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56th FG Zemkes Wolfpack
The Outstanding P-47 Fighter Group Of WW2.
Hosted by Nigel Julian
Gabreski's Final Thunderbolt
LuthierTom
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Posted: Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - 12:22 PM UTC
Hey folks,

At the risk of (re)starting some controversy, what is the current thinking on the paint scheme for Gabreski's Thunderbolt from D-Day through his crash in July? I'm particularly interested in the underside color (or lack thereof) and configuration of the invasion stripes.

LT
lampie
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Posted: Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - 10:29 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Hey folks,

At the risk of (re)starting some controversy, what is the current thinking on the paint scheme for Gabreski's Thunderbolt from D-Day through his crash in July? I'm particularly interested in the underside color (or lack thereof) and configuration of the invasion stripes.

LT



Hi LT.
No controversy from my point of view. Its all documented in photos.
First of all,,the paint scheme.
"It was painted light gray on the bottom,dark green and medium gray on the top".Gabby Gabreski's own words .A Fighter Pilots Life. Schiffer.
Naturally full invasion stripes were carried at first.
These were removed from the upper wings and partially removed from the top fusalage surfaces prior to July 5th 1944 and a dark band was in evidence around the white stripes on the fusalage sides on that date as can be seen in this photo.

When Gabby bellylanded in Germany on July 20th the remaining white bands on the upper fusalage had been removed.

Gabbys final P-47 is extremely well documented in photographs, far too many people just guess and make assumptions without researching a subject in detail, and with the advent of the internet it hasnt taken long for many of these guesses to assume "fact" status.
Whoops,,,put the soapbox away Nige,
Hope this answers your question LT.
Nige
LuthierTom
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Posted: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 12:24 AM UTC
Thanks, Nige!

I have the first photo, but that is the first time I'd seen the belly-in shots.

How about on D-Day itself? Full upper and lower fuselage striping, or black-edged white like the 5 July photo?

LT
lampie
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Posted: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 03:15 AM UTC

Quoted Text



How about on D-Day itself? Full upper and lower fuselage striping, or black-edged white like the 5 July photo?

LT



Quoted Text


Naturally full invasion stripes were carried at first.
These were removed from the upper wings and partially removed from the top fusalage surfaces prior to July 5th 1944



On D-Day it would have had the full invasion stripes, the same as every other aircraft operating over the beaches on that day.
Ralph Safford,Gabbys crew chief recalls.
" We started about 3pm (on June 5th) with routine mantenance of the plane plus painting the stripes.When we painted the invasion stripes we used a British paint that was very heavy in texture and hard to spread. We had to hurry the job; even so it took us four hours to complete. I thought it was a sloppy job, but I guess it answered the purpose"
From "Gabby, A Fighter Pilots Life"
Nige
LuthierTom
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Posted: Friday, March 06, 2009 - 03:16 AM UTC
OK, two final questions (I promise):

Centerline drop tank - painted or natural metal (I'm assuming natural metal - why paint a throw-away item? Oh, wait, the Germans did it then and everybody does today...)?

Wing pylons appear to be absent on July 20. Any info on their presence or absence June 6 to end of June time frame? If present, I assume they were unpainted.

Thanks so much! I plan to do my Tamiya campaign build as Gabby's airplane with full D-Day striping, and would like to put pylons on it and possibly the 500# bombs, but I'm suffering from "accuracy angst" right now.

LT
lampie
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Posted: Friday, March 06, 2009 - 03:53 AM UTC

Quoted Text

OK, two final questions (I promise):

Centerline drop tank - painted or natural metal (I'm assuming natural metal - why paint a throw-away item? Oh, wait, the Germans did it then and everybody does today...)?

Wing pylons appear to be absent on July 20. Any info on their presence or absence June 6 to end of June time frame? If present, I assume they were unpainted.

Thanks so much! I plan to do my Tamiya campaign build as Gabby's airplane with full D-Day striping, and would like to put pylons on it and possibly the 500# bombs, but I'm suffering from "accuracy angst" right now.

LT



Centre line droptank. (150 gal "flat" type). Colour photos from Boxted around the time show them stacked up and they appear to be painted grey. There may well have been exceptions from different suppliers, and as you say, they were a throwaway item.

