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Malta Spitfire`s- a collection of models!

May 19 2015 at 6:53 AM

Tony O`Toole  (Login tonyotoole1)
HyperScale Forums
from IP address

I posted a model on Britmodeller some time ago to help somebody with a colour query which led to me posting more of my Malta Spitfire models,....these had formed part of my research into the colours and markings for a follow on book to my `No Place For Beginners'. This first book dealt with the Air War Over Malta during 1940 and most of 1941 and although much of the research for the follow on book dealing with the remainder of 1941 through to 1943 was complete this now appears to have fallen foul of the world recession and won`t be released now!

It was suggested that I might like to share my models with a wider audience so here they are,....I hope that you like them and won`t be too critical;

Hiya Folks,
I built this model as a result of research done while preparing the second volume of my Malta book (No Place For Behttp://www.dvpublishing.co.uk/)and it was to have been released as a magazine article to accompany the release of the book but it looks now that the book will unfortunately never happen, which is out of my hands,....so here is the model,...with a few friends!

. When the Malta based Spitfire`s went on the offensive over Sicily during late 1942 and 1943 they were mainly painted in a variety of blue, blue grey or sea schemes, either improvised or official but these colours stood out against the greener countryside of Sicily at low level so something else was needed. At least three colour photo`s exists of a Spitfire (AR560, JMT- Personal aircraft of Wing Commander JM Thompson, OC Luqa Wing) painted in a scheme introduced for this reason and they are the famous one`s featuring AVM Sir Keith Park when he opened Safi strip. There have been various theories about the colour of this aircraft but my research points towards a repaint in Malta using available paints. Here is the Spitfire which Park flew;
photo Spitfire_Malta_AVM_Keith_Park_zps0sg6fpaq.jpg
photo Park_zpskbinqu83.jpg
Spitfire`s which wore a desert scheme were not popular in Malta as they stood out over the blue sea so they were either re painted in an overall blue colour or the Middle Stone areas of the scheme were overpainted using Extra Dark Sea Grey or any other blue grey colour available,....remember that the island was under siege and paint deliveries were not exactly a high priority! There were paint stores available at Kalafrana which had been a flying boat repair and overhaul facility since before the war which also dealt with Fleet Air Arm aircraft from nearby Hal Far,......so the Temperate Sea Scheme colours of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey were available here and this is why EDSG was used on many Spitfire`s (and also some Hurricane`s,..according to veterans!).
Now when a scheme was required to make the Spitfire`s `greener' for low altitude fighter bomber operations over Sicily the obvious choice of colour would be Dark Green but there was none available in Malta,.....however there was a readily available green colour in the form of Dark Slate Grey and so it appears that this colour was used to cover the EDSG/Blue Grey areas which had originally covered the Middle Stone of the desert scheme,.....resulting in a scheme of Dark Slate Grey and Dark Earth and this is what can be seen in the colour photos of Park`s Spitfire.
Anyway enough blurb,.....this is the Spitfire that I wanted to replicate, it is EP436, V-S of 1435 Sqn ;
photo 2-20_zpszi0muvi5.jpg
photo 2-21_zpsz2fucx3c.jpg
First of all,......here is a model of EP436, V-S that I made years ago at the beginning of my research, which is probably why the mixed blue grey and Dark Earth are actually transposed and should really be swapped around,....doh;
photo Spit 14b_zpsxclbqnd1.jpg
And here is my second attempt at EP436, V-S using a Hasegawa 1/48th scale kit again, but this time finished in Dark Slate Grey and Dark Earth with Azure Blue undersides;
photo DSCF6731_zpsvmlor62r.jpg
It was made from the Hasegawa 1/48th scale kit and the bombs are from a Swordfish but may be a bit large? Here are some more pics;
photo DSCF6735_zpsaziwawtv.jpg
photo 2-11_zpsh6ogluxa.jpg
photo DSCF6732_zpstsoca4mk.jpg
photo DSCF6745_zpsyu97wmoy.jpg
I hope that you like it!

