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Mike N

Valiants in Operation Grapple: some questions

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Hi all,

I don't have a huge selection of references on this, and some are contradictory and vague.

I'm planning to model Valiant XD825, as used to drop Britain's largest weapon in Grapple Y on 28 April 1958. Here are my questions:

1. Pale national insignia or full colour? What about the serials?

2. Underwing tanks fitted for the drop mission?

3. I've read that Grapple aircraft were modified specially, with reinforced control surfaces, metal cockpit blinds, and instrumentation in the tail. Does anyone have any info on what the latter looks like? Were there any other visible differences I should include?

4. The weapon itself, was it in a Blue Danube case as included in the Airfix kit?

If there's anything else I should know, please speak up :) I'll probably come up with a few more questions as I think about it!

Thanks in advance!

Mike

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Mike, it's quite a complicated question as different aircraft all had slightly different details but as far as I can find out the white paint was matt over high gloss, much of the black rubber seals were either replaced with white ones or painted white, all dielectric panels were also overpainted white , most underside vents were blanked over and again painted white, aerodynamic seals were fitted around the control surface hinge lines, shutters fitted to the inside of all cabin windows , re enforced elevators, rudder, ailerons and all trim tabs, landing light and camera blanking plates, 4 special panels were fitted to the bottom of the main flaps, all IFF aerials left in natural finish, national markings has a special green paint applied to some aircraft, not sure which though, as 'Grapple Y' was a later test programme and the four aircraft all veterans of the earlier missions I have no idea if the markings were toned down at this time I'm afraid, though I have a feeling that the same over painting with the special protective green paints could well have applied.

No wing tanks when flying Grapple missions.

Hope this helps a little .....

Melchie...

Edited by general melchett

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Mike, it's quite a complicated question as different aircraft all had slightly different details but as far as I can find out the white paint was matt over high gloss, much of the black rubber seals were either replaced with white ones or painted white, all dielectric panels were also overpainted white , most underside vents were blanked over and again painted white, aerodynamic seals were fitted around the control surface hinge lines, shutters fitted to the inside of all cabin windows , re enforced elevators, rudder, ailerons and all trim tabs, landing light and camera blanking plates, 4 special panels were fitted to the bottom of the main flaps, all IFF aerials left in natural finish, national markings has a special green paint applied to some aircraft, not sure which though, as 'Grapple Y' was a later test programme and the four aircraft all veterans of the earlier missions I have no idea if the markings were toned down at this time I'm afraid, though I have a feeling that the same over painting with the special protective green paints could well have applied.

No wing tanks when flying Grapple missions.

Hope this helps a little .....

Melchie...

Thanks General, I had a feeling it would be complicated! Sounds like quite a simple paint job though, saves a lot of detail painting :)

Intrigued by the 'green' overpainting, can you suggest what effect that might have had?

The whole 'full colour vs low-vis' (and now green!) of the markings appears to be the most contraversial aspect, some sources state that they were always full colour, some the opposite, and photos appear to show both!

Pleased with the lack of wing tanks though, I think the Valiant looks so much better without them!

XD857 shown he a bit later on

http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/

Have you seen this? http://www.janesocea...bers/index2.htm

A nice pic of the Chrismas Island line up here: http://www.ausairpow...APA-Badger.html

Tail shot here: http://www.military-...ead.php?p=57588

Cheers Julien, thanks for linking to those. The one of the tailcone is particularly useful :)

Mike

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The photo that purports to show the low-viz roundels is now regarded to be very washed out. Photos of Grapple aircraft, before and after the tests, show them in full colour roundels. While I'm not discounting the possibility they were repainted, it would appear to be improbable.

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The photo that purports to show the low-viz roundels is now regarded to be very washed out. Photos of Grapple aircraft, before and after the tests, show them in full colour roundels. While I'm not discounting the possibility they were repainted, it would appear to be improbable.

I would say you were right based on a lot of the pics I have seen, even the B&W ones would lead towards full colour.

Julien

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when I first started research into the 'Grapple' tests, i was fortunate to get an email from someone who was actually there, as a painter/doper with 49 squadron. Heres what he had to say on the tanks and colours...

You are correct to say that the external wing fuel tanks were for ferrying purposes and were removed for the actual trials.

The serial numbers and roundels were altered in shade to reduce any chances of blistering from the intense heat generated by the weapon. The alterations were Red to Pink and Blue to light blue. The dialectric aerial panels were also all white, including the VHF aerial panel at the very top of the fin. (Grapple aircraft of 49 Squadron are usually illustrated with black aerial panels).

I served on the Squadron throughout the "Buffalo" and "Grapple" operations and will be only happy to help with any other queries.

As far as i can ascertain, the modified tailcone was swapped between aircraft during the tests..

HTH

Steve

Edited by kspriss

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Fascinating answers, and they just show the variety of possibilities in terms of the markings. I will have to look at the photos again, but I am leaning toward the eyewitness account, plus I'd prefer the toned down markings :)

Thank you to everyone who has replied!

Mike

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