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White, camo or hemp?

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White, camo or hemp?

Old 18th Mar 2018, 12:33
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White, camo or hemp?

The thread title about the unfortunate Vulcan XH 477 accident in 1963 prompted me to ask about the various colour schemes for the three V bomber types.

As is well-known all three types started their lives in what was known as "anti-flash" white (other than prototypes) , and I personally think they never looked better. I am not sure when the switch to camo began, did it pre-date the switch from high to low level role for the Vulcans, and why were Valiants which were never in the low level role latterly painted in the camo scheme? Similarly tankers, both Valiant and Victors, were never operated at low level, but all were repainted in camo, first in gloss, then in a rather horrible matt finish which survives on XA 648 at Duxford. I do have a 1965 picture of Victor K1 XA 918 in white, but as far as I know it was the only tanker to have operated in that scheme

The K2s of course then went to the very boring and unflattering hemp finish in which they ended their days. Seeing pictures of a B2 in its original white, then in camo and finally in hemp is like seeing pictures of an old friend ageing - and not at all graciously.

Any thoughts or opinions on the reasoning behind the various colour schemes?
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 12:42
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My only contribution would be that I thought the Victor looked rather neat and purposeful in hemp which was, I understood, a ground cam scheme for when parked..
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 13:09
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I was a,techie on Vulcans when they were white. They looked very good but to keep them looking pristine, a whole lot of wadpole and elbow grease was required to keep them so.
A Vulcan from Finningly arrived at Scampton one day and it had obviously been a victim of Doncaster’s industrial fall-out. It looks ghastly compared to ours.
The camouflaged ones did look more business like, I thought.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 13:12
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When I was on the OCU in mid 1964 I flew both white and camouflage versions. As far as I remember all the aircraft that I flew at Coningsby and Cottesmore were camouflage.

ACW
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 16:14
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ACW,not so. Contingent was still undergoing change around Aug/Sep 64. I did two trips in the Annie one day. First was AM to Cottesmore and return before lunch. No problems as the white jets stood out like the proverbial. After lunch we went to Finningley. Very hard to get a visual on RTB as only camp's left. I think the war plan switched to 'LL in July. We did OCU in full pressure rig.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 16:35
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Originally Posted by Tankertrashnav View Post
why were Valiants which were never in the low level role latterly painted in the camo scheme?
Not so. The Valiants in the TBF operated at low level well before the Vulcans and Victors. Their attack profile was the 2F when the Victor and Vulcan were on 2D (RB popup) and 2E (YS 2 pop up). The Valiant had the US 2100lb which had a shock mitigating spike.

Then the Mk 1 Victor was certainly a low level bomber with 4 Sqns, 10/XV/55/57, had the Valiants not been grounded the Victor would probably have continued to Jul 66.

The Victor 2, 100/139, were also low level missile carriers until the end of the 67/68 Oplan. Their bigger wing was not really suitable for the low level role. That they remained in camouflage once they were tankers might have been costs?
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 17:43
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The original Vulcans at Waddington in 1956 were painted in a silver finish which soon changed to "anti-flash" white.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 18:01
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The other oddity was the change from anti flash roundels to high contrast bulls eyes. Eventually sense kicked in and the white ring went.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 18:23
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IIRC, When I arrived at Waddo '64time, there was a mix of white and camo B1a jets. We also had at least one Mk 1 which was white.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 18:54
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Thanks for the info on LL Valiants P-N - I hadnt realised that. They were withdrawn the same year I joined up, so that's my excuse.

I thought the Victor looked rather neat and purposeful in hemp ...
No accounting for taste I suppose
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 20:15
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<phrrp>, TTN
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 21:10
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The Victor looked sinister which ever colour it was painted.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 21:22
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TTN,

I arrived at Coningsby in October 1964 when you had already gone to the Far East. I don't think there were any white B2's on the station then.

ACW
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 22:04
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There is only one colour for a "V" bomber. Call me old-fashioned, but it's Anti-flash White.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 23:11
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Originally Posted by ACW418 View Post
TTN,

I arrived at Coningsby in October 1964 when you had already gone to the Far East. I don't think there were any white B2's on the station then.

ACW
You mean me

I think all the White ones had gone by July. We took 655 to FEAF, I think 656 and 657 were yet to be delivered. Need to find my books.
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Old 18th Mar 2018, 23:59
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The first V-bombers in service were in what was called 'high-speed silver'. I remember reading it as a schoolboy and avid reader of RAF Flying Review during the mid 1950s. I remember from photos in that august journal the Valiants in squadron service wore this scheme for some time but I think by the time the Vulcan and Victor entered service anti-flash white was the norm.

They went to the low level role in 1964 and there was a mixture of white and camouflaged aircraft around for quite a while. i visited Wittering on a Halton Apprentices visit early 1964 and saw a newly camouflaged Victor among a group of white ones.

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Old 19th Mar 2018, 08:45
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At least the Victor didn't suffer the indignity of being painted in 'John Major Grey', unlike the FunBus.... The first of which had a pale blue cheat line and looked awful - that 'blue vein' marking was rejected (thankfully) and the grey / dark grey design was somewhat better.

ZA141 looked daft in camouflage (by the way, 'camo' is a term only used by spotters...) and white underside, whereas the first Vulcan which came back from St.Athan in 1980 with wraparound green/grey camouflage rather looked the business!
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Old 19th Mar 2018, 08:57
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BEagle, was that top and bottom post Red Flag?

I thought the 'night bomber' deal with all grey underside looked odd.
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Old 19th Mar 2018, 09:14
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I don't know whether the wraparound scheme came as a result of Red Flag, or simply because other camouflaged aircraft were being similarly painted.

I once saw a single seat Hunter which had been allocated to a Bucc squadron (I think it was 12 Sqn) following the Red Flag accident. It had just been major'd and repainted in a similar scheme - and was flown without tanks or pylons. It looked great and flew even better - as it was a GT6, it didn't have guns, sabrinas or a gunsight either!
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Old 19th Mar 2018, 09:47
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In 1966 the Tanker Training Flight at Marham had 4 Victor B1A in camouflage and 2 Victor B1 in white, and no Tankers. The AAR training was carried out on the squadron. All the Tanker Mk 1/1A were delivered in camouflage. 55 Sqn retained 6 of its Bomber aircraft which had been fitted with 2 Flight Refuelling Mk 20 pods from RN stock. The other tankers were modded by Handley-Page to the three point standard and all arrived camouflaged.

When 57 & 214 had their complements of 3 point Tankers, 55 was re-equipped with 3 pointers.Their old 2 point tankers were redistibuted to the sqns as crew training hacks or to TTF as trainers replacing the B1s.

The B1As were still in service on TTF when I left Marham (that time) in May 71. This caused confusion at USA airshows when we had to explain that even though we were Tanker Training Flight we were flying a Bomber!
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