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GrzeM

Desert Gladiators

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Got that new beautiful Airfix Gladiator, checked some available books (Warpaint, Mushroom Gladiator monography and "Desert Prelude", Kagero 112 squadron, other)...

...and I'm confused.

I know that in the early period of 1940 desert fights Gladiators were in "normal" Dark Earth/Dark Green camouflage. But later? In Egypt/Lybia? In Sudan, East Africa? In SAAF? Mushroom in "Desert Prelude" for example even gives some strange colours I've never heard (light blue, some browns other than Dark/Light Earth)...

What was the "desert camouflage" for Gladiator? Truly desert, I mean, not the DE/DG/Night/White?

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In "Britain Alone", which you should add to your list of books, Paul Lucas describes the "other browns" that you mention, which were used in experimental Tropical schemes prewar and may well have been seen in the early years of WW2. There was, I'm afraid, no official "desert scheme" before the adoption of Dark Earth and Mid Stone, which seems to appear later in 1940 but doesn't see "automatic" general use before mid-1941, and even then with a misunderstanding officially proposed in Feb 1941 of Dark Green and Mid Stone that was not corrected until August. Arguably, this scheme is seen on Hurricanes but not (as far as I have seen mention) on other types.

In practice, what seems to have happened at an earlier stage was a local theatre adaption of Light Earth applied over the Dark Green, but only for aircraft intended for the Western Desert. As you say, that leaves a wide number of other localities for which the only official scheme was Dark Green and Dark Earth, usually a heavily faded Dark Earth. Photographs showing what appears to be other schemes/patterns have been interpreted in the references you mention, but as I understand it they lack any written confirmation for the time..

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On 12/10/2013 at 8:47 PM, Graham Boak said:

In "Britain Alone", which you should add to your list of books, Paul Lucas describes the "other browns" that you mention, which were used in experimental Tropical schemes prewar and may well have been seen in the early years of WW2. There was, I'm afraid, no official "desert scheme" before the adoption of Dark Earth and Mid Stone, which seems to appear later in 1940 but doesn't see "automatic" general use before mid-1941, and even then with a misunderstanding officially proposed in Feb 1941 of Dark Green and Mid Stone that was not corrected until August. Arguably, this scheme is seen on Hurricanes but not (as far as I have seen mention) on other types.

In practice, what seems to have happened at an earlier stage was a local theatre adaption of Light Earth applied over the Dark Green, but only for aircraft intended for the Western Desert. As you say, that leaves a wide number of other localities for which the only official scheme was Dark Green and Dark Earth, usually a heavily faded Dark Earth. Photographs showing what appears to be other schemes/patterns have been interpreted in the references you mention, but as I understand it they lack any written confirmation for the time..

 

Edited by Mark Mackenzie

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Graham,

There is no colour scheme of Dark Green/Mid-stone. That was only how Ian Huntley and Paul Lucas chose to interpret a MAP circular first published in a 1980 article by Ian.

Regards,

Mark

That is not correct. As you have been advised on several occasions AMO A.513 of 10.7.41 states quite clearly at 3(ii) (my emphasis):-

"Operational aircraft for service abroad. - (a) The upper surfaces are to be camouflaged in accordance with the instructions contained in sub-para. (i) (a) above (that is the Temperate land scheme), or dark green and mid-stone, according to the nature of the country in which they operate."

Further Appendix 1 of the same order refers to this combination as "Tropical land scheme" (again my emphasis).

We have established from subsequent correspondence that this appears to have been an error, later corrected, but it is just not true to suggest that the basis for it is only an interpretation by Ian Huntley and Paul Lucas when it is contained in the original AMO in black and white. In fact by suggesting that it is Dark Earth that will be replaced by Mid-stone the MAP circular you refer to reinforces the original implication of this AMO.

And you have replaced their "interpretation" with one of your own which is that Mid-stone was intended to replace Light Earth painted over Dark Green. Logical but still speculative as Light Earth had been suggested as an interim measure by MU's until Mid-stone became available.

