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Letter to the BBMF re the SEAC Hurricane- Colour scheme issues!


tonyot
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Well Tony,

You could always model an accurate example of the Hurricane that has survived for 70 years [egads!], as painted circa 2014.

Come to think of it, if Whalen had died in "his" aircraft, chances are that the art wouldn't have been available to give to the family, assuming that it WAS on that aircraft.

I notice that it also has the 6-stack exhausts fitted- another inaccuracy.

I once e-mailed the BBMF, with a "can you go look at a Spit XIX and tell me..." question. I got a prompt reply (surprise!) saying they'd put it on the appropriate desk, or something of that sort, but never heard any more after that. Oh well, and the "other" Tony was able to answer the question for me.

bob

p.s. You say "I'd just like to see the photo or info..." and that raises a good point. FlyPast and Aeroplane etc are always happy to trumpet the latest rollout from the paint shop, but seldom does anyone talk about what is really involved in figuring out how to paint the aircraft. Assuming that there WAS some research involved, it would be interesting to some of us!

Edited by gingerbob
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FWIW my own experience is that those involved in "warbirds" and aircraft restoration are generally hostile and/or defensive towards matters of accurate colour and markings. Sadly they also don't seem much inclined to record the original paint they often destroy during their work to get the aircraft airborne again. They sometimes give assurances that the new paint was matched accurately to the paint gone forever but never seem willing to describe the methodology for doing that or to cite colour values, let alone preserve samples. It seems that proper archeological discipline has yet to be fully adopted by the majority of the warbird fraternity who invariably focus on the ooh-ah of getting the aircraft flying again for a big crowd of ticket purchasers. It's not a priority for most of them (think AVG P-40Ns) and they probably think we are anoraks.

The recent Aeroplane piece on the restored Martlet managed to devote several pages to the colour scheme without once citing any actual colour descriptions let alone values.

Those are horrible generalisations but in the interest of balance mention should be made of John King's 'The Whole Nine Yards', celebrating and commemorating the life of P-40 A29-448 (42-104730) and her restoration. There is a whole chapter devoted to the subject of paint colours and markings, providing a valuable insight to Curtiss factory paint application and colours.

Nick

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  • 2 weeks later...

Further to my earlier response reference the nose art panel, the paint scheme applied to PZ865 is based on first hand information gathered from discussions with Jimmy Whalen's former ground crew. He has stated that the aeroplane wore both an individual letter as well as squadron codes with small SEAC style roundels. The stripes are an unknown, but they are not willing to repaint the aeroplane unless there is some definite pictorial evidence of the original machine at (or near) the time of Jimmy's death.

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Just to postulate a senario where XV107's mention of legal action may come in - Organisation 'B' contracts company 'A' to recreate an authentic scheme for their aircraft. It later turns out that this scheme is nt authentic. 'B' wants 'A' to remediate this situation, as it's in breach on contract.

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Firstly start your E-Mail OC BBMF, CO on an RAF Station is Harry Staish (The Station Commander).

When I was on the Flight research was done by members of the groundcrew as just another area of their job, not by a specialised research company. Should the paint schemes be found to be wrong, I would suggest they would simply be too busy to worry about it at this stage of the season, and unless there is a real Flight Safety issue here, would not take an aircraft off line for a paint job when frankly 99% (including BM'ers till this moment) of the public watching just want to see PZ flying and as far as they are concerned in a SEAC scheme.

However as Tired&Emotional has alluded to things are never as simple as they seem, research is an interesting thing. Last year Eduard released the Mk IX including decals for the all silver MJ250, they had the nose panel in front of the cockpit camouflaged, BBMF had the same aircraft with a silver panel. And both took their thoughts from the single B&W picture that is the only evidence. Who is right, who is wrong, you decide.....sorry that's Big Brother.....

Interesting thread though, and I do agree a quick acknowledgement E-Mail should have been sent by someone.

Edited by PLC1966
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Just to postulate a senario where XV107's mention of legal action may come in - Organisation 'B' contracts company 'A' to recreate an authentic scheme for their aircraft. It later turns out that this scheme is nt authentic. 'B' wants 'A' to remediate this situation, as it's in breach on contract.

Dave

"Authentic scheme" is far too broad a term for any sensible contractor to sign up to.

  • First what we thought was authentic in 1970 ain't at all the same as what we consider authentic now...we can thank those who fossick in dusty archives for most of that...the chances of someone especially knowledgeable popping out the woodwork and saying, "Ah, but...." is too great for me to put my business on the line on such a broad requirement
  • Second as a repair and rebuild contractor party A is not a professional colour scheme researcher (is there such a thing?) and is unlikely to have one on their staff. See follow up post below regarding restorers being "hostile".

