Tutorials Thread, RNZAF Markings in Modelling; Before starting on the markings we just need to clarify the organization of the RNZAF in the Pacific during WW ...
Before starting on the markings we just need to clarify the organization of the RNZAF in the Pacific during WW 2.
A word of explanation as to why so many RNZAF aircraft do not have squadron codes applied in the Pacific..Because of the distances involved, particularly from New Zealand, the RNZAF, in the latter half of 1943, abandoned the traditional system of more or less self contained squadrons in favour of of a system whereby land based aircraft were allotted to servicing units which remained in the forward area indefinitely,whilst squadrons consisting almost entirely of aircrew were attached to servicing units for an operational tour lasting 6 to 8 weeks. The Engineering Officer of the SU was responsible to the Squadron Commander for the provision of airworthy aircraft. The system was not popular at first as it was said to destroy the close working relationship of aircrew and groundcrew, but it worked well enough in practice. This is the reason that so few RNZAF aircraft, in the operational area, carried individual markings or were associated with particular crews. The major exception to this were the Dauntless aircraft, as they were only used by No 25 Squadron, which had it's own dedicated Servicing Unit (also numbered 25)
My father served with No 10 SU which initially had Hudsons and then were re-equipped with Venturas. Unless you know the date of a photo it is not possible to say which squadron was flying the aircraft.
Toward the end of the war the RNZAF was operating over an area some 3000 miles by 2000 miles to the north of New Zealand yet in all this area (about 35% greater than Europe) there were only 36 allied airfields in 23 different places.
If in trouble it was standard practice for pilots to head for the sea where there was a chance they would be picked up by a "Dumbo" Catalina. There was vitually no chance of survival for aircrew who crashed or parachuted into the mountainous jungle islands of the Solomons or New Guinea.
Having cleared that up, I will do the first part of the markings next.
Prior to World War 2, RNZAF aircraft color schemes simply followed RAF practice – overall silver with RAF roundels and flashes with sometimes black or dark green turtle decking and blue fuselages flashes in conjunction with red, blue or black codes.
A suprising variety of color schemes appeared on RNZAF aircraft during the war however, particularly since the number of aircraft involved was only about 2,400. It was customary for most wartime aircraft to serve for months or even years in the American, British or civilian schemes in which they were delivered to the RNZAF before eventually most were repainted in color schemes of local origin.
The RNZAF required, by necessity, during this period to have its paints mixed in New Zealand by local paint manufacturers. Prior to this time many paints were imported.
Being a commonwealth country with close ties to Britain it was only natural that BS381c Standard would be chosen as the paint mixing guide. However, in most cases, New Zealand mixed paints were only a near match to BS381c colors, and on some occasions there was quite a difference in the final paint used on various aircraft, even though specific BS381c numbers were given for them.
There are several reasons for this, the most common one being a shortage of paint. Consequently, the paints were hand mixed on stations and bases, with perhaps no more than a faded aircraft, or part of an aircraft, to match the color with. This resulted in many variations of a given color. For example, it was quite normal to see various machines of the same type in different shades of Ocean Blue, Duck Egg Blue or Yellow etc, even though they were all intended to be the same.
To add further to the confusion, there are many other reasons why a shade varied from one aircraft to another, e.g. fading (especially in the tropics), abrasion, different batches of paint, top coat applied over different colored primers/undercoats, differing paint thicknesses, etc. If it were possible to have had painted all wartime aircraft of a given type, using exactly the same preparation in the way of primers, undercoats and topcoats, from the same batch and tin, with the same person spraying each aircraft in exactly the same manner , then it might have been feasible to look down a line of parked aircraft and say “they are all the same color” (this to a large extent equally applies to post war aircraft).
You often see in many publications from time to time comments regarding the actual shades on a certain aircraft as being “slightly lighter” or “slightly darker” than the color originally sated. The fact of the matter is that probably all are correct!
Over the years there has been much confusion with some of the New Zealand mixed paints. One particularly controversial color is a Blue/Grey shade used on Ansons, Harvards, Kittyhawks, Hudsons and Venturas . It has been called all manner of names such as “Pale Blue”, “Blue/Grey”, “Dirty Blue””, “Pacific Blue” and most commonly “Ocean Blue”. Officially it was “Blue Sea Grey” BS381c No 636.
I will cover this color in the next installment
Scale Model Member
Great first hand knowledge Kiwi,keep up the good work on the subject.
Well Kiwi, I am enjoying your thesis thus far. I will look forward to part two with relish.
I will have to put some thoughts together with a few more questions for you.
Originally Posted by Kiwi
The colour commonly called “Ocean Blue or Pacific Blue” has been, for a long time, a confusing subject.
Official reference to it has now been found, and it can now be given it’s correct title of “Blue Sea Grey”.
