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About ClaudioN

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  1. 830 Sqd. Swordfish, Malta campaign.

    Very nice shot, showing that not all beaches are sandy... Somewhere in Sicily, I'd guess? Colour aside, details I find interesting are the long-range tank within the fuselage and, if I'm not mistaken, the compass still fitted to the starboard-side support in the TAG position. The picture shows a typical mix of military personnel, with Army soldiers in service caps around the aircraft and keeping curious lookers off, one of the ubiquitous Carabinieri military police (white shoulder belt) and what seems to me a Police officer or NCO. The black shirt worn by the man besides him suggest a Fascist local representative, who during the war would probably have worn his uniform as a rule. Claudio
  2. RAF Sabre F.4

    My understanding is that the two UK-based Fighter Command squadrons (nos. 66 and 92) had silver undersides. RAF Germany machines had PRU Blue undersides.
  3. RCAF Operations Record Books

    Thank you very much for the link. For those interested in other WWII Canadian matters: the narrative about No. 413 Squadron Catalinas in Ceylon is in C12283, starting at image 233; No. 1 Sqn. RCAF / 401 Sqn. RAF Hurricanes are in C12264, starting around image 300.
  4. Sea Hurricane

    This picture is typically cropped (in Mason's book, for instance), so that the date is seldom seen. It' s April 1943! By that time, escort carriers were getting Sea Hurricane Mk.IICs, or Martlet/Wildcat Mk.Vs In the IWM collections there seems to be a whole set of reference photographs for the whole Hurricane family (a picture of Hurricane Mk. IV KX877 is also dated April 1943). SEA HURRICANE (HAWKER) MARK IA. © IWM (MH 6469)IWM Non Commercial Licence Among the subjects is Sea Hurricane Mk.IA Z4852, never recorded on RN charge and possibly a former Merchant Ship Fighter Unit (MSFU) machine. The same April 1943 date is given, with IWM ref. no. MH6469. The Mk.IA is noted as "used from merchant ships". The Mk.IC picture is IWM ref. no. MH6470. The next, IWM ref. no. MH6471, shows Sea Hurricane Mk.IIC NF717. The MK.IIC is noted as "flown from aircraft carriers". Nothing is said about how the Mk.IC was employed, which may possibly point at something. Incidentally, the last 24 Mk.IICs delivered by Hawkers, NF716-NF739, were all taken on charge by the Royal Navy in May 1943 according to Sturtivant (NF717 went to No. 748 Squadron at St. Merryn). At the time the picture above was taken, the Mk.IC must have been little more than a curiosity. Note these aircraft are all nice and clean in spite of previous service use, at least for V6741. It seems like they have been "prepared" for a photo session. Jim Bates provided an extensive account of Canadian-built Hurricanes and Sea Hurricanes. Summarising: Canadian-built Hurricanes were typically received in Britain as engine-less airframes; even later Canadian-built airframes that were possibly shipped with a Packard Merlin, seemingly did not actually use it and the US-built Merlins went to Lancasters instead; FAA Mk.I airframes (shorter nose) received the Merlin Mk.III; FAA Mk.II airframes (longer nose) received the Merlin Mk.XX; a few Canadian-built Mk.I airframes may have been turned into Mk.IIs by conversion kits; Mk.X and Mk.XI appear to have been unofficial (Hawker?) designations; Mk.XII was the official designation for the Canadian-built RCAF Hurricanes. What makes a Mk.XII is the use of a Packerd Merlin 29 with a US-manufactured Hamilton standard propeller; the Merlin 28 and Merlin 29 were both Packard-built variants of the Merlin XX. They differed because the 28 had a British SBAC standard propeller shaft, while the 29 had the US SAE standard shaft; Canadian-built Mk.II airframes had the 12-gun wing. They were shipped to the UK during the build-up for Operation Torch and as many as possible (but not all) were converted to the four-cannon wing; Sea Hurricane Mk.IIs taking part in Operation Torch were only the Canadian-built ones. Deliveries from Hawkers followed from December 1942. HTH Claudio
  5. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Alert in the East A propaganda film from the IWM Collections. From minute 9 to 9:35, four torpedo drops by Vildebeests.
  6. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Hi Mark, please, not yet another unusual scheme... one is enough and more than one seems highly unlikely. I was just suggesting it might be the one we had been discussing. Quoting from Wikipedia: The colony had no significant air defence. The RAF station at Hong Kong's Kai Tak airport had only five aeroplanes: two Supermarine Walrus amphibians and three Vickers Vildebeest torpedo-reconnaissance bombers, flown and serviced by seven officers and 108 airmen. An earlier request for a fighter squadron had been rejected and the nearest fully operational RAF base was in Kota Bharu, Malaya, nearly 2,250 kilometres (1,398 miles) away. (...) The Japanese bombed Kai Tak Airport on 8 December. Two of the three Vildebeest and the two Walrus were destroyed by 12 Japanese bombers. Looking at the people in the photo, I am simply suggesting that it does not portray a Vildebeest wreck during Japanese occupation (e.g., the one survivor of the December, 8th bombing?), but a Vildebeest damaged in a landing accident and being attended by British personnel. I'd be glad if this helps make any small step forward. Regards Claudio
  7. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Mark, thanks for your replies to my posts. At this point, lack of dates for the pictures makes further discussion difficult and the "odd" scheme may remain partly unexplained. Anyway, I went through all the pictures again and I focused on this one, reportedly "a wreck at Hong Kong after surrender". Are you sure of this caption? I have no familiarity whatsoever with the surroundings of RAF airfields anywhere, but men standing around the aircraft have a definite "European" attitude to my eyes. I'd say the gentleman standing at the right of the truck has topee, long trousers and nothing more. The two men seemingly talking, between the truck and the aircraft, seem to wear shorts. The aircraft does not appear to be that "wrecked" (I'd say "repairable"...) and its attitude is quite reminiscent of the accident to K4186 you mentioned in post#1: K4186 Overshot landing at Seletar, taxied into ditch. Damage to wings, lower centre section and engine bay, 6 Nov 1941. If this is so, we might possibly have a documented and dated Light Earth/Light Green Vildebeest, however crazy that scheme may be (perhaps not so much, by the look of the ground around there?). Regards Claudio
