Coastal Command Camouflage and Markings in WWII

This is a topic which does not seem to have had any dedicated references published. I have created the table below based on the Airfix Magazine Guide to RAF Camouflage by MJF Bowyer, The RAF Museum Guide to RAF Colours and Markings and Owen Thetford's wartime book published by Harborough. Please remember that transitions from one scheme to another would have been gradual as aircraft were repainted. Things like codes and roundels would have been easy to change while the aircraft were in service but a complete repaint might have meant waiting for an overhaul. This also accounts for some non-standard schemes like the Dark Green/Dark Earth/White Wellingtons seen in some books.

My thoughts and comments appear in italics.

Although photo-reconnaissance came under Coastal Command at times I am not including it here as the colour schemes and markings were unique to that role and form a separate subject.

June 2010 - a major update with information from rafweb.org, a Paul Lucas article in MAM on Sunderland III camouflage, Vic Flintham's book Combat Codes, MJF Bowyer in Airfix Magazine Annual 7 and notes from Graham Boak (including notes from Bruce Robertson's book on Aircraft Camouflage and Markings of the World)

Feb 2015 - another major update with information from Battle For Britain by Paul Lucas, various issues of DTD360 and AMOs kindly supplied by Edgar Brooks, other documents from the National Archives posted in a thread on Britmodeller, notes from Terry of Aviaeology in the instructions to his decal sheets and in threads on Britmodeller and extensive notes collected from a variety of sources by Iain Peddle. I also now have my own copy of Bruce Robertson's book on Aircraft Camouflage and Markings of the World. I have also put in some photos from the IWM website using their code under their Non-Commercial Licence and given links to others not available under this licence. Note all links will open in a new browser tab or window.

Camouflage seems to have been initiated from 1936 by Air Diagrams which were produced for different aircraft categories by number of engines and purpose. The first generalised document was Aircraft Design Memorandum 332 issued in September 1939. Following on from these there seem to have been two interlinked systems for specifying aircraft camouflage and markings after about September 1939. The Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) - which became part of the Ministry of Aircraft Production when that was created in 1940 - which controlled the factories while the Air Ministry issued Air Ministry Orders (AMO) to the RAF for use at MU and station level. The master documents were amended from time to time by various meetings which produced minutes (naturally) that were then issued as memos or postagrams. From early 1943 the Air Diagrams and ADM 332 were superceded by DTD  Technical Circular 360. The delays and differences of interpretation inherent in two parallel systems with frequent updates make life interesting when trying to interpret black and white photographs using the official documentation! The use of white undersides on Beaufighters is just one example of the anomalies. In addition there were occasional trials of possible new schemes such as the pink Whitley noted by MJF Bowyer.

  These orders, minutes and memos may or may not survive (or be able to be found) in the National Archives to allow us to piece things together 70-odd years down the track and I certainly haven't seen all of them. I haven't been able, yet, to visit the National Archives so thanks go to various members of the Britmodeller website for what they have found for me or posted as part of discussions. I'm sure there's been a lot more on Britmodeller - it just hasn't stuck in my memory - so if anyone would like to remind me of things I've missed then please do so using the Contact Form Also if anyone would like to contribute any relevant information or documents please do so - this page is intended to be a resource for all modellers, not just me!

Timeline of documents
 
Date Document Content
27-4-39 A.M.O. A.154/39 Identification Markings (roundels & code letters, serials etc. on operational aircraft)
3-8-39 A.M.O. A.298/39 Identification Markings (amendment to A.154/39 - now to cover all RAF aircraft)
Sept 1939 A.D.M.332 External Colour Schemes of Aircraft
7-12-39  A.M.O. A.520/39 Identification Markings (amendment to A.154/39 - changes to roundels)
15-11-40 A.D.M.332 issue 3 External Colour Schemes of Aircraft
12-12-40 A.M.O. A.926/40 Colouring and Recognition Markings
9-1-41 A.M.O. A.30/41 Colouring and Recognition Markings (amendment to A.926/40)
6-3-41 A.M.O. A.157/41 Colouring and Recognition Markings (amendment to A.926/40)
10-7-41 A.M.O. A.513/41 Camouflage Colouring and Markings
18-8-41 A.M.O. A.687/41 Camouflage Colouring and Markings (amendment to A.513/41)
2-7-42 A.M.O. A.664/42 Camouflage Colouring and Markings
8-10-42 A.M.O. A.1096/42 Camouflage Colouring and Markings (amendment to A.664/42)
24-12-42 A.M.O. A.1377/42 Camouflage Colouring and Markings (amendment to A.664/42)
?   DTD360 states it supersedes A.D.M.332, DTD144, 183, 202 & 321 and a host of Air Diagrams.
I haven't seen these and I'm not sure how useful they are as the AMOs should have been the master documents (?),
although it would be interesting to see what the factories were told.
23-2-43 D.T.D. Technical Circular 360 Issue 1 Camouflage and Identification Marking

