Jump to content

As a result of the close-down of the UK by the British Government last night, we have made all the Buy/Sell areas read-only until we open back up again, so please have a look at the announcement linked here.

This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

TheBaron

Scholarly book on RAF colours?

Recommended Posts

I was most impressed recently looking at a copy of Merrick and Kiroff's

18491213549.jpg

...and wanted to draw upon the collected expertise of the forum to discover if there is an RAF equivalent to this volume (in terms of the sheer  level of detailed analysis provided in the above) anyone could recommend that covers roughly the same historical period? 

 

I'm not looking for any of the general visual guides to unit markings or painting guides for modellers  (of which there are plenty) but a detailed scholarly analysis like the above that deals with the historical and technological development, industrial painting procedures and operational  factors etc. and is well-referenced/illustrated.

 

Any book references would be most gratefully received.

 

Thanks for reading this.

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't help with any suggestions Tony, but you may want to edit RAC in your thread title, I thought you were looking for a book on armour colours....(of which I do know of a good three volume set!)

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know of nothing that matches your suggestion.  If it existed, I would have it.  The knowledge is scattered across a significant number of different references and none of them are as complete as the Merrick volume on the Luftwaffe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing like that but there is "British Aviation Colours of World War Two: The Official Camouflage, Colours & Markings of RAF Aircraft, 1939-1945 (R.A.F. Museum)", out of print and can be a wee bit expensive these days.

There is also "Fighting Colours: RAF Fighter Camouflage and Markings, 1937-1969" and "Bombing Colours: Royal Air Force Bombers, Their Markings and Operations, 1937-732" both by Michael J F Bowyer.

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first one, IIRC, is a compilation of the period documentation (TOs?) with some colour chips. And it is a "wee bit" expensive, but, speaking as someone who bought a copy for a couple of quid in a charity shop last year and sold it on eBay, I'm not complaining... ;-P

 

best,

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all for your replies lads! :D

 

The Merrick and Kiroff has such a superb depth of information and historical detail that I fear a comparable one on British colours has yet to be written.

 

I'm grateful for all your suggestions and will take a trawl round A be books to see what pops up.

 

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For fighters there is the excellent Ducimus series.  For bombers there was a following two-volume set from Ian Allan.  The small PSL book by Jerry Scutts is surprisingly good, as it covers the transports and trainers as well as combat types.  The problem with Bowyer's Fighting Colours, very good though it is, is that it is written more from the spotter's viewpoint and lacks official documentation.  This is included in the Arms&Armour book mentioned above, but only  a selection of the Air Ministry Orders and it does not descend to Command instructions of arrangements made overseas.  It is a must have, but be sure you get a copy with the paint sheet included.

 

PS There are also the various works of Paul Lucas, covering individual areas.

Edited by Graham Boak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like there's an opening for a knowledgeable author here to do a Merrick-style opus on the subject, pulling together all the information mentioned in these posts and adding their own expertise to evaluating them. I think it would sell extremely well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Graham:, I'll definitely be looking into those. My Thanks!

 

Ed: It is a surprising gap, considering the historical documentation that must be available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TheBaron said:

Graham:, I'll definitely be looking into those. My Thanks!

 

Ed: It is a surprising gap, considering the historical documentation that must be available.

 

Considering the historical documentation that must be available, I'm less surprised.  To offer any advance over what's already been published, the job needs to be done properly, which means time-consuming, meticulous and occasionally expensive research: anyone with a decade of their life to spare? 

 

And. when (assuming one could find a receptive publisher) it came out, there would be a chorus of "It's too expensive: I can get most of this off the internet". 

 

PS For my money the Bowyer books, complemented by the Arms & Armour/RAF Museum book, are the best going at the mo. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

For fighters there is the excellent Ducimus series.  For bombers there was a following two-volume set from Ian Allan.  The small PSL book by Jerry Scutts is surprisingly good, as it covers the transports and trainers as well as combat types.  The problem with Bowyer's Fighting Colours, very good though it is, is that it is written more from the spotter's viewpoint and lacks official documentation.  This is included in the Arms&Armour book mentioned above, but only  a selection of the Air Ministry Orders and it does not descend to Command instructions of arrangements made overseas.  It is a must have, but be sure you get a copy with the paint sheet included.

 

PS There are also the various works of Paul Lucas, covering individual areas.

