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leyreynolds

Hurricanes on Malta

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Initially Temperate Land following UK instructions, then some desert. Some distinctive night fighter Night and PR dark Blue, but the fighters appear to have been fairly standard without the addition of a blue-grey.

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Compared to the issues around Spitfires, it's practically clear-cut!

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It should be fairly clear cut as far as the Mk.I are concerned, but for the Mk.II we might be looking at some use of the infamous blues...

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Primarily they were Temperate Land Scheme. For those few aircraft that survived on the Island for a while, namely the April-May 1941 deliveries which had a fairly quiet summer, the Dark Earth faded to a much lighter shade. Only a few early Mk.Is and some Mk.IIs flown over from Egypt in early 1942 were in Desert scheme.

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The time scale might suggest that, but where are the descriptions or (suitably-ambiguous) photographs?

For one particular Hurricane IIc, on Page 163 of "No Place for Beginners", where Tony O'Toole discusses its likely colour scheme. The same photo also appeared previously in Caruana's "Victory in the Air" and before that in the Modelaid International publication on British aircraft operating from Malta.

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Not forgetting the pink PRU Mk.I

So that would be:

Day fighters: primarily Temperate Land Scheme - the occasional Desert Scheme creeping in from time to time

Night fighters: Night undersides or Night all over

PRU aircraft: Bosun Blue and PRU Pink

There's also one photo of a single shade Hurribomber - possibly Extra Dark Sea Grey - taken in mid-1942 that remains a bit of a quirk. That's the only one that might bear any relation to the 'blue' Spits.

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That's the one with the Navy pilot running about for the photographer? OK, I was forgetting that one. Where there's one there could always be another - I remain convinced that "Malta Blue" is faded EDSG anyway, at least in most cases.

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So, it's your contention, then, that, when the Air Ministry (and Malta) asked for aircraft (including Hurricanes) to be painted Dark Mediterranean Blue, everybody totally ignored the instruction, and did as they liked?

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That's certainly a point considered, but it is not the only piece of evidence. It would help if you repeated the date of this instruction, pointing out whether it preceded or followed the request in early 1942 for a maritime scheme, which you have argued (in the past) meant TSS. If it preceded, then it was over-ruled by the 1942 request. If it was later, then it barely applies to Hurricanes. I entirely agree that the general appearance of a very dark colour fading to a light one would equally match Dark Mediterranean Blue: allowing that I know of no description of how DMB faded, it seems very likely that it did.

Given the request for Spitfires to be in a maritime scheme, which has been accepted as meaning TSS which includes EDSG,

given that new aircraft do appear very dark, with Roundel blue appearing lighter,

given differing pilots' description as "dark grey" and "blue-grey" rather than the simpler "dark blue",

and given the statement from someone (from Beaufighters) who thinned down EDSG for use on Spitfires (and the photo of one such example showing thinned paint):

I choose to argue that, on balance, the evidence points to the use of EDSG.

However, I doubt that the two paints would look very different after a few weeks in Malta, and given all the unknowns a modeller can feel free to use either. (He can, of course, do what he likes anyway.)

Re the Hurricanes in particular, the majority of photos of their use precede the request for any blue or maritime scheme. Any showing a single dark upper-surface colour do not seem to have been published, bar the ones mentioned above. The examples flown from the Desert in mid-1942 (the last batch) were photographed in Desert Scheme.

I'd love to find examples of the use of Dark and Light Mediterranean Blue on Malta or elsewhere in the Med, but except for Mac McKennaugh's account of a 55 Sq hack they do not appear to be other than rumour. Presumably this example was not unique, but... Albacores, Beauforts, Baltimores and even B-25s: to this we can add now Spitfires and Hurricanes but "where's the beef"?

As for not obeying orders: Malta was notoriously sticky-fingered when it came to keeping aircraft supposedly only passing through to other theatres. It is said that the SNAKE suffix seen on late-war aircraft bound for the Far East owed its origin to precisely that. Compared with this downright sabotage of the War Office's intentions for other theatres, changing its mind now and again over camouflage scheme, involving paint which we know depended upon stores which were often running short, seems pretty small beer.

Edited by Graham Boak

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Are there photos of the pink Hurricane? That would make an interesting model.

Jim

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It would help if you repeated the date of this instruction, pointing out whether it preceded or followed the request in early 1942 for a maritime scheme, which you have argued (in the past) meant TSS. If it preceded, then it was over-ruled by the 1942 request. If it was later, then it barely applies to Hurricanes.

