View Full Version : Paint It Black

12-06-2001, 10:29 PM
The other day I was looking at the blue pre-production A-Wings. It gave me an idea, why aren't ships painted black? I understand from a movie standpoint, but as general strategy, black ships would have an advantage in combat. Sure they still could be seen on radar yet the visual cues would be extremely limited. Possibly this idea has been explored in the Star Wars universe?

Snake Plissken
"A little human compassion"

Rollo Tomassi
12-07-2001, 03:34 AM
Actually, in the New Jedi Order series, the Falcon is so famous and recognizable, Han paint's it matte black. Then to top it off, the only repair materials are yellow, so after a few months, the Falcon is black with random yellow plates welded all over it. An odd sight, but one I'd welcome in toy form!

12-07-2001, 03:42 AM
From a technical standpoint, here are the reasons I came up with:

Added weight - painting an entire ship can add a surprisingly large amount of weight, which makes the ship fly differently in space.

Too invisible - while you want to avoid your enemies' view, you don't want to get run down by your own comrades during a battle. Plus, docking your ship would be VERY difficult.

Heat absorbtion - black absorbs heat, and while its extremely cold in space, during a battle, you don't want your systems overheating from a nearby sun or other large power source... like a Death Star.

Rollo Tomassi
12-07-2001, 09:57 AM
Added weight??! In space? No gravity. No weight. No air resistance. No mass displacement. Nothing. It's a vacuum.

But for arguments sake let's say weight was a factor.:rolleyes: and a coat of paint DID affect the performance of a fighter. Then wouldn't variances in pilot weight affect them even more? A coat of paint weighs 10 lbs (amd I'm being generous). If a multi-ton fighter craft will be thrown off by 10 lbs, then somebody like Porkins will crash the whole dern thing...oh wait. Porkins DID crash. So that means....Luke defeated the Death Star because he weighed EXACTLY the right amount!!! It had nothing to do with the force or midichlorians!! Somebody call George!! he has to add that into the S.E. rereleases! He needs to shoot extra footage!!

Heat absorbtion?? Again, it's space. The temp is ridiculously low. Any heat being generated is from the craft itself. Not a heat source light years away.

But for the sake of argument, there would be a slight difference in temperature between a black paint job and a white one. Let's say a couple of degrees (and I'm being verrrrry generous with that one). Again if the vehicle is THAT touchy to temperature variation, the pilot would be a bigger factor than the paint job, retaining body heat and so forth. So a fat guy like Porkins would generate too much body heat and..ohmigod:eek:
I think JT is on to something!!!

I agree with the visibility factor. Being invisible to the enemy is not worth flying into your own guys because you couldn't see them either.

12-07-2001, 10:33 AM

I stopped reading books after Vision of the Future due to time constraints. I am nearly completely "in the dark" about what has happened since then. The concept of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion reminds me of the Borg from Star Trek and killing Chewbacca struck a chord with me. Such events should be left to the near of a series, not the beginning.

But back to black, such a matte black Falcon with yellow repairs would be an awesome EU vehicle. I think it would draw more interest from kids and collectors alike than a Crashed Snowspeeder.

As for strategical concerns, having your entire fleet painted black would result in everybody crashing into one another. However a single squadron could be given the color to be the first wave of attack or some special group (ie. Navy's Blue Angels). Coupled with radar jamming, these ships would be just as effective cloaked.

Snake Plissken
"A little human compassion"

12-07-2001, 04:16 PM
black black black... I can see it being used as it is here on earth for recon' missions and stealth but not for an entire squadron. And with radaror some sort of radar like tracking system you don't really need to see the ship to pinpoint it for missile attack or laser fire to be effective. Here on earth we have our protective atmosphere, in space matt black ships would absorb much more radiating heat from near stars as well as other types of radiation we don't experience due to the filters in the atmosphere. Space is cold but radiation aint. Thus the ships would incur some problems with the navigation equipment due to interference and such like. Aint this why Nasa vessels are mostly white? Or at least reflective. Surely the vastness of space is enough to hide a ship in? With 360 degrees to keep track of you can't see everywhere at once so it's easier to sneak up to a safe distance and rely on the tracking device to guide a laser over a huge distance to hit a tiny target area with devastating accuracy. They could have destroyed the death star from an orbit around Yavin if they'd stopped whizzing round and concentrated on the trajectory tangents and got the math right. hypothetically of course. :)

