Fleet Air Arm Colours

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Profile picture for user Ant.H

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Hi people,
Following on from the post last week about the new RN paintjob on the CAF's FM-2 Wildcat/Martlet,I was wondering if anyone could provide concrete information on the colours they were painted in,and those colours used generally by the FAA.
I ask because I've recieved a reply from the owner of the aircraft to an email I sent him a few days ago.It seems the colour scheme was well researched,but that he had conflicting information on the colours used on the original aircraft and couldn't get a match with modern paints to the original colours,hence the rather strange hue to the colour scheme that has been applied.
He has requested that I send him some information on the colours used on RN Martlets/Wildcats,particularly FM-2's, so that he can judge for himself.
Here's a profile of the aircraft the current scheme is based on...

Original post
Profile picture for user Ant.H

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...and this is how it ended up...:(

Profile picture for user Flood

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JEEZ THAT IS BLO0DY AWFUL!

I never realised they were so colour blind out there!!!

Here is something I copied from http://www.faasig.org/ - which isn't there at the moment and their forum hasn't been working for a long time - it was good when it was, though.

I apologise for sticking everything in but I am sure a few more would be interested in the other aspects of Fleet Air Arm colour schemes.

COPYRIGHT ALMOST CERTAINLY FLEET AIR ARM SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP.
Please put up a post if you wish for it to be removed - I would have put in a link to it but it is - as I have put above - not working at the moment.

