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lampie

Duck Egg Blue?, Its all in the mix.

59 posts in this topic

Picking up this months edition of Flypast (Sept 2010) I came across this letter which I thought I'd type out for the benefit of everybody.

It amazes me the lengths people are going to in order to identify the correct colours. Munsell values, colorimetric values, spectrometers and sonic screwdrivers etc.

Not knocking this at all, the threads have made very interesting reading and have become reference articles in their own right.

This letter recounts the lengths a 22 year old corporal, who eventually retired as Wing Cdr W B Hurst, and his fellow "erks" went to attempting to create "Duck Egg Blue" one day in August 1940.

It was written to his wife from his posting in Gloucestershire in August 1940. Unfortunately the unit and aircraft type aren't recorded.

" We had to paint some of our kites and for some obscure reason we had to paint them duck egg blue. Why they should choose duck egg blue I can't imagine but ours is not to reason why, so duck egg blue they had to be.

Well, to start with we couldn't get any duck egg blue paint, nobody seemed to have heard of it, so the only thing to do was to mix some. The first thing we had to decide was 'what colour is duck egg blue?'

Nobody knew, nowbody could remember having seen a duck's egg in the raw, so we were stumped again. Funnily enough nobody but me thought of trying to get hold of a duck's egg from somewhere but my suggestion, that someone should be sent to try and procure one wasn't recieved very favourably.

Then we found someone who remembered having to mix some before. Oh it was a long time ago but he remeembered having to mix blue and white paint to the ration of 15:6.

Oh good. BUt was it 15 parts of blue or 15 parts of white? He wasn't sure but he thought it was blue. The only thing to do was to try it out and see what it looked like. Well, I should like to see the duck that could lay a beautiful Oxford blue egg! We concluded it must be the other way about , so we mixed in a lot more white with it and eventually got about five gallons of a sort of Cambridge blue, which we all agreed a duck's egg might possibly look like!

We slapped this on and as it didn't look to bad we left it t dry and went to dinner. When we got back something seemed to have gone wrong for our duck egg blue had dried a beautiful violet!

Now this was rather disheartening but it was quite funny to see the Flight Sergent tearing his hair out when he saw it, so we asked him to have a go.

He suggested putting some more white and some yellow with our mixture. We followed his suggestion and the resulting mixture didn't look too bad, though a bit greenish, but a duck might possibly have been able to produce an egg to match it, so we slapped that over the top of the violet.

I don't think it will look too bad when dry but we shan't know the final result until we see it tomorrow.

I don't think anyone will dare open the hangar door in the morning".

In a letter two days later, he said:

" We finished duck egg blueing our planes by the way. That first one dried alright and as we had used all the paint on it we had to mix some more and get the right shade. Most of them are a bluey greeney shade, but some of them vary from an almost pea green to almost sky blue!".

The letter can be found on P118 of Flypast.

Nige

www.56thfightergroup.co.uk

Edited by lampie

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Very interesting- so much so I'd almost think it was a fraud! This talk of 'violet' makes me wonder- could the supposed "PRU Mauve have been (or originated as) just another attempt to mix up 'Sky'? No, it isn't a truly serious suggestion...

bob

"My philosophy, like color TV, is all there in black & white." -Raymond Scum (aka Neil Innes)

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Copyright?

Let the mods decide.

Maybe I should have just posted,

"Everybody interested in August 1940 application of a field mixed attempt to produce duck egg blue go and buy Flypast,September 2010 and read the letter on P118"

Nige

www.56thfightergroup.co.uk

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Maybe its part of a cunning viral advertising campaign?

Well, I wouldn't have gone looking for a copy except for this post, so it's advertising that works!

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If true (and it's almost too good to be) there is no evidence of Lucas' BS 381 (1930) No.1 Sky Blue or No.16 Eau-de-Nil in there! But it does confirm the view posted here by some (including yours truly) that during 1940 "interim" Sky was probably mixed using available paints and that "duck egg blue" was the description (rather than Sky).

When it comes to colour there is currently a strong "anti-accuracy" movement in modelling (aka the "paint it any colour you like brigade", "painted in the field by the crew chief" association and "they had more things to think about at the time than paint colour" brotherhood, an understandable reaction to the mythical "colour police" perhaps and certainly more than justifiable in this context) and I hope this letter is not just the inventive creation of one of that ilk.

Also, I suspect that "duck egg blue" was a better known colour in 1940 than it is these days, (having tested that theory on a number of elderly acquaintances, relatives and slightly surprised complete strangers), especially amongst some modellers across the pond who still seem to think it is grey, but that the recognition of its appearance was a different proposition to the requirement to actually create it by mixing colours, hints of which are included in the letter.

