============ Having answered Rob's comment about grey Jaguars, I have been a little concerned about the instructions in some decal sheets that I have seen. Each one of them seems to represent the Sidewinder missiles in use on RAF aircraft as coloured being white. This is not true and the decal manufacturers really should have known better.
If you will indulge me, I'll provide a little information on UK Sidewinder colours.
The original missiles used by the RAF and Royal Navy were AIM-9Bs and AIM-9Gs, which *were* white. The introduction of the AIM-9L and the procurement of components from BGT rather than Raytheon, led to all operational 9Ls being painted BS381c/627 Light Aircraft Grey. However the situation is a little more complex as there are various build standards of missile which have different colours.
The Sidewinder is not a round - it is an assembly. It can be broken down into its components, some of which have different colours. Have a look at
which shows the missile quite well. I'm not sure why it is sat beside an A-10, IIRC the 9Ls were used by the US Navy.
The front section is called the GCS or Guidance Control System. As you can see it is a dark grey. The GCS is not painted and this is the colour of the metal, which can have a metallic sheen to it. There is a BS381c/412 Dark Brown band (signifying a low explosive hazard) at the rear of the GCS.
The next section is the AOTD or Airborne Optical Target Detector (some authorities use "Active" rather than "Airborne"). In the photograph, this is the component which is hidden under the dayglo wrap. There is a very good reason for this. The side of the component has eight round windows
which may emit laser light. The AOTD is also unpainted, although the grey of the metal is somewhat lighter than that of the GCS and there is no metallic sheen. There are no explosives in this component and so there are no hazard bands.
The next section is the Warhead. This is painted Light Aircraft Grey, with a BS381c/3576 Golden Yellow band to signify high explosive.
The remainder of the missile body is made up of the Rocket Motor. Again Light Aircraft Grey but this time with a BS381c/412 Dark Brown hazard band.
The fins are attached to the GCS and are bare metal, with a similar colour to the AOTD.
The wings are at the rear of the missile. They are Light Aircraft Grey. However, unlike the US missile in the photo, the leading edges of the wings are a very shiny dark metallic grey. Originally the wings were designed to be used for one flight only and then discarded. The RAF cannot afford this policy and so, as the surface of the wing is made from an ablative material, the leading edges are coated with a material known as "Belzona", to prevent damage from the airflow. As shown in the first picture, the rollerons on the trailing edge of the wings are bare metal and can be quite shiny.
The acquisition missile or "Ackwee" is used for training. It is simply an inert body tube with an operational GCS fitted on the front. There are no wings or fins fitted, as there are no mountings for them. The body tube is painted BS381c/113 Deep Saxe Blue.
The Dummy missile is totally inert and is used for displays. Next time you see an RAF aircraft at an airshow which is carrying Sidewinders, they will be dummy missiles. The missile is painted overall Light Aircraft Grey. The GCS may be a real one which has been expended (in which case it will be its normal colour) or it may simply be a shape (in which case it will be LAG). All the bands on this missile will be BS381c/105 Oxford Blue, to signify inert.
The Dummy missile may or may not be certified for flight. If it is not, it will have "NOT FOR FLIGHT" liberally plastered all over it, especially on the wings. The wings of a dummy missile which *is* cleared for flight will have been taken from operational stock.
The Sidewinder has a number of safety devices which are fitted when on the ground. The first is the "noddy cap", which fits over the GCS. This is yellow plastic, but they get very dirty indeed, so a yellow/grey mix would suffice. It *should* have a Remove Before Flight flag attached to the front but the noddy caps get pretty battered (linies tend to play football with them while the jet is away) and the flag is usually the first thing to go.
The second safety device is a wrap-around cover over the AOTD. As shown in the first photo, they are dayglo orange and are usually kept quite clean. These also have an RBF flag attached.
The final safety device is the arming key. This is a red T-shaped key on the underside of the warhead, also fitted with a RBF flag.
The LAU launcher also has an arming key with an RBF flag. Look at the second picture and you will see a device on the side of the LAU. The arming key fits here.
These safety devices are fitted at *all* times while the missile is loaded to an aircraft on the ground.
Acqui missiles have the noddy cap and LAU key while dummy missiles may only have the LAU key.
