Heavy bomber tail markings
I'm looking for tail markings mainly used by B-17's and B-24's in the 8th. Air Force and also PTO B-29's.
I have been searching all over the internet but not with much luck. I did find a few places but either the markings were not 100% correct or they were only for the aluminium scheme bombers.
What I need is correct colors and fonts.
Thanks in advance.
Vic Walzel, brother of 1st Lt Leland H. Walzel, bombardier with the 93rd Bomb Group, 330th Squadron. KIA 6 March 1944 on his 25th mission. www.lelandwalzel.150m.com
There are a number of books on this subject. Two that I have used are 'Air Force Colors' by Dana Bell published by Squadron/Signal Publications, ISBN 0-89747-108-3 and 'Battle Colors' by Robert Watkins published by Schiffer Military History, ISBN 0-7643-1987-6.
Thanks Vic, but I did have that one.
Sadly it's not good enough. 2 samples why....
448th. is there shown with a black n yellow with "M" in center. I have another pic where it's shown with an "I" in a white cirkel.
Sample 2: Is 401st. there shown with black triangle and white "S". The one I have and used for my repaint of BTO in the ETO it has a white triangle with a dark blue "S".
Hal: Yes I am trying to get the book Battle Colors via my local library. They said they would try but could not promise as they had to get it in another country.
This is a little off base, but go to www.447bg.com
. On the home page select 'Aircraft'. A little way down on the left side of the Aircraft page is a link 'Modeler's Guide to the 447th'. Follow the link. Some of the information there might be useful to you.
"Eighth Air Force tail markings
The first Eighth Air Force aircraft to receive unit markings were the Spitfires of the 4th and 31st Fighter Groups training with RAF Fighter Command in September 1942. The markings were two-letter fuselage squadron codes located on one side of the national insignia and a single letter aircraft code on the other side. However sixteen squadrons of B-17s of the new VIII Bomber Command, beginning in December 1942, also received this identification system, which continued in the spring and summer of 1943 when VIII Bomber Command quadrupled in size.
However the size of the Allied air forces began to exhaust possible two-letter combinations, and made difficult the timely assembly of heavy bomber tactical formations. In June 1943 VIII Bomber Command introduced the use of a geometric symbol painted on either side of a bomber's vertical fin to denote a bombardment wing (later division) identification marking. These devices were white in color and 80 inches in diameter. A triangle denoted the B-17 1st Bombardment Wing (later 1st Air Division), a circle the B-24 2nd Bombardment Wing, and a square the B-17 4th Bombardment Wing (later 3rd Air Division). The B-26 medium bombers of the 3rd Bombardment Wing did not use this scheme.
Groups were identified by a letter superimposed on the symbol. At first letters were yellow in color, but after only a few had been so painted, the color was changed in July 1943 to insignia blue for easier reading. On unpainted aircraft the colors were reversed, with a white letter superimposed on a black symbol. Bombers also carried the symbol on the upper surface of the aircraft's right wingtip. Although issued group and squadron codes by the Eighth Air Force, the 93rd Combat Bomb Wing of the 3rd Bomb Division displayed neither until after the end of hostilities in Europe (noted in the table below with an asterisk). The 385th Bomb Group was shifted to the 93rd CBW in October, 1944 after the wing converted from B-24 to B-17 aircraft, and it removed its fuselage and tail codes in accordance with wing policy.
