Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Test Graham

Hurricane "spaghetti" scheme: I said it was blue!

Recommended Posts

Thank you for the photo, which I find difficult to interpret as other than the Trop LS in use, for the reasons given above. However, something I've just noticed from the photo is the light leading edges, which in the case of the first aircraft is taken up onto the nose. This may be taking us back to the subject of the intended thread, but I'm afraid is missing from your model. Sorry to have to point it out, but it is a most interesting photograph. HMS Furious I believe, but I'm open to correction.

Graham,

That is a very blurry photo of what looks like standard Temperate Land Scheme. The high contrast was not unusal at all in photos, as shown in the photo below of Hurricanes in UK in 1938. By the way, 185 Sqd were photographed in Temperate Land Scheme on Malta. I can post these if you like.

Regards,

Mark

Hurricanes38.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not the first delivery, which will have been in 1940 - Hurricanes over Malta is downstairs so a precise answer will have to wait for another day. I've seen a suggestion that Hurricanes in tropical colours had Sky Blue undersides at this stage: whether this is true or an early misunderstanding of Azure Blue I leave to your judgement. I would not expect Sky on these particular aircraft.

Taking the light undersides up over the the side of the nose, and sometimes in a wavy line along the wing, is seen earlier (as you show), but the "spaghetti" scheme is more than this. The light colour is taken back a short distance above the wing, more than in this photo, and there is often an equally clear demarcation under the wing - showing that IN THESE CASES the lightest colour is not the same as that on the underside. I suspect we are seeing different interpretations of the idea, and not all examples are the same. Possibly because not all Hurricanes had the same underside colour - those delivered in Temperate Land will have Sky, those in tropical colours will have a blue, and any repainted in Alexandria may have yet another blue altogether.

Mark: I agree that high contrast does sometimes appear on aircraft that are indoubtedly Temperate Land, though I disagree that it is not unusual. I think it normally uncommon, and for this effect to appear consistently on photos of aircraft from a restricted serial range, that were produced and delivered overseas in early 1941 just when the appropriate Air Ministry instruction called for DG and MS, stretches my credibility if not yours. However, you will note that in the 111 Sq photo the red of the roundel has almost disappeared, and thus similarly the red component in the Dark Earth. In the Furious(?) photo the red of the fin flash is visibly dark, but the second colour remains very light. This contradiction is not consistent with the behaviour of Dark Earth.

There's no doubt that Temperate Land was seen on Hurricanes on Malta - as indeed was the desert scheme, although later. That Malta objected to the desert scheme on Spitfires and called for maritime colours, without having passed any comment on nearly two years delivery of Hurricanes in a range of non-maritime colours, or indeed without any local repainting, is one of life's little mysteries.

Edited by Graham Boak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That Malta objected to the desert scheme on Spitfires and called for maritime colours, without having passed any comment on nearly two years delivery of Hurricanes in a range of non-maritime colours, or indeed without any local repainting, is one of life's little mysteries.

A mystery that could have a really mundane answer like change of personnel - those who were there in the early stages of the fighting were just glad to have aircraft they could put into the air. Later, when more aircraft were available, leaders could focus on more prosaic issues like how the aircraft were painted rather than the life-and-death struggle to just have airframes with which to fight back. Not saying this was the case but I've seen enough varieties of Station Commander and Squadron Commander in today's RAF (ok yesterdays - 1988 thru 2007) to know that some are nit-picky and detail-conscious while others are more of the "just get the bluddy job done" variety. I see no reason why this would be any different in the early 1940s - 'tis a truism of human nature that we're all different (but I'm not!). :winkgrin:

Edited by mhaselden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Graham: The Air Ministry did not call for Dark Green/Mid Stone because the July AMO513/41 was in error and therefore not valid. This I have proven with the letter of 30th October, and by the letter dated 3rd August 1941 below requesting clarrification of AMO513/41. It clearly states the colours were Dark Earth/Mid Stone.

a.jpg

Edited by Mark Mackenzie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark: I agree that high contrast does sometimes appear on aircraft that are indoubtedly Temperate Land, though I disagree that it is not unusual.