Here are a few more of my Malta Spitfire`s that I made years ago during my learning process into Malta schemes if anybody is interested?;

AB264, GN-H from 249 Sqn, Hasegawa 1/48th scale although again I`ve transposed the colours again and EDSG should be running through the cockpit area,...doh again!
photo jen_zpsyyzbkccw.jpg
photo DSCF6781_zps0wkhgldd.jpg
BR190, A-2 aboard USS Wasp,...Tamiya 1/48th scale Mk.Vb converted to a Mk.Vc and it has been painted using US Navy Blue Grey with Sky Blue undersides. Apparently they began to run out of US Navy Blue Grey paint while painting the Spitfire`s in the hangar deck and so it was thinned to eak it out and finally black was added when it started to become too thin,....resulting in the variety of colours and shades which have bothered modelllers for years!
photo f3-4_zpsko1frwdl.jpg
photo f3-2_zpspy74h6o1.jpg
BR321, GL-J, 185 Sqn, Special Hobby1/48th scale Mk.Vc, Dark Blue (RN paint) with Sky Blue undersides;
photo DSCF6872_zpsjn7l88yj.jpg
photo DSCF6753_zpszkz9sjwg.jpg
photo DSCF6764_zpsdcw53y6v.jpg
photo DSCF6874_zpsgt0yctij.jpg
photo DSCF6089_zpslziff4fu.jpg
EP691, X-A, 229 Sqn, old Airfix 1/48th Mk.Vb, EDSG & Dark Earth with Azure Blue undersides;
photo f1-2_zpssyn7h0gy.jpg
photo f1-4_zpsjswmyxxt.jpg
BR586, T-M, 249 Sqn, Tamiya (Hasegawa prop) highly polished Dark Blue (RN paint), Azure Blue,...I used Sky codes when I built this years ago but I`m going to repaint them using Azure Blue,.....the upper wing roundels were also roughly overpainted using a mixed light blue as per the original aircraft, although they may just have been very faded before the repaint;
photo DSCF0549_zpsf6z5mqc7.jpg
photo f2-1_zpsvprp4qfi.jpg
EP829, T-Nt, 249 Sqn, 1/48th Tamiya, Dark Blue (RN paint), Azure Blue;
photo DSCF6728_zps8ahozotm.jpg
photo Blue codes_zpsqypqn7yq.jpg
photo 9_zpsmfozbeyx.jpg
photo DSCF6740_zpswrmtustb.jpg
BR387, GL-W, 185 Sqn, 1/72nd Sword kit, Dark Blue (RN paint) Sky Blue;
photo DSCF3306_zpsz9yekh74.jpg
photo DSCF3215_zpsswjcanjq.jpg
AB264, GN-E, 249 Sqn, Tamiya 1/72nd kit, Airfix propeller; EDSG, Dark Earth, Sky Blue. These very early Malta Spits may have arrived wearing Dark Green and Dark Earth uppers? At this time the Hurricane`s were finished in this scheme and according to ground crew some were having the Dark Green covered with EDSG as per the Spitfire`s of 249 Sqn. I chose the code letter `E' this time due to the letter painted on the wheel of the Trolley Acc,....?;
photo Malta Spitfire 6_zpszfo0yajr.jpg
photo Malta Spit3_zpsfczwrq39.jpg
photo Malta Spitfire 4_zpshuqqhija.jpg
Spitfire IX, MA500, T-Z, 249 Sqn, Airfix 1/72nd kit;
photo malta spit 1_zpsqnt3vamr.jpg
Sorry for such a long post but I hope it is of interest,

Edit,.....I think we can say that the can of worms has now been opened,.....I`m putting my tin hat on now and waiting for the incoming raid!!!

PS- Here is a sub from the 10th Submarine Flotilla at Manoel Island in Malta, finished in the same RN Blue paint as that used on the Spitfire`s which was so effective that it became an official marine camouflage colour!;
photo DSCF2371_NEW_zps4mj6e5ne.jpg
PPS- Here is a rough old Heller Sea Gladiator repainted into the scheme applied to these surviving old stagers in Malta during January 1941;
photo DSCF8762_zpsunbto43j.jpg

This message has been edited by tonyotoole1 from IP address on May 19, 2015 7:38 AM

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Tony O`Toole
(Login tonyotoole1)
HyperScale Forums

Photo Issue Now Fixed!

May 19 2015, 6:57 AM 

I`ve transferred the photos across on the correct format!!

This message has been edited by tonyotoole1 from IP address on May 19, 2015 7:24 AM

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Steven ''Modeldad'' Eisenman
(Login samodeldad)
HyperScale Forums

Say it aint so, Tony! Will the second volume ever see the light of day?

