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Pre-WW2 Military and Naval Aviation Please use this forum to discuss Military and Naval Aviation before the Second World War.

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  #1  
Old 12th September 2019, 16:04
Adriano Baumgartner Adriano Baumgartner is offline
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Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Dear all, firstly let me explaing this is a topic I do have no information or background (books, lectures, etc.) about; so any help is most welcomed.

I have seen (and this is why I am trying to find out more) some pictures of Pre-War RAF and FAA biplanes with the serial number painted on the rudder and a broad fuselage band with a number on it (seems to be painted on Squadron colour).

For instance:

a) There are pictures of the Hawker Nimrod I, serial K2827 with the number 108 onto the fuselage band (whose colour I do knot know);

b) Another Hawker Nimrod I, serial S1582 do have the fuselage number 102 onto it (the colour is unknown to me).

At first I thought this could be (like some Pre-War RAF Squadrons used to adopt) the Squadron Number...but I found that it does not seems so....

So my question is:

1- Why a Nº 800 Squadron (FAA) used the fuselage code of 102?
2 -Why a Hawker Nimrod S1635 of No. 800 Sqn used the fuselage band code of 106?
3 - Why a Hawker Nimrod K2827 used the fuselage band code of 108?
4- How does the FLEET NUMBER applied to aircrafts of the same Squadron??


And the list goes on....https://www.raf-in-combat.com/downlo...rod-17-photos/

Adriano
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  #2  
Old 13th September 2019, 15:21
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Adriano

The Fleet Air Arm started to adapt side numbers (codes) as an easy means of identification already in 1923.
The system developed over the years and the of course the most famous and most photographed ones were those during the 1930s (actually begun during 1934-36)
These three digits were applied in a system, ie
001-099: Catapult aircraft
102- : Fighters (strangely 101 was not used)
501- : Fleet reconnaissance
601- : Fleet Spotter reconnaissance
As in all systems there were plenty of exceptions to the above, meaning that a side code did not necessarily have to fit in...

Oddly enough it did not last long and already in 1937-38 it was slowly being replaced by a new system which was complete around 1939 where you had initially a letter and digit followed by another letter, ie A1A, A1B where the last letter stood for the individual aircraft. Running out of single letters ensured a two letter system-digit-letter came into use, ie AA4A etc

To answer your questions
1 - 3: They were all fighters
4: Is more difficult to answer since the same aircraft types were recoded. To take No 800 Sq as an example, they used Nimrods and Ospreys when formed in May 1933 coded 501-510 (Nimrods) and 208-210 (Ospreys). In May 1936 the Nimrods received new side numbers 102-109, while the Ospreys received 123-125

If you are very interested I can recommend the Air Britain book The Squadrons and Units of the FAA by Theo Ballance, Lee Howard and Ray Sturivant. A real gold mine

Cheers
Stig
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  #3  
Old 13th September 2019, 16:15
Zoran Petek Zoran Petek is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Hello,
Bands denoted carriers. Individual aircraft identified at first by (latest) fuselage number and later by letter (base)-number (role)-letter (individual aircraft), shortened during wartime to number (role) - letter combination.
Evolution of prewar to war markings can be traced as follows.

401 Flight
Flycatcher 2; blue band, HMS Courageous 31
Flycatcher 3; green band, HMS Argus
Flycatcher 532; red band, HMS Furious 32
Nimrod 516; red band, HMS Furious 32
402 Flight
Flycatcher 1; black band, HMS Eagle mid-20s
Flycatcher 509; blue band, HMS Courageous 32
Nimrod 504; blue band, HMS Courageous 33, unit expanded to 800 Sqn*.

800 Sqn
Nimrod 502, 504; blue band, HMS Courageous 34
Osprey 210; blue band, HMS Courageous 35
Nimrod 102, 103, 108; blue band, HMS Courageous 37
801 Sqn
Nimrod 521; red band, HMS Furious 35
Nimrod 136; red band, HMS Furious 36
Osprey 134; red band, HMS Furious 38
802 Sqn
Osprey 54; yellow band, HMS Glorious 35
Nimrod 57; yellow band, HMS Glorious 35
Nimrod 561; yellow band, HMS Glorious 37
Sea Gladiator 66A; yellow band, HMS Glorious 38
803 Sqn
Osprey 203; black band, HMS Eagle 35
Skua A7G; blue-red-blue band, HMS Ark Royal 39
810 Sqn
Swordfish 523, 526, 537; blue band, HMS Courageous 37
Swordfish 5A, 5C, 5G; HMS Ark Royal 39
Swordfish 2C, 2F; HMS Furious, Jamaica 41, Tanganyika 42
812 Sqn
Swordfish 609; red band, HMS Furious 36
820 Sqn
Swordfish 647, 648, 652; blue band, HMS Courageous 37
Swordfish 650; blue-red-blue band, HMS Ark Royal late 30s
Swordfish A4G;; blue-red-blue band, HMS Ark Royal 39. Code in wartime shortened, as on
Swordfish 4A, 4G; ex Ark Royal, shore based at Dekheila, Egypt 40
821 Sqn
Swordfish 647, 648, 652; blue band, HMS Courageous 37
Swordfish 685; blue band, HMS Courageous 38
Swordfish 685; dark band, HMS Ark Royal, late 30s
Swordfish 5L, HMS Ark Royal 40 ca.
822 Sqn
Swordfish 5A, HMS Furious 41.
823 Sqn
Swordfish 801/K5968, 804/K5972, 888/K5942, 889 (seaplane); yellow band, HMS Glorious 36-38
824 Sqn
Swordfish 946/K8390 (seaplane); black band, HMS Eagle, China 37-40

