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Dana Bell

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About Dana Bell

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    Arlington, Virginia

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  1. Hi folks, Although there are many references quoting "Insignia Yellow" as a US color, the name never really existed in service use. In pre-War glossy colors the Army used "Yellow" while the Navy used a less-orange color called "Orange Yellow." In camouflage paints the Army color was "Identification Yellow" while the Navy used a (still less-orange) "Orange Yellow." Orange Yellow became the standard for the ANA colors in 1943. The earliest I've seen the term "Insignia Yellow" used was in late-1960s modeling publications. By now the name is firmly entrenched; though it often is used to describe any of the officially authorized US colors, it doesn't apply to any of them. For US prop tips, use Identification Yellow on early-war Army or Orange Yellow for Navy or later Army. (For post-war transports you can even use Middlestone, as the military tried to exhaust stocks of leftover paints...) Cheers, Dana
  2. Hi Graham, It does make one wonder! And yet, all the photos showing the Spits being loaded aboard Wasp show contrast similar to desert camouflage or the day fighter scheme. The best repaint photo shows BR12# (coded U-2) in a monochromatic scheme, with traces of the original camouflage showing through the masked-off serial number. The aircraft is very poorly painted - it looks almost like a brush-painted job, something any MU should have been ashamed to send out through their gates. There are two factors that suggest Wasp might have painted some of those Spitfires Dark Blue. First, the paint had been in use for months, and Wasp had already painted half of its air group to compare the effects against Blue Gray. And second, the camouflage was designed to make the aircraft less visible against the carrier deck. In tests, Blue Gray aircraft made the entire carrier more visible; Dark Blue became the replacement color of choice. If Blue Gray aircraft made the carrier more visible, how much worse would normal Spitfire camouflage appeared. If Wasp did use its Dark Blue stocks, it would have been to protect the ship, not to protect the Spitfires when they began flying out of Malta. I don't have any proof, but most of the previous discussions never even considered the possibility that Dark Blue was used - few knew the color existed, let alone was stocked on board Wasp. Cheers, Dana
  3. I still suspect the US Navy camouflage color named Dark Blue - an interim color used between the days of Blue Gray and those of the Sea Blues. Dark Blue was considered superior for hiding aircraft on carrier decks. Significantly, it was tested onboard USS Wasp. Cheers, Dana
  4. My sense is that the whole P-61 turret issue is more complicated than what I've seen in books and magazines. For the last couple of years I've been taking the occasional break from my "normal" research to glance through the P-61 records at the National Archives' Sarah Clark Collection. (From what I can tell, there are still about four weeks' worth of files waiting for me, if I ever get really serious about a night fighter project!) Anyhow, it appears we have at least three production turrets to consider. The original turret was to be linked through automatic gun laying radar, but even with the late delivery of the P-61 the AGL was even later. The gunner (second seat position) could fire the guns at anything forward of the 3:00-to-9:00 positions; the R/O (stuffed in the back) could fire at anything aft of there. The turret was still fitted without the AGL, but cause such severe buffeting that it was ordered removed. With about 200 unused GE turrets sitting in the a warehouse, the B-19 folks got interested and "borrowed" them for the forward dorsal position on the Superfortress. (Many modifications were needed for the turret and the aircraft.) A new, fixed gun mount was fitted to later P-61s, just to improve forward fire power. The gunner's seat was eliminated and the R/O moved forward from behind the wing. Several new moveable turrets were tested to eliminate buffeting, but I haven't yet found just when they were accepted for production. It does appear that the need for rear defense dropped away, and the R/O simply added forward gunnery to his duties. (Most late-War crew pix show only two crew men standing with their aircraft.) The AGL system finally came into play in 1945. We've got training school correspondence trying to figure out what sort of training the gunners would need, though the records aren't clear if the training was an additional duty for the R/Os or if a third "gunner-only" position was returning. (With its many performance issues, the P-61 would have suffered even more with the weight of a third crewman and position.) So all of this is only part of an answer. But the original Monogram P-61 turret was the early design; I've not looked at enough kits to know if anyone produced an accurate version of the later turrets. Cheers, Dana
  5. Hi Rob, There are four photos of Skippy/Nocturnal Nemesis that I've been able to find - all were taken at Tacloban, Leyte, PI, on 2 November 1944 by a Signal Corps photographer. The OD/Neutral Gray aircraft shows serial 42-5502 on the left side; the serial was not photographed on the right side. I put the two sides together for Air Force Colors III a couple of decades ago, but I could have been wrong. Here's what I saw: - the same mechanic and 55-gallon drum (used as a ladder) show up in all the photos - the checkered prop spinners seem to be unique to this aircraft - the rocks and dirt around the aircraft are identical in all the photos Like I said, I could be wrong... If you go with the scheme, this early P-61A carried no underwing racks. Also, the turret was the early version; I expect the crew manned three positions, rather that just two seats as on some subsequent models. Whatever you choose, enjoy the build! Cheers, Dana
