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Spitfire BR112... yes, more thoughts about Malta's Spitfires...


Giorgio N
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5 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

Brian's views, and excellent book, are a product of...

Brian Cauci's analysis, which largely makes sense to me, is that most b&w images of 1942 Malta spitfires show very light coloured undersurfaces, far too light to be Azure Blue.  He suggests Sky but acknowledges they could also have been sky blue (i.e., some very light blue colour).  So, a few 1942 images suggest Azure Blue (dark, darker than Middle Stone even), but most indicate a very light colour, and the difference is obvious.  The appropriateness of a blue colour instead of the greenish Sky in the Mediterranean has been widely discussed.

 

This commentary  I find useful:

"Desert Scheme (1941-45)  From 2 July 1942 (AMO A.664/42) the Tropical Land Scheme gave way to the Desert Scheme which is the most well known RAF camouflage scheme for the North African and Mediterranean theaters. The Desert Scheme appears to simply have been a renaming of the Tropical Land Scheme, formalizing the topside camouflage of Dark Earth and Middle Stone that were in place before the accidental inclusion of Dark Green on AMO A.513/41 which was later corrected. A new underside color of Azure Blue(frequently referred to as Azure) was also formalized as an alternative to Sky/Sky Blue although its use probably predates the AMO. Azure Blue was based on a pre-war color (No 4) and was noticeably darker than Sky Blue, being in fact a blue-grey. In black and white photos it would be slightly darker than Middle Stone which makes it easy to distinguish compared to the lighter sky colors that preceded it."

http://www.theworldwars.net/resources/resources.php?r=camo_rafww2

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Wartime Azure Blue seems, from what I've seen, to be considerably different from the prewar Azure, which was not only darker but greener.  Although wartime Azure Blue was darker than Sky Blue, so was pretty well every other colour including Sky, and it is not particularly dark itself.  Wartime colour photos show a light blue clearly darker (more intense) than Sky Blue, and it is a common feature of wartime b&w photos that the blues will always appear lighter in contrast to the other primary colours.

 

For modellers, the matter has been confused for years because Humbrol Azure Blue was indeed darker and purpler than the real colour.  I have long thought that it seemed a far better match for its adjacent colour on the chart, Light Mediterranean Blue.  It is worth remembering that LMB was also considered acceptable for the undersides of aircraft in the Middle East, and b&w photos showing a dark shade underneath can be better explained as the presence of LMB rather than the paler Azure Blue

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6 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

Aircraft delivered on Bowery were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme.

 

Apologies for requesting information that may have already been posted here somewhere at some point... but,

 

Specifically, what is the evidence that Bowery spitfires were 'painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme' (which I understand was Extra Dark Sea gray and Dark Slate Gray over Sky)?  Examining b&w photographs ascribed to Bowery I see a lot of variation in appearance of the ac and nothing convincingly indicating the Temperate Sea Scheme - so what's the evidence?  Is this supposed to be a factory paint job or an overpaint and if so when and where?

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6 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

See the Paul Lucas article referenced above.  It was done in an MU in the UK, either at Renfrew or previous to the transfer to Glasgow.

 

I'm not seeing this article.  What specifically is the evidence?

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4 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

Records in the National Archives.

Not helpful.  I'm going to assume that if the evidence can't be explained clearly here, you don't know what it is, or there is no evidence.  You seem to be fairly knowledgeable - would it be possible for you to briefly explain what the evidence that 'Bowery spitfires were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme' is - is it photographic?  Is it written orders? Is it eyewitness accounts?

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I suggest that you either obtain the articles yourself, as they include much more than I can quote, or await the republication of them in a Guideline book to be published (I gather) later this year, or certainly in the not-too-distant future.

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5 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

I suggest that you either obtain the articles yourself, as they include much more than I can quote, or await the republication of them in a Guideline book to be published (I gather) later this year, or certainly in the not-too-distant future.

 

Not helpful.  I take it there is no evidence available that 'Bowery spitfires were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme', or you don't know what it is.  

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25 minutes ago, ilj said:

 

Not helpful.  I take it there is no evidence available that 'Bowery spitfires were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme', or you don't know what it is.  

Graham, I suspect, is somewhat weary from having to repeatedly quote bits and bobs regarding Malta Spits. 

Meanwhile: 

 

 

That topic contains a listing of most relevant Paul Lucas articles relevant to Malta stuff  - for which I'm thankful as it means I can finally search for them  - not having access to NA or said magazines from the dark days makes it quite difficult to either yay or nae any proposal of colour.

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20 minutes ago, alt-92 said:

That topic contains a listing of most relevant Paul Lucas articles relevant to Malta stuff  - for which I'm thankful as it means I can finally search for them  - not having access to NA or said magazines from the dark days makes it quite difficult to either yay or nae any proposal of colour.

