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Narvik Swordfish


Grumpy61

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Hello all,

 

I am wondering why I can't find any decals for the Swordfish carried by HMS Warspite during the 2nd Battle of Narvik. L9767, C8B of 701 Flight piloted by P.O. Rice sank U-64 during the battle and was the first FAA aricraft to sink a U-boat. It also did spotting duty for Warspite's big guns. I would have thought that would make it somewhat worthy of a decal set but I've never been able to find one, not even an out of production set. Any thoughts here?

 

Best regards,

Don

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2 hours ago, Grumpy61 said:

why I can't find any decals

That may be because there aren't any.

2 hours ago, Grumpy61 said:

would make it somewhat worthy of a decal set

Certainly would if there are pictures of it - otherwise a decal set would be criticised as being unreferenced.

It may be able to be inferred what it might have looked like.

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There's a clear photo in my book for Jan/Feb 1940, which is how the airframe appeared at the time of Narvik. Photos taken from L9767 during the Narvik operation show that the airframe  was not camouflaged. The only doubt surrounds whether the code was applied between the earlier photo and Narvik. The balance of evidence  suggests it was uncoded at this time and that codes were not applied until Warspite arrived in the Mediterranean.

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4 minutes ago, iang said:

There's a clear photo in my book.

Excellent - all we need is a decal manufacturer to do it. When I make mine I might do a one-off decal for it as I have the book!

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I have a Norwegian journal Flyhistorie No 35 (2015) 

53579825450_15e5ab57a7_b.jpg

 

Inside there are two articles on Norway compaign in 1940. There are some interesting profiles published (just for discussion purposes):

 

53579691969_76b479d77c_b.jpg

 

So it looks like with a camo at least from upper side. 

but also 

 53579585408_00d34257fd_b.jpg

53579585413_1216b70864_b.jpg

53579823325_1cab0af3d5_b.jpg

 

Only the Empire (with  MF 11) and Walrus are supported by photos

 

53579691974_401d172383_b.jpg

 

The large fin flash I think came into use later in 1940 - the description is that it comes from the footage as I understand made in Harstad harbour (?) ...(?) in 1940.

 

Regards

J-W

 

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On 3/4/2024 at 3:35 AM, Grumpy61 said:

worthy of a decal set but I've never been able to find one

As it seems there is reference material available, the plane-specific decals wouldn't be that much of an issue. 

 

It seems only the serial number is different, which can easily be printed on decal paper. Combine it with a set of a plane with the same set of roundels, etc.... and - there we go.

 

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There are two photos taken from L9767 on 13th April  1940 in Harrison's The Swordfish at War p.22. These are two from a series of at least six. The Harrison photos are not the clearest of the series,  but they show an uncamouflaged airframe. 

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4 hours ago, iang said:

The Harrison photos are not the clearest of the series 

That's an understatement! It would be nice to have something more definitive before doing a model.

Scanned for discussion purposes

53582322248_e358dec390_k.jpg

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35 minutes ago, Ed Russell said:

It would be nice to have something more definitive before doing a model

 

 

There is a slightly better reproduction of the damaged tailplane  photo in Haarr's The German invasion of Norway p.367. Just on the basis of this one photo the Swordfish is unambiguously in silver dope. The whole series (which I've seen) are at TNA.  Moreover, when Warspite arrived in the Mediterranean, her Swordfish were still uncamouflaged and remained so for some time - possibly well into 1941. I have a clear photo of another of Warspite's Swordfish - K8864 - in Alexandria harbour in silver dope with full width fin flash and yellow concentric to the fuselage roundel (added in May 1940), but still no code or camouflage.  This aircraft can  be seen here on shore:

 

https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/uk/raf/swordfish/swordfish-700-hms-warspite/

 

So for me at least there are no doubts about  the finish of L9767  at the second battle of Narvik.

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OK, so what about these photos? Is it a shadow on the wing or a camouflage? Or is it a different plane? One of these photos look very much like the first one scanned by @Ed Russell

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205015962

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205134582

 

Extremely interesting topic. I would like to talk also about camouflages of the Narvik ships.

 

Best!

G.

 

 

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Difficult to argue that the aircraft in IWM A36 and A45 are in silver dope (unless A45 shows shadow rather than camouflage). However, HMS Furious had a striking force of 10 Swordfish over Narvik on 13 April, bombing and then circling the combat zone for 90 minutes (two were shot down).  Furious' Swordfish were most definitely camouflaged.

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I know the Royal Navy issued orders on what the warships were to be painted, usually be theatre but also to update any camouflage changes as well. Did the Fleet Air Arm issue orders when to repaint their aircraft like the Americans did? If so, where would one look for those orders, even in a general sense?

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We can assume that aircraft were repainted as soon as possible, following the issue of the ruling.  However a floatplane on board a battleship would need to be flown off to a shore base and be replaced in the meantime.  This is likely, as seems to have happened here, to result in aircraft being retained in the earlier colours for some considerable time.

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10 hours ago, Grumpy61 said:

I know the Royal Navy issued orders on what the warships were to be painted, usually be theatre but also to update any camouflage changes as well. Did the Fleet Air Arm issue orders when to repaint their aircraft like the Americans did? If so, where would one look for those orders, even in a general sense?

They are all in my book😀

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35 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

We can assume that aircraft were repainted as soon as possible, following the issue of the ruling.  However a floatplane on board a battleship would need to be flown off to a shore base and be replaced in the meantime.  This is likely, as seems to have happened here, to result in aircraft being retained in the earlier colours for some considerable time.

Indeed.  As an example, I have a photo of Enterprise at Trincomalee in 1942 with Seafox embarked, still in silver dope - 3 years after the Admiralty issued the first instruction to camouflage  FAA aircraft.

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31 minutes ago, iang said:

Seafox embarked, still in silver dope

A camouflaged Seafox is a rare thing. It seems there are more models and profiles in camouflage then there were real Seafoxes.

 

Edit - oops, I am guilty of thread drift!

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For those who prefer their Floatfish camouflaged, this is supposedly L9767 camouflaged at Aboukir in 1941/2. By this stage the aircraft in the photograph was named "Diana". However, the serial is not legible so this could be fanciful. I don't tend to trust the ID unlike I can read the serial:

 

L9767 egypt

 

 

Swordfish on Warspite were allocated codes C8A and C8B.   This is one of two  original photos I own of C8C in the Mediterranean. I  think this is K8363 from HMS Valiant, with the full code repeated under the mainplane (The serial is 90% legible in the other photo):

 

C8C

 

When Warspite's Floatfish were eventually camouflaged, the full C8A and C8B codes do not appear to have been carried - only the letter A, and presumably B,  on the fin, repeated  under the mainplane. (I don't have a photo of B in this series - maybe "B" was the camera plane):

 

C8A

 

 

Warspite was allocated two Floatfish at this time - L9767 and K8864.  C8A should have been K8864  linked to above in silver dope, but in high resolution the serial in this photo of "A"  looks more like L9767 to me. Moreover, K8864 did not have red warning strips on the floats whereas L9767 did..... Of course, the camouflage looks nothing like the Aboukir photo.

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