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Thread: Early RAF Liberator schemes

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    Default Early RAF Liberator schemes

    Gents
    I understand that all early RAF Liberators were delivered in equivalent of TLS pattern of Dark Earth/Dark Green/Sky. Where they repainted with UK paints after the delivery or retained in original US colours? I understand, that the aircraft destined for Transport Command were retained in this scheme, while those diverted to Bomber Command or other bomber duties had their undersides and sides repainted night, and those transferred to Coastal Command were similarly repainted white, and then Dark Slate Grey/Extra Dark Sea Grey/White. How about BOAC Liberators? There was the Civil Land Scheme Dark Earth/Dark Green/Aluminium and the Civil Sea Scheme Extra Dark Sea Grey/Dark Slate Grey/Aluminium. Which one was applied to Liberators?
    Thanks

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    The earliest photo I can find (AM259 on arrival in the UK) shows not Sky underside but a darker colour, probably Night, and this low demarcation is seen on other adjacent serials. More common on following aircraft is Temperate Land Scheme with the high demarcation of Night (eg AM920), including those of aircraft not delivered to the RAF but retained by the US so I suggest this was applied before delivery. Aircraft converted to transports appear to have retained this scheme, although they are also seen in overall aluminium on the Atlantic ferry but the dates are perhaps later - certainly so in some cases. There are a photos of early Coastal aircraft with lighter colours and a low demarcation - presumably Temperate Sea Scheme over Sky: AM910, AM922.

    I don't think the Civil Sea Scheme was applied to other than flying boats, but can't confirm that. Later in the war it became the standard transport colours, with Azure Blue undersides, but I don't recall seeing any photos of Liberators like that.

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    Hi Franek
    As far as I can see although there are colour profiles there does not seem to be much explanation of C&M in the Air Britain book.
    The first batch AM258 to AM263 were toc Jan41 to May41 photos in the AB book show standard TLS with black undersides with upper and lower colour boundary at bottom of fuselage sides. All these a/c seem to have operated on the Atlantic ferry service. The third "batch" a/c from AL503 to AL641 were toc from Aug41 and they show the same colours but with upper and lower colour boundary at the top of the fuselage sides. Looking at the individual a/c histories all these seem to have been used as bombers (in ME) or transports but a lot of them got caught up in the Pearl Harbour events and were either delayed in US or diverted back to AAF. The second batch AM910-AM929 toc Apr/May41 seem to be the first that were allocated to Coastal duties/units with conversion work carried out by Scottish Aviation at Prestwick.

    Steve

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    Thanks guys, yes, photos of aircraft in the US service show high demarcation line and Night undersurfaces, indeed.
    The aircraft used as transports in 1943, eg. AL616 and AL523 were definitely repainted in either TSS or TLS with very pale (Sky) undersurfaces and low demarcation line. I cannot tell more from B&W photos. I am surprised reading TSS (civil sea) combined with Azure was a standard TC scheme at the end of the war. I always thought it was DFS with MSG, but of course I may be wrong. The all silver scheme is late war or post war I think, and this reffers to both civil and military aircraft, unless those operating far away from any front line I guess. The description of BOAC aircraft, I have seen suggests TSS and Night, but it is not definite, and could be TLS.

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    The two aircraft you mention were both with 511 Sq in early 1943. AM913 of the same unit is shown in a profile in the Air Britain book, as low demarcation TLS with Aluminium undersides, maybe light grey but not Sky.

    There are enough colour photos to confirm TSS with Azure Blue as the late war Transport scheme, apart from any AM paperwork. From memory, this was a fairly late adoption from the earlier TLS.

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    Hi
    I have found the following thread, I missed it somehow previously. It looks factory scheme was TLS/Night, with low demarcation line for the first six aircraft.
    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/1634...n-raf-service/

    Poor quality photo of AL523, but the extremely pale undersurfaces are obvious.
    http://www.dnw.co.uk/graphics/_db_im...to2%20data.jpg
    This is I think AL616, again very pale undersurfaces, which are not silver.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...%9Bniowska.jpg
    There is also a photo of AL522 published eg. in After the Battle issue on Gibraltar crash, and I would tend to believe it was typical TLS with Sky.

    Here are post-war pictures of Polish Halifaxes of TC. All pictures of Halifaxes and Warwicks show similar contrast between colours. Frankly, it does not look like TSS with Azure to me.
    http://www.samolotypolskie.pl/upload...ifax_src_2.jpg
    http://www.muzeumlotnictwa.pl/100lec...utowiska_3.jpg

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    TSS is very variable in b&w photos, depending upon the filter and type of film. Azure Blue is fairly light, and blues usually come out lighter in b&w photos.

