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Booty003

RAF Blue Phantoms

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11 hours ago, Dazza said:

Well known facts that have been published many times over the years, there are several books that detail F-4 service with the RAF/RN, I also have several FG.1/FGR.2 AP101s detailing operating data, general differences, weapons systems, safety & servicing, ground crew handbook etc...

 

-Dazza

So you've not actually read any of the Air Staff or MoD files which contain the points made in my post...

 

Having an INAS, which is an item which can go wrong, adds to the engineering effort. Not by much, but it adds to it. You also had a situation whereby the outer wings of the FG1 were not the same as those on the FGR2 and thus not interchangeable (the FG1 outer had sustained less fatigue than the FGR2s' outer wings, by the by). Which has implications for engineering, because you need to have two different sets of outer wings (no ability to change parts between aircraft on different squadrons if the need arises, etc); Mike Blair, who was JENGO on 111 in the 1970s has posted about this somewhere online. When the decision to standardise on a single variant of the Phantom at Leuchars was taken, it came at a time when the UK's economy was, to use a technical term, stuffed. Defence spending was pared to the bone (JOs were, in some circumstances, eligible for housing benefit such had been the effect on their pay - see PPrune for references to this, for instance - and anything which saved money, particularly recurrent expenses such as standardising on a single variant was taken as an option.  This meant that standardisation, to eliminate the difference in engineering approaches was an obvious course of action to take, even if we're not talking about significant differences.,

 

We also have to take into account the fact that had there been enough Phantoms of both marks available, the plan to form an extra Phantom squadron (references found in several files in the AIR 2 and AIR 20 categories on squadron numberplate policy) would have been taken. It was not. 111 flew the FGR2 until late 1979 (source: Jefford, Squadrons of the RAF), but began to equip with the FG1 from January 1978 as RN FG1s became available; 892 didn't disband until December (last 892 carrier launch was November of that year), so the re-equipping could only begin in earnest in 1979. But from 1979, the opportunity to form an extra AD squadron - a squadron which the incoming government had said was needed for the UK's AD, having run its election campaign with a clear strand that the incumbent administration had fallen down on the job - wasn't taken.

 

And this is where the fatigue life, contrary to your assertion, comes into play.If you re-read my original, I did not suggest that the F-4J(UK) arrived in UK service because of Phantom fatigue life issues. I referred to fatigue life and to attrition. By the time the decision was taken that 111would change marks of Phantom, the RAF had lost 14 FGR2s, or 12% of the FGR2 fleet. There were, at that point, one FBSA squadron (41, soon to re-equip with the Jaguar); two RAFG Lightning squadrons which were to re-equip (19 & 92) and 23, 29 and 56 squadrons in the UK. Under the plans which saw 111 re-equip, there were to be five FGR2 squadrons for AD in RAFG and the UK - 19, 23, 29, 56, 92 - and two FG1 units (43 & 111). There was also an OCU (64 Sqn) with the FGR2. That placed a requirement upon the Phantom FGR2 force for approximately 72 in-use aircraft from an overall force of 102 airframes, while the FG1 force required approximately 24 airframes from the surviving 42.

 

These aircraft had to survive, in declining numbers - and in theory because of events - until the Tornado ADV entered service in about 1984 [actually 1987], with the final departure of the aircraft being mooted for either the end of the 1980s, or - if a decision to run on a couple of squadrons were taken - into the mid-90s when something then on paper in a design shop in Warton, or possibly Fort Worth or St Louis would take the job on.

 

The fatigue sustained by the FGR2 in the low-level FBSA role, both in RAFG and in 38 Group meant that rotating aircraft in and out of service to extend the fatigue life to get the force out to the orginally-envisaged OSD required some care. 

 

By 1983, when there was a need to create a squadron to replace 23, there were not enough FGR2 airframes overall (another 9 had been lost and one was being bashed back into shape after a mid-air) to allow for this and the sustainment of the F-4 force until the late 80s (because the F2 was now late), and most likely - and what transpired - the early 90s. The point about fatigue and attrition is that the overall stock of FGR2 airframes was insufficient to meet the RAF's requirements, so a new aircraft was required to plug the gap. The point I was trying to make, and which - respectfully - you've missed is that when doing force planning, the RAF concluded that the effects of fatigue, plus likely attrition rates (another 10 complete hull losses before retirement for the FGR2, another 2 for the FG1) were such that it had to buy more aircraft because it could not draw upon the airframes in reserve without diluting the overall size of the Phantom force and thus its efficacy in two vital roles.

 

The  size of the force in the FI (seven Phantoms, going down to four) and the fact that these concerns arose shows how tight the margins were by that time. A number of FGR2s had to be fitted with newly-made outer wing panels and a belly strap to get them to their extended out of service date as well.