A black Falcon would indeed look cool. there's something about black and yellow that's inherently seductive with a hint of danger.
I'd buy one.

jedi master sal
12-07-2001, 04:30 PM
hey EJ were you thinking of BEES or possibly snakes or could it ahve been the Pittsburgh Steelers? Or just plain old caution tape or police crime scene tape?

Well I guess the idea of a b&y Falcon can't be too out of the question. look at the rest of the SW universe.

El Chuxter
12-07-2001, 04:41 PM
NASA stopped painting the fuel tanks for space shuttles years ago, and I believe it was due to the weight and cost of the paint.

But black, white, chartreuse. . . I don't think it'd matter in deep space with very little light to reflect or be absorbed.

jedi master sal
12-07-2001, 04:47 PM
besides the mynock can sense the heat of the ships over great distances and black paint wouldn't stop them.

12-07-2001, 05:25 PM
Originally posted by El Chuxter
NASA stopped painting the fuel tanks for space shuttles years ago, and I believe it was due to the weight and cost of the paint.

But black, white, chartreuse. . . I don't think it'd matter in deep space with very little light to reflect or be absorbed.

Yeah, you got a point. but I still see pictures of the ships that reach space and stay up there painted white or silver. The fuel tanks are jettisoned within the atmosphere or stratosphere or whichever layer it is. they fall to earth. That space station they're building is all white aint it? MIR was white, Voyager the deep space exploration craft was white and the other one I always forget the name of is white also, mostly. :)

El Chuxter
12-07-2001, 06:40 PM
Ya know, now that I think about it, I believe the shuttle tanks went unpainted because it was heavy, the paint was expensive, and the tank was destined to be jettisoned and burn up in reentry. . . .

12-07-2001, 10:59 PM
Rollo, we're talking about painting an entire ship with a paint that can withstand atmospheric reentry, that's gonna be more a lot more than 10 pounts for a small ship like an X-wing, and probably hundreds of thousands of pounds for a Star Destroyer - that added weight will affect mass which the ship has to fight whenever it wants to maneuver, thanks to our friend momentum. You don't just stop on a dime in space simply because there's no resistance or gravitational pull, you have your own momentum to work against.

As for issues of heat, if they're in the dead of space, they don't need to hide from their enemies because they are in the middle of nowhere AND there's almost no light source at all, so the ship could be painted dayglo orange and still be virtually invisible. Only around light sources like suns and artificially-lit space stations will the color of the ship matter -- and there is a lot more heat near those.

12-07-2001, 11:12 PM
I would think, as a rule, that space faring ships would be required to be painted light colors in order to keep them from slamming into each other in heavy traffic areas. Keep in mind that many of the transports used by the Rebels were converted civilian craft which would have no need for stealth.

Besides, any ship nearby would be visible to scanners long before in came within your line of sight anyways. So black paint would be somewhat pointless.

Maybe pirate ships, with heavy jammers would be interested in taking the extra precaution of keeping themselves hard to see to the human eye.

Hmmmmm, that brings up another point. Alien races who can see into the infrared spectrum would be able to spot any ship in space no matter what. In which case using the ultra heat of a nearby star to hide behind would be more prudent.

Rollo Tomassi
12-08-2001, 12:35 PM
JT, I was thinking more along the lines of fighter craft, than Star Destroyers. You've got a point there, but on the other hand, how many Star Destroyers A. get painted and B. end up in the atmosphere of planets. I always figured they weren't designed as landing craft and therefore wouldn't go anywhere near a planet's surface.

12-09-2001, 05:52 AM
Either way you put I think that a black painted ship would look cool.If I could get my hands on another Falcon.I might paint it black with yellow parts.I think it would also be cool to see a Black X-Wing.