None of the photos I have seen show Gabbys final P-47 fitted with underwing pylons.

I have seen photos of various 56thFG P-47s with pylons and without.( same aircraft), so they must have been removable.But like I said, Ive never seen a photo of Gabbys plane fitted with them.

I have a photo dated (not verified) as 30th June 1944 which shows Gabbys T'bolt with full invasion stripes, so that narrows the time frame down a bit. (The upper surfaces were gone by July 5th)

Nige


PaddyBarratt
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Posted: Friday, March 06, 2009 - 04:43 AM UTC
Did the USAF use paper tanks ? might explain why they painted them .
lampie
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Posted: Friday, March 06, 2009 - 04:51 AM UTC
They were a mixture of pressed paper and metal, depending on manufacturer. Especially the 108 Gallon type.
Nige
BigJugs
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Posted: Saturday, March 07, 2009 - 02:20 AM UTC





Mike Dobrzelecki
Gabby's Last Thunderbolt
Mon Dec 2 08:35:28 2002
205.247.229.99
Regarding the previous threads on this subject - almost all of you are right. Having seen early generation prints of almost all of the photos of this bubbletop at Gabby's house in Dix Hills Long Island - some of which were posted in the two threads - it is clear that Gabby's bubbletop underwent a hell of a lot of markings changes in very short period of time between May 1944 when the first D-25's were delivered and when he bellied into the German wheat field on July 20 1944.

It started out in natural metal with the black ETO stripes -rumor has it, it even a sported red, or possibly red and white, HV A code, like one of his previous Razorbacks. Then it was painted up in RAF colors - my "preference" after looking at all of the photos and talking to those who saw flew and serviced the aircraft is Ocean Grey/Dark Green on top and Medium Sea Grey on bottom, although Roger Freeman, who, as a lad bicycled around Boxted making copious detailed notes on the colors and markings , believes it was natural metal. BTW, the Dark Green was applied first, then the Grey sprayed on. The black ETO stripes did persist on the undersides of the horizontal stabs, which makes a case for the natural metal. My choice for Medium Sea Grey is based on my interviews and my "interpretation" of B&W photos - always a very dicey affair, at best.

The "darker" area around the yellow serial number is the camou scheme highlighted by yellow overspray around it from re-applying the serial number in yellow, which was originally black when first delivered. There probably was an olive drab anti-glare panel on the top of the fuselage also when first delivered.

The natural metal sliver around the cockpit sill and the natural metal frame on the canopy was a result of the bubbletop being closed and the whole thing masked off when the camou was applied. The frame covers that shallow triangular sliver on the fuselage when closed.

RE: the stripes - my interpretation is that they started out as the so-called black tape scheme, then were filled in later. Keen-eyed photo interpreters may note that the there is actually white overspray on the portion where the black band should go. One key for dating the changes is obviously his victory record. The other thing to watch out for is incorrectly dated photos. Even the photos in Gabby's collection had some incorrect dates, including one dated May 1944 when the pic sported 27 victories ! The "black-tape' scheme must show only 27 victories. The full wrap around invasion stripe with black bands filled in should also sport 27 only - at least no photo I have ( I have alot on this bird) shows the black-tape scheme with 28. His 28th was obtained ( going from memeory ) on July 5 1944. By this time the invasion stripes were ordered to be removed from all top surfaces - the Osprey 56th FG book has a great shot showing the wings sans stripes with the 28. The top surfaces on Gabby's Bubbletop were repainted - the finish on the top wings being neater than the fuselage. There is that famous color shot of Joe Di Franza, Gabby's armorer, loading .50 cal. into the ammo bays, published in many sources, including FSM. I wish they did a full study with color when they had the chance. The final scheme on July 20 1944 had solid black bands on the invasion stripes, which were carried on the undersurfaces of the fuselage and wings - only - by this date.

The only things missing from my Gabby P-47D-25 in the features section on HScale are the natural metal sliver by the cockpit sill and the yellow overspray around the serial on the fin - both of which Scott Murphy was able to include on his superb 1/32nd scale model.

Hope this helps to clear up some of fascinating conundrums re: Gabby's bubbletop.

