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
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
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
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.