THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
"Battle of Britain - The Movie", by Robert J.
Rudhall, book excerpt #6
All text by the late Robert J. Rudhall, circa 2000
Colours and Codes
When it came to painting the vintage aircraft fleet in authentic markings for the film, the producers faced a thorny problem. Should they use squadron codes for the British and German aircraft, which would represent actual units during the Battle of Britain 1940, or should the markings be entirely fictitious? If they used actual codes, then there was no way that every active unit could be represented on both sides, which would inevitably lead to the 'Why wasn't my old squadron shown in the film?' argument.
Faced with this dilemma, Saltzman and Fisz decided to go for the fictitious option, thereby not intentionally upsetting anyone. The film's research team set to work in order to come up with useable squadron code letters and serials, which were believed not to have been issued during the war. This task was not as easy as it sounded, for during wartime there were so many anomalies in terms of the colours and markings set down by the Air Ministry, and what was actually painted on the aircraft' in the field', it could not be 100% sure that the code combinations picked for the film had not appeared somewhere before between 1939 and 1945.
However, a choice of code letters was decided upon, although all of them would not actually appear in the final print of the film. Spitfires would use AI, BO, CD, EI, EQ and LC squadron codes, with serials in the N221 0 to N3445 range. Hurricanes would wear GH, KV, MI, and OQ codes, plus just individual aircraft code letters during the Battle of France scenes, with serials in the H3418 to H3430 range. There was one exception to this, when Hurricane IIC PZ865 (G-AMAU) wore the authentic markings (OK-I) carried by Keith Park's personal Hurricane, used by the AVM to inspect his squadrons 'in the field' during 1940. This guise was seen in two scenes, when Park arrives unannounced at Canfield's airfield (Hawkinge) and again at Northolt, when Park flies in for the heated meeting with Leigh-Mallory and Dowding.
All of the squadron codes and serials were made by the 3M company in a 'Fablon-style' material, so that they could be changed on a regular basis. This resulted in many aircraft wearing different markings on both sides of the fuselage in order to cut down on the number of aerial filming sorties.
If keeping track of the British aircraft seems difficult, then the German markings have, over the years, proved to be an absolute nightmare. Patchy information on the use of the aircraft in Spain has resulted in little conclusive proof of codes and unit insignia carried by the Messerschmitts and Heinkels. However,
it is known that the Heinkels carried 3N, A4, AS, VI, U6 and 6J Staffel codes. The Messerschmitt 109s adopted a coding system of matching the colours of the codes with that worn by the aircraft's propeller spinner, i.e. red codes -red spinner. Throughout the film only three colours were worn, white (used only during the attack on the French airfield sequence), red and yellow. The Messerschmitts also carried Staffel crests on the fuselage below the cockpit, which were changed to match the codes worn. This also applied to the Heinkels. These ever changing combinations of markings must have been a continuity girl's ultimate headache!
In terms of camouflage colours worn by the film's RAF and Luftwaffe, dark earth/dark green top surfaces with duck egg blue undersides adorned the Hurricanes and Spitfires, while the standard 1940-style two-tone green splinter camouflage with blue undersides was carried by the Heinkels and Messerschmitts. The latter colours helped enormously to disguise the Spanish origins of the movie's Luftwaffe.
