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wally7506

British Camo Rubber masks

262 posts in this topic

We aim to please; at times it's difficult to refrain from leaping up, in the Kew reading room, and shouting "Eureka."

Edgar

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Actually, you've hit the nail squarely on the head; a couple of weeks ago I found, in a file on camouflage, at Kew, a (possibly scale) drawing of the Spitfire camouflage pattern "A," dating from early 1937, which, even at that early stage, advocates the use of "stencil mats." The drawing has 1' squares superimposed on it, and the instructions go to great lengths to point out that they are for guidance only, which I take to mean that the pattern did not have to be slavishly followed, but that some leeway was allowed. It's totally impossible for me to put it on here, since it's over 50Mb, and would give Mike apoplexy; it's also a TIFF file, which I've found won't register on Photobucket.

The actual wording (or some of it) is, "Stencil mats to be made approximately to the scheme shown. Scheme "B" being the mirror image of Scheme "A" 1'-0" squares have been drawn to give the necessary guidance for laying off colour contours." The drawing also includes precise dimensions, and placement, of the roundels and underwing serials (no fin flash at that time.)

I've also found evidence that the talk of "skilled" and "experienced" painters/sprayers is sadly misplaced; during a mid-war inspection of badly-painted airframes from Handley-Page, the company pointed out that their skilled men had all been drafted into the forces, leaving them with unskilled, even infirm (my italics) staff.

Edgar

I've just been idly browsing BM and came across this thread again. Edgar's mention of a Spitfire drawing rang a bell and i remembered that way back in my RAF training days ('59 - '61) I had acquired a similar drawing whilst doing the Painting, Doping and Fabric phase of my training. I should point out that I was being trained as an Airframe Fitter but painting doping and fabric work were still part of a "Riggers" lot.

To my surprise, digging through an old tin trunk, I not only found the drawing but also my original training note books from those days.

Mine appears to be an updated version of the one Edgar found as although mine is dated 6-1-38, the markings are updated to mid/late war, Type B, Type C.1 roundels etc. Although the 1 foot squares are mentioned in the notes, they do not appear on the drawing.

Attached are the notes that Edgar refers to. It also confirms that Type 'C' (Cellulose) paint was to be used on the elevators and rudder and Type 'S' (Synthetic) elsewhere (I seem to recall a discussion regarding this somewhere within BM). I do not know where the phrase Type 'S' (Smooth) came from as the word 'Smooth", within the context of aircraft airframes, means something else entirely different.

With regards to stencil matts. According to my training notes (November 1959), we were taught how to make them and they could be made up from, "thin card, thick paper or Madras paper/board, more permanent ones can be made from thin sheet alloy or ply". We then went on to doping and the important fact that red taughtening dope was to "be laid on NOT brushed".

SPITFIRECAMOUFLAGEDETAILSFROMDRAWING.jpg

SPITFIRECAMOUFLAGEPAINTDETAILSFROMDRAWING.jpg

Bit late but HTH

Dennis W Robinson

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Moist interesting, and additional info that seems to change the game. So much for all the stuff about hair and rubber mats or whatever. Seems a very heavy butcher paper would have done the job. Use it a couple of time and discard. Seems almost any flat and flexible item that could be cut could have been used.

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(snip)

With regards to stencil matts. According to my training notes (November 1959), we were taught how to make them and they could be made up from, "thin card, thick paper or Madras paper/board, more permanent ones can be made from thin sheet alloy or ply". We then went on to doping and the important fact that red taughtening dope was to "be laid on NOT brushed".

(snip)

Bit late but HTH

Dennis W Robinson

Dennis, Very interesting stuff. Most of it seems pretty clear, but can you clarify what that last sentence means? ("laid on NOT brushed")

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Moist interesting, and additional info that seems to change the game. So much for all the stuff about hair and rubber mats or whatever. Seems a very heavy butcher paper would have done the job. Use it a couple of time and discard. Seems almost any flat and flexible item that could be cut could have been used.

