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B-17 experts, lend me your ears..

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Ok, bear with me!

I'm looking to build a 1/72 model of a specific B-17F that no decals exist of. That's not the problem!

On 7th April 1943 Boeing B-17F-25-DL Fortress 42-3090 force landed in a field in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland while on a ferry flight from Marrakech.

Landed on route from USA via North Africa, the crew were sent across the border four days later. A runway was built for the aircraft and it was flown out on 2 May by another flight crew to Rinneanna and thence to England.; Aircraft was assigned to the 334BS/95BG after its departure, crew also to 95BG.


Crew list;

1/Lt William K. THOMAS O-791163

2/Lt James B STAPLETON O-734021

2/Lt William PROCHASKA O-731417 POW

2/Lt Collis P HAYNES Jr O-732729

S/Sgt Guy L TICE 16092892

S/Sgt William A WHITCOMBE 36183598

T/Sgt Carl H CAMERON Jr 13036442

Sgt Rex J NEELY 35326058

S/Sgt Arlie G ARNESON 06575918 POW

S/Sgt Floyd L THOMPSON 18129666

Sgt Marcel St LOUIS

Above courtesty of http://www.skynet.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm

Plenty of people have researched this event but to my knowledge no one has modelled T'aint a Bird. My questions are the following;

As a delivery flight, I'm assuming that she would have been a new(ish) aircraft and therefore fairly unweathered. What is a good Humbrol match for USAAF Olive green and Neutral Grey? (Matchbox quote Hu86 Light olive and Hu87 Steel Grey for their "2nd Patches" option in their old kit, but that might be taking weathering into account).

Interior colours; I'm guessing the following, please advise! Interior green for nose, radio room and cockpit; zinc chromate yellow for u/c bays (and bomb bay?); unpainted aluminium for waist gun positions/rear fuselage; interior of ball turret and tail gunner position I don't know?

According to this photo, no unit markings on tail or squadron letters on rear fuse sides (makes sense if it was a new aircraft). But, I can't make out the serial number on the tail. Would there have been one (I strongly suspect so) and if so, how would it have been displayed? Would it be 42-3090, 4230390, or 23090. Also, would the digits be painted yellow, grey, white or black?


I'm planning to use the Academy kit, and thankfully this aircraft appears to have an astrodome!

National insignia is the pre-43 type, no bars either side. Would this have been displayed in 6 or 4 positions?

Another pic...


Finally, any ideas on her history after? There are conflicting reports on the net, one says she completed 24 missions over the continent before being scrapped, another says "T'aint a Bird herself only completed one sortie over Germany, she was so badly damaged that it was used for training purposes."

J Baugher's web site quotes

3090 (351st BG, T'aint A Bird") damaged in battle Nov 10, 1943. Salvaged Jun 18, 1945

This disagrees with the sources above and the 95thbg.org site that has her on a list of 95th Bomb Group's Aircraft built in 1942. Maybe she transferred?

42-3090 T'aint A Bird 334 letter C

Here's another interesting pic, with a slightly famous officer in the middle;


It may not be the same "T'aint a Bird", but why let the truth get in the way of a good story! (Another Taint a Bird B-17-(?) 30342 was used on one of the Operation Aphrodite missions. Is this it?)

Phew! Thanks in advance for any help!


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Here's my opinion!

Olive drab - I can't give you a tin number or colour reference, but for a new aircraft, you would be looking at quite a dark Olive Drab colour. Fin would most likely be medium green, as this part was usually a sub-contracted part, painted separately from the main airframe. There would be light exhaust staining on the aircraft, as with a new airframe, it is unlikely to have more than 50 hours under its wings.

Serial - On documentation, the full serial would be used ( 42-3090 ), but on the fin it would be 23090 in orange/yellow, applied in the factory.

Interior colours - With virtually no photographs available for this particular aircraft, nobody can prove you are wrong with what you do. There have been a number of threads on here already regarding interior colours. Personally, I would watch the 1943 Memphis Belle documentary, and base your colours from that ( remembering that much of the film is red sensitive and over exposed, affecting the true colours ). I'm not sure zinc yellow was used on B-17's. The few bits of B-17 wreckage I have seem to be zinc green.

Wings - From the dark leading edges, it appears the B-17 still has its rubber de-icer boots on the wings, tail and fin.

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I've just been looking at the 'Belle' documentary on youtube, and all of the interior appears to be a dark green similar to olive drab. You aircraft was being delivered a month before the 'Belle' completed its tour, so it probably wasn't that many months behind the 'Belle' in production. I don't have my record of serial numbers handy to know how far apart the production was.

The wheel wells also look very dark in the film, suggesting they were zinc green or a dark green.

There is another scene where a wounded airman is being assisted out of the waist door. The interior of the door on this aircraft is natural metal.

Edited by Army_Air_Force
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Thanks Stephen,

Looking at the '43 Belle film myself, I saw the interior of the access door seemed to be silver or at least very light grey, that's why I reckon on bare metal for the rear fuse interior. Of course, it could just be the door....

Thanks for the heads up on the medium green fin, wouldn't have known about that.

Edit, there is also some confusion as to whether or not "T'aint a Bird" was painted on the nose when she landed in Clon, or later when she arrived in England. One story goes that the name came from a local farmer when another asked him what is that in the sky, the reply was "well, t'aint a bird...."