Sorry to poke in on the argument here. But I think Mark does have a point here. It's not really terribly uncommon to see high contrast in photos of the Temperate Land scheme when the lighting conditions are very bright and especially in instances where orthochromatic film has been used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Graham: The Air Ministry did not call for Dark Green/Mid Stone because the July AMO513/41 was in error and therefore not valid. This I have proven with the letter of 30th October, and by the letter dated 3rd August 1941 below requesting clarrification of AMO513/41. It clearly states the colours were Dark Earth/Mid Stone.

CopyofDSCN2161.jpg

Mark,

'Fraid I can't follow your logic here which seems to be "it was always incorrect therefore everybody must have ignored it". The July AMO513/41 was entirely valid until an official change notification was received by units. If, as you point out, that correction was only disseminated in Oct 41 then there was a gap of 3-4 months where the Dark Green/Mid Stone was valid because the Air Ministry had published that scheme in official instructions. Just because it was a mistake doesn't mean receiving units ignored it.

Please explain to me how a receiving unit, in the middle of nowhere, was supposed to know that the July AMO513/41, which clearly stated Mid Stone and Dark Green, was incorrect? They may have said "Huh? That doesn't make sense!" and sent a signal back to the Air Ministry seeking clarification which is apparently what happened. However, if it really took until Oct 41 for the official correction to be sent out then it's entirely reasonable that some unit commander or, more likely, engineering officer or NCO said "Well, orders is orders! Paint 'em green and sand!!" and off went the erks to do as instructed. Where's the evidence that all units simply ignored these directions from the Air Ministry?

Sorry for getting frustrated here but we seem to be going around and around on this one.

Edited by mhaselden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Graham: The Air Ministry did not call for Dark Green/Mid Stone because the July AMO513/41 was in error and therefore not valid. This I have proven with the letter of 30th October, and by the letter dated 3rd August 1941 below requesting clarrification of AMO513/41. It clearly states the colours were Dark Earth/Mid Stone.

a.jpg

Why have you only posted that paragraph from the August letter? What was the context? Who was it from and to? Can you post the whole letter please?

Bearing in mind your point that the Temperate land scheme often appears in monochrome images showing very high contrast how could you possibly determine whether the finish shown in a ME photo is Temperate or Dark Green/Midstone (or something else)? You mentioned in earlier posts that you had never seen a Dark Green/Midstone finish but you have demonstrated here how Temperate land sometimes appears with a very high contrast finish. Please share your secret of how you determine which is which in a ME photo.

Also, what Mark H said. Further, you have yourself provided evidence here of how such a scheme might have been considered valid by receiving units with experience of previous trials and where it was deemed to suit the operating country.

Edited by Nick Millman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not the first delivery, which will have been in 1940 - Hurricanes over Malta is downstairs so a precise answer will have to wait for another day. I've seen a suggestion that Hurricanes in tropical colours had Sky Blue undersides at this stage: whether this is true or an early misunderstanding of Azure Blue I leave to your judgement. I would not expect Sky on these particular aircraft.

Graham,

thanks for you reply.

Why not the first delivery? In that case, it would have been 2 August 1940 (Shores, "Malta: the Hurricane Years" - there is a picture on page 46 of that book and the Hurricane finish looks similar).

Regarding the carrier, there is a raised edge to the flight deck, which I used to associtae with Eagle, but is also found on Argus (which was the carrier used for the first delivery). If I recall correctly, Furious did not have that raised edge and had rather more conspicuous deck markings (white lines and a circle, but this may have changed with successive refits. In pre-war years there were also palisades along the deck on Furious, but I assume these were gone by the start of the war).

I do not argue about Sky Blue in lieu of Sky, and it sounds reasonable. However I would expect Azure Blue to turn our rather darker in b&w (will all the caveats...).

Regards

Claudio

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Regarding the carrier, there is a raised edge to the flight deck, which I used to associtae with Eagle, but is also found on Argus (which was the carrier used for the first delivery). If I recall correctly, Furious did not have that raised edge and had rather more conspicuous deck markings (white lines and a circle, but this may have changed with successive refits. In pre-war years there were also palisades along the deck on Furious, but I assume these were gone by the start of the war).

