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mdesaxe

Martlet III camouflage

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I am still working through various aspects of my current obsession with Martlets, and especially with the F4F-3A’s that became the Royal Navy’s Martlet III’s. Their configuration, fortunately, seems to be a straightforward matter, since they were standard US Navy types and, apparently, unaltered structurally after their acquisition. (Though did they have Sutton seat belts instead of the US Navy’s equipment of lap belts only at that time?)

Their camouflage is a different matter entirely. There seems to be no continuing disagreement that, when received by the Royal Navy’s 805 Squadron, these aircraft were finished in the contemporary US Navy scheme of overall nonspecular Light Gray (some British authors like to call this “Neutrality Gray” but not the Bureau of Aeronautics' documentation). Subsequently, they received one or more other camouflage scheme, but what these were has been the subject of considerable speculation:

• Upper surfaces overall Middle Stone, retaining the Light Gray undersurfaces

• Upper surfaces overall Middle Stone, with Azure Blue undersurfaces

• Upper surfaces in a disruptive desert scheme of Middle Stone and Dark Earth, with Azure Blue undersurfaces

• Temperate Sea Scheme (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey with Sky undersurfaces)

Photographs of 805 Squadron Martlets in North Africa generally are not very helpful, because harsh sunlight simultaneously creates very dark shadows and “washes out” upper surfaces. Photographs of the same aircraft in East Africa display a scheme that Stuart Lloyd describes as “a two-tone upper-surface camouflage that, in black and white pictures, might equally well be interpreted as a unit-level application of the Temperate Sea Scheme, or as a desert camouflage.” (p.139)

In this context, I recently was able to replace my copy of Don Nairn’s Gold Wings and Webbed Feet (Invercargill, New Zealand: 1996) that someone had “borrowed” from my office. Nairn served with 805 Squadron from December 1941 until January 1943 in both North and East Africa. His autobiography was published more than 50 years after the events he was describing, so we have to be at least a little cautious about the details of his recollections. In his support, though, his memories of technical details are borne out by the facts. I also personally vividly remember the colours of my first three cars from 40 or more years ago – a battleship grey Rover 2000 with medium grey leather upholstery, a baby blue Triumph TR2 with bright red upholstery, and an Austin Healey 3000 Mk.II in metallic light blue (with cream coves) and dark blue upholstery piped in white – so I’m not quite as quick as I used to be to condemn veterans’ memories of 50-year-old colour schemes.

Cutting to the chase, Nairn states that, from mid-March 1942, 805 Squadron was tasked primarily with convoy protection. Consequently, during a major overhaul at the end of the month (the aircraft received, amongst other things, new engines and “improved” self-sealing fuel lines that had to be removed because they caused fuel flow problems) “the maintenance boys had also spruced up the sandblasted paintwork with a new over-water camouflage design – a mixture of sea green and blue patterns.” (p.78) What was this scheme? Was it Nairn’s interpretation, 50 years later, of Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey, or was it the application of one of the Tropical Sea Schemes? Any additional information will be much appreciated.

Maurice

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Hi, mdesaxe,

Not information but speculation, I m afraid... the few pictures I have seen must be known to you.

By the description you mention, and the date (1942), I assume it is referring to standard TSS. "Sea Green and (Sea) Blue" are fairly common descriptions of DSG and EDSG. If they were painted at a workshop in theatre, at that date, I wonder if they would have had any of the paints used in the TropSS, and even why they would have used them, having surely at hand the paints used in the standard scheme in which all the other FAA machines were finished in.

Besides... he says "sandblasted paintwork"... which colours??

On the other side, no wonder you remember the colours and details of your beloved first cars... and the veterans do not remember those of anonymous government issued machines! Functionality is all, in them... but aesthetics is very important in the former!