Although there isn't an AMO that I have seen which cedes ownership of camouflage and markings to DTD360 until
September 1944 it is interesting there are no new AMOs on the topic so DTD360 may have become the master
document earlier than that.
July-43 D.T.D. Technical Circular 360 Issue 1 there seems to have been an amendment with the addition of drawings, not yet found.
Nov-43 D.T.D. Technical Circular 360 Issue 1 there seems to have been an amendment, at least to some Appendices, not yet found.
2-12-43 A.M.O. A.1246/43 Unit Badges and (special) Markings
12-12-43 D.T.D. Technical Circular 360 Issue 2 Camouflage and Identification Marking
30-3-44 D.T.D. Technical Circular 360 Issue 2 (Amendment No.1 to Issue 2)
7-9-44 A.M.O. A.864/44 Camouflage, Colouring and Markings (refers to DTD360 as the master document)
Oct 44 A.P.2656A Vol1 Section 6 Chapter 1 Camouflage Schemes (seems to be copied from DTD360 Iss.2)
Oct 44 A.P.2656A Vol1 Section 6 Chapter 2 Identification Markings (seems to be copied from DTD360 Iss.2)
Nov 44 D.T.D. Technical Circular 360 Issue 2 (Amendment No.2 to Issue 2)

Theory and Practice

What follows is what I can make of the various documents I have seen so far, split into sections for camouflage, code letters, serials and identification markings. As can be seen there are a number of inconsistencies so comments, additions and corrections are welcome (via the 'Contact' page on the site please). Note that I have used the well known 'Type A', 'Type A1', etc. designations for Roundels/Fin Stripes even though I know I should use the official ones.

Date Detail Reference
pre-Oct 1938 Overall silver photos
Oct 1938 on Dark Green,Dark Earth uppersurfaces, Aluminium (paint) undersurfaces.

I'm not sure when Coastal Command introduced squdron codes of a two letter combination denoting the squadron plus an individual aircraft letter but certainly by the start of WWII. If they followed other commands then they were introduced about the end of September 1938 and the combination changed on the outbreak of war. Codes were in Medium Sea Grey, serials in Black

Flying boats should have been in Dark Slate Grey / Extra Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces but Dark Green / Dark Earth was often used due to a shortage of the Temperate Sea Scheme colours.

The overall Aluminium scheme persisted into 1939 as can be seen in a photo of an all silver Sunderland in May 1939 in 'Coastal Command' and IWM photo HU67650 assuming the captioned date of 1939 is correct. C243 seems to show an all silver aircraft captioned as December 1939. Photos of the rescue of the crew of the SS Kensington Court in September 1939 also appear to show Sunderlands in silver. Although the poor quality reproductions in Flight magazine could be interpreted either way other reproductions look more definitely silver to me.

Having said that there is a photo of a 'Sea Scheme' Sunderland in Flight magazine for June 1939 http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1939/1939-1832.html, presumably the first to be so painted.

There are several photos in 'Lockhed Hudson (Hendrie) taken in April/May 1939 showing Hudsons as delivered to 224 Sqdn in camouflage (US equivalents to Dark Green / Dark Earth) with Night undersides. Type A1 upperwing roundels and no fin flash, with Type A1 roundel and white serials underwing.

Flight Magazine for November 1939 shows a Beaufort in a similar scheme to the Hudsons noted above but with type A underwing roundels.

IWM photo HU 91217 captioned as "Avro Ansons of No 220 Squadron flying in formation over a convoy, 1939." shows them in camouflage with Type A1 roundels on both fuselage and upperwing. 220 re-equipped with Hudsons during November/December 1939.

Flight magazine for May 18th 1939 also shows camouflaged Ansons with Type A1 upperwing roundels.
photos




Britain Alone

Ashworth
IWM





IWM


Flight

Flight
July 1939
AMO A.154/39
Identification markings (roundels) to be Type B on fuselage sides and upperwing, Type A underwing.

Grey (stores ref 33B/157) 48 inch high (unless space is restricted) and 6 inch stroke code letters to be two for squadron and one for individual aircraft either forward or aft of roundel on fuselage sides, on the other side of the roundel on the opposite fuselage side.

Aircraft number (serial) underwing (lower wing for biplanes) and at rear of fuselage. Squadron badge as laid down in AMOs.

Fighter aircraft to have no underwing roundel but lower surface of starboard wing and half the fuselage under surface to be white, port side black.
RAFM book
August 1939 A photo of a camouflaged Vildebeest IV of 42 Sqdn taken 28th August 1939 appears on p.21 of 'Coastal Command', also on p.10 of 'Combat Codes' by Vic Flintham.
Interpreting the dark colours is not easy but it appears to support silver undersides with Type A roundels (and no serials) with Dark Green & Dark Earth uppersurfaces - the 4-colour shadow shading decreed for biplanes is not discernable if it was applied. Code letters appear quite pale but could (and should) be Medium Sea Grey.
Ashworth/
Flintham
3rd September 1939
Coastal Command Order of Battle
Sqdn Aircraft
22,42 Vildebeest
48,206,217,220,233*,269,500,502,608,612 Anson
201,240 London
204,210,228 Sunderland
209 Stranraer
224,233* Hudson
* = converting between types  
Ashworth
7th Dec 1939
AMO A.520/39
Fuselage roundels changed to Type A on all aircraft and added underwing to fighters operating over France.
Upperwing roundels changed to Type A on General Recconnaissance (basically Coastal Command) aircraft.
A.520/39
December 1939 The Saro Lerwick enters service with 209 Squadron. All photos I have seen suggest Dark Slate Grey / Extra Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces.

There have been reports of overall Sky Grey or grey primer Sunderlands in use at Pembroke Dock around the end of 1939 or beginning of 1940. The only photo I have found which seems to support this is on page 18 of Sunderland at War by Chaz Bowyer with the date given as 1939. The aircraft certainly appears to be in one colour overall which does not look like silver as there seems to be a patch where it has worn and a paler colour is showing through. There are also noticeable repairs to the hull in the form of pale coloured strips, presumably of sealant.
 