* And some of the other other flights were:
403 Flt, Flycatcher 8; white band, HMS Hermes 30
404 Flt, Flycatcher 9; blue band, HMS Courageous 29
404 Flt, Flycatcher 513; blue band, HMS Courageous 32
405 Flt, Flycatcher 16; blue band, HMS Courageous 28
405 Flt, Flycatcher 10; red band, HMS Furious 29
405 Flt, Flycatcher 3, 7, 10, 14; white? band, Malta 20s
407 Flt, Osprey 203, no band, 2nd Cruiser Sqn 33
408 Flt, Nimrod 572; yellow band, blue tail, HMS Glorious 32
409 Flt, Nimrod 563; yellow band, yellow/blue cheq. tail, HMS Glorious 32
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  #4  
Old 13th September 2019, 21:52
Adriano Baumgartner Adriano Baumgartner is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

STIG and ZORAN,

Do have no words to express my gratitude...you really gave me a North to understand how this was done and the meaning of the markings. Most useful now, thanks to both, to comprehend....and try to paint on a kit!

Am really grateful to both contributions to this thread.

Adriano
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  #5  
Old 14th September 2019, 14:08
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Buckeye30 Buckeye30 is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Stig. you mentioned that "101" was not used, this was because repeated numbers ( eg. on 515, 611) were not allowed in the FAA, to avoid any mistakes when signalling.

Nick
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Old 14th September 2019, 14:49
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Yes you are 100% correct Nick

I had actually read it in the book, but that part of my brain just did not click into position....too much info at the same time I guess....

Cheers
Stig
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Old 14th September 2019, 18:51
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Buckeye30 Buckeye30 is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

The side numbers ( in the mid-1930s until revised to letter/number/letter) were in blocks based on area of operations...........
HOME FLEET-----------
Torpedo-bomber 1--50
Reserve " 01--09
Reconnaissance 201--247 later 102 +
Recon / spotter 701--750
Fighter / recon. 501--537 later 102 + as above
MEDITERRANEAN FLEET----------
Torpedo-bomber 51--98 (could prefix with 0)
Reconnaissance 248--284
Recon.-spotter 801--850
Fighter-recon. 548--583
CHINA FLEET---------
Fighter-recon. 586--598
Recon.-spotter 870--897
Reconnaissance 285--298



(the later Swordfish TSR allocated 601+ ).

Nick
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  #8  
Old 16th September 2019, 13:18
Zoran Petek Zoran Petek is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Numbers in above post were applied within bands.

Coloured bands to FS (approx.):
ARGUS Green (FS 14187) band.
ARK ROYAL Blue/red/blue band.
COURAGEOUS Blue (FS 15056) band.
EAGLE Black (FS 17078) band.
FURIOUS Red (FS 11136) band.
GLORIOUS Yellow (FS 13538) band.
HERMES White (FS 17778) band.

Letter/number/letter codes.
Applied at first within bands (as A4G, Swordfish, Ark Royal), than on tails (U3G, Swordfish, Furious; L6G, Skua, Illustrious), or fuselage on camouflaged aircraft.

Carrier codes, introduced 1939:
A ARK ROYAL, sunk 14.11.41.
C COURAGEOUS, sunk 17.9.39.
E EAGLE, sunk 11.8.42.
F FORMIDABLE
G GLORIOUS, sunk 8.6.40.
H HERMES, sunk by Japanese 9.4.42.
L ILLUSTRIOUS
M IMPLACABLE
N INDOMITABLE
R ARGUS, retired IX.43.
U FURIOUS, retired IX.44.
V VICTORIOUS

Also used prefixes were: O - Observation, P/Q Second line and also T - Training, W/Y/Z - Shore based, X - Experimental.

Role:
1-5 Torpedo/Spotter/Reconnaissance
6-7 Fighter
8 Land based (capultable); also used for embarked fighters later in the war
9 Seaplanes (capultable)

Compare with the late war three digit system:

British Pacific Fleet aircraft numbers, April 1945 - end of war.
111 - 169 one-man crew
270 - 298 two-man crew
370 - 398 three man crew

British Pacific Fleet carriers tail letters
A, M, N Vengeance
B, N, T, V, Y Venerable
C, D Colossus
L, R, Y Glory
N Implacable
P, X Victorious
Q Illustrious
S Indefatigable
V Vindex
X Formidable

Light & Escort Carriers & BPF Fleet Train 1945.
B Battler
F Ranee
G Smiter
I Trouncer
J Trumpeter
L Glory
N Puncher
O Pretoria Castle
P Premier
Q Queen
R Reaper
S Searcher
T Patroller
U Pursuer
V Ravager
X Vindex
Y Nairana
Z Campania

Zoran
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  #9  
Old 18th September 2019, 00:30
Adriano Baumgartner Adriano Baumgartner is offline
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Re: Pre-War fuselage bands with numbers on RAF, FAA biplanes

Uou!

Zoran,

THANK YOU for this additional information! An amazing answer indeed. Really appreciated and am most grateful for your incredible help.

A.
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