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Tango India Mike

Some Fleet Air Arm photographs...

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On a recent trip to Queensland I found, in the most unlikely of places - a little junk shop next to the Saint Bernard Hotel, up on Mount Tamborine - a magnificent photograph album belonging to someone who'd served in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. I didn't happen to have a spare $700 on me, but the shop owner at least allowed me to copy some of the interesting aircraft photographs. Apologies for the quality of the reproductions, but this was done in less than ideal conditions, and with my girlfriend hovering about nearby, I tried not to take too much time in doing it! There were no captions visible, so your guess about locations here...are as good as mine!

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This one is obviously taken over Gibraltar.

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Thanks for sharing Tim, and say thank you to the Girl friend!

Paul

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Wow, what a find!

What's the ship in the 6th photo down? Is it an E-Class cruiser?

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Fascinating photos. The last but one with the Barrcudas in formation show signs of censorship obliterating the 'naughty bits'! The (Sea)Hurricane in the hangar has an interesting looking camouflage pattern and colouring too. Like the ones that were 'pretending' to be Italian fighters!!

Edited by Paul J

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Great pics mate, thanks for posting. the picture of the "Applecore" showed what a big aircraft it was next to the serviceman standing beside it. the Sea Hurricane with the air filter is a rare photograph too. Very nice of the gentleman to let you copy them. I inherited some cigarette cards that my dad collected as a young lad in Blackpool, great stuff, and from what I hear worth some money. Of course they are heirlooms and will stay in my collection.

Cheers

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The (Sea)Hurricane in the hangar has an interesting looking camouflage pattern and colouring too. Like the ones that were 'pretending' to be Italian fighters!!

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except it's not a Sea Hurricane....no hook cutout.

Looks like a MkI trop, that's been photographed probably because of the interesting camo....

HTH

T

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201109182219341.jpg

except it's not a Sea Hurricane....no hook cutout.

Looks like a MkI trop, that's been photographed probably because of the interesting camo....

HTH

T

More likely an R.A.F. Hurricane, rather than Fleet Air Arm. I've seen other photographs that suggest this scheme, but those ones have either been taken on too difficult angles or have not been of sufficient quality to convince me of the 'aluminium' leading edges and spinners. Admittedly, this one is not of good quality, either, but the finish is unmistakably aluminium. Painted or stripped to bare metal, I don't know. The high contrast of the camouflage colours is interesting, also. Is this the so-called 'sand and spinach'?

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A wondeful set indeed, I particularly liked the Seafox and the Hurricane. Not, sadly, a Sea Hurricane, but a member of the RN Fighter Flight in Egypt. It looks to have had the Dark Earth recently repainted, but what a contrast between the leading edge and the undersides.

Seafox K8601 is only listed against the cruiser HMS Orion 4/39 to 12/39, Papers deposited (Written off stock) 31.1.44 A common date with several Seafox.

Sea Gladiator N5543 was with 775 Sq at Dekheila 10/42-2/44, which may tie in with the other Middle-East settings.

Barracuda: L1 codes were Lee on Solent 1843/44 780 or 798 Squadrons

K4620 is either 800 or 801 Sq - the badge looks (much) closer to that of 801 in which case the carrier is HMS Furious.

L7127 if that is the Albacore was with 829 Sq on Formidable, located the Italian fleet at Matapan, and saw off a Ju88 with smoke pouring from one of its engines.

Can anyone identify any of the other serials?

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except it's not a Sea Hurricane....no hook cutout.

Looks like a MkI trop, that's been photographed probably because of the interesting camo....

HTH

T

I sort of realised that, thats why I put the 'Sea' in parenthesis (in case!!) But with so many anomalies with camos etc being unearthed nowadays one can't be too sure. And in any case weren't some early Sea Hurris without hooks?

Agree it s more likely to be a Mk.1 tropicalised and my first comment was based on the fact that all the pics are FAA.

Edited by Paul J

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There are a number of photos in the FAA Museum showing the RN Fighter Flight's Hurricanes in this scheme. Also some film? This unit later became 805 Sq. The FAA's early Hurricanes were just Hurricanes, although the Sea Hurricane Mk.IA also lacked the arrester hook being intended for the Catapult merchantmen.

I'm not convinced by the widely held "pretending to be Italians" comment because Italian aircraft aren't marked like that. In their case the uppersurface dark camouflage descends around the leading edge. I think it more like to be a means of reducing the dark appearance of the aircraft against the sky when viewed from head-on. Although commonest on tactical Hurricanes in the desert it was also seen on carrier-borne Fulmars.

There are some later RAF Hurricane photos showing such a dark uppersurface colour on a disruptive scheme, and these are normally interpreted as fresh Dark Earth on a faded aircraft. It seems that some issues of Dark Earth were considerably darker than the UK norm, and this has variously been quoted as sourced from Indian or Australian manufacturers, but some of the US aircraft show a similar very dark DE.