12-10-2001, 03:00 PM
Gotta agree with you there JT, the weight of paint on a starship entering an atmosphere would have to be way more than 10 lbs. 5 Gallons of latex paint that you use to coat a 1380 sq ft home ways WAY more than 10 lbs and latex does not weather well in the sun at all and we have the benefit of an atmosphere!

Rollo, the paint that you propose would have to be doped the hell out of with thermally resistive material. Once you do that you have to figure in the effects of radition. Cosmic radiation has an incredible mev field. We are talking hard Gamma rays with a frequency 10E20 Hz. It has nearly the most energy within its field second only to radiation you get from particle accelerators and cyclotrons. These things shoot through anything like bullets, fry electronic circuits and the like. Electronic components are only capable of withstanding 1E8 RAD period. The way NASA gets away with it is they surround their critical components with sacrifical element kind of like heat sinks on motherboards used to collect heat. That and there is the benefit that gamma type radiation degrades exponentially as you increase your distance from the source. Still, if you want to careen around stars you got other problems...

In order for you to have a paint that is tolerant to this bombardment you have to place something like lead into it as well. Lead is dense and heavy. Plus paint will not withstand temperature gradients ranging from approx -300 deg F and 1500 deg F (I'm providing a WAG on the top temperature here) in the space of those few minutes during re-entry. Some materials, such as stainless steel, cannot be painted on anyway.

So first you need to have a ship made of Gamma tolerant material that can withstand hard cosmic radiation, and once you figure that out make sure it has a molecular composition that allows you to paint on it, then engineer a paint that is temperature AND gamma tolerant. You won't get that with 10 lbs on a fighter the size of a tomcat I don't care what universe you live in. :P

12-10-2001, 06:23 PM
Ahhhhh, the nice thing about Star Wars is that none of that stuff is even relevant.:p

12-10-2001, 06:40 PM
True. True. I guess Han did manage to find such material in the Millenium Falcon. :D

12-10-2001, 08:36 PM
The thing about star wars is that it all defies science and nature laws. how do ships manouevre in space with just those tiny engines stuck at the back and no directional thrusters? What powers those deflector shields? How can a tiny ship like an X-wing make it forward and back through the planetary atmospheric that burns up mightier items as they pass through?
how on earth did they shift a death star across a galaxy? A vessel the size of a moon and it just glides around like a balloon.
How did they refract the laser beams that destroyed Alderaan. several beams shoot out at once converge on a central point and then merge into one directionally differnt beam that focuses itself on a planet? I don't think so. Light doesn't work like that. It looks good is the answer. It moves the story along or helps to. It makes a nice visual to accompany some dialogue or wemphasise a plot point....... It just looks nice and better than boring old reality and real science and the limitations of our real world technologies.

Rollo Tomassi
12-10-2001, 11:56 PM
Or how does a lightsaber's beam (a beam of light) just STOP after a meter?

There's actually a book out there called "The Science of Star Wars" where this physics professor who also happens to be a huge SW fan (or perhaps it's a huge fan who happens to be a physics professor) tries to explain all the non-sensical hooey of the SW galaxy. Most of the time, it CAN be explained away, but it's verrrrrrrrry tenuous. For instance, hypothetically, lightsaber blades are molecular thin strands of plasma filament that "unfurl" when ignited. It's an interesting book because first it explains why it's NOT possible. For instance, The Millenium Falcon and it's tiny rear mounted engine would need fuel measured in billions of cubic meters inorder to make the trip from Tatooine to Alderaan at the speed it does (providing it's structurally sound enough to keep it's black hole matter/anti matter engine from obliterating the ship).

12-11-2001, 09:14 AM
If we don't care about the scientific aspects of SW, then why do we care that the ships aren't painted black? I mean, if we're going to throw it all out the window, then really, does it matter that the ships aren't painted black? Does it matter that the Emperor's plot is ridiculously short-sighted as he simply could have built a ship-sized wall in the superstructure after letting the plans get stolen?

