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Author Topic: Spitfire MK Vb, AD233 and Mk IIa P7895  (Read 21283 times)
mhase
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« on: March 26, 2009, 09:27:06 PM »

Hello Gentlemen,

just let me beg for your pardon for my continental style English in advance. However I hope to be able to explain my questions on the abvove mentioned two aircraft. I would be very happy if anyone were able to assist!!!

In our German forum "Modellboard" we are currently discussing colours of two Spitfires of which we - "unfortunately" - have got coloured pictures. As we all know, identifying colour photographs from WW 2 is quite a tricky thing and so we got stuck in the discussion now. To avoid further discussions which might lead into n owhere I am turning to you now.

The one is a MK IIa P 7895 and the other is a MK Vb AD233, both well documented.

I am of the opinion that  P7895 sports the standard "day fighter scheme" type "A", however pretty much weathered and used.
I assume everyone of you experts know this picture well. It seems to have been taken during a series of "propaganda shots" in 1941. The first thing I came accross is that with an uneven number it should have been painted in a "B-type scheme". This rule obviously was not applied to Spitfires with the same consequence that to Hurricanes as I learnt. 
According to the code "RN" it was allocated to No. 72 Sqn. According to the Spitfire production list I read it went to 9 MU on 2-2-41, on 20-4-41 to 65 Sqn and at the same time to 72 Sqn (?). On 9-7-41 it went to 74 Sqqn and after that on 19-2-42 to 57 OTU. It eventually crashed in 1945 and was SOC.
Some of my colleagues doubt if the colours would have to be identified as "Dark Brown and Dark Green" on the upper surfaces and are more into some other unidentifyable colours somewhat comparable to the discussion of late war German aircraft. I am still vonvinced that the British aircraft industry in the early war years was strictly organized and I doubt that they used other colours than the "Temperate Land Scheme" until 1942 for Britain based RAF-fighters i. e. Spitfires and Hurricanes then.
What do you think of these opinions?

The painting of the second one, AD233 is a lot more confusing as the pictures is dated on 4th May 1942. The aircraft, delivered in 1941 obviously was painted in a mixture of "Brown", "Green" and "Ocean Grey" on the upper surfaces and Medium Sea Grey on the underside. The cockardes at the fuselage seem to be of the pre 1942 style, teh yellow wing leading edge however dates the picture more into the 1942´s.
As far as I know the "Temperate Land Scheme" was introduced in mid-May 1942 (Please correct me if I am wrong!)

If the date 4-5-1942 is right for the picture, the used "Ocean Grey" on the upper surface is at least doubtful. I am also of the opinion that the colour which seems to be "Brown" might be a "Green". If you have a look at the panel under the exhausts the colur varies between Brown and Green. Is anyone able to get some light into this, too?

Any comments mostly welcome

Yours

Michael
from Germany     
a true RAF-fan
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NZTyphoon
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 04:42:04 AM »

Hi Michael,
 I know the photos you are referring to. P7895 "RN-N" is flying low over the sea and approaching the coast;
this one was in Dark Green and Dark Earth top surfaces without a doubt. Much as we modellers like to complicate things and speculate on colours one thing is quite certain - there were no "secret/mysterious colours" being used  by the RAF, however tempting this theory might be! The colour scheme on RN-N looks patchy, and there appear to be different shades of Dark Green and Dark Earth on the aircraft, but this may be because of the way the photo was processed and printed in the first place. The most obvious points of interest are the wing leading edges, which appear to be showing the effects of salt water spray, and the well worn and bleached blue of the wing roundels.

The code letters were Medium Sea Grey. Undersurfaces probably  Sky (type S). However, they may also be in Eu de Nil - a slightly darker, greener colour than Sky. The spinner and tail band look to be very pale; some sources say that white was used for these due to shortages of Sky at the time. The spinner and tail band could have been in a very pale blue (sometimes known as duck-egg blue).

