In Polish aviation and modelling literature, the code letters of the No. 309 Squadron of the Polish Air Force, painted in 1944 on Hurricanes IIc, are usually presented as grey. However, this is not a regulations colour, because already in 1941, letters painted in Sky colour replaced the grey letters on RAF and allied fighters in Europe.
So why did Polish researchers choose grey?
Because widely known are good quality black&white photos, showing Polish Hurricanes from the 309th, on which the shade of the letters clearly differs from the shade of the band on the hull, which was certainly Sky.
This is a reasonable interpretation of the shades of grey in black and white photos, but it is not supported by written documents, orders or memoirs, or preserved fragments of the aircraft.
So far, we have adopted the grey version and such decals were included in the 1/72 Hurricane IIc Model Kit (catalogue number 70036) – it is an aircraft with the serial number LF331 and the squadron code WC-G. This is consistent with studies published in Poland (e.g. the renowned and very credible monograph Polish Fighter Colors published by Stratus and Polski Samolot i Barwa 1940-1946 published by Bellona).
Initially, we planned to use the grey letters also in the 1/48 scale Hurricane IIc model kit, which includes, apart from two other markings, also the LF644/WC-D marking from the Polish No. 309 Squadron. This is how we prepared the colour profile presenting this aircraft on websites and on social media.
Shortly after the publication of this profile, Troy Smith, a British modeller active in, among others, on the Britmodeller.com portal, pointed out to us that we are most likely wrong.
As an argument, apart from the well-known fact that the British regulations ordered the use of Sky colour at that time, he showed us how he made a similar mistake a few years earlier, assuming that one of the surviving, unrestored Tempests also had grey squadron letters.
Indeed, even in a colour photo, the letters appear grey, but forum member Chris Thomas, who has carefully examined them many times in reality, assures that they were painted in the colour that the ground crew prepared as Sky and painted the code letters with it after the aircraft was delivered to the squadron from the factory. Indeed, it is different than the original Sky paint the tail band was painted at the factory with, but it is still the colour intended to match the Sky colour – not grey.
Troy’s message prompted us to re-examine the case. We found out that also on some Polish Mustangs in that period, the shade of the letters (we are talking about black&white photos all the time) differs from the shade of the band on the fuselage. While you can believe in some non-statutory oddities in the ground-support duty No. 309 squadron, it is hard to expect such anomalies in ” thoroughbred” fighter squadrons, such as the 306th or 315th!
Ilustrations: photos and colour profiles from books Polish Mustang Units and Polish Fighter Colours t. 2
In such a situation, we decided to change the colour of the squadron code letters to Sky in the colour profile and in the decals.
We believe it was the right decision. We thank Troy Smith for drawing attention to this important issue! And once again, we would like to thank all those modellers who previously (and it happened many times!) helped us improve our model kits. This is the true spirit of modelling camaraderie!
- Britmodeller.com Forum topic about the Arma Hobby 1/48 Hurricane kit
- Polish Fighter Colours 1939-1947 t. 2. Collective work. Stratus 2021
- Polish Mustang Units. W. Matusiak, Z. Kolacha. AJ-Press 2011
- Polski Samolot i Barwa 1940-1946. T. Królikiewicz, W. Matusiak. Bellona 2014
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