The official source is a “Schedule of Aeronautical Paints and Dopes” that was promulgated in on 20 June 1945. Part 1 of the schedule set out contract items which were supplied by B.A.L.M. (NZ) Ltd, and under the heading “Camouflage Colours” the following appeared.
Description Stores Ref.
Dark Olive Drab Cam. Nitrate 133B/31
Neutral Grey Cam. Nitrate 133B/34
Dark Slate Grey Camouflage 33B/222
Sky Grey Camouflage 33B/293
Light Slate Grey Camouflage 33B/234
Blue Sea Grey Camouflage 33B/N118
Foliage Green Camouflage 33B/183
All of these were to Standard Specification DTD308, and the stores references were all for 4-gallon containers except for 33B/234 which was one gallon. Manufacturer’s were given as S13-192, 196, 905, 907, 923, 934, and 983 respectively.
To appreciate more the significance of this information, a short lesson on stores references is in order. If you have read the Fighting/Bombing Colours series of books you will be aware that Section 33B of the RAF Stores Reference system referred to paints and dopes. The number which followed specified a colour and the size of container. The RNZAF adapted this system to indicate items from other sources. Addition of a figure 1 to the front of the Section Reference indicated stores of American origin, and the letter N in front of the final number indicated a New Zealand item.
From the schedule we can now pick out the American colour pair of Dark Olive Drab and Neutral Grey. The two New Zealand colours, Blue Sea Grey and Duck Egg Blue join with the British colours to complete the spectrum of colours available for camouflaging RNZF aircraft towards the end of the war.
Lest there be any doubt that Blue Sea Grey and Ocean Blue are one and the same, the following episodes should dispel any such thoughts.
In July 1944 the Commanding Officer of RNZAF Station New Plymouth, commenting on re-equipment with three Hudson aircraft with a different camouflage scheme to the station’s Ansons, requested permission to bring the Anson scheme into line with the Hudsons. He noted “The Hudson scheme is Duck Egg Blue, Foliage Green and Blue Grey. The Anson scheme is Duck Egg Blue, Foliage Green and Dark Earth.” He added that the Ansons spent most of their time flying over the sea and also that , as the Station had only one compressor and three spray guns, the reduction from four dopes to three would be of considerable help. Approval was given.
The omission of the world “Sea” from the official description was not unusual. Further evidence is contained in a March 1944 letter from Lauthala Bay (Fiji) to Wellington. Here it was stated (concerning the Hudson III) “considerable difficulty is being experienced with Dark Green (Ref.33B/183) and Blue Grey (Ref 33b/N118) colours peeling off the mainplanes and the fuselage.”
Note that the stores references quoted were, in fact, those for Foliage Green and Blue Sea Grey. The solution to the peeling problem was to apply Blue Grey Dope (M/485A) as used on the upper surfaces of Catalinas. The number were quoted appears to be a specification and no further clue to the exact shade is given. Nor is there any further elaboration on the inference that the Blue Grey Dope was used to replace both upper colours, i.e. do away with the disruptive pattern. The manufacturer’s number for Blue Sea Grey was passed to Dulux New Zealand Ltd, but unfortunately they could provide any further clue as to the exact shade.
The best match is a Humbrol mix of: 1-HU5 and 1-No34
Another New Zealand mixed paint which often becomes confused with Blue Sea Grey is Medium Blue (BS381c No 109), However, this paint bears only some resemblance to No109 and the following Humbrol mix gives a more correct example of the RNZAF colour.
3-HB13 + 2-No25 + 2HX3
As will be seen from when these Humbrol paints are mixed, there is not a lot of difference between Blue Sea Grey and Medium Blue, the latter being slightly more Blue of the two.
All New Zealand mixed paints, though based on BS381c, were given local names and they are listed below with the Humbrol equivalents. To enable the correct New Zealand names to be used, without confusion with similarly named overseas paints, I have added a prefix-(NZ), this is NOT an official prefix.
Note, These mixes were given to me, but I have not personally used them.
Also attached is a similar listing for the paints with the equilvalent American Federal Specification numbers
Next I will move on to Insignia. Stay tuned!
Last edited by Kiwi; 04-06-2005 at 03:01.
RNZAF Roundels -Prologue
These notes on the evolution of RNZAF roundels are compiled mainly from articles from the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand Journals of the early 1980s and in particular the research by Sqn Ldr C.F.L.Jenks.
To understand the study which follows it is necessary to understand some of the methods used. The first point to note is that the study focuses mainly on roundel proportions and not dimensions. This has meant that measurements for a variety of roundels from a variety of photographs and other sources can be directly compared. As a start point the roundel outer diameter (borders excluded) has been given an arbitrary value of 120.
