Monthly Archives: September 2008

Mix your own Mixed Gray… its the purpley one you used to see in the ’60s…


In the late spring of 1942, the RAF changed camouflage colors for planes flying in daylight. The Temperate Land scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth upper surfaces, Sky underneath, was good as ground camouflage for parked airplanes and under 10,000 feet.. The new scheme, better at medium altitudes where the air war was taking place, was blander- darker underneath (Sea Gray Medium aka Medium Sea Gray) and lighter above (Ocean Gray and Dark Green).

These three colors were such a good pick that NATO used them for years, although each nation in the alliance had its own version of the colors. See, for example, RAF camo for Europe, through the Falkland’s war (Harrier GR3, Avro Vulcan, BAe Hawk, English Electric Lightning and Canberra. Luftwafe F-86s, F-104s and F-4s. Hunters, F-104s and F-5s operated by the Netherlands, Denmark, etc. Italian F-104s and even Tornados. The original Hawker Harriers operated by the US Marines were painted in these colors. So far, so good.

But in 1942, Ocean Gray was in short supply and all airplanes were supposed to be wearing it as of sunrise on a day in the near future. So a “mixed” gray, 7 parts Sea Gray, Medium, and 1 part Night (Black), was approved as an improvisation until regular supplies of the official color arrived. Both the official color and the home-made version were refered to as “Ocean Gray” at the time. In later years, students of WWII RAF camo paint have distinguished between the two by refering to the home mixed version as “Mixed Gray” and reserved “Ocean Gray” for the official color, which differs slightly from Mixed Gray in hue and reflectivity (They look different in color and in black and white…)

I’ve neen making numbers of WWII RAF planes in 1/72 recently, and while the post-1942 scheme with the two grays and dark green doesn’t charm me the way Dark Earth, Dark Green and Sky do*, I’m a nice boy, I follow directions, and I paint most of the models I build to represent some real object, particularly airliners, RAF and USN airplanes. So the Academy Hawker Tempest V and Revell Hawker Hurricane IIb I finished in the last decade are Ocean Gray and Dark Green over Sea Gray, Medium. They look ‘right’.

I’m finishing a Westland Whirlwind (Airfix, second tooling) right now, and I applied the same Ocean Gray, Dark Green and Sea Gray, Medium, on the first go-round- applied the paints to the individual pieces before I assembled them. But that’s a lot of uniformity, three planes in the cabinent in exactly the same colors… so I mixed up some “Mixed Gray” aka home-made “Ocean Gray”, and applied that to the Whirlwind. The early-delivery Whirlwinds were Dark Green and Dark Earth as built, the later ones were the two grays and green. Surviving, early examples, were repainted when the colors changed, and so I felt that Mixed Gray would be a good choice for a Whirlwind.

Now comes the interesting part: The mixed color (1/2 dropper of black, 3 1/2 droppers of Sea Gray, Medium, mixed well before being measured and the result mixed well again to make it uniform, is just a bit darker in the jar, perhaps a bit ‘plainer’, ie less tone or hue, than Ocean Gray. But when it dried, the result had a definite, bluish-purple, cast. A familiar one- My 1970 Airfix catalog has pictures of some built, RAF, kits and some of them show this same bluish-purple cast. Humbroil, or perhaps Airfix paints, or some one’s personal recollection, produced something not quite like the modern Ocean Gray back when.

I have no idea what the color the Brits painted on airplanes after Spring 1942 really looked like. Polly Scale claim their paints are good matches for the real thing and they’re generally right, when I can check them. Testors Model Master, Gunze Sangyo and Tamiya seem to agree. Of course, all paint has individual drying characteristics and following a 1:7 recipe is no guarantee of a match- even something as simple as Black can vary froim paint maker to paint maker. But I’m happy with the result and its just different enough from Ocean Gray that it adds interest. Not knowing the names or back story, I mixed all these colors from Terstors and Pactra paints back in the 1970s, and getting the right, blueish tint in Ocean Gray is far from easy. There’s just a *little* blue, Just a tiny bit. And I confess “Duck Egg Green” ie “Sky” completely elluded me, twce. First when I came up with a ligth green for an MPC packaging of the Airfix Mosqutio (original tooling? very crude), and second when I made a yellow-ish gray for the Frog Sea Fury that I build in 1975. It might be, sorta, fun to do some of that mixing again… Sometimes.

I’ll have to get pictures up here…


Other Mosquito cockpit information I’m looking for:

(I wrote this note to the nice folks at, who have a huge stash of Mosquito documents and sell scans of ’em for UKP 5 each or UKP 600 for the whole set of 6000 (!). Now if I only had 600 UK Pounds I didn’t need…. Anyway, I thought this explained what I’m looking for and hope to find pretty well and so I’m putting a copy here in case someone else who has any of this information might find it.)