Feb 1940 Blenheim IVF introduced to Coastal Command by transferring 235, 236, 248 & 254 Sqdns which retained the Fighter Command Black/White undersides Bowyer
April 1940 ? An undated photo of a Hudson of 269 Squadron which has pale undersurfaces and an underwing roundel. The Anson dates the photo to the period (April-June 1940) when the squadron re-equipped with the Hudson. Note Type A fuselage roundel and no fin flash presumably dating it pre May 1st 1940 (or thereabouts given the time needed to action orders). (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)
 
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. IWM (CH 59)
IWM
1 May 1940
signal X485
amended
11 May by
signal X740
Yellow ring to fuselage roundel of identical width to other rings - creating what is known as Type A1 - introduced and red, white and blue fin stripes of equal sizes introduced.

The amendment tried to reduce confusion by stating fin flashes did not need to occupy the whole fin and that the yellow ring on the roundel could be just a narrow band as a temporary measure and that roundel sizes could be reduced if necessary to make the four colour version fit.
Lucas - Battle For Britain
May/June 1940 ? An undated photo of a London of 240 Sqdn, which used them from July 1939 to June 1940, in camouflage, probably Dark Slate Grey / Extra Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces with Aluminium undersides and Medium Sea Grey codes. Note the Type A1 fuselage roundel and fin flash presumably dating it post May 1st 1940 and underwing roundel. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)
 
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: SARO A.27 LONDON.
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: SARO A.27 LONDON. IWM (CH 1922)
IWM
May 1940 A photo in the book A Child's War in Cornwall by John Harding of a Sunderland code RB.U (could be W3986) with HMS Hood in the backgound states that it was taken in Plymouth Sound and 2 months later Hood was sunk. The chronology of HMS Hood on the web suggests the ship last visited Plymouth in May 1940 for a refit with 23-27 May the days it was there after the refit finished, therefore likely to be in the Sound (where it does look as if the photo was taken). 10 Sqdn RAAF (code RB) was at Mount Batten from 1st April 1940. The upperwing roundels are type A, fuselage A1 and the fin flash full height Type A. Codes and serial are in Medium Sea Grey. Harding
7 June 1940
Signal ASD/373
Blenheim fighters in Coastal Command to change to Aluminium undersurfaces (clarification following Signal X915 of 6 June stating fighter aircraft should change to Sky Type "S" undersides) Lucas - Battle For Britain
July 1940 underwing roundel of Type 'A' and Sky undersides introduced (except Sunderland)  
19 July 1940 Upperwing roundel changed to 'B' (alternative dates are "25 July" or "June" depending on the page in Lucas - Battle For Britain). Looking at photos sometimes this change was done by just painting out the white with one of the other colours, resulting in some oddly proportioned roundels.

e.g. this Sunderland of 210 Squadron at Oban in August 1940 which seems to have suffered a lot of overpainting on the upperwing roundel. Note the full height fin flash despite Signal X740 off 11th May illustrating the time needed for orders to be applied to all operational aircraft. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND
ROYAL AIR FORCE: 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND IWM (CH 840)
Bowyer, also Lucas - Battle For Britain
23 July 1940 (meeting held with results circulated 11th August) Undersurfaces of all aircraft to be Sky or Black undersurfaces at the discretion of commands. Lucas - Battle For Britain
Sept 1940 undersides of all landplanes changed to Black (except Blenheim & Anson). This Air Ministry ruling led to a storm of protest from Coastal Command as many of their aircraft operated by day  
Oct 1940 502 Squadron starts to convert to Whitley, followed by 612 Sqdn in November. Standard night bomber finish - Dark Green / Dark Earth uppersurfaces, Night undersurfaces and fuselage sides. Whitley File
21 Nov 1940 221 Squadron reforms with Wellingtons in Coastal Command in standard night bomber finish - Dark Green / Dark Earth uppersurfaces, Night undersurfaces and fuselage sides. These were the only CC Wellingtons until they left for the Middle East in January 1942. Rawlings / Ashworth
28 Oct 1940 75% of GR and torpedo bombers to have Sky undersides, 25% Night. Blenheims of 53 and 59 Sqdns, which operated at night, to have Night undersides. Flying boats to be stripped, cleaned and have clear lanolin undersurfaces pending delivery of Sky pigmented lanolin. Bowyer - Airfix mag annual 7
1st November 1940 Some new types have appeared and the Vildebeests have now gone but some biplane flying boats remain.
Coastal Command Order of Battle
Sqdn Aircraft   Sqdn Aircraft
48,217*,320*,321,500,608*,612 Anson   22,42,217* Beaufort
202 London/Swordfish   209 Lerwick
240 Stranraer   10 RAAF,201,204,210 Sunderland
502*,608* Botha   206,220,224,233,320* Hudson
98 Battle   502* Whitley
235,236,248,254 Blenhein IVF   53,59 Blenheim IV
* = converting between types
Ashworth
12 Dec 1940
AMO A.926/40

amended 9 Jan 1941 by
AMO A.30/41
Upper surfaces include fin and rudder and fuselage sides as far down as its widest point. Lower surfaces include fuselage sides below widest point. Interplane struts on biplanes to be treated as upper surfaces but struts supporting floats to be lower surface colour.Where contrasting upper and lower surfaces meet the colours are to be merged to avoid a definite line of demarcation. (presumably the origin of the wave like demarcation seen on some aircraft)

Temperate land scheme defined as Dark Green and Dark Earth, temperate sea scheme as Dark Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey (9 Jan 41 - amended to Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey by AMO A.30/41)

All operational landplanes except Fleet Air Arm to have temperate land scheme uppersurfaces. Undersurfaces of all aircraft to be duck-egg blue (Sky Type "S") or Black undersurfaces at the discretion of commands. Day fighters, General Reconnaissance (basically Coastal Command patrol aircraft), Torpedo bombers, Blenheim bombers to be produced with duck-egg blue (Sky Type "S") undersurfaces (so presumably black was applied by units or MUs?).

