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Thread: Interior Colours For A Pre-war RAF Tiger Moth

  1. #1
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    Interior Colours For A Pre-war RAF Tiger Moth

    I am currently restoring 1938 Tiger Moth N5490 (http://N5490.org) to what will hopefully be a very high standard of originality. The question has arisen - what were the colours used on the cockpit internals? The first thought was Cockpit Green. But the high quality Hatfield production shot (which will hopefully appear below) turned up which clearly shows black engine bearers. So the thought was that perhaps all of the fuselage tubes and controls, etc. were black and the woodwork (control box, seat frame, floor, decking internals, etc. were Cockpit Green.

    However, a source tells me "Production pictures, few as they are, indicate that Hatfield-built Tiger Moths had light coloured fuselage tubes (certainly not black so possibly silver) but black engine bearers."

    It is surprising to me, given the numbers of aircraft that DH pushed out before the war, that there isn't a clear picture (if you'll forgive the pun) of the interior scheme for these aircraft.

    So - two questions:

    1) Could it be that Cockpit Green had not yet been specified by the RAF in late 1938?

    2) Has anyone any evidence as to the colours used in pre-war DH cockpits - Tiger Moth or otherwise.

    It might be that the Air Ministry had specification sheets for their contracts. N5490 was supplied under under Air Ministry contract 778402/38. I will enquire at Hendon, unless anyone has a copy?

    Now for that promised photo - the Tiger production line at Hatfield before production was taken up by Morris Motors at Cowley to make way for Mosquito production.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    There was no colour called "cockpit green": the colour that became usual was Grey Green, sometimes called Aircraft Grey Green but I think that name may be postwar. Several prewar aircraft had Aluminium interiors, metal frames generally being Black or Aluminium, Early Spitfires are said to have been painted in a lighter green perhaps closer to Eau de Nil (the last my interpretation only). What can be seen are patches where the red primer has soaked through the fabric covering. I'm not sure that any of this is a direct help with Tiger Moths.

  3. #3
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    I have a 'colourised' picture of a Brooklands Aviation Tiger Moth cockpit and the interior colour is all dark Grey with a dull Black panel with a khaki Green compass, the stick is Black grip topped aluminium. The cockpit plaques are White or probably Aluminium with black lettering. Instrument faces in Black with White Radium details. I have seen other restored Moths in the dark Grey interior which I believe is correct for pre-war DH aeroplanes. The (stove enameled ?) Black in the engine bay is probably because it was subject to contact with P.O.L. (Petrol, Oils and Lubricants).

    John
    Last edited by John Aeroclub; 21st April 2017 at 22:37.

  4. #4
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    Thanks John,

    Any chance of seeing the picture?

  5. #5
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    Scan of same. It came from a pre-war magazine Wonders of World Aviation. It hasn't scanned brilliantly but the colours are as I described in my previous post.

    John

    [IMG] photo Neg638_zpsjt4fkf0w.jpg[/IMG]
    Last edited by John Aeroclub; 22nd April 2017 at 12:03.

  6. #6
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    Thanks John,

    This is a really useful image - for many reasons. It shows my instrument layout exactly, and interesting to see the compass corrector card holder on the panel, rather than on the left side of the decking, and also the location of the various placards.

    It does suggest an all-silver interior.

    Interestingly, my DH Queen Bee, built at Hatfield in late 1940 is definitely all cockpit green interior.

  7. #7
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    I would disagree with the Silver interior. Unfortunately the scan despite my best efforts does not equate to the original colours in the book which is very convincing and is clearly depicted as a mid to dark Grey. In the scan even the Red has changed.

    I wish that I could remember where I've come across the reference to DH interior Grey before. As to the use of a Grey Green paint many manufacturers such as Westland and Hawker were not using it in the mid years of the 30's and as Graham mentioned it is difficult to pin down.

    I remember in some correspondence I had with the late A.J. Jackson many years ago about pre-war civil colour schemes, he remarked that although they profusely took photos "we didn't much bother about colour". Fortunately E.J. Riding did record quite a number as he was a modeller.

    John

  8. #8
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    Very interesting. I think grey would look better than silver and I have seen Gipsy Moth interiors in grey. But we have to be careful as my Tiger was a Service machine supplied under Air Ministry contract and may have been finished differently to the civil machines.

    I have looked at the list of mods. for the Tiger, and there is no reference to any colour changes there, so that gave no clue.

    I'm also very interested in the pre-war instrument layout. I have the fore and aft levels, the ASI's in MPH, the round oil pressure gauges, the clock (rear cockpit only), etc. and I'm on the hunt for original 'Ivorene' placards.

    Even though this is a colourized image, it is clearly an original photograph, so the physical details are incontrovertible. It is interesting that on these early panels there was sufficient room for the compass corrector card holder to be close to the compass (logical). On the wartime Tigers, the card holder was attached to the inside of the port side of the decking, above a brass Gipsy engine data plate, mounted on a wooden block (see image below). However, it is clear in your image that there was no such plate inside the rear decking on this pre-war Tiger. Of course, this might have been a feature specific to the Service machines, or introduced later.

    If anyone has ANY more cockpit shots of pre-war Tigers, they could prove invaluable.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
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    And here's something interesting. This is another photo of a Brooklands Aviation Tiger. Fortunately, it is dated - March 1938. The letter "F" tells me that this is either G-ADGF (registered 23.5.35) or G-ADJF (registered 29.8.35).

