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Was RAAF Earth Brown used on Aussie Mk.VIII Spitfires?


Red Dog
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Doing some research for my 1/48 Eduard Spitfire Mk.VIII in the RAAF.

Was RAAF Earth Brown used on Aussie Mk.VIII Spitfires?

It seems to be a legit colour but on Spitfires? Was it used on other RAAF aircraft and is there any clear cut evidence? I understand that nearly 80 year old B&W photos with little contrast between the colours will dramatically reduce ability to conclusively tell what colours were used, but we can hope.

 

What I have found out so far is that the first batch delivered between Nov 43-July 44 of Mk.VIII's (Aussie serials A58-300 to A58-550) came to Oz in RAF Desert camo of Middlestone & Dark Earth with Azure undersides. 

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This camo scheme was found to be unsuitable over Oz so Middlestone was oversprayed with Foliage Green.

This profile has some darker brown/redder (or maybe fresher RAF Dark Earth paint?) surrounding the fuselage roundel and serial. Could this be RAAF Earth Brown? Haven't found anything to say that the the RAF Dark Earth was oversprayed with RAAF Earth Brown.

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If time permitted they were totally repainted in Foliage Green uppers with Sky Blue undersides.

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The next batch of Spitfire Mk.VIII's (RAAF serials A58-600 to 758) came in RAF Day fighter scheme of Dark Green & Ocean Grey with Medium Sea Grey undersides which they retained. Some profiles like this one has Foliage Green touch ups which sound totally reasonable.

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Any help would be greatly appreciated

Cheers

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Peter Malone is the man to contact for this, but in his immediate absence I will risk a few opinions.  Earth Brown is indeed a legitimate colour, used on other aircraft as well as (I believe) Spitfires.  The problem with the UK's temperate-decided colours is that they faded dramatically in Australian sunshine.  You are asking about Mk.VIIIs, but if Earth Brown was used on Mk.Vs I don't see why it would be avoided on Mk.VIIIs.   I do however think that this single green is false, except possibly on one single aircraft and I could be wrong there...

 

Can I ask just which sources you are using?  It looks rather like the old Kookaburra booklets, rather than the later Kookaburra books on RAAF camouflage and markings, or any of the many articles and booklets by Ian Baker.

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6 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

Can I ask just which sources you are using?

 

Looks very much like Eduard's 1/48 "Aussie Eight" instructions.  Peter's the man @Magpie22 

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Sources are varied, The Spitfire, Mustang and Kittyhawk in Australian Service by Stewart Wilson

Valiant Wings Airframe and Miniature No.12 The Supermarine Spitfire Pt.1 (Merlin-powered) Richard A. Franks

Many websites from modelling forums to posted pics of RAAF Spitfires. 

I have DK decals 'Spitfire Mk.Vc/MkVIII in the RAAF service' which has both Mk.Vc's & VIII's in the RAAF colours of Foliage Green & Earth Brown with Sky Blue undersides.

 

I've found mention of 'official RAAF scheme of Foliage Green/Earth Brown and Sky Blue' on forums but with no official documentation to go with it or picture sources to confirm it.

Looked at many builds with some using the above mentioned FG/EB & SB.

Would really like to do one in FG/EB & SB to standout from the Boomerang and Beaufighter that are in already in FG on the shelf.

 

The profiles above are from Eduard's 'Aussie Eight' and seeing as Peter Malone had input into their production, not having any in FG/EB & SB would be a huge omission. Would love to have a look at the booklet from the Aussie Eight boxing and see what Peter has written.

 

The plan is to model one of each of the above camo schemes applied to RAAF Spitfire Mk.VIII's and just wanting to be thorough and have them all. 

 

Thanks for the replies so far gentlemen.

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Hi,

 

I've got the Aussie 8 booklet and there's no mention of the use of Earth Brown on Mk VIII's. I've also had a number of chats with Peter Malone about Spitfire V's and his view is the main overpaints of factory colours was replacing Mid Stone on Desert Scheme aircraft with Foliage Green. Dark Earth areas were left alone. On Mk VIII's it's possible to see outstanding stencil markings on the original Dark Earth areas. Overpaints of roundels to reduce their diameter - the view was this was done with RAAF Dark Earth a similar but slightly darker colour than RAF Dark Earth. Some Mk V's have been shown in Foliage Green/Earth Brown/Sky Blue but it is likely this might have only been done for airframes requiring major repairs/overhauls. In any case on MK VIII's the only likely overpaints with Earth Brown would have been roundels (if they didn't have stock of RAAF Dark Earth).