 

The position with the FG1 was not entirely happy either - by the time of 111's complete re-equipment, 11 out of 50 FG1s had been lost [two from those recently taken on strength by 111 in 1978], which meant that by the mid-1980s a combination of attrition and fatigue issues for overall airframe management ensured that 74 had to reform on the F-4J(UK) as there were not enough Phantoms to go round. Once the F3 came into play, it was possible to ensure that the two Phantom squadrons could be run on, with the idea being that 56 and 74 would both draw upon the remaining FGR2 fleet, and ultimately receive upgraded aircraft to take a force of about 30-36 aircraft (including reserves) out to about 2000 when its replacement with the EF2000 would be complete. The Cold War then ended and Options for Change/'The Peace Dividend' did for the plan and the RAF's Phantoms.

 

That was/those were my point(s).

 

Edit - I should also note that the transition from FGR2 to FG1 at Leuchars didn't occur with 111's move to Scotland - the move took place in 1975, and re-equipment occurred in 1978/79, as observed above. There was a possibility, therefore, that FGR2s and FG1s would've operated alongside one another at LEU had the plan to (in effect) re-number 892 as 74 Squadron borne fruit. But the costs (even if, in the scheme of things, relatively small) and other issues with the FGR2 as noted above meant that having LEU as an all FG1 station while the FGRs were at Coningsby and Wattisham was deemed to be the solution.

Edited by XV107

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3 hours ago, XV107 said:

So you've not actually read any of the Air Staff or MoD files which contain the points made in my post...

 

 

No, I haven't read any of the Air Staff or MoD files which you refer to because I don't have access to them, so I'm happy to concede that maybe there was a plan to reform 74 Sqn with 892's FG.1s, although I still find it odd that there is no mention of that in the wider published material available on the F-4s service with the RAF/RN, unless I've missed it...

I also agree that the FGR.2s FBSA role did inflict more fatigue than was expected, but, by and large I stand by my points made previously. Yes the INAS could and did break and required repair, but it was an avionics item and not something which should've required significant engineering resources to the point that it was a burden, if anything the AWG-11/12 were the bigger problem as regards MTBF and a concerted effort was undertaken to improve reliability with reasonable success.

The outer wings on the FG.1 and FGR.2 were identical and were interchangeable, the only difference was that all FG.1s had hydraulic wing fold, were as only a small number of FGR.2s had hydraulic wing fold (before it was deleted on the production line), the FGR.2s without the hydraulic wing fold differed only in the removal of the hydraulic jack, locking mechanism and associated hydraulic lines.

Further to the fatigue issues on the FGR.2, whilst waiting for BAe to complete the new outer wing panels, the MoD acquired a number of low hour/low mod state outer wing sets for use until a new build outer wing sets were available, the belly strap was also something which was added to all F-4s except for F-4E/F/EJ and RF-4Es after 71-0237, so it wasn't a unique fitment to the FG.1/FGR.2...

 

-Dazza

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The point, though, is that there were different engineering needs for the airframes, and this was tolerable if/when money was more readily available; it wasn't when the decision to drop the creation of the new squadron on 892's aircraft. So standardisation was the way forward. I based my comments about the outer wings on comments by one pilot (Grp Capt, rtd) and a SENGO on a Phantom squadron (also Grp Capt, rtd) in addition to the comments I referenced by Mike Blair; it may well be that their recollections - the last time any of the two I know were involved on Phantoms would've been at least 15 years before we chatted - are at variance with the reality (or that things weren't done by the book...)

 

The point aboit the belly strap is that it's  indicative of the need to pay attention to the fatigue index issues generally - specifically when talking about the RAF aircraft, it all comes/came down to the fact that the RAF Phantom force was at the edges of the art of the possible in terms of unit establishment and available aircraft, hence the need for the F-4J(UK), rather than having the ability to take airframes out of storage to meet the need for 29/23 in thhe FI. 

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I see your point re: establishment of 74 sqn using F-4Js but, that requirement only arose directly because of the need to deploy aircraft to the FI and it's associated impact on our NATO commitments, without that need the available FGR.2/FG.1 airframes was adequate (to what degree is open to debate of course) to maintain current squadron levels. Another point worth considering is that, as usual, government stupidity resulted in the FG.1/FGR.2 instead of an 'of the shelf' buy of an existing J79 powered model of the F-4. As far as the argument at the time for the RN/FAA's need for more power from the engines to operate from their smaller carrier/s, which the government decided could be solved by stuffing an afterburner on the civilian Spey engine (which was strewn with reliability problems before and after entry into service for many years!), GE had already said that the J79 could be made to deliver more power but, the UK gov had spoken! The resultant cost of the highly modified FG.1/FGR.2 (the most expensive new build version of the F-4) no doubt had an impact on the numbers bought, when quite a few more airframes could've been purchased of already existing models for the same or even less cost, thus enabling the spread of airframe hours/FI across a larger, easier to support fleet, hindsight though is a wonderful thing...

 

-Dazza

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Anyway, back on track......

 

The colour that I was looking at from Vallejo is nowhere near what I am after!!   Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

 

Phil

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Doh, just realised that I have picked up the wrong shade, back to the model shop.....!!

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3 hours ago, Booty003 said:

Anyway, back on track......

 

The colour that I was looking at from Vallejo is nowhere near what I am after!!   Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

 

Phil

I'm sure that earlier in the thread someone mentioned that the two blue Phantoms were Aircraft Blue .  If so , then it's the same colour as the Blue Diamonds Hunters .  A good match for that colour is Halfords Fiat Capri Blue .