Mike D




Scott Murphy
That's actually what it looks like in one photo I have.....
Mon Dec 2 10:09:22 2002
206.148.52.24
that they were outlined by tape. The reason I think it is electrical tape is that there is a sheen to it. On pages 100 and 101 of Gabby's book A fighter Pilot's Life, there is an excellent rendition of that photo of him taxiing out in his D-25. When the photo was taken there were 27 kills, the white invasion stripes wrap all around the wing and there are full wraparound white stripes on the fuselage, outlined in black. The outline looks to be the same width as standard 1" black electrical tape and there are a couple of places where it is reflecting some light.
Now that Gabby has passed on I guess we will never have a definitive answer to a lot of these questions and in his later years his memory was fading so he could not remember either.


Mike Dobrzelecki
Gabby Btop
Mon Dec 2 10:32:18 2002
205.247.229.99
Yes, I agree - it's black tape of some sort - electrical would be my guess - odd choice for masking, don't you think ?
Also, regarding Franek's contention that "the boss" would have certainly ensured that his bird met specs for the invasion stripes, while I agree that Gabby was very particular about his aircraft, the conditions and haste under which the orders for adding the invasion stripes were issued and carried out guaranteed that there would be out-of-spec variations. Gabby remarked to me that he was steaming mad about the finish of his aircraft being messed up by the stripes, but the painters only got around to fixing it later. Photos of many D-day marked aircraft exhibit wide variation and sloppiness in their finish. The stripes were sometimes applied with a broom !
Mike D

LuthierTom
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Posted: Saturday, March 07, 2009 - 12:40 PM UTC
Here's an interesting photo I have in my digital collection. I don't know the date of it.



A few thoughts:

I can definately see the lower surface ID stripe on the horizontal tail. I could argue natural metal verses light grey on the horizontal tail either way. The sheen might be from an unpainted leading edge of the elevator.

The interesting thing is that the national insignia on the underside of the left wing appears to have been greyed out to tone the white down. I wouldn't have noticed that except that the bar goes over a white invasion stripe and is not the same shade.

Just a little amateur photo interpretation.

LT
lampie
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Posted: Sunday, March 08, 2009 - 05:10 AM UTC
Hi LT.
Theres an excellent double page spread of that photo in the Schiffer edition of "Gabby, A Fighter Pilots Life",
While I hear what your saying about the white of the "star and bar" looking a different shade of white, I would say that this was down to it being a different paint,( see Ralph Saffords quote in an earlier post).
I just flicked through a couple of books at random, and on at least 95% of photos which feature underwing invasion stripes you can see a noticeable difference in tone between the white in the invasion stripe and the white in the national insignia.
Nige

LuthierTom
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Posted: Sunday, March 08, 2009 - 05:20 AM UTC
Cool! I was NOT looking forward to greying out the star & bar.

I have Gabby's bio on order right now and should have it in 2 or 3 days. Looking forward to it.

Cheers!

LT
rdriscoll
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Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 - 08:57 AM UTC
Here a few photos:
Looks like black on the fuselage invasion stripes.


These are screenshots:
No black invasion stripes, but white stripes are possibly outlined?



rdriscoll
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Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 - 08:59 AM UTC
I should have said "faded" black invasion stripes are a possibility.
lampie
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Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 - 11:14 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I should have said "faded" black invasion stripes are a possibility.



We are talking about the time period of 5th June - 20th July maximum,so I wouldnt say that paint fade to that extreme was likely, especially as the dark bands around the edges of the white stripes is uniform with a sharp edge.
By all accounts, Gabreski was very particular about how his plane was presented, and that also ties in with the neat edges to the top fusalage invasion stripes on the July 5th photo.
Nige
StrikeEagle15
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Posted: Monday, July 09, 2018 - 01:25 PM UTC
As for the natural metal bottom, I think its pretty bold to take the view of someone who did not fly the thing.. in his 1991 book, Gabby Clearly states "Gray" undersides... whether you believe other or not.. Gabby's is the only point that counts. If that is what he said it was.. then that is what it was.. he flew the thing, almost died in the thing, and pilots become attached to their birds... Pretty sure Gabby knows what he is talking about with reference to is OWN PLANE.