At the start of the war with Japan, in December 1941, the very few FAA aircraft stationed in this region of the world were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme S.3. This particular scheme used the colors Extra Dark Sea Gray, Dark Slate Gray, and Sky. Biplanes were finished in the same top colors, but were finished in Dark Sea Gray and Light Slate Gray on the lower surfaces. The national markings were those as found everywhere else. The upper wings carried Type B roundels, the lower wings carried Type A roundels, and the fuselage sides carried Type A1 roundels. The fin flashes were of various sizes.
On September 29, 1943, a new directive for national insignia was issued for RAF aircraft in the Indian Command. Following previous procedures, the Admiralty complied with the new orders and directed that all Royal Navy shore-based aircraft and spotting aircraft aboard ships, were to follow the directive . This directive called for the following changes in national insignia:
Wing/Fuselage Roundels
Aircraft SizeWhite CircleBlue CircleSmall6"16"Medium12"32"Large18" 48"Fin Flash (White toward leading edge)
Aircraft SizeWidthHeightWhiteBlueSmall16"24"8"8"Medium22"24"11"11"Large34"24"17"17"It was found that the use of a pure white was much too obvious, so it was decided that a color obtained from mixing 4 parts white with 1 part blue was to be used instead. It was further ordered that the Small insignia be used on all fighters and trainers, the Medium insignia on intermediate types, and the Large insignia to be used on heavy bombers.
During the period of January through October 1943, the Royal Navy did not have any seaborne aircraft. This was to change with the arrival of the Escort Carrier H.M.S. Battler. The Battler was carrying a mixed patrol squadron, for anti-submarine warfare, of Fairey Swordfish and Supermarine Seafires. These particular aircraft arrived wearing the Temperate Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Grey upper surfaces, and Sky undersurfaces. They carried the name ROYAL NAVY, with the aircraft serial number, 4 inches tall (in black), on the rear portion of the fuselage.
To conform with the Admiralties directive of September 1943, the upper wing roundel’s red center was simply painted over in blue and a white disk was applied in it’s place. The fuselage side roundels (originally Type C1) were completely over painted and were repainted in the Blue and White scheme.
In January 1944, after the creation of the SEAC (South East Asia Command), H.M.S. Illustrious arrived on station carrying Fairey Barracudas and a fighter complement of Grumman Hellcats. The Hellcats, along with other US-built aircraft, were painted in the Temperate Sea Scheme, but were painted using the US versions of the British paint. The US versions were known as ANA (Army-Navy) colors. These color equivalents were ANA 613 - Olive Drab and ANA 603 - Sea Gray upper surfaces, and ANA 610 - Sky lower surfaces.
As more and more escort carriers began to arrive in the Indian Ocean, so did the number of ship-based aircraft. These aircraft, which were designated as anti-submarine squadrons, were Wildcats, Swordfish, or Avengers. These particular aircraft, from the escort carriers, had their sides and lower surfaces painted in white. The upper surfaces were carrying the same August 1943, India Command patterns and markings described earlier. Unlike the Atlantic and Mediterranean based aircraft, the aircraft of the Eastern Fleet did not carry the individual carrier "deck letter" on their fuselage sides. Instead, they used single letter squadron codes and individual aircraft letters which were 24 inches tall (sometimes 18 inches).
By the time of the attacks on the Dutch East Indies and Sumatra, during April through October 1944, the Eastern Fleet had aircraft available from the carriers H.M.S. Illustrious, H.M.S. Indomitable (later replacing Illustrious), H.M.S. Victorious, and H.M.S. Indefatigable to fight with. The aircraft which they carried were all US-built Grumman "Hellcats", Eastern built Grumman "Avengers", and Vought "Corsairs." The US-built aircraft were painted in the US designated ANA colors Extra Dark Sea Gray, Dark Slate Grey, and Sky.
In August 1944, the carrier H.M.S. Indomitable also carried the same type aircraft and they too were painted using the same US colors.
Establishment of the British Pacific Fleet