 

Jerry Scutts did the USAAF colours,  the RAF one was Bowyer again

I presume you mean this one?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Airfix-Magazine-Guide-R-F-Camouflage/dp/0850592151

I  don't have it,but I do  have the USAAF one, that covers the basics well.

 

the Ducimus series are long OOP,  but  they  are all scanned here (I  know I  keep posting this but they are really useful)

http://www.boxartden.com/gallery/index.php/Profiles/Camoflage-Markings

 

The  Ducimus were done as bound copies,  the  single copies are  about, I've seen a stack of them in the Aviation Bookshop.  The 'problem' with the Ducimus is they only cover NW  Europe.

 

While it may  not seem so from  the title, 

Eyes for the Phoenix: Allied Aerial Photo-reconnaissance Operations in South-East Asia 1942-1945

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eyes-Phoenix-Photo-reconnaissance-Operations-South-East/dp/0951989944

 

has a lot on colours, and covers FAA and  Lend lease types, so Airforce and Navy,   including colours paint names with reference.  including reference to  Munsell  matches.   plus lots of useful photos,

It's not a massive section, but does collate a load of info in one place.  

I  was scanned into PDF if you  search as you may not want the entire book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Seahawk said:

To offer any advance over what's already been published, the job needs to be done properly, which means time-consuming, meticulous and occasionally expensive research: anyone with a decade of their life to spare?

And. when (assuming one could find a receptive publisher) it came out, there would be a chorus of "It's too expensive: I can get most of this off the internet".

A decent publisher would only look at it if it was top quality.

Based on our publishing record a decade is not unreasonable for a work of this nature - a fast, accurate, dedicated worker may get it down to five years.

Yes it would be expensive but it would be the only one-stop shop so we'd expect a lot of buyers.

We would have to set up a specialist publishing section to do it properly (we'd sell shares in it - we also have a bridge in Sydney as part of the deal).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Seahawk said:

 

Considering the historical documentation that must be available, I'm less surprised.  To offer any advance over what's already been published, the job needs to be done properly, which means time-consuming, meticulous and occasionally expensive research: anyone with a decade of their life to spare? 

 

And. when (assuming one could find a receptive publisher) it came out, there would be a chorus of "It's too expensive: I can get most of this off the internet". 

 

PS For my money the Bowyer books, complemented by the Arms & Armour/RAF Museum book, are the best going at the mo. 

 

I'll second that, I made a start on Coastal Command on my web page http://hrmtech.com/SIG/articles/coastal_cam.asp and soon found out I was biting off a bigger chunk than I expected. Without spending a lot of time in the National Archives looking at more than just the obvious documents it's not possible to catch all the "ifs, buts and maybes". When you add in the types supplied by the US using their equivalent paints it gets even worse.

 

Try the forthcoming 2nd edition of Robert M. Stitt's book on the B-17 in RAF Coastal Command for a flavour of just a single type, not sure when it will be published but should be "real soon now".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

there is of course the  Paul Lucas series of books;

  1. camouflage and markings, Battle of Britain May to Dec 1940.
  2. camouflage and markings,1945-50 UK based.
  3. camouflage and markings,1945-50 Overseas based.

These may be a good start!

 

Selwyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some months back, I intended to ask if anyone here was familiar with a book that covered RAF and FAA camouflage schemes of WW2; and, had the 2-4 pages of paint chips at the back of the various colours. I had it in a box in my garage(somewhere); but, couldn't remember the exact title. Before I could ask; the cover was used in a discussion thread here. That I remembered. I got it sometime in the early '80s; can't recall the store or mail order(most likely Squadron Mail Order). What I really wanted to know was whether the paint chips were accurate renderings of the colours; and, did they get the various schemes used by the RAF and FAA correct? I am guessing 'yes' to the first part as I have seen Jamie Duff of Sovereign Hobbies compare his 'Colourcoats" paint(one of the British ones, obviously) to one of the paint chips in the book(it was a close match, BTW). Still, I would like confirmation that the book is a worthwhile reference for all things RAF and FAA in terms of the colours, and the schemes.