Nick

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When I made my first Airfix-early 60's, my recall is that the instructions referred to DEB and all box art was far more of an underside blue (akin to the ME109) than a green. My point being that in the fifties, when these items were being developed, there were still a huge number of people around who still had recent memories of the real thing. Maybe my memory is wrong-any old box art or instructions out there.

Groucho

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This is a reply to a question "What colour are duck eggs?"

Some are a bluish color, some almost pale green and some are buff brownish or near white. But all are very strong shelled and very smooth like porcelain, as opposed to the grainier more porous chicken eggshells.

Hardly surprising that those RAF lads had no idea. There is an artist, who'll sell you a print, with the whole range of eggs, but, at £50, I'll have to pass.

Edgar

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This talk of 'violet' makes me wonder- could the supposed "PRU Mauve" have been (or originated as) just another attempt to mix up 'Sky'?

Not "supposed" at all; note paragraph 2.

mauve.jpg

Edgar

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Let's distinguish between the colour known as duck egg blue (google it!) and the colours of ducks eggs!

Noun:

duck-egg blue (plural duck-egg blues)

A pale greenish blue colour, like that of some duck eggs.

duck-egg blue colour:

Those who wish to paint the undersides of their RAF models "buff brownish" are of course quite entitled to do so.

Nick

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If true (and it's almost too good to be)

I hope this letter is not just the inventive creation of one of that ilk.

That's more than likely and a good reason for buying the magazine - as a start in verifying the authenticity of the letter.

Isn't life sad when the first reaction of many of us to something like this is 'balloon boy hoax' and sadder still when that is often the case.

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As gently as possible, I'd like to remind everyone that the erks, of 1940, didn't have Google, or anything like it. It should also be remembered that the signals, at the time, did not talk of "Duck-egg blue"; the instructions all called for sky type "S".

20-4-40 the Ministry said that "The pale blue-green which has been called Camotint, is now defined as Standard Sky."

7-6-40 a signal said "All under-surfaces of Fighter aircraft, that is main planes fuselage and tail planes are to be doped with sky type "S"."

On the same day, they sent a signal to all Commands "The colour of camouflage sky type S repeat S may be described as Duck Egg Bluish Green"

14-6-40 the signal said (twice) to use sky type "S".

27-6-40 the signal said "The following instructions should be promulgated regarding spraying Sky Type "S" dope on existing black and white colour scheme." Further down, it again talks of Sky Type "S". Still no reference to duck eggs.

The first official use of the term "duck-egg blue (Sky Type "S")" seems to come in the AMO 926/40 of 12-12-40.

It looks as though, generally, no-one had a clue what Sky was, so needed the 7-6-40 clarification. From the wording of the letter, a question, among the personnel on airfields, about "duck egg" colour could bring a response of blue, green, brown or white.

Basically, we have a "chicken and egg" (sorry about that) situation; which came first, Sky, or Duck-egg Blue? I plump for Sky, and still believe that the duck-egg part referred to the finish (check the description of a duck egg's surface, compared to that of a chicken's egg.)

Edgar

P.S. Note that I've copied the words used as precisely as possible, namely "sky" instead of "Sky," where appropriate.

Edited by Edgar

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Very interesting- so much so I'd almost think it was a fraud!

Harrumph!!!...... you'd think people would have better things to do with their time than making this rubbish up.......... <_<

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Hang on a moment. I also admit to wondering if this was a hoax, being a bit too good to be true, but Edgar states:

"7-6-40 a signal said "All under-surfaces of Fighter aircraft, that is main planes fuselage and tail planes are to be doped with sky type "S"."

On the same day, they sent a signal to all Commands "The colour of camouflage sky type S repeat S may be described as Duck Egg Bluish Green" "

So if there was a reference to Sky as Duck Egg Bluish Green in June, than a description of it as Duck Egg Blue in August doesn't seem out of place - except the question to be asked is why didn't the repainting occur when ordered in June? This is a bit like a letter describing the writer's experience in Normandy on D-Day in September 1944.

There is also the question why no-one on an RAF station had any idea of the colour "duck egg blue" when, as Nick points out, it was well known in general use at the time. I know that there were often large gaps between the thinking and experiences in the Service and in Civvy Street, but.....

However, taken at face value it confirms that there was confusion in some quarters over the identification of Sky. Fine, this is just what Lucas said in his original piece. The letter tells us what happened in one place. It doesn't rule out the use of other substitute colours elsewhere. As I've said before, the archeological evidence for Eau-de-Nil (if that's what it was) undersides points to two airfields around the Humber - locality may well have been everything at the time.

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Harrumph!!!...... you'd think people would have better things to do with their time than making this rubbish up..........

If true (and it's almost too good to be)

I hope this letter is not just the inventive creation of one of that ilk.

That's more than likely and a good reason for buying the magazine - as a start in verifying the authenticity of the letter.