 

 

It looks like the statement 'Bowery spitfires were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme' is not backed up by any readily available quotable evidence for perusal.  If anyone knows what the evidence is (if there is any), would it be possible to please post here a brief explanation, thank you very much in advance!

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, ilj said:

 

 

It looks like the statement 'Bowery spitfires were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme' is not backed up by any readily available quotable evidence for perusal....

 

 

 

You may not know it, but you are not the only one that are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to peruse the Paul Lucas book that is on its way, hopefully soon.

 

As I gather, he has found some interesting records to once and for all settle the mess of Malta spitfire colours.

 

Mr. Lucas makes a living out of researching stuff of interest for us and need to have some sort of compensation for his efforts, so we buy magazines he publish in and books he writes.

 

The internet has never and will never be a free lunch.

 

/Finn

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  • 1 month later...

Did the Colour Conundrum book go live at Telford please, I ask because I would be interested in getting a copy for the Malta Spitfire articles, if they are contained within.  

 

Just a thought about the various schemes for Malta Spitfires, I wonder why the RAF didn't go with the simple option of using Day Fighter Scheme Grey/ Green painted aircraft.  It would have stopped a lot of extra painting and all the mess involved.  That said they would have probably gone with mixed grey and all the issues about that paint!

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They didn't go with Day Fighter colours because they had a specific request from Malta for maritime colours.  With other Mk.Vs being intended for the Western Desert, it was quicker for all tropicalised aircraft to be painted a single scheme, and argue the toss afterwards.

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The history of modelling these aircraft is full of educated guesses.  Mine included...  The colour shown on the cover is described inside, not from an educated guess but from the available historic records, as Dark Mediterranean Blue.

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Hello Graham, I didn't mean the actual colors, I have read some of the Color Conundrum articles. I meant are we guessing the actual subject list. Malta Spits, RN Phantoms, Wellington, Tarpon, Be.2 etc are pictured on rhe cover. Or do we know it is cronologically from 1st Conundrum column to the 25th or so.

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OK, sorry about the misunderstanding.  I'm still waiting for mine, but I'd guess that it was a representative sample - there should be four Malta Spitfire articles if they have brought them all together but the two pairs were pretty well separated chronologically.  I store all mine in historical order and it would take longer than I care to take to sort through and estimate, especially when the book is about to arrive - though my local bookshop was having some trouble with it.  I also ordered the Auster Warpaint at the same time, and I now don't think that is out.

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4 hours ago, dragonlanceHR said:

Re: Color compendium vol. 1 book, is  the list of included articles known, od do we make educated guesses from the cover illustration?

Index to Vol 1:-

Introduction

Prelude to an Air Force Part 1

Prelude to an Air Force Part 2

Identification and Disguise for the RFC

Sub-Cutaneous: The PC-12 Conundrum

Middle East Blue

Middle East Confusion

The Deep Sky Blue Mystery Part 1

The Deep Sky Blue Mystery Part 2

A Malta Story Part 1

A Malta Story Part 2

A Malta Story Continued Part 1

A Malta Story Continued Part 2

A Malta Story Concluded Part 1

A Malta Story Concluded Part 2

Grey Green 1924 - 1945

Shades of Sky Part 1

Shades of Sky Part 2

Midnight Blue & Postwar FAA 1945- 1988

A Phantom Finish

Updates

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5 hours ago, Dave Swindell said:

Index to Vol 1:-

Introduction

Prelude to an Air Force Part 1

Prelude to an Air Force Part 2

Identification and Disguise for the RFC

Sub-Cutaneous: The PC-12 Conundrum

Middle East Blue

Middle East Confusion

The Deep Sky Blue Mystery Part 1

The Deep Sky Blue Mystery Part 2

A Malta Story Part 1

A Malta Story Part 2

A Malta Story Continued Part 1

A Malta Story Continued Part 2

A Malta Story Concluded Part 1

A Malta Story Concluded Part 2

Grey Green 1924 - 1945

Shades of Sky Part 1

Shades of Sky Part 2

Midnight Blue & Postwar FAA 1945- 1988

A Phantom Finish

Updates

Hopefully for my interest, the Malta Story articles are included.  Although 'Middle East Confusion' sounds good, but don't spoil the plot for me.

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On 16/11/2021 at 09:31, Graham Boak said:

They didn't go with Day Fighter colours because they had a specific request from Malta for maritime colours.  With other Mk.Vs being intended for the Western Desert, it was quicker for all tropicalised aircraft to be painted a single scheme, and argue the toss afterwards.

Thanks Graham , it was a bit tongue in cheek.  That said, and having just re-read your posts above on Op Bowery Spitfires being shipped out in TSS, what do you think would be original factory finish for the aircraft, I am supposing it would be Desert finish, but would you see them as being TSS finished at factory.  

