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Tropical Sea Scheme on the 'Beest?


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#1 mhaselden

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 03:56 AM

Ok Folks,

Having bored everyone senseless with the ramblings about the markings applied to 27 Sqn's Blenheims, time to shift focus to another of those Far Eastern problem children - the Vildebeest. "Combat Colours Number 4 - Pearl Harbor and Beyond" by Bridgwater and Scott states that Tropical Sea Scheme was applied to these aircraft. The upper surface colours were Dark Mediterranean Blue and Extra Dark Sea Green, with Light Mediterranean Blue and Dark Sea Green on the upper surfaces of the lower wings and, apparently, on the interplane struts. Underside colours are undetermined, the authors offering either Aluminium, Sky Blue or Sky Grey.

I'd never heard of the Tropical Sea Scheme before. Interestingly, the authors also state that flying boats and floatplanes operating from Singapore wore the Temperate Sea Scheme. Looking at the few available photos of these aircraft show quite a high contrast between the upper surface camouflage which perhaps militates against it being something more common like Temperate Sea Scheme. Has anyone else come across primary source documentation for the application of the Tropical Sea Scheme? What's not clear to me is why the Vildebeests would wear a different camouflage to that applied to Catalinas. Any ideas anyone?

Many thanks,
Mark

#2 Edgar

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 06:44 AM

I don't have anything on the Vildebeest, but, in June 1939, the blue/green scheme, with black undersides, was one of two (the other being the standard slate/grey) allocated to the Sunderland.
Edgar

#3 LDSModeller

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 07:18 AM

Ok Folks,

Having bored everyone senseless with the ramblings about the markings applied to 27 Sqn's Blenheims, time to shift focus to another of those Far Eastern problem children - the Vildebeest. "Combat Colours Number 4 - Pearl Harbor and Beyond" by Bridgwater and Scott states that Tropical Sea Scheme was applied to these aircraft. The upper surface colours were Dark Mediterranean Blue and Extra Dark Sea Green, with Light Mediterranean Blue and Dark Sea Green on the upper surfaces of the lower wings and, apparently, on the interplane struts. Underside colours are undetermined, the authors offering either Aluminium, Sky Blue or Sky Grey.

I'd never heard of the Tropical Sea Scheme before. Interestingly, the authors also state that flying boats and floatplanes operating from Singapore wore the Temperate Sea Scheme. Looking at the few available photos of these aircraft show quite a high contrast between the upper surface camouflage which perhaps militates against it being something more common like Temperate Sea Scheme. Has anyone else come across primary source documentation for the application of the Tropical Sea Scheme? What's not clear to me is why the Vildebeests would wear a different camouflage to that applied to Catalinas. Any ideas anyone?

Many thanks,
Mark


Hi Mark

Vildebest

Only camouflage photo I have is this and it'd pretty non-descript- Photo taken from rear of Vildebeest
you can see rear fuselage decking/tailplane
Posted Image
From The RNZAF in South East Asia 1941-42

The Vildebeest was used for torpedo duties in Singapore, so I am thinking that
the camouflage would be more likely Sea Temperate Scheme EDSG/DSG/Sky (Blue-Green type)
with shading on lower wings (DSG/SG) if not then certainly LTS.

Short Singapores Mk III

4 of these at Seletar were transferred to the RNZAF being flown to Lauthala (Laucala) Bay Fiji
with 5 (GR) Squadron. They remained in RAF camouflage that they arrived in, having RNZAF codes
applied
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I am again of the opinion that the Singapores wore typical flying boat camo of the time
EDSG/DSG/Sky (again the blue/green type)

Here is an interesting article (found on RNZAF Pro Boards) published in the December 1963 Aviation Historical Society
of NZ Journal (Vol.6 No.11) written by Dave Moran.

Scroll down to Colour Scheme, and read the comments " Battleship Grey/ Sea green/Light Blue" Sounds probably
more like Sea Temperate Scheme (probably heavily weathered in Pacific sun)

Short Singapore Article


Regards

Alan

#4 Super Aereo

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 10:55 AM

In "Eyes for the Phoenix" (p.219) the late Geoffrey J. Thomas suggested that the Beauforts replacing the Vildebeest in 100 Sq. would most likely have been in the same Temperate Land Scheme as the Vildebeest they replaced since the TSS would have been mandatory only from 3/8/41 for Coastal Command aircraft.

