View Full Version : Spitfire model

Lu Zuckerman
10th May 2004, 00:38
I just took delivery of a 1:18 scale model of a Spitfire in 74 Squadron markings. The model had a very novel paint scheme.

The underside is divided down the centerline and one side is painted in camoflage and the other side of the fuselage , wing and horizontal stabilizer are painted white. Is this standard for 74 Squadron? The markings are ZP (roundel) A on the right side.

Did someone special fly this particular aircraft?

:E :E

PPRuNe Radar
10th May 2004, 01:13
The CO of 74 Sqn and WW2 'ace', Adolph 'Sailor' Malan flew a 74 Sqn machine in 1940 coded K9953/ZP-A. According to a painting I have seen, he also flew P7370/ZP-A.

The first Spitfires to reach the RAF were painted in a camouflage scheme of brown and dark green. The undersides were painted with one half black, the other white , with the dividing line running from nose to tail, sometimes only the underside of one wing was painted black, leaving the fuselage underside white. K9953 was in this scheme and was the standard scheme for Spitfires in the Battle of Britain up until the Summer of 1940. From then on during the war the undersides were variously light blue, light grey or duck-egg blue. The scheme was intended to either break up the silhouette of the aircraft or provide identification to anti aircraft gunnery units, depending on which history book you read.

There's a bit more of a definitive markings history of 74 Sqn here -

74 Squadron Markings (http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/1999/11/stuff_eng_profile_74sqn1.htm)

10th May 2004, 07:25
What I wouldn't give to see a Spit with a black and white belly...! :)

11th May 2004, 12:30
Ok, anorak on, thermos flask full...........

K9953 was indeed flown by A.G. 'Sailor' Malan. 74 Sq 1940.

It first flew 28/4/39. And from what I can find, ended it's life in a O.T.U. 1943 when it collided in mid air with R6883.

Anorak off, Thermos empty. :D

11th May 2004, 12:45
One of the BoBMF Spitfires (either the II or the V) flew for a couple of seasons with the b/w underside... some years ago it was...

11th May 2004, 13:00
Never seen that one, although Hurri PZ865 did when she wore Bob Standford-Tuck's DT-A markings a few years back.

11th May 2004, 13:13
That might be what I am thinking about... my memory isn't what it was... (all join in) but then it never was, was it!

12th May 2004, 12:33
Wg Cdr Paul Richey's autobiography (Fighter Pilot) also mentions the black and white undersides paint scheme. Wg Cdr Richey flew as part of 1(F) Sqn during the Battle of France. He's a member of the "make it easy for the ground observers" school of thought.

He's also critical of the paint scheme, as it also made the fighter (in his case Hurricane) more easy to spot by enemy air gunners ... One source (possibly Wg Cdr Richey) blames a number of RAF fighter pilot deaths on the colour scheme.

So far as I can recall, he says that the scheme was abandoned before Dunkirk.



12th May 2004, 14:22
I have a small-scale model of Sailor Malan's Spitfire Mk1, and I think the colour scheme dates from around May/June 1940. Can't remember off the top of my head, though.

13th May 2004, 10:53
I had a quick look at my copy of "Fighter Pilot" last evening and it says this (page 51 of the 1969 Pan edition)

"Not long afterwards we made another contribution that was to benefit all our fighter squadrons. While still with Fighter Command, in order to facilitate recognition by our observers on the ground, the undersides of our wings were painted black on one side, white on the other. We considered this to be idiotic, since the German aircraft were duck-egg blue underneath
and very difficult to spot from below, whereas we stood out like flying chequer-boards. So the Bull [Sqn Ldr Halahan - OC 1(F) Sqn] gave orders for the undersides of our aircraft to be painted duck-egg blue, and this too was later adapted for all RAF fighters."

(The "too" refers to 1 Sqn abandoning the "Dowding Spread" where a fighters guns were set to give a wide strike pattern at 400 yards. This was designed to compensate for aiming error and left sufficient lethal density to bring down a bomber. It wasn't so good against fighters though, but Dowding felt that his aircraft wouldn't meet enemy fighters, never mind have to fight them. 400 yards was selected as this was outside the lethal range of a bombers defences.

1 (F) Sqn secretly synchronised their guns on a point 250 yards in front of the aircraft and, as a result, were quite successful against fighters.)

Interestingly, one of the photos in the book (of Hurricane "Z" (N2358)) - shows that the tail markings are worn Great War style, on the rudder itself, not the fin. Also, none of the three photos showing Hurricanes shows Squadron code letters (1 Sqn wore "JX" during tbe Battle of Britain) though, bearing in mind that the book was first published in 1941, these may have
been airbrushed at the behest of the censor.

I haven't been able to find any other comment (other than the "flying chequer-board" one (above)) though am sure I've seen something more critical of the black and white scheme and suggesting that it was responsible for fighter pilot deaths.