So you feel free to discard the evidence of people, who have seen them, made them, used them, and have described their make-up, during the war, and just after (with Hawker Hunters.)

Dennis has told us how he was trained in 1959-61, long after the restrictions on the use of paper were lifted, so rewriting history from 19 years before (and a range of 3000+ miles) seems a mite rich. He is defintely correct in saying that it's been updated, since DTD 517A synthetic paint was not used before (late) 1942.

Paper was being recycled, over and over again, in the U.K. during the 1940s, so the idea of using, contaminating, then discarding it, would have been unthinkable. It's understandable, in a way, that American inhabitants, with their millions of acres of available trees, cannot understand how such a mundane material as paper could have been in such short supply, here.

One thing that has not been mentioned, of course, is that it's yet more evidence for mats, and against freeheand spraying.

Edgar

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Dennis, Very interesting stuff. Most of it seems pretty clear, but can you clarify what that last sentence means? ("laid on NOT brushed")

Steve

Red taughtening Dope is/was used for taughtening the unbleached Irish Linen (madapolen) as originally applied in its "raw" state to airframe structures. As such it needs/needed tightening up to provide a relatively smooth surface. The red taughtening dope, if brushed on, would not be absorbed by the linen (fabric) all the way through particularly with regard to the heavier weight material used on aerofoils due to the fact that the solvent in the dope would evaporate very quickly and the dope would "dry out" having taughtened the outer surface of the fabric but not the inner The ultimate effect of this would be that whereas the outer surface of the linen was tight, the inner surface would still be fairly flexible, the strength of the covering on the airframe would be reduced and "flapping" or "ribbing" could occur in flight leading to failure of the linen (fabric).

The process of "Laying" the dope on to the fabric consisted of dipping a brush, depending on the area to be covered anywhere between 2 inches and 8 inches, into a tin of red dope and "stroking" the area to be treated with the brush leaving what can be best described as a "dollop" of red dope on the surface. The dope then had time to be absorbed fully by the fabric before the solvents in it had fully evaporated and thus the fabric was taughtened evenly.

You may have seen descriptions of interior surfaces of fabric covered aeroplanes as being "a patchy pink". This is a sure sign that the red taughtening dope had been "laid on".

As a matter of interest I have a note in my book to the effect that our Instructor, a Mr Lamb, had stated that during the First World War, ordinary water had been used to tighten fabric after which it was coated with seaplane varnish but that this practice had been stopped after the war because the water caused the wooden structure underneath to swell and ultimately rot.

HTH Chum

Dennis

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So you feel free to discard the evidence of people, who have seen them, made them, used them, and have described their make-up, during the war, and just after (with Hawker Hunters.)

Dennis has told us how he was trained in 1959-61, long after the restrictions on the use of paper were lifted, so rewriting history from 19 years before (and a range of 3000+ miles) seems a mite rich. He is defintely correct in saying that it's been updated, since DTD 517A synthetic paint was not used before (late) 1942.

Paper was being recycled, over and over again, in the U.K. during the 1940s, so the idea of using, contaminating, then discarding it, would have been unthinkable. It's understandable, in a way, that American inhabitants, with their millions of acres of available trees, cannot understand how such a mundane material as paper could have been in such short supply, here.

One thing that has not been mentioned, of course, is that it's yet more evidence for mats, and against freeheand spraying.

Edgar

Gee Edgar, an anti-American rant? Please refrain from that in the discussion. You give others license to do any anti-(fill in the name of the country or group) they want. Did you reuse toilet paper or was it back issue of the London Illustrated?

As for the first line, perhaps if I used as many words as you, you would not have been confused. What I meant is that there might have been alternatives to the heavy mat idea. Stencils made of material that would not have survived many reapplications. Perhaps if you explained that paper was restricted, it would have been better than a rant. Or are you saying Denis mislead us about the paper mats because that did not apply to WW-2?

I would most appreciate an answer or correction if I am not correct, but your rant is not appreciated.

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Gentlemen Please !!

