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    Caumont-sur-Durance, France

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  1. A brother-in-law had one of these once. While he was stopped, a van clipped one corner of the body. The next thing he knew, he was still sitting in his seat (which was now on the road) holding the steering wheel, and surrounded by bits of fibreglass. Maurice
  2. Coming home from Avignon, I saw a grey Aston-Martin DB5 followed by a maroon Porsche 356 convertible and a red Triumph TR6. Maybe there is a show going on near here that I did not know about? I will have to check. Maurice
  3. Driving back from Arles this afternoon I saw a very nice shiny black early 1960s Ford Ranchero just outside Graveson going in the opposite direction. I did not know there were any of these in France! Maurice
  4. Outside a house near Caumont this afternoon. Dodge Charger R/T Maurice
  5. Saw this one this morning in Lyon. Maurice
  6. Here is the illustration for the painting instructions for the Martlet IV. I'm adding the parallel item for the F4F-4 with 50-inch stars. Maurice
  7. Thank you @Geoffrey Sinclair and @Troy Smithfor reminding me what a poor idea it is to write at 04:30 from memory before I’ve had enough coffee! I ought to have remembered about the TBF-1C in FAA service because some years ago I was able to spend several hours crawling all over and inside what is probably the last surviving Tarpon I – the Avenger in the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, now correctly catalogued as a Tarpon. This aircraft is serialled FN859 (USN BuNo 24085) and has the Grumman plate identifying it as a TBF-1. Currently, it is in storage in a dilapidated condition. Under a fictitious 1943-era USN tri-colour camouflage finish, the original FAA camouflage in MAP colours is visible where the later paint has worn or flaked away. The British roundels and fin flashes also are apparent as ghosts under the later paint. Unfortunately, this is what we bikers used to call a “bitsa” – the port outer folding wing panel comes from a TBM-1C and the starboard panel from a TBM-3 (the fittings for the 0.50-inch machine guns in each wing panel are present but the ports are covered). The original 0.30-inch gun in the fuselage was removed along with its fittings and the slot in the cowl plated over. The aircraft has the appropriate British domed observation windows in the lower fuselage behind the bomb bay. However, the second cockpit does not answer @Troy Smith’s question because it is fitted out with electronic gear appropriate for a TBF-1C, as is the radio operator’s compartment behind the bomb bay. If this is as originally built it throws up questions about TBF-1 production history. This aircraft is slated for restoration in the future but the schedule is indeterminate, as is its final restored state, which apparently is still a matter for debate at the museum. I do have information from Brough about the modifications for the second cockpit but it is buried in boxes in storage, so it might take some time to locate it. I looked at the suggested thread and confirm @Seahawk's reservations about the Wings & Wheels book – the photographs cited are of a TBM-3E (possibly one previously supplied to the French) that has been painted up in FAA colours and fitted out with a vague approximation of the British second cockpit (it is not even correct for the early TBF-1). I promise to keep on topic in the future. Maurice
  8. In 1943 Grumman ceased production of F4F and TBF aircraft and handed over complete responsibility for their continued production to Eastern Aircraft - a General Motors car plant in Linden , New Jersey, reconfigured to build aircraft - so that Grumman could concentrate on the F6F. Feedback from the fleet had not been very favourable to the F4F-4, so Eastern produced a variant that reverted to the four 0.50-inch guns of the F4F-3 under the designation of FM-1. No four-gun variants of the F4F-4 aircraft were built by Grumman. It is quite possible that some MAP paints were sent to Eastern Aircraft before the production line then switched to ANA equivalents for both the FM-1 and TBM-1C for British service. Close - but not quite correct. Avenger/Tarpon I aircraft were designated TBF-1B (for British) and were very similar to the TBF-1 for the US Navy but had the domed observation window on each side in the lower fuselage. All these aircraft (British and American) had what is best described as a three-seat cockpit - pilot, radio-operator behind him in a proper seat, and gunner in the turret. Their forward-firing armament was a single 0.30 on the starboard side of the cowl firing through the propellor. The Avenger II was the British designation for the Eastern TBM-1C (equivalent to the Grumman TBF-1C) which moved the radio operator to a position in the lower fuselage immediately behind the bomb bay and filled the space in the cockpit with radio equipment. The forward-firing armament was changed to two 0.50-inch guns, one in each wing. The British did not like the new crew arrangement, so Blackburn rebuilt the second cockpit position to essentially duplicate the original arrangement in the TBF-1. Nevertheless, there were quite a few other detail differences between the TBF-1 and the TBM-1C, both external and internal, Furthermore, Britain did not receive any TBF-1C aircraft, so the different mark numbers related specifically to actual physical differences, not different manufacturers. Vought built all Corsair I and II aircraft but the two types are quite different. The Corsair I is the original "birdcage" type while the Corsair II has the later bubble canopy. Within the two marks there are many variations, but the two designations exist to distinguish two quite different models. On a side note - the Corsair III, built by Brewster, throws up a puzzle. The FAA never deployed Corsair III's operationally but used them almost exclusively for training British crews in the USA. One reason usually given for this was that the gun mountings in the folding wing panels of Brewster-built machines were too weak to allow continuous firing. The odd thing is that most of the folding wing panels for the later Vought-production Corsairs were sub-contracted to Brewster, and Blackburn (responsible for modifications to British standards) makes no mention in its records of having to strengthen the gun mounts of Vought-built machines! I apologise for wandering off-topic - I could not see where else to put this information. Maurice
  9. @Seahawk According to the finishing instructions for G-36B (Martlet II) and F4F-4B (Martlet IV) in the Grumman archives, the wing roundels, both upper and lower, were 40 inches in diameter. It would be difficult to fit a 54-inch diameter roundel on the wings in the position specified (centred on the middle of the aileron) since the larger 50-inch diameter stars contemporaneously applied to US Navy F4F-4 aircraft (centred just outboard of the inboard end of the aileron) could barely fit in that further inboard position. Maurice
  10. That is a beautiful Sea Hurricane! It looks like Arma Hobby did not get the markings quite correct, though. For some unknown reason, none of the three fighter squadrons (800 with Sea Hurricanes, 806 with Martlets, 880 with Sea Hurricanes) embarked on Indomitable complied with the special instruction to paint up the leading edges and fin in yellow.There are quite a few photographs that make this very apparent. The carrier's Sea Hurricane squadrons also had the aircraft ID painted in small letters on the wing leading edge each side near the wing root, 6+letter for 800, 7+letter for 880 (this may also have been true for 806 but I know of no photograph to show it). Finally, for Exercise Berserk, a fighter control exercise in August just before the operation for all the carriers involved in Pedestal, Indomitable's Sea Hurricane squadrons painted up special white markings: 800 had a white ring around the nose behind the spinner and 880 a white band around the tail. By the time of Pedestal, 800's white markings were painted out, but it is possible that the tail band on 880's Sea Hurricanes was still in white rather than being overpainted in sky (none of 800's aircraft had a tail band of any kind). If I ever were to revert to building model aircraft again I might well pick up one of these after seeing what a splendid job you made of it. Maurice
  11. As I was leaving the Avignon TGV station after picking up my niece and her two children, a BMW E40i went by. I've never seen one of them before - quite impressive! Maurice
  12. I accidentally came across the fascinating and exquisite Martlet III build by @Dunny (I have not built models of aircraft for years, so I very rarely look at that part of the BM forum). It’s a beautifully-executed model but I seriously question the camouflage scheme, especially as the supporting photographs of AX736 in the thread (most from the Flickr album “Pat Chilton’s WW2”) were all taken after 805 Squadron transferred to East Africa subsequent to the application of the “over water” scheme noted below. This is a timeline for the camouflage schemes applied to Martlet III aircraft of 805 Squadron. i. The aircraft as delivered were finished overall in light grey paint, the then standard finish for US Navy carrier aircraft. ii. Until at least January 1942 they still operated in light grey. The evidence for this includes the following, cited by Steven Eisenman in a BM post on May 6, 2011: Posted By: Justin Walsh <justin@meadewalsh.fsnet.co.uk> Date: Friday, 15 June 2001, at 4:49 p.m. In Response To: Re: 805 Sqn Martlets in the Desert (Justin Walsh) Further to my earlier message, I,ve been in touch with my Grandfather who flew with 805 from April 41 to January 42 and he state categorically that the Martlets were uncamoflaged . They wore , so to speak, a light almost metallic grey finish , which was how they came out of the crate from the US. Apparently the RAF pilots used to give them lots of stick for this saying they would get shot out of the sky in such unsubtle colours . They would reply that the enemy realizing they must be nice chaps would leave them alone . iii. Between January and mid-March 1942 (see evidence below) was the only window within which desert camouflage could have been applied to Martlet III aircraft of 805 Squadron. From data in Sturtivant & Burrows, The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm, the squadron was based at Maaten Bagush, 50 km east of Mersa Matruh and 250 km west of Alexandria, from 7 January 1942 until 14 March, when the squadron moved to Dekheila for major overhauls of its aircraft. In other words, it was continuously deployed on operations during this entire period, so it seems improbable there were opportunities to undertake wholesale repainting of its aircraft. iv. In mid-March 1942, 805 Squadron's aircraft underwent major overhauls at Dekheila (HMS Grebe), the Fleet Air Arm’s shore base outside Alexandria, during which, amongst other items, they received new engines and improved self-sealing fuel lines (that had to be removed subsequently because they caused fuel flow problems). The evidence for this includes Don Nairn’s autobiography, Gold Wings and Webbed Feet (Invercargill, New Zealand: 1996). Nairn served with 805 Squadron from December 1941 to April 1943 in North Africa and then in East Africa. His recollection of the overhaul date is confirmed by Sturtivant & Burrow, Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939-1945. Nairn said of the refurbished aircraft that: “the maintenance boys had also spruced up the sandblasted paintwork with a new over-water camouflage design—a mixture of sea green and blue patterns.” The "over water" camouflage was appropriate, since 805 Squadron was then assigned to convoy protection duties. One point from Nairn’s statement is worth highlighting; he describes the paintwork as “sandblasted”, an indication that the previous finish, whatever it was, was not recently applied. We cannot definitively ascertain what Nairn meant by “sea green and blue” camouflage but a reasonable interpretation would be the standard Fleet Air Arm finish of Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey, since the work was carried out at Dekheila, where there were ample stocks of such paints for use on the other fleet aircraft maintained there. Whatever it was, it certainly was not a desert scheme. Where does this leave us? Any assertion that 805 Squadron’s Martlets wore a desert scheme, either overall Middle Stone upper surfaces or disruptive Middle Stone and Dark Earth upper surfaces (or both, according to some people) or any other variation of colours, needs to be supported by evidence that it was applied during the unit's busy two-month window between January and March 1942. I know of no such evidence, and the narrow time window makes it most unlikely that any desert scheme ever was applied to these aircraft. Maurice
  13. One basic fact seems to be overlooked about the first Martlets: when Britain took over the French contract for 81 G-36A machines and placed its own order for 100 G-36B aircraft, the combined total was not far short of the total orders Grumman had received to that date from the US Navy for F4F-3/3A aircraft. Grumman therefore was not seeking to place an order with Dupont for paint for a few prototypes but for 181 aircraft , a number that represented almost 45 percent of all the firm’s contracts for Wildcats, so there was a strong incentive to follow British instructions. Whether or not Grumman had received the correct information from the British Purchasing Commission is a moot point, the BPC orders actually represented 30 percent of the total orders the company had ever received for single-seat fighters since the firm’s formation. I cannot document this, but the very idea that Grumman would consider “sliding something by” the British, given the importance to the company of their orders, is inconceivable. May I also suggest an explanation for the gloss finish? It was not until December 1940 that instructions were issued for all US Navy aircraft to be finished using non-specular paints, prior to that time all were finished with gloss paints. Since virtually all Grumman aircraft were supplied to the Navy, it would be a simple enough oversight for whoever sent instructions to Dupont for the paint to omit mentioning that they needed to be matte and, given that all paints Dupont sent to Grumman at that time were gloss, it would not be strange for no-one there to check back. I must admit that I have not looked through Fairey records, mainly because the firm was not involved in working on American aircraft for the Royal Navy. I think I need to hunt down the letter Ian Huntley noted (mentioned by @ClaudioN in his December 12 post) and see if there are more similar communications to be found. The letter is quite fascinating from another perspective. It sounds like Richard Fairey trying to “stick his oar in” to see if he could pick up some extra Royal Navy work, something that apparently was rather characteristic of him. Maurice
  14. I always use a flat lacquer spray by Mohawk. It is not always easy to find in France but it does an excellent job and I've never had a problem with ink bleeding. Morrells Woodfinishes distributes it in Britain. Maurice
  15. We're flying back to France tomorrow - and it seems that Border Force at Heathrow have decided to do us a service and put of striking until Friday. Saw this one this morning. It might be a Pontiac but I'm no expert, so I'm sure someone will tell me. Maurice
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