 

I've just completed a Mk VIII in the Dark Earth/Foliage Green scheme posted on the site:

Regarding the Foliage Green/Sky Blue scheme, this is quite a standard scheme and appeared on a lot of aircraft. There are numerous examples in the Aussie 8 book. I've built Ron Cundy's aircraft in this scheme.

 

Hopefully Peter is on and can help you out personally.

 

Cheers

 

Michael

Edited by Michael louey
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Here's some of the discrepancies that are seen online.

The profile above of Clive Caldwell's a/c (A58-484) as Eduard (Peter Malone) have stated in their painting instructions is in Foliage Green/Dark Earth & Azure. 

This pic (unknown source) of the exact same a/c states it to be in Foliage Green/Earth Brown & Sky Blue (a total repaint from original desert camo).

 

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Thanks Michael, 

That info pretty much confirms what I have collected and concluded. 

Seems only reasonable that they overpaint the one conspicuous colour in Middle stone.

If stencils can still be seen on the brown = Dark Earth (RAF)

Overpainting of roundels can be seen on pics then use of (RAF) Dark Earth will show up as darker (fresher) or locally supplied Dark Earth or Earth Brown will also provide contrast in pics.

Much appreciated but ruins what could have been a very interesting paint job.

 

 

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Hi Red Dog,

 

Interesting comment about the white codes on Caldwell and Trimble's aircraft. As can be seen in my build, the 1/72 Eduard Aussie 8 kit includes codes for both in Sky Blue.

Here's my kit of A58-484 which uses the Eduard decals and are also Sky Blue.

 

A look at a review of the 1/48 kit seems to show sky blue codes for the Caldwell and Trimble schemes:

https://www.eduard.com/eduard/plastic-kits/limited-edition/aircraft/1-48/aussie-eight-spitfire-mk-viii-in-australian-service-dual-combo-1-48.html

 

I wonder if they corrected their decals for the 1/48 kit in later issues. I got the 1/72 kit quite soon after the release so I believe it always had sky blue codes. One of the advantages with Eduard doing 1/72 versions of their 1/48th kits is they normally apply lessons learnt from the larger scale version.

 

Cheers

 

Michael

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Thanks Michael I stand corrected, have edited my previous comments. Apologies for misleading anyone. 

 

Interesting subject and story with the 4 cannons.

 

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Hi Red Dog,

 

The Eduard 1/72nd scale book gives a full story about the 4 gun Spitfire. I had the 1/48th book for a while and this section was absent.

You also might find these threads interesting about Mk VIII spitfire colours in general and Caldwell's aircraft in particular:

http://www.aussiemodeller.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10285&hilit=caldwell

http://www.aussiemodeller.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6416&hilit=caldwell

 

Some of the pictures are no longer showing and some links are broken on the threads but some of the paintings/sketches are here:

https://wepidgeon.com/pidgeonpost/?tag=caldwells-spitfire-squadron

 

Colours on the sketches/paintings by Pigeon are only listed as Brown and Green but Peter's comments re stencils on the brown sections of camouflage confirm this is Dark Earth not Earth Brown.

 

Cheers

 

Michael

 

 

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2 hours ago, Drop Bear said:

Hi @Red Dog

 

Perhaps I over simplify things by avoiding problems, however having recently constructed the 1/72 AZ Mk VIII, I can vouch for the Foliage Green over Sky......its a cracking look for an Aussie Spitty 🥰

 

Cheers

 

Alistair

 

Yeah, Real Cool!! :cool: :speak_cool:

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@Red Dog,

I think most of your queries are answered above.

The codes in the Eduard releases I have seen were Sky Blue. The colour was matched to colour samples that I sent them. These are somewhat lighter than the oft quoted FS. 35550.

