You can have any colour as long as its Black....or Yellow, or white, or ripple

So i saw a post on FB about the changing colour of the Tutors to yellow:

Many of our followers have noticed a new colour in the skies above RAF Wittering.
An RAF Wittering Grob Tutor T1 is one of three aeroplanes taking part in a new trial assessing methods of improving the conspicuity of the training aircraft. The first aircraft has been painted yellow and black; a combination of colours believed to be particularly conspicuous to the human eye.
Wing Commander Gordon Pell is the senior pilot at RAF Wittering. He said: “For safety reasons, the RAF’s training aircraft have, in recent years, been painted all over black to make them more visible. The aircraft schemes will be assessed by MoD Boscombe Down and I am looking forward to seeing what the results of the trial might be.”

and have to agree with the comments to the post,

in the 1940s training aircraft were yellow (Harvards, Cubs, Moths etc) there have been moves to the “Ripple” red, white and blue, and then black use by the Hawks and Tucanos, while Tutors were white and Fireflys yellow.
(while Gliders have always been white)

Is anyone else thinking this is the RAF going full circle??
what can be gained from this “trial” that isn’t already known 60, 70 even 80 years ago???


Visibility will be one of the arguments, but I remember from when they were introduced and a black scheme was mooted that it couldn’t be done due to heat.

This will be less of a trial of visibility and more of a trial of how sustainable the colour is on the plastic airframe.

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based on the quote i shared this is exactly the reason

“…a new trial assessing methods of improving the conspicuity of the training aircraft…”

I am just unsure why such a trial is required…this is not a new colour, new to the RAF’s airframe yes but there are civilian versions in yellow.

i can understand:

as a far better argument, but as i say there are civilian owed 115s in yellow so again seems like a repeat of what has gone before.

what next, the RAF are going to run trials to see if jet engines work?

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Don’t forget that the later Bulldogs were black and yellow too… Although this new scheme appears to be more yellow than was on the Bulldog.

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Yeah, but everything in the RAF is run by committee. Especially when it’s an aircraft that isn’t really owned by the RAF… Imagine the hoops and contract re-writing Serco will be demanding for changing the colour?!


The black and black/yellow schemes came in ii the mid 1990s to increase conspicuity for aircraft routinely operating at low level. The first being the Hawks, then the Tucanos and lastly the Bulldogs and Dominies, albeit the Dominies retained a white roof to prevent overheating of the cabin as well as light aircraft grey wings to prevent fuel tank overheating.

The reason the Fireflies were yellow is down to the fact that the airframe was built of composites (GRP) and could not be painted black for structural reasons. I foresee the same happening with the the Tutors, although whether the carbon composite will take it I don’t know.

Certainly in the gliding world the only glass ship I can think of that was coloured was the Pik-20 (i used to own a share in one).

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I’m pretty sure the yellow stripes on the Bulldogs denoted CFS machines. I remember them at Cranwell but I don’t recall UAS aircraft having the yellow stripes.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Jetstreams of 45®Sqn retained the red/white/grey trainer scheme because they didn’t routinely operate at low level.

I’m taxing my memory now but I’m fairly certain that I flew AEF in some black and yellow Bulldogs somewhere. That definitely wouldn’t have been Cranwell.

They do look nice. :slight_smile:


Black was adopted after research. Deemed at the time to be the most conspicuous, but as others have said, yellow (undersides) was the wartime colour for training aircraft. Black undersides and yellow topsides should give good conspicuity when viewed from above or below - yellow against the earth and black against the sky. (White against earth is good.) Remember we spot movement against a backdrop with our peripheral vision.

Precisely - this is known already so why is the RAF claiming:

if the effectiveness of the different colours is already known?

Because of this bit;

The colours have been used before. But not this way around. Therefore it needs testing and approving.

The Black schemes, as I stated earlier, came in for training aircraft routinely operating at low level - it gives a good contrast against the sky when the aircraft turns.

Hence the Jetstreams at Cranwell remained in the earlier ‘Support Command’ scheme, and the later King Airs (and now Phenoms) were (are) white.

Dominie, as was…

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That’s XS709 ‘M’. That was the first of 20 Dominies to be delivered (originally in Silver and Dayglo Orange) in 1965. It was also the last of 11 Dominies to be upgraded to DAU (Dominie Avionics Upgrade) specification and the only one to be delivered from Marshalls in the Black/White/Grey scheme in 1997 (the other 10 having been delivered in the original Red/White/Grey).

Interestingly ‘M’ was the heaviest in the fleet in terms of ZFW so you didn’t use it for overseas NAAFI runs!

The first Black/White/Grey aircraft was XS739 ‘F’ which was repainted and delivered in mid 1997 complete with a Playboy Bunny on the fin as an homage to Hugh Hefner’s Boeing 727.

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Did lots of flights in the back of Dominies - 1977 - AEOp trg. :wink:

(Photo taken yesterday, little trip to Cosford.)

My best AEF was in one of those bad boys… Stood up for landing into BZN

Just over 1000 hrs Dominie.

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Apart from the Juno and Jupiter fleets over at Shawbury!

Plus every Police Helicopter and the Vulcanair P68’s that they fly out of Sheffield. Also some of the Air Ambulances outside of London.