I wish now that I had kept my mouth shut. May I tactfully suggest that you both metaphorically shake hands and we can carry on discussing, in a civilised manner, a subject that is of interest to all of us.

Best Regards,

Dennis W Robinson.

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Steve

Red taughtening Dope is/was used for taughtening the unbleached Irish Linen (madapolen) as originally applied in its "raw" state to airframe structures. As such it needs/needed tightening up to provide a relatively smooth surface. The red taughtening dope, if brushed on, would not be absorbed by the linen (fabric) all the way through particularly with regard to the heavier weight material used on aerofoils due to the fact that the solvent in the dope would evaporate very quickly and the dope would "dry out" having taughtened the outer surface of the fabric but not the inner The ultimate effect of this would be that whereas the outer surface of the linen was tight, the inner surface would still be fairly flexible, the strength of the covering on the airframe would be reduced and "flapping" or "ribbing" could occur in flight leading to failure of the linen (fabric).

The process of "Laying" the dope on to the fabric consisted of dipping a brush, depending on the area to be covered anywhere between 2 inches and 8 inches, into a tin of red dope and "stroking" the area to be treated with the brush leaving what can be best described as a "dollop" of red dope on the surface. The dope then had time to be absorbed fully by the fabric before the solvents in it had fully evaporated and thus the fabric was taughtened evenly.

You may have seen descriptions of interior surfaces of fabric covered aeroplanes as being "a patchy pink". This is a sure sign that the red taughtening dope had been "laid on".

As a matter of interest I have a note in my book to the effect that our Instructor, a Mr Lamb, had stated that during the First World War, ordinary water had been used to tighten fabric after which it was coated with seaplane varnish but that this practice had been stopped after the war because the water caused the wooden structure underneath to swell and ultimately rot.

HTH Chum

Dennis

Dennis, yeah, I think that explains it nicely, but it sounds counter-intuitive to how I thought the taughtening dope worked. But it does sound like my current model brush-painting skills... :D

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Gee Edgar, an anti-American rant?

Possibly one particular American, but not the nation in general; I count too many as friends for that.

Did you reuse toilet paper or was it back issue of the London Illustrated?

Now who's being offensive?

As for the first line, perhaps if I used as many words as you, you would not have been confused..

One of my (many) failings that, needing things to be carefully explained, preferably in words of one syllable.

What I meant is that there might have been alternatives to the heavy mat idea. Stencils made of material that would not have survived many reapplications. Perhaps if you explained that paper was restricted, it would have been better than a rant

Sorry about that; I've said, so many times, about the shortage of paper, here, that I assumed it was also on this thread. At least it is, now.

Or are you saying Denis mislead us about the paper mats because that did not apply to WW-2?

No. He told us what he did in 1959, which was very informative, and didn't mislead me by one single iota.

Dennis, was "Scheme Z" still in operation, in 1959? I'm told that it involved a maximum of 5 coats of red dope, the first two of which were thinned to half-strength, and it ran throughout the war.

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Moist interesting, and additional info that seems to change the game. So much for all the stuff about hair and rubber mats or whatever. Seems a very heavy butcher paper would have done the job. Use it a couple of time and discard. Seems almost any flat and flexible item that could be cut could have been used.

The very often posted Curtiss factory photo of stencil spraying

121366527.jpg

shows ply (or light sheet metal) stencils with stiffeners.

Rubber was such a more strategic material than paper (or ply or canvas) that its use has long caused me to doubt this theory. Latex. Tap it somewhere in South America (or where-ever, the Japanese held Malaya and Borneo) dry it into sheets, pack and ship across hostile oceans. Then turn it into a disposable frisket? Hmm.. Not when there were hoses, gaskets, tyres and condoms and a multitude of other items to make.

Not to say it didn't happen, but I'm sure a search of rubber usage in WWII Britain would come to a dead-end when using 'masking mat(te)s' as a search criterion.

G

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"Less-strategic" canvas was used to make tents, awnings, belts, gaiters, parachute harnesses, and aircraft seatbelts (at the very least.) "Less-strategic" plywood was used in fast patrol boats and Mosquito aircraft, so much, in fact, that it had to be imported from the likes of Canada.

