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Test Graham

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

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Thanks to Paul Lucas, I've seen a number of relevant documents, two of which have been posted by Mark since I last saw the board. The key one is the original 41Grp query about AMO A.513/41. Then came the Loose Minute, followed by the second of Mark's documents which answers the points raised.

I would point all readers to para 2 in this second document (SY312/DOR, 3rd August 1941). It states that "...this order defines the policy and is not intended as a technical description. In every case DTD technical circulars relating to camouflage should be taken as the overriding authority for production and maintenance purposes." This makes clear that the AMOs are NOT the final authority on the subject despite what we have often assumed. That's without mentioning local overseas authorities.

Somewhere in this, but following A.513/41, there was just such a DTD document covering camouflage schemes. This has not, as far as I know, surfaced yet but it is referred to in another Loose Minute Sheet from OR4, Sq Ldr Ellison (from signature), dated 11th December 1941.

"With reference to addendum No.3 to DTD Technical Circular No.183 Para 6 (2), the use of dope middle-stone is incorrectly stated.

2. This colour which has previously been known as mid-stone is used in place of dope , dark green, not dark earth, on aeroplanes operating in Middle East.

would you please take action to amend this paragraph."

This tells me that the users had not been informed as this error until at least later in December 1941, so assumptions that this scheme must have disappeared earlier are unsound.

Paul did send me copies from file ADM 182/136, but I think these marginal.

The first includes CAFO 1771 - British and Allied Aircraft - Recognition markings and Colour Schemes A./N.A.D. 829/41 - 4.9.41. The relevant part states in Para 5 (a) Note (i):

"Certain RAF aircraft for service abroad may be camouflaged Dark Green and Mid-Stone to meet local operational requirements."

This appeared between the issue of AMO A.513/41 and its correction, so is simply confirmation that the scheme officially existed.

The second is CAFO 1950 -same title - A.01443/43 16 Sep. 1943. The relevant part is para 4 (i) Note:

"Certain aircraft required for service in certain areas overseas are camouflaged tropical scheme, dark green and mid-stone, to meet local operational requirements."

Not an exact reprint, but clearly the same thinking, and tieing the requirement to tropical areas. Before getting too excited, the same document elsewhere refers to FAA operational camouflage "Temperate sea green, or dark slate and dark sea greys", and the RAF Fighter scheme of dark green and sea grey medium. There was clearly some carelessness in the writing of this CAFO.

Edited because Mark had published the original 41Grp request yesterday, which I'd overlooked in my original posting.

Edited by Graham Boak

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On a little more serious note ( speaking of myself, I like to lighten things up from time to time) and you can call me "Captain Obvious" (but don't call me "Meyer" please!) we once again are lacking the proverbial "smoking gun" i.e. a reliable color picture of a Hurricane, or Spitfire in the DG and MS color scheme. Trying to accurately discern colors from old pictures is a bit dodgy, and educated guesses are what we have left, which is what most historical research and publishing is made of. We are rarely fortunate enough to find these important little pieces of primary source materials so we must guess a bit on intentions and what most likely might have been. For many of the queries that are put forth there is only speculation. And, as we all know the memories of our WWII vets are fading too. I have done all the research possible on RAF T-Bolts (thanks to the help of Edgar and others) and are still a bit unsure of what to accurately paint my P-47's depending on the particular aircraft. Still I will go with my best educated guesses and hope for an accurately painted model. Let's remember to have fun with our hobby and just do the best we can with the information we have, but keep the input coming guys, I love these paint scheme discussions. This is one of the reasons why I am a member of Britmodeller IMHO the best modeling forum for intelligent and civil discussion on topics of aviation modeling of the distinctly British

persuasion.

All The Best

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Ah what a dream! With very few exceptions, we lack even unreliable colour pictures of almost ANY wartime Hurricanes outside the UK. Exceptions include a number of 6 Sq gunbuses (or is it 7 SAAF?) in DS, a head-on view of one on Malta in TLS, the nose of a SEAC aircraft in TLS and some Sea Hurricanes on HMS Indomitable pre-Pedestal (TSS). There are a few more of aircraft in the UK, but even then the colours on these are argued. It is not surprising that we lack colour examples of the short-lived "TrLS" and "spaghetti" schemes. However, given that the key argument is now whether "TrLS" ever actually appeared on an aircraft, a colour photo would take away almost the whole point of the discussion. I suppose we could and indeed would still argue (sorry, discuss in an adult if at times forthright manner) how widespread the scheme ever was.

