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The Kittyhawk Mk.IIa (P-40L) in 3 Sqn RAAF Service (Page 2)

Reg 'Slim' Moore who supplied many of the photos used here,
in the cockpit of CV-B FS449 (see later), which he was the Fitter for.
Good shot of the cockpit equipment details.  Photo Reg Moore


Initially the Kittyhawk Mk.IIa airframes were in the Desert camouflage of Dark Earth and Midstone upper surfaces with Azure Blue (usually) lower surfaces.  These colours are thought to have been applied at a Maintenance Unit in the Middle East as it is believed that the aircraft were manufactured in the Temperate scheme in the U.S. (as were the earlier P-40Es). Spinners were all painted Red as per DAF (Desert Air Force) orders with serials in Black.  Roundels on all these Kittyhawk Mk.IIas were the standard RAF types for the period (i.e. 36" C1 Fuselage, 40 " B type Upper wing and 36" C Lower wing) with appropriate fin flash.

This scheme, while very suitable for use in N. Africa, Malta and (to a certain extent) Sicily, was not so good when flying over the darker colours of the Italian landscape.  In addition 239 Wing had by now gone over to exclusively flying CAS and Interdiction sorties at a relatively low level (no more bomber escorts any more, as in the N. African days). What was required was a scheme that would enable them to blend into the ground if they happened to run across any German fighters patrolling above them.

The later machines received were left in the Temperate scheme as manufactured.  This consisted of U.S. equivalent colours (manufactured by Dupont) for the RAF colours Dark Green & Dark Earth (upper surfaces) and a colour called Sky Grey which was substituted for Sky Blue which had been requested by the RAF for lower surfaces.  The Green used was very close to RAF Dark Green but the Dark Earth had a little more Red in it than the real RAF colour.  Spinners, Serials and roundels all remained as per the earlier Desert scheme.

Code letters on all known 3 Sqn Kittyhawk Mk.IIa aircraft were in White.  Initially they were of a rounded style similar to those which had been applied in N. Africa. Towards the end of their service the Sqn started painting them in the 'Squarish' 45-degree-cornered style, which was used pretty much exclusively on their later P-40Ns and Mustangs. This was applied using a standard stencil and they were smaller than the earlier efforts.  In between a number of weird hand-painted efforts were seen, which were obviously an attempt at the square style but varied from a/c to a/c.

In Italy, the wing leading-edge I.D. stripes in Yellow were more often than not omitted.  These had been usually seen during the Sicilian campaign but tended to disappear from use later.  The colour behind the rear glass windows is not Interior Green.  It has been stated by different sources that the Brown colour was applied at the factory, another source says that the predominant camo colour in that area was used (I have used the latter on my drawings).

Nose art on the Kittyhawk Mk.IIas was apparently quite rare.  To date I only know of three examples although there were probably others which have not turned up in photos yet.  One source interviewed said nose art had gone out of favour after several machines so-marked had been lost while operating over Sicily.  'Superstition' decreed that it was dangerous to have such.  I don't know how accurate that comment is but it is rare nonetheless.


Line-up probably taken in Italy which shows a mixture of Desert & Temperate scheme painted airframes. CV-K is probably Ken Richard's FS433 (see later), with CV-T also painted in temperate colours behind it.  Photo 3 Sqn Archives

CV-X FS454 Leaving Sicily for the flight to Italy on 14 Sep is a good example of the Temperate scheme.  Very little contrast between the colours which is common when freshly painted. BTW all P-40Ls used wheels with flat cover plates like this example.  Photo A. Dawkins

And a nose art example on Harry Shipley's CV-Z (serial unsure as he had two with this code).  Another one with nose art was S/Ldr Brian Eaton's CV-V (see drawings).   Photo Leon Henry

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