I could add more detail but that would take up even more space unnecessarily.

If you have further queries or, want to discusss this further, PM me. Always happy to talk Aussie Spits.

I am always open to corrections and new information - research is never final, always ongoing.

Incidentally, I am quite sure of the colours on ZP-Z - I shared an office with Tom Trimble at Aeronautical Research Laboratory for a number of years.

Peter M

 

PS: Be very wary of the DK decal instructions - it has many errors.

Edited by Magpie22
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16 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

Peter Malone is the man to contact for this, but in his immediate absence I will risk a few opinions.  Earth Brown is indeed a legitimate colour, used on other aircraft as well as (I believe) Spitfires.  The problem with the UK's temperate-decided colours is that they faded dramatically in Australian sunshine.  You are asking about Mk.VIIIs, but if Earth Brown was used on Mk.Vs I don't see why it would be avoided on Mk.VIIIs.   I do however think that this single green is false, except possibly on one single aircraft and I could be wrong there...

Graham,

 

Thanks for the kind words.

 

Earth Brown was indeed a legitimate colour but, its use on Spitfires was very limited in my opinion. It was specified for application, along with Foliage Green, to locally built A/C but, it was rarely applied to imported A/C, some P-40E A/C for example.

 

May I ask what reference you have for its use on Spitfire VC A/C? The only cases, of which I am aware, where it may have been used are OTU aircraft when the A/C had undergone a 240 hourly or, on repair after a major accident. I have found no cases of it being applied to A/C on arrival in Australia and, therefore, it was not seen on A/C used by the operational squadrons. The aircraft had to brought into service quickly so it was just a case of overpainting the Middle Stone with Foliage Green, changing the national markings, and number, and getting them up north as quickly as possible.

 

There are some who claim that Foliage Green and Earth Brown were applied to No. 79 Sqn A/C. I believe that this is due to misinterpretation of photos that were taken on Orthochromatic film which render Dark Earth and Foliage Green as closely similar tones. This probably also accounts fro the spurious reports of a single colour of Foliage Green on the upper surfaces of some No. 79 Sqn Mk.VC. The Foliage Green over Sky Blue was only used on Mk.VIII A/C, largely as a result of the 'balls up' with A/C having the camouflage stripped off when the squadrons were working up and then having to be re-camouflaged after arrival up north.

 

Cheers,

Peter M

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11 minutes ago, Magpie22 said:

There are some who claim that Foliage Green and Earth Brown were applied to No. 79 Sqn A/C. I believe that this is due to misinterpretation of photos that were taken on Orthochromatic film which render Dark Earth and Foliage Green as closely similar tones. This probably also accounts fro the spurious reports of a single colour of Foliage Green on the upper surfaces of some No. 79 Sqn Mk.VC. The Foliage Green over Sky Blue was only used on Mk.VIII A/C, largely as a result of the 'balls up' with A/C having the camouflage stripped off when the squadrons were working up and then having to be re-camouflaged after arrival up north.

 

Cheers,

Peter M

Now I'm kicking myself (and straying from the post) - recently I found a lesser known photo of Mk V A58-137 "UP-T" being serviced.  I've noted much discussion as to whether it was overall foliage green.  In this shot, the air filter cover is removed and in the foreground - it shows a clear demarcation exactly where the colours met.  For me - proof of DE/FG.  Now all I have to do is find it again......... 😫

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As others have said you are the man when it comes to Aussie Spits, Thanks Magpie22.

Interesting info about Earth Brown and its use or lack of with Spits, but also very logical for the times and situation.

I'll keep my bottle of Earth Brown for something else, something locally built as you have stated.

Now that Earth Brown story has been cleared up, what about the reports of a mid green used on 79 Sqn Spits?

From Valiant Wings Airframe & Miniature No.12 The Supermarine Spitfire Pt.1 (Merlin-powered) by Richard A. Franks

 

                        'No.79 Sqn carried a distinctive scheme from March 1945, the standard grey/green being

                         too obvious at low level over jungle or tropical waters, so the grey was replaced with a

                         lighter shade of green mixed by No.6 Aircraft Depot using six parts Cockpit Green with

                         one part white (RAF Interior Green not US)'.

