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Early Aviation
Discuss World War I and the early years of aviation thru 1934.
Hosted by Kevin Brant
French Multi-Colour Camouflage 101
JackFlash
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Colorado, United States
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Posted: Monday, December 25, 2006 - 04:45 AM GMT+7
Greetings all;
Since we have had a short seminar on the German lozenge fabric camouflage used in WWI it seems appropriate that we try our hands at the French multi colour (2-5) camouflage used in the same time period. From Dan San Abbott;

". . .The French fivie color camouflage was adopted in late 1917 and was used on all day aircraft, fighters, observation reconnaissance and bombers. It purpose was to reduce visibilty,and to add protection fron the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The upper and side surfaces were in a dark green, an apple green, beige and chocolate brown and matt black, the under surfaces were light blue, or light yellow and aluminum. The upper (except for black)and lower fabric colors were mixed with aluminum powder, and this is what achieved the reduced visibility. The aluminum powder was 40% by weight and the colored pigments excepting the matt black, the remaining 60%. The metalized dope was not use on metal panels. An oil based paint of an approximate colour was used on adjacent metal panels.

The French firm Société Nauton Freres et de Marsac developed this camouflage dope and the patent was held by their chemist, Mon.T.F. Tesse.They had made a study od earth and plant colors and determine their light reflectance. They then developed a camouflage scheme to utilize these "colors. Patterns were developed for each makers aircraft Section Technique d'Aeronautique (STAe). Each manuuacturer was provided with the appropriate color pattern. Licensed contractors, all had slight variations that were consistant to the maker. By studying these variations the aircraft manufacturer can be identified in photographs a particular, i.e. a SPAD XIII.

A final note. We can be thankful to made this study back in the 1960s, in a program called "Project Butterfly". These men are/were H.L.Elman, H.D.Hastings, Bergen Hardesty and Alan Toelle. Without their efforts we would still be getting it wrong. "Project Butterfly" was published in Cross & Cockade, Part 1, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 1968. Part 2, Vol.13, No.2 1972 Summer 1972, Part 3 Vol.13, No.4 Winter 1972.



First we will start with a list of references:
Aeroplane Monthly, IPC Magazines Ltd. Vol. 19, #8, Aug. 1991.
American Aces of WWI by Franks, Osprey Pub. 2001.
‘To Capture the Rainbow...’ by S. Lawson, Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 29, #1, 1998.
‘...Before the Colors Fade’ by D. Eubanks, Cross & Cockade USA Vol.19, #1, 1978.
Lafayette Foundation Archives, Denver Colorado USA.
‘Project Butterfly’ by Hardesty, Hastings, and Toelle, Cross & Cockade USA Vol. 9, and 13, 1972.
Report on Spad XIII S.4377 by A. Toelle, unpublished to date 2001.
Report on Spad XIII S.6625 by A. Toelle, unpublished to date 2001.
Report on Spad XIII S.7689 by A. Toelle, unpublished to date 2001.
Report on Spad XIII S.8340 by A. Toelle, unpublished to date 2001.
Report on Spad XIII S.15295 by A. Toelle, unpublished to date 2001.
Report on Spad XIII S.16594 by A. Toelle, unpublished to date 2001.
SPAD XIII C.1 by C.F.Andrews, Profile #17, 1965.
SPAD XIII C.1 by J.M.Bruce , Windsock Datafile #32, Albatros Pub. 1992.
‘The Charge of the Yellow Ram ( the138th Aero Sqdn)’by S. Lawson, Cross & Cockade Int. Vol.25, #4, 1994.
Windsock , Albatros Pub. Vol. 6, #4, July/Aug., 1990.
Windsock, Albatros Pub. Vol. 6, #5, Sept/Oct., 1990.
Windsock, Albatros Pub. Vol. 8, #1, Jan./Feb. , 1992.
Windsock, Albatros Pub. Vol. 9, #4, July/Aug., 1993.

http://www.wwi-n-plastic.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=81
JackFlash
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Posted: Monday, December 25, 2006 - 04:56 AM GMT+7
For a bit of homework fun please review;
http://photos.kitmaker.net/showgallery.php?cat=15865
JackFlash
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Posted: Monday, December 25, 2006 - 05:11 AM GMT+7
One further site.
http://storage.mfa.free.fr/SpadXIIIuk.html
JPTRR
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RAILROAD MODELING
#051
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Posted: Monday, December 25, 2006 - 06:32 AM GMT+7
Hi Stephen,

Cool! Glad to see my pix are useful to someone!