Malaya and Borneo, etc., were not in Japanese hands until 1942; there was a Dunlop factory in South Africa; rubber was produced in Ceylon, Abyssinia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Australia, New Zealand, India, Southern Rhodesia, some African colonies. Synthetic rubbers were being worked on from March 1943, here, also replacement for the America-produced Neoprene and Thiokol. ICI began research on synthetic rubbers in 1941

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"Less-strategic" canvas was used to make tents, awnings, belts, gaiters, parachute harnesses, and aircraft seatbelts (at the very least.) "Less-strategic" plywood was used in fast patrol boats and Mosquito aircraft, so much, in fact, that it had to be imported from the likes of Canada.

Malaya and Borneo, etc., were not in Japanese hands until 1942; there was a Dunlop factory in South Africa; rubber was produced in Ceylon, Abyssinia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Australia, New Zealand, India, Southern Rhodesia, some African colonies. Synthetic rubbers were being worked on from March 1943, here, also replacement for the America-produced Neoprene and Thiokol. ICI began research on synthetic rubbers in 1941

Well, lets look at the cost per ton in 1939-1945 money. That's another one.

G

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Well, lets look at the cost per ton in 1939-1945 money. That's another one.

Only if you're desperate; $4 to the £ back then.

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Dennis, was "Scheme Z" still in operation, in 1959? I'm told that it involved a maximum of 5 coats of red dope, the first two of which were thinned to half-strength, and it ran throughout the war.

Not by that name Edgar but the procedure is familiar even though I only saw it carried out once. The thinning 50:50 would be for spraying, allowing each coat to dry prior to the next one being applied, each succeeding coat dampening the previous one sufficiently for it to be absorbed into the fabric.

Now the next bit is from memory and you know how "useful" memory can be especially after fifty years !, but your mention of "the first two of which were thinned to half-strength rang a bell and then distant memories and faces came flooding back.

After training, four of us were posted to Cottesmore (Victor B1/1a's) but because the Service was awash with techies in those days and the Squadron could only use us as "gophers", we were packed off to 'A' hangar to "learn the trade" by assisting in the Major Servicing of Cottesmores Anson and this is where I saw the above carried out following the re-covering of the roof, rear fuselage and fin. As I recall, they brought in a Team, from Abingdon I think, to carry out the recovering and painting which was a bit disappointing as we had been trained relatively recently to do that sort of thing but the "Power-that-be" at Cottesmore ( a W/O Waddington - "Sir" to his friends - "God" to the likes of me) seemed a touch reluctant to let us "Sprogs" do anything really interesting.

The stripping and re-covering of the fabric was carried out at the beginning of the Major Servicing, the re-covering after the stringers had been examined and replaced as required. It took about three days for it to be done following which one of the Team sprayed the new fabric with water which had us inquisitive eighteen year olds somewhat puzzled as none of this had been covered in training apart from what Mr lamb had told us about WWI . The answer was obvious, once we were told, it was quite simply to take out the creases in the fabric. The application of the red taughtening dope was carried out the following day after the fabric had been checked that it was thoroughly dry, the Technician using an 'L' type compressor and spray gun. The dope was mixed 50:50 with thinners, I know that because he got us to do the mixing. He only applied three coats with about two hours between each coat and then the whole Team went back to Abingdon. Thinking on it I cannot remember any masking of the airframe or, for that matter, a face mask being being worn.

Three of the team returned at the end of the Major and put the finishing coats of paint on to the fuselage and fin together with the fin flash. When we were asked if anyone would like to touch the roundels on the wing by brush, me and my mate Maxy Miles were quick to volunteer only to find that the Team from Abingdon would do the ones on the upper surface and we had the ones underneath. Now I am sure that all of you have at some time painted a ceiling in your house, I have, but at least the ceiling does not bounce up and down whilst people are walking on it or working in the main part of the house - need I say more. I think that we learnt two valuable lessons during that period:-

1 - Forget what you learnt in Training - you are in the Real Air Force now (the number of times that was drummed into us !!