In this case A should say to B "Tell us exactly what you want and we'll do that" or "This is what we are thinking, do you agree?"

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FWIW my own experience is that those involved in "warbirds" and aircraft restoration are generally hostile and/or defensive towards matters of accurate colour and markings.

Agreed and sometimes for a reason - not necessarily a good reason but still a reason

Frequently it is the messenger and not the message that's the problem; yes we are anoraks, but there's a subset of especially anorak-y anoraks who give the rest a bad name.

Most of us who have had experience of showing any vintage equipment whether it has wings or wheels or a hull can tell tales of being cornered by often times malodorous and socially inept experts who want to discuss their ideas on authentic finishes (or light bulbs or license plates or a host of other topics) or of being confronted by someone with more camera gear than commonsense and courtesy combined who doesn't understand that your hi -vis vest isn't an affectation but a H&S requirement.

I have been chased by some of these people myself. Hiding in a plastic porta-throne while being harangued through the keyhole by some nutter who had a bee in his bonnet about shades of fire engine red is one of the more memorable experiences of my life... I headed in to escape but at one stage I honestly though he was going to try and follow me in. After a few such "conversations" some of us rapidly lose the enthusiasm to engage with someone from outside the circle of owners or enthusiasts you already know - said someone *might* be helpful but is more likely to be a pain in the 4rse.

Please recognize it's often hard enough to get this stuff moving in the first place; we're not all being deliberately rude if we don't take you seriously on the first approach, but the precise colour is sometimes less important than safely getting the damn thing doing what it should do. Gremlins didn't go extinct in 1945 and we don't have the excuse that "there's a war on" to take chances with our safety or yours. And if my client really wants a pink steam locomotive or a purple Chieftain tank he's paying the bills after all...

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  • 1 year later...

Agreed and sometimes for a reason - not necessarily a good reason but still a reason

Frequently it is the messenger and not the message that's the problem; yes we are anoraks, but there's a subset of especially anorak-y anoraks who give the rest a bad name.

Most of us who have had experience of showing any vintage equipment whether it has wings or wheels or a hull can tell tales of being cornered by often times malodorous and socially inept experts who want to discuss their ideas on authentic finishes (or light bulbs or license plates or a host of other topics) or of being confronted by someone with more camera gear than commonsense and courtesy combined who doesn't understand that your hi -vis vest isn't an affectation but a H&S requirement.

I have been chased by some of these people myself. Hiding in a plastic porta-throne while being harangued through the keyhole by some nutter who had a bee in his bonnet about shades of fire engine red is one of the more memorable experiences of my life... I headed in to escape but at one stage I honestly though he was going to try and follow me in. After a few such "conversations" some of us rapidly lose the enthusiasm to engage with someone from outside the circle of owners or enthusiasts you already know - said someone *might* be helpful but is more likely to be a pain in the 4rse.

Please recognize it's often hard enough to get this stuff moving in the first place; we're not all being deliberately rude if we don't take you seriously on the first approach, but the precise colour is sometimes less important than safely getting the damn thing doing what it should do. Gremlins didn't go extinct in 1945 and we don't have the excuse that "there's a war on" to take chances with our safety or yours. And if my client really wants a pink steam locomotive or a purple Chieftain tank he's paying the bills after all...

Just for the avoidance of any possible doubt I have never chased Aidrian to seek refuge in a porta-loo. His disdain of anorak-y anoraks is matched by my disdain of aircraft restorers who give colour science a bad name! Rather than insisting on opinions about colour to the restorers the issue is more their reluctance to properly record and release hard data about the colours of surviving paint which they have all too often destroyed. A perusal of any aviation forum quickly reveals the extent of interest and debate in the subject so it is surprising that those involved with the real aircraft appear so slow to recognise it and to undertake proper archeological techniques to ensure that historic evidence is both preserved and accessible. I realise that there are honourable exceptions.

What is important is not the degree of enthusiasm but the manner in which it is pursued and the methodologies involved. The replicated paint colour the restored aircraft flies in is indeed less important than its safety but the surviving historic paint destroyed forever in doing so is another matter entirely. There is really no excuse for that.

Nick

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What is important is not the degree of enthusiasm but the manner in which it is pursued and the methodologies involved. The replicated paint colour the restored aircraft flies in is indeed less important than its safety but the surviving historic paint destroyed forever in doing so is another matter entirely. There is really no excuse for that.