IIRC, I posted others of the two-seater SPAD at the Udvar-Hazy Museum.
JackFlash
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Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 - 04:53 AM GMT+7
Please note the muted colours on the "fabric" areas of my model. Can anyone say why?
JackFlash
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Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 - 04:18 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

Please note the muted colours on the "fabric" areas of my model. Can anyone say why?



From Dan San Abbott; "...On original airframes there is 42% (by weight) aluminum powder added to dark green, light green, chocolate brown, beige and light yellow. None was added to the black. There are specific formulas for each color used in the manufacture of the Acellos Colored Dopes. This is covered in "Project Butterfly, Part 2, Cross and Cockade, Vol.13 No.2, pages 150-183..."

"..."Project Butterfly" in C& C Vol.9,No.1,Part 1, Vol.13,No2 Part 2 and Vol.13,No4 Part 3. The specified color for the undersides of the wing,fuselage and tailplane in light yellow, Methuen 4D3, Munsell 2.5-5Y 5.5-6.5,2-3. Methuen defines the color as sallow. It is yellow with 40% (by weight aluminum) powder mixed with the yellow pigment..."

"...Each SPAD XIII manufacturer interpreted the STA color drawing provided to each manufacturer slightly differently, and their pattern was repeated and for the most part identical on each SPAD XIII. Each builder can be identified by the pattern on the SPAD XIII they produced. This information was made possible by a team of researchers, including Alan D. Toelle, H.D.Hastings and Bergen Hardesty, these men are and were the foremost experts on French five color camouflage system, it was called "Project Butterfly". It was published in three parts in Cross and Cockade, Part 1, Volume 9 No.1, Part 2, Volume 13, No.2 and Part 3, Volume 13, No.4. The patterns are not ramble haphazard scramble of colors, but are precise location color and patterns. This true for all the French aircraft from about September 1917 to the end of the war. Most fortunately we still have Alan Toelle guide us..."


Another enthusiast writes; "...By reading "Breguet 14" by Alan Toelle (windsock, 2003), I understand that the yellow undersides come from the examination of several fabric samples: ALL the samples (except 2) are yellowish-grey.

The problem is that ALL official documents, drawings, paint lists describe some kind of light blue grey. And the use of this shade is related by several reports and witnesses. Toelle cites US reports talking of siver gray and dull grayish blue and not so long ago I have read a book by a Spad pilot describing "gris perle"/pearl grey undersurfaces.

Mr. Toelle does not know (his own words) why there is no match between the fabric samples and what has been written..."

JackFlash
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Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 - 04:37 PM GMT+7
One other comment here before moving on. Weather conditions affect the French 5 colour camoflage because of light refraction on the silver dope used with the base camo colours. For hobby paints I usually mix 20-25 % silver with four of the 5 colours. Black did not have the aluminum powder mixed in. The time of year, the shadows cast and the cloud formations all contributed to the overall look of the 5 colour camoflage.
Dan-San
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Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 - 06:29 PM GMT+7
Jack Flash:
You might discuss that the aluminum / metal cowlings did not used the aluminized colored dopes which were used on the fabric surfaces.

There are photos of the camouflaged French fighters when viewed obliquely the colors disappear. because of the aluminum powder in the dope. The colors are very strong when viewed perpendicular to the surface. The designers at Acellos studied the light reflectance of trees, grass, earth and produced a color dopes when the same reflance properities.

The model SPAD XIII pictured is Bleriot pattern. A drawing of the desired camouflage scheme was furnished to each manufacturer and each constructor did it a little different. As a consequent , when you have learned the patterns you can then identify the manufacturer.
Blue Skies,
Dan-San
JackFlash
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Posted: Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 02:18 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

Dan San wrote, "...The model SPAD XIII pictured is Bleriot pattern. A drawing of the desired camouflage scheme was furnished to each manufacturer and each constructor did it a little different. As a consequent , when you have learned the patterns you can then identify the manufacturer. Blue Skies, Dan-San"



Dan is absolutely right on with this. Here is the S.A.F.C.A. company example of a licence built Spad XIII. Note the differences in the model of the late Bleriot version posted at the beginning of the thread and these posted here.

