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  #1  
Old 26th May 2011, 16:32
rpeck350 rpeck350 is offline
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Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

The 56 FG in early 1944 painted the nose of there P-47's in squadron color's.
The 61st FS and 62nd FS there is no question on these color's .
The 63rd FS is another question.
Thought I read that they used a sky color before they went to a blue color.
This was used for a very short time , a week or so.
Is this correct or am I dreaming.
If this is correct any photo's or documents?
Thank you for your time.
Rick
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Old 27th May 2011, 00:26
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

The noses were All Red. The rudders were painted blue for the 63rd. IIRC they did their 'rudder thing' when the rest of the 8th painted cowl band and rudder band the same (Mustangs), kept spinner color (red for 4th, white for 355th, blue for 352nd, etc)as before, but the 56th retained red cowl band for all three squadrons.

To clarify the 56th had red cowl od rudder through ~ May 1944 when NMF came into play, then red cowl band - no rudder color, then red cowl band and red, yellow and blue rudder in fall of 1944 whether OD or NMF overall scheme.
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Old 27th May 2011, 02:55
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Hi Rick.
Presumably this question originates from that photograph posted on a modelling website a few days ago and the responses which were forthcoming?
Not being a member of that forum, I wasn't able to reply. However, I did read it through and was frankly disgusted by the attitude displayed in some of the replies.

After looking into this period of The Wolfpacks" history in depth over the years, this is my take on it and mine alone, developed from stepping back and examining the evidence available with a fresh palatte and an open mind. My mind is still receptive to further evidence depending on the source.

Ok, lets look at this cowling colour without the emotion and "who can shout loudest wins the day" attitude of said website which has no place on this forum. Lets just deal with as much as can be ascertained by the evidence and facts available.
At the beginning of February 1944, all P-47's operating with the 56th, and all the other 8th Air Force P-47 groups carried a white band around the cowling, white bands on the horizontal stabilisers and a white rudder band.
The origin of the coloured cowlings came from observations by the groups pilots that none of the FW190's that were being encountered had white nose bands, but that other colours were in evidence. Perhaps by painting their cowlings in other colours the pilots of the 56th could gain a few seconds advantage over the Luftwaffe? It would also serve to promote the groups individuality and what its members saw as the 56ths supremacy over the other groups.
Group Commander Hub Zemke approached 8th Fighter Command Command and the idea was approved.
In ONE NIGHT the white cowlings of the 56th were replaced. The white empennage bands were also removed but it is not recorded whether this was achieved on that night as well.
Colour footage of a 62nd FS aircraft which had ground looped clearly shows a yellow cowling band but with the white empennage bands stil present. The exact date of this is unknown.
Roger Freeman records the date of the cowling painting being Feb 5th in "Wolfpack Warriors" and also in "Zemkes Wolfpack", where Hub Zemke/Freeman records the first mission being flown with coloured cowlings as being on Feb 6th. David McLarens "Beware The Thunderbolt" concurs.
The squadron colours last used on aircraft when the 56th were based on Long Island were resurected.
61st FS Red
62nd FS Yellow
63rd FS Blue.

Not unexpectedly, the other fighter groups of the 8th soon expressed a desire to adopt coloured cowlings as well, and this led to a group colour being assigned as opposed to individual squadron colours. The 56th, and later other groups would follow, transferred the individual squadron colours to the rudders. No date for this is recorded in microfilm #1051 which is the most complete( but in itself incomplete) operational record for the 56th Fighter Group.
Colour film of the 56th clearly shows 62nd Fs aircraft with red cowlings and yellow rudders while at Halesworth from which they flew their last mission on April 18th, landing at Boxted.
357th historian Merle Olmsted records in "To War With The Yoxford Boys" that the order to adopt coloured cowlings was issued by 8th Fighter Command on or around the 23rd of March, and photographs of 56th FG aircraft around this time confim the group as having red cowlings around this time also.
So this gives us a time period for the coloured cowlings of the 56th FG as being from Feb 5th-March 22nd, give or take a day or so, with the red group colour then being applied to all aircraft.
As is well documented , the 61st red cowlings remained, and the rudders were painted red.
The 62nd replaced its yellow cowlings with red and the yellow moved to the rudders.
However, the 63rd adopted the group red cowling but without the squadron colour on the rudder.

Whats the reason for this?, and where do the "duck egg green" cowlings come into this.
One things for certain, they didn't just "get pulled from the air" and were not "fantasy" as claimed in the afore mentioned thread.

