[WWI] RFC/RNAS Queries

Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton smokeandsteam at san.rr.com
Sat Feb 10 11:34:58 EST 2007

>>As I
interpreted Munson, this formula could only yield a
chocolate brown color, with any “green shift”
attributable to the dope, lacquer or linseed medium. 
Is this right, sort of right, or completely wrong? 
For example, the very detailed margin notes Henry
“Hank” Burden made around the photo of his S.E.5a
C’1096 identified the upper surface and under fuselage
color as simply “green,” which suggests P.C.10 could
really look green.  I’m confused <<

So is everyone else... 

Yellow ochre can vary according to where the pigment came from and how it
was treated. Remember that many iron based earth pigments are mixed with
clay which can change the colour quite noticeably. 

Yellow ochre is a mix of limonite and clays.  This means the pigment used as
a base could have varied from a pretty vivid yellow shade to a decidedly
brown/orange colour. Go to your water colour paint box and mix yellow ochre
and black - the mixed shade is definitely olive green when you're using
artist's pigments. The problem with this is that the artist pigment is a
high quality version of a natural; earth pigment bought in relatively small
quantities - bulk quantities of lower grade ores might well have tended to

The consensus is that there is no one true shade; earlier versions may have
been closer to a dark olive shade tending to browner shades later in the war

I'm not going to touch the preferred mix question. I tend to do it by eye
every time and every batch is a little different from the last, which is the
way things should be. 

>>3) What colors were aircraft tires?  Eduard suggests a
pinkish-grey for their Nieuport 17, and various shades
of light and medium greys seem common.  When did they
start batching rubber with lots of carbon to produce
our current greyish-black tires? <<

Carbon black started to be used for car tires in the US about 1915-16. Under
ware time conditions it may have taken a good few years to be widely adopted
in Europe - possibly post war. 

>>5) Was P.C. 12 used on machines on the Western Front,
or was it confined to the Middle Eastern theater?<<

Yes - it was specified on the drawings for Sopwith-built Triplanes and
Camels delivered to the RNAS. That doesn't mean that other contractors and
subcontractors adhered to the same standards of course

>>7) A recent build by Neil Pinchbeck of Revell’s S.E.5a
kit in SAMI v. 12 iss. 12 suggests that cockpit
interior sides were finished in red oxide primer.  All
my references for S.E.s and Sopwiths point to
varnished and often stained wood finishes instead. 
Any ideas on red lead primer?<<

Possible I guess, but I'm very doubtful about red lead. Red *oxide* based
primer was used under aluminium dope on post war machines, but the available
evidence suggest that plain varnish was the common finish on interior wood


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