    The earliest reference I've seen to TSS on transports is dated April 1943, for BOAC Mosquitos. The statement is for Sky Blue undersides. (Robertson, Harleyford) I don't think the Sky Blue is confirmed elsewhere, but it is very light. It seems that this was often used colloquially for Azure Blue.

    In Feb 1943 Albemarles in TLS/Azure Blue entered service with 511 Sq at Lyneham. They joined a collection of Liberators of 1425 Flt which were already finished in TSS/Azure Blue. From 18 May 1843 all production transport aircraft operating to destinations outside the UK would be finished (and retrospectively painted) in TSS with Azure Blue undersides. Some at least Albemarles were repainted. (Bowyer/PSL)

    Air Publication 2656A Vol. 1 Section 6 AL No.8 October 1944: Service transport aircraft shall be camouflaged...TSS over Azure Blue or Night.

    I have seen good quality colour photos of in-service Hudson, York and Stirling transports in this scheme, plus one trials Halifax C Mk.VIII and one Buckingham. (Or Buckmaster? not sure from memory.) Lodestars are also quoted in this scheme. I don't know about Warwicks but it would be odd for them to differ.

    Believe what you like - there is no statement I know of suggesting DFS on transports nor Sky undersides (although the last doesn't seem unreasonable with the earlier TLS, particularly on converted British day bombers). Outside of various model magazines where reasonable guesswork has been used.

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    I am certainly not goin on believing on anything. I recall, where my belief on DFS origins, an old book on aircraft markings from early 1980s, so perhaps totally wrong. That said, I do not recall any photos of transport Halifaxes or Warwicks from 301 & 304 Sqn with low contrast camouflage, which otherwise seems typical for TSS. Hence my doubt.
    On the other hand, here are colour photos of Warwick from SDAM. The aircraft is in the far east, so not sure if there were no theatre differences. Is it Azure on undersurfaces? Seems pretty light for me.
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8264/...d9c588fb_o.jpg
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8252/...214249c6_o.jpg
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8257/...140647af_o.jpg
    BOAC Mosquito would have been in civil scheme (there is a piece of one in MAM), so perhaps not the best example.
    Herewith a colour photo of BOAC Warwick, definitely TLS/Silver. Not sure, when the photo was taken, however.
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ABktdk0oXx...43-1944-01.jpg
    Now I wonder, Liberators in TSS/Azure? Hmm.

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    Older books, yes... When I modelled my Polish Halifax C Mk.VIII in the 1980s I used Dark Green and a lighter grey, though I was aware enough to use Azure Blue undersides. However I used the Humbrol colour, which has long clouded the picture for many by being too dark and purplish. I prefer the theory that it was actually based on the darker adjacent chip of Mediterranean Light Blue, as opposed to the prewar Azure, but either would explain the end result. It seems that it was often confused with the even lighter Sky Blue, but this may be because "sky blue" is a nice generic term rather than necessarily being intended as the label on the tin.

    Thanks for the pictures of Warwicks: the undersides in the first two pictures certainly look like Azure Blue to me, but the last is pretty light. The upper surfaces look like TSS.

    In b&w photography, TSS does often appear with very little visible demarcation, particularly when fresh in factory-posed photos, but by no means always. There are many views of carrier decks with aircraft showing similar demarcation to TLS or DFS (which can vary markedly itself), and photos taken with orthochromatic film where the EDSG appears exceptionally light. I can refer you (via Stuart Lloyd's recent book on FAA camouflage) to the well-known photo of a Skua on HMS Ark Royal prewar, and previous voluminous discussion in the model world. This variation is partly due to the rapid fading of EDSG, and the characteristics of different films and filters. I'm not well-enough informed to run through the effects of different filters, but they vary (amongst other ways) in the appearance of blue shades, darker or lighter. So if a photo does have an appearance with low contrast medium hues, then it probably is TSS: but other appearances cannot by themselves rule TSS out. An armchair enthusiast/modeller's life would be much easier if it could.

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    Well, it looks that the interpretation of colours was quite different then and now. Not sure, why.
    Anyway, Warwicks are painted in the same underside colour, just only shadowed areas look dark, look at the wing undersurfaces.
    Now, how about this Stirling? I could not edit my post hence it is in new post.
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8258/...6c1d221b_o.jpg
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8265/...f54b8e16_o.jpg
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8250/...d63ba6e4_o.jpg
    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8263/...08036659_o.jpg
    Is it just faded TSS? How about the light underside colour?
    The issue is, that on all the photos known to me, there is no low contrast on upper surfaces. Had I seen low contrast Warwick or Halifax, then I would accept the explanation without any hesitation. Seeing the pictures as they are, I am not sure if it is effect of fading, replacement colours, standard modifications, etc.

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