Just food for thought,

Fernando

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I also personally vividly remember the colours of my first three cars from 40 or more years ago – a battleship grey Rover 2000 with medium grey leather upholstery, a baby blue Triumph TR2 with bright red upholstery, and an Austin Healey 3000 Mk.II in metallic light blue (with cream coves) and dark blue upholstery piped in white – so I’m not quite as quick as I used to be to condemn veterans’ memories of 50-year-old colour schemes.

Or you think you do! Not trying to have an argument (or abuse- I'm looking for the philosophy dept.) but I had my first real car for about ten years, ending about five years ago. Of course I remember it well (Alas poor Metro, I knew her well!). Except last summer I happened upon the same model, same paint colour, and while I had a jolt of deja vu, I also was taken aback by how "something is not quite right" the experience was. I gave it a quick study (not a busy or crowded area, so nobody reported me for suspicious behaviour) and there were a number of things, including general impression (was it really that small?) that didn't perfectly align with my "remembered perception". Also, are your memories at all augmented by ANY colour snaps of said cars?

All I'm really saying is, we can sometimes be more certain of ourselves than we scientifically deserve! BUT having said that, in absence of other evidence, I have no reason to dismiss your memory, or that of Mr. Nairn. And the suggestion that they might have gotten repainted into normal (or ab-?) FAA colours is both interesting and potentially disappointing- I like the deserty progression we are used to, though I wouldn't be too upset to find that after the topside Sand or Midstone or whatever it is, they later got a less distinctive paint job. On with the quest!

bob

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Or you think you do! Not trying to have an argument (or abuse- I'm looking for the philosophy dept.) but I had my first real car for about ten years, ending about five years ago. Of course I remember it well (Alas poor Metro, I knew her well!). Except last summer I happened upon the same model, same paint colour, and while I had a jolt of deja vu, I also was taken aback by how "something is not quite right" the experience was. I gave it a quick study (not a busy or crowded area, so nobody reported me for suspicious behaviour) and there were a number of things, including general impression (was it really that small?) that didn't perfectly align with my "remembered perception". Also, are your memories at all augmented by ANY colour snaps of said cars?

All I'm really saying is, we can sometimes be more certain of ourselves than we scientifically deserve! BUT having said that, in absence of other evidence, I have no reason to dismiss your memory, or that of Mr. Nairn. And the suggestion that they might have gotten repainted into normal (or ab-?) FAA colours is both interesting and potentially disappointing- I like the deserty progression we are used to, though I wouldn't be too upset to find that after the topside Sand or Midstone or whatever it is, they later got a less distinctive paint job. On with the quest!

bob

I take your point regarding my memory (I hope in the spirit in which it was given). Nevertheless, Nairn was describing his "personal" machine, of which it is very clear he was extremely proud, especially as it was "K" (for Kiwi - he was a New Zealander). It was more than "government issue" to him, from his writing on the topic.

Nairn included a few shots of 805 Squadron's Martlets, at least two from his personal album. This one, probably taken in January 1942, shows the squadron's Martlets still in overall US Navy Light Gray, as far as I can tell from his description. Note how difficult it is to be certain exactly what the colour(s) may be from this black-and-white photograph taken in harsh sunlight, especially in a scanned image.

nairnmartletiii-1.jpg

This one was taken in April 1942, after "K" received its camouflage. Again, note how washed out the colours are in these light conditions (scanning does't help). It is, however, possible to discern two different upper surface shades in the original.

nairnmartletiii-2.jpg

Finally, this shot may be from a source other than Nairn's own album. It shows six of 805 Squadron's Martlets in East Africa. Nairn's "K" is in the #2 position in the nearer flight. This shot also clearly shows that the camouflage was applied in a different pattern on each aircraft, supporting Stuart Lloyd's statement that it was field-applied.

nairnmartletiii-3.jpg

Finally, I do not think that the four different camouflage schemes I listed were applied in succession. I believe that only one scheme was applied to these Martlets other than the delivery scheme of overall Light Gray, and Nairn's evidence seems to indicate that it was most probably the Temperate Sea Scheme, or just possibly a non-standard application of one of the prewar experimental Tropical Sea Schemes.