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Thanks for the added information, Graham. I'm pleased that you found the Seafox pictures of interest. I was rather chuffed to come across them myself, and particularly so because they (or one of them in particular) showed a legible serial!

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Very interesting photos, thank you so much for sharing them!

I think the "pretending to be Italian" makes more sense if one thinks of seeing the aircraft approaching for a strafing or bombing pass: the mottled camouflage did indeed resemble the camouflage of Regia Aeronautica airplanes: painting the whole aircraft in such fashion could have caused unpleasant friendly fire accidents while if it had simply been a matter of blending the aircraft with the sky, a simple, unmottled colouring in Sky Blue (or any other light grey/blue colour) would have been enough (some Italian torpedo bombers would indeed be painted light grey on all frontal surfaces to delay detection by their intended targets).

There is some footage on the web showing similiarly camouflaged Hurricanes, it's either on youTube or on the IWM site and someone had been speculating that the mottled part looked rather metallic, although this could perhaps only be due to the use of a comparatively glossier paint, IMHO.

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Hi Tim,

Have not heard from you for a long time.

Could you email me (I still use the same addresses) and I will send you some goodies.

If you can't find the address you can get it from Mick or alternatively send an email to the Editor's address at the IPMSNSW.org website.

Steve Mackenzie

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I'm not convinced by the widely held "pretending to be Italians" comment because Italian aircraft aren't marked like that. In their case the uppersurface dark camouflage descends around the leading edge. I think it more like to be a means of reducing the dark appearance of the aircraft against the sky when viewed from head-on. Although commonest on tactical Hurricanes in the desert it was also seen on carrier-borne Fulmars.

Actually Graham, the base color was not dark, but light tan, perhaps as light or lighter than MS, and under bright sun would even get lighter. There was also a high contrast between the dark green used and the sandy color. When an aircraft is racing towards you, you don't debate that it is too light or dark of Italian yellow 3 or 4. It is the impression.

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For Super Aereo,

The film you are referring to of the Hurricanes is probably the very interesting one that is on the British Pathe website. Sorry I don't have the reference number handy but it is not hard to locate.

Steve

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For Super Aereo,

The film you are referring to of the Hurricanes is probably the very interesting one that is on the British Pathe website. Sorry I don't have the reference number handy but it is not hard to locate.

Steve

And you are right, Steve, thank you!

Here's the link: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/dawn-pat...-western-desert from minute 2 onwards.

:)

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Hi Tim,

Have not heard from you for a long time.

Could you email me (I still use the same addresses) and I will send you some goodies.

If you can't find the address you can get it from Mick or alternatively send an email to the Editor's address at the IPMSNSW.org website.

Steve Mackenzie

G'day Steve!

Good to see that you've found your way onto Britmodeller. I never did have your e-mail address. How about you fire one off at me? mr.prosser58@gmail.com

Cheers, mate,

Tim.

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As far as the 'mottling' applied to this (and other) Hurricanes in the Middle East I have it on good authority that this was applied so as to break up the outline of the aircraft when parked under camouflage netting. A similar process later used by the Luftwaffe in Europe on aircraft such as the Fw 190 where random patches of camo colours were applied to wing leading edges and u/c doors so as to more effectively hide the aircraft when parked under trees etc from prowling Allied fighters.

Cheers

Dave

Edited by tango98

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If you post the photos of the ships on Steel Navy you might get some other suggestions, although there isn't much to go on. The 801 Sq badge is different in style to that normally shown, but these things did vary with time.

The base with the railway next the the crashed Swordfish is ringing bells, but nothing I can decrypt! The tender (or is that not FAA usage?) doesn't look like UK issue, so I suspect this is another Middle East photo. Perhaps that query could be raised on Missing Links/Braille Scale?

As for that scheme: the Fulmars (and indeed the RN Fighter Flight, plus the Hurricane(s) sent to Greece in this scheme) were tasked primarily air-to-air, not air-to-ground. It seems unlikely that preparing your leading edges lighter than anyone's undersides can be considered as an attempt to match anyone's uppersurfaces. Even the Italians (sorry) had uppersurfaces darker than their undersurfaces. Most of all, I remain unconvinced that ground troops, whatever the nationality, would not shoot at any aircraft approaching in an attacking manner, and discover their identity afterwards!

However, reducing the contrast against the sky would work for both air-to-air and air-to-ground. It doesn't rely upon assuming that your enemy is gullible or incautious.

edit; Having just seen the film , it includes Hurricane Mk.I/Trop Z4227, 806/Z. 806 was mainly Fulmars on Formidable but disembarked after damage to the ship and was provided with Hurricanes, later being disbanded into the RN Fighter Flight.