12-11-2001, 09:48 AM
I guess JT is right.It doesn't matter as long as we love the story.But it is fun to talk and try to figure out how and why something works. You know like the old one about why the paper on the staw is out the outside if it is the inside you don't want dirty.Or does the light really go off when you close the refrig's door. :D

12-11-2001, 02:58 PM
Originally posted by Rollo Tomassi
Added weight??! In space? No gravity. No weight. No air resistance. No mass displacement. Nothing. It's a vacuum.

But for arguments sake let's say weight was a factor.:rolleyes: and a coat of paint DID affect the performance of a fighter. Then wouldn't variances in pilot weight affect them even more? A coat of paint weighs 10 lbs (amd I'm being generous). If a multi-ton fighter craft will be thrown off by 10 lbs, then somebody like Porkins will crash the whole dern thing...

Though I think that weight is more of an issue for a fighter during take-off and reentry (Yes, you forgot about the part WITH gravity), the idea that a paint coat would add only about 10 lbs is somewhat stilted, especially if you consider that to be generous. A gallon of laytex house paint (not suitable for painting spacecraft) weighs at least 10 lbs. Do you honestly think you could paint something as large as an X-Wing or A-Wing with a GALLON of paint?!

Also, to touch on the point about heat transfer. I don't think the issue was the "background stars", hundreds of light years away, but rather the local suns (like say near Tatooin or Endor). Rollo may be surprised to discover that the Earth is a relative stone's throw from the sun, yet, despite the frigid cold of space, we are kept nice and warm by comparison. Funny isn't it?

I don't usually get drawn into these speculative posts, but the concept that painting an entire star fighter would add a mere 10 lbs. was too much to resist.

12-11-2001, 03:56 PM
It all comes down to the fact that Star Trek is for tech geeks and Star Wars is for visionaries.

Snake Plissken
"A little human compassion"

12-11-2001, 11:43 PM
Part of me doesn't even feel like dignifying Snake's comments with a response, but then there's the part of me that says, "Snake, in my humble opinion, that has got to be the stupidest, most-offensive thing I've seen all day - if SW fans are such 'visionaries', then how come they're not all out making their OWN successful line of movies instead of arguing about whether Palpatine was Darth Sidious?" :crazed:

12-12-2001, 10:06 AM

Have you heard of "irony?" Don't you remember my whole take of Episode II packaging? Crikey. I guess I must use :D , :confused: , or :Pirate: to get my feelings across this medium, seems no other way.

Snake Plissken

"An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn't it ironic, don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
And who would've thought, it figures..."

Rollo Tomassi
12-12-2001, 10:18 AM
Originally typed by Obi Man: Knockoff Jedi Knight
if SW fans are such 'visionaries', then how come they're not all out making their OWN successful line of movies instead of arguing about whether Palpatine was Darth Sidious?"

:confused: But Palpatine is Darth Sidiou.... oh.

I see your point, JT...never mind....:D

Seriously, the whole paint thing. The protective radiation protection paint job would have to be on there regardless and it's weight would have been taken into account when designing and building the craft. Slopping some red paint on an A-Wing or Yellow striping on a Y-Wing would make less of an impact than a fat fighter pilot in the ships handling. Again, I'm talking small fighters and not kilometer long Star Destroyers..

12-13-2001, 03:42 PM
You want stealth in space? You don't want black, you want CHROME!

And it's not about weight in space, it's about MASS.

Paint is not cheap, either. The Rebellion was more concerned about keeping the ships flying, not making a fashion statement. And the Empire was all about striking terror into the hearts of its prey. Check out the Walkers: dumb dumb dumb idea, but beautifully menacing as they lumbered forward, unimpeded by turret fire, advancing like a herd of zombie predators. You'll never see that in Trek.

12-13-2001, 10:20 PM
Iron-e? Is that a new vitamin?

Anyway, all I have is text, so unless you make some :D or ;) or :crazed: or something, I won't know you're using "irony".

Rollo, the paint itself has to be radiation protected because otherwise, the radiation might simply tear the paint off the ship.

MrPL, if they have a chrome ship for stealth, won't they see it coming when they have a perpendicular vector? They'll see themselves and realize "hey, that's me, I better shoot that thing that's reflecting me!", won't they?