The SAAF document you have copied is very interesting in referring to a Light (Middle East) Blue colour for the under surfaces in 1940 but it also suggests Hurricanes would remain in the Temperate land scheme which we know did not happen.

Regards

Nick

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Mark

You are dissembling once again. The Appendix could not possibly refer to the "correct" scheme because it was promulgated at the same time as the "incorrect" scheme. The issue is not whether the scheme ever existed in practice as a result of the error - fairly difficult to determine - but its origin. Your claim that it was only an interpretation by Messrs Huntley and Lucas is what was wrong and misleading.

And it did exist as an official scheme as long as the AMO remained uncorrected. And once again, for emphasis, your citing of the MAP circular reinforces that fact. That there was confusion over the scheme is suggested by the wording of AMO A.664 which dropped the term "Tropical land scheme", referring only to "desert scheme" and taking pains to clarify it. IIRC Mr Huntley actually quotes an RAF officer serving in Egypt whose descriptions imply that the "incorrect" scheme was actually in use there.

Your proposition is classic hindsight. The term "out-dated research" cannot possibly be applied to the actual original wording of official orders but only to interpretations arising from them and/or evidence not available, misinterpreted or overlooked at the time. Also the "view" from HQ MIddle East was not the be all and end all of matters, as the exchanges between theatre and Air Ministry in this and other theatres clearly demonstrate.

You seem determined to eradicate from the record the notion that the 'Tropical land scheme' of Dark Green and Mid-stone was ever official. It was, whether that was the result of an error or not, and no amount of linguistic gymnastics by you will ever change that.

And you do have a choice when it comes to posting untrue and misleading statements such as:-

"There is no colour scheme of Dark Green/Mid-stone. That was only how Ian Huntley and Paul Lucas chose to interpret a MAP circular first published in a 1980 article by Ian."

As long as you continue to post them I shall continue to correct them.

Nick

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Mark: the key point is that the document was officially issued, therefore it was undeniably valid, factual and official, whatever term you care to use. It was not some invention of modern modellers/researchers. The manufacturers will have used it because that was their contemporary instruction. They were not in a position to argue the toss about colour schemes, having no direct input from the operational theatre at all, and no authority to act if they had! They were acting under orders. Their input came from the Air Ministry: the Tropical Land Scheme was what they were told to apply and they had no reason to do otherwise. The end-user might have been unhappy seeing them. The camouflage expert at the RAE might have been unhappy at the sight - if he ever saw them. No-one else had any reason to doubt that the AM had come up with a new idea for overseas colours, so just got on with it. Such changes in colour schemes were not entirely unprecedented.

It may be that there was some early response that corrected the order in advance of the date of it being rescinded, but this can't just be invented. The correct approach would have been a sharp response to the Ministry and an official amendment - as indeed did appear. The first part may require research into the cables sent between RAF ME and the Ministry.

In my opinion, there are a number of photos showing Hurricanes in this scheme, with serials that show they were built in the period of its valid application.

Your argument that this scheme was not what was originally intended is understood and entirely accepted. That because of this it somehow was not official is wrong.

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Mark

You wrote (your comments in bold):-

“Your claim that it was only an interpretation by Messrs Huntley and Lucas is what was wrong and misleading”. I have not made a wrong or misleading statement because that is exactly how to describe what both Ian and Paul have done.

I think your use of the word 'only' is the problem and the fact that you continuously appear to ignore the existence of AMO A.513 and its original wording. Once again in your response you have been selective, this time omitting the sentence preceding the above "There is no colour scheme of Dark Green/Mid-stone." You might have written instead, which would have been more accurate:- " The initial order for a Dark Green/Mid-stone colour scheme was in error and later corrected".

