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Beaufighter`s,..... did they really wear desert camouflage?


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Hiya Folks,..... here is a query for you,..... did RAF Beaufighters serving around the Mediterranean between 1941-43 really wear desert camouflage of Middle Stone and Dark Earth,...... or do the available photos simply show weathered and faded Temperate Land and Temperate Sea Schemes? I`d appreciate your views on the subject as I have my doubts personally. ...... but not enough to say yes or no! 

Cheers

           Tony

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I wouldn't say never in desert, but Temperate Sea Scheme seems the most likely, as they were Coastal aircraft (or the DAF's equivalent).  I think that the very first ones may have been in TLS.

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I'd be very interested in a consensus on this (if such a thing were possible!) as I've got an Airfix Beau and High Planes Beau Ic conversion in my stash, which is/are destined to become either a 252 Sqn or 272 Sqn Idku-based aeroplane.

 

T5317 'F' of 252 Sqn shows a patch painted over the squadron codes here that's perhaps a daub of locally available middle stone over either TLS or TSS.....although it could be the same shade as the rudder. Incidentally, the code letter looks very bright: white? While this *** looks very much like TSS, and is allegedly in North Africa, but is it a monochrome photograph that's been colourised

 

Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks!

 

Cheers,

 

Mark

 

*** EDIT This is the photo on Etienne Duplessis' Flickr site (presumably someone snitched it and posted it on Pinterest!) so its a certainty that it's a genuine wartime colour photograph - see also Troy's post #7 below.

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Tony, I have never seen a photo of one in mid stone and dark earth but quite a few profiles

Until a convincing image is shown here I'm with you...............:yes:

 

 

Etienne.

Edited by Etiennedup
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10 minutes ago, Etiennedup said:

I have never seen a photo of one in mid stone and dark earth

How do you know you haven't, when almost all the available photography is black and white?

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1 hour ago, Work In Progress said:

How do you know you haven't, when almost all the available photography is black and white?

Etienne collects and thankfully shares lots of WW2 colour photos,...... I`m presuming that he means these.

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21 minutes ago, tonyot said:

Etienne collects and thankfully shares lots of WW2 colour photos,...... I`m presuming that he means these.

The Beaufighters are here

https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=8270787@N07&q=beaufighter

 

This one captioned as being in Libya, with what look like Azure Blue undersides, 

7569411968_c9031b2bf9_h.jpgBeaufighter at Magun, Libya       1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

if you follow the link, the photo can be greatly enlarged.

what bits of the uppers are visible seem to show TSS as  @tonyot has suggested,   got to say,  TSS uppers over Azure Blue is an attractive mix...

 

actually, I think this is the same plane,  

3581858906_946014beac_h.jpgBeaufighter . by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

also of note are the yellow painted undersides of the tailplanes and rear fuselage, which has been discussed a quick recognition feature here in the past. 

EDIT - here 

 

Anyone know the serial? 

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Hi

     the upper photo is on the IWM site and is captioned IWM901 april  1943 

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188544

 

    the lower photo is on the IWM site captioned as  IWM TR 816

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205188492

 

they appear unsure of identity as the label it 252Sqn ? in the desert 

 

    cheers

       jerry 

Edited by brewerjerry
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I believed this profile because it had a reasonably convincing picture with it. But like any black-and-white picture, it could be pink and purple.

https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Beaufighter/MTO/pages/Beaufighter-MkIF-RAF-272Sqn-TJZ-X7677-FltOff-Ern-Coate-Edku-Egypt-July-1942-Profile-0A.html

Anyway,  I went with that scheme for mine

The other picture referred to is very small but looks more-or-less like the one in the link.

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Well Tony only said 'Beaufighters' and did not specify which ones...

 

Night Fighter Beaus in Egypt and Tunisia were often in Dark Earth and Midstone with Black under surfaces.

 

So yes technically.

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The reason for the doubtful unit identification is most likely because for some time 252 and 272 Squadrons were combined into a single unit whilst operating in the Middle East.

 

I think that I would have interpreted the photo of TJ.Z as Desert scheme too, but TSS is exceptionally variable in b&w photos and can appear in a variety of differing tones.

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I'll stick my neck out here and say that the second photo at least looks to be coloured. Check the edges around the ground crew on the topsides against the sky and the edges around the roundel and fin flash also look dodgy. I know, not helping much.

TRF

Edited by fastterry
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Compare this photo:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN MALTA, JUNE 1943. © IWM (TR 1059) IWM Non Commercial License

taken in June 1943, with this one:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, MAY 1943. © IWM (TR 889) IWM Non Commercial License

taken almost exactly one month earlier, in May 1943, same unit.