May 19 2015, 8:20 AM 

Great collection.

About BR190, we can debate the paint used at a later date.... wink.gif
"Another day older and deeper in debt"
Merle Travis.

This message has been edited by samodeldad from IP address on May 19, 2015 8:23 AM

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Tony O`Toole
(Login tonyotoole1)
HyperScale Forums

Dunno,.....Cheers Steve!

May 19 2015, 12:24 PM 

Hiya Steve,
I`ve interviewed a couple of RAF veterans who were aboard USS Wasp and although one couldn`t comment much about the Spits as he was locked away in the radio workshop and could only say that they were a different colour when they took off,.....the other was involved in painting the Spits and remembers that the paint was rapidly running out so they thinned it and then added black to make it last longer, so some looked like a real "dogs dinner"! When I quizzed him about the colour he said that it was similar to the "Yanky Wildcats" but much fresher! I asked about ships paint and he said no, it was definitely aeroplane paint and they used up all of the carriers supply!

My model of BR190 was done over 10 years ago and I`d paint it darker next time!


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Wayne Fowler
(Login wf26)
HyperScale Forums

Modeldad a question

May 19 2015, 4:48 PM 

I am new to this who discussion on the "Malta" Spitfires and the blue colors. From what I have read about the colors used on the Wasp for repainting the spitfires a lot of people have suggested use of the USN Blue Gray. I doubt that a ship at sea would carry large stocks of paints to paint their aircraft - as the paint would be used for corrosion control and repairs rather than complete repaints. But if a message was received about repainting aircraft out of the desert scheme or land scheme to a bluer color to match the surrounding ocean and the local command in Malta already had a color they liked might have either of the following been possible you think?

1: If using stocks of paints on hand for aircraft, then adding Insignia blue to the blue gray would have produced a darker blue gray color


2: The Wasp was painted in a Measure 12 color scheme using the following colors 5-S Sea Blue for areas below the flight deck or hanger deck level, 5-O Ocean Gray for superstructure areas above the flight deck levels to the tops of the funnels, and 5-H Haze Gray for any areas above the funnel level. As you know ships at sea are constantly touched up to prevent corrosion and the Wasp would have carried a much larger stock of paint for hull touch up than for the air wing. The color 5-S was not a deep dark sea blue as seen later in the war but a blue gray certainly much darker than the blue gray used on the aircraft. Might the Spitfires have been painted using the most available color on the ship that being the 5-S Sea Blue?

I guess like many others, my thoughts on a subject that we will likely never really know the answer

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Steven ''Modeldad'' Eisenman
(Login samodeldad)
HyperScale Forums

You are on the right track

May 19 2015, 5:20 PM 

This is the best explanation that has been posted. There does seem to be a "cultural difference" in approaching this. I'll email you later.

From Ron Smith
June 3 2009 at 5:44 PM John Snyder (Login johnwem)
HyperScale Forums
from IP address

Response to Malta Spitfires (you there Modeldad)
Ron asked me to post the following, as HS doesn't seem to like him today:

"According to manufacturing specs at NARA there is no difference between
the pigment for ship paint or aircraft paint at the manufacturing level.
We're talking about QA lab level specs where they not only specify
materials but tests to verify the quality of the batch, at that level
the color is given in wavelengths reflected (angstrom is the unit) as
well as grain size for the pigment. Where the difference between ship
and aircraft paint happens is the paint base the pigments get mixed
into. Please don't guess, get off your butt and research the original
material instead leading people down a fallacious path with your claims
of pigment grain size.

USN aircraft paint could either be a lacquer intended for spraying or a
varnish based paint intended for brushing. We'll refer to the varnish
based paint as enamel even if it isn't 100% technically correct it's
close enough. Ship paint was the latter type, yards tended to thin and
spray it while crews tended to brush or roll it it. Again this is from
the original documents.

