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Harrier GR3 Markings Question


Hoops
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Posted (edited)

Good afternoon,

 

Looking at lot of photos of grey/green Harrier GR.3s I get the impression that at some point in time the large serial numbers were no longer applied on the underside of the wings.

 

My basis for this observation is that a lot of the preserved aircraft in museums, clearly in original paint and not restored, have no large serial numbers under the wings.

 

That would lead me to believe that at some point time, they stopped being applied, and by the end of the aircraft's career for the most part they were missing.

 

Is this a correct deduction? If so, about what timeframe did they serial numbers stop being applied?

 

Cheers and thanks,

 

Hoops

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Hello Hoops,

 

Your hypothesis is correct, they were removed at some point in the early 80s. As far as I know those used in the Falklands War - drawn from 1(F), 233OCU and IV(AC) Sqns - all had the serials still under their wings; photos of the downed airframes seems to back this up.

 

My hypothesis is that they began to not be reapplied after airframes were repainted after major servicing from early 1983 onwards. I base my hypothesis on the very few photographs of GR3s which show their wing undersides. By the time the old Aeroguide on the GR3/T4 was published in 1986, the aircraft featured in that do not have underwing serials. The photos may have been taken in 1985. Likewise, Willy Peeters photos used in the AirDoc RAFG Harrier volume are dated later than that and show no underwing serials.

 

Hope that helps for now. I'd really like to know when the changes began and were completed but, I fear that data is lost on the mists of time...

 

Cheers

 

Nick

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Posted (edited)
On 6/8/2021 at 8:26 PM, JagRigger said:

Early 80's for Jaguar, so guessing the same

 

Thanks JagRigger, that inadvertently answers the same question that I was wondering about for the Jags as well!

 

@NG899 Thank you for your very indepth response, it was very helpful. I'm mostly looking at RAF Germany based aircraft at the end of their service life, so I think it's fair to say that they didn't have the underwing serials. I haven't picked up the AirDoc book yet, but I've been considering it, as I'm sure that it would be a good reference.

 

While on the topic of Harrier GR3s, but not directly related to the previous question... Much like any project, once I got into it I started looking at other contemporary GR3s and was intrigued by the Match Coat trials aircraft.

 

XV809, the green painted aircraft, seems to have a badge applied below the windscreen on the right side of the aircraft for a time, but those photos available online are too far away to see any detail. It was clearly painted over at some point in time as well. I've also seen similar touch up spots on other 3 Squadron aircraft, but haven't stumbled across any other photos where the badge is visible. Does anybody know what this badge was? Or have a better image of it?

 

Edit: See Below for updated profile...

 

Thank you very much!

 

Cheers,

Hoops

Edited by Hoops
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I've just come across a photo of it that's quite a bit better than the one you've posted (on page 62 of the Air Doc book), but I still can't as yet quite make out what it is fully.

Could be a cartoon 'Chicken holding a Blunderbuss' in a circle?

Photo is credited to Dr. Stefan Petersen who might have a good copy if you can find him? Edit: I've just sent him a message.

I'll keep investigating in the meantime.

Cheers Bob.

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I worked on Harriers from mid 83 to mid 86 at Gut.  Few of my photos show the serials, although the undersides of the wing are quite hard to see.  One exception was XZ999, photographed air-to air in December 1983, and the serial is visible.  One that did not have underwing serials was XV738, the gray Matchcoat aircraft, contrary to Xtradecal and others.  I photographed it in some detail soon after it arrived in March 84, and the undersides of the wing are clearly visible and unmarked.  Incicentally, the Matchcoat aircraft were not supposed to have squadron markings, but both OCs decided otherwise. 

Following on from Nick's comments, I think there may have been two reasons.  First, wings were moved around very occassionally, usually after cat 3 damage.  They did not always fit well... but that was another matter.  Second, the serials could not easily be seen in any case against the wrap round camo, given the tanks and pylons.   

Regards

Tim

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I vaguely recall reading at the time that underwing serials were discontnued because it was considered they might provide a visual cue for optically-aimed portable missiles, such as SA-7.

Is there any truth in this?

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Posted (edited)
On 6/9/2021 at 8:59 PM, bobsyouruncle said:

I've just come across a photo of it that's quite a bit better than the one you've posted (on page 62 of the Air Doc book), but I still can't as yet quite make out what it is fully.