If *you* have a stash of de Havilland Mosquito engineering and production drawings, perhaps we can make an arrangement…

I’m looking for Mosquito B/PR Mk IV cockpit reference drawings. Dimensions wouldn’t hurt but aren’t required. My purpose is to produce as complete as possible a modeller’s reference drawing, for scale models from 1/12 to 1/144. Not for a replica cockpit, or large scale flying model, or building my own Mosquito in the basement.

One or more general-arangements showing structure, glued-in and screwed-in equipment/structures and bolted/clipped/snapped-in furnishings (seat, emergency O2 bottles, fire axe, etc) would be great. Something showing the momocoque, decks, bulkheads, rudder pedal box and “ferrule” locations would be very worthwhile. Port, starboard, from above, from the front, from the rear views would be useful. Sections at the plane of the instrument panel, bulkhead between bomb bay and cockpit, cockpit side of the front spar and cockpit aft bulkhead would be great.
Individual part drawings for Junction Box B, Junction Box C, the emergency Oxygen bottle and observer’s elbow cushion assembly at the forward edge of the starboard fuselage half, the Pilot’s controls, Observer/Navigator’s Controls, Observer/Navigator’s plotting board, the Vaccuum bottle rack below the window in the port nose compartment, the little plywood and bungee cord signal cartige holders, electrical subsystem, wiring installation, flight, engine and navigation instrument installation, hydraulic subsystem, pnenumatic subsystem, intercom, radio, lighting, oxygen and ventelation subsystems… I have The Mosquito Manual so I have the isometric views that show the fuselage, wings, and everything installed. I’m hoping to not have to enlarge and redraw the cockpit parts of those and then laboriously add information from photographs.

Obviously engineering drawings are a fiction to some extent- what was actually built and flown was a fuselage shell as formed by the hard tooling, with individual bits and pieces attached per tooling, drawing or Mk 1 worker-eyeball. I would not be surprised that there is no drawing that shows everything, I’m expecting to have to draw it, not just find it, but there must be a drawing (or a succession) for the shell with all glued and/or perminantly fastened structure. More than likely its schematic in nature- relative locations and or dimentions correct but the fine scale shape only generally accurate. Accurate, dimensioned bits and pieces would be specified separately.

Since I don’t have enough money to buy a complete set, I depend on you to evaluate what you have and make recomendations. Obviously I’ll run out of money before I run out of interest (grin). I imagine a good start would be 5-10 images, UKP25-50 + shipping. I’ll be happy to let you know what helps and what doesn’t, should you want to keep a list of likely answers to this kind of question. If you’ve already done this, say, for other modelers, or Cutting Edge, Eduard or Cooper Details, perhaps you have a list of recomended images already?

Many thanks, in advance!

Here’s a low-quality scan of my best drawings to date, I need to make a better scan, but I also need to incorporate all the pix I turned up at… this is far from my final drawing!


Monogram de Havilland Mosquito, kit problems, cockpit/interior colors

Hi friends,

I have always thought Mosquitos were Pretty Darn Cool. I’m also an avid model builder and enmeshed in the coils of a typical “Advanced Modeler’s Syndrome” (AMS) situation I’m attempting to build a reasonably accurate 1/48 B/PR Mk IV (series II) from the old Monogram kit. (hahahaha! Yes, I now have the Tamiya B/PR Mk IV… its a long story.)

I’m hoping to build DZ411 in its BOAC markings.

Putting the kit parts up against templates from scale plans revealed the following problems, all no doubt known but I’ll list them anyway:

* Fin and Rudder about 1/4″ (6mm) too tall. (Either Modeller’s Datafile or AeroDetail give a correction drawing…)
* Horizontal Stabilizers not wide (span) enough.
* Fuselage is too square in cross-section.
* Fuselage is .140″ or about 3.5mm too NARROW, though wing tips are the right distance apart.
* Cockpit, bomb bay, nose compartment not quite the right shape, under detailed, inaccurate.
* Main and tail wheel wells are completely empty except for gear legs. Main gear well should have bulkheads fore and aft, engine oil tanks, gear retraction mechanisms, ribs and spars visible. And underside skin as well as the inside of the topside skin visible. Tail wheel should have a mud-guard inside the well.
* Main gear legs rake too far forward. Mud-guards have one, large, stiffening rib, should have two, large, ribs
* Propellers too small in diameter.
* Pilot and observer seats are the same- should be different! Nose compartment interior entirely fanciful. Rectangular windows in the wrong place and oddly shaped. Nose transparency to fuselage joint 1/8″ or more in the wrong place.

