Jump to content
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. :)

Tomas Enerdal

Very early underside color on desert/Greece Blenheims

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Dear all,

Im planning for the paint of a 211 Sq Blenheim. The plane is L6670 UQ, while flying from Greece in late '40-early '41.

At  least two well known IWM pics exist:

spacer.png

spacer.png

(if you look directly at IWM, the resolution is slightly better, here, and here.)

 

Now 211 got their Blenheims in the summer of 1939, while already stationed in Egypt. (At that time they had Dark Green/Dark Earth uppers w/ black undersides and white serials under wings) When fighting with the Italians started they had received a light camouflage color on top and light undersides.

As far as I have understood it so far, BS Light Stone had barely began to be used that early, I suppose it was Light Earth. From the pattern in the pics above, the dark color would then be Dark Earth. 

When 211 squadron had moved to Greece (1940) and was already busy bombing the Italians in Albania, Azure Blue was still being tested and had not yet been approved.

UQ/L6670 has been illustrated rather often. Now Dark Earth/Mid Stone/Azure Blue is often (uncritically) mentioned in painting instructions, references, kits but also decal sheets.  This out of pure habit, it seems... Light Mediterranean Blue has also been mentioned as a possible underside color, but it is rather too dark IMHO.

 

Has there been shed any more light/any recent findings in this field that I'm not aware of?

Any help appreciated!

 

TIA,

Tomas Enerdal

Edited by Tomas Enerdal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We know that the ME prepared their own light blue colour, and sent it to the UK.  The RAE Camouflage department came up with a suitable match, which was adopted as Azure Blue.  So the likeliest colour for very late 1940 is either Azure Blue or a close match.  Azure blue is quite a light colour, and LMB isn't very dark.  When this is combined with the tendency for blues to appear lighter in b&w photos, I wouldn't rule out it being LMB in the above photo but don't recall ever seeing any real evidence of LMB as opposed to much speculation (and it would be nice).

 

Sorry if this isn't terribly helpful, but I don't know of any more direct reliable comment.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could this be a replacement aircraft from the U.K. retaining  the original colour of sky blue or even sky ? Just a thought.

 

Wulfman

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sky would normally look lighter, Sky Blue even more so.  It might be a little dark for Azure Blue...  Maybe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Ok, back to it again... Tomas is making a bold choice, the peculiar combination of grey shades in those two pictures always seemed odd to me. Paralysing, as far as the choice of a colour scheme is concerned. 

 

I'd like to give a thought to the idea that, at the time, it was not uncommon to take black and white photoes through a yellow filter. Some cameras were sold with a small filter box as standard.

This was already discussed on BM somewhere. One of the reasons for using a yellow filter was to obtain a better contrast for certain subjects, most commonly, clouds. The beautiful clouds on the top image look like they might have been photographed through one such filter.

 

What a yellow filter does is attenuate all yellow(ish) hues in a colour, so that they appear lighter. I have NO idea how the colours of a desert scheme (or a temperate land scheme) would be turned into shades of grey through a yellow filter. Since we are conjecturing, I'd simply keep in mind the possibility that the shades of grey are not those we should expect. For instance, the UQ code in the top picture is darker than the background colour. I've seen this represented as a red code, but early 1941 is definitely too early for red codes. I am assuming a standard light grey but, then, there's something odd in the mix of greys.

 

We may never know.

 

Claudio

 

Edited by ClaudioN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Whatever the filter is, it seems to have had the same effect on the codes in both photos, and in both cases match the red of the roundel.  Whereas this is indeed too early for Bomber Command's switch to red codes, this is not Bomber Command: its remit did not run to overseas operations.  In both photos the code is darker than the Middle Stone, but lighter than the Dark Earth.  So could it be Medium Sea Grey, but how would this have been affected by a yellow filter, given the blue component?  If the effect would be to darken a blue, then we are back to wondering about the underside colour, and Azure Blue appears the most likely.

 

Is the suggestion of red codes also based on other photos than these two?  There has been other threads devoted to this subject: one of them included a colour (or colourised) photo taken of a Blenheim wreck in Greece - did this show the codes?  I did try looking for it but got Forbidden messages.

