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Blenheim camouflage


Milo Burgh
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Agree with Steve about the filter and it could also be a combination of filter/film as different films had an effect on colours as well. I also notice a colour difference around the turret

Edited by fubar57
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The roundels are pre-WW2 Blue/Red. The effect of the very dark red roundels centres is due to the use of Orthochromatic film which darkens reds and any colour with a lot of red, but lightens greens and blues.

Therefore the dark camouflage could be dark earth which has a high content of red and the light camouflage could be dark green which has a high content of blue in it

Light Earth and Middle Stone have very little red content and would have a mid-tone in the photo

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1 hour ago, Black Knight said:

The roundels are pre-WW2 Blue/Red. The effect of the very dark red roundels centres is due to the use of Orthochromatic film which darkens reds and any colour with a lot of red, but lightens greens and blues.

Therefore the dark camouflage could be dark earth which has a high content of red and the light camouflage could be dark green which has a high content of blue in it

Light Earth and Middle Stone have very little red content and would have a mid-tone in the photo

 

Dark Green also has yellow in it which has a very dark tone on orthochromatic film so wouldn't that make the Dark Green appear darker than the tone in this image?  I also have a hard time believing a true blue colour, like Roundel Blue, would appear darker than a green tone on ortho film.  I've certainly never seen Dark Green appear almost white on ortho film as is the case with this image.  

 

In truth, we could just be seeing normal desert camo of Dark Earth and Mid Stone...but we're unlikely to ever know with 100% certainty.  

Edited by mhaselden
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The link provided in the first post is not the only one to identify it as a MKIV, the photo appears in several books which also identify it as such which is odd as clearly it isn't. Another little mystery is provided by Graham Warner in his book The Bristol Blenheim - The Complete History. On page 422 he provides this:

 

MKIV 11/06/1940 L4823 113 Squadron Mk IV:  FTR; shot-down by fighters on return from El Adem, F/l.t D. Beauclair, W/0 H. Owen, and Sgt J. Dobson all injured (burns) and became PoWs.

 

and on page 424:

 

11/06/1940 L4823 203 Squadron Mk IV-F:  FTR; lost on patrol over Red Sea in unknown circumstances.

The Air Britain serials lists L4823 as the first in a batch of MK IVs.

 

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Thanks to all for your answers. I think that may be tropical camo, the Dark Earth more dark due to the orthocromatic film. The serial may be L6823 indeed, if you enlarge the image, a 6 can be barely seen.

 

Is the udersurface black?

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I have done some monkeying in Photoshop and the serial comes up as L4823.  L4823 is listed by MJF Bowyer as a Mk I.

 

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As both the L4823 and L6823 have been manufactured in standard RAF pre-war camo of Dark Green and Dark Earth (there haven't been Mk Is in L-block manufactured in Desert Scheme IIRC) the scheme for odd serial numbers featured darker areas on port wingtip, lower rear starboard fuselage, starboard side of dorsal turret and outer side of starboard engine. And all these areas do look darker also on the discussed picture.

As the order introducing the Desert Scheme forced the units to repaint only approx. half of topsides in Light Earth (quickly replaced by Middle Stone) there was no reason to repaint the uppersurfaces as whole. As all we know some units used the new light colour (LE or MS) to cover the Dark Earth areas while others repainted the Dark Green ones. The result was a mess - in few weeks four new camouflage schemes appeared in the ME (DG/LE, DG/MS, DE/LE and DE/MS).

Thus - in my opinion - this very Blenheim retained her original Dark Green areas while the lighter shade is too light for being Light Earth. So presumably it's Middle Stone.     