Day fighters to have 18" Sky band around rear fuselage and to have a Sky spinner and black underside to port wing (not sure this applied to Blenheims of Coastal Command)

Flying boats, float planes, amphibians and Fleet Air Arm to have temperate sea scheme uppersurfaces and duck-egg blue (Sky Type "S") undersurfaces.

Type B roundels above wing, Type A1 on fuselage, Type A fin flash 27in high by 24in wide against rudder hinge post. No roundels on wing undersurface except on day fighters, Type A under starboard wing and Type A1 roundel under port wing (black underside had been temporarily reintroduced - not sure this applied to Blenheims of Coastal Command)

Grey 48 inch high (unless space is restricted) and 6 inch stroke code letters to be two for squadron and one for individual aircraft. May be placed two before and one after roundel or vice versa. Registration number (serial) at rear of fuselage.
RAFM book
Jan/Feb/Mar 1941 ? These undated photos show Beaufighters Ic of 252 Sqdn at Chivenor where they were based from 1st December 1940 to 6th April 1941. They started receiving aircraft (Blenheims and Beaufighters) in December 1940 having reformed a few weeks earlier. Note the underwing roundel in the first photo and the painted out underwing roundel in the second. This suggests they are pre and post A.926/40. I'm not going to get into the debate on the different appearance of the control surfaces on the first - control surface deflection, fabric vs metal or different colours - take your pick of these or other possibilities. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)
 
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER.
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER. IWM (CH 2739)
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER.
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER. IWM (CH 2736)
 
5 March 1941 240 Sqdn starts to convert to Catalinas Ashworth
6 Mar 1941
AMO A.157/41
As far as Coastal Command aircraft are concerned this is just a change in the way the side surfaces are to be painted, changing the upper/lower division from the widest point to depend on what is visible from directly above or below. RAFM book
June 1941 Whitley and Wellington ordered to have Sky undersides. According to Bowyer this was a feature of a handful of aircraft. Bowyer - Airfix mag annual 7
10 July 1941
AMO A.513/41

Colour demarcation now defined by a number of patterns.

All operational landplanes to use pattern 1 or 2 and to have Temperate Land Scheme uppersurfaces (Dark Green and Dark Earth) with Sky or Black undersurfaces at the discretion of commands. Day fighters to have 18" Sky band around rear fuselage and to have a Sky spinner and black underside to port wing (not sure this applied to Blenheims or Beaufighters of Coastal Command)

Flying boats, floatplanes and amphibians to use pattern 1 and to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with Sky undersurfaces. 

Grey 48 inch high (unless space is restricted) and 6 inch stroke code letters to be two for squadron and one for individual aircraft. May be placed two before and one after roundel or vice versa. Registration number (serial) at rear of fuselage.

Red and Blue roundels on the upper surfaces of the wing tips, Red,White and Blue roundel surrounded by a yellow ring on each side of the fuselage, vertical Red, White and Blue stripes on the fin (red stripe leading). No roundels on wing undersurface except on day fighters, Type A under starboard wing and Type A1 roundel under port wing (black underside had been temporarily reintroduced - not sure this applied to Blenheims of Coastal Command)

RAFM book
10 Aug 1941 by memo All Coastal Command aircraft to have Temperate Sea Scheme (Dark Slate Grey & Extra Dark Sea Grey) on uppersurfaces
Wellington, Whitley and Liberator to have fuselage sides matt white and undersurfaces gloss white, de-icing equipment on leading edges to be in a flexible White paint and engine cowlings in White stove enamel.
Beaufort, Beaufighter, Blenheim & Hudson to have Sky undersurfaces
Flying boats, floatplanes and amphibians were not mentioned specifically so seem to have fallen into the second group, even Sunderlands which might seem to fit better in the first group.The photo, dated 1942, shows a Sunderland with Sky (?) undersides and the upper surface camouflage extending over the fuselage sides. Of course the date could be wrong - unlikely, see Oct 1942.

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN BRITAIN, 1942
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN BRITAIN, 1942 IWM (TR 108)
Lucas and Bowyer - Airfix mag annual 7
October 1941 Frustratingly not available under the same licence as other photos this IWM photo shows Whitleys of 612 Squadron at St Eval, October 1941, in the relatively new white scheme. 
19 January 1942 This Hudson of 233 Squadron at Thorney Island on 19th Jan 1942 appears still to have Night undersurfaces. This may mean it was still used for attacking land targets (from Bowyer). (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

 ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND IWM (CH 4772)
IWM
2 July 1942 AMO A.664/42
  • Wellington, Whitley, Liberator & Fortress to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with White undersurfaces (fuselage sides matt white and undersurfaces gloss white)
  • A slightly confusing entry in the table gives Beaufort, long range Beaufighter, Blenheim & Hudson to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with Sky undersurfaces but with a note in the last column, headed "Remarks", to say Beauforts have Night undersurfaces, Hudsons may also have Night undersurfaces.
  • Flying boats, floatplanes and amphibians to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with Sky undersurfaces
  • Sunderlands to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with White undersurfaces, side surfaces of fin and rudder, engine cowlings and de-icing equipment White (fuselage sides matt white and undersurfaces gloss white).

