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F4F-3s Wake Island... prop blades tips?


Fernando
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Hallo, gentlemen!

 

I am currently building an F4F-3 (no, not the Eduard one...) as a machine in the ill-fated VMF-211 at Wake Island, and a sudden doubt crept in. 

 

How were the propeller tips painted? Tri-color, Yellow, or nothing? From the well known photo of the wrecks, the cuffs are undoubtely unpainted metal, the blades are Black also at the front, but no hint of the tips can be discerned. If any, that they were left in Black like the blades.

 

However, the (in its time) well researched YellowWings Decals decal sheet (which I am using) suggests Tri color, and even supplies decals for that (rather big... almost a quarter of fifth of the blade...) Conversely, the new Eduard kit decal sheet comes with none of that, and a glance at the instructions sheet shows that it has no indication whatsoever (instead, the blades themselves have a raised panel that would indicate the Yellow tip?)

 

What is the general knowledge on the matter?

 

Thank you very much,

 

Fernando

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I'd agree that the Wake aircraft show no sign of prop tip painting.  The props appear to be black, with aluminum lacquer painted cuffs.

 

For the F4F-3 in general, the red-yellow-blue tips were not that common, yellow only tips were more prevalent.  I understand that this far predates the official August 1942 order yellow tips, but I suspect that Grumman, producing Martlets along with Wildcats, got an exemption from bothering with correct tip color matching, and just ordered yellow tips from Curtiss Electric., 

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Thank you, Jim, quite reassuring about my feeling on the wrecks' photo. I would not say the tips on these were Yellow, they would look very different even in the conditions that photo was taken. I am more convinced about all Black propeller blades. Interesting comment on aluminum lacquer painted cuffs, as opposite to NMF:

 

OTOS... early Martlet Is didn´t have a different, uncuffed propeller? Hamilton Standard, probably? For you are right, these would have been painted per British (and earlier French) specs and almost certainly these specified Yellow tips.

 

Fernando

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6 hours ago, Fernando said:

OTOS... early Martlet Is didn´t have a different, uncuffed propeller? Hamilton Standard, probably? For you are right, these would have been painted per British (and earlier French) specs and almost certainly these specified Yellow tips.

OT

Surprisingly, very early Martlet Is (those in the BJ serial range) had tri-colour propeller tips, at least on delivery. Later ones (in the AL serial range) had black blades and yellow tips.

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The BuAer directive requiring yellow prop tips was issued on 28 August 1942 (Elliott 1989). Deliveries of production F4F-3 started in November 1940. Photo evidence, however, shows only the first two production machines (still with fuselage guns) sporting tri-color prop tips. The 4th production model already had yellow ones, perhaps prompted by earlier British requirements. The Wake Island picture likely shows the yellow prop tip colour chipped away by coral dust.

 

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8 hours ago, Toryu said:

 The Wake Island picture likely shows the yellow prop tip colour chipped away by coral dust.

 

Well, precisely not so. In a high exposure, grainy B&W photo, a metal blade tip would blend into the surrounding. The picture of the wreckage shows very well defined, dark prop tips, not Yellow, nor chipped. Take a look at it.

 

Fernando

Edited by Fernando
Clarity
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"Why then are you asking the question?"

 

Precisely  because of that. Have a good day, sir.

 

Fernando

Edited by Fernando
Clarification
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9 hours ago, Toryu said:

The BuAer directive requiring yellow prop tips was issued on 26 February 1941 (Elliott 1989).

That's not quite correct.  To quote from the Elliot book, page 164, " Bureau of Aeronautics letter Aer-E-25-HY, dated February 26, 1941, changed the color on propeller tips to read Chrome Yellow versus Bright Yellow, and Dark Blue versus Insignia Blue.  It is believe [sic] that therese were only color name changes and that no actual change was intended in shade."  So this was just a terminology change and the tips remained red-yellow-blue.  The same section in Elliot's book raises the possibility that the prop blades we think of as black were in fact "finished in anodic coating dyed Black or Dark Blue."