But it didn't spread to Spitfires. They didn't get out to the ME/Malta until some months after "TrLS" had run its course - assuming of course that DTD did respond to the December rap on the knuckles. There are some odd examples in photos......

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Quick point regarding aluminium powder - Nick may back me up on this (or slap me down!), but it was generally added to paint to add to the colour 'density' rather than to add a metallic sheen..

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Just a thought regarding the colours on the leading edge/nose of the "Spaghetti" machines, http://www.mafva.net/other%20pages/Starmer%20camo.htm scroll down to "Middle East, 1940-41". I have not got my copy of the relevant title by Mike Starmer to hand at the moment so cannot take a look at the relevant colour chips.

Phil

I've just finished Chis Shores et al's new Mediterranean Air War, in which he quotes Flg Off John Jackson, 3 RAAF: "the new type of mottled blue, grey and purple camouflage on the nose, leading edges of wings, and front surfaces...." I've long suspected, and argued, that blue makes much more sense as the light colour than the Mid Stone usually presented in profiles, but grey and purple?

As far as I've found this is the only mention by a contemporary - at least there's no mention of brown or yellow.

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Quick point regarding aluminium powder - Nick may back me up on this (or slap me down!), but it was generally added to paint to add to the colour 'density' rather than to add a metallic sheen..

Well, I certainly don't want to slap you down and I have no idea what the intended purpose of the aluminium powder was in this particular case but generally aluminium flakes in paint provide barrier protection against corrosion by their plate-like or lamellar characteristics reducing the permeability of polymers by causing ions or molecules to follow a long, tortuous path to the substrate, as compared with a direct path through an unfilled polymer. There are two forms - leafing and non-leafing - dependant upon the method of manufacture which I won't go into here. Leafing flakes float to the surface of the paint to form a layer where they are orientated parallel to the surface to give a bright continuous film. Non-leafing flakes remain dispersed in the body of the paint and do not migrate to the surface. Generally leafing flakes are used in finishing coats and non-leafing flakes in primers and build coats.

The optimum amount of aluminium pigment used in the paint film is usually determined by permeability studies but I have no idea how it was arrived at in this particular case or whether the intended purpose was anti-corrosive or reflective or something else.

There are other pigments that also have these lamellar characteristics - metals, oxides, silicants, etc. And there was a trend just before the war to improve anti-corrosive protection through the alternative use of various zinc and oxide pigments in paint rather than aluminium which is presumed to have been concomitant with the increasing requirement for aluminium in aircraft manufacture.

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Just a thought regarding the colours on the leading edge/nose of the "Spaghetti" machines, http://www.mafva.net/other%20pages/Starmer%20camo.htm scroll down to "Middle East, 1940-41". I have not got my copy of the relevant title by Mike Starmer to hand at the moment so cannot take a look at the relevant colour chips.

Phil

I have Mike Starmer's books, but aircraft have their own special paints: you would not put non-specialist paints on because they would be draggier (coarser pigments - and yes it is important, especially around the leading edge) and have poor retention.

Having said that, the use of Mid-Stone does seem to come from the ME Army use of that colour from prewar BS. That's not the same as using the same actual paint.

Nick: your comments about reducing the amount of aluminium in paint use would explain why the AM changed the formula, but would be unlikely to have been an influence on the ME Command's original choice. They'd be used to having aluminium in such mixes and material shortages would not yet have begun to bite.

Edited by Graham Boak

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Graham, I am not suggesting that vehicle paint was used just that some of the colours could possibly tie in with the description given. Most oil based paints can be made pretty smooth in short order, modellers know all about that sort of thing! Automotive paints have been used on aircraft in the past, not necessarily as part of the camo but certainly as part of the trim, it might not have had good retention but it served the purpose at the time. Desperate times etc.

Phil

I have Mike Starmer's books, but aircraft have their own special paints: you would not put non-specialist paints on because they would be draggier (coarser pigments - and yes it is important, especially around the leading edge) and have poor retention.

Having said that, the use of Mid-Stone does seem to come from the ME Army use of that colour from prewar BS. That's not the same as using the same actual paint.