#5 Graham Boak

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 11:35 AM

The Tropical Sea Scheme was prepared prewar, largely (I gather) as a result of trials in the Mediterranean. It does not seem to have featured in the AMOs, which leads most people to be ignorant of it, or happily ignore it if they are aware. It is however clear that not all schemes used were covered by the AMOs, that local authorites authorised local schemes, and that the overseas authorities may have been particularly prone to this.

Whether this means that the TropSS was ever used is open to some doubt. However, few if any comments on Dark Slate Grey refer to it as sea green. Sea Green was a specific colour presented in the colour charts and used in the TropSS, so references to this can be regarded as a fairly strong hint that the TropSS was used. The description Battleship Grey/Sea Green/Light Blue sounds as much like TropSS than TSS, and could apply to either. It seems unlikely that the Singapores were painted TLS, then overpainted.

We have the question as to what was actually done in the Far East, post Munich. They will have received instructions to camouflage their aircraft, or issued same in response to events at home. What colours would they choose? Would they simply have copied the Temperate Land Scheme? After all, they would not regard themselves as living in temperate climes. Or would they adopt the colour schemes fairly recently prepared for and recommended to them? I'd have thought the latter, unless specifically ordered otherwise. That is, after all, the entire point of such recommendations. You have to ask, if the Far East authorities did not follow such recommendations, why not?

As supporting evidence, it seems that the Vincents in East Africa operated with multi-colour schemes that clearly differ from the well-known wartime options and reflect these prewar plans.

Thomas does not seem to have been aware of the TropSS, so could only say that the Vildebeests were in TLS.

Possibly irrelevant, but one point I've not seen made is that the otherwise peculiar colours applied to the first Martlets in the US are those of TropSS.

#6 LDSModeller

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 11:38 AM

In "Eyes for the Phoenix" (p.219) the late Geoffrey J. Thomas suggested that the Beauforts replacing the Vildebeest in 100 Sq. would most likely have been in the same Temperate Land Scheme as the Vildebeest they replaced since the TSS would have been mandatory only from 3/8/41 for Coastal Command aircraft.


Quick question, When did Beauforts repace the Vildebeests? The last action recorded (in books I have)
for the Vildebeests shows March 5/6 1942 for 36/100 Squadrons. Singapore fell not long after that.

Thanks

Alan

#7 Super Aereo

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 11:46 AM

Thomas does not seem to have been aware of the TropSS, so could only say that the Vildebeests were in TLS.



It's a possibility, but the Vildebeest were still RAF rather than FAA aircraft and they were land-based aircraft rarther than flying boats or seaplanes.


Possibly irrelevant, but one point I've not seen made is that the otherwise peculiar colours applied to the first Martlets in the US are those of TropSS.



I think those very first Martlets were mentioned in passing last year in a post about the PRU (Low Flying) Scheme.

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#8 Super Aereo

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 11:56 AM

Quick question, When did Beauforts repace the Vildebeests? The last action recorded (in books I have)
for the Vildebeests shows March 5/6 1942 for 36/100 Squadrons. Singapore fell not long after that.

Thanks

Alan



Sorry, I should not have said replaced, the Vildebeest kept soldiering on alongside the Beauforts, which arrived from Australia only in December 1941 (yes, technically speaking by that time they could have been in TSS, but...)

#9 LDSModeller

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 11:59 AM

The Tropical Sea Scheme was prepared prewar, largely (I gather) as a result of trials in the Mediterranean. It does not seem to have featured in the AMOs, which leads most people to be ignorant of it, or happily ignore it if they are aware. It is however clear that not all schemes used were covered by the AMOs, that local authorites authorised local schemes, and that the overseas authorities may have been particularly prone to this.

Whether this means that the TropSS was ever used is open to some doubt. However, few if any comments on Dark Slate Grey refer to it as sea green. Sea Green was a specific colour presented in the colour charts and used in the TropSS, so references to this can be regarded as a fairly strong hint that the TropSS was used. The description Battleship Grey/Sea Green/Light Blue sounds as much like TropSS than TSS, and could apply to either. It seems unlikely that the Singapores were painted TLS, then overpainted.