Lucky13
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Posted: Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 03:09 PM GMT+7
Hey.....that's my machine Stephen! Did the French try to develop their own Lozenge?
JackFlash
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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 08:18 AM GMT+7
Greetings Jan;

The French never seemed to want any relationship to the Germans, even to their camouflage effects. By 1918 the free form five colour (as seen on these posted images) was the ultimate use in camouflage for them. Everything from single seat fighters to multi seat bombers were painted in this this. But as Dan San has pointed out...each French manufacturer developed hallmarks in their camouflage productions.
Lucky13
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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 10:02 AM GMT+7

Quoted Text

Hey.....that's my machine Stephen! Did the French try to develop their own Lozenge?


Here's why matey.....recognize my tattoo from somewhere?
JackFlash
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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 11:53 AM GMT+7
Jan, Nungesser would be proud. The skull should have a crack in it though to be like his.
JackFlash
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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 11:56 AM GMT+7
For a multi view on the Kellner camouflage profile. Thanks to Pelican Decals in New Zealand.
JackFlash
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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 12:04 PM GMT+7
For a multi view on the late Bleriot camouflage profile. Thanks to Pelican Decals in New Zealand.
JackFlash
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Posted: Monday, January 01, 2007 - 02:23 PM GMT+7
Here is a bit of fun. The French 5 colour camouflage on a Hanriot HD 1.

This is the Eduard 1/48 kit in Belgian markings.

Lucky13
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Posted: Monday, January 01, 2007 - 06:17 PM GMT+7
Isn't that Willy Coppens kite? Sweeeet!
JackFlash
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Posted: Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 05:15 AM GMT+7

Quoted Text

Here is a bit of fun. The French 5 colour camouflage on a Hanriot HD 1.

This is the Eduard 1/48 kit in Belgian markings.

http://www.wwi-n-plastic.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=154





Greetings all;
I was asked about the colour insert the Eduard put in this kit (#8018) for references. The example was a machine in Belgium. It had been restored some years ago without the aluminum powder being included in the camouflage colours. Alan Toelle tells me that this will or has been remedied recently when the machine was scheduled for another restoration.
JackFlash
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Posted: Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 05:20 AM GMT+7
Can anyone identify the manufacturer of this Spad XIII under repair?
JackFlash
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Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2007 - 11:46 PM GMT+7
Greetings all; Here is a short ist of Spad XIII licenced builders.

The parent co. S.P.A.D.
Kellner
Bleriot
Janior
Levasseur
S.A.F.C.A.
Bernard
De Marcay

Each of these companies had their own version of the multicolour scheme that they adhered to. Even the stencils for their text characters (letters and numbers) for serial or weight notations are unique to a specific manufacturer. In a line up you could (knowing such minute details) pick out a machine by these hallmarks.

Then there are the cannibalized airframes...
JackFlash
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Posted: Monday, January 15, 2007 - 04:24 PM GMT+7
Though easily seen as being posed this image of the Levasseur aircraft factory shows the method of application for this camouflage. Note at the right side of the image is a plan view drawing on the wall. This is the parent company S.P.A.D. plan format for camouflage application. Each factory had their own interpretation of this.
JackFlash
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Posted: Monday, January 22, 2007 - 01:45 AM GMT+7
Are there any questions before we proceed?
JackFlash
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Posted: Saturday, February 10, 2007 - 05:54 PM GMT+7
Here is the five colour on a Nieuport 28 from above.

JackFlash
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Posted: Saturday, February 10, 2007 - 05:58 PM GMT+7
Here is another build of the same type.
mbittner
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Posted: Sunday, February 18, 2007 - 03:49 PM GMT+7
Stephen,

Do you have more of the camo patterns for the other SPAD builders? The two you've supplied are quite helpful, but I was wondering about the others.

Thanks!


Matt Bittner