover a Taylorcraft L-2, and the condition attached to my help is the aircraft remain Cub Yellow until I croak or am no longer flying.

    I followed a 172 in two weeks ago. Tower said spacing was good, but I lost sight of her when she was on short final. Spacing worked, but it closed up pretty fast. Glad I had the tower helping.

    Did I say I hate black aircraft?
    Hi Bob,
    haha no worries for shouting, I got the point.
    About if somebody see my or not in the air is not a big deal for me as I will be the only one in the air in many hundreds of miles around.



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  12. #12
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    I don't know about the weights of modern paints, but you may find this of interest.

    Look at the TC for the Waco DGC-7, EGC-7 on page 2, item 309 where they list the additional weights of different colors of paint. Black adds 36 lbs to the empty weight. Not the heaviest as French Grey adds 51 lbs.
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgMakeModel.nsf/0/bf98e6d0fae5df048525673f005d1696/$FILE/ATC639.pdf
    N1PA
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  13. #13

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    Rocket Ronís PA22 is black....his reason for black....frost melts off quickly on those cold winter mornings.


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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedOwlAirfield View Post
    DWM;

    My experience has been different than others who've replied here. Every black airplane I've ever seen in flight has been super easy to see - much more so than white airplanes. (note I dislike white airplanes because they seem to disappear - in my experience)

    Airplane color is one of my pet peeves so please forgive me, but we all paint aircraft to be pleasing to look at, rather than easy to see. I'd much rather fly an ugly airplane that can be seen easily than a pretty one in which I'm going to get run over because it blends in. I've read articles claiming that the easiest colors to see in the sky are International Safety Orange and International Safety Yellow.

    That being said, black on a fabric airplane is a bold choice because of the challenges presented by the color to the underlying fabric. I wouldn't not try it, but I would monitor the end result carefully.
    Thank you for your opinion


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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    I don't know about the weights of modern paints, but you may find this of interest.

    Look at the TC for the Waco DGC-7, EGC-7 on page 2, item 309 where they list the additional weights of different colors of paint. Black adds 36 lbs to the empty weight. Not the heaviest as French Grey adds 51 lbs.
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgMakeModel.nsf/0/bf98e6d0fae5df048525673f005d1696/$FILE/ATC639.pdf
    I don't know in between different colors, but it looks like there is a noticeable difference in weight in between using the heavier polyurethane (Ranthane) or the lighter vinyl base paint (Poly-Tone).




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    Quote Originally Posted by RedOwlAirfield View Post
    DWM;


    Airplane color is one of my pet peeves so please forgive me, but we all paint aircraft to be pleasing to look at, rather than easy to see. I'd much rather fly an ugly airplane that can be seen easily than a pretty one in which I'm going to get run over because it blends in. I've read articles claiming that the easiest colors to see in the sky are International Safety Orange and International Safety Yellow.
    I've thought about this quite a lot and wondered why there aren't more orange airplanes out there. My ride is brown with yellow stripes, but if (when) I repaint it, I'll likely go with blaze orange. I like the look, but mostly I like to be visible.
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  17. #17

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    I can count 7 black Cubs that I know off the top of my head. I haven't heard anything negative from the owners.

    When I chose my paint scheme for the Wildcat it was blue and gray. The orange was a late addition and without question it's what people see and comment about.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I've thought about this quite a lot and wondered why there aren't more orange airplanes out there. My ride is brown with yellow stripes, but if (when) I repaint it, I'll likely go with blaze orange. I like the look, but mostly I like to be visible.
    Here where I live (in a hugh ranch in the middle of Patagonia) to be visible by other airplanes is something I do not care much. I am more worried about the downside of having a dark color exposed to the sun, although it is not too hot. I love the looking of a black airplane, I find it very unusual.


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  19. #19
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    A local guy had a black RV6 that was bad about avgas coming out of the vent tubes if it was topped off when parked in the sun, it didn’t take long at all for the gas to heat up and expand. Can’t imagine that would be great on a fabric plane.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by CenterHillAg View Post
    A local guy had a black RV6 that was bad about avgas coming out of the vent tubes if it was topped off when parked in the sun, it didnít take long at all for the gas to heat up and expand. Canít imagine that would be great on a fabric plane.
    If the fabric plane is painted with polyurethane, nothing should happen since itís resistant to chemical products.


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    Quote Originally Posted by dwm View Post
    If the fabric plane is painted with polyurethane, nothing should happen since itís resistant to chemical products.
    The yellow PPG DUHS paint used by CubCrafters is easily stained by the blue dye in 100LL. Almost impossible to remove if left more than a few hours.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frequent_flyer View Post
    The yellow PPG DUHS paint used by CubCrafters is easily stained by the blue dye in 100LL. Almost impossible to remove if left more than a few hours.
    the same happens for the Poly-Tone (the gray color CubCrafters use for the belly and wings) which vinyl base paint, if you do not clean the fuel, bugs, bird droppings, etc for a long time then the stain does not come off.


