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Gunsmoke stains on Spitfire leading edges


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#1 Test Graham

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:44 PM

Enthusiasts of weathering on WW2 aircraft often add significant staining from the leading edge machine gun positions. It has been pointed out that although staining can be seen from the cartridge ejection slots, the nature of the Browning gun means that such staining would not appear at the leading edge, and is not visible in photos.

I refer you to pages 59 and 60 of Wojtek Matusiak's new Polish Wings 15: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX 1944-45. It's a good book if you like Spitfires. If you like late war Spitfires in Polish squadrons, it's a great book. On these pages there are seven photos of MH674, RF.A, which the author describes as "extremely dirty", and shows dark streaks underneath the wing, both from the ejection slots AND from the leading edge openings. The artist of the adjacent profile clearly disapproves of this, for he has left this detail off his artwork!

I feel that the term "extremely dirty" should be qualified "for a UK-based Spitfire": I'd say it was only "somewhat scruffy" and there are photos showing a lot worse on overseas Spitfires. However, in adressing modellers of Spitfires that appear to come out of a coal mine, it'll no longer be possible to claim that stains from the leading edge never happened.

Edited by Graham Boak, 21 February 2012 - 04:31 PM.


#2 Hepster

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:22 PM

Just a casual look through Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces 12 - Spitfire Mark I/II Aces (Alfred Price) turns up a few instances of stains leading back from the Browning muzzles - eg pages 14,35,77.

So I expect plenty more can be found.

They are in the minority, which suggests that the staining isn't much, and most units would try to clean it off.

In other words, 'significant' staining on leading edges are just as wrong as over done panel lines, they need to be subtle if done at all IMHO.

#3 Prop Duster

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:07 PM

Graham, Graham, what are you thinking? "everybody " "knows" that all WWII air craft had great gobs of oily/soot and black powder trails all over the wings and exaust areas (exausts are "always" rust color too). Why, next you'll be trying to have us belive that Sky is/was a real color Posted Image tisk, tisk



So, Here you are flying in the face of all the current "wisdom".......

........GOOD CALL Posted Image

#4 Tedfellows

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:18 PM

Posted Image

#5 Jon Kunac-Tabinor

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:21 PM

Just a very random thought which literally came to me, but would the level of "gunsmoke" staining around a gun port be subject to the percentage of tracer round in the ammo mix.
I mean, its got pyrotechnic mix in the bullet base so it burns from the back when fired - so the more tracer in your ammo mix - the more "staining" you might get??

Cheers

Jonners

#6 Edgar

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 08:43 AM

Just a very random thought which literally came to me, but would the level of "gunsmoke" staining around a gun port be subject to the percentage of tracer round in the ammo mix.
I mean, its got pyrotechnic mix in the bullet base so it burns from the back when fired - so the more tracer in your ammo mix - the more "staining" you might get??

Don't confuse tracer(rarely used, despite what Hollywood would have you believe) with incendiary; tracer contains a material which burns off as the round travels, affecting its trajectory, while incendiary usually has a ball-bearing nose, which is forced into the inner charge, so that it explodes on impact. If a pilot has tracer, and adjusts his aim to allow for its trajectory, it's possible that he would miss with everything else, while incendiary explodes on impact, with a bright flash, which tells him that his aim is correct.
Note this result of a meeting held in 1942, which altered the "care" system for Spitfires, from the end of 1942, especially with regard to paragraph 9, concerning the previous state of affairs:-
Posted ImagePosted Image
This is almost certainly why you will see a huge difference between the condition of Spitfires of the Battle of Britain era, and the less frenetic periods following (with the exception of Malta, the desert and Australia, one suspects.)

Edited by Edgar, 23 February 2012 - 08:50 AM.


#7 GrzeM

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:40 AM

I refer you to pages 59 and 60 of Wojtek Matusiak's new Polish Wings 15: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX 1944-45. It's a good book if you like Spitfires. If you like late war Spitfires in Polish squadrons, it's a great book. On these pages there are seven photos of MH674, RF.A, which the author describes as "extremely dirty", and shows dark streaks underneath the wing, both from the ejection slots AND from the leading edge openings. The artist of the adjacent profile clearly disapproves of this, for he has left this detail off his artwork!


Stratus Books, the publisher of this book, provides a few preview pages in PDF including these pictures (in low quality):
Stratus Book preview PDF
The quality is pretty low, but one can estimate, what's going on.