 

John Green

Nantwich , Cheshire

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Have a look in the nostagia section of photos on Fighter Control. Somebody has posted a lot of RAF Phantom pics and the blue ones are there; the colour rendition looks about right.

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1 hour ago, iainpeden said:

Have a look in the nostagia section of photos on Fighter Control. Somebody has posted a lot of RAF Phantom pics and the blue ones are there; the colour rendition looks about right.

been collecting pics of the 'blue' RAF Phantoms for a number of years now. All in one place in their own post on my Jet & Prop blog

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The blue on these Phantoms always struck me as being a bit unique, it may have been down to the finish rather than the colour, but there was something unusual about them.

Wish I took more pics back in the day.

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The quality of finish can be down to a number of factors. Older enthusiasts may recall an Alconbury airshow in the early 1980s when there were 3 F-4Es parked next to each other, all in the new lizard (Euorpean 1) scheme. The grey on the SP a/c was satin, smooth and very close to RAF dark sea grey, the 2 SJ a/c (TDY in Europe) had a much darker,basically charcoal finish.

 

I did some research on this and eventually got in touch with somebody at Kemble who had been responsible for repainting USAFE a/c there for maintenance; he told me there were 2 factors involved in the variation, first the quality of the paint (pretty obvious really) and secondly the pressure in the sprayguns they used. He reckoned that the SJ a/c had had low quality pant and been sprayed at low pressure.

 

Going back to the blue Tooms; I am 99% sure that they were repainted at Wildenrath. I never could work out the paint shade but I don't think there was a properly equipped paintshop there and therefore the repainting would not have been up to the standard when they were painted as part of a normal deep service (at St Athan I think)

 

That's my theory anyway.

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I have go this down to either Humbrol Acrylic 25 or Vallejo Model Colour 899.

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I've got the Humbrol colour system folder with colour swatches on card. I have just held Humbrol 25 up to the photo on fighter control and think its too dark; what is nearer is 14 Gloss French blue.

All the caveats about monitor and photo colour apply. I'd suggest trying a few of the blues you have on a scrap model and see which you think is closest. Pefection is in the eye of the beholder and nobody will ever prove you wrong as the Tangmere one has undergone at least 3 repaints and the one in Prague has faded as it was stored outside.

Good luck

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Really, I just looked at the same photo and it looks darker, for the record and extra info humbrol 25 is a good match for roundel blue. Humbrol 14 is quite a light blue

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33 minutes ago, PhantomBigStu said:

Really, I just looked at the same photo and it looks darker, for the record and extra info humbrol 25 is a good match for roundel blue. Humbrol 14 is quite a light blue

Thanks -  calling accurate colour is always hard - there's the tricky issue of scale colour too but let's not go there!

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Phil

They're your models so go with the blue that makes you happy. Be it right or wrong, if it looks the part to your eye then it's right. I'm pretty sure if a dozen or so modellers built the same aircraft. It would surprise you how many different interpretations you would get. How many variations of a colour are there depending on the manufacturer. They all seem to have their own idea as to what skybluepink might be/is/was. As others have said paint thickness, temperature, light, corrosion, a million and one variables all come into play. Build the kits, paint them blue, enjoy. This is purely my view other views are available it's just the way I see it.

 

Peter

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XV408 was indeed at Cranwell for a while, still in the blue scheme.

Before being sealed and put on display she was in a maintenance/ground school hanger.

I managed to get into Cranwell and into the hanger(officially, with grovelling and a nice 'we love the RAF' letter to station CO)

Spent a good couple of hours crawling all over her taking lots of photos.

Also got to see the Jag and various Hunters that were in the hanger too.

If I find the photos I will try and get them scanned and posted

 

Back to the colour

http://britishstandardcolour.com/

From memory I would say that 108 Aircraft Blue is the colour used.

I know that Humbrol 25 (enamel) was pretty close.

Vallejo don't seem to match that blue, but the closest I can match from my collection is 930 dark blue

Hope this helps

Edited by McYellowbelly

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Lots of great info there chaps, I have seen a couple of builds using Humbrol 25 which look pretty good.  Will hopefully find some spare time to have a test spray on an old kit this weekend.

 

Cheers all,

 

Phil

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In the late 80's some of the Phantoms and Tornados in RAFG had their tails painted -ostensibly for visibility purposes. XV498/U of 92 squadron was one of the first ones and was, I think, the CO's a/c. I also remember a 92 Phantom at Mildenhall with a blue tail. Now - moving laterally - if somebody knows the shade of blue used for those a/c it might be  a pointer as to the overall blue.

 

This is getting obsessive - and if the French can paint one of our Harriers pink (DIY shop emulsion almost certainly no BS equivalent)  - then go back to Peter's comment about it looking right for you.

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Prompted by this week's announcement of the death of Dick "Mr Modeldecal" Ward , it just dawned on me that Modeldecal featured XV408 in the overall blue scheme on sheet 116 . I've had a look and it quotes BS381C:110 Roundel Blue . With Dick's reputation for accuracy , I think it should be the colour to go for .

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