Could be a cartoon 'Chicken holding a Blunderbuss' in a circle?

Photo is credited to Dr. Stefan Petersen who might have a good copy if you can find him? Edit: I've just sent him a message.

I'll keep investigating in the meantime.

Cheers Bob.

Thank you for the input Bob, I'll definitely have to pick up the AirDoc Book. Looking forward to any response you get.

 

@TimB Thank you for the extra information regarding the serials on XV738. I had a suspicion that the serials were not applied under the wings based on the low visibility markings and the smaller sized serial number and roundels. It just seemed that if applied it would not have fit with the rest of the marking decisions made when painting the aircraft.

 

Edit: Updated Profile below!

 

Cheers and thanks!

Hoops

Edited by Hoops
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What the zap on XV809 is and the story behind it has evaded the Harrier SIG for many years. 

 

I'm all ears on this one... Finger knotted.

 

Cheers

 

Nick

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20 minutes ago, NG899 said:

What the zap on XV809 is and the story behind it has evaded the Harrier SIG for many years. 

 

I'm all ears on this one... Finger knotted.

 

Hi Nick,

On a second look, it seems to my eyes that it's more like someone wearing a hooked nose 'venetian mask'/'scaramouche' type thing but possibly holding a Blunderbuss or a trumpet?

Not heard back from Dr. Petersen yet.

Cheers Bob.

 

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Hi Hoops, thanks for sight of your drawing for XV738.  There are a couple of minor issues with the demarkation between the greys, and the 4 Sqn badge is a tad too far forward.  Also, note the black false canopy on the underside.  Hope these help.

Regards,

Tim

 

Kja6jtr.jpg

Z8AiwPe.jpg

w8O1WqV.jpg

UYseTA0.jpg

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Posted (edited)

@TimB Amazing photos!  Thank you very much for sharing and for providing feedback.

 

Edit, looking closely at the third photo, taken from the left rear, I think that there might be three colors to the camouflage. Take a look at the fairing around the outboard landing gear. To my eyes, there are clearly three colors to see there. There are also some aspects on the sides of the fuselage, where a slightly lighter color of grey is noticeable. It can be difficult to pick out exactly where. If so, I think it would change the accepted modeler's understanding of the camo scheme!

 

I'll put them all to good use,

 

Cheers,

Hoops

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On 6/9/2021 at 12:35 AM, Hoops said:

 

Thanks JagRigger, that inadvertently answers the same question that I was wondering about for the Jags as well!

 

@NG899 Thank you for your very indepth response, it was very helpful. I'm mostly looking at RAF Germany based aircraft at the end of their service life, so I think it's fair to say that they didn't have the underwing serials. I haven't picked up the AirDoc book yet, but I've been considering it, as I'm sure that it would be a good reference.

 

While on the topic of Harrier GR3s, but not directly related to the previous question... Much like any project, once I got into it I started looking at other contemporary GR3s and was intrigued by the Match Coat trials aircraft.

 

XV809, the green painted aircraft, seems to have a badge applied below the windscreen on the right side of the aircraft for a time, but those photos available online are too far away to see any detail. It was clearly painted over at some point in time as well. I've also seen similar touch up spots on other 3 Squadron aircraft, but haven't stumbled across any other photos where the badge is visible. Does anybody know what this badge was? Or have a better image of it?

 

51235409254_42c18eba5f_o.jpgMatchCoatQ by J Hooper, on Flickr

 

Thank you very much!

 

Cheers,

Hoops

 

That zap, to me, looks like an island with palm trees - sort of like the Italian 150 Gruppo badge, not it's not quite the same.

 

Jens

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Posted (edited)

After some tweaking and incorporating what I think is the three tone demarcation lines, here is the result:

 

Edit: Updated Profile below!

 

Cheers,

Hoops

Edited by Hoops
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Great photos Tim. Nice to see the recce pod in better detail and the angled demarcations on the tanks. 

 

Hoops - Only two colours of grey used, not three... satin Dark Sea Grey (BS381C:638) and satin Medium Sea Grey (BS381C:637). Your three colour idea is just picking up how the light is reflecting off the satin finish.

 

Bob, et al - Regarding the zap on the starboard cockpit side of XV738, on page 62 of the AirDoc book, to me it looks like a white ring with what looks like a gnome wearing a bandanna facing left and toting a blunderbuss or punching through the ring at 8 o'clock with his right fist; one tail of the bandanna cuts the ring at 2 o'clock.

