Why the pink Spits?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Alban, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    #1 Alban, Oct 30, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
    Hi, I was hoping you might help me out with a question. Why the pink spitfire camoflage scheme, I assume is was a lov-vis thing? Does anyone here at the forum know how this came about? Very British I'm sure, nobody had anything simmilar in any of the other nations I can find. It's bugged me for years how that came about.

    cheers
    Alban
     
  2. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Yes it was for visibility reasons. Can't remember the whole story but in certain lighting conditions the a/c would more or less disappear.

    The RN also had 'pink' ships.

    Google Mountbatten Pink.
     
  3. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    I think SAS use pink Land Rovers because it can 'absorb' light. Maybe the same reason ?
     
  4. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    All about camouflage and what colours render the object least visible. In the conditions the PR Spits were flying in (and the SAS in the desert), the Pink was the colour that rendered them least visible and so they used it.
     
  5. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    To be fair
    the SAS 'pinkies' were painted stone or whatever that shade was called. It was the desert heat that eventually turned them pink.

    I've seen photos of RAF desert P-40s in the dark earth/stone livery and they are showing signs of it too.

    I think the pink PRU Spitfires were liveried to fly up against the cloud base, where they were practically invisible from the ground, though horribly visible from above. I think the time of day when the mission was conducted played a part too (dawn and dusk) but I can't fully remember the details, I'll have a look when I get home.
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Pink is used in the desert, because it makes the aircraft harder to see. Even today pink aircraft are sometimes used for desert ops. In Desert Storm the RAF used pink Jaguars. Also another color that is often used is grey for desert ops.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The pink Spits flew at a time of day when the sun was in the best position for photo reconnaisance. They also operated at lower level than their blue counterparts. Pink was indeed considered to give the best protection under these circumstances,hiding them against a haze or cloud base. It seems to have been very unpopular with the pilots who thought that they "stuck out like a sore thumb."
    I'm sure someone who is far more knowledgeable will come along but FWIW I have read that the colour often given as PRU pink nowadays is far too red and that the actual colour was very pale.
    Steve
     
  8. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    "Why the pink spitfire camouflage scheme, ..."

    In the U.S. we currently have a don't ask don't tell policy.
     
  9. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The PR Spits were indeed a much paler pink than has often been shown, particularly on some scale models. The colour was developed, after the greenish hued 'cammotint', to be effective, as already described, in certain lighting conditions against cloud or haze background, at medium level, as opposed to the PRU Blue used for high altitude operations.
    This was made more effective by the reflection of UV light off the clouds, which gave a feint pinkish tinge to the light, thus blending the aircraft into the background. This is similar to the pinkish haze often witnessed just above brightly lit, or side lit snow. During the Gulf War, as Adler quite rightly stated, a similar, although darker hued pink finish was applied to RAF Jaguar, Buccanneer and Torndao GR1 aircraft, not only as a camouflage to blend with the desert landscape, but also to blend in with the heat haze or dust-tinged light at low level.
    The original S.A.S. Series II Land Rover 'Pinkies' were painted in a pink-tinged, mid stone finish, which, after prolonged exposure to strong sunlight and wind, faded to an even 'pinker' tinge. Subsequent SF vehicles for desert ops have employed a colour scheme not dissimilar to that used on some WW2 British vehicles in the Western Desert, utilising sand, stone,browns, blues and grey colours, plus, in most cases, an infra-red absorbing coating, to provide a similar rate of IR refllectance as would be expected to be recorded from natural materials.
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    When we were out in the desert we found that our company's aircraft which were painted standard OD greed stood out like a sore thumb. Even though we were 50 ft or less over the ground you could see us for miles. Gray and pink aircraft however blended in real nicely with the hazy horizon and were much more difficult to see.

    Who cares how they are painted. A military aircraft is meant to survive and fight. If it has to be pink or gray for that matter, then so be it.
     
  12. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Sorry
    but if I'm bounced by a pink fighter I've got to assume the worst - I've got a homosexual on my six...
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    :lol:
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Or Barbie !!!
     
