Federal Standards and Reference Color Charts for Modelers

Definition of Federal Standard color system

The Federal Standard color system is a United States Federal Standard, issued by the GSA (General Services Administration). The standard is also widely referred to as FED-STD-595, FS-595, or similar names with the version letter appended (source from Wikipedia)
FS Numbers are the universal coloring system used by modellers when painting aircraft and are often referred to by other paint manufacturers to best describe the color they are reproducing in their range.The colors in the Federal Standard set have no official names, just five-digit numbers.

The FS 595 variations:

FS 595 – The initial standard FED-STD-595 issued in March 1956 contained 358 colors
FS 595A – Revision A issued in January 1968 counted 437 colors
FS 595B – Revision B issued in January 1994 counted 611 colors
FS 595C – Revision C issued in January 16, 2008 counted 650 colors

FS 595C – Revision C Change Notice 1 issued in July 31, 2008 (changing the numbers of 8 of colors added in revision C)

Revision History

FS 595
1 March 1956

Federal Standard 595 was originally issued as a replacement for TT-C-595 “Colors for Ready-Mixed Paint”. It was a thorough revision of the latter, introducing completely new five-digit color identifications numbers in place of four-digit designators in TT-C-595. The initial standard contained 358 colors.

Interim Change Notice 1
23 Dec 1959

Added interim color X-14050

Addendum 2
9 May 1960

This addendum was issued by US Army Signal Equipment Support Agency and assumedly was intended as temporary “operational” measure. Colors 14087, 24087, and 34087 (Olive Drab) were replaced with X-14087, X-24087 and X-34087.

Revision A (FED-STD-595A), 1968-1989
Rev A
2 January 1968

This revision was approved with 438 colors, but issued with 437.

Rev A Chg 1
2 Jan 1968

Deleted the 37035 Black in favor of 37038 Black.

Rev A Chg 2
17 Apr 1972

Eight new colors were added in this revision to a total of 445.

Rev A Chg 3
28 Apr 1972

This change introduced 23 new colors to a total of 468. Colors 14050-X, 14087-X, 24087-X and 34087-X were introduced permanently to the standard and thus dropped the suffix “X”.

Rev A Chg 4
1 Aug 1973

27 new colors were introduced to a total of 495.

Rev A Chg 5
1 Mar 1979

Four colors were added to a total of 499.

New documentation edition
March 1979

Distributable documents (fan decks and binders) were entirely reprinted, but with an incorrect shade for 34087 caused by printing error.

Rev A Chg 6
1 Feb 1980

This change issued a self-adhesive chip for 34087 to cover the “incorrect” shade included in the 1979 reprint of documentation.

Rev A Chg 7
1 Jan 1984

The colors 14087 and 24087 (visually different from “correct” 34087 issued in the previous change) were renamed to 14084 and 24084. 34087 was renamed to 34088. This change also added 54 new colors to a total of 550.

Rev A Chg 8
30 Aug 1984

This change was limited to cancellation of Chg 6 to prevent continued use of color designation 34087.

Rev A Chg 9
29 May 1985

Eight new colors were introduced to a total of 558 colors. Curiously, the new colors were published only as 3 x 5 cards, not as chips for the FS 595 fan deck.

Revision B (FED-STD-595B), 1989-today
Rev B
15 Dec 1989

Introduced 30 new colors to a total of 588. Included an addendum of five colors that were previously missed in printed documentation.

Rev B Chg 1
11 Jan 1994

Added 25 new colors to a total of 613.

Federal Standard 595 Color Numbering System

Each FS 595 color is identified by a five-digit code. Colors in the standard are not to be referenced without giving the five-digit code, otherwise the reference is ambiguous. The colors in the standard have no official names.

First Digit

The first digit of the color number indicates the color at a level or degree of gloss. The colors are divided only into three generalized finishes; gloss, semi—gloss and flat. For ease in judging the color matching the color number closest in gloss to that required should be specified.

The first digit can be 1,2 or 3, indicating the level of sheen:
First digit Finish Gloss level (0-100)
1 Gloss 80 or higher
2 Semi-gloss 30 – 45
3 Flat or Lusterless 6 or lower

Note that the existence of a color chip 1xxxx in the Federal Standard specification doesn’t imply that there is a color chip for 3xxxx. Indeed, it is something of a curiosity that in the 595B fan deck some color shades are represented twice or even three times – as gloss, semi-gloss and flat, while other occur only as flat or only as gloss. Why it is so remains a mystery, but it is an awkward reminder that the origin of each chip has been actual paint used somewhere for some purpose. In practice, this peculiarity makes the FS fan deck difficult to browse.
In practice, references to such “ virtual” chips built on the principle “same color, but different sheen” have become a widespread norm. This color server follows the same practice, so any color in the FS 595B range can be requested either as 1-, 2-, or 3-. Of course, level of sheen cannot be reproduced on computer screen, so each of the three searches will render the same result.
Second Digit

The second digit of the color number indicates an arbitrarily selected color classification grouping.
Second digit Predominate:
0 Brown
1 Red
2 Orange
3 Yellow
4 Green
5 Blue
6 Gray
7 Miscellaneous (whites, blacks etc.)
8 Fluorescent

Last Three Digits

The last three digits of the color number are assigned in the approximate order of increasing reflectance, meaning the percent of incident light reflected from a colored area, where zero percent reflectance is black and 100 percent is white.

Other Color Standards

RAL Classic
British Standard 4800

British Standard381

If you want to purchase the Notebooks here is one source:

Hobby Colors & Accessories

Reference Color Charts for Modelers (download in PDF)

Humbrol Colour Chart

Humbrol Cross Reference

Model Master Acrylic Colors

Model Master FS Colors

Model Master Metalizer

Revell enamel paint color chart – Gloss colors

Revell Enamel

Vallejo Color Chart

AKAN Color Chart (For purchases follow this link: www.hobbycolours.com)
The reference list of Color Charts will be updated…………

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