Nick: your comments about reducing the amount of aluminium in paint use would explain why the AM changed the formula, but would be unlikely to have been an influence on the ME Command's original choice. They'd be used to having aluminium in such mixes and material shortages would not yet have begun to bite.

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I have been thru the files again and found a reference to Lysander Camouflage shown below as a hand written minute and typed document. These are dated April 1941. The typed document refers to the Air Diagram for the "single engine tropical reconnaissance" and clearly relates to the hand written memo.

DSCN2068.jpg

DSCN2208.jpg

Edited by Mark Mackenzie

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Well, I certainly don't want to slap you down and I have no idea what the intended purpose of the aluminium powder was in this particular case but generally aluminium flakes in paint provide barrier protection against corrosion by their plate-like or lamellar characteristics reducing the permeability of polymers by causing ions or molecules to follow a long, tortuous path to the substrate, as compared with a direct path through an unfilled polymer. There are two forms - leafing and non-leafing - dependant upon the method of manufacture which I won't go into here. Leafing flakes float to the surface of the paint to form a layer where they are orientated parallel to the surface to give a bright continuous film. Non-leafing flakes remain dispersed in the body of the paint and do not migrate to the surface. Generally leafing flakes are used in finishing coats and non-leafing flakes in primers and build coats.

The optimum amount of aluminium pigment used in the paint film is usually determined by permeability studies but I have no idea how it was arrived at in this particular case or whether the intended purpose was anti-corrosive or reflective or something else.

There are other pigments that also have these lamellar characteristics - metals, oxides, silicants, etc. And there was a trend just before the war to improve anti-corrosive protection through the alternative use of various zinc and oxide pigments in paint rather than aluminium which is presumed to have been concomitant with the increasing requirement for aluminium in aircraft manufacture.

Hi Nick,

Thanks for that, it was most informative.

Cheers,

Daniel.

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I apologise for posting what I think might be a trivial matter in this most detailed discussion.

I must admit to being a little overwhelmed by the erudition shown in the many posts on this thread but could I make a suggestion for the reason these Hurricanes may have been camouflaged in this way?

If the intention was to provide a means of lessening the silhouette of the aircraft during low level approaches why has the spinner also been given to the "spaghetti" treatment? The spinner would of course blur any such painting. Instead can I suggest that the idea was to improve the camouflage whilst the a/c was on the ground. No-one would put time and effort into doing something that has no use especially on active service.

I have question related to this topic.

I am currently looking at the Casper transfers for the Iraqi campaign of early part of 1941. Apart from the fact that the Casper instruction sheet is next to impossible to read I have doubts about the Hurricane featured on the sheet. P2638 is said to been with 208 Sqn. Would it have had the white lightning flash along the side? I have seen similar "side flashes" on Spitfires of 73 Sqn. Would this have been permitted? I thought that any identifying marks that could give away the squadron identity were forbidden. Not to say that the Germans didn't have a full list of all the squadron codes of course.

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I very much doubted the colours could be the ones indicated until I read John Jackson's comment at page 117 of the book, but now with this prima facie evidence I have to recognise it as a very likely option (unless Flg Off Jackson remembered it wrong, of course: so far it is the one and only existing mention of the scheme).

I still don't think it possible it could have been ground camouflage at all for two reasons:

1) the colours were different from the ones on the rest of the aircraft, thus creating a stark contrast with the rest of the airframe (blue, grey and purple with DE/MS? Against a desert background?).

2) The same scheme for the frontal parts was used for several Fairy Fulmars embarked in 1941 on HMS's Eagle, Formidable and Illustrious and on the engine cowling it was limited to the the very lowest part of the nose, hardly visible from above. The concept of ground camouflage as intended for land-based aircraft hardly applies here.

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These three photos appear in a 1973 book, written by Douglas Bader, and using photos from the Imperial War Museum:-

scan0013-1.jpg

scan0015-1.jpg

scan0002.jpg

The deep red spinners look suspect, but my (non-existent) photoshop skills aren't up to adjusting them.

My point is that, since these are IID Hurricanes, green should, allegedly, have been long gone, by then.

If these have been wrongly printed (not the first instance) it could have a bearing on the green/stone debate.

