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Camouflage & Markings
Frederick Hughes and the Boulton Paul Defiant

n by Tomasz Gronczewski

Frederick Hughes was the fourth top RAF night fighting ace with 18.5 victories. 

Hughes was 21 years old when, in summer 1940, the hottest days of the Battle of Britain came. He was initially posted to No. 26 Squadron RAF, but soon joined the 264th Squadron flying Defiants. It made him a driver for a gunner rather than classic fighter pilot, but he and Sgt. Fred Gash managed to create formidable and deadly team. On August 26th 1940 they claimed two Do 17s. 

Later, when Defiants proved to be too vulnerable to face Bf 109s, 264th Squadron switched to night interception operations. In December 1940 Hughes and Gash claimed their first night victory. The next two came in spring of 1941. After that Hughes became one of so few Defiant aces but contrary to his colleagues he did not stop scoring after the withdrawal of the Defiant.

In June 1942 Hughes was posted to 125th Squadron as a flight commander. There he scored one day victory while flying Beaufighter Mk. II and later another one day victory while flying Beaufighter Mk. VI F. Both kills were accompanied by radar operator P/O Lawrence Dixon.

In late 1942 Hughes and Dixon were posted to Africa to the famous 600th Squadron. There they scored nine further victories before they returned home. In July 1944, after a half year of staff duties, Hughes joined 604th Squadron as its new CO. Now flying Mosquitoes he managed to score two more kills over North Western Europe.

Hughes survived the war and stayed in RAF until his retirement from the service in 1974. He died in 1992 at the age of 73.

Hughes' Defiants

During the Battle of Britain Hughes occasionally flew a Defiant Mk I ser.no L6857 PS-T. The only known profile of this plane shows as it looked like in spring 1940, far before Hughes joined the 264th.

The Defiant carried a Dark Green / Dark Earth camouflage with then standard Black / White undersurfaces.

Taking other Defiants of the 264th Squadron into account, it is possible to suppose how L6857 could look like in August 1940, when Hughes flew it:

By late summer 1940, fuselage insignia would have been replaced by the A1 type, and underwing insignias added. The fin flash would have been painted on as well as white front spinner. Bottom surfaces might have been changed to Sky as well, but more likely they were retained in Black / White finish.

In mid 1940 Hughes flew another Defiant, the all-black N1801 PS-B Coimbatore II. The variant of this Defiant is hard to determine. It would seem that it had fish tail exhaust like Mk IIs but it seems to retain smaller oil cooler, typical for Mk Is, and no radar antennae.

The entire aircraft was painted smooth semi-matt black (not RDM 2 finish). The fuselage carried night version of B1 insignias and Medium Sea Grey code letters PS-B. The nose was adorned by the white shield with a Red Hand of Ulster badge. Later on,  the yellow (?) lettering Coimbatore II and five grey (?) swastikas were added.

The nose art consisted of the badge and the name. The latter was probably yellow. The badge was formed by Red Hand of Ulster on the white shield. There was a small rose of Lancashire painted in the top left corner of the badge as well.

The swastikas painted under canopy were grey or yellow or simply dirty white.

Victory Roster of Frederick Hughes

Date   Victim Own plane Unit Kill location Comment


1 Do 17 Defiant I 264 Sqn Manston daytime victory
26/08/40 1 Do 17 Defiant I 264 Sqn Manston daytime victory
15-16/10/40 1 Ju 88 Defiant I 264 Sqn Brentwood actually a He 111 of II/KG 26
12-13/03/41 1 He 111 Defiant I 264 Sqn Dorking He 111 of I/KG 55
10-11/04/41 1 Ju 88 Defiant I 264 Sqn S of Isle of Wight actually He 111 of KGr 100
27/06/42 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter II 125 Sqn off Hook Head day victory
4/11/42 1/2 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 125 Sqn 130m E of Stoneheaven day victory
23-24/01/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn

North of Philippeville

Ju 88 of II/KG 30
23-24/01/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn

North of Philippeville

Ju 88 of II/KG 76
12-13/02/43 1 Z.1007 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn 30m North of Souk el Khemis Z.1007bis of CO of 107°GrBT
25-26/04/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn SE of Gulf of Tunis  
12-13/07/43 1 He 111 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn Augusta  
20-21/07/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn 10m SW of Cape Corranti  
11-12/08/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn Augusta - Catania  
11-12/08/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn Augusta - Catania  
11-12/08/43 1 Ju 88 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn Augusta - Catania  
17-18/08/43 1 Ju 87 Beaufighter VIf 600 Sqn 6-10m NE of Syracuse  
6-7/08/44 1 Ju 88 Mosquito XIII 604 Sqn S of Avranches  
13-14/01/45 1 Ju 188 Mosquito XIII 604 Sqn 3m S of Rotterdam  


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