Consolidated Blue

Researched by Tim Kalina

It has been established from Lockheed documents (see 3-view drawing below) that the "Lady Southern Cross" was painted Consolidated Blue, a colour which has thus far eluded researchers. Many references quote the shade of blue used on the aeroplane as "Royal Blue" but as will be seen from the following, this shade is much too light. As recently as September 2001, Tim Kalina of Chicago discovered a 1932 vintage colour chart from paint manufacturers Berry Brothers of Detroit, Michigan. This colour chart, which is made up of actual semi gloss samples ("colour chips") of Berryloid Pigmented Dope, includes a colour known as Consolidated Blue (catalogue number 1723). By way of explaining Berry's use of the Consolidated name for one of its products, the chart also includes other colours such as Curtiss Blue, Stinson Green and Stearman Vermilion, as well as colours for the Air Corps and Navy. Tim's scan of the chart in his possession can be viewed here. Please note however, this chart is reproduced here principally for its historical value. It should not be regarded as an accurate representation of the colours shown thereon. For accurate colour matches, readers should use the FS numbers shown in the following table. These FS numbers have been selected by Tim as the closest matches to the actual samples on the 1932 Berryloid chart. These numbers have been arrived at after examination under various light sources.

The most striking feature of Consolidated Blue (hereinafter abbreviated to CB) is how dark it is. Indeed it appears to be black, unless it is compared alongside a sample of black (this may or may not work on your monitor).

Consolidated Blue
Black

 

Tim has this to say about the CB sample in his possession:

"The actual CB is a unique color. You can see that it is not a pure blue but that it has some green in it. Now that I have the actual color sample it is easier to see why in the various photos of the LSC the shade of this color seems to change. I would guess that certain films picked up the green in the color while others may have been more sensitive to the blue. And I can see why in many photos of the LSC that the maroon pin striping is not visible. The Berryloid 'Berry Red' is the same value as the 'Consolidated Blue' and so appears as the same shade as the CB and seems to disappear into the CB color".

It is probably reasonable to speculate that Lockheed also used other colours from the Berryloid range, so Tim has attempted to match other colours used on the Lady Southern Cross with Berryloid colours. These matches also appear in the following chart. Readers are cautioned that colours other than CB are "educated guesses" although Tim expresses confidence in the appropriateness of "Fine Aluminum".


The publisher extends special thanks to Tim Kalina for this outstanding contribution to the history of the "Lady Southern Cross".


THE DOCUMENTS

The two documents which support the foregoing conclusions about the principal colour of the "Lady Southern Cross" are Smithy's 1934 painting specification sourced from Lockheed archives and the 1932 Berryloid colour chart supplied by Tim Kalina. (A later Berryloid chart confirms that the Consolidated Blue colour was unchanged and still available in 1940). Other Lockheed documents indicate that Smithy requested Lockheed to provide a three view drawing on which he could indicate the colours he required on his Altair. Upon closer examination of the completed drawing, the rudimentary nature of the added markings will be immediately apparent. It is highly likely that these markings were drawn by Smithy himself, their rough nature reflecting the fact that the Altair was a rush order. In specifying that the Altair be painted Consolidated Blue, it is also highly likely that Smithy had been shown a Berryloid colour chart similar to the one depicted here. It is quite obvious that when the Altair was painted at the factory, Smithy's specifications were considerably embellished by Lockheed in line with prevailing company standards. Whether or not this was done in consultation with Smithy is unknown but he is unlikely to have been displeased with the results!

 

Smithy's Painting Specification
(Click for a larger view)

The 1932 Berryloid Colour Chart
(Click for a larger view)


 

THE COLOURS

COLOUR
See Note 1
BERRYLOID NAME/NUMBER
HEX
R
G
B
FS
APPLICATION
  Consolidated Blue
1723
#000033 000 000 051 25053

See
Note 3
Fuselage and panels on upper wing surfaces.
  Fine Aluminum #CCCCCC 204 204 204 17178 Wings.
  Berry Red
1226
#990000 153 000 000 21136 Pinstriping around upper wing panels, white fuselage stripe, registration and name. See Note 2.
  Stearman Vermilion
1223
#FF0000 255 000 000 11350 The star in the Lockheed logo on the fin. The logo itself is white with the word "Altair" in black on the star.
  White
(An off-white not necessarily in the Berryloid range)
#F5F5F5 255 255 255 17925 Fuselage/cowling stripe, name "ANZAC" (in 9 inch block letters), Lockheed logo, registration X-118W on rudder. See Note 2.

 

NOTES
1
It is most important to note that the colour swatches in the first column are for rough guidance only. These colours are mostly not "Web safe" colours and even if they were they could be expected to present differently on different monitors. These approximations equate to the hex and RGB values shown in the adjacent columns. Modellers and artists (and replica builders!) are advised to use the FS numbers which have been matched after extensive research by Tim Kalina.
2
It should be noted that the colours in the table are applicable to July 1934 when the Altair, then named "ANZAC" and registered X-118W, was delivered to Smithy at the Lockheed factory. Although most of these colours would not have changed after arrival in Australia, the markings were subject to several changes. The name "ANZAC" was removed from the fuselage, the American registration X-118W having been removed from the rudder and the underside of the left wing before the aircraft was loaded on the S.S. Mariposa. The Australian registration VH-USB and the new name, "Lady Southern Cross", were added to the fuselage in an indeterminate shade of white after arrival in Australia, as were the letters VH on the rudder. The Australian registration, VH-USB, was painted under the wings in flat black (VH- under the right wing and USB under the left).
3
Although FS25053 is a very close match to CB, Tim recommends that it requires a touch of green (say 5% dark green) for a fully authentic match.

 

Consolidated Blue

CONSOLIDATED BLUE
COLOUR CHIP

Readers requiring a colour chip closely matched to an actual sample of CB can request one by sending an email to Tim Kalina. Tim is also happy to answer questions on his research into the colours of the "Lady Southern Cross".

 


Issue Date Remarks
1 17SEP01
Original issue.


Return to the Altair Menu
Return to the Lockheed File