TIA

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The full title is British Aviation Colours of World War Two published by Arms & Armour Press in 1976 as Volume 3 in the RAF Museum series.  As for the accuracy of the paint chips, your reasoning is sound: I certainly know of no more trustworthy source.  The book is just 56 pages long and simply comprises facsimiles of the various Air Ministry Orders (AMOs) issued during the 1939-45 war together with relevant sections of Air Publication (AP) 2656A in which the AMOs were encapsulated in 1944.  Thrilling reading it ain't: more a book to dip into from time to time.  But (pace the clever members of this and other forums who show a remarkable ability to locate documents like these on the internet) where else will you find the official documents with which everyone was supposed to be complying?  A few words from J M Bruce in the Foreword: "The user of this fascinating document is advised to treat it with a certain amount of caution, however, and to use it intelligently and with care, especially if he wishes to apply detailed markings to a model aircraft.  Not all of the schemes herein delineated were used, nor were all the instructions necessarily followed to the letter in practice, despite the fact that this was intended to be the official word on such matters." 

 

So worth having - not least as an investment for your children. 

    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Seahawk said:

 nor were all the instructions necessarily followed to the letter in practice, despite the fact that this was intended to be the official word on such matters." 

A not dissimilar refrain to that  in Merrick and Kiroff regarding both conditions toward the end of the war (for obvious reasons) as well as mismatched colours from various subcontractors.

 

I believe I'm on the cusp of becoming a paint-nerd.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Seahawk said:

nor were all the instructions necessarily followed to the letter in practice, despite the fact that this was intended to be the official word on such matters.

 

And even when they were (are), spend any time looking at real aircraft, noting how fading, weathering, dirt, retouching etc etc changes 'colours', means two 'identically' painted aircraft parked next to each other often look rather different. I think being a 'paint-nerd' is all well & good Tony, it's very interesting stuff, but it needs to be tempered with observation of the real thing if you want to decorate your models 'accurately'....

 

Just my 2p's worth. :)

 

Keith

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, keefr22 said:

I think being a 'paint-nerd' is all well & good Tony, it's very interesting stuff, but it needs to be tempered with observation of the real thing if you want to decorate your models 'accurately'...

I hear you. :nodding:

 

Having just spent the last several days looking at photos of Wellingtons in various states of distress and distemper Keith I've yet to discover any two with the same appearance!

 

What really impressed me about the Luftwaffe volume was exactly what you refer to, in that it is highly discriminating about the vagaries of appearance. It's kind of why I was hopeful there might be an RAF one with a similar analysis of such factors.... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, keefr22 said:

 

And even when they were (are), spend any time looking at real aircraft, noting how fading, weathering, dirt, retouching etc etc changes 'colours', means two 'identically' painted aircraft parked next to each other often look rather different. I think being a 'paint-nerd' is all well & good Tony, it's very interesting stuff, but it needs to be tempered with observation of the real thing if you want to decorate your models 'accurately'....

 

indeed Keith

but you  it helps to know what you are supposed to be starting  from as well,  as looking how  this  changes with use.

 

At this point I'll stick a link to @Etiennedup  flickr album of WWII colour,  as there is much to be  learned by browsing here.

 

 

1 hour ago, TheBaron said:

I hear you. :nodding:

 

Having just spent the last several days looking at photos of Wellingtons in various states of distress and distemper Keith I've yet to discover any two with the same appearance!

 

What really impressed me about the Luftwaffe volume was exactly what you refer to, in that it is highly discriminating about the vagaries of appearance. It's kind of why I was hopeful there might be an RAF one with a similar analysis of such factors.... 

 

Here's the colour Wellington pics which may help?

https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=8270787@N07&q=wellington

 

The big difference between the RAF and Luftwaffe is that there is a much wider variety of paint schemes, and of unit level modification, which is very rare in the RAF/FAA.

 

Pretty much overall the RAF?FAA is generally fairly 'dull',  and there are not many exceptions to 'the rules'  so while there are differences  of appearance,  it's a lot easier to  explain,don't forget  the effect that light and  film types can have on appearance as well.

 

A book on the vagaries of RAF squadron code application would be the nearest you would have to the weird and  wonderful world of  Luftwaffe  paint.

 

cheers

T

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Ed Russell said:

 

We would have to set up a specialist publishing section to do it properly (we'd sell shares in it - we also have a bridge in Sydney as part of the deal).

 

You keep your grubby paws off my bridge - If you want to flog something, flog the Westgate ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Selwyn said:

there is of course the  Paul Lucas series of books;

  1. camouflage and markings, Battle of Britain May to Dec 1940.
  2. camouflage and markings,1945-50 UK based.
  3. camouflage and markings,1945-50 Overseas based.

