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tonyot

Malta,.... some interesting air crash finds and trace of blue paint on a Spitfire aileron!!

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This article may be of interest to anybody who has an interest in the Air Battle over Malta,......look at the traces of blue paint on the Spitfire aileron too;

http://www.ww2wrecks.com/portfolio/ww2-aircraft-crash-sites-nearly-200-identified/  

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Who would hazard a guess at which of the dark blues known to have been used on Malta that is?

 

Not me!

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06.jpg

Quote

Aileron from Spitfire EP685, shot down on 23 October 1942. The pilot, Flying Officer Alec Lindsay, was killed.

http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p039.html

Quote

EP685 Vb CBAF M46 9MU 24-8-42 Malta 6-9-42 185S Shot down by Bf109 over Malta 23-10-42 

 

Roundel blue? 

 

 

 

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Nice. Thanks for posting. Love Malta and always interested in seeing these pics

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I can think of a couple of pictures (B+W) which show very dark coloured Spitfires on Malta, but the blue of the roundel is distinct. That would imply that the colour(s) used were not roundel blue, but I'm not sure we will ever know for sure what was used. There is also a practical consideration regarding the quantity of such a colour likely to be available.

 

I've seen Dark Mediterranean Blue, Royal Blue, Night and even some local concoction suggested for the 'dark' Spitfires on Malta. I made a model of BP989 some years ago and went with my version of Royal Blue, principally based on the visibility of the black serial number in photos, so definitely not a proven or definitive choice :)

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The dark blue used on aircraft delivered to Malta has been described using original documentation in a couple of articles by Paul Lucas in past issues of Scale Aircraft Modelling.  I would let you know more but my "filing system" is in chaos at the moment.  From memory the colour was Dark Mediterranean Blue for the initial Operation Calendar.  (I'm pretty sure in this case, because during the long arguments about this blue on modelling pages I felt that the likeliest options were DMB and EDSG, and I thought that the evidence pointed to the latter.  Live and learn.)  This does not mean that the same colour was applied in Malta to earlier (and later?) deliveries, but it does seem likely.  The Operation Bowery delivery was in TSS, so faded EDSG would appear bluish anyway.  When I did mine I used up a old tin of Airfix RAF Ensign Blue, as a faded representation of either... hopefully it was a Calendar aircraft.

 

So for some aircraft at least, it certainly is a proven and definitive choice.  As always, it rather depends upon just which aircraft you have chosen to model.

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I still suspect the US Navy camouflage color named Dark Blue - an interim color used between the days of Blue Gray and those of the Sea Blues.  Dark Blue was considered superior for hiding aircraft on carrier decks.  Significantly, it was tested onboard USS Wasp.

 

Cheers,

 

 

 

Dana

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Sorry Dana, but the correspondence in the National Archives shows that the aircraft were repainted at the Maintenance Unit before the Wasp sailed.  Stories about how they were repainted when on the Wasp (50+ Spitfires inside the hangar deck (plus how many others?) are just bar stories.  

 

Think a bit more about it - tested on the Wasp?  Did they have enough for 50+ "visiting" aircraft?  Yet there is no sign of it on any of Wasp's own aircraft, either on the deck during Calendar or back on Orkney?  With UK paints available, why choose a rare and exotic US colour after Gracie (the Malta-based leader of the Spitfires on Calendar) had told the authorities just which paint they did want?

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Hi Graham,

 

It does make one wonder!  And yet, all the photos showing the Spits being loaded aboard Wasp show contrast similar to desert camouflage or the day fighter scheme.   The best repaint photo shows BR12# (coded U-2) in a monochromatic scheme, with traces of the original camouflage showing through the masked-off serial number.  The aircraft is very poorly painted - it looks almost like a brush-painted job, something any MU should have been ashamed to send out through their gates.

 

There are two factors that suggest Wasp might have painted some of those Spitfires Dark Blue.  First, the paint had been in use for months, and Wasp had already painted half of its air group to compare the effects against Blue Gray.  And second, the camouflage was designed to make the aircraft less visible against the carrier deck.  In tests, Blue Gray aircraft made the entire carrier more visible; Dark Blue became the replacement color of choice.  If Blue Gray aircraft made the carrier more visible, how much worse would normal Spitfire camouflage appeared.  If Wasp did use its Dark Blue stocks, it would have been to protect the ship, not to protect the Spitfires when they began flying out of Malta.

