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Camouflage, Colors and Markings Topics related to Camouflage, Colors and Markings of WWI aircraft

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Old 11 July 2011, 10:06 AM   #1
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Sopwith Camel serial number location


I am working on some ideas for a few Sopwith Camels of 46 Squadron around the March/April 1918 timeframe and have a question:

Was there any rhyme/reason/standard practice for location and painting of serial numbers on Sopwith Camels? Typical locations seem to be on the side of the fuselage or on the fin, but if a picture of a specific aircraft is not available, is there any "best guess" method to determine where it might have been?

Pics of 46 Squadron Camels that I've seen so far (in British Aviation Squadron Markings of World War I) do not seem to show a pattern (one was on the fuselage side, the other on the fin).

Being a fan of "Winged Victory" I'd like to do C flight of 46 Squadron during the German spring push, so if there are some other pics out there that I'm missing, please point me to the appropriate references.


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Old 11 July 2011, 09:02 PM   #2
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46 Sq. Camels


In general Camels were built in Lots by different companies, each of whom had different marking practices. 'The Camel File' by Air-Britain gives all the Camel serials broken down by manufacturer's Lots. So if you know a Camel's serial number, you can find out the manufacturer and the likely location of various markings.
For instance : 'Sopwith Camel Sqns' by Albatros Publ. has a pic of 46 Sqn. machine B5209 'X' . This machine is part of a Lot of 100 built by Boulton & Paul Ltd. B & P machines had the serial in two places - in a white rectangular box on the fuselage and across the rudder. The pic has the fuselage box, but you can't see the rudder, but based on B & P marking practices it should be on the rudder as well.

Unfortunately camels were not given to the squadrons in consecutive sequence. So each aircraft in a sqn. could be marked differently.

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Old 12 July 2011, 10:31 AM   #3
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That was kind of what I had been supposing - that there was definite variance within the squadrons.

The info regarding the two pubs you mentioned should help immensely. This will hopefully allow me to make an "educated guess" on a plane with a documented serial number if I can't find a picture. For example, Donald MacLaren's F2137 has some great documentation on it, but so far I have not found B1953, which is what it seems he was flying during the Spring 1918 push. Of course, this still leaves open what letter was painted on the side of hte fuselage (argh!) but one step at a time.

Thanks again!

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Old 12 July 2011, 12:23 PM   #4
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Good luck finding anything on B'1953... pretty sure that should be B'9153 which McL was flying in March of 1918.

It's a Boulton and Paul machine so it's serial number would have been on the fuselage in the "white box" just forward of the horizontal tail and again on the rudder. Powered by a LeRhone 9J arrived at 46 Sq 28 Jan 18.

All from Sturtivant and Page's "Camel File"....

No idea what the squadron letter would have been....


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Old 13 July 2011, 06:02 AM   #5
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Right you are....I fat-fingered it when typing - I was looking off the aces page on here and transposed the two digits. *sigh* Thanks for the info, I'll have to look into getting those two books at some point. Best to make as few assumptions as possible!

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