Cheers

Michael

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I was in the middle of typing a response coming to the opposite conclusion.  Looking at b&w photos I was comparing the dark areas of the camouflage with the standard pattern, and decided that the darker areas were the green.    Some time ago I was looking for desert camouflaged Wellesleys, but came to the conclusion that on those showing a high contrast the darker colour was where the Dark Green is on the standard pattern, so the light colour was just faded Dark Earth.  This was how I interpreted this Blenheim photo, but In this case however the lighter colour looks like fresh paint without the patchiness expected with a faded appearance.  This does indeed suggest that it is the Dark Earth that has been overpainted.  It is of course possible that this was originally one of the rare cases where the colours have been exchanged in the pattern (C or D scheme) but these were indeed rare.  (At least in the TLS as delivered.)

 

Michael's comment aroused considerable doubt.   When revisiting the photos I was using, it does seem that they were taken on ortho film which makes the Dark Earth appear as dark or darker than the Dark Green.  So I went looking for more photos, and it is amazing how often the photographers preferred the starboard side of the tail, when including it at all!  However thanks to Warner's epic book, I did eventually find enough photos to reassure me that in the Temperate Land Scheme the lower part of the tail was indeed Dark Earth.  So on this aircraft it is the Dark Green that has been overpainted, but I've never seen Middle Stone appearing quite so light so suggest that it was indeed Light Earth.

 

They would certainly have been built with Night undersides, and examples delivered to the ME prewar will have retained this.  Blenheims adopted duck-egg blue (not then known as Sky and possibly not even the same, at least initially) undersides early in 1940, but it is unlikely to have been available in the ME, and ME HQ disapproved of it anyway.

 

Of the two serials,  L6823 is in the middle of a batch delivered directly to Yugoslavia without RAF service.

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51 minutes ago, RJP said:

I have done some monkeying in Photoshop and the serial comes up as L4823.  L4823 is listed by MJF Bowyer as a Mk I.

 

I hadn't looked at the appendices and yes he includes L4823 as a MKI but he has captioned the photo on page 73 as L6823

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14 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

Michael's comment aroused considerable doubt.   When revisiting the photos I was using, it does seem that they were taken on ortho film which makes the Dark Earth appear as dark or darker than the Dark Green.  So I went looking for more photos, and it is amazing how often the photographers preferred the starboard side of the tail, when including it at all!  However thanks to Warner's epic book, I did eventually find enough photos to reassure me that in the Temperate Land Scheme the lower part of the tail was indeed Dark Earth.  So on this aircraft it is the Dark Green that has been overpainted, but I've never seen Middle Stone appearing quite so light so suggest that it was indeed Light Earth.

 

Yeah, the hint with those ortho films put me wrong. Of course the areas I have mentioned earlier as "darker" (i.e. port wingtip... turret area... outside of s-board engine nacelle) should be "lighter" in TLS - so Dark Earth (not Dark Green). And here you're right.

But on the other hand I have never seen so much contrast between Dark and Light Earth - after all they are only two shades of the same colour (similar pigments). And here they aren't.

I don't know whether Light Earth is lighter than Middle Stone or not. The overpainted Dark Green areas are so light, that only some crazy ideas could be considered - Dark Sand? 

Cheers

Michael

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1 hour ago, KRK4m said:

Yeah, the hint with those ortho films put me wrong. Of course the areas I have mentioned earlier as "darker" (i.e. port wingtip... turret area... outside of s-board engine nacelle) should be "lighter" in TLS - so Dark Earth (not Dark Green). And here you're right.

But on the other hand I have never seen so much contrast between Dark and Light Earth - after all they are only two shades of the same colour (similar pigments). And here they aren't.

I don't know whether Light Earth is lighter than Middle Stone or not. The overpainted Dark Green areas are so light, that only some crazy ideas could be considered - Dark Sand? 

Cheers

Michael

Some time last year I tried various filters with the colour chips in the RAF Museum book. I just took the image with no filter and did a black and white conversion on it using Lightroom software which gives you control over the colour mix. To emulate orthochromatic film I turned red, orange and yellow to -100% on the grounds that yellow rings on roundels show black. All three of Dark Earth, Light Earth and Middle Stone appeared darker than Dark Green or Blue (which I assume to be the roundel blue colour). Even allowing some yellow and orange into the conversion did not lighten the Earth/Stone colours greatly.