This figure was chosen to give whole number values to the lesser diameters in almost every case. As an example, the standard RAF pre-World War 2 roundel (A type) has white and red diameters respectively tree fifths and one fifth that of the blue diameter. In the proportional method adopted in this study that translates to a description of 120/72/24. As the 120 is, by definition, present in all descriptions, it can be dropped and the shortened form of 72/24 used to describe this particular form of roundel.
The second point to note is that the study takes no account of colour other than to distinguish between primary colours. That distinction is made between red and blue but not between shades of red or between shades of blue.
This general discarding of actual dimensions and shades of colour helps reduce a very complex subject to an understandable one. In some cases ,however, a knowledge of dimensions is necessary to arrive at a conclusion as to the derivation of some proportions.
As a matter of convenience in describing the myriad of roundel types the following notation system has been adopted which is an extension of the official RAF system. Note the system used here is NOT an official system.
The RAF classified the four main roundel types used before, during, and after World War Two as A, B, C and D. Many of you will be familiar with these terms and the types of roundel they describe- for those that are not they will be described later as the RNZAF used all four.
The basis of the notation uses the letter Z to indicate any roundel that was peculiar to the RNZAF. By combining the Z with the RAF letters one can produce not only a convenient label but also indicate to a degree the origin of the roundel.
This system is still not sufficient to describe all types so far identified so the letter P (for Pacific) to extend the range further- in particular to encompass the roundels that were used when RNZAF aircraft operated alongside US Forces in the Pacific.
This particular family of roundels requires yet another device to describe several variants, and a third letter has been adopted in all cases, either based on RAF roundel types or in some cases on the designation of the aircraft to which the roundel appears peculiar.
The notation takes no account of shades of colour nor gloss ratings, nor does it cater for borders around the roundels. In the RAF system, a yellow border around the roundel is signified by the addition of the figure 1 for a wide border (except for the C.1 which has a narrow border) or 2 for a narrow border. This system has been built on by extending the numbers to account for several varieties of borders, but also whether or not the bars had borders.
Prior to 1939 the RNZAF and the NZPAF (New Zealand Permanent Air Force) before it, generally used the standard RAF roundel known as the A type. This consisted of concentric red, white and blue circles to the 72/24 ratio described in the previous post. On some aircraft it was carried in A.2 form- but with the bordering ring being white rather than yellow. This was contemporary RAF practice, particuarly on dark back grounds, and most NZPAF examples were from RAF origins. Other aircraft which came direct from the factories to New Zealand appear to have been subject to some variation from the standard. One of particular note is the DH.50A. This aircraft carried a fuselage roundel of the A.2 variety against a silver background and the proportion seems to have been 76/29, a quite significant departure from the A type proportions.
Last edited by Kiwi; 03-06-2005 at 03:00.
I have just located the FS (Federal Specification)numbers for the colours used on RNZAF aircraft. These will make a useful adjunct to the RAF numbers listed above. I have included them as an appendix to post #5.
Last edited by Kiwi; 04-06-2005 at 03:03.
World War Two RAF Roundels
In the years before the outbreak of war, the RAF had developed two major variations of the roundel. One was the B type, in which the red and blue of the A were moved equally towards each other until the white was closed out. This gave a red and blue roundel proportionally described as -/48. Used initially in all positions on night bombers, its use by 1937 had been generally restricted to use on wing upper surfaces only, and this usage continued until 1947. The other major variation was the A.1 roundel. This consisted of a standard A roundel with a yellow surround of the same width as the other colours. It can be proportionally described as 168/120/72/24 (the 120 being the blue diameter of course). The A.1 generally became the standard roundel for fuselage sides of camouflaged aircraft up until 1942, when it was replaced by the C type.
In 1942 the C roundel was introduced. This was derived from the A in much the same manner as had been the b except that the white was not completely closed out. The proportional description is 60/45. The C roundel generally superseded all other RAF roundels except for the upper wing Bs, and continued in use until after the war. On fuselage sides it was normally in the C.1 form, the addition being a narrow border of yellow in the same manner as the A.2.
In general terms, RNZAF wartime policy was to use standard RAF roundels for all types initially, but from 1942 onwards forward area operational types came under different rules. Probably the first RNZAF departure from plain A roundels was the Wellington scheme when these aircraft were obtained from the UK in 1939. Fuselage sides were marked with A.1 and upper wings with B. There were no underwing roundels. During the opening months of the war Vincents were given a camouflage finish and B roundels were applied to fuselage sides and both upper and lower wing surfaces.
Kittyhawks and Hudsons were delivered with A.1 fuselage roundels and B upper wing , with the fighters also having plain A roundels under wing. This RAF practice of having under wing roundels only on day fighters was generally followed by the RNZAF until April 1942 when instructions were issued to apply A roundels to all under wing positions. This instruction was issued at a time when enemy raider were much in the minds of the embryonic New Zealand air defences, and the underwing marking was seen as necessary to avoid any unfortunate incidents.