8AF group letter identifiers
1st Bomb Wing/1st Air Division ("Triangle")
91 BG - A
92nd BG - B
303 BG -C
305 BG -G
306 BG -H
351 BG - J
379th BG - K
381st BG - L
384th BG - P
401st BG - S
457th BG - U
398th BG - W
2nd Bomb Wing/2nd Air Division ("Circle")
44th BG - A
93rd BG - B
389th BG - C
392nd BG - D
445th BG - F
446th BG - H
448th BG - I
453rd BG - J
458th BG - K
466th BG - L
467th BG - P
492nd BG - U
489th BG - W (wings)
491st BG - Z (wings)
4th Bomb Wing/3rd Air Division ("Square")
94th BG - A
95th BG - B
96th BG - C
100th BG - D
385th BG - G
388th BG - H
390th BG - J
447th BG - K
452nd BG - L
34th BGÂ¹ - S
486th BGÂ¹ - O
487th BGÂ¹ - P
490th BGÂ¹ - T
493rd BGÂ¹ - X
Â¹Markings as B-24 groups
These markings were effective within a mile of the viewer, but as the numbers of groups increased from sixteen to forty, assembly difficulties increased. In April 1944 the USAAF decided to discontinue further camouflage painting of its aircraft, and the 2nd Bomb Division devised a system for its B-24s whereby the entire tail fin was painted in a color (each of its five combat wings was assigned a color) and a black or white band placed across the fin either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally to identify the group within that wing. The 93rd CBW of the 3rd Air Division, which operated B-24s from May to September 1944, also adopted a color system in June.
The first color markings for B-17s appeared in July 1944 when the 1st Combat Bomb Wing (91st, 381st, and 398th Bomb Groups) painted the emmpenage of their airplanes bright red. The remainder of the 1st Air Division began using color schemes in September, but each combat wing adopted a different method.
The 3rd Air Division, once converted to an all-B-17 command, followed suit in the winter of 1944-45, employing elaborate schemes which included colored chevrons and bands on the aircraft wings that required months of labor to convert all its aircraft."
Hope that covers most things,
401st BG Association
401st BG Historical Society (UK)
Alconbury ARG/AIX Archive
If you can find a copy of Roger Freeman's The Mighty Eighth, Doubleday and Co., 1970, it has every bomb group and fighter group covered. Detailed color plates and narrative for authentic information.
S/Sgt, 35 missions
Ball Turret Gunner, Goldin crew
381st Bomb Gp., 533rd Bomb Sq.
US 8th Air Force
Author: "The View From The Bottom Up" memoir
Wow thanks a lot guys.
is good, learned that all letters are dark blue and not black
Bob, I will try getting that book too.
Jens the "I" in a circle was the group symbol for the 448th; originally on tail and top wing , when full colour tails introduced in early 1944 the 448th had yellow tail with diagonal black band ( on p. 45 of Dana's book it is shown as 20BG ). The aircraft letter was on the black band. The circle was still on wing.
The black triangle with white letter on B-17s was on unpainted aircraft, white triangle on camouflage. Though specified as insignia blue, the letter was sometimes black.
The square 3 Div. symbol authorised as 48" square was very often marked as a rectangle, visible in many photos. Nick
Got the book Battle Colors yesterday from the RDAF library, and it contains just what Iâ€™ve been looking for. This proves that the books are still better than the Internet
.When I'm done with my little project I'll let you know.
There are also two good books in the AIRCAM series, one on the B-24 (see attached) and one on the B-17.
The attachment - hopefully!
It worked fine Bill, thanks!
Another excellent dialogue, from start of the thread on down.
Thanks for posting the question, RAF.
well done, responding contributors.
Carry on, by all means.
MAJ(VT) W.P. Sullivan
"The nations that hammer their swords into plowshares will plow for those that did not."
Jens a small point but the first digit 4 of the tail serial should be deleted. Thanks Nick
Dang! You are right
Thanks for pointing it out Nick
Here a pre-view of the template I'm working on.
Still a long way to go though.
I know the pic is not that good, but I have reduced size from 1024 to 800.
The actual color was called Insignia Blue (a dark blue, not quite navy blue). Roger Freeman's book "The Mighty Eighth - Warpaint and Heraldry" can give you specifics as to colors used and the dates the markings were changed.
Webmaster & Unit Historian
445th Bomb Group (Heavy) www.445bg.org
Actaully in doubt of the different colors used on the Squadron letters.
Jens see the Modelling forum for codes colours ( under "Fuselage letters " ). Nick