Wasp, like all carriers from CV-2 onwards, had two paint lockers, one
the ship's locker the other the aviation locker. Standard paints in the
aviation locker were enamels in the colors of ID markings, including
small amounts of the brighter prewar colors, black and white for
stencils, zinc chromate, grey primer, red lead pigmented primer, red
lead pigmented shrinking dope, and small amounts of the camouflage
colors intended for touch up but not complete repaints of the airwing.
The ship's paint locker would have 250-N flight deck stain, 251-N flight
deck marking paint, various cans of striping paint for color coding
inside the ship, various floor and interior paints, red lead primer,
zinc chromate primer, 20-B deck blue, 5-U white paint base for external
use, 5-TM tinting material (think Payne's Grey and you won't be too far
off) to be mixed into the 5-U to make the external camouflage colors and
possibly the Captain would have had his bosun make sure there was enough
premixed 5-N, 5-O and 5-H for immediate touch up use already mixed. What
there won't be in the locker are the boot topping and anti-fouling
coatings but all other internal and external paints are there. Wasp wore
5-N, 5-O and 5-H. We're still running off original documents to this
point, not secondary or tertiary sources.

Now we apply a bit of logic.

Now what paint would they use? Let's go with what they won't use first.
They aren't going to use the 250-N flight deck stain, it is not paint
nor does it tint paint particularly well and such paint would not dry or
adhere worth a damn. Not likely they used the blue/grey from the
aviation locker either, there isn't that much there since what's carried
aboard is sufficient for touch up and not complete repaints of the
airwing. Despite claims it may have been used and was dark when first
applied it isn't as dark as the repainted Spits. This leaves four
paints, blue striping paint, insignia blue, 5-N and 20-B. Not blue
striping paint for sure, it's a lighter true blue used to color code
things inside the ship and they would only have a few gallons, likely in
quart cans and it's glossy. Probably not insignia blue as they would
only have enough to repaint the markings on the airwing. We have two
paints left, both ship paints, 5-N and 20-B. 20-B is supplied ready to
use, 5-N has to be mixed from 5-TM and 5-U. 20-B is only used on
external steel decks, not the wooden flight deck but there is still a
huge amount of that nice premixed paint carried. Now figure which of
those two paints the bosun was most likely to part with and you have
your best deduced answer. Ship paint can be thinned enough to use on
aircraft without significant degradation of performance. 5-TM can be
used to tint aviation paint but given the limited amount of same on
board that is unlikely.

The argument of British paint is also false, if it wasn't in the C&R
Allowance Logs (even though C&R officially goes away in 1941 those logs
stay in use under that name through most the war on ships commissioned
before July 1941), if it came aboard or left the ship it was recorded in
detail in the decklog. There is no mention of British paint being loaded
in the decklog. Having run through tens of thousands of pages of
decklogs from 1937 through 1943 I have seen one and only one exception
to this rule and it is CV-8 Hornet, the only mention of the Doolittle
Raid is the day of the raid as the last B-25 cleared her deck the entry
is: "US Army bombers completed launching." Wasp however does list the
Spitfires being loaded and British personnel as they report aboard.

Now if you want a solid answer and if it exists it will be in the
various other records of Wasp at NARA. I invite you to get off your butt
and spend anywhere from 10-80 hours ferreting it out from the original
documents. Those records are spread across several record groups and
there is no guarantee which group it will be in. If the answer exists
I've just told you where to find it, I personally don't care either way.
I'm just tired of seeing hot air blown out various orifices over the
subject based on secondary and tertiary sources and not one of you doing
your due diligence of checking the original documents, which do exist.
Real research is done with primary materials, all else is mere
regurgitation of references produced by other people."

John Snyder
The Token Yank
White Ensign Models
"Another day older and deeper in debt"
Merle Travis.

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William Reece
(Login WMReece1954)
HyperScale Forums

Wonderful collection and a ?

May 19 2015, 10:53 AM 

Tony those are all wonderful and make up quite a collection. Now I want to read your first book and hope you're wrong about the second. A question for you. In college back in the mid '70s there was a coed who lived a floor above me who knew of my interest in WW2 and told me her dad was one of the Spitfire pilots on Malta during the dark days when they really were "The Few". Is there a listing? I believe she was Canadian but can't really remember. It was 40 years ago... Wish I'd gotten more details.


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Tony O`Toole
(Login tonyotoole1)
HyperScale Forums

Thanks,...Glad You Like Them!,.....Also,....US Pilots Over Malta,

May 19 2015, 12:11 PM 

Cheers William,
You are right about the pilots in Malta being `The Few' and one veteran stated that after fighting over Malta the Battle of Britain was simply a Piece of Cake in comparison! There were lots of Canadian, Australian and believe it or not American pilots serving in Malta which means that without a surname, dates, details on how he arrived in Malta it would be very hard to pin down your friends Dad, especially as he lived to tell the tale.

