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Camouflage and Markings

Bristol Beaufighter

Part 2

n by Rick Kent


Late Beaufighter Marks

The following profiles conclude the tour through some important moments of the Beaufighter's operational career.

Bristol Beaufighter T.F. Mk. X
455 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
Ser. no. NE775
Langham, Norfolk
June 1944

This Beaufighter T.F. Mk. X of 455 Sqn has the standard Coastal Command camouflage plus the obvious D-Day stripes. Coastal Command changed code letters for the Squadrons a number of times during the war, for a time not using any at all. This particular one illustrates the very confusing number system that was used for a time. Each Squadron on a particular base was identified by a number, starting from 1 - but this, of course, meant that different Squadrons from different bases would have the same numeral identity. So in this case the "2" identifies 455 Sqn and the "X" is the individual aircraft designation within the Sqn. The other thing that modellers should be aware of is that the Squadrons in the Coastal Strike Wings were trained on particular weapons - so those that carried torpedoes would not also have the rockets or bombs! 455 operated with both bombs and rockets, but not both on the same aircraft at the same time, the ballistic characteristics of the two weapons being quite different.

Bristol Beaufighter T.F. Mk. X
16 Squadron, South African Air Force
Ser. no. NV139
Biferno, Italy
April 1945

Another Mk.X, but armed with the 60 pound rocket projectiles, and also of a South African Squadron based in Italy. The camouflage finish is of the later style of overall Extra Dark Sea Grey upper over Sky under. Like all the "Strike" Beaus in the Mediterranean Theatre by this time, Squadron identity codes had been dropped, so the aircraft carries only the individual identity letter "Z". Note also the red propeller hubs - a standard marking on all Allied (not just British but US, French and Italian Co-belligerent) fighters in the MTO.

16 Squadron SAAF first received Beaufighter X's in December 1943, replacing the Beauforts they previously operated, and kept them until June 1945. They operated in the anti-shipping role over the Aegean Sea and later over the Adriatic, also attacking German ground targets in Yugoslavia in support of the partisans there. Such a pity that it looks as though RAF aircraft of today will be attacking Yugoslav targets for quite different reasons...

Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X
30 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
Tadje Strip, New Guinea
August 1944

An Australian Beaufighter, but still a Mk.X built in the UK - later on Beaus were also built in Australia and designated Mk. 21. This pariticular aircraft serverd with No. 30 Squadron RAAF in New Guinea.

The camouflage colours used are not the same as the RAF shades - the Australian paints being Foliage Green, Earth Brown and Sky Blue. Also the blue in the Australian roundels is not the same as the RAF shade, but somewhat lighter. Here again the modeller should be careful about any particular aeroplane - some were left in their original RAF camouflage colours.

I would highly recommend for all Australian WW II aircraft colours in the Far East the book Aviation History Colouring Book by Ian K. Baker, published by the author in 1995, ISSN 1322-0217, which includes actual colour samples of the Australian paints, plus a lot of information.

Bristol Beaufighter Mk. 21
22 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
Sanga-Sanga, Borneo, Netherlands East Indies
May 1945

This Beaufighter Mk. 21 is one of the Australian-built ones, painted foliage green overall, but the shade used on those Beaus was very dark as you can see.

A number of publications have stated that Sanga-Sanga was in the Philippines, but RAAF aircraft did not follow the US forces there, turning west to liberate the Dutch East Indies as they then were - any good atlas will show you that Sanga-Sanga is in fact in north-east Borneo.

This aircraft also shows the tropical type filters fitted over the engines, also used in the Mediterranean area, but this is one more point of caution about the Beau - some had them, some didn't, so it's really a case of working from photographic evidence to be certain with any particular machine.

Bristol Beaufighter T.F. Mk.X
489 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Ser. no. NV425
Dallachy, Morayshire
May 1945

This aircraft is a Coastal Command "Torbeau" of a New Zealand Squadron. A few things to notice are the "Thimble" nose type radome covering tha ASV or Air-to-Surface Vessel radar, the reintroduction of the spinners on late production Mk X's, whip type radio aerial behind the cockpit, and the added small aerial on the fuselage underside. This was also seen on a lot of Spitfires - I think it was probably some kind of radio navigation aid.

The four-character code sequence is "P6" for 489 Sqn, the "F" being the individual aircraft letter and the "1" after that indicating C Flight of the Squadron - in other words the unit had more than 24 aircraft total, so C Flt had the numeral 1 added.

The fins on the back of the torpedo were made of plywood and unpainted, their purpose being to ensure that the torpedo entered the water at the correct angle; on hitting the water they simply broke off, leaving the torp to continue as normal to its target.

Bristol Beaufighter T.F. Mk.X
211 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Ser. no. NV862
St. Thomas Mount, India
July 1945
Crew : Warrant Officers Alfred Wythe & Thomas Wilson

The above machine illustrates the markings used by the RAF later in the war in India/Burma - namely Dark Earth / Dark Green uppers with Medium Sea Grey under, with grey codes and white identification bands, and also the two shades of blue for the national markings. This colour scheme did not apply to night fighters, which retained the standard NF finish, but with the blue markings.

The rocket projectiles (RP) were always painted dark green on all aircraft types, as were all British "live" bombs too. The coloured bands round the warheads indicated the filling - in this instance yellow for high explosive.

Bristol Beaufighter T.F. Mk.X
45 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Ser. no. RD815
Kuala Lumpur, Malaya
November 1949

The last of the selection - a post-war one, so some differences. Note the later style of RP launchers - the rockets were mounted in two pairs of two, one above the other - i.e. there's another pair behind the ones you can see in this profile.

The metal mounting plate underwing for the rails remains in the original sky finish, but the rest of some of these last operational Beaus of 45 Squadron, used against the terrorist uprising in Malaya, was in post-war style camo and markings: Dark Green / Dark Sea Grey uppers, with PRU Blue unders. This was for some time the standard RAF scheme for aircraft based overseas.

Note also the post-war shades of blue and red in the markings, and also roundels & serial numbers under the wings. 45 were the last front-line RAF Beaufighter Squadron, keeping them until February 1950, re-equipping with Bristol Brigands from November 1949.

Back to Camouflage and Markings of Bristol Beaufighter, Part 1

Rick Kent is a modeller, IPMS:er and a productive aviation artist. His speciality are computer-generated aircraft profiles.

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