 

So I'm with you and Graham on the Dark Earth but the areas which should be Dark Green are a real puzzle, only greys and blues seem to offer a chance of rendering lighter than the blue of the roundel - really crazy ideas.

 

To make this conclusive I should get hold of a tonal response curve for a typical ortho film - but even then I think the light colour would remain a puzzle. I'm not sure if filters were ever used with ortho film but I've tried some adjustments along those lines without conclusive results.

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I'm quite sure that filters were used on ortho film - after all why not?   It was a normal photographic technique for such matters as showing clouds in the sky or not.  What using any particular filter means in terms of changes to the final photograph I daren't hazard to guess, but there are ortho photos that show yellow as black, and others that don't have anything like so strong an effect.  To me this implies the use a filter of some kind, sometimes.  Then there are the views of FAA camouflage where there is a very strong contrast, the EDSG appearing very light - the classic being the much discussed Skua on Ark Royal but there is also a view of Malta Gladiator "Faith" in her decline.  Is this yet another filter?  The FAA scheme seems particularly variable in photographs, ortho or not.  More effects to be blamed on differing filters, I'm sure.

 

As for the comparative appearance of Light Earth vs Middle Stone, this very light appearance is common on photos from the early desert war, but rare indeed later.  But that could be an artificial effect from the limited early photographic facilities, perhaps.  IIRC,  Middle Stone was not introduced in the RAF as a standard until some time into 1940, which post-dates this photo.  (I think the date of its introduction is in one of Paul Lucas's books.)  But whatever ME paintshops were up to in this period is largely unknown.  Such a light colour does remind me of the ME Army colour Portland Stone - it is worth remembering that Middle Stone was an Army colour in the ME too.  However I think an established RAF colour is more likely.  Dark Earth  is known to fade towards (I'm tempted to say well towards) Light Earth, but what does Light Earth fade towards?

Edited by Graham Boak
Correction Light Stone to Light Earth.
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But orthochrome film would make the prop tops appear black or ?

They aren't black on the photo even if they are relatively dark

 

And the demarcation line below the turret could come from the original DE / DG camo.

I think I can see two different darker tones on the starboard wing ...

 

Just throwing in my two cents here ...

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Yellow does not always appear black on ortho film.  As I suggested, this possibly depends upon the filter being used.

 

The demarcation lines are the same as the original camouflage on the tail: so why not elsewhere?  There is an interesting change in tone aft of the turret, but I think this is a change in reflection because of the sudden change in fuselage section were it is cutaway to improve the field of fire of the gun.

 

I don't see two darker tones on the wing.

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11 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

I'm quite sure that filters were used on ortho film - after all why not?   It was a normal photographic technique for such matters as showing clouds in the sky or not.  What using any particular filter means in terms of changes to the final photograph I daren't hazard to guess, but there are ortho photos that show yellow as black, and others that don't have anything like so strong an effect.  To me this implies the use a filter of some kind, sometimes.  Then there are the views of FAA camouflage where there is a very strong contrast, the EDSG appearing very light - the classic being the much discussed Skua on Ark Royal but there is also a view of Malta Gladiator "Faith" in her decline.  Is this yet another filter?  The FAA scheme seems particularly variable in photographs, ortho or not.  More effects to be blamed on differing filters, I'm sure.

 

As for the comparative appearance of Light Earth vs Middle Stone, this very light appearance is common on photos from the early desert war, but rare indeed later.  But that could be an artificial effect from the limited early photographic facilities, perhaps.  IIRC,  Middle Stone was not introduced in the RAF as a standard until some time into 1940, which post-dates this photo.  (I think the date of its introduction is in one of Paul Lucas's books.)  But whatever ME paintshops were up to in this period is largely unknown.  Such a light colour does remind me of the ME Army colour Portland Stone - it is worth remembering that Middle Stone was an Army colour in the ME too.  However I think an established RAF colour is more likely.  Dark Earth  is known to fade towards (I'm tempted to say well towards) Light Earth, but what does Light Earth fade towards?