 According to a Scale Aircraft Modelling article written by Ted Hooton Spitfire camouflage 1938-1940 (SAM Vol 5 No 2 November 1982) Castle Bromwich built Spitfire IIs from P7810 onwards were invariably painted in the A scheme regardless of the serial number. Note that the A scheme used by CB was slightly different to that used by Supermarine built Spitfires, especially around the nose area - it can be also noted that the demarcation line between the upper surface scheme and the undersides dips in a curve below the lower cowling panel line.

AD233 "F-ZD" looks vey patchy. The most straight forward explanation is that at some time the Dark Earth of what was a Dark Green/Dark Earth finish was painted over with what should have been Ocean Grey. The possibility is that a dark "substitute-standard" colour was used in place of the Ocean Grey. For some reason this colour has started to weather, exposing the Dark Earth, thus creating a very mucky looking scheme.

Unless one knows the type of equipment being used to take the photo (eg; what types of filters might have been used on the lens), the lighting conditions and the type of film, as you have pointed out working out colours from a WWII colour photo can still be inconclusive- added to this is the fact that some people, especially modellers, like (over)complicating issues! Usually the simple explanations turn out to be the right ones.

Regards to you and your fellow Modellborders.

Jeff W.
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mhase
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2009, 10:39:46 AM »

Dear Jeff,

thanks for the explanations which are very convnincing to me. I have been thinking the same way as you but wanted to have some neutral opinion to this, too.

You stated the differnet shades of colours for the undersides. I think this is the most challenging colour question for RAF-fighters of the time 1940/42. In total there must be at least appr. four different shades including the "Eua de Nil, Sky and the Duck-egg blue.

Thanks for the info

Yours

Michael
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Antoni
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2009, 10:06:47 PM »

You seem to have the Land Temperate Scheme and Day Fighter Scheme mixed up. The Land Temperate Scheme is Dark Earth and Dark Green. This was introduced before the war. The Day Fighter Scheme was Ocean Grey/Dark Green/ Medium Sea Grey. It was introduced by Air Ministry order 15th August 1941. Existing aircraft were to be repainted as and when convenient. As the name implies it was applied only to aircraft in Fighter Command. Other types, bombers, army co-operation, etc., retained the Land Temperate Scheme. The Land Temperate Scheme had been developed for altitudes up to 10,000 feet. The Day Fighter Scheme was developed to give better camouflage at higher altitudes but was a compromise to give protection at all altitudes. It was also chosen because it was easier to apply as only the Dark Earth needed to be painted over, not the Dark Green.

Ocean Grey was a new colour (unlike the other camouflage colours it was not incorporated in the British Standards and so has no BS number) containing blue and yellow pigments giving it a blue or greenish hue. Because it had not been in production it was anticipated that it would be in short supply. Therefore, the Air Ministry also issued instructions that if Ocean Grey was not available a substitute, called Mixed Grey, should be used instead. Mixed Grey was specified as seven parts Medium Sea Grey to one part Night. In practice this led to aircraft being painted in a wide variety of shades of grey. In some cases aircraft were even painted Medium Sea Grey on the upper surfaces as well as the lower.

At the same time as the Day Fighter Scheme was introduced, yellow strips on the leading edge of the wings were introduced as a recognition aid. If an aircraft has the yellow leading edge strips then is must be in the Day Fighter Scheme.

There was no rule that aircraft with even serial numbers be painted in the A pattern while odd serial numbers be painted in the B pattern. What probably happened was the first aircraft was painted with the A pattern, the second the B pattern and so on. If the first aircraft happened to have an odd serial number …. well I think you can work that out for yourself.

On 14th January 1941 the B pattern was abandoned by Air Ministry order. From that date new aircraft were painted only with the A pattern. Not just Spitfires, it applied to other aircraft well such as Hurricanes.
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Antoni
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2009, 10:10:07 PM »

P7895/RN*N 72 Squadron. Occasionally flown by P/O Tadeusz Strabrowski in April 1941 and regularly by P/O Jerzy Godlewski in June/July 1941.