    Note the high up position of the fore and aft level in the front cockpit - the same location as on wartime Tigers. This tells me that the Tiger in the colourized image is very likely a pre-1935 machine, of which there were several in the Sywell fleet, including G-ABTB (registered 8.1.32) and G-ABUL (registered 4.3.32), etc. These were DH82's rather than DH82A's. The colourizesd image is likely one of these machines, which may well explain the big differences in cockpit layout.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Moffist; 22nd April 2017 at 15:29.

  10. #10
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    This one is from Flight November 13 1931 It is an early DH 82 and I believe a service machine. (Note deeper front door). As the Tiger was at this point was just a 'messed about' 60.T with a Gipsy III perhaps the interior is again Grey?

    John

    [IMG] photo Neg639_zpsq4mr8kjo.jpg[/IMG]

  11. #11
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    Yes, definitely a DH82. And here's a different DH82 panel layout:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The number of panel layouts is mind-boggling.

    The closest I can find to my Tiger (1938, 20 ERFTS Gravesend, used to train Navy pilots) is this, from Flight magazine of 1940 which shows the camouflage stopping at the top longeron - exactly as mine. In fact this could be my Tiger. This photo is fascinating (at least to me!) because it shows the fore and aft level on the starboard side alongside the compass corrector card.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's a similar layout, just visible on a London Aeroplane Club Tiger:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Because of the Flight shot, I'm 100% sure that this would have been the original layout of N5490 - now to find the drawing or a definitive photos showing the positioning of the placards, etc. NOT a simple task!

  12. #12
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    As your Tiger was built in 1938 it's difficult to know what interior colour she was,The Persian Tigers built in 37 still appear to be Grey. I also note that the superbly restored G-ACDA has Grey woodwork but has Black metalwork.

    The Persian Tigers also had the starb'd fitted Fore and Aft gauge.

    John

  13. #13
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    Interesting. G-ACDA was rebuilt by Bryn Hughes, who has been helping me with N5490, so I will ask him what he knows. Where is the Persian Tiger photo? Is it the one of the fighter version? (page 25 of Stuart's book). If so, I think this is the layout I will probably settle on. It is actually very close to the Brooklands colourized photo above, except that it is somewhat of a mirror image. (Presumably no placards were fitted, because the Persians wouldn't be able to read them?!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Moffist; 22nd April 2017 at 18:42.

  14. #14
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    Yes it's in Stuart McKay's book. I have well over a dozen Moff books on my shelves.

    John

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    And Stuart very kindly just e-mailed this image to me - of 1934 production. On the left, with the black engine bearers (except the diagonal!) is a Moth Major, with a pair of Tigers to its left. Clearly evident are the light-coloured frames. There is a chap peering around the Moth Major. The next time I see him, I'll ask him about the fuselage colours!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Moffist; 22nd April 2017 at 21:55.

  16. #16
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    Again the diversity of panels reminds me of a time at Salisbury Hall when after measuring several front cowls of a Tiger, a Queen Bee and a Hornet and finding that they only differed by very small dimensions, I asked a couple of old timers working on a Mossie why this might be. The reply from one was "Well Fred didn't make em all".

    Aahh de Havilland.

    John

    Looking through the book with the colourised picture in the only date reference I can find is a mention of Ceirva's death in 1936 so it's just pre-war at a guess.
    Last edited by John Aeroclub; 22nd April 2017 at 23:06.

  17. #17
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    And one more thing about the colourised image. The compass corrector card holder is empty - because the compass (a P.4?) has an integral corrector card!

    I spent a happy afternoon drawing up a full scale instrument panel, based on a partial mirror image of this panel and shuffling the instruments and placards slightly to make everything fit as best as possible. I know that the moment I commit to cut wood, a clear photo will emerge showing how wrong I've got it!

  18. #18
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    Moffist, I got this panel many moons ago and the former owner assured me it was pre- war , it has traces of original dark green paint , its original Ivorene placard and rather

    unhelpfully someones custom hole saw updates ( That do not fit any known instrument.) Let me know if you want more photos.

    Regards Mike
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  19. #19
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    Versuch,

    The is EXACTLY the panel I believe N5490 would have originally been fitted with! Is it 3/8" or 1/2" ply? Looks like 1/2".

    Are there any ply stiffeners on the back?

    The panel takes a very different compass bracket to the regular wartime item. I have had two new ones of these made, but now need to find an original pre-war one (like the one in the colourised picture) to copy!

    The wartime panels had two spruce blocks - one on each side, each with three captive nuts for attaching into the decking. Any evidence of these on this panel?

    Any chance of a photo of the back, and maybe a tracing so I can get the positioning of the instruments exactly right? I'd love to borrow it for accurate copying and would be happy to pay the shipping to and from Seattle! (Actually, would prefer to purchase outright if it is surplus to your requirements.)
    Last edited by Moffist; 23rd April 2017 at 03:49.

  20. #20
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    Its not for sale but PM me with your address and will happily send a tracing.

    Photo as requested.

    Regards Mike
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  21. #21
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    Thanks Mike, have PM'd you.

    Just to show how fraught this sort of research can be and how carefully one needs to come to conclusions, here's an RAF Museum image, taken in 1938 showing a Tiger with serial number starting with K, so it must be a 1935 or earlier machine. Close inspection shows four dome head screws just forward of the rear cockpit door - evidence that the compass corrector card was fitted in the decking, and not the instrument panel in this machine!

    If anyone is interested in this sort of Tiger topic, I could start another one on the fabric stenciling - another difficult topic which I am actively working.

    (How many Tiger pilots remove the front stick when flying solo these days?!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Moffist; 23rd April 2017 at 14:27.

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