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Brian J

Early war P-40E camouflage schemes

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While thumbing through my P-40 reference folder I came across a Hyperscale comment made by Nic Millman in March of 2007.  It had to do with the markings/colour scheme of the well known 'Stardust/Oklahoma-Kid' a P-40E flown by Captain Andrew J. Reynolds in early/mid 1942.  In this thread, Nic mentions the dark under surface of this aircraft.  Five photos of this aircraft can be found on pages 9 and 10 of 49th Fighter Group by Ernest R. McDowell, a Squadron Signal Publication, 1998.  

 

Normally the colours were Medium Green and Dark Earth (upper) and Light Gray (lower).  When comparing other photos in the book of P-40Es there is a noticeable contrast between the lighter coloured under surfaces and the upper colours, especially in the nose area.  The large inflight photo at the bottom of page 10 suggests the bottom colour is quite dark, not Light Grey.  A similar lack of contrast can be found on 'Dont Worry!', bottom left, page 11 and two photos of nose areas of P-40s on page 13, top left and second from top at the right.  

 

Have these questionable colour schemes been addressed and resolved in the past and I just missed them?  I recently purchase a 1/32 decal sheet from DKDECALS.  Their instruction sheet shows the aircraft in the normal MG/DE/LG colour scheme.  I would appreciate reading comments helping to explain this discrepancy before I proceed any further in my build-up.     

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Brian,

 

I don't have that Squadron reference to see the photos you mention, but perhaps one of our regular posters and WW2 color  authorities @Dana Bell might have time to comment upon your questions, if he sees this. It's a handsome P-40E, to be sure!I did find a link with a couple of photos and discussion on the airplane. The dark undersurface color described  might well be the result of the type of film/filter  used in the original photos, but Dana can elaborate on that. Wish I could be of more help, as it's a very handsome and well-known Warhawk! 

Mike

 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/hyperscale/stardust-oklahoma-kid-for-alex-t106762.html

 

 

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Thanks for your quick response, Mike.  That top photo in your web reference is the one found in the reference I mentioned.  While we're waiting for further comments on my initial question I'd like to add another observation/question about this aircraft.  There appears to be a noticeable contrast in the colour of the fuselage colour and that of the 'quarter panel' behind the cockpit.  A comment on this subject was made by 'Modeldad' on October 11, 2008 in another Hyperscale topic on P-40s.  It included a colour photo of what appears to be a P-40E in the South Pacific theater.  This green shade is much lighter than the fuselage colour.  As Modeldad suggests, was this just a "one-off production run, or what."  It appears this colour discrepancy was more common than we thought.  My computer skills are wanting and I'm unable to include photo references.  Comments, anyone?  And I don't mean on my lack of computer skills!

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Brian,

 

See if these three links shed some light (or better yet, paint!) on the subject of the coves behind the canopy. I think @Dana Bell and @LDSModeller might be able to help you there, as this has been discussed a few times already on the WW2 forum. It looks to me as the coves in the photo are the same shade as the lighter of the two camouflage colors, whatever they were. I seem to recall that on the NZ P-40E/K's especially,  frequently the coves were not repainted when the original scheme colors were  changed.  The last link is for a P-40L, but the scheme was also used on P-40E's, I think

Mike

 

https://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/p-40/p-40_profile01.shtml

 

https://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/p-40/p-40_profile02.shtml

 

https://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/p-40/p-40_profile05.shtml

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Surely the official underside at this period was Neutral Gray, which was quite dark, although a lighter colour appears nore usual later.

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10 hours ago, Brian J said:

'Stardust/Oklahoma-Kid' a P-40E flown by Captain Andrew J. Reynolds in early/mid 1942

Having had a quick look the "web' on this Aircraft, it served with USAAF 49th FG in Darwin Australia - interesting thing 

is that people keep referring to it's RAF serial ET603- if true, would make it a P40E-1 from the British contracts.

Interesting thing is though, that ET603 was delivered to the RNZAF circa early May 1942, becoming NZ3011and stayed

here in New Zealand, converted to an Instructional Airframe 1944.

Checking Joe Baugher's site, it confirms this.

So what is the Correct serial for this Aircraft with the 49th FG?

 

If a an RAF Contract P40E-1 then colours would have been DuPont Dark Green/ DuPont Dark Earth/DuPont Sky (Duck Egg Blue)

 

Looking at the Photo's in your link, upper camouflage appears correct, but the lower? What did Nick did suggest the colour was?

9 hours ago, Brian J said:

 I'd like to add another observation/question about this aircraft.  There appears to be a noticeable contrast in the colour of the fuselage colour and that of the 'quarter panel' behind the cockpit.

Quarter Panels looking at he Photo link by you, I would go with Dark Earth - I have the

Promodeller kit and on the paint instructions page, it has a close up photo of the aircraft/quarter panel

and the colours (though B/W) look like Dark Earth

Hope that helps?

 

Regards

 

Alan

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'Stardust - Oklahoma Kid' was ET600 (US serial 41-35954) - both clearly visible on photos I have. DK sheet 32003 has the correct details.

 

 

Steve Mackenzie

 

 

Edited by Hornet133
more info

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Is this light grey undersides thing the old P-40 myth rearing its head again?

 

P-40s built for the RAF but redirected to USAAF service had been finished in US equivalent paints for RAF Temperate Land scheme. The undersides were painted in US supplied paint to match British MAP Sky with varying success. Some were quite good but some, such as DuPont's 71-021 "Sky Gray" was a fairly poor match which is what was applied to P-40s. It wasn't a good match for MAP Sky but it wasn't a grey either a washed out pale duck-egg blue:

ACRN36_e04d3b4e-eaf8-444c-bab0-d29bf4ca7

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according curtiss, the camouflage in factory was, P-40E: US ARMY scheme and P-40E-1, temperate Land Scheme.
US Army scheme consist in NG 43 on lower surface and OD 41 on upper surface and MG 42 fringes along the leading and trailing edges of main plane, stabilizer/elevator & fin/rudder, except aileron.


