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RAF Mustang IV Factory camouflage and markings

3 Jun
2012

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The RAF received some 900 Mustang Mk III and Mk IV fighters in 1944. Of these all of the Mk Ills and about half of the Mk IVs were finished at North American Aviation’s plant in camouflage and markings to RAF requirements. The later Mk IV aircraft were left in their natural metal finish, like the USAAF P-51Ds and Ks. The accompanying artwork shows the exact pattern and colours for the Mustang Mk IVs, (the Mk Ills were similar).
By the spring of 1944, the USAAF had dropped the use of camouflage for the majority of its aircraft in the European Theatre of war, so the RAF Mustangs were unique in being painted with colours to ANA Bulletin 157. However, note from the colour drawings that the Sky rear fuselage band and the
Markings and Camouflage, 1941-1947′, by Robert D and Victor Archer.

The RAF Dark Green colour was very close to the ANA 157 Olive Drab 613. All of the colours referenced on the drawing were very close to their RAF equivalents. It should be noted that as all of these ANA colours were manufactured in the USA using USA pigments, that they would fade differently to their RAF manufactured colours.
All the data is from the USAAF/NAA document AN 01-60JE-2, section VII, dated 1944. The drawings follow Figure 468, showing the British colour scheme. The colours were checked from the original ANA Bulletin 157 colour chips and Ministry of Aircraft Production RAF colour chips – all from the Robert D Archer Aviation Archives.

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together with white tailplane and fin/rudder bands were a standard identification feature applied to many RAF-operated, UK-based, Fighter Command Mustangs, to comply with USAAF 8th and 9th Air Force practice, although the tailplane and fin/rudder bands were either not applied or removed at an early stage on many RAF Mustangs – which is evident in photos of Horbaczewski’s Mustang.
The nose band should be a scale 12 inches in width, starting from the front of the cowl and terminating at the forward edge of the exhaust manifolds opening. Photographs of Horbaczewski’s machine clearly show the 15 inch wide chordwise wing bands, but not the tailplane or fin/rudder bands.

So, with this new evidence in hand, the Tamiya painting guide was set aside. Testors Model Master Insignia White (FS17875) was used for the spinner and the nose and wing bands. Xtracolor X7 Sky was applied to the fuselage for the rear fuselage band and Xtracolor X106 Insignia Yellow (FS13538) was airbrushed along the leading edge of the wings instead of using the decals supplied in the kit. All of these areas were masked off prior to the remainder of the model being painted.
It is not known for certain whether Horbaczewski’s Mustang Mk III, FB387, was originally delivered in natural metal finish and then painted in the UK at an MU in standard RAF Day Fighter scheme as many Mk Ills were or whether it was actually painted in the US prior to delivery to the UK in the ANA 613 Olive Drab and ANA 603 Sea Gray upper surfaces with ANA 602 Light Gray undersides scheme as featured in Victor Archer’s accompanying drawings.
In the event, I opted for a UK-finished machine and used Xtracolor XI Dark Green and X6 Ocean Grey upper surfaces with Xtracolor X3 Medium Sea Grey under surfaces. A ‘soft’, but tight demarcation was used between the two upper surface colours which I personally find is best accomplished freehand, as opposed to trying ‘raised edged’ masks. I find the masks tend to produce uneven results, with some areas featuring soft over-spray while other areas are almost hard edged. A hard edge demarcation line was used however to separate the upper and under surface colours.

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Above: Around-the-clock views, of the position of the white i/d markings.

Left: Close-up S/Ldr Horbaczewski’s out of register ‘kills’ scoreboard.

Right: Close-up of the rear fuselage showing how the individual aircraft letter overlaps the fuselage roundel.

Below left: The starboard underwing identification lights.

Below right: Profile of a thoroughbred.
The decals were next. Tamiya’s decals are produced by Scalemaster using the Invisa-clear process. In terms of colour density and adhesion they are excellent, but the registration can sometimes be variable! The focal point of any Aces’ aircraft is ‘the scoreboard’, and on mine the victory crosses were printed well out of register. In fact they were so far off, I prefer to look at the side without the scoreboard. Another problem with the decals is the size of the personal markings. Based on photographs of Horbaczewski’s Mustang, it appears that the row of bomb mission markers and the victory crosses are printed slightly oversize. Also, the row of bombs on the nose could be yellow instead of the white as given. I have based this assessment on a detail photo I found in the Aircam Aviation Series No 3 ‘Mustang in Foreign Service’ book. By comparing the tonal values of the Polish chessboard which is known to be white, and the bombs, you can see a difference in shades.
When applying the fuselage national insignia and squadron codes, make sure the individual aircraft letter ‘G’ is slightly overlapping the fuselage roundel. It is not shown this way in the instructions, but is clearly shown on pages 122 and 123 of the Ian Allan ‘Mustang at War’ book. Solvaset was user! as a setting solution, and if applied sparingly, will not damage the decals.
On the underside of the starboard wing are three identification lights. In the past I have tried painting these freehand and have never been happy with the results, but I have since come up with a new method. I airbrush three pieces of clear decal film with Gunze-Sangyo Transparent Red, Transparent Green and Testors Turn Signal Amber. Then, using a Waldron punch, I ‘am able to produce small discs of coloured decal film which are applied like regular decals. Once the model is finished, they were covered with Johnsons/Future Floor Wax to give them a high gloss appearance.