Code letters are to be 48in high and made up of strokes 6in wide (smaller letters only if unavoidable)

  • Wellington, Whitley, Liberator & Fortress to have Light Slate Grey codes and serials
  • Beaufort, Beaufighter, Blenheim & Hudson to have Dull Red codes and Night (Black) serials
  • Flying boats, floatplanes and amphibians to have Dull Red codes and Night (Black) serials
  • Sunderlands to have Light Slate Grey codes and Night (Black) serials. Whether the common appearance of Red codes on Sunderlands in drawings / decal sheets is down to the artist misinterpreting them as flying boats or whether the instuction was misinterpreted by the painter of the actual aircraft I'm not sure but Sunderlands have their own line in the table with details as stated. Paul Lucas states the confusion applied to the actual aircraft

Mosquitos are mentioned by referring back to a note for Day Bombers that 'Mosquito aircraft with a day role will bvear standard day fighter camouflage colouring and marking including yellow strips on the leading edges of the wings. So that is Dark Green / Ocean grey with Medium Sea Grey undersides, Sky codes, Night serial and 18 inch Sky band on rear fuselage as well as the yellow leading edges. Not sure if all this can be supported by photos.

Some Beaufighters, at least, seem to have used white outlines to their Red codes, e.g. 404 Squadron, which also seems to have used a paler colour than Black for serials. Also, at some point, some Beaufighters acquired the EDSG / White scheme. Until recently I had not seen photos of any in Squadron service but a couple of 235 Squadron examples appear on p191 of the book 'Stations of Coastal Command Then and Now' with dates of October 1942 and January 1943. See also entries for 4th March 1943 and 19th October 1943 below.

Type C and C1 roundels and fin flashes introduced. Standard sizes of 16, 32 or 48in for Type C; 18, 36 or 54in for C1 and 18, 24 or 36 in (all 24in high) for fin flashes. So sizes change but otherwise as above for position/colour combination.

The book 'Ensor's Endeavour' indicates 500 Sqdn changed its Hudsons to white undersurfaces around August 1942, previously they were 'duck egg blue' which appears as an alternate name for Sky in AM publications i.e. 'duck-egg blue (Sky-Type "S")'.

RAFM book and as quoted
1942 ? Mosquitos introduced in Night Fighter (Dk Green / Med Sea Grey) camouflage Bowyer
Aug 1942 A detachment of 10 OTU with Whitleys in bomber camouflage (a photo of one in German hands appears all black?) lent to Coastal Command until July 1943. Whitley File
Aug/Sep 1942 The caption for this undated photo of Hampden torpedo bombers of 489 Squadron states they were based at Skitten which dates the photo to August or September 1942. The uppersurfaces appear to be temperate sea (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with Night undersurfaces. Note the squadron codes have disappeared and the individual aircraft code letter is repeated on the nose.

MJF Bowyer notes spanwise white bands on Hampdens to assist night-time formation keeping and it is possible to imagine them on the leading aircraft but it could be a trick of the light or poor quality reproduction. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. IWM (CH 8653)



Bowyer - Airfix mag annual 7
8th Oct 1942 AMO A.1096/42

AMO A.664/42 was amended to read as below, changes and notes on them are highlighted. - I hope I've interpreted the amendments correctly as they were in note form to be applied to the original order, not a complete rewrite of the original. It could have been easy for mistakes to have been made, note the ambiguity around Hudsons! Both Whitley and Hudson changes could have been the Ministry catching up with actual practice.

  • Wellington, Whitley, Liberator, Fortress & Hudson to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with White undersurfaces (fuselage sides matt white and undersurfaces gloss white). Some Whitley aircraft are coloured black on all external surfaces.
  • The confusing entry referred to above is amended by the addition of the Hampden TB - Beaufort, long range Beaufighter, Blenheim, Hudson & Hampden TB to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with Sky undersurfaces. "Remarks" now states that Beauforts & Hampden TB have Night undersurfaces, Hudsons may also have Night undersurfaces. In spite of being added above the Hudson is not removed here
  • Flying boats, floatplanes and amphibians to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with Sky undersurfaces
  • Sunderlands to have Temperate Sea Scheme uppersurfaces (Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey) with White undersurfaces, side surfaces of fin and rudder, engine cowlings and de-icing equipment White (fuselage sides matt white and undersurfaces gloss white).

Code letters are to be 48in high and made up of strokes 6in wide (smaller letters only if unavoidable)

  • Wellington, Whitley, Liberator & Fortress to have Light Slate Grey codes and serials
  • Beaufort, Beaufighter, Blenheim & Hudson to have Dull Red codes and Night (Black) serials
  • Flying boats, floatplanes and amphibians to have Dull Red codes and Night (Black) serials
  • Sunderlands to have Light Slate Grey codes and Night (Black) serials. Whether the common appearance of Red codes on Sunderlands in drawings / decal sheets is down to the artist misinterpreting them as flying boats or whether the instuction was misinterpreted by the painter of the actual aircraft I'm not sure but Sunderlands have their own line in the table with details as stated.