In November of 1944, the much anticipated spilt-up of the Eastern Fleet was realized. It was split into two forces: The Eastern Fleet and the all new British Pacific Fleet (BPF) consisting of Capital Ships. At first, the US Navy was hesitant to allow the participation of a British Pacific Fleet, in the Pacific waters, due to the Royal Navies lack of being able to replenish itself. It was finally approved by the Joint Chiefs, providing that the Royal Navy could maintain itself independently with it’s own oilers and supply ships.
The 1st Carrier Squadron, of the BPF, was composed of four Fleet Carriers, cruisers, and other vessels. The Eastern Fleet (a.k.a. East Indies Fleet) provided an Escort Carrier Squadron, which would provide CAP (Combat Air Patrols) and long range spotting for the battleships. This command would fall under the watchful eyes of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten’s SEAC. The escort carriers carried a small number of Barracuda and Avengers for bombing, and several squadrons of Hellcats and Seafires to work in the Photo and Tactical recon role. Previously, in late 1943, the carrier squadrons had organized into Tactical Units such as Fighter Wings and Torpedo/Bomber/Recon (TBR)Wings.
In February 1945, there was a new directive for aircraft of the Eastern Air Command. This directive ordered that aircraft be painted with the following ID markings: The cowling was to be painted with a 17" white ring, while the tail and wings would have white ID bands of 18" width on the tail and 28" width on the wings. Aircraft of the East Indies Fleet (with the exception of Photo-Recon aircraft) carried these markings. On the Hellcats, the wing bands were carried so that they covered the inboard edge of the upper wing roundels.
In March 1945, the BPF joined the US ships of Admiral Spruance’s Fifth Fleet. This fleet was renamed Task Force 57, and began a series of airstrikes against airfields around Okinawa. The air portion of this carrier strike force was called the 1st ACS (designated as CU 57.1.1) and was made up of Avengers, Corsairs, Hellcats, Seafires, and Fireflies. TF112, which was in the supporting fleet of supply ships and tankers, had escort carriers carrying two Hellcat squadrons (20th ACS) for CAP and aircraft replacement for the Fleet Carriers.
Also in March 1945, there was a revision to the national insignia used by the BPF. The insignia was to have panels similar to the US national insignia and was to be made up of a blue ring, with a narrow white border, and a white circular center. This insignia is sometimes wrongly referred to as the SW Pacific marking. This is not the case, as the RNZAF and RAAF did not use these markings. Only the BPF used them.
The marking was derived from the "medium" and " large" roundels discussed earlier, and imposed over a white star of similar size to the US insignia. This new marking was applied on the upper left wing, lower right wing, and aircraft sides. The dimensions used were a 32" outer ring/12" inner ring on the "small" roundel, a 42" outer ring/14" inner ring on the "medium" roundel, and a 48" outer ring/18" inner ring on the "large" roundels. The white border markings were from 2 to 3 inches in width, while the rectangular panels were to be extended on either side of the roundel by ½ the roundel diameter (i.e., 16", 21" or 24"). In actual use, the Corsair II & IV and Hellcat II carried the 48" roundels, the Seafire, Avenger, and Firefly carried the 42" roundel, while the Hellcat I carried the 36" roundel.
During early 1945, the East Indies Fleet started receiving some of their Hellcat II’s (F6F-5's) and a few Wildcat VI’s (FM-2's) in US Sea Blue (ANA 623). The ROYAL NAVY logo and the aircraft serial numbers were in white. As soon as they were received, the national insignia were replaced with the August 1943 pattern India Command insignia with white 2 inch borders. The US painted Sea Blue Hellcats and Corsairs, of the new squadrons, began entering the BPF soon after. No Avengers were ever delivered to the BPF or East Indies Fleet in this color.
Aircraft Identification in the British Pacific Fleet
In March 1945, a new aircraft identification practice came back into use. It was based on the pre-war system of using the carrier "deck letters", which were placed on the upper forward portion, on each side of the tail. The aircraft also carried a 3 digit number, either 18 or 24 inches in height, on the fuselage sides. These numbers ranged from 111 for the fighters (Hellcats/Corsairs), from 270 on 2 seat aircraft (Firefly), and 370 on aircraft with a three man crew (Avengers/Barracudas). These markings were used by the airplanes of the fleet carriers until the BPF was disbanded in 1946.