The colour photographs of this Spitfire suffer from high contrast and the green in particular is poorly reproduced. However, they clearly show that it has the standard Land Temperate Scheme for the time with Sky under surfaces. The Spinner and fuselage band are also Sky, not white. Even in black-and-white photographs they a noticeably darker in tone than the white of the roundels and fin flash. Heavily weathered the leading edges of the wings seem to have been ‘touched up’ with new green paint. The cowling on Spitfires became coated in a thin film of oil that was sprayed constantly from the propeller pitch control mechanism. Baked by heat from the engine the nose typically took on a darker appearance from the rest of the airframe. .

Recommended reference. Polish Wings 6 Supermarine Spitfire I/II Wojtek Matusiak Stratus/Mushroom Publications.
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Antoni
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2009, 10:13:58 PM »

AD233/ZD*F ‘WEST BORNEO I’ 222 Squadron. Photographed by Charles Brown 4th May 1942 northwest of Dunmow, Essex, flown by  S/Ldr R.M.Milne.

A controversy has developed over the scheme due to the appearance of the Spitfire in the first photograph. The date, yellow leading edge strips and grey under surfaces suggest that it should be in the Day Fighter Scheme. However, the photograph is often reproduced with what should be the green areas of the camouflage looking very brown. This has led to the idea that it was painted in some strange variation of the Land Temperate Scheme with Medium Sea Grey under surfaces. This camp’s explanation goes like this.

It left the factory in the Land Temperate Scheme Dark Earth/Dark Green/Sky. It was then repainted. The under surfaces Medium Sea Grey but the upper surfaces in Dark Earth and Dark Green. But! The colours of the camouflage were reversed. In other words the areas that were Dark Earth were painted Dark Green and the areas that were Dark Green were repainted Dark Earth. (It is a common misconception that reversing the colours of say the A pattern gives the B pattern. This is not so. The B pattern is a mirror image of the A pattern. Reversing the colours results in a new pattern.)The spinner, fuselage band and codes were painted white. The explanation for this is again a shortage of Sky paint. This all seem to be based on what are very poor reproductions of the photographs, very dark and with very high levels of contrast.

The Air Ministry/RAF Dark Green is in fact an Olive Green shade. Olive Greens are notorious for their ability to look green or brown in colour photographs depending upon the lighting conditions, exposure etc. under which they were taken. For example, Olive Drab, Polish Khaki. Indeed, there are better reproduced versions of the photograph where the supposed Dark Earth looks greener and the supposedly Dark Green looks rather grey. The Land Temperate camp will have none of this. According to them the photograph has been deliberately manipulated to make it look as though it is in the Day Fighter Scheme colours. This I find, frankly, to be ridiculous. While it is possible to modify images to almost anything you want these days with the sophisticated software available it was not so in the past. I quote from the RAF camouflage expert Paul Lucas on the problems of making an image appear the way you would like it to.

“As for the suggestion that colour photographs might be deliberately reproduced with a certain emphasis to support a particular interpretation. Whilst I suppose it might be possible, on balance I think it unlikely. I once spent a whole afternoon with a designer ‘on a well known modelling magazine’ trying to obtain the correct colour balance to get a particular colour illustration to reproduce ‘just so’ as it was quite important to the validity of the argument I was trying to make. After some three and a half hours we gave up, utterly defeated, as we simply could not persuade the colours to print out properly. Given all the variables in the colour printing process I am therefore more inclined to believe in ‘cock up’ rather than conspiracy’.

There does not seem to be any other evidence, apart from what people think they can see in the photograph, that supports the strange Land Temperate Scheme, nor any good explanation of why anyone should want to go to all the trouble of painting it that way. As for the white spinner, band and codes. There was a shortage of Sky paint when it was introduced in 1940 but I have never heard of any shortage at the time the Day Fighter Scheme was introduced. As it had been used for some time by then I would expect there to be a surplus if anything.  Each time a photographic  image is reproduced there is an in crease in the contrast. Sky can often appear white for this reason or because it is overexposed.

But there are other photographs of AD233 taken at the same time as this one which the Land Temperate camp largely ignores. Perhaps because they tell a different story.
   