Probably impossible to pin down, but nice idea!

The crew of 10 were "interned" at O'Donovan's Hotel where they remained for 3 days. The Hotel took on a carnival atmosphere and whilst there the crews pet monkey "Tojo" died and was buried with full military honours in the garden where The Venue now stands.

From http://odonovanshotel.com/history.shtml

Edited by roym
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Note the entire fin should not be painted medium green, only the center panel - this is quite distinct in most photos of camouflaged B-17s.

This link is a nm B-17G, but the area painted red is what was the different green on camouflaged ones:


Here is a camo version:


Both of these are from the 91 BG web site: http://www.91stbombgroup.com/

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It may also have Medium Green splotches on the wing and tailplane trailing edges, and possibly elsewhere. This was standard for around this period - not sure exactly when it stopped being used. If it did.

The serial would be carried halfway up the fin in yellow, as 23090.

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Here's a photo that shows the placement of the serial, and the colour difference between the medium green fin and the olive drab fin strake.


This picture is of a well weathered B-17, where most of the olive drab has faded. The cheek gun however is painted in fresh olive drab, and I would expect your factory fresh B-17 to be a similar dark shade.


I'm not sure when the medium green splotches were last applied, but the B-17G I'm most interested in was only the 4th B-17G built. It was delivered in September 1943 and didn't have the splotches. The front view of your aircraft with the five guys in front doesn't show any signs on splotching on the port wing leading edge, so I suspect it didn't have the splotching. This splotching was also applied around the edge of the fin and rudder, and in the side view, the rudder looks pale compared to the fin, but doesn't show any signs of the splotches.

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I'd go with the side view for no splotches, as the front view with Officer Gable may or may not be 42-3090.

Thanks for all the info so far, confirmed that she has meduim green fin centre section, black de-icer boots, yellow serial, possibly yellow name on nose (artistic licence to inform the non-modellers). Looking at the pics again armed with that info seems to put it beyond doubt. Also, looking at the interior colours thread, probably best to go with bronze green HU75 rather than cockpit green (HU78)

To be confirmed, National Insignia- 6 stars or 4? Also, it appears to be unarmed. Were the 50cals fitted at unit level or stored inside during the ferry flight?

Still need a Humbrol match for Olive Drab (Hu66 or Hu155), Neutral grey (IPMS Stockholm gives a concoction of 4 shades)- HU64?) and now also USAAF Medium green (HU149)?

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Stars - One each side of the fuselage in the waist position, one on the top of the port wing, and on the bottom of the starboard wing.

Not sure on the Humbrol colours as I don't use them.

Guns - I found a Boeing factory photo showing newly completed B-17's fitted with guns. I don't know whether they would be stowed internally during the Atlantic crossing or not.

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B-17s featured little or no of the familiar "Interior Green." The cockpit, nose compartment, and radio room were mostly Dull Dark Green, a very dark, slightly bluish green..Model Master "Euro 1 Dark Green" is a decent match. The sides of these compartments were covered with soundproofing/insulation padding, which would be either Dull Dark Green or Olive Drab. The padding was usually ripped out in service to make maintenance easier and reduce the fire hazard, and the areas underneath were unpainted metal. The waist area, and inside of all hatches were unpainted, although some structural parts appear to be primed with a color similar to Interior Green (remember, there was no real standard for this color..it was simply Zinc Chromate Yellow tinted with black..it was mixed as needed, and varied from batch to batch. ) The bombays on Olive Drab Fortresses were usually the same Neutral Gray as the underside, and later unpainted. Not sure about the wheel wells..probably a combination of unpainted metal with some light green primer. I don't think Zinc Chromate Yellow was used anywhere on B-17s..but I may be wrong.

Here are some pics I took of a B-17E being restored in Ohio (the flash makes the Dull Dark Green look brighter and more vivid than it really is.) The plane has the most accurately restored interior I've ever seen..since it's a static display, they can keep it completely original. Probably the only thing different from an F would be the control wheels.





Edited by Steve N
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I would expect guns to be stowed during the flight, if carried at all. Hanging them out is just extra drag to no purpose. Later aircraft would be ferried not directly to a unit but to a Base Aerial Depot, which (if relevant) would be Burtonwood at this stage. Here the aircraft were fitted out to the standard required for European combat. This delivery may be a little early for the system to be up and running.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks all so far for the replies.

Just a couple more questions. I've found some correct older style insig in the decals folder spares. The kit comes with the later stars'n'bars. What I need to know is what size (approx diameter in mm) do I need for wings and fuse postitions?

I'm still trying to get my head around the guns question. Would a 1943 B-17 on a ferry flight across the pond from US to UK (via North Africa) have guns fitted, guns stowed or no guns at all, fitted later on arrival? The photos above are inconclusive, at least for the dorsal and ball turrets. Tail does look empty. I would have thought some armament might be useful if they came across some German aircraft on the trip from Marrakesh to the UK. And she did have a full crew.

Lastly, Humbrol 155 looks very brown for fresh olive drab (ideal for faded though) whilst 66 looks way too grey, more like modern helo olive drab. I've found a tin of 108 though, a discontinued colour formerly known as WW1 green. Or would 86 be a better bet?

Not trying to start a discussion on OD, just what humbrol looks right to the eyes of others!

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