Then Blue Turns to Grey *
... and seemingly vice versa

(with apologies to Messrs. Jagger & Richards)

 

There is much confusion in published sources about the colours applied to the RAAF Neptunes. The most common misconception is that the P2V-7s were delivered in the same Sea Blue colour that was applied to the P2V-5s which had been delivered approximately ten years earlier. In February 1955, the United States Navy began painting their Neptunes Seaplane Grey and during 1959 a white upper fuselage was introduced. This is the scheme in which the RAAF's P2V-7s were delivered. The following images depict the various colour schemes worn by RAAF Neptunes. The original designations P2V-5 and P2V-7 have been used for clarity.

 

P2V-5
P2V-5 A89-307 in the original Gloss Sea Blue.
P2V-5 A89-303 in the original but now faded Gloss Sea Blue but with a white upper fuselage, a variation introduced from November 1961 to reduce internal temperatures.
P2V-5 A89-312 in the final scheme of Gloss Light Gull Grey with a white upper fuselage.
All RAAF Neptunes still in service were repainted in this scheme during 1964-1965.
P2V-5s still in the Sea Blue scheme at retirement were A89-302 and A89-303 and probably A89-301.
P2V-7
The final Neptune ordered by the RAAF, P2V-7 A89-281 is clearly grey not blue. These aircraft were delivered in Semi-Gloss Seaplane Grey with a white upper fuselage. This photograph was taken in June 1964, two years after the aircraft was delivered.
P2V-7 A89-278 in the final scheme of Gloss Light Gull Grey with a white upper fuselage. All RAAF Neptunes were repainted in this scheme during 1964-1965. This photograph was taken at RAAF Richmond on 12 April 1975, just two months after the aircraft had completed an E service which evidently included a repaint. All Neptune heavy maintenance and painting was performed by No. 2 Aircraft Depot at RAAF Richmond. The aircraft is not yet wearing the No. 10 Squadron emblem on the fin. It is assumed that this was applied by the Squadron in Townsville.

 

 

Type Period Colour Scheme
P2V-5 Delivery 51-53 Gloss Sea Blue (FS15042) overall. Also known as Midnight Blue.
NOV61 White top added to fuselage. To the US Navy it was officially the "Solar Heat Reflection Paint Scheme".
1964-1966 Sea Blue replaced with Gloss Light Gull Grey (FS16440)
RAAF Spec 8010-019-4959. Refer Note 1.
Aircraft not repainted were A89-302 and A89-303 and probably A89-301. A89-308 was still overall Sea Blue when it crashed in 1959.
P2V-7 Delivery 62 Semi-Gloss Seaplane Grey (FS26081) with white upper fuselage. Many references state that the P2V-7s were delivered in Sea Blue but photographs show this to be incorrect.
1964-1966 Seaplane Grey replaced with Gloss Light Gull Grey (FS16440)
RAAF Spec 8010-019-4959. Refer Note 1.

 

NOTES
1
Sourced from RAAF Drawing A14166 "Finishing Scheme Neptune Aircraft". The date of the first issue appears to be 22.9.61. Although this drawing is based on an outline of the P2V-5, the latest amendment was June 1975 by which time the P2V-5 had been out of service for eight years so clearly the drawing also applied to the P2V-7. The shade of grey is defined as Light Gull Grey Gloss 8010-019-4959. An amendment dated 7.3.72 calls for the introduction of black gloss numerals on both sides of the nose and fin. The last two digits of the serial number were applied to both sides of the fin. Dimensions of each number were: Height 32 inches, Width 20 inches, Stroke 4 inches. The last three digits of the serial number were applied to both sides of the nose the same size as the full serial number which appeared on the rear fuselage. Dimensions of each character were: Height 8 inches, Width 5 inches, Stroke 1 inch.
2
The following chart attempts to illustrate the three basic colours that were applied to RAAF Neptunes. It must be noted that the HEX values are dependent on external factors such as monitor calibration and therefore should be used with caution. If nothing else, it demonstrates that Sea Blue and Seaplane Grey were very similar. Add a degree of fading and oxidisation and it is easy to see why the colours are often confused.

