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Use of Black on the Bottom of Early RCAF Hurricanes


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Did early RCAF Hurricanes, that is the pre-war ones, have the black and light (silver, sky, or white) on the bottom.  I believe that they did but I have not seen any proof of it.  If black was used, was the alternate colour silver, sky, or white?

I know that black and silver was used on the Grumman Goblins.  

I’m doing 2 1/72 Arma Hurricanes, one in early colours of RCAF squadron 1 (the subject of my question above) and the second one is going to be done after squadron 1 became 401 in the UK with the YO markings, etc.  I would like to maximize the contrast between the two models, hence my interest in the black bottom and related colours. 

I have gone through most of this section and have found some Canadian content but nothing on this topic.

Thank you

George      

 

Edited by George W.
Sorry, it is in 2 different places, can I delete this one?
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I can't be sure about any peculiarities of the RCAF, but they should have been following RAF standards, certainly once reaching the UK.  Prewar Aluminium standards, replaced by Night (black)/white undersides (initially just flying surfaces), then Sky, the Sky and Night, back to Sky then Medium Sea Grey.  So what are the dates that you are interested in?  Basically N/W pre June 1940, Sky until November 1940, then N/Sky. 

 

Black and Silver was definitely not a required combination.

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In either case you would most likely be building a RAF Hurricane so they are painted as Graham states.  It is true that 1 (F) Squadron took their pre-war fabric wing Hurricanes with them, but it is unclear how many of them saved with 1 Squadron, and I've only found one definitive picture of an ex-HWE RCAF Hurricane.  (This Hurricane had been repainted, I think, and had a three bladed prop installed, but kept the fabric wing.)  If you are using the Arma kits, you will be doing one of the RAF birds that re-equipped 1 Squadron when they arrived in the UK.

 

Btw, the RCAF HWE Hurricanes flown in Canada did have aluminum dope undersides.  In fact, the RCAF really wanted them in all over silver dope...like the Siskins...but Hawkers (or the Air Ministry) said no way, eh.

 

Jim 

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Hurricanes of No. 1(F) Sqn. RCAF never had anything other than silver undersides.  They were only in Canada for a year, before the squadron (complete with their new aircraft), was shipped over to the UK in 1940 and once there, the squadron's early 'rag-wing' Hurricanes were transferred to the RAF and replaced with the current metal-wing Hurricane I's.  I'd also like to point out that the Hurricane's were only assembled in Canada, but shipped in crates from the UK in 1939.  

 

In 1982, Canada's Wings (Carl Vincent) published a magazine called 'High Flight' .  Vol.2 nos. 3/4/5/6 contained an article written by Carl Vincent  on 1/401 Squadron in which all 4 parts was rather photo-heavy.  Part 1 focused on the Siskin years, part 2 on  the arrival of the Hurricanes in 1939 and part 3 dealt with the squadron's arrival in the UK (June 1940) and their subsequent participation in the Battle of Britain. Part 4 focused on after the Battle and their subsequent re-equipping with the Hurricane Mk.II. 

 

NOTE:  1(F) Squadron RCAF was the only RCAF squadron (as opposed to RCAF personnel attached to RAF squadrons) to participate in the BoB.  They weren't officially re-numbered as 401 (F) Squadron until Mar. 1, 1941.

 

Hopefully Carl might chime in here with the photos that are in his collection, of these particular Hurricanes.  My own copies of Vol.2, no.4, is in itself a photocopy (to replace my missing original) so the photos probably won't be the greatest to scan.  In any case, I've attached some photos of my 1(F) Squadron (RCAF) Hurricane Mk.I, s/n. 315, that was done using the photos of '315 in Carl's article as reference

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I can't be sure about any peculiarities of the RCAF, but they should have been following RAF standards, certainly once reaching the UK

As Graham and Jim point out, the (crated) Hurricanes that arrived in Canada were painted in the UK by Hawker, to current (1939) RAF standards.

 

 

Scott

 

Hurricane-I-RFI-1.jpg

 

Hurricane-I-RFI-2.jpg

 

Hurricane-I-RFI-4.jpg

Edited by Scott Hemsley
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15 minutes ago, Scott Hemsley said:

Hurricanes of No. 1(F) Sqn. RCAF never had anything other than silver undersides. 

