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Dana Bell

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About Dana Bell

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    Arlington, Virginia

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  1. Star and bar markings on late war USN aircraft

    Hi SA (and thanks Troy), There are two little-known issues with the white-only late-war US star: 1) The Navy and Grumman agreed that the blue background was unnecessary against a dark blue background and dropped it. At the next meeting of the Army-Navy standards group, the Army was upset and demanded that the Navy use the agreed blue and white insignia. The Navy relented and wrote to Grumman ordering a return to the full insignia. The blue back ground would again be dropped after the war, when the Army/Air Force found that they didn't need the Insignia Blue on their night fighters. (Note that there were a lot of wartime Navy aircraft without Insignia Blue on their national markings - the good idea seemed to have caught on regardless of orders from higher up!) 2) The photos that Grumman sent with their original recommendation showed a white star tangent to an Insignia Blue disc with white bars added - but no Insignia Blue border to the entire marking. I've seen no written explanation for this variation, but it appears to me that Grumman wanted to use up some old star-and-disc decals and simply add white bars. That is just a guess as to the reason, but there are a few wartime images that seem to show the same insignia variation, while most images show the white-only version. Vought may have never gotten around to the change before it was cancelled. All wing panels were made by Briggs, and though there is early correspondence about problems with the insignia paint, later correspondence talks about handling the insignia decals. (Sand the leading edge to smooth the airflow, etc.) Vought and Goodyear might have continued to use up their stock of decals until after the war. Officially, there was only one wartime Glossy Sea Blue, though Vought drawings show Non-specular Sea Blue as an anti-glare panel. (The two paints were different colors, as well as having different gloss factors.) At one point Vought discussed applying a gloss coat to the upper surfaces of existing four-tone scheme wing panels. This would have been close enough for government work, but the Navy said no. Still, one wonders what might have happened to the Navy's rejection as it slowly worked its way through channels? (There was a second Glossy Sea Blue, but it wasn't introduced until after the War.) Cheers, Dana
  2. P-40B/C Hawaii Early 1942 markings

    Hi Relja Sorry to say, it's not legit for Pearl Harbor. The camouflage swept up beneath the tail was only seen on P-40s and P-40Gs - neither of which was assigned to Hawaii. The Bs and Cs sent to Hawaii arrived with camouflage, Insignia Blue (not black) "U. S. ARMY" beneath the wings, two wing insignia, two fuselage insignia, and no rudder stripes. After 24 December 1941 Army and Navy aircraft stationed there added red and white (no blue) rudder stripes and two more wing insignia (usually, but not always, oversized). Most of the aircraft carried large white 2- or 3-digit aircraft numbers on the fuselage. The red dot and rudder stripes were overpainted beginning in May 1942. Squirt shows most of these markings changes, but the wing blocks the position where the fuselage numbers would have appeared, so we don't know if they were present or not. Cheers, Dana
  3. Color question regarding USN change from flat to glossy finish

    During 1943 the Navy found glossy paints were easier to maintain than flat paints; the glossy paints also reduced surface drag. An interim scheme was introduced using Glossy Sea Blue, Glossy White, and Glossy Intermediate Blue (which was to be numbered ANA 624 - though it never was). The scheme was (officially) in effect for several months, though very few photos show this three-tone glossy camouflage. The overall Glossy Sea Blue was adopted for fighters in early 1944, and for all carrier-based aircraft later the same year, gain for ease of maintenance and drag reduction, with the added advantage of the ease of application for a monchromatic scheme. Cheers, Dana
  4. Allison-Merlin Mustang wing position changes

    Why I LOVE the archives - interdesk Materiel Command memo dated 28 August 1942 [sic]: Left by Alec Burton together with the dope on the Griffin 61, this date. "Dutch" Kindleberger says the Merlin 28 is out for installation in the P-51, but they are going full blast on the Merlin 61. About all the re-design necessary is to move the wing forward 3 inches and down 1 inch; also, the nose will be dropped a little to give better visibility than in the P-51. If the aerodynamics isn't ruined, looks like they might have a pretty good airplane. The last line may be one of the greatest understatements of the war, even if the repositioning of the wing was slightly different in the production. A later memo on new models of the P-51 notes that the P-51B will be the standard airframe with the Merlin added, while the P-51C will have the Merlin added AND the wing repositioned. In the end, of course, the wing was moved on both variants.... Cheers, Dana
  5. Inside a Northrop Gamma 2E

    Hi Patrick, Sorry that I didn't notice your question until this morning. Northrop had an exemption on interior colors - the company used a candy apple green mixed from zinc chromate primer and aluminum powder. It was MUCH brighter than Yellow Green (which added black) or Interior Green (which also added black, but left out the aluminum powder). Hope this note isn't too late... Dana
  6. Martlet Mk.I