RAF CODE AND SERIAL COMBINATIONS:
|AR213||AI-B, AI-C, AI-G, AI-N, CD-B, CD-C, EI-E||N3311, N3312, N3314, N3316, N3322|
|P7350||AI-A, AI-E, BO-H, CD-C, CD-G, CD-H, CD-M, DO-M, EI-C||N3310, N3312, N3316, N3317, N3321|
|AB910||AI-C, AI-D, AI-F, AI-J, AI-H, AI-M, AI-N, CD-D, CD-F, CO-K, DO-M||N3312, N3313, N3315, N3318, N3319, N3321, N3322|
|BL614||AI-B, AI-D, AI-O, CD-Q, DO-M, EQ-D||N3313, N3315, N3318, N3323, N3327|
|BM597||Nil (Replica mould master)||Nil|
|AR501||AI-B, AI-C, AI-E, AI-G, AI-J, CD-J, CD-K, DO-A, DO-H, EI-Q||N3311, N3312, N3314, N3316, N3317, N3318, N3319, N3320, N3324|
|MH415||AI-A, AI-C, AT-D, AI-E, AI-H, AI-M, AI-N, AI-S, CD-A, CD-B, CD-F, CD-H, DO-H, DO-K, DO-M, EI-G||
N2210, N3310, N3311, N3312, N3314, N3315, N3317, N3319, N3320, N3321, N3322, N3328
|MH434||AI-A, AI-D, AI-E, AI-G, AI-H, AI-K, BO-G, CD-F, CD-H, CD-M, DO-N, EI-H||N3310, N3312, N3313, N3314, N3315, N3316, N3317, N3319, N3321|
|MK297||AI-A, AT-B, AI-H, CD-A, CD-B, CD-E, DO-A, DO-B, DO-H, DO-N, EI-A||N3310, N3311, N3314, N3317|
|MJ772||AI-D, CD-H, CD-N, DO-H||Nil|
|TE308||AI-E, CD-A, CD-D, CD-F, CD-J, CD-K, CD-O, DO-H, DO-K, DO-L, DO-S, EI-A, EI-J||Nil|
|RM689||AI-A, AI-J, AI-M, AI-N, BO-B, CD-D, CD-J, DO-B, DO-D||N3310, N3311, N3313, N3318, N3321|
|RW382||AI-G, AI-H, DO-L, DO-M, EI-G, EQ-G||N3314, N3316, N3317, N3320|
|SL574||AI-A, AI-E, EI-A||N3310|
|SM411||AI-A, AI-B, AI-S, DO-R, EI-M, LC-M||N3310, N3311, N3323, N3329|
|TB382||AI-A, AI-C, AI-H, AI-P, BO-H, CD-A, DO-A, DO-L, DO-M, EI-A, LC-A||
N3310, N3316, N3317, N3320, N3321, N3323, N3324, N3370
|TE311||AI-C, AI-M, DO-H||N3321, N3324|
|TE356||AI-C, AI-P, DO-M, EI-C, LC-C||N3312, N3324|
|TE384||AI-E, AI-H, AI-L, AI-P, AI-Q, DO-L, LC-F||N3314, N3315, N3316, N3320, N3323, N3324|
|TE476||AI-B, AI-F||N3311, N3320|
|PM631||AI-E, AI-H, AI-L, CD-F, CD-K, DO-G, DO-N||
N3314, N3315, N3316, N3317, N3319, N3320
|PM651||AI-S, BO-S, DO-N||N3317, N3320, N3329|
|PS853||AI-E, AI-G, AI-M, CD-C, EI-K||N3314, N3316, N3319, N3321|
|LA198||AI-G, DO-C||N3316, N3317|
|P2617||MI-C, MI-S||H3426, H3427|
|Z7015||F, L, MI-A, MI-D||H3418|
|LF363||F, MI-A, MI-D, MI-H, KV-C||H3420, H3421,H3422|
|LF751||Nil (Replica mould master)||Nil|
|PZ865||H, MI-C, MI-D, MI-G, KV-A, KV-M, OK-I||H3421 , H3423, H3424|
|RCAF 5377/G-AWLW||0, F, MI-A, MI-D, MI-F, KV-B||H3418, H3421 , H3423|
MESSERSCHMITT 109 HISPANO HA 1112 MIL BUCHON
|C4K-31 (G-AWHE)||Red 8|
|C4K-61 (G-AWHF)||Not used in film, written off Duxford 21/5/68|
|C4K-75 (G-AWHG)||Yellow 11 , Red 14|
|C4K-99 (G-AWHM)||Yellow 5|
|C4K-100 (G-AWHJ)||Red 13, plus MI-V Hurricane codes|
|C4K-102 (G-AWHK)||Red 7|
|C4K-105 (G-AWHH)||Red 4, Red 8|
|C4K-106 (G-AWHI)||Yellow 8, plus chevron and bar|
|C4K-112 (G-AWHC)||Red 11, two-seat Ha 1112 K1L|
|C4K-122 (G-AWHL)||Yellow 7, plus MI-T Hurricane codes|
|C4K-126 (G-AWHD)||Red 9|
|C4K-127 (G-AWHO)||White 3, plus MI-S Hurricane codes|
|C4K-130 (G-AWHN)||Black chevron marks|
|C4K-144 (G-AWHP)||Red 3|
|C4K-152 (G-AWHR)||White 5|
|C4K-169 (G-AWHT)||Red 5|
|C4K-170 (G-AWHS)||Yellow chevron marks|
SixBuchons were restored up to taxying status and were used in the Spanish sequences at Tablada and EI Corpero. No details are available on the markings carried by airframes C4K-107, C4K-121, C4K-131, C4K-134, C4K-135 and C4K-172. In addition four Buchons were transported to the UK for use as spares during the English filming sequences. C4K-30, C4K-111, C4K-114 and C4K-154.
Details regarding the markings carried by the Spanish Air Force Heinkels CASA 2.111 fleet have always been sketchy to say the least, suffice to say that documentary evidence only exists for the two aircraft that came to the UK with the Messerschmitts.
HEINKEL 111/CASA 2.111 :
G-AWHA 6J+BR, 6J+PR, VI+CL,
G-AWHB 6J+PR, U6+DL, U6+GN, VI+BN, A5+ER
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