Then, there is this one:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, MAY 1943. © IWM (TR 891) IWM Non Commercial License

that protrays the same aircraft as the one above. 

 

I think this shows TSS can be very tricky. In the last photo I might say 'Y' is in the desert scheme and, IIRC, it was one of the subjects in the old FROG kit. The Dark Earth/Midlle Stone/Azure Blue proposed colours were definitely attractive. However, comparing the two photos, I am rather inclined towards TSS. By the way, although the settings for the three phots are virtually the same, the sky in the May pictures is cloudy, whereas in June it is sunny. This might slightly change the hues although, admittedly, 'Y' is a different aircraft too.

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Perhaps we need to take a step back and look at the background to these squadrons, their equipment and their employment.

 

252 was the first CC Beaufighter squadron, reforming in Nov 1940, receiving Beaufighters from Dec 1940, and leaving for Malta at the beginning of May 1941. In June the survivors went to Egypt, temporarily merging with 272 until Dec 1941. 272 reformed at the same time on Blenheims, getting Beaufighters in April 1941 and leaving for the Egypt at the end of May 1941. At that time Beaufighters for these squadrons were in short supply with nightfighter squadrons having priority.

 

The earliest Beaufighter deliveries to these squadrons were in DG/DE/Sky.

 

AIUI TSS for fighter types in CC, such as the Blenheim IVf and Beaufighter, was not introduced until Aug 1941.

 

So how were the initial aircraft deployed camouflaged and any immediate replacements? There is some, albeit controversial, evidence that 252’s aircraft sent to the Middle East in May 1941 MAY have been repainted DE/Mid-stone/Azure Blue before departure. Would that repainted scheme or the DG/DE/Sky been better in the ME?

 

The other clue may may lie in the role of these aircraft. Between May 1941 and the end of 1942 there were detachments at various times all the way from Malta to Palestine. At times they were engaged in attacking airfields in support of army campaigns (e.g. Nov 1941 around Operation Crusader and late 1942 around El Alamein) when desert camouflage would be better suited. The rest of the time was shipping strikes, convoy escorts to Malta and along the African coast and interception over the sea of aircraft supplying the Afrika Korps for which TSS would be better suited (e.g. 252 at Malta initially, convoy support operations in mid 1942 etc.). Certainly by early 1943 when other squadrons began to join the Middle East Beaufighter force (I.e. 227 and 603) their operations were almost exclusively over the sea.

 

So, given that the 3 photos in Claudio’s post above are dated to 1943 (always assuming the dates can be relied on of course) TSS seems more likely.

 

For the May to Aug 1941 period DE/Mid-stone/Azure Blue would seem most likely.

 

As for the bit in the middle, depends when TSS Beaus were first being sent to the ME and exactly what the main role of 252/272 was at that particular point in time.

 

http://www.hrmtech.com/SIG/coastal_cam.asp

https://boxartden.com/reference/gallery/index.php/Modeling-References/Camoflage-Markings/09-Bristol-Beaufighter

 

Middle East nightfighter Beaus are a whole different topic. But see here for some info.

 

 

 

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However, b&w photos of early Beaufighters (or perhaps a Beaufighter) in the ME do show an aircraft with two dark colours, rather than the highly-contrasting Desert scheme.   We do know that at least 105 Sq is said to have been re-issued with Desert scheme Blenheims for operations from Malta - something which seems highly unsuitable for their environment compared with the TSS they were using in the UK.  Presumably all tropicalised Blenheims were painted in DS automatically, by this stage.  In which case can the same be assumed for Beaufighters?  However at the same time Hurricanes were being sent to the ME still in TLS, and this is usually what is shown (on what evidence?) for Malta-based Blenheims.

 

I suspect logic may not be a lot of help in this case.

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3 hours ago, EwenS said:

There is some, albeit controversial, evidence that 252’s aircraft sent to the Middle East in May 1941 MAY have been repainted DE/Mid-stone/Azure Blue before departure.

2 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

However, b&w photos of early Beaufighters (or perhaps a Beaufighter) in the ME do show an aircraft with two dark colours, rather than the highly-contrasting Desert scheme.

2 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

I suspect logic may not be a lot of help in this case.

Logic comes for free, so... let's give it try.

 

One early suggestion for the desert scheme on Beaufighters comes from the Ducimus Camouflage & Markings booklet and refers to the much photographed R2198 PN-B of No. 252 Squadron.

Later, Paul Lucas suggested that R2198 was photographed, only partly finished, during the short period when Beaufighters were delivered in dark grey primer. Photos of R2198, a Mk. IF, were taken around February 1941.