  6. Again, my thanks gentlemen! Clearly someone first discovered the advantages white aircraft had when used against the U-Boat. Somewhere in the record, a first report must exist - "Sirs, our squadron recently discovered...." While I don't need the info for my own project, I'd be fascinated to know where the credit belongs. I appreciate the votes of confidence on my RAF colours book, but I afraid I'll never be the one to write it. A book like this needs years of primary research, and the commute from Arlington, Virginia, to London is a bit more than I can handle. There are several British writer/researchers (some of whom have posted here) who've probably assembled most of what's needed for such a book, and I hope at least one of them will find the publisher who can take on such a project. In the meantime, I'll have to stick with American subjects. Next up for me is a re-examination of the camouflages used by US Navy aircraft during World War II. Cheers, Dana
  7. Thanks, Rossm and Sydhuey, I appreciate the added details. (And that really is a great site!) With all the new research on UK colors and markings, I'd love to see a new book that put the history of WWII color schemes. We've had very good coverage of the basics - going all the way back to the Ducimus Camouflage and Markings series - but surely the last 50 years worth of primary research should have given us a new master work? I think we could all make room on our shelves for a compilation of everything new that's been turning up... Cheers, Dana
  8. Hi Ewan, Thanks for the update! Your note on the Coastal Command B-17s caught my attention on two ways - first, I ordered a copy of the the book, and second I remembered I had found some long-forgotten documentation on export B-17Es. A 12 March 1942 memo from Group Captain Ryds of the British Air Commission to the US Defense Aid Organization listed new requirements for B-17E ASV aircraft. The camouflage was to be based on Air Diagram 1161 with the following exceptions: - Upper surfaces were to be Extra Dark Sea Gray duPont 71-19324 and Dark Slate Gray duPont 71-19323, and - Undersurfaces were to be dull white duPont 71-001, carried 3/4th the way up the sides and on fins and rudders. Additional notes called for dull British red and blue for the insignia, rather than the brighter American colors. Things must have been pretty busy in early 1942 - the Production Division didn't pass the new instructions to the Cheyenne Mod Center until 23 May, so we can expect a further delay in implementing the new colors. One undated photo shows B-17E FK209 in the US with the new colors, but the demarcation low on the fuselage. It's funny that I can't seem to write about USN ASW camouflage without first understanding British camouflage, but at different times we either ignored or mimicked the British experience! Cheers, Dana
  9. Many thanks, Ewen, That's great for my needs - US Navy Neutrality Patrol units certainly would have seen these colors in Canada and Newfoundland before we entered the war, but the first mention of white ASW colors didn't come until March 1942. I'm suspecting the "not-invented-here" syndrome delayed our adoption of the colors for several months. Nice site, by the way! Cheers, Dana
  10. Does anyone here know when Britain introduced white camouflage for anti-submarine aircraft. All of my books dance around the subject, and the one on-line source I've found is clearly wrong. (That source claims Britain introduced the white scheme in July 1942, while US records seem to indicate the scheme was already being used in March/April 1942.) I'm writing up the US Navy's slow adoption of the scheme, and it would help to know just when it had been developed. Many thanks! Dana
  11. Hi gents, I don't usually comment on another modeler's choice of colors. It's a beautiful job, and I'd like to know more about his sources too! Cheers, Dana
  12. Looks like we're all chiming in at once... Mike, the NF.XIII was developed from the FB.VI. It had the 20mm guns, flat windscreen, and heavier wing with provisions for wing tanks. BTW, might the "HK" be something as simple as Hong Kong? Cheers, Dana
  13. Hi gents, There's no way we're looking at a Mk.XIII - the 13s were night fighters - this photo shows a bomber/PR aircraft. I think the "demarcation" we're all seeing is a shadow cast by the sun which seems to be around the photo's 2:30 position. Since we're not seeing any of the normal Mk.IV camouflage at the fuselage side, I suspect this really is an overall PRU Blue aircraft. Cheers, Dana
  14. Hi Andre, There were two versions of the Tactical Paint Scheme (TPS) used on F-4s. The first test version was 35237 on top, 36495 below, and 36375 in between. The scheme was used on the following aircraft from VF-103: 153855, -862, -872, -877, -887, 155519, -735, -747, -767, -784, -812, -829, 157245, and -257. (Many of those aircraft were subsequently transferred to VF-171.) An unrecorded number of VMF-312 aircraft also tested the scheme. The approved TPS was darker for F-4s. Upper surfaces were still 35237, but the sides were switched to 36320 and undersides to 36375. Nearly every TPS Phantom wore this combination. There's one other issue on the TPS colors. Some government flunky at the General Services Administration changed the colors standards when creating the B version of FS 595, and some of the changed colors were used in the TPS. The two major US paint suppliers were Deft and deSoto, one of which matched their paints to FS 595a (which is what the military wanted) and the other to FS 595b. Repaints and touch-ups rarely matched, and two aircraft newly repainted in TPS might not look anything like each other. Adventures in modeling! Find the paints that best work for you and enjoy the hobby! Cheers, Dana
  15. Hi Occa, The original is a 4x5 Kodachrome transparency at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum; it clearly shows the the green. The colors turn up in a Grumman schematic as Extra Dark Sea Gray, Light Sea Green, and Duck Egg Blue. (While we understand that Duck Egg Blue meant "Sky," Grumman apparently didn't know this in 1940. The photos clearly show the belly in a pale blue that might have been Sky Blue.) All three colors seem to be confirmed by the Martlet I restoration at the FAA Museum. Cheers, Dana
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