So far I’ve

> widened the fuselage 0.040 by inserting a strip of styrene between the two halves
> started to approximate a cockpit using styrene stock, the True Details Mk II/Mk IV resin set, and 3 parts from the kit, the two fuselage halves and the bomber control yoke!
> inserted bulkheads fore and aft of the main gear door cutout
> Added wing ribs, underside skin and spars in one main gear well
> made a couple of trivial oil tanks for the gear wells
> sawn off the rudder and fin (oops- I can now see it can be trimmed as it sits)
> Figured out how to stretch the horizontal stabilizers: cut the top and bottom halves but not at the same spot, so one side overlaps the cut on the other side. Insert styrene stock to fill.
> schemed how to scab 0.05″ on the outside of each fuselage half if I decide to, while preserving the original wing root location. (Have to cut through extra for the wing… ugly…
> Considering improving the main gear legs
> Ignoring that the nacelles may be too close to the fuselage and thus props too small (should be 12 feet 0 inches, 3 inches in 1/48 scale)- I haven’t measured them or the spacing yet!
> bought two sets of resin exhausts (5 on a side) to use to fake-up the 6-on-a-side on the outside setup my reference pictures show
> Got the BOAC markings for an FB VI, mostly corrrect for the B/PR Mk IV.
> schemed how to widen the nose and canopy clear parts and either use them as is or vac-form replacements over them…
> started drawing the plans I can’t find for the cockpit and wheel wells.

And that brings us to the questions I’m hoping someone has answers for:

Fire Extinguisher Color:
I count 3 fire extinguishers one clipped between access holes on the front of the rudder pedal box, one clipped near the floor at the Observer’s feet, one clipped to the Port cabin wall for the pilot to use. What * C O L O R * would 1941-1945 RAF cockpit extinguishers be? The rare, old, item in a surviving airframe is a brownish dull red is that weathering or correct?
An informant tells me the fire extinguisher was copper on the outside weathered to reddish brown, like a penny.

Emergency Oxygen tank Color:
The box/rack visible from the front on the starboard side of the nose contains emergency/portable oxygen. The main tanks in the fuselage are black. What * C O L O U R * are the emergency O2 bottles, 1941-1945?
From pictures I’ve found subsequently, I’d say black works, as does silver (aluminum).

Emergency/Portable Oxygen bottles appear to have a pressure gauge and valve. Colors? Appearance? Any detailed photos somewhere?

Regular oxygen flows from six tanks in the aft fuselage through valves at each crew station and into “Economizer, Oxygen Mk II”s. Are there two of these, one for each, or 3, one for each seat and one for the nose? – Ah, got this one. I can see from all my photo references that there are two and only two Economizers in a Mosquito cockpit. One for the Pilot, one for the Observer. I suppose the BOAC birds carried an extra one for the passenger. What an Economizer, Oxygen, is is a boxed version of the little plastic sack between the source hose and the mask on your emergency oxygen masks on airliners the Economizer is a place where oxygen can gather while you are not inhaling there’s a non-return valve that closes when you’re not inhaling, and the old oxygen systems such as the one in the Mosquito weren’t actually demand systems you set the knob for a given flow rate. Without the economizer, what you didn’t breathe in would simply dump into the cockpit, hence the name “economizer”.

Anyway,  I’ll post these answers on the Mosquito forum tomorrow.

What colour are the hoses which carry O2 treated breathing air?
Couldn’t be easier they’re all around the cockpit. They’re white.

The floor-boards between the pilot’s seat and the rudder pedals look smooth and reddish-brown phenolic board? A wood product? Have I got that color right? Still seems like dark brown, I’m going with it.

The throttle has two levers outboard, on the far left, which have round, black, knobs. There are two levers inboard, on the far right of the throtle quadrant which have square, often orange yellow handles. The quadrant itself seems black, with bare aluminum trim and placards, and a red button on the inside (toward the pilot) at the back end.
Are those colors correct for 1941-1945? Is the yellow-orange for real? I’d still like to know.

In the aft part of the engine nacelle, the rear spar cuts diagonally across the bay containing the main gear when retracted. Are the two radius rods that anchor the gear to the rear spar the same length, or do they stagger to match the slant of the spar? Still not sure (reason suggests they’re the same so they hinge the same… but I’ve seen a photo of at least one wheel well showing these to be silver in color same “Aluminum” paint as the rest of the landing gear.

Along the aft bulkhead, does the aft bulkhead come down vertically, parallel to the sides of the opening for the wheels? NO! It comes down at a slant, the bay is slightly larger at the bottom than at the top (top is top)

I have more questions, but this is a good start. There are still some questions there, but I’ve got most of it.