Mosquitos are no longer mentioned

Type C and C1 roundels and fin flashes introduced. Standard sizes of 16, 32 or 48in for Type C; 18, 36 or 54in for C1 and 18, 24 or 36 in (all 24in high) for fin flashes. So sizes change but otherwise as above for position/colour combination.

RAFM book
Oct 1942 IWM photo CH7501 shows a Sunderland II of 10 Sqdn RAAF at Mountbatten still in Temperate Sea/Sky.  
20th Oct 1942 This crashed Liberator of 224 Sqdn shows full squadron codes. Codes and serial should be in Light Slate Grey if regulations are being followed and the tone of the codes suggests this is the case. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND IWM (CH 7710)
 
Nov 1942 Around November 1942 squadron code letters were removed and only an individual aircraft letter retained - Vic Flintham in Combat Codes gives the date for the original memo as 16th October 1942 while Paul Lucas in his MAM article on Sunderland markings gives different dates for memos but says the order was to come into effect on 1st November 1942.
  This presumably, despite a slight discrepancy in dates, explains the common photo of a Wellington VIII (A/HX379) dated 28th October 1942 with squadron code letters WN showing as a pale colour which was presumably due to them having been overpainted in white. The high contrast of the uppersurfaces in this photo is another mystery!
  How it ties in with the photo of 489 Sqdn Hampdens above needs to be explained - either the dates here are wrong or the caption giving their base as Skitten is wrong?
There is also a photo of a ditched Whitley, dated 16th November 1942, in 'Man is not Lost', the autobiography of Group Captain 'Dickie' Richardson, with only an individual letter, no squadron codes, showing the order was applied fairly promptly.
 
Jan 1943 IWM photo CH 16148 shows a Sunderland III of 10 Sqdn RAAF in a well worn 'white' scheme.  
30th Jan 1943 This Beaufighter has a single red code letter and Night serial. The photo was taken at the start of a patrol over the Bay of Biscay, during which, unfortunately, it was shot down. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. IWM (HU 91923)
 
23rd Feb 1943
DTD 360 Appendix 5
DTD Technical Circular 360 'Camouflage and Marking of Aircraft' was a complete overhaul of colours and markings specifications, superceding a number of previous DTD documents - but not A.M.O.664/42 (?!?!).

Appendix 5 (already at issue 2 in the copy I have seen - I assume there must have been an issue 1) gave details for Coastal Command (Home Based Aircraft). Appendix 3 states aircraft for coastal duties in overseas commands should follow Appendix 5.

Aircraft for Coastal Duties except PR, Met, ASR and Special Duties.
Upper surfaces Extra dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Glossy White (to pattern 1) extended upwards and merged into the upper surfaces so the front and side elevations appear almost entirely white and to cover the whole of the engine nacelle forward of the leading edge boundary. Fins, rudders, spinners to be white. De-icing sheaths to be in flexible paint (colour not given but seems to have been silver - ref photos, also Lucas and Bowyer articles). Engine cowl rings and anti-glow shields to be white. Flying boats to have white anti-fouling on undersurfaces. Serials to be Light Slate Grey (interestingly there is no mention of code letters). Roundels on fuselage sides and uppersurfaces of wings.

Aircraft for Special Duties
Scheme A
- Upper surfaces Extra dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Glossy White (to pattern 1), undersurfaces between definitions in pattern1 and pattern2 to be Dark Sea Grey. Spinners Extra Dark Sea Grey. Serials to be Night. Roundels on fuselage sides and uppersurfaces of wings.
Scheme B - Upper surfaces Extra dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Night (to pattern 2). Spinners Extra Dark Sea Grey. Serials to be Red. Roundels on fuselage sides and uppersurfaces of wings.

The standard scheme to be used unless special instructions are issued for the application of either of the special schemes.

Air Sea Rescue aircraft (Appendix 8)
Upper surfaces Dark Slate Grey & Extra Dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Sky (to pattern 1), Spinners Dark Slate Grey or Extra Dark Sea Grey. Roundels on fuselage sides and both surfaces of wings.

PR & Met Aircraft
In spite of the exception in Appendix 5 these do not appear anywhere else in the document!

The Special Duties Scheme A (or an approximation thereto) does appear to have been used on Beaufighters - see this thread on Britmodeller for the full story.

Pattern No.1 included most of the fuselage sides in the uppersurfaces, pattern No.2 included most of the fuselage sides in the lower surfaces

As I think the reason for dropping Dark Slate Grey was to save effort in applying the second colour I assume it is unlikely aircraft were repainted until they had a major overhaul. I also imagine it is possible the upwards extension of the white onto leading edges etc. could have been done at squadron level on aircraft with two colour uppersurfaces.
DTD360 Issue 1
24th February 1943 Hudsons had almost completely been withdrawn from GR operations (they continued to give valuable service for ASR work) but 320 Squadron still used them with a mix of underside colours, IWM photo CH 8825 showing Sky undersides and CH 8731 showing black.  
4th March 1943 by memo From a thread on Britmodeller..................