No one is refusing to accept the legitimacy of the documents you have already posted or the fact that the earlier order was in error and subsequently corrected as you have established. But you appear to be refusing to acknowledge even the existence and wording of AMO A.513 (which clearly describes Dark Green and Mid Stone as 'Tropical land scheme') and therefore its bearing on the whole matter as it relates to the possibility of aircraft being finished in that scheme.

“That there was confusion over the scheme is suggested by the wording of AMO A.664 which dropped the term "Tropical land scheme", referring only to "desert scheme" and taking pains to clarify it”. When AMO 664 was introduced, the Far-East had become an issue and the term “Tropical” may then have caused confusion.

Agreed. And the earlier order might also have caused confusion which resulted in aircraft being finished in Dark Green and Mid-stone, which for the duration of the error was de facto an "official scheme".

IIRC Mr Huntley actually quotes an RAF officer serving in Egypt whose descriptions imply that the "incorrect" scheme was actually in use”. This contradicts the scan posted by Stefaan. Given a choice, the later is more reliable.

They are different forms of evidence. The scan shows an official summary of the HQ Middle East position in August 1940. The Huntley quote is the record of what was possibly actually being done in theatre at a later date. The fact that it was necessary to summarise the position suggests that there was probably confusion over colour schemes to begin with. Why, for example, should Gladiators and Gauntlets be finished differently to Hurricanes in the same theatre? The Hurricanes according to that letter should have remained Dark Green and Dark Earth. We know that they didn't. The to and fro between HQ MIddle East and AIr Ministry is not complete and there are many unanswered questions.

“Your proposition is classic hindsight. The term "out-dated research" cannot possibly be applied to the actual original wording of official orders but only to interpretations arising from them and/or evidence not available, misinterpreted or overlooked at the time”. To elaborate on this, the meaning that I intended to give was that the earlier conjecture reached by Ian Huntley (and later duplicated by Paul Lucas) is out-dated because a person of reasonable intelligence and grasp of the English language would reject it based on the later documents that I posted on this forum.

I fully understand that although I don't much appreciate the subtle ad hominem. Bearing in mind the existence of AMO A.513 and its wording Messrs Huntley and Lucas' position was more than conjecture. As mentioned above the MAP Circular tends to reinforce the AMO - in other words as far as Air Ministry was concerned Mid-Stone was to replace Dark Earth in something called the Tropical land scheme. Bear in mind that A.513 was issued two years after the letter quoted in the scan and from a higher authority - thus effectively superseding it.

By the way I fully concur that a desert scheme was probably being applied in the Middle East before Air Ministry orders on the subject were issued. But an intriguing aspect is the use of the term Dark Brown rather than Dark Earth and the use of the term Mid-stone in 1940 apparently before that paint colour was officially available. Another aspect is the fact that Dark Earth in a harsh climate fades and chalks to a colour close to the appearance of Light Earth.

You needn't question my motives here. I have set out my position in the above comments. There is no more to it than that and I hope this clarifies it.

Nick

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Mark, what is a valid colour scheme if NOT one that has been officially issued by the appropriate authority?

You say: "“The key point is that the document was officially issued, therefore it was undeniably valid, factual and official, whatever term you care to use”. According to your logic we are to accept every error made by the Air Ministry as a valid colour scheme."

Yes. Very definitely yes. That is the definition of valid: that which has been authorised. The only valid colour scheme is the one that has been authorised. There is no external moral code that screams "Wrong!" Even if it turns out to have been an error, it is still the authorised scheme for the duration of that document's authority. That makes it valid, factual, real, proper, all those near synonyms, and most importantly the one to be used by lower echelons, WHO KNOW NO BETTER. No RTO nor manufacturer nor MU is going to say "Nah, I don't like these colours, I'll use what I like." Like any other such central document, it is open to be overruled by local theatre authorities who may consider it unsuitable and then issue their own authorisations, but not by those in lesser positions without that specific authority.

It doesn't matter whether it was a genuine mistake, or a brief period of second thoughts, or whatever. Being issued as an official instruction makes it valid.