 

I don't have any proof, but most of the previous discussions never even considered the possibility that Dark Blue was used - few knew the color existed, let alone was stocked on board Wasp.

 

Cheers,

 

 

Dana

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Yes, those pictures in Glasgow Dock had me going too.  If the photos were of the second trip, then it's another example of the various different ways that TSS can appear in different lighting conditions and film, but I must admit I was convinced the one being lowered to the deck was in Desert.  Particularly when one of the pilots (Rae) wrote of the blue undersides.  

 

However, perhaps memory may be playing slight tricks and I should dig out those articles and reread them rather than possibly overextend Paul's comments.  However, the contrast between the Spitfires and the Wildcats on the deck at the time of the launch was considerable.  Those Wildcats weren't Dark Blue.  And the Spitfires were carried in the hangar en route, so any ship camouflage would only be compromised at the time of the launch, well away from enemy action and with the sky full of fighters.  I don't see that as a convincing armament - especially as Malta had been overpainting their Spitfires a dark blue/grey before the Wasp became involved, and had sent a message asking for a maritime scheme on future deliveries.

 

As for the rough finish:  the aircraft were delivered (probably in Desert?) with little time in hand, then repainted at the MU (Abbotsinch?  Renfrew?) then painted again when Gracie complained that it wasn't the right colour. Given the timescale involved, I don't think immaculate finishes could be expected.  I must admit having some doubts about whether 52 Spitfires could be painted in Wasp's hangar decks in the time available with the ship hammering along - weren't some of them suspended from the ceiling?  This may be influenced by one report that someone's grandfather told him they were repainted four times on the voyage because of changing instructions  - which seems to have at least a flavour of the truth.)  What would the ventilation be like?

 

Not that this story is completely clear: if Calendar was in DMB then how come Bowery was in TSS?  Lost communication somewhere?

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On 11/18/2019 at 8:44 AM, Troy Smith said:

Roundel blue? 

I'm not seeing that anyone else has picked up on this but to me, that patch of blue appears to be on the aileron trailing edge, with the leading edge with its spar close to it at the gentleman's left hand, so unlikely to be part of the roundel, which oughtn't to be on the aileron anyway, should it? As I see it anyway. :unsure:

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Paul Lucas

 

Summary


The initial Spitfire deliveries to Malta were camouflaged on their upper surfaces in the Desert Scheme of Dark Earth and Midstone with either Sky Blue or Azure Blue under surfaces. By the end of March 1942 AHQ Malta had expressed a wish for the upper surfaces to be 'sea camouflaged' in a monotone finish, which the Air Ministry had both approved and understood to be Dark Mediterranean Blue by 8 April.

 

For some unknown reason, the requirement for Spitfires destined for Malta to be 'sea camouflaged' with Dark Mediterranean Blue on their upper surfaces and perhaps Sky Blue on their under surfaces was not adequately communicated either to the ASUs preparing the Spitfires or the Maintenance Party assembled at Abbotsinch to accompany the aircraft. As a result, the Spitfires were all loaded aboard USS Wasp with a green and grey disruptive pattern on the upper surfaces consisting of either Extra Dark or Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey with Sky under surfaces. When S/Ldr Gracie complained that this camouflage scheme was incorrect, the limited supply of the correct colours, Dark Mediterranean Blue and Sky Blue, which had been supplied to Abbotsinch by the Air Ministry, was loaded aboard USS Wasp and as many of the Spitfires as possible were painted using these materials whilst at sea. Because there was insufficient material to repaint all of the Spitfires, something like two thirds of the Spitfires might have left the USS Wasp in the same disruptive sea camouflage colours and Sky under surfaces as they had been finished in when they were put aboard and consequently carried these colour schemes into combat.

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17 hours ago, stevehnz said:

I'm not seeing that anyone else has picked up on this but to me, that patch of blue appears to be on the aileron trailing edge, with the leading edge with its spar close to it at the gentleman's left hand, so unlikely to be part of the roundel, which oughtn't to be on the aileron anyway, should it? As I see it anyway. :unsure:

You are of course right in what you say, but I don't think Troy was actually suggesting it was part of a roundel, just musing on what paint supplies could have available for painting Spitfires blue when you wanted them blue. And, to be fair, it does look quite like roundel blue, inasmuch as one can say withouit first hand observation.