  8. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Occa, thanks for reminding me of this. I agree black undersides is a reasonably well supported assumption. There's still the picture of K6402-OE-J to discuss, but the light undersides are pnly those of the upper mainplane. The very high contrast of the grey shades in those pictures is still disconcerting, but there's little more that can be added. One last crazy idea would be to argue about the use of colour filters on the camera taking the picture. As Mark suggested, the pictures appear to have been taken at some torpedo dropping range. I would venture to suggest that the black crosses appearing in most of the full-size pictures might be reference marks from the range camera taking those pictures. If this is the case, it is hardly believable a colour filter was added as an "artistic license". If it was at all, it might perhaps be required for better image contrast in torpedo drop assessment. Definitely my last attempt at guessing why such an oddly contrasting scheme appears in a set of photos. Best regards Claudio
  9. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Hi Mark, here we are left guessing at dates, but you found a reference to K4156 being lost from Ceylon in January 1940. No. 273 Squadron started Vildebeest operations from China Bay as soon as the runway was ready, in mid-September 1939 (using only Seal floatplanes up to then, IIRC). We also know (from the picture of K4599:VU-J) that pre-war Vildebeestes were uncamouflaged and carried the squadron emblem on the fin. We do not know when K4156:OE-T was transferred to 273 Sqn., but I'd reckon the time window we are talking about would be no more than two-three months. Of course, it may have been longer for other aircraft in the squadron. I have made up the impression that RAF Singapore was not particularly slow in reacting to orders concerning identification markings. Camouflage changes were another matter, but here the availability of correct paint is more important and I understand, also from the messages in this thread, that Singapore did experience some shortages. Now, let me keep guessing, just for the sake of it. change of squadron codes (from VU to OE) and modification of fuselage roundel from 'B type' (as per K4599) back to 'A type': required after the start of the war, arguably urgent. Possibly done by October 1939? aircraft camouflage: new-build aircraft (e.g., Blenheims) were delivered in camouflage. Later, Buffalos would also arrive already camouflaged. Vildebeestes were possibly the largest group of aircraft requiring camouflage, that had to be newly applied using local facilities and stores. Which paints were available, and in what quantities? This is a question for experts; camouflage has two purposes, concealment and breaking the aircraft profile to make it less conspicuous. Pre-war trials carefully analysed concealment but, had correct colours been unavailable, using available ones to at least break the aircraft profile and disrupt enemy aim would already have been something. Assuming availability of a single colour (e.g., Dark Green), in reasonable but not very large quantity, its use with this purpose could be justified. An acceptably quick job, possibly done by...? alternatively, considering the task of camouflaging about 30-40 large biplanes, we might assume that RAF Singapore acquired a largish stock of Light Earth (or similar) and repainted all aircraft, taking care to reinstate the unit emblem on the fin. Then, a few months later, they started it all again, to apply C.3A. At the outbreak of WW II, hostilities were still two years away in the Far East. We might perhaps consider that camouflage was not yet a priority and a simpe temporary scheme could suffice. Regards Claudio
  10. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Agree. Too much precipitation in my guess. That's exactly what I had in mind. Let's say "a minimum effort interpretation", which I think in most cases can be an acceptable and convincing first cause. Well, S.1.E is in the eye of the beholder... Think of a 'naked' naval Swordfish in standard camouflage and you have the dark upper fuselage and most of the wing camouflage. Dress it up with some dark green bands and there you have it. I'm admittedly reasoning by the pound with the advantage that, as much as I would like a better quality image, it is not necessary for this sophisticated mental process... Don't ask me a colour spec, though. Best regards Claudio
  11. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    I have been following this discussion with great interest, and duly saved most of the mails. This evening I had a look at the picture of K6402:OE-J on page 18 of "Bloody Shambles", vol. 2 and instantly recalled Kari's mail. OE-J has a large dark-coloured area on the centre fuselage, that stops just short of the struts supporting the upper wing. It clearly gives the impression that the painter purposely stopped there. Another dark area is around the pilot's cockpit. The picture shows rather clearly that wing undersides are not black and dark areas are just in shade. I also found in "Combat Codes" a picture of K4599:VU-J, also of No. 36 Sqn., in pre-war silver with 'B' type fuselage roundels and the squadron emplem on the fin. I think this is very interesting, as it shows that also on Vildebeestes in Singapore codes appeared well before camouflage (as in RAF Audaxes in India and Palestine, for instance). It is also possible to determine a comparatively narrow time bracket, since 'J' was K4599 possibly until September 1939 and the change of squadron codes on the outbreak of war. K6402 became the next 'J' and the fact that it has neither fin flash, nor yellow concentric to the roundel means the picture was taken before May 1940. Finally, this also shows that some reshuffling of individual letters took place after the change of squadron code, since K4599 took part in the Endau raid as 'D'. The 36 Sqn pictures we have been discussing appear to come from the recording of a torpedo training session, the backdrop being virtually the same for OE-J, OE-R and OE-T, so I would suggest they were all actually taken in one day in late 1939-early 1940. It was noted in a few mails in this thread that the light areas are well finished, with little sign of weathering, which would be consistent with the assumption that those areas were still uncamouflaged, with some loss of surface sheen due to (peacetime) usage. IMHO there also appears to be some unbalance between dark and light areas, which might be explained by a partially applied camouflage. I am further inclined to see things this way after taking a new look at a seemingly unrelated photo in "Bloody Shambles" vol. 1. A rather well-known picture of two 4 AACU Swordfish, P4016 and P4027, is reproduced on page 359. No fin flash and seemingly no yellow concentric to the fuselage roundel, suggesting a timing close to that of the Vildebeest pictures. Indeed, those Swordfish were at Seletar from October 1939 to February-March 1940 (Sturtivant) and were naval aircraft on charge to an RAF unit. I often wondered about the odd camouflage, but if partial camouflaging is assumed, the pattern of the dark fuselage and fin band is strikingly similar to that of the Vildebeestes. In this case, the new camouflage colour appears to be applied over the pre-existing S.1.E naval camouflage. Just a slightly different idea and one more attempt at guessing a reasonable finish. In the meantime, I must get a Vildebeest model. Claudio
  12. Wildcat V Colour Conundrum

