Camouflage and markings of No.112 Squadron RAF, Part 2

by Rick Kent

This page is a continuation of Camouflage and Markings of No. 112 Sqn RAF, Part 1.

World War II: Italy

Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. III, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Foggia Main, Italy, October 1943

Before going into the details of this particular 112 Sqn Kittyhawk III, it should be pointed out that the British Mk.III designation was used for both the P-40K and P-40M designations (incidentally the Merlin powered P-40F and P-40L models were known as Kittyhawk II, though very few of these were delivered to the RAF).

This particular 112 Sqn Kittyhawk III is exactly one year later on from the Mk.IA profile, after the Squadron had fought its way from North Africa, through Sicily and on into Italy, and is of the P-40M US variety with longer rear fuselage. As can be seen, it retains its original USAAF Olive Drab and Neutral Gray camouflage with British markings applied; this was not unusual on various US types supplied under Lease-Lend to the RAF, both in Northern and Southern Europe (and also India/Burma). So some of 112 Sqn’s Kittyhawk III’s, including earlier P-40K types, and also the later Mk.IV’s (P-40N) were in this scheme; others were repainted in British desert type camouflage.

Note that the yellow wing leading edges are still applied outboard of the guns, and also that the individual ident letter ”Q” is painted over the serial number ”FR806”. Otherwise the markings are the standard ones for 112 Sqn, including the upper inside of the mouth in black; note that the eyes overlap the louvred plate forward of the later type of exhaust stacks.

Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. III, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Cutella, Italy, April 1944

Here is the earlier type of Kittyhawk III (P-40K) with short rear fuselage and dorsal fin extension still in service with 112 Sqn in the last month they operated them before conversion to the Mk.IV.

Firstly, modellers should notice that it has British radio equipment installed with just the aerial mast and no wires; also it is fitted with the D/F loop aerial on top of the rear fuselage. the camouflage and markings are all as standard desert finish, complete with yellow wing leading edges.

Once again the individual letter ”J” is painted over the serial number (FR474) and also it has been used as the first letter of the pilot’s nickname for the aircraft ”Jinx”. As well as the fuel drop tank that I have depicted, these Kittyhawks of 112 Sqn frequently carried various mixtures of 250 and 500 lb. bombs, both under the fuselage and wings, and of both British and American types; the squadron being heavily engaged in ground attack sorties against enemy troop positions, tanks, etc.

Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. IV, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, pilot: Sergeant G.F. Davis
Cutella, Italy, April 1944

Here is the Mk.IV Kittyhawk (P-40N) of 112 Sqn, as operated from April to June 1944 in Italy. The main colour scheme and markings are basically of the perfectly standard desert style finish, but with two things worthy of note. The upper surface camouflage colours are reversed on this aircraft, which probably indicates that it has been repainted from its original USAAF style of camouflage and hence the dark and light areas are where they should really be rather than the other way round as happened when Dark Earth/Dark Green aircraft simply had their green areas repainted with Mid Stone.

The second thing is the use of the query punctuation mark as an individual aircraft ident marking; the use of such symbols and shapes (such as, eg, colons, semi-colons, and diamonds) was not unusual in Italy when a squadron had more than 26 aircraft on strength, and the use of ”?” was the most common, even at times in the UK itself. Indeed, the ”?” mark was often used to indicate the aircraft of the squadron commander, though not always so as in the case of this aircraft. Once again this is painted over the top of the serial number, FX740.

This aircraft again also has British radio equipment with no wire ariels, just the mast behind the canopy and whip on the rear fuselage.

From April 1944 the Squadron added 1,000 lb bombs to the armaments carried on its Kittyhawks and began to specialise in knocking-out enemy bridges. They began to receive their first Mustang III’s in June and were fully re-equipped with them by early July. The Tomahawk and Kittyhawk (P-40) had proved to be very good aircraft for the geographical conditions and highly mobile warfare from the dark days of mid-1941 in Egypt right through to the mid-summer of 1944 in Italy.

North American Mustang Mk. III, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Fano, Italy, February 1945

With the entry into service of the Mustang III (P-51B/C) with 112 Sqn came a dramatic change of colour scheme as seen here.

From July 1944, when they became fully operational with the Mustang, the camouflage scheme became the same standard one as used in Northern Europe on RAF fighters; namely Dark Green and Ocean Grey on the upper surfaces and Medium Sea Grey undersurfaces. The markings are, however, different in some ways: the codes letters are in white; there are no yellow leading edges to the wings; the spinner is red; and the rear fuselage sky band is painted out with camouflage (note the straight edge to the Dark Green area). It seems clear from photographs that sky bands were overpainted in Italy on the units of the RAF Desert Air Force (which included 112 Sqn) but were retained on the RAF Balkan Air Force, operating from Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece.