Lets look at the evidence.
Colour footage exists of 63rd P-47s with blue cowlings.
Colour footage also exists which clearly shows 63rd FS P-47s with "duck egg green" ( duck egg green/sky/type S, the exact description for the colour is highly debated and not for discussion in this context.I'll call it Duck Egg Green for the purpose of this excercise)
The 2 well known photographs which clearly show the "duck egg green" cowlings are of UN-V serial number 42-76249 and UN-S serial number 42-22762 named "Tinkle". These colour photographs both appear in Aces And Wingmen II Vol II amongst other publications.
In the case of "Tinkle", the white background to the noseart which covers the demarcation line of the cowling band clearly shows against the duck egg green and removes the "bad colour image white" argument.
In the photo of UN-V the argument that the colour has shifted due to it being at the edge of the photograph making the white cowling appear to have a green hue holds no water whatsoever in this particular photograph. The uncropped photograph includes the whole profile of the aircraft,amd the cowling is not at the edge of the image. Ethell collection #05801. Jerry Johnson was flying this aircraft when he became a POW on March 27th 1944.
These two photographs are stills originating from colour footage which shows the 63rd FS "ready to roll" at Halesworth. There are 15 or 16 63rd FS aircraft in the clip that the two photographs are pulled from.
The film can be dated as being pre March 9th 1944, as one of aircraft clearly seen is UN-T 42-75137. Geroge Lovett of the 63rd was KIA flying this aircraft on March 9th.
So that dates the "Duck Egg Green" cowlings as at least March 8th.
So given that we also have clear colour footage of 63rd aircraft with blue cowlings, did the blue cowlings appear before or after the duck egg green?
I have concluded that the cowlings were initially painted blue for two reasons.
Firstly, as is well established, the 63rd Fighter Squadron colour was blue, so its logical that when "squadron colours" were adopted for the cowlings the 63rd aircraft received blue cowlings.
Secondly, as is evidenced in many colour photographs, when the group adopted red as its cowling colours and the squadron colours transferred to the rudders, the 63rd squadrons P-47's did not recieve blue rudders at this time.
Of course, they didn't recieve "duck egg green" rudders either but with the groups red cowling, the absence of a squadron colour became itself a distinguishing feature of the 63rd FS.
Blue rudders finally appeared on 63rd FS aircraft later in the year, the earliest I can date this to is approximately early September 1944.
The blue rudders did not, as was claimed in the other thread, only appear with the introduction of the P-47M's in 1945.
Two questions remain,
When did the 63rd change its cowling colour from the squadron colour blue to duck egg green and why did this change take place?
As mentioned earlier, one of the aircraft known to have carried the duck egg green cowling was lost on March 9th, but we can accurately date the green cowlings to Feb 21st.
Again, the answer lies on the microfilm #1051 of the 56th operational records.
The official mission report for Feb 21st 1944 clearly states..
"Bombers fired on aircraft of this group,probably because our red.yellow and green nosed P-47s were mistaken for FW190s."
This enables the era of the blue cowling to be further narrowed down to Feb5th-Feb 20th 1944. 2 weeks only.
The reason for the change is unfortunately unknown to me at present. I'm hoping it lies in the 33rd Service Group/41st Service Squadron records in the US National Archives.
One thing is without doubt, the 63rd were the only one of the 56th's 3 squadrons not to move the cowling colour to the rudder for an unknown reason when the group aircraft adopted the red cowling as a group identification
Its possible, that the reason is something as simple as a shortage of blue paint, but that is just a guess on my part. Perhaps 63rd FS P-47s carried both blue and duck egg green cowlings at the same time, although its doubtfull and the footage of the 63rd lined up at Halesworth would dispute this as all the cowlings are the same colour. I doubt we will ever know for sure.

In conclusion, we will probably never know for certain the exact time frame that the 63rd carried blue and then duck egg green cowlings, but it is documented both in colour film and in the groups operational records that "green" and also blue cowlings were carried on 63rd FS aircraft during the period Feb5th-March 22nd 1944 before the famous red cowlings became the group identity.

An intriguing time period for researchers and especially modelers with an interest in the 56th Fighter Group, and one that, as evidenced in the thread on the scale modelling website, one which some people have very strong opinions on, almost to the point of standing with their eyes closed and their hands over their ears shouting "your wrong, your wrong, your wrong" and crying "fantasy" if evidence offered counters their own personal belief.
You'll note that my observations are based on archived colour footage and the actual operational records of the 56th Fighter Group.

I hope this gives you some insight into my personal research of the evolution of the 56th's cowling colours during the Feb/March 1944 period.

Nigel Julian
Owner and author of
www.56thfightergroup.co.uk
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Old 27th May 2011, 17:10
rpeck350 rpeck350 is offline
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Hi Nigel.
Thank you, seen your response on ArmyAirForce first.
Regards
Rick Peck
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Old 28th May 2011, 17:04
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drgondog drgondog is offline
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Nigel - thanks for a much better explanation about the prior history of the 56th between the 'all 8th AF, all White cowl for all P-47s prior to Feb 1944 and the all red cowl for the 56th FG 'sometime in the future;

I do know that the Mustang groups in the 8th started their spinner/cowl identity in the March 1944 timeframe and that variations on a theme continued to evolve while the 9th AF 354th FG continued their white spinner and cowl into summer 1944.

A specific example of as yet unexplained interval of 'different' for 8th AF was the 355th which briefly went from white spinner/white cowl to NMF and/or black spinner with black cowl band in the late April/early May timeframe - then reverted back to white spinner for rest of war, white cowl (and mixed cases of white rudder) through late Oct/early november when the red, blue and yellow cowl band/rudder scheme was adopted as the rest of the 8th AF somewhat unified their approach.

I suspect that Nov 1944 is when a stake can be put into the ground when the 56th finally arrived at standardizing the rudder color differences in a systematic way?

Regards,

Bill

PS what website had the 'hissing contest' over this subject? I learned something from your post.
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Old 28th May 2011, 17:59
rpeck350 rpeck350 is offline
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Hi Bill ,
Thank you for your reply.
The 'hissing contest' as you put it, very well I might add,was on a model airplane sight called Hyper-Scale.
http://www.clubhyper.com/forums/forum.htm
It is on page 10 last time I checked.

Rick
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Old 28th May 2011, 23:32
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Peter Randall Peter Randall is offline
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Bill, there were two different threads about P-47s but the one you are interested in is the second one and now on page 11. It's easier to search for the thread "Interesting 8th P-47 colour photo" or use the site search facility for "56th" and use the sort by date option.

Peter

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Old 29th May 2011, 07:40
rpeck350 rpeck350 is offline
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Sorry I thought the link would go to the thread but it didn't work.
Thank you Peter for making it easier.
Regards
Rick Peck
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Old 30th May 2011, 17:07
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Re: Question for the 8th AF Fighter Group or 56 FG experts.

Thanks to both of you...
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