 

Now there's something different. I have seen one Spitfire model painted in this scheme which definitely looks different. I'm all for different and unusual.

 

Interesting photo and observation Drop Bear, I'll keep those points in mind when I eventually get round to doing the Mk.Vc in RAAF service. Shouldn't be too far away with Eduard now releasing their Vc. Will be easier than taking the knife to the Tamiya Vb's in the stash.

Cheers

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15 hours ago, Red Dog said:

As others have said you are the man when it comes to Aussie Spits, Thanks Magpie22.

Interesting info about Earth Brown and its use or lack of with Spits, but also very logical for the times and situation.

I'll keep my bottle of Earth Brown for something else, something locally built as you have stated.

Now that Earth Brown story has been cleared up, what about the reports of a mid green used on 79 Sqn Spits?

From Valiant Wings Airframe & Miniature No.12 The Supermarine Spitfire Pt.1 (Merlin-powered) by Richard A. Franks

 

                        'No.79 Sqn carried a distinctive scheme from March 1945, the standard grey/green being

                         too obvious at low level over jungle or tropical waters, so the grey was replaced with a

                         lighter shade of green mixed by No.6 Aircraft Depot using six parts Cockpit Green with

                         one part white (RAF Interior Green not US)'.

 

Now there's something different. I have seen one Spitfire model painted in this scheme which definitely looks different. I'm all for different and unusual.

 

Interesting photo and observation Drop Bear, I'll keep those points in mind when I eventually get round to doing the Mk.Vc in RAAF service. Shouldn't be too far away with Eduard now releasing their Vc. Will be easier than taking the knife to the Tamiya Vb's in the stash.

Cheers

 

 

I believe that colour scheme was first illustrated by Geoff Pentland in a booklet I co-authored with the late Frank Smith in 1970. At the time I disagreed with the artist, but I didn't own the publishing company, so the artwork stayed. It was based solely on B/W photos. I, also, am  responsible for some other errors in the booklet. It is useful for the photos but forget the rest. I've learnt a lot more in my research over the last 50 years. I cannot comment on the quote from Franks' book as there are no references given, particularly for his quoted paint mix. I don't have the book so don't know what A/C he illustrated. A58-517, along with several other No. 79 Sqn A/C, was illustrated much more accurately in the instructions with the Eduard Aussie Eight boxings.

 

I have interviewed Norm Smithells, (Norm Taylor at the time), pilot of A58-517, UP-F, and Hugh Kennare, pilot of A58-492, UP-B. Both were quite adamant that theirA/C were green and grey. These aircraft were originally serilled MT518 and MT594 and, aircraft in this serial range were being finished, at the factories, in RAF Dark Green, RAF Ocean Grey, and RAF Medium Sea Grey. They were shipped to Australia in these colours and received at No. 6 AD storage in those colours. I have never found any evidence to support the statement that No. 6 AD completely repainted those A/C. A close examination of photos shows mismatched colours where No. 6AD modified the roundels and painted over the RAF serial and rear fuselage Sky band. Certainly it was not in the purvey of the CO's of No. 79 Sqn or No. 6 AD to approve such a major change in their aircraft's camouflage. Such approval would have had to come from Group level, (SASO), or, in special circumsatnces from Wing level.

 

Many modellers seem to assume that squadrons changed their camouflage like we change shirts. Not so! In the RAAF, squadrons were not equipped to do major repaints, only minor touch ups following minor damage. They could add A/C codes, squadron markings and, unofficial individual emblems. They could make no changes to national markings or A/C camouflage without higher level permission. Everything else had to go to a Repair and Servicing Unit or Aircraft Repair Depot. These latter units normally came under the control of a Group or Area HQ and were subject to relevent RAAF orders and instructions.