2 - Never volunteer for sod all.

Scheme 'Z' as described by Edgar would seem particularly logical especially during wartime production. Fabric covered parts of airframes could be built, covered, taughtened by the method described above and even be given the final top coat before joining a queue to be fitted especially if they were being manufactured at small "shadow" factories away from the main site of production. Fabric covered flying controls especially would benefit from this as they would need to be balanced after the topcoat had been applied and prior to fitment to the aircraft.

Regarding thinners and its use in Scheme "Z" and probably in my day as well. Under certain circumstances such as low temperature,and/or damp conditions, cellulose dope can "blush" the symptoms of which are a "blotchy whitening" of the surface. I have a note to that effect in one of my books:-

"Thinners - Anti-Chill (33B/904)

Used in damp atmosphere or cold conditions to prevent blushing of the dope. For Cellulose dope add 1pt thinners to 20pts dope"

Now I am not sure but I have a feeling that that is for brush applied dope. The ratio 50:50 described above is suitable for spraying as Red Taughtening Dope was a fairly thick dope.

I have dug out my old note books again and have been going through them. The tattered old things are in front of me now and I have found a reference to "Synthetic Rubber Mats". Don't get all excited, thy are not masking mats, I am referring to "Mainplane mats". These were rubber mats which, so our instructors taught us, were to be used at all times when working on aircraft. Yes we did in Training but once we were in the Real Air Force, I never saw one used once.

With regard to the original question as to whether British Camo Rubber Mats were ever used, I will answer with another question, "If not - Why not ?". They my not have been made of rubber but it would make life a lot easier and production would travel smoothly.

Going off at a bit of a tangent if you don't mind, I have found a few other bits that may be of interest to fellow modellers, this one for example:-

"HIGH SPEED FINISHES" dated 18 July 1959

"Some aircraft in the Royal Air Force have had a High Speed Finish applied during manufacture. The finish consists of a series of steps including stoppering, filling, sanding and polishing. For aircraft with a High Speed Finish the following procedures have been adopted and they are mandatory

Cleaning and Polshing

1 WEEKLY

a Wash down with emulsion detergent

b Dry thoroughly with a chamois leather

d Polish with a soft dry duster

FORTNIGHTLY

a Wash down as for weekly cleaning

b Apply liquid polish (Do not rub heavily)

e Allow polish a few minutes to dry

f Remove deposit by using a soft cloth or lambs wool mop rubbing lightly until a high gloss is achieved."

There then follows a series of safety precautions to be observed when working on aircraft with a high speed finish the very first of which is:-

"1/ Never wear nailed boots"

I never saw any of the above done, only for inspections etc but I did get lumbered into polishing a Victor B2 once at Wittering using something called "Wadpol"

HTH

Dennis W Robinson

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Not by that name Edgar but the procedure is familiar even though I only saw it carried out once.

(snip)

HTH

Dennis W Robinson

Dennis, this was a great 'read' for me; very, very interesting stuff. Sincere thanks for taking the time to write it up for us.

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Dennis, that was fascinating; if you've never thought of writing an article for a magazine, you really should consider it. Any editor, worthy of the name, would give his eye teeth for that information.

Edgar

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This has always been an interesting thread, thank you Dennis for adding even more interest. Thoroughly absorbing stuff (no pun intended).

Simon

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Only if you're desperate; $4 to the £ back then.

What ever the exchange rate was has little bearing on rubber supply.

As of 1942 Commonwealth rubber supply disappeared reducing imports of raw and processed latex to 3% of 1941 tonnages. Alternate supplies were found, recycling efforts redoubled and synthetic substitutes developed. However supplies never recovered to pre-1941 levels. Areas captured by Japan were limited to supply of only Japan and as a consequence the rubber industry in occupied Netherlands East-Indies, Malaya, Borneo etc slipped into disrepair through non-investment in capital equipment and ageing trees. The workforce was dislocated and dispersed.