IIRC what was posted on Britmodeller, the request for "plain Mediterranean blue" Hurricanes had approximately the same timing as the request for TSS on Spitfires.

Hurricanes were to be flown out of Gambut, Libya, which makes me think the two orders possibly did not cross paths. If the Med blue was applied, it appeared on a few aircraft, I believe this was the last reinforcement flight involving Hurricanes.

Claudio

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Are there photos of the pink Hurricane? That would make an interesting model.

Jim

Hi Jim,

No pictures that I know of, it's in the diary of the Malta rescue crew. I built the aircraft in question for the Malta GB - it was actually a converted Mk.IIb not a Mk.I - Build thread and info is here.

Here's a pic of my finished Hurri:

8ef87f3f.jpg

She's still in pride of place in the cabinet.

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229 Sq, two flights in April, with Hurricane Mk.IIc. This was indeed just before the Spitfire deliveries using the USS Wasp. You may be interested in knowing that the Japanese company Aosima has just released a 1/700 kit of the Wasp.

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Thanks to you all - it's all very interesting not to mention a bit confusing, but then Middle East aircraft/colours often are. I do rather fancy a Hurricane II in a green/blue scheme. Perhaps Tony O'Toole has an opinion?

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Green/blue? Green wouldn't be an option. The blue colour (discounting Bowery deliveries) replaced the mid stone in the desert scheme, or was seen overall. I'm sure Tony does have an opinion, but we are rather waiting for the second volume of his Malta books.

Of course, green/blue could be a description of the Temperate Sea Scheme, but you'd have to go for Sea Hurricanes - as far as we know up to now.

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G'day Graham - green??? What was I thinking? Of course you are correct and I knew that (but forgot). Thanks for the correction before this thread went out of control.

Ley

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'Laddie' Lucas referred to Spitfires being green-blue but generally that can be taken for Sea Scheme and/or the mellowing effects of dark grey shades being spread thinly over Desert scheme and fading in the sun. Never heard it applied to Hurris.

Also, let's not forget, all the aircraft were being flown by blokes who didn't give two hoots about the colours that they were painted. With aircraft being repainted, replaced, blown up and cobbled together at a furious pace under the most intensive bombardment of the war it would have been hard for anyone to keep track.

Photographing them was rare because most people were either keeping their heads down during a raid or working like billy-ho to clear up afterwards. And precious few of the ground crews or store men have been quizzed about it - mainly the pilots, who were somewhat preoccupied at the time.

I am a big fan of Brian Cauchi's book but can't help but smile at some of the correspondence he published between himself and some of the veterans as they politely find ways to say: "I actually haven't got a clue, old chap!"

Edited by maltadefender

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I have seen Lucas's original letters, and he is quite definite about the blue, and enlisting Holland in support. Other pilots do indeed have a more varied list of colours, partially depending upon just when they were on the island. However, I was placing more emphasis on Barnham, who was after all an artist and so can reliably be considered to have an eye for colour. It's a shame (from our point of view) that his style of art wasn't more photo-realistic. I entirely agree that EDSG will appear blue, especially as it fades.

Quite why this "blue" was considered so important for the Spitfires after nearly two years of Hurricane operations without any sign of it, is one of those mysteries yet to be elucidated. Particularly as the Gladiators operated in Temperate Sea, as did the later Beaufighters. Possibly some of the Blenheims fresh from Channel Stop operations too - there's another under-studied area. I presume it came from someone recently arrived into a staff position and so coming with no preconceptions - or recently promoted, perhaps, with a bee in his bonnet about such things? Or else the idea just descended as a bolt from heaven.

Edited by Graham Boak

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It would help if you repeated the date of this instruction, pointing out whether it preceded or followed the request in early 1942 for a maritime scheme, which you have argued (in the past) meant TSS.

"sea camouflage" not maritime scheme, and, at the time, TSS seemed logical, but research moves on (at least mine does,) and new information comes up at all sorts of odd times, and places. This is the header of the instruction (dated 30-4-42) for the Hurricanes due to be sent up from the south, but which were apparently rejected by Malta as being pointless. The signal, from Malta, asking for sea camouflage for Spitfires was dated 7-4-42.

sea%20camo%20%20blue%20tops_zpsciw2cvzt.

Of course there will be those who argue that sea camouflage for Hurricanes wasn't necessarily the same as sea camouflage for Spitfires, but I prefer to leave that to those who choose to argue for the sake of it.