Maurice

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Finally, I do not think that the four different camouflage schemes I listed were applied in succession. I believe that only one scheme was applied to these Martlets other than the delivery scheme of overall Light Gray, and Nairn's evidence seems to indicate that it was most probably the Temperate Sea Scheme, or just possibly a non-standard application of one of the prewar experimental Tropical Sea Schemes.

Ooh, new (to me) pictures! Yes, I think you understood me, and I don't mean to make you riddled with self-doubt. I agree that first shot could be anything. The last certainly looks "different" than anything else I remember seeing of these aircraft. Are you able to make out any serials on these photos?

My understanding, as much absorbed as deduced by my own analysis, is that they were:

1) delivered in overall USN grey paint (not sure even that is "known", but does seem very logical)

2) given a topside coat of Midstone or something sand coloured

3) given a two-color pattern on the top surfaces (possibly by the addition of a second colour to what was already there)

I confess I haven't gone back to study the photographic evidence, but my memory (oh dear!) is that each of these is pretty clearly shown. Whether they were actually a progression is perhaps less clear. Among the clues are the presence of USN number on the side vs. British serial, the point of demarcation between upper and lower (don't some show a higher line between?), and possibly some dates attributed to certain photos? I could see the third scheme above being either: replaced by the more orthodox FAA scheme, OR being a misinterpretation of FAA colours. He says the "sandblasted" paint was addressed, but does he give any hint of what the paint that needed sprucing was?

I've never really considered the underside colour- I guess I was too hung up on the top- if it were up to me I'd have said "Oh, that light grey is good enough for the bottom- we just want it to blend in better against the ground." (and there's plenty of evidence that people didn't get around to changing things on the bottom as diligently as they did on the upper surfaces, though a Martlet's is a relatively easy underside to reach.

I wonder if a timeline would help clarify, or if we even have enough data-points to make one. I am definitely interested in this subject, but I don't know that I'll be much help solving the riddle.

bob

Edited by gingerbob

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Finally, this shot may be from a source other than Nairn's own album. It shows six of 805 Squadron's Martlets in East Africa. Nairn's "K" is in the #2 position in the nearer flight. This shot also clearly shows that the camouflage was applied in a different pattern on each aircraft, supporting Stuart Lloyd's statement that it was field-applied.

nairnmartletiii-3.jpg

I believe that only one scheme was applied to these Martlets other than the delivery scheme of overall Light Gray, and Nairn's evidence seems to indicate that it was most probably the Temperate Sea Scheme, or just possibly a non-standard application of one of the prewar experimental Tropical Sea Schemes.

Nice pics: thank you.

I normally leave pontificating on film types, degradation through copying, etc to those who know what they are talking about but all the same I'm not aware of any film type that shows Temperate Sea Scheme as such high contrast as is apparent on "X" and probably "N" and "K" as well. To me it even looks too high contrast for Middle Stone/Dark Earth, whether refreshed or unrefreshed. I'm bemused by that but reluctant to make the leap into surmising that it might be a Tropical Sea Scheme: 805 Sq moved to Kenya in Aug 1942, which is a bit late to go applying experimental pre-war schemes.

If "X" is still AX736, it's interesting that the wear on the paint below the cockpit is less apparent than on the slightly murky pic of the same aircraft, allegedly in the Western Desert, in Tony O'Toole's article on 805 Wildcats in the Apr 08 MAM (p.19).

If rpt If the idents are unchanged from the squadron availabililty blackboard for 7 June 1942, as also shown in Tony's excellent article, 5 of the 6 aircraft in the last pic are "G" AX739, "K" AX733, "N" AX841, "O" AX842 and "X" AX736.

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What an interesting photograph, I have never seen it before.

This is 100% unsupported speculation on my part, but if this is indeed a field-applied scheme, I might guess that it is simply one new color. I.e., the lighter upper surface areas are the original USN grey...? This might explain the high degree of contrast at least.