Edited by Graham Boak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought about filters, and monocromatic film as well. But the shades on the fuselage roundels seem to be in balance: blue darkest, then red, yellow just a little lighter than the white. Agree about the codes, medium sea gray I believe. But again, the codes are in the same hue as the roundel center...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you tried looking for other photos of Blenheims in the ME, and how their codes compare?  Find a photo of 211 Sq. where the codes do not match the roundel and they probably will not be red.  Do other units show the same effect?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I doubt azure blue, it had not been invented or approved in late ‘40; the 211 sq had not yet left for the hidden Paramythia walley. The pics above were taken at Menidi. Even if it did exist, I doubt that the squadron did repaint in the middle of intense operations from greek bases..

Edited by Tomas Enerdal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Other Blenheims in Greece have non-red codes, 84 sq, 30sq, UQ-D of 211sq. A colored b/w pic of VT-G on the rear of the book Blenheims over Greece and Crete 1940-1941 has red codes, the same pic in b/w in the pic section in the same book shows non-red codes, however. 

Edited by Tomas Enerdal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

No help with the undersides,......but this photo of a Blenheim scrapyard in Greece may (I say again MAY!!) help re the colour of the codes? The roundels appear to retain wartime bright colours which have also faded in the bright sunlight,......... the YH coded aircraft is most likely from 21 Sqn aircraft which would have flown from Malta where the unit had a detachment in late 1941, regularly attacking Axis convoys off the coast of Greece. 

blenheims-in-greece.jpg

 

And here is another 211 Sqn aircraft in case this helps with the underside colour? It depicts L6670, UQ-R. 

Blenheim-Mark-I-L6670-UQ-R-of-No-211-Squ

 

I had a go at a Blenheim Mk.If from the Greek Campaign myself and opted for a very light version of Azure Blue;

DSCF9573.jpg

DSCF9565.jpg

 

Cheers,

          Tony

Edited by tonyot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My understanding is that Azure Blue was standardised in 1940, but agree with the point that this wouldn't put the new standard colour on 211's Blenheims in Greece.  However, I think it fair to use the term "Azure Blue" rather than "The blue that ME Command was using and sent to the UK where it was matched by Azure Blue which was then standardised"  Perhaps "ME azure blue" could suffice?  Either way, for modellers Azure Blue would be the paint colour of choice..

 

Thanks Tony, that was the photo I was referring to.  I did look back 30 pages of the sub-forum without finding it.  In favour of it being a real colour photo, or at least one colourised from life, is the other Blenheim in the background in Temperate camouflage and similar grey codes.  A shame we can't see the undersides of either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, tonyot said:

No help with the undersides,......but this photo of a Blenheim scrapyard in Greece may (I say again MAY!!) help re the colour of the codes? The roundels appear to retain wartime bright colours which have also faded in the bright sunlight,......... the YH coded aircraft is most likely from 21 Sqn aircraft which would have flown from Malta where the unit had a detachment in late 1941, regularly attacking Axis convoys off the coast of Greece. 

blenheims-in-greece.jpg

Thank you Tony, this photo is very interesting and, as Graham notes, supports the presence of Blenheims in both colour schemes.

I'd suggest the 'YH' code is for no. 11 Squadron, not 21. Both units used YH, but Blenheims of 11 Sqn. did operate in Grece during early 1941, although I have seen little about them.

Any idea about the unit codes on the foreground aircraft?

 

Here's another Blenheim UQ-D from 211 Sqn. that was discussed here some time ago. In this case, I'd interpret it as temperate land scheme.

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND IN GREECE, 1940-1941.. © IWM (ME(RAF) 2598) IWM Non Commercial License

Edited by ClaudioN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to tidy up a detail or two.  Azure Blue was standardised in 1940, but as the last such.  It was recorded as being named on December 4th.   The previous colour in use has been referred to as Iraqi Blue and as ME Light Blue, I suspect the latter being the more official.  However as Azure Blue was intended to match this, wouldn't AB still be the best advice for modellers?  I believe that there has been a fuller recent-ish discussion of this colour, possibly in Scale Aircraft Modelling, but if so my copy is currently unobtainable.  Other discussions along the same lines have appeared here.

Share this post


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

However as Azure Blue was intended to match this, wouldn't AB still be the best advice for modellers?

Yes, I see no reason why not.