I haven't got this book yet, but I do have 1942-43 Spitfire IX part and it is really great publication.

#8 Gwallt72

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:06 PM

I'd assumed it was a given that the airflow around the guns, of every type, would have carried tiny fragments of metal chipped off the projectile during firing. As with engines, this means that over time, this build up of tiny, oxidising and oxidised flakes of metal would become visible. Mixture of browns and greys (maybe very slight green - brass?), I suspect, around the guns, and a more oily (gloss black) mix, but still containing rusting flakes of engine, around the exhausts. I find the muck in the bottom of a well-used pot of white spirit usually works well for other staining, such as around fuel and oil access points, as these areas don't get exposed to flakes of metal...

#9 Mike

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:37 PM

It's funny how the subject of gun staining on Spitfires seems to draw some of the most bitchy comments, and also brings in the anti-panel line wash contingent - often from the ones trying to tell everyone what's right and what's not.

What is wrong with someone building the model their way and leaving out the condescending attitude, whichever side of the fence you're on. Would it raise your blood pressure that much to do so? :shrug:

#10 macgregor

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:40 PM

Here Here Mike! :clap2:


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#11 Test Graham

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:45 PM

Nothing at all wrong at all with building your model any way you like: just don't then show it off and leave the less well informed to assume they really were that way. The real problem is the public diffusion of duff information. People really do model from models, not from looking at the real thing. Myths spread and become embedded.

Besides, if something looks crap are we all forced into Trappist silence about it? Are only positive views permitted in the modelling world? Are queries and discussions to be completely banned? It seems some posters would prefer it that way.

#12 JackG

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:02 PM

I have to agree, model your build the way you want to, and damn the torpedoes.
What makes my eyes roll though is when someone does over the top weathering a la spanish method, and people leave comments saying how realistic it looks, and it clearly isn't when compared to the real deal.

regards,
Jack

#13 Mike

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:43 PM

Nothing at all wrong at all with building your model any way you like: just don't then show it off and leave the less well informed to assume they really were that way. The real problem is the public diffusion of duff information. People really do model from models, not from looking at the real thing. Myths spread and become embedded.

Besides, if something looks crap are we all forced into Trappist silence about it? Are only positive views permitted in the modelling world? Are queries and discussions to be completely banned? It seems some posters would prefer it that way.

As usual, you take the opposing view to the extreme to ridicule it - the oldest trick in the book. At the start of your post you are basically telling people that if they don't model to your standards and using your techniques that they are to stay away from any forums lest you unleash your particular blend of vitriol on them? How conceited is that? What gives you the right to demand that? :mental:

Let's take a rather more rational approach. Let's all be polite to eachother and get along well without the point scoring that seems to be some modellers' raison d'etre. By all means tell someone you think they've done something "wrong", but use some tact and courtesy, instead of the usual belittling that goes on. If that could be done, everyone stands a chance of learning something and possibly even making friends rather than enemies.

Of course, this method is practiced already by the vast majority of people, but there are always a few, a rather less glorious few than THE few, that revel in asserting their "superior" mode of modelling over the rest. To use your trick of taking it to the extreme... the joyless modelling Nazi.

I despair. :fraidnot:

#14 andym

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:59 PM

As usual, you take the opposing view to the extreme to ridicule it - the oldest trick in the book. At the start of your post you are basically telling people that if they don't model to your standards and using your techniques that they are to stay away from any forums lest you unleash your particular blend of vitriol on them? How conceited is that? What gives you the right to demand that? :mental:

Let's take a rather more rational approach. Let's all be polite to eachother and get along well without the point scoring that seems to be some modellers' raison d'etre. By all means tell someone you think they've done something "wrong", but use some tact and courtesy, instead of the usual belittling that goes on. If that could be done, everyone stands a chance of learning something and possibly even making friends rather than enemies.

Of course, this method is practiced already by the vast majority of people, but there are always a few, a rather less glorious few than THE few, that revel in asserting their "superior" mode of modelling over the rest. To use your trick of taking it to the extreme... the joyless modelling Nazi.

I despair. :fraidnot:



Sorry but I just dont get this approach? If you see a film you think is crap you say so, if you see an artwork you think is crap you say so, if you read a book you think is crap you say so, if you listen to music you think is crap you say so, why should models, built (or unbuilt for that matter) be any different? Are we modellers so fragile that we cant take any criticism?

