|The Veteran Warrant Officer, was keenly leafing through the C.M.P.R. “Colours and Camouflage Patterns of the Regia Aeronautica 1935-1943.” When he came across a photo of an SM84 flying over water, he said to himself, “ … it hit me as soon as I saw it because I could not understand why this one painted in blue, was different from the others, knowing that this airplane flew over water most of the time, it could never be painted in the normal land camouflage…|
|My friend Giuseppe Verde and I flipped the pages to the colour charts and observing the camouflage pattern of blue splotches over light gray (always debated but never reaffirmed in the past), he said , “…yes, it looks a lot like it and I just happened to see two, one in Decimomannu and the other in Guidonia.”
This encounter with Warrant Officer Dino Demo, an assembly worker during WW2 who built Piaggio P108B bombers, brought about such an impulse and desire to expand our understanding of material regarding the colours and patterns of Italian aircraft from 1935-1943. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, even from the burning desire of a modeler, to penetrate such a problematic issue was like walking into a minefield. The above mentioned book published by C.M.P.R., during the latter part of the 70’s has represented and still does today, in a beautiful reprint by G.M.T. (Gruppo Modelistico Trentino) and G.A.V.S. ( Gruppo Amici Velivoli Storici) the only authority on this subject. In fact, so much so, that even leafing through other topics (foreign ones included), the only colours and patterns mentioned, are the ones found in this book. This points out that the outstanding work, Mr. Andrea Degl’Innocenti and Mr. Umberto Postiglioni have done, is today the only reliable source in which to paint models to such an accurate degree of likeness. Outside of eyewitnesses who painted the aircraft, formal documents from the various paint firms are missing, even though we researched such companies as ARSON SISI and MAX MEYER, obtaining no concrete results.
Thanks to model shows and other hobby encounters, we helped each other through endless discussions on things like the true camo pattern, which could be “Yellow 4” or “Light Hazel “ with one person answering and saying … ”really, were you there at the time they painted the plane…? " We are always amazed by the so called “know it alls” who are quick to quote a page that they memorized in a book. Nevertheless, we now know the spray painters at the time used their imagination and flare when painting the aircraft in all theatres of war and to this day, some “Experts” are convinced with the colour chips that they see today. We forget that there is however, (justifiably) in the book by C.M.P.R., accurate information researched by the authors themselves, but not the other information that still exists, which they have not found.
A little while ago, I came across a colour chart used by the Italian Air Force from 1916 to 1945 called the VITO CHARTS, published in 1977, including colours of other foreign air forces. The chart contained a text on mixing colours, 36 + 3 coloured chips that at first glance looked like colours that were either made up or unattainable. We then discovered that it was not so. In the meantime, with the help of eyewitnesses and old photos, helped us find a piece of an old airplane that was still painted. We decided to try and match the colour in the C.M.P.R. book, but it did not exist. Then we quickly pulled out the VITO CHARTS, but to no avail, the colour was not there. As of today, all the colours of “Tavola 10”, the true standardized chart from 1941, have been printed in books. It is a source that is so valuable, especially when it comes to painting models of a Macchi 202 in the Olive Green 2 pattern, as an example. Other than the information about colours given by the persons who actually painted the airplanes, nothing really existed about the real colours. Because of recent discoveries, we have now made it our goal to enriche the modeler with the little known material other than the information dating back to the 1970s. We are not looking for answers, but instead want to contribute to the overall pool of knowledge as much as possible with new material and factual information.
|Vitocharts - New Colours for the Regia Aeronautica
by Stefano Zaghetto and Giuseppe Verde
Translated by Vincent Biondi
This article is a translation of the orginal presented in Model Wings 9/99 by Stefano Zaghetto and Giuseppe Verde
|Subject Number 2
A Model of an SM 79 with Original Colours
Along with Subject Number 3, in our opinion, we present a very important discovery. It has to do with a couple of models of SM 79s in 1/100 scale that were built by an aircraft specialist in the field where the planes flew. He used the “Gobbo” as models even matching the colour scheme to the exact shade. Also, as a note of interest, the fact that the SM79s were right there in front of him, there is no doubt of the accuracy of the colours and markings. For example both models differed from each other greatly, while maintaining a high qualitative standard of a superb paint job and mottling (almost as good as if one had used an air brush to paint the models). The particular attention given to detail, the markings on the wings, fuselage, the cross, numbers, etc. How could a person not get an accurate picture of a detailed airplane, especially when the subject is right in front of him!