TLS scheme on P-40E-1 allocated to british, see below, DuPont ref paints, unfortunately no ref for Sky type S

 

spacer.png

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Many thanks for the interest shown.  My references concur with the two most recent comments concerning the serial number and the original colour scheme.  Referring to my original question concerning the dark lower colour seen in the photos I referred to.  It is not a 'Sky Gray' but a much darker colour.  If one of the members has access to the book I mentioned and whose computer skills are greater than mine maybe it would help if interested parties saw them they could better understand my hand wringing and questioning.  

 

My thoughts are that some airframes were repainted while on operations, but in which colours?  It appears to me that one has to consider the time and area of operations.  For example during the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe went through a transition period in mid-1940 when they were experimenting with new camouflage paint schemes.  While there were 'official' standards, different schemes were experimented with down to the unit level.  Anyone interested in Me-109E colours can sympathize with my comment.  By late 1944/early 1945 the Luftwaffe went through another transition period as it adjusted to new conditions.

 

At appears the U.S. military had to deal with the same issues as they searched for more ideal colour schemes.  Witness the evolution of U.S. Navy colour schemes during in 1942/43.  Did the USAAF go through the same evolution...down to the unit level in the Pacific Theatre?  What paints were available in early 1942?  After all they were at the end of the supply chain.  

 

I am enjoying this exchange of opinions and perspectives and hope that more informed members can contribute to this exchange. 

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The correct name for the Dupont colour was not Sky nor Sky Grey but "Sky Type S Grey".  It was an attempt to match Sky (or Sky Type S, only the name is different).  Sky Grey is a different colour altogether, in use by the Fleet Air Arm until officially replaced by Sky from September 1940.   Dupont did have a Sky Grey as well, I believe, but can't recall the reference number offhand.

 

PS  Dupont may well have used the word "Gray" rather than the correct "Grey".

Edited by Graham Boak

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BS_w

 

When talking about P-40E camouflage scheme's verses later schemes the P-40E did not have the Medium Green on the leading and trailing edges. Earliest I can find this type of scheme is on the P-40K's, but certainly not on the E or F models.

 

The British orders came with two different browns as well as 071-21 on the lower colour as Graham states, its not Sky type S, its Sky Type S Gray". If I recall correctly the earlier brown was Dupont 71-009 which gave rise to the sand and Spinach look (lighter brown than Green). Later brown gave a darker colour, leading to a closer match between the two colours (sorry brain failure on its Dupont number sorry).

 

Regards

 

Buz

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4 hours ago, Buz said:

The British orders came with two different browns as well as 071-21 on the lower colour as Graham states, its not Sky type S, its Sky Type S Gray". If I recall correctly the earlier brown was Dupont 71-009 which gave rise to the sand and Spinach look (lighter brown than Green). Later brown gave a darker colour, leading to a closer match between the two colours

The Technical Orders using  DuPont Colours has the term "Grey" in the

the title DuPont Sky Type S- Grey.

Interestingly the Technical Order for the P40E-1's held by the RNZAF

Museum has the term "Sky" annotated on it.

As far as DuPont Colours go, note the following from an RNZAF P40E-1,

comprising the DuPont colours:

DuPont 71-009 Brown (Dark Earth)

DuPont 7013 Dark Green

DuPont -Sky (aka DuPont 71-021 Sky Type S-Grey)

 

NZ3031 (ET770) - 41-36124

 

f0e84029-934e-483b-af02-c00f12201ecc.jpg

 

Having seen close ups of other P40E-1s from other/same Production batches, they

all had the same colours as my swatches above.

 

Regards

 

Alan

 

 

 

Edited by LDSModeller
Edit photo link

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@ Buz

 

effectively, Curtiss applied the US Army scheme 41/42/43 since june 41.
The other shade of brown, "dark earth" Dupont 71-035 would be used with "middlestone 71-069" for "desert camouflage" (P40K-1) at least for ac painted in factory

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In any case, the matter remains that a number of P-40Es that were supposed to wear the British scheme show darker undersurfaces in pictures. Now I understand all the risks of interpreting old B/W pictures, but I can't think of something that may make a light blue/green/grey look as dark as the upper camo colours. H.C. Bridgewater in the SAM Combat Colours volume dedicated to the P-36 and P-40 in USAAC service suggests Neutral Grey for these aircraft, is there any other possible colour ?

 

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Some airplanes receive US Army camouflage 41/43/42(?) then the Brown was applied over the olive drab 41 according the TLS scheme  and  lower surface was neutral gray 43. May be the case for  some P40E?

 

 

nota found on P40 "US Army camouflage" technical drawing - Curtiss june 1941

spacer.png

DWG 87-91-502: british TLS,  see one  of my previous post above

Edited by BS_w

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The last two comments were the first to address my original question as to the dark under surfaces of this P-40E.  Much appreciated gentlemen!  They help explain my last post as to the possibility of unit level experiments using local available paints in new camouflage schemes.  As I indicated in my first posting/question, photos of other P-40s seem to have this same type of paint scheme.    

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I don't think the dark undersurfaces are the result of a local experiment at unit level as P-40Es in TLS style camouflage but dark undersurfaces were not only seen with 49th FG but also in some training units in the US

According to the document posted by @BS_w such a scheme would be the result of a factory applied paintjob, although the note does not mention the E variant but only later ones.

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