 

The official change to yellow only tips didn't come until August 28, 1942, specifying 4 inch tips in NS Orange Yellow/  Obviously, propeller manufacturers were proviing yellow-only tipped props well before that.  The USAAF had a similar directive, also August 1941, for 4 inch prop tips in Yellow 48.

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The finish of the propeller blades on the early Wildcat/Martlet blades is an interesting topic. From the photos I have it seems that the early production aircraft displayed a range of finishes:

 

British first export batch (colour factory pics) Hamilton Standard, silver hub/ silver blades with tri-colour tips

 

F4/F/-August 1941 - Curtiss blade-silver cuffs /black blade/ yellow tip –August 1941

 

 

XF4F/3(French order) Curtiss –silver –tri colour tips. (taken by Britain as Martlet I? Photos suggest possibly)

 

USN unidentified carrier 1941 –Curtiss/all black/tri-colour tips

 

Martlet HMS Formidable, Med 1942-Hamilton Standard–black/ yellow tips

 

USS Wasp – probably early 1942-Curtiss blades – silver cuffs/black blade/tri-colour tips

 

USS Wasp wreck site – blade unidentified (hub not visible) – black/tri-colour tip

 

It seems production specifications were as follows:

 

F4F-3/3A/4 Wildcat I/Martlet I/II/III

Pratt and Witney 1830 76/86/90 -

Curtiss Electric Blades 614 and 512 -10st 0ins and 9ft 9ins dia. respectively.

 

F4F-4B/Martlet II/IV

Wright 1820

G200 – Hamilton Standard -6393a-18-10ft 1ins dia.

G-205A- Curtiss Electric – blade 614 -10ft 0ins dia. (Possibly Martlet only).

 

This doesn’t directly answer the OP question but may assist in understanding the subject generally.

 

 

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14 hours ago, jimmaas said:

The official change to yellow only tips didn't come until August 28, 1942

 

True - I jumped on the wrong date (blame on my superficial reading...)

 

Checking my books for suitable pictures I found a number of F4F-3 and -4 that still carried tri-colour prop tips although the majority were already equipped with yellow tips. Interestingly I also discovered several propellers that had black (dark) tips but only on the rear face of the blade. I still believe that this was the result of abrasion (more typical on the rear face than on the front), which due to the anodic coating may not have cut through to bare metal.

 

Cheers, Michael

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From USN Aircraft performance charts, propellers

 

F4F-3, F4F-7 Curtiss Elec. CS 3 Blade 9 ft 9 in, Blade Design No. 512

F4F-4, FM-1 Curtiss Elec. CS 3 Bl. 9 ft 9 in, Blade. Design No. 512-ICL-5-15

FM-2, Curtiss electric CS 3 blade 10 foot, blade design No. 109354-12

 

Notes from USN record of acceptances, engines

XF4F-3 (ex XF4F-1 and XF4F-2) P&W XR-1830-76

Martlet I/G-36A, ex French order F-292, Wright GR-1820-G205A-2, no USN equivalent

F4F-3 P&W R-1830-76 in 1940, -76 or -86 in 1941, -86 in 1942

F4F-3/G-36B/Martlet II P&W R-1830-S3C4G

F4F-3A/Martlet III P&W R-1830-90

XF4F-4 P&W R-1830-76

F4F-4 P&W R-1830-86

F4F-4B/Wildcat IV Wright R-1820-G205A furnished by British.

XF4F-5 Wright R-1820-40

XF4F-6 P&W R-1830-90, furnished by contractor.

F4F-7 P&W R-1830-86

XF4F-8 Wright R-1820-56

FM-1/Wildcat V P&W R-1830-86

FM-2/Wildcat VI Wright R-1820-56/72W in 1943, -72W in 1944, -56W in 1945.

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