Too bad that the angle doesn't let us see the contrast, or lack thereof, between upper and lower colors (at least my poor old eyeballs can't pick it out).

Edited by MDriskill

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The film appears to be normal panchromatic film. All colors in the roundel appear proper.

All the pictures I have of Marlets in Grumman applied TSS show a much lower contrast, even taken in bright light, than what appears in the picture.

Might want to look at this with regard to the Ex-Greek Martlets with 805 Sq.

http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/wildcatfaaba_1.htm

Interesting scheme here. I believe 805 Sq.

c10fb298.jpg

Found this in my file:

FAA in General - 1912-1938 - 1939-1945 - 1946 - Present - Want Ads

View Thread | Post Response | Return to Index | Read Prev Msg | Read Next Msg

Fleet Air Arm 1939-1945

Re: 805 Sqn Martlets in the Desert

Posted By: Justin Walsh <justin@meadewalsh.fsnet.co.uk>

Date: Friday, 15 June 2001, at 4:49 p.m.

In Response To: Re: 805 Sqn Martlets in the Desert (Justin Walsh)

Further to my earlier message, I,ve been in touch with my Grandfather who flew with 805 from April 41 to January 42 and he state categorically that the Martlets were uncamoflaged . They wore , so to speak, a light almost metallic grey finish , which was how they came out of the crate from the US. Apparently the RAF pilots used to give them lots of stick for this saying they would get shot out of the sky in such unsubtle colours . They would reply that the enemy realizing they must be nice chaps would leave them alone . Hope this is of some interest to people . Any further info on the book Ken mentions would be appreciated

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like any further information

Justin

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Nice pics: thank you.

I normally leave pontificating on film types, degradation through copying, etc to those who know what they are talking about but all the same I'm not aware of any film type that shows Temperate Sea Scheme as such high contrast as is apparent on "X" and probably "N" and "K" as well. To me it even looks too high contrast for Middle Stone/Dark Earth, whether refreshed or unrefreshed. I'm bemused by that but reluctant to make the leap into surmising that it might be a Tropical Sea Scheme: 805 Sq moved to Kenya in Aug 1942, which is a bit late to go applying experimental pre-war schemes.

If "X" is still AX736, it's interesting that the wear on the paint below the cockpit is less apparent than on the slightly murky pic of the same aircraft, allegedly in the Western Desert, in Tony O'Toole's article on 805 Wildcats in the Apr 08 MAM (p.19).

If rpt If the idents are unchanged from the squadron availabililty blackboard for 7 June 1942, as also shown in Tony's excellent article, 5 of the 6 aircraft in the last pic are "G" AX739, "K" AX733, "N" AX841, "O" AX842 and "X" AX736.

The scheme - whatever is is - was applied at the end of March 1942 and used before 805 Squadron went to East Africa. This does not invalidate your conclusion that it "is a bit late to go applying experimental pre-war schemes."

Nairn's description quite clearly excludes any type of desert scheme and we would be hard pressed to imagine that he could confuse "sea green and blue" with any brown hues, so I doubt that only a single colour was applied over a previous overall upper surface desert shade.

I do have one question - what is "MAM"? I'd really like to see that article!

Maurice

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I do have one question - what is "MAM"? I'd really like to see that article!

MAM = Model Aircraft Monthly or Military Aircraft Monthly. This month I think it's called Model Aircraft. Two complementary articles: 5 pages on history of 805 Sq Martlets with lots of pics accompanied by 6 pages on modelling them in 1/48. Afraid I can't drop you a scan as my scanner is out of commission.

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Interesting scheme here. I believe 805 Sq.

c10fb298.jpg

That 805's Martlets initially operated in light grey is well attested. I had never challenged the folk wisdom in the modelling community that the colour was Non Specular Light Gray but interestingly when the subject came up in a chat I was having with Chris Shores and the Director of the FAA Museum they seemed still to consider this not proven.