Edgar

Edited by Edgar

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2) The same scheme for the frontal parts was used for several Fairy Fulmars embarked in 1941 on HMS's Eagle, Formidable and Illustrious and on the engine cowling it was limited to the the very lowest part of the nose, hardly visible from above. The concept of ground camouflage as intended for land-based aircraft hardly applies here.

It is possible (probably very likely in my view), that all the 'spaghetti' Fulmars are from 805 Squadron, rather than 806 or 803 squadrons. 806 (Illustrious) and 803 (Formidable) were carrier based. 805 Squadron was mainly land-based in early 1941. Detachments of aircraft from 805 Squadron were embarked on Eagle, Illustrious and Formidable at various points in the spring of 1941, but typically such deployments would be for a few days only. The rest of the time, the squadron was land-based at Aboukir, Dekheila or Maleme.

The only 'spaghetti' Fulmar that I was able to positively identify in my book was N2075:7C on Eagle (which I believe was with 805, rather than 803 Squdron). I found one photo that I thought was likely to be a 806 Squadron aircraft, but it was photographed after Illustrious had been disabled on January 10 1941. Illustrious survivors were then land-based at Malta. I've yet to find a photograph of a 'spaghetti' Fulmar that can be positively identified as being with (carrier-based) 806 Squadron, though of course there are photos of 'spaghetti' Fulmars on Illustrious. The one piece of evidence against this hypothesis is a photo of Swordfish and Fulmars on Illustrious that shows Swordfish 5R, assumed to be P4224 of 819 Squadron, which failed to return on 26.11.40. - thus making the 'spaghetti' Fulmars carrier-based aircraft from 806 Squadron. However, it is possible that 5R is a replacement for P4224 and the photograph was taken 2-4 January 1941 when 805 Squadron was embarked.

If I'm right about this, then whatever the reason the scheme was applied to Hurricanes, it could also hold for (largely) land-based Fulmars.

Edited by iang

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I've no problem in identifying the top and bottom photos as Desert scheme - the middle is clearly green on the print but the overall blue cast of the print could well account for that. These pictures have been seen elsewhere.

A key point about identfying DG/MS on Hurricanes is that the darker area of the camouflage should be about the canopy, with the limited exception of examples with "exchanged" colours. "Tropical Land" does share with Temperate Land in having the darker colour in the same place in the pattern. Unlike Desert, the apparent confusion felt by painters as to which colour was the darkest on the AM diagram would not appear.

Ian: were 806's Fulmars used for ground attack missions during its land-based period?

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I've no technical input to add at the moment. However, look here:

http://www.britishpa...esert-station-1

The first 3 minutes or so have some good footage of the "spaghetti" scheme on various aircraft. Plus there is some aerial footage of it. I notice the painting of the spinners on the aircraft varies significantly.

Cheers

Edited by chaddy

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Z4328 is recorded as 73 Sq and 451 Sq. I thought at first this was a very similar film taken of 274 Sq, photos from which appear in Desert Wings, by Peter Holloway. That was dated as October 1940, and show a similar mixture of TLs and DS schemes. However, 274 managed to scramble and fly five Hurricanes, whereas 73 seem only to have managed three! The bright spinner on the second aircraft is notable, but then so is the bright multi-colour one on, presumably, the COs aircraft.

Hurricanes Over Tobruk has several photos of Hurricanes with the "spaghetti" nose, but predominantly TLS colours. 73 was sent straight to Tobruk whereas other Hurricanes being flown from Takoradi went to the Delta and were repainted into DS. Presumably this film was taken after this period, perhaps when the squadron was working up again after a rest?

I don't have a list of squadron colours handy - what was 73 and would it look like that on a spinner?

Edited by Graham Boak

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If you look at the stills of the film, between 0.42 and 0.47, the aircraft in the foreground (with the hooped spinner), seems to have a "sharks mouth", as does the middle aircraft. Also the spinner of the middle aircraft looks to have a natural metal spinner, with the spaghetti camo painted on top. I'm probably mistaken in saying that is natural metal, but there does seem some reflection from it.

Cheers

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I think you are looking at the shadow from the exhausts rather than a Shark mouth, my first thought was a NM spinner for the second aircraft.

