Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

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Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby seawings » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:18 pm

Hello Everyone,

I have just been sent the following e-mail, reproduced here in full:

Dear Bryan and other flying boat enthusiasts,
I would like to share some information on the colours of Short S.23 AND S.30 Empire boats serving QANTAS and TASMAN EMPIRE AIRWAYS, in 1940-41. As an aviation historian and model builder, I was researching to scratch build a 1/72 scale S.23......and then - a miracle! A 1/72 kit appeared on the market BEFORE I made the scratch build.

Today, because of digital photography and Photoshop, there no longer exists such a thing as "photographic evidence". However, after pains-taking research,I believe that we now have the proof of the colours of some QANTAS and Tasman Empire boats 1940 -41.

I knew that the Tasman Empire boat "Aotearoa" ZK-AMA was covered overall light cream with international orange panels on the top of the outer wing sections above the ailerons. I had "a rare colour photo" taken at Mechanic's Bay, New Zealand, July 18, 1940. This photo was published on page 378 of the book "Pacific Pioneers - the rest of the story,by Jon Krupnick ISBN - 1-57510-076-2. I contacted the publisher, and it was then discovered that the photo was colourized. However this was done in 1940, as was done in those days, when colour film was not readily available in such a remote area as New Zealand. The colourer received the proper information on the colour of the Boeing 314 of Pan American moored along side the Short, so we can assume the colours are correct for the Short Empire. Because the photo was colorized, I could not document the authenticity of these colours.

I have since acquired a book "... from the dawn of aviation - THE QANTAS STORY 1920-1995". ISBN 1-875-359-23-0, Focus Publishing, Australia, copyright 1995 QANTAS Airways Ltd. On page 80 there is a photo of VH-ABA "Carpenteria". The caption reads "Kodakchrome 35mm colour photograph, the first of its kind in Australia, was taken for the 1941 QANTAS Airways calendar.

Now we have a true colour photo. Take a good look, Overall light cream. Metallic propellors and inner cowl ring. Metal coloured cowl flaps. Bronze exhaust collector ring. Red, white and blue wartime I.D. stripes on the rear hull and rudder.

I hope that this will convince the critics as to he colours of QANTAS and Tasman Empire boats of 1940 - 1941. If you have any questions on this matter, you can contact me by email at el-ludo@att.net Fellow aviation historian, Jim Lund


Image

Image

Me again:

I have posted the 'evidence' pictures that I was sent above for you to draw your own conclusions.

Okay, who's going to be first with a comment.....? :)
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
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The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby sunderlandnut » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:56 am

Hello Bryan

I have a 2005 Qantas poster “For 85 years, the Spirit of Australia” using this same Carpentaria photo, as well as one of her in flight.

Image

Image

The poster is 90x50cm and the photo of her on the water is 22x7cm.

Cheers
Richard
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby Meisterlin » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:29 am

Hi

Interesting photographs.

The Norwegian Sikorsky S-43, LN-DAG "Valkyrien" was built in accordance with Pan American Airways specifications and had an orange field on top of the wing as well. This colour was in the official documents referred to as "International Orange FS12197". This might help your readers and modellers.

Thanks for sharing the photographs.

Regards
Rob
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby sunderlandnut » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:40 am

That second poster photo of Carpentaria looks suspiciously like a doctored copy of the photo of her in the water.
Note bottom of float etc., and exactlly the same angle.
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Richard
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby MrWidgeon » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:42 pm

sunderlandnut wrote:That second poster photo of Carpentaria looks suspiciously like a doctored copy of the photo of her in the water.
Note bottom of float etc., and exactlly the same angle.
Cheers
Richard

My thoughts exactly, not to mention the very odd line of the keel in the shortened second step.
Note also, no pitot mast or ADF ant. in the "In Flight" picture.
Aside from that, both color images are very interesting.
I don't have any reason to doubt the colors in the "colorized" image, I see no reason to think that they got the PAA B-314 right and the Tasman Empire wrong.
Thanks for digging it up Jim and for posting it Bryan.
In water flying attitude is everything
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby seawings » Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:41 pm

Hi All,

having looked at all this, for what it's worth, here's my two-penny-worth....!

I have to say that I personally am not at all convinced by either the photos or the text concerning 'proving' the fact that it was cream coloured. Some thoughts as to why:

Starting with the phrase "I knew that the Tasman Empire boat "Aotearoa" ZK-AMA was covered overall light cream with international orange panels on the top of the outer wing sections above the ailerons. I would like to know exactly how he knew that and what the source was, with the associated proof as there is no mention of that.

The Mechanic's Bay, New Zealand, July 18, 1940 colourized photo does nothing for me in terms of proving any exterior colours beyond a casual 'this is silver, this is orange' colour. As to proving beyond doubt that the Empire was cream in this shot, No, not for me. To my eyes the exterior of the Empire could be the same colour as the building roof, the sea wall or any number of other bits in the picture.