I believe the carrier is Argus as the flight-deck is very narrow. Friedman gives the (extreme) beam of Eagle, Furious and Argus as 115ft, 120ft and 68ft respectively.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark,

'Fraid I can't follow your logic here which seems to be "it was always incorrect therefore everybody must have ignored it". The July AMO513/41 was entirely valid until an official change notification was received by units. If, as you point out, that correction was only disseminated in Oct 41 then there was a gap of 3-4 months where the Dark Green/Mid Stone was valid because the Air Ministry had published that scheme in official instructions. Just because it was a mistake doesn't mean receiving units ignored it.

Please explain to me how a receiving unit, in the middle of nowhere, was supposed to know that the July AMO513/41, which clearly stated Mid Stone and Dark Green, was incorrect? They may have said "Huh? That doesn't make sense!" and sent a signal back to the Air Ministry seeking clarification which is apparently what happened. However, if it really took until Oct 41 for the official correction to be sent out then it's entirely reasonable that some unit commander or, more likely, engineering officer or NCO said "Well, orders is orders! Paint 'em green and sand!!" and off went the erks to do as instructed. Where's the evidence that all units simply ignored these directions from the Air Ministry?

Sorry for getting frustrated here but we seem to be going around and around on this one.

Mark H: More likely that aircraft were received in M.E. in the wrong colours and had to be repainted, otherwise why issue a correction? I find it very hard to believe HQ M.E. didn't know what colours they wanted.

Graham: The time span for Malta Hurricanes received in a scheme that you are proposing according to AMO513/41 would have to be late 1941 not early 1941. From December 1940 the colours were Dark Earth/Mid Stone (AMO926/40) and I see no reason why this would have changed before July 1941 (if at all after July 1941).

Edited by Mark Mackenzie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"More likely that aircraft were received in M.E. in the wrong colours and had to be repainted, otherwise why issue a correction? I find it very hard to believe HQ M.E. didn't know what colours they wanted."

What colours did they want? Where is that stated?

"From December 1940 the colours were Dark Earth/Mid Stone (AMO926/40) and I see no reason why this would have changed before July 1941 (if at all after July 1941)."

AMO A.513/41 of 10 July 1941 states explicitly:-

"1. A.M.O. A.926/40, as amended by A.30/41 and A.157/41, is superseded by the instructions contained in this order, which take effect immediately."

Presumably followed by the August clarification letter posted in your comment # 79 (author/addressee/context?) and the subsequent AMO correction?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few points:

I thought the carrier was Furious because (on checking) it is captioned as such in Shores' Mediterranean Air War Volume 1, dated to May 1941. This is open to correction. The first delivery was indeed Argus, but a wide range of carriers was used. Cull&Galea's Hurricanes Over Malta does provide a complete list of such deliveries, involving Argus, Ark Royal, Furious and Victorious, but not Eagle. Furious made four deliveries, including the one in May (shared with Ark Royal)

Dark Earth does not look light in orthochromatic film, it look dark because of its red content. Study Battle of Britain photographs. DE can appear dark, or at best a medium shade, but not light. There are photos of TempLS where there is a high contrast, but not on Ortho film. There are photos showing DE as a light colour, of well-used aircraft where the colour has faded towards Light Earth. These carrier deck Hurricanes are freshly painted. The 111 sq Hurricanes are also freshly painted, but the red has almost disappeared from photo, suggesting some filter has been used that has also affected the DE. The whole photo should be studied, not just the key item of interest. For a genuine ortho photo, consider the 185 Sq Hurricane Z2402 GL.P in Hurricanes Over Malta. The yellow outer ring of the roundel is very dark, the red is darker than the blue in the roundel and finflash, but there is a high contrast to the camouflage colours with the darker one around the cockpit. This is entirely compatible with the TropLS, and indeed the Hurricanes in Stephen's photo, but not compatible with the appearance of DE on ortho film. Nor can it be MS, if this does indeed appear dark on ortho film, as claimed by some. Over the page there is another photo of 185's Hurricanes in panchromatic film which does indeed look like TempLS - but I made the point early on that a variety of schemes can be seen on overseas Hurricanes.

Moving the date of these deliveries backward would fit better with those seen on Ceylon, and indeed the general lack of such aircraft in the Greek campaign. However, this does assume that the July AMO introduced the scheme rather than formalising current practice. This assumption is not always reliable, particularly given the May date credited to this photo.

