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56th FG Zemkes Wolfpack
The Outstanding P-47 Fighter Group Of WW2.
Cowling color of 63rd sqd.-"Tinkle" UN-S
T6driver
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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 05:24 AM UTC
Hello, I am building UN-S "Tinkle" and wonder if anyone can clarify the cowling color in that brief period of time after the white cowlings and before red. The famous picture of this aircraft on Little Friends looks to be a powder blue while the same image in Aces and Wingmen II volume 2 definitely appears to be a duck egg green/sky color. Any body know of any further documentation/clarification as to which is correct?

Thanks,
Gary
lampie
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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 07:09 AM UTC
Hi Gary.
Short answer, to depict "Tinkle" as per the photo, Duck Egg Green/Sky colour would be the best bet.

Long answer......and based on the available research gathered between myself (www.56thfightergroup.co.uk), Peter Randall at Little Friends, and the 56th FG museum at Halesworth is.................................................................................




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.

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 most 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, and are screen shots from the same colour footage.

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.

Hope that answers more questions than it raises Gary.

Nige
lampie
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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 07:32 AM UTC
Further to the above reply, it had obviously been decided very soon after the individual squadron colours had been applied to adopt a single colour for the whole of the 56thFG.

The groups "Weekly Status And Operations Report" for the period 20-26th Feb 1944 has "insignia red" laquer listed as a "critical shortage" item. It doesn't appear in the previous or following weeks critical shortage lists.(nor do any other paints)

With the adoption of the blue bordered national insignia a few months before there's no other explanation for the group suddenly showing insignia red as a critical shortage other than the decision to paint the cowlings on the just over 100 P-47's on the unit strength at that time as a new group identification.

Nige
T6driver
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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 07:54 AM UTC
Nige,
Wow! Alot of info and great research. I was leaning toward the light blue because blue was the original squadron color, but the referance to green cowlings in the operational history is definitive for me. And the photo in Aces and Wingmen is probably more reliable as to color rendition than my computer monitor, so on my model duck egg green/sky it is.

Are you aware of other confirming pics or are these images off of film?

Thanks for the depth of solid research and quick response. Painting commences tonight.

Gary
lampie
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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 08:39 AM UTC
The only colour photos we have come across so far which confirm the duck egg green/sky are from the Carcione/Christensen footage.
There are plenty of b+w ones dotted around in books and online but naturally the exact colour can't be determined as clearly.

Glad the info was usefull.

Don't forget to post some photos of Sam Stamps aircraft when you've done

All the best,
Nige
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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 08:27 AM UTC
Nige,
To really make this interesting, do you think they used British paint stock for the cowls, ie "sky type s", to achieve what we are referring to as "duck egg green" color??

Gary
lampie
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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 10:06 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Nige,
To really make this interesting, do you think they used British paint stock for the cowls, ie "sky type s", to achieve what we are referring to as "duck egg green" color??

Gary



I would think it very likely that the paint used was sourced via the RAF, as I don't know of any reason as to why an 8th USAAF fighter group would be holding stocks of anything resembling that colour.

I wouldn't care to hazard a guess at the exact colour. From what I read in discussions by people far more knowledgable than myself on RAF colours even they can't seem to agree on what the colour is/was called.

Nige
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Posted: Friday, April 06, 2012 - 11:31 PM UTC
Sam Stamps was my Grandfather. If I can get some pics on here I'll post them. I really wish we still had those 1:72 scale models my dad built of "Tinkle".
lampie
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Posted: Saturday, April 07, 2012 - 04:13 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Sam Stamps was my Grandfather. If I can get some pics on here I'll post them. I really wish we still had those 1:72 scale models my dad built of "Tinkle".



Hi Eric.
Welcome to P-47 Heaven.

As well as being managing editor of this modelling site I'm also the owner of www.56thfightergroup.co.uk.
Please check your email.

Kind regards,

Nigel