Spitfire question

Peej

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#1
I have just watched a fascinating programme about Dunkirk and the new evidence about the role of the RAF. Now this question has probably been asked before, but could someone please explain why some Spitfires had the underneath of one wing black. I would like to build my next Spitfire this way but knowing the reason why would make the build more interesting.
 

eddiesolo

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#3
I found this on here:
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by member Antoni so a shout out to him and the site.

Trial on batch of 50 (L1576 - L1625) Hawker built Hurricanes March/April 1938.

In early April 1938 Fighter Command expressed a wish that all Spitfires and Hurricanes be finished in this manner.

On 23rd September 1938 Fighter Command wrote to the AM to obtain permission to paint the undersides of the mainplanes of all fighters, with the exception of 'Field Force' fighters, black and white up to the centre line of the aircraft. This seems to have been granted as the black and white scheme spread very rapidly among the Home Defence squadrons. There was still considerable delay before aircraft started leaving the production lines in these new markings.

On 6th June 1940 the AM sent Signal X915 which stated that all under surfaces of fighter aircraft were to be Sky. All previous instructions regarding the painting and marking of the under surfaces of fighter aircraft were cancelled.
 

Ade Close Enough

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#4
Actually wrote this reply several hours ago, helps if I hit Post Reply!

I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong but as far as I know it was for something as simple as aircraft recognition. I did a Hurricane with that black white underside and that's what I was told when I asked the same question :smiling3:

Adrian
 

stona

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#7
All the above are correct, and Antoni knows his stuff (haven't seen/heard him around online for a while).
Here is a little more background.
The black and white undersides were, as stated above, an IFF marking. They arose as part of the coordinated air defence system the British were developing in the 1930s. One of the major problems facing the system, before electronic IFF, was to find a means of identifying friendly aircraft from the ground. This would allow them to avoid being shot at or shot down by friendly anti aircraft units and allow them to be tracked by the Observer Corps (not yet Royal). The early Chain Home radar system illuminated 360 degrees, but to allow operators to determine from which direction signals were returned the inland 180 degrees was blocked out electronically. This meant there was no coverage inland and all the plotting information which was required for a successful interception, such as the location of the fighters relative to the raiders after they had crossed the coast, had to be obtained visually by the Observer Corps. Dowding first wrote to the Air Ministry as early as 10th May 1937 suggesting that the underside of one of the lower mainplanes (of the mainly biplanes then in service) should be finished in the standard silver dope, and the other in black. On 28th July the Air Ministry gave permission for an experiment with the marking to be carried out. The experimental flights were carried out at North Weald, and on 28th October Dowding wrote to the Air Ministry informing them of the success of the experiments and, at the same time, suggesting that with Hawker Hurricane production gathering pace, the undersides of the wings of these aircraft should be finished black on the port side, white on the starboard side. Furthermore serial numbers, usually applied to the undersides of the wings at the time, should be omitted to make the markings more obvious. It was at this time that the large scale service trial on the 50 Hurricanes mentioned above was approved.
Cheers
Steve
 

stona

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#8
I'll just add that there were variations on the theme. Sometimes just the lower wings were black and white, the fuselage remaining silver dope. Sometimes the black and white demarctaion between the two wings met on the centreline, but the underside of the nose and fuselage boom was left silver dope. Sometimes, as was intended and eventually achieved, the entire underside (with the exception of the tailplane which remained silver dope) was divided, black and white, along the centreline.
Here, in true Blue Peter style, is one I made earlier.

P1000474.JPG

Cheers

Steve
 
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#11
Thats answered my question too - this Hurricane is at Brooklands Museum in Surrey . DSC01424.JPG DSC01419.JPG
 

stona

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#12
The Hurricane at Brooklands bears an underside scheme that was short lived.

Following the adoption of Sky as the underside colour (ordered on 7th June 1940, though it took a while to happen) underside of the port wing only was ordered to be painted Night on 28th November 1940, though implementation of the order was delayed until 12th December.

This scheme only survived officially until 8th April 1941, a window of just four months, when the entire underside was ordered to revert to Sky. Implementation was again delayed until 22nd April.

In August (order issued on the 12th) the Day Fighter Scheme was introduced and all undersides became Medium Sea Grey....in theory.

The markings are correct for the aircraft's service with No 71 (Eagle) Squadron from November 1940. Restorations these days, even if just to taxiing condition, are far better researched and less fanciful than they used to be :smiling3:

Cheers

Steve
 
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