AMPS is all about armor modeling and the preservation of armor and mechanized heritage.

MCW Military Paints

Catalog Number:
MCW Military Paints
Monday, October 1, 2018
Model Car World/Model Car World Automotive Finishes
Retail Price:
$7.50 per 1 oz.
Reviewed By:
Mark Norman


Model Car World Military Finishes

German and Soviet Colors

 paint 1.jpg

Model Car World of Massillon, Ohio produces a line of military finishes that offer several benefits to armor modelers.  Model car builders will recognize this long time manufacturer of quality automotive finishes.  Known for their wide range of colors (e.g. Ligier F1 blue). MCW has offered the following military finishes for review.

              MIL-3001 Russian Armor Green Gloss Lacquer

              MIL -1001 Schwarzgrau RAL 7021 Gloss Lacquer

              MIL-1002 Schokoladenbraun RAL 8017 Gloss Lacquer

              MIL-1003 Dunkelgelb Gloss Lacquer

              MIL-1004 Olivgrun 1943 Gloss Lacquer

              MIL-5004 65% Flat Clear Lacquer

Lacquer paints create the very strong finish model car builders subject to rigorous sanding and polishing.  Armor modelers can share benefits of a finish that endures layers of weathering from chemicals and pigments.  Besides lacquer’s inherent strength MCW military finishes have some additional advantages.

Ready to use – these paints are pre-mixed with high grade automotive thinner.  There is no need to understand mixing ratios or understand what thinner works best.  Besides eliminating confusion this characteristic helps reduce time experimenting to find what works best. 

Fast drying time – layering of paint for multi-color themes, as well as, masking over the paint can be safely done in as little as 10 minutes.   Opacity can be achieved with only a few strokes of the air brush without paint run. 

Rugged finish – the paints dry glossy ready for markings and washes without a need for an extra gloss coat.  MCW offers a dull coat lacquer as a barrier between the base coat and weathering.  However, the strong bonding of pigments in lacquer paints makes the need for a barrier layer an optional step for light weathering.   

Low PSI application – these lacquers are easily applied at low airbrush air pressures.  Freehand soft edge camouflage patterns are easier at low PSI.

Smooth nozzle flow – during a long airbrush session acrylic paints often have paint build up on the nozzle. That means your airbrush session is interrupted while you clean the nozzle.  MCW lacquers flow very smoothly. I never experienced paint build up on the airbrush during my tests.  Similar results can be found with enamels but the MCW lacquers worked even better for me.

In summary, MCW Military Finishes have the potential to save time by eliminating steps during finishing. 

Packaging – paints come in 1 oz. jars with a screw top and a metal BB inside to help during shaking.  Remember these paints are pre-thinned and airbrush ready.  If used judiciously, based on my judgement, each container can paint 2-3 models. As I said above, I was able to reach an opaque layer with only a few passes of the airbrush. Multiple coats applied were not necessary.

Color Fidelity - True color accuracy is difficult to prove for a variety of reasons. However the samples I  reviewed appear to be excellent matches using Internet resources combined with a general feel for these colors .  In this review we tested the Russian armor green, Panzer Grey and late war German three color camouflage colors.    

Range of colors – MCW produces 23 colors specifically for armor modelers.  They include colors for British Armor (1), German Armor (6), Russian (1), and US Army (15).  

 paint 2.jpg

Russian Armor Green and Schwarzgrau RAL 7021

paint 3.jpg

These paints dry glossy making the application of washes and decals an easy first step. Russian Armor Green will usually be applied as a base coat. This color has a warmth I’m used to seeing on models of these subjects.  Trying to illustrate this I sprayed a coat of Model Master Russian Topside on the back half of this test model for comparison.  Digital photographs can be deceiving especially when representing color.  The MCW Russian Armor Green covers the front while Model Master the rear.  Researching your project will help with color selection but sometimes it comes down to your own judgement.

 paint 4.jpg

Typically the panzer gray finish will be applied as a overall color for a base coat.  This is where the finishes take full advantage of the lacquers characteristic of achieving opacity quickly.

paint 5.jpg

Above is a comparison between a finished model using the Mr. Color panzer gray modulation set.  Remember the darker appearance of the MCW gray is because the paint goes on as a gloss coat.  Once a dull coat is applied the color will tone down and be much lighter and be a close match the Mr. Color panzer gray.

 paint 6.jpg

German Late War Finish Colors

              MIL-1002 SchokoladenBraun RAL 8017 Gloss Lacquer

              MIL-1003 Dunkelgelb Gloss Lacquer

              MIL-1004 Olivgrun 1943 Gloss Lacquer

For this test I applied the colors on a spare Panther hull to build up a rough three color camouflage pattern.  After applying a base coat of Dunkelgelb and waiting a few minutes I was able to use blue 3M masking tape to mask off the second and third colors of the scheme.  Some popular paints may dry to the touch in a few minutes but I have learned to let them sit up to 24 hours to be sure they have set. It's called letting the paint "gas out."  Not so with MCW’s lacquers.  After ten minutes the finish was hard and I could start masking with confidence.  Please excuse the unlikely three part scheme, this is a paint test..

 paint 7.jpg

Above you can see the hull after my rough attempt to mask the colors.  There was no bleed over between colors when I pulled off the masking tape. A slush or pin wash can be applied now if that is your preferred way to begin the weathering process.

 paint 8.png

If you prefer a soft edge pattern the MCW lacquers, using a low PSI on your airbrush, will give you the flexibility to do it freehand. The effect is helped along with the lacquer’s ability to achieve opacity I've come back to a few times. Using other paints I sometimes have to spend more time touching up than I did with the MCW finishes.  

 paint 9.jpg

The 65% Flat Clear Lacquer can now be applied in several coats to achieve a dead flat finish.  Armored vehicles are metal and in many applications should have a dull sheen for realism.  Regardless of your preference, dead flat or a more stain finish, the gradual build up of the MCW clear coat matt gives you some control over the result. To modulate the effect stop several times during application to let the flat coat dry and see how the level of “fatness” is progressing.

paint 10.jpg


Finally, above, I applied weathering using a variety of oils, enamels and pigments to test the paints resistance to these  chemicals. I did not see any degrading in the finish.

paint 11.jpg

A word on safety.  Lacquers should be used in a well ventilated area.  That means the fumes have somewhere to vent and don’t get the chance to build up.  Also, a mask respirator should be worn at all times.  I have one with replaceable filters that I change on a regular basis.  Be it lacquers, enamels or acrylics, it’s wise to use these safety tips REGARDLESS of the paint or finishing media you use.  No matter what your paint choice is it’s better to play it safe and wear the mask all the time. 

How to order...

 paint 12.png

Link to MCW Finishes

MCW finishes can be ordered on-line. Besides the armor colors there are military aircraft colors.  

Closing Comments

The MCW military finishes used in this review are excellent for use on AFV models and I highly recommend them.  I have used their scale automotive paints on my car models and the rugged finish has held up well to polishing.  Their smooth application by airbrush will be appreciated by armor modelers.  Besides their use in general modeling I can see myself using these paints when I have a short deadline to finish a project, or just want a no hassle way to speed along the build without sacrificing quality.  I’m looking forward to using the Olive Drab colors on my next Allied build.

 Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.

Thanks goes out to Model Car World Finishes for this review kit.

Reviewed by Mark Norman, Hudson Valley AMPS Chapter


If you liked this review, consider joining AMPS. Your annual membership
includes six copies of AMPS's magazine, Boresight,
and helps to support our ongoing reviews.

Click here for more information about joining AMPS