Wheel well color of the Spitfire MK1.

Discussion in 'Painting Questions, Tutorials and Guidebooks' started by [SC] Arachnicus, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. [SC] Arachnicus

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    Hello folks. Could you please answer these 2 questions for me....

    1) What odor were the wheel wells for the Spitfire MK1?

    2) What color was the landing gear?


    Thanks!
     
  2. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    The wheel wells smelled kinda like grease (nice typo!) :lol: As to the colour, I think the wells, along with the struts, would have been the same as the underside which was likely Sky for the Mk I.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    MkIs started off life with silver (aluminium) undersides. Then they had the Night/White half and half undersides.This started with a batch of 50 Hurricanes delivered to the RAF in April 1938. It wasn't until after the Munich crisis in September 1938 that the Air Ministry allowed the Night/White underside to be applied to all fighters except "Field Force" squadrons. Supermarine didn't start applying this from the factory until April 1939. In service aircraft often didn't recieve the correct centreline demarcation. Lower fuselages were left aluminium and just the wings were painted Night and White respectively. Ailerons were not painted on the aircraft though arrrangements were made for spares to be painted correctly and rebalanced. There is room for plenty of variation here.

    The Sky underside was not introduced until June 1940 when IFF (pipsqueak) was fitted to Fighter Command aircraft and the Night/Black identification colouring was no longer needed. Sector control rooms could establish the whereabouts of their fighter electronically,without the input of observers. Rather than making the undersides easily visible from below (Night/White) it was now considered advantageous to camouflage them against the sky and Sky was the same colour as an earlier paint (Camotint) developed at Heston to do just that.

    Now the question is whether the wheel wells were considered an internal or external area. If internal they would have left the factory painted silver. There is no clear evidence,but we have a clue in the late mark Spitfires. The internal colour changed from silver to green with the Mk 22 and surviving 22s have green wheel wells. This would suggest that Supermarine did consider the wheel wells internal and that early marks would have had silver wells.

    When an aircraft was repainted due to a change in authorised camouflage,movement to another theatre or just routine maintenance then it seems unlikely that the wells would have been masked. There is nothing inside which will be adversely effected by paint. In this case the wells may well have ended up in the underside colour,or at least recieved an overspray of the same.

    Whatever you do noone can say you're wrong!

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I agree with Steve. However, there is evidence throughout the war, on the various Marks of Spitfire, to show differences in the wheel well colours. Generally, the 'roof' of the well could be the interior colour, 'Cockpit Grey Green', with the 'walls' in the underside colour. When aircraft were re-sprayed, the whole of the wheel wells were sometimes included, and could, for example, end up being the underside colour Medium Sea Grey (on the MkII onwards). For a Mk1 Spit in the BoB era, wheel well walls in 'Sky', and the 'roof' in the grey green would be acceptable as 'representative'.
    Photos of the preserved Mk1 in the IWM, when being moved, with the gear down, show the 'green' roof, and walls in the underside colour, and the aircraft of the BBMF have (or had) this finish also.
    Again, for the BoB period, the undercarriage door internal faces would normally be the underside colour (Sky), as would the wheels themselves, with the gear legs painted in 'Aluminium', although the wheels could often still be seen in the original 'Aluminium' finish also.
     
  5. [SC] Arachnicus

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    I got the tamiya 1:48 scale. The decals give me a choice of a full "duck eggish" color or the duck egg/black 50/50.

    The question is, is which one should I do?
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The 'duck egg' is the 'Sky'. Final colour scheme would depend on the period you wish to portray - and whether or not the aircraft depicted survived beyond June 1940. From late June, the underside colour remained 'Sky' (or a variation of this, depending on where and when painted) right through the BoB.
     
  7. [SC] Arachnicus

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    It looks like I have to add some white and perhaps a light grey to the duck egg. Does anyone know a ball park amount for each where I can get the sky color?
     
  8. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for correcting my info Steve and Terry. Marked it for future reference!
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #9 stona, Mar 19, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
    There was no Sky/Black 50/50 camouflage scheme. Until June 1940 there was a Night (black)/White 50/50 scheme with the official demarcation down the mid line of the aircraft.

    In December 1940 (delayed,initial order 28/Nov/1940) the port wing only was to be painted Night. The port underwing roundel returned with a yellow surround. This was a short lived variation and on 8/April/1941 the port wing reverted to Sky though the change was delayed until 22 April due to a shortage of Sky paint.

    You can only have the Sky underside with a Night port wing for an aircraft flying in the brief period between December 1940 and April 1941.

    Sky undersides lasted for 14 months from June 1940 until the introduction of the Day Fighter Scheme (DFS) in August 1941.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  10. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    I thought the pre-June 1940 marking was black (or night if you prefer) under the port wing, white under the starboard wing with aluminium for the undersides of the nose, rear fuselage and tailplanes (although the latter were sometimes painted to match the wings)?
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Not quite. It was officially a Night/White divide along the centreline of the underside,including the fuselage. There are certainly examples of aircraft which were probably repainted once already in service where either the entire fuselage or the underside of the nose and fuselage boom/tailplane were left in aluminium,as were the ailerons.

    Hurricanes came from the factory in the correct scheme in 1938 following the initial experimental batch of 50.Supermarine followed somewhat later.

    There is a wonderful restored Spitfire flying in the UK today with the correct (and exhaustively researched) factory scheme.

    [​IMG]

    A google of Spitfire P 9374 will turn up more images and the story of this restoration.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  12. [SC] Arachnicus

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    I'm going with aluminum wheel wells and Landing gear.
     
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