12-14-2001, 08:20 AM
All I know is that when the guys at ILM did a CGI Queen's Starship for Episode I, they said it was practically invisible, especially against a backdrop of stars. They had to fudge the effects to get the thing to show up on film at all. And given the speeds these ships travel, by the time you see your OWN reflection (which would still seem twice as far away as an undistorted surface of the ship), it'd be too late anyway. You might have time for a quick, "Hey, isn't that..." BOOM.

Besides, "lasers" would be reflected right off the shiny hulls! You know, like Cylon Warrior armor!

Rollo Tomassi
12-14-2001, 10:47 AM
ARRRGHHH!! The "radiation protected paint" could be any color!!! Red, white, matte black!!! The COLOR of the ship would not affect it's performance IN THE ZERO GRAVITY OF SPACE!!! THERE IS NO "WEIGHT" OF PAINT IN SPACE!!:crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :crazed: :cry: :greedy: :happy: :Pirate: :kiss: :dead: :stupid: :evil: :mad: ;) :) :( ;) :p :o :confused: :sur: :happy: :Pirate: :eek: :rolleyes: :mad: :rolleyes: ;) ;) :D :D :frus: :zzz: :cry: :rolleyes: :) :( :o :mad: :kiss: :crazed: :crazed: :evil: :confused: :rolleyes: :cool: :D ;) :o :) :evil: :sur: :frus: :mad: :p ;) :( :o ;) :rolleyes: :cool: :D :D :) :( :p :rolleyes: :confused: :zzz: :happy: :stupid: :evil: :confused: :mad: ;)

12-14-2001, 02:25 PM
Actually, "No gravity in space" is not entirely true. I know we are getting off the subject of pain colors, but I really couldn't let that statement go without rebuttal. Even a quasar situated 2 galaxies away exerts some gravitational force on a starship. Granted the gravity field is so weak from distances that we are talking about that the effect is negligable, but it is still there. Gravity after all is what causes bodies to orbit around each other. Moons rotate around planets, planets rotate around stars, stars rotate around spiral arms, and spiral arms rotate around galaxies...etc. The reason Halley's comet comes within 800000 miles of earth every 70+ years is because of the gravity field of the sun. Plus Einstein, Hawking, and a host of other astrophysicists believe that time and gravity are directly related. In summary time is warp in space caused by gravity. So if there were no gravity there would be no time. Everything has a weight in space, it is just tremedously finite with respect to an objects weight on a planet. Sure if we are talking about only lets say 150 lbs of radiation protective paint, 150 lbs of paint may not seem like much to effect the design of a ship traveling from one planet to another in the same solar system. You may only miss your destination by a few tens of thousands of miles, not a big deal at sub-light speeds, but when you expand outward that distance increases on the macro level. You start factoring in faster than light speeds then that 150 lbs can add up to a huge descrpency in where you intend to go versus where you wind up. Entire light years. Look at the Mars lander that failed so abysmally.

Jedi Teacher
12-14-2001, 06:14 PM
Instead of painting a ship black, wouldn't you rather just install some kind of cloaking device?

I believe some ships in the EU have one, and I know there is a reference to cloaking devices in ESB when Han makes the Falcon "disappear." With a cloaking device you don't need to worry about the extra "weight" of a coat of paint.

12-14-2001, 06:21 PM
Which brings up a question I've always wondered about since that scene in ESB. Captain Needa said, "No ship that size has a cloaking device." Does he mean the Falcon is too big or too small for a cloaking device?:confused:

12-14-2001, 08:21 PM
"No ship that small has a cloaking device." But since Maul's Infiltrator has one, that makes Needa a big misinformed poopie head.

And weight is an issue for craft that land (Millennium Falcon, for instance).

12-14-2001, 11:49 PM
I'm pretty sure he says "size" not "small" but I'll have to watch ESB again to be sure. Oh darn.:)

Maul's ship never cloaked itself in the movies so I don't get where his ship is supposed to have a cloaking device. We all know you can't trust the info from the books.:p