Cheers

Phil

If you look at the stills of the film, between 0.42 and 0.47, the aircraft in the foreground (with the hooped spinner), seems to have a "sharks mouth", as does the middle aircraft. Also the spinner of the middle aircraft looks to have a natural metal spinner, with the spaghetti camo painted on top. I'm probably mistaken in saying that is natural metal, but there does seem some reflection from it.

Cheers

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I think you are looking at the shadow from the exhausts rather than a Shark mouth, my first thought was a NM spinner for the second aircraft.

Cheers

Phil

I've looked at it again Phil and you are correct! Appointment with my optician overdue I think!

Cheers

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It is possible (probably very likely in my view), that all the 'spaghetti' Fulmars are from 805 Squadron, rather than 806 or 803 squadrons. 806 (Illustrious) and 803 (Formidable) were carrier based. 805 Squadron was mainly land-based in early 1941. Detachments of aircraft from 805 Squadron were embarked on Eagle, Illustrious and Formidable at various points in the spring of 1941, but typically such deployments would be for a few days only. The rest of the time, the squadron was land-based at Aboukir, Dekheila or Maleme.

The only 'spaghetti' Fulmar that I was able to positively identify in my book was N2075:7C on Eagle (which I believe was with 805, rather than 803 Squdron). I found one photo that I thought was likely to be a 806 Squadron aircraft, but it was photographed after Illustrious had been disabled on January 10 1941. Illustrious survivors were then land-based at Malta. I've yet to find a photograph of a 'spaghetti' Fulmar that can be positively identified as being with (carrier-based) 806 Squadron, though of course there are photos of 'spaghetti' Fulmars on Illustrious. The one piece of evidence against this hypothesis is a photo of Swordfish and Fulmars on Illustrious that shows Swordfish 5R, assumed to be P4224 of 819 Squadron, which failed to return on 26.11.40. - thus making the 'spaghetti' Fulmars carrier-based aircraft from 806 Squadron. However, it is possible that 5R is a replacement for P4224 and the photograph was taken 2-4 January 1941 when 805 Squadron was embarked.

If I'm right about this, then whatever the reason the scheme was applied to Hurricanes, it could also hold for (largely) land-based Fulmars.

You might be correct, but the "spaghetti" camouflage under the nose of the Fulmars would only be visible while they are in flight and certainly not from above, which would point to it being intended as an "air to air" or "air to ground" protective measure...

:hmmm:

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I have been thru the files again and found a reference to Lysander Camouflage shown below as a hand written minute and typed document. These are dated April 1941. The typed document refers to the Air Diagram for the "single engine tropical reconnaissance" and clearly relates to the hand written memo.

DSCN2068.jpg

DSCN2208.jpg

Hi

my interest is aroused as it refers to westlands ( whirlwinds )

any chance of the na reference number

cheers

Jerry

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I am currently looking at the Casper transfers for the Iraqi campaign of early part of 1941. Apart from the fact that the Casper instruction sheet is next to impossible to read I have doubts about the Hurricane featured on the sheet. P2638 is said to been with 208 Sqn. Would it have had the white lightning flash along the side? I have seen similar "side flashes" on Spitfires of 73 Sqn. Would this have been permitted? I thought that any identifying marks that could give away the squadron identity were forbidden. Not to say that the Germans didn't have a full list of all the squadron codes of course.

There is a photo of P2638 with the lightning flash in Desert Wings, mentioned above. Photos of 73 Sq Spitfires with the wedge design are in the old Aircam on Merlin Spitfires. 111 Sq also used a black bar each side of the roundel, on occasion. At least two of the Auxiliary squadrons added their design in the white of the fin flash - 607's winged lion and the flying sword of 601(?). I can't bring any other examples to mind, but I believe at least a handful of others did exist. Use of the prewar squadron colours was also seen at times.

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Hi

my interest is aroused as it refers to westlands ( whirlwinds )

any chance of the na reference number

cheers

Jerry

Jerry,

The file is AVIA 15/770. This file has minutes sheets at the front that form an index/contents. The numbers corresponding to the minutes refer to documents that are found within the file and are also numbered. The scan on Whirlwinds/Lysander came from one of these minutes sheet, though I only posted a cropped copy. A complete scan of this page is below. The letter(s) relating to the Whirlwinds appear to have been removed and placed elsewhere.

Cheers,

Mark

CopyofAVIA_15_770.jpg

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