View Full Version : Why were there high visibility stripes...

13th Oct 2008, 16:31
...on some Halifax tail fins?

I remember them on an Airfix Halifax that I put together as a nipper and I also saw them on photographs of 'Friday the 13th' , whopping great yellow and black stripes.

Why would the RAF want them to be so visable?

13th Oct 2008, 17:49
From my model making research, I recall that distinctive tail markings were used on Gee equiped Halifaxes and Lancasters who would act as formation leaders.

GH-Tail Markings (http://www.lancaster-archive.com/lanc_gh-tail_markings.htm) is worth a look.

13th Oct 2008, 19:02
Like it...except the a/c were flying at night...[preferably moonless]. If you can see the markings, you are too 'kin close :mad:
I've worked in a "Radar Environment" most of my professional life......
Yes, I know...kept in the dark and fed B/S.....

14th Oct 2008, 04:17
They might well have been on day ops either for maritime patrol, or with the D-day invasion ops (weren't some used as glider tugs and paratroop carriers?).

In the D-day operations, all allied tactical aircraft carried "invasion stripes" due to the simply massive number of aircraft involved.
They knew they would well outnumber Axis aircraft, so friendly fire was a bigger threat than German fighters.


Wildcat of No. 846 Squadron

This book says heavy bombers were exempted, however:
Brassey's D-Day Encyclopedia: The ... - Google Book Search (http://books.google.com/books?id=6Fxfa0V8-TIC&pg=PA125&lpg=PA125&dq=invasion+stripes&source=web&ots=KxnkRqa8Qu&sig=1k89X0xrpOWPR-SxDkcG3VGF1zI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA125,M1)

14th Oct 2008, 06:45
These are the ones I mean, I guess the "formation leader" idea seems closest ( for daylight operations?) as they don't look anything like invasion stripes.

14th Oct 2008, 08:47
Ah the YAM Halifax.

Now thats what I call the biggest airfix kit in the world.

Had the pleasure of crawling about inside her a couple of years ago.
The attention to detail is outstanding.

An amazing achievement by all concerned.

Anyone who hasn't visited Elvington yet I recommend you get that Tom Tom out.

14th Oct 2008, 15:16
A caption from author Bill Gunston, in his book "Combat Aircraft of World War II" says "Vivid tails were common among multi-national Halifax units". The caption describes the brilliant yellow and black checker-board pattern on the tail of a Halifax B.III Series II with extended wings and H2S, serving with 640 Sqn. at Leconfield, Yorkshire.

Note: That "Wildcat V" was designated by the Royal Navy, FAA (Fleet Air Arm) as a "Martlet".

14th Oct 2008, 18:50
It's only from an AIRCAM publication but I do trust Messrs Garbett and Goulding;


Brian Abraham
14th Oct 2008, 23:35
From "Encyclopedia of Aircraft of World War II"

With the increase in daylight missions from mid 1945, distinctive tail markings were introduced to help unit coherence in close formation. Halifaxes wore particularly colourful tails.

The red trellis pattern on H7-N in evansb's post belonged to No. 346 (Free French) Squadron.

15th Oct 2008, 02:44
Don't forget that, while the raid arrived over target at night it started with the formations assembling in daylight. The additional radio traffic was a dead giveaway that a raid was coming. A colleague of mine at BAC Hurn, Dave Booth, was a Wireless Operator on Pathfinders and he recounted how he's been on an aircraft that puffed pink smoke to signal the group and aid forming up - it didn't work (of course).

15th Oct 2008, 07:24
Many thanks for your replies - I now have the answer to what has been an outstanding question since I was nine years old!

15th Oct 2008, 09:03
The tail markings denoted the squadron and, as Brian said, assisted the squadron formation from mid 1944 onward.

The stripes on the tail of F-Friday showed that she was from 158 Sqn based at Lisset.

Maybe the Halibags had such colourful tails because they had a great big billboard of a fin compared to the Lancaster :ok:

16th Oct 2008, 12:23
Yes, and take note of the round bottom Lancaster rudders. Compare these to the larger squared off Lincoln rudders fitted to PA474 while she was doing the "Midge Wing" test flying and which remain in place until today.