I`ve always thought that with the multi national composition of the RAF Squadrons in Malta with a relatively high proportion of Americans,.....for example 126 Sqn had an all American flight at one stage and 249 Sqn was also led by American Sqn. Ldr. John Lynch in 1943 who`s aircraft I have modelled,........that Hollywood should cover the Battle of Malta in a Blockbuster!

Mind you it was an American Sgt. Salvador Walcott from 603 Sqn who is also said to have deserted after taking off from USS Wasp and flown to Vichy French territory after saying onboard that there was no way that he was going to Malta! There are various statements for and against him and he did go on to serve with the USAAF in the Med area, so maybe he just didn`t want to go to Malta where it was known to be `rather rough' or he did indeed suffer engine trouble,...I suppose we`ll never know for sure!

The final word must go to another famous CO of 249 Sqn, Laddie Lucas who said;

"The American pilots, I remember were a damn good lot- there`s no doubt that they really were an absolutely super bunch. With those guys it was the "art of the impossible" They were so positive that I admired them tremendously"

Surely Hollywood could use these American pilots as the central core for a film about Malta?


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(Login 10thumbs)
HyperScale Forums

Goes to show that if you build the same plane in enough different schemes...

May 19 2015, 2:28 PM 

...one of is bound to be correct!
Well done, and a great inspiration.

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Robert Morgan
(Login Aptivaboy)
HyperScale Forums

Love the USN blue grey Spit

May 20 2015, 12:12 AM 

There's been so much debate over this issue for years, but the simplest solution is probably right. The planes during Wasp's second run, was it? They came aboard camouflaged in RAF colors, they left more or less in solid colors. The obvious solution is that they were repainted in USN colors. US carriers certainly did carry enough paint to mix to repaint their entire air groups - that's how Enterprise repainted her's into blue grey in late 1941 without BuAer authorization, Halsey and Browning just ordered it done, and the Enterprise's maintenance folks obliged while at sea. Wasps folks could have easily done the same, and using standard ready to mix USN paints is the easiest solution.

She sure loos purty like that!


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Edgar Brooks
(Login Edgar.Brooks)
HyperScale Forums

From the Hurricanes, the top colour, requested by Malta, was Dark Mediterranean Blue,

May 20 2015, 1:30 PM 

and it was reported that some of the first Wasp delivery were already painted before delivery to Scotland.
Some were not painted correctly, and the Air Ministry arranged for them to be painted either at Abbotsinch or on the carrier. Numbers are not mentioned, but it seems likely that Wasp did not have to supply paint for the entire 47 airframes.

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Tony O`Toole
(Login tonyotoole1)
HyperScale Forums

Hiya Edgar- I have it on good authority that,.....

May 20 2015, 5:09 PM 

From a veteran who was at Abbotsinch when the Spitfire`s arrived ready for the first run by USS Wasp,......(he remembers watching them as he was busy eying up the pretty ATA girls who were flying them in from the MU)....that after landing they were immediately wheeled into a small hangar which was set up as a spray booth where they had desert colours applied and he helped to remove the wing tips ready for the trip to the docks in Glasgow. When asked what colour they were upon landing he wasn`t sure but thought that they could have been brown and green, however he remembers the desert colours as they were something new.

The second run by Wasp was a different story and as far as I can tell the Spits were finished in `sea scheme' prior to loading aboard Wasp. One of the RAF veterans aboard Wasp said that the Captain was a real stickler for cleanliness and that he would have gone mad about his hangar deck being dirtied by painting, so maybe he complained about this at Gibraltar, said that he was out of paint anyway and asked for the Spits to be repainted prior to loading this time?

Another veteran I spoke to who was engaged in assembling Spitfire`s for Malta at Gibraltar (in "the Sunderland hangar") said that he remembers painting the Spitfire`s in a `sea scheme' before loading them aboard HMS Eagle by lighter. He later assembled Spits for Op Torch.

Hope that helps,

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Edgar Brooks
(Login Edgar.Brooks)
HyperScale Forums

To Malta, "sea scheme" was Dark Mediterranean Blue, not the Temperate Sea Scheme. N/T

May 20 2015, 7:53 PM 

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Tony O`Toole
(Login tonyotoole1)
HyperScale Forums


May 21 2015, 4:53 AM 

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