Rubber supply has never returned to pre-1941 levels from countries occupied in WWII, because producers turned to alternate crops, palm-oil etc.

Then there's fibre supply. All those tail-less horses.

G

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What ever the exchange rate was has little bearing on rubber supply.

True, but it has some bearing on whether one has a sense of humour, or not.

As of 1942 Commonwealth rubber supply disappeared reducing imports of raw and processed latex to 3% of 1941 tonnages.

No, it didn't; ever heard of the India Rubber Company? Why do you think there was continuous reference to india-rubber men in the entertainments industry? You've also ignored the Dunlop Company, in South Africa (Nigeria and the Gold coast were producers) which was never invaded.

Alternate supplies were found, recycling efforts redoubled and synthetic substitutes developed.

Absolutely true; a use was found for crumbled & recycled rubber, and the raw material was also bulked up by the use of materials like chalk (still done in the carpet industry - the more chalk included, the cheaper the underlay.)

However supplies never recovered to pre-1941 levels. Areas captured by Japan were limited to supply of only Japan and as a consequence the rubber industry in occupied Netherlands East-Indies, Malaya, Borneo etc slipped into disrepair through non-investment in capital equipment and ageing trees. The workforce was dislocated and dispersed.

According to a government file, in Kew, the Air Ministry, in 1943, was still being allocated just under 100 tons of raw rubber per quarter, so they were getting it from somewhere.

Rubber supply has never returned to pre-1941 levels from countries occupied in WWII, because producers turned to alternate crops, palm-oil etc.
Also synthetics; Neoprene and Thiokol were imported from America, and U.K. companies, like I.C.I., started work on them as early as 1941.
Then there's fibre supply. All those tail-less horses.
:clap:

One day, maybe (but I doubt it) I'll understand the desperate desire, in some quarters, to "prove" that we didn't paint aircraft in the way that we did; this is a hobby, for pity's sake, so, if modellers want to paint their models with a non-historical 6-12" overspray between colours, then go ahead. I'll never castigate a modeller for doing his/her own thing, but, likewise, I'll never lie about my findings, just to make someone feel good.

Edited by Edgar

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<snip>has some bearing on whether one has a sense of humour, or not.

I thought the horse comment was a light touch of wry humour.

One day, maybe (but I doubt it) I'll understand the desperate desire, in some quarters, to "prove" that we didn't paint aircraft in the way that we did;

Oh, I'm sure there were masks or guides employed in the early days of WWII by the British Aviation Industry. It's just that I believe they were something other than strategically crucial rubber and horse-hair (?) matting. The only despair in this conversation is of them that support the supposition. Indeed I'd love to have evidence of those crisply defined aircraft component being unmasked. But on a logistic and economic basis, highly improbable.

A steel rod guide, a kraft paper pounce matte, or thin ply on a deal frame, canvas with whipped edges perhaps, but I'd be guessing as there's no evidence.

No, it didn't; ever heard of the India Rubber Company? Why do you think there was continuous reference to india-rubber men in the entertainments industry? You've also ignored the Dunlop Company, in South Africa (Nigeria and the Gold coast were producers) which was never invaded.

Ficus elastica is an ornamental plant which when economically exploited as a latex source was found to deliver inferior rubber, but far better than that from a contirtionist. :) Commercial rubber was from plantation grown South American plants (Hevea brasiliensis). The 3% of rubber received after Japanese occupation was actually at sea when the invasion took place. The plantations in Kerala State were still very young in 1942. Alternate supply was almost entirely from wild trees in South America and plantations in the Belgian Congo. Very labour intensive. Did Dunlop ever actually grow rubber?

According to a government file, in Kew, the Air Ministry, in 1943

That 100 ton per quarter allocation was well under requirement. Massive amounts of manufactured rubber goods came to Britain from USA which pretty much owned all of the plantations and wild harvest leases in South America, that's where the short-fall was made up. Pure debt, it was expensive.