 

Cheers

 

Nick

 

 

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Nick, I think you mentioned that there might have been something like that (the zap 'gnome') in a cartoon around that time (1984)?

I wondered if the Luftwaffe had any Squadron markings like that ever and came across the ones used by 1/JG 137 which later became JG 231, which later became 1/ZG 2.

Here's a shot I found of one example:

https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Bf-109D/ZG2/pages/Messerschmitt-Bf-109D1-2.JGr102-or-I.ZG2-Red-15-Germany-1938-01.html

This design was the 'Bernburger Jäger' (Berburger Hunter), armed with a Blunderbuss but I've no idea if there's any connection.

 

Cheers Bob.

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, NG899 said:

Hoops - Only two colours of grey used, not three... satin Dark Sea Grey (BS381C:638) and satin Medium Sea Grey (BS381C:637). Your three colour idea is just picking up how the light is reflecting off the satin finish.

 

I think that there are pretty clearly three colors used, as evidenced by the detail here:

 

51241928916_0fdbe77f31_o.jpgw8O1WqV by J Hooper, on Flickr

 

 

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Hi Hoops, I can confirm only 2 grays.  The pictures are from scanned 35mm slides, so the colour rendition is not perfect.  I built a model of the aircraft at the time, and had the modification leaflet available as reference.  The pictures were taken a couple of days after delivery when the finish was still pretty new and the satin still had a gloss component.  It soon went matt in the typical conditions over the North German plain.   Incidentally, the exhaust and hyd fluid staining on the back end happened in the short time the aircraft spent on air test and the ferry flight from St Athan to Gutersloh.  The 4 Sqn badge was 3 tone , based on a design drawn up in Humbrol colours.

Regards

Tim 

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Hi Hoops and Tim.

 

As Tim says only two greys. The BAe painting diagrams confirm only the two colours quoted; I’m not at liberty to share them, sorry.

 

My explanation for the the three colours visible is that the line between the darkest and mid grey corresponds with the old demarcation line on a cuff in the original three colours scheme; parts were often swapped.

 

Cheers

 

Nick

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This is an enlarged crop from the photo on page 62 of the AirDoc book 'British Harriers Part 1 - The GR.1/GR.3/T2 and T4 of the Royal Air Force in Germany', showing the

emblem that Hoops first brought up, which was painted on the fuselage side of GR3 XV809 of 3 Squadron, between the pilots name and the 3 Squadron Cockatrice and bars, 

whilst it was in the experimental Green Matchcoat scheme at Gütersloh 1984.

The photo is copyright of Dr. Stefan Petersen and is shown here on the forum with his kind permission, thanks also to Andreas Klein of AirDoc and Little Shop of Phantoms for

his assistance with this.

From what I can see, the image looks to me, to be of a cartoon Chicken/Hawk (similar to the Warner Bros 'Looney Tunes' style) wearing a large cowboy type hat or Sombrero and holding a

Blunderbuss?  

It would be really good if someone (here perhaps?) who used to work on 3 Squadron or at Gütersloh knew the origin of this image and could share the connection please?

Cheers and Thanks for any help/ideas,  Bob.

 

spacer.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@bobsyouruncle Thank you for the hard work to coordinate and upload the photo! I've updated the decal artwork, please see below!

 

51250675313_5a12408881_o.pngg3738-0-6-3 by J Hooper, on Flickr

 

@TimB @NG899 Thanks for the input! Please see the profile below updated with the feedback:

 

51250671768_0e7c5a57d8_o.pngg3738-0-6-4 by J Hooper, on Flickr

 

I have one last question on XV809: Xtradecal has a yellow "AF" on the outrigger gear fairings, but from what I can make out on the photos it looks like there is only an "F" present.

 

Can anyone confirm or deny? Cheers and thanks,

 

Hoops

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Brilliant! Great to finally get to the bottom of that one. Well done Nick and Graham!

Was searching to try and find the marking on an actual aircraft but this is the closest I've got showing a G.91 in 1987.

Check out the badge on the hangar wall.

http://www.vmas.it/VMAS_vecchio_sito/velivoli/G-91/MM6417 G-91R-1B NC221 2-10 TV 19-11-87 .jpg

 

Cheers Bob.

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