We have the question as to what was actually done in the Far East, post Munich. They will have received instructions to camouflage their aircraft, or issued same in response to events at home. What colours would they choose? Would they simply have copied the Temperate Land Scheme? After all, they would not regard themselves as living in temperate climes. Or would they adopt the colour schemes fairly recently prepared for and recommended to them? I'd have thought the latter, unless specifically ordered otherwise. That is, after all, the entire point of such recommendations. You have to ask, if the Far East authorities did not follow such recommendations, why not?

As supporting evidence, it seems that the Vincents in East Africa operated with multi-colour schemes that clearly differ from the well-known wartime options and reflect these prewar plans.

Thomas does not seem to have been aware of the TropSS, so could only say that the Vildebeests were in TLS.

Possibly irrelevant, but one point I've not seen made is that the otherwise peculiar colours applied to the first Martlets in the US are those of TropSS.


Graham

Interesting you should mention that about the TropSS, this colourised (modern version I stress) of an RNZAF Singapore MK III
in Fiji may fit the bill (I'm guessing the artist was going on the colours in the above mentioned article in my post - I'll have to ask him)

Short Singapore coloured

Be interested to see how TropSS would look on a model

Thanks

Alan

#10 mhaselden

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 12:59 PM

Quick question, When did Beauforts repace the Vildebeests? The last action recorded (in books I have)
for the Vildebeests shows March 5/6 1942 for 36/100 Squadrons. Singapore fell not long after that.


Sorry, I should not have said replaced, the Vildebeest kept soldiering on alongside the Beauforts, which arrived from Australia only in December 1941 (yes, technically speaking by that time they could have been in TSS, but...)


Six Beauforts arrived in early Dec 41. After the Japanese attacked on 8 Dec, it was decided that there wasn't time to re-train two full squadrons from Vildebeests to Beauforts but one of the latter was hurriedly converted for PR work and operated briefly by 4 PRU until it was destroyed in northern Malaya on Day 2 of the conflict. The remaining 5 Beauforts were returned to Australia.

#11 mhaselden

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 01:32 AM

In "Eyes for the Phoenix" (p.219) the late Geoffrey J. Thomas suggested that the Beauforts replacing the Vildebeest in 100 Sq. would most likely have been in the same Temperate Land Scheme as the Vildebeest they replaced since the TSS would have been mandatory only from 3/8/41 for Coastal Command aircraft.


I know of one other researcher who believes the Vildebeests were in TLS which, perhaps for FE Command, meant Dark Earth and Dark Green uppers with Sky Blue undersides? Unfortunately, none of the info I have provides sources for their assessment of the colour schemes. The few photos available in 'Bloody Shambles' and 'Glory in Chaos' seem to show strong contrast between the upper surface camouflage colours which may lead one away from TLS (but we all know the pitfalls there!).

Edited by mhaselden, 20 March 2011 - 01:33 AM.


#12 Glenn R

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 02:17 AM

Hi All,
With regard to the Fiji based Singapores, in Vol.4 No.10 of Scale Aircraft Modelling, Ian Huntley discusses the colour scheme of these very machines.
Perhaps someone could scan the article and post it here.
Regards,
Glenn.

#13 LDSModeller

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 07:07 AM

Hi All,
With regard to the Fiji based Singapores, in Vol.4 No.10 of Scale Aircraft Modelling, Ian Huntley discusses the colour scheme of these very machines.
Perhaps someone could scan the article and post it here.
Regards,
Glenn.


These books below have colours schemes for the RNZAF Short Singapore's

NZPAF * RNZAF Aircraft Colour Schemes Vol. 1/3 By Warren Russell quotes EDSG/DSG/Sky (bluey colour) according to comments from other modellers

"The Golden Age of New Zealand Flying Boats" has chapters on the Short Singapore's colours also

If any of my Kiwi Modelling brethren have these, they may perhaps quote colours given?