Note that this aircraft, in common with many Mustang III’s in Italy – and also USAAF P-51B and -C models – has the dorsal fin extension similar to later production Mk.IV’s (P-51D’s).

112 Sqn operated the Mk.III Mustangs up to the end of the war in May 1945, supplementing them with Mk.IV’s and IVA’s (P-51K) from February 1945. They participated in the invasion of Southern France as well as continuing with operations along the Adriatic coast of Italy, mostly in the fighter-bomber role, and still with some liking for attacking bridge targets

North American Mustang Mk. IVA, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Cervia, Italy, May 1945

Here is the final piston-engined aircraft type operated by 112 Sqn, the Mustang IVA (P-51K); a mixture of Mk.IV’s (P-51D) and IVA’s were operated from February 1945 until December 1946.

Up to approximately the end of hostilities in Europe these Mustangs were painted in the normal camouflage, just as the previous Mk.III illustration. After that they were left in natural metal finish with Olive Drab anti-dazzle panel in front of the cockpit, and the code letters in black instead of white, all other markings remaining the same. Note that yet again the serial number (KH774) is overpainted, by the individual aircraft ident letter ”S”.

The Mustang IV’s and IVA’s were used alongside the remaining Mk.III’s mainly in the ground attack role with bombs, though they did also fly longer-range missions with fuel drop tanks underwing. After a period in Northern Italy on occupation duty after the war’s end the Squadron was disbanded at Treviso on 30th December 1946

Entering the Jet Age

de Havilland Vampire F.B. Mk. 5, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force,  pilot: Squadron Leader I.D. Bolton, DFC
Fassberg, Germany, 1951

112 Sqn was reformed on 12th May 1951 at Fassberg in the then West Germany, equipped with Vampire F.B.5’s; it moved to Jever in March 1952.

As shown here, these Vampires were originally painted in High-Speed Silver finish, though by 1953 they were camouflaged. The colour green was used as a Squadron identity as well as the single code-letter ”T”. On this particular aircraft (which is the Squadron Commander’s one) the green is in the lightning flash on the nose, and on the wingtips, code-letters, and fins. The code-letter ”A” is the individual aircraft ident.

The official Squadron badge of a black Egyptian cat appears in a white disc on the fins and also in miniature in the centre of the lightning flash. The well-known sharkmouth and eyes are obvious, though the centre of the mouth is all black and the thin lips are red. The rectangular marking below the windscreen is the Squadron Commander’s pennant in horizontal stripes of medium blue, light blue, red, light blue, and medium blue, from top to bottom.

The Squadron flew the Vampires until January 1954 when they were replaced by Canadair Sabres.



Canadair Sabre F. Mk. 4, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Bruggen, Germany, 1956

Here is the Canadair Sabre F.4 as 112 Sqn were equipped with from January 1954 until April 1956. The camouflage is standard as applied to RAF fighters outside the UK from about 1952 until the introduction of the Hunter in the mid 1950’s, namely Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey on the upper surfaces with PRU Blue undersurfaces (the same colour as applied to photo recon aircraft in WW II).

Note the black anti-dazzle ahead of the cockpit, which was left in place on RAF Sabres just as painted in Canada. The white letter ”T” on the fin is the individual aircraft ident, squadron codes having been discontinued by then. The famous squadron markings appear on the nose of course in the same colours as for the Vampire. This aircraft has the fixed wing leading edges with fences; modellers should always check this point on RAF Sabres as some had the slatted leading edges.

As a matter of interest, these Sabres were supplied with US funding under MAP, so when the RAF finished using them they were returned to the USAF who redistributed them to the Italian Air Force and also to Yugoslavia.

Hawker Hunter F. Mk. 4, 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Bruggen, Germany, 1956

The last type of aircraft flown by 112 Sqn was the Hunter F.4, as shown here, which they operated from April 1956 to May 1957. The basic camouflage is the standard Dark Green/Dark Sea Grey upper surfaces with High-Speed Silver painted undersurfaces.

The famous sharkmouth and eyes are on the nose of course in the usual post-war colours. The position of the individual aircraft ident letter ”T” on the fuselage is unusual; 112 Sqn were the only front-line operational unit to put their codes (in white) in that position. Also the squadron commander’s aircraft (XF319) had the ”?” symbol instead of a letter, harking back to the days of the wartime Kittyhawks.

The Squadron disbanded on May 31st 1957 at Bruggen and has never flown aircraft since, though it was reformed as a Bloodhound SAM unit between 1960 and 1975, firstly in the UK and from 1969 in Cyprus.

Rick Kent is a modeller, IPMS:er and a productive aviation artist. His speciality are computer-generated aircraft profiles.



This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholm Magazine in March 2000.