 

Mark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My idea is that the light underside color must be a very early one. They had been repainted in it before hostilities had begun in north africa in june ’40. (Not even sky had been established then?) I read that 211 being the first RAF unit to hit the Italians. Then they were in action until sent to Greece/Menidi in nov. ’40 where they went into action again. I suppose that the pics of L6670 were taken then. Menidi has been identified as the location. When reading about 211 sq history i simply cannot find a slot where they could have been repainted in ”modern” colors.

The first reference I looked in was Britain Alone/Paul Lucas. I have to look through his ”color conundrum” series i SAM, any idea of approx. when it appeared?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re the color photo, notice the lighter upperside color much rather looks like Light Earth than Mid Stone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Tomas Enerdal said:

My idea is that the light underside color must be a very early one. They had been repainted in it before hostilities had begun in north africa in june ’40. (Not even sky had been established then?) I read that 211 being the first RAF unit to hit the Italians. Then they were in action until sent to Greece/Menidi in nov. ’40 where they went into action again. I suppose that the pics of L6670 were taken then. Menidi has been identified as the location. When reading about 211 sq history i simply cannot find a slot where they could have been repainted in ”modern” colors.

The first reference I looked in was Britain Alone/Paul Lucas. I have to look through his ”color conundrum” series i SAM, any idea of approx. when it appeared?

You already know of this, I assume:

211 Squadron ORB

L6670 is first recorded with 211 Squadron in October 1940.

Edited by ClaudioN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, 212 Squadron ORB is a much visited page. And what a great page it is! Lots of information and, especially inspiration. 
Tonyot: thanks for the pic where Bish is standing in the hatch of L6670 UQ-R. I have seen that pic cropped before. Note how identical the collector rings look with the IWM pic. The very light coloured car in the background indicates that the pics vere taken at the same time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/21/2020 at 12:06 AM, ClaudioN said:

Thank you Tony, this photo is very interesting and, as Graham notes, supports the presence of Blenheims in both colour schemes.

I'd suggest the 'YH' code is for no. 11 Squadron, not 21. Both units used YH, but Blenheims of 11 Sqn. did operate in Grece during early 1941, although I have seen little about them.

Any idea about the unit codes on the foreground aircraft?

 

Here's another Blenheim UQ-D from 211 Sqn. that was discussed here some time ago. In this case, I'd interpret it as temperate land scheme.

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND IN GREECE, 1940-1941.. © IWM (ME(RAF) 2598) IWM Non Commercial License

Hiya Claudio,....... I`ve seen the YH coded aircraft described as an 11 Sqn aircraft before and it could be either,...... without seeing the serial we are a bit stuck,.... but 21 Sqn were also flying off the Greek coast and the camouflage would match operations from Malta too.  

 

"Any idea on the nearest aircraft codes",..... no mate,.... sorry,..... I`ve been wondering that myself!!

 

I`ve seen the photo of OQ-D from 211 Sqn too and agree that it was wearing the Temperate Land Scheme,...... I had considered building that one and I think I may have posted the pic in my WIP for my Greek Campaign Blenheim? It was photographed at the `secret' airfield in the valley of Paramythia in the mountains on the Albanian/Greek border,.....  I think it was called the valley of fairy tails ..... I cannot remember off the top of my head.  I`ve seen photos of Swordfish, Gladiator`s and I think Hurricane`s too operating from the same airfield. 

 

Cheers

         Tony

 

Edit,...... yes I thought I`d included that photo,..... and described it as bearing a Dark Earth and Dark Green scheme,.... the photo on my WIP below is slightly larger and the undersides could easily be black,,, the underside of the cowling looks black, as does the wing and lower fuselage,..... however it could well be just the cowling panels as I have seen this before too.;

 

 

 

Edited by tonyot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Tomas Enerdal said:

My idea is that the light underside color must be a very early one. They had been repainted in it before hostilities had begun in north africa in june ’40. (Not even sky had been established then?) 

 

Sky, or a remarkably similar colour, was already in use by Blenheim Mk.IVs in France during the winter of 1939/40.  It wasn't adopted by Fighter Command until June 6th 1940.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, tonyot said:

Hiya Claudio,....... I`ve seen the YH coded aircraft described as an 11 Sqn aircraft before and it could be either,...... without seeing the serial we are a bit stuck,.... but 21 Sqn were also flying off the Greek coast and the camouflage would match operations from Malta too. 

