Please note there has been some correcting and updating of the captions (with thanks to M. Hopper) of this In Focus.
Our David Draycott has very kindly taken the time to dig into his archives and scan some of his slides to help kick-off our look back at Desert Shield for In Focus The
RAF deployed in some strength to bases across the Gulf states in support of the coalition, under Operation Granby, calling upon their many combat squadrons and support units. Given that the RAF had primarily geared itself up for a war in Eastern Europe
its aircraft were camouflaged to blend into a backdrop of a German forest which compromised operations in the Gulf region against a predominantly desert backdrop. Consequently, an operational directive to adopt “Desert Pink” as a temporary
colour scheme on deployed aircraft was issued. The colour ARTF (Alkali Removable Temporary Finish - and temporary it certainly was!) was hastily applied at base/squadron level, to the Tornado GR1/1A, Jaguar, Hercules, Puma, Gazelle, Sea King, Lynx, Chinook
and even the Islander. National markings and some safety stencilling were retained but squadron identities were obliterated.
The harsh desert conditions and intense
operational use of all aircraft once in the Middle East meant the pink finish deteriorated pretty quickly with little opportunity for touching up or maintenance. Consequently, most aircraft were more of a ‘flesh’ colour when they returned
to the UK.
Interestingly, USAF and USN aircraft continued to operate without any modification to their existing schemes of greys, although there were a few exceptions;
an EA-6B Prowler and A-6E Intruder were ‘trialled’ in desert colours whilst an A-7E of VA72 from USS John F Kennedy famously sported a ‘Desert Storm’ scheme but this was only applied after the hostilities had ceased and it had returned
home. The A-10s remained in their “European One” camouflage throughout the conflict.
From a modeller’s perspective, plenty of manufacturers
include shades of “Desert Pink” in their colour ranges and, as with the real aircraft, there is a broad variation in the shades!
Hopefully, the images below
provide a useful reference and will inspire some building of the many types used by the RAF during Operation Granby, with 2021 being the thirtieth anniversary of the conflict; the venerable Tornado, Jaguar, Buccaneer, Tristar, Sea King, VC10, Nimrod and Victor
fleets all now retired!