Edited by Graham Boak

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As far as the 'mottling' applied to this (and other) Hurricanes in the Middle East I have it on good authority that this was applied so as to break up the outline of the aircraft when parked under camouflage netting. A similar process later used by the Luftwaffe in Europe on aircraft such as the Fw 190 where random patches of camo colours were applied to wing leading edges and u/c doors so as to more effectively hide the aircraft when parked under trees etc from prowling Allied fighters.

Cheers

Dave

Yes but... how would this apply to RN Fulmars..? And how would prowling enemy fighters only approach from in front of the aircraft..??? On German airplanes in 1945 dark colours were used on undercarriage covers and leading edges to stop them from reflecting light or appearing lighter against the background, but on RAF/FAA fighters in the Middle East...?

:huh:

Edited by Super Aereo

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Super Aereo wrote:

"Yes but... how would this apply to RN Fulmars..? And how would prowling enemy fighters only approach from in front of the aircraft..???"

As far as the Fulmars are concerned I have no idea, perhaps Graham could add more information and as for prowling enemy fighters - who said anything about them only approaching from the front? You only have to look at gun camera film from strafing runs to see that once targets were identified they were attacked from all directions.

Likewise, this form of camo application also served to further hide dispersed aircraft from enemy reconnaissance flights - the Germans were extremely active in reconnaissance flights over N.Africa from Egypt to Tunisia until almost the end of the war just as were their Allied counterparts in NW Europe.

Dave

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I think this camouflage netting point is even less convincing than the Italian theory, but the point about "approaching from the front" (as I think Superaero sees it) is that this is the only way this camouflage can be said to be at all useful in the ground protection role.

Air-to-air concealment would apply to any fighter. The question perhaps is not why it was applied to Hurricanes and Fulmars but why not to anything else, and why did it stop? Possibly because - a reverse - it makes the aircraft more visible when on the ground. Or simply because a high-ranking officer came around and said "That's not in AMOs! Stop it at once." Or just because the man whose idea it was, was posted away and his successor didn't like it.

But what about some more identities from these photos?

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Well Graham, until it's proven otherwise, I'll stick with the 'under camo netting' theory as the chap who explained the reason for it was there and we weren't.

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There are a number of photos in the FAA Museum showing the RN Fighter Flight's Hurricanes in this scheme. Also some film? This unit later became 805 Sq. The FAA's early Hurricanes were just Hurricanes, although the Sea Hurricane Mk.IA also lacked the arrester hook being intended for the Catapult merchantmen.

I'm not convinced by the widely held "pretending to be Italians" comment because Italian aircraft aren't marked like that. In their case the uppersurface dark camouflage descends around the leading edge. I think it more like to be a means of reducing the dark appearance of the aircraft against the sky when viewed from head-on. Although commonest on tactical Hurricanes in the desert it was also seen on carrier-borne Fulmars.

There are some later RAF Hurricane photos showing such a dark uppersurface colour on a disruptive scheme, and these are normally interpreted as fresh Dark Earth on a faded aircraft. It seems that some issues of Dark Earth were considerably darker than the UK norm, and this has variously been quoted as sourced from Indian or Australian manufacturers, but some of the US aircraft show a similar very dark DE.

Yes, upon closer examination most certainly not a "hooked" or Sea Hurricane. Could be an old hack from the RAF or as you suggest a MkIa FAA Hurricane. I have not seen pictures of Sea Hurricanes with the air filter as I have on Seafire MkIb's. The Barracudas were interesting, and their massive landing gear were well displayed. I read sometime ago about what it was like to deal with the Barracuda at sea. There was one account given by a deck crewman who said that in one instance where a Barracuda broke off its port landing gear, they needed ten crewmen to push the landing gear off the deck. That plane was a disaster but sure is interesting. I learned a great deal about the FAA and it's, and the RN's operational philosophy regarding carrier aviation and its uses after reading Mike Crosley's book. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it.

Cheers

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Yes but... how would this apply to RN Fulmars..? And how would prowling enemy fighters only approach from in front of the aircraft..??? On German airplanes in 1945 dark colours were used on undercarriage covers and leading edges to stop them from reflecting light or appearing lighter against the background, but on RAF/FAA fighters in the Middle East...?

:huh:

I always understood that the leading edges of the wings were painted like this to aid concealment when aircraft were parked under the "Scrim" type camoflage netting in the desert.

They found this netting worked well but the bit of the aircraft that compromised the camoflage was the nose and straight leading edges of the aircraft. The solution was to paint these areas to match the netting pattern to break up the straight line of the leading edge and some aircraft also had this pattern on the nose (Hurricanes I believe).

As the war in the desert progressed and became more mobile, the use of Scrim netting to camoflage aircraft on desert landing grounds was not so common and the practice of painting the leading edges died out.

There are pictures of aircraft under the netting showing this effect.

Selwyn

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