Now look at the differences in the other pic, the Carpentaria photo, comparing the two examples of the same picture. Again, to my eyes the scan from Jim's book is washed out/poorly exposed and frankly nye on useless to judge what colour the hull is. The second addition shows, again to my eyes, what I would say is a silver hull, not a cream one which just goes to show what differences can crop up between two copies of the same picture!

So, what have we got? Well, Jim for one is convinced that one Empire at least was cream coloured. I have to say that based upon these shots, I cannot agree; they are simply not detailed/clear/exposed enough to confirm that absolutely. I have never read anywhere that they were cream coloured and if these are the only two pictures in existence, then I guess we'll never know for sure.

Don't get me wrong, I admire Jim's research and his thoughts, it's just that I don't see absolute proof as he does. To convince me beyond all reasonable doubt as the phrase goes, would be a selection of credible images and official text to back it up. By credible image, I mean there exists images of the Empires that have come to light in the past year or so in B/W, but just look at the LIFE ones in colour (so, it can be done) They are out there somewhere........

Am I alone in this or does everyone think that they WERE cream coloured?

Cheers,
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
Owner of:

The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby TASSE » Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:58 pm

Now you have got me delving into books again.

That in flight photo is botched, just look at the engines and props.

I will try and come up with something but i dont go along with cream.

TASSE.
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby seawings » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:03 am

Hi All................

Just received this in from Warren 'Jim' Lund, further to his article above:

"Bryan, thank you for posting my QANTAS and Tasman Empire boat colours
of 1940/41 I discovered that I fumbled my email address on my letter.
The letter n in lundo was not included. Could you find a moment to
correct it? el-lundo@att.net

You are to be commended for building a website that caters to such
esoteric subjects as the Short Empire flying boats. Hip hip hooray!
I see the results of your postings, and I'm convinced that this
communications highway really works.

Warren "Jim" Lund, aviation historian"


Me again: I have invited Jim to register as a member here so that he has full access to the forum.

Cheers,
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
Owner of:

The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby Pondskater » Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:37 am

This topic is one that will run and run (which is great!) until some definitive evidence is found - but what do we know?

First, the Empire boats left Shorts Works in the 1930s in a silver finish - the plates were anodised, buffed and coated with clear Lanolin for waterproofing, so they would appear silver, or perhaps a dull grey (evidenced from contemporary magazine articles).

So the question here is what happened to them later, what did the airlines do to them? I am aware that historian John Stroud thought some Empire boats may have been painted in cream - when he doesn't dismiss something then it is worth investigating.

The TEAL boat. Have a look at this:
Image

This is the whole image. It has been hand coloured, but done very well by skilled hands with attention to detail. I would like to know where the evidence is that the person who did the colouring knew what colour the aircraft were, but it is likely to have been done at the time, which assumes accuracy. To my eye, the Clipper is silver and the Empire boat is cream/white. This opens up the liklihood that the New Zealand boats had their own scheme. I would like to see corroborating evidence. There are, BTW, B&W images around which clearly show the orange patches on the wings. There is enough evidence to say that the wing tops were orange.

The Qantas boat:
I'm not convinced. The scan of a page from a book (posted by Bryan) is not well scanned and the colour balances are off.
The one posted by Sunderlandnut, to my eye, shows a silver scheme. Look at the fin flash and the registration underlining. They should be red and blue. The blue is not obvious. Adding more blue to the image would remove the yellow cast which makes the aircraft seem to be cream. To show what I mean, I took the image and simply set the white point on the clouds behind the aircraft and the picture look like this:
Image

Note it now looks silver, sky has a more real look, the blue flashes look blue and the crewman is wearing white overalls. Not bad for a 5 second colour correction. The only answer would be to inspect the original slide, with the skilled eyes of those who know how colour slides degrade - and have a good quality scan taken from it, but to me this evidence is not good. This Qantas boat appears to have retained its original silver scheme.

It seems to me to be well worth an inquiry in the Air New Zealand (TEAL) archives to find out when and what colours they painted their aircraft.

There are plenty of reasons to keep an aircraft in the simple lanolin finish (not least the weight of paint which would reduce fuel capacity) but also good reasons to paint them (not least the BOAC camouflage scheme)

Lets keep digging - this one is worth the trouble to find out.

AllanK
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Re: Short Empire hull colours - an article of interest...?

Postby seawings » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:40 pm

I agree with Allan,

That the Empire wings had the Orange solid markings is not in doubt. I have other photos showing that up on SEAWINGS.

Still not sure about the 'boat looking white/cream though.

Oh, to have been there at the time!
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
Owner of:

The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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