Carrier Air Group Codes for the BPF in W.W.II
1st AC Squadron Fleet Carriers
Commanded by Admiral Sir Phillip Vian
CarrierAir GroupTail CodeHMS FormidableN/AXHMS IllustriousN/AQHMS Implacable8thNHMS Indefatigable7thSHMS Indomitable11thWHMS Victorious1stP11th AC Squadron Light Fleet Carriers
Commanded by Rear Admiral Harcourt
CarrierAir GroupTail CodeHMS Colossus14thDHMS Glory16thLHMS Venerable15thBTF112, Fleet Train Carriers
Commanded by Rear Admiral Fisher
CarrierSquadronTail CodeHMS Arbiter1843 Sqd-CorsairsWHMS Ruler885 Sqd-Hellcats/AvengersRHMS Speaker1840 Sqd-HellcatsNone

Fleet Air Arm Camouflage and Colors of W.W.II
By Scott Spencer
Sea Camouflage, Scheme 1A
This scheme came from a revision to Scheme 1, which was first introduced in 1936. It was found that several of the colors from Scheme 1 were just not appropriate and did not have the desired effects. They found that a compromise mix of the pigments would produce some very nice shades of gray-greens. Therefore, in the latter part of 1937, changes were made to the camouflage colors. A Dark Slate Gray (FS 34096: Methuen #28 [E-F]3) and Light Slate Gray (FS 34159: Methuen #26E3) were introduced first. Next came a replacement for the aircraft sides and bottom surfaces: This new color was called Sky Gray (FS 36463: Methuen #22C2). These three colors became the operational colors of the Fleet Air Arm and most aircraft manufacturers based their production colors on these mixes in 1938-39.
When war came and began to spread into the Mediterranean, the British felt the colors being used presented too much of a contrast and the generally 'blue' conditions in the Med presented a camouflage problem. Around mid-1940, to help with this problem, FAA reconnaissance aircraft were allowed to paint their bottoms in Sky Blue (FS 35622: Methuen # [23-24]A2) for daytime ops, while those flying at night used flat black. When Azure Blue (FS 35231: Methuen #21B5) was developed, the aircraft were allowed to use this instead. Further development of another bottom color resulted in the production of Sky Type 'S' (FS 34424), but this was a priority color for the RAF and very few FAA aircraft obtained this color until March 1941.
Temperate Sea Scheme
In the latter part of 1940, all the references to 'Sea Camouflage' were dropped. This order, from the Ministry of Defence, was the first to make 'all' FAA aircraft change to the Temperate Sea Scheme, no matter if the aircraft were ship-based or land-based. It also standardized the markings, demarcation lines, etc., for the FAA's aircraft. This order was applicable to all aircraft, no matter where they were allocated or which theatre they might have been operating in.
The standardized colors chosen were Extra Dark Sea Gray (FS 36099), a dark blue-gray color, and Dark Slate Gray (FS 34096), an oily dull gray-green, for the upper surfaces. The lower surfaces were painted in Sky (FS 34424). These new colors became standard in March of 1941.
As I have mentioned in my article about colors and markings of the East Indies and British Pacific Fleets, the US built lend-lease aircraft (Wildcat, Hellcat, Avenger, and Corsair) were delivered to the Fleet Air Arm in the US paint equivalent of British standards.* For a listing of several British W.W.II paint standards, see the chart below. The Hellcats and Corsairs of the BPF were delivered in the standard US Navy color of Gloss Sea Blue - ANA 623 (FS 15042).
* The US colors translate to these ANA colors:
Extra Dark Sea Gray: ANA 603 Sea Gray (ANA Bulletin #157, Sept.'43) FS 36118
Dark Slate Gray: ANA 613 Olive Drab (ANA Bulletin #157, Sept.'43) FS 34130
Sky: ANA 610 Sky (ANA Bulletin #157, Sept.'43) FS 34424

British Standard Colors in W.W.II
ColorFS#MethuenDark Slate Grey3409628(E-F)3Light Slate Grey (counter shading color)3415926E3Extra Dark Sea Grey3609921F3Dark Sea Gray (counter shading color)3611821E3Sky Grey (Pre/Early War)3646322C2Sky3442430(B-C)2Roundel Red31350?Identification Yellow33538(4-5)A8Identification Blue (Dull)3504420F5Identification Red (Dull)301098D7Medium Sea Grey3627022D3Light Green (Pre/Early War)3410230F4Dark Green (Pre/Early War)3407930(F-G)2Grey-Green Primer(Cockpits)3422627D3Identification White37778N/AIdentification Green3418728(D-E)8

COPYRIGHT ALMOST CERTAINLY FLEET AIR ARM SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP.
Please put up a post if you wish for it to be removed - I would have put in a link to it but it is - as I have put above - not working at the moment.

Profile picture for user Ant.H

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Cheers Flood,just the stuff I was looking for,and a bit more!:eek: lol
Does anyone know where I can find a colour sample chart for these colours on the web?I've been looking but can't find anything decent.
I have to admit that the wording of my email to the guy was a little 'in your face',as he put it,but I was pretty hot under the collar after seeing that paintjob for the first time.I also sent it to CAf Headquarters,rather than the owner himself,and I didn't realise they'd forward it to the guy.It's not the Wildcat on it's own,it's that added to things like the David Price Hurricane which combine to drive me nuts!lol I had hoped that these rather whacky American applied British schemes were a thing of the past,but it appears not.:rolleyes:
Just to prove a point,here's the former G-ORGI which is now on loan to the CAF...

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..compared with LF363,currently wearing the colours of the same squadron from the same period...

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Ant, the only way you can be absolutely certain they will get the colours right is to source the paint here and send it over there, which is what I did last year for the re-paint of Spitfire MJ730. This is an extremely expensive operation though. The next best thing would be to send them a copy of the book 'British Aviation Colours of World War Two' which has very accurate paint chips on a chart at the back. This then relies on the painting contractor getting an exact match and choosing satin (semi matt) paint in preference to their default gloss.

A successful re-paint requires the correct colours to be applied with good workmanship in the right places and nothing much else (apart from good preparation of the airframe to receive the paint). Achieving all three in this context will be very challenging but not impossible!