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21 hours ago, stevehnz said:

I'm not seeing that anyone else has picked up on this but to me, that patch of blue appears to be on the aileron trailing edge, with the leading edge with its spar close to it at the gentleman's left hand, so unlikely to be part of the roundel, which oughtn't to be on the aileron anyway, should it? As I see it anyway. :unsure:

I just meant roundel blue as a blue uppers, merely a suggestion (as @Work In Progress kindly added) of available blues.

 

I know this one has been discussed before, but maybe worth reposting in light of some of the above, 

5563260675_8270a31b7f_b.jpgSpitfire in Malta 15 May 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

Spitfire in Malta 15 May 1943.

Air Vice-Marshall Keith Park about to taxi out in his personal Spitfire V to mark the opening of Malta's new airstrip in Safi

 

ay 43 is later, but this is till a Vb, and I've seen the uppers described as Dark Green/Dark Earth, or Dark Green/"grey" 

But this is very well lit.

Dark Green I can believe, but the other colour..

If I was asked to pick a known MAP colour, I'd say Dark Slate Grey

16636868203_1a71c96c33_b.jpg

 

yes, quite possibly total cobblers....  and merely a suggestion.

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Wich aircraftcarrier is it in the background to the left in that picture? For sure it also has an interesting camouflage...

 

Cheers / André

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11 hours ago, Andre B said:

Wich aircraftcarrier is it in the background to the left in that picture? For sure it also has an interesting camouflage...

 

Cheers / André

 

Further to Ewen's post, I'm unsure at this point as to whether HMS Biter was painted in the USA using American paints or if she's in British paint.

 

If British, then she might be wearing MS1, B6 and 507C or G5, B30 and G45. She looks pristine, so the date of the photograph could be pivotal. I've seen several suggestions, but most point to late spring 1943 which, unhelpfully, was the changeover point of the paints so it doesn't help much. If it were me modelling it, I'd go with G5, B30 and G45 unless I find out more.

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7 minutes ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

…  so the date of the photograph could be pivotal. I've seen several suggestions, but most point to late spring 1943 which, unhelpfully, was the changeover point of the paints so it doesn't help much.

David Brown in his book The Seafire dates this photo sequence to June 1943.  He's usually pretty sound.

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1 hour ago, Seahawk said:

David Brown in his book The Seafire dates this photo sequence to June 1943.  He's usually pretty sound.

 

Thanks. That probably puts us no further forward as the changeover point was late April 1943 but I'm certain there would have been stocks to consume of the old paints etc, so it could still be American, MS&B or G&B series sadly!

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Jamie

Try looking at this another way. What was she up to around this time?

 

http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk/ESCORT/BITER.htm#.XdVhmdXgqUk

 

She had a UK refit from 26 June 1942 to Aug 1942 pre Torch and arrived back in the UK 19/11/42 and went to Belfast for a short refit then to Rosyth. 19/2/43 leaves Rosyth. From then until 13/4/43 she is working up. Then joins a series of convoys with short periods in port. But 29/4/43-5/5/43 refuelling in Argentia. 18/5/43-2/6/43 on Clyde. 27/6/43-1/7/43 Argentia again. 9-26/7/43 on and around the Clyde before beginning a full refit taking up most of August and Sept.

 

Or when could she cross paths with Indomitable? 899 Seafires (taken from the codes) went aboard 11/3/43 and went ashore in Gibraltar 29/7/43 (with various dets to Macrahanish in between). By 15/6/43 Indomitable is in Scapa and sails for the Med 17/6/43. So the photo is either March/April or late May/first couple of days in June1943.

 

Now ask yourself, are these short periods in harbour sufficient to repaint the whole ship? Would the Captain use that time in port for a full repaint when the crew would be tired from operational voyages? I could understand touch ups to keep the rust under control. My best bet for a full repaint would be either the June/Aug 1942 refit (which you are discounting), Dec/Jan 42/43 or in her Aug/Sept 1943 refit.

 

 

 

 

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