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3 Sqn RAAF Mustang Mk.IVa (Page 2) Painting Details


Three Pilots by portside cockpit (unknown Sergeant, F/O Ken Caldecott & F/Lt Barney Davies) of an airframe in NMF.
Note: Blue code letters and serial block above the wing root. 
Photo via D. Hourigan

On this page I am going to have a look at various aspects of the markings used on 3 Sqn Mustangs in detail.  Much of the information used has been adopted from Dick Hourigan's article on the restoration of VH-JUC (as Murray Nash's CV*P KH677) that appeared in APMA magazine issue 2-02 and I am indebted to Dick for allowing permission to quote from his notes.


Ken McRae & Murray Nash with CV*P (KH716)


Ken Richard's CV*K KH723 being refuelled


F/O I. S. Purssey's CV-L KH806 after receiving FLAK damage to the rudder.
Detailed close up shot of the Stars on the Blue rudder. 
[Above 3 Photos RAAF Official.]

ANA Colours
Before we start, a brief note about the colour references is needed.  The aircraft were actually painted at the factory to match colour chips from the ANA 157 series.  While the names used in this series may be the same, the actual colours have changed over the years.  Hence there is included a list of colours that are the closest equivalents in the American Federal Standard FS595b reference system.

Peter Malone supplied Dick some 1940 vintage colour chips sourced from the Smithsonian Institute in America and he had access to unfaded samples from Judy Pay's 1941 vintage P-40.  These confirmed that Olive Drab ANA No 613 was very different to the modern so-called equivalent colour of the same name.  The post-WW2 Olive Drab used on the RAAF Museum Mustang's anti-dazzle panel is a much browner colour.  See table attached here.

Rudder Colours & Markings
The P-51Ks used by 3 Sqn were decorated with the White Southern Cross on a Medium Blue rudder, the question was: what was the actual blue used on the rudder, given that different references used different names to describe it?  In the end he matched the background colour behind the Southern Cross of the RAAF Ensign as this seemed to be a logical and obvious source for the original marking.

[Editor's Note: That is considered to be the best choice, however it must be noted that photos show that the blue can vary a fair bit between different airframes. 
It is believed to have been mixed from Roundel Blue and White, and different batches obviously varied.]

Two close-up photos determined the position of the stars.  These were clear enough to accurately scale them: the 7-pointers were 4 inches in diameter, the 5-pointer was 3 inches.  A full size tracing of the rudder was used to establish their positions with the 5 point 'Epsilon Crucis' always on the right.

Roundels
On reading the various manuals it was noted that 40" upper wing roundels were introduced in 1944 whereas the factory drawings called for 32" markings.  Mocked-up circles positioned to match the panel lines in the photos confirmed that 3 Sqn were using the larger size.  This prompted a closer look at the lower surface roundels which were the specified 32" size but were universally positioned further aft than the manual position in all the available underside photos of 3 Sqn Mustangs.  Their aft edge lined up with a rivet line extending from the forward edge of the flap, so ours were positioned to match.  Roundels carried were Type 'C' below the wings, 'C1' on the fuselage and Type 'C' on the upper wing surfaces from 7 Jan 1945 (they were Type 'B' prior to that).

Marking Detail Notes
Roundel diameters are as follows: Fuselage - Yellow 36"/Blue 32"/White 16"/Red 12"; Upper Wing - Blue 40"/Red 16"; Under Wing - Blue 32"/White 16"/Red 12".  The 24" high fin flash has Red 11"/White 2"/Blue 11" stripes.  Serial characters are typically 8" high x 4" wide with 1" wide strokes, spaced with 1" gaps.  Sqn Code characters are typically 18" high x 15" wide with 3" wide strokes, again spaced with 1" gaps to themselves and the roundels.  Both the serial and code characters have 45 Deg corners as shown in the detail drawing attached here.  Note - the comment above re serials applies to KH677, some of the other airframes use different styles for the serials.

Camouflage Patterns
All the camouflaged Mustang aircraft operated by 3 Sqn were officially painted in the standard European Day Fighter scheme of Dark Green and Ocean Grey upper surfaces with Medium Sea Grey lower surfaces.  However, these aircraft, where painted at the factory, were in the the U.S.-equivalents of the RAF scheme.  This utilised ANA 613 Olive Drab and ANA 603 Sea Gray upper surfaces with ANA 602 Light Gray lower surfaces.  This scheme is relatively low-contrast for the upper surface colours as ANA 603 is much darker than RAF Ocean Grey, thus the photos of a/c with such an appearance.  There is an official pattern for this scheme (referred to hereafter as the 'T.O. scheme') in the P-51D erection manual which has been shown in a number of references, the most easily accessible being Scale Aircraft Modelling (SAM) issue 25/5 (July 2003).

This pattern appears to have been used on only a few early airframes delivered to 3 Sqn.  I previously made comments about photographic evidence that the RAF painted some of them locally in the standard Day Fighter scheme of Dark Green/ Ocean Grey/ Medium Sea Grey.  Steve Brooking has been able to confirm that what I thought was a repaint pattern was applied at the factory in lieu of the official one which appears in the P-51D erection manual.  This pattern (referred to here after as the 'Firewall' scheme) appears on a number of machines in the photos I now have available.

Additionally, a 3rd pattern appears on some airframes that were transferred from U.K. stocks to the M.E. in March 1945 to make up a shortfall in numbers in Italy.  This pattern (referred to hereafter as the 'Loop' scheme) is different again in both pattern and colours and is important as it appears on one distinctive 3 Sqn airframe.  Other machines were received in Natural Metal overall, after the decision by the USAAF authorities to dispense with camouflage altogether.

Details of these camouflage patterns will be individually covered on subsequent pages in this article as per the links below.  It should be noted that as with all camouflage patterns, that the upper view provided is 'generic' as patterns will vary a bit between individual airframes.  This should be kept in mind when comparing the upper view to the side views:

T.O scheme (Page 3)
'Firewall' scheme
(Page 4)
NMF scheme
(Page 5)
'Loop' scheme
(Page 6)

One final point is that on several of the photos used in this article, 'Screamers' can be seen attached under the outer wings as per those shown in the P-40L article.

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