Nick

I would agree, but having worked, albeit briefly, in the field, I can imagine there is a not inconsiderable cost involved. I have no idea how much it would cost to remove an original part, send it for analysis with the additional insurance implications and then the actual time and analysis costs. Most owners are keen to get their aircraft flying again 1. for their own pleasure and 2. to recoup some of the costs of flying it and restoring it.

I'm sure many are just happy to take a photo and get the paint matched to that. I would add that there are plenty of bits and pieces lying around in museum store rooms that could be used, but again, I would suggest the first question asked is whose paying?

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Just for the avoidance of any possible doubt I have never chased Aidrian to seek refuge in a porta-loo. His disdain of anorak-y anoraks is matched by my disdain of aircraft restorers who give colour science a bad name! Rather than insisting on opinions about colour to the restorers the issue is more their reluctance to properly record and release hard data about the colours of surviving paint which they have all too often destroyed. A perusal of any aviation forum quickly reveals the extent of interest and debate in the subject so it is surprising that those involved with the real aircraft appear so slow to recognise it and to undertake proper archeological techniques to ensure that historic evidence is both preserved and accessible. I realise that there are honourable exceptions.

What is important is not the degree of enthusiasm but the manner in which it is pursued and the methodologies involved. The replicated paint colour the restored aircraft flies in is indeed less important than its safety but the surviving historic paint destroyed forever in doing so is another matter entirely. There is really no excuse for that.

Nick

I would agree, but having worked, albeit briefly, in the field, I can imagine there is a not inconsiderable cost involved. I have no idea how much it would cost to remove an original part, send it for analysis with the additional insurance implications and then the actual time and analysis costs. Most owners are keen to get their aircraft flying again 1. for their own pleasure and 2. to recoup some of the costs of flying it and restoring it.

I'm sure many are just happy to take a photo and get the paint matched to that. I would add that there are plenty of bits and pieces lying around in museum store rooms that could be used, but again, I would suggest the first question asked is whose paying?

Whose paying, well, Nick does this sort of thing for his own interest. Many parts for restoration to flying don't get reused, and scraped off paint can be analysed.

here's a sad tale regarding original paint..

http://109lair.hobbyvista.com/walkaround/610937/610937.htm

This walkaround is truly something special- Derek Brown had the opportunity to photograph the G-10s "restored" by Evergreen in Ft. Collins, CO throughout the entire process, and took maximum advantage of that chance. The photographs of the fuselage wearing its original Yugoslavian AF markings are the only ones I've ever seen, and the color and detail information that can be gleaned from these shots is priceless.

One further point... take special note of the fuselage skin in the interior. The factory stamping on the bare aluminum is bright and clear, and I've put up an enlarged scan so that most of the stamp is legible. This, sadly, is the only documentation I am aware of for this feature as Evergreen stripped the skins off of the airframe without bothering to go through layers of paint to determine the original markings of the airframe, and promptly shipped them off to the local recycler. I'll withhold further comment on that point.

so, original material sent for scrap.

Some museums do a very through job, and carefully sand back through the layers to document them, the Smithsonian is the USA, and the FAA museum with their Corsair, there is a book on KD431, 'The Time Capsule Corsair' and their Martlet I as well.

It's not just planes though

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/68676-paint-question-2-scc2/page-2#entry860352

'The museum painted vehicles and artwork in books are not accurate, which is why they look so different.'

Quite so. Some years ago I was at Bovington watching their painter outside applying markings to their brown Churchill. The colour was brown but not SCC 2. I asked how they went about deciding the colour of this exhibit. The reply? Well we were told they were sort of dark brown so we went to B&Q and found something that we thought about right. There was no need to guess, they have a copy of BS.987C in their archive. But colour is not important to the staff there and no one it appears is interested enough to bother. They do however have copies of my books.

this is the book by the director at the Smithsonian, Robert C Mikesh, very interesting, discusses all aspects of restoration and preservation

http://www.amazon.co.uk/RESTORING-MUSEUM-AIRCRAFT-ROBERT-MIKESH/dp/0764332341

funnily enough there is a mention of modellers, as the people to ask about getting the details of camouflage and markings correct...

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"Bob" Mikesh, an ex-Korean War B-26 and later B-57 pilot, is the author/collaborator on books on these aircraft and has been known for his enthusiasm for the modelling scene for many years. It was his aircraft that featured on the Airfix kit of the B-26.

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