The above picture also appears in the Tony O'Toole MAM article. For some years it has been used to argue that 805's Martlets may initially have had a 2-tone camo scheme with a high fuselage demarcation between upper and lower surfaces. However Tony provides another picture of the same crash, with different shadows cast, which suggests convincingly, though maybe not conclusively, that this aircraft was still in overall Light Gray at the time of the crash. He also refers to another photo of this aircraft still in Light Gray after it had been reserialed as AX733.

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That 805's Martlets initially operated in light grey is well attested. I had never challenged the folk wisdom in the modelling community that the colour was Non Specular Light Gray but interestingly when the subject came up in a chat I was having with Chris Shores and the Director of the FAA Museum they seemed still to consider this not proven.

The above picture also appears in the Tony O'Toole MAM article. For some years it has been used to argue that 805's Martlets may initially have had a 2-tone camo scheme with a high fuselage demarcation between upper and lower surfaces. However Tony provides another picture of the same crash, with different shadows cast, which suggests convincingly, though maybe not conclusively, that this aircraft was still in overall Light Gray at the time of the crash. He also refers to another photo of this aircraft still in Light Gray after it had been reserialed as AX733.

fe2487d4.jpg

If that is a shadow on the dorsal spine, then Mother Nature applied it using Tamiya Tape and an Iwata.

Some other pictures... I believe they may all be 805, but I am not sure.

This appears to be ortho. Note the soft edge of the shadows.

06b0fccf.jpg

This appears to be ortho film. While the white is white, the overall appearance of the aircraft appears darker than a USN Non-spec Light Gray. Also note the light underside.

05ad68cc.jpg

This appears to be panchomatic film. This also appears to be in the two color upper surface.

e9e288ae.jpg

Edited by Steven Eisenman

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Just on the last photo - that's not panchromatic film because the red is lighter than the blue. The yellow outer ring is faded well out (in the print).

I see no reason to doubt that the original overall colour was replaced by one with a darker single tone uppersurface, and the common presumption that there were USN light grey and Mid-Stone seems perfectly reasonable. Then there was a 2-colour scheme on the uppersurface, which I had assumed to be the standard Desert colours. However, this eye-witness account of TSS (or similar) does make me wonder whether we have three or four schemes. Given that we are talking about a period of over 2 years, and the first may well have been driven by necessity (after the bragging had stopped), this doesn't seem unreasonable either.

Re very faded TSS, look back to that colour picture of the maintenance unit that was on the front of SAM some years back. Some of those were pretty faded. The British blue-greys do fade severely.

The 4-figure number 3875 is the USN Bureau number. Given that not a single other photo of these aircraft show any similar paint scheme, and it's only on one side, I'll go with shadow.

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Dumb question but what's the origin of the unusual serial number '3875' on the crash pic?

They were Bu Air numbers I believe. Many moons ago Brian Derbyshire had an article in the IPMS magazine when he said these were originally bound for Greece. They were ultimately given sequential British serials.

Trevor

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c10fb298.jpg

I can hardly believe that the sharp demarcation line especially on the rear of the fuselage is not the result of a two tone camouflage.

Just my two cents ...

Edited by occa

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Just on the last photo - that's not panchromatic film because the red is lighter than the blue. The yellow outer ring is faded well out (in the print).

I see no reason to doubt that the original overall colour was replaced by one with a darker single tone uppersurface, and the common presumption that there were USN light grey and Mid-Stone seems perfectly reasonable. Then there was a 2-colour scheme on the uppersurface, which I had assumed to be the standard Desert colours. However, this eye-witness account of TSS (or similar) does make me wonder whether we have three or four schemes. Given that we are talking about a period of over 2 years, and the first may well have been driven by necessity (after the bragging had stopped), this doesn't seem unreasonable either.

Re very faded TSS, look back to that colour picture of the maintenance unit that was on the front of SAM some years back. Some of those were pretty faded. The British blue-greys do fade severely.

The 4-figure number 3875 is the USN Bureau number. Given that not a single other photo of these aircraft show any similar paint scheme, and it's only on one side, I'll go with shadow.

