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RAF Buffalo color question


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#1 Spitfire addict

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 04:09 AM

I'm back with another one of those annoying color questions that I always seem to dig up. I am hoping that my comrades in modeling can help me out. I cannot live and die by the Squadron "in action" books, so here goes. Were the TLS colors applied at Brewster (and therefore Brewster/ANA colors?) or were the aircraft painted in RAF colors upon arrival to the far east?
what was the bottom color? Sky type S, duck egg blue, or the U.S. equivalent of those colors? I realize that they went to a black and white bottom prior to hostilities with the Japanese, but what shade of white, or grey? I know I need to get Dana Bell's book on aircraft colors but can't seem to find it, so that means I have to bother you guys for the answer.
Cheers

#2 Chuck1945

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 04:42 AM

Someone may do the search for you, but if you search this forum there was a 20+ page thread on Far East colors including Bufflos. Thats not counting the one on FE Vildabeests B)

#3 LDSModeller

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 04:44 AM

I'm back with another one of those annoying color questions that I always seem to dig up. I am hoping that my comrades in modeling can help me out. I cannot live and die by the Squadron "in action" books, so here goes. Were the TLS colors applied at Brewster (and therefore Brewster/ANA colors?) or were the aircraft painted in RAF colors upon arrival to the far east?
what was the bottom color? Sky type S, duck egg blue, or the U.S. equivalent of those colors? I realize that they went to a black and white bottom prior to hostilities with the Japanese, but what shade of white, or grey? I know I need to get Dana Bell's book on aircraft colors but can't seem to find it, so that means I have to bother you guys for the answer.
Cheers


The aircraft wre painted in US "Equivalent colours" of Dark Earth/ Dark Green/Sky (not any colour grey!!!) at the Brewster
plant along with roundels

Here is a photo of an unassembled Buffalo just taken out of it's crate
Posted Image

Without sparking any debate about the colours, remember that the aircraft were ordered in 1940 around the
time of the Battle Of Britain. Think about the colours used at that time on RAF fighters.

Sky type S or any equivalent RAF sky's (eg blueish green etc) at the time (1940) just would not go with Sky Grey :wacko:
one could imagine a Flt Sgt's comments if he had to repair an aircraft with a grey lower with RAF Sky??

The aircraft were painted in Black (portside only) after their arrival with the starboard remaining in Sky
there was no Black/White to my knowledge on any of the RAF 339E's

The black portside was discontinued after a period, so you will get some 339E's with
and some with out. the Black/Sky was an identification scheme to aid the AA gunners
with aircraft recognition. In his book "Last Stand Singapore", Graham Clayton quotes
his father who was an erk with 488 Squadron, that "it really didn't matter what the aircraft
were painted, as the AA gunners shot at anything flying...." :wall:
much to the disgust of the RAF/RAAF/RNZAF pilots


Hope that helps

Alan

#4 leyreynolds

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:34 AM

Try asking Jim Maas on Hyperscale, he's the Buffalo expert.

#5 LDSModeller

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 08:08 AM

Try asking Jim Maas on Hyperscale, he's the Buffalo expert.


Jim is also member here on Britmodeller

#6 Dave Fleming

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:13 AM

Mark Haselden is the other person who literally 'helped write the book' on RAF Buffaloes.

http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/1904010326

Mark posts on here as well.

Edited by Dave Fleming, 26 April 2012 - 09:14 AM.


#7 mhaselden

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:18 AM

Yes, I do post here!

Sadly, we have no definitive answer on the underside colour question other than it was some equivalent to the RAF colour applied in late 1940. We know that the Buffalos were painted according to the Temperate Land Scheme but we simply don't know what paint or shade was actually applied. It may have been Du Pont 71-021 but most references to Du Pont postdate the period when the Buffalos were built or it could have been a similar paint from another company.