Isn't life sad when the first reaction of many of us to something like this is 'balloon boy hoax' and sadder still when that is often the case.

Can I just make a few things clear...

A. I have no connection with Flypast Magazine other than I buy it every month.

B. Don't shoot the messenger,,

All I have done is passed on something which appeared in an aviation magazine,,( NOT a modelling magazine), which I thought might be of interest to people on this forum.

C. That's more than likely and a good reason for buying the magazine - as a start in verifying the authenticity of the letter.

I have a helluva lot more better things to do with my time than make things up like this.

Go buy the magazine, or pick a copy up at W H Smith or wherever and read it for yourself.

Nige

www.56thfightergroup.co.uk

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Can I just make a few things clear...

A. I have no connection with Flypast Magazine other than I buy it every month.

B. Don't shoot the messenger,,

All I have done is passed on something which appeared in an aviation magazine,,( NOT a modelling magazine), which I thought might be of interest to people on this forum.

C. That's more than likely and a good reason for buying the magazine - as a start in verifying the authenticity of the letter.

I have a helluva lot more better things to do with my time than make things up like this.

Go buy the magazine, or pick a copy up at W H Smith or wherever and read it for yourself.

Nige

www.56thfightergroup.co.uk

For what its worth Nige, I think the comments relate to the Letter in the magazine, not your post!! As for my comments, well they were meant to be "ironic" - which is why I posted it as a reply to the suggestion that it was a "fraud". I have long held the notion that the occurance's, as described in the letter - were more common place than some historian's would us believe........and why the hell WOULD anyone make it up - or am I being naive??? As I said.... Harumph!!!!

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As I don't have an awful lot to do on this sunny-ish Sunday afternoon......I thought I'd so a search for W/C WEB Hurst - as it was he that started this off!!! Now, there IS a WEB Hurst mentioned in FLIGHT magazine, 22 Jan 1954. Its in RAF appointments and he was promoted then from Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader. So make out of that what you will!!

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Copyright?

Copyright of the original letter owner maybe..

either way a free ad for flypast wouldnt think they would mind.

It reminds me of the painting they did in the naval dockyards, a boat had to be painted with paint from one paint batch,the numbers on tin lid.

If sufficient paint was not available, like in the falklands conflict, the quantity of paint was obtained, then all the different batches mixed together to form a common shade, likewise if the colour was not available the painters just mixed it.

Thanks to OP, the letter was interesting.

cheers

Jerry

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Copyright?

Its no worse than some of the pics that get posted as if they are public domain despite clear copyright warnings on them.

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Mixing required camouflage paint at a local level is by no means uncommon and as Bill has correctly stated “were more common place than some historian's would have us believe”. It is documented within the Luftwaffe fighter units on the Channel front in 1940 and more recently during the early seventies when the British Army changed its vehicle and equipment camouflage from bronze green to the green and black with the repainting, for the most part, being carried out by the squaddies in the regiments themselves. The specified green and black to be used was (so we were told) formulated to help reduce a vehicle’s infra red signature (yeah right!). However (and remember that this is in peace-time), these particular paints with their associated umpteen letter/digit NATO number were next to impossible to get hold of with the majority of indents placed by the Q staff invariably receiving a signal stating something along the lines of “currently unavailable, go local purchase or adapt from existing (paint) inventory.” Interestingly but not surprisingly, the RAOC never seemed to have any problem getting the ‘right’ paint as did neither the Guards Regiments nor the more senior armoured regiments!

In my regiment for example we began the camo application while based in the UK and numerous concoctions were brewed with bronze green as the base (we had a fair bit of that on hand as well as plenty of tins of foot powder) to create a green that was acceptably close to the ‘special’ green and when that ran out we resorted to scrounging (or ‘acquiring’) paint from both the RN & the RAF. For the black we again concocted a flat black from such quantities of gloss black that the Q stores had and when that ran out and armed with local purchase orders we cleared no less than four hardware stores of their entire stocks of Dulux Blackboard paint!

The only vehicles that we had finished in the specified ‘special’ green were those that were new issues (or refurbished vehicles) collected from the base ordnance depot and even then they were only finished in the single green and we had to apply the black ourselves.

Likewise, the orders for this camo clearly stated that there were to be three diagonal areas (bands) of black applied over the green to ‘disrupt the outline of the vehicle’. Although for the most part this was followed to a reasonable degree, many had four, five or even six areas of black paint applied and for a brief period in 1974, 14/20 Hussars had a pair of 3-ton Bedford’s which remained in bronze green with the black segments in gloss black! :shocked:

Cheers

Dave

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Can I just make a few things clear...

A. I have no connection with Flypast Magazine other than I buy it every month.

B. Don't shoot the messenger,,

All I have done is passed on something which appeared in an aviation magazine,,( NOT a modelling magazine), which I thought might be of interest to people on this forum.