The ex-Greek F4F-3A aircraft were taken on charge by the Royal Navy at the very end of April 1941 and most seem to have been issued to 805 Squadron in June (after re-assembly). The change to AX serials from the original Bureau numbers appears to have taken place in August 1941. Nairn dates the application of the camouflage scheme he specified to the very end of March or very early April 1942 (it apparently depended upon when aircraft had to undergo major overhauls). 805 Squadron went to East Africa in August 1942 and exchanged its Martlet III aircraft for Martlet IV machines (Nairn specifically notes that these had Wright Cyclones and folding wings) in October 1942. Therefore, 805 Squadron operated Martlet III's for 14-15 months at the very most.

If the recollections of Mr. Walsh's grandfather, cited by Mr. Eisenmann, are accurate, these Martlets were still Light Gray in January 1942, meaning that any change in camouflage to a desert scheme before the application of the new finish Nairn described took place during a 2-3 month envelope at the beginning of 1942.

Maurice

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Just on the last photo - that's not panchromatic film because the red is lighter than the blue. The yellow outer ring is faded well out (in the print).

I see no reason to doubt that the original overall colour was replaced by one with a darker single tone uppersurface, and the common presumption that there were USN light grey and Mid-Stone seems perfectly reasonable. Then there was a 2-colour scheme on the uppersurface, which I had assumed to be the standard Desert colours. However, this eye-witness account of TSS (or similar) does make me wonder whether we have three or four schemes. Given that we are talking about a period of over 2 years, and the first may well have been driven by necessity (after the bragging had stopped), this doesn't seem unreasonable either.

The 4-figure number 3875 is the USN Bureau number. Given that not a single other photo of these aircraft show any similar paint scheme, and it's only on one side, I'll go with shadow.

Apologies if I've created confusion by expressing myself clumsily. I was casting doubt not on whether 805's Martlets had their upper surfaces recamouflaged in a colour or colours more appropriate to the desert but on whether there was such a scheme with a high camouflage demarcation (running roughly along the "crease" in the fuselage spine) between upper and lower colours. My viewpoint is very close to Graham's above, with the exception that I'm keeping an open mind on the Mid Stone/USN grey option because, now I think about it, I can't recall having seen a single photo (as opposed to artwork) that unambiguously shows it. That may have more to do with my memory than an absence of evidence.

Coming back to Nairn's photo of the 6 aircraft in East Africa, my best explanation for the aircraft in the high contrast uppersurfaces are that they are still in desert colours, prior to any repaint in more appropriate maritime colours. On the other hand see Appendix 1 of Stuart Lloyd's book for the tricks film can play!

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Just on the last photo - that's not panchromatic film because the red is lighter than the blue. The yellow outer ring is faded well out (in the print).

Right, red lighter than blue is pan film. red near black and blue lighter is Ortho.

Ortho = Near black red, muddy gray yellow and light blues.

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Apologies if I've created confusion by expressing myself clumsily. I was casting doubt not on whether 805's Martlets had their upper surfaces recamouflaged in a colour or colours more appropriate to the desert but on whether there was such a scheme with a high camouflage demarcation (running roughly along the "crease" in the fuselage spine) between upper and lower colours. My viewpoint is very close to Graham's above, with the exception that I'm keeping an open mind on the Mid Stone/USN grey option because, now I think about it, I can't recall having seen a single photo (as opposed to artwork) that unambiguously shows it. That may have more to do with my memory than an absence of evidence.

Coming back to Nairn's photo of the 6 aircraft in East Africa, my best explanation for the aircraft in the high contrast uppersurfaces are that they are still in desert colours, prior to any repaint in more appropriate maritime colours. On the other hand see Appendix 1 of Stuart Lloyd's book for the tricks film can play!

Seahawk,

The photograph must have been taken between August and October 1942, the period 805 Squadron was in East Africa. Nairn specifically dates the application of the "over-water camouflage design" to late March or early April - at least four months earlier.