The first example in question, subject number 2 has a green background, very close to FS 34079, corresponding to Camouflage Green 3 from the C.M.P.R. chart. So far so good, but wait, the mottled splotches, which are a little to big, with respect to the model, are a light blue green FS 35299. By chance, these two colours also match the ones on the VITO CHART. Even the undersides of the plane match the same colours on the chart, which left us quite surprised. RLM 78 Himelblau the colour that was suggested some 20 years ago! However, be careful with Humbrol 13 (RLM 78), because the colour is a lot lighter. Another point regarding this aircraft is that we know that the splotches are smaller, like the ones found in an SM 79 on the cover of ALI D’ITALIA, Issue Number 7 or in photos published in AEROFAN Magazine. We have also noticed larger splotches wider apart in pictures of the 108th Gruppo, during the first months of WW2. Considering the theatre of operation, our 2 SM 79s, “257-1” and “252-3” from the colour photos, look very similar; maybe not having the same colour, but definitely the same camouflage patterns. Also, both aircraft share the same underside colours, with no white band on the fuselage and the same type of markings in red. Our modeler did what he could, given the tools and paint that he had, to try and make as accurate as possible two models in 1/100 scale of an SM 79 that looked authentic.
|Subject Number 1
An IMAM RO 41 Tail Rudder
This is a small fragment of a piece of fabric taken from an IMAM RO 41 which belongs to a friend Fernando Tempo. The TRICOLOURS, Red White and Green, as well as the royal emblem are faded. It came from an abandoned RO 41, in which the rudder was taken as a souvenir. If you take a look at the photo, you can see other than the colour white a brighter red which is identical to HUMBROL 19 and a green which leans more towards an olive tinge, rather than the classic “Green Flag” which has been always associated with the pre WW2 colours. In fact, so much so, that if you compare this piece of fabric with the RO 37 from the G.A.V.S. archives, it leaves you in bewilderment. The latter is written about quite extensively in the C.M.P.R. book and the colours applied to it are in fact a mixture of Brown 53193/Green 53192 (the colour of olive green found on the piece of the fabric of the RO 41). In other words, the RO 41’s colours are identical to the RO 37’s! It now looks like our beliefs are starting to waiver! As a matter of fact, the Brown 53193 of the RO 37 is practically identical to the Federal Standard 30140, however the Federal Standard 34227 is not even close.
Model of an SM79 in Unifrom Livery
In this example, the author has re produced, with exceptional detail, an aircraft, that re enforces the accuracy of the documented material and colour photos available to the modeler. The upper surfaces of the aircraft are in Verde Oliva Scuro 2, (Olive Green 2) as per the VITO CHARTS, a little darker and blush than the FS24052, which is found on the RE2005 in the Italian air Force Museum. The lower surfaces are the same Azzurro Chiaro, (Light Blue), with a hint of green, when compared to the SM79 in the Caproni museum at Trento. That aircraft is painted with a colour similar to Humbrol 141, or FS36307, whereas this model is closer to FS24432, Of interest is also the colour of the squadron numbers on the side of the aircraft. The individual number is red and the other numbers are green, FS34227 Have we not been told all along, that the numbers are blue? But it could also be true that the green numbers were used, rather than blue, because they are the only ones he had in stock!
The Pellizzari Current Generator
This next subject is the generator found on the right side of the Gobbo Malidetto (Damned Hunchback), which functioned aerodynamically with a small propeller, designed and built by Mr. Gaetano Bertocco an SM79 mechanic, already familiar with this aircraft. The most interesting thing about this piece is that it produced 24 volts of electricity, enough to run the radio on board. Noting that this piece of hardware had great success, it is not surprising that the generator was put on other planes as well. The colour of this generator is a light gray, very similar to FS26599. The second example is however, a colour closer to Gray FS36231, found in the C.M.P.R. Charts, like Grigio Mimetico (Camo Gray). Also a third example is a gray closer to FS36307 Grigio Azzurro Chiaro and (Camo Light blue gray). The third example is no doubt the same as the SM79 found in the Caproni musem in Trento. There are two other colours found on the generator, the first being Verde Oliva Scuro 2 and the other a green similar to FS34094. There is a generator found in the muesem of Science and Technology, in Milan, painted Grigo Azzurro Chiaro (Camo Light Gray). I would like to draw one’s attention back to the VITO CHARTS, the colour number 5, Bianco Ivorio (Ivory White), a colour that we have previously seen on the fabric of a CR32 in the Red Devils squadron colours.
Another aspect is the colour #23 anticorrosion, that leans more towards a yellowish tinge which was used on the G55 restored by G.A.V.S. Warrant Officer Demo, who stated that the colour used by the late production aircraft was similar to Zinc Chromate used by the Allies, brought this aircraft to our attention.
We have not indicated what mix of colours was used by the VITO CHARTS to get the anti corrosion colour, since we do not want to confuse the reader. There really is no precise chip that we can say is exact to an FS number or an RLM number. We have refereed to FEDERAL STANDARD of which we are certain as to the colours; however, there has never been an exact match as per say.
If I were to say, VERDE (GREEN) 34052, than someone who lives thousands of kilometers away knows what I am speaking about, excluding of course Yellow Banana Green which refers to American colours!
All kidding aside, we hope that we have given you some new found information, that for years has always been debated.
It would have been so much better if the original authors of the VITO CHARTS were alive today to better understand the differences in colours. This not only would have answered a lot of questions but certainly would have aided today’s modeler with first hand information.