Re: US colors

Charles Hart (
Fri, 19 Jan 1996 10:41:00 -0700

Mike offers:

>Question for the pundits. . . .
>Concerning the US roundels on French made planes, ie. Nieuports and SPADs.
>Were the colors of the roundels US National colors, deep red and blue,
>Or, were they the softer French colors?
>How about the proportions, With the larger center as the French or the
>smaller center as the British?
>Does anyone know of any research in this area?
>Right now I'm mostly concerned about the Nieuport 28.

The assumption would be that for French manufactured aircraft, French
colors would be used and for British built machines, British colors
employed. Given that Nieuport 28s were almost exclusively used by AEF
pilots and squadrons, US roundels would have come from the factory on these

French cockade proportions are 1 unit for the center spot diameter, 2
units for the middle ring diameter and 3 units for the diameter of the
whole cockade. This is pretty easy to measure on photographs, but is
noticeable in that the center spot appears big in comparison with the rest
of the cockade.

Proportions for British roundels are 1:3:5 as above, hence the center
spot looks relatively small.

The new Pegasus British markings sheet includes some roundels in
French 1:2:3 proportions as found on some Nieuports and SPADs. These
would represent, presumably, markings from French built (and marked ??)
machines which may have been overpainted once the RFC took delivery.

I have looked at a lot of photographs of Allied aircraft with an eye
toward which proportions were used on their cockades/roundels, my
conclusion is that there are a lot of exceptions, particularly with
American aircraft. It is even possible to find French machines with
British proportions on the cockades. With American built aircraft both
British and French proportions were used, though Army standards went to a
dark blue early on in the use of roundels, although the specific color is
hard to track prior to about 1926. There was a nice little file on this in
the USAF Museum archives room which was unfortunately misplaced or stolen
the second time I looked for it a few years ago.

This is a topic of considerable interest to me and I would appreciate
input from others on the list.