These may be a good start!

 

Selwyn

 

You can add to that his book for Aviation Workshop "Britain Alone", which covers the post BoB period through to 1942. Other than that, his work is divided across numerous magazines. I like his work, but sometimes he is a bit prone to extrapolation data to,leap to conclusions. 

 

There Red is also Stuart Lloyd's book on FAA colour schemes in the late 30s/early war. And Robertson's book for Windsock on British WW1 colours.

 

one problem with the earlier books is the the authors didn't have access to official documen s, so much of it is based on observation (no bad thing) and hearsay.

 

I suspect one reason for the lack of a Merrick style book is most people know what the British colours should be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seahawk, my apologies that I didn't make it clear that I was referencing British Aviation Colours of World War Two: etc.. in spitfire's post as the book which I remembered. Thanks for letting me know that the schemes are correct insofar as they are the official ones. And, that the paint chips are correct, with all the usual warnings about contractors, fading, etc.. Now, just what box is it in? TheBaron, thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Dave Fleming said:

I suspect one reason for the lack of a Merrick style book is most people know what the British colours should be.

 

Or think they know. Bomber Command is relatively easy, apart from Mosquitoes - which didn't conform, with only roundel / code colour changes. For Fighter Command throw in the change to the Day Fighter Scheme plus the various ID markings for Mustangs, Typhoons and Tempests and the Sky and Mixed Grey questions and for Coastal Command it gets more difficult, especially with squadrons transferring or on loan and with Beaufighters I can think of at least 5 CC schemes (see various threads with posts from Terry @ Aviaeology). Layer invasion stripes and their gradual removal on top, throw in overseas commands and stir gently.

 

Fortunately there are plenty of photos and knowing what the schemes "should be" we can quite easily build models we believe to be accurate.

 

I would put an alternative view for the lack of a definitive book - it's just too much work to document and present all the variations sensibly. I even struggle to make sense of my own CC colours web page sometimes, especially when what could be new information comes along. Trying to follow the story of Sky in Paul Lucas Camouflage and Markings, Battle of Britain May to Dec 1940 does my head in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Dave Fleming said:

I suspect one reason for the lack of a Merrick style book is most people know what the British colours should be.

Hi Dave!:D

 

There seems to be a misunderstanding developing here.

 

I've no interest in another book simply identifying RAF colours (or indeed the vagaries of weathering) - why the Merrick book stands out is the wealth of detail about the uses and development of paint and pigment as materials on aircraft, application processes etc. within a specific historical context, which is another matter entirely. It discusses the 'why' and 'how' of the matter in great detail, as opposed to just the 'what'.

 

In terms of aviation writing  this Merrick and Kiroff volume is the nearest published material I can find to the seminal writing of John Gage on colour in general culture:

http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520222250

 

Stuart's book on the FAA however is an excellent step in that direction, as you rightly note. 

8 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

At this point I'll stick a link to @EtiennedupHere's the colour Wellington pics which may help?

https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=8270787@N07&q=wellington

 

 

 

Food for the hungry eye Troy. Thank-you. 

35 minutes ago, rossm said:

 

Or think they know. Bomber Command is relatively easy, apart from Mosquitoes - which didn't conform, with only roundel / code colour changes. For Fighter Command throw in the change to the Day Fighter Scheme plus the various ID markings for Mustangs, Typhoons and Tempests and the Sky and Mixed Grey questions and for Coastal Command it gets more difficult, especially with squadrons transferring or on loan and with Beaufighters I can think of at least 5 CC schemes (see various threads with posts from Terry @ Aviaeology). Layer invasion stripes and their gradual removal on top, throw in overseas commands and stir gently.

 

Fortunately there are plenty of photos and knowing what the schemes "should be" we can quite easily build models we believe to be accurate.

 

I would put an alternative view for the lack of a definitive book - it's just too much work to document and present all the variations sensibly. I even struggle to make sense of my own CC colours web page sometimes, especially when what could be new information comes along. Trying to follow the story of Sky in Paul Lucas Camouflage and Markings, Battle of Britain May to Dec 1940 does my head in.

See my comments above about the historical 'why' and 'how' of paint as a material, rather than just the 'what' of appearances. If such a book has already been done for the Luftwaffe it can self-evidently be done for the RAF. No?:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...