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  23. #23
    Marty57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwm View Post
    The pre-shrunk tapes are the same Polyfiber tapes but pre heated before applying them or are different tapes? If are the same, how do you pre-shrink them (at which temperature)?


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    They are different tapes; already shrunk when you get the new roll. You can't pre shrink your own tapes; at least I have never seen that done. Aircraft fabric shrinks 10% as you go through the shrinking process from 250-350 degrees. Preshrunk tapes will not shrink and can't be used in any area where heat is needed to form the tape, like around a wing tip. As the name implies, the fabric is preshrunk and will no longer shrink like standard tapes when exposed to heat.
    Marty57
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    Psalm 36:7 "High and low among men find refuge in the shadow of His wing"
    www.marty2plus2.com
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  24. #24

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    We have a new flight school with butt-ugly Cherokees. Truly ugly paint scheme, blue and white. But by golly you can spot them miles out! Hard to argue with success.

    I prefer an orange yellow. The Tcart gets 140 PolyTone. Looks great so far.
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  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwm View Post
    Here where I live (in a hugh ranch in the middle of Patagonia)……


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    Are you looking for any more friends? Judging from your location I could be easy to get along with
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  26. #26
    skukum12's Avatar
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    Just like a black car, every bit of dust and dirt stands out like a sore thumb. Makes for a miserable looking freshly painted plane.

    There is something about how light and shadow work on a black Cub that make it look like its time for a recover. I drive by a black Cub at Lake Hood and I know for a fact when it was painted. Its never looked good.
    Last edited by skukum12; 07-10-2021 at 08:43 AM.
    "Always looking up"
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  27. #27

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    The financier J.P. Morgan once said "there are only 2 colors for a boat, white or black, and only a fool would paint his black".
    Of course this was for boats, but pretty specific.
    John
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  28. #28
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    I fly a black 170. It does get warm in the direct sun, great for getting the frost off in colder weather. Hasn’t been a problem in the summer. Of course it’s not fabric.
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  29. #29
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Here is an all black airplane.


    The story behind it: https://simpleflying.com/playboy-dc-9-jet-fate/
    N1PA
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  30. #30

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    At least he won’t get hit from behind. That 170, however - a Cirrus driver could corkscrew right in to his black . . .
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  31. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I've thought about this quite a lot and wondered why there aren't more orange airplanes out there. My ride is brown with yellow stripes, but if (when) I repaint it, I'll likely go with blaze orange. I like the look, but mostly I like to be visible.

    Mr. Brian;

    I've only ever seen one - orange aircraft that is. We called it the flying pumpkin. It was very easy to see in the air - and honestly I liked the color. It was a Cessna 150 that my friend bought for resale. Don't recall the number right now, but I'll bet it's out there somewhere. This all happened back in the late 80's or early 90's

    Like you, the next aircraft (and all subsequent aircraft) that I have cause to paint will be Bright Orange.

    ROA
    Last edited by RedOwlAirfield; 07-10-2021 at 08:02 PM. Reason: word choice
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  32. #32

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    The darker shade of yellow (lock haven yellow) and bright orange are very visible colors especially in wooded terrain. There is a company Crowman with cub yellow S61 Fire helicopters, very easy to see from far away, looks like flying bananas.
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  33. #33

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    If you want to be visible against any background add flashing lights. Lots of lights. No color is immune from disappearing into the background. Especially a cluttered City background.
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  34. #34
    Hardtailjohn's Avatar
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    Here's a chart that DuPont sent out a while back, showing the temperature relations of certain colors. There are variables in all this, as in the formula of the paint, so it's not absolute in concrete, but you get the idea.....
    John
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    At least he won’t get hit from behind. . . .
    Sigh . . . Nope. . . . Can't get myself into trouble again.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.
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  36. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinJ View Post
    Are you looking for any more friends? Judging from your location I could be easy to get along with
    Haha, you are welcome to come anytime!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty57 View Post
    They are different tapes; already shrunk when you get the new roll. You can't pre shrink your own tapes; at least I have never seen that done. Aircraft fabric shrinks 10% as you go through the shrinking process from 250-350 degrees. Preshrunk tapes will not shrink and can't be used in any area where heat is needed to form the tape, like around a wing tip. As the name implies, the fabric is preshrunk and will no longer shrink like standard tapes when exposed to heat.
    Marty57
    Understood, thanks!


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  38. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    If you want to be visible against any background add flashing lights. Lots of lights. No color is immune from disappearing into the background. Especially a cluttered City background.
    Hi Stewart, I am looking for the opposite, to not be very visible.


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  39. #39
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    If that's the case, use combinations of greens and browns with a few slashes of black. Works well around heavy vegetation. Looking down, use the predominant colors of the vegetation. Looking up, should be color of the sky.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

  40. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    If that's the case, use combinations of greens and browns with a few slashes of black. Works well around heavy vegetation. Looking down, use the predominant colors of the vegetation. Looking up, should be color of the sky.

    Web
    How about black on the back (polyurethane or poly-tone) and silver (poly tone, easy to repair) on the tail and wings like the CubCrafters? I donít think silver could get as hot as black.

    Click image for larger version. 

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