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Old 10-06-2019, 10:12 AM
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WWII RAF markings

I am (still) confused regarding the correct arrangement of RAF squadron codes. N96HBK's beautiful build of Marek's Spitfire brought this to mind again.

To summarize Wikipedia, it says: on both sides of the fuselage, and from left to right, 2 letter squadron code, roundel, 1 letter aircraft code (XY O Z) is correct. On most decal sets, RAF squadron codes are organized this way.

However, some decal sets mimic Marek's Spitfire: XY O Z on the left side, Z O XY on the right. There are period photos of RAF fighters with right side squadron codes like the Marek Spitfire, although most read XY O Z on both sides. Sometimes the roundels are exactly opposite each other when viewed from the top, and sometimes they are staggered to accommodate the lettering.

Is this lack of consistency just a case of ground crews screwing up, or the squadron commander's personal taste? Did the RAF not standardize aircraft markings until after the war?
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Old 10-06-2019, 11:52 AM
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RAF and RCAF aircraft, the roundel does move to accommodate the codes.

Squadron Code generally goes ahead (to the front of the plane) of the Roundel Insignia.
Aircraft code to the rear.



This is about as consistent as the direction the wind blows.



We need an expert...not a modeller...to tell us whats going on.

And I promise I won't argue about the use of FS Standard Colour Codes*
(*an American wartime Aircraft Paint system)
for correct British RAF colours...sheesh...modellers!
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:21 PM
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Not an expert, but I slept in an abondoned hangar last night..


RAF combat aircraft were "usually" identified with a squadron two character code and a single character aircraft code. The arrangement of these codes is what becomes confusing.


The "normal" left side arrangement would be <SQ*A where SQ is the squadron code, * is the roundel, A is the aircraft code and < indicates the nose. The right side of the aircraft is where it can get squirrely. The following are arrangements that can be encountered:
#1 SQ*A> with the roundel directly opposite the left side roundel

#2 SQ*A> but with the roundel moved forwqrd to make room for the SQ

#3 A*SQ>
Which one is correct? All of them depending on the squadron, aircraft type and timeframe. It is always preferable to have photos of both sides of the aircraft being modeled. Failing that, I opt for #3 when coloring/recoloring.


The subject of personal markings for high ranking officers and/or notable pilots is another matter - JE*J (Johnny Johnson) and D*B (Douglas Bader) are examples.



Hope this helps...
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Old 10-06-2019, 04:34 PM
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A lot depended on where squadron codes were painted.Was it in factory, before or after delivery do destination,was aircraft repaired at specialised station,etc...

That's where camo variations come from too and that applies pretty much to every air force involved in war,regardless of theatre.
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Old 10-06-2019, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Not an expert, but I slept in an abondoned hangar last night..
That's pretty funny, right there.

I guess I shouldn't obsess on this, since period photos show the right side squadron code/aircraft code oriented either way. If the RAF didn't care, why should I?
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Old 10-07-2019, 02:02 PM
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And of course do check that the photo you're working from has been printed the right way round and not mirrored.
Has been known to happen.
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Old 03-24-2020, 04:47 AM
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Codes

PMs

What an interesting topic!
Well it would seem having looked at pics of various aircraft that the markings do seem to move from either side of the roundel.

I did some digging and found this:

code development

From the "AMO A154/39 (27 April 1939)" rule it states:

Either forward or aft of the national marking on both sides of the fuselage.
On the other side of the aircraft national marking on both sides of the fuselage


This statement would give RAF Painters a free-for-all on which way round unless the Sqn Boss said something

There was of course an amendment "AMO A926/40 (12 December 1940)"

(vi) Code letters. Code letters are carried by Service types in operational units and operational training units. The two Code letters and one letter to indicate individual aircraft are to be painted in grey paint and placed before and behind the roundels on the fuselage. The code and individual letters may be placed two before and one behind the roundels or vice versa.

The letters are to be 48 in. high and are to be made up of strokes 6 in. in width. Smaller letters are to be used only when the space available on the fuselage makes such a course unavoidable


This sort of hints that its sqn codes first then the aircraft letter but vice versa makes it a painters choice in my mind?

Another slight change in July 1942 A.664

4. Code letters and Special markings.-(i) In addition to national markings, code letters are carried by service types in operational units and operational training units. The two code letters, and one letter to indicate individual aircraft, are to be painted in the appropriate colour and placed before and behind the roundels on the fuselage, except that on Havoc aircraft the aircraft letter is to be placed immediately forward of the leading edge of the main plane and the squadron code letters forward of the roundels. The code and individual letters may be placed two before and one behind the roundels or vice versa. The letters are to be 48 in. high and are to be made up of strokes 6 in. wide. Smaller letters are to be used only when the space available makes such a course unavoidable. These letters are to be painted on by units after receipt of the aircraft from the maintenance group concerned.

The link above is very interesting, have a look and see what you think.

Another question - under what regulation did Sqn Boss' manage to put their own letters on their mount,ie Johnnie Johnson for example.



Enjoy
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Old 03-24-2020, 06:40 AM
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Thanks for the link, Al. What I glean from it, is that the '39 rule was so vaguely written that "anything goes'. The '40 rule calls for two code letters, roundel, one letter identifier in that order on both sides of the fuselage, but then states "or vice versa" which confuses the whole issue once again. As a modeler then, unless you're building a replica of a specific aircraft with period photos of both sides of the fuselage to document the markings, either order is equally valid for the right side. Now I can finally sleep. thank you.
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