At the moment, I am not suitably prepared to take on a discussion of its duration. Thank you for your contribution, which I haven't fully analysed. The duration is of considerable interest in itself, of course, particularly in judging whether it actually got onto any aircraft. This brings in a different meaning of the word "valid" - is it valid to make a model of an aircraft in this scheme? But that's a different matter from the validity of the scheme itself.

EDIt: In a previous posting on this site, you gave us Air Ministry Postagram S.59966/11/F.O.6 dated 30/10/41, which refers to the colours for aircraft due for service overseas as being Dark Earth and Mid Stone. This is three, nearly four months, after the issue of the faulty AMO A.513. A lot of aircraft can be painted in that time. Unless you have found another document dated between these two, then the DG/MS scheme was the formally approved scheme for painting aircraft in this period. Documents predating A.513 (such as RDM of April 1941) are irrelevant - A.513 superseded them. Perhaps you could please reproduce the documents from August relating to Hurricane production? I haven't (as yet) found them in a search of this site or your direct correspondence.

Edited by Graham Boak

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Thank you for all your answers. This seems to be truely complicated matter...

I've checked the "Britain Alone" book and it was really good advice, thank you, Graham. Presently the 1940-41 period after fall of France interests me the most (not only desert, defence of Britain and Greece etc. too) and this book covers it very well. Never heard about this series before.

These Red Sand and Dark Red Sand colours are crazy!

BTW, do they (or anyone else) have similar book about RAF/FAA camouflages of early 1940 campaigns (Norway, France)?

Greetings from Warsaw

Grzegorz

Edited by GrzeM

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There's no particularly good book about the RAF generally in France specifically, from a camouflage and markings point of view, though if you haven't seen this series before then the Battle of Britain one is first class and does cover the time before fairly well.

For the FAA you want Stuart Lloyd's FAA Camouflage and Markings vol 1 - as yet there are not other volumes, most regretably!

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As much as I appreciate the research and 'passion' which this debate has generated, as someone who has no knowledge on the subject but actually 'does' history for a living, I think the point comparing different forms of evidence is valid, from 17 years teaching history to others there are sometimes no answers or several valid ones. An RAF officer with one view and an official document stating another can both be correct. No one can state for certain what a 20 something enterprising sqn commander might have ordered for the painting of his aircraft given the opportunity - didn't 1 sqn mod their hurricanes after the Battle of France which were more than slapping on some paint? Claiming to have the definitive view on a subject based on what at the time may be confusing instructions AT THE TIME smacks of amateurish arrogance, well researched, but satirised by Newman and Baddiel years ago. Build your models how you see fit and tell the 'experts' that you are happy with your conclusion, happy to go in a time machine to be proved wrong or simply to get a life.

There, I feel better now :)

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Hi Ian, so pleased to read your reply, I admittedly was posting with two under 5s running around so therefore most likely as I redrafted what I said left in errors. My point isn't with research by the amateur hobbyist, it isn't with discussion and debate, it is with people believing that based on their interpretation of limited sources that they have the only answer. To be fair most of those posted above don't do that. If one of my students took such an approach they would get very low marks. Thank you for your appraisal of the education system and the product produced; I assume this is based on extensive research as well. Where there is conflicting evidence a balanced judgement which recognises other possibilities is the more professional and mature approach.

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Just to clarify:

I respect the research done on the topic, it is done by people with more knowledge and access to sources than I have.

If I wanted to model a particular aircraft and one of the posters had evidence based on it then I would gratefully accept their help and advice as they have the knowledge and have done the research.

Like several posters above I disagreed with the view that based on interpretation of some historical sources this gave a definitive opinion.

I based my more balanced judgement not on the subject itself but the skill of critical evaluation of sources; something I teach and assess on a daily basis.

It is only modelling; if the full answer is not available be happy with your conclusions, modelling will always be a compromise of the tension between historical accuracy and artistic technique anyway.