Azure Blue is not a particularly dark colour, unlike Humbrol etc attempt to so reproduce it. The darker colour seen on some aircraft will have been Mediterranean Light Blue, for which the Humbrol paint is a fair match. There are a number of colour photos - notably the Canadian Spitfire unit - showing Azure Blue as a light blue.

Edited by Graham Boak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is evidence that Azure Blue did not exist before December 1940; in late November M.A.P. wrote to Farnborough, saying that Middle East H.Q. had complained about replacement Blenheims arriving with Sky (N.B. not Sky Blue) undersides, and had sent a panel painted with their own required colour, which was a mix of blue, yellow and silver powder. M.A.P. asked Farnborough to prepare samples (without using the silver,) and send them back. These "azure blue" (note the lack of capitals, which is a little worrying) samples were approved in early December, and a further batch requested.

When the earlier mid-1940 order, for Sky undersides, was sent out, Malta had already said that they were not prepared to use it, as previously allowed for by the Air Ministry.

Edgar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is one of those debates that you get the impression would seem a lot more amiable if it was in person - the harshness of B+W is putting what is perhaps a degree of hostility that isn't really there?

IN many ways, this is very valuable debate - Mark has disemminated a document that shows that the alleged scheme was not official for nearly as long as was previously generally though (and to me, shown that my hunch was perhaps right after all)

Whose to say there is not an earlier signal that confirms this. It's well known that in some instances, the AMOs etc lag behind the actuality somewhat.

I think at present it is a score draw - there is no definitive evidence that DG/LE was ever applied, equally there is no proof that it was not!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have:

The official document prescribing it, with a later one abandoning it.

Eye-witness account describing it

Photographic evidence compatible with it (and requiring special arguing to be anything else) for aircraft in the appropriate date range, but not before and after.

What other kind of evidence is required?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry to poke in on the argument here. But I think Mark does have a point here. It's not really terribly uncommon to see high contrast in photos of the Temperate Land scheme when the lighting conditions are very bright and especially in instances where orthochromatic film has been used.

But ortho was not used in that picture. Red is not black and yellow is not muddy gray.

Only proves that picture had a high contrast. Perhaps some fading and very bright sun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We have:

The official document prescribing it, with a later one abandoning it.

Eye-witness account describing it

Photographic evidence compatible with it (and requiring special arguing to be anything else) for aircraft in the appropriate date range, but not before and after.

What other kind of evidence is required?

Graham: Lets put that into perspective. What we have here is a what if assumption that someone followed an incorrect order published 6-12 months after the so called event is said to have taken place and a blurry photo that has not been cross-referenced. We then have you jumping up and down quoting photos that remain unseen, and pretending that somehow you can interpret colours in B/W photos. I see that as nonsense.

What I want is concrete evidence from a war diary or archive document that states that aircraft were being painted Dark Green and Sand (sand because that is what is referred to in the 1940 anecdotal evidence first put forward by Ian Huntley). Until you can present that, what you have is nothing more than a "What if someone followed and incorrect order".

Edited by Mark Mackenzie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But ortho was not used in that picture. Red is not black and yellow is not muddy gray.

Only proves that picture had a high contrast. Perhaps some fading and very bright sun.

Steven: The photo on the Carrier is in B/W so no one knows the original colours. Plus it is blurry and does not cross-reference well with other photos on Carriers going to Malta showing Temperate Land and photos in Malta showing Temperate Land.

Edited by Mark Mackenzie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven: The photo on the Carrier is in B/W so no one knows the original colours. Plus it is blurry and does not cross-reference well with other photos on Carriers going to Malta showing Temperate Land and photos in Malta showing Temperate Land.

The reference was a comment to the photo you posted of high contrast TLS. The photo was not ortho.

The carrier photo, no way to tell. But a Graham note, to the extent there is red it is darker, and so too with yellow, but less so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is evidence that Azure Blue did not exist before December 1940; in late November M.A.P. wrote to Farnborough, saying that Middle East H.Q. had complained about replacement Blenheims arriving with Sky (N.B. not Sky Blue) undersides, and had sent a panel painted with their own required colour, which was a mix of blue, yellow and silver powder. M.A.P. asked Farnborough to prepare samples (without using the silver,) and send them back. These "azure blue" (note the lack of capitals, which is a little worrying) samples were approved in early December, and a further batch requested.

