After watching some Imperial War Museum footage showing the Free French pilots of No 340 Squadron, I noticed a mistake in one of my earlier profiles, and decided to correct it. This is the original profile, depicting Spitfire Mk Vb BM324, which was flown by Wg Cdr Bernard Dupérier at the time of Operation Rutter :
Unsurprisingly, as I was working on the correction, I realized there was another mistake I’d made. And then another one. Having more material available now than I had when I created the original version, I ended up making many, many other corrections, with the (probably) final result looking like this:
Can you spot the differences ? (You can find the list of differences at the bottom of this article).
As time goes by, we all learn from our mistakes and gain experience and knowledge, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned in the years that separate these two illustrations.
Operation Rutter and Invasion Stripes
A common misconception is that the white invasion stripes seen here were used for Operation Jubilee, the catastrophic Dieppe landings of 19 August 1942. They were actually applied for Operation Rutter, the original Dieppe invasion plan scheduled for July 4-8, 1942. Shortly before the planned invasion, the Luftwaffe spotted and bombed the invasion force in the Solent.
Having lost the element of surprise and with poor weather forecasted, Operation Rutter was cancelled but was “resurrected” shortly after under the form of Operation Jubilee. The white stripes were NOT used during Operation Jubilee.
There aren’t that many photos of aircraft painted with the “Rutter stripes”, but here are a few well-known examples:
Here are a few noteworthy points, which might be of interest to enthusiasts, modelers or fellow artists:
- The “Rutter stripes” do not seem to have been applied to aircraft of all units planned to take part in the operation. As a matter of fact, the IWM footage from which some of these images were taken show that even within No 340 Squadron, not all aircraft received the stripes. This being said, one cannot exclude the possibility that the unpainted aircraft were painted after the footage was shot.
- In addition to the nose stripes, it appears that the aircraft spinners were also painted white (in place of the usual Sky). Sky and white are not easy to distinguish on black and white photos and videos, but the difference becomes clearer once you look for it.
- Two stripes were also painted on each horizontal stabilizer. These are often forgotten by artists and modellers as they are not very visible on photographs. Note that the location of the horizontal stabilizer stripes varied (compare Berg’s BM579 and Dupérier’s BM324, for example). On some aircraft, such as BM324, these stripes were only painted on the fixed part of the stabilizer, and did not extend to the control surfaces.
Here are the difference between the two profiles:
- Improved shading and lighting
- Rear-view mirror
- Aircraft code
- Aircraft serial
- Overpainted dorsal light
- Croix de Lorraine badge
- “Tomana” name
- Lower cowling paint demarcation
- Roundel colours
- Horizontal stabilizer stripes
- Cockpit vent beneath windscreen
- …and probably a few other details I’ve already forgotten about !