If I have wobbled the self built pedestals of anointed expert(s) oh dear, take a look at yourself/selves :)

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Well, you spelt my name incorrectly, your grammar still leaves a lot to be desired and, yes, I have experience in third level education where some of the students could barely write intelligably when they came into First Year. Companies are finding it hard to recruit literate staff, etc., etc., There is no pressing need for extensive research; the evidence is all around.

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Iain I sincerely apologise for spelling your name incorrectly as that could come across as rude and I have no intention of being. I am however noticing a lack of cogent argument with regards to a balanced and respectful use of sources. I am typing into a phone sat in a car, my use of grammar is not what is concerning me as that is not the point I am raising in the thread. If I was having a formal written communication or writing a thesis I would be concerned, I might just mangle sentences now to bug you :)

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One point that is sometimes overlooked (and can be hard to pin down)- we like to quote dates of documents, but it can be significant when those documents actually reached the party involved.

I think this comment of Algie's is the most noteworthy: "...a balanced judgement which recognises other possibilities is the more professional and mature approach."

We on the forums could often do with a bit more 'balance'.

bob

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One point that is sometimes overlooked (and can be hard to pin down)- we like to quote dates of documents, but it can be significant when those documents actually reached the party

bob

This did cross my mind, in an age of instant communication we forget how long a message like this would take to get to the relevant HQ from England. Once there how long before it was processed by the HQ, it wouldn't be the most pressing thing as movements and supply would I assume take priority. How long before information then reached those who would action the instruction? When it did who can say they would have paint stocks available?

There are no definitive black and white answers so we must make a balanced judgement

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I don't really know what to make of this intervention. I'm confused as to who "Algie75", hiding behind his pseudonym, is trying to slag off here.

Modelling, I thought - perhaps naively - was a broad enough church to permit different levels of interest. Those content with "paint it any colour you like" or with the kit painting instructions can surely pass on by from the "heavier" discussions. But instead these threads often seem to attract this kind of intervention, sometimes with some unnecessarily snide innuendo and p-taking. A recent thread even warned off any serious data being contributed - "I want to know but I want it easy and on my terms". Right-o, I thought and passed on by, your loss chum.

Sharing information or knowledge, debating it, even arguing about it should only concern those to whom it really matters. I don't understand why those to whom it doesn't need to get involved. Mark has brought some valuable data to this forum, (including the document he reproduced above which poses a number of fascinating questions), and has corrected several previous unknowns or speculations. But surely we don't have to agree about it all in order to avoid a patronising intervention from the likes of "Algie75"?

Nick

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Ok, if you read through what I have said, I respect the research, I respect the work that has gone into it, I respect the fact that the people discussing the topic know more than me about the topic. I have said that I would welcome advice from the posters on a model I was making as they know more about the topic than me. I am not trying to throw any spanners into the works or create trouble. HOWEVER reading the thread showed, basically, some squabbling with a certain amount of self belief that one theory must be correct over another. My point regards the evaluation of historical sources and that a professional analysis would lead to a consideration of all of the evidence. If people see some of my comments as a personal attack then perhaps it's my personal frustration with know-it-all rivet counters coming through or they are guilty as charged :) some of the replies have been a bit precious to be honest. The words absurd and common sense were used earlier; for anyone to look at a complex environment like the North Africa in 1940/1 and claim to have the answers IS absurd.

If either of the two previous posters gave me specific details on the subject I would both believe it and accept it as they both know more on the topic and will have evidence they have researched it but no one can categorically state 'all aircraft were as such' or 'none were painted that colour' - if there is reasonable doubt or valid source evidence.

Please read that, I am not insulting people's efforts or knowledge, just questioning some analysis of some sources which to an interested outsider did not come across well.

Please do not circle the wagons on the rude upstart who has dared to enter your conversation. If you want to know who I am, PM me and I will let you know, as I'm midlands based I go to plenty of shows, if you're there I'll stand you a beer and discuss the subject in more civilised surroundings

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