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Prior to painting the wheels and undercarriage, both halves of the wheel hubs were drilled out. as well as the landing gear oleo scissors and tie down rings. Then the struts and hubs were airbrushed in Metalizer Steel, given a dark wash and small strips of aluminium foil, shiny side out, were glued to the shock portion of the gear leg. Testors Rubber was sprayed on the tyres and then they were dry brushed with dark, medium and then light, grey, to add depth and define the tread detail.

All the all panel lines were treated to a dark grey wash and a black wash was flowed into all the control surfaces. Minor chipping and scuffing was accomplished with a mixture of silver enamel and Winsor and Newton Raw Umber oil paint, which was thinned slightly with turpentine and applied with 000 brush. The model was then airbrushed with Testors Dullcoat. At this time, the gear doors that were previously tacked in place, were removed and the inside surfaces were sprayed with Testors Metalizer Buffing Aluminium. On the inboard gear cover, there is a reinforcing plate which was polished to a higher shine than the remainder of the door using ‘SnJ’ polishing powder. With the undercarriage glued in place, the model was ready for the application of chalk pastels Starting on the underside, the wheel wells were given a dusting of dark grey pastels in the corners and immediately behind the oil cooler and radiator outlet. A medium grey was applied along all the panel lines and then gently streaked back using a large sable brush. Various shades of green and grey were applied to the topsides. To accentuate the ribbed framework on the fabric control surfaces, dark grey pastels were brushed in to all the low areas between the actual ribs.

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Then, lighter shades of green and grey were applied to the high points of the ribs. The undercarriage was dusted with a light tan, while the propeller blades were streaked with light grey. The last details involved the addition of the whip radio antenna which was made from fine surgical wire, and the painting of the navigation lights.
This model was a breeze to assemble. Tamiya has engineered the fit of components as if it were a Swiss watch and it ranks as one of the finest aircraft models I have ever built. Sometimes model building can be a frustrating pastime, but this model was nothing but pleasure. I give it two thumbs up!

• Aircam Aviation Series No 3, ‘Mustang in Foreign Service’ – Osprey Publishing, UK. This publication has some of the best photos of Horbaczewski’s personal markings.

• Camouflage and Markings, ‘NA Mustang, RAF Northern Europe 1936-45’ –

Ducimus Books Limited, UK.

• P-51 Mustang in Color, Squadron/Signal Publications, USA

• ‘Mustang at War’, Roger A Freeman. Ian Allen Ltd. UK. (Pages 122 and 123 provided the only photos in my collection that showed the correct placement of the squadron codes in relation to the fuselage roundel).

• ‘P-51 Mustang’ Detail and Scale by Bert Kinzey, Squadron/Signal Publications, USA

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Development of the AMX started formally in April 1978, when Aeritalia and Aermacchi combined their resources to meet an Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI, or Italian air force) requirement for an advanced multi-role attack/reconnaissance aircraft. The project received extra impetus in 1980, when Brazil joined the programme. A common specification, including good short-field performance, high subsonic operating speeds and advanced nav/attack systems, allowed an initial agreement in July 1981 for the joint procurement of 266 aircraft. These comprised 79 AMXs for Brazil and 187 for Italy, plus six prototypes, from the Aeritalia, Aermacchi and EMBRAER production lines, as well as licensed construction of the AMX’s powerplant, the 11,030-lb thrust Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 807 turbofan.
The first Italian aircraft served with the AMI
‘S test and trials unit at Pratica di Mare. During April 1991, the aircraft was fitted with a Spey Mk 807A engine, uprated to 13,500 lb, while Rolls-Royce was also offering a new version of the Spey, with a demonstrated 30 per cent thrust increase over the Mk 807 engine.
AMX-A01 (MMX594) first flew at Aeritalia’s Turin-Caselle factory flight-test centre in May 1984; the first of two Brazilian-assembled prototypes (A04/YA-1 and A06) flew in October 1985. Although the first Italian prototype crashed fatally on only its fifth take-off, following an engine problem on 1 June 1984, AMX development was successfully concluded by the remaining prototypes in Italy and Brazil.

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