 

Pull up P02482.008 from the AWM website. This is a shot of Malta Ace Len Reid sitting on the wing of his No. 79 Sqn Spitfire VIII, A58-522, (MT514). This A/C was also one of the I.E. of No. 79 Sqn and passed through No. 6 AD. A small, (in yellow), MT514 can be discerned stencilled on the engine cowling. These numbers were painted on when the A/C were broken down for packing in crates and shipment to Australia. They were there as an aid to ensure the correct parts were fitted on re-assembly. When the RAAF over-painted Spitfires, they did not re-apply these markings. Indeed they did not re-apply most srencils, including wing walkways etc - this is a good guide in asssessing whether an A/C has been repainted in RAAF service.

 

Having said all that, I am reminded of a time many years ago when I was at a fly-in at Swan Hill. It was early morning and we were scrambling out of our tent for the dawn patrol. I looked across at VH-HET and, in the dawn's light, it looked as if it was painted in two tones of green, just like the Pentland illustration!!

 

Keep your Earth Brown and Foliage Green. They were both used in modifying national markings, covering RAF serials etc, on A/C received from overseas, as well as specified for loacal production.

 

HTH,

Peter M

 

 

 

 

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Amazing the wealth of knowledge you have collected over the years Peter.  Thanks for clearing 'the two greens' theory up.

You just wont let me model something different and slightly off beat will you. 🤬

I'm open to new info or interpretations but do like to confirm it if possible.

Very jealous of you being able to spend time and talk with some of our nations heroes and now share their stories.

 

Fly in at Swan Hill you say, I may have been at that one too. Was at many a fly in during the 80's with the family and the AAAA.

Thanks heaps for your time and replies.

Andrew (Red Dog) McLean

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What I've found in RAAF archives about camouflage finishes

42/44

single engine, communication aircraft : RAF colours temperate land scheme DG/DE remain

twin & four engine(all role): DG was replaced by Foliage Green K3/177 & DE replaced by Earth Brown K3/178

 

19 aug 1942 until feb 1944

- north western area

(i) dry season, dec to april :  Foliage Green & special shade Stone

(ii) wet season, april to dec: Foliage Greeen & Light Green

 

- North Eastern areas

as (ii) above, actual scheme is Foliage Green/Earth Brown

 

 

From feb 1944, uncamouflaged or camouflaged(Foliage Green overall) according the role.

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Great info Peter, thank you.

 

A question if I may - do you know if the RAAF also carried RAF paint stocks (or close equivalents) to refinish or touch up aircraft, or would they have been confined to RAAF paints?

 

ie, if a VC in RAF Dark Earth/RAAF Foliage Green/RAF Azure Blue needed repair what paint would have been available?

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17 hours ago, Magpie22 said:

 

 

I believe that colour scheme was first illustrated by Geoff Pentland in a booklet I co-authored with the late Frank Smith in 1970. At the time I disagreed with the artist, but I didn't own the publishing company, so the artwork stayed. It was based solely on B/W photos. I, also, am  responsible for some other errors in the booklet. It is useful for the photos but forget the rest. I've learnt a lot more in my research over the last 50 years. I cannot comment on the quote from Franks' book as there are no references given, particularly for his quoted paint mix. I don't have the book so don't know what A/C he illustrated. A58-517, along with several other No. 79 Sqn A/C, was illustrated much more accurately in the instructions with the Eduard Aussie Eight boxings.

 

I have interviewed Norm Smithells, (Norm Taylor at the time), pilot of A58-517, UP-F, and Hugh Kennare, pilot of A58-492, UP-B. Both were quite adamant that theirA/C were green and grey. These aircraft were originally serilled MT518 and MT594 and, aircraft in this serial range were being finished, at the factories, in RAF Dark Green, RAF Ocean Grey, and RAF Medium Sea Grey. They were shipped to Australia in these colours and received at No. 6 AD storage in those colours. I have never found any evidence to support the statement that No. 6 AD completely repainted those A/C. A close examination of photos shows mismatched colours where No. 6AD modified the roundels and painted over the RAF serial and rear fuselage Sky band. Certainly it was not in the purvey of the CO's of No. 79 Sqn or No. 6 AD to approve such a major change in their aircraft's camouflage. Such approval would have had to come from Group level, (SASO), or, in special circumsatnces from Wing level.