 

Edit,...... yes I thought I`d included that photo,..... and described it as bearing a Dark Earth and Dark Green scheme,.... the photo on my WIP below is slightly larger and the undersides could easily be black,,, the underside of the cowling looks black, as does the wing and lower fuselage,..... however it could well be just the cowling panels as I have seen this before too.;

Hi Tony,

I'm sorry, I remembered the picture and also a discussion on the mud streaks on the lower fuselage, but I didn't recall it came from your post. I agree there's plenty of choice for modelling a Blenheim in Greece/Crete. Your choice of a 30 Sqn. Mk. IF is one that I like particularly.

 

You are right that we cannot tell 11 Sqn from 21 Sqn from the code alone. I suggested 11 Sqn. because it operated from Greek airfields in early 1941 (with Mk. IVs, I believe), but I assume a Blenheim had the range to reach Greece from Malta as well.

Just a guess at the desert-finished Blenheim. Considering squadron codes of Blenheim units in Greece (84-VA, 211-UQ, 11-YH, 113-AD) there's no way one can fit two letters with wide horizontal tracts at the top. Might we think it came from 45 Sqn. (OB)? Perhaps transferred to another squadron and not recodede/refinished? Just fancy.

 

All the best

Claudio

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/21/2020 at 12:06 AM, ClaudioN said:

Thank you Tony, this photo is very interesting and, as Graham notes, supports the presence of Blenheims in both colour schemes.

I'd suggest the 'YH' code is for no. 11 Squadron, not 21. Both units used YH, but Blenheims of 11 Sqn. did operate in Grece during early 1941, although I have seen little about them.

Any idea about the unit codes on the foreground aircraft?

 

Here's another Blenheim UQ-D from 211 Sqn. that was discussed here some time ago. In this case, I'd interpret it as temperate land scheme.

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND IN GREECE, 1940-1941.. © IWM (ME(RAF) 2598) IWM Non Commercial License

I can't really offer much to this thread but I have been working my way slowly through the Airfix Blenheim. I've intention of it being the 211 Sqn UQ-D from above as I have stood in same spot in that valley and it really is very pleasant. I am none the wiser with which serial number the aircraft could be but it's not the end of the world as it is covered in mud. 

 

I agree with TLS with maybe a mid-stone/Dark Earth rudder?  As for the undersides, maybe black or maybe blue. I'm not sure.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, 85sqn said:

I agree with TLS with maybe a mid-stone/Dark Earth rudder?  As for the undersides, maybe black or maybe blue. I'm not sure.

 

A Mid-stone/Dark Earth rudder is an interesting idea. Another possibility is different lighting (shadow at the top suggests the rudder is slightly deflected to starboard), but I wouldn't know which to choose.

 

Not sure, but I seem to recall there were no roundels when the undersurfaces were finished in black. Perhaps the presence of an undersurface roundel on UQ-D also points to the possibility of a repaint from black?

This uncoded example:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS OVER ALBANIA AND GREECE, 1940-1941.. © IWM (ME(RAF) 1038) IWM Non Commercial License

seems to be at Paramythia, too.

Using the magnifier on the IWM web site, it is possible to see that part of the light colour on the lower nose transparency frame appears to be chipped, showing black (?) underneath. A repaint, possibly?


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve just had another look at the image of UQ:D and the rudder may be in three colours.  Assuming that the aeroplane retains the Temperate Land Scheme of Dark Earth and Dark Green the top part of the rudder appears to be in a lighter colour than Dark Earth on the remainder of the airframe.  The lower quarter or so of the rudder appears to be in Dark Earth; it’s not shaded by the tailplane and elevator and it’s catching the sunlight at the same angle as the top half, which appears markedly lighter.

Alternatively, given the low-ish contrast between the two main camouflage colours was she finished in Dark Earth and Light Earth?  I know we have the colour photo of a wrecked Blenheim that appears to be in Dark Earth and Middle Stone but there is something about it that makes me think that this is a colourised black ‘n’ white image (look at the area beyond the tree to the right).

Thanks @tonyot I’m going to try the 211 Squadron ORB page👍.

On 5/21/2020 at 12:06 AM, ClaudioN said:

 

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...