My fiddling is now getting very unscientific but a guess at ortho film plus a yellow filter makes Middle Stone a strong contender with Light Earth a possibility. I would need to know more about film and filter characteristics to rule out either. Don't ask me to try fading effects as I'd have to go from unscientific to complete guesswork!

......

I just tried fiddling with a shot of the colour chart taken using a yellow/green filter (all I had to hand) and Middle Stone and Light Earth can be made into almost the same tone with even more unscientific fiddling to emulate possible fim and filter effects. So both are good contenders. Therefore I think it is a points victory for Light Earth as it is known to be an RAF colour at the time of the photo. But you could paint a model in either and justify it (to me) as matching the original photo.

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Hello all!

 

Years ago I run a test using ortho film (it was from Ilford range) without colour correcting filters. I painted chips with Humbrol 28, 116, 117, 118, red and blue. So dark green and medium brown were there. I can't find the photos but I have my notebook at hand.

 

Here are my findings:

Without filter: red appears black, blue appears medium gray, 116 was the darkest gray although it was difficult to differentiate it from 117, brown 118 was almost as dark as green 117 and 28 was almost white.

 

Films used in the 1930s and 1940s were rather slow when compared to modern films. In many cases ISO readings were something like 64 (today it is difficult to find slower than ISO 400). Unfortunately I can't find any notes about the film I used.

 

I'm somewhat suspicious about using a digital camera and image software for studies like this. The image sensor has wider spectral sensitivity than film (and especially ortho film). The question is: why colour correcting filters were used in the first place? And the answer is simple; to make the pictures look better when printed in books or magazines. Exactly the same reason why Photoshop was originally created. Furthermore image sensor isn't sensitive to UV light when film on the other hand is.

 

Surprisingly some modellers seem to think that is totally good method to scan pictures from books, manipulate them in Photoshop and finally present "scientific" results to fellow enthusiasts about the colours used.

 

Cheers,

Antti

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12 hours ago, Antti_K said:

Films used in the 1930s and 1940s were rather slow when compared to modern films. In many cases ISO readings were something like 64 (today it is difficult to find slower than ISO 400). Unfortunately I can't find any notes about the film I used.

OT and FYI the Starfighters in my avatar were shot on Kodachrome 25 !

 

13 hours ago, Antti_K said:

I'm somewhat suspicious about using a digital camera and image software for studies like this.

Me too. I'm going as far as saying both LE and MS are possible depending on film/filter used for the original. There are other colours that would also fit - shades of grey being obvious but made unlikely by our, admittedly imprecise, knowledge of camouflage schemes that were used.

 

There are some photos that just don't conform to anything sensible using this approach - at the moment I prefer to put it down to limitations in my knowledge and reserve a very (VERY) small question mark for the existence of a previously unknown scheme.

 

Unlikley to apply to documentary type photos as most aircraft shots are but there is another variable to consider - the production of the print from the negative. If you look at the contact print made directly from the negative and the final print eg. http://python.ca/nas/vcc/darktable-intro/#/6 then you can see how contrast can be played with in the darkroom. Most likely if the original exposure was not correct - which could happen with strong sun and use of a filter I imagine.

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  • 1 month later...
52 minutes ago, Mark Mackenzie said:

Given that a colour scheme of Dark Green over Mid-stone never existed I doubt it. (As has been pointed out to you in particular, numerous times in the past).i

Yes Mark, but as has-been pointed out to you in particular, numerous times in the past, it was officially proclaimed as such in an AMO.  Your research has clarified matters considerably by finding out that this issue was very rapidly corrected, but this did not create a time machine.  The scheme did officially exist on paper, however briefly, and given that it was reported in theatre by a veteran then we should be careful with the use of such definite terms as "never".

 

Nonetheless, I agree that it should not be assumed unless all other more likely options have been ruled out.  Offhand, this does not appear likely when we are relying on interpretation of b&w photos. 

Edited by Graham Boak
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