Re: WWI Spad Colors
Wed, 7 Jun 1995 18:31:56 -0400

Dear Mike,

This is from Windsock's "WWI Warplanes" from an article about the Spad XII
ca.1. You might also try Squadron's Spad In Action Book. I think it's out
of print because I haven't been able to find one around here (Northern

Sorry for any typos but I'm trying out my scanner for OCR. Author is not
credited in text.


Article follows:

1916 saw the introduction of enduit
metallise (metal coat) which in its base
form was used mostly on Nieuports. At
the same time aluminium powder was
added to other available colours, this to
protect fabric from the sun's ultra-violet
rays and to provide a more dense coat of
colour with a good surface. It did not, as
has been suggested elsewhere, give a
bright, silvery, metallic-type finish. It is
likely that some experimentation was
undertaken and that the remainder of the
so-called French 'yellow period' (roughly
from mid 1916 to early 1918) could have
included aeroplanes painted with alumi-
nium powder added to a plain yellow pig-
ment as well as an earlier scheme when a
basic yellow paint was added to the fatty
varnish to improve adhesion to the under-
coat. In the case of the former the result
was not a silvery yellow, rather a solid
opaque colour which could vary from a
rich egg yolk shade through to a near
beige or buff to a whitish yellow depend-
ing on age and/or weathering.


In October 1917 the French introduced a
standardised five-colour pattern for aero-
plane upper surfaces, consisting of Chest-
nut Brown, Dark Green, Light Green, Beige
and Black, with Light Yellow or Light Grey
under surfaces. Except for the Black all of
these pigments were mixed with alumi-
nium powder. The patterns were standar-
dised for each subcontractor, but differed
from one builder to another, and de Mar-
cay not only deviated from the norm by
not using black but by frequently reversing
the pattern on some production batches.
One single feature governed the design
of the multi coloured camouflage pattern
for most types of French warplanes of the
period; an evident characteristic of many
schemes was the black 'footprint' on the
upper starboard wing and the irregular