Scott,

 

You have to be careful with blanket statements, this is not really factual statement.  Hurricanes of 1 (F) Squadron RCAF never had anything other than silver undersides in Canada.  No question they were sky in the UK.

 

Jim

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Hurricanes of 1 (F) Squadron RCAF never had anything other than silver undersides in Canada.  No question they were sky in the UK.

Normally would agree with that, Jim … but do you have photographic evidence or a text reference of that as opposed to a 'general' assumption?  I'd be only too glad to be proven wrong if that was the case.  The Squadron only had their fabric-winged Hurricanes for a few days after docking in the UK,  and following the timeline in pt. 2 of Carl Vincent's High Flight article, one has to ask themselves, 'when would the squadron find the time and/or the resources to repaint the Hurricanes?' 

 

By the time the all Squadron personnel, equipment and vehicles, etc. (including their crated aircraft), docked at Liverpool, June 20, 1940 … they had 5 days to travel to their base at RAF Middle Wallop (11 Grp.), settle in to their new quarters, assemble and test fly all their aircraft, etc. and become familiar with their area of operations (not to mention RAF procedures) as well as prepare for an inspection visit by AVM Sir Hugh Dowding on June 25, 1940.  It was he, who upon seeing the Squadron was still equipped with only the earlier fabric-winged Hurricanes, arranged to have all of them* transferred to the RAF and replaced by the current metal-winged Hurricane I's being used by the RAF.  According to the aforementioned article, the process of replacing the fabric-winged Hurricanes, began mere days after his intervention.  As Carl states in the article, the AVM knew that the Squadron, like the rest of 11 Grp., would bare the brunt of the up-coming battle and he wanted all his fighter squadrons to be equipped with the most current aircraft. 

 

While I do agree that the 'new' Hurricane's would be in the prescribed scheme with Sky undersides, I have reservations if the Squadron would've had the opportunity to re-paint Sky undersides to their fabric-winged Hurricanes in those initial 5 days (or the next few intervening days prior to the transfer) with all else that was going on related to the move and the inspection.   However, I've no doubt that if those fabric-winged Hurricane's continued to fly with the RAF (in whatever capacity) after the transfer, that they would've worn the proper Sky undersides at some point.

 

* One Hurricane (RCAF s/n. 323) was the only RCAF-serialled Hurricane to have actually flown in combat.  It was left back in Canada, being overhauled by the CCF due to a minor accident and work was not completed until June 26.  It was shipped overseas, arriving at the squadron after the other aircraft had been exchanged with the RAF and pressed right into service.  It's not known if it received any mods to bring it up to the current standards, but it is known that it's guns were fired in anger on a few occasions.  One being on Oct. 5, 1940 - flown by F/L P.B. Pitcher, when he was credited with a Bf109.

 

 

 

Scott

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I have a series of CAHS Journal magazines from 2015/2016 that have Parts 1-4 of a similar series of RCAF Hurricane articles in them. Maybe reprints of the High Flight articles.

 

George, if you'd like scans, let me know.

 

 

 

Chris

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I stand corrected with my assertion that all the fabric-winged Hurricanes of 1(F) Squadron, RCAF only had silver doped undersides.  As Jim says, that was 100% true while the Squadron was in Canada, but while he stated they certainly were repainted in the UK, I reserve judgement on that - and stated that there was no photographic proof (I was aware of) that stated otherwise. Guess what?  Photographic proof has been uncovered proving at least 1 (it happens to be the one that arrived in the UK back with the Squadron, after the RAF "swap") did in fact receive a Sky underside. 

 

I just got an email from Jim (AirJiml2) with a photo - that he admitted that he had to dig deep to find - of a fabric-winged Hurricane I (RCAF serialled 323 - note it's significance from one of my posts above) with a Sky bottom.  Jim theorizes from it's appearance that it was taken after the Squadron actually began ops - which would place it sometime post Aug. 18, 1940.  I'm hoping that he'll post the email along with the photo.

