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"P-39 Airacobra in North Africa" Topic

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2,291 hits since 9 Mar 2012
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slugbalancer09 Mar 2012 3:32 a.m. PST

I'm going to be painting up a section P-39s from either 93rd FG & 350th FG operating in North Africa. Having looked on the web, they appear to be in a sand & brown camouflage scheme on top and either blue or grey underneath.
Anyone have definite information on what these colurs were? Are they RAF or ANA colours?

bridget midget the return09 Mar 2012 7:04 a.m. PST
slugbalancer09 Mar 2012 7:25 a.m. PST

Thanks, but all the interesting links fail on that website.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 8:07 a.m. PST

RAF colours, but I'd double check the sand and brown – they were supplied factory painted in the US approximation to RAF Brown and Green over Sky (ie. green-grey, not blue) undersides, and generally seem to have been left that way – overpainting of the green with middle stone was uncommon at most.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 9:00 a.m. PST

What Dom said, but it's hard to be too specific about the colors. US factories that built planes for RAF contracts painted them in an *approximation* of RAF colors, using paints that were available in the US. So the green was most often US OD, and the undersides were usually painted neutral grey, sometimes a sky blue, almost never RAF Sky, since this color was not readily available in the US. Brown was not a component of US camouflage schemes, so could vary a lot in shade, depending on what DuPont delivered, and all the colors might fade under field conditions, especially in the tropics or North Africa.

However. Some USAAF planes in North Africa were painted overall sand pink, sometimes with sky blue undersides. Sometimes that sand pink was painted in patterns over existing cammo. I've seen one example, unattested, on an A-20, where the sand pink patterns were painted over an RAF green-and-brown scheme, only partly obscuring the original cammo. There's one very well known black-and-white photo
of a P-40E in nice, fresh sand-and-spinach cammo, the brown component is *much* lighter than the green, it must be early 1942 because the national insignia stars still have red centers.

You asked for 'definite information' and I've wandered off into two paragraphs of surmise that you probably already knew. My point is that it's very hard to be definite, and you have a lot of leeway.

slugbalancer10 Mar 2012 1:17 p.m. PST

I found these on the internet but can't decide on what colours they are meant to be. They are all Eduard Kit P39L/N MTO Dual Combo 1/48 kits.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member10 Mar 2012 4:22 p.m. PST

I wouldn't trust any of the built kits.

The guy who drew the kit box art seems to think it was a sand-and-spinach scheme, with blotches of sand pink over US OD. That's possible.

The black-and-white photo is ambiguous. Whatever it is looks heavily weathered. It could be the remains of sand-and-spinach, or the remains of RAF green-and-brown, or possibly even plain US OD after extreme weathering and some panels being replaced.

Before I offer a stronger opinion I'd want to see photos of more planes, and know the dates, so I could tell how long the planes had been in-theater.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member10 Mar 2012 7:29 p.m. PST

According to this unit history, 350 FG's squadrons were equipped with P-39s from RAF stores in the UK. These would most likely have been in a pseudo-RAF green + brown over neutral grey color scheme initially. I ran across some profiles that show 350 FG P-39s in sand + brown schemes. I doubted this at first, because the shapes of the colors don't look much like RAF patterns. Still it could be that the green segment of the camouflage was over-painted sand in North Africa:


slugbalancer11 Mar 2012 4:29 a.m. PST

Thanks Zippy.

Looks like a choice between doing them as 350 FG P-400s in RAF style camo or 81 FG P-39Ls in OD & NG.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member11 Mar 2012 8:31 a.m. PST

Ran across this trove of photos of 350th FG P-39s:


Mostly indistinct or much later than Torch, but a couple of interesting shots among them.

The pic I found most interesting was the newly delivered P-39 in full RAF cammo and markings. From the contrast between the cammo colors, this was a sea grey + green scheme, not earth brown + green. I have a Profile that shows RAF Airacobras in grey + green, but it didn't occur to me that the Bell factory delivered them that way. If these planes were delivered to the squadrons in grey + green, then I understand the motivation to completely repaint them in more appropriate colors for North Africa.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member11 Mar 2012 8:51 a.m. PST

Photos and descriptions of 81st FG P-39s. Planes described and shown in RAF brown + green cammo:


slugbalancer12 Mar 2012 3:16 p.m. PST

Zippy two great links, thanks

I came across this today, US Export Colors Of WW II, by Dana Bell downloadable from link near the bottom. I've got a couple of her books, so maybe I'll invest in this as well.

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