There is a story told on the sides of every warbird of the Second World War. It’s there in visual code written in worn and tired war paint, easily interpreted by those who speak this language of history. Always the story told is proud and warrior-like, a story of both present battles and of the sweep of history back to and even beyond the beginning of flight.
The opening lines of the story are told by the camouflage, the overall coat of paint donned by the fighter or bomber or transport. We read in an all-powder blue Spitfire that it is unarmed, that its pilot flies alone and unafraid, that it flies higher than the rest, taking photographs and evidence of movement behind enemy lines. In a P-40 Kittyhawk with brown and tan fields of colour, we read the heat, the sand, the deprivation and the vast sweep of the North African campaign. From the jungles of Burma, to foggy coasts of Iceland to the sun-blasted coral airstrips of the South Pacific, an aircraft carries the story of its battles in its paint. And on the side and wings of all aircraft, on all sides of the battle, were the most proud marking of all – the national roundels and symbols–historic markings that take their meaning from historic events and dynasties predating aviation–the crosses, roundels, cockades, hinomarus and stars of nations engaged in warfare for centuries and even eons. To one side they are anathema, symbols of abject evil, treachery and or even of a nation of subhumans. To the other they are glorious marques of courage, honour, duty and historic importance. Allied pilots and gunners learned not just to read the black Balkenkreuzes, bent Hakkenkreuzes, and red “meatball” Hinomarus of the Axis, but to hate them, and to react instantly to destroy them.
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Source / Author: Vintage Wings of Canada
Photo: Vintage Wings of Canada