US export colors 1940-41, a dark place for me

The more I delve into this subject, the more confidence I am LOSING!

It appears that early aircraft to Britain were painted not in RAF spec paint but Dupont equivalent paints in which DE was "more brown" and DG was "something betweeen RAF Dark Earth and US Medium green". Ok I can live with that. Yet it seems that modlers have interpreted that widely. Some stick to RAF colors, others attempt to simulate the equivalent colors, and it seems sometimes that RAF aircraft appear to be painted more in US equivalent colors than true RAF colors! I have seen upper surfaces of P-40C's (we are not talking E's yet so don't bring them up) of the AVG painted in RAF colors , the equivalent of US medium green and a yellow sand, and also in attempted equivalent colors. I had though there were color photos that had settled p-40C AVG colors but perhaps the interpretation of those colors due to different films and reproductions that have made it difficult to id. It appears that there is also some difficultly in the undersurface colors. Brewster apparently used a light blue color on its B-339E's and it appears that Bell used light gray for its P-400, Curtiss also apparently used light gray for its P-40C's but at sometime in 41 went over to a light blue for its E's (Kittyhawk I's) which are most seen in what has been interpreted to be Medium green and sand (but there seems to be a dispute on what color this "sand" really was as USAAF sand, a color used as early as 1934 or so, was a mixture of yellow and red that made a medium color pinkish brown cast (I am not sure if this was "desert pink-don't think so, but that is another problem as it only referred to US used aircraft). However most models appear to interpret this "sand" as very yellow and light, what one would see at a pristine beach in mexico. However, it appears some modelers are reverting to something like the early pinkish-brown sand. Additionally, Brewster B-339B's delivered in 1940 at least appear to have a darker shade of DE/DG than 339E's delivered to England about six months later from December 1940 to April 1941. At least one reference stated that in addition to light blue bellies (as opposed to the mandated but not followed SKY Type S) of the 339E's the DE of the 339E's appeared browner or redder than the standard DE of the Raf. Now we can talk about P-40E's. It does appear that P-40E's possibly those built in early 41 and 42 and appropriated for the USAAF, some of which, with red roundel still in the US insignia, was exported to china had what appeared to be a US Medium green and a Sand color that was most probably the pinkish-yellow-brownish sand (26) or some sort of yellow sand and a light blue undersurfaces. I am not sure if some of these a/c were delivered to the regular Chinese airforce units or the AVG, maybe both? Although the P-40C's (Tomahawk IIa's) of the original British Contract, some of which were deverted to China to be used by the AVG, were most likely? painted in a DE/DG over gray equivalent, and supposedly the P-40C's that were not diverted to China were sent to England in DE/DG over gray but the repainted by the RAF for the desert in true midstone/DE over AB? Also, were some late production P-40c's produced in what appears to be USAAF medium green and "sand" (either the darker 26 or that lighter yellow sand that may or may not exist)rather than DE/DG over gray equivalent paints so there would be export P-40C's in both DE/DG/gray equivalent and perhaps in Medium green/"sand" with possibly light blue bellies? Did curtiss start to repaint the P-40C's on the production line in desert colors or did they merely start doing that when production switched over to E's? I do not know if the P-40E's that were being constructed in 41 and 42 for Britain and intended from the get go to the Western desert but the fact that these early P-40E's for export had light blue paint it would appear that they were originally intended for the desert and there fore maybe for US grabbed a/c with the USAAF brown (the now closest thing to DE) intended for the brits either changed or painted over in what was probably Medium Green, leaving the sand color, be it US 26 pinkish-yellow-brown sand or some sort of yellow sand? which was the closest USAAF color to Mid-stone, in terms of contrast. It seems to be accepted as fact that US manufacturers, either late in 41 or early in 42 abandoned the Brit equivalents and used the closest matching USAAF paints by Dupont which indeed would have been cheaper and more efficient in the rush to build as many a/c as possible. However, a large number of aircraft had apparently been done in 41 in DE/DG equivalent which differed from RAF specs but not as much as the closest USAAF paints. Although it appears that P-40's would continue to be made for the Brits and Aussies (who eventually did their own camo thing) the P-39's for the Brits ended relatively quickly as the Brits didn't like it, so the P-400's were definitely painted in DE/DG equivalent paint with gray (or light blue) undersurfaces. I would very much like to know if I have missed something here and if there is some illumination to what has become to me a very dark place.


Reply to
old hoodoo
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Get hold of a copy of Dana Bell's primer on US Export colours. It explains a lot.

The main one is that there were NO permanent USAAC colours available when these aircraft started to be produced, so they were based on the paint manufacturers interpretation of the British colour specs (So no OD on RAF aircraft in 40)

The interpetation of what the RAF called 'Sky' caused untold problems, not leats because the RAF had colours called Sky Gray, Sky Blue as well as Sky (and unless you saw the colour, would YOU think Sky was a green?)

Don't reply to the btconnect address - and remove nospam!!

Reply to
Dave Fleming

US export colors are a dark place for many of us! You can get a good bar fight with Buffalo fans over the undersurface color of British 339E Buffs. A case can be made for Sky Blue (or something close). A case can be made for Sky Grey (or something close). So far, nobody has come up with anything close to first level documentation, like painting instructions or blueprints. At least we've finally confirmed that the 339E's were painted in 'A' and 'B' schemes. If anyone has more info on the u/s color please holler!

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No, as evidenced by some of my earliest RAF models. I used good old Testors Light Blue. My Dark Earth guesses weren't too close either.

Bill Banaszak, MFE

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Aircraft painted in "sand" had a tendency to fade to a pinkish hue under desert conditions. Modelers have called this "desert pink" and Polly S replicated this color. However, there was never a "desert pink" in the US inventory. hth

The Keeper (of too much crap!)

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