Before moving to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, No. 252 Sqn. re-equipped with the very first Mk. IC Beaufighters, at a time when the prescribed Coastal Command camouflage was the Temperate Land Scheme. 

 

After receiving the Mk. ICs, No. 252 Sqn operated for some time from Aldergrove hunting Condors, before the move to Malta in May 1941. Initially the unit was to provide cover for the Tiger convoy and a long-range striking force against Crete and southern Italy. For these tasks, I assume Dark Green/Dark Earth/Sky would have been acceptable, particularly if there was no plan, at the time, to keep the Beaufighters permanently based in the Middle East.

I believe the same applied to No. 272 Sqn. To me at least, Mk. IC T3317:XK-? on Malta appears to be in TLS, although TSS has also been suggested. If T3317 was in Malta before August 1941, the TSS camouflage scheme simply did not exist for Coastal Command fighters. Of course repaints are possible, but perhaps not too likely under the circumstances.

 

Based on this, my feeling is that aircraft of early deployments wore standard (at the time) TLS CC camouflage.

It may be that later replacements/reinforcements (for instance, T4828:BT-B) were finished in the desert scheme, or that the Dark Green was oversprayed with Midstone in the ME during 1942.

The IWM photos in 1943 refer to an entirely different war situation, with Axis forces by then only in Tunisia. I assume at that time over-sea strike prevailed, making the TSS/Azure Blue scheme more suitable.

 

 

Edited by ClaudioN
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Just to through another cat on the table ... in this thread

we see a beautiful profile and the "evidence" B&W pic to it

 

22381863219_ee86f5730a_b.jpg

 

Differing from other TTS pics, we see dark code letters (maybe if not probably red) here but I don't see the yellow ring around the fuselage roundel and I doubt the "azure" demarcation line on the engine nacelle.

 

Do I see sand (mid stone or some RLM 79 "type B" found in Tobruk) and dark earth? Green and brown? Grey and another (slate) grey? Who knows.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Hornet133 said:

Well Tony only said 'Beaufighters' and did not specify which ones...

 

Night Fighter Beaus in Egypt and Tunisia were often in Dark Earth and Midstone with Black under surfaces.

 

So yes technically.

Even that is open to doubt in many cases,..... were they Medium Sea Grey and Dark Geen,..... or Middle Stone and Dark Earth!  

Agreed,.... the early black painted Beau`s were often given a coat of desert colour scheme on the upper surfaces,..... but the later NF.Mk.VI`s were probably wearing the later NF scheme with black added to the undersides.

DSCF6744-NEW.jpg

 

As you probably surmised,..... I did mean the strike Beau`s,......  Temperate Sea Scheme with Aure Blue undersides is looking favourite for 1941-42 at least.,,, with some early aircraft wearing Temperate Land Scheme? I`d love to confirm that at least some wore the desert scheme. 

 

Cheers

           Tony

Edited by tonyot
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ClaudioN said:

spacer.png

 

Who knows...

If there were any wearing desert colours,..... then this must be the `era' Claudio,...... and BT-B is indeed an aircraft that I would like to model in 1/48th scale,......it certainly looks like desert colours to me,.....indeed I have built a model in desert colours from this unit and `era' but just wondered,..... I`ve always had a nagging doubt that we have always just `presumed' they were desert colours.

beau-1.jpg

beau-9.jpg

 

While later Mk.VI, like this Malta based aircraft;

DSCF6108.jpg

 

And this SAAF Mk.X,..... DID wear TSS,..... WITH both Azure Blue and Sky undersides...... some of the later Beau`s seem to have been painted in theatre in slightly darker colours,..... maybe even US OD and Dark Grey?;

SAAF-Beau-2.jpg This pic of a Halifax and Beau in Italy show the darker colours;

 46499248-553627498433094-397197286184897

Edited by tonyot
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4 hours ago, EwenS said:

Perhaps we need to take a step back and look at the background to these squadrons, their equipment and their employment.

 

252 was the first CC Beaufighter squadron, reforming in Nov 1940, receiving Beaufighters from Dec 1940, and leaving for Malta at the beginning of May 1941. In June the survivors went to Egypt, temporarily merging with 272 until Dec 1941. 272 reformed at the same time on Blenheims, getting Beaufighters in April 1941 and leaving for the Egypt at the end of May 1941. At that time Beaufighters for these squadrons were in short supply with nightfighter squadrons having priority.

 

The earliest Beaufighter deliveries to these squadrons were in DG/DE/Sky.

 

AIUI TSS for fighter types in CC, such as the Blenheim IVf and Beaufighter, was not introduced until Aug 1941.