To add to the confusion, anecdotal evidence from a former Buffalo pilot suggests the underside was a blue shade darker than the Sky Blue applied locally in Singapore as the fuselage bands. Another Buffalo pilot recalled seeing Buffalos in a range of underside shades. Since pale blue-green shades are prone to be perceived differently based on surroundings, it's my opinion (not to be confused with fact) that both these pilots were seeing the same colour under different lighting conditions and their memories were interpreting it differently.

My current thinking (always subject to change - one can't deal in absolutes or fixed ideas when talking of the Buffalo) is to go for something that closely approximates or matches Du Pont 71-021. This approach would at least match what the colour was "supposed" to look like and, tonally, aligns with the limited info we can derive from the available monochrome photos (ie that the Sky Blue fuselage band appears lighter than the underside colour).

Don't know if this helps or just fills the forum with yet more inane drivel...

Cheers,
Mark

#8 Nick Millman

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:32 PM

FWIW I discovered quite recently that Brewster had commercial arrangements with the Fuller paint company and were applying their MAP equivalent paints to other export aircraft like the Bermuda. No direct connection to the Buffalo yet but a possible contender might be Fullers enamel TL-8715 Blue (Duck Egg) which was also applied to Bostons. Unfortunately I have not been able to find out much about Fuller - no charts or swatches so far, so the only clue is colour photographs of the Boston.

#9 mhaselden

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:59 PM

Hi Nick,

Fascinating link to the Bostons. It's another step forwards. My interpretation of colour pics of Bostons is that the undersides had a slightly more blue-ish tinge than traditional Sky which has always been my perception of 71-021. So perhaps Fuller and Du Pont Sky equivalents were, in reality, quite close to each other? Sadly, without more positive references (chips artifacts etc) we're down to subjective opinion...and I can offer that by the boatload! :D

Cheers,
Mark

Edited by mhaselden, 26 April 2012 - 01:00 PM.


#10 jimmaas

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 01:57 PM

I agree with the comments of the previous posters, and would just add that, when painting 339E's at the factory, Brewster followed (somewhat outdated) MAP directions regarding camouflage patterns. 'A' and 'B' patterns (with occassional color transpositions) were used, even though alternate patterns were being dropped in the UK itself. A long time ago I did some work on trying to determine if this went by serial number (like 'A' for even serials, 'B' for odd) and couldn't find that neat a pattern, It was Brewster, after all. Brewster also introduced some oddities, like the period/full stop after the letter in the W.xxxx serial range, and early production Buffaloes having 1-2-3 proportion undersurface roundels.

#11 Spitfire addict

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:17 PM

I certainly appreciate the time taken on my behalf. I realize that there were myriad long threads on this subject, but new historical datum comes to light everyday and I was hoping to perhaps get a fresh take on this subject and cut through the confusion that the "color question" can produce. The undersides colors have been described as anything to "sky grey" perhaps applied by Vought from DuPont? To a duck egg blue which can look more green than blue depending on the light and angle. It is confusing and no doubt endless because colors, as history is based on perception. What I hope for is an approximation so I am not guessing wildly. As we all know, according to the model companies and many publications they rarely if never mention equivelent/ substitute colors, so our Buffalos are to be painted in the exact same colors as or Spitfire Mk II's?. With that being said, this light blue bottom color intrigues me because some of the early RAF Curtiss P-40b's sent to China had a similar color on the bottom of the aircraft. That of course is neither here nor there but merely an interesting observation on my part. My last question is, what is the closest color approximation to the dark green and
brown used on these aircraft? was O.D. Green used by Brewester as it had been by other manufacturers? and the brown, any way similar to dark earth? I really would prefer to not paint the model in basic RAF/MAP colors when I know that was not the case. Thanks again for all your time and patience gentlemen.
cheers

#12 mhaselden

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 03:32 PM

Again, not an easy answer. It seems like the Dark Earth equivalent used by Brewster was darker and richer than MAP Dark Earth - certainly the contrast between Dark Earth and Dark Green on the Buffalos is less marked than on some other RAF types. It's distinctly possible that Brewster used the same shades on RAF Buffalos as they did on the Belgian B339B order, and there are a few colour pics of that scheme which seem to bear out the idea of a darker, richer form of Dark Earth (but this statement is heavily caveated by the usual riders about interpreting colour prints, eg in magazines, that may be several generations removed from the original image). There are a few images of Buffalos that have had some repainting over the unit codes and the overpaint shows as a lighter tone in monochrome). That said, the colour pics of the 27 Sqn Blenheims from Singapore also show lighter toned overpainting, perhaps using Light Earth rather than Dark Earth, so we can't be absolutely definitive.

