One of my goals is, of course, to document as much of the history of A17-370 as possible. For each year it would be nice to know where it was, what it was doing, what equipment it had installed, and last but not least, what its paint job looked like. This final point is key because when the restoration is finished I need to have some historically correct scheme in mind to paint her up in.
Most of this will be discovered through paperwork, but there are also hundreds of minuscule clues on the airplane itself that I will discover during the deconstruction phase. For the most part, the paperwork gives little or no clue about what paint scheme was applied to the airplane, so all of the tangible and specific evidence I have to work with right now is what’s on the plane itself.
During her period as a derelict, pretty much all of the fabric has been removed and thrown away. This is par for the course with an old airplane but it sure makes a restorer’s life more difficult! There are some little bits and pieces still hanging on where they were sandwiched into the structure or glued directly to it, but most of these are only one or two square inches and only show the rust-red dope that seems to be everywhere.
The fabric that was glued to the fuselage plywood is still intact however. It shows a dark green over “trainer yellow.” There may be some other grey/blue layer beneath that also, which I initially thought was silver, but now I will have to make a note to take a second look on my next visit. But that’s the general theme of what paint survives… rust-red dope, then yellow, and then green on top of that.
Which is why the sample of salvaged fabric handed me by the previous owner yesterday was such a surprise. There is definitely some kind of a blue stripe along one edge. It’s sort of a dark robin’s egg blue, and seems pretty consistent in color (not streaky as if it were heavily faded). I really don’t understand the layers I’m looking at here. It seems that there is none of that rust-red dope. The blue lies directly on the fabric, and the brown lies over top of everything, either over the blue or directly on the fabric, depending on where you look. I can’t even tell if the brown color here is really a paint… or just some kind of dope/varnish? It seems semi-transparent. I’m wondering if there is some chemical test I could run to determine what each of these layers is… and whether there is some difference between Australian and Indian paints or dopes that might help me identify at least when this paint was likely applied. That will help give me a better clue as to what design the blue stripe may be a part of.