 

So how were the initial aircraft deployed camouflaged and any immediate replacements? There is some, albeit controversial, evidence that 252’s aircraft sent to the Middle East in May 1941 MAY have been repainted DE/Mid-stone/Azure Blue before departure. Would that repainted scheme or the DG/DE/Sky been better in the ME?

 

The other clue may may lie in the role of these aircraft. Between May 1941 and the end of 1942 there were detachments at various times all the way from Malta to Palestine. At times they were engaged in attacking airfields in support of army campaigns (e.g. Nov 1941 around Operation Crusader and late 1942 around El Alamein) when desert camouflage would be better suited. The rest of the time was shipping strikes, convoy escorts to Malta and along the African coast and interception over the sea of aircraft supplying the Afrika Korps for which TSS would be better suited (e.g. 252 at Malta initially, convoy support operations in mid 1942 etc.). Certainly by early 1943 when other squadrons began to join the Middle East Beaufighter force (I.e. 227 and 603) their operations were almost exclusively over the sea.

 

So, given that the 3 photos in Claudio’s post above are dated to 1943 (always assuming the dates can be relied on of course) TSS seems more likely.

 

For the May to Aug 1941 period DE/Mid-stone/Azure Blue would seem most likely.

 

As for the bit in the middle, depends when TSS Beaus were first being sent to the ME and exactly what the main role of 252/272 was at that particular point in time.

 

http://www.hrmtech.com/SIG/coastal_cam.asp

https://boxartden.com/reference/gallery/index.php/Modeling-References/Camoflage-Markings/09-Bristol-Beaufighter

 

Middle East nightfighter Beaus are a whole different topic. But see here for some info.

 

 

 

I`ve taken all of this into consideration,..... and even when operating strike sorties over the desert,..... many of the transit flights appear to have taken place out to sea! This was one of the reason`s I queried the desert scheme and just asked what others thought,..... so nice to know somebody else ws thinking along the same lines,..... cheers Ewan.

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Yes! Because my early Mk 1 is.  I had a comment when I built this about this same subject, the photos of this actual aircraft are available online and I think show an overspray of Sand/Dark Earth in, a slightly different pattern as per the 'High Planes' instructions.  I remember reading an article somewhere online about a squadron commander wanting his Beaufighter's painted 'immediatlely' in Sand and dark Earth colours. I'm doing at least one more in the 'Desert scheme' sometime and don't care less if it's inaccurate or not, unless definitive information is available to the contrary. 😀

 

Davey.

 

DSC_0015

 

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7 hours ago, ClaudioN said:

Compare this photo:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN MALTA, JUNE 1943. © IWM (TR 1059) IWM Non Commercial License

taken in June 1943, with this one:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, MAY 1943. © IWM (TR 889) IWM Non Commercial License

taken almost exactly one month earlier, in May 1943, same unit.

Then, there is this one:

mid_000000.jpg?action=e&cat=Photographs THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, MAY 1943. © IWM (TR 891) IWM Non Commercial License

that protrays the same aircraft as the one above. 

 

I think this shows TSS can be very tricky. In the last photo I might say 'Y' is in the desert scheme and, IIRC, it was one of the subjects in the old FROG kit. The Dark Earth/Midlle Stone/Azure Blue proposed colours were definitely attractive. However, comparing the two photos, I am rather inclined towards TSS. By the way, although the settings for the three phots are virtually the same, the sky in the May pictures is cloudy, whereas in June it is sunny. This might slightly change the hues although, admittedly, 'Y' is a different aircraft too.

 

 

I'm sure we've had a discussion on here around what those photos show before, 

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52 minutes ago, DaveyGair said:

  ................

      don't care less if it's inaccurate or not, unless definitive information is available to the contrary. 😀

 

Davey.

 

 

Hi

    a good outlook on modelling

 

if is a reasonably possibility, I think

 

instead of needing a photo to prove it

 

   show a photo to disprove it 

 

     cheers

        jerry 

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Define reasonable: one person's idea of "reasonable" is unlikely to match another's.  Given the number of Beaufighters in the ME, it would be rather difficult to disprove any of these particular colour schemes by "a photo".  Or rather, impossible.  In truth, it is equally impossible to prove any colour scheme from a b&w photo anyway.  You can only argue from probabilities, to which you cannot attach values, so we are back at the beginning of defining "reasonable".

 

However, allowing (I hope) for all the adjustments that printers can make to even the finest colour photos, that looks like Desert scheme on a Beaufighter to me, which is all that Tony wanted.  Now he wants a serial...

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