Given the request for Spitfires to be in a maritime scheme, which has been accepted as meaning TSS which includes EDSG,

Accepted by whom, since there's no evidence that there were any Spitfires delivered to Malta in TSS; I repeat, Malta asked for "sea camouflage," and they were smack in the middle of the Mediterranean SEA.

given that new aircraft do appear very dark, with Roundel blue appearing lighter,

Surprise, Mediterranean Blue is dark.

Re the Hurricanes in particular, the majority of photos of their use precede the request for any blue or maritime scheme.

No, they don't. Months ago, I showed, on here, a photo of three colour chips, supplied by Malta at the end of 1935, requesting paint supplies; they were matched to the bleached stone, red earth, and BLUE SEA surrounding the island. Given the way Malta was treated, it's doubtful they ever got any, and those chips have since been studiously ignored. Due to the streaky, hand-brushed nature of the blue chip, it's proved impossible to scan, but it's a darned sight closer to Mediterranean Blue than EDSG.

As late as 2-6-43, Malta was still asking for dark blue to be applied to the upper surfaces of their high-altitude Spitfires, instead of MSG; Middle East Command told them they could have green/brown because they were the only colours they had (pointer to Park's Spitfire, perhaps?).

Edited by Edgar

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duplicate]

Edited by Edgar

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Thanks again to all above - a veritable gold-mine of info' and opinions. I feel a "what if" "duck egg blue/Mediterranean blue" Keith Park Hurricane will be on the workbench soon.

Ley

Edited by leyreynolds

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Hiya Folks,

My impression of Hurricane fighters delivered to Malta is that the majority arriving from the UK wore the standard oversea`s colour scheme of Dark Earth and Dark Green but a few Mk.I`s were sent with the first carrier delivery wearing the then `experimental' desert scheme of Middle Stone and Dark Earth. As mentioned earlier,...229 Sqn also brought its desert coloured Mk.IIc`s over from Egypt. As a matter of interest there were some desert coloured Blenheim Mk.IVf fighters detached to Malta from Egypt too due to a lack of Beaufighters with which to cover the arrival of a convoy.

At first the Hurricanes wore Black and Whie halved undersides, including the Mk.I`s in desert colours, but when this was discontinued Sky Blue was the most common colour, although black and white undersides do seem to have been reinstated later during 1941 for a while at least. Later in 1941 the undersides appear to be very light,..almost white with the under wing roundels roughly covered over,.....I`m still puzzled by this and it looks like a local application,...possibly to cover the black and white halves?

The spinner colour was usually black but quite a few Hurricane`s were also delivered with light (Sky?) spinners and rear fuselage bands but these bands were quickly covered up as they could be misidentified for the white band applied to Italian and German aircraft.

The Hurri PR.I that I know of was painted Bosun Blue with a touch of black but I`ve not heard of the pink Mk.II,...so cheers for that! There was indeed a Hurri.converted for PR use which was sometimes flown by Adrian Warburton and as a pink painted PR Spitfire had been sent to Malta on detachment from the UK to cover the arrival of a convoy, then this colour might probably have been thought of as being in vogue in Malta? If I remember rightly the Spit may have been repainted into a darker colour during its time in Malta although the pink was found highly effective for dusk and dawn sorties?

Some ground crew members did tell me that they saw some later RAF fighter Hurricane`s with grey added to their camouflage, which was around the time that 249 Sqn were painting their Spitfire Vb`s with EDSG to make an EDSG/Dk. Earth scheme. Make of that what you will,.....some photos do seem to indicate this but it is hard to be definite due to the use of othochromatic and other `odd' film stock. Personally I agree with it and it makes sense, especially as this was a `quiet time' when squadron codes were also in vogue.

The well known Hurricane Mk.IIb flown by the RNAS Malta is a puzzle to me. For years I have always thought that it was given a coat of Dark Blue or Extra Dark Sea Grey over the upper surfaces bt upon closer inspection of clearer view there is a hint of a disruptive camouflage scheme,.....but this could well be the original scheme showing through a new application of paint and there are signs of overspray on the fin flash and roundels.

I hope my `two penneth' helps,

Cheers

Tony

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There are still a few photos up here in this thread.

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234957764-malta-hurricanes/

there is also this thread

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/50654-malta-hurricanes/

this is the IIB Tony refers to in the post above being operated by RNAS Malta, discussed in 2nd link.

BG766EDSG_HurrBomberSM.jpg

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