A table attached to a memo sent in response to a telephone inquiry confirms Beaufighters were to use Extra Dark Sea Grey and White as other Coastal Duties aircraft but the white is stated to be matt. This table is not taken from DTD 360 but looks as if it could be an addition/amendment to A.M.O.664/42 (?)
AIR 14/285
April 1943 This Liberator of 120 Sqdn at Aldergrove in April 1943 shows only a single code letter - but not in the regulation Light Slate Grey! (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND IWM (CH 18031)
 
mid 1943 The Mushroom Publications book on 304 Squadron has colour photos of a Wellington X HZ258 'S' in Dark Green / Dark Earth uppersurfaces to pattern 1 (extending slightly down the fuselage sides) with White undersurfaces. Date could be from March to August 1943.  
mid 1943 By mid-1943 the confusion due to the lack of squadron codes on bases where different squadrons operated the same aircraft type seems to have led to the introduction of one numeral indicating different squadrons on a base, with the lowest numbered squadron getting '1', the next '2' and so on. Occasionally this broke down when squadrons were posted - e.g. 206 became '4' when it was posted to St.Eval where 53 was '1', 224 was '2' and 547 was '3'.The '1' was usually just a verical bar.
Sometimes the numerals became subscripts, notably on Halifaxes, or were different sizes as on some Liberators like Q/BZ877 (IWM photo CH 11800). Also the '1' for the lowest numbered squadron was sometimes omitted as on 179 Squadron Wellingtons at Chivenor IWM photo FLM 1995 which have only the aircraft letter while the 407 Squadron aircraft in the backgound carry the '2' for their squadron as well. Other squadrons did carry the '1' though, including 172 Squadron when at Chivenor (photo in RAF Chivenor in the Britain in old photographs series, also IWM photo CA 143).
 
Oct 43 by memo Beaufighters (and presumably Mosquitos) to have Dull Red, Sky or Black codes Bowyer
Oct 1943 The Warwick enters service in the Air Sea Rescue role with 280 Squadron. Colours appear to have been Dark Slate Grey / Extra Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces with Sky undersurfaces but MJF Bowyer reports some of the first to arrive (possibly with the ASR Training Unit?) in Night undersurfaces and two-tone uppersurfaces - so could have been bomber camouflage?

Warwick codes appear to have been Yellow (originally standard for ASR ?), Red or Sky.

Later Warwicks in the ani-submarine role carried the usual Extra Dark Sea Grey / White scheme for that role.
 
19th October 1943 by memo From a thread on Britmodeller..................

A 'Loose Minute' headed  'Camouflage of Aircraft - Beaufighter undertaking Coastal Duties in Coastal Command' cites the experience of Fighter, Torpedo and Flak escort squadrons and the difficulties in retrospectively applying the white production scheme and states from now they should have Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces and Sky Undersurfaces.

On 29th October an amendement was made correcting the error in the uppersurface colour to Extra Dark Sea Grey.
AIR 2/8026




AIR 2/8027
Nov/Dec 1943
DTD360 Issue 2
Appendix 5 (this appendix has the typewriten Issue 2 crossed out and handwritten Issue3 added) gave details for Coastal Command (Home Based Aircraft). Appendix 3 states aircraft for coastal duties in overseas commands should follow Appendix 5.

1 Aircraft for Coastal Duties except PR, Met, ASR and Special Duties.
(i)Upper Surfaces - Extra dark sea grey, except where white is specified by (ii)

(ii) Under Surfaces - The under surfaces as defined by Pattern No.1 including the under surfaces of the wings and tail are to be glossy white. The under surfaces between the boundaries defined by Patterns No.1 and 2 are to be white '(i.e. with standard matt finish) and, in addition:-
  (a) the white is to be extended upwards and merged into the upper surfaces in such manner that, in front and side elevations, the aircraft'appears almost entirely white and (b) for the engine nacelles, the white is to be extended upwards to cover the whole of the top surface forward of the boundary of the upper surface colour of the wing near the leading edge. ,

(iii) Fins and Rudders - White
(iv) Spinners White
(v) Rubber de-icing Sheaths - Flexible paint to Specification D.T.D.557-.(Stores Ref: 33B/505)
(vi) Engine Cowl Rings - White
(vii) Anti-glow shrouds - White anti-glow paint

Serials to be Light Slate Grey. Type C1 roundels on fuselage sides and Type B on uppersurfaces of wings, Type C flash on fin.

2 Aircraft for Special Duties Scheme A - Upper surfaces Extra dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Glossy White (to pattern 1), undersurfaces between definitions in pattern1 and pattern2 to be Dark Sea Grey. Spinners Extra Dark Sea Grey. Serials to be Night. Roundels on fuselage sides and uppersurfaces of wings. There is a pencilled note "Sky" against the undersurfaces - presumably a change in the light of the Oct 19th memo above?
3 Aircraft for Special Duties Scheme B - Upper surfaces Extra dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Night (to pattern 2). Spinners Extra Dark Sea Grey. Serials to be Red. Roundels on fuselage sides and uppersurfaces of wings.

Note 1. The standard scheme defined in para 1 is to be used unless special instructions are issued for the application of either of the schemes defined in paras 2 and 3
Note 2. Beaufighter aircraft used on Coastal Duties are coloured to Special requirements

Air Sea Rescue aircraft (Appendix 8)
Upper surfaces Dark Slate Grey & Extra Dark Sea Grey, Undersurfaces Sky or Azure if specifically required for aircraft destined overseas (to pattern 1), Spinners Dark Slate Grey or Extra Dark Sea Grey. Type C1 Roundels on fuselage sides and Type B on uppersurfaces of wings and Type C underwing.

Met Aircraft (Appendix 10)
Special Met (high flying) aircraft to be PRU Blue overall with Type B roundels on upper wings and fuselage, fin flash 1/2 size Type C.
Met. aircraft (as allotted by service) in the colours for the normal role of the aircraft.