Edited by mhaselden, 26 April 2012 - 03:49 PM.


#13 Spitfire addict

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:02 PM

Again, not an easy answer. It seems like the Dark Earth equivalent used by Brewster was darker and richer than MAP Dark Earth - certainly the contrast between Dark Earth and Dark Green on the Buffalos is less marked than on some other RAF types. It's distinctly possible that Brewster used the same shades on RAF Buffalos as they did on the Belgian B339B order, and there are a few colour pics of that scheme which seem to bear out the idea of a darker, richer form of Dark Earth (but this statement is heavily caveated by the usual riders about interpreting colour prints, eg in magazines, that may be several generations removed from the original image). There are a few images of Buffalos that have had some repainting over the unit codes and the overpaint shows as a lighter tone in monochrome). That said, the colour pics of the 27 Sqn Blenheims from Singapore also show lighter toned overpainting, perhaps using Light Earth rather than Dark Earth, so we can't be absolutely definitive.


this seems to be a "catch 22" as most color questions are. Just discussing FAA/lend lease color issues are enough to give on a headache. I am coming to the conclusion that we must go with the best educated guess and go from there. Thank you for your comments, they were helpful. As to books about the time period in which this aircraft flew, would you recommend "Bloody Shambles" ? I hear it is an excellent book. Thanks again, your courteous replies are why I come to this forum over others.
Cheers

#14 Chuck1945

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:17 PM

... As to books about the time period in which this aircraft flew, would you recommend "Bloody Shambles" ? I hear it is an excellent book. Thanks again, your courteous replies are why I come to this forum over others.
Cheers

For air war in the SEA theater reading, the 'Bloody Shambles" books are good (all three volumes), but they won't help much if you are after detailed markings data.

#15 mhaselden

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 05:18 PM

Personally, I think "Buffaloes Over Singapore" is pretty excellent...!!!! :wicked:

But if you want a wider description of the early air war in the Far East, the first 2 volumes of "Bloody Shambles" are the best available.

Edited by mhaselden, 26 April 2012 - 05:20 PM.


#16 Spitfire addict

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:10 PM

Personally, I think "Buffaloes Over Singapore" is pretty excellent...!!!! :wicked:

But if you want a wider description of the early air war in the Far East, the first 2 volumes of "Bloody Shambles" are the best available.


I will look them up on Amazon. The Buffalo is a much maligned aircraft. At the time they fought against the Japanese the Zero fighter was arguably the best air superiority aircraft in the world. The Buffalo is one of those planes that has a "lot of heart" and for some reason holds a special place in aviation history. When one thinks of the early days of the war in the Pacific it is hard to fully understand the juggernaut faced by those troops and flyers in those far away lands. Maybe that is why some of us have a special attachment to those outmoded aircraft of the early days of the war? There I go again " philosophizing" but we history teachers tend to do that. Thanks again gentlemen.
Cheers

#17 Chuck1945

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 07:20 PM

In a similar vein, Every Day a Nightmare about the American P-40 pilots and aircraft initially sent to Australia to help defend Java and the NEI, most of whom were frsh out of training, and with less than 10 hours in P-40s is quite good. After six weeks (and sometimes more) crossing the Pacific and waiting for aircraft to arrive and be assembled, what little they knew about flying P-40s was often forgotten. More planes were wiped out through accidents than fighting the Japanese, but the those lost in combat usually resulted in the loss of pilots too where the accidents typically just cost aircraft.