    Hi Bri, I hadn't noticed that particular change on the upper cowl intake before, but it makes sense. From early on the carb intake was found to be too weak, collapsing under the engine's suction. There were a number of fixes, reinforcements, and modifications - this must be one that didn't turn up in the records I reviewed! Now I'll have to go back thru the collection to see how many times I failed to notice this one! Cheers, Dana
  7. B-24 CBI-PTO variants

    Sorry, I've not been in touch with Nick for some time. I also noticed that he'd not been posting here for a few weeks, particularly on some subjects he's so well qualified to help out. Perhaps, like me, he's had/having a long vacation? I hope all is well! Cheers, Dana
  8. B-24 CBI-PTO variants

    Phil did a great job on that site, but you'll find even more on the subject in Alan Griffith's book Consolidated Mess. Alan is also working on at least one more edition covering (among other things) changes in glass-nosed Libs. Cheers, Dana
  9. FAA Corsair Mk IV fuselage carbon monoxide vents

    Hi Jon, The British system seemed to depend on a lower vent to exhaust the gasses, but the vent was wider and flatter than the American export* design. If the aircraft has the side intakes, I believe the lower vent is there - if hard to see. (Not having seen British records, I sometimes wonder if the UK had a second exhaust design.) The US design is much more easily recognized, by comparison. Cheers, Dana * The American vents for USN and Kiwi use were flush intakes exhausting through the tail wheel doors. The USN originally decided against vents, hoping instead to solve the problem by sealing the bulkheads behind the pilot - they were wrong...
  10. FAA Corsair Mk IV fuselage carbon monoxide vents

    Hi Jon, There were two versions of the CO vents. Most photos show the British-installed versions seen on the Mk.I through Mk.III. The Mk.IV had a Goodyear installed variation, seen on page 60 of Aircraft Pictorial #8 (Corsair Vol 2). The Mk.IVs were also delivered with the "short short" wing tips (page 59), rather than the short tips seen on earlier FAA Corsairs. Cheers, Dana
  11. RAF Sky- why?

    Hi Marvel, I can only guess about the RAF's use of that greenish Sky during WWII, but the earliest reported use of a pale green grey camouflage came from the Ministry of Munitions in September 1918. A multi-toned camouflage was tested on a Salamander and on a Pup: the sides and undersides were painted a "light green grey" comprising White, "Chrome," Brunswick Green, and Indian Red. The green grey also replaced the white in the upper wing insignia. Although the report mentions advantages in shadow reduction, all of the test observations were made from several thousand feet above. The advent of Sky doesn't seem to have a direct descent from the 1918 tests, but folks with a much better access to the British sources will certainly know a lot more than I. Cheers, Dana
  12. f-7 liberator, synthetic haze paint

    Hi Occa, I've seen those vertical demarcations in a number of photos, particularly on B-17s, but I've never been able to confirm where they originated. Since many of the photos show aircraft fresh from the factory, my best guess has been that it has something to do with the arrangement of work stands. In modeling, we load up the airbrush, pick up the model in the other hand, and paint away. I suspect that on the real aircraft, one team was painting the nose, while another team worked from the wing aft - any differences in the paint used by each team could have produced such demarcations. It's just a theory, but it would be fun to replicate it on a model one day... Cheers, Dana
  13. f-7 liberator, synthetic haze paint

    Adding to what Antti explained for the F-5 and Synthetic Haze Paint, from the beginning the F-7 used the same Sky Base Blue and Flight Blue lacquers, but applied the paints in the same pattern as OD and Neutral Gray. When aerial camouflage was found to be less necessary, it was stripped in the field. Cheers, Dana
  14. Hellcat questions - and maybe an answer

    HI Guys, I've never seen the term "Grumman Gray" in a contemporary document, though it's in common use in modeling circles. The color was simple the same Light Gray that had appeared on the original camouflage scheme being used up as a finish coat over the primers. That way there was no need to purchase two strocks of paint. While 36440 (Light Gull Gray) is the closest 595 color, Light Gray was darker and cooler. Cheers, Dana
  15. Serious Help Needed - 3-toned P-38's?

    Hi Ed, That photo has been reproduced in a number of places, usually mentioning the odd blue paint on the aircraft. There is no blue paint on the aircraft. The original, now in the possession of the National Air and Space Museum, was stored in a damp basement. Mold was trapped inside the envelope, and stained the emulsion. If you look closely, you can see traces of the same blue "paint" in patches on the hardstand. The only way the captioners could have known this would have been to examine the original - otherwise it looks like a blue aircraft.... Cheers, Dana