Book Review
Air Force Colors - Volume 3

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

This one of those books which just leaves me wondering:

a. How I missed it on the shelves all these years, and
b. How I got along without it.

Dana Bell will be well known to most for his extensive research into U.S. WW2 camouflage and markings. His work has appeared in many books and periodicals, but this title from Squadron-Signal has quite simply caught me off guard. This is Vol. 3 in a series which began 10 years ago and, somehow or other, I've managed to miss them in the UK...

Format & Content
Softbound in letter format with 95 pages. 252 B&W photos, 3 colour photos, plus 16 pages of colour artwork.

Volume 3 of Air Force Colors series covers the Pacific and Home Fronts from 1942-47. The research that has gone into this volume is quite phenomenal and the topics covered include:

Pacific Colors, 1942-1942 - a description of the colours and specifications for Camouflage, National Insignia, Theatre Markings and Unit Markings.
Higher Visibility - the move towards "natural metal".
The Home Front - including Air Transport Command and Camouflage Tests.
Unit Markings Of The Pacific Basin - including Fighters, Night Fighters, Bomber, Transport, Reconnaissance, Air Commando and Miscellaneous units.
CBI Markings (China-Burma-India) - broken down into similar categories
B-29s Against Japan
Postwar USAAF to USAF
Interior Colors

Each topic is described in detail and illustrated with dozens of carefully chosen and captioned B&W photos. Where appropriate, diagrams and tables give extra information of, for instance, buzz numbers and the development and proportions of national insignia.

Appendix - The Colors - gives a number of paint matches to present-day F.S. standards. Note: This section isn't complete in itself, but is the final instalment of a colour guide spread over the 3 volume set.

Colour Section.
The colour artwork is all by Don Greer and breaks down into three main sections:
42 x profile and perspective paintings of representative aircraft.
2 x pages of 106 different unit insignia
5 x pages of bomber and fighter unit tail markings.

The artwork is excellent and, usefully for modellers, there are scrap views of the "reverse side" of some aircraft and enlargements of insignia. I do wish there were more plan-views - that would make this section a perfect modellers' reference.

Quite honestly, I could scrap the whole of the above review and simply say "Buy it!" - or rather, "Buy the set!". Between them, the 3 volumes make an indispensable guide to Air Corps / Air Force camouflage and markings up to and including WW2 - something you will refer to again and again over the years. I was lucky enough to receive Vol. 3 as a sample from Squadron-Signal - suffice it to say, I went straight out to buy the other two volumes! Unreservedly recommended.

Thank you to MMD-Squadron for kindly supplying the review sample. The complete set of Air Force Colors Vols. 1-3 is available on-line for $35-95

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA
I didn't even realise this series existed until now. That's my loss and I'd urge all serious student of WW2 camouflage and markings to head down to their book shop to check these out as a matter of priority.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 0 89747 376 0
  Suggested Retail: $13.46
  PUBLISHED: Jul 24, 2005
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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