Also synthetics; Neoprene and Thiokol were imported from America, and U.K. companies, like I.C.I., started work on them as early as 1941.

I understand synthetics quite well. To 1980, natural rubber from countries occupied by Japanese forces had yet to match pre 1942 production figures.

this is a hobby, for pity's sake, so, if modellers want to paint their models with a non-historical 6-12" overspray between colours, then go ahead.

As a modeller who uses masks, rubber backed fabric as it happens, I believe I am able achieve as tight a demarcation on my models as skilled wartime workers could, free-hand, in the very real world of 1939-1945.

G

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It's just that I believe they were something other than strategically crucial rubber and horse-hair (?) matting.

I haven't seen anyone make a distinction between service practice, as I believe Dennis was describing (and which the note on the Spit drawing might also be addressing? Not sure on that!) and factory practice. For the latter it seems more sensible to me to make one set of hair and rubber (or whatever) mats that are going to last a long time (in "repetitions of use" terms) and are instantly ready to lay down without risk of damaging the airframe, than to take the time to cut paper masks for each wing/fuselage you're painting.

As to the drawing date, the one referred to is probably the original date of that particular drawing/sheet number. Any number of revisions (also dated) are possible. Note also, in addition to the newer roundel styles, that the different finish is only on elevators and rudder; the ailerons must have been deleted when they went to metal skin in the spring of '41.

Edgar, I remember at least two different, although perhaps not far apart from each other, paper shortages when I were a lad (in USA). I don't know how real the problem was, but they sure made the point to us schoolkids.

bob

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It's quite well documented that for Spitfires at the least, were built as sub assemblies from components from various sub-contractors. These sub-assemblies were painted in workshops all over Britain. The wings and fuselages were painted while they were still incomplete. Final assembly was the last stage at which paint would be applied. Quite literally, the wing-root fairings were the last and only parts of the fighting airframe to be painted once the aircraft was readied for service. Every other bit will have been delivered in full camouflage from their diverse suppliers.

A mat(te) to regularise the paint on (say) a tailplane pair to their moving surfaces would make perfect sense, because they were made in different places until the advent of ply/metal elevators. The same for wings. Metal workers built the wings, different metal-workers made the flying surface structure which were then passed along to tailors and seamstresses to be clad in their surface.

The difference in practice of completing a metal wing and it's fabric surfaces require different materials, procedures, time-frames and skills. The idea an aircraft in WWII Britain was painted as a unit, as we do our models, is an idealistic, but logistical nightmarish concept.

The photo of the Curtiss painters at work on a Hawk wing assembly (vertical in it's trolley) clearly shows a semi-rigid mask, possibly plywood, perhaps tin, strapped to the wing, spaced off the surface for a smooth feathered demarcation.

Q. Would there have been a mask for both upper surface colours and another for the underside colour?

The physical complication of moving a weighty, floppy mask, wet with paint along the edges half the time, isn't intuitive to anyone who has worked in a pressure industrial environment.

I'm hopeful this will be resolved one day, as it's surely a fishbone.

G

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Ficus elastica is an ornamental plant which when economically exploited as a latex source was found to deliver inferior rubber, but far better than that from a contirtionist. :) Commercial rubber was from plantation grown South American plants (Hevea brasiliensis). The 3% of rubber received after Japanese occupation was actually at sea when the invasion took place. The plantations in Kerala State were still very young in 1942. Alternate supply was almost entirely from wild trees in South America and plantations in the Belgian Congo. Very labour intensive. Did Dunlop ever actually grow rubber?

Actually, if I may interject here, on the subject of the Allied supply of rubber, after the fall of Malaya, I believe Ceylon was the major producer of rubber for the Allies in WWII; so much so that they accepted the risks of overfarming(? that may not be the word, I'm at work) to increase output, and additional rubber was grown in the United States. I will happily dig up figures when I return home, if anyone cares. I stand ready to possibly contradict myself, since it's been a few years since I was interested in graduate studies on Ceylon during the war. But I'm confident enough to hazard making a fool of myself online.

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