Regards

Alan

#14 Ed Russell

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 08:43 AM

Courtesy of a friend who has built the Contrail kit, its instructions give suggested schemes of

Vildebeest of 36 sqn RAF in 1936 - overall silver
Vincent of RNZAF Pre-war - overall silver, one of RNZAF - 1940 Dark Green/Dark Earth over Sky and undated - RAF North Africa Dark Earth/Mid Stone over Azure Blue***

Not relevant to the topic, but there is in Coastal Command 1936-1969 by Chris Ashworth, a picture of a 42 Sqn Vildebeest in camo.. looks to be dk green/dk earth over black perhaps, but maybe likely sky...
I had wondered if the TropSS scheme referred to had come from this source but evidently not. It would be nice to know if there is any evidence at all for it.
For what it's worth, when helping out a couple of manufacturers with data I ignored this scheme on the basis of insufficient evidence for it.

*** any comments on this one? Pictures?

#15 Dave Fleming

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 09:12 AM

Vincent......... undated - RAF North Africa Dark Earth/Mid Stone over Azure Blue***

*** any comments on this one? Pictures?



Yep, pretty sure I've seen a pic of that somewhere!! I think it was in the series on British Aircraft of WW2 in Air International, and the subsequent book.

#16 Graham Boak

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 09:18 AM

The "source" of the TropSS is in work by Paul Lucas, who has searched through the Air Ministry files for such things. As far as I know it is not mentioned (at least by name) in any previous work. It cannot be judged by the "number of previous mentions" rules or judgements on colour schemes made by earlier writers who were not aware of its existence.

Until someone else goes ploughing through the same files and comes up with the same (or different) result, the evidence for the scheme's existence is with the one source. You are of course free to assume he's an incorrigible liar who made it all up on the spot. Alternatively all previous "best guesses" are just that. Nothing wrong with that at the time, all human existence relies upon making judgements upon limited evidence, but now there's some more evidence to consider.

The scheme's existence doesn't mean that it was actually applied to the Vildebeests, but ....

#17 Ed Russell

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:11 AM

You are of course free to assume he's an incorrigible liar who made it all up on the spot.


Hmm... I think this would be a disservice to his work. I don't think anyone sets out to mislead people (maybe I'm naive) in this area at all.

The scheme's existence doesn't mean that it was actually applied to the Vildebeests, but ....


I think that's a very pertinent point. If the documentation says it was applied to the Vildebeest I would take that as strong evidence. If the documentation says it existed and might have been applied to any aircraft there that's rather less compelling.

The point is that the profiles Mark refers to in the first post show specific aircraft with specific codes and code placement etc so I am sort of assuming there is a photo somewhere, not necessarily of NK-K or OE-J but at least something indicating the unusual code spacing and the presence or absence of fin flashes etc. Am I being too picky?

Edited to show people what we are on about....

Posted Image

Edited by Ed Russell, 22 March 2011 - 10:19 AM.


#18 Dave Fleming

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:22 AM

The frustrating part is that Paul Lucas has only published some of his research outcomes on these 'pre-war' schemes - bits of it in SAM , others in the SAM book on the Far East 1940/41 (One I initially passed over, but wish I'd picked up now)

#19 Graham Boak

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:30 AM

Paul does offer more speculative interpretations at times, and this one is somewhere on the line. It is a fair question whether these planned schemes were ever properly adopted, but evidence (in the same book) that the Vincents in East Africa did wear their equivalent scheme suggests that they were.

I do have a rather old-fashioned approach. The members of the Services will have obeyed the orders they were given, and that includes working to established procedures. (I'm aware that younger, and particularly it seems American, modellers appear to have difficulty with this concept.) If there was a laid-down scheme, and the paints were available, then procedures will generally have been followed. Or signals would have flowed backwards and forwards about what they were doing, and we would have a better grasp of events from these. Possibly these have not yet been discovered.

As for the position of the codes - a few poor photos do exist of Vildebeests bearing codes. Do these differ from the examples provided?

#20 occa

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:31 AM

It's a possibility, but the Vildebeest were still RAF rather than FAA aircraft and they were land-based aircraft rarther than flying boats or seaplanes.





I think those very first Martlets were mentioned in passing last year in a post about the PRU (Low Flying) Scheme.

Posted Image


Very interesting, this is the first time I see this photo with a clear green, the previous ones had all a light bluish gray instead.
Is this a direct scan of the original?

Cheers,
Occa

Edited by occa, 22 March 2011 - 10:33 AM.