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Transcript of record card in Spitfire The History (Morgan/Shacklady)

Spitfire Vc(Tropical) BR112, construction number 2669, built at High Post Aerodrome, first flight 13/03/42, arrived 39 Maintenance Unit at RAF Colerne 15/03/42, then to RAF Abbotsinch 10/04/42, ferry flight to Malta. Served with 185 Squadron on Malta. Damaged Category B on operations 06/05/42, and Category E on operations 09/09/42, Struck Off Charge 10/09/42.

 

From the Malta Colour Conundrum Articles by Paul Lucas

By the time BR112 was built all Spitfire Vc(T)'s were finished in standard Desert Scheme of Dark Earth and Middle Stone uppers and Azure Blue undersurfaces, it would have been built in these colours and delivered to 39MU in the Desert Scheme.

Whilst at the MU BR112 was selected for Operation Newman, preparation for which included repainting in "sea scheme" as requested by Malta, BR112 was repainted in "sea scheme" before delivery to Abbotsinch, this is noted in the Newman Report. 

Spitfires repainted at MU's before delivery to Abbotsinch had the upper surface camouflage extended down the side of the tropical filters. those that arrived at Abbotsinch in Desert Scheme were transferred to Renfrew and repainted in "sea scheme" with a demarkation line down the bottom edge of the engine side panel. The paint delivered to Abbotsinch to repaint those aircraft arriving in Desert Scheme was deemed to be the wrong colours, the "correct" colours to match those already arriving repainted was ordered from 14MU, paint delivered for this is believed to be standard Temperate Sea Scheme of Dark Slate Grey, Extra Dark Sea Grey and Sky (The Newman report gives stores codes for Dark Slate Grey and Dark Sea Grey, with corresponding incorrect colour descriptions of Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey)

So all aircraft prepared for loading onto USS Wasp for Operation Calendar were repainted before loading in TSS (or something very similar)

S/L Gracie and the other pilots arrived 12/04/42, and advised that all aircraft were painted the wrong colours, those colours supplied to Abbotsinch and rejected earlier as wrong were in fact correct. These paints and necessary equipment for repainting on board were loaded onto USS Wasp on the morning of 13/04/42, immediately before she sailed.

Paul Lucas's conclusion is that the paints loaded were Dark Mediterranean Blue for the upper surfaces and Sky Blue for the undersides. As these paints were only supplied to paint those aircraft unpainted at the MU's there would have been insufficient to paint all the aircraft shipped on Wasp, some were suspended from the hangar deckhead and would likely have been inaccessible for the majority of the voyage, and access to some of the others would have been restricted, he concludes perhaps around 15 of the 47 Spitfires were repainted prior to launch.

 

Photo's of the Spitfires being loaded on Wasp after repaint in TSS show the serial no to be painted as normal on the camouflage, photos of known repaints into the single dark uppersurface show the previous camouflage scheme in a box around the serial ( the profiles show this to be desert colours, which would imply not all aircraft were repainted in TSS, however one of those repainted was BR124 which arrived at Abbotsinch in Desert Scheme in the first delivery on 07/04/42 and would likely be one of the first Renfrew repaints, therefore the colours behind the serial in the box should surely be DSG/EDSG?)

 

Paul Lucas also states from signals sent from Malta it is obvious that there is little if any camouflage repainting of complete aircraft taking place on Malta at this time (hence the insistence of aircraft arriving in the correct colours) so it is highly unlikely that it received anything more than code letter and touch-ups in the way of repainting before it was lost, even though it lasted longer than a lot of those delivered on Calendar.

 

As there is no discernible box around the serial number in the photo's on the beach, I'd conclude that this aircraft didn't receive a repaint on Wasp and was still in the TSS camouflage applied at the MU before delivery to Abbotsinch and subsequent loading on Wasp, albeit now rather worn and faded.

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On 07/10/2021 at 17:48, ilj said:

 

 

It looks like the statement 'Bowery spitfires were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme' is not backed up by any readily available quotable evidence for perusal.  If anyone knows what the evidence is (if there is any), would it be possible to please post here a brief explanation, thank you very much in advance!

 

 

 

Dear Ilj

Having just received my copy of the Colour Conundrum Book, Mr Lucas does present a considerable body of research from contemporary resources.  In terms of Operation Bowery, he refers to the RAF loose minute document outlining operation Oppidan (the precursor op to supply the Spitfires before embarkation for Op Bowery) at para 4 stated: 'Aircraft are to be sea camouflaged before embarkation'.  I would support the common inference that this would be taken as the requirement for the aircraft to be finished in TSS.  The document is also reproduced in Brian Cauchi's book page P159, if a bit unclear.  Hopefully this gives a bit more information.

 

The 4 Malta Spitfire articles by Mr Lucas are well argued and well researched.  Having looked through them and compared them with other Malta Spitfire books, some of his ideas are convincing and others less so.  

 

Malta Spitfires aren't easy!  

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