 

Many modellers seem to assume that squadrons changed their camouflage like we change shirts. Not so! In the RAAF, squadrons were not equipped to do major repaints, only minor touch ups following minor damage. They could add A/C codes, squadron markings and, unofficial individual emblems. They could make no changes to national markings or A/C camouflage without higher level permission. Everything else had to go to a Repair and Servicing Unit or Aircraft Repair Depot. These latter units normally came under the control of a Group or Area HQ and were subject to relevent RAAF orders and instructions.

 

Pull up P02482.008 from the AWM website. This is a shot of Malta Ace Len Reid sitting on the wing of his No. 79 Sqn Spitfire VIII, A58-522, (MT514). This A/C was also one of the I.E. of No. 79 Sqn and passed through No. 6 AD. A small, (in yellow), MT514 can be discerned stencilled on the engine cowling. These numbers were painted on when the A/C were broken down for packing in crates and shipment to Australia. They were there as an aid to ensure the correct parts were fitted on re-assembly. When the RAAF over-painted Spitfires, they did not re-apply these markings. Indeed they did not re-apply most srencils, including wing walkways etc - this is a good guide in asssessing whether an A/C has been repainted in RAAF service.

 

Having said all that, I am reminded of a time many years ago when I was at a fly-in at Swan Hill. It was early morning and we were scrambling out of our tent for the dawn patrol. I looked across at VH-HET and, in the dawn's light, it looked as if it was painted in two tones of green, just like the Pentland illustration!!

 

Keep your Earth Brown and Foliage Green. They were both used in modifying national markings, covering RAF serials etc, on A/C received from overseas, as well as specified for loacal production.

 

HTH,

Peter M

 

 

 

 

FWIW I should share that I also fly fish for trout occasionally.  On finally joining a fly fishing club, I initially felt that the more time I spent with the members, the less I knew!!  But I learned to fish well, very quickly.  This sort of depth of knowledge and insight is exactly what I'm here for.  Thanks, All!

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On 11/08/2021 at 12:50, Red Dog said:

From Valiant Wings Airframe & Miniature No.12 The Supermarine Spitfire Pt.1 (Merlin-powered) by Richard A. Franks

 

Be wary, very wary, of anything in those books that is 'new' and you have not read elsewhere.   The only one I have is the Hurricane, and it's shoddy,  full or errors, omissions and on occasion, complete cobblers.   

I have seen a list of errors in the Boomerang book, and a similar summary of the Mosquito books to mine on the Hurricane.

 

I presume the profiles are by Richard Caruana?   They are in The Hurricane book, and most are recycled from previous Caruana book,  https://www.scalemates.com/no/books/hawker-hurricane-famous-aircraft-world-2-richard-j-caruana--113585

as I found some online....

 

note these two in the comments on the site review of the book https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235044479-supermarine-spitfire-volume-1-–-airframe-miniature-12/

 

  

On 17/02/2019 at 19:58, Olmec Head said:

Having just got the book through the post, there are some issues that I have seen after a quick read through.  One immediate one was that the Mk VIII ' reverted to original length ailerons'  according to the book which is clearly not right.  Further there is no mention of the wing fuel tanks installed in the VIII's - again a significant error.

 

On 02/05/2019 at 10:36, Sydhuey said:

Just got the book and while not bad expected better, I have a few Airframe and Miniatures books and a couple of Airframe Albums and while generally very good found more errors than I expected in this book, first thing that jumped out at me was the narrative for the cover artwork, RAAF Spitfire Vc over Darwin , unfortunately the text said the action took place over Shoal Bay NSW, not Shoal Bay Darwin NT, Shoal Bay is Newcastle NSW 4000km away , the Information and Schemes/marking for RAAF Spitfires was average to say the least, and tech data on Mk VIII's was wrong as noted above, if you want good info on Australian Spitfires get the books by Peter Malone on Aussie Spitfires by Eduard.

Good book but too many mistakes in it in this day and age with access to information, for this to be a "Bible" needed to really have the information spot on , particularly on the Spitfire of all aircraft. 

 

 

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My eyes have been opened. Disappointing to hear about the errors in the Airframe & Miniature series of books.

I do like their format but to have such simple errors on easily accessible information seems lazy. At least we have a platform here to share these inaccuracies and learn .

Thanks

 

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