There are very few organisations in the States operating British Warbirds that have applied accurate paint schemes to their aircraft. Doing it by remote control, however well intentioned just leaves too much opportunity for things to go wrong.

regarding the profile at the top of this thread, I saw this when trawling the net after seeing the photo of the CAF machine. It looks like it has been darkened in some way as there is a dark tint to all the colours including theroundels so I am not sure how reliable this is. One of the WIX posters suggested this aircraft was based in New England rather than New Zealand and even claims to have a colour picture of it.

Well done for getting in touch with Mr reiss, at least he can be contacted and is prepared to listen. Whether he will be prepared to pay to have the aircraft re-painted remains to be seen.

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Well done Ant, and it's great that you managed to get in touch with Mr Riess. I don't think that the badly reproduced profile is excuse enough for the reversed fin-flash, and the demarcation lines, (arguably a bit picky) are also clearly at variance to the source.

Clearly one man's in depth research is another man's rush job. I agree with Mark V; but we aren't arguing minor colour shade differences, but very light grey vs (any) very dark grey.

Sorry, but for me it boils down to a lack of respect and a minor amount of effort. Still, if someone can show a picture of an Avenger is the incorrect colours for George Bush (senior!) in the USA I'll accept that the carelressness isn't just over 'Limey' machines.

However, let's be constructive and support Ant in getting the right info to Mr Reiss.
Cheers

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Re: Fleet Air Arm Colours

Originally posted by Ant Harrington
It seems the colour scheme was well researched,but that he had conflicting information on the colours used on the original aircraft and couldn't get a match with modern paints to the original colours,hence the rather strange hue to the colour scheme that has been applied.
...

You mean paint shops these days can't mix to get the correct color? Also, I distinctly see three colors in the profile drawing but it looks like the CAF airplane is only painted in two.

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You can normally get a match for any colour with modern analysis equipment so long as you have a chip or sample of the original. If I was managing the job I would still want to give the final OK after consultationwith an older device: Mk 1 eyeball ;)

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You want to upgrade surely - Thought you'd have a 109F counter and be fitted with a Mk.V eyeball at least!
Cheers

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i don't really see the fact that this scheme is a bit wide of the mark as not really that significant. In the U.S the seems to be all sorts of rather bizarre markings applied to aircraft so to see a
Wildcat pretending to be something it isn't doesn't really offend
me - if it was the last survivor or even a genuine ex FAA machine
well that might matter a little but it might be repainted in a years
time .

Profile picture for user JDK

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Thanks David,
Airworthyness is important, and the scheme isn't as important. However, while you are entitled not to be offended (if I read your multiple negatives aright?) there are a couple of principles here, sorry if I'm banging on - and see the discussion on the WIX board too.
1. It's a mis-representation - that's at best, not good, worst, well...
2. It's disrespectful to the insignia of a service of a state. That's at best bad manners, and (once) people used to go to war about such things!
3. As Mark V has said, it's almost as easy to get it right as to get it (this far) wrong. Let's give constructive feedback so that owners and operators take pride in a corectly presented a/c. If we take your position, we'd still have the tasty lurid innacurate schemes of the 50s and 60s, which, while amusing, are misleading. I have to say I think a poll here would have you outvoted on the 'it doesn't really matter' platform. Colours are part of the same areana as military kit being refitted - that's got to be a good thing for historical usefulness.

Just a couple of caviats:
I don't have a problem with civillian schemes - G-FIRE and the CAF civil schemes, I think, look great.
I don't have a problem with mock schemes - HT-E on the much missed RR299 Mosquito was legit for me. L-39's in USMC schemes are fun.
If it's meant to be a real scheme, get it a bit nearer!
It's Bob Reiss' machine. He can paint it how he wants. I'm not a CAF Colonel, so I can't force him to do anything, but we can offer some constructive advice.

Thanks to Ant (and Ant primarily) he MAY redo it so it looks better. This is a lesson for anyone painting a warbird - that people DO care, and WILL provide feedback and help as well giving off as a "it's wrong" winge.