 

NEPTUNE COLOURS

 

Colour Name
FS
595
HEX
(Note 2)
HEX Colour
Remarks
Sea Blue
(Gloss)
FS15042
151B17
Also known as Midnight Blue or ANA623

Seaplane Grey
(Semi-Gloss)
FS26081
3B3F42
The Gloss version of Seaplane Grey is also known as Engine Grey
Light Gull Grey
(Gloss)
FS16440
ACACA4
RAAF Spec 8010-019-4959
Also known as ANA620

Insignia White
(Gloss)
FS17875
EDF2F8
RAAF Spec 8010-018-5119
Also known as ANA515
Used for fuselage top and roundels

 

 

P2V-7 MARKINGS
Roundels
All P2V-7s were delivered with traditional red, white and blue roundels in all four positions on the wings but with kangaroo roundels on both sides of the fuselage. The kangaroo roundel was introduced on the wings in early 1967.
Serials - Fuselage

All P2V-7s were delivered with the aircraft serial in white on the rear fuselage and the last three digits of the serial in white on the nose. After the aircraft were repainted Light Gull Grey, these serials were presented in black at which time dimensions of each character were: Height 8 inches, Width 5 inches, Stroke 1 inch.

Serials - Tip Tanks
The last two digits of the serial number were painted on the tip tanks in black around 1965-1967. These appear to be the same size as the fuselage serials.
Serials - Fin
The last two digits of the serial number were painted on the fin in black beginning in 1972. Dimensions of each number were: Height 32 inches, Width 20 inches, Stroke 4 inches.
Squadron Emblem - Fin
The No. 10 Squadron emblem began to appear near the tip of the fin around 1972-1973. The emblem was derived from the Squadron Badge which features a Northern Chimera pierced by an Aboriginal fishing spear. The stylised emblem was presented in white on a black shield. The emblem wasn't always present on freshly painted Neptunes so it is surmised that it was applied by the Squadron after the aircraft returned to Townsville.
Squadron Badge The Squadron Badge (popularly known as a crest) often (but not always) appeared on the left side of the fuselage below the cockpit. It was less common for it to appear in the same position on the right side, in which case it was presumably also carried on the left side.
Propeller Spinner With the introduction of the Light Gull Grey scheme, the propeller spinners were painted gloss blue. Drawing A14166 defines the colour as a 50/50 mix of roundel blue (8010-018-5121) and white.

 

 

 

P2V-7 REPAINTING AT 2AD

SERIAL
DEPART
RETURN
REMARKS
A89-270
23SEP65
13OCT65
Repaint
A89-271
15OCT64
26MAR65
E Service
A89-272
28JUL65
30AUG65
Repaint
A89-273
27MAY65
22OCT65
E Service
A89-274
22MAY64
02OCT64
First E Service & first to be repainted. Note 1.
A89-275
02MAY65
02JUN65
Repaint
A89-276
31MAY65
12JUL65
Repaint
A89-277
09SEP65
13JAN66
E Service
A89-278
22FEB65
30JUN65
E Service
A89-279
03SEP65
24SEP65
Repaint
A89-280
09JUL65
02AUG65
Repaint
A89-281
12APR65
21AUG65
E Service

 

NOTES
1
The 10 Squadron ORB records that A89-274 was the first P2V-7 to have an E Service and the first to be painted light grey.
2
Depart and Return dates represent dates from/to No 10 Sqn at Townsville.
3
No. 2 Aircraft Depot (2AD) was at Richmond, NSW.
4
Where an actual date of repainting is not recorded, it is presumed that an aircraft was repainted during its first E service, all of which fell due in the period 1964-1966.
5
It can be deduced from the above table that a repaint took approximately 4 weeks. In the case of the first aircraft (A89-274) an E service and a repaint took approximately 20 weeks however this apparently improved to approximately 16 weeks as the program progressed.

 

*

Then blue turns to grey
And try as you may
You just don't feel good
And you don't feel alright

"Blue Turns to Grey"
by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

 

 


Issue Date Remarks
2 14FEB17
Added Insignia White to colour chart.
1 05NOV15
Original issue.


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