 

However, I maintain that doesn't prove the other Hurricanes brought over to the UK by 1(F) Squadron, RCAF on June 20, 1940 - were repainted in any way from their factory-applied 1939 RAF camouflage prior to them being transferred back to the RAF in after June 25/early July 1940.    IMO, until more proof surfaces, we have to assume that they retained their silver dope undersides.

 

Scott

 

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From No1. RCAF war diary in book form (High Blue Battle):

 

- June 22nd entry  states their station at Middle Wallop was still under construction.

- June 25th, Hurricanes were still being uncrated and reassembled, Dowding visits and orders upgraded fighters.   In brackets, date of June 30 given when new fighters arrive, no indication if all or only some replaced.

- June 26th, first practice flight in UK by pilots McGregor and Briese in two Harvard aircraft

- July 4th, depart to Croyden

-July 11th,  squadron grounded for a week due to one of their aircraft being caught flying with night/white undersides

 

Does the above match Carl's published timeline?

 

regards,

Jack

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1 hour ago, JackG said:

From No1. RCAF war diary in book form (High Blue Battle):

 

- June 22nd entry  states their station at Middle Wallop was still under construction.

- June 25th, Hurricanes were still being uncrated and reassembled, Dowding visits and orders upgraded fighters.   In brackets, date of June 30 given when new fighters arrive, no indication if all or only some replaced.

- June 26th, first practice flight in UK by pilots McGregor and Briese in two Harvard aircraft

- July 4th, depart to Croyden

-July 11th,  squadron grounded for a week due to one of their aircraft being caught flying with night/white undersides

 

Does the above match Carl's published timeline?

 

regards,

Jack

 

Depends. I thought we were discussing the 20 Hurricanes that were in Canada before they were shipped back to England with No. 1 Squadron in 1940.

 

 

 

Chris

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Jack, in answer to your question … yes it does, from a different perspective and in a little more detail  

 

But what I would take away from that (it ties in with the original question, Chris) is that there was no time for re-painting the silver-doped undersides of the Hurricanes originally brought from Canada by 1(F) Squadron, RCAF - in the RAF's 1939 cam - to the UK prior to them being transferred back to the RAF and replaced by the new metal-winged Hurricanes on June 30.  That was implied by Carl's timeline and re-enforced by the one you provided with the entry for June 25.

 

Scott

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Hello Scott, thank you for the above and continuing the conversation. 

 

Not sure why Chris wants the discussion to end in Canada - I find it interesting about these RCAF Hurricanes, along with if and how they were used in the UK.  

 

Anyways, couple other anecdotes to share is a write up by Dr. Richard Mayne;

http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/cf-aerospace-warfare-centre/elibrary/journal/2015-vol4-iss2-08-a-very-swift-death-to-the-enemy.page

 

On 21 May 1940, Ottawa offered to send No.1 Squadron to Britain, but they only had fourteen Hurricanes,  two shy of the initial required establishment.   Also his take on Hurricane replacement:

"Dowding told the squadron that he had made arrangements to get them at least some new Hurricanes. He was true to his word. With their original Hurricanes being reassembled and some already flying, the squadron was delighted when a handful of new aircraft arrived soon after Dowding had promised them."

 

 

 

 

regards,

Jack

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3 hours ago, JackG said:

Not sure why Chris wants the discussion to end in Canada - I find it interesting about these RCAF Hurricanes, along with if and how they were used in the UK.  

 

I forgot it was a multi-point topic. Hey, I'm old! Cut the geezer some slack.

 

 

 

Chris

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Not sure why Chris wants the discussion to end in Canada

He doesn't really … does he?   :-)

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I find it interesting about these RCAF Hurricanes, along with if and how they were used in the UK.

The RCAF is interesting when one gets into the history.  BTW, that link is an interesting read.

 

Scott

 

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Looking through the online 401 entries at UK National Archives,  found Hurricane 323 dated Sept 14, 1940 (listed many more times afterwards).   See image 19 of the preview records.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8402635

 

There was also found serial 311 on image page 22, flying as a test on the 16th of September.   The rest of the month has it listed several times as flying patrol, so would that constitute as being used for combat, even though  it did not see or actually engage the enemy?

 

 

regards,

Jack

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