Maurice

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Seahawk,

The photograph must have been taken between August and October 1942, the period 805 Squadron was in East Africa. Nairn specifically dates the application of the "over-water camouflage design" to late March or early April - at least four months earlier.

Maurice

Yes, our posts crossed. Odd to apply over-water camo 4 months before leaving North Africa.

I don't know that I'd take Mr Walsh's grandfather's statement as incontrovertible evidence that all 805's Martlets were in overall grey right up to the end of Jan 42, though I don't dismiss it. However, even then, we know that they were still in overall grey when they were reserialled in the AXxxx series, which you date to Aug 41. By late March/early April 42 they were being recamouflaged in the over-water scheme. This leaves quite a narrow window for 805 to adopt not one but 2 desert schemes. I've just looked up a list of references I compiled a while back on 805 Sq Martlets. The only source I found (that I trusted) which indicated a Martlet with a single tone upper colour was Mike Keep's illustration on p.530 of "Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm" (2nd Ed): a port-side drawing of AX730 "L" in Middle Stone/Azure Blue with a low demarcation. I suspect he based it on the photo reproduced second in Steve Eisenman's post 13. We can all form our own judgements on whether that's 1- or 2-tone uppersurfaces. I'm agnostic but liable to be swayed by the existence of other photos eg of AX733 that absolutely definitely show 2-tone uppersurfaces.

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Yes, our posts crossed. Odd to apply over-water camo 4 months before leaving North Africa.

I don't know that I'd take Mr Walsh's grandfather's statement as incontrovertible evidence that all 805's Martlets were in overall grey right up to the end of Jan 42, though I don't dismiss it. However, even then, we know that they were still in overall grey when they were reserialled in the AXxxx series, which you date to Aug 41. By late March/early April 42 they were being recamouflaged in the over-water scheme. This leaves quite a narrow window for 805 to adopt not one but 2 desert schemes. I've just looked up a list of references I compiled a while back on 805 Sq Martlets. The only source I found (that I trusted) which indicated a Martlet with a single tone upper colour was Mike Keep's illustration on p.530 of "Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm" (2nd Ed): a port-side drawing of AX730 "L" in Middle Stone/Azure Blue with a low demarcation. I suspect he based it on the photo reproduced second in Steve Eisenman's post 13. We can all form our own judgements on whether that's 1- or 2-tone uppersurfaces. I'm agnostic but liable to be swayed by the existence of other photos eg of AX733 that absolutely definitely show 2-tone uppersurfaces.

Seahawk,

The reason the over-water camouflage was applied was that 805 Squadron was tasked primarily with convoy protection duties from mid-March 1942, especially to provide cover for a series of efforts to get supplies through to Malta, but also for coastal convoys. As this coincided with the squadron's aircraft going in for major overhauls, I assume the opportunity was taken to repaint them for their new assignment.

Maurice

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Interesting, looks to be two color upper surfaces with very low contrast between the colors and, from the labels, probably after 805 moved to East Africa

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Interesting, looks to be two color upper surfaces with very low contrast between the colors and, from the labels, probably after 805 moved to East Africa

Looking at the entire photo stream it starts with 805SQN with Fulmars and Buffalo's before proceeding to the Martlet IIIs and later Martlet IVs. What it shows is that 805SQN Martlet IIIs had a low contrast two tone camouflage scheme applied over what looks like the original non-spec light grey some time prior to the relocation to Nairobi. It is worth going throught the entire FLICKR stream for other gems as well. Of note some images labelled as Martlet IIIs are IVs and vice versa.

On another note I am the Ken refered to in an earlier post by Steve E (#8) as I started a similar thread on the old IMPS FAASIG forum about 805SQN Martlet IIIs after reading of Nairn's autobiography in 2001 and his description of the sea camouflage being applied , the excerpt from which Steve resurrected.

Cheers All glad this is still ongoing and coincidently the photo stream also gave me some previously unseen photos of Indefatigable's Avenger IIIs that I have been chasing since the mid-1990s.

Edited by Biggles81

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