  15. Geedee

    Geedee Well-Known Member

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    And you aint gonna admit to that !!!!:lol:
     
  16. glennasher

    glennasher Member

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    That sure explains the gray F-14 paint, along with the similar paint on F/A 18s, on current naval aircraft.
     
  17. NZTyphoon

    NZTyphoon Member

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    According to Matusiak Merlin PR Spitfires (Classic Warbirds): Amazon.co.uk: Wojtek Matusiak: Books
    "At least until July 1941 specialised low flying versions (of the PR Spitfires) were painted in a uniform scheme of either Green Camoutint, white or pink. The latter colour (in fact off-white with a pinkish tinge) proved to merge better against low clouds. The effectiveness of the scheme was confirmed by Alastair Taylor's sortie in R7059 over Cherbourg on 4 May 1941. When coming out of the clouds at 3,300 ft he encountered a pair of Bf 109s which passed some 50 yards away from him. Fortunately the Germans failed to notice him!" (pages 12-13.)
    A pale colour such as Camoutint green, or white or pink can also have the effect of reducing the apparent size of an aircraft in cloudy or hazy conditions. This was one of the reasons Coastal Command and the USN adopted white as the main colour for the undersurfaces of their A/S aircraft - it reduced the distance at which an approaching aircraft could be spotted by U-Boat crews.

    Another unit which used pink as a base colour was the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) LRDG Uniforms and Equipment Again, concealment, especially at dawn or dusk was one of the objectives.
     
  18. antoni

    antoni Banned

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    The origin of PRU Pink is obscure but it thought to date from 1940 when first used on Spitfire PR Mk IGs which were optimised for the low-altitude photography role. As they were expected to meet Luftwaffe fighters armament was retained. The three camera installation the rear fuselage comprised one obliquely mounted camera with 8 inch or 14 inch focal length lens facing to port and two cameras mounted vertically, the forward one with a 5 inch or 8 inch focal length lens and the rear with an 8 inch or 14 inch focal length lens. The G was intended to photograph targets from just below the cloud-base wherever that happened to be. Below 2,000 feet the oblique camera was used, between 2,000 feet and 10,000 feet the vertical camera with the shorter focal length lens was used, and above 10,000 feet the vertical camera with the longer focal length lens was used.

    The pink disguised the aircraft against the cloud base but if there was insufficient cloud cover the mission had to be abandoned as the colour made the aircraft highly visible when viewed from above.

    In early 1941 the German warships Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Admiral Hipper put into harbour at Brest. No 1 PRU was given the top priority task of photographing the port three times a day. To accomplish this, whatever the weather, pairs of Spitfires took off from St. Eval, Cornwall, and flew to Brest independently. A blue painted type C or F would photograph the port from high altitude if the skies were sufficiently clear; a pale pink Spitfire took photographs if there was cloud cover. Six-tenths’ cloud was termed ‘no-man’s land’ figure. Too much for high altitude photography to be successful and too little to conceal a Spitfire at low altitude. Fighter units and flak batteries defending Brest soon became aware that regular flights were being made to photograph the harbour and losses mounted. Gordon Green. “During the early missions to cover Brest we lost about five pilots fairly quickly. After the first couple had failed to return, the Flight Commander, Flight Lieutenant Keith Arnold, asked Benson to send some reserve pilots. They duly arrived. Both took off for Brest that evening and neither came back. That was a very sobering incident.” These missions where called ‘dicing’ from ‘dicing with death’.

    The PRU obtained its paints directly from the manufacturers, in particular Titanine. PRU Pink was never included in the RAF Vocabulary of Stores section 33B or any of the wartime MAP colour standards booklets. Any post war colour bearing that name may have been developed separately by the RAE and so may be similar but the not the same as that used by the PRU during the war.

    Green Camotint was named Sky by the RAE when it was adopted by the Air Ministry.
     
  19. Alban

    Alban New Member

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    Hi, I'm a bit late in giving out a thank you to the folks who contributed to this post. But better late than never, once again this site came up with the answer.

    Thanks
    Alban
     
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