Training aircraft and other aircraft used only within New Zealand continued to follow RAF roundel styles throughout the war, although it seems that adherence to the policy was not very strict. For example, although Dominies, Avengers and Sunderlands were delivered marked with C roundels, and many New Zealand based Hudsons and Harvards were repainted with C roundels, it seems rather more rare to find examples of Tiger moths or Oxfords so marked. Many impressed light aircraft, after being camouflaged, saw the war out marked with the A, A1, B combination.
Before leaving the RAF roundel usage in the RNZAF and moving on to the unique RNZAF roundels, there is one other peculiar roundel that must be noted. In a photograph taken in New Zealand in 1941, two Tiger Moths are shown wearing what can only be described as D type roundels . The D roundel, however, was not introduced until 1947, and it is uncertain whether these markings were coincidental, a case of foresight or
as forebears. It can be stated only that these aircraft arrived from the UK with the D roundels already applied.
Also of interest on these Tiger Moths of No 3 EFTS at Harewood (now Christchurch International Airport) are the blind flying hoods , the type B roundel of the fuselage of the third aircraft, the lack of fin flashes, serials on both rudders and fuselage and the artistic licence used by the painters of the code letters. There doesn't seem to be two of the same style! The code group presentation (in black) was an unusual and short-lived form.
Last edited by Kiwi; 04-06-2005 at 03:11.
Scale Model Member
Top notch material Kiwi,keep it flowing...
RNZAF roundels evolve
Following the Japanese advances in 1942, the RNZAF began to deploy aircraft into the "forward area", and the roundels began a process of evolution that led by wars end to a distinctive RNZAF operational roundel. This ultimate roundel had many forms, however, and many more were used in the process of evolution.
The two factors which influenced the changes were the use of the red disc marking - the "Hinomaru"- as the Japanese national marking, and the adoption of white bars by the Americans as additions to their national star marking. The possibility that the red centre of the British roundel might be mistaken for a Hinomaru (particularly by US forces which were not necessarily familiar with British markings) led to several changes which consisted mainly of either reducing the size of the red or replacing it with blue. The adoption of white bars to produce a national marking very similar to the US national marking, was a reflection of the growing integration of the allied forces in the Pacific theatre.
Details of the evolution are covered in the seperate paragraphs (using the notation outlined previously) and the attached diagram depicts the main variations.
ZA The ZA roundel may have been the first roundel developed particularly fo RNZAF use. the reason for its appearance has not been ascertained, but one could speculate that it was an attempt (in the manner of the British C) to decrease the amount of white showing to the detriment of camouflage. If this were true it probably made its first appearance in 1942, and it has been positively identified on Kittyhawks during 1943. It was derived from the A by moving the blue in towards the centre, stopping half way across the white. Its proportional description is thus 48/24.
Evidence is tenuous, but it may have been applied to some Catalinas. The ZA led to several other roundels, viz the ZAZ, ZAP, and ZPA. These will be described later.
AZ, CZ, and ZAZ This family of roundels represents the first attempts to overcome the Hinomaru problem - by reducing the red centre to minute proportions. Proportionally the centres seem to have ranged from around 10 to mere 4. This latter one is depicted as the ZAZ and it was applied to Kittyhawks in the forward area. Instructions for the ZAZ were issued in April 1943, and included reducing the centre from 6 1/2 inches to 1 inch. If the original roundel had been ZA then its outside diameter would have been about 30 inches. The other two in the family seem to have had centres of about 4 inches, and generally come out with a red proportion of about 10. Other than the variation in red centre sizes, the distinguishing characteristics of the three roundels are in the size of the blue rings -or the diameter of the white to put it another way.
The AZ retained the standard A proportions for blue and white. It has tentatively identified on early Catalinas, both fuselage and under-wing surfaces, and on a Walrus fuselage. The ZAZ was based on the ZA blue/white proportions and its only identified use is on Kittyhawk fuselages. The CZ arose from the C blue/white proportions and has been identified on early Venturas on the fuselage. Although Hudsons were used in the forward area during the period that these roundels were in use, evidence suggests that the type did not carry any of these three types of roundels.
Re the attached picture.
The first Catalinas delivered in mid 1943 carried this form of roundel on both the forward fuselage and underneath the wings. Of the AZ variety under the wing and the AZ.2 shown here on the fuselage, this roundel was shortlived. This photograph also demonstrates the difficulty of taking measurements from an oblique shot of a curved surface. What measurments have been gleaned suggest the AZ rather than the CZ (the RAF C type being extant at the time)
Also shown is a Kittyhawk at Espiritu Santo wearing ZAZ.1 roundels
Last edited by Kiwi; 04-06-2005 at 10:11.
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