    They are actually a mix of Mk.IIs (rearmost) and Mk.IVs (at the front). Grumman-made in any case, but spanning several months of production run, showing quite consistent finish. My guess (stress on "guess", too) is that the rear lip of the wheel well is the most exposed to slipstream. In flight, the interior is always "protected" by the retracted wheel and may retain a lighter colour. This could explain the consistency you noticed.
  13. MK1 /MK2 Sea Gladiator

    Pics of Sea Gladiator hook recess here. See post #8 All Sea Gladiators were, technically, Mk. II but the Sea Gladiator had no mark number. The hook was apparently the same for all aircraft, just no recess and completely external on Sea Gladiator (Interim).
  14. Wildcat V Colour Conundrum

    AFAIK, the ex-Greek airframes were F4F-3As, diverted straight from the U.S. Navy order for 95 of this type. I see no reason why they would be re-designated. The other Mk. III airframes were the first 10 from the British order for 100 G-36Bs that, having non-folding wings with four guns, were re-designated by the FAA as Mk. IIIs, since the difference from F4F-3As was minimal. These aircraft were paid for by Britain, I doubt they were entitled to having a U.S. Navy designation. In this case 'B' stood for "the second" G-36 export model, 'A' referring to the French order. The follow-on British order for Wright R-1820 engined F4F-4s was rearranged under the Lend-Lease agreement, hence earning a U.S. Navy designation as F4F-4B. This seems to be the only offcial use of the 'B' suffix as far as Wildacts are concerned. Claudio
  15. 36 Sqn Vildebeests - Serial/Code Letter Tie-ups

    Your reasoning is very convincing and I also feel DG/DE, although boring, is most likely. That is, assuming a camouflaged biplane torpedo bomber at the end of 1941 can be boring at all! The "quick overpaint" of the undersides sounds odd to me, though. Do you think there might be some chance that the repaint took place sometime in 1941? Regards Claudio