C. That's more than likely and a good reason for buying the magazine - as a start in verifying the authenticity of the letter.

I have a helluva lot more better things to do with my time than make things up like this.

Go buy the magazine, or pick a copy up at W H Smith or wherever and read it for yourself.

Nige

www.56thfightergroup.co.uk

Hello Nige,

I for one am really glad that you mentioned this letter and as an ex serviceman I can well understand the confusion caused by an NCO possibly a Corporal, passing on an order which was received from the Flight Sergeant who was collared by the Flight Commander who was told by the Adjutant that the CO wanted the aircraft undersides painted........from the official signal to the recipient...has anybody played Chinese Whispers? Thats how the Armed Forces have always operated...sometimes you get decent officers and NCO`s who pass on the correct message and sometimes you don`t! Whilst painting our Land Rovers we made up our own camouflage patterns using the basic camo principle of breaking up the outline and used paint from old cans in the paintlocker at the back of the garages which was so old it had to be mixed with petrol to thin it down...so there were all different colours and textures...some high gloss.....and I didn`t find out that there was an official paint diagram until I left the Army......and thats goes for all of my postings. When going to Norway we gave them a white covering but some painted the green sections white and retained the black whilst others did it the other way........although I believe they were supposed to be black and white..thats what colour mine was anyway.

I`d rather believe a letter like the one in Flypast than an official paper order anyday and thats not because I have any conspiracy theories either.....some people need to get a life if they believe that!!

All the best

Tony O

Edited by tonyot

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Its very interesting to see the reaction to this, and the tendancy of people to cry "foul" and "fraud" because it doesn't match dates in official documentation and or their own individual view is quite sad really.

Personally, I have hardly any interest whatsoever in why or when sky, duck egg blue etc were introduced, as my main focus of interest is the USAAF, and therefore can look at this sky/duck egg subject from the sidelines with no emotional attachment and an open mind.

Purely from a general research view, would it not be advantageous to contact the magazine that published the letter, explain ones interest and the relevance of the subject matter, and ask that your contact details be passed onto the sender?

Then, when contact has been established ask for a scan of the orginal letter, which would be dated, and that would give you a document, just as relevant as an official comunique, original and dated.

The gentleman who originally sent the letter to the magazine obviously has an interest in the subject so would more than likely be willing to do this.

That shouldn't be too much effort for someone with a deep interest in camouflage schemes of 1940 or I am being naive here?

Nige

www.56thfightergroup.co.uk

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Wow! The Sky is falling again.

First off, Nige, as the first on the scene to mention fraud (though couched in enough terms I would think a reasonable person (if we can find one, as a test case) would realize that I wasn't making an accusation) I was most certainly NOT suggesting that you were making it all up. I don't even seriously believe that the letter itself is made up. But I'm quite surprised how people echoed my thoughts, instead of forming an instant lynch mob.

...it does confirm the view posted here by some (including yours truly) that during 1940 "interim" Sky was probably mixed using available paints and that "duck egg blue" was the description (rather than Sky).

As Edgar shows, describing it thus was at least an attempt to REDUCE confusion. Can you imagine the fun if someone were simply told to "go paint the undersides a color that looks like sky"? But then I suppose that's exactly what we have. I reckon the wag that first said "a duck-egg greenish blue" thought he was being very helpful and clear, but we all know how wrong that can go- we see it every day here in these forums!

When it comes to colour there is currently a strong "anti-accuracy" movement in modelling (aka the "paint it any colour you like brigade", "painted in the field by the crew chief" association and "they had more things to think about at the time than paint colour" brotherhood, an understandable reaction to the mythical "colour police" perhaps and certainly more than justifiable in this context) and I hope this letter is not just the inventive creation of one of that ilk.

Nick, I wouldn't call you "colour police", but surely you would admit to being a "colour detective"?

And now some general philosophy, not speaking specifically to Nick:

I have to say that for me, personally, I don't get too hung up on colors when it comes to my models. It is hard enough getting the shape and details right, or rather within a pleasing degree of tolerance (not to mention getting my "skills" to cooperate with my goals). Perhaps "color" gets too much into the "art" side of the equation, and I've never considered myself worthy in that field. I would prefer that the color I apply matches the color that was put on the original, but even that could be a false lead if you believe in "scale color". Thus, I'm content to choose something that seems to be in pretty good agreement with my perception of what someone has convinced me is the right color (that's where the color detectives come in- don't think I'm not grateful). Then of course, we run into the issue of "Now that I've got it painted the right color, I have to shade and weather and distort and... to make it look convincing." Again, ART.

But, just because I personally decide not to let color angst be yet another obstacle, or symptom of AMS, doesn't mean I'm not interested in the discussion, or the quest for understanding, or other peoples' attitudes about it.

Now, where did I leave that duck?

bob

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