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Antoni
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2009, 10:18:46 PM »

In this photograph the green areas do not look brown but has the normal Olive Green appearance of RAF Dark Green. Also the Spinner, fuselage band and codes are Sky not white. Originally the Spitfire bore the Land Temperate Scheme. Later it was repainted in the Day Fighter Scheme. The under surfaces were repainted Medium Sea Grey and the areas of Dark Earth over painted with Mixed Grey (because of the shortage of Ocean Grey) in a darker shade than would be expected. The ailerons and upper engine cowling are painted with proper Ocean Grey. These were probably replacement items. The green of the upper engine cowling also appears to be a slightly different shade than the rest of the airframe. Spinner, fuselage band and codes are Sky as specified by Air Ministry orders. The serial number appears in two inch high black characters above the fin flash. Below the cockpit is a Squadron Leader’s pennant. 
« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 10:20:41 PM by Antoni » Logged
Antoni
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2009, 10:22:36 PM »

In this photograph AD233 appears with two friends. All three Spitfires have a similar appearance and again there is no hint of any Dark earth. AD233 was a presentation Spitfire given the name ‘West Borneo I’. The name was painted in two inch high Medium Sea Grey characters on each side of the fuselage, forward of the cockpit. On the starboard (right) side the name can no longer be seen as it was painted on a Dark Earth background that was painted over with Mixed Grey. The name is still visible on the port (left) side as it was painted on a green background which was not over painted when the change was made to the Day Fighter Scheme. Behind the name is the Squadron Leader’s pennant again. Note that the sides of the fuselage band do not appear to be parallel but taper downwards.

Recommended references. Supermarine Spitfire Mk V Wojtek Matusiak Mushroom Publications.
De ‘Indische’ Spitfires Nico Geldhof & Luuk Boerman Dutch Profile (dual Dutch/English text).

The idea that there has been some kind of conspiracy for decades by authors and printers to present  these images in false colours is rather preposterous and ludicrous. But it would seem that some people would rather delude themselves that they have discovered something special and prefer elaborate and convoluted explanations over the simple and straight forward. You probably are not able to see much in the photographs as they appear in the forum so I have also placed them here

http://www.pixum.co.uk/viewalbum/id/4251767

where hopefully you can see more. I recommend that you try to find the references I have given you where you will find much better versions of the photographs. They should at the very least convince you that there has been an excessive amount of over interpretation of the camouflage carried by these two Spitfires. .   

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8002reverse
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 07:40:35 PM »

In this photograph AD233 appears with two friends. All three Spitfires have a similar appearance and again there is no hint of any Dark earth. AD233 was a presentation Spitfire given the name ‘West Borneo I’. The name was painted in two inch high Medium Sea Grey characters on each side of the fuselage, forward of the cockpit. On the starboard (right) side the name can no longer be seen as it was painted on a Dark Earth background that was painted over with Mixed Grey. The name is still visible on the port (left) side as it was painted on a green background which was not over painted when the change was made to the Day Fighter Scheme. Behind the name is the Squadron Leader’s pennant again. Note that the sides of the fuselage band do not appear to be parallel but taper downwards.

Recommended references. Supermarine Spitfire Mk V Wojtek Matusiak Mushroom Publications.
De ‘Indische’ Spitfires Nico Geldhof & Luuk Boerman Dutch Profile (dual Dutch/English text).

The idea that there has been some kind of conspiracy for decades by authors and printers to present  these images in false colours is rather preposterous and ludicrous. But it would seem that some people would rather delude themselves that they have discovered something special and prefer elaborate and convoluted explanations over the simple and straight forward. You probably are not able to see much in the photographs as they appear in the forum so I have also placed them here

http://www.pixum.co.uk/viewalbum/id/4251767

where hopefully you can see more. I recommend that you try to find the references I have given you where you will find much better versions of the photographs. They should at the very least convince you that there has been an excessive amount of over interpretation of the camouflage carried by these two Spitfires. .   



From the pilot's log book:-  http://imgur.com/2BCuS.jpg
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