I hope this short article has been of some use. The link below is to a colour chart showing BS381c colours.
I don't know if the links are still valid. The role band colours *should* be valid for US missiles, as the colour bands are NATO standard. However I believe that US manufactured missiles use FS36375 rather than Light Aircraft Grey.
Hi Enzo just wanted to give you some info the USAF did indeed use AIM-9L at least during the time frame I servered as a Crew Chief 1976-1995, I believe all US Military Air Branches used the AIM-9L, I seem to remember a USMC Harrier outfit that shared our revetments at Kadena Okinawa also used them
As far as I am aware the US Navy versions of the AIM-9 (the 9L was one) use a nitrogen bottle (known as a "receiver") in the LAU to provide coolant in captive flight. I was under the impression that the USAF versions use an argon bottle on board the missile. This was always given as the reason that USAF AIM-9s were incompatible with RAF aircraft.
Sorry for the top post, I know how some of you hate it.
Adding to the excellent response, and to more or less americanize the discussion.. The colour of the warhead and rocket motor is indeed FS 36375. The overall colour of bombs and missiles is for camouflage purposes and have nothing to do with anything that is going on inside them. Having said that, The US, and Canada use the AIM-9M. The 9L is actually the export version which started out as duplicates, but I believe BGT may have incorporated thier own improvements. I may be wrong about the latter. The Guidance and Control section is identical for all US services. The way in which it is cooled is however different. The USAF prefers the small TMU-72 bottle in the nose of the missile, where the Navy went with the much larger bottle in the launcher. This is why there was much discussion about the different launchers when the explosion of Phantom kits came around twenty years ago. Those of the airforce were much slimmer than the USN. Also something to watch for on your A-7 Kits. The GCS, Target detector and fins are unpaintede metal, But are all treated to survive exposure to speed and weather. The GCS is annodized to a dark colour, which on the US missiles looks to be a dark gun metal with a hint of olive. The fins are parkerized, the same treatment as most machine guns get, and therefor are a dull grey when new, but get darker when wiped down with various preservatives during maintenance. Kind of like wiping your gun down with oil. The wings are coated with a heat barrier, much like that found on USN bombs, and given a top coat that the can calls Haze Gray, though it's only a shade or two away from the body colour.
The bands for low explosives, ie rocket motors, are FS 30118 The Bands for high explosives, ie warheads, are FS 33538 The bands for inert components, ie training, are FS 35109 All of these colours are fairly easy to find. The brown band on the rear of the british GCS is not normally found on US missiles., I would say never, but I'm sure someone will find a picture of the exception. ( never in Canada for sure) Of course the colours are the same by NATO agreement, but each nation has thier own standard colour system. As was pointed out previously, the british use the BS, The Americans the FS, the Germans the RAL, etc. Nomenclature is different among the various users as well. I never heard of an Ackwee until just now. We in Canada call them CATMs, (pronounced catum), Captive Air Training Missiles.
It is actually written as "Acqui" - short for "acquisition missile" - but pronounced "ackwee".
I imagine that an British Acqui is very similar to a Canadian CATM.
The Acqui has a body that is effectively just a metal tube with hangars on it. There is usually no facility to fit wings to represent the aerodynamic qualities of a live missile. However, having said that, I have actually seen a tiny number of special purpose Acquis that *do* have that facility, but they are invariably only fitted to trials aircraft.
It would help also if you told us what versions of the AIM-9 you are interested in. Photos of AIM-9L and later versions are pretty readily found on the web, but earlier versions may not be. I have some photos I took of live AIM-9P-3 rounds at Ramstein Air Base, Germany back in the 1980s. At the time that missile or earlier versions were found on pretty much all USAF F-4s, since USAF Phantoms weren't modified to carry the AIM-9L or later series until a few years later. AIM-9Ps could also be found carried on early F-15s and 16s on occasion. During my tour at Ramstein from summer 1983 to summer 1986, the AIM-9P-3 missiles went from overall white, to a mix of white and 36375 gray parts on each missile (no two were alike or so it seemed), to pretty much overall gray. If you are interested in the AIM-9P-3, let me know and I'll e-mail my photos to you. Scott Wilson