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South African Colours and Markings (Nos 1 -3)

Author: William Marshall, Piet van Schalkwyk

ISBN: No 1: 0-620-25922-1, No 2: 0-6

Reviewed By: Dean Wingrin

No 1: Mirage F1AZ, Hawker Hurricane, Ratel ICV
No 2: Curtiss P-40s, DH Vampires, SA Recce Cars, OFS Artillery Uniforms
No 3: Mirage F1CZ, SAAF Aircraft in US colours, SA Recce Cars pt2, Transvaal State Artillery Uniforms

As the authors say, this series is born out of the need for suitable reference material on South African aircraft and equipment. I cannot agree more! The authors include a retired SAAF pilot and a serving SA Army Infantry officer, so they know what they're talking about. The list of credits is a who's who of renowned SA historians. Stefaan Bouwer joins the authors with his articles on SAAF aircraft in Amercian colours.

The series, of which three have been printed so far, contains articles on the colours and markings of aircraft, vehicles, equipment and uniforms used by South African units. The accent is on, well, colours and markings and not on statistics, but nevertheless much useful information is contained within the text.  It seems that even those aircraft you thought had just a few simple schemes turn out to have had many and varied schemes over the years.

The text is both authorative and informative. Whist not intended to be a history of the aircraft in question, substantial information is provided on the service history of the aircraft as, invariably, the colour scheme and markings would change as the aircraft were transferred from one unit to another. The primary source to determine colours and markings are photographs, a task made particularly difficult when dealing with historical aircraft as colour photography was not the norm as it is today. As a result, many photographs are included which are of poor quality, but nevertheless deserve inclusion due to their rarity. This is, however, more than made up by the excellent side and three-view colour profiles which are in abundance, detailing just about every scheme used. Squadron badges and markings are also illustrated in colour.

The last pages of each issue contains a SAAF colour chart with closest match FS or BSC numbers, as well as a colour chart for armour and military vehicles with FS, BSC or closest Humbrol colour match. The inside back page concludes with large colour drawings of the emblems and badges of the units mentioned in the articles.

Whilst not strictly a colour scheme or marking, the authors have included such gems as a description of the MiG-21 kill of 6 November 1981 (with gun camera images) as well as the gun camera images and description of the 5 October 1982 incident. It now appears that the later MiG may have landed back at base after all. Be that as it may, it never flew again!

Issue Four will contain part two of WWII SAAF aircraft in American colours, the F-86 and CL-13B Sabre, G5 and G6 artillery systems and on foreign volunteers in Boer uniforms. I, for one, am looking forward to it with anticipation. 

This series can be highly recommended and anyone interested in the history and colour schemes of the SAAF, be they modeller or not, should seriously considering getting this series. In fact, the drawings may just temp you to build that model which has been laying in the top cupboard far the last ten years ....

300 x 210 mm, 44pp, colour & b/w photos,  drawings, colour charts

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