When the earlier mid-1940 order, for Sky undersides, was sent out, Malta had already said that they were not prepared to use it, as previously allowed for by the Air Ministry.

Edgar

The "silvery" sheen on "spaghetti" finished aircraft has been remarked upon more than once. If HQ M.E. sent samples of their own desired "azure blue" and these did include silver powder, could this be perhaps the beginning of the start of an explanation for that silvery sheen in the "spaghetti" scheme?

Claudio

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The "silvery" sheen on "spaghetti" finished aircraft has been remarked upon more than once. If HQ M.E. sent samples of their own desired "azure blue" and these did include silver powder, could this be perhaps the beginning of the start of an explanation for that silvery sheen in the "spaghetti" scheme?

Unlikely, since Farnborough were told to leave the silver out, when making up the samples, and concocting the formula. "It is considered that aluminium powder is quite unsuitable for use in a finish of this type, and its use should be avoided."

Edgar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Unlikely, since Farnborough were told to leave the silver out, when making up the samples, and concocting the formula. "It is considered that aluminium powder is quite unsuitable for use in a finish of this type, and its use should be avoided."

Edgar

My point was, where did the sample originate from?

Was it just an odd mix by HQ M.E. to obtain a sample for Farnborough, or was it also intended to let authority know what colour was already in use and found to be effective "in the field"?

If so, I'd expect the sample to come from a mix then in use, albeit unofficially, so as to have it recognised.

Claudio

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark:

Please remember there is no such thing as an incorrect order AT THE TIME. Orders are followed, and what would be astonishing is if they were not. (We are not talking on the level of "go walk up to that machine gun nest.") So if we restrict the discussion to the 1941 Hurricanes for the moment then these should and would be painted in DG/MS. The possible source of this would not be a war diary: how many war diaries ever mention the colours of the aircraft - or tanks, or ships? A war diary is after all one man's comment - just anecdotal, old chap. Perhaps Hawker's paint shop records, had they survived, would be the archive you wish, but not all truth is contained in surviving archives.

There is the other matter of the level of the order: local instructions have often countermanded those from the centre, and as argued here and elsewhere what the periphery does when in need is only later standardised at the centre. Chronology matters, and with discussions carried out using 1940s technology, delays are built in.

Re "photos that remain unseen". I have quoted the references. I prefer to respect the copyright of the publishers - you are entirely free to obtain these references for yourself. I used examples from them because I thought this approach both relevant and likely to be available to anyone interested enough to discuss this matter. However, I understand that no-one can have everything, and certainly not conveniently to hand.

Re interpretation of photos. Impossible ever to certain, of course. However, there are physical laws that cover the reaction of the pigments, and their reproduction on the page. Awareness of this is a useful tool to the careful historian. I have already said that single photographs can be misleading: however a number that show the same effect, that otherwise would be slightly odd, is better than a blanket denial issued for no better reason than personal conviction.

The existence of aircraft in one colour scheme does not rule out the existence of others in different. Aircraft can last longer in combat than the duration of any particular camouflage order, and outside the UK it is rare to find aircraft repainted immediately. On Malta under seige this was particularly true, and elsewhere in the Middle East use of Temperate LS alongside local "Desert" repaints indicates that also. Indeed, look to these "spaghetti" schemes that stated the discussion. Archive rulings? War diaries for them? I wish! If you rely ONLY upon such sources then few models will ever be made, and that is after all the purpose of this board.

Edited by Graham Boak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the harshness of B+W is putting what is perhaps a degree of hostility that isn't really there?

Hostility? You mean like being "frozen" out of the discussion by the main protagonist and having your comments and queries ignored? ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Further to Graham's comment and in concurrence with it:-

"These regulations apply to all RAF aircraft at home and to aircraft flown, or shipped to overseas commands. They may be varied to meet operational requirements at the discretion of Air Officers commanding overseas commands, with Air Ministry approval. "

(my emphasis)

No guarantee that the to and fro of any such discretion and authorisation has all survived in the files.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...