This, or the previous, Special Duties Scheme A (or an approximation thereto) does appear to have been used on Beaufighters - see this thread on Britmodeller for the full story.
DTD360 Issue 2
3rd November 1943 by memo From a thread on Britmodeller..................

A Postagram referring to a previous one dated 22nd October states the Beaufighter scheme given previously has been amended to Extra Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces, EDSG sides and Sky undersurfaces. It also states A.M.O.664/42 and S.D.158(1) Appendix C are to be amended (so DTD360 seems not to have been noticed, however Appendix 5 of DTD360 Issue2 of Nov43 states Beaufighter aircraft used on Coastal Duties are coloured to special requirements).
AIR 2/8027
30th  March 1944 DTD360 Issue 2 1st amendment Aircraft for Special duties Scheme A was modified to Extra Dark Sea Grey uppersurfaces and Sky undersurfaces to Pattern no.1 with Extra Dark Sea Grey spinners, serials in Night, Type B uppersurface roundels and Type C1 fuselage roundels. Fin flashes are not mentioned.  
May/June 1944 This undated photo shows a Beaufighter of 404 Squadron in an approximation of the Special Duties scheme. It is believed to have been taken at Davidstow Moor which limits it to the dates suggested by which time it has been subjected to the effects of weather as well as patching (for a change of code?) and possibly airframe repairs and some degree of modification of the colours to try to keep up with the changes above. There is another photo ref. PL41009 of the same aircraft on the 404 Squadron website. The Britmodeller thread has a lot of discussion on the possible colours. PL29810 on the 404 Squadron site shows part of another aircraft in a slightly more pristine looking version of the scheme. Squadron codes believed to be red with a narrow yellow outline. Serial probably Sky but possibly white or even Light Slate Grey. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. IWM (MH 7466)
 
May/June 1944 ? This undated photo shows Wellington XIVs of both 407 and 612 Squadrons at Chivenor. Look at the state of the ground and the background vegetation then see my Chivenor page for details of dates and equipment for both squadrons to judge if my assumed date is correct.

All details - e.g. white extended up fuselage sides and over engines and wing & tailplane leading edges - seem to be correct for the period but note the differing styles and placement of numeral the '2' on (presumably) the 612 Sqdn aircraft. Codes and serials should be Light Slate Grey and I'm assuming the slight variation in tone is caused by the different angles the aircraft are parked at combined with a low sun. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. IWM (IWM FLM 1995)
 
5th/6th June 1944 'Invasion stripes' added to many aircraft. Certainly carried by Beaufighters, Mosquitos, and ASR Warwicks but not by Liberators or Sunderlands. At least some Wellingtons appear to have had stripes.  
July 1944 In mid-1944 (perhaps anticipating or as a result of confusion with squadrons moving around for D-Day ?) squadrons returned to two code letters plus an individual aircraft letter. Although Paul Lucas suggests (due to having found correspondence in the PRO) the strike squadrons changed earlier I have not seen anything to support this and many photos of 404 Squadron Beaufighters show the numeral '2' and are dated May 1944. By the time they have D-Day stripes 404 seem to have changed to letters 'EE'. There is a photo in the RAF Chivenor book of a Wellington with D-Day stripes on the fuselage (but not the wings as far as can be seen) and the code numeral '2' for 407 Squadron dated 12th September 1944 which suggests the change was not implemented uniformly.
Further evidence to support the later date comes from IanW (via Britmodeller.com)... the well-known photo of the 489 Sqn Beaufighter with the Mustang alongside (eg here http://www.burrowes.org/FamilyTree/E.F.G.B...r-Mustang.html) shows that the original squadron codes (1-S) have been over-painted with the new codes of P6 - this implies that the squadron was still using the old 2 letter squadron code at least for a short while after 6 June 1944 (as I believe they were moved to the forward fuselage to avoid over-painting with the invasion stripes) before using 'P6'.

Vic Flintham (in Combat Codes) has a table of the codes and changeover dates which also shows a haphazard return to the two letter (squadron) plus one letter (aircraft) codes.
 
7 Sept 1944
AMO A.864/44
Refers everything to DTD Technical Circular No.360. RAFM book
October 1944 A version of AL No8 / Air Publication 2656A Vol.1 Section 6 appears in the RAFM book and is a copy of DTD 360 but without the 30th March amendment to the Special Duties Scheme! RAFM book
1944 ? Low attack Halifaxes in standard bomber colours

Beaufighter and Mosquito codes change to Sky then Black (occasionally outlined Yellow) codes
Sqdn/Signal

Bowyer and photos
2 Jan 1945
Cypher AX 110
With effect from 7th January 1945 Red, White and Blue roundels in Type C proportions but to the same size as the old Red and Blue roundels to be used on the upper surface of the mainplanes. Lucas
February 1945 These Beaufighters of 404 Squadron now have their code letters in Night. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945:BRISTOL TYPE 156 BEAUFIGHTER.
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945:BRISTOL TYPE 156 BEAUFIGHTER. IWM (CH 17873)
 
February 1945 Halifaxes of 502 Squadron in what appear to be standard bomber colours (for low attack?) although the one framing the shot appears to have White undersides, possibly one of the 58 Sqdn examples shown in the following photo, taken at the same time. (Follow the link by clicking on the image here and then on the red + symbol on the IWM photo to see a larger version)

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. IWM (CH 14814)
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND IWM (CH 14815)
 


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