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Historic Aviation => Air War => Topic started by: Editor on December 29, 2008, 12:35:18 AM

Title: Pre-D-day quick recognition markings
Post by: Editor on December 29, 2008, 12:35:18 AM
Continuing on the subject of quick recognition stripes supposedly used at Dieppe. I found the following text describing the use of pre-D-day identification stripes during Operation Starkey, a hoax naval raid on Boulogne on Sept 9, 1943. The author seems to indicate that some sort of standardized quick recognition markings รก-la Typhon id stripes have been applied during this op. I've never heard of this before, can anyone add more information or is it just a theory?

The First Invasion Stripes?

The Sicilian Invasion in July 1943 was plagued by friendly fire from the Allied fleet shooting at and shooting down British and American Aircraft.  Indeed, on the nights of July 11 and 13 44 12th Air Force C-47's laden with British and American Paratroops were shoot down over flying the allied fleet.   Several types of special ID markings had been carried on aircraft participating in training exercises in the United Kingdom. Clearly this state of affairs could not continue, so Operation Starkey turned out to be the test run for a new means of identifying Allied Aircraft over flying the fleet.

Several types of special ID markings had been carried on aircraft participating in training exercises in the United Kingdom.  However, for this operation a new method of Identification was tested.  Aircraft involved in Starkey appeared on 9 September in something similar to Typhoon ID stripes, on closer examination this was somewhat modified one step.  Two white and two alternating parallel black stripes of equal width, were carried on each wing, above and below. In at least two photo's the stripes are shown to have been painted over the under wing roundels.  To my knowledge, there is no photo's showing the upper wing of Starkey aircraft but there exists the distinct possibility that the upper wing roundels were over painted too.  The colour profiles accompanying this article show the upper wing roundels over painted if nothing else to stimulate research.  Aircraft known to have carried these stripes as confirmed by photographs were Spitfires, Boston's and Whirlwinds.  Others thought to have carried these early invasion stripes include Typhoons, fighter-recon Mustangs, Mitchell's and Venturas.  All of these types were in RAF service.  The 8th United States Army Air Force B-26's which were heavily involved in this operation are not know to have carried the stripes.  In addition, some twin-engine A/C had their noses painted white.  This evidently turned out to be the only successful part of the Starkey hoax invasion. The dawn of June 6, 1944 found thousands of Allied aircraft over flying the invasion fleet with alternating Black and white stripes painted on the wings and fuselages of all allied aircraft taking part.

Source: (

Title: Re: Pre-D-day quick recognition markings
Post by: Antoni on December 29, 2008, 05:45:51 PM
There is not much mystery about the markings for Operation Starkey. Operation Starkey was the rehearsal for D-Day (Operation Neptune) which would also try to deceive the enemy into thinking an invasion was imminent whilst luring the Luftwaffe into battle in order to inflict great damage onto it. It took place in last two weeks of August and first two weeks of September 1943.

As a means of rapid and unambiguous identification of low-flying friendly aircraft they were required to carry distinctive markings. These markings consisted of Night and white stripes on the upper and under surfaces of the wings which were applied well outboard. Twin-engined aircraft had the noses painted white in addition to the wing stripes. The materials used were water based Matt Finish Distemper, DTD 441, stores reference 33B/376 for white and 33B/383 for Night, which were to be supplied by HQ Fighter Command who had instigated the scheme. The distemper could be removed with hot water leaving the original painted or doped surface undamaged.

The markings were considered to be a great success and brought back, in an altered form, for the Normandy landings the following June.

Photographs of participants in Operation Starkey have often been captioned as being the distinctive markings applied for D-Day as well as other operations and exercises.  . In particular various nincompoops have claimed that these markings applied to Westland Whirlwinds were for Operation Jubilee (Dieppe) for which no distinctive markings were applied and despite this type of aircraft not being involved in Operation Jubilee. 

Title: Re: Pre-D-day quick recognition markings
Post by: Editor on January 06, 2009, 11:12:56 PM
Thanks for sorting this out, Antoni. I certainly learned something new from your answer.
Keep up the good work,

Title: Re: Pre-D-day quick recognition markings
Post by: fozman on July 13, 2009, 06:12:41 PM
Hi Antoni,

Just wondering where you got your photo of the Starkey marked Spitfire from?

Title: Re: Pre-D-day quick recognition markings
Post by: Antoni on July 14, 2009, 04:19:39 PM
The photograph, a 64 Squadron Spitfire, can be found in a number of publications. Off the top of my head, Spitfire Mk V, Matusiak, Mushroom Publications and Combat Legend Spitfire Mks I-V Peter Caygill, Airlife.