I can't believe you really want to have everyhing in pseudo-schemes?

Cheers

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Just to add a bit more detail,Mr.Reiss did say that he would get the fin-flash sorted,if nothing else.
I agree very much with JDK's comments on 'pseudo schemes',either get it about right or paint it in something entirely fictitious,it shouldn't be somehwere in between and end up becoming a misrepresentation.
Thanks to everyone who's contributed to this thread,it's been incredibaly helpful. :)
I should point out the Mr.Reiss is the 'Donor' of the aircraft to the CAF,rather than it belonging to the CAF themselves.I'm not certain how much say-so the CAF would have in the paint scheme for the aircraft.
Mark V,please check your private message box.

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Here are a few pseudo schemes!

1. Spitfire TR.9's flying in RAF markings
2. Hispano Buchons flying in Luftwaffe markings
3. Casa built Ju52's in Luftwaffe markings
4. Morane MS.505 Criquet's in Lufwaffe markings
5. Numerous Harvards in non original schemes

Now comparitively speaking the Wildcat is a representation of a
wartime FAA example - it's the right aircraft with the wrong scheme.

How does this contrast with a wonderfully authentic scheme on completely the wrong machine? i.e Buchons in Luftwaffe markings?

I don't really mind if this is the worst that happens to her.

We have seen examples in the past of the only surviving P-38M
nightfighter converted into a 'L' fighter - P-51D's into TF-51D's
and then receiving Eighth air force schemes.
Or indeed the last surving AEW Avenger converted into a torpedo bomber. If the worst an owner can do is get the colour
scheme wrong well I can handle that . Paint stripper is both
quick and effective - trying to rebuild aircraft that have been modified into something they are not is far harder.

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Maybe it's not so much that they got it wrong but that it is just plain unattractive. I've seen a number of paint schemes that were incorrect but still nice to look at. This one, to my eye, is just plain ugly.]

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"Here are a few pseudo schemes!

1. Spitfire TR.9's flying in RAF markings
2. Hispano Buchons flying in Luftwaffe markings
3. Casa built Ju52's in Luftwaffe markings
4. Morane MS.505 Criquet's in Lufwaffe markings
5. Numerous Harvards in non original schemes"

Hi David,
I am in wholehearted agreement with you that these 5 count as 'pseudo schemes',but to some degree they miss the point about the Wildcat. The point about it is that the Wildcat guys have tried to be authentic and believe thier efforts to be 100% accurate,which they are not.If you see a CASA-built Ju52 chugging about in Luftwaffe markings,then atleast those markings are accurate and the design's original operator and creator are being accurately portrayed,even if it isn't right for that particular machine.The scheme on the Wildcat was first applied to a Wildcat in 2003,and is therefore not historically representitive in any way.
I also agree with Chad that it looks pretty ugly in that scheme, and atleast if you were going to paint it up incorrectly you'd choose something that looked respectable.

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Martlet Photo oddities

Very curious!

The 2nd photo (supposedly the port side profile) isn't genuine at all. It's a digital L-R reflection of the 1st! With flash "corrected" digitally.

A case of not extracting the digit, perhaps?

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So it is!
Talk about missing the obvious. :)

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Hi David,
I think we basically agree about most of it. I rather enjoy mock schemes, civvie schemes, Buchons in Luftwaffe markings etc (though most of the authentic Spanish schemes are very nice too) but I object to someone not bothering to get it right when they are trying for an authentic scheme. Also, it tends to happen to foreign schemes more often than native (in many countries, not just the US). If we just go "tsk" or don't bother to comment (constructively) then we'd be back where we were in the 1950s - a fun era, but a bit slapdash about schemes and everything else - including safety, and proper restorations.

I quite agree that reconfiguring aircraft inacurately is worse, as paint's just paint, but it's all part of the same issue.

If we don't care, then the Warbird awards, and efforts of the restoration and painting houses is just a waste of time, and that can't be right.

By the way, we are still waiting to see the pictures this scheme is alleged to be based on.

Cheers