Andy

Edited by andym, 05 April 2012 - 07:01 PM.


#15 Mike

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:06 PM

Sorry but I just dont get this approach? If you see a film you think is crap you say so, if you see an artwork you think is crap you say so, if you read a book you think is crap you say so, if you listen to music you think is crap you say so, why should models, built (or unbuilt for that matter) be any different? Are we modellers so fragile that we cant take any criticism?

Andy

Did you even read my post?

By all means tell someone you think they've done something "wrong", but use some tact and courtesy, instead of the usual belittling that goes on.


I rather thought that this sentence says it all. It's not about the criticism, but about the way it's presented. What's difficult to grasp about that? It's called common courtesy.

#16 Phil

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:45 PM

Just a very random thought which literally came to me, but would the level of "gunsmoke" staining around a gun port be subject to the percentage of tracer round in the ammo mix.
I mean, its got pyrotechnic mix in the bullet base so it burns from the back when fired - so the more tracer in your ammo mix - the more "staining" you might get??

Cheers

Jonners


Tracer illuminates some distance in front of the muzzle though, so the composition shouldn't be leaving any staining on the aircraft.

#17 Edgar

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:16 PM

I'd assumed it was a given that the airflow around the guns, of every type, would have carried tiny fragments of metal chipped off the projectile during firing. As with engines, this means that over time, this build up of tiny, oxidising and oxidised flakes of metal would become visible. Mixture of browns and greys (maybe very slight green - brass?), I suspect, around the guns, and a more oily (gloss black) mix, but still containing rusting flakes of engine, around the exhausts.

But the $64,000 question is, how much time? Aircraft had a strict regime of servicing intervals, which started at around 24 hours flying time. In combat mode, a Spitfire's endurance was about 45 minutes, 2 hours at cruise, and they didn't fire their guns on every sortie. Even if they did, it was the armourer's job to "pull through" (i.e. clean and lubricate) every barrel, as well as replenishing the ammunition. Any small fragments, caught in the rifling, would have been removed by the pull-through cloths (2" x 4" if my memory's correct,) and there were usually three per gun, first to clean, second to lubricate, third to remove any excess oil from no.2.
He also had to fit the covers on the guns (or leading edges mid-BoB,) and any attendant residue would not have helped, so should have been wiped away from inside the gun tunnels. According to an ICI inspector it was common practice to wipe surfaces with petrol-soaked cloths, and there isn't much that can stand up to that sort of treatment.
If (big "if") an airframe saw combat, and fired its guns, using up all of its 15 seconds-worth of ammo, it might go in for a "24 hour check" after only 32 sorties, which, at the height of the Battle, could be 8-10 days (assuming that the aircraft suffered no damage, or a frightened pilot didn't pull so many Gs that he wrinkled the wings' surfaces by more 1/10", in which case the wings had to be replaced.) It's very unlikely that an airframe would have left a servicing bay in the same condition in which it entered; "Chiefy" would have had a fit.
Flakes of engine, in the exhaust staining, is something I've never heard of. It was more usual for wear to be confined to items like piston rings, or gudgeon pins, in which case they ended up in the lubricating oil, then the oil filter, which was regularly inspected for "extras." It was just such an eventuality that lead to K5054 needing an engine change very early in its flying programme.
Edgar

Edited by Edgar, 05 April 2012 - 08:19 PM.


#18 Jennings Heilig

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:23 PM

Facts Edgar. These facts obscuring our long held beliefs! :)

#19 andym

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:30 PM

Did you even read my post?



I rather thought that this sentence says it all. It's not about the criticism, but about the way it's presented. What's difficult to grasp about that? It's called common courtesy.


The problem is even if you do put it tactfully you're sure to put someones nose out of joint (and often it's not the modeller himself but someone reading the article). Also dare to criticise a new release kit and your panned.

Andy

#20 Mike

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:33 PM

The problem is even if you do put it tactfully you're sure to put someones nose out of joint (and often it's not the modeller himself but someone reading the article). Also dare to criticise a new release kit and your panned.

Andy

Well if you put it tactfully, and they get upset anyway, at least you tried. It's better than not even bothering.

Again - it's how new kits are criticised. I know that kits don't get hurt feelings, although I'm sure their designers do, but the vitriol, histrionics etc. that accompany almost every new release do get tiring. Of course you can't please all of the people all of the time, but adding tact and respect to the mix will certainly improve your percentages :shrug: