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Graham Boak

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  1. The KP and Sword Spitfires share the same shortfall in span: I'd assumed that AZ got theirs from Sword. Were the CMK kits short in span? However, let's close this digression and let the He.162 subject run on.
  2. Not in July, which is when the paint was being applied. Using Averages for specific periods is fraught with problems.
  3. The only He.162 I have is a Frog one. I doubt that I'll ever get to make it, I certainly won't want to make any other, and don't intend to waste the time searching the net for You-Tubers making models I never will. However, I can't help coming across "modellers" bad-mouthing companies that I know produce perfectly acceptable kits, and so feel the urge to speak out in their defence at times. If this this particular example is poor, it's not as though the world is empty of decent He.162 kits. If you want the subject don't waste your time with it but go find a better one. I have, and have had, kits in my collection that are a whole lot worse than any produced by AZ or RS, another company which seems to have fallen foul of "shake and bake" modellers. I've even made some of them. I've also thrown away kits from companies at the top of the game, if not on that particular product. I'd rather have - and do have - KP/AZ early Spitfires in preference to Tamiya ones. I'm much more likely to make a basic AZ or RS kit than some superperfect kit with tiny details that will never be seen.
  4. KD was allocated to 30 OTU, in addition to BT. This was fairly normal for units with a large stock of aircraft. 25 OTU was allocated ZP and PP. There was a gap of four months between the dissolution of 25 OTU and the creation of 30 OTU. If any aircraft did serve with both, it is presumably just chance. Sources: Combat Codes and Air Britain's Flying Training and Support Units.
  5. Yes Patrik, but having patiently hoarded Harts, Demons etc (as I have) would it not be better for me to actually make, modifying as necessary, some of these? Rather than throw away all this for a new, better, more expensive hoard which in its turn will be superseded by something even better... I could make room for a Hart trainer and a proper "low-back" Demon.
  6. I have a lot of AZ kits, but don't recognise them from your description. However, I don't have that particular one. Not the finest kits on the market, true enough, but nothing that should frighten anyone.
  7. Decades ago, I was told the same story except about Woolworths in Lincoln, about the dark grey on the underside of Vulcans. Winfield Household enamel. I didn't believe it then, I don't believe it now, and wouldn't now even if we didn't know exactly which entirely appropriate colour was used. If this colour was available for the underside of Vulcans, I'd have thought that there'd be spare for a few Shrikes. However, as you suggest above, would this have been too important? Its not as though it was the entire aircraft. The problem with inappropriate paint is that it doesn't last and causes more drag - a bit like covering the surface of the wing with sandpaper. (Fairly fine sandpaper...) Really not a good idea, and any engineering officer or good Warrant Officer would not permit it. Not where there were other ways of doing the same job. Given that the same colour was already in widespread use on Blenheims, there's something a bit weird about the entire shortage story. Clearly there must have been some problems but were they only local? Just how many units actually managed to find Sky? Clearly not from the official source... Lots of unknowns still, but we can cast doubt on "bar stories" where there is reason to do so. I feel that odd results from mixing is much, much more likely to have happened - not to say unavoidable? We still have no idea how much guidance was given beyond "duck egg blue" - which is a better description for Sky Blue anyway!
  8. If you look back a few postings, you'll find that I refer to exactly this. In colour photos the spinners and tail bands match Sky Blue. This is lighter than Sky, and so fits the appearance in b&w photos. The acual colour, as described in official records, isn't known for certain, but if it isn't Sky Blue it sure as damnation looks like it!
  9. Really? This assumes (I'm not sure) that the date of introduction into service was later than the introduction of camouflage after Munich? See P31 of Wingleader for a formation of 605 Sq Mk.2 Gladiators clearly not in shadow shading. There would be absolutely no reason for repainting in this case. Or P.37. I would disagree about the "many" photos showing ME camouflage, at least certainly not clearly enough for a definitive statement. See pages 22 etc where the majority of photos are of aircraft clearly not in shadow shading, for only a few which suggest shadow shading. However I was not suggesting that no aircraft were so finished, just that several of the usually profiled examples are not, because of this panel which appears to be a fairly common replacement. Using the simple assumption that "all production Mk.IIs" or "all aircraft after late-1938" were in shadow shading is definitely incorrect, and it should not be automatically assumed. I previously assumed that aircraft in squadron service at the time of Munich were repainted only in two colours: I have yet to see an exception to this, and the colour photo of 3 Sq p.27 shows this clearly. These are of course Mk.Is. Mk.IIs delivered after Munich is where I would have expected to see such, yet the 605 Sq pic shows otherwise. (Unless these were produced before Munich?) I would agree about GL267, and from the ME there is a photo of Pattle (p.48) which is a pretty clear indication of such a high profile. One the same page is a photo of Wykeham-Barnes' L8009 which appears to have been locally repainted has no such demarcation. (but was this a Mk.I anyway, despite the caption?)
  10. Where was its number in the RAF Vocabulary? And, more significantly, what was its type of paint? (DTD number)? A paint that is in use by the Army and Navy is not necessarily suitable for use on aircraft, other than perhaps for small decorative features.
  11. In my mind, no model can possibly be perfect in all ways. A useless review one that avoids all critical comment and consists only of mindless praise. Is this positive or negative? I can see why manufacturers and sellers feel differently to the modeller, but then I'm looking at reviews for assistance in my modelling. The purpose of a review should not be just to let us know that manufacturer X had produced a model of subject Y, (we usually know this already) and that the reviewer refuses to find (or indeed look for) anything departing from perfection. The review is only of any use to the reader if it points out where improvements can be made to accuracy in shape, quality of fit, and choice of schemes/markings. Certainly better still if the review offers help in these matters rather than just slapping down a potential slur. After all, reviewers are no more perfect than manufacturers. Pointing out where the model does better than earlier offerings is equally important, if not more so. If a review pointing out that a kit actually is terrible (when did we ever see one of those?) actually prevents modellers from buying it, GOOD.
  12. There was a straight line, but this is something often misinterpreted. It seems that in-service aircraft were often (if not generally) just repainted with Dark Green and Dark Earth. There are a number of aircraft usually suggested as being in the shadow scheme. This is something I've been reconsidering since the issue of Wingleader's Gladiator book - strongly recommended by the way. I noticed that two on these subjects, a 615 a/c in France and a 247 a/c in the south-west later in 1940, were actually the same aircraft. Also, that the rear of the aircraft appeared to be in just DG/DE with no sign of a change of colours halfway done the fuselage or anywhere else, except that the entire replacement lower panel on the port side going back to the fabric area, was an unpainted replacement. (I'm sure it was painted in primer, but not in camouflage.) The third commonly seen example is of a Gladiator in Norway, where the scheme has previously argued as belonging to a Sea Gladiator which it wasn't. The more I look at photos of Gladiators, the more I see with this panel replaced. However, there are some examples in the Wingleader book - a SAAF one for example - where it genuinely does look like shadow shading. Do get hold of this book for your own clarification, but yes or no look at all photos with a critical eye. Is the apparent division between the two colours down the middle of the fuselage (as it should have been) or is it higher - the panel edge is above the middle of the fuselage. Is it visible on the rear fuselage? Can you compare the colours on the upper and lower wing?
  13. There's more in bear in mind. As late as November, the RAF MU responsible for issuing paint to RAF units did not recognise the colour Sky, and sent a memo to the Air Ministry asking what was meant, and what should they send. They said that they had been sending one colour - but the signal was corrupt at this point. The two obvious colours were Sky Blue and Sky Grey. As it was in November that fighter units would be indenting for Sky paint for the new tailbands and spinners, so the evidence is that they were sending out Sky Blue, hence the large number of fighters in this period with different tones on these items and the undersides. I take from this that any earlier request, during the BoB period, would also be answered with Sky Blue, and that this may have been more common on fighters than generally recognised. There is more than one comment about RAF units having to mix their own paint - which is itself some kind of confirmation that it happened - but are there more than two? (OK, three? Really?) How does anyone know how common this was, as often claimed? Remember that the retention of the b/w underside was permitted until paint supplies arrived. Be very careful about anecdotal stories: those told after the war are likely to suffer from distortion, exaggeration, and from back-support from other tales. Anybody want to dig up Spitfires from a hole in Burma? Of course, once aircraft from the factories began arriving on the units, any difference from the true Sky would have been clear, but who would have cared? Then there is the independent evidence from ground observers that some units had distinctive underside colours: the best source for this is probably Mike Bowyer's Fighting Colours from PSL, as in a series of Airfix magazine articles. He however bases much of this on the 1941 Sky being a different colour to the 1940 Sky, which isn't true, but would reflect seeing a lot of non-Sky around. By the late 60s there was a definite belief that some Hurricanes had a darker blue underside, and when Hawker's aircraft returned to Dunsfold from the BoB film it carried a darker blue of its film appearance, as I saw on a number of occasions. (Most memorably when a Swedish team arrived for what was the usual Friday afternoon Harrier display for various interested parties. Supposedly they said "We've seen the Harrier at various air displays, but we understand you've got a Hurricane...) Could memories of this colour match the "turquoise" underside dug up later? Could be...
  14. The black/white underside was entirely for the benefit of the RAF. The early radar wasn't very good, and could only see out to sea. Once an aircraft passed inland radar was blind, and so were the RAF controllers on the ground. They relied upon ground reports from the Observer Corps and the police, which is why being able to clearly distinguish friendly from enemy was so important. There's a good argument that the true advantage the RAF had in the BoB was not its aircraft nor its radar, but its control system, far superior to anything else in the world at the time. However initial experience in France convinced the pilots that the b&w underside was too serious a penalty. By the time the Germans were flying regularly in large numbers over Britain, the b/w undersides were gone. The Germans knew we had radar, but knew little about it. An ELINT mission by the Graf Zeppelin found the emissions from British Chain Home radars but discounted them as a "overtone" from our National Grid, as no-one would actually build a radar system at such a low frequency.
  15. White was a pure white but the black was a paint called Night which contained a small amount of Ultramarine. What you would choose to use is a matter of individual taste, but ideally dead black is rarely suitable for model purposes as being too stark, so a very dark charcoal grey might be preferred. It would be very easy to go too far in toning down a pure white, but again this is a matter of taste. Eau de Nil was not a colour in the RAF Stores Vocabulary. It may well have been used for the interiors of military office vehicles as being easy on the eyes, but has no recorded use in or on aircraft. The original and early use of Sky (or its substitutes) is a very involved story, involving spy flights prewar by an Australian entrepreneur called Sidney Cotton, early use of a light underside colour on Blenheim bombers, initial PR work, and an awful lot of unsupported anecdotes. The best (fullest) account was been given by Paul Lucas in his book for Guideline on RAF camouflage and markings up to the end of 1940, but it has one distinct flaw, and that is the (unsupported?) assumption in the artwork that a lot of fighters used Eau-de-Nil on their undersides in lieu of the proper Sky, said to be unobtainable in quantity. That fighters in this period had a range of underside colours in this period is well recorded. Paul and Neil Robinson (and perhaps others?) studied the available remains of Battle of Britain fighters, still in their original paint as recovered from crash sites, and listed what they found. Several colours were found, including several which they identified as Eau-de-Nil. Looking further at this table, it seems that all the samples with Eau-de-Nil came from squadrons that were based around the Humber at the time of the introduction of Sky. Which leaves all the units in the rest of the country... It would not be desirable/permitted to use a paint that was not intended for, and accepted for, use on aircraft. However, it would be possible, given the confusion apparent at the time, for units/bases to have produced their own mixes and hence that some of these could have ended up close, or even identical, to Eau-de-Nil. So it is reasonable to accept that a few specific units actually wore such a colour, and potentially some others did for which we have no record otherwise. It is not reasonable to argue for its widespread use in a majority of cases. Gallons of ink, and oodles of electrons, have been expended on the matter of Sky in the BoB. No doubt more will come. However, I would be careful in the use of anything else except on aircraft that had been delivered to the service before early July 1940. Which was a large number. But if you are looking into modelling in this period, get Paul Lucas's book. Other than in specific details, there has been nothing before or after to match. The Ducimus booklets will do as a lesser guide. EDIT: A black port wing was reintroduced in November 1940, but the other wing remained in Sky.
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