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  1. #1

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    Best Paint Scheme?

    When a new owner acquires a warbird, how should it be painted and marked? Should it be as close to the way it was in actual service, especially combat, should the scheme honor the history of the plane as far as can be known"
    Or does it even matter can the new owner just as well paint for a scheme it never worn, even a country it never was in and a pilot who never flew that plane. maybe not even that model.
    And I am speaking about real no doubt warbirds not just planes painted in a warbird scheme.
    I have my opinon but surprisilgly there are a number who like a busier, even more gariish scheme.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 08-23-2020 at 09:05 PM.

  2. #2
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    I’m a history buff; I want it to duplicate an exact airplane. I’ll accept changes to aid in safety or longevity (such as gloss paint instead of matte) but want to see pictures of the original to compare.

    I understand (and sympathize) with owners of extremely common warbirds who step beyond the bounds of history to create a plane that stands out.

    Ron Wanttaja

  3. #3
    Mayhemxpc's Avatar
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    Great topic! I think that the answer might be more nuanced than it first appears.

    First, I personally believe that a Warbird with actual service history should be painted as it was during service. Now, for many Warbirds, this still leaves quite a number of choices. For example, in SEA my airplane was originally gray, then, while still in the same squadron, painted black. Then it came back to the USA, served as a training aircraft at Shaw AFB, then with the IL ANG, and then the MI ANG. So I could chose any number of paint schemes that would be historically correct.

    Second, many Warbirds had limited military service. EAA's own Aluminum Overcast is an example. It was delivered too late in the war to be deployed to combat and was quickly declared surplus and sold off. It is painted to honor another B-17 that served in the ETO. I think that this situation applies to a number of other warbirds, including some F-51's that had no combat service and are painted to honor P-51's that served in the Pacific or Europe. I suppose one could include Korea, although I have not seen any like that. I think this is a very acceptable approach, too.

    Third...it is the private property of the owner, whether that be a museum, and individual, or a corporation. They can do with their property what they wish. I may not agree with their choice, but it is their choice. Even the USAF Museum works that way. One of their two F-82's is not only painted as an airplane it is not, it isn't even the correct version for the F-82 it is painted to represent.

    Two more points. Gloss vs original flat. I think flat is nicer for historicity, but gloss is SO much easier to care for. My airplane is gloss black. It was flat black in service. I re-painted the upper cowling flat black both to reduce glare and to show people what the original color looked like. I probably spend more time on keeping that part of the airplane presentable than the entire rest of the airplane. Nonetheless, if I ever reach the point that it needs a new paint job...well I don't know which way I would go (maybe even back to gray.)

    Interior: We need to address the interior, too. Some people try their best to keep the interior, to include all of the instruments, as original as possible. Good for them! Some people strip everything out and go for full glass on the inside. I think this misses the point of owning a flying museum. As for me, I try to keep things fairly original, to include (deactivated) armament and other equipment switches. I make an exception for avionics. My center console is modern, as I have to fly in the modern airspace system. I also have a newer AI and HSI and I am in the process of installing an engine monitor system. I make that compromise because I need to be safe and preserve the airplane in a flying status as long as I can.
    Chris Mayer
    N424AF
    www.o2cricket.com

  4. #4
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhemxpc View Post
    Two more points. Gloss vs original flat. I think flat is nicer for historicity, but gloss is SO much easier to care for. My airplane is gloss black. It was flat black in service. I re-painted the upper cowling flat black both to reduce glare and to show people what the original color looked like. I probably spend more time on keeping that part of the airplane presentable than the entire rest of the airplane.
    Out of curiosity, Chris, what does the extra work entail? Does the matte paint not stick as well, does it need to be scrubbed more because dirt sticks, etc.

    Back in my modeling days, I remember a comment on how night fighters painted matte black used to have problems with the paint stripping off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhemxpc View Post
    Interior: We need to address the interior, too. Some people try their best to keep the interior, to include all of the instruments, as original as possible. Good for them! Some people strip everything out and go for full glass on the inside. I think this misses the point of owning a flying museum. As for me, I try to keep things fairly original, to include (deactivated) armament and other equipment switches. I make an exception for avionics. My center console is modern, as I have to fly in the modern airspace system. I also have a newer AI and HSI and I am in the process of installing an engine monitor system. I make that compromise because I need to be safe and preserve the airplane in a flying status as long as I can.
    Back when I was a 14-year-old CAP cadet, the squadron senior members were clearing out some old storage and invited us cadets to take what we wanted. Me and my buddy scarfed up some big 'ol radios, which (over the course time) we disassembled and used the bits for other purposes.

    Fast forward 35 years. I snagged a ride on "Aluminum Overcast." In the radio compartment, I found the same radios that me and my buddy had salvaged so long ago.

    http://www.tech-rocket.com/radios/bc...io-transmitter

    Ours hadn't come with the dynamotor, though. I did manage to retain the old-style carbon microphone I found. It holds a place of honor on my antique avionics wall....

    Ron Wanttaja

  5. #5
    Mayhemxpc's Avatar
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    Flat paint. Yes to both, but more of a dirt issue. Black doesn't help with that either, but once dirty, the gloss black is easier to clean.

    One of my most memorable...non-life threatening...flight experience was in the left seat of Aluminum Overcast. Sit down, familiarize with the controls, confirm that it responds normally, look out at the left wing and "OMG I AM FLYING A B-17!" One of the two best logbook entries I have.
    Chris Mayer
    N424AF
    www.o2cricket.com

  6. #6

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    Flat paint doesn't mean its rough, it can be flat in reflectivity without being matt . My last paint was low luster, thus not shiny. but it was smooth and easy enough to clean, and looked more authentic.
    I particularly think that cockpits and interior of warbirds and historic planes ought to be original. Sitting in a 51 ir T-6 or Spitfire, the interior is maybe a third of the area you see, and its part of the experience of the historic aspect of the plane. You lose some of that if you get in a fighter and it looks just like a Learjet or a Cirrus inside. And as for a flying safely, you dont need every gadget to do that. One gps would be nice to have, but I flew all over for 35 years and never had one.
    I think as far as fun goes what is under the hood, so to speak, is more vital than a whole panel of Garmin. By the way some, people will claim "all that old stuff is no good, it never works ". That's mostly baloney, how do you think they naviagated from RAF bases